Chapter 1 – Doing It Our Way

Chapter 1

The two friends stood in line at Starbucks. Five people were in front of them, a couple in their thirties, a male college aged student, a male about 35 dressed in slacks and tie who looked like he was on his way to work. And, a woman about 25 with a young baby in a papoose. It was 9 a.m. on Saturday.
“Grace, there’s only one table left, do you mind getting my coffee, you know what I like, I’ll reimburse you. I’m going to grab the last table before anyone in front of us beats us to it,” said Jane Ferri.
“Good idea. I’ve got it, don’t worry about it. The usual, right?” Asked Grace Conti.
Jane smiled and gave Grace a soft pat on her shoulder. Jane quickly walked to a high table for two with stools in the far corner of Starbucks. She sat with her back to the wall, and looked up at the line. She saw the couple pay and take their drinks, turn and look at her. They were not happy. Well, too bad, Grace and I need to talk, she thought.
Grace made it to the front of the line, “Hi Tim.”
“Hi, Grace. The usual?” Said Tim, the Starbucks barista.
“The usual for me and a grande chai latte for my friend,” said Grace nodding toward Jane.
“Okay, that will be a grande skinny vanilla latte for you and a grande chi latte for your friend. How’s Matt doing?” Said Tim ringing in the order.
“He’s a nice kid. He’s doing okay. Thanks for asking,” said Grace. She smiled at Tim. He returned the smile. Grace took her receipt and walked over to await her order.
Five minutes later, Grace thanked the barista for the order, picked up the drinks, and walked to table Jane earlier grabbed. She placed the drinks on the table and climbed onto the stool. “I’m glad you got the table. This place is packed,” she said.
Jane pointed out the window, “It’s Saturday, there’s a big football game in town and the farmer’s market is going on up the street. It’s the perfect combination to fill Starbucks at 9. How’s everything going with you? We haven’t seen each other in three weeks. You don’t answer my texts. I was afraid I did something wrong.”
Grace held her drink with both hands, took a sip, set it down, and looked at Jane, “You’re my best friend. I’m sorry. I should have answered your texts. The last three weeks have been tough for me. I know you understand.”
Jane studied Grace’s face for a moment. Grace’s eyes were watering. Grace reached for a napkin and dabbed at the corner of her eyes, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to. I can’t help it, sometimes. It was three years on the 8th. It feels like yesterday. I can’t get past it. I’ll be okay in few days.”
Jane reached over and briefly touched Grace’s hand, “I’m sorry. I forgot. Has it been three years?”
Grace gave Jane a half-hearted smile, “Three years. Three long, long years. I still feel like I’m walking in a fog.”
“How’s Matt doing?” Asked Jane.
“I wish I were as strong as Matt. He’s only in 7th grade and he goes about his life like nothing happened. He’s involved in school. He has lots of good friends. He keeps a large photo of Mike on his wall. It’s one of Mike in Afghanistan. He doesn’t know I’m watching, but he touches the photo each time he walks in and out of his room. He wants to be just like Mike. He wants to play football, basketball and track. And, he wants to go to one of the military academies, just like Mike. Why? Because Mike did. I can’t help him with sports. I mean, I know what a football is. I know what a basketball is. I can watch a game on TV and know what’s going on, but I can’t tell him how to play. I was interested in gymnastics and ballet,” said Grace.
“Where’s Matt now?” Asked Jane.
“He’s at his friend Tommy’s house with some friends. Tommy is a year older than Matt and lives four houses down and the boys play basketball in Tommy’s backyard. I told him I’d be home at 11 and I wanted him home by 11:15. He’s really good at listening to me. I talked with Ellen, Tommy’s mother, she said she’d keep an eye on him. It’s not easy being mom and dad to boy who thinks he has to be the man of the house,” said Grace sipping her latte.
Jane took a deep breath, she sipped on her Chai tea, and set it down, “I know Ellen, she’s nice, her husband Dan he’s a bit weird, but okay if you don’t mind their ultra liberal politics.”
“I don’t pay too much attention to politics. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, we live in a free country. So, why should I care?” Said Grace.
“I guess so. Although, Ellen’s a lot nicer than Dan. When Dan starts talking politics he rants against the government. He hates the military. He sees a conspiracy around every corner,” said Jane.
“It keeps him busy,” said Grace managing a small laugh.
Jane said, “We’re good friends, right?”
Grace looked at Jane, “Yes? Usually, when you say, we’re good friends, you have something to tell me you think I don’t want to hear. Am I right?”
Jane nodded, “If I am out of line, say so and I’ll stop. Fair enough?”
“I know what you’re going to say. I don’t want to talk about it. How many times have we gone down this road? I think a dozen times and the answer is still going to be the same, no. Grace’s words held the chill of an Article blast in the middle of January.”
“I’m your friend, Grace, not your enemy. Please, Grace, listen to me. You’re thirty-four years old. I wish I had your looks and figure. You need to be dating. It’s been three years since Mike was killed in Afghanistan. You’ve got to let it go and get on with your life. Matt needs an adult male figure in his life. You need a man in your life. I don’t think you’ve dated once in the last three years, have you?” Asked Jane.
“If you don’t count the times you tried to set me up with dinner at your house, I haven’t dated. I don’t feel like dating. I had one love in my life, and that was Mike. I’ll never find another like him,” said Grace fighting back a wave of emotions.
Jane listened and saw the pain etched on Grace’s face like fine lines carved with an artist’s sculpting blade.
Jane said, “There is no other Mike. Maybe there may be someone different from Mike who’ll be a good husband and father in a different way. You’ll never know until you try. You’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you. I saw Tim look at you when you were ordering our drinks. He likes you.”
“He’s five years younger than me, at least. I’m doing okay. Is the sermon over? Let’s talk about something else. Want to go to the farmer’s market with me?” said Grace trying to move the conversation in a different direction.
Jane absentmindedly ran her hand through her hair and reset her ponytail. “Grace, you haven’t worn makeup in three years. Not even a touch of lipstick. Nearly every time I see you, you’re wearing your workout clothes. I know you don’t spend all day at the gym. Do you wear them to work?”
“No,” said Grace curtly.
“What if I plan a barbecue next Saturday afternoon? I”ll invite Ellen and Dan and Tommy. I’ll invite a few other friends as well. It will be casual. I want you to bring Matt, he’ll have Tommy to play with. And, yes, there will be an eligible bachelor there. Please, try it one more time. I promise, if you come and nothing happens, I won’t bring it up again,” Jane said.
“You mean it? You won’t bring it up again? Promise?”
“Yes, Grace. I mean it,” said Jane.
“Okay, we’ll go. Matt and I will be there. But, I already know, I’m not interested.”

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I Don’t Want To Compound My Felonies

Farlo’s driving the black and white, Joey is in the passenger seat, Tina is sitting on Joey’s lap with her head hanging out the window. Her tongue flying in the wind, her ears flapping. Farlo ignores stop signs, red lights, orange turning red lights, photo enforced red light intersections and signs prohibiting left turns, right turns, U turns, and one-way streets. Joey’s eye lids appear to be super glued together.

“Let me know when we get to the crack house,” he murmured.

“I’m worried about you, Chico. You’ll get the sniff of crack and fall off the wagon,” said Farlo clipping an SUV stopping a red light.

“What’s eating you, Chico?” said Farlo.

“What’s with the Chico bit? My name’s Joey, not Chico. You clipped the SUV, are you going to stop and exchange papers?”

“Why, Chico?”

“Stop calling me Chico and get this thing off my lap,” Joey Demanded.

Farlo did a quarter turn of his head toward Joey, “Joey doesn’t work unless it’s matched with a last name. What’s your last name? I don’t remember you telling me.”

“I thought you knew everything about me. You’re not so smart. You act like a rabid dog. You don’t think things through. That’s why we’re in deep trouble. I do not want to be in the same cell as you when we go to prison. BTW, it’s Ginarco.”

“I like it. From now on, you’re Joey G. That’s a name with an attitude. Now act like it,” growled Farlo and he turned the black and white into a Starbucks lot. He parked the car, reached over to the glove compartment, fished around, smiled at what his hand touched and pulled out Martinez’s police department credit card.

“Let’s go in and order. We need our energy if we’re going hit a crack house. I’m going to get a half dozen of somethings with meat, eggs and cheese for Tina.”

“What if they ask for ID?”

“Where’s your attitude Joey G? Use it,” snarled Farlo.

Tina heard the words meat, eggs, and cheese and jumped off Joey G’s lap and headed to the back seat where she sat on her haunches eagerly expecting a lavish meal.

Farlo opened the door, got out, stretched his arms over his head, wiggled his back, heard it click in place and turned toward the car. He glared at Joey G sitting in the passenger seat, still buckled. “What do you think you’re doing Joey G? Get your butt out here or you don’t eat or drink.”

“I don’t want to compound the ten felonies we’ve committed.”

“I’m signing your name to the voucher. Your butt is cooked and I’m going to char it,” snapped Farlo.

Joey G unbuckled, got out of the B & W and slammed the door. “That’s it. Give me the card,” he demanded. His fists were clenched.

“You’re going have to take it from me. Let’s see how tough you are, Joey G.”

Joey G came rushing at Farlo, his eyes closed, his arms flailing, throwing punches from every angle. Farlo sat down on a chair at an outside table and watched Joey G flail off the sidewalk and fall onto the drive through roadway.

“Why didn’t you tell me I was going to crash?” Joey G said siting on his butt looking at the tear in his sweatpants, and dabbing at his bruised knee with part of the sweatpants fabric.

“You know who wore those pants before you? You might be dabbing an infectious disease into your system. You don’t think of possibilities, Joey G.”

“I do to.”

“Do not. I’m hungry. Let’s get some coffee, food and talk about what we’re going to do when we hit the crack house.”

Farlo and Joey G stepped into Starbucks. We’re here to get our coffee, grub, and rescue Harry J in the next forty-five minutes if I’m going to make it back in time to meet Martinez at O’Rourke’s. It’s doable if you don’t screw things up again.”

“How did I screw things up?”

“Do I have to remind you of your stupid karate move?”

“I was channeling Bruce Lee.”

“It looked like you were channeling Big Bird.”

“That was before I was known as Joey G.”

The beautiful dance major female barista looked at Farlo, then Joey G. He said, “Officer, this homeless bum with you?”

“No. He followed me in looking for a handout. His shopping cart is parked in a handicap zone.”

The barista,  looked at Joey G, “Don’t give me any trouble.”

Farlo winked at the barista, and said, “If he does, I’ll use him for field goal practice. You give him a coffee and an egg sandwich on me.”

“Besides being the most handsome cop I’ve ever seen, you’re a humanitarian. I get off at ten, want to meet at O’Rourke’s?

Farlo gave the barista a smile that would melt an iceberg.”

“Everything’s on the house, what’s your name? Mine is Kelly. Here’s my cell number,” said Kelly scribbling her cell phone number on the back of the receipt.

“Farlo.”

“Not the Farlo. For real?”

“For real.”

“OMG,” Kelly clutched her heart with her two hands.

Joey G gasped, stifled an acid reflux, and headed for the restroom.

Five minutes later they were in the B & W and headed to Alameda and the crack house.

Will they rescue Harry J? Is it too late for Harry J? Did Joey G find his groove? Who’s Filo

10 Tips To Make The World Better

Let’s make the world better today.

  1. Plant a tree seedling.
  2. See a piece of trash on your walk? Pick it up and put it in a trash can.
  3. Smile at everyone you meet.
  4. Pay for the coffee for the person behind you in line at Starbucks.
  5. Toss stale bread out to the birds.
  6. Surprise an old friend with a “thank you for (fill in the blank) email.
  7. Invite a neighbor, colleague, friend out for coffee or lunch.
  8. Post an inspirational photo or quote on your favorite social media.
  9. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  10. Send an video message to a parent, child, friend and tell them to have a great day.

The following short YouTube video will inspire you to do even more. Making the world better doesn’t cost much, a bit of time, a coffee, and a loving heart. Let’s do it!

You Think I’m Stupid

Joey sat behind the wheel of his beat up, dinged up, dented up, bald tires, and cracked windshield eighteen-year-old Honda with 300,000 miles on it. Farlo sat next to him. Tina lied on the back seat. The car was parked on the edge of the lot of a 7-Eleven.

Farlo sipped his Starbucks’ coffee. Joey glared at him. “When do I get coffee?”

“When I think you’re clean.”

“I’ve been clean for ten days.”

Farlo said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. You ever hear that quote?”

Joey said, “You think I’m stupid. Of course, I heard it.”

“Who said it?” demanded Farlo.

“You got the quote wrong. You didn’t even quote it right.”

Farlo moved his head slightly to the left to glance at Joey, “If I find any hallucinogens in the house I’ll hang you upside down with a rope around your feet from the oak tree in back and let Tina use you for attack practice.”

“I said I was clean I never tried that stuff. But the quote is and I’m certain I’m right, “One large step for a small woman and an even bigger step for a tall woman. Marcy Bloomberg said it on E! I’m sure that’s it. So, you’re wrong.”

Farlo twisted in his seat, “If we weren’t on the job, I’d smack you across your head and knock some stuff around, you are one sorry case.”

“You wanna bet who’s right, or are you chicken? What are you saying, I don’t hear you. I see your lips moving,” said Joey.

In a flash, Farlo’s left are shot out straight and caught Joey by the neck. Farlo’s thumb pressed into Joey’s windpipe, his fingers squeezed on the back of Joey’s neck. Joey gagged, “You’re killing me. Stop.”

“I’m not killing you. I’m giving you tough love. That’s what the manual calls it. Now admit you made it up.”

“I didn’t. Ouch. Yes, yes, I made it up,” coughed Joey.

Farlo released his head. Tina, now on her haunches on the backseat, her head rested on the top of Farlo’s seat.

Farlo said, “Repeat after me. I will not bullshit Farlo ever again.” He tightened his grip on Joey’s throat.

“I will not bullshit Farlo ever again,” said Joey. He sounded like a cat tossing up a hairball.

Farlo released his grip. He turned his attention back to the 7-Eleven.

“What manual are you talking about?” asked Joey rubbing his throat with his left hand.

“The one Filo wrote,” said Farlo.

Farlo took the top of his coffee and blew the aroma towards Joey.

“That’s cruel. You don’t have to worry about a heart attack, because you don’t have one,” said Joey.

Farlo put the cover back on his coffee, took a sip and stared into the 7-Eleven. A nondescript white van pulled into the parking lot. It didn’t have a front license plate. It drove slowly around the lot and pulled in front of the 7-Eleven.

“You see that?” asked Farlo.

“What?” asked Joey.

“The van. What are you doing, fantasizing about the date you’ll never have because no woman in right mind will ever date you.”

“I’m not choosy, she doesn’t have to be in her right mind,” said Joey.

“Look, it doesn’t have a license plate, front or back,” said Farlo.

“So? Maybe their test driving it from the dealership,” said Joey.

Two men got out of the van. One from the driver’s side, the other from the passenger side. The driver, a five foot four-inch slim guy was wearing s dark hoodie with the hood pulled up over his head. The other man, six-inches taller, was heavy. He looked like he was in training to be a sumo wrestler. He wore a black stocking hat pulled down tight and stopping at the edge of eyebrows. The shorter said something to the taller man and pointed at Joey’s car. They stared at it, mumbled something between them, turned and went in the 7-Eleven.

Joey’s eyes were closed. He was massaging his neck and throat. Farlo punched Joey on the bicep, “It’s go time. Follow my lead.”

Joey rubbed his bicep. “Hey, that hurts. Can’t you say, ‘Joey, it’s go time.’ No you can’t you have to use brute force. What’s go time? What are we doing? Are you going to rob the 7-Eleven? I’m not going.”

What is happening at the 7-Eleven? What is go-time? Did Joey learn his lesson? Who is Filo?

He’s The Perfect Accessory

I’m acting like a child. I am embarrassed. I am hiding in the closet. It’s the only place where I can find peace and quiet. There are no windows, but I have photos of the Grand Canyon, Padre Island, and the Rocky Mountain National Park scotched taped to the back of the door. Next to me is my Keurig Coffee Maker. My cup of coffee, fresh, hot, and all mine, until . . .

“Ray, I know you’re in there,” said La Flor*.

“No, I’m not,” I said in a falsetto voice and realized the mistake I made by saying, ‘No, I’m not.’ Hopefully, she won’t pick up on it.

“I know it’s you. I can smell my coffee,” said La Flor

“How do you know? Your coffee?” I’ve truly lost it. I’m hiding from an alt ego and her boyfriend. I’m using a falsetto voice as a disguise. And, now, I’m debating whether I’m in here or not. Where’s Dr. Phil when you need him. That’s right, according to La Flor, he’s an alt ego.

“Either come out, Ray or LC will break down the door and drag you out. It’s for your own good,” said La Flor.

“My own good is to stay inside here until you two, too, or to go out for chicken wings,” I said.

“Do you have a stuttering problem? Asked La Flor.

“No.”

“It sounded like you stuttered when you said to, two, or too,” said La Flor.

“You’re not going to let me alone until I come out, am I correct?” a moment of silence. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t want Little Carmen to kick down the door. I said, “What?”

“I nodded my head, Ray. What are you waiting for?” said La Flor.

I can’t answer. There is no logical response to seeing a head nod while behind the door. If I had a white flag, I’d wave it. I opened the door, coffee in hand, and stepped out.

La Flor reached for the cup, took it from me, and sipped, “This is good. I needed a good cup of coffee. Thanks, Ray.”

Will I ever get to drink a cup of coffee? I wonder what the Vegas odds are on that one.

Little Carmen, who occasionally can read my mind and little else, said, “About 75 to 1.”

La Flor looked at him, “Is it football season already?”

“No, beautiful, tough, and edgy sometimes a thought comes into my head.”“I like it better when you’re thoughtless.”

“I like it better when you’re thoughtless.” said La Flor.

“Me two,” said Little Carmen (it’s really not that hard to use too instead of two. Why can’t he get it?).

“We need too talk, Ray,” said La Flor (Okay, La Flor is using too instead of to – did they both miss it in alt ego grade school?).

“You’re always saying we need to talk,” I replied.

“No, I’m not. Sometimes I’m saying where are we going tonight. Sometimes I’m saying LC I need a glass of wine.”

Little Carmen interrupted La Flor before she could give another example, “I’m on it. White vino, which rhymes with dino, beautiful, tough, and edgy woman who needs to speak to Ray about whatever.”

“Yes, LC, not in a Styrofoam cup this time,” said La Flor.

“That’s the way Big Carmen serves it,” said LC.

I want to go back into the closet. No, I want to climb on the roof and signal passing planes to send help.

“I don’t care if he serves it in a Starbucks venti cup, I want it in a fancy wine glass.”

“Use gonna get more if I goes and gets a Starbucks venti cup,” said Little Carmen. The expression on his face looked like he was pleased with himself.

If she sends Little Carmen to Starbucks as she did yesterday, I wondered if the paramedics will bring him back.

La Flor turned to me and said, “Ray, it’s time for an intervention.”

I said, “Please don’t watch Dr. Phil or talk to the alt ego who plays Dr. Phil.”

Then Little Carmen joined the conversation, “I can helps you, beautiful, tough, and edgy wonderful woman. I am very goods at interventions. I intervented a square pizza cutter.”

“You intervented a square pizza cutter? How does it work?” I asked.

“Use uses it for square pizza. The round pizza cutter is for the round pizza. Nobody thoughts of that before me. That’s not alls I intervented, Ray-mo,” said Little Carmen.

“Why? Ray. Why?” said La Flor.

“I’m asking myself the same question,” I said.

Little Carmen is warming up for what, I don’t have a clue. Certainly, Seinfeld isn’t coming on next. He said, “I intervented a menu use can reads upside down.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Use asks the customer if they wants the regular menu or the upside down menu. If they asks for the upside down menu, I gives them the regular menu and tells them it’s upside down.”

“Little Carmen, good idea about the Starbucks venti cups. Can you get two of them?” I asked.

“I’ll have to buy coffee first, then dump it out. Is that okay?”

As soon as he left, I turned to La Flor, “Why don’t you hold an auction for him with the alt ego girls?”

She glared at me, “And let go two-hundred five pounds of male hunkiness go? Never.”

“I don’t think you love him,” I said.

“I’m not talking love. I’m talking accessory,” La Flor responded.

“Accessory?” I asked.

“He goes perfect with whatever I’m wearing,” said La Flor smiling. She’s staring out the window watching Little Carmen jog to Starbucks.

“Ray, Ray, I just had a horrible thought,” she shrieked.

“Take it easy. I’m here for you,” I said. I immediately regretted using that line and hoped she wasn’t listening to me.

“I know you’re here. It’s LC. You sent him alone, without a guardian to Starbucks. He’s probably fighting the women off. He’ll come back disfigured. He’s doing this all for me.”

“You’re the lucky one.”

“I won’t be if they maim him. I can see it now, he’ll be outside Carmen’s Pizzeria selling slices with his left hand because they cut off his right hand for a souvenir.”

“You’re not making sense, La Flor.”

“I always make sense. Go save him.”

“Can I call the paras?”

 

 

He’s a Chick Magnet

I’m watching my favorite Netflix series. I discipline myself not to binge watch. I want to pace it out, extend my enjoyment. Then the front door opens, I hear footsteps. Then the voice.

“Ray, I need a vacation. I’m wearing out the treadmill you’ve put me on. All I do is work, work, and work some more,” said La Flor* nudging her main squeeze Little Carmen.

“That’s right, we needs a vacation,” said Little Carmen. Then he added, “I think I gots it right beautiful, tough, and edgy.”

“Almost right. Remember how the first line went, ‘La Flor needs a vacation.’ I’ve a Snicker’s bar and a small bag of nachos if you get it right,” said La Flor.

“I gots it, “Ray-mo, remember how the first line went? How’d I do beautiful, tough, and edgy?”

“Ray, I rest my case. I’m going nuts. LC, do me a big, really big fav and run over to the Starbucks on the other side of town and get me a white iced tea?”

“What’s about the one down the street? Do I has to run?”

“Yes, run. Walking might even be better. take your time. I don’t like the one down the street,” said La Flor then kissed Little Carmen on the cheek. Which was enough to push all the right buttons. Granted Little Carmen doesn’t have too many buttons (note how I use too correctly, unlike Little Carmen and La Flor).

La Flor nearly pushed Little Carmen out the door. She hollered, “Take your time LC, look both ways when you cross the street. Have a cold whipped drinks while you’re there and then get mine to go. It’s okay if you give it to a homeless person on a street corner.”

“Use is a saint, beautiful, tough, and edgy.”

La Flor turned to me, “Help me, Ray.”

“Pick a vacation spot?” I asked.

“No. One part of me wants to dump LC. And, the other part of me wants to keep LC. I’m caught in a tug of war and it’s tearing me apart.”

I’m trying to think what a sensitive male might say in a situation like this. ‘I’m here for you.’ No, I saw a Seinfeld episode with that line. ‘I’m listening.’ No, Fraser used that line in every show. ‘Suck it up and dump him.’ That doesn’t sound like a sensitive male. If only I could Google ‘sensitive male expressions.’ I can’t, La Flor’s expecting a response.

I said, “Want to sit out on the patio and talk?” I’m thinking I did pretty good.

La Flor said, “What? And, waste my time with psychobabble?”

“Where’d you pick up that term?” I asked.

“Dr. Phil’s script writer. You know, Dr. Phil is an alt ego. He’s not real like you and me. What you’re seeing is an actor play Dr. Phil the alt ego. The real alt ego hangs out at the alt ego singles club.”

“Dr. Phil is an alt ego?” I asked.

“Do I have to repeat everything. Now, let’s get back to my problem.”

“I forgot it’s all about you.”

“You’re learning,” said La Flor not catching my sarcasm.

I got La Flor out to the patio. I brought her a soda in a chilled glass with the exact amount of ice, one-fourth of the glass. At least, that’s La Flor’s measure of the exact amount of ice. I’m being very sensitive. I sat down opposite her and said, “What is it you don’t like about Little Carmen?”

“I don’t like the way he uses the word two for too when he should be using it for the word to.”

“And, not two?” I asked.

“Exactly!” said La Flor.

Two, too, and to are too troublesome to think about for too long. I Pushed ahead, the sensitive male that I am, “What is something you like about Little Carmen?” I asked.

La Flor put her index finger up to her lips, she was faking she was thinking, but I didn’t point it out, the sensitive male that I am. She moved her lips as she counted to six. Why six? No clue. She said, “He’s, no that’s not a strong point. He’s, no that isn’t it either. I know. He’s, no that doesn’t work either. It’s something about him. He has no good points for a beautiful, tough, and edgy, go for it all girl like me. He has one thing, just one thing.”

She said, “He’s, no that’s not a strong point. He’s, no that isn’t it either. I know. He’s, no that doesn’t work either. It’s something about him. He has no good points for a beautiful, tough, and edgy, go for it all girl like me. He has only one thing, just one thing going for him.”

“What is it?” I am intrigued.

“He’s a chick magnet. I don’t want any other alt ego women to have him. He’s mine. All mine.”

“Let me see if I understand.”

“Not a chance,” said La Flor.

“Why not?”“You’re not one of the species who has the understanding gene.”

“You’re not one of the species who has the understanding gene.”

“I’ll rephrase. Let me see if I can summarize.”

“That’s better, Ray.”

I said, “There is nothing you like about Little Carmen. How am I doing?”

“So far, so good,” she said.

“He’s a chick magnet and all your alt ego girlfriends would grab him in a second and you won’t let that happen.”

“You got that straight,” said La Flor.

In the distance, getting closer was the wail of sirens.

La Flor rushed to the window. She turned to me, “Ray, it’s the paramedics. Oh no, LC must be hurt and they want me to identify his shattered remains. He must have jumped out of a window because he loved me so much. Ray, I don’t think I can take it. I hope he left a note that tells everyone how he didn’t deserve me because he didn’t.”

I looked out the window, the back of the ambulance opened, LC jumped out, one of the paramedics hands him his Starbucks carry all. The paras waved at Little Carmen as he LC jogged to the door.

I said, “He’s okay, La Flor. He got a ride in the ambulance to bring you your drink.”

“Out of my way, Ray.” Said La Flor rushing to open the door.

“Here’s your drink my beautiful, tough, and edgy you can have it all girl.”

“Put them down you big lug and hug me. Then we’ll go plan our vacation at Wineland.”

I’ll never understand those two, too, or to.

* La Flor is a fictional character and acts as my alt ego. Her character has evolved over the blog posts. She began with a single letter as her name. Her name gradually grew to two letters, then three before she settled on La Flor. She liked the name because it fit her idea of a beautiful, tough, and edgy feminine PI.  It is my interaction with her persona that serves as the source of these blog posts. I have no notion how La Flor will continue to evolve. It is an adventure for me as well as the reader.

 

What’s He Watching?

What are normal people doing at three a.m.? They’re sleeping. That is, unless they are working the night shift. That’s what I was doing, no I wasn’t working the night shift. I was in the deepest level of REM sleep, the kind of sleep that heals, renews, and when you wake in the morning you know it’s going to be a great day. Then my dreams shifted from the peaceful meadow with a clear creek running through, a few deer prancing in the distance, and the mountains smiling at me to the ground shaking, I was in an earthquake. I grabbed hold of a pine tree next to me. The earthquake grew stronger, I awoke from my nightmare holding my pillow tight to my chest. I opened my eyes to see La Flor and Little Carmen standing over me.

“Good morning, Ray,” said La Flor* a pleasant lilt to her voice.

“Was use having a nights mare? I hates night mares and day mares two (remember, LC says two for “too”).

I said, “What time is it? What are you doing in my room?”

“I wanted to talk and it couldn’t wait until you showered and had your coffee,” said La Flor.

I looked toward the covered windows, it was still dark, really, really dark. “Is it an emergency?” I asked.

La Flor tilted her head, “Not really. I didn’t want to think about it when I went back to bed. I probably wouldn’t fall asleep.”

I didn’t know what to say. Then I heard the gravel voice.

“I like omelets for breakfast,” said Little Carmen.

La Flor patted him on his head, and said, “Be a good boy and go lie on the couch, now go. You can have your omelet later.”

“I’m on my way beautiful, tough, and edgy to be determined,” said Little Carmen.

It was the last part of his sentence, there was something about it that might be important, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

From the living room, the gravel voice with a sense of urgency, “Can I watch cable?”

“If you don’t get off the couch,” said La Flor rolling her eyes.

A second later, the gravel voice again, “Can I get off the couch to get the remote?”

I wasn’t sure if the earthquake was the nightmare or if this is the nightmare. I lose either way.

“I’ll bring you a treat when I’m through talking with Ray if you’re quick about it,” said La Flor.

“I’ll be quicker than if you counts to four backward from too (that’s how he says two, confusing, right?).

I was sitting in bed trying to wrap my head around counting backward from two and somehow reaching four. I heard La Flor.

“I’m at two and a quarter are you back on the couch?”

“I’m almost there. Did I make it?”

“Good boy, LC.”

Is she treating Little Carmen like a large dog or a little child? I know I can mix metaphors with the best of the metaphor mixers. What La Flor is doing is new territory for me. She’s going where no alt ego has gone before. (Sorry StarTrek fans, I couldn’t help myself).

I checked my iPhone, it was 3:07 a.m. “Can we make this quick? I want to go back to my peaceful meadow.”

“I have three questions, Ray, that’s all. Easy squeezy. I love that expression. LC taught it to me. Sometimes I use sneezy instead of squeezy. And sometimes I use breezy instead of squeezy.”

“I get the point. Brilliant adaption of word usage,” I said, then wondered why I encourage her.

“Disappointed you didn’t think of it first? It was LC, then I took it a bit further,” said La Flor now sitting on the edge of my bed.

“Devastated. Now what are the three Questions,” I said, I was willing to make up any answer. I wanted to go back to sleep. I hope I can find that position again.

“Here you go, Ray. Q one. Q stands for questions; when I say Q it helps us to get to the point faster. Do you agree?”

I replied, “Oh yes, please use Q and use it frequently.”

“Q one, I’m changing careers. I want to be a shrink.”

My apologies to all psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors. If you have a problem, take it up with La Flor, por favor. I said, “Go for it.”

“Great, Q one is answered. Here’s Q too (I can see Little Carmen’s growing influence on La Flor, she used too instead of two. My world is spinning out of control). Can I use our living room for my group sessions?”

Group sessions? Our living room? Where was I? Is there a way out? Will they follow me if I find my way out? What the heck, I said, “Sure, why not. Can I go back to sleep?”

She waggled an index finger at me, “Ray, Ray, Ray we have one more Q. Q three and it rhymes with me.”

“You’re naturally poetic,” I said. It was now 3:22 a.m.

The sound from the living room threatened to make me deaf. “What’s he watching?”

“LC loves this show called Heavy Metal Rockers face off in a Death Cage Match with Violinists.”

“This is a show?”

“It’s really, really popular on cable.”

I need a support group. “What’s Q 3?” I said over the crash of a violin on the head of a Heavy Metal Rocker, then the profanity laced tirade of the Heavy Metal Rocker telling the violinist where he was going to insert the violinist’s bow if he caught him. Little Carmen was cheering for the rocker.

“He’s so cute when he gets excited,” said La Flor.

“Q 3, por favor.”

“I forgot. It couldn’t have been important. Ciao, Ray. I’m going to finish watching the show with LC.”

Sleep? Precious sleep? If you can’t beat them, join them. I wrapped my blankets around me and sat on the couch staring at something that shouldn’t be allowed on cable or to exist on the planet. I couldn’t take anymore. I got up and said, I’m going to get dressed and go to all night Starbucks.

“We’ll go with you. LC will record it so we can watch it later,” said La Flor, the beautiful, tough, and edgy shrink.

 

* La Flor is a fictional character and acts as my alt ego. Her character has evolved over the blog posts. She began with a single letter as her name. Her name gradually grew to two letters, then three before she settled on La Flor. She liked the name because it fit her idea of a beautiful, tough, and edgy feminine PI.  It is my interaction with her persona that serves as the source of these blog posts. I have no notion how La Flor will continue to evolve. It is an adventure for me as well as the reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save Me, I’m Suffocating

La Flor, AKA, the beautiful, tough, and edgy PI, and Little Carmen walked into Starbucks ahead of me. Little Carmen held the door for La Flor, then stepped inside and let the door close before I could squeeze in.

It was two in the afternoon. The drinks of choice in San Antonio on a hot July afternoon rank in the following order: Margarita – not offered by Starbucks. Beer or cerveza – not offered by Starbucks. Real Texas iced tea in a real Texas sized iced-tea glass not one of the plastic Starbucks things with high priced names – not offered by Starbucks. Then there is the fifty-two-ounce drink offered at all the gas stations for ninety-nine cents. Somewhere between uppity and I’ll donate my first born to Starbucks is their sugary, frosty, coffee concoction that costs the same as a good meal at a decent restaurant. A large line waits, everyone has their iPhone out, ready to collect stars.

La Flor turned to me and said, “Ray, give your iPhone to LC so he can order our drinks.”

“I don’t want anything. I’m only the driver,” I said.

“Don’t be so cheap. Live a little,” she said.

“Yah, Ray-mo, lives a little, like the beautiful, tough, and edgy PI says,” said Little Carmen sticking his paw out to take my iPhone.

La Flor said, “Pay attention, LC. Ray and I will grab a table and see if we spot LaRue. Ray, tell LC what you want.”

My first thought was, I want to get out of here. I was afraid Little Carmen would take me literally. So, I said, “A glass of ice with a touch of water.”

“He’s only kidding LC, get him the largest iced coffee they have and tell them to add a shot of espresso to it. I’ll have a Frappuccino.”

“Can I gets something two (blogger’s note: That’s the way Little Carmen said it, ‘two’ not ‘too,’ the way it’s supposed to be said), beautiful, tough, and edgy PI?”

“Of course, get whatever you want, Ray is paying,” said La Flor.

Why does it hurt whenever she says I’m paying?

Little Carmen handed my phone back to me and said, “How do I pay with the phone? Is it a trade or something?”

I reached for my phone and gave Little Carmen a quick tutorial.

“What’ll they think of next. I got to tell Big Carmen to get a Pap smear.”

“It’s an app,” I said.

Isn’t that what I said?” asked Little Carmen. Then he said, “You got anything on here I’m not supposed to see because I’m gonna look at everything.”

“It’s all PG-13,” I said.

I confused Little Carmen. La Flor rushed to his rescue, “LC has such an inquisitive mind, Ray. Run along LC, we’ll be waiting.”

Little Carmen blew a kiss to La Flor that almost knocked me over with the garlic flavored spray that came in its wake.

As soon as Little Carmen was in line, La Flor grabbed my arm, almost hysterically she said, “Ray, save me. I’m dying. He’s suffocating me. I want to dump him.”

“Dump Little Carmen? After the way the both of you were carrying on in the backseat?”

“I was holding my breath. He has the worst breath I’ve smelled since … I won’t go into that.”

“Is that the only reason?”

“No, it happens to be number seven on my list of reasons to dump him.”

“You’ve made a list?” I said a bit incredulously.

“Yes, and it’s growing. Number one, is this ridiculous, tacky white windbreaker jacket. La Flor in a tacky windbreaker? I’ll make all the tabloids. They won’t let go if they find out. If my public sees me with this thing on, I lose all cred.”

“And, number two?” I asked.

“His motorcycle. A beautiful, tough, and edgy PI does not ride on a motorcycle with her arms around a guy who’s wearing a plaid kerchief on his head to hold his hair in place.”

“Did you wear a helmet?”

“And ruin my doo?”

“Good point. What’s number three?”

“I need my freedom. I’m a free spirit. I can’t be tied down. I don’t want Sunday dinner at the pizzeria. I don’t want to smell sauce and garlic and pizza all the time. Oh God, Ray do something. Save me, I’m too young, too vibrant, too beautiful, too tough, too edgy to be tied down.”

“He’s waving at you,” I said.

“Don’t look at him, Ray. You’ll only encourage him. You’re the writer. He’s only an alt ego. Kill him off. Make him a greeter at Walmart. Do something.”

“You’re not an alt ego?” I asked.

“No,” La Flor said defensively. I move between worlds. I am the best of both. I think my mother was a real person and my father was an alt ego. Maybe it was the other way around.”

“He’s carrying the drinks over. Oh, Ray. He got me the largest, most caloric drink on Earth. How will I fit into my jeans? Do you know how long I’ll have to go on the treadmill tomorrow? Hours.”

Little Carmen sauntered over, his hips jostling tables on his path to us. “Here’s your drink, beautiful, tough, and edgy PI. I made them put extra whooped cream on it with extra caramel sauce. I got one just like it. Here’s your coffee, Ray-mo. Use guys spot LaRue?”

“I think you meant to say whipped?” I offered.

“I don’t see no whips? I also didn’t hit any body,” said Little Carmen.

“Do you understand, now, Ray?” La Flor said, her eyes pleading with me to do something.

I shook my head, then looked at my drink. If I took one sip, I wouldn’t fall asleep for a week. La Flor swirled her straw around the whipped cream and caramel.

Little Carmen removed the top and straw to his drink, raised the venti cup to his lips, and began the alt ego male ritual of consuming a drink without swallowing or breathing. This is done anytime an alt ego male is in the presence of a female. It’s a standard matting practice. Little Carmen was letting his drink slide its way through his esophagus. He was obviously applying a male beer drinking technique to a cold drink. I didn’t think it would turn out well.

The whipped cream gave him a white mustache, not a good look. Even worse was the caramel dripping down both sides of his mouth as he attempted to impress La Flor with his male, drink it all at once move.

La Flor whispered, “Reasons eight through one-hundred, please. I’ll be good. I promise. No more sassiness. No more wisecracks. I’ll cook once a week.”

Little Carmen, three-fourths of the way through, suddenly set the drink down and pressed the palms of his hands against his temples.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I gots an ice cream headache. Oh geez, these are the worst. How am I going to get rid of it? I can’t think straight or crooked.”

La Flor pushed her seat out, she took off her tacky white windbreaker, tossed it on the table, and said, “That’s it, LC. We’re done.”

Little Carmen, still pressing his paws to his temples, raised his eyes without moving his head, and said, “But beautiful, tough, and edgy PI, what I do?”

“You couldn’t drink your cold drink all the way down without stopping. It’s part of the job description for my assistant.”

“It is?”
“Yes, and so is not getting ice cream headaches. I’m letting you go, don’t worry, I’ll be a good reference. Ray’s driving me home.”

“What about me? What about my motorcycle? What about us?

I spoke up, we’ve already had one bad breakup and I didn’t want another. I said, “La Flor told me she’ll set you up with J.J. Peterson, the romance writer. LaRue came crawling back and she told him to keep on crawling.”

“Geez, thanks, beautiful, tough, and edgy PI. Does J. J. like pizza?”

“Loves it. All in a day’s work, LC,” said La Flor pushing me toward the door. Then La Flor whispered to me, “LC is perfect for her. I can’t stand her. She’s a snooty b ….” I stopped her before she could finish her sentence.

The best decision is to stop making a bad decision. That piece of wisdom I picked up from a book has proven its worth to me time and again. La Flor applied it to a relationship going nowhere. I hope the piece of wisdom comes in handy for you.

* La Flor is a fictional character and acts as my alt ego. Her character has evolved over the blog posts. She began with a single letter as her name. Her name gradually grew to two letters, then three before she settled on La Flor. She liked the name because it fit her idea of a beautiful, tough, and edgy feminine PI.  It is my interaction with her persona that serves as the source of these blog posts. I have no notion how La Flor will continue to evolve. It is an adventure for me as well as the reader.

 

 

My Apologies to Canines

There are times when life grabs hold you and won’t let go. You want to escape from its grasp; its hold is too tight. Even the jaws of life can’t pry you free. These moments happen to all of us. It may be something as simple as being invited to a party you do not want to attend because someone you don’t like is going to attend. But, you don’t want to hurt the host’s feelings so you go and you are caught in life’s grasp. If only life were so simple.

I wasn’t invited to a party, it was much worse. Why I gave in and said yes might confuse IBM’s Watson. Here is how it went down.

I’m sitting on the patio. The San Antonio, Texas, temperature a tad above its average 101° for a July day. Not a cloud in the sky. I smiled, finally, life was turning in my favor. La Flor* and her main squeeze, Little Carmen, are off doing whatever they are doing. I’m interested, but only in an intellectual way. I do not want to get involved. How I got dragged into a parallel universe of alt egos still baffles me.

I have a Texas sized glass of iced tea sitting on a small table next to me. Clear beads of sweat run down its sides. A nice slice of seedless, chilled watermelon rests on its side beckoning me to stick my fork into it. It’s peaceful and it’s all good. It’s all good until I hear Little Carmen’s motorcycle a half mile away. Forty-seven seconds later, yes, I counted them, the door to the patio swings open.

I did a half twist towards the door and saw Little Carmen holding it open for the beautiful, tough, and edgy PI. Training him well, I thought. I wondered what obedience school she enrolled Little Carmen in.

Little Carmen cleared his throat and said. “All rise, the beautiful, tough, and edgy PI is about to enters these promises.”

“Thanks, Little Carmen, did you mean premises?” I said, and remain seated and watched the grand entrance for the beautiful, tough, and edgy PI.

“Use is confused, Ray-Mo. See, a premise is when use is going to do something use needs to do because you premises somebody use is going to do it.”

“Thanks for clearing it up for me, Little Carmen,” I said and wondered why I agreed with him. Maybe it was his biceps, the size of my thighs. Or, his broken, in three places, nose that made him look like a hawk ready to strike his next victim. Or, maybe I have a soft spot for a guy who makes a good pizza and treats La Flor like royalty.

Little Carmen holds out his hand that resembles an Alaskan king crab for La Flor. She took hold of it and Little Carmen led her over to me. He said, “The beautiful, tough, and edgy PI is going to speak to you.” I wondered if La Flor was going to reward him a treat.

La Flor doesn’t wait for me to say anything. She said, “We practiced my entrance all morning long and LC finally has it down.”

“Practicing for the PI of the Year Award?” I said.  Then added, “I see you have a windbreaker like Little Carmen’s.”

“LC is so sweet, Ray. He surprised me. He even had my right size, size 0. It has my name in writing over here,” La Flor points to the upper left side of the windbreaker.

“Do you mean script?” I said.

Little Carmen interrupts, “It’s not scribbled.”

La Flor pinches, Little Carmen’s cheek, “Settle down, LC. That’s a good boy.”

I wondered if she rubs his tummy or pats the back of his neck.

La Flor pirouettes so I can see the back side of her windbreaker.

“I like the touch, “Beautiful, Tough, and Edgy PI and underneath it says Hangs Out at Carmen’s Pizzaria.

“Big Carmen loves it. Here’s the deal, Ray, we got our first case.”

“Because of the windbreaker?”

“Is it out of state?” One can only hope. I continued, “What is it?”

“J.J. Peterson, the alt ego romance writer, is sure her alt ego boyfriend, LaRue is cheating on her.”

“Little Carmen butts in, “If LaRue is cheating on her, I will squeeze his head until it pops. Because the beautiful, tough, and edgy PI is friends with J. J. Peterson.”

“Is she paying you for this,” I asked. Right away I knew I should have addressed La Flor directly.

Little Carmen said, “No, I’ll pop his head for free. It’ll be on the house.”

“I can see how that will help,” I said.

“Thanks, Ray-mo. I get a brain burst every now and them.”

La Flor is a bit puzzled either by brain burst or now and them. I didn’t pursue it. She waited a moment, then said, “I didn’t want to take her money, in her next book, she’s going to mention that I am a beautiful, tough, and edgy PI.”

I don’t know LaRue, but I feel sorry for him. I said, “What if he’s not cheating?”

“We gonna cross that ocean when we finds dry land,” said Little Carmen trying to impress La Flor with his intelligence.

La Flor turned and kissed little Carmen on the cheek.  “You are so perfect for me, LC. Be a sweet boy, and bring me the iced tea on Ray’s table.”

La Flor speaks, Little Carmen jumps, sits up, rolls over, and if he had a tail it would be wagging at a hundred miles an hour. My apologies to canines.

La Flor turned back to me and said,” Sometimes good things happened to good people like when LC came into my life.” Little Carmen wrapped a napkin around the iced tea glass. Sweet move.

She gave him a look and I thought he might hyperventilate. I wanted to get back to my peaceful place, my iced tea gone. I felt confident La Flor would want my watermelon.

“Look what Ray had waiting for you LC, watermelon.”

Ray-mo, you the man, gimme a fist bump.”

The fist bump hurt. I wonder if I should have my hand X-rayed for possible fractured fingers. I watched Little Carmen pick up my generous slice of watermelon. When he finished, all that was left was the rind. He took the rind and scaled it across my backyard.

“Why did you do that, Little Carmen?” I asked.

“I thought I could use it like a boomerang.”

“You are the creative one, LC,” said La Flor.

“Don’t you to have to go check out JJ Peterson’s boyfriend?” I said hoping to get the dynamic duo out of the house.

“We do, Ray. That’s why we came to see you,” said La Flor.

“How’s so?” I said.

“You drive a nondescript Toyota. You can be our driver. We will ride and observe.”

“What about little Carmen’s motorcycle?” I asked.

“The beautiful, tough, and edgy PI is too beautiful riding on the back of my motorcycle. She attracts too much attention.”

“Let’s go, Ray,” said La Flor.

So much for my peaceful afternoon. I didn’t want La Flor arrested in a conspiracy to murder. Even if Little Carmen said it was justified. I’m not sure how alt ego courts handle cases.

“Where to?” I said once I got into the Toyota.

“Starbucks,” said Leflore. “JJ Peterson says he hangs out there and that’s where he meets the other woman.”

“And, that’s where he’s going to meet pepperoni and sausage,” said Little Carmen looking at each of his fists.

“You are so adorable, LC,” said La Flor.

“Which Starbucks?” I said as I looked in the rearview mirror and saw La Flor and Little Carmen in a passionate embrace.

I repeated my question, “Which Starbucks? The city must have a hundred of them.”

La Flor stopped for a second, “It doesn’t matter, tell us when we get there.”

Maybe it’s the hot Texas sun. Maybe it’s the sound of the cicadas. Maybe I can blame Ray Bradbury and his book, ‘The Zen of Writing’ where he suggested to let the characters lead you on. Taking his advice, I called Big Carmen and asked for wisdom to share with readers. He thought for a moment, then said, “I’ll give you the best advice I ever got, it came from my Uncle Tony.”

I didn’t say a word, then Big Carmen offered, “Be nice to everybody, you never know when they’ll want to put extra toppings on their pizza.”

* La Flor is a fictional character and acts as my alt ego. Her character has evolved over the blog posts. She began with a single letter as her name. Her name gradually grew to two letters, then three before she settled on La Flor. She liked the name because it fit her idea of a beautiful, tough, and edgy feminine PI.  It is my interaction with her persona that serves as the source of these blog posts. I have no notion how La Flor will continue to evolve. It is an adventure for me as well as the reader.

 

 

Please Don’t Take My Coffee

Sometimes the simple pleasures in life are the best pleasures; like sitting down at my breakfast bar enjoying a hot cup of dark roasted coffee. I like my coffee in a clear cup that way I enjoy the variants of the coffee’s colors. I smell the aroma of cocoa and the smokey scent as it wafts up to my nose. I anticipate my first sip the way a young child anticipates Christmas. As I’m bringing my cup to my lips, I hear…

“Ray,  Ray don’t take that sip. Hand me your cup, por favor,” said La Flor*.

I hand my cup to La Flor. She takes hold of it. Steps away from me and simultaneously grabs the coffee pot. She carries my cup and the pot of coffee to the door leading to the patio.

“What are you doing, La Flor? Leave my coffee alone. Don’t take it away from me. Why are you wearing sunglasses? The sun is barely up?”

“My sunglasses are a statement any time of day. The coffee’s mine, Ray. It’s all mine. Don’t dare follow me. I’m desperate. I need it all.”

“Please, La Flor don’t kid with me. I’ll get a caffeine headache. I’ll have the shakes by 9 a.m. I’ll be mean-tempered by 9:05 a.m. I won’t be able to finish my blog.”

“I’m saving your life.”

“You are not saving my life,” I said.

“Am too,” she said.

“Are not,” I said and wished I didn’t say it. When am I going to get out of third grade?

La Flor had one leg out the door, her butt pushing the door open. Her eyes darting between the patio and me. She said, “Am too.”

I had to break the cycle of silliness. I said, “How are you saving my life?”

“I’m saving you from someone who could be potentially dangerous if she didn’t have a lot of coffee this morning.”

“Do I know this person?” I asked.

“La Flor PI doesn’t want to answer that question.”

“Why are you talking in the third person?” I asked.

La Flor took a quick look around the kitchen, then said, “I only see you, Ray. Then, of course, there is me, whom I can’t see because I can’t hold a mirror, coffee cup, and coffee pot at the same time. I don’t see a third person. I don’t understand why you said I was talking in the third person.”

“You’re taking this too far, La Flor. Take my XBox. Take my iPad. But, please don’t take my coffee.”

“Too bad, Ray. It comes with the territory of living in the same quarters with La Flor, beautiful, tough, and edgy PI. Think of me as your personal security.”

“I don’t recall hiring you as a bodyguard. I don’t recall hiring you for anything. What time did you get in last night?”

“Let’s not change the subject, Ray.”

I knew I was on to something, I pushed on, “Let’s change the subject, La Flor. Did you get in?”

“Let’s put it this way, The time I got in is the time I got in. Does this make sense to you?”

“La Flor, do you think you are talking to one of your alt ego males?”

“It was worth a shot, Ray. They’re not too bright.”

“How much sleep did you get?”

“La Flor, beautiful, tough, and edgy PI, doesn’t sleep when she’s on the job.”

“Please quit with the third-person. It’s going to give me the hives. Did you just get home?”

“I’m home now. That should count for something. I was out having breakfast with my mystery writer blog friend. We wanted an early morning breakfast. I knew this day would be action-packed trying to keep you out of trouble. I chose a healthy breakfast instead of eating something you might make for me.”

“You don’t think oatmeal and Greek yogurt and fruit are healthy?”

“Oh, heavens no, Ray. And when you add walnuts and flaxseed to your Greek yogurt, it’s a turnoff.”

“May I ask where you had breakfast and what you ate?”

“Sure, we got breakfast tacos at Paco’s Taco food truck.”

“I think I am catching on, La Flor. Let me guess, Paco’s Taco food truck happened to be in front of the alt ego bar. Is this a correct assumption?”

“You’re on fire. You didn’t need your coffee. I’m going to sit on the patio. I have a headache, my eyes feel swollen, and my tongue tastes terrible. Please don’t play music.”

“Are you hungover?”

“I like to experience all life has to offer.”

“Enjoy the coffee and peace, La Flor. I’m headed for Starbucks.”

“Thanks, Ray.”

One thing we share in common is imperfections. Recognizing my imperfections helps me to accept La Flor in her imperfections. She didn’t need a lecture or to feel shame for her long night or hangover. She was being who she is and figuring her way through her alt ego life in much the same way as I am figuring my way through life. We all need more understanding and lot less criticism.

* La Flor is a fictional character and acts as my alt ego. Her character has evolved over the blog posts. She began with a single letter as her name. Her name gradually grew to two letters, then three before she settled on La Flor. She liked the name because it fit her idea of a beautiful, tough, and edgy feminine PI.  It is my interaction with her persona that serves as the source of these blog posts. I have no notion how La Flor will continue to evolve. It is an adventure for me as well as the reader.