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.”

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.