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.






Everyone Loves Me

La Flor and I sit at the table. I’m sipping my coffee, a piece of multigrain toast smothered in peanut butter and raw honey sits in a dish in front of me. A bowl of blueberries off to the side. The temperature in the room is a pleasant 75. Yet, I feel as if I’m back in the freezer.

“Are you going to speak?” I asked La Flor.

“No. No. No. I am never going to speak to you again and this doesn’t count for speaking,” she said.

“Yes it does,” I said.

“No. It was a commercial. And, furthermore you blew a great career opportunity for the both of us.”

“How so?” I asked.

La Flor doesn’t realize she’s talking to me for the first time in five days. “That second rate, oily skinned, horrible hairstyle, who has no class now has my job as the image for Carmen’s Pizzeria. Truth be told, and I will tell the truth, it’s all silicon and collagen. And, a little liposuction from the hips. You think those lips are the same one’s she was born with? Let me tell you about her  ….”

“Stop right there, La Flor. Are you talking about Carmela?”

“The itch, I won’t use the B word, stole my job. I am going to trash, trash, trash her.”

“Why don’t you celebrate her success? I’m happy TT is the new manager.”

“That’s because you have no ambition.”

“Do you want half of my toast?”

“No. I’m on a starvation diet.”


“Yes. I’m restricting myself to smoothies and wine and ghuda cheese.”

I hear the door slam, not a moment too soon. Little Carmen comes into the dining room.

“How’s the beautiful, tough, and edgy soon to be model of the world’s most expensive jewelry.”

La Flor cocked her head toward Little Carmen, “Say what?”

“I was talking to Big Carmen and telling him how’s it wasn’t fair that use is not the image for the pizzeria. He’s sorry he did it because his sales has gone down the toilet.”

“I knew it. I knew it. Everyone loves me.”

“Of course. But he had to do it to keeps peace in the big family seeing Carmela is the Whale’s granddaughter and Big Carmen is her godfather.”

“What’s this thing about being a model?” asked La Flor.

“It’s a deal, ifs use wants it. Joe Tomalina, he’s an importer and exporter of certain things. Namely, in this case diamonds is one of his imports. And, cars left for more three hours on the street are what he exports. Well. La Roche Exquisite Jewels needs the importer to procure diamonds. But upon Big Carmen talking to Joe who happens to be a cousin of Big Carmen, Joe tells the roach he got to have you as the new image. TV, Cable, all the big mags. Use got the best deal possible. There’s only one hitch.”

“What and it better not be a deal breaker,” said La Flor.

No, no deal breaker. You still got to be the eye candy for Pepper, Whale and the 5th. They want to watch you do the shoot.”

La Flor bounded out of her chair, threw her arms around Little Carmen’s neck and began to kiss him. For my part, I took my coffee, toast, and fruit to the patio. I’m not one to interfere with love.

Wine Makes The Sun Shine

The Fab Four, AKA, La Flor, Little Carmen, Carmela, and TT, are sitting with me at a corner table at Marzelli’s Trattoria. Geno Marzelli, older, stooped, wearing a silk, handmade Italian suit comes to our table carrying a bottle of expensive wine.

Skip that, I’m rewriting the scene.

“No, you can’t. I don’t want to change a thing. Don’t ruin everything,” said La Flor with a voice sharp enough to slice a hunk of parmesan cheese.

“I don’t want to be part of the mob. I don’t want you to have hot merchandise. I doing a total rewrite.”

“I’m on strike. Who said anything about mob? Not me. Not Big Carmen. Not Pepper. Not Whale. Not the 5th,” said La Flor.

“And, may I add 2 + 3 doesn’t always make 4,” said Little Carmen.

“Huh,” said La Flor, Carmela, TT, and me.

“I’m going to have you becoming a nun and going to South America to live high in the Andes,” I said.

“You are sick. TT call Dr. Phil or somebody over there. We need an intervention and we need it now,” said La Flor trying to play Mozart’s piano concerto without a piano.

“May I intervention to bring this statement to a concluding (I think Geno meant to say, stalemate), said Geno Marzelli.

“We all turned to him. Wine makes the sun shine. It makes the grass green. It makes the birds sing. I give you my best wine. Besides, the beautiful, tough and edgy eye candy is the apples in my eye.” Geno places the wine on the table, bows to La Flor and walks away.

“I think he’s the 5th,” I said.

“Leave it alone, Ray. Do you see how nice Geno was to me? Are you jealous? Of course you are. You could take lessons from him, and so could you, LC.”

“Use wants  me to starts practicing bow wowing?” said Little Carmen.

“Yes, and think of ditching the Carmen’s Pizzeria T-shirts with a pepperoni pizza on the back.”

“But I gots a box full, there must be a hundred in there. What am I going to do with them?” asked Little Carmen.

“Do I have to think of everything? My job description says I only have to be eye candy, look beautiful, tough, and edgy. It’s taking all my time.”

“Yah!” said Carmela.

“Ditto,” whispered TT not loud enough for Little Carmen to hear him.

“I thought you rescued me. Instead, you sold me out,” I said gesturing a finger at La Flor.

“Oh Ray. How simple minded you are. Read your job description, out loud please so we all can help you.”

La Flor telling me what to do? I created her. I take a Carmen’s Pizzeria to go menu from the inside pocket of my silk Italian suit. I turn it over because it is on the back side where my job description is written. I start, “Large sausage pizza with Carmen’s special sauce, fourteen seventy-five. Order before seven and get a cannoli.”

“That’s use job description? I thought it was mine,” said Little Carmen.

“Apparently so,” I said.

“Ray, read between the lines, not the menu. Didn’t you listen to Big Carmen? He’s really, very, very, very, smart and handsome,” said La Flor.

“Is he is handsome as his only son,” asked Little Carmen.

“Oh my baby hunk, don’t be insecure. I’m wearing your rock. I have your fur coat. And, might I say keep the furnishings coming.”

“All of which are being donated to the poor today. We’ll stop by the church,” I said.




“I’m doing it right now. We suddenly found ourselves at St. Mary’s. We all went to the small building in back of the church that took donations for the poor.”

“Please stop writing. In the name of all that’s good, please stop,” pleaded La Flor.

La Flor, the generous, beautiful, tough, and edgy woman, handed her $10,000 fur coat to the nun taking donations.

“Not my coat!” she hollered.

La Flor seeing the look of gratitude on the nun’s eyes, handed her the $5000 hand crafted black leather boots with spike heels.

“Not my boots!” La Flor shouted.

La Flor, a walking saint, takes off the hot ring and hands it to the nun, “I hope this will help buy food for the hungry,” she said.

“You are the most generous, wonderful, kind, and compassionate woman I’ve met in a long time,” said Sister Monica.

“It’s hard, Sister living in the same house with self-centered, cheap, Ray.

“I understand,” said Sister Monica glaring at me. She turned back to La Flor, “If they give you anymore hot merchandise, bring it over here where it will do some good. Now go back to being eye candy. It keeps those guys calm.

“Thank you, Sister. Now let’s get back to Geno’s I need some wine.”

Can you follow this story? I’m having trouble.

I look at the back of the menu again. She’s right. Between the lines of the menu, are some small words printed with a ball point pen, the hotel variety kind. I read them to the Fab Four, “Use do’s a good job and use gets a bonus on top of the bonus. Don’t ask no question on what use is to do, jus do it. If use don’t know what use is supposed to do, use can clam (yes, it was written clam instead of claim) use is crazy and get off light.”

“See, it’s simple. Anyone can do that job and you’ll finally be making a contribution to society instead of blabbing about me and my entourage on your blog.”

I want to say lots of things. My lips won’t work. My vocal chords are in the Arctic circle and it’s December 21. I feel like I’m hyperventilating when a hand crashes into my back, my forehead hits the table and bounces back.

I hear La Flor say, “Big Carmen how do you get more handsome every time I see you. You make my heart flutter.”

“Beautiful, tough, and edgy one, use the one making my heart turn into chicken cacciatore.”

Big Carmen tells a guy at the table next to us to find another chair. He takes the guy’s chair and pulls it in between La Flor and me. He puts his right arm around me and pulls me tight to him, “Use pulled it off with use intellectual wit, Ray.”

I summon my courage, I said, “What does your organization do?”

“We helps the poor. The unfortunate. The underpriviledged. And, of course ourselves. Use hear what I am saying? We are a charitable organization.”

“You are?”

He whispers, “Dat was for the Feds. Use every heard of Robbing Hood?”

“Robin Hood?” I corrected.

“What I say? We do the same ting. Use is going to manage it cause I’m too busy with my pizzeria.”

I look at TT who’s looking at Carmela. I said, “Why not TT as your manager. Keep it in the family. He’s hot for your godchild, Carmela.”

“Use don’t mind? Use not gonna take it personal?”

“Me? Never.”

“Where does that leave me?” asked La Flor.

“Sipping coffee on the patio with me.”


She Got a Boyfriend?

It has to be a dream. I know it isn’t. I’ve entered the alt ego world and can’t find my way back.

Tony holds my right arm and Fredo my left as they guide me toward Mario’s Ice Storage. The door opens. Lil Carlo steps out wearing a winter cap pulled down over his ears. He has a thick winter overcoat dropping down over his ankles. A thick woolen scarf wrapped four times around his neck. His hands are thrusts into his coat pockets. He looks like a capybaras, the dog size rat now in Florida.

“Here’s da package Carlo,” said Fredo.

The rodent speaks, “Hey, how many times I gonna to tell use to calls me Lil Carlo so’s nobody gets confused me with Bigger Carlo, and Really Big Carlo? I ought to put a bullet where you don’t want me to put a bullet if use knows what I means.”

Fredo raises his hand.

“What?” barks Lil Carlo.

“Five times?”

Lil Carlo ponders the suggestion. Then says, “Three.”

Fredo says, “Deal.”

“Go get some clothes for this guy, he’ll freeze his nuts off,” said Lil Carlo.

“Hey, it’s a family blog. Cut that language out,” I said.

“I forgets. Anyway, everybody likes peanuts, the roasted kinds with lots of salt. Me, personally, I likes the kind with Sriracha sauce. It’s new on the market.”

“I believe peanuts are a legume, not a nut,” I said.

Lil Carlo pulls a gun out of the coat pocket. He points it at me. He said, “I believes use is incorrectly mistaken and appropriating the wrong meaning to peanuts. It looks like a nut. It tastes like a nut, so, I asks use, it must be a …”

“Nut?” I said.

“Good choice,” said Lil Carlo slipping his gun back into his overcoat pocket.

Tony brings me a stocking hat, gloves, overcoat, and cashmere scarf. “You’ll be okay if use don’t stay in the freezer for more than a half hour. If use in there more than a half hour, maybe your nose gets frozen. Although, I never heard of a nose falling off from frostbite, but if it did, it gots to hurt. Use looks like you could lose a inch or two and still be okay.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” I said.

“No problem. That’s the second thing I did for use. Use remembers the first thing?” said Tony.

Before I can answer, Big Carmen comes up to me and gives me a bear hug. I hope he didn’t break two ribs. He squeezed the air out of my lungs.

“I sees use is noy verse since use is having a hard time breathing. This is a normal reduction for peoples who applied for this position,” said Big Carmen.

I gasp, “I, I didn’t apply.”

“Ssshhhh. Use don’t want the family to hears that I did you a favor of a lifeline.”

Lifeline? Did he mean lifetime? I can’t follow these guys. How am I supposed to communicate with them?

Big Carmen turns me toward the back of the room. I don’t see anyone. “Where is everyone?” I ask.

“In da freezer.”

“In the freezer?”

“What I just say? I hates to repeat myself or repeat others. It’s like seeing reruns, which I never liked because I know how the ending ends,” said Big Carmen.

“Why, the freezer?” I ask.

“Why not?” said Big Carmen. Then he added, “I just teached (yes, he said teached) use a lesson. The lesson being never answer a question unless use answers a question with a question. Lets me gives use an example. Suppose the cops are grilling use and they say, ‘What can use tell us about Big Carmen?” Use say, “Big Carmen? or “Do use know how big Big Carmen is?” See what I’m saying?”

“I see what you’re saying.”

“Exactly. See, noboby ever got convicted of asking a question. They only get convicted for answering a question. Use follow me?”

“Every place you go,” I said.

“Now that is not true. Use do not follow me to the toilet. Nobody follows me there. Use don’t follow me to the confessional, which by the way is where I am every Saturday so I remain holy just in case.”

“I follow you,” I said.

He opened the door to the freezer. I’m staring at three guys with ski masks, stocking hats, winter coats, boots, gloves, and cataract sunglasses.

Big Carmen said, “The person of no interest on the right goes by Pepper cause he gots a hot temper. The person of some interest in the middle goes by Whale since he encourages those who disagrees with him to go whale watching. The person of considerable interest on the left goes by 5th cause that’s what he’s always pleading.”

“Very interesting,” I said.

“No, it is not interesting to use, never. If it is never interesting use can’t remember what is was that wasn’t interesting in which case if use are ever asked if use discovered something interesting in use job, use answers truthfully, use can even pass the lie inspector test.” said Big Carmen.

He turned to  the three ski masks, “Dis is Ray, Fredo suggests we calls him Toe Food cause that what he likes to eat if anyone displeases him, if use knows what I means.”

Pepper, Whale, and 5th nod as if they’ve practiced the wave. I’m freezing. My teeth are chattering. I’ve goosebumps on my goosebumps. I read someplace what I’m experiencing is like canoeing down the Amazon and the canoe is surrounded by piranha. All you can do is paddle.


“So’s use is the new manager if we says use is the news manager,” said Whale.

“I don’t like the news. I never watch it,” I said.

The 5th stared at me, then huddled with the other two.

They broke the huddle. Pepper gestured to me with a crooked index finger the size of a brat. He said, “Perfect answer. Use is hired.”

At that moment, the alt ego universe stood still, if, for only a second. The door burst open, Tony and Fredo pulled guns. Big Carmen said, “Chill, it’s the beautiful, tough, and edgy model for Carmen’s Pizzeria.”

Pepper took off his cataract glasses and said, “She’s hot.”

Whale removed his cataract glasses and said, “How’d use get her Big Carmen?”

The 5th took off his cataract glasses, drool spilled over his lower lip. He said, “She got a boyfriend?”

Before Big Carmen can speak, La Flor said, “You can’t have Ray. He’s my agent. If you sign him up as manager, I won’t do anymore ads for Big Carmen.”

I wanted to kiss La Flor. I’ll never say a bad word about her again. La Flor, beautiful, tough, and edgy whatever she wants to be is my hero.

La Flor, wrapped in a $10,000 waist length fur coat, black leather spiked heel boots that clung to her calfs, her hands on her hips, glared at the Whale.

The Whale said, “The dame’s tough.”

Pepper said, “Yah, buts she’s beautiful.”

And the 5th said, “She’s edgy.”

Big Carmen said, “I can lose use Ray, but I can’t lose the beautiful, tough and edgy one. She’ll break my boy’s heart and step on it with those heels. Besides, my pizza sales are through the roof. Take them home Tony and Fredo.

“Can we makes a deal with the beautiful, tough, and edgy one to be his administrative assistant. She don’t have to do nothing cept looks beautiful, tough, and edgy. The three of us likes the eye candy.”

“How much will you pay me? What perks do I get?” asked La Flor.

“Huh?” Will this circus ever end?



Mob Hits – It’s Not The Movies

I buy my suits at Men’s Wearhouse. I’ve never worn a $4000 dollar suit. The shirt cost I’m wearing costs more than all the suits in my closet combined. The shoes, tie, and cufflinks they handed me? If I purchased them, I’d need a second mortgage. Why am I doing this? It’s my blog, I can rewrite the script. Yet, there is an alien force alive in the alt ego world pulling me deeper and deeper into its parallel universe. What have I got to lose? To start with, the little sanity I have left after bringing La Flor into the mix.

The voice from the living room brings me out of my reverie, “Use ready, we don’t want to keep the family waiting. It won’t look good for anybody and that means nobody,” said Tony.

I need to pick up mob speak as a second language. I did a final check in the mirror, pulled my cuffs out. Have to admit I look good. First born Italian sons always have a gigantic ego. Even when it is not deserved.

Tony is wearing a black leather driving cap. He has black driving gloves. Black T-shirt, black pants. For an instant, I wonder if I’m going to a funeral. He opens the back door to the black stretch limo. I get in and Fredo slides in next to me. His dress is the same except for the hat. He’s wearing dark shades.

“I don’t want use to gets lonely,” said Fredo. He takes out a pair of earplugs, pops them into his ears and starts watching a video on his phone.

I want to make conversation, “What movie are you watching?”

“Hey Tony, he wants to know what movie I’m watching.”

Tony starts laughing so hard, he bangs his right palm on the dash board. Fredo, pauses his movie. He’s laughing too. He stops laughing, he wipes the tears from his face. He turns to me and said, “Mob hits. It’s not the movies.”

Mob hits. It’s not the movies?”

“How shall I puts it to use? Use know how ESPN does the best plays of the day from the day before in case use didn’t see them?”


Fredo says, “Something like that. Let’s say it is a training film made from real experience. Like a reality show, but it is not a reality show.”

Enough. As soon as I get back I’m calling the FBI and entering the witness protection program against the alt ego mob. What am I saying? I created the alt egos.

“Dis is use problem, if I may say so. Noticed I did not use use name because if I did use use name, somebody who’s not supposed to hear what I am saying will hear what I am saying and use may come under discussion. If use knows what I mean. Shake your head if use follows my logical,” said Fredo.

Is there a grammatical rule against using use use back to back? Of course there is, please don’t email, text, or call and explain the rule to me. I did not follow his logic because there is no logic to follow. Fredo speaks in convoluted sentences without a sentence structure. I nod my head. What else can I do?

Fredo goes back to his training film. Tony hollers back, “Use need a stiff drink to calm use nervousness before use interview?”

“I don’t drink,” I said.

“This is a mistake,” said Tony.

“Why? I do it for health reasons.”

“I gonna gives use a clue. Now if they accepts use for the position which everyone knows use is interviewing for, I want use to remember hows I went about to help use prepare. Everybody who’s gonna interview use is gonna be drinking wine. They gonna offer use wine, if use don’t drink it, they’s gonna think there is something wrong with use. Use won’t get the job.”

I try to play this cool, seeing my way out of my predicament. I wonder if I can keep the suit. I say, “I eat tofu too.”

“Hey, Fredo, use hears what he jus said? He said he eats toe food.”

Fredo pulls out his earplugs, “Use eats toe food?”

I assumed this is there way of speaking, I nod.

“They gonna love this man, Tony. He’s a cannonball. He’s not gonna take any cannoli from anybody likes the last guy.”

I think he meant to say cannibal instead of cannonball. I let it go, instead, I ask, “The last guy?”

“Yah, he’s coming up on my training film. He made a nice exit if use knows what I mean. He coulda made the Olympic swim team if they have diving from overpass on I-35 at rush hour. You wants to see it?

“Not now, Fredo, we’s here,” said Tony out of the corner of his mouth.

Tony pulls the limo to a stop in the warehouse district. Tony says, “We’s at cooperate.”

“You mean corporate?”

“Whad I say?”

Mario’s Ice Storage? Corporate? A sign on the door, Reopens When We Reopens. 



If The Suit Fits – Wear It

I listen to my ringtone play Theme From The Godfather. I consider letting it go to messages. Then, I think Big Carmen will walk through my door, locked or unlocked. What could he want? I know what he wants. I don’t want what he wants. I don’t want him in the house where he’ll twist my arm,

“Dis is Big Carmen,” The voice on the other end. Really? I’d never guess, duh!

I said, “How’s it going?”

“What chu talking bout?  You talking bout this thing, or that thing, and the other thing. Maybe use mean nothing, see what I’m saying?”

Does the whole family talk this way? Who taught them to speak this way? Are they products of public education? I digress. I said, “I hear you.”

“I said, ‘do you see what I’m saying,’ which is quite different from ‘hear what I’m saying.’ I didn’t ask if use hear. I asks if use see. See what I’m saying?”

I’m a quick learner. I said, “I see what you’re saying?”

“Use talking about the first thing or the second thing or both things?”

I want to ask if this is a multiple-choice exam with free retakes. Instead, I say the first thing that comes to mind, which I immediately regret, “All of the above.”

There is silence. Did he hang up. No, I hear a voice in the background holler, ‘extra cheese, double anchovies.’ I wonder if Big Carmen is working and talking at the same time. He finally speaks, “I pause my thinking because use answer was deep, deeper than the deep dish pizza Struzzerio makes, which use hid under use sofa while I was at use house. Use should have offered me a piece. Even if I hate the Stuzzerios, I loves their deep dish. I make Lil Carlo go in disguise to get me one every now and then.”

“What kind of disguise does he wear when he orders one,” I asked.

“Is use phone got termites, if use know what I means?”

“I know what you mean and my phone doesn’t have termites or ants or roaches.”

“Use can never be too careful. This is why and that is why referring to how use answered my above question why I am going to brings you to the board of directors today for use interview for the position for which I am grooming use.”

I need to change the subject. I said, “What is Lil Carlo’s disguise?”

“See what I’m saying? Use is a detail man. Nobody is going to ask that question because it is one of those hidden questions. The answer is a stocking mask with eye holes just big enough for his thick black rimmed glasses. He looks like a freak when he wears it, let me tell use. If I didn’t knows it was him, he’d scared the crap out of me. But since I know’d it was him, I still haven’t gone. What do use thinks I should take for being plugged up?”

I’ve got to figure out how to escape from the alt ego world. While I’m stuck on the alt ego treadmill I’ll play the game. I said, “I see what you’re saying. Now, about being plugged up, have you thought of adding fiber to the pizza crust?”

“Dis is a joke, right? Use is pulling my legs, maybe both at the same time? Except for California, who ever heard of fiber? Know what I uses fiber for?”

I afraid to ask and afraid not to ask. The better choice, ask, “What?”

“Well, not me, but some people I happen to know who might now and then do a favor or two or three for me. In case anybody is trying to listen, everything I’m saying is on the up and up. They use it for health reasons.”

“That’s what fiber is for. It helps to keep you regular,” I said.

“What the hell use talking about, Ray. They uses it for the health of a third or fourth or fifth party after which the third, or fourth, or fifth party doesn’t have health problems never again. It’s like miracle medicine, which Doc Oz won’t use because he might consider it an edgy alternative medicine. Use reading between the lines and under the covers and in a darkened room, get my drifting?”

“I get your drifting. Thanks for calling. I enjoyed our chat. I got to run. Ciao,” I said.

“Not so fast. Is use mind slipping. I won’t say anything to the family, but don’t let it slip again because the family is forgiving up to a point. What I am telling use for your own good in use interview…”

“Interview? I didn’t apply for a job,” I’m working hard to control my bladder.

“This is a point in your favor, which does away with the other point, which was not in your favor. We saves on paper and personnel when we don’t accept applications. Use interview is in fifteen minutes.”

“But, but, my suit is in the cleaners. My shoes aren’t shined. I don’t have a starched shirt. I have had my sixth cup of coffee,” I said hoping something sticks.

“Taken care of. Tony and Fredo are outside your door. Tony has your Italian made silk suit, shoes, shirt, and tie. Fredo gots use venti coffee with four shots of espresso. He also gots gold cuff links he picked up last night from Hastings Jewelry. See you in fifteen minutes, Ciao.”

“Hey, Ray. Can use dress use self or use going to need help?” asks Tony, a five foot eleven fire hydrant with dark black hair, sunglasses, gold bracelet and chains.

“I can dress myself,” I said.

His twin, I assume Fredo, comes in with my coffee and cuff links. Fredo said, “We dress like this to fit the TV image. Nobody in their right mind dresses this way.”

An interview with the family?

Can I get into the witness protection business?

I hope the suit fits.


Are We Done?

“I gonna call a meeting to protect us from forces even too big for the government to stop. Even too big for Big Carmen and the Mob to threaten. Use sees, if I don’t do nothing then nobody is going to do nothing, no how, no way, no time,” said Little Carmen.

“Are you going to do nothing? Is that what you’re saying?” I said.

“That’s exactly my point, Ray-mo. Thanks for asking da question. Like I said, which I didn’t say hold the questions. If you got one question raise your hand with one finger, but not the middle one in the case of misinterruption. If use has two questions raise your hand with two fingers and in this case, use may use the middle finger provision it comes up second and is in the basement to the next finger. If the next finger is cut off use got to use your pinky and ring finger,” said Little Carmen.

“You are so smart, LC. Ray and TT could take lessons from you,” said La Flor checking her social media and unfollowing anyone who she thought was unattractive or a potential competitor.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“The question about hows I’m gonna donates use eyes back to use if use don’t have any eyes,” said Little Carmen.

I held up my hand, “Does anyone have a clue as to what Little Carmen is talking about? He’s way over my head?” Sometimes I’ll say anything to keep peace among these four.

“We don’t have mucho time, Ray-mo. The beautiful, tough, and edgy fancy is teaching me to speaks Spinglish.”

“Do you mean fiancé?” I said.

“That’s what I said,” Little Carmen replied.

“What’s Spinglish?” I asked.

TT raises his hand.

“Yes, TT,” I said.

“If I may, perhaps I can help. Spinglish is a combo Spanish, English and street trash talk often found among the uneducated, buffoons of the lower Malgoola River in New Zealand. As far as the first part, he’s talking about the moon and the sun at the celestial cotillion on Monday.”

I used to think TT had more on the ball than the rest, he’s tottering on the edge of a precipice and if he falls, there is no coming back.

“Thanks for the clear if ick a shun,” said Little Carmen believing he was sounding intelligent because he slowly enunciated each syllable of a word.

“Are we finished, LC? I have a nail appointment in twenty minutes,” said La Flor while she was reading her texts.

“Give me five more minutes beautiful, tough, edgy who is wearing a rock so big it will be the envy of every woman who lived or will live.”

“What about extra-terrestrial women?” asked La Flor.

“Great question my beautiful, tough, and edgy mentor,” said Carmela.

“Huh. Is that like the women who wear too much makeup?”

TT nods. Carmela sees TT nod and does the same. La Flor not wanting to lose her audience nods as well and adds, “Too much makeup takes away from one’s natural beauty. But, of course, you have to have natural beauty like me.”

“Well said, my beautiful, tough, and edgy mentor,” Carmela doing her best to suck up to La Flor.

Five more minutes, then I’m out of here, I tell myself. Nothing useful is coming out of this household meeting.

“Likes I was salivating, if use looks directly into the mirror during the e-slips, use will lose your irises and once use lose them, the only place to find them is in the lost and found if somebody turns them in.”

La Flor shouted, “Bravo. We’re done. I don’t have to look into the mirror because I’m perfect. Anyone disagree?”

La Flor looked for a show of hands, “We’re all in agreement. Carmela pay careful attention to how I make the nail techs to do my nails. If you don’t they can be pushy. And, while I’m having my nails done, I want you to go and get me my fav Starbucks drink. You’ll have to hold it up for me to drink because I don’t want to mess my nails.”

“Uh huh,” obeyed Carmela.

The thought of an empty house almost overwhelms me with gratitude. Los cuatro amigos out for the afternoon and perhaps longer. My mind races with plans. A few phone calls and I’ll have dinner with a friend and intelligent conversation. Until . . .

My iPhone rings with a special ringtone for someone I hope never calls me. The ringtone plays the theme from the Godfather.