Chapter 11 ~ Doing It Our Way

Chapter 11 ~ She Didn’t Recognize Joe Dimaggio

Grace and Matt sat across from each other at an authentic Italian pizza parlor. A red and white checkered, plastic tablecloth covered the table. Crushed red pepper, a glass filled jar with parmesan sat next to the pepper. Sinatra was singing in the background and photos of Italian-American sports heroes adorned the wall. Matt was staring at a photo of Joe Dimaggio kneeling down, holding a baseball bat.
“You know who he was, Mom?” asked Matt.
Grace looked at them. “I have no idea, hemust have been way before my time. Do you know who he is?”
“Come on, Mom. You got to know all about Joltin Joe. Everybody knows who he is,” said Matt not believing Grace wasn’t up to date on baseball trivia.
Grace resisted rolling her eyes. She had more important thing to talk about, but not now.
“I guess I’m the exception. I give up, who is he?” said Grace trying hard to show interest. Matt really needs a man who shares his interest in sports. I feel so useless, she thought.
Matt pointed at the picture, “He is Joltin Joe, Joltin Joe Dimaggio. He played for the Yankees. The Yankees won ten world series while he played for them. He was married to Marilyn something, a famous actress.”
“Oh, was that the guy who was married to Marilyn Monroe?” said Grace taking a bit more interest in the photo.
“That’s the one, Mom. I got a question, what’s the special occasion? The only time you take me out to Giamo’s Pizza is for my birthday. My birthday is still five months away,” said Matt turning away from the photos and picking up the menu.
Grace looked up from her menu, “Oh, I thought you and I never do anything special. It’s always the same old song. You know.” Grace regretted the words as soon as they passed her lips. This made it twice in a week she wasn’t completely honest with Matt.
“Thanks, Mom. I’ll have my usual,” said Matt putting the menu down and taking a sip of his Coke.
“You didn’t read the menu. They have lots of choices. Here’s one with mushroom, peppers, and spinach,” said Grace.
Matt smiled, “Dad and me always liked the same kind of pizza, pepperoni and extra cheese.”
Grace felt the knot in her stomach. How was she going to broach the subject with Matt? She thought about her conversations with Jane and came to the conclusion, Jane was right. It was time for her to get on with her life. She wasn’t getting any younger, and Matt really needed a man in his life. She heard so many people tell her the same old story, “Mike would want you to be happy?” How did they know what Mike would want? I don’t even know, she always thought but never said.
The waiter took the pizza order. Matt was wandering around looking at the photos on the wall. Grace heard a text come in, she reached in her handbag and lifted out her iPhone. It’s from Jane, who is she setting me up with this time? she thought. She opened the iPhone and read Jane’s message: I have a brilliant idea. It came to me when I was in the Jacuzzi. Maybe it was the candles, maybe the wine, but the idea is a great one. One of my best. That’s all, it’s a teaser. How about coffee tomorrow, same place with Tim the hot barista LOL. J
Matt slid into his chair just as the pizza arrived. “Who’s the text from, Mom?” he asked.
“Jane, she wants to get together for coffee,” she said. She was happy she told the whole truth to Matt this time.
Matt started to pick up a piece of pizza, “Matthew! We say grace first.”
Matt grinned sheepishly, and put the pizza down and joined hands with Grace. After saying grace, Matt said, “It’s funny, I never thought of it until now, when you say grace, it’s Grace saying grace, pretty cool, right?”
Grace smiled, nodded, and instantly remembered Mike saying the exact same thing to her on their first date, another lump in the throat and a rock in her belly.
Grace and Matt talked about sports, the best Grace could. They talked about the upcoming summer basketball league. Matt was going to play in the 11 and 12 aged division. Matt was on his fourth piece of pizza when he stopped and said, “Okay, Mom. What did you want to talk about?”
Grace looked at him. How does he know? Does Matt know me better than I know him, she wondered. “Oh, nothing. I just wanted to take you out for pizza.”
“Mom, you made me promise to always tell you the truth even if it hurt. You said you would do the same with me. Remember, we shook pinkies on it?” said Matt.
Grace made a deep sigh, “You’re right, Matt. I apologize. I wasn’t completely honest.”
“That’s okay, Mom. You can talk and I’ll finish my pizza,” said Matt giving her that smile again. His face beamed and lit up in his eyes just like it did on Mike.
“Matt, I’ve been thinking that if the right opportunity came up, I might start dating.”
Matt put his last piece of pizza down, put his right elbow on the table, made a fist with his right hand, tilted his head bit toward the right and let his cheek rest on his fist and he looked at Grace. He didn’t say a word. He only looked.
“Well, say something,” said Grace.
“Mom, if you’re going to to date, just make sure he’s not a creep like that James guy. I knew he was a creep from the second I saw him. Promise me, no creeps.”
Grace smiled, “No creeps and they better know who the starting quarterback is for the Dallas Cowboys.”


Thugs, Do I Have an Amen?

Chapter 20

The pizza delivery thug and the driver, a tanned, dark wavy haired thug with a long beak, had Zeke and Mickey by an arm and ushered them into Lombardi’s. Gus was behind the bar washing beer glasses. Mickey glanced over, “Hey Gus, I don’t know where we’re going but can you bring me the usual.”

Zeke shrugged and didn’t say anything.

The boys were taken to a back room. Inside the room was a metal desk, three metal folding chairs. A photo of Ted Williams talking to Joe DiMaggio and another photo of former heavyweight champ, Rocky Marciano.

The driver thug, opened the folding chairs and placed them in front of the desk.

The pizza thug said, “Sit.”

Zeke said, “What’d we do? We done nothing.”

Mickey said, “Can I have my beer?”

The pizza thug said to the driver thug, “I think they’re too stupid to know what they done.”

“Don’t matter, stupid or not. They gotta deal with the consequences.”

“That’s right, you don’t do what Mr.G says, it’s like watching the Food Channel, time for a little fileting, and little grilling.”

“We gonna have a barbeque?” asked Mickey.

“Your buddy got air for brains, you know what I mean. You’d have better off if you hung around with smarter guys like me and him.” The pizza guy was careful not to use names.

Zeke looked up, “He’s a nice guy, he thinks different. We’re best friends. I’m doing okay with him.”

“You got a wise mouth and think you’re so smart. If Mr. G wasn’t coming, I’d smack you around and see how smart you was.”

“Pretty soon, your gonna be working for me. Maybe I’ll look for better talent,” said Zeke who then wondered why he said what he said.

“You gotta be driving down the wrong side Route 24 and you got a 16 wheeler heading for you and you can’t see nothing because you is more stupid than the stupid friend you hang around with.”

“He’s not stupid. How’d you like it if someone called you stupid. How would your mother feel?” asked Zeke. He wondered if were on a drug. He didn’t do drugs. Okay, he like beer. But drugs were out of the question. The wine, he thought. Nonna drugged the wine.

A knock on the door.

“Yah,” said the driver thug.

“It’s me, Gus. I got two beers for the guys.”

“What about us?” asked the driver thug.

“Mr. G didn’t say anything about giving you guys free beers. You gonna let me in?”

The driver thug opened the door, Gus walked in and over to Mickey. He handed him a bottle of a dark locally brewed beer. He did the same with Zeke. Then he said, “These are courtesy of Mr. G. He called and said he’d be a few minutes late.”

“What’s going on, Gus?” said the pizza delivery thug.

“Hey, I only work here. You wanna know what’s going on, ask Mr. G,” said Gus who left as abruptly as he came in.

The driver thug hollered, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass. I told him. I don’t like his attitude.”

Zeke sipped at his beer. Mickey let his slide down his throat unimpeded by reflex mechanism. He didn’t stop to breathe. He didn’t stop to savor the taste. He just let it flow.

“How you do that?” asked the driver thug.

“I been practicing since I was a kid,” said Mickey proudly.

The backdoor to the room opened. A third thug with bulging pecs, huge biceps and a tight tee opened the door and held it open for Tony Gallino. Gallino walked to the desk and stood behind the chair just off to its right. The bulging pec thug walked over and pulled the chair out and motioned Gallino to sit down. Once he said, the bulging thug guy helped scoot Gallino in.

When Gallino was set, he looked at Zeke and Mickey and said, “I been nice to a point and now I want the right answers or I am not going to be nice any more. Do I have an amen, thugs?”

The three thugs said, “Amen.”

What’s going to happen to Zeke and Mickey? When will Nonna’s curse kick in? What’s inside the package?