I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours. – Lewis Carroll
If you’re like me, you understand writers have to write. I’m always trying to learn from the best. In this short YouTube video, Quentin Tarantino shares how he started writing dialogue. If you’re a writer, learn from the best.
The wise read the markers left by those who have blazed the trails. They learn the lessons that others in their generosity share. They adapt the lessons to their journey. Umberto Eco shares his wisdom to anyone who aspires to be a writer in this brief YouTube video. His wisdom can be applied to all aspects of life. Enjoy.
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?”
“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.
“Not the Farlo. 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
Joey went into the bathroom. He kicked a towel out of the way. Took a step and kicked another towel out of the way. Took another step and crushed a beer can with his foot. He wasn’t wearing shoes. “Ouch, son of a …”
From outside the room, “You swear it’s a gig. Five gigs and you’re grounded.” Said Farlo. Then a bark, backing up Farlo.
“I’m not a kid. I can swear if I want to,” hollered Joey.
“Poor attitude. This will show up on your weekly evaluation,” said Farlo. Again a bark.
“Get out or I’ll call the cops,” stammered Joey.
“With what? I’m scrolling through your cell phone. I’m deleting your photos and videos. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
“They’re all over 18,” said Joey.
“Poor self-esteem to go along with a poor attitude. You may be my toughest assignment,” the sandpapery voiced Farlo said. Then, the barked agreement.
Joey stared into a stained toilet. He closed the lid, sat down on it, and stared at the concentric circles of rings in the bathtub. He turned his head to the right and looked at the small window. For a fleeting moment, he wondered if he could squeeze through and escape.
Farlo interrupted his thoughts, “You’ve got five minutes to clean the bathroom or I’m busting down the door and coming in to kick your ass,” said Farlo.
Joey hollered back, “Hey, that’s a swear. How come you can swear and I can’t?”
“I’m a grown up,” said Farlo.
“How am I supposed to clean the bathroom when I don’t have any stuff to clean it?” said Joey.
“Use your brain, it’s the thing inside your skull. You’ve got four minutes,” Said Farlo, then he banged the door with his cane. Tina growled.
Joey got up off the toilet seat. Flushed the toilet and lifted the lid to see if it was clean. No luck. “Damn, damn, damn,” said Joey.
“Two gigs,” said Farlo.
“Not fair,” replied Joey.
“I know,” said Farlo. Tina barked in agreement.
Three minutes later, Joey opened the bathroom door and stood face to face with Farlo. Tina sitting beside him. “Get out of my way,” said Joey.
“It’s inspection time. Go stand by the toilet while I inspect your work,” ordered Farlo.
“No. No. No.” said Joey.
“That’s your third gig, two more and you’re grounded,” said Farlo.
“Who’s gonna make me?” demanded Joey.
Farlo tapped his cane two quick times on the floor. Tina Sprang up. Her front paws resting on Joey’s chest. Her teeth bared.
Joey hollered, “Don’t let her bite me. My face. My face. It’s my treasure. I’ll stand by the toilet.”
Farlo tapped once. Tina sat on her haunches. Her eyes on Joey. Joey turned and walked across the towel and beer can less floor and stood in front of the toilet. Farlo puffed up his chest and walked into the bathroom as if he were General Patton. He stopped at the sink, wiped a finger in the sink bowl, brought the finger up to his face and shook his head. He looked at the towel rack. Shook his head, “The towel is uneven.”
Farlo opened the medicine cabinet. He saw hemorrhoid cream, aspirin, Tums, a condom, and three outdated prescriptions. Farlo shook his head in disapproval. He walked to Joey and stood in front of him. “Step aside and lift the lid.”
Joey took a half step to his left and lifted the toilet lid.
“You call that clean? It’s disgusting.”
“It’s the best I could do.”
“No, it’s not the best you can do,” said Farlo matter-of-factly.
Joey almost swore, but he didn’t want to be grounded.
What is happening? Who sent Farlo? What does Farlo want with Joey? Come by tomorrow.
The front door opened, Joey jumped back and shouted, “Get her out of here. It will not work. It will not work. Leave and take her with you.”
“You’re overreacting, Joey,” said the old guy.
Tina, a large German shepherd trotted in, walked up to Joey, now frightened and braced against a wall, and sniffed him. She sat in front of him. Her eyes on Joey’s eyes.
“Make her go away. I don’t like dogs. Has she had her rabies shot?” Joey nervously asked.
Joey gently moved his left foot six inches to the left and his back slid six inches with the foot.
Tina growled. Joey brought his foot back.
The old guy walked up and stood beside Tina. He patted her on the head with his left hand. He patted Tina’s head, “Good girl. Don’t let him leave.” The old guy reached into one of his cargo pants’ pockets and pulled out a treat. He fed it to Tina who wagged her tail and greedily looked for another treat.
“How long do I have stand against the wall?” Joey asked.
The old guy ignored Joey’s comment. Instead, he said, “I need to make proper introductions. Tina, this is Joey. He’s lazy. He’s in a dead-end job. No woman will date him; and who can blame them? What’s worse, he doesn’t know what day it is?”
“I do to,” said Joey.
“Yah, what day is it?” asked the old guy.
“It’s, it’s, it’s not Saturday or Sunday, I don’t work weekends. I worked yesterday so it can’t be Monday.”
“You have a four in one chance,” said the old guy.
“This is stupid,” said Joey.
“Sorry,” said Joey.
“Sorry what?” said the old guy.
Joey thought for a moment. “Sorry Tina?” said Joey.
“That’s better. What day is it?”
“Hey, it’s a trick question. Can I Google it?”
“I see you have a sense of humor, pathetic as it is,” said the old guy.
“I was serious,” said Joey. Then he added. “I really have to go to the bathroom.”
“Tina, he doesn’t know what day it is. Now he wants to go to the bathroom that probably smells worse than a Porta Potty that hasn’t been emptied in two weeks.”
“I was going to clean it over the weekend, whenever that happens.”
“Joey, life as you knew it is over. It’s a new day. Consider me your mentor. Consider Tina your guardian. Now my formal introductions, Joey, this is Tina, a trained killer. Once she accepts you, she’ll be your friend for life. As for me, call me Farlo.”
“I don’t need a mentor. I don’t need a guardian. Why are you here? Do you have a last name? Who are you? I really, really have to go,” said Joey squirming against the wall, his white face now turning a light shade of green.
“Farlo’s the name, straightening out losers is my game. You’re on the top of my list. You can go wee wee or tinkle, whatever. When you finish, start cleaning up. You don’t eat until the house passes inspection. Farlo lifted his can and knocked the bowl of cereal and beer out of Joey’s hand to the floor.
“Look what you did. You’re making a mess,” said Joey.
Who is Farlo and where did he come from? What’s his game and why did he choose Joey?
The old guy stood in the living room. He looked over at the sofa. An opened pizza box rested on one of the cushions. A half empty bag of chips sat next to the pizza box. He shook his head. He looked at the floor. A dozen empty beer cans were scattered around. He turned to Joey and said, “Your house is a dump.”
“You haven’t seen the kitchen, it’s worse,” said Joey hoping the hold guy would take off.
The old guy maneuvered his way around the beer cans. He turned his cane upside side and swung at a can as it were a golf ball. The can lift off the floor and hit Joey in the stomach.”
“Hey, watch it,” said Joey.
“The next one is coming at your head,” said the old guy.
Joey hustled in front of the old guy and kicked two cans out of the way.”
“You don’t like my crib, you can leave. There’s the door,” said Joey extending his arm and pointing to partially open door.
“No, I not leaving. You are going to clean this up, or …”
Joey interrupted him, “Or what?”
The old man put his left hand to his jaw, thought about what he was going to say. The he said, “I don’t like violence as a first response. So, instead of teaching you a lesson. I have my friend who will be living with me make sure you clean this place.”
Joey looked around. He didn’t see anyone. “What friend.”
“She’ll be living with me. Don’t worry, we’ll share the same room,” said the old guy.
No woman tells me what to do. So, forget about it. I like this place just the way it is,” said Joey with an edge of anger in his voice.
“When is the last time you had a girlfriend, kid? Let’s see you’re almost thirty-four, going nowhere. I’ll guess the senior prom.
“I’m not a kid. That’s what you think. I’m a chick magnet when I go out.”
“I got ten dollars you can’t call a woman and get a date for tonight,” said the old man.
“Can,” said Joey.
“Where’s your ten?” said the old guy.
“I’m saving my money,” said Joey.
“You’re broke and payday isn’t for another four days. I’d call you a loser, but I don’t want to insult losers, kid,” said the old guy.
“I’m not a kid. That does it. Get out,” Joey took a step toward the old guy.
The old guy pivoted forty-five degrees and hollered, “Tina, come on in.”
Who is Tina? Will she straighten Joey out? Who is the old guy? And, why did he come to Joey’s house? Come by tomorrow to find out.
Few things in life are certain. One thing is for sure, La Flor’s interest in career opportunities has a shelf life of 24 hours. Don’t believe me. Follow along.
“Ray, I need a career change. I’ve accomplished all a human being can accomplish in the medical field. It’s time to move on, don’t you think?” asked La Flor.
“What’s the real reason?” I asked.
“Big Carmen asked me if I took care of bullet wounds. The only red I like is when I put it on my lips,” said La Flor.
“I think it’s time for a career change.”
“Are you proud of my accomplishments in the medical field?”
“You only worked with one patient, Lil Carlo,” I said.
“Yes, and everything I did was a medical breakthrough. I’ve got to leave some breakthroughs for other people,” said La Flor.
“What kind of change are you thinking about?” I said.
“Oh, it’s set and this one is permanent,” La Flor said with enthusiasm.
“LC and me are going to be a famous duo. Like Ike and Tina, Sonny and Cher, Marie and Donny, Otis and Carla.”
“What about the Everly Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel?” I added.
“Get real, Ray. LC should be here any minute, we’re going to write our first song and then sing it acapella for you,” beamed La Flor.
“Don’t go through any trouble,” I said.
“LC sings like an angel. He’s better than Buble. Sinatra might have been famous if he sang like LC. Justin Bieber? Wish in one hand, you know what in the other, guess which one Bieber will get first? Taylor Swift would give anything to replace me and now she can drool. Need I go on?” asked La Flor.
“No, I get the picture.”
“LC is an accomplished musician; of course, your prejudiced and wouldn’t notice,” said La Flor.
“An accomplished musician? I’ve never seen him with an instrument,” I said.
“He’s a private person. He could be a star in his own right. He isn’t because he’s dedicated his life to pleasing me,” said La Flor.
“Wise choice. What instrument has he mastered?” I asked.
“The air guitar,” said La Flor without a hint of smile.
A screech of tires. A door slamming. A siren in the distant background. I ran to the front door, and opened it just in time to avert the explosion of my door against the wall. LC dove headfirst into the entrance way, sliding ten feet across the Saltillo tile on his full body spandex suit.
“Close the door, Ray-mo. Quick,” he hollered.
I closed the door. LC pulled off his ski mask, latex gloves, and said, “I needs a beer. It’s hot working in a ventilator system. Do me a fav and burn my clothes.”
La Flor has perfected the leap, which she performed with amazing dexterity. Legs around LC’s waist, arms around LC’s neck. Lips synchronized to lock on contact. I turned and walked to the fridge. It’s my first choice when my anxiety level kicks up a notch.
Twelve minutes later, five minutes for the gymnastics, five minutes to change, and two minutes to pack his discarded clothes in a donation bag to leave at the church. LC comes out of the bedroom donation bag in his right hand, the remnants of his bottled beer in his left hand.
“I am ready to compose and dispose is use know what I mean,” said LC proud of his quip.
“Leave the bag in the hallway, Ray can carry it to church when we go on Sunday. I don’t want to you to be caught, I mean messing up your clothes with it,” said La Flor.
Come by tomorrow to see the duo’s first song. They promise it will be a hit.
“Ray, I gotta to make use an offers use can’t refuse. Use and use garage gonna come with me and we gonna fly outa town in my friend’s private jet.”
Did he mean to say entourage instead of garage? My entourage? La Flor and LC? Really? Is this a plot so Big Carmen can toss me out at 30,000 feet. I don’t want to jump even with a parachute. Can I get a friend to write a note for me and sign my mother’s name telling Big Carmen I’m sick and can’t make it?
Instead, I say, “I don’t know, Big Carmen. I’ve had plans for weeks for today. So many people will be disappointed.”
Big Carmen scratches his head, pulls on his ear lobe and scratches and adjust a place better left to your imagination. Think baseball player.
Before either of us can speak. We hear, “Well, how do I look?”
Of course, who else but La Flor. Big Carmen hustles over to La Flor, his arms spread wide for a hug. La Flor holds up her hand, “No can do, Big Carmen. LC hasn’t seen me. He’ll be here any minute with the wheels to take us to the airport.”
“Scuse me, beautiful, tough, and edgy dish that looks more tasteful than my pasta special with meatballs tonight for $4.99,” drooled Big Carmen.
What do I say to top Big Carmen? La Flor looks better than a mocha frappucinno with extra whipped cream and caramel sauce? I don’t think so. So, I say, “Tickets to a Broadway show? You look great.”
La Flor gives me a La Flor look. It’s like a cat that looks at a mouse and without moving a step, swipes her paw and sends it crashing into the wall. She said, “Is that the best you can do? You didn’t notice my hair? Mention how I make the clothes look better. Or, say anything about my sparkling eyes, warm lips, or exquisite figure. My full red lips? You need to be more like Big Carmen.” She walks over and gives Big Carmen a kiss on his cheek leaving a perfect image of her kiss.
“I’m not going wash my cheek, ev ah,” said Big Carmen.
A rifle shot. I jump. A small explosion. I jump again. “I’m home,” yelled LC.
My poor wall. My poor door. My handyman bill.
LC comes in, says, “Big Carmen, I couldn’t rent the limo from Starza. He’s all out. But he sent me to the competition.”
“How much it cost use?” said Big Carmen.
“Nothing. When I got to Limo’s Unlimited. There was a limo all gassed up and ready to go. The driver must have gone in to take a leak or something other that I don’t want to say because Ray-mo is always telling me it’s a family blog. Anyway, I say in a normal voice like I’m talking to use right now, ‘Anybody mind if I takes this limo free of charge?'”
“Anybody say no?” asked Big Carmen.
“Not a word. That means I got legal permission to take it as long as I want it. But I only want it long enough to take us to the airport. Lil Carlo is over there and he’ll take it back or dump it in the river. Whichever is closer.”
“Use got a good head on use shoulders, LC,” said Big Carmen beaming with pride.
“Well, LC? Am I invisible?” La Flor’s words melt a solid quart of ice cream into a gooey mess.
“Oh, oh!” said LC. “I am so sorry. I was excited about the limo. Can use forgive me sweet, kind, compassionate, beautiful, tough, and edgy one?”
“Are you going to surprise me with an expensive present?” said La Flor.
“My two minds are already working on it,” Maybe’s I’m going to get use three presents.
“Okay, you’re forgiven. Now, come over here so I can kiss you,” said La Flor.
“We gots a problemo, beautiful, tough, and edgy dream.”
“I love it when you talk Spanish, LC. Kiss me!”
“I needs use kiss like I needs oxygen and beer, but we gots to go before somebody mistakenly calls the coppers about the limo,” said Big Carmen.
“Where’s LC? It’s nearly ten. He’s usually here by now,” I asked La Flor.
La Flor looked up from her iPhone, “He’s doing an errand for Big Carmen.” She went back to her iPhone.
“What kind of errand?” I asked.
“One of his cousins got sick, so LC is making collections,” said La Flor more interested in social media than my conversation.
“What kind of collections?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But Lil Carlo and his LC’s cousin Vinnie are helping out.”
“Three of them? Are they collecting clothes for Good Will,” sometimes I asked the dumbest questions.
La Flor turned toward me, “Yah, Vinnie’s the driver, Lil Carlo is the muscle, and LC is the brains.”
La Flor acted as if she didn’t hear me. The sound of brakes screeching, a car door slamming, a car peeling rubber, and the front door of my house slamming against the wall.
“I’m home but I’m not home beautiful, tough, and edgy woman of my dreams,” shouted LC running into the living room, kneeling down by the window looking out to the street, his eyes barely above the window sill. A black and white flashing red, blue, and white lights sped by blasting its siren.
LC gets up, “Dat was close. I tink the boys will make it. Vinnie’s a good driver. He knows the roads. He’s the best.”
“Were the cops chasing you?” I asked.
“Cops chasing me? Why would cops chase me. I dun nothing wrong, least wise anyting I will freely admit to without a shamus present.”
“La Flor are you listening?”
“Quiet, Ray. I’m listening to Taylor Swift’s latest hit.”
I turned to LC, “You got to come clean with me. I don’t want to be harboring a criminal.”
“Do I smell or someting? I took a shower about three hours ago. I’m clean. What you talking about going down by the harbor? Use only go down by the river when use says goodbye to somebody. Maybe use mean to say barber? If use did, let me know, I needs a haircut.”
“You’re talking in circles, LC.”
“I am standing right here, Ray-mo. I am not going in circles. Is there something wrong with your cerebral kotex?”
“Did you mean cortex?”
“Dat’s what I said,” said LC.
La Flor looks up, “Taylor’s new song was good, but she’s done better. I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m going to share with her to help her give her career a jump start. It’s sitting at a rest stop if you know what I mean.”
Before I could speak, LC gives La Flor a hug and a kiss or was it a kiss and a hug or was it a kiss, hug, kiss. I’m not quite sure of the sequence. LC steps back. Before he can speak, the living room slams into the wall. I hear, “I likes the way use built a hole in the wall to catch the door nob,” said the little guy with a nose as big as the gun he carries, wearing a stocking hat even though it’s 80 degrees outside, otherwise known as Lil Carlo.
Lil Carlo and someone I’m guessing to be Vinnie walk in. Lil Carlo whispers in LC’s right ear. Vinnie whispers in LC left ear. LC keeps shaking his head.
La Flor nudges me, “See how brilliant LC is? He can listen to two conversations at the same time and make sense of them. When he’s finished, he ususally says something brilliant.”
I want to say, ‘Don’t hold your breath,’ but La Flor and I are getting along. I’ll let a sleeping LC sleep.
Lil Carlo looks at me, “Ray, me and Vinnie needs to spend the night and maybe tomorrow.”
“I’ll drive you home,” I said.
LC chimes in, “They gots to lay low, use knows, keep under the covers, keep the lid on, we don’t want the pasta to overcook.”
“What’s he talking about?” I said to La Flor.
“It’s over your head, Ray. Admit it.”