We’re All Friends, Right?

Chapter 2

Tony Gallino, dressed in a handmade, dark Italian silk suit, wearing hand crafted Italian made shoes, crafted from the finest calf’s skin, walked through, the door, stopped and waited. It wasn’t long before he heard what he expected to hear.

“Morning Mr. Gallino. Can I get you anything?” asked Gus with a differential tone.

Tony Gallino shook his head and looked at Zeke and Mickey.

Zeke and Mickey on hearing Gus say, ‘Morning Mr. Gallino,’ turned their heads toward the door. Zeke jumped into the batter’s box, “How’s it going Mr. Gallino, anything I can do for you,” said Zeke.

Mickey was only a step behind Zeke, “The same goes for me Mr. Gallino.”

Tony Gallino didn’t answer right away, instead he walked over to the bar and looked at Gus, “Whatever Zeke and Mickey are drinking, put it on my tab, Gus.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Gallino.”

“You want to take a stool and have a cold one with us, Mr. Gallino?” asked Zeke.

“Not today, fellows. I need a favor. I was wondering if you two could help. That is, if you’re not busy,” said Tony Gallino.

Mickey didn’t wait, “Anything, Mr. G. Anything. You name it, me and Zeke, we can do it.”

Gus wondered where the Mr. G came from. Gallino didn’t bat an eye. Gus thought about it, quickly decided he’d never try it.

Tony Gallino said, “I have a slight problem. I have a small box I need to be delivered to a friend. I don’t want to send it by mail because I don’t trust the postal service.”

Zeke cut in, “I know what you mean. Last week I saw a delivery guy toss a bunch of mail in the trash because it was the end of his day and he wanted to go home. I went into the trash and pulled out the mail. Most of it was ads and stuff, but there was birthday card for some grandmother with five crisp twenties in it. Even though it wasn’t my birthday, I figured why not, the mail was discarded.”

“You didn’t tell me about you hitting the jackpot, Zeke,” said Mickey, disappointed.

Zeke shrugged and didn’t say anything.

Gallino interrupted the two, “That’s why I came to you two guys, I heard a lot about the way you think and take advantage of opportunities.”

“That’s us,” said Mickey thinking it was a compliment.

“Where exactly is this package and to whom do we deliver it? No offense intended, Mr. Gallino, but we’re not doing anything that could get us in trouble, are we?”

“I’m an honest businessman, you boys know that. I’d never ask anyone to do anything that was against the law,” said Gallino with a straight face.

Gus pretended he didn’t hear a thing. Then he thought, what a crock of crap.

“You each get $200. I’m going to give you the first $100 now. I’ll give you the second $100 when the jobs complete. If there are no mishaps, there will a bonus coming to you. The package is in a large mailbox at Security Mail in Brockton. It’s just off of main street on Court Street. You can’t miss it. It’s mailbox, 1202.”

Gallino reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his genuine soft leather billfold. Here’s a hundred apiece,” he said handing a hundred dollar bill to Zeke, and then one to Mickey.

He reached into his pants pocket and removed a small brass colored key, “Here’s the key,” said Gallino handing Zeke the key.

“First of all thanks. Nobody ever paid us in advance for doing a job. It shows a lot of trust in us. We appreciate it. What do we do when we get the box, Mr. Gallino,” said Zeke.

“Hey, what’s with the formality, you can call me Tony. We’re friends here, right?”

Gus thought, I wouldn’t touch this one for a million dollars.

“Here’s what I need you to do with the box once you have it.”

Are Zeke and Mickey getting in over their heads? What does Gallino want them to do? What is inside the box?

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up – Part II

Steve kept checking the time on his iPhone. When he wasn’t checking the time, he was checking his airline app. His flight was still on time. His flight would be boarding in 15 minutes. Five minutes later the TSA agent returned. “You’re cleared. Have a nice trip.”

Steve said, “Thank you.” He didn’t mean it, but he didn’t want to be held up for a bad attitude. He could still make his flight.

He went to the next stop. He took off his shoes and put them into a plastic container. He removed his belt, wallet, watch, and pulled out loose change and put them in a different plastic container. He sent the two containers forward. He removed his computer and put it in another plastic container. He placed it on the rollers and gave it a push. Next, he sent his backpack through separately. He placed his suitcase on the moving line and waited his turn to go through the X-ray machine.

Steve stepped into the X-ray machine, he stood on the footprints, and placed his arms over his head and watched the machine make its circle. He stepped outside and the TSA agent motioned him over to the side.

“Sir, do you have any metal on you?”

“No,” said Steve.

“I am going to have to perform a pat down.”

Steve resigned himself to the pat down. The agent’s hands went down each leg.

The TSA agent said, “Do you have any metal on either of your wrists?”

“No,” said Steve.

“That’s not consistent with the information from the X-ray. Please stick your arms out to the side,” said the TSA agent.

Steve thought, it’s the grunge, my tan, they’re profiling me. That’s what they’re doing. They think I’m from the middle east.

“Excuse me, I’m not from the middle east,” said Steve.

The TSA agent who was slowly working his hands along Steve’s right arm said, “I didn’t hear anyone ask you where you were from. Don’t speak until someone asks you to speak.”

Two minutes later, the TSA agent finished. He said, “Go figure. You’re clean. Have a good flight.”

Steve nodded and went to get his bags. He picked up his shoes, then he retrieved his belt, wallet, watch, and loose change. His computer came through. His suitcase was next. He felt confident he make his flight. He watched his backpack make its way toward him. He was about to reach for it when …

“Sir, is this your backpack?” asked a TSA agent.

“Yes?” Steve said more with a question in his voice than as an affirmative statement.

“We’re going to have go through it. Is there anything in the bag that can explode, injure another person, or be used to inflict harm on a passenger or crew member?”

Steve wanted to tell the agent she was nuts, but now knew he had five minutes until his plane boarded. He said, “Nothing. I have an iPad in there, ear plugs, Kleenex, nuts and protein bars. I have a pen.”

“Is that all you want to declare?” said the agent. She gave him a I don’t a word you said look.

“Yes?” Steve said knowing he wasn’t sure exactly what was in his backpack. He always got through security before, why should it be different now?”

The TSA agent motioned Steve to a table. She put on latex gloves and unzipped the backpack. Over the airport PA system, Steve heard, “Flight 6437 for Boston, is now boarding.”

“Could you hurry? My plane is boarding,” pleaded Steve.

“No. We don’t hurry. Our first concern is the safety of passengers and crew,” said the TSA agent.

The agent’s hand froze inside Steve’s bag. A look of victory slowly spread across her face. She removed her hand. She was holding three protein bars. “What are these?” she asked.

Steve wondered if she was serious. All she had to do was read the wrappers. He said, “Protein bars.”

“Are you sure they’re protein bars?” said the TSA agent.

Before Steve could answer, he heard, “Last call for flight 6437 for Boston.” Then he said, “Yes.”

“I have to have my supervisor check them, stay right here,” the agent said. She turned and walked to a burly looking guy inside a windowed booth.

Steve watched the agent show her supervisor the protein bars. The supervisor said something to her. She turned and pointed at Steve. The supervisor got out of his chair and stood, getting a better look at Steve. He said something to the TSA agent. She nodded and returned to Steve.

“We are confiscating your material. It will be examined. If there is an issue you will be reported. Here is your bag, have a happy trip.”

Steve didn’t answer. He stuffed ear plugs, Kleenex, and assorted things back into his bag. He grabbed all his other gear and ran toward Gate 6. When he reached Gate 6, the airline employee was returning from the plane.

Steve held up his iPhone. Can I get on, I was help up at security.”

The airline employee said, “Sorry, I the plane is boarded. I gave them the list of passengers.”

“But, but it’s right there.”

“Sorry sir. Why don’t you go to the check-in station and get on the next flight to Boston. It leaves in two hours. Of course, you’ll have to go through security again.”

Yes, Steve did on the next flight. Yes, he made it to Boston on time for his presentation, but he missed a nice dinner with colleagues. You can’t make this stuff up.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up – Part 1

Life can be stranger than fiction. How often have you said, “You can’t make this stuff up?” It’s what happen to Dr. Stephen Burnett when he went to the airport to board a plane for Boston.

Dr. Burnett preferred to be called Steve. He didn’t like to be called doctor. Steve is a professor at a prestigious Big Ten university. He is also a globally renowned expert in cyber technology. Steve was traveling to an international conference on global security to present his breakthrough research on protection of power grids. We pick up Steve’s story at the airport where he began his journey.

Steve walked into the airport pulling a suitcase; a backpack hung on his shoulders. Once inside the airport, he paused, checked his iPhone airlines app. The flight was on time. He boarded at Gate 6. Steve had 40 minutes before his plane boarded. He loaded his boarding pass on his smart phone and made his way to the TSA security line. He envied the passengers who were TSA approved, but the normal TSA security line was short, there were only five people in front of him.

Steve got in line, pulled out his driver’s license. Held his driver’s license in his left hand, and his iPhone with the boarding pass in his right hand. He waited his turn. Steve’s mind was more on his presentation than on getting through security. There was no need to worry, after all, he spent as much time in the air as he spent in the classroom.

“Next,” said the TSA agent.

Steven walked up to the TSA agent. He handed him his license and put his iPhone boarding pass under the digital reading laser light.

The TSA agent looked at the license, looked back at Steve. He looked at the license and then back at Steve. “Excuse me, do you have a secondary piece of proof of identity?”

“That’s me. It’s my driver’s license,” said Steve.

“Sir, I didn’t ask if it was you. I asked if you had a secondary form of identification. A passport will work,” said the TSA agent.

“I only going to Boston. I wasn’t planning to leave the country. I didn’t take my passport.”

“Does your credit card have a photo ID?” asked the TSA agent.

“Can you tell what this is all about, my plane boards in 30 minutes,” asked Steve nervously.

“Your driver’s license shows a person who is clean shaven. You sir, have a thick grunge,” said the TSA agent.

“It’s me. Honest. Here’s my credit card. Here’s my voter’s ID. Here’s my gym membership card. I really need to make this flight,” pleaded Steve.

The TSA agent gathered up the documents. “I’ll need to show them to my supervisor. I can’t make this call.” The agent took the documents and left his station. Another TSA agent replaced the departed TSA agent. He motioned Steve to the side.

Did Steve make his flight? Come by tomorrow to find out.

Advice To Reach Impossible Goals

How do you and I accomplish a goal? What separates the people who seem to reach impossible goals from those who don’t? Elmore Leonard, the famous mystery fiction writer, gives us a clue. His simple message can be applied to any aspect of life as well as writing. His fantastic advice is offered in under 2 minutes on this YouTube video.

He Forgot To Put Down The Toilet Seat

The group of five people, three men, and two women, turned their attention from the figure on the folding chair to Farlo, Tina, and Joey G.

A no nonsense, buff, thirty something Hispanic woman, sat in the center of the group. She wore a black sports bra and black workout power tights. Her six-pack visible. She stared at Farlo for a moment, “It took you long enough, Farlo.”

Farlo said, “I was slowed down by the kid, Mia,” Farlo kept his eyes on the woman and pointed back toward the entrance with his thumb.

“Do you mean the creeping looking homeless guy that’s using you for a human shield?”

“That would be the one,” said Farlo.

A fiftyish, crewcut gray haired guy wearing a muscle shirt and sporting biceps that looked like an oversized orange was implanted in them said, “I heard about Filo sticking you with this job. The kid must be a piece of work.”

“You don’t know the half of it, Tango,” said Farlo. “He’s only been with one woman in his entire life.”

“That’s not true,” came Joey G’s voice from somewhere behind Farlo.

Farlo didn’t turn around, he growled, “You can’t count any woman where you were so drunk or stoned you can’t remember the event.”

“Okay, it’s one,” said Joey G.

The group of five laughed.

Farlo said, “Any luck with Harry J?”

Mia said, “Filo told us no rough stuff. What we’re doing now is an intervention. For the past two weeks, Harry Js been on a tough diet. We made him go straight vegan. No meat, no dairy, no fish, no life.”

A wiry, tall, thin, sandy haired guy said, “I object. I’m a vegan. It wasn’t punishment. It was more of a detox for Harry J. And, I’d appreciate it if everyone here would say, Vee Gan instead of Vay Gan. It’s insensitive to vegans when you purposely do that.”

“Chill,” said Mia. “Then she turned back to Farlo, “It’s been a long time since we hooked up. Too long. When we finish this, why don’t you and I head out to O’Rourke’s for a few beers and talk about where we’ll go for R & R?”

From behind Farlo, “I don’t believe this.”

Farlo said, “Can we go to O’Malley’s? It’s a bit quieter, and a more sophisticated crowd.”

From behind Farlo, “What are you going to do with the three women, you promised you’d meet?”

Mia looked at Farlo, “He hasn’t read the manual, has he?”

From behind Farlo, “I don’t believe this.”

“You already said that kid. Come up with a new line,” snarled Farlo.

Two guys, who looked like Navy Seals, who wouldn’t sit near the vegan guy looked at Mia. She nodded. They got up from their chairs walked passed Farlo, fist bumped him as they passed and sidled up to Joey G.

“I didn’t do anything. He made me do it. I was coerced. He’s a lunatic. He’s nuts. He needs to be locked up,” screamed Joey G.

Farlo half turned, “Stuff it, kid. Suck it up.”

“I don’t want to suck it up,” said Joey G.

The two Navy Seal looking guys picked Joey G up and carried him to the front of the group. Mia, who in the meantime got another folding chair and placed it in front of Harry J. The two Navy Seal guys sat Joey G in the empty folding chair and then took a step toward Harry J. They stood on either side of Harry J. They turned and faced the group. Harry J was awake, but he had his eyes closed tight.

Mia said, “It’s time Harry J. Or should I use your real name?”

“No. Don’t blow my cover,” said Harry J, his eyes still closed.

“We won’t blow your cover, if you’ll open your eyes,” said Mia.

Harry J opened his eyes. He stared at Joey G. Joey G stared back at Harry J.

“What am I supposed to do, Farlo?” asked Joey G.

Farlo grumbled, “Sit still and be quiet.”

“I can do that,” said Joey G sitting still and being quiet.

Harry J said, “You know me?”

Joey G made a zipper motion that his lips were sealed and he couldn’t speak.

Harry J said, “Farlo? You ever get this kid to read the manual.”

“He refuses to read the manual. He thinks it doesn’t exist.”

“What’s he got, cauliflower rice for brains?” Harry J snarled.

“Kid, I’m going to give it to you straight,” snarled Harry J sounding as he were doing a Farlo impersonation.

Joey G shrugged his shoulders, made off like he was bored.

“Your mom’s doing time. I’ll give her credit. She’s handling it well. She’s got another four years before she can come up for parole. Maybe she’ll get it, maybe she won’t. She has a trigger point temper.”

Joey G broke the code of silence, “How do you know her?”

“We shacked up for a week, thirty-four years ago. I thought it was a perfect match until she blew a fuse when I forgot to put the toilet seat down. Hey, it’s a guy thing women don’t understand.”

The vegan interrupted, “Sensitive males understand.”

“So?” said Joey.

“I’m your father,” said Harry J.

“My father? I don’t believe you,” said Joey G.

“It’s true, kid. Farlo sent in your DNA for comparison. One-hundred percent certainty.”

“Some father,” said Joey G.

“Some son,” said Harry J.

“Okay, you two, get up and hug. Me and Farlo can feel romance in the air,” said Mia.

Harry J stood. Joey G stood.

Joey G said, “Dad, can you help me out of a jam tonight?”

“What is it son?” asked Harry J.

“I’m supposed to meet two women at O’Rourke’s tonight. Would you like one?”

“What are we waiting for, Joey G?” said Harry J wrapping his muscular arms around Joey G.

“Dad, one more question?”

“Anything?”

“Who’s Filo?”

Imagine Inspiring Others

There is no small, unnoticed action of outs. It is witnessed by others. Even when we act in a space where there is no human observation of our activity, we carry that action within and its presence makes itself felt as we interact with others. Our actions count. Imagine each of your actions, however small, contributing to enrich, enliven and inspire others. I can see you doing this. This brief YouTube video of a Native American woman who grew up on the “Res” will inspire you as she inspires her brothers and sisters on the “Res”.

He Needs Relationship Help

Farlo turned and looked at the garbage truck, “We don’t need this. We’re abandoning it. It’s time to rescue Harry J.”

Joey G held up his right hand like a cop directing traffic, “Hold on Farlo. We just can’t abandon a garbage truck. We got permission to borrow it.”

“Look, kid. Read your manual. It’s on page 734, section 5, paragraph 3. I quote it since you can’t find the time for reading the manual. It reads, “You can abandon a garbage truck even if you borrowed it from a beautiful, fully figured African American woman.”

Joey G said, “Do you think you’re talking to a second grader? You made all that up.”

“Didn’t. Filo has a gift to predict future contingencies. Don’t hold me back, Kid,” grumbled Farlo.

“If you’re so smart. What will I tell the beautiful, fully figured African American who wants to have drinks with me at O’Rourke’s? What if she wants to stay longer than an hour? What am going to do with tough dame?” asked Joey G.

Farlo glanced at Tina, “Do I look like his father?” Then he turned his attention to Joey G, “What did you learn in school? You’ve got no clue on working the relationship. I bet the longest you’ve been a relationship is seventy-two hours.”

Tina barked twice in agreement with Farlo.

Joey G was puzzled for a moment, then he said, “How many days is that?”

“You are dense. I think you got one too many hits to the head. You play football?”

“Fantasy football at the bar. You think the pot smoking in high school messed up my brain?”

Farlo said, “You asked and answered your question. That’s a good start. Seventy-two hours is three days.”

Joey G beamed in triumph, “You are so wrong. You don’t know everything. You only think you do.”

Farlo scratched his head. “I’m usually pretty good at this. How many days?”

“A whole weekend, one time.”

Farlo looked down to Tina, “It’s not worth it, is it girl?”

Tina Barked.

“What?” asked Joey G.

“Let’s go. I don’t want to miss Harry J again,” barked Farlo sounding like an agitated pit bull. He turned and walked toward the delivery door of the Crack House. Tina followed. Joey G stood still basking in his victory over Farlo.

Farlo reached the door, turned back, and said, “Well? You gonna stand there recalling the one exciting moment in your life before I entered it?”

Joey G scurried to the delivery door. He said, “What’s the plan? Will you mentor me on how to handle the beautiful, fully figured African American woman who digs me? What about the tough dame. She thinks I’m cute. I got two hot women after me.”

“What you have, kid, are two beautiful women who want to do charity work. No more talk, follow me.” Farlo opened the delivery door. It opened to the hallway. The tough dame stood three-fourths of the way down the hall and pointed to a room. She blew a kiss toward the trio.

Farlo extended his right arm, pretended he caught the kiss, and put his hand on his lips and sent a kiss back. The tough dame mimicked Farlo’s moves, turned and walked toward a door that left to the Crack House’s store.

Joey G whispered, “That move was so unfair. Her kiss was meant for me. I’m sure it was. If I had a few more seconds I would have made an acrobatic catch to put you to shame.”

Farlo ignored Joey G’s complaint and strode down the hallway. He stopped by the door indicated by the tough dame. Tina sat on her haunches next to Farlo. Joey G trailed, practicing extending his left arm high over his head.

When Joey G approached Farlo and Tina, Farlo put his finger to his lips and pointed to the door. Farlo stepped toward the door and put his ear against it. Joey G did the same. Tina sat on her haunches, feeling superior to the human species because dogs had super sensitive hearing.

Farlo pulled his head back from the door, Joey G stayed against the door. Farlo grabbed Joey G by the shoulder and yanked him back. He got up close to Joey G’s face and whispered, “On the count of two we’re going in. Get your head in the game.”

Joey G whispered, “What’s with counting to two instead of three?”

“I’m making it simple for you,” growled Farlo.

Farlo placed his hand on the door knob. He slowly twisted it. He moved the door a fraction of an inch, it wasn’t locked. “One, two.”

Farlo opened the door, walked in and stared at five people, three men and two women sitting in chairs who were focused on a solitary figure sitting on a folding chair in front of them. Tina and Joey G stood in order behind Farlo. Joey G was wondering if Farlo’s body would stop any bullet before it reached him.

Who are these people? Which one is Harry J? Is Filo in the room?