Family Problems part 8

This time my father refrained from letting go of the winch until he had the safety engaged.  Soon I was back on my own two feet and under the barrage of my father’s hug.  Did I happen to mention my father is an inventor and forges most of his own tools.  Those blacksmith arms nearly crushed the life out of me he just saved a few minutes ago.  Oh the parenting irony.

“Sonny, I am so glad you came,” he said as the last of the air left my lungs.  “I was worried you didn’t get my message.”  I tried to respond but I was having trouble deciding what to say before I passed out.  “Are you okay?” he asked.  Finally seeing that I was turning into a too tall Smurf, he let go.  I would say that first breath of air was so sweet, but I as I had mentioned earlier I was on a roof with a working forge, and all I breathed in was the sooty coal fumes being belched.  That brought back the idea of the parking lot of hell.  Yep, family never lies.

“So what did you need, dad,” I said after the coughing fit brought on by my darkening lungs.

“I need you to take your mom this,” Dad said as he pulled out a pocket watch.  The thing vibrated and almost glowed.  I was afraid to touch it.  He held it out to me.  “I heard she needs a bit more protection lately.  This thing has a few surprises if someone tried to do anything she doesn’t like.”

I took the watch and was amazed how it was ridiculously light and at the same time felt extremely heavy.  “What does it do?” I asked, not really wanting to know, but I needed to know what it could do to me.

Dad took back the pocket watch and opened the face.  The inside cover was painted with a scene out of the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas.  I shivered involuntarily. The Nightmare Before Christmas is my mother’s favorite movie, probably since she loved to frighten you to death.  I love my mother, but she can cause nightmares.  Just ask my therapist.  He was able to help me with those, unlike my conscience.  His best advice, avoid my mother.  Yeah, that just became much more difficult.

Dad didn’t notice my involuntary twitch.  “It makes it almost impossible to track her, which might interfere with her cell phone coverage.  It also acts as a small EMP device.  When activated, it will short out all electronics within a small radius by pulling out the winding knob.”

Did I mention my dad was a genius inventor?  Yeah, I figured that might have slipped my mind when I almost died.  Half the time he made the Ian Fleming’s Q look like a country bumpkin.  The other half the time Dad has bit off more than even he can chew.   Either it doesn’t work, or works in ways that shouldn’t be known to man or God.  This time, only God knows.  Still I was on a need to know basis with the big guy, and since there wasn’t a deep bass voice giving me the details, I decided to go to the next closest expert.  “What is a small radius?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” he said.  “I haven’t had the time to test it, but it should work.  At least in theory.  I would have done more work on it, but I was worried.  Have you seen her lately?”

That is a tricky question.  You see, if you had a rogue genius under thumb and ran a large organized crime organization, the world is would be your oyster.  Dad realized this would be a problem and decided to end his life.  Of course, he really couldn’t do that, so instead he left my mother and took up life here on top of a retirement apartment house.  He figured my mom would never look for him here.  Of course you do not get to be the head of a large crime organization by being stupid, so of course she knew exactly where he went to hide.  My mom loves my dad so much that she didn’t want to hurt his pride.  She let him have his little fantasy, and uses me as a go between.  She gets to keep alive a small part of being human, and he gets to think of the sacrifice he is making to save the world.  Isn’t love grand?

As for me seeing her, I try to minimize that contact as much as possible.  Actually I try to avoid all Familial and familial contacts.  Keeps my life simple.  Still, family is family, even when it is Family.  Now you wonder why I wax poetic?  I have family issues, capital f or not.  My therapist eats this stuff up!

So I can’t lie to my dad.  “I haven’t seen her in a bit.  Business keeps me insanely busy.”  Okay, so maybe I can lie a bit.  What can I say, I’m complicated.

“Well this will give you an excuse,” Dad said.  “You will do this for me, right?”

“Of course,” I said.  What else could I say?

Family Problems part 7

I got off on the eighth floor and headed for Miss Myer’s apartment.  I stopped in front of her door and put on a blank face.  I wanted to be ready for whatever game it was going to be today.  I politely knocked twice, then a pause, then three more times.  The TV was blaring from the other side of the door and I was worried that she didn’t here me.  I was just about to start it out again when the door opened a crack and the noise from the TV escaped.  I love The Jefferson’s as much as the next guy, but “Weezy! ” at one hundred twenty decibels is a bit more than a man should have to take.

I thought I saw Miss Myer before the door slammed closed.  I scrambled to put my earplugs in before the door opened again.  This time when it did George Jefferson was down to the level of a jet engine.  Miss Myer waved me in and I happily obliged.

To say that Miss Myer was nondescript was quite the understatement.  Other than her age you would be hard pressed to pick her out of a crowd, or even a portrait.  My dad liked them that way these days.  She yelled at me over the blaring TV.  “I was worried you wouldn’t come in time.”

Not come in time?  “What’s wrong?  Where…”

Miss Myer cut me off before I could get any farther.  “I think the bug is in the bedroom.  It’s right through that door over there.”  She pointed towards the kitchen, away from her bedroom.  Like I said, you needed to play the game.

“I’ll get right on it.  Let me see what I can do.”  I make a beeline to the kitchen and look at the two windows.  Which one did I think was the correct one today.  I look back at the living room, but Miss Myer had gone back to watching TV.  She wasn’t going to be any help.  The problem is if I get this wrong I won’t be able to see the old man until he called me again.  Normally I am okay with that, but I had already come this far I didn’t want to have to come back.

A few seconds later I thought about what my dad had actually said in his message.  He wanted help mowing the lawn.  I looked at the two windows and realized only one pointed at anything resembling a lawn.  The other was on the side of the parking lot for hell.   That’s right, hell has parking.  How else did you think you got there?  The hand baskets are booked for the next thirty years or so, causing the line from hell.  Hell, what do you think purgatory really is.  Oh it goes to the other place too, but for some reason these days that line is much shorter.  I have this on good authority by my Aunt Connie.  I mean family never lies to you, do they?

I opened the window I selected and sure enough there was a sling right outside the window.  You needed to be brave when visiting my old man.  That and not be afraid of heights.  I just hoped that dad had this one secured better than last time.  Mrs. Smithfield almost had to have another pacemaker installed after that one.  I tied myself as best I could, said a prayer to anyone who was listening on the airwaves and let myself out the window.

I realized this might not have been the best idea after the first few minutes of dangling in space.  At least it seemed that way as I waited for my dad to beam me up.  I thought about trying to swing back into the window when I finally felt the harness jerk me upward.  The sounds of gears trying their darndest to bring me to the roof before they returned to the metal dust they had been forged from was not music to my ears, but trust builds character.

When my head cleared the roof line I saw my dad at the controls of the small motor powering his winch.  He waved at me.  That would have been nice, but when he let go of the lever to do so it allowed the motor to turn off, and as it became obvious to me, the safety was not engaged.  I plunged back down below the roofline at a very alarming rate.  Of course the only alarm was me screaming like a little girl on the homemade version of the tower of terror ride, except there were no Tinkerbell going to sprinkle pixie dust on me and make me fly.  Luckily my dad must have kicked the winch back on.  I now have empathy for what a marlin must feel like when hooked.  Unlike the marlin I was very happy to be made catch of the day.

Family Problems part 6

The elevator doors opened and there was no one inside.  Maybe my luck was going up as well.  I pressed the four button and the doors closed as elevator began its uplifting hum.  Someone a while back had completely destroyed what had passed for a speaker so the elevator’s motor was the only thing you had to listen to while you crawled up the floors.  I probably could have walked faster up the stairs, but in this heat they would have found my desiccated husk on the third floor.

I got off the elevator and headed to apartment four twenty one.  I was just about to knock when the door opened and Archibald stuck out his head.  “Come on in and have a beer.”  Archibald was a nose that happened to have a head attached.  He is the nicest guy on this planet, but watch out if he’s about to sneeze.  He pulled back his nose and waved me in.  “Hurry up.  Gladys should be done in just a second.”

I entered their tidy apartment and headed for the fridge.  “Who’s she doing now?”  I grab two bottles and head back into the living room.

Archibald closed the door, but didn’t lock it.  He took one of the beers and grinned.  “The Joneses.  She thinks she can convert them to Christianity.”

I almost choked on the beer I had just swigged.  “But you guys are Jewish.”

Archibald shrugged.  “What can I say, she doesn’t like them.  Something about playing their polka music too loud so she can’t sleep.”

I shook my head.  “But they live on the second floor, right?”

Archibald nodded.  “Apartment two forty three to be exact.”  I began to say something but he cut me off.  “I told you, she doesn’t like them.  Besides, if we’re wrong then she’s saving them, which might help us then.  It could be worse.”

“And that would be?” I asked.

“I don’t want to know.  I just know it could be.”  He downed his beer in one swig and handed me the empty.  “Put that away so she doesn’t know I had it.”

“Not a problem.  Mind if I grab something to eat out of the fridge?”   I watched as he goes back to looking out the peephole in the door.  No porch, so Archibald watches his neighborhood throw the small glass fisheye in the door.  It’s his thing, and it makes him happy, so who am I to rain on his parade.

“Do you think she’ll let you leave without stuffing you full of something?” he asked.

I smiled because I knew that would be the answer.  I downed my beer as well and put it in the bag of empties.  I then rummaged through the fridge looking for treasure.

I heard the door open.  A woman’s voice, almost as low as Archibald’s filled the air.  “Larry, deary, I have some brisket in the back on the first shelf, and my homemade horseradish mayo’s in the bottle next to it.  Help yourself.”

I took out the aforementioned food and grabbed a loaf of homemade pumpernickel from the cupboard.  Gladys swept into the kitchen, surveyed her domain, and smiled at what she saw.  She was a demure woman, and even though she was in her late sixties, at least that’s what she claimed, she was still the same weight as the day she married Archibald.  It was something she was very proud of.  “I am having such a wonderful day.”

Archibald followed her, but didn’t look as happy.  “How did you know Larry was here?  I was going to surprise you.”

Gladys rubbed her husband’s tummy like asking for luck from Buddha.  “I could smell the beer on your breath.  The only way you would do that was if someone had come over.  Larry was a logical choice since he would want to check up on his money.”

“I didn’t stop here to see about the money.”  I smothered a good amount of the horseradish mayo on the pumpernickel before loading on the brisket.  I guess I didn’t miss lunch after all.  “I was just in the neighborhood and I thought I would stop in and see how you were doing.”

Gladys takes out the two beer bottles I had stashed in the recycling and brings them to the sink.  “Larry deary, you need to rinse out the bottles before putting them away.  I don’t want my house to smell like a brewery.”  She turned her attention back to Archibald.  “Why don’t you get what I put aside the other day.”

Archibald was not a happy camper about that.  “But that was going to be for the car.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head.  Just go get it.”  Archibald left the room and Gladys put the bottles back.  I bit into my sandwich watching her in action.  I almost felt sorry for Archibald, or anyone else including Lance Armstrong to keep up with this woman once she got started.  She was a force of nature unto herself.  “When I borrowed that money from you for Chauncey’s problem I forgot I had stashed this away to get the car fixed.”

Chauncey’s little problem was that he liked the ladies a bit too much, especially women named Sergeant Lucille Cunningham who was testing out her street walker costume way before Halloween.  I saw the sergeant, and Chauncey had good tastes, but really poor instincts.  Especially since he had just scored with his junkie for enough weed to party hard for a while.  Gladys needed help getting a bondsman to put up the bond to get her boy out of jail while waiting his trial.  For some reason Chauncey’s wife didn’t want to help.  Go figure.  Chauncey was probably in a food coma in the other room.  Gladys wanted to spend as much time as she could with her son before he was put away.  She also was protecting her investment, but to her that was the same thing.

“That’s not a problem.  You were under a lot of stress.  It could have happened to anyone.”  What am I saying?  I took out five thousand dollars from my cousin.  It looks like it happened to anyone, but that anyone was me.

“Still, it’s only right for you to get the money.”  Right on cue Archibald came back in the kitchen with a small paper sack.  Gladys opened it up and took out a small stack of cash.  I mean the stack was substantial enough, but when the predominate bill denomination was a dollar I became an atheist real quickly about the whole thing.

“Gladys, what is that, like four hundred?” I asked.  As soon as I said it I knew I had done it now.   I wished I had eaten those words instead of the sandwich.

Gladys sighed and began to cry, left eye first.  Archibald looked at me like I took a baseball bat to his wife.  Archibald pointed at the money.  “That was our fund to fix our car.  Shop said it would be about five hundred.  We have over four sixty here.”

“I’m not going to take your car money.”  I put down the remains of the sandwich and start thinking about how to get out of the door as fast as possible.

Gladys tried to pull herself together.  “I thought you would understand.  If it wasn’t for…”  She left everything unsaid out there, and I couldn’t agree with her more.  I reached out and took the money.

“Don’t worry.  Everything will be okay.”  No less truer words were ever spoken, but right now a few lies between friends were about the best any of us could hope for.

A voice from the wilderness called out.  “Mom, can you bring me a soda?”

This rallied Gladys to action.  She put away the horseradish mayo and brisket and grabbed a can of Coke.  All weakness was gone and Saint Gladys was back.  “A mother’s work is never done.  Goodbye Larry.”   And with that she exited stage left.

I handed Archibald the money and he put it away in his pocket.  “Hide that better than you did that beer.”

Archibald smiled.  “She knew you were going to give it back.  No need to play the game.”

I choked down the rest of my sandwich.  “After all these years you still think that?”

He reached in and grabbed me another bottle of beer, and one for himself.  Archibald wouldn’t want a man to drink alone.  “Of course not.  I’ll make sure to screw up.  It makes us a happy couple.  And don’t worry about that money.  Chauncey ain’t going to go nowhere before trial, and he sure ain’t going anywhere afterwards except to sweat it out for a while.  His lawyer thinks he can get him out on a suspended sentence even with the drug charge.”

I tried to keep my tone light.  “When is he due in court?”

Archibald waved me out of the kitchen and towards the door.  “Two weeks from today.  Will that work out with you?”

With me, yes, with Cousin Antonio, no.  That means my doctor might be making some money on Thursday.  “Not a problem.  I was just curious.”

Archibald opened the door to allow me a graceful way out.  “I understand all about curiosity.”  I looked at the sweat circle around the peephole.  Ain’t that the truth.

I paused before crossing the threshold.  “Where did you get your car looked at?”

“Smithy’s.  Over on South Street.  Left the car with him and told him to wait on repairing it until I get him the money.”    Archibald took a long swig of his beer.

I saluted him with mine.  “Good place.  Thanks for the beers.”

Archibald smiled one last time at me.  “The least I can do.  Don’t worry about Gladys.  She still loves you.  It’s just when it comes to money and family.”

It was my turn to take a long drink.  “You’re preaching to the choir there.”  With that Archibald closed the door and the chain slithered in place.  I was left alone with my thoughts and my beer.  At least the beer was good company.  Oh well, onward and upward.  I headed back to the elevator.

Family Problems part 5

The lobby hasn’t been updated since the place had been built, but considering things from the seventies are approaching antiquehood, everything was in pretty good shape.  The dry heat beat on me wave after wave from the oscillating fan from behind the receptionist desk.  The desk was empty like usual.  I don’t blame the girl.  Her name is Rochelle.  She doesn’t like to be here and see what life has in store for her in another fifty years if she’s lucky.  People like what they see on TV where the elderly are either doting grandparents are few and far between.  Takes a special type of person to look the future straight in the eye.  Not all of us can be that special.

“Hey Larry.  I heard you finally went to the doctors to get rid of that case of syphilis.”  Of course Rochelle could have also been in the bathroom instead of fleeing destiny.

“Hi Rochelle.  I think you have me and you confused.”  I turn to bow in acknowledgement to her presence.  Rochelle was five foot two if she stood on her tippy toes.  To exaggerate her girlishness she liked to dress in school uniforms and wear her red hair in pigtails.  I warn you to try anything tough.  She is an eighth degree black belt in some martial art that I hadn’t heard of, but trust me it’s effective.  I’ve gotten to see the cleanliness of the carpet up close and personal my fair share of times.  If you pull anything else she has a taser somewhere on her uniform.  I dare you to find it.  Hell, she dares you to find it.

Rochelle blew a bubble and headed back behind the desk.  “Ah, that’s right.  So are you here for business or pleasure?”  She pulled out the visitation book and turned it towards me.  I picked up the ancient pen for some company that’s not in business anymore and signed my name, or at least what passes for my signature.  Doctors come to me to learn how to sign like that.

“Both.  I get to talk to you and visit Miss Myer.”  I put my best dead man impression on.

Her eyebrows lift a bit, but that smile that both sucks you in and spits you out showed what she was really thinking.  “So Miss Myer going to give you some sugar?”

I leaned in and got real personal.  “Sweetest thing you ever tasted.”

Rochelle popped a bubble just a frog’s hair away from my nose.  “I’ll have to let Sheryl know about that.”  Damn, now she popped my bubble.  Rochelle reached somewhere under the desk and a buzz could be heard from the secure door.  “You don’t want to keep a hottie like Miss Myer waiting.”

Time for a witty counter.  “Yeah, thanks.”  I said it was time for one, not that I had one.

I walked through the mocking laughter and it taunted me until the door shut behind me, then silence descended and perched on my shoulders.  Here the assault of heat made up for the dearth of sound.  I walked over to elevator and pushed the up button, half expecting the plastic button to come off on my thumb like a plum from a certain pie.  This was one time I was happy I was wrong.


Family Problems part 4

Not wanting any more bad luck, and making sure I wasn’t available for anyone else Jessica lovingly sent my way, I grabbed my earplugs, locked up shop, and left.  Always be prepared, right?  I could hunt James down later and get my money.  I turned right and walked over a few blocks till I was on Blandina Street and headed over to the Comstock Apartments.  I figured I could check on Dad and see if I could find a bit more of Cousin Antonio’s money.

Comstock Apartments were a golden testament to great thinking in the nineteen seventies.  Tall, brown, and majestic in a way that can only be described as two fat cigars stuck into the ground.  It must have been the highlight of its day, the crème de la crème of senior living, but now it looked like the rumpled trousers of its occupants.   The same couldn’t be said for the current set of cohabitants.

“Hey Cutie Boy, haven’t seen you in a while.”  Mrs. Malachi, the purple haired woman with skin the color of ninety two percent dark chocolate, has always had a soft spot for younger men.  Since she is almost eighty five that qualifies as much of the current population of the city.  That doesn’t bother her though.  She knows she’s God’s gift to men, and bless her heart, she isn’t afraid to remind us of that every time she could.

You had to pay the gate keeper to enter the castle, unless you wanted her to breath fire all over you, and let me tell you, this woman is too hot to handle when she gets going.  Besides, it’s always good to respect your elders.  “Hi Mrs. Malachi.  How are things today?”

She waved her hand dismissing my greeting.  “Cutie boy. drop the Mrs. crap.  The mister went to live with the Lord a long time ago.  I miss him fiercely of course.”

I continued the ritual.  “Of course.”

“But at the same time I still have needs.”  She cleans off imaginary lint from her top.  The top that is probably too open for her age I might add, though I am avoiding going there at all costs.

“We all do.  We’re only human.”  She seems mollified by that for a moment, and I think I’m home free until she reaches down under her seat and pulls out her garish burnt orange purse.  It was fashionable when this edifice was built, and for some reason seemed quite at home in that setting still.

She rummaged through her purse and took out a pack of cigarettes and a Zippo Elvis embossed lighter.  She paused to point the lighter at me.  “Exactly.  You tell that father of yours that I see him coming out of Olivia’s apartment.  He can do much better.”

“I will do that.  Is he home?  I mean visiting Olivia?”  Oops, that could get more awkward than it already is.

“How should I know?”  Mrs. Malachi lights a cigarette and takes a long puff.  I wonder if the smoke signifies that we are done.  It’s worth a try.

“Nice talking with you Miss Malachi.”  Who says I don’t listen.

“I bet I have a niece that would be just perfect for you.”  I almost snap my neck on that just above the knees curve ball strike three call just as I was about to take my base.

“But Miss Malachi, I’m seeing someone right now.”  Now she has me flustered.  I don’t like to be flustered.

She chuckles a bit.  “This too shall pass, and when it does, let me know.”  Is she kidding me?  This too shall pass?  She dismisses me with a gesture, but I don’t take it and stand my ground.

“I’m confused.”

She looked me in the eye so hard I’m sure my grandfather, who was probably talking to Mr. Malachi right now, felt it.  “Cutie Boy, don’t hurt your little mind.  I haven’t seen your dad leave today, so unless he flew out a window or something then he’s here.”

Boy she might know more than he let on, but still, that niece comment.  Better get out while I still have my head.  “Yeah, imagine that, flying out of a window.  Later.”  I rush past Miss Malachi and into the building feeling relieved, but wondering what just happened, and hoping I could somehow fly out a window myself so she couldn’t catch me on the way out.

Family Problems part 3

She was a Latina with dyed red hair that would make an Irish girl blush.  She was six foot two even without the stilettos.  With them on she blocked my view of the sun.  Didn’t matter.  The way she was dressed I wouldn’t have noticed if it had started to rain frogs outside.  I’ve never seen black look so inviting since the time I was almost seduced by a vampire, but that’s a story for another time.  Right now this woman was the center of my universe and I was stuck in her gravitational pull.

She checked out the place before her eyes drifted to me, dismissing me and at the same time wanting me.  At least I like to think the latter.  “My name is Alita, I was told that you can help with certain things.”

I steepled my fingers in front of my face and tried to keep my id in place.  Okay, it was a bit lower than my id, but a man is still a man.  “I do my best.  What can I help you with?”  I gesture to a chair across from me, but Alita didn’t even notice because she turned to look out the window at the street that was still empty of frogs.

“I need you to find me a certain book, a copy of Catch-22.  You know, the one by Heller,” she said.

I frowned a bit.  “Did you check the Barnes and Noble at the mall?”

She spun on me and all hints of warmth were somewhere with the frogs.  “If you let me finish.”

I raised my hands and surrendered quickly before I lost my fingertips to frostbite.  “Please continue.  I’m all ears.”  And eyes, and fingers, especially the fingers drifting towards.  Focus man!

“The one I’m looking for is a signed copy.  I accidentally left it at my boyfriend’s apartment after I broke up with him.  I want it back.”  Alita turned back on her charm.  “Please”.

As she turned on the charm I thought of cascading cold water.  I shivered from the thought of that cold water.  Really.  “Why do you want me to do it?  Why can’t you just go get it yourself?” I asked once I was back under control.

“We had…”  She paused, tasting again the sour taste of that end moment where she decided it was all over and the only thing to do was kick him to the curb, or maybe what she had for lunch was coming back to haunt her.  Damn, I wish I had lunch.  “well, that’s not really needed.”

I love it when they know what I need.  I really do.  I get on my throne so I can look down on her pretty idea.  “Look, I’m all for the damsel in distress routine, and trust me girl, you pull it off in spades, but if I’m going to do some breaking, entering, or any combination of the two I want to know what I’m getting into.”

“He slept with my sister, okay.  Does that make your job easier?” she asked.

Ouch!  Score one for the jerk behind the desk.  Still, what must her sister look like that this goof cheated on this pissed off goddess in front of me.  “Sorry, but I work best when there are no surprises.  Keeps everyone happy, except your ex of course.”

“I don’t care if he’s happy or not,” Alita said.  “I just want my book.”

“Okay, I can work on that.  Where is your boyfriend’s place, and when do I get a check?”  I stick out my hand as a way of positive reinforcement.  It’s something that my mother taught me.  Always back up the vocal with the physical.  It sends a clear and unmistakable message.  It can also get you slapped, stabbed, or shot at.  I dare you to ask me how I know.

“He’s at The Downs, apartment 24b.”  There was a pause, but I refused to ruin the moment.  She finally gave up and continued.  “As for the check, what do you need to get started?

My smile goes on autopilot since I can tell where this is going.  Normally I would be all happy to take this on the off chance of payment or panties, but I have my cousin Antonio’s best interests at heart.  “Five hundred up front.  Two hundred a day, itemized, plus expenses.”

Alita starts up the pity works.  Her mascara better be waterproof.  I don’t like to see a woman become a clown.  “I really need that book,” she said through quivering lips.  “I can get you the money, but if he decides to do something to that book before I can get it to you.”  The pools were filling.

“And he knows how much this book means to you?”  I watch her left eye.  It seems to be filling faster then the right.  Ever notice that women seem to tear in the left eye first and men the right?  No?  Don’t you pay attention to people when you make them cry?

“Oh my God yes.  You’ve got to help me.  You can even keep the book until I can make it up to you,” she said.    Alita must have really deep eyes because I would have bet one would be tracing down those awesome cheekbones by now.  I hope she doesn’t drown before she lets the hurricane blow.

I gave her a moment to see more of the show, but then I heard that voice inside of me.  I hate that voice.  I tried to get some help to make it shut up, but my psychologist kept insisting it was just my conscience and that drugs weren’t needed.  I told him to tell that to my bank account.  Obviously he wasn’t similarly afflicted since he took my money.  “Okay.  We can work something out, but the book stays with me until we come to an agreement.”

Alita immediately put water conservation rules in place and the tide has turned.  I was now her bestest buddy.  “You are amazing.  Jessica told me you would be.”  She gives me a quick almost hug and sprints towards the door.

“What, did you say…”  My words were swatted by the door closing on their behinds.  Alita, like Elvis, had left the building.  Jessica!  I just got owned, and I should have seen it coming.  I will have to stop by and make sure to show Jessica my appreciation.  Do you think broken glass is an appropriate gift before Labor Day?

Family Problems part 2

The agency hadn’t burned down while I was out.  This day didn’t have a bright side at all.  At least if it had I would have the insurance money, or would I.  I don’t remember if I paid that bill this month.  Who do I have to kill to get some money?  I opened the door and made sure no one was there to bother me before I went inside.

The Marshal Agency specialized in getting things done, as long as you paid the bills.  Nothing was too big or too small, or for that matter too shameful that I wouldn’t do it for the right price.  Yes I would do even that, but you better be bringing me a mountain full of cash.

James wasn’t there with the money he said he was bringing by.  Damn, I could have gotten lunch.  Maybe he just dropped it behind the counter.  I look back there and find a whole lot of nothing.  It was only a hundred, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

The agency was a present from my mother.  It had been a small delicatessen that had gotten behind on its payments and my mother had foreclosed.  You figure out what the payments were for.  I don’t want to know.  I had left the lunch counter and the old fashioned register there for nostalgia and working space.  A large desk dominated the rest of the old floor space with plenty of mix and match chairs for clients.  I live in the back where the walk in cooler and storage used to be.  It’s not much, but I have one hell of a kitchen, complete with salamander.  See, I knew you would be impressed.

I plopped myself into my throne and checked the answering machine.  “This is your father. I was wondering if you have some time free if you can mow the lawn for me.  My back has been killing me lately.  Thanks.”  My thumb enjoyed pressing the delete key.  The door opened and it just sounded like money.  It was that click clack of high heels, expensive ones.  How do you know you ask?  It’s my job to know.  How else would I ever get things done?  I looked up to greet my next paycheck.

Family Problems part 1

Despair had its claws into my heart, bleeding me dry of hope.  Does that seem a bit melodramatic?  Maybe so, but when you’ve been kicked in the teeth by life so many times that you’ve lost your lower jaw. then you’re allowed to be a bit melodramatic.  At least this time it was just a punch in the gut by my cousin.

“Larry, you disappoint me.  Why don’t you have my money?”  Cousin Antonio punctuated his sentence with another punch that would have sent me to my knees, if it wasn’t for his two associates who were kind enough to help me remain standing by pinning my arms.  “You’re family, but I can’t let you just walk over me.  I want my five Gees.”

We may be family but I doubt anyone would be able to tell without coming to one of our Family get togethers.  Or was that family get togethers.  I always get the two confused, but of course both he and I were both.  I was six foot four and wiry, brown hair grown a bit wild and shocked to attention every morning.  I was my dad if you put him on one of those racks and pulled real hard, which might explain the hair.  Well except the piercing blue eyes that mom gave me.  Now Antonio, he had the short dark hair, was as wide as he was tall, and had a chip on his shoulder that allowed him to tower over me right then and there.

I spit out a bit of blood from where I had bitten my lip.  “You caught me at a bad time.”  Of course anytime was a bad time since I didn’t have the money.  “Just give me a couple more days.”

Cousin Antonio lifted his chin and his associates released their hold.  Unfortunately for me, gravity didn’t see Cousin Antonio’s cue to let me go and I fell to my knees.  Damn that hurt.  “Only because I love you Larry.  Get it to me by Thursday.  Otherwise I might not be in such a generous mood.”

Generous, yeah, that’s what I was thinking.  “Thanks a lot cuz.  I mean it.”

Cousin Antonio flipped me the bird.  “Tell my favorite aunt I said hi.  Come on boys.  Let’s go see a man about a horse.”

“I hope everything comes out okay.”  That earns me another bird, but it’s worth it.  If you can’t get a rise out of family then why bother living.

I collect what I can of my dignity and head back out of the fine alleyway that Antonio had deemed needing to redecorate with my bodily fluids.  I checked my watch to see that all thoughts of getting lunch had gone to hell.  Oh well, Sheryl was telling me I needed to lose some weight.  I mean come on, you can still see me when I turn sideways.  That can’t be healthy.