Laughter Came from Every Brick ~ Poem by St. Teresa of Avila

Laughter Came From Every Brick

St. Teresa of Avila

Just these two words He spoke
changed my life,

“Enjoy Me.”

What a burden I thought I was to carry –
a crucifix, as did He.

Love once said to me, “I know a song,
would you like to hear it?”

And laughter came from every brick in the street
and from every pore
in the sky.

After a night of prayer, He
changed my life when
He sang,

“Enjoy Me.”


Trust Fund Baby ~ 36 A Satire


I drove past the risen gate bar and glanced at the fifteen story high rise to my left. It looked like it was built a half century ago and hadn’t had a facelift since. It was past time for a redo or an industrial strength Botox injection. If Botox was the answer, Mother could serve as a consultant. At one time, I imagine it was a clean cream color. I’m only speculating about the color because years of dirt, pollutions, and pigeon poop gave it a spotted grayish hue with the look of impending death. 

I drove to a small oval leading up to a large faded green awning in front of automatic glass doors. I pulled under the awning. I glanced up and saw three bats hanging from metal rods supporting the awning. I turned the engine off, took a deep breath, and checked my pants to make sure my zipper was closed. I didn’t want get things off on the wrong foot. I stepped out of the car and walked up a slight incline and waited for the sliding glass doors to open. An black doorman with short gray curly hair and a face with more wrinkles than the bark of a giant Sequoia tree sat behind a U shaped enclosure. An entrance door was off to his left and an exit door off to his right. I intuitively knew the function of each door by signs above each.

The doorman lifted tired droopy eyes and looked briefly at me. I wasn’t sure of protocol in an intercultural environment. Mother always said, ‘Martin, when in Rome do as the Romans.’ It wasn’t Rome, but I hoped her advice applied. I said, “Hello, I watched Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech when I was in eighth grade. I had my mother write a report on the video. I got an A on it.”

The doorman’s jaw dropped open. His head tilted a bit to the left. For a moment, I thought he was having a stroke or heart attack. His chin slumped down to his chest, his eyes closed. I started counting to one hundred. I did this for two reasons, one he might be taking a senior nap. Or two, if he died, someone might show up who knows how to handle this situation. I only got to four when he lifted his head and spoke.

“You a jackass. No, you more than a jackass. You six or seven jackasses. What you doing telling me stuff like that. You don’t even know who Dr. King was or what he did. You had your filthy rich white mother do all your work for you while you was out in the cabana by your Olympic sized pool trying to get the halter top of off one of your filthy white rich girlfriends.”

I’m not one to argue, but I wanted to set the record straight. I said, “Excuse me. I admit I am a filthy rich white guy. I admit Mother is a filthy rich white woman. But I was not in a cabana doing what you said, I was in one of the ten guest bedrooms doing my best to get her halter top off.”

He shook his head, “I don’t have time to waste with you. Who you hear to see?”

“Ms J. Her last name is Johnson.”

“I know her last name. You don’t have to tell me Ms. J’s last name. Do I look stupid? Do I look like I have dementia? I know her name. I know her mother’s name. I know the names of all 235 residents in this rat infested, sewer backup, mold covering the walls like paint apartment building.”

He lowered his eyes and shuffled some papers around. He found what he was looking for then looked up at me, “You Doctor Sandystiff?”

“Doctor, Sanderstuff,” I corrected him.

“Did I say something different? You don’t like the way I talk, is that it? What kind of doctor are you? You don’t look like no doctor I ever seen. Where’s your stethoscope? Something wrong with Ms. Evelyn I don’t know about? If it is, you better tell me because Ms. Evelyn and me been seeing a lot of each other.”

I said, “No, I’m here to see Ms. J.”

“Oh hell, you the filthy rich white boy who’s the proctologist.”

“No, I’m a psychologist,” I said.

The old man started laughing, “No difference. Hell, anybody can be a psycho. Henry over on Delancy, he gives the best advice and he never been to school. What do you think of that? See, he’s black and he’s never been to school, that don’t make him less smarter than you. The other day, I said, “Henry, should I buy me a scratch ticket? I only got one dollar left to pay day tomorrow.” You know what Henry said?”

I said, “No.”

“That goes to show you. Henry is smarter than you. If you was as smart as Henry you would’ve told me what I should do, but you didn’t. This was a test only you didn’t know you was being tested.”

My head was spinning. He might be pushing 80. I’m sure I can take him, tie him up, gag him, and roll him under his desk. Nobody will miss him. How do I stop him from talking? He won’t stop. I can’t get past go. I decided to help him along, “What did Henry say?”

The old man said, “He said, ‘Deter. Deter’s my name my mama give when I was four. Before I was four I was Lotus. Lotus was the name my father give me, but he took up with a younger woman and my mother threw them both out. She changed my name to Deter. Anyway, Henry says, ‘Deter, you only go round once in life, buy a scratch off ticket.’ That’s what I did.”

“Did you win?” I asked.

“Hell no. Nobody wins with a scratch off ticket. Those things fixed so you buy them but you don’t win.”

“Why was Henry’s advice so great?” I asked.

“Because when I was walking out of the convenience store there was a twenty dollar bill on the ground looking up at me. So I spent a dollar and come home with twenty. See, Henry knew this and you didn’t.”

I took a step closer to the front desk. The old man lifted a can of pepper spray. “One more step filthy rich white proctologist and I’m going to spray you with my pepper spray.”

I said, “I mean no offense. I only want to see Ms. J.”

“Why didn’t you say so,” the doorman said. “I’ll let her know you’re here. If she wants to see you, she’ll come down. If she doesn’t I’ll call the police.”

He called and I assumed he spoke with Ms. J. My nightmare would soon be over. He put the phone down. “She be right down. How you get to be filthy rich?”

“I was born to filthy rich parents,” I said.

“Hah!” he slammed his palm down on the front desk. “I was born to filthy poor parents. My momma said, you filthy rich white folks got a surprise coming when you see all us filthy poor people sitting at the banquet table in heaven and you got to wait on us.”

My Sunday school lesson ended when Ms. J opened the exit door. Oh Lord, did she look delicious. She was wearing a black crepe jump suit that wetted my appetite. I said, “J, you look, look, look …”

The old man said, “The filthy white boy never seen a beautiful black woman dressed up like this. He can’t handle it. Maybe I should call an ambulance for him.”

I said, “Marry me tonight. I might die if you don’t.”

J rolled her eyes. She said, “You’re fortunate mama can’t hear too well. You keep quiet about marriage.”

J stepped out from the exit doorway and held the door open. She waited for a moment, then said, “Mama, M is here to take us to dinner.”

Us? What is J talking about Us. 

A half moment later a bent over black woman wearing a dress that went to mid calf, and a velvet black hat with a red rose on it sat lopsided on her head. She was bent over pushing a walker.

J beamed a smile and said, “M this is Evelyn, my mama.”

Trust Fund Baby ~ 33 A Satire

Chapter 33

 Friday morning I asked Oscar to call Pettibone and tell him to cancel my group session. I knew Pettibone would ask why and see through my lies. Whereas, Oscar, balancing at least three affairs not counting his free lance massage work with happy endings for Mother, developed lying and misdirection to the professional skill level. I asked Oscar to put the call to Pettibone on speaker so I could listen.

“Mister Pettibean?” said Oscar with a distinct Mexican accent.

“It’s Attorney Pettibone,” said Pettibone.

“Who is?” asked Oscar, is sounded more like a running series of e’s.

“Me. I’m Pettibone.”

“Can use get me Pettibean. I’m calling for his filthy rich client, the trust fund baby, Doctor Sanderstuff,” said Oscar gesturing with with left hand as if he were polishing a car with it.

I heard Pettibone take a deep breath. Then he said, “Well, what is it this time? I’m sure he gave you a fabricated excuse.”

“He didn’t say anything about fabric. Me, personally, I like linen. It’s got a nice feel. Are you Pettibean? I’m supposed to give this information to no one but him.”

“Okay. I’m Pettibean.”

“Sounds good, Prettything.”

“I’m not Prettything. I’m Pettibean.”

“I never said you was a pretty thing. I’m straight, man. I got not bias if you’re gay. Some of my best friends are gay. Don’t get upset with me. I’m only the messenger.”

Oscar was playing Pettibone the way John Coltrane played the saxophone. I could almost hear Pettibone reaching for his angina pills and Prozac. 

“Please, please, just tell me what you are supposed to tell me,” begged Pettibone with a deep sense of weariness in his voice.

“You are to keep this private between attorney and client. It’s like I just killed somebody and told you about it. We understand each other?”

“Yes, yes. It’s in the vault. Did you kill someone?” asked Pettibone. I could hear Pettibone’s sense of caution. He never liked Oscar, but Mother refuses to take Pettibone’s advice and fire him. 

“No, man. I didn’t kill anyone but I like to kill my girlfriend’s husband if I could get away with it. If you come up with a loophole about killing rich lawyer husbands who don’t know how to make love to their trophy wife, let me know. You know how it is once a trophy has a hot Latino it’s all over for the husband or boyfriend as the case may be. Back to business, Doctor Sanderstuff can’t make it to group today, he has to go to the free clinic to get checked for a sexually transmitted disease. He said it could very, very, very serious. He personally used the word very three times. I swear on my sister Rosie’s grave.”

Oscar mixed the perfect levels of concern, compassion, and a tone of voice a lie detector couldn’t detect.

“I don’t believe you,” demanded Pettibone.

Oscar didn’t miss a beat, “About what part, my sister Rosie, killing my girlfriend’s husband, the virility of the Latino lover, or Doctor Sanderstuff’s sexually transmitted disease? 

“I … I…I don’t know,” Pettibone stuttered.

“Well, I’ll help you out. The only thing that was true was the virility of the Latino lover. The rest was a fake so I was testing you to see if you were the real Pettibean. I can’t be too careful. Doctor Sanderstuff can’t come in today because he had a personal breakthrough yesterday and realized how he has disrespected you. He is going to see a spiritual counselor and seek forgiveness.”

Where does Oscar come up with this stuff? He is a master. I wonder what he tells Mother when they’re getting it on.

“Wonderful news. Tell Doctor Sanderstuff  his spiritual growth takes precedence over everything. It certainly is an excusable absence,” said Pettibone.

Oscar ended the call and gave me two thumbs up.

I was a school kid who just learned he got a snow day. I was like a guy who got to take the prettiest girl in the school to the junior prom. I was like …”

“Enough with the smilies,” said my conscience. “Do you realize you had Oscar lie for you? You used your power as employer to have him do something wrong,” said my conscience.

“Take it up with Oscar. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t tell him what to say. All I told Oscar was the outcome I wanted and that if I got it, I’d tip him a hundred dollars.”

“You didn’t fall far from the tree, did you?” said my conscience.

“I never fell from a tree, what are you taking about?” I innocently asked knowing full well what he meant. So what if I was like Mother and Father. This gave me pause to think about my surrogate mother. It couldn’t have been someone poor. What if they adopted me?  Maybe Father had an affair with a foreign princess. I might be royalty.

“You’re on your own. Having a conversation with you is like talking to a brick wall,” said my conscience. What did he mean by that?  

I reached for my wallet and gave Oscar two one hundred dollar bills. His performance was worthy of an Oscar. 

Oscar left thanking me and saying he had to freshen up to get ready to give Mother her daily massage. As he was walking out of my room, he half turned and winked at me. I can only assume, Mother will be in a good mood for the rest of the day.

I text J and told her Pettibone was gracious and gave us the day off. J gave me her mother’s address, 3718 West 98th Street, apartment 405. I never heard of the street. I’d have to plug the address into my GPS. She said she’d meet me at her mother’s apartment at 7 p.m. It was a bit of a disappointment. I wanted to pick up J at her apartment and after our date, take her home and be asked inside for coffee or wine and whatever comes next, if you know what I mean. Anyone who knows me has to admit I am the eternal optimist. They might also say immature, narcissistic, and insensitive. Don’t condemn me, no one is perfect. Although Mother thinks she is as close to perfection as a human being can get.

Today’s Quote by Martin Buber on Love

When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.

Martin Buber

Trust Fund Baby ~ 8 A Satire

Chapter 8
“Good morning, Mother. Good morning, Father,” I said as I sat down in front of my raspberry Danish and cream colored coffee. I stared at my coffee and saw J’s image swirling around in the cream. Maybe it was an apparition.

Mother interrupted my fantasy, “Artin?”

Artin? What’s an Artin. I did a quick mental check of who sat at the table. Mother on one end. Father, ten feet away from Mother at the other end. And, me in the middle of the demilitarized zone. Did we hire a new cook?

I heard it again, this time more insistent, “Artin. Artin, look at me.”

I took a bite of my Danish and sip of my coffee, then said, “I don’t think he’s here, Mother. Try paging him.”

“Martin, don’t you remember, we’re legally changing your name to Artin?”

“I don’t want my name changed. I like Martin. I didn’t like it at first because when I was in first grade grade, Ronald Cranston called me fartin Martin. When I was fourteen and met Rachael, she let me feel her breasts and she like my name. I’ve liked Martin ever since Rachael.”

“Thank God you didn’t have sex with Rachael Madison. You know, her mother did not go to Holyoke or Smith.”

I thought about Mother’s comment for a second, then decided not to say anything about the sex part.

Mother continued her rant, “The mention of the Cranstons makes me want to have Nicole spray the room with disinfectant. They always thought they were better than everyone else. Can’t say I feel a bit sorry for them when the crash of 2008. They’re no longer listed among the top five hundred wealthiest people in the world. What a pity. But, between us, it looks good to see them left off of the RSVP list for Aspen and Palm Springs.”

The Cranston’s grovel? I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought they owned half the world and Grandmother Houston owned the other half. I said, “I will not answer to the name Artin, Mother. Now, that’s settled, I have some important news to share with you and Father.”

Father set his Wall Street Journal down and pulled his glasses down to the tip of short stubby nose that more appropriately fit on a bull dog than a human head. Mother placed both of her bony hands palm down on the table, her mouth slightly open, and her eyes trying to pierce into my brain and read my thoughts.

Before I could speak, Mother spoke, “Martin, if you’re going to tell us you got Nicole pregnant, don’t. I don’t want to hear about it. How much do we have to pay to keep her quiet and not list you as the father?”

Father said, “Mother, let’s be reasonable. Perhaps he didn’t get Nicole pregnant. Maybe it was Oscar.”

Mother said, “You should see the way Martin leers at her. I know what’s going on in his mind. It couldn’t have been Oscar, he used condoms.”

How does Mother know Oscar uses condoms? I didn’t think it was an appropriate question at the moment. I was watching the tennis match. It was Father’s turn. He said,

“We don’t even know if Nicole’s pregnant. As for our son, he didn’t get his lascivious tendencies from the Sanderstuff side of the family.”

Father took a nasty shot at Mother. He won’t be getting any tonight. Then again, I’m too sure he ever gets any anyways.

Mother returned the salvo, “Martin’s perverted sexual tendencies do come from your side of the family. What about Allison, your niece? You know the tramp who moved in with her boyfriend after college. Everyone knows she lost her virginity when she was in the tenth grade and they took a vacation to Venice and some Italian gondola driver seduced her. She could have been more descrete.”

“Leave Allison out of this, Mother. You know her mother is a Jenkins. The Jenkins worked for their money and didn’t inherit it, so they have no idea how to be rich.”

I thought, no, don’t leave her out of this. I’m enjoying the family gossip. But I didn’t want to be late for my second day of work. Truthfully, I wanted to be in my office waiting for my Venus to arrive. I said, “I didn’t make Nicole, pregnant, although I have many sexual fantasies about her. I don’t think I’m perverted. My sexual interests are normal.”
Mother looked at me and said, “If you didn’t make Nicole pregnant, who did?”

“Is she pregnant?” I asked.

“I don’t know. You brought it up,” said Mother sarcastically.

“I didn’t bring it up, Mother. I said, “I have something important to tell the both of you if you can get Nicole off your mind for a moment. First of all, I have not had sex with Nicole. I want to have sex with her, but she has a boyfriend and I’m afraid he’ll kill me if founds out we’re lovers.”

“You’ve got a Sanderstuff’s brain on shoulders, Son. It’s well and good to have an affair with someone in our class. The worse that will happen is you’ll snubbed at a social event. Discreet affairs are seen as a sign on good breeding, wouldn’t you agree, Mother.”

A shade of pink appeared on Mother’s neck and began it’s slow rise through her face. Fortunately, Father missed this faux pax because he set his glasses on the table when the discussion began.

“You’re so right, Father. Discretion is important in liaisons. Keep that in mind, Artin.”

“Thank you, Mother. Son, one more piece of advice, never, step out of class to have a sexual dalliance. A one night stand every once in a while, why that’s healthy as long as there are no strings attached. By that I mean always use a condom. Never take a lower class woman’s word she’s on birth control. Now, for heaven’s sake, tell us your important news, Son,” said Father.

I almost forgot what I was going to say. I’m sure Mother and Father do not have sex, unless they are totally wasted. Now, I think they’re both getting action on the side. I could use this to blackmail them into increasing my allowance. I saw them both locking in on as if they had a laser and were ready to push the fire button. I blurted,“I’m in love and I’m going to get married.”

Mother hollered, “Victor. Victor. My drink please.”

Father said, “A bit early for gin isn’t it, Mother?”

Here we go again. The tennis match was about to restart. I had to stop it so I get to work.

I said, “I’ve a bit of a problem. I know I’m in love with her. I know I’m going to marry her. I haven’t told her yet.”

Father rubbed his hands together. “I’ve been waiting for this, Son. You’ve come to Mother and me for relationship advice.”

Mother cut right to the chase, “Is she of good breeding? They must live on this side of the city. This is where all the good people live. You can tell by the all the guarded and gated communities. The air is cleaner over here. The better restaurants are over here. And, all our help comes from over there. It’s not that we’re afraid of them. It’s that we want to remain pure. Surely, you understand this, Martin.”

A thought raced through my mind. Am I the sole beneficiary in their will? If I tell Mother and Father J is black, but her skin is the beautiful shade of coffee and cream and her body is as lithe and supple as a gymnasts I foresee three possibilities. One, two massive coronaries; two, a stroke and a massive coronary; or three, they overpower me and send me off the Betty Ford Clinic for rehab.

I looked at Mother and said, “Her lineage can be traced back to ships the earliest settlers welcomed into the US. It may go all the way to Thomas Jefferson and his plantation.”

“Is she one of the Jeffersons? This is too good to be true,” said Mother already thinking of holding a soiree to host J and me.

“What’s her name, Son?” asked Father.

I truthfully said, “She likes to be called by the first letter of her last name.”

“That is delightful. I can’t wait to meet J,” said Mother.

I decided to leave on a high note. Mother and Father told me not to work too hard and let my administrative assistant do it all for me. I confidently strode out the of dining room believing J would be mine tonight. I was soon to learn, I had a lot to learn.

Trust Fund Baby ~ 6 A Satire

Chapter 6
The door to my office swung open. My jaw dropped bouncing three times of my chest giving me a touch of whiplash. My blood pressure spiked. A light haze covered my deep blue since baby eyes. I felt as if I were pushed through the window behind me and I was floating carefree through space. I am the prince and my Cinderella stood in the middle of the door frame. She was a tall woman with skin the color of my coffee having the perfect touch of cream. Her body was as lithe and supple as a gymnast. In my mind or perhaps it was an angel sent from heaven singing I Will Always Love You. If this was work, I wanted more, lots more of it. I stared a her long blonde hair parted in the middle, perfect white teeth, and pink lipstick, and perfectly displayed cleavage. Her hands rested on each of her beautiful hips slightly cocked to the right. My mathematical mind quickly calculated size 38 c cups. I knew then that being rich and being in love are the two best things in the world.

My Venus opened her mouth and her voice was like Ella Fitzgerald or Beyonce singing straight from her lips to my heart without a detour.

“You must be the spoiled brat, rich trust fund baby who’s the shrink. If you’re not, you touch me and I’ll wrap you up in a ball so tight you will make a golf ball look big,” She said giving me an icy stare that could cut through steel. Then she added, pointing with two fingers toward her face, “My eyes are up here. Let’s get that straight.”

I put to use my highly honed communication skills to get passed this little stumbling block on my way to romance, “Huh? Are you the receptionist?”

“Receptionist? Is that what you think I am? If that’s what you think, you a bigger fool than Pettibone told me you was.”

Her voice was an angelic choir. What are words when the melody sets your heart on fire,

“I said, you can be whatever you want to be. Want to have dinner with me after work?”

“Dinner? With you?”

“Un huh?”
“No. What fool said you were getting a receptionist?”

Actually, no one did. I thought that’s what you called a woman sitting behind a desk in a waiting room playing solitaire on her computer. If anything, I am quick on my feet I said, “The guard in the lobby called and said my receptionist was on the way up to see me. He didn’t tell me she was black Venus.” I gave her my award winning, impossible not like smile.

“I know Lawrence. We used to date. If I tell him what you said he will hit you hard on top of your head and you be looking out between your toes.”

I said, “If you won’t go to dinner with me, say we quit work early and go out for drinks.”

She jabbed a beautiful long index finger with a perfect nail, whose color matched her lips, at me and said, “I am your administrative assistant. What this means for you is that I do not do coffee. I do not run out and bring back lunch or donuts or whatever. I already know the kind of support you want and the kind of support you need. You’re not getting any of the first part. We straight on that?”

“Un uh,” I answered. “What exactly does an administrative assistant do? And, cut me some slack. This is the first day of work in my life and I’m worn out. It’s been rough.”

“How long you been at work?” she demanded.

I checked my iWatch, “About ten minutes. It’s a killer.”

“Pettibone was right. You are going to need all the help you can get.”

“I’m a quick learner if I’m tutored,” I said trying to butter her up.

She walked toward my desk. I scooted my sheepskin chair back until it hit the window overlooking the Pacific Ocean. She placed both hands palm down on my desk and bent over and stared at me. I could die now and know I’ve seen an angel.

“Eyes up here,” she said pointing to her eyes then placing her hands back down on my desk.

I quickly moved my eyes from her cleavage to her eyes then back down to her cleavage.”

She lifted both hands up and turned her palms toward her. I looked at the fingers I want to kiss. I looked at the hands that I want to hold me. My thoughts were interrupted.

“These nails do not type. They got several purposes. One, to make me look beautiful. And two, to scratch the eyes out of anyone who bothers me.”

“What’s your name?” I asked. I made a mental note to check Pondbone to find out if this woman had a license to wear dangerous weapons.
“My name is L Johnson. You can call me L or you can call me J. But you can’t call me Johnson.

I said. “Nice to meet you J. I’m Dr.” I had a brain burp. I couldn’t remember my last name. I knew I had a PhD so I was a doctor. I wasn’t sure what kind of doctor. Mother attended my classes. She wrote my dissertation. She hired a tutor to teach me enough to defend my dissertation. Paid trips to London, Paris, and Rome for each member of the committee and one guest may have pushed the needle a bit in my direction.

J said, “You need me to come over there and slap your white ass so you can remember your name?”

I said, “No, it’ll come to me. Say, do we have any patients in the waiting room I need to see?”

J started laughing. She stood up and her laugh turned into a belly laugh and tears rolled down her cheeks. When J composed herself, which was a good ten minutes later, she said, “You’d have to be crazy to voluntarily come to you for help.” Then she started laughing again. When she stopped she said, “You vote for Trump?”

I cringed. Was she working undercover for Costa Rica? I heard they tried to influence the election for Hillary. I truthfully said with a sigh of relief, “No.”

L or J or whoever she is bent forward a bit and stared into my eyes. It took a superhuman act of will not to drop my line of vision six inches. She said, “I can tell if you lying. You better no lie to to me. You vote for Hillary?”

I truthfully answered, “No.”

She said, “You write in Bernie’s name?”

I said, “No.”

“Who you vote for?”

I twisted around on my chair and stared out toward the ocean, I was losing control of my line of vision. I had a sudden urge to urinate. I always do when I’m nervous. I kept staring at the ocean. I answered, “I was at the spa on election day. Who won?”
“Hell, you don’t even know who’s President?”

“It’s either Obama or Bush. I’m not sure of which one. I don’t watch the news. I’m into reality shows.

J answered, “We gonna have one hell of reality show in this office with you in charge.”
I had a brainstorm. It was the best idea I’ve had since I had the idea I wanted a Porsche for my high school graduation present. I said, “Let’s make that your first job, see if you can get Netflix or Amazon or HBO to do a reality show here. We’ll be stars. I get top billing.”

J was silent. This was a welcome relief. I swiveled around but didn’t stop in time and ended up doing a 360. I tried it again let my sandals skid me to a stop. My arms outstretched, my palms landing face down on the desk.

J said, “Another four inches and I’d break every one of those fingers.”

“I said. “You never answered about having a drink after work. We should be done in another five minutes.”

“Is this a pickup line?” asked J.

“Uh huh?” I said with a questioning inflection in my voice.

J started laughing so hard she stumbled back and fell into one of the chairs. When she recovered, she said, “I give you a maybe on the reality show. It’s got possibilities. That’s the worse pickup line I ever heard. It ever work?”

“Uh huh, when I add after drinks we’ll fly to Rome for dinner.”. I believe I had a chance. My heart did a double flip, and a triple twisting jump scoring 9.9, 9.9, 9.9 on the love scale. I stared at my creamy skinned goddess with my tongue sending a message to my brain to let it drool. My thoughts were interrupted by my Venus rising.

J said, “No on dinner. No on drinks. No on Rome. Pay attention. You get to work with a group of criminals who are at a half way house. That means they half way between full time prison and half way to full time freedom. They live together in a house and they can’t go nowhere without supervision. They going to come here as a group and you’re supposed to help them get ready to go back into society. Some white fool must have made this decision. You ain’t going to help nobody.”

“I don’t want to work with criminals. I want to work with nymphs,” I said.

J said, “You crazier than the people you gonna be working with. Listen up Dr. Something.”

I interrupted, “That helps, my last name begins with an S.”

J said, “Group starts tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. sharp.”

I said, “Huuh?”