Coffee’s Not All Joe Finds at Starbucks
Joe slung his backpack over his right shoulder. The night before, he pack two travel suitcases in his truck. He took a wistful look back at his apartment and said a quick prayer for his gramma. He got in his car, turned it on and headed for Starbucks before heading to I-70.
Joe took the 315 toward I-70. He passed The Ohio State University on his left and made a a right turn signal to turn toward Lane Avenue. A Starbucks was a half-mile up Lane toward Upper Arlington. He drove past OSU farm land and signaled to turn into a strip mall. The Starbucks drive-through line was out to the street. Joe pulled into a parking space, pulled out his iPhone, clicked on the Starbucks app, and mobile ordered, and went inside.
Joe bypassed the early morning line of coffee drinkers and went straight to the pickup counter. A minute later, his venti coffee with an added shot of espresso was set down and the barista called, “Venti coffee with a red eye for Joe.”
Joe picked up his coffee and headed to the door. He stopped in his tracks when he heard a woman’s voice call, “Joe. Joe.”
He turned at saw Jody Sanger waving him over to her table. The last thing he needed this morning was to talk to a former work colleague. But, he always liked Jody. They worked well together and she didn’t deserve an attitude or disrespect. He walked over to her table, “Hi Jody, how are you?”
Jody stood up and hugged him. She stepped back a half step, “Sit down Joe Astore, you’ve got some big explaining to do. You left me the station up the creek without a paddle. Do you know who replaced you? Timmy Winters, that’s who replaced you. He still looks like he belongs in high school. Our ratings are going to be so bad.”
Joe took a deep breath. He said, “I’m heading out of town, Jody and I want to beat the Indianapolis traffic. I can only stay five minutes.”
They sat down and Joe set his drink on the table. He got himself ready for the questions he expected to throw one after the other at him.
“How are you? Why did you quit? Do you have another job? You were the top rated sports personality in town. Our ratings are going to go down the tube, believe me, the six and eleven o’clock news are in trouble,” said Jody with deep concern in her voice.
Joe took a deep breath and said, “It’s personal, Jody. It’s something I have to do. It came up suddenly. The station won’t keep Timmy in that slot. He’s probably only there until they can find an ex jock to fill my shoes and do a better job.”
“You’re not getting off that easy, Joe. We’ve worked together for five years. When you came to the station, they sent you to all the games and you worked out great, it took you one year to rise to be the sports anchor. What about your Sunday sports show? It’s gone. Are you sick? What is it?”
Joe knew Jody was the TV station’s top investigative reporter. She had offers from larger markets but turned them down. She was everything a major television station would want for a news anchor, beautiful, young, intelligent, and a winning personality. Joe said,
“I’ll tell you if you promise not to tell another person. I want your word.”
Jody made a sign of crossing her heart, then said, “You have my word, Joe. Promise.”
Joe told her the story of his finding the letter, his conversation with his grandmother, and his plans for finding his father. When he finished, Jody reached across the table and took his hand and said, “Let me come with you. I’m a good investigative reporter. I can help you.”
Joe smiled, and said, “Thanks, but no thanks Jody. One person wrecking their career is enough around here. Besides, it’s something I’ve got to do by myself.”
Jody withdrew her hand and said, “I’m bored here. It’s time I’ve moved on. Please let me come?”
Joe thought about it for a second, but thought taking Jody with him would eventually lead to complications. He was tempted for a moment, but he said, “I tell you what you can do for me, if your really want to help.”
“What, Joe? Let me know how I can help you,” said Jody.
Joe said, “You ever hear of a local group called Joe and the Flamingos?”
“What kind of group are you talking about, Joe?” asked Jody.
“A music group. They would have been around about 27 or 28 years ago,” Joe was thinking of his age.
“What kind of music did they play?” asked Jody getting into her investigative reporter role.
“I don’t know. I don’t think they were very good. They played local beer joints. My Gramma mentioned something about a place called The Crazy Cat. I think it was over in Short North just above the university. My gramma told me that’s where mom met Joe Ritchie. I only know Joe Ritchie started the group. He dropped out of OSU to start the band and he and mom got together and you’re looking at the result.”
Jody wrote the name The Crazy Cat on a paper napkin. She asked, “Who are the the other members of the band?”
Joe pulled out his iPhone and looked on his notepad. He said, “Besides, Danny Dubliski, there’s Max Stein. Stein was a drummer and Dubliski was a guitarist. They picked up a vocalist by the name of Gloria Fallon. Dubliski is on parole in San Antonio from a drug conviction. Gloria Fallon lives in Boulder. And, Stein lives in Quincy, Illinois. That’s where I’m heading. It’s the first stop. I’ll decide what to do after I talk to him.”
“I’ll get on it. This story has great potential. I can see promo, Whatever Became of Joe and the Flamingos, Watch the 11 O’Clock News. I might win an award, Joe. Thanks for letting me help. Remember, you need anything, anything at all, call or text,” said Jody.
Joe smiled at Jody and for a brief moment, he wondered what she meant by anything at all. He said, “Right now, find out all you can about Joe and the Flamingos. I don’t even know if they ever recorded anything. It’s the only lead I have. If you dig deep enough, maybe I’ll find some answers.”
“Be careful, Joe. You may not like what you find. Some bones are better left buried.”
“You sound just like my gramma. She said the same thing, a little differently,” said Joe.
Jody said, “Your gramma is a wise woman, you really ought to listen to her.”
“Can’t do it, Jody. It’s something I’ve got to do. I’m going to go. Let me know if you find anything,” said Joe.
Jody took his hand again, “Listen, Joe, you need me, I’ll be on the next plane. I want to help you, that’s all.”
“Thanks, Jody,” said Joe. They stood up and hugged and Joe left with his coffee.