Have You Had Your Flute Shot?

La Flor’s eating the omelet LC prepared for her. LC is working on leftover pizza heated in the microwave. Lil Carlo is having a difficult time chewing his Pop Tart with his uppers and lowers sitting on a plate on the table. Me? I wish a cable network would pick up this reality show and add to my cash flow. Instead, a knock on the door. At this hour? Who could it be? The answer comes quickly, too quickly. Ready on to find out.

“Open up, it’s da police. I mean da cops? I means do use have donuts?”

I walked to the front door. I didn’t bother to ask for ID. I know who it is. It’s O’Leary. The donut eating, crappy coffee chuggy, portly Irish defective. Oops, I mean detective.

“Hey, O’Leary, what’s up?” I said.

Before O’Leary can step foot in the door. I heard LC’s voice from the breakfast bar, “How they hanging O’Leary?”

I hollered back, “LC, it’s a family blog! Knock it off?”

“Get a life, Ray,” said a protective La Flor.

Those two are deep into each other. I didn’t see it coming. It was the Francine Peony  that fused their emotions and lit a five alarm fire.

O’Leary hollers to LC, “I’ll let use know after I has a jelly donuts. I’m going off my diet. Life’s too short not to enjoy da finer tings of life.”

A jelly donut is a finer thing of life? Go figure.

O’Leary and I walked to the kitchen, dining room area, which fused together in what used to be my cozy, just the right size open space home. I said, “What was so tough about the glazed donut diet?”

“Use don’t wants to know. But I will tells use anyhow.”

He’s right, I don’t want to know.

“Foist, use wouldn’t tink so, but the glaze on the glazed donuts increased my appeals to the opposite sex I was fighting them off wit both hands. At foist, I taught it was my poisonality (this is how O’Leary talks, no grammar police, por favor).”

“It wasn’t?” I said to move the conversation along. We reached the breakfast bar.

“I gots admit, I has a poisonality women that attracts women.”

He’s delusional.

Before O’Leary continued, he saw Lil Carlo, known to O’Leary as Dr. Funguli, “Good morning Doc. Use making a house call?”

Lil Carlo looks at O’Leary. He slipped his teeth in, and said, “It’s da flute season. I’m here to give flute shots. Use had yours?”

O’Leary said, “No tanks, I gots my flute shot wit a piccolo booster last month.”

Are they all nuts?

LC got off his bar stool went to the counter and brought over a tray of assorted donuts for O’Leary. LC said, “I gots use the finest donut buffet Joey can make.”

“O’Leary’s eyes glazed over, just like the donuts. Whatever his next thought was, it left him. He pulled two breakfast bar stools together and sat on them. Yes, he need two stools, one for each cheek. O’Leary took a strawberry powdered sugar donut in his right and a cream filled, powdered sugar donut in his left. He alternated bites.

Over at the table, Lil Carlo was playing with his gun. His teeth were back out.

La Flor quit eating her breakfast. A mild look of nausea on her face.

“What’s wrong, La Flor?” I whispered.

La Flor whispered back, “O’Leary is making me sick. Look at the strawberry jelly dripping out of his mouth. He rubbed his hair with the powdered sugar all over his hands, now he’s gray. We’ve got to do something.”

“What?” I asked.

“I don’t know. You’re the blog writer,” said La Flor.

At that moment door crashed against the wall, my reinforced hinges snapped off. I heard a large ka thump on the floor. It could mean only one thing …

“Hey, Ray. It’s me, Big Carmen.

“Daddy!” shouted LC

“The second most handsome man on the planet,” exclaimed La Flor.

“Boss,” said Lil Carlo.

“Doc, you works for Big Carmen?” said O’Leary.

Lil Carlo said, “I’m da official company physician.. Today I’m giving physics. Use wants one?”

“No tanks, Dr. Funguli,” said O’Leary stuffing another filled donut into his mouth.

“I’ve come wit exciting news,” said Big Carmen.

I can hardly wait to hear it. What bank are they going to knock over? What warehouse are they going to hit?

Everyone but O’Leary who was busy eating looked at Big Carmen, “Tomorrow, not tonight, we is all heading to Sicily for a family reunion and extended vacation,  while the heat blows over if use knows whats I mean.”

O’Leary’s ears perked up, “Use guys are so lucky. Dis hot spell is a killer. Makes sures use guys takes sunscreen.”

“I’ll sends use a postcard O’Leary from da boss of bosses,” said LC.

“Gives him my best, he must own a big pizza chain,” said O’Leary.

“Use could say dat,” said Big Carmen.

La Flor turned to LC, “Take me shopping my handsome stallion.”

The next day La Flor, LC, Big Carmen, Carmela, TT, and Lil Carlo all boarded a private jet and took off for Rome for a connection to Sicily. La Flor asked me to leave her alone for a few weeks – will do. A new and exciting story begins tomorrow.

 

 

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Open Up, It’s The Police

Lil Carlo sits in the passenger seat, he’s Big Carmen’s 70 year old hit man. The one with long nose and big ears. He sells beats to supplement his senior income. The two in the backseat, La Flor and LC, are passionately engaged. Me? I’m scared to death. I’m an accomplice before and after the fact. The Feds will be all over this case. LC used an explosive to bust open the door to Francine Peony’s mansion. I hope she’s in good hands, because she is going to need insurance. The night didn’t end when we left the scene of the crime. Keep reading to see what happened.

I hear La Flor talking to LC in the backseat as we pull into the driveway, “This kind of excitement turns me so on. We’ve got to do again. Can you get more explosives?”

Lil Carlo adjusts his hearing aid, “Mind repeating that?”

La Flor and LC ignore him, they’re back at it. It’s a family blog, I won’t go into details.

Ten minutes later we’re back, sitting in the living room.

“Want me to call you a handsome cab, Lil Carlo?” I said. Hey, I’m trying to make a joke and cut the tension.

“No tanks. Use got an extra bedroom? I’m gonna lay low until the heat blows over.”

“You moving in?” I said.

“Only temporarily until it ain’t temporary. Know what I mean?”

Unfortunately, I do.

“I’m starvin. I gots to eats to keep my energy tonight,” said LC.

“Ray, make LC a steak. All you did was stand around. You were no help,” said La Flor.

“I don’t eat steak. Remember I’m a vegetarian,” I said.

“You need help. I can find you a support group. I suppose you want to save the dolphins, the whales, stray dogs and cats, and guppies. You veggies are all alike,” said La Flor.

“What’s wrong with that? They’re veggie burgers in the freezer. Four frozen quinoa burritos. Left over Pad Thai with tofu, and 12 Quest power bars.”

“Make LC a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pronto. I don’t want him to go out on me,” said La Flor.

Before I can turn toward the kitchen, I hear the squealing of tires, the slamming of a car door, and fist banging on my front door.

“Open up, it’s the police.”

“Somebody let O’Leary in. Lil Carlo, take off your latex gloves,” I said.

Lil Carlo put his right hand up to his mouth to pull his latex glove off with his teeth. He gave a good pull. The glove is still affixed to his hand. His teeth, uppers and lowers, affixed to his glove. His upper and lower lips are curled around his toothless gums.

I’th gonna kilth tha denthis,” Lil Carlo muttered.

O’Leary’s first words from the doorway, “I’m starvin, Marvin. Use got any donuts?”

I’m partially prepared, “There are two boxes of Sara Lee frozen pastries in the freezer. LC, do you mind putting them in the microwave for O’Leary?”

“If I can share?” said LC.

“Why are coming by so late?” I asked. I hoped he didn’t give me an answer I didn’t want to hear.

“Did use hear the implosion? It couldn’t happened more than ten minutes after I left for Joey’s. The chief was all over me until I gave him my to go bag from Joey’s. One bite and he understood. That’s why I’m starvin, Marvin.”

“It happened at Francine’s mansion?” asked La Flor with a look and voice of innocence.

“Wrecked the house. Glad no one was home. You almost done microwaving them?” said O’Leary.

“I just found them. They was hiding under leftover rice cauliflower,” said LC.

“Never mind microwaving. I’ll eat mine frozen,” said O’Leary hitching up his belt under the overlay of his belly.

“What was the cause? Any ideas?” the sweet demure La Flor asked.

“Das why I stooped by (yes, he said stooped instead of stopped). Use guys hear anyting,” said O’Leary.

Before anyone could answer, he noticed Lil Carlo and the latex gloves he was wearing. “I don’t tinks we ever met? Why are use wearing latex gloves? You’re not latex sensitive, are you?”

Lil Carlo got his teeth back in before O’Leary saw him. Lil Carlo may be 70 years old with a dirty, worn old guy’s golfing cap, but he is quick as a whip. Lil Carlo said, “My name is Dr. Funguli. I just finished giving Ray his procto. Would you like one? No charge for the police.”

O’Leary blanched turning from his normal pink cherubic face to white as a winter’s snow. “No, no tanks, but tanks for the office.”

LC carrying Sara Lee from the kitchen to the living room said, “I never had one, and I ain’t gonna ever has one, if use know what I mean.”

LC hands a box labled, All Butter Pound Cake to O’Leary. “Dis is for starters. When use finishes, the second course is the whole Banana Crème pie.”

“Use is the best friend a cop can have,” O’Leary said almost teary eyed overcome with emotion.

La Flor butted in, “I’m a trained PI, O’Leary. I have two leads for you to check out. I’m pretty sure either one will pan out for you and you’ll get a commendation.”

Okay, La Flor’s running some kind of game. I can’t quite figure it out.”

“I heards of use reputation, beautiful, tough and edgy world-class PI,” said O’Leary with mouthful of pound cake. His cheeks puffed out like a squirrel carrying nuts. I wondered if O’Leary was storing food for later.

“First, O’Leary, Francine Peony is not what she appears to be,” said La Flor.

“Use means she’s not a woman, with that cleavage?” said O’Leary.

“It’s not as good as mine. And, you can tell she’s not real. I’m only going to say this once, Francine blew up her own mansion for the insurance,” said La Flor.

I want to scream, ‘You can’t say that,’ but I feel Lil Carlo’s gun pressed against my spine.

LC says, “May I, beautiful, tough, and edgy woman turned on by excitement.”

“Take it home you tough as a tiger, strong as an ox and handsome as Adonis hunk of male,” said La Flor. It sounded as if she were growling.

“Here’s da utter ting, did use notice a whiff of gas when we was speaking wit use about Joey’s donuts ?”

“No. Do you tink a gas line exploded?” said O’Leary.

“If the dame didn’t do it. The gas line did it,” those da only two or four choices use gots,” said LC.

O’Leary grabbed hold of the remains of his two boxes and said, “I gotta go. I’m gonna bust this case wide open.”

La Flor went up to O’Leary and grabbed him by his jacket lapels, “Grill her until she snaps. Don’t let up. She’ll crack. I’ve seen the type. Tough on the outside, mush on the inside. Slap her around if she gets fresh. She’ll wise up.”

“Tanks for the tips,” said O’Leary rushing out of the house.

“La Flor, that was wrong, so wrong,” I said.

“I know she’s bad, Ray. I’m convinced she’s guilty.”

“Reality check. It was us.”

“Minor details. LC carry me off,” said La Flor.

Me? I’m sitting at the living room table staring at Lil Carlo trying to get his latex gloves off. Want to see where this story is heading? Come by tomorrow.

It’s Not Unusual

It’s two days since La Flor, LC, and I attended the famous writer, Francine Peony’s party. La Flor and LC went to case the house and report to Big Carmen. Me? I was listed on the invitation and hoped I’d meet her literary agent. Instead, I met Vinnie, one of Big Carmen’s enforcers, a senior citizen security guard, and I was insulted by Francine Peony. La Flor told me Big Carmen runs the most exciting organization in the city. I know she and LC are cooking up a scheme to break into Francine’s 12,000 square foot home soon. Let see what they’re up to.

I’m watching La Flor speaking excitedly to someone on her cell.

“Yes.”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

“It’s all set?”

“You are the master. If LC ever leaves me, I’m yours.”

La Flor shuts her cell down, gives LC a thumbs up then looks at me, “That was Big Carmen. The three of us are going in tonight. Peony is going to an invitation only wine tasting event, followed by dinner at the Skylark. I don’t understand why I didn’t get an invite. When we’re in her house, if I find my invite, she’s in big trouble.”

“Yah, she’s in big trouble and that starts with P,” said boy genius, LC.

“Close, LC. I’m not going,” I said.

“Ray, Ray, Ray. You are the slow learner. I have three words for you that might help you make a better decision,” said La Flor.

“They better be good, because I’m not going.”

“Use wants me to says them?” said LC.

“Let’s take turns. Keep an eye on him to see when he caves in,” said La Flor.

“Ray, first word. Vinnie.”

“Ray-mo, second word, Rocco.”

My pulse rate is elevated. My heart in knocking so loudly against my chest cavity, I may have a noise complaint filed against me with the HOA.”

“Ray, third word, Tony.”

10 hours later.

I look at my cell, it’s nine-forty-five. We’re on the street where she lives. That line reminds me of a song (apologies to My Fair Lady). My car is parked against the curb, we’re sitting and waiting. Another car pulls up a hundred yards ahead on the opposite side of the street. The driver turns the lights off. The car looks familiar. I’m trying to place it.

La Flor and LC stop kissing for the moment. La Flor tapped me on the shoulder, “Ray, pull up to that car, put my window down and let me do the talking. Just smile. Is that asking too much?”

“Who’s in the car? I asked.

“O’Leary. He told LC he was on stakeout tonight. LC, genius that he is, asked him where. O’Leary told him. If I find the snitch, they’re off my Christmas list. I bet it was the mystery blog writer. She sticks her nose into everything.”

“It’s big enough,” said LC.

“Why do you want to talk to O’Leary? He’s a cop?” I asked.

“Ray, Ray, Ray have a little faith in me,” said La Flor. Sorry Bon Jovi, the song came to mind.

That’s my trouble, I have too little faith in her.

I pull up next to a beat up 15 year old Saturn. They don’t make them anymore.

La Flor’s window is down, “Hi O’Leary, we’ve been looking all over for you.”

“I’m on a secret steak out (that’s how he said it). Nobody knows except the twenty or so people I  told. Man, this is tough duty. I’m starvin, Marvin.”

“Use talking about Marvin Brightwater, the basketball player,” asked LC.

“No. I was talking bout Marvin Schlopes, he owns Donut Heaven on the other side of time. He’s closed now. I could go for a dozen glazed. They’re no calories, they’re so light.”

“Well, O’Leary, I’ve got good news and bad news for you. Which do you want first?” said La Flor.

“I don’t think I can take much more bad news. Netflix went up on the subscription. I ran out of body soap, so I was using shampoo for body soap, and when it was time to wash my hair I didn’t have any shampoo left. I got stuck on the toilet and realized I forgot to put a new roll on. I accidentally put the ice cream in the fridge instead of the freezer.”

I couldn’t take anymore. “Please, La Flor, tell O’Leary the good news.”

“Joey’s donut Shop is open late tonight. He’s got a special going for an hour and a half. Any policeman who shows up gets all the free donuts they can eat.”

“It’s not unusual (Sorry Tom Jones) for the chains. How come Joey’s staying open?” asked O’Leary.

“My cousins, Vinnie, Rocco, and Tony suggest to Joey to toss a benefit for the cops. They’re peoples after all,” said LC.

“Use guys wanna watch the house for me?” O’Leary pleaded.

“Love to, but we’re on mission to help someone get down off her lofty perch.”

“Is she under suicide watch? I saw an NCIS film once about that,” ask O’Leary.

La Flor turned to me. I shrugged.

LC said, “Let me handle it.”

‘The beautiful, tough, and edgy wonder woman is a trained shrinkologist.”

“Good luck guys. It’s quiet around here. I’m heading to Joey’s.”

O’Leary turned on the lights, the siren. peeled rubber, and was off to Joeys.

La Flor said, “We’re going in and that means you too, Ray.”

“Huh?”

I’m caught in a trap, I can’t look back, … sorry Elvis, the song came to mind. Come on by tomorrow to catch the action.

Zoom In On Her Necklace

What am I doing wearing a tux? I’ll tell you what, I am at the high brow writer, Francine Peony’s, high brow party. How did I get stuck at this party? Big Carmen twisted a couple of arms, who knows, maybe broke a couple of kneecaps, to get invitations for La Flor, LC, and me. La Flor and LC are here to case Peony’s home. Me? I’m sampling the hors d’oeuvres. I’m hoping I’ll get discovered by Francine’s literary agent. I’m watching LC use his iPhone 8 to take photos of La Flor. What he’s actually doing is taking photo’s of the art work, sculptures, and anything else of value. Let’s see how this seen plays out.

In one hand, I have a champagne glass filled with sparkling water. In the other hand a dainty, expensive china plate holding three hors d’oeuvres, each pierced to the heart with a toothpick. I sidle up to LC and La Flor. “I know what you’re doing. It’s so obvious. You’ll never get away with it.”

“With what, Ray?” said La Flor her eyes fixed on Francine’s diamond studded necklace. “Quick, LC take my photo, but zoom in on her necklace.”

“Okay if I gets her cleavage? She’s good, but not in use league my beautiful, tough, and edgy star of the night,” said LC.

“Not a problem as long as you remember who’s best,” said La Flor.

I didn’t know La Flor wanted to compete in the cleavage Olympics. Learn something new every day.

LC nudged me, then whispered, “For a rich broad, she’s cheap on da food. I don’t like whore devours. When we gonna eat?”

“This is what you eat. You’re supposed to mingle. Talk people up. Make connections. That kind of thing,” I said.

“Where’s da keg?” ask LC.

“It’s all wine tonight,” I said. Then added, “Look at La Flor, she is nursing her glass.”

“Wine’s fine, but beers better, know what I mean? If I could gets to where they is keeping the pusses (he meant to say purses), I could make out like a bandito. My Spanish is getting better, Ray-mo. Of course, I am only speaking meta frog act ly.”

I need this like I need a hole in the head. I cite my dad on that one. It was one of his favorite sayings.

LC nudged me again, “I’m starvin. I’m gonna pass out if I don’t have some real food.”

La Flor overhead LC’s comment, “Not to worry my man of steel. I texted Big Carmen, he’s sending Vinnie over with a large pepperoni and sausage pizza. Since we’re family, it’s on the house.”

“I gots the best dad and the best beautiful, tough, and edgy woman in da world,” said LC embracing La Flor. The two of them locked into a kiss down that I think might take the jaws of life to break apart.

Francine Peony walked over to me during the heat of the kiss and said with an icy air, “Who are those two? Are they friends of yours? BTW, who are you? Do I know you?”

Her attitude made me do something unusual under the circumstance, I said, “They’re friends of mine. You’re not against love, are you?”

“This is disgusting,” she said.

“Is this why you haven’t been able to write a romance novel?” I can’t believe I’m defending LC and La Flor. What are friends for if you can’t count on them.

From the entrance hall, “Getta outta my way punk! I gots a pizza for LC.”

I recognized Vinnie’s baritone voice.

“Security, security,” hollered the doorman.

The hired security man, was a roly poly balding greeter at Walmart by day, security by night. It’s hell to make ends meet for retirees.

The security guard looked at Vinnie. Vinnie opened his hoodie and showed his gun. The security guard didn’t make it to 70 by being stupid. He said, “The pie from Carmen’s Pizzeria?”

Vinnie said, “Yah, what about it?”

The guard said, “Can I get a piece?”

LC came over, took the pizza from Vinnie. They fist bumped. LC opened the pizza box and gave the guard a slice.

In the background, a voice said, “Oh, Francine what a clever idea to have pizza brought in to your party. The crowd cheered. LC lost his pizza. La Flor Texted Big Carmen, twenty pizzas were on their way fifteen minutes later.

At 11:30 Francine Peony was all over LC and La Flor, “You made this my best party ever. How can I ever thank you?”

La Flor smiled and said, “We’ll think of a way.”

What does this mean, ‘We’ll think of a way?’ I am really, really getting worried. La Flor likes being mobbed up. Come by tomorrow to find out where this story is leading.

 

She’s A Snob’s Snob

I feel like I’m walking in quicksand. I’m sinking deeper and deeper into La Flor’s world. Yesterday, La Flor told me her resume matched up perfectly with a job opening working for Big Carmen in his “other” business. You know about his “other” business. She invited me to work for Big Carmen. I passed, again. I hired a plumber to unclog my toilet after O’Leary stopped by to use it. I didn’t realize donuts had that much fiber. My front door is back on its hinges. I hope LC remembers to use the nob instead of his shoulder the next time he opens it. I’m going to talk La Flor out of working for Big Carmen. Let’s see how it goes.

La Flor and LC were out late last night, they’re sleeping in this morning. The house is quiet, until I hear, “LC, please get me a cup of coffee. I can smell it. Ray must have made it for me.”

Huh?

LC walked out of the bedroom in his pajama bottoms, hairy chest, disheveled hear, rubbing his eyes. It’s not his best look. He sees me, “Ray-mo is dis what they calls da break of day?”

I ignored his question. I already have La Flor’s coffee in her favorite mug, the one with her image on the side, “It’s over there, LC. Do you have a hangover?”

LC pretended as he didn’t hear me. He walked over to the coffee maker and grabbed hold of La Flor’s coffee cup, “Do use tinks, my beautiful, tough, and edgy woman will notice if I takes a sippy?”

“What do you think, LC? I’m not helping you if you do,” I said.

“Geez, can I has a sippy of yours?” said LC.

LC took my cup and walked back to the bedroom. A moment later LC reappeared, “Ray-mo, use got any bagels left? I got to toast one, spread cream cheese on it, cut it into fourths, and brings it with a nappy to my beautiful, tough, and edgy woman.”

“Yes, there are two bagels left, I was saving one for …”

“Me? Tanks. I won’t forgets dis,” said LC.

Dear reader, do you think this is a one time occurrence? I think not. It happens at least five times a week. LC is getting in shape running back and forth from the bedroom waiting on La Flor. He doesn’t seem to mind. A hour later, La Flor makes her entrance. I’ll rephrase that, the queen makes her entrance. Not a hair out of place, makeup perfectly applied, clothes and attitude – casual chic.

“La Flor, we need to talk. You can’t work for Big Carmen,” I said.

“Ray, Ray, Ray. You are the epitome of  jealousy. You cringe when others are successful. You envy brilliant minds like Big Carmen’s and mine. You become so insecure when our shadows fall upon you.”

So much for a dialogue this morning.

“You’ve accepted the job? Do you know what this means? Are you ready to face the consequences?”

“Those are the wrong questions, Ray. You should ask, “Can I throw a party for you for being so successful? That would be good for starters.”

“Let’s have a civil discussion, La Flor. What will you be doing?” I asked.

“It’s under negotiations. One possibility is to be wheelman?”

“Wheelman? Do you know what a wheelman is?”

“Ray, I was born on the weekend, I’m not sure which one. Can you help me here. Another possibility is connoisseur of acquired property, especially jewelry. And, there’s a third option, it’s my fav,” said La Flor.

“Which is?” I asked.

“Teaming with LC so the Feds and local police don’t get too interested.”

“Did use call me, beautiful, tough, and edgy one? What does use need? I am at use beck and call. I am use dog and pony show. I am use gopher. What use wants, considers it done.”

“I see your teamwork is already paying off,” I said.

“Listen, Ray. I’m only going to say this to you. I want you to go with LC and me tonight. We’re going to case Francine Peony’s mansion.”

“Francine Peony, the famous writer? She’s always on the talk shows. Your going rob her place?”

“No. Big Carmen acquired an invitation to her party so the three of us can go. You can help us take notes of her jewelry, paintings, and other expensive items and report to Big Carmen.”

“You can’t do that,” I said.

“Francine is the snob’s snob. A little humility will be good for her. Now don’t say a word.”

Before I can speak, “Open up, it’s the police.”

“LC, let O’Leary in,” I said.

O’Leary comes in carrying a cup of to go coffee and a bag from MacDonald’s. “I’m on break. I don’t like to eat alone, so’s I taught I’d stop by.”

“Is that a happy meal?” I said.

O’Leary nods. “I skip the donuts today to keep my weight down. I like to keep my snacks light so’s I can keep trim and fit.”

I can’t see his belt. His belly is smothering it.

“Before I sits down. I’m going to turn around. Tell me if use can see my wire.”

“You’re wired,” I said.

“You betcha.”

“Who you after?” I asked, worried it was someone in the house.

“I’m not quite sure, but when I find them, I’ll know.” O’Leary turned around.

I said, “This is not police department issue. You going rogue?”

“How did you know?” asked O’Leary.

“You’re wearing the wire on the outside of your coat.”

Oh my. What’s going to happen at Francine Peon’s party? Come by tomorrow to find out.

You Can’t Keep Straddling The Fence

Why did I create La Flor? I’d like to uncreate her, but I can’t. She won’t let me. Okay, I get it. She’s beautiful, tough, and edgy. But she’s walking a fine line. On one hand, she’s La Flor. On the other, she likes bad boys. She head over heels over LC and waiting in the wings is Big Carmen, LC’s father, and head of the mob. She’s been a PI, lawyer, doctor, model, matchmaker, what’s next? Her matchmaker episode almost got me arrested for withholding evidence from O’Leary, the Irish cop. What was the evidence? A cream filled donut O’Leary wanted. I hear La Flor coming out her bedroom, let’s see what she’s up to today.

“Hi Ray, writing another boring blog?” said La Flor staring at her iPhone X as she walked by.

“No, my blogs are insightful, inspirational, and lots of fun,” I said.

“Why are you defensive, Ray? Don’t answer it, because you don’t know the answer, but La Flor does,” said La Flor switching into third person as easily as switching into the passing lane on a divided highway.

“Okay, why am I defensive?” I asked.

“Oh my, Ray’s asking for advice? Here’s the deal, you can’t keep straddling the fence. You’ve got to stop walking on the balance beam. You’re so close to edge you’re about to fall in oblivion. One step the wrong way and the alligators will have you for a snack.”

“Enough with the metaphors, La Flor. What tightrope am I walking? How far out on the edge am I? Am I walking on thin ice?”

Sorry, readers. It’s the only way one can communicate around here and have any chance of being understood. The odds are still 100 to 1 against me.

“LC and I think you’d be a perfect fit in the organization,” said La Flor.

“The organization? What are you talking about?”

“Big Carmen’s charitable organization where he gets donations from the rich and gives part of them to the poor. He’s thinking of expanding, ” said La Flor.

“No thanks.”

“Big Carmen told me he needs someone who is beautiful, tough, and edgy to work full time in his unadvertised business. My resume is perfect.”

“You haven’t agreed, have you?” I asked.

Before La Flor can answer, an explosion from the front part of the house. “Geez, Ray-mo, use needs better hinges. I busted use door trying to open it,” Hollered LC from the entry way.

I hollered back, “Did you try the nob or use your shoulder again?”

From the front foyer, “I taught da nob was for decoration.”

“Easy mistake,” said La Flor.

LC slid into the living room on his knees holding a brief case and offering it to La Flor as some sort of gift or sacrifice. I’m not sure which.

La Flor placed the briefcase down. She patted LC on his head, then said, “Before I open it, I don’t want to be disappointed. I going to do the checklist. Did you get their cell phones?”

“Checks.”

“Did you get all the swag bags?”

“Check a doddle.”

“Did you take all their diet pills, caffeine laced tablets, and baggies of cocaine.”

“Eyes over it like pepperoni on pizza, which by the way is the special tonight at Carmen’s Pizzeria for only six ninety-two for pickup. Delivery, you got to add two dollars.”

“Perfect. Let’s sit down and open it. I want you toss the diet pills, caffeine tablets, and cocaine. I’ll keep the swag bags and cell phones.”

“Hold on,” I said.

“Ignore him, LC. He’s going to go into one of his preachy moods again.”

“I’ll tunes my brain to FM 101.3. They play my favs,” said LC.

“FYI, Ray. LC and I don’t believe in putting drugs in your body. Most of models are anorexic, so we’re doing a big fav for them,” said La Flor.

On the street. A siren. The screeching of brakes. A car door slamming. A knock on the front door, “Open up it’s the police.”

LC hollered, “That use, O’Leary?”

“Yah. I gotta go. Can I use the toilet?”

La Flor hollered, “Yes, but use the one in Ray’s room.”

Ten minutes later, O’Leary saunters into the living room, “Use gonna need a plunger a little later, Ray. I advise staying away for an hour or so.”

La Flor went to the kitchen. She came back a minute later, “I stopped Ray from eating all the donuts this morning. I hoped you’d come by. Here’s a bag of six of your favs.”

“Tanks. I need some help. Somebody stole all the swag bags and purses from the Elite Model’s show. We found the purses next to the dumpster, but they didn’t have nothing in them. Any word on the street?”

La Flor doesn’t miss a beat, “I don’t want to send you in the wrong direction, but I saw something on, was it Facebook? Twitter? Snapchat? Instagram? Oh, one them.”

“Gives it to me, I bust this case, I might a promo,” said O’Leary. His voice muffled by a donut that filled up eighty percent of his oral cavity.

“I hear it was Tonya La Twerp. I mean Tonya Come Lately. I mean Tonya Too Little. I mean Tonya Trouble with two capital Ts.”

“Use telling me this was a gang effort? I’m counting four perps.”

“Das is correcto,” said LC.

“I don’t know Spanish. Can use say it in English?” said O’Leary.

This is how it went as O’Leary ate one donut after another. He left when I crossed my heart promising there were no more donuts in the house. O’Leary said he was out to take the gang of four Tonya’s off the street for good.

Come back tomorrow to see how it plays out.

If Only You Were More Romantic

You’re probably what I’m doing hanging around with this cast of characters? I’ve wondered the same thing many times. It’s one of those questions without an answer. I’ve tried to escape, but each time I’m sucked back into their lives by an external force. Enough of my problems. We left off with poor Carmela who has a thing with TT being coerced to “test drive” O’Leary for a week. Carmela is in love with TT a former writer for Dr. Phil who is now Big Carmen’s family manager. Big Carmen sent TT off to New Orleans to meet with family (aka other mob members). Let’s see how it plays out.

Carmela eyes are filled with tears. She’s biting her lower lip. Her face is flushed. O’Leary looks away from his pizza and turns toward Carmela. He stares at her. Then he said, “Dat’s a good look.”

La Flor nudges LC, “It’s working. O’Leary falling for Carmela.”

I overheard her comment. I whispered to La Flor, “What about Carmela?”

“Look at her, Ray. Just look at her. She’s falling crazy in love with O’Leary. She’s filled with joy.”

“She’s about to cry, La Flor.”

“They are tears of joy. She’ll finally be free of TT. Oh, La Flor you are brilliant. And, such a good person,” La Flor likes both first and third person.

“LC talk some sense into La Flor,” I pleaded.

“You talkin small change? I can talk McKinley, Franklin, and Cleveland. But I ain’t gonna talk cents.”

“Why don’t you too love birds sit on the sofa. Ray will bring your food and drinks over. O’Leary, help Carmela out of her seat and escort her over,” said La Flor sounding more like a drill sergeant than hostess.

La Flor grabbed hold of LC’s arm and pulled him to the sofa. They sit down before O’Leary can take one more bite of pizza.

With La Flor and LC on the sofa, there is only enough room on the sofa for a tight squeeze for two ultra thin people. Carmela may have to sit on O’Leary’s lap. It’s called the donut effect in medical circles.

O’Leary stands, walks behind Carmela’s chair. Carmela hasn’t budged. “You da shy type. I can sees dis. Me? I’m more of da opposite. Likes they say opposites detract.”

“Just look at Carmela, LC. Her mascara is streaking down her face she’s so happy. I hope they hook up tonight. Let’s encourage them,” said La Flor.

“You’ve gone too far, La Flor. I’m not going to put this in the blog,” I spoke in a low firm tone.

“Too late, Ray. We’re live streaming.”

“Huh?”

“Since use is too shy to helps me. I will slides use out and carries use over to da sofa, chair and all,” said O’Leary pulling Carmela out. Carmela holds on to the edge of the table with a jaws of life grip. O’Leary tugged. Carmela tugged back.

“LC go and pry Carmela’s fingers loose. We can’t let her shyness block true love,” said La Flor.

I tried a different tact, “O’Leary, here’s a cream filled powered donut you missed. If you don’t get it, someone else might.”

O’Leary let go of Carmela’s chair. I stood on the opposite side of the table. The donut sat on a small paper plate.

“Hand it over, Ray,” said O’Leary in a cop voice.

“You have to come around the table and get it.”

“We can do this the hard way or the easy way,” said O’Leary.

“What’s the hard way?” I asked.

“I’ll book use for withholding evidence from a crime scene,” said O’Leary.

“What crime scene?” I asked.

“The one where somebody reports you’ve been mugged for a donut,” said O’Leary taking a swipe across the table at the donut.

I heard a car door close. Not a slam so I knew it wasn’t one of LC’s relatives. My doorbell rang. I knew it wasn’t Big Carmen. It rang again.

“LC please get the door. It could be important.”

“Whoever it is send them away from this love nest,” said La Flor.

I was doing my best to avoid O’Leary’s increasing aggressive swipes. He was leaning over the table. His belly resting on two slices of pepperoni pizza. I heard LC open the door.

“Is my darling here? I’m back early from New Orleans sweetie.”

Carmela jumped up from her chair, rushed past O’Leary, avoided the blocking hands of LC and did her version of the leap, knocking TT to the floor. TT lie prone on his back. Carmela straddling his stomach showering TT with kisses and mascara.

I tossed the donut to O’Leary. He caught it in his right hand and brought it in one motion to his mouth. When he finished, he wiped his mouth on the back of his hand and said, “Tanks for doing it the easy way.”

“I know better than to mess with the city’s toughest detective,” I said.

“You just ruined love, Ray. If only you were more romantic,” said La Flor.

“Like you and LC?”

“Exactly.”

 

Are You Wearing A Wire?

Not dinner catered by Lorenzo’s the upscale Italian trattoria down in the Italian village. No, it was dinner catered by Carmen’s Pizzeria, owned by Carmen DiMarco, better known as Big Carmen. Big Carmen has a number of other interests going, all of which make my night’s sleep less than optimum. Why? La Flor has taken up with Big Carmen’s son, Little Carmen, who is bigger in size than Big Carmen, but the two names stuck. La Flor encourages LC (what everyone calls Little Carmen) to follow his dream. His dream? To eventually take over for Big Carmen, but first he has to earn his chops the hard way. It became complicated when O’Leary, a donut loving, bad coffee drinking, Irish cop, entered the scene. He’s friends with La Flor and LC. In today’s episode, La Flor sets up, the hapless O’Leary with Carmela, La Flor’s understudy or whatever.

“Ray, I don’t call Carmen’s Pizzeria dinner. Especially when we’re going to eat out of cardboard boxes. Do you expect pizza in cardboard boxes to set the love stage for O’Leary and Carmela,” said La Flor.

“I’m not the matchmaker. Besides, Big Carmen is tossing in blue plastic cups to go with his house wine. And, it’s all free, there’s one small catch that I don’t agree with,” I said.

La Flor threw her arms up in the arm, “It’s already a disaster. Blue plastic cups for house wine? What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking free. Besides, O’Leary doesn’t know good from bad.”

“That’s true and Carmela is such a ditz, she doesn’t know what day it is. It might work. What did Carmen want you to do that you won’t do, that I might do?”

“He wants to know where O’Leary plans the next stakeout,” I said.

“That’s all? Isn’t that covered under the Freedom of Information Act? Don’t forget I was a lawyer for a day,. Why couldn’t Lorenzo’s cater?” asked La Flor.

“Lorenzo was already catering Luigi Bigalo’s thirtieth celebration. Even Big Carmen’s attending. He’s the guy who has the upper and lower Northwest side.”

“Oh no, that means Vinnie and Rocco are making the pizzas tonight and I don’t trust them.”

“Why?”

“Well, I do trust them, but I don’t want their fingerprints on the boxes with O’Leary being here. Know what I mean?”

“La Flor, I think you need to move away from Big Carmen’s business. Where’s LC? O’Leary and Carmela will soon be here.”

“He had a special errand to do down by the freight yard.”

“What kind of special errand?”

“He’s righting a wrong. He’s scoring one for the good guys. He’s putting the bad guys down. He’s really a super hero, that’s what LC is,” said La Flor. Her eyes beaming with pride.

“Tell me more,” I said.

La Flor moves closer to me, “Let’s step out on the patio in case the Feds have your house bugged.”

“Why would the Feds bug my house?”

“I don’t know, but Big Carmen says you can’t take chances.”

We walk to the patio door. I open it. We step onto the patio. La Flor said, “You’re not wearing a wire, are you?”

“La Flor you’re making me nervous.”

Then she whispered, “LC is breaking into a freight car and taking all the goods.”

“That’s wrong,” I said.

“No. The goods were already stolen by the Russian mob. So, LC is really taking them from the Russians and redistributing the goods for a fraction of their cost. See how he’s helping the poor people. He’s really a saint.”

“He’s doing this alone?”

“No, his cousin Tony, uncle Tony, and uncle Tony’s son, Little Tony who is also a cousin are helping him. Lil Carlo is driving the U-Haul.”

I don’t want to know any more. My house might be bugged. I don’t want to talk to the Feds. Then the door. My poor door crashes against the wall. I have a deep dent in the steel wall plate I had installed there. The voice, “Beautiful, tough, and edgy woman of my fantasies I’m home.”

La Flor brushed me aside, ran to the entry way and did her leap into the waiting arms of the man in black pants, black t-shirt, black latex gloves hanging out of his pants pocket, and a black ski mask stuck between his belt and waist.

“Does I has time to change before O’Leary and Carmela get here?” asked LC after the two minute kiss.

A car door slamming, a voice from the yard, “It’s the police, I mean O’Leary since I’m not official tonight. Okay if I park on your lawn?”

“Never mind, Ray-mo. I’ll wear these clothes. I looks good in them,” said LC.

“Yes, you do. You are lighting my fire, you hunk.”

The door is still against the wall, O’Leary comes in, “I brought a six pack of beer, Styrofoam cups and a bag of jelly donuts. You think I’ll impress Carmella?”

Come by tomorrow to find out how it all goes down.

A Match Made By La Flor

“Ray?”

“Yes, La Flor?”

“O’Leary and Gina didn’t work out. I knew he was too good for her. Gina’s a gold digger and she’s looking for a sugar daddy.”

“You think O’Leary is a sugar daddy?”

“Gina never set her sights too high. Being the good person I am, I am going to set O’Leary up with Carmela, will you help me?”

“I think Carmela and TT are together. I don’t do breakups,” I said.

“Look at it from Carmela’s perspective, Ray. TT’s no fun. His idea of a fun night is to have a cup of decaf tea, hot air popcorn without anything on it, and watch AMC. Duh. Boring. We’ll be saving her from emotional starvation.”

“Every time I see them they’re happy,” I said.

“Carmela is laughing on the outside and a Ninja blender on the inside. It’s eating her alive. See what I mean?”

Not exactly, but I keep quiet, “Has she talked to you about her feelings?” I asked.

“Remember, I’m her mentor. She always asking for advice.”

“What did she say?”

“What didn’t she say is a better question, Ray.”

“I think you’re trying to start trouble because you’re bored,” I said.

“Who me?” said La Flor pointing a finger toward her face.

“Yes, you.”

“Big Carmen sent TT to New Orleans on family business. Carmela is home alone and she is the one who is bored. And, I’m not talking a small b. I’m talking a capital B. LC and me invited O’Leary and Carmela to come for dinner tonight. What are you going to make?”

“You’re going too far, La Flor.”

“No, the dining room is right over there. We won’t have to leave home. LC and me would help with the cooking, but we want to look awesome so your on your own. I prefer salmon grilled to perfection. LC wants steak and fries. O’Leary likes hotdogs with lots of ketchup. And, Carmela will have a small salad. I don’t want her to put on any more weight.”

“She’s not heavy.”

“She is a size two. That’s bigger than me. Desert will be donuts. You can order those from Joey’s.”

“Can I ask Lorenzo to cater it?”

“Okay, but don’t get in the way of love. It’s going to be a match made by La Flor. I might have a new career going.

 

She Have A Twin Sister?

“Why do I have to drive? Why are we sitting in a car on a dark street near the Fur Palace? Why are you two making out in the backseat and I have a small cold pizza from Carmen’s Pizzeria?”

No Answer. Message not received in the back seat. Only heavy breathing.

A beat up pickup pulls in front of me. It’s O’Leary.

O’Leary gets out of the pickup, walks over to the passenger side door, opens it, sees my half eaten, cold pizza on the seat. O’Leary says, “I’m hungry do you mind if I have a piece?”

“Have it all, I’m finished,” I said.

O’Leary slid into the passenger side. He layered the four pieces of pizza, opened his mouth and slid the pizza inside. After he finished chewing,  he said, “This way I can tell my doc I only ate one piece.” He looked into the backseat, “Great cover, I got to hand it to them, nobody can figure them to be on stakeout. It almost looks real, what they’re doing.”

“Yah, they got it all together,” I said.

“She have a twin sister? I’m thinking of going back on the market after my bad breakup,” said O’Leary jerking a thumb over his shoulder.

“Not that I know of,” I said.

“I’m gonna hit the gym foist. I wanna lose these love handles, drop my double chin, trim my waist down about seven inches. How long you think it’s gonna take?”

I want to say an eternity. I hold my thought and said, “Oh, about two to three weeks. You have high metabolism. I can tell.”

A voice from the back.

“O’Leary, use wanna go out wit Gina Abbrighi? I can fix use up. She jus got done wit a bad breakup so use two got something in common,” said LC.

Yah, nobody likes either one. My thought remained silent.

I thought I heard the B word coming from the back seat, but I’m not sure and besides, it’s a family blog.

“Feed her donuts, O’Leary. She loves them. She’d like a dozen donuts more than a dozen roses,” said La Flor in a faux sincere voice.

“Gives me a week to go to them gym. I tink I’ll start laying off broccoli and spinach. Those go straight from the lips to the hips,” said O’Leary.

“Where’d you hear that?” I asked.

“From Joey G. He owns Joey’s donut shop.”

O’Leary felt his cell vibrate. He took it out of his pocket. Turned it on, read the text message. “French Furs was hit on the other side of town.”

O’Leary turned to the backseat, “They got some smarts; don’t know how they figured we’d be watching dis place; they hit Frenchy’s Furs on the udder side of town.”

“We’ll stay a few more minutes O’Leary in case they try to hit the Fur Palace knowing you left,” said La Flor.

“Use got brains to go wit that beauty,” said O’Leary as he closed the passenger side door.

“Besides, LC and me have a little unfinished business. Ray, keep watching the Fur Palace and turn the music up high.”

I don’t even have a cold cup of lousy coffee like they do on a TV stakeout.