Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Yesterday, I got quite a shock.

I had just arrived at Thrasher Development where I work for Uncle Joey, who happens to be a mob boss. He isn’t really my uncle, but I started calling him that so he wouldn’t kill me. It worked because all this time later, I’m still alive, and he’s claimed me as part of the “family.” All because he found out my secret that I can read minds.

The whole reason I met him was because of a woman named Kate, who worked in the same law firm with my husband. She’d been after my husband, and, after the accident where I got my mind-reading ability, I found out exactly how much she wanted him. Needless to say, it made me angry.

Naturally, I confronted her, and picked up from her mind that she worked for Joey “The Knife” Manetto, I threatened to tell the firm everything. At the time, I hadn’t realized that would backfire on me. She told her Uncle Joey (he isn’t her uncle either, but that’s another story) all about me and I had to tell him my secret so he wouldn’t kill me or my family.

It wasn’t the ending Kate had hoped for, and, since then, we’ve had to work together for Uncle Joey’s benefit. Now Kate lives in Seattle, and I haven’t seen her for several months. She runs a shipping company with the Passinis for Uncle Joey. It keeps her far away from me, so I can’t complain.

Until now.

I’d gone into Uncle Joey’s office to speak with him, and found her sitting in front of his desk. I jerked to a stop, nearly giving myself whiplash. Uncle Joey didn’t seem to notice, and welcomed me inside with a smile. “Shelby! Come on in. Look who’s here to pay us a visit?”

I gave her a thin smile. “Kate. What a surprise. What brings you here?”

She frowned, unhappy that I’d come into the office before she could leave. “Hi Shelby. I’m just going over some ideas I have for the business with Uncle Joey.” She was thinking that, now she’d have to speak with me, but at least she didn’t have to pretend she liked me.

“Yes,” Uncle Joey said. “After the merger with the Passinis she’s run into a roadblock.” He glanced at Kate. “I’m sure Shelby could help.”

With deep reluctance, Kate dutifully nodded her head, even though she didn’t want me involved. She knew I could read minds and it always put a damper on everything. Now I’d know exactly what she’d been trying to hide from Uncle Joey. This was the worst.

“What are you hiding from Uncle Joey?” I asked. Since she knew my secret, there wasn’t a reason to act like I couldn’t hear her thoughts.

She drew in a sharp breath. She was thinking damn you Shelby and pressed her lips closed.

Hmm… maybe it was a good thing I’d come in a little early. Uncle Joey sent me a clear nod of approval before catching Kate’s gaze. “Yes Kate. Tell us what’s really going on, and don’t make up some sob story because Shelby will know if you’re lying.”

Kate sighed in defeat. “Fine. I want to dissolve our partnership with the Passinis.”

That was a shock. She and Alec Passini had become quite close. I picked up that they were more than just business partners. They’d been lovers for over a year. So what had changed?

“Any particular reason?” Uncle Joey asked.

“I don’t trust them.” She’d had a big fight with Alec, and she knew he was keeping secrets from her. If he wasn’t willing to be honest with her, then they needed to part ways for good. “He’s been making deals behind my back, and I think… I think he’s having an affair.” Tears filled her eyes and she choked back a sob. That was the first time she’d said it out loud, and it hurt worse than she’d imagined.

“How do you know?” he asked.

“I’ve heard some of Alec’s conversations on the phone. He’s been talking to someone about giving her everything she needs and taking care of her… he even has a nickname for her. It’s Red… Red Velvet. Like she’s some cake or something. It’s disgusting.”

Uncle Joey held back a smile and I picked up his mirth at the whole situation. He felt bad for Kate, but she wasn’t being rational. She’d always been more than a handful, and when she wanted something, nothing would get in her way. Even if what she wanted was right in front of her, she couldn’t always see it, and suspected the worst.

“No.”

“What?” she asked.

“No. We’re not dissolving the partnership.”

With a huff of indignation, she nearly flew out of her chair. “You can’t say that. Not after what he’s done!”

Uncle Joey picked up his phone and pushed a button. “Jackie, I need Alec Passini. Can you get him on the phone for me?… Thank you.” He put the phone down to wait. A few seconds later it rang and he picked it back up. “Alec? … Yes… I just have a question for you. Who is Red Velvet?”

Kate closed her eyes and covered her face with her hands. She was totally humiliated and thinking that she was going to kill Uncle Joey for this.

“Yes,” Uncle Joey said, glancing at Kate. “She’s here. I see. Well, I hope you’ve learned your lesson. Yes… that’s too bad, but it has to be done. No… I’m afraid not. Do you want out of the partnership? I didn’t think so. Yes. I’ll tell her.” He hung up the phone and pursed his lips.

“What did he say?” As much as she pretended otherwise, Kate didn’t want to lose Alec. But now that Uncle Joey was involved, she couldn’t back down, and she braced herself for the worst.

“I’ve got some good news, and some bad news. Which do you want first?”

“The good news.”

“Alec is not having an affair.”

“He’s not? Then who’s Red Velvet?”

“That’s the bad news,” Uncle Joey said. “You remember the yacht that got blown up?” At her nod, he continued. “Well, Alec got the insurance money for it, and he ordered a new one. He named it, Red Velvet, after you, I guess because of your red hair and sweet disposition.” Uncle Joey knew that part wasn’t true, but he wanted to rub it in a little. “Alec was hoping to surprise you with it when you got back from your trip. Now he won’t be able to.”

Kate’s shoulders fell. “Oh.”

“You still want to dissolve the partnership?”

She pursed her lips. “No.” She was thinking Alec should have told her instead of trying to make it a surprise. So it was partly his fault… still, she felt horrible that she’d ruined it. Now she’d have to make it up to him, and she hoped he wasn’t too mad or disappointed in her.

She gathered her things. “I guess I’ll be going now. Uh… sorry… why don’t you come visit and we’ll take the yacht out for a few days. Bring Jackie.” She glanced my way. “I guess you can come too as long as you bring Chris. It will be fun.” She didn’t want to invite me, but if Chris came, it would be bearable. She’d always had a soft spot in her heart for him.

“Gee… thanks.”

She ignored my sarcasm and stood. “Sorry for the misunderstanding, but it was an easy mistake to make. Hopefully Alec has learned his lesson. I’ll see you later.” With a quick wave, she hurried out the door.

Ramos came in as she left, nearly bumping into her. After a quick hello, she continued down the hall. Ramos gazed after her before coming inside. “What was Kate doing here?”

I smiled up at him. “You know… at first I wasn’t sure, but now I think there really is such a thing as karma.”

Uncle Joey snorted. “Come… sit down, and we’ll tell you all about it.”

THE END.

Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice in how I first explained my psychic powers. When I realized I could read minds, telling the truth scared me to death, so I covered it up by telling people I had premonitions. Sure, that was a big lie, but it seemed close enough to the truth that I could get away with it.

Now I’m not so sure. Having ‘premonitions’ comes with its own set of problems. People expect me to see into the future… or at least some version of it. They also expect me to have some kind of ability to read more into a situation based on the ‘vibes’ I get from my premonitions. That can be pretty complicated, and it isn’t easy keeping everything straight.

If people knew I could read minds, they wouldn’t have so many unreasonable expectations. Of course, they would also want to stay as far away from me as possible. So maybe lying about it wasn’t such a bad idea. Still… it isn’t easy any way you look at it.

But, after what happened the other day, I think I’ve changed my mind. Let me explain…

I got a phone call from a woman who wanted my help with settling a family matter involving her deceased father’s estate. Between her and her siblings, there was an argument about who was supposed to inherit a specific family heirloom.

I wasn’t sure how I could help with that, but the woman insisted I ‘consult’ with them by saying my agency was called “Shelby Nichols Consulting,” so it was part of my advertising. She also stated that she hoped I could use my premonitions to determine which child their grandmother had intended to leave the heirloom with. How could I argue with that?

I arrived at the woman’s home and found all three siblings there. The oldest, Sarah, was the one who’d called me. Her sister, Jane, came next, and the younger brother, Michael, brought up the rear. I picked up pretty fast that Michael was tired of all the bickering between his two sisters. He’d had enough, and hoped that my involvement would end things once and for all.

Under that layer of thought, I picked up a thread of satisfaction that he’d have the final say in the matter, and he couldn’t wait to see the surprise on his sister’s faces. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but I looked forward to finding out.

After the introductions were made, Sarah asked me to sit down on the couch, and motioned toward a wooden jewelry box. “The heirloom is in there. It’s a necklace with a two-carat teardrop ruby that belonged to our grandmother. She claimed it was given to her mother from an Indian Maharajah when she lived in India as a child. As the oldest daughter, it should go to me, but Jane doesn’t agree.”

Jane’s lips flattened. “That’s because Grandma Lucy told me I could have it. You know how close we were, especially at the end. I thought she told Papa, but he never mentioned it in his will.”

“What did the will say?”

“That everything was to be divided up evenly between the three of us. But I’m willing to give up a portion of my inheritance to compensate the others, if that will help.”

“That sounds reasonable,” I said.

Sarah shook her head. “But it’s always been handed down to the firstborn daughter. That’s me. Jane can take the rocking chair, and Michael can take the grandfather clock. They’re comparable in value.”

Jane gasped. She was thinking that the rocking chair was hardly comparable to either of those items. Sure, it was handmade and carved with lovely vines, but that didn’t mean it was on the same level as the ruby. Of course, what did she expect from Sarah? As the oldest, she was always throwing her weight around.

“Why don’t we let Shelby have a look at the necklace?” Michael asked, his eyes bright with mischief. “Maybe touching it will give her a premonition about who it really belongs to?”

Sarah frowned, but turned to the box and flipped it open. Her hand flew to her mouth. “It’s gone!” Sarah turned to Jane. “You took it!”

“No I didn’t. You’ve had it all this time. You must have planned this. You’re hiding it somewhere so you can keep it from me.”

“I would never do that!!”

While they argued back and forth, I glanced at Michael, who took perverse satisfaction in seeing his sisters fighting. He was thinking how easy it had been to take the necklace earlier while his sisters had been arguing in the kitchen. They’d always been competitive, but they should be ashamed. His grandmother would have hated seeing them bicker and fight over a piece of jewelry.

He’d thought hiring me was going overboard, and he’d hoped his sisters would at least try to act civilly to each other for my sake. But look at them now. It was pathetic. Neither of them deserved it, but if he had to pick, he’d want Jane to have it before Sarah. Jane had always been the nicer of the two.

“Excuse me,” I said, breaking into the argument. “I know where it is.”

They all froze and turned to stare at me.

I sent them a smile and glanced at Michael with a raised brow. “Michael has it in his pocket.” I held out my hand. “Please hand it over.”

His jaw dropped open, but he did as I asked and set it in my palm. I examined the ruby and held it in my hand for a moment before closing my eyes and taking a couple of deep breaths. I waited for a good, long minute before opening my eyes, hoping to make them believe I was communing with the spirits.

“Your Grandmother is not pleased with how you’ve handled this. Because of that, it will not go to either of you, but rather, to Michael’s daughter.” I turned my gaze to him, hoping my hunch paid off. “How old is she now?”

“Six.”

“Good. Then that’s settled.” I glanced at Sarah and Jane. “If you want to honor your grandmother, the best way to do that is to treat each other with love and kindness.”

Before I could say another word, I heard a voice in my mind. Bravo Shelby… Bravo.

I snapped my mouth shut and blinked. After a quick swallow, I gave them what I hoped was a smile. “I’ll send you my bill.” With that, I swept out of the house and outside into the cool evening air. My breathing might have come a little faster than I liked, but at least my heart was slowing down.

Still, what the freak? Maybe saying I had premonitions was closer to the truth after all.

You’d think that after working for a mob boss for over a year and a half that nothing would surprise me anymore, especially since I can read minds. But, after today, I’m convinced that nothing could be further from the truth.

In the past, being summoned to Thrasher Development by Uncle Joey made my heart race and my palms sweat. Now, I reveled in my role as the mob boss’s human lie detector. I liked the power of catching people in lies and making them answer for their deceit.

But today was a different story. Instead of one of Uncle Joey’s clients doing the lying, it was Ramos. For those of you who don’t know, Ramos is Uncle Joey’s hitman, bodyguard, and all around right hand man. When he’s the person lying, it has to be for a good reason, but it still threw me for a loop.

I met with Uncle Joey in his office, where he explained that he had a client in the conference room who was late making a payment. He wanted me to get to the bottom of it, since the client had insisted she’d already paid.

Ramos was keeping her entertained, and, after we entered the conference room, she was introduced to me as Mrs. Robinson. I immediately started singing the song about Mrs. Robinson in my mind and sort of missed the rest of her introduction. That was probably because she looked beautiful, sophisticated, and sexy, even though she was in her early sixties, and I hoped I looked as good as her when I reached that age.

I couldn’t help but admire her tenacity when it came to dealing with Uncle Joey, but it was Ramos who surprised me the most. He seemed under her spell, and went along with her explanation that her husband, who had recently died, had paid his debt to Uncle Joey in full.

Uncle Joey had no record of that ever happening, and wondered if her late husband had deceived her, or if she was just saying that so she didn’t have to pay up. Since I needed more clarity about what was going on, I had to ask some questions and get her thinking.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your late husband,” I began. “Was it sudden?”

Her eyes widened. “Why yes, it was. He had a heart attack and died before the paramedics arrived.” She wasn’t exactly lying, since his heart had given out, but it wasn’t because of a heart attack. It was because she’d pumped him full of adrenalin, and, because of his heart condition, it was fatal.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. That must have been a shock.”

“Yes. It was. He was in such great shape, that it took us all by surprise.” She was thinking that it took his mistress by surprise the most. But, now his mistress wouldn’t see a dime of his money. “In fact, he was full of surprises.”

She’d acted just in time, too, since he had begun the divorce proceedings and would have left her with nothing. As far as she was concerned, his debt to Uncle Joey wasn’t her problem, and if Uncle Joey insisted that she pay, he might find himself in the same condition as her husband. It wasn’t the first time she’d killed a man who’d crossed her, and he wouldn’t be the last, since she still had her brother-in-law to deal with. But he could wait until she had everything settled here first.

Yikes! She was downright scary. As she continued to explain all the ways her husband’s death had been a shock, I swallowed and glanced at Ramos. He was thinking that I needed to handle Mrs. Robinson with kid gloves. The money her husband owed to Manetto wasn’t worth dealing her kind of crazy. He didn’t know what had happened to her husband, but, after chatting with her, he had a bad feeling about it.

“I’m sure your husband paid his debt to us,” Ramos said, even though he knew the man hadn’t. At this point, he didn’t know what I would pick up from her, but he hoped I’d go along with him. Ramos knew Manetto wouldn’t agree, since he rarely let anyone get away with anything, but Ramos had seen something alarming in her eyes, and his gut told him that the money was not worth the price. Even if I had to lie to Manetto, he hoped I’d go along with him.

Wow. He didn’t know how right he was. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” I began, once she stopped complaining. “I’m sure your husband must have taken care of his debt to Uncle Joey. We’ll go over our records again. It must have been deposited in a different account. We’ll look into it. In the meantime, don’t give it a second thought. You have enough on your plate.”

“Oh, that is so thoughtful of you.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I won’t forget your helpfulness during this difficult time.” She turned to Uncle Joey. “What a wonderful niece you have. You were right when you said she would know what to do. Thank you so much. If that’s all, I’ll be going.” She took my hand. “Thank you Shelby.” Her smile warmed my heart, and I was grateful to see it after all that darkness.

“You’re welcome.”

She exited the room, and Ramos followed her out. He came back a second later and blew out a breath, grateful she was gone. Uncle Joey glanced between us, knowing something had gone on, but he had no idea what it was. “Do you mind telling me what that was about?”

“Sure, but you’re not going to believe it.” I related her murderous ways to both of them, adding the little tidbit that her killing spree had started with her father. “He was awful to her, totally abusive, so I can’t blame her, but it was all a little bit surreal. How much did her husband owe you anyway?”

Uncle Joey shrugged. “Around a hundred grand, but he had just paid half of it, so she must have thought it was enough. I still hate to see her get away with murder though, even if he deserved it.”

That kind of surprised me, since Uncle Joey got away with murder all the time. “What is it about her that makes you say that?”

He snorted. “I guess because she’s a threat to men everywhere. But at least she’s not a threat to me, so it all worked out.” He glanced at Ramos. “How did you know?”

Ramos shrugged. “What can I say? I’m a pretty good judge of character, and I’ve seen her type before.” He glanced at me. “You were kind of like that when you first started working here.”

“I was not!”

His lips turned up in that sexy grin that always made my chest flutter. His dark eyes intense, he leaned toward me. “I said kind of like that. I knew you were thinking of ways to get rid of Manetto, even if you don’t want to admit it.”

I glanced between the men and my face heated up. “Well, I was desperate. You both scared me to death. Naturally, I wanted to get out of the situation. But… that’s all changed now.”

“Has it?” Uncle Joey asked, his brows lifted and he had a sad, lost, and hopeful shine in his eyes.

I smacked him… lightly… and smiled. “Of course I have. You’re really going to make me say it?” At his nod, I continued, only slightly rolling my eyes. “I love working here… there.”

“But you left out a part,” he insisted. “You love working for me.”

I chuckled and nodded. “Well… of course… that goes without saying.”

“And what about me?” Ramos asked. “Admit it, you like me better.”

I glanced between them and shook my head. Ramos was thinking about all the motorcycle rides he took me on, so he would win, hands down.

“I’d better get going.” I stepped to the door and glanced over my shoulder. “And just so you know, I love you both.”

I left the office with a smile, which I’m still wearing as I write this. Yes… it’s true that I love my job, and I hope that’s okay to say, because, despite, or maybe because of the surprises, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Yesterday, Uncle Joey sent me to visit one of his ’employees.’ The guy was behind on his payments and Uncle Joey wanted to know why. Because of my special ability to read minds, I’d pick up the truth no matter what lies he was likely to tell to explain his delinquency.

I used to complain about those kinds of errands, since I didn’t like ‘leaning’ on the poor people Uncle Joey had under his thumb. But since Ramos was going with me, and we were taking his motorcycle, I jumped at the chance. I guess Uncle Joey knows how to make me an offer I can’t refuse.

We arrived at Gino’s Antique Shop, where “one man’s loss is another man’s gain”… or at least that’s what the sign said. Inside, Gino stood behind the counter going over his books. As we entered, his eyes widened and his whole body jerked with alarm. Then he backed away before Ramos even had a chance to get close.

“Hey Gino,” Ramos said. “The boss wants to know why you haven’t paid him for the last couple of months.” Ramos stepped right up to Gino. The man cowered, and his eyes darted back and forth as if looking for an escape route.

“Uh… things have been real slow around here, and I haven’t been able to pay all the bills, let alone your boss, but I’ve got a big sale arranged for this afternoon. If you’ll come back tomorrow, I should have it covered.”

Ramos glanced my way, lifting his brow to question if Gino was lying. Since he was, I nodded. I would have told Ramos what was going on, but I didn’t want to take away all his fun.

“You’re lying,” Ramos said, pinning Gino against the wall. “So what’s really going on.”

“What? No I’m not. It’s the truth, man. I know better than to lie to you.”

“That’s not true,” I said, stepping forward. I knew Ramos didn’t mind roughing him up. Mostly because he had to protect his image, but he didn’t like doing it in front of me. “He’s got a stash of cash upstairs under his mattress. I think it’s enough to pay what he owes.”

Gino’s mouth dropped open. How did I know that? As Ramos tightened his hold, he gave in. “Okay, okay. It’s upstairs.” He was thinking that it was a good thing he had more than one hiding place for his money, since he didn’t want to give all of it to Ramos.

As they left, I didn’t mention that little tidbit to Ramos, since I felt a sorry for Gino. While they headed upstairs for the money, I roamed around the shop in case there was something of value I might want.

Hearing the chime of the door opening, I hurried toward the counter, and turned to find two men stepping inside. With their scruffy faces, graphic t-shirts, and ripped jeans, they didn’t seem the type to be looking for any antique treasures.

“Can I help you?” I asked, planting my feet firmly in front of the cash register.

With surprise on their faces, they sized me up, wondering when I’d started working for Gino. As their gazes roamed over my body, they thought a few other things that aren’t appropriate for this blog, but let me tell you, my heart rate spiked with alarm.

“Hey sweetheart, where’s Gino?”

“Uh… he’s in the back. But he’ll be right out.” As they stalked closer to me, I backed up, just like Gino had earlier with Ramos. When my back hit the counter, they continued toward me, invading my personal space.

I swallowed. “What do you want Gino for?”

They both smiled, then one of them spoke. “We’re just here to collect the money he owes us.”

“He owes you money? What for?” Pushing away my fear, I planted my feet and straightened, ready to send my fist into the guy’s throat if he got any closer.

The other guy flanked me, ready to grab my arm, and spoke. “Gino has a bad gambling habit. He bets more than he can lose, and then he thinks he won’t have to pay up. Not too smart of him is it?”

“Uh… no.”

“So we’re here to collect. Our boss doesn’t take kindly to losers who don’t honor their debts.”

My brows rose with surprise. “Your boss? Who’s that?” I knew what they were thinking, but I needed to hear it out loud.

“Joey “The Knife” Manetto. Ever heard of him?”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed… in their faces. They didn’t like that much, and one of them stepped even closer. “What’s so funny?”

That made me laugh even harder, and I doubled over in uncontrolled mirth. The guy closest to me grabbed my arm and told me to shut up. I used an Aikido move to get out of his grasp. It worked just like it was supposed to, but the other guy grabbed me around the waist before I could step out of his reach. I slammed my elbow into his jaw, but he held on tight and started cursing me… loudly.

“What the hell’s going on?” Ramos roared. “Let go of her. Now!” He rushed around the counter and grabbed the guy holding me by his neck. The guy released me and tried to pull Ramos’s arm from around his neck. He kicked and yelled, but he was unable to get Ramos’s arm to budge.

The other guy took a step forward to aid his friend, but wisely held back and spoke instead. “He didn’t do nothin’ wrong. Let him go.”

“Ramos. Don’t kill him. I’m fine. Really. They didn’t hurt me.” I’d never seen Ramos so upset. He was usually cool and calculated. But right now, he was contemplating snapping the guy’s neck.

He slowly released his hold on the man, and the guy coughed and rubbed his neck. That’s when it dawned on the guy that I’d called his attacker Ramos. What the hell? Was it really him? Damn! He was so…  I won’t repeat what he was thinking, but you get the idea.

The guy knelt on one knee and began to beg for mercy. The other guy went down on both knees to do his begging. Whoa. Who would have thought? They couldn’t tell Ramos they were sorry enough, and kept mumbling apologies until Ramos finally told them to shut up.

“Uh… Ramos… do you know these guys? Because they said they work for Uncle Joey.”

His brows rose, and he turned to them. “Is that right?”

If they weren’t groveling before, they were now. Shocked that “The Knife” was actually my uncle sent them both into quaking masses of blubber.

“They said Gino has a gambling habit, and he owes them money.” I glanced behind me, but Gino was nowhere in sight. Go figure.

Ramos heaved a sigh. “Get up.” After they stood, he continued. “I don’t know who you two think you are, but Manetto doesn’t like liars, grovelers, or cheats. I don’t recall ever seeing your ugly faces before, so, if you want to live, I’d suggest you stop using his name for your own purposes.”

He stepped closer to them, and they both backed up. “In fact, I think you’d better take your lying, cheating, skum-sucking selves somewhere else, because if I ever hear of you again, you’ll both be wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the lake. Now get out of here.”

They ran out of the shop faster than I thought two men could move.

I caught Ramos’s gaze and grinned. “Wow. You are so bad-ass.” That earned a chuckle from him. “So did you get the money from Gino?”

“Yeah.”

“You have to admit that was pretty funny.”

Ramos shook his head. “I don’t know.” He didn’t like finding me being manhandled by those two thugs.

“I get it. But you missed the best part.”

“What part’s that?”

“When they were threatening me because they worked for Joey “The Knife” Manetto.” I started laughing again, but Ramos just shook his head.

“Come on. Let’s get out of here,” he said, turning to leave.

I followed behind, chuckling all the way out to his Harley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I work for a mob-boss. Doesn’t that sound nuts? There are some days I can’t believe it either. But, I have to say that he’s not your typical mob-boss, mostly because he runs several legitimate businesses, and he’s never been arrested…not even once.

Before you start thinking that I’m rationalizing about working for such a person, let me just clarify that I do it under duress. He found out my secret that I can read minds, and threatened harm to my family if I didn’t cooperate.

Sure, it may seem like I enjoy it, and sometimes I really do, but since I’ve nearly died a few times because of it, I know I should work harder at getting out from under him.

Still, if I’m honest, I do like being an indispensable part of his organization. That feeling of importance is pretty amazing. He’s also made sure I have someone to watch my back when I get in trouble, and I’ve grown quite fond of that person…and his motorcycle. Uncle Joey’s also deposited copious amounts of money into my checking account, and given me bonuses. I’ve even gone on his private jet to some great cities a few times.

So…what I’m trying to tell you is that I guess I’m in too deep to get out now. That should bother me a whole lot, but what can I say? I passed that point a while ago. Which brings me to my next conundrum. I also help the police. My partner, Detective Harris, aka Dimples, knows that I sometimes help Uncle Joey, he just doesn’t know how much.

So far, he hasn’t made a big deal out of it, but I just found out that he’s looking into it. What am I supposed to say when he tells me that he has a plan to take Uncle Joey down, and he wants my help to do it, especially when I know he’s doing it for my sake?

To top it all off, my husband also works for Uncle Joey as his lawyer. Could this get any worse? Actually, yes, because now my kids think Uncle Joey is my uncle and therefore related to them. In fact, our whole family had a chance encounter with his. I had to introduce my kids to his wife and son. Since then, he’s claimed us as part of The Family.

My thirteen-year-old daughter, Savannah, has a huge crush on Uncle Joey’s eighteen-year-old son. She thinks he’s not blood-related because of a story I made up about how Uncle Joey was first married to my aunt but they got a divorce and his son is from a different relationship. Complicated, right?

It’s no wonder that when taking a good look at my life, and all the complications involved in it, that I start to get a little stressed out. Which brings me to my next conundrum. You see, I’m meeting with Dimples this afternoon, and Uncle Joey just asked me to spy on the police department about a special case that could have repercussions for him.

He’s never really asked me to do that before, although it’s been implied, and it’s stressing me out. Can a good person work for people on both sides of the law? How long can I sit on the fence between the good guys and the bad guys without getting caught, hurt, or killed?

Honestly, I don’t want to find out, because I know one thing for sure…I could never betray Uncle Joey. But just as important, I don’t want to end up in jail either. So I guess for now, I’ll just have to keep balancing on that tightrope, and hope I don’t fall off.

It’s what you’d do, right?

Wish me luck – I’m going to need it!

 

 

Christmas Gifts

Posted: December 5, 2017 in Experiences, Thoughts
Tags: , , ,

It’s been a while since my visit to the grocery store on that fateful day in April. That’s when the bank inside the store was robbed and I got shot, leaving me with the ability to read minds. If you want to know the truth, it’s been a mixed blessing. Sure, I’m mostly glad to have this ‘extra’ sense, but there are times when it’s gotten me in a lot of trouble. Like working for a mob-boss.

Of course, I’ve been able to help the police and solve a lot of cases, as well as start my own consulting agency. So I can’t complain. But as much as I like knowing things I probably shouldn’t, there are times I’m not real happy about it.

One of those times is Christmas. Even though I do my best to block my mind from hearing thoughts, I’m not always successful. As you can imagine, it takes a little of the enjoyment out of opening Christmas presents, since I usually know what I’m getting ahead of time.

Like this year. I accidentally heard my husband, Chris, thinking about this great present he was getting me. Mostly he was thinking how much money it would cost, but that I would love it. That got me real excited, and I tried not to listen to anything else he was thinking.

Since he knows I can hear his thoughts, he does his best to guard them as well, so that helps. Still, I feel bad about that, because it’s a lot of work for him, and he’s not always successful. It also leaves me in the position of sometimes lying so I won’t hurt his feelings. It’s a fine line.

But today, all my good intentions went out right the window because I heard him thinking about the toilet seat he was getting me for Christmas. I tried really hard not to react, but seriously? A toilet seat? For Christmas? And it cost a lot of money? Was it made out of gold or something?

“You’re joking, right?” I blurted.

“What?” Then it hit him that I’d heard all about the toilet seat. He took a deep breath and swore in his mind. Which I also heard. So this time, he said it out loud. “Dammit.”

“Sorry, but… are you serious?”

Chris shook his head, thinking that having a mind-reading wife was going to drive him… “Uh…yes, but it’s not what you think. They’ve got these great toilet seats that do all kinds of things. And it’s heated!”

“Oh, right. I didn’t think about that.” Then I glanced at him and smiled. “Okay. Maybe that is something I’d like.”

Chris groaned a little and closed his eyes, but managed to block his thoughts so I wouldn’t hear that he thought I was driving him crazy, but it didn’t take a mind-reader to figure that out.

I also felt bad that I’d ruined his surprise, so I quickly pulled him into a hug. “I’m sure I’ll love it.”

“I don’t have to get it for you. I can figure out something else.”

“No. Now that I know more about it, I think it’s great.”

He pulled away and narrowed his eyes, clearly not buying it.

“I do. Really. I mean…now that I know, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get it. A warm toilet seat! That’s pretty sweet.”

“Shelby…” He shook his head, exasperated. Was I mocking him? He wasn’t sure if I was just saying that, or if I really wanted it. “You won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want it.”

I smiled. Poor Chris. “I do want it. It sounds lovely.” Oops, maybe that did sound a little patronizing.

He smiled back, thinking that at least I hadn’t picked up the other thing he was getting me…he caught my gaze and widened his eyes.

“I didn’t hear a thing about that.”

“Good.”

He left right after that for work. Kind of like he was eager to get away from his mind-reading wife. It would have hurt my feelings, but I couldn’t blame him, since I’d ruined his surprise.

Now I’ve been wondering all day if he’s really getting me something else, or if he just said that to throw me off. Oh well. Whatever happens, I’m really looking forward to my new toilet seat, but I’ve decided that, if I pick up the other thing he hinted at giving me, I’m going to pretend that I didn’t hear about it. Even if I have to lie.

 

Last Monday around four-thirty in the afternoon, I got a phone call from Ramos. That wasn’t unusual, but what surprised me was the desperation in his voice. If you know Ramos at all, you know how crazy that sounds. He is the King of Cool.

Then he explained the situation, and I couldn’t help blurting out my surprise. “What? You’re babysitting? Are you kidding me?”

That might not have been the best thing to say to someone who’s sounding desperate, especially when that someone is a renowned hit-man for a mob-boss.

“No. I’m not kidding.” His voice sounded a little menacing, so I quickly changed my tone.

“Oh, okay. What do you need?”

He explained that his neighbor had taken his wife to the hospital because she was in labor, and the guy’s mother-in-law couldn’t get there for a while. For some reason, they asked Ramos to watch their five and two-year-old kids until she got there.

“Wow. How did you get roped into that?”

“I was in the yard raking leaves, and I guess they were desperate. What could I say? I mean, she was moaning and crying with pain, and I thought that baby might just be born right there in the driveway.”

As he spoke I heard a child yelling in the background. Then came a high-pitched scream and something clattered to the floor. “Can you come over?” he asked.

“Sure.” He gave me his address, and I jumped in my car. As I drove to the house, it hit me that now I’d finally get to see where he lived. That was something I’d wondered about for a long time.

He spent a lot of time at the apartment at Thrasher Development, but I’d always known he had a house somewhere. Now I’d see it and maybe uncover a little more about the hit-man that I didn’t know.

The neighborhood in which he lived wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. He didn’t live in a ritzy part of town, and the houses were nice, but not huge. Still, they were well-kept and the neighborhood had a feeling of community about it.

I recognized his black car in the driveway of an older, red-brick home. Large maple trees lined the street with golden color, and piles of leaves rested in many of the front yards. The leaves in Ramos’s yard were heaped in a pile, with a rake lying haphazardly across the top of them.

I parked my car in the driveway behind his, and got out. Ramos must have been watching for me, because he opened the door in the house on the right and called my name.

I started toward him and paused in mid-stride with my jaw dropping open. He stood there holding a two-year-old girl on his hip like a regular person. It was a picture of Ramos that I never thought I’d see in a million years. It was so jarring that I really wanted to take out my camera to record the moment, but his frown was enough to dissuade me from doing anything of the sort.

Putting a happy smile on my face, I continued to the house. The five-year-old boy was adorable and talked a mile-a-minute, but he was a little upset that his parents had left him in the care of a virtual stranger.

My presence calmed him down, and once he was settled, his little sister wanted to get down to play. He showed us his favorite toys and explained what they did and how they worked.

Soon, we were all sitting on the floor, playing with a hot wheels play set where the little cars could race down a spiraling track. He got Ramos to pick a car and have a race with him, and it was something he wanted to do over and over again. It reminded me of how Josh was at that age, and I got a little nostalgic.

I tried to coax the little girl over to sit by me, but instead, she walked right over to Ramos and sat down in his lap. Ramos’s eyes widened and I knew it made him uncomfortable, but then he glanced at me and shrugged. He was thinking that all the girls liked sitting in his lap, so he shouldn’t be too surprised.

I laughed, glad that he was relaxed enough to joke about the situation.

Half an hour later, their grandmother showed up. She thanked us profusely and we got up to leave. The little boy told Ramos that he needed to come back and play some more. Ramos’s brows rose, but he smiled and told him that he’d see him around.

Then we left. The outside air cooled my face, and I glanced at Ramos, noting the relief in the deep breaths he took.

“That wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Right?”

He shook his head. “I had no idea what to do with those kids. Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I just have one request,” he said, catching my gaze.

Of course I picked it up from his mind. He didn’t want me to tell anyone, because it would ruin his reputation. “Not even Uncle Joey?”

His lips thinned, so I relented. “Okay. I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Good. Thanks.” He walked back over to the pile of leaves and picked up his rake. “You want to help with this, too?”

I chuckled. “I think you can handle that just fine. I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you later.”

He gave me that chin lift thing, and I got in my car, grateful that I could come to his rescue for a change. As I waved, I noticed the little boy watching Ramos from the window of his living room. I backed out of the driveway, and started down the street.

Glancing back at Ramos, I had to chuckle. The boy had escaped his house and stood at Ramos’s side, talking up a storm. Then he jumped into the leaves and scattered them all over the place.

Whether he liked it or not, it looked like Ramos had a new friend. Ramos might not like it much, but it sure warmed my heart. Plus, I knew I’d have fun giving him a hard time about it. What could be better than that?

 

Pickleball Anyone?

Posted: July 7, 2017 in Experiences
Tags: , ,

One of the perks of working for a mob-boss is being invited to his country club. This usually entails playing a round of golf. I’m not much of a golfer, and the last time I went, I had a golf cart accident that sent a judge to the emergency room for stitches. Since then, Uncle Joey hadn’t invited me back.

So it came as a surprise when he asked me if my husband and I would like to join him and his wife, Jackie, at the country club for a game of pickleball.

“Uh… pickleball? What’s that?” I asked, hoping it didn’t involve pickles.

He explained that the game was a lot like tennis, only on a smaller-sized court, and using a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. He said it combined the elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong.

Since I’ve played tennis since I was a kid, and I’m a pretty good at ping-pong, I thought it might be fun. Plus, it’s never a good idea to say no to a mob-boss, no matter what he wants. So, all in all, this sounded like an easy request compared to some of the other things he’d asked me to do.

My husband, Chris, had never played the game before, but at least he’d heard of it, so that was a plus. We set up a time, and I looked forward to learning something new, though I did have one concern. Chris and I were a lot younger than Uncle Joey by at least twenty or more years, and I hoped that once we learned the game, we didn’t beat them too badly.

We arrived at the club, wearing the appropriate attire, and met Uncle Joey and Jackie at the tennis courts. Uncle Joey was eager to teach us how to play, and hoped we picked it up pretty fast, since he liked a competitive game. I thought that was kind of presumptive of him to think he’d beat us so handily. It brought out the competitive side of my nature, so I was eager to prove him wrong.

It took longer than I liked to get used to the ball and paddle. I kept hitting the ball way too hard, so it went long. When I wasn’t doing that, I missed the ball entirely because I wasn’t used to a smaller paddle. But after about half an hour, I got the hang of hitting it, and looked forward to playing a game.

I’d like to say that our first game was a success, but that would be a lie. We didn’t even score one point. Uncle Joey played with a lot of aggression… kind of like a shark playing with its food. For an old guy, he was really good.

After the first round, he took pity on us, and sent Chris over to play with Jackie while I partnered with him. I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea, since playing with Uncle Joey intimidated me… a lot. Needless to say, every time the ball came my way I totally messed up. In fact, every point we lost was because of me.

At least I caught that he didn’t mind too much, mostly since Chris wasn’t doing much better on Jackie’s team. She was really good, too.

Uncle Joey gave me some tips and even encouraged me when I did something right. After a while, I started doing better. After losing the first game, we won the next two, mostly because of Uncle Joey’s mad skills, and I started to enjoy myself.

Then we switched partners again. This time I played with Jackie, which wasn’t quite so intimidating. Even though I did better, we still lost every game to the guys. It bothered me more than I liked, mostly because I picked up that Uncle Joey went easy on us and didn’t play as hard as he could have.

That lit a fire under me, and the next game, I played a lot better. We still lost, but not by so much.

After that, several other players filled the open courts, and asked if we’d like to switch it up and rotate games with them. I picked up that Uncle Joey was all for it, since he’d get to play against some better players.

It would have hurt my feelings, except that he also thought it would be good for us to play against some other teams where we might have a chance to win. So he was actually looking out for us, right?

Most of the other players were about Uncle Joey’s age, and some of them weren’t in the best of shape, so I thought he had a point, and I tried not to be offended. Plus, there were a few people that seemed really old, at least in their late seventies and one or two in their eighties. We could win against them, right?

In the end, it didn’t seem to matter how old anyone was, we still lost every game. At least there were a few that were close, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Still… playing pickleball is fun, but I learned not to underestimate the old guys.

Now, I’m hoping to get my own paddle… and one for Chris. Hey… we could get some for our kids, Josh and Savannah. It could be a lot of fun, and a great way to spend time together as a family.

Then the next time we played against Uncle Joey and Jackie, we could beat them. Hmm… on the other hand, maybe it was okay if we didn’t beat them, but it would be awfully nice to come close once in a while.

 

 

Because of the tricky situations I always seem to get into, I began training in Aikido. Aikido is a martial art that includes techniques from Jujitsu and Kenjutsu and is based in self-defense, where one uses an opponent’s energy to gain control of them, or throw them, or even escape a hold.

I began these classes only a few months ago, and just passed my fifth kyu test, which is cool, but not anywhere close to a black belt or anything. Getting a black belt would probably take me three or four years, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

Anyway, my barely teenage daughter and I (yikes is she really a teenager now?) went to the Saturday class. It was a lot of fun, mostly because it’s totally satisfying to throw a few big guys around.

Sensei, our teacher, decided to show us how to do atemi, which is a technique used to disrupt an opponent’s attack of a grab or a strike. It throws them off and helps you gain the upper hand. Atemi is done by kicking, or throwing a punch at just the right time. It can’t be too early, or they’ll see it coming, and if it’s late, it won’t do you any good.

After demonstrating the technique a few times, we partnered up and went through the technique in slow-motion before picking up the pace. By the time we changed partners, I was starting to get pretty good at the timing part which was a good thing since my next partner was a big dude.

That meant my kick would have to be pretty hard, and maybe a little higher than I’d practiced, but I could aim my punch for the stomach, so that would work. We slowed our moves down to start with, and then traded attacks. Sensei told us not to use atemi all the time, so that when we did, it wouldn’t be expected.

Sticking to his advise, I waited until after several attacks to throw in a high kick. The only problem was my attacker was a little slow… and… YUP… you guessed it… I kicked him real good right where it counts. The poor guy fell to the ground on his hands and knees, and groaned, barely able to breathe.

My face turned red and guilt burned a hole in my stomach. This was terrible. Everyone stopped what they were doing and glanced at me thinking I’d gone too far. Poor Daniel, I’d really gotten him good. He’d probably never partner with me again. Why was I kicking so hard?

Savannah gasped and covered her mouth. She glanced at me in wide-eyed horror, embarrassed at what I’d done. But underneath her hands, her mouth twitched with laughter, which she wisely held back.

By now, Daniel was showing signs of recovering, so maybe it wasn’t so bad. After my horrified apologies, he grunted a few times, and waved me off. I glanced at Sensei and he just shook his head, but he was thinking that it wasn’t all my fault. Daniel was a little slow with his reaction time, or I wouldn’t have been able to get him so good. It was also a given in the dojo that if you got hurt, it was most likely your own fault.

That helped me feel a little better, but not until Daniel was able to stand up. Guilt keep me immobile until he finally walked over to the drinking fountain and took a few swallows of water.

Everyone else went back to practice, leaving me the odd person out until Daniel came back. I was hoping that Sensei would make everyone change partners, but he was thinking that Daniel and I needed to work together again, so there wouldn’t be any hard feelings.

After a few minutes we got back into the routine and took turns between being the attacker and the attacked. When it was his turn to attack, I waited for the right moment to do a ‘fake’ kick again, making sure I didn’t go overboard this time.

As Daniel lunged at me, I timed my kick at the perfect moment to thwart him, hoping he’d see it in time to avoid it. Just in case he didn’t, I didn’t kick quite as hard. Still, somehow I managed to connect… again!

He fell to the floor, hardly believing that it had happened again. At least it wasn’t as bad this time, but still… what the hell? Did I have it in for him or something? Was his timing really that off?

Everyone felt bad for Daniel, but most of us were trying not to laugh out loud. I mean… sometimes when something untoward happens, your first impulse is to laugh, right? I had a hard time keeping the chuckle inside, especially as I asked him if he was okay.

This time Sensei clapped his hands for everyone to stop, deciding that for Daniel’s sake, and maybe mine, it was time to move on to something else. I wasn’t sure who was more relieved, me or Daniel. But still, twice in one day? Sheesh!

After that, Sensei decided to have us practice with the jo so we wouldn’t need partners. The jo is a wooden staff that’s about four feet long. He had us hold it close to the center and practice doing circle eights so we could get a feel for it. Then he told us to try going a little faster.

I concentrated hard and sped things up a bit, thinking it was just like twirling a baton like they do in the marching bands. All at once, a big thwack sounded, and Daniel’s jo fell to the mat. He held his hand to his jaw where he’d hit himself with the jo!

I burst out laughing. I knew it wasn’t nice of me, but I couldn’t help it. I tried to hold it in and turned my face away so Daniel wouldn’t see, but my shoulders shook so bad I could hardly breathe, which just made me laugh even harder.

It was one of those times I had the giggles so bad nothing was going to keep me from laughing. Then I noticed everyone else was laughing a little too. Even Daniel. With a shrug, he said something about it not being his day, and the tension left the room.

Still, it wasn’t until Savannah and I were driving home that we could finally let loose and have a good laugh. We both agreed that Aikido was a blast, and even if embarrassing things happened, we wouldn’t want to stop going.

I thought that would be the end of it, but at dinner Savannah spilled the beans. “Dad… guess what Mom did to a poor guy in Aikido…”

 

What was I thinking???

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Advice
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been going to Aikido for about a month now and I’m loving it! The first few times I went were spent learning how to fall – not too exciting but a necessary skill, believe me. I’m learning what to do when someone grabs my arm, or grabs me from behind, or basically grabs me anywhere, and how to get away…which in my line of work is essential. It’s also given me a feeling of empowerment which I have to say is pretty awesome…only I think I may have overdone it. The other day I made the mistake of telling my friend, Ramos, that I could take him. I know…not very smart of me, but I was looking forward to throwing him over my shoulder like I’d imagined so many times. Naturally, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show me how wrong I was. I didn’t know at the time that he was a martial arts expert. Why didn’t he tell me this before I made a fool of myself? Needless to say, I couldn’t get the drop on him to save my life, and I guess it would have been funny if you think getting thrown to the ground and having your @ kicked is fun. Luckily, we were in his apartment which connects to Thrasher Development, and the carpet was nice and soft or it may have hurt. But the worse part wasn’t getting plastered to the floor in the grip of a 200 pound macho man (who was enjoying it way too much, I might add). Nope, it was the fact that Uncle Joey showed up and snapped a picture of that moment. The flash startled me enough, but the smile on his face…like he’d just won the lottery, still makes my stomach hurt. I think he’s putting it in a file…with my name on it. Yikes!! Why does this always happen to me? He says I can earn the photo back from him. All I have to do is help him win his next poker match. I can do that…but seriously?? What was I thinking???