Ask Him If He’s Dead

Chapter 15

Zeke pulled into Bola Auto Repair and parked his car next to a used Ford SUV and a used Buick Regal. Zeke looked at his cell, “We got five minutes until we meet Sal. I think being early will look good. Let’s go.”

“What are you going to ask Sal?” asked Mickey.

“I’ve been thinking of that. I don’t have an answer. I’m gonna play it by ear, Mickey. You got any ideas?”

Mickey made an effort, although painful, to think, “I think I got one. How much do you think Sal wants for the Ford SUV?”

“This is your idea?”

“It was the best I could do,” said Mickey.

A six-foot two-inch guy, with dirty fingernails, oil stained jeans, wavy black hair, with his name Sonny stitched into his shirt, rapped on the driver’s window. “You can’t park this piece of crap here. I’m running a business. Anybody sees this, they’ll think I sell crap. I don’t repair anything not worth fixing. So, what do you want?”

Zeke lowered the window, “We got an appointment with Sal. Is he in the house?”

“Pop don’t have anything to do with the business, I run it. You can find him at the Sons of Italy Club. If you got an appointment, he’ll be in the last booth. Now get this piece of crap out of here.”

Ten minutes later the boys pulled into the Sons of Italy parking lot. Zeke looked at his cell, “We’re late. I hope we didn’t blow it.”

“It’s Gus’s fault. He didn’t tell us to come here,” said Mickey.

“Mickey, do me a favor, don’t talk. Don’t speak. Let me do all the talking. Understand?”

“I gotcha, Zeke. My mouth is shut tighter than my uncle Freddie. He’s so tight he won’t give you the right time of day.”

The boys walked into the Sons of Italy club. Four old guys were playing poker. Two guys were at the bar drinking beer watching the replay of last night’s Sox game. Zeke walked over to the bar.

Alphonso Donati, the bartender, who was standing opposite the two guys watching the replay of the Sox game, turned his head toward Zeke, “What da you want? I don’t got all day. The Sox are up. They scored three runs this inning.”

“I don’t want a beer. I want to talk to Sal? You seen him?”

“You talking Sal Peci? Sal Lozano? Or Sal Balovini?”

Mickey whispered in Zeke’s ear, “Do you know which one, I’m terrible with names?”

Zeke took a deep breath and said, “Sal Balovini.”

Alphonso turned around and looked at Zeke and Mickey. “He expecting you guys?”

“We have a two o’clock appointment,” said Zeke.

Alphonso turned to the wall and pointed to the clock, “It’s five after two, you’re late. And, I see you didn’t bring any offering to Mr. Sal.”

Zeke slapped the side of his head, “I knew I forgot something important. I got too many balls running around in my brain. You got anything I can buy that will work?”

Zeke put his right hand to his chin and made believe he was thinking. After a moment, he said, “It costs you a ten spot for me helping you and 20 for the imported bottle of chilled beer straight from Sicily.”

Zeke reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He pulled out two fives, and two tens, he looked at the remaining two singles and wondered what he was going to eat tonight. He handed the money to Alphonso.

Alphonso took the money, put it in his pocket and reached under the counter and pulled out a bottle of Rizzo’s Finest Sicilian Beer. “Here you go boys, Mr. Sal is in the back booth.”

Zeke looked toward the back booth, “I can’t see anybody.”

“He’s there. I don’t know for how long. Once you buy, it’s yours. I don’t give money back.”

Zeke carried the bottle of beer in his left hand. The boys made their way to the last booth. They stopped at the booth and looked at Sal, his head was resting on his arms on the table.

Mickey whispered, “Is he dead?”

“I dunno,” said Zeke.

“Ask him if he’s dead,” said Mickey.

Zeke looked around. Alphonso and the two guys at the bar were watching the Sox. The poker game was going on. No one was paying attention to Mickey and him. He bent toward Sal’s head, “Mr. Sal? Mr. Sal? You okay?”

“What do you think, Zeke? He didn’t answer. How we going to know if he’s okay if he don’t tell us he’s okay,” said Mickey.

Zeke patted Sal on the shoulder, “Mr. Sal? Mr. Sal, you okay?”

Mr. Sal didn’t move. He didn’t twitch. He didn’t open an eye.

“Check his pulse like they do on TV,” said Mickey.

“Where do they check it? I usually get a beer when there’s no action,” said Zeke.

“I think it’s the wrist,” said Mickey.

“His head’s on his wrists,” said Zeke.

“Let me do it, Zeke. I like the doctor shows. I think I know what to do,” said Mickey.

“Okay, but be careful,” said Zeke.

Mickey put his left hand under Sal’s cheek and lifted his head. He slipped his right hand in and took out Sal’s left arm. Mickey let Sal’s head drop to the table. It landed with a thunk. Alphonso turned from the TV toward the booth. Zeke smiled and waved.

“I think he’s deader than road kill, Zeke. That’s pretty dead. We gotta get out of here. People will think we killed Sal.”

“You’re right, Mickey. Let’s get out of here.”

The boys walked toward the entrance. Alphonso turned and watched them. “Hey where you going with the beer?”

“Sal didn’t want it. He wasn’t thirsty,” said Zeke.

Alphonso looked back toward the booth. When he turned back to the boys, they were gone.

What are the boys going to do? Will they be accused of killing Sal? What about Tony Gallino and his package?

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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.