Chapter Ten – Gramma Wants to Cook Estelle’s Goose
Joe and Teresa sat quietly for a few moments. Teresa appeared to fall asleep, her eyes closed and her bobbed. Teresa opened her eyes and sat up straight. She said, “It’s the medicine they been slipping into my food. You go to that place, the they pack you up in a cardboard box and ship you to the cemetary.”
“You’re out of there, Gramma. You will never go back. When Lenny gets here, he’ll take care of everything. He’s very good.”
Teresa stared off toward the window and the back door patio. She spoke to Joe without turning back, “Your dad, this man is a saint. He didn’t take no detours on his way to heaven, let me tell you that. Pete always loved Annette. They dated when she was a freshman and I told her, this is a man to marry. She laughed at me. At the time, she liked the bad boys. What was that movie, Fatalistic Detraction? That’s what Joe Ritichie was, he was a fatalistic distraction. She learned her lesson the hard way, boy did she ever. When Annette’s is three months along, Pete calls her and invites her out. She didn’t want to go. I insisted. I was sick of having her hanging around moping. Pete comes to the door like a gentleman. He brings me a potted plant and Patrice a six-pack. His first words when he saw Annette, “You are beautiful.”
Joe nodded and smiled, he hadn’t heard this story.
Teresa continued, “I asked Annette when she come home from the date how it went. All she did was smile. It was the kind of smile a mother knows. She really fall in love. Four weeks later, Annette invited Joe to Sunday dinner and Pete asked Patrice and Teresa if he could marry Annette. I know he already ask her because she showed me her ring. I jump up and I kiss Pete on both cheeks. Sometimes the church got these crazy rules about how long you gotta wait to get married. Maybe for somebody, but not for family. Patrice’s cousin, Mark was priest at St. Dominics in a suburb of Cleveland. Father Mark came down a month later and performed a private wedding ceremony. He by-passed all the church rules about waiting. This is what family does for each other.”
Teresa quickly segued into Estelle and Joe kept yanking her back. They were having a tug of war until Lenny Focado, Joe’s lawyer pal showed up.
Lenny Focado opened the door without knocking. He was disheveled, had a two day grunge, and wore a OSU t-shirt. Joe and Lenny exchanged greetings and Joe gave him the skinny on Teresa’s predicament. Lenny waved at Teresa, held up a finger before Teresa could say a word and tapped a speed dial number on his cell phone.
Lenny was calling Tony Rose, a geek friend. He asked Tony to run two searches, one for Joe or Joseph Ritchie. The other search for Joe and the Flamingos. While Lenny was waiting for a call back, he listened to Teresa’s story and all her running commentary on Estelle. Before Teresa finished, Lenny’s cell phone rang. He nodded his head a half dozen times, thanked Tonty Rose and put his cell phone away.
Lenny turned toward Joe and said, “Tony is very good. Most of the stuff he does is legal, some of the stuff he does is questionable, and a few things he does he doesn’t talk about. He said he can’t get a current hit within the last ten years on Joe Ritchie. He found a blog from three years ago that mentioned Joe and the Flamingos in connection with country music. The blogger said something about Joe and Flamingos sounding like a cross between a raccoon getting a leg caught in a trap and a room full of screaming children. On the plus side, he gave me the names of the three guys in the Flamingos and their singer.”
Joe took out his cell phone, pushed a recording app and motioned for Lenny to continue.
Lenny said, “Beside Joe Ritchie, there’s Danny Dubliski, and Max Stein. The leader singer was Gloria Fallon. The last known address, this was twenty years ago for Ritchie, was Seaside Apartments in Carlsbad, California. Lenny couldn’t pick up any evidence he’s still in California or anywhere else for that matter. If you’re serious about wasting your time and chasing him down …”
Teresa interrupted, “Joe, you listen to Leonardo, he got a good head between his shoulder blades even if he lost his razor.”
“He’s smart, Gramma,” said Joe then he motioned for Lenny to continue.
Lenny said, Dubliski’s just finished serving seven years of a ten year sentence in Texas for running drugs up from Nuevo Leon. He’s on parole and living in San Antonio. Max Stein, he was the Flamingo’s drummer. He was living in Quincy, Illinois, up to two years ago. I’ll text you his last known address. Gloria is the only one Tony is sure about. She’s living in Boulder, Colorado. She’s working for a non profit environment protection group. I will text you her address and the phone number of her non profit agency. That’s the best I can do for free for a friend on short notice. Now, I’m going to take care of gramma.”
Teresa smiled at Lenny and said, “You fix it up good so we cook Estelle’s goose and she don’t know what hit her. That’s what I want to do. You got it Mr. hot shot attorney.”
Joe kissed his gramma on the cheek. He said, “She’s all yours, Lenny. Thanks for helping out. Gramma can stay here as long as she wants. I’ll be out of here tomorrow morning, early.”
The next morning at 5:30 a.m. Joe checked in on his Gramma in the guest bedroom. He knew from the sound of snoring she was asleep. He opened her door slightly, saw his gramma lying on her back, a slight smile on her face. When she breathed in, she sounded like the intact engine on a jet plane, and when she exhaled her snore came out as a flapping of wings of doves. He smiled, closed the door. He wrote a note to his gramma left it on the table.
Dear Gramma, I’m taking off to find Joe Ritchie. I’ll find him living or dead. I will call you every Sunday to let you know where I am. My house is your house. Stay as long as you want. I left a sticky note for Tony DelPietri’s cell number. You call him and he’ll drop whatever he’s doing to help you. Lenny Focado is a great lawyer, trust him. You can call him any time with any problem. I love you. Love, Joe.