You Smell Like A Skunk

Chapter 22

Zeke and Mickey rode in the back seat of the black BMW. Tony Gallino rode in the passenger seat, the driver thug drove. The driver thug was wearing driving gloves to prevent his hands from making smudges on the steering wheel. This was one Gallino’s pet peeves. He hated smudges. The thug took a left onto Walnut Ave. Cars lined both sides of the street. The only free spot was the space in front of the fire hydrant in front of the house where Nonna lived.

“There’s no parking spaces Mr. G. Want me to drop use off and wait at a coffee shop until you ring me?” said the thug.

“No need, Tony. The space in front of the hydrant is reserved for me. Since I’m with you, you can take my space,” said Zeke.

Gallino turned and looked over his shoulder at Zeke, “The cops let you alone if you park there?”

“They never bother me.  It’s the way it works.

Gallino said, “Interesting.” Then  he tapped the right shoulder of the thug, “Park in front of the hydrant. Don’t let anything happen to my car, you understand?” said Gallino.

“I gotcha, Mr. G,” said the thug.

Two minutes later, Zeke is knocking on Nonna’s door. Gallino is standing behind Zeke. Mickey is standing behind Gallino.

From behind the door, “I gotta no time the Jehovah’s today. Go knock on somebody else’s door.”

“Nonna, it’s me, Zeke,” said Zeke.

“I no gonna talk to you if one of those Jehovah’s,” said Nonna.

“I’m not one of them, Nonna. I’m with Tony Gallino, he wants to speak with you,” said Zeke.

“I can smell a Palitroni. You bring that scrunchy little bum with you? Don’t lie to me. I can tell when you lying,” said Nonna.

“I showered this morning,” hollered Mickey.

Nonna hollered back, “You Palitroni’s got the skunk smell. No way you can get rid of it. Anyway, you the drunken bum who drank all my dandelion wine. Now, Gino won’t come over until I get some more. I tell him he can’t come to my house until he take his blue pill, you know what I mean?”

Tony Gallino, wearing his three thousand dollar handmade suit, took his silk handkerchief out of his suit coat pocket and wiped his mouth. He said, “Nonna, it’s me, Tony. Can we talk business? These two schmucks are wasting our time.”

“Who you calling a schmuck? It’s okay to call Palitroni a schmuck, but you no call Zeke a schmuck. He’s just stupid and lazy but he gotta good heart.’

“I know what you mean about the Palitroni’s. You can’t trust them. Can I come in and we can make a deal?” said Gallino thinking he was charming Nonna.

“Okay, I’m gonna let everybody in, but I not gonna waste my food and wine on you. I tell you Tony, you try to seduce me, Rocco’s watching. He gonna ask one of the saints to give you a bad accident.”

“I promise, I won’t try to seduce you, Nonna,” said Gallino.

“Why not? Am I not pretty enough for you? Just because I don’t got those plastic things that stick out like a big grapefruit, is that the reason?” said Nonna.

Gallino, exasperated, said, “Yes, I want to seduce you, but I promise I won’t. It will hard because  you’re so beautiful.”

“Will you take me to your bed if you have a chance and I give in?” said Nonna.

“Yes, I’ll have you spend the night with me. We’ll make passionate love. But I promise I’ll be strong.”

“You a bigger fool than I thought, Tony. Now I gotta all this on my phone. Maybe I’m a gonna play it for the six o’clock news.  Know what I mean?”

“Can I please come in?” Gallino now, almost begging.

“Okie dokie,” said Nonna, taking off the latch, and opening three dead bolt locks, then turning the door handle.

Will Nonna and Tony Gallino cut a deal? What will happen to Zeke and Mickey? What’s in the package?


Writing Dialogue Like Quentin Tarantino

If you’re like me, you understand writers have to write. I’m always trying to learn from the best. In this short YouTube video, Quentin Tarantino shares how he started writing dialogue. If you’re a writer, learn from the best.

I Like Sushi

“Heads or tails isn’t working, Ray. Think of something that will favor me. What I have to say may be the most important thing anybody said all year,” said La Flor.

“But, most beautiful, tough, and edgy one if use knows what I have to say use would know what I has to say is what I has to say,” said LC.

“Stop. Stop. Stop. You’re both driving me nuts. Here’s the deal. One of you will go first, the other gets to choose where we eat tonight.”

“Dis is a good, very good deal. It reminds me of Big Carmen’s special two for one deal tonight on sausage pizza,” said LC.

“I like both options, it’s so hard for me to choose. I like sushi. What’s your choice LC?” said La Flor.

“I likes sushi, but I likes to eat barbecue more. Use can talk first if I can talks second,” said LC.

“You are so sweet, LC. I agree if I can talk first and I can choose your fav sushi restaurant. What could be more fair.  If you agree you will make me happy,” said La Flor.

“Use logic makes sense to me. Dis is why use is the beautiful, tough, and edgy one. I wish I thunk of it firsts,” said LC slapping his hand against the side of his head.

Dear reader, do you understand now why I have to go for long walks, meditate, and snack on chips and salsa?

“Let’s hear your problem, La Flor,” I said repeating to myself, do not roll your eyes. Do not roll your eyes.

La Flor takes a deep breath, brushes her hair back, reaches into her handbag and takes out her iPhone X. “You both have to promise me you won’t go goofy. Promise me you won’t take things into your hands and do something you’ll regret. Promise me, you’ll back me up, no matter what I decide to do.”

LC leans in toward La Flor. He swallows her tiny hand in both of his catcher’s mitts. Then he said, “I promise. I promise. I promise. I tinks I covered all three promises use mentioned beautiful, tough, and edgy star of my dreams.”

“What about you, Ray?

“I need to know what I’m promising to,” I say.

“You don’t trust me,” pouted La Flor.

She’s right. I don’t trust her. Well I do trust her to think only of herself; to be the star; to be the center of attention. I can work with this. I said, “La Flor, you know I trust you. Look at our working relationship. Look how well we get along.”

“Thank you, Ray. I’ll take that as you agreeing to everything I’ve said.”


Dear Reader. I’m trying to get these two to tell you what’s bothering them. Now you have an idea of what it’s like living with them. Come by tomorrow. I have a good feeling they’ll tell us what’s bothering them.




I Want Heads and Tails

“Beautiful, tough, and edgy one, I needs to talks to use about something I needs to talk about,” said LC.

“That’s nice, LC. But what I have to talk about is more important than what you have to talk about. So, what you have to talk about will have to wait until I finish talking about what I want to talk about,” said La Flor.

“I didn’t quite understand what use is saying. I tink I got the first part. Maybe the third part, but I don’t remembers the second part is nada.”

“Don’t try to sweet talk me using Spanish. You are the smartest person I know besides me. How did you master Spanish without studying? Don’t tell me until after I tell you what I want to tell you.”

“Let’s play a little game,” said La Flor.

“I like this idea, it will break the tunnel (I think he meant to say tension) over who gets to talk first, second, and turd (He meant to say third).”

“Okay, I’ll go first. I’m going to talk and you have to remember everything I said. You can’t interrupt or you lose. When it’s your turn, we’ll call Ray over and he has to be quiet while you talk and then we’ll see how much he remembers, which won’t be much because he only pretends he’s listening.”

“How can we tell who wins?” said LC.

“It’s not about winning. It’s about how we play the game,” said La Flor.

“There’s gotta be a winner so’s Big Carmen can set the odds in case anybody wants to place a bet.”

I can’t take anymore. They’re driving me nuts. I walk over, “Why don’t we flip a coin to see who goes first. Do you agree?” I said.

La Flor looked at LC. LC looked back at La Flor. They both looked at me and nodded.

I need to change my name to Solomon.

“Who wants heads?”

In unison, “Me.”

“You both can’t have heads,” I said.

“Why not?” asked LC.

“I’ll take tails, if it will help, but I want eight tries to win,” said La Flor.

“That’s brilliant beautiful, tough, and edgy one. I want tails with the same deal, too, Ray-mo,” said LC.

“I changed my mind. I want heads and tails, Ray,” said La Flor.

“You can’t have heads and tails,” I said.

“Why can’t she, Ray-mo? My beautiful, tough, and edgy girl who gives me goose bumps when she touches me can have anything she wants,” said LC.

Before I could say another word, they’re both out of their chairs. La Flor does the leap. I head to the patio.

We’ll try again tomorrow to find out what’s bothering these two. But now it’s time for love.

That’s The Rule

“Ray, am I right when I say there is a house rule where we can express ourselves without fear?” the snarky remark coming from La Flor.

Oh, oh. My mind races back 24 hours. There was La Flor’s incident with her mystery writer blog friend. They were wearing the same outfit. I got blamed. There was the incident with Little Carmen when he brought her the wrong Starbucks drink. I got blamed. There was the incident where Carmela and TT got a line more attention than she and Little Carmen did. I got blamed.

I decide to jump in the deep end, “That’s the rule.”

It’s not good when her arms go akimbo and she cocks her head to the left, and gestures with her right index finger. It looks like I hit the trifecta.

Her forefinger can within inches from my nose. No nose jokes please. La Flor said, “Yesterday. Yesterday. Yesterday.”

I replied, “Yes, yesterday was yesterday. Where are you going with yesterday? Do you realize it’s today and tomorrow is tomorrow.”

“I am so grateful LC is not like you. He’s sensitive. He’s smart. And, he’s secure in his own skin. Unlike some people I know whose name begins with R and means rat.”

I hold up my hand, “We have another rule, no insults, disparaging remarks.”

La Flor holds up her hand, “We have another rule to always tell the truth.”

I hold up my hand, “We have another rule, it has to be the truth and not an opinion.”

La Flor holds up her hand, “We have another rule, if the opinion is the truth then it’s okay to state an opinion.”

I hold up my hand, “We have another rule, “If the truth is going to hurt, try to say it in a way that is compassionate and kind.”

La Flor holds up her hand, “We have another rule, “If it hurts, suck it up and deal with it.”

“That’s not our rule,” I said.

“Yes, it is. LC and I voted on it this morning,” said La Flor.

“I wasn’t present for the vote.”

“You don’t have to be present if there is a quorum.”

“Were TT and Carmela present?”

“No, but I made them give me their proxies.”

“You made them?”

“Yes. I gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse.”

“You’ve been spending too much time with Big Carmen and Lil Carlo.”

“They’re sweet.”

“What’s the issue you wanted to talk about?”

“What issue?”

Another stimulating conversation with La Flor that leaves me talking to myself.


My Conscience Is Speaking

“I never thought you’d ask me,” said my conscience with a hint of I told you so in his voice.

“I always listen to you. It’s my number one rule. You know that,” I retorted.

“Should I list the times you didn’t listen to me to your readers? Imagine what La Flor, Little Carmen, TT, and Carmela will think of you if I post your slip ups on my Facebook page.

“You wouldn’t?” I asked.

“I don’t have a conscience to listen to. I am the conscience.”

“I don’t like your attitude,” I said.

“I don’t like you hanging out with shady characters. Do you read your blogs?” My conscience asked.

“If I could like them more than once I would read them all day,” I said.

“Ah, the ego has taken hold of you. That’s the problem, isn’t Ray? Think of where you’re leading Little Carmen. The nitwit can’t find his way home when he’s on the sidewalk in front of his house. What about La Flor? She’ll flirt with anyone who rich, and will help her get all she wants. Is that the kind of character you want to create?”

“Hey, conscience. Cut La Flor some slack. She’s beautiful, tough, and edgy. She’s smart. She’s savvy. I like La Flor,” I said.

“Oh, I get it, you want to move Little Carmen aside so you can have La Flor all to yourself.”

“What are you talking about? She’s an alt ego. A created character. No wonder I don’t listen to you.”

“Life would be better if you did?” said my conscience.

“What do you suggest. I’m giving you a chance and it better be good.”

“La Flor should go to a third-world country and do missionary work. Little Carmen should be a Big Brother to inner city kids. TT should work for Apple. And, Carmela, she can wait on tables at Carmen’s Pizzeria.”

“What about Big Carmen and Lil Carlo?” I asked.

Before my conscience can speak. …

“Hey, Ray. Is your conscience bothering use?” said Big Carmen swaggering into the room.

“Stay out of this Big Carmen. It’s between Ray and me,” said my conscience.

“I needs the beautiful, tough, and edgy one. My boy is going to gets a very serious promotion when I can thinks of something to promote him to. And, as for Lil Carlo, give me a break. He’s got a good heart, even if he’s nuts. Now beat it, and leave my man, Ray alone.”

“Thanks, Big Carmen.”

“I’m watching you, Ray,” said my conscience pointing his finger at me as he walked out the door.

Make Me A Power Smoothie

“I am so freaking excited. I am the cover girl for the roach’s jewels,” said La Flor lying on her yoga mat doing crunches, some crazy Pilates and core exercises. She added, “I’m already buff, but a cover girl can’t be too buff, suppose they want to feature a diamond in my navel. I have an innie. You can’t feature a diamond in an outie.” La Flor showing great pride in her bully button.

“I think it’s La Roche. What are you doing now?” I asked.

“What did I say? I hate to repeat myself. I’m working my legs and arms together. The best tummy tightener exercise possible. Make me a power smoothie while I finish up.”

“Do you want wheat grass? Gia seeds? Flaxseeds? Green tea? Kale? Spinach? What do you want in it?” I said.

“All the above. I’m in training. Go to one of those health blogs. The weird ones that everyone says they read but don’t. Unlike your blog where everyone says they don’t read and do because of me.”

“I have to time the smoothie. When will you be through with your workout?”

“I’ve got cardio. After cardio, I do upper body weights. Got to keep my natural and I emphasize the word natural wonders firm.”

“It’s a family blog, La Flor.”

“What I say? Lighten up, Ray. Get real. It’s not the Victorian age. Become comfortable with yourself and people will become comfortable with you.”

“Something like you,” I said.

The doorbell rings.

“Exactly. Get the door, it’s probably LC with his arms loaded with gifts for me and he can’t open the door.”

I take a step toward the door. I hear footsteps, it can only be …

“How’s it going beautiful, tough, and edgy and I misses you more than you know every man’s heart throb?” said Big Carmen.

“Hi Big Carmen,” I said.

“I come here to talk to the beautiful, tough, and edgy one. For you, I give you a word, hi,” said Big Carmen.

“Are you upset I didn’t take the job?”

Big Carmen turned toward me, “Upset? Upset? Why woulds use use that milder than my Wednesday night special white cheese pizza, special this week for four ninety nine when use buy eight cannoli for three bucks each word?”

“Something wrong?” I asked.

He turns toward La Flor, “Beautiful, tough, and edgy one, coulds use stop with the bouncing up and downs for a moment. I am getting dizzy with your beauty going back and forth so fast.”

La Flor stops half-way into a crunch. She stares at her abs. “I see a six pack forming. My dream. What is it BC, make it quick, I can’t hold this position for ever.”

“I needs use, but not the ways use thinks I needs use. I gots a question for use. Use may listen. Ray, but let the beautiful, tough and edgy one make up her own, personal, and I will add more brilliant than ten suns and four moons, and six iron stews mind.”

“Did you mean, Einstein?” I said.

“What I tell use abouts repeating what I say. What I say? Iron Stews.”

I pondered telling Big Carmen he repeated himself, but thought it unwise. Not because of him, but because La Flor was giving me a “don’t screw this up” look.

“Yes?” said La Flor flirting with her eyes at Big Carmen.

“Use eyes do something to make my heart have a murmur or someting. I don’t know how it happens. Anyways, there is this problem with someone use know. His name is TT. The cops arrested him. The fool was so happy with his job he thinks he can brags about it. He even text his brother who happens to be an undercover cop. I wants use to be his lawyer. I know use can get him off because use is beautiful, tough, and an edgy legal wizard.”

I said, “His brother turned him in?”

“It was his adopted brother, they’re not blood. But it is the only one he gots.”

“What’s he charged with?”

“Nothing. They want him to go into witness protection, which is a good ting and a bad ting. Now it is a bad ting. What’s that stuff use is making? Use not going to drink it?”

“It’s for La Flor. Part of her conditioning. It’s a power smoothie,” I said.

Big Carmen looked at La Flor, “Use wants to drink someting dat tastes worse than I can’t say because this a family blog and I don’t want use know who to reminds me again. I hate that.”

“What’s in it for me if I get TT out of witness protection?” said La Flor as calm as any Hollywood agent.

“Use gets to name use ticket right to da top of wherevers use wants to go,” said Big Carmen.

“I’ll need a new wardrobe. A personal trainer. A nail and hair tech on call 24/7 for starters. And, I want Ray for my legal assistant.”

“Use got it.”

“Ray, dump the smoothie and bring Big Carmen and me a glass of wine,” La Flor said.