Guilty, Guilty Pleasures —>>> Major Crimes with Mary McDonnell and company

The last time I posted about a television show was in regard to the American remake of the Swedish crime drama The Bridge.  Today it’s to do a little promotional hype for Major Crimes starring the incredible Mary McDonnell. Season 3 of Major Crimes starts Monday, June 9 on TNT and I am so looking forward to it. This spin-off from The Closer featuring Kyra Sedgwick would be well worth watching simply because of Mary McDonnell’s great portrayal of Captain Sharon Raydor as a very strong, independent, and very, very smart woman who has the rules down pat–and a lot more. McDonnell’s interview with Travis Smiley explains a great deal for anyone who has not yet discovered Major Crimes. Even if you don’t enjoy crime drama I think it’s worth listening to McDonnell discuss the Raydor character, power, acting and the needs of human beings–and selling brushes.

Another plus for Major Crimes in its first two seasons was the story line involving Captain Sharon Raydor and material witness Rusty Beck. Watching their relationship with each other and the rest of the characters grow and evolve brought unexpected considerable depth and substance to this drama. The concept of family is redefined by example in a much-needed manner for the discussions it has the potential to provoke. Unlike The Closer which had a certain formulaic feeling to the episodes featuring Brenda Johnson’s considerable talent for lying and manipulating people into confessions even when raising all sorts of issues including ethical issues about the ends justifying the means, Major Crimes is making its own way into the future. If you want predictable resolutions of plot-lines there’s always Law and Order to fall back into the comfort zone of neat little black and white packages. This isn’t to say that the criminal cases aren’t closed and resolved in Major Crimes–they are–but there’s a lot more going on than stereotypical criminal behavior.

There’s a great deal more attention paid to serious issues like sexually abused children. “These boys aren’t runaways. They’re throw-aways.” So says a man running a shelter for teenage boys living on the streets of LA.  Now for a society in which the mainstream jabbers constantly about family values and loving children so much this is a brutally honest statement of factual reality.  Its consequences for boys like the Rusty Beck–and other characters–holds up a mirror that reflects our society as all truly great dramas of the stage and screen do.  Clearly there are not enough Sharon Raydors willing to step up and care in our real world.  In most drama storylines children are summarily deposited with the Department of Family Services  and conveniently disappear from the script. In the first two seasons of Major Crimes, Rusty Beck didn’t disappear–and the writers used his character to full advantage.  I can’t tell from the promos or website if the very talented Graham Patrick Martin will continue in this role–but for the sake of abandoned children trying to survive in a hostile world I hope so. Being saved  is not the end of anyone’s story.

Oh and by the way, Rusty Beck loves playing chess.


Personally I think the fans on YouTube have made better promos for Major Crimes than TNT has dreamed up so far. Here’s a fun meet and greet video to get acquainted.



A short and to the point promo. ) I get it, this is probably for short promo time slots.


Mary McDonnell interview on The Travis Smiley Show. Yeah you want to watch. I think Smiley was very smitten. Oh yeah, he likes her shoes. Ah ha.


This particular choice of song and images conveys a great deal about the relationship between Rusty and Sharon.  Clearly this matters to viewers as there are many music videos on the tubes regarding this relationship.


Major Crimes Cookbook for the Sunshine Kids

Major CrimesTV

For more information or to order the Major Crimes Cookbook, click here:…


For cast profiles and more information visit  Major Crimes online:


I think I’m going to post more fan videos for Major Crimes on the sidebar. Yeah, I think I will. It’ll be fun–for me anyway.  I’ll make sure to find one with the scene where Sharon Raydor shoots a guy between the eyes with a red bean bag. Hey, he asks for it–literally.

UPDATE–the Beanbag scene is the headliner on the sidebar. Several of my favorite scenes follow along with some fan made videos featuring music. Charlie’s Angels is a hoot.


As for The Bridge–it’s all dark and dreadful in America and Mexico.  In Sweden there’s darkness and light–plus resolution. I recommend watching both versions.

The Queen of Katwe ~ The Most Powerful Piece On The Board

Update: This is now a film. Yes!!!!!



The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers was a reading find on a recent expedition to my public library.  It’s one of those books that I’ve opened for some down time reading pleasure then spent the rest of the day reading until reaching the back cover. Tim Crothers traces the roots of several dots that come together to create Phiona Mutesi’s Ugandan world in Katwe. One very important “dot” is the life story of Robert Katende who brought chess to Katwe as part of a sports outreach program. Katende noticed that not every child wants to play soccer and decided to offer an alternative game, chess, for them. It is through Katende’s outreach efforts that Phiona discovers the inner mental and outter physical world of chess.  Tim Crothers presents Katende’s personal history of survival, endurance and talent in a manner that show the incredible impact of one person on the lives of others. One young man’s life decisions reverberate throughout his world in remarkable and unexpected ways. Without Robert Katende there would be no chess for Phiona Mutesi and the other children of Katwe.  In turn Phiona herself is having a positive impact on her personal world and the world of women in Uganda. Her story breaks out of the cycle of poverty and desperate struggle to survive for women and their children in places where living is far from easy. What’s at stake is creating a life based on choices rather than the need to eat and literally keep from drowning when it rains.  When a slum is built on/in a swamp things get dicey for everyone when water falls from the sky.

Crothers’ writing style is quick and engaging as he works with words to bring to life the physical landscape of the Katwe slum and Uganda. He creates a context that the people who can afford to buy his book–and read it with ease–may have some trouble relating to. This is a world of harsh poverty where women do what they must to stay alive and education is a luxury requiring payment.  Via Robert Katende’s story it’s clear that it’s not an easy world for boys and men either.  At first one wonders where Crothers is going –how far back in time–and how will we ever get to the story of the girl who dreams of being a Chess Grandmaster. Well, I assure you that by the time you are learning more about Phiona it will be very clear why Crothers pulls the narrative strings he does. In order to fully appreciate Phiona’s ongoing life story the daily context of her world is required.

Another dot Crothers connects is that of the importance of education–like the Sport’s Outreach program–Tim Crothers’ takes a holistic approach to presenting Phiona’s and Robert Katende’s stories. Education plays a vital role in dealing with people in poverty. Hence, Crothers pulls in the story line dot of Andrew Popp all the way from Santa Barbara, California. How does the suicide of a talented young man have anything to with the life of girl living in the slums of Uganda? The scholarship memorial fund created by Andrew’s parents is what enables Phiona to attend school.  Personally I think that’s a wonderful thing and an incredible part of Phiona’s story because education is essential to breaking the poverty cycle and the people in the slums know this fact.

Andrew Popp Scholarship Fund

So if you’re looking for a great human interest story, one which is far from finished, then get a hold of The Queen of Katwe. Consider the power of one piece on a chess board and the powerful impact one person can have on the life of another. Get some inspirartion. some ideas about teaching from Robert Katende,  and perhaps some motivation. Perhaps most importantly get some HOPE.


Author Tim Crothers’ site >>




Phiona Mutesi–so far– >>



Uploaded on Nov 9, 2011

This is a brief documentary on Fiona, a 15 year old Chess Prodigy from the slums of Kampala, Uganda who discovered Chess as a homeless child in search of food. I traveled to Uganda to cover this story through a non-profit organization called Silent Images. We were serving another non-profit called Sports Outreach, in which the chess coach discovered a special gift in Phiona for the game of Chess. I was accompanied by Tim Crothers of ESPN and David Johnson of Silent Images on the trip. Tim has now written a book on Phiona called “The Queen of Katwe” and Phiona has had recent top news stories on ESPN as well as CNN. Disney is currently planning to produce a movie on Phiona as well and I can’t wait to see Phiona’s dreams come true. She is a true underdog in every sense of the word and no person is more worthy of success in life than this special young woman.

Silent Images –
Sports Outreach Institute –
Buy the Book –…


Indie film site >>

Searching for a satisfying love story via dvd? Search no more. Serve some~ Chicken With Plums ~ What More Could Hopeless Romantics Wish For?

Answer to post subject title question— I have no idea regarding what more. Oh that’s a lie. Sure I do. But that’s beside the point here when it comes to Chicken With Plums. Let’s put it this way, I ate the entire film meal and loved it.


Is it possible to write a review and give nothing away about the content? Why would I want to do that if I’m pitching a story to people who are all about ‘what’s going on here’? For my own churlish amusement, I guess. Honestly, I think the film trailer gives away far too much information as it is. That’s not really fair considering this isn’t a film about some devious plot to overthrow the world order. Nope. It’s certainly not a film about that sort of sordid messiness. It’s more of an adventure into a few human hearts., how things are connected, intense smoke and controlling parents. Now does that last qualify as a spoiler or not? Nawww, I don’t think it does. That’s not exactly a breaking news story–though there are a few broken things here.

What makes a great story? What keeps you reading a book? Why do you keep watching a movie? Is it intricate plotting and scheming? Cunning and creepy characters with caustic conversation? Thrill seeking vicarious stunt action? Fast cars and hot women–and men? How about a not so fast train, plane and a boat? Frankly I think we need to redefine the nature of ‘hot’ for both men and women on main streets. But that discussion doesn’t really fit here so I’m going to leave it alone–if I can.  Back to the swing of things:  Stunning images and exotic locations? What is that special bait that gets the hook in your brain box and keeps you reading and watching? What trips your entertainment traps? What feathers tickle you humor bones? By the way, do you enjoy random visits with Death?

What kind of story do you pick for a chilly night with the home-fires? Do your fingers dance to drama, comedy, tragedy or romance? Or some giddy brew of everything? Check out the examples suggested and get back to me asap. Please feel free to suggest other examples.  Hint, that’s what the blank lines are supposed to encourage you to do. If it’s not working, let me know and we’ll revise accordingly. Thanks for your input even though you’ve yet to offer any. Yet.

Tragedy     ______  as in Othello

Comedy    ______  as in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Romance  ______  as in Moonrise Kingdom

Drama     _______ as in Elizabeth Taylor On A Hot Tin Roof

Action    _______ as in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Me? What do I pick? I do it all as long as it’s got the goods to keep my imagination engaged. I like a full plate of a solid story, no-big-box characters, delicious visuals, and sensual sounds. Yesterday evening’s top film pick was Chicken With Plums.  Yes I indulged in several otheres, but, sigh, as amusing as they were, no other was qualifed for TOP billing except the film with the fruit. I would love to ramble on and on about this delight. But I won’t. It would pull the rug out from the act of discovery and exploration.  Taste it for yourself. Oh, and if you’ve never eaten plums except with your breakfast–you’ve been missing out on some damn fine sweet stuff. Consider yourself DEPRIVED. Hmm…maybe it’s not in my best interests to encourage others to eat plums as that will mean fewer plums for moi. How do I talk about this film without mentioning plums when they’re the last word in the title? Chicken With ____ is not the way to go. That fill in the blank with your favorite fruit just isn’t working for me.  How about you?

Chicken With Plums 

Chicken With Plums Movie Trailer (2012). The french movie, directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud is set in Teheran, in 1958. From the Writers and director of Persepolis anime movie.

Note: The trailer says “Coming Soon” but the film has already come. No, you don’t have to go to France to see it. Silly bunnies.


Why yes, thank you.  I don’t mind if I do.  I’d like Chocolat.

PS, Were you expecting depraved instead of deprived? If so, what’s that tell you about you? No need to share. It’s quite alright to keep some things to ourselves.

Oh and if this is the most unsatisfying review of a film that you’ve ever read, please don’t hold it against Chicken With PlumsDon’t deprive yourself any longer than necessary on my account.

Breakfast Special, #32, “Hidden Talents”

Hidden Talents

Ricardo knew it was one of those days when having a television might be useful if it could possibly attract and hold Marianna’s attention just long enough for him to deal with her latest mess while she was busy creating the next. He was unhappily aware that he was currently at least three mess steps behind his daughter. There was no help coming from her older brother, Jose, who just shook his head refusing his father’s request for at least an attempt on his part to engage her in some sort of game playing. Even the usually resourceful and patient Julianna gave him a definite no way glare when he tried to enlist her aid. Rosa was currently tolerating Marianna’s decidedly less than helpful presence in the kitchen while Ricardo cleaned her toothpaste drawings off the cold windows in the front room. He was painfully aware of the fact that the electric hand drill that he’d been fixing remained in pieces on the newspaper covered card table by the window at the other end of the second floor. It was the reason Rosa had drawn Marianna into her cooking domain at first sight of her standing on the empty folding chair taking a very intrigued look at the pieces of metal, plastic and the little screws and tools  laid out so enticingly, apparently just for her entertainment. So it was clear Marianna thought judging from the delight on her pretty little face at the time that Rosa caught sight of her.

It was with no small relief, and no lack of surprise, to Ricardo when he went to relieve Rosa of Marianna and found Sarge in the kitchen, having deposited four loaves of cinnamon bread on the counter, currently conducting a calm conversation with his daughter regarding the pros and cons of adding dish-washing liquid to the large pan of refried beans on the stove while gently, yet effectively, removing the plastic bottle from her two-handed grasp. Meanwhile, Rosa, making tortillas at the table, was watching Sarge contend with her niece’s latest unwelcome creative effort. Catching sight of her brother, Rosa shrugged and pointed with a tortilla at the ongoing exchange between the man and child. Nearly at the end of his own considerable patience, Ricardo was stunned into grateful silence when Sarge turned to Rosa and himself and said, “Is it okay if she comes downstairs to help me make some cookies? Lily is busy working on ‘sunrise’ projects with Esther and I wouldn’t mind some company.”

Thinking even a five-minute reprieve from Marianna would do his nerves a world of good, Ricardo vigorously nodded his assent. Rosa smirked and laughed darkly. “You want her help. You got it, Sarge. Deal best way you can.”

Sarge smiled and plucked Marianna off the folding chair she was standing on peering into the pot of beans. Setting her on her feet, he looked down at her while she stared up at him. “Are you up for mixing some cookie dough or not? If you are, then let’s make tracks, little Missy.” Without waiting for Marianna’s reply, Sarge walked away and proceeded directly out of the second floor home.  Marianna looked at Rosa and then at her father before turning on her toes  and running off to follow Sarge down the stairs to Lily’s apartment.

Only after mixing and baking several batches of oatmeal, sugar and snicker-doodle cookies; noisily slurping down two cups of chicken soup for a snack; taking a spontaneous brief nap on the velvet couch; getting a peek inside Lily’s little transistor radio; having some milk and warm straight out of the oven cookies; completing a thorough practical investigation of the workings of Sarge’s boot-lacings; making from memory a very detailed pencil drawing of Karen’s still MIA cat on the inside of an empty paper flour bag: listening intently to two readings of The Stinky Cheese Man, and her very first lessons learning a simple waltz box step did Marianna reappear on the second floor.  After reluctantly following Lily up the stairs, with Sarge bringing up the rear to insure her compliance with upward motion, she demurely followed Ricardo around the table of dinner foods as he filled a plate for her. While still not quite her usual pleasantly friendly self with the other children, she did join their ranks on her own rust colored carpet sample to eat her dinner. After dinner she laid siege to a corner of the lilac wall with a pencil and a few crayons.

About an hour later, Marianna tossed her crayons and pencil into their designated boxes. She stood watching the various activities of the rest of the children for a few minutes then turned around and made tracks to where the adults were talking quietly and sipping small cups of strong coffee at the little card table. She patted her father’s hand until Ricardo slipped an arm around her for a hug and she deposited a quick peck on his check. Then she surprised everyone, especially Sarge, by silently demanding to sit in his lap under pretense of needing to yet again investigate the contents of his shirt pockets. Finding nothing of interest in either pocket, she simply sprawled out across his chest and promptly fell asleep.

As this was something none of his nephews or nieces had ever done with him, Sarge sat stock still at a complete loss regarding this novel experience. Looking at Ricardo for help, he found the older man trying not to laugh as he whispered, “Go with the flow, hombre. Don’t wake her. Por favor, whatever you do, do not wake her up.”

Seeing that Rosa and Lily were in agreement with Ricardo, Sarge slid a little further down on his chair in order to decrease the angle of his chest being used as a bed and to keep Marianna’s slight form from slipping off of him. There she stayed for nearly ten minutes until Ricardo was satisfied that she was indeed sleeping soundly enough that Sarge could get up without waking her and carry her to the small room she shared with Julianna. After Sarge carefully laid her down on the twin bed, he stood aside watching Ricardo remove her soft soled indoors shoes and socks, cover her first with a cotton thermal blanket then a thicker comforter.

Upon returning to the card table with a very relieved Ricardo, Sarge caught Lily looking at him in a manner he had no way to interpret since no woman had ever looked at him in such a way before. Nor could he recall seeing his mother or his sisters-in-laws ever sending such a look towards his father or brothers. Unsure of how to even question her about it, he simply sent her a silent ‘what’ look of his own, in case he’d done a boundary crossing without any clue of there even being a boundary to cross. He relaxed when she responded with a slight shake of her head and one of her winking  eye smiles. Taking this as an indication that he’d not committed some indiscretion that she’d inform him about later, he settled back into his prior conversation with Rosa about spices.

Later that night when they stood together at her apartment windows watching the moonlight flickering among the falling snowflakes, needing some reassurance, Sarge could not help but ask Lily if he’d done something out-of-order by letting little Marianna basically do as she pleased when she’d decided to use him as her mattress. Lily responded with a soft laugh. “No, you didn’t do anything wrong, Funny Man. You did just right. Marianna can be hard to handle on such days. You helped Ricardo and Rosa out a lot by giving her the kind of attention she needed today.”

Reading the compliment via her tone and words, Sarge barely managed a very quiet reply. “Any time. She’s a lot more fun than any of my brothers’ kids. She’s way smarter too.  That’s probably why she acts up like she does.”

“Probably.” Lily watched the snowflakes piling on top of one another. “Hey, are you up for a little soft shoe or some swing before we both hit the books again?”

“Definitely. It’s your turn to pick the music.” Sarge watched her reflection in the windows as she went to the record player on the table along the red velvet couch.

Lily picked a record from the cardboard box, put it on the player then held up the album cover and caught his reflection watching hers. Grinning, she waved her fingers.  “You ready for some Stomp time, Funny Man?”

“Absolutely, Lily.”

Unexpected Dance from Fanfan, Alexandre Jardin, 1993


Breakfast Special #1


Breakfast Special #33

Breakfast Special, #30, “Good Wifey Drops A Dot”

“Good Wifey Drops a Dot”

Dylan moved from room to room on the second floor taking an inventory of his grandchildren while they played after having their dinner before the adults sat down for their evening meal. If Nora had asked him what was on his mind, he’d have simply shrugged and taken himself downstairs without a word. He knew it didn’t make any sense, but it felt like, if he kept at it, he’d find Sarge among them, glaring up at him. Nor did he need a head doctor to tell him that his present desire to have his family all gathered under one roof was a direct result of his ongoing inability to find his eldest son and that his compulsion to literally keep the others close at hand reflected a deep fear of losing track of them as well. Hearing the stove timer ring signaling readiness for dinner he went downstairs.

As he took his seat he noticed that Nora was passing the serving platters even though Denise, Patrick’s wife, was not in her place. Catching Nora’s eye. he shrugged his question about her tolerating this break in her way of conducting dinner service. Nora nodded towards the kitchen. Denise was on the phone nodding along as she listened. Hoping she was getting a lead on Sarge, Dylan accepted the breach of meal protocol which usually demanded that everyone be seated before anything being served.  Finally Denise took her place.

“Sorry about that, Nora. But I just couldn’t get Suzy to let me off the phone or get a word in edgeways to tell her I’d call her back after dinner. She just wouldn’t stop talking once she got started.”

“Don’t worry about it, Denise.  It would have been rude to just hang up on her especially when she’s keeping an eye out for Sargent at St. Syms,” said Nora with a reassuring little smile.

“That’s how I figured it too. “

Unable to restrain himself any longer, Dylan spoke rougher than he intended. “So did she have any news worth sharing?”

Denise slumped a little in her chair. “Just that she did check with her friend at the temporary morgue set up at the high school.  That’s where they’ve been taking the bodies of the people being dug out of their homes and such. As she put it, there was no man there tall enough to be Sarge.”

“Oh that’s a relief,” said Nora as she chose a roll for herself and glanced at her husband.

“Is that all? What she did keep you on the phone for long then?” demanded Dylan.

Denise decided to bite the bullet and be done with it. “I made the mistake of getting her started talking about the National Guard being there at the hospital. Before I knew it, she got going good and strong about how things got even crazier than they already were the other day when some woman got into a fight with the Guards at the hospital.”

“Oh yeah?” Not ready to let Denise off the hook just yet, Dylan kept her from even looking at the food on the table by keeping her attention focused on himself. “So what was that about?”

An uncomfortable look settled on Denise’s face. “Are you sure you want to hear about that, Dyl? It’s a long story that has nothing to do with finding Sarge.”

Dylan nodded, partly out of boredom and partly to put Denise through another hoop as payback for not finding a polite way off the phone and calling Suzy back after dinner. “Why not? Dinner just started. Sounds like some off the cuff entertainment for the rest of us. So come on, what kept your ear glued to that phone for the past hour? Hmm? Share and share alike, Denise.”

Denise looked worriedly at Patrick who nodded for her to comply with Dylan no matter what the content of the story. He’d step up and run interference for her if his father didn’t like hearing what she had to say.  She toyed with her fork for a few seconds.  “Well, you asked for it. Just say when you’ve heard enough and I’ll stop talking.”

Dylan smiled and shook his head. “You haven’t started yet.” He passed the butter to Irene.

Denise pushed down her own discomfort regarding having to relate Suzy’s story which had taken up the bulk of the time she had spent on the phone with her. “Like I said earlier, a few days ago this woman came into St.Syms to pick up a ton of drugs for people from the Flats. Suzy said the nurses knew all about her coming for all this medication ahead of time because the doctors had been getting all sorts of calls from people who wouldn’t get their medication unless she came and got it for them.  Last thing anyone needed after that nursing home disaster was another bunch of diabetic shock emergencies or worse, so the doctors agreed to give the meds to this woman as long as she had written authority from all the people the prescriptions were for. That way they’d have a record of what went out the door with her. Anyway, she comes in and loads up some backpack with all this stuff. Suzy and another nurse check all the names and papers. Everything matches up. But when the woman tries to leave the hospital and go back to the Flats then the Guards say they can’t let her go there because there’s no road for them to drive her back.

That’s when things got crazy. This woman starts in on them being a bunch of idiots since she knew damn well-,” Denise looked around at everyone else at the table eating their food and listening to her talk.  “I’m toning this way down from what Suzy said. Anyway. She knew damn well that they’d watched her come down that damn hill to St. Syms wearing snowshoes and that’s how she was going back up that damn hill. She didn’t want any goddamn truck ride from them. She wouldn’t take it even if there was an open road.

Well, these three Guards weren’t going to take that kind of attitude from her and pretty soon they were all swearing up a storm and getting in each other’s faces.  The shit really hit the fan when one of the Guards called her a fucking squaw. Excuse me. But there’s just no way around that one. When that Guard said that, Suzy said the whole place went quiet for about a full minute. She could hear the clock on the wall at the triage desk ticking. Now the lobby and waiting room were full of people waiting to be seen. All sorts of folks were in there watching this woman go at it with these three armed Guards. Suzy said, after it all went quiet then suddenly everyone in there blew up at the Guards. She said there were old folks, some black guys, a bunch of white women with kids, even a couple of biker guys. They all tore into the Guards like there was no tomorrow until they had the Guards backed up to the entrance doors. Suzy said it was like a standoff for a time. Then one of the orderlies, some older big black guy, got between the people and the guards and yelled, ‘Lily goes where Lily wants to go. Either you let her out that door or you will have to deal with me and everyone else here. What are you going to do? Shoot us all? Well, then you better get to shootin’, assholes, because I’m going to open that door for Lily if it’s the last thing I ever do.”

About this time some priest from St. Teresa’s shows up and gets into the mix. He manages to get everyone calmed down somehow. Which Suzy says is no small feat because this Father Timothy can barely talk straight himself. All of a sudden the priest just walks out the door with this Lily and the Guards don’t try to stop either one of them. Suzy had a whole lot more to say about it. That’s what I’ve been listening to from her for the past hour.”

Patrick stared at his wife, shot a glance at Benj then asked, “Did Suzy say anything about what this Lily looked like?”

Denise shrugged. “All Suzy said was that she had snowshoes that looked really old. They weren’t like the ones the sports guys use. They were made out of some kind of wood. Oh, and she was wearing a Hudson Bay Blanket coat.”

Benj sat back in his chair and looked at his brother Patrick who looked back at him. Together they turned to look at Dylan. “You want to tell him or should I, Patrick?”

Dylan frowned. “Tell me what?”

“You can do the honors, Benj. I just put two and two together and I am not liking what I’m thinking.” He caught Denise’s eye and nodded to indicate his approval for her forbearance in dealing with his father.

“Alright already. Tell me what?” Dylan set down his fork and knife and leaned back in his chair with his hands resting on the table.

“Well, you know when we said Stan handed us a load of crap the other morning. I’m beginning to think maybe it wasn’t all bullshit after hearing this Suzy story. He did say that Sarge and a Lily who wears a Hudson Bay coat were both chowing down at the same time at Bob’s about a week before the snow hit. Now Stan made no claim for Sarge actually being hooked up with this crazy broad. What he did say was that Sarge hot footed it out of Bob’s right after she left and in her general direction. That’s all he had on Sarge and her. But you would not believe what he told us about this Lily. Patrick and I weren’t buying a word of it. But now I’m thinking that if this broad is crazy enough to get into it with three National Guards carrying guns, maybe she is crazy enough to get into it with Father Richard about Father John and some other priests. I’m thinking maybe Stan told us some truth while making it sound like shit.”

Staring at some invisible point on the table, Dylan slowly nodded. “Funny thing about all this is that I thought Sarge was handing Nora and me a load of bullshit too when he used this Lily character to get out of here the day after Nora’s birthday dinner. Maybe if we run this Lily down, maybe, just maybe she knows something about Sarge. Or maybe not. She does not sound like a dish he would eat. But it might be worth taking a serious shot at her. Just in case. What else did Stan say about her?”

Patrick laughed. “Said she eats like a pig”

Benj shook his head. “No. He said she eats like a starving pig.”

Patrick, “There’s a difference between how a pig and a starving pig eat?”

“Yeah, there is, jackass, the starving pig is way more hungry than a pig that ain’t starving. If it’s starving enough it gets crazy and eats anything and everything it can, even its piglets.”

“I stand corrected then.”

“Keeping all this in perspective, Stan did say that Sarge was checking this Lily out. And, she was checking him out. So maybe there is a whole lot Stan don’t know about after they both left Bob’s.

Dylan rubbed his forehead. “Could be. You mentioned Father Richard. What’s that all about? Maybe he can give us a lead on this Lily—if, as you say, Stan was telling some truth.”

Patrick looked at Nora then at Dylan. “You sure you want to hear this?”

“Would I ask if I didn’t, Patrick?”

“No. But, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to like it.”

“You don’t want to get in deep shit for telling me what I don’t like. I get it. Okay. Fair enough. With everyone here as my witness, I swear not to dump on the bearer of bad news—whatever it may be. Okay?”

Nora, “Dyl, I’m going to make you keep to what you just said. If you don’t, you’re going to be sleeping alone for a month. Are we clear?”

“Perfectly, Nora. Okay let it rip already.”



Breakfast Special #31



Ziyi Zhang – train station fight from The Grandmasters   upload by  bgblindninja


Eric Burdon – The Animals – “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” upload by TangerineSequel

Breakfast Special, #27, “Lily’s Coat”

Lily’s Coat

“Well, I’ll be damned. Hells’ bells! We’re not open for ten minutes and look who comes through Big Bob’s new door. Good to see you, Benj. You too, Patrick. How’s Nora? Your Dad? Everything good with the clan?” Stanley set up three cups of coffee, one for himself and the two men who were the first to come inside and currently the only people in Big Bob’s.

“Hey Stanley. You’re looking good.” Benj kicked the snow and rock salt from his shoes as he held the door open for Patrick doing the same behind him before crossing the threshold.

“What can we do for you two fine young fine men? Whatever you want. It’s on the house considering you’re the first folks back in here.” Stanley waved a hand indicating that the bar was empty of customers except for the two O’Mara brothers.

“Just a couple of coffees and sweet rolls,” said Patrick. He took a bar stool next to Benj and began toying with the salt and pepper shakers.

“Oh come on, you two can do better than that. You got a stomach bug or what? Huh?” Stanley poured steaming coffee into the cups.

“Nora stuffed us before we headed for Falls. Preventive breakfast I call it. In case we get stuck in a snow-bank along the way, at least we’ll be stuck with full stomachs.” Benj knocked shoulders with Patrick next to him as they laughed.

Stanley set two sweet rolls on plates for them. “That’s Nora alright. So what brings you two to our National Guard Disaster area?  Don’t you dare say it’s because you enjoy the scenery on the ride here. That would be a whole lot of snow-shit anyone can see anywhere.”

His fingers dancing around the rim of his coffee cup, Benj said, “Actually we came in thinking we might meet up with Sarge.”

“Well, he has not been here this morning. He usually comes around every so often after a shift for the breakfast special and a sweet roll. With the docks still closed, I wouldn’t expect him though.” Stanley nodded at the window view of the shoulder-high mounds of snow all along the street with only one lane cleared for traffic. “If Reggie Dawson hadn’t taken it into his head to clear the street that much on his own, I wouldn’t be open either.”

Patrick followed the direction of Stanley’s glance and nodded in understanding. “When was Sarge last in for a special?”

Stanley sipped his coffee. “Let’s see. Pretty sure it was the Friday of the week before the snow really became a bitch. Yep. It was. I remember now. He sat there right at the end. Came in at the end of us getting slammed. Had his usual over-easys.”

“He seem okay to you then?” Benj dipped his sweet roll into his coffee.

“Oh hell yeah. Right as rain. Had a book as usual. Gave me a little lip for fun.”

“You ain’t seen him since then?” said Patrick.

“No.” Stanley shook his head. “Last I saw of Sarge he was high-tailing it out the door in hot pursuit of Lily. Have no idea if he caught up with her, but he sure put a leg on after she left.”

Benj and Patrick looked at each other, then at Stanley. Patrick leaned over his coffee expectantly. “How long has Sarge been seeing this Lily?”

Stanley shrugged his shoulders. “Never saw them together before that Friday. All I can say is that he sat down next to her. They gave each other a little grief. She ate like a starving pig as usual. He ate. She left. He grabbed his sweet roll and left right after. What more can I tell you?”

Benj grinned. “So what do you know about this Lily? Besides she eats like a pig.”

Stanley shook his head. “Oh that Lily, she’s something else, Benj.”

“What? She like some hot to trot firecracker?”

“Hot to trot firecracker? Lily? Hell no, Patrick. Atomic bomb is more like it.”

Mistaking Stanley’s line of thinking, Benj and Patrick laughed with glee. “So she’s like, what, stacked to the max?”

“How’s her ass action? She got a cute little wiggle in her walk?” Patrick shook his sweet roll to illustrate this notion.

Stanley laughed. “I hate to disappoint you guys, but you got it all wrong.”

“Awww Stanley. You’re such a tease,” said Patrick before eating half his sweet roll.

“You’re just yanking our chains with the atomic bombshell bit?” Patrick slumped dejectedly on his stool for a few moments.

“No. I’m not. I meant it. Only not like you two are thinking.”

Patrick punched Benj in the shoulder while keeping eye contact with the barkeeper. “Okay. Okay. So how did you mean it, Stanley?”

“Wait a minute.” Stanley glanced at the door and out the window. “I don’t want to start something I can’t finish. Let me lock the door. Fifteen minutes more of being closed won’t hurt anyone.”

“What the hell, Stanley?” Benj swirled on the bar stool while watching Stanley lock the entrance door. “You got FBI secrets to share or what?”

Returning to his place behind the bar, Stanley got comfortable on a stool, topped off everyone’s coffee, then looked from Benj to Patrick. “Remember when the shit hit the fan big time at St. Luke’s Church in the Flats a couple of years back?”

“You mean all that about Father John being a pedophile?”

“That’s it, Benj. That’s what I’m thinking of.”

“Oh I remember that. That was one storm that just wouldn’t blow over. So what’s this Lily got to do with that?”

“So—Lily started that shit-storm and kept it blowing for as long as it did.”

“I don’t recall reading about any Lily in the papers.” Patrick shook his head as he wiped his hands on a napkin. “I think I’d remember if Father Joseph had said anything about a Lily during Sunday Mass when he talked about St.Luke’s and Father John.”

“That’s because Holy Mother Church didn’t want it getting out who was really calling the shots in the Flats. Church didn’t want anyone finding out about what Lily knew any more than necessary. Lily knew a hell of a lot about what Father John did, when, where, who and how many times. Last thing the Church wanted was some reporter getting in deep with Lily. And they sure as hell didn’t want their own giving anyone any ideas about chatting her up. The parents were another thing. The Holy Fathers couldn’t care less about how they were carrying on. They just came across as clowns in the papers and on television because of how they looked and talked. Church could deal with the parents. Or so it thought at the time.” Stanley drank his coffee and waited for a response from either of the two men.

“But this Lily could have just gone to the papers herself. Why didn’t she?”

Stanley grimaced. “Lily wasn’t interested in getting press. What she wanted was Father John out of the Flats and out of the priesthood. She wanted him listed as a sex offender with the police and that was just for starters. She wanted him prosecuted to the full extent of the law. On top of that she had other priest fish to fry. And they weren’t in Falls. Now the only reason I know this is because my cousin Pauline manages Father Richard’s office in M-. She’s been there for two decades. She types up all the top line letters herself to keep things quiet and contained. According to Pauline, Lily and Father Richard had a meeting in person, right there in Father Richard’s office for about an entire day.  Right after that, Father Richard got busy and put some serious hurt on a priest in Minnesota, another one in Texas, and one in Washington State. Pauline doesn’t know what happened after that because only those letters went out. Nothing came in reply. Nothing in writing anyway. Everything else Father Richard did was either on the phone or face to face behind closed doors.”

Patrick hunched his shoulders and leaned over his coffee. “You’re saying he didn’t want any records or a paper trail.”

“Exactly.”  Stanley topped off his own cup of coffee and then Benj and Patrick’s. “But that didn’t put an end to what was going on in the Flats. When Father Richard’s hands were tied by higher-ups in regard to Father John, it was Lily who organized those folks to drive Father John out of business and basically shut down St. Luke’s on their own. The Sunday donations stopped. The tithes stopped coming in. The people stopped coming to mass. There were even carpools for getting people who wanted mass over to St. Teresa’s or any other church. Till this day, if anyone wants to go to confession they go to St. Teresa’s. Baby needs a christening; it’s done at St. Teresa’s. Someone needs last rites; they get the priest from St. Teresa’s to the Flats for them.  All of that is still going on. There may be a priest in residence at St. Luke’s, but only God Almighty hears him say mass. That church is a tomb.”

“Ahh ha. And this Lily is behind all that?” Benj exchanged looks and shrugs with Patrick before they both turned doubtful eyes back on the older man.

“Obviously none of that would have happened if people hadn’t paid attention to her. But she’s the one who light their fuses. No doubt about it.” He watched the two brothers smirk while remaining good-naturedly attentive to him. Deciding to take advantage of their interest and the lack of anyone walking or driving down the one lane street, Stanley warmed further to his subject. “As if that wasn’t enough, after those people got a taste of what they could do, they started doing other things. They formed what they call the Neighborhood Watch out there. It’s got ex-gang bangers, retired cops, blue-collar guys, white-collar guys, blacks, whites, Hispanics, Indians, Asians, the whole nine yards. You name it, if it lives in the Flats; they got it in the Watch. Falls PD may ignore 911 calls from the Flats, but the Watch doesn’t.”

Benj stretched his arms and locked his hands behind his head. “How you know all this, Stanley? Is there a Flats newsletter going around or some such?”

“How do I know all this?” Stanley’s eyebrows arched high as he met Benj’s eyes. “I know all this because my sister’s daughter, Joyce, she’s a nurse at St.Syms, lives in the Flats. Joyce bought a house god awful cheap there some time back because she wanted something close to work. As Joyce tells it, Lily pulled all those people together when she went after Father John for those kids he was messing around with. She really put the hurt on St. Luke’s when she got up at some community meeting and made some speech about if people still wanted to go to church and listen to some priest tell them how to live their lives after what Father John had done to their children, then they needed to go find a good man, because that’s what makes a good priest. So some people started visiting the other churches to check out the priests.”

Patrick laughed. “That’s funny, Stanley. Sounds like she sent them shopping for a better deal.”

Pointing his cup at Patrick, Stanley nodded. “That’s about what it boiled down to, Patrick. Now, lots of folks had been dishing some priest at St. Teresa’s ever since he arrived because he stuttered so much. They didn’t like listening to him trying to talk right. You know how that goes, especially with the old timers who want everything just perfect. They figured the Church had given them a lemon priest. Some of the Flats people go to St. Teresa’s to check out this priest anyway. When they show up out of nowhere to have a little chat, he stops what he’s doing and gives them his undivided attention until they’re good and ready to say bye-bye. Those folks didn’t give a damn about his stuttering. They just wanted a priest who flew right and played by the rules. They wanted a good man.  Joyce said that when the people from the Flats showed up at St. Teresa’s for Sunday Mass for the first time it was like a people bomb had exploded. Church was packed from the first pew to the last and out the doors. Guess which priest was saying Mass that Sunday. After checking out all their options in Falls and M- and everywhere in between, they chose the lemon priest. Now every time the lemon priest says Sunday Mass, St. Teresa’s is stuffed to the gills. That priest doesn’t even have a chance to ask for help. Roof needs patching. It’s done. Window needs fixing. It’s done. His funny little scooter needs a repair. It’s done. St. Teresa’s food pantry needs filling. It’s filled. Why? Because when the people from the Flats call him, he answers without any bullshit.  And he doesn’t mess with their kids.” Stanley drank the rest of his coffee.   “Ever see a picture of an atomic bomb exploding?”

“With the mushroom cloud and all spreading out.” Benj illustrated with his hands. “Oh yeah.”

“Same thing with Lily.” The barkeeper spun his empty cup in its saucer. “When she delivers a payload there’s a big bang, mushroom cloud goes up and down. Ripples just keep on spreading out wider and wider.”

Scratching his head, Patrick sat up straight and frowned at his brother and Stanley. “This does not sound like a woman who’d be up Sarge’s alley.”

“Anything but. Way too labor intensive.”

“You fellas are probably right. You’re his brothers.” Seeing a certain sort of opportunity in the situation, Stanley decided to make the most of it. “But if you saw how they were checking each other out here at the counter, both of them being sly about it, you might be singing a different tune.”

Not at all buying Stanley’s line, Patrick said, “If Sarge was giving this Lily the once over, then she must have something to grab his eyes. What does she look like anyway, Stan?”

Benj backed up his older brother. “Come on Stan. Give us something besides a yarn about the freak show in the Flats.”

“Alright already. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you two are a couple of Peter Pan Pests today. Tell you what. Next time you see a Hudson Bay Blanket coat hoofing it in Falls, that’s Lily. “

“You got to be kidding. Oh Stan. I don’t know about Patrick, but you’re killing me with your bullshit. I’m thinking I’m going to take you up on that freebie breakfast just to make up for doing you the favor of listening to all this shit.”

“I’m serious. You want to know what Lily looks like and if she might trip Sarge’s trap, then go find the Hudson Bay Blanket coat. You do know what one of those looks like, don’t you?”

“What do you take us for? A couple of morons? We know what a Hudson Bay coat looks like. She can’t have the only one in Falls.”

“True. But she’s the only person I’ve seen in the last, what four or five years wearing one all winter long. If I see the coat on the street, I think, ‘there goes Lily.’ What do you know, every time I drive past that coat and see a face, it is Lily. Never yet have I been wrong about who is wearing that coat here in Falls. Not once. Okay. Now, let’s fire up the grill and have us all some eggs because I don’t think anyone else is coming through that new door until some more folks are dug out.”

Patrick and Benj banged their palms on the bar-counter in agreement. “Hell yeah, fill us up for the return trip with sunny-siders and some burnt pig, Stanley.”

After Patrick and Benj departed, Big Bob’s grill man, Murray, came out from behind the grill blind. Joining Stan in another cup of coffee at the empty counter he pulled apart a cinnamon roll and ate it piece by piece. “Stan, are you sure that was a good idea, telling those two about Lily and her coat? They might do that and give her grief she don’t need. ”

“Ah they’re harmless as far Lily is concerned. They won’t lay rough hands on a woman. A man, now that’s an entirely different story. They’ll fight any guy dumb enough to swing a dick in their direction. They don’t care who or how big in any sense of the word.  I think Sarge has given them the slip again and they’re trying to pick up his trail anyway they can. Telling them to look for Lily when who they really want to find is Sarge, is like sending them on a wild goose chase. If they’re looking for her coat, then they’re not looking for Sarge. And in my book, them not finding Sarge for as long as possible is a damn good thing all by itself.”

“No argument on that score from me. Why they don’t just let Sarge do his own thing is beyond me.”

“It’s all about control, Murray. All about control. I’ve known Dylan and Nora for years. They always held their boys pretty damn tight when they were just kids. Now they hold the boys and their families tight too. Seems like they all want it that way. Except for Sarge who has been fighting that tight hold ever since he was a little kid. Unlike his brothers, Sarge was born with a mind of his own. That’s why Sarge and crazy Kozy get along so well.”

“Stan was that legit what you told them about Lily and Father Richard or were you just blowin’ smoke up their asses?

“Oh it’s legit all right. I could tell by the looks on their faces they weren’t buying one word of it even though I was telling them the gospel truth according to Pauline. I figure, hey, truth is stranger than fiction. My conscience is clear. I didn’t lie to them. They think I did though. So they won’t be wasting any time sharing that story. They forgot it before they even went out our new door.” Stanley looked at Murray. “Probably best you forget it too.”

Murray popped the last of the cinnamon roll into his mouth. “What? You say something Stanley?”


Breakfast Special, #28, Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 1, Les Mis:


Breakfast Special, #28, Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 2, Stealth:


Breakfast Special #28,  Fair Trade Creed Reads, part 3, Two Guys On a Roof:

Breakfast Special, #24, “Seeking and What Do Ye Find”

Seeking and What Do Ye Find

Keeping a close lid on himself, even though he’d reached his internal boiling point the previous night when he was certain Kozy had picked up his phone only to hang up immediately without saying a word five times in a row, Dylan stood waiting in the kitchen for his daughters-in-law to clear all the grandchildren to the upstairs rooms. He wanted no distraction of any kind during the first family meeting finally possible via semi-cleared roads in M- and a break in the extreme weather conditions. Not until Nora assured him that everything and everyone was in order, did Dylan walk into the living room where his sons, sans one, and their wives ceased talking among themselves when he stood in the center of the room. He nodded at Nora where she sat on her usual chair a little outside the group with her pad of paper and pen. After making direct eye contact with each of the ten people seated around the spacious room, he spoke in a calm, low-key tone which gave barely any hint of just how tightly stretched were his nerves.

“Okay we all know it’s now almost three weeks since any of us have seen Sarge or talked to him on the phone. In the usual scheme of things this would not be any cause for concern. We all know he can sulk and dish the silent treatment for a solid month when he gets pissy. But, considering the ongoing extreme weather conditions and the resulting havoc, of which we all are very well aware of, I do not care for the fact that he has not made contact with me, Nora, or any of you.” Dylan paused for effect and with a faint hope that someone in the room might contradict the fact by volunteering information that Sarge had left a phone message elsewhere. No one said a word and he resumed his speech. “Nearly twelve feet of snow has hit Falls. That’s twice as much as M- and we all know what that’s been like. After a curtsey drive-by from the Falls PD at three seventeen am this morning, which was no easy thing to get under the circumstances, they and I are damn sure Sarge is not in that construction site he calls home.” At this point he nearly launched into a rant regarding the lack of simple phone curtsey one would expect even from the likes of Walter Kozy all things weather considered. Nora’s knowing stare dissuaded him from such venting which would have set off all the usual arguing about how to deal with the man’s continued presence in their missing son’s life.

Dylan tightened the lid on his temper and pushed his anger with Kozy aside. “Bottom line, I want to know where in hell my eldest son is and, why, if he’s not lying on a cold hard slab in some morgue, or under a snowdrift, he has not called to say he’s still among the living. We tried to file a missing person report this morning over the phone. Per the ongoing chaotic state of affairs in Falls, I suspect that’s not going to get any traction any time soon. Therefore, we need to track him down any way possible. Certain business decisions need to be made soon, as all of you are well aware. If something serious has happened to Sarge, we need to know and make adjustments accordingly.” He looked around at the nods and expressions of assent from his sons and their wives. “I said my piece. Let’s get to it. Who knows what so far? Let’s start with Denise and go around the room in order.” Dylan stepped out of the middle of the room to lean his back against the doorway leading to the stairs. He gestured with one hand for the buxom, dark-haired Denise to start any time she was ready.

Denise glanced at her husband, Patrick, then shyly looked around at everyone else as she delivered her report on the task she’d been given over the phone earlier in the week. “Suzy, the nurse who works at St. Sym’s hospital, finally called this morning. She’s been living at St. Sym’s all week.  She ran a full patient ID check and did a bed check of the John Doe in ICU. He’s not Sarge. She’s been talking to the EMTs and they haven’t seen anyone who fits his description. She also put the word out in the ER that if anyone even remotely fitting his description shows up there that they should notify her first thing. That’s it for me.” She turned her baby blue eyes to Mark signaling the change of attention to him.

Mark, knowing how uncomfortable Denise was about being the center of attention even among family gave her a reassuring smile and rubbed her knees fully aware that his brother Patrick did not appreciate his efforts. Locking his hands behind his head, Mark stretched out his long legs and leaned back in his chair. “After getting the usual run around, I finally got a hold of that tight-lipped Oscar in the freight office. Obviously the docks are still shut down. But the Swede did tell me that Sarge worked a hard double last time he was on the docks. He came in Thursday for the graveyard shift and then stayed to work another full eight hours right after that on Friday. Old Oscakee says he hasn’t seen or heard from Sarge since he clocked out. But that goes for everyone since they closed the docks that Saturday morning so it doesn’t mean much.” He caught Nora’s pen waving for his attention and leaned forward to make eye contact with her. “Yeah, Mom?”

“Did Oscar say why Sargent pulled that hard double?” Pen pressed against her lips, Nora waited,  hoping for some useful tidbit of information.

Mark shook his head: “I did indeed ask the Swede if he knew, but he just said that Sarge wanted Friday night free. Obviously. Oscar claims he doesn’t know what plans he had. Anyone hear from the ladies if he had a hot date?” Mark looked around the room for any responses to his request. When there were none, he shrugged and playfully punched Benj’s wife Sharon in the shoulder. “Tag, you’re it, foxy lady.”

“You’re shameless, Mark. I don’t know how Molly puts up with your constant flirting.” Sharon shook her head of brassy brown locks at him.

“Hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do to keep his groove on.” He smiled at Molly who was grinning at him from the other side of the room.

Sharon sighed and pushed Mark’s hand off her knee. “As for the ladies, not a peep out of any of them yet as far as Sarge goes. No calls. No unexpected visits. Zilch. Not a whiff of him. The phone chain is still moving along though. Kim and Lisa called just to let me know it reached them. But neither of them have seen or heard from Sarge in over a year as best they can figure; which, in a sense, is very good because it means he’s staying away from them. I guarantee that if he’d even randomly wandered to someone else’s door to get out of the storms and holed up with them, I’d have heard about it by now.”

Dylan rapped his knuckles on the wall he was still leaning against to draw Sharon’s attention. “He hasn’t made any more phone calls to either of them?”

Sharon vigorously shook her head of brassy brown locks. “Noooo. They both swear he’s been silent on that count. No one else has reported any others since he pulled that stunt.” To show she was finished, she simply turned and looked at James who looked as if he wanted to ask her something but declined to do so.

James sat leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “So far I’m dead in the water with his poker jokers. No Sarge at anyone’s tables in nearly a year. About the same amount of time MIA as Lisa and Kim reported. I’m wondering if there’s some connection between his lack of card play and the lack of lady play. It’s not just the games he’s not been coming around for either. He’s not hanging with any of them for beers and shooting the breeze. A couple of guys have called in his direction, but Sarge hasn’t done more than pick the phone up for a fast hi-and-go-fuck-yourself-I-have-to-run chat. To me, he’s looking pretty consistent on all counts with his anti-social bullshit.”

“I can’t say you haven’t got a point, James.” Nora looked around the room. “No cards and no girls for about the same amount of time. I can’t believe we didn’t pick up on this sooner. But let’s keep going. Benj, it’s your turn.”

Benj looked directly at Dylan and no one else as he spoke.  “I’ve been seriously trying to raise Stanley on the horn, but so far no luck. His line is still out of service. I’ve tried calling around to his buds, but either hit the same no phone service problem or they don’t live close enough to  him for direct contact. I figure my best bet is to run him down in person as soon as there’s a road to Falls open to traffic. If nothing else, I will do what I can to get close enough to walk to the tavern and leave a note there asking him to call you, me or anyone of us. I’m all set with Mickey to take the truck ASAP even if there’s no delivery anywhere in Falls.” Not until Dylan nodded his acceptance of Benj’s plans did he break eye contact with his father.

After winking at Benj, Connie tossed her blonde curls and smiled at everyone. “Let me tell you, it’s not easy getting priests on the phone even when you’re looking for a missing person. But after much haggling with the nuns and lay women running interference for them as usual, I’ve spoken personally with all the priests in M- even the ones at St. Paul’s, including that louse, Father Joseph. Get a load of this, none of them has recently seen Sarge at any mass, Sunday, Saturday, morning or evening. Actually, believe it or not, not a single one of them has set eyes on his mug for over a year. Another thing, he ain’t been to confession either. So, if he’s keeping on the straight and narrow, I don’t know where he’s been doing it–yet. I’ve got calls out to folks in Falls in case he’s been stepping in for Sunday rituals in that neck of the woods. But as of this morning, no one has called to say they’ve seen him even before the snow hit. Put this with the rest of his no-show action, and folks, I think we’ve got a very serious Sarge issue here.”

“Issue or not, we’ve got to find him first of all. Thanks for taking that job, Connie. I know that wasn’t easy going.” Nora smiled at her daughter-in-law who basked in her approval for a few moments before nudging Patrick to speak in turn.

Patrick ran his fingers through his wavy brown hair as he began. “No news on the police scanners of any use. Ricky hasn’t caught anything out of the Fire Department or the PD that might even remotely involve Sarge. Which, in a way, is good news; at least he hasn’t been head banging any walls. But, if he had, then we could draw a bead on him for a place and time. I’ve left word with every PD incoming desk to call here or my number if anything about Sarge comes their way. I made it very clear that as far as we’re concerned, he’s a missing person and that’s the only reason we’re reaching out for some extra eyes on the ground. All in all it went pretty well. At this point we’re doing the same thing that a lot of other people are doing regarding relatives who’ve been out of contact for too long and the officers I spoke with understood that.”

Dylan nodded and said, “Those Dago town cops agree to co-operate too, Patrick?”.

“Oh hell, Dad, who knows for sure? Saying they’ll keep an eye out for Sarge is the most I got from that part of town. I figured that was damned good all things considered. Ever since that weird nasty street war of theirs that everyone denies ever happening a couple of years back, those Dagoes on all sides blow smoke cover for Sarge like he’s one of their f’n own by birth. When you think about it, if he’s decided to have a pissy fit and drop out of sight because of the shave Mom gave him, then Dago town is at the very top of the list of places where he could disappear right under our noses. As a matter of fact, Molly and I were discussing that possibility earlier. Right, Molly?”

Molly nodded, “Oh yes we were indeed. I think this is something we should seriously hash out after we finish this go round. Irene is waiting so patiently.”

Irene sighed and looked from Dylan to Nora and then at everyone else.. “You sure got that right, Molly. I have been very patient indeed. Oh have I ever. If being patient regarding Sarge was profitable, I’d be rich as Roosevelt and then some.” She waved a hand as if to clear the air. “But let’s save that for later too. Anyway, Debbie kindly called to say she remembered Sarge asking if she knew anything about a play with a fox. She saw an ad in the paper about it being rescheduled because of the weather. But she was sure he didn’t say he was going to see it or anything else. Probably just more of the same bullshit he was pulling on her anyway. Otherwise, considering his long list of no shows at any family gatherings, well, I did not see any point in  bothering anyone since before the start of this loser streak of his with the girls.” Irene paused, took a breath and then made no effort to hide her frustration when she continued her report. “In point of fact, according to my best reckoning, Sarge may have stepped out with the last few ladies, but I suspect he hasn’t been between the sheets with any one of them in at least a year. Maybe longer. Don’t look at me like that, Patrick. Everyone here knows he’s been off the lady game for quite some time now. I’m just stating the facts as I’m seeing them.” Noting that even Nora and Dylan were keeping their thoughts to themselves, Irene leaned back in her chair satisfied at finally having gotten everyone on the same page as herself. She slid her eyes towards Frances and nodded to convey that she had no more to say at the moment.

Keeping his eyes on his slim blonde wife for several long moments while considering the reasons for her frustration, Francis hesitated before speaking. “I’m still working my way through the yellow pages for the all the bookstores in Falls and M- both. Those people are in their own little worlds. I figured it was worth expanding the range of this fishing expedition in case Sarge holed up some place new when the weather hit. No joy so far though. Only the guy who answered the phone at Maniac Max’s, has seen him recently. That was the day after Nora’s birthday. So Sarge made a pit stop there before catching the bus back to Falls. All the guy on the phone would tell me is that Sarge bought a book. I got the feeling it might not have been Max on the phone. Whoever it was, they wouldn’t say anything else.  I left messages on the machines for the public libraries in Falls and M-. They’re still closed for now. Same for the college library in Falls and the uni one in M-. I will follow-up as soon as their doors are open for business again. He can kick his smoking habit, but he’s too hardcore a book junkie to not feed his reading need for long. Eventually he’ll have to put in an appearance somewhere for a fix. That’s assuming he is able to walk and talk under his own power.”

“I get the feeling you’re holding something back, big boy. Shall I do my thing or wait?” said Molly.

Francis shook his head. “I’m good for now, Molly. Floor is all yours, darlin’.”

Molly stretched her arms overhead briefly then looked from Dylan to Nora before speaking.   “Okay, aside from Big Bob’s in Falls, Sarge has not been making the chow rounds anywhere we’ve got eyes and ears in-house. He’s been a no-show everywhere in M- long since before the snow. Bob’s and Stan are all Benj’s so I let that be for him to handle. As for the bigger picture,” Molly made a point of staring at Dylan for a few seconds, “there’s that real dive in Dago town he grabs pies at fairly often. But talking to those folks goes nowhere. Unless you’re ordering pizza, they forget any English they ever knew.  It’s like they all just got off the boat and unless someone puts a gun to their heads to force them to learn English, there’s no way in hell they’re going speak anything but their mother tongue. To be honest, I don’t think even then would those Dagoes say so much as hello in English. They’re so full of national pride that you’ve got to walk between Italian flags just to get in the place. The walls are covered with snapshots and magazine photos of everything from the Vatican to Sicily. So, sorry, but I found no joy there beyond the damn pizza I carried out for the kids.  He’s been spotted catching a meal here and there, but with no routine that I can make heads or tails of. Other than Big Bob’s he is not a regularly scheduled customer anywhere anymore.” She crossed her legs and rubbed her shoulders against the back of her chair. “Sarge not keeping to his meal routine is not good for us keeping track of him.

Molly tossed her hair and looked straight at Dylan.  “Before we open this up for discussion, there’s something I think needs to be said outright. I know you don’t like hearing us even whisper about it, Dylan, but let’s face it, Sarge has taken full advantage of your personal feud with Tony and all his Dago buddies. In turn, Tony and friends, for whatever their reasons, seem to get off on keeping Sarge off track and out of sight whenever he takes a notion to become the invisible man as far as we’re concerned. Sure it’s one way of Tony needling you just for old time’s sake. But the fact of the matter, pure and simple, is that Sarge being able to go AWOL whenever he pleases has created a serious business problem. Him not knowing this makes no difference to our bottom line. It’s time that either we bring him into the loop and he gets with the program or we cut him loose and be done with all this bullshit and move on.”

Dylan walked across the room and stood a few feet away from Molly. “Whom do you suggest to take his place for the long haul, Molly?” He looked at Mark. “Is this a power play of yours? Is it, Mark? Seeing him shake his head, Dylan nodded. “Now you listen and listen good, Miss Molly. Leave the business of dealing with Sarge out of the loop to me and Nora.” He stepped closer to her. “Don’t even think about enlightening him in order to bring him into the fold. You may think that would make everyone’s life a lot easier. But Molly, if there’s one thing I know about my eldest son, it’s this:  if he knew the loop, he’d make life a total bitch for each and everyone one of us just because he could. So don’t get any bright ideas about forming a better working relationship with Sarge by dealing with him on the up and up.  That’s not possible with him.”

“Then what are we going to do about him?” Refusing to be intimidated, Molly glared at her father-in-law.

Dylan moved in close and leaned down to put his hands on the arms of Molly’s chair. “The ‘we’ you’re referring to will do absolutely nothing. The only ‘we’ that will address the problem is me and Nora. I suggest you have a little chat with Mark about that on your own time.” Dylan stood up and looked at Mark. “If anyone else is operating under the delusion that putting Sarge in the loop in order to save time and energy is a good idea, well, consider that notion kicked in the ass and straight out the door right now.”

Looking at each face in turn, Nora took note that except for the painfully shy Denise, her daughters-in-law were doing their level best to keep their eyes on Dylan as he returned to the edge of the living room. While Molly was clearly subdued she was obviously seething. Mark appeared none too pleased with his wife. Her other sons seemed to be in concert as usual and yet there was something Nora couldn’t quite put her finger on regarding the group at large. She narrowed in on Irene and Molly and decided some serious one on one quality time with each was in order. Taking matters into her own hands, Nora stood up. “Molly, Irene, with me now.” Without a backward glance, Nora strode off to the kitchen. The two younger women followed her, careful to not exchange a word or glance between themselves.

It was not lost upon Dylan that all five of his sons’ eyes were on the close weave burgundy carpet as the three women exited the room. “What’s not on the agenda that needs discussing right now? Out with it anyone.” He watched the five men exchange glances and shrugs until Patrick spoke on behalf of the group.

“Don’t get pissed, Dad. We all know that when Sarge does what’s wanted, it’s all cherry. That’s not an issue. No one really wants him in the loop, primarily because Sarge is Sarge.  Problem is that the guy who’s been standing in for him the last six months or so, well, I’ll put it this way, he’s got some bad habits. Messy bad habits.” Patrick stared at Dylan and waited for a response.

“He’s getting the job done, isn’t he?”

Patrick nodded. “Yeah, but, he’s just not good for business in the long run.”

“You don’t like this guy, then find your goddamned brother and do whatever it takes to get him back on our track. Send him on a little vacation with the hottest little bitch you can find to Hawaii or Tahiti if you think that’ll do the trick. I don’t care. If you want a change in the line-up then make it happen. I did my part. I found the best deal on the market to bridge the gap.”

The brothers looked at each other and then all at Dylan as if on cue. Again Patrick spoke for them. “’Whatever it takes.’ So be it. Now please go pull Mom off of Irene and Molly.”

Dylan waved a finger indicating no.


Breakfast Special #25

Breakfast Special, #23, “Why Sarge Throws Freight”

“water lilies” @ yesbut
**for more lovely of “yesbut’s images”~~>


Why Sarge Throws Freight

Once Lily was into her second bowl of chicken soup it was clear she’d shaken off the silly willies. Watching her regain her balance as she ate, Sarge held back from asking her what she’d learned on her venture to St. Syms hospital. She surprised him by opening up the conversation herself. “I didn’t mention this to the others because just telling them about the National Guard seemed more than enough to scare them. The reason St.Syms was so crazy is that they were dealing with a lot of people from the nursing home. The roof collapsed there some time this morning. It was really ugly in the hospital. Not enough beds, not enough nurses. Hardly any doctors because so many live in M- and can’t get here. They want to take people out by helicopters to other hospitals, but they’ve got all sorts of problems with that too.” She drank down half of her soup and gasped in relief. “You have no idea how much I needed that. Thanks for having it warmed up, Sarge.”

“No problem. All I had to do was turn on the heat when I saw you coming back.” He handed her the thick piece of bread he’d just smeared several tablespoons of butter over. “What else did you learn? Don’t worry about scaring me. I can take the bad news like a wolf man.”

“I have no doubt.” Lily took as big a bite out of the buttered rye bread as her mouth could handle. While chewing it she considered which information was worth sharing at the moment. A grand ranting about the National Guards was very appealing , but still fresh in her mind were the frightened reactions of JJ and her med crew to just learning of their presence at the hospital.  She decided to stick to sharing basic information. “Okay. Here goes: National Guard is still trying to get some main roads open and the train tracks cleared. Over half the city is without electricity. Mother Nature gifted us with about twelve feet of snow, more in some areas. So, it could be worse here. There was a massive water main break on the south side that hasn’t been reported on the news. I don’t even want to think what that’s like for the people who live there. I saw several buildings with caved in roofs along the hill road that drops down to St. Syms. Basically, it sounds to me like Falls is a total disaster area right now.” She held up a finger indicating a need for a short pause then drank the rest of the soup broth straight from her bowl to wash down the bread.

“More bread?” Sarge pointed to the slices of rye with the butter knife.

“Not yet. Thanks.” Lily  shook her head then resumed her report. ” Oh and I heard about this from the people in the ER waiting room.  Apparently when part of Main Street was opened just enough for people to get to that large grocery store where Main intersects with 7th Street, you know which one I mean–the one with the funny chicken sign?” She waited for Sarge to respond before continuing.

“Chicken sign?” Sarge thought for a moment. “You mean the store with the little fried chicken carry out place to the right as soon as you walk inside?”

“That’s the one.  They opened up for business when the street was plowed.  Their entire food stock was cleared out in a couple of hours. Nothing else has been delivered yet and no other store has been able to open up so far. So food is another issue for a lot of people in Falls.  I am so glad Esther made sure all of ‘sun rise’s’ pantries were stuffed to the max before this wave of storms hit. Otherwise, a lot of folks here in the Flats would be in a world of hurt. When I told her that today, she said she was just paying attention to what she heard her bones whispering to her. But she was pleased to know someone had noticed what she’d done and how important it has turned out to be. Beans, rice and canned goods aren’t fancy food but it is food. Not everyone thinks like Ricardo and I do about laying in a deep food cache for winter ahead of time.”

Sarge laughed. “No, most folks certainly do not.” He glanced at her huge fridge with the freeze that comprised half its size. “But after this winter I bet a lot more people will be. I don’t even want to think what you’d be like without breakfast every morning.”

“Oh I’m fine until I get a whiff of pancakes.”

“Or eggs and toast.”

“Yeah. I just get a little focused on eating breakfast, that’s all.  It’s like a wake up, fuel me up kind of thing.”

“Huh, huh. Right. Food fuel for the day. Okay.”

“Anyway, that’s my state of Falls report. How about you? How did the snow clearing crews do today? Any more roof jumping contests? Hmm? Have some folks learned their lessons about flying between buildings?”

His face flushing, Sarge smiled with embarrassment. “Hey, we just need better traction for getting up to speed before taking the leap. Some decent sun on those roofs to cut down the slick factor and we’re in business.”

“Sun comes out enough to dry those roofs and there won’t be as much snow to break your falls either.  You and Little George better factor that into your traction action plans.” She leaned her elbows on the table and held her chin in her hands. “So did the crews get to all the worst places?”

“Yes, we did. Everyone’s feeling it too. We need some more muscle to keep going at the same rate. Especially if more heavy snow falls. It would be good to rotate people on and off for shifts and days.  But today it went pretty good, all things considered. No cave-ins yet.  From the sound of things on the news and what you said, I think it’s pretty unlikely any help would be coming fast if something collapsed in the Flats. I don’t even want to think about that scenario in some of those buildings up where Percy Two lives. There are just too many people living in too little space that wasn’t safe to begin with.  Someone has been making big bucks off of bribes to look the other way on some deadly serious structural code violations. Even in good weather conditions, those apartments are health hazards. From what I’ve seen, Rosa picked the best house possible to buy. It’s got the usual problems for any building its age, but nothing that can’t be fixed. And it is safe to live in. Ricardo has done a great job with the electrical wiring. That’s major plus right there. There are very few others I can say the same thing about.”

Lily sat back in her chair and considered what she wanted to ask Sarge and how to ask in a way that wouldn’t offend him.  She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and decided to go for broke. “You talk with a lot of confidence about these buildings and codes for a guy who throws freight for a living. Why is that, Sarge?”

Lacking a cigarette to occupy his hands, Sarge put his soup spoon into motion and wondered how in hell, Lily had managed to target one of his own mental minefields. He played with the spoon so long without speaking that Lily began to doubt he’d answer. Then he coughed and raised his eyes to stare at her across the table. “Lily, please remember that you asked the question that I’m going to try to answer in at least a halfway meaningful manner. I’m thinking you have a good reason for wanting an answer. So here goes.”

His left hand began pushing his unruly hair away from his face while his right kept the spoon moving. “I throw freight because it pays well enough to save up some serious cash. I throw freight here in Falls because it’s one of the few businesses between Falls and M- and the surrounding areas that allows me to be completely out from under my father’s rather large thumb. The guy who owns the docks in Falls, Oscar, has no love for my dear old dad. So I work for someone who doesn’t play a certain sort of ball. That is very good for my personal agendas.” Sarge broke eye contact with Lily and watched the spoon fly over, under and between his fingers until he resumed talking.

“In keeping with the whole freight motif; I throw freight where I do and why I do because when I was seventeen I got myself into a world of trouble with my dad and a hell of a lot of other people in the construction business. You see, my dad had, f’ that, he still has, his own agenda regarding making me in his own image so that I can pick up exactly where he ends and keep certain balls in motion. With that in his mind, when I turned sixteen he took  me out of school in order for me to do a lot of apprentice work for everything – carpentery, plumbing, electrical, cement,–you name it, I learned it. I wasn’t thrilled about leaving school because I had my own ideas about my life. But at the time it seemed like there was no choice except to lay low, do what the old man wanted, then duck and run first chance I could when I turned eighteen. Feel like you’re getting a whole lot more than you asked for, Lily?”

She shook her head as she sat twirling her long braid while listening to his reply. “Nope. I think I’m getting about exactly what I asked for, Sarge. Go on, my ears are wide open and receiving.”

“Okay then, the Lady wants the drama to continue. And so it shall.” He briefly looked out the kitchen window at the falling snow. “I decided that I may as well spend the next two years learning and doing everything just as best as I could. Because I’m a dumbass kid who thinks if I do everything right by the book, I’ll at least be creating the impression that I’m going to toe the old man’s line. Here’s where some solid irony starts creeping into my little drama. I’m putting in my time on a building project in M- down near City Hall and I, thinking this was a good way to show I was keeping my nose to the grindstone, start checking the building specs against the code books. At first I’m doubting my own ability to add two and two. Then I realize this is not so. I can add just fine. And multiply and divide too. Hot damn, who knew? I take it into my head that the guy running this building project needs to know what I’ve discovered about the building specs being so far off target that they wouldn’t slide right if Noah’s flood fell on them.”

Sarge met Lily’s eyes and kept eye contact as he spoke.  “So I go to do my good deed. The guy lets me say my piece and even show him on the blueprints what’s going on. I mean, he let me just go on and on for about an hour until I’ve dumped my entire load. He tells me to call my dad and tell him to come down. I do. Dad arrives and they have a little discussion by themselves. Fifteen minutes later I’m taking the worst f’n beat down of my entire life basically because I had no damn right to stick my nose where it did not belong. Now, I’m downright confused out of my mind at that point. I’m so confused I start fighting back like there’s no tomorrow. We wind up dishing it out to each other right in front of an entire construction crew. To make matters worse, I’m not just using my fists, my mouth is running at top speed about the whole f’n business. And I’m running it very loud and very clear so that about a hundred guys hear every word and there is nothing to second guess.”

Watching his facial expressions subtly change with the content of his speech, Lily sensed her home people vibes murmuring soft and low, edging into her awareness yet not distracting her attention from the man sitting across from her.  Focusing on hearing both, she slowly began undoing her braid while refraining from commenting on what Sarge was telling her.

Without looking at it, he balanced the spoon on the back of his fingers for a few moments before sending it back into motion.  “Physically, we pretty much fought to a draw—as in we were both able to get up and walk away from each other. I took my ass home, grabbed a wad of cash from my mother’s purse, packed a change of clothes and bought a bus ticket for a trip around the entire f’n country. Three days later some state troopers stop the bus, escort me off and haul my ass back home. My mother made dad make nice nice to me. That included an extensive explanation of exactly what I’d done to deserve the beat down he tried to serve me. It also included why, if I wanted to live another day, I’d never do anything like it ever again because, even if he died that minute, when I’d run my mouth, word had spread like lightning to parts I don’t even want to think about right now, and I’d have to deal with someone else stepping in to put me in my place in a  much more permanent fashion.” He laid the spoon down on the table. “As Anton likes to say, do you read me, Lily?”

“Yes, Sarge, I read you.” Lily nodded, tossed her now loose hair over her shoulder then reached for the last piece of rye bread.  She buttered the heel crust of the rye bread, cut it in half and offered half to Sarge who, sensing she was communicating something more than sharing the last of the loaf of rye bread, but which at the moment he had no idea about, accepted and ate. She chewed and swallowed her piece while looking straight at the man across from her as he ate his share. “Sarge, I could ask a lot of questions about what you’ve just told me. But I’m not going to right now.  Is that okay with you?”

Sarge shrugged and picked up the spoon again. “Suit yourself, Lily. Ask or don’t ask. It’s just my damn insane personal family drama. Nothing earth-shaking about it. It’s been played out ever since the dawn of human time.”

“I don’t think you understand why I’m not going to ask my questions straight off. I can see just how stressful the whole situation was, and still is,  just by watching your face while you talk.  You need a rest from it, Sarge. From just even thinking about it.” Lily glanced at the spoon now motionless between his thumb and index finger. She pushed her hair behind her ears and leaned forward. “Let’s have some fun.”


“Yeah, fun. What would you like to do for fun?” She waved a finger at him. “Don’t even think of saying ‘sex.’ We’re not ready for that yet. Come up with something else. How about something you really enjoy, but haven’t done for a long time.”

“Oh, well that would definitely be sex.” He laughed and caught the soup spoon she threw at him. “Okay. Okay. I just couldn’t resist after you brought it up.” Setting the spoons down, he cocked his head to one side. “How about we see if there’s any music on your little radio that’s good for dancing?”

“Dancing? You want to dance?”

“Yeah, I want to dance. The other night at the potluck I was going nuts with all that good music and no room to dance. How’s that for fun?”

A smile spread across Lily’s face. “I can do way better than the radio. Well, maybe I can. It depends on what kind of music you want to dance to.”

“Any kind.”

“You’re just being cagey.” Lily went out into the hall and into the storage closet where they’d put her snowshoes earlier. Following her, Sarge stood in the entrance doorway waiting for her to emerge from the closet. First she came out with an old square record turntable in its own box. She handed it to him then returned to the closet for a box of LP records. Holding the box against her chest she looked up at him with an excited gleam in her eyes. “Do you like to swing, Sarge? Hmm? How about some jazz steps? A waltz maybe?”

Curious, he started looking through the records in the box, grinned sheepishly then took it from her. “I have the feeling it’s a very good thing that we’re on the first floor, Lily.”

“Really? Let’s get the couch out-of-the-way and see what your feet can do.”

Picking what music to play first took less time than moving the couch and table against the far wall. Barely halfway through the first track on the Benny Goodman album they cleared the rugs from the floor. When the first side ended they threw themselves onto the couch laughing about their efforts. “Oh that was so bad and yet so felt so good. Oh hell. I think my right foot has defected to the left.”

“Oh you’ve got commie feet, eh? I knew there was something red about you. Now I know it’s your feet.” Leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, Sarge took a few deep breaths. “Damn, this is more work than shoveling snow off roofs. That’s not right.”

“Just one commie foot. Oh I think we both need to wait a bit before we do another round. Let’s do something that doesn’t require two coordinated feet. I see that grin. Don’t even say that word in jest or I’ll dance all over your shins again.”

“Let’s kill two birds with one stone.”

“Um okay. Which birds are you thinking of killing?”

“Bread, Lily. Let’s make more bread. The rye is all gone. It’s something I’ve never done.”

“Bread? You want to make bread? Hell, why not. What kind do you want to make?”

“I have choices?”

“Yes. You have choices, funny man. Come on, the recipe box is in the kitchen.”

Sarge looked at the record player. “We need music to bake by. How about some jazz?”

“I think there’s some Miles Davis towards the back of the box.”

“Yes, indeed there is. Oh yeah.  Kind of Blue.” Sarge exchanged the records, started the music and awkwardly soft shuffled his way into the kitchen.

The first loaf of cinnamon raisin bread was cooling by 7 pm. While they danced through side two of Kind of Blue another loaf of rye was rising. Around 9 pm they’d finally found their grove with the music. At 10:30 they raided the freezer in the front room for Rosa’s flour supply. Sarge found a kneading beat he liked while they listened to Jelly Roll Morton. At 12:45 am they attempted a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers style dance routine in the hallway. That brought a curious Rosa and Ricardo to the second floor landing for a few minutes where they wondered about the flour dusting the floor, walls and ceiling then decided not to venture further downstairs. By 2 am the honey wheat bread was going into the oven. It was around 2:37 am when they managed a halfway respectable waltz. At 3:47 am they abandoned the mess in the kitchen, waved good night to the record player, slid under the down quilt and fell asleep talking about how Fred Astaire appeared to dance up walls and on a ceiling in an old movie they’d both seen but which neither could name.

By 10:10 am they were picking up where they’d left off, alternating making breads and dancing while the record player needle continued making its way through every old vinyl in Lily’s sturdy cardboard box. Lily didn’t pay attention to the snow mounting up outside the main room’s windows. Sarge didn’t think about his dysfunctional family issues. When Rosa came to tell Lily that Esther had called looking for her, she stood in the doorway to the kitchen watching Sarge kneading bread dough and Lily mixing ingredients for another loaf while Stan Getz’s sax swirled through their debate about making oatmeal cookies without or without raisins and chocolate chips for the children.  When Rosa said, “You two making a bakery?” they both noticed her for the first time and stared at her like two children on a sugar high.

Standing in the midst of their mess, they looked at Rosa and then at each other and said in unison, “Another oven.”

Rosa looked at them then around the kitchen and at the loaves of bread in various stages of rising and cooling everywhere. Seeing one of her sacks of flour on a chair beside the table and another sack in waiting under it, she walked over to the open kitchen cabinet they’d converted to a large bread box. After a quick inventory she took a loaf of cinnamon bread and a loaf of pumpkin bread from the shelves. “No chocolate in the oatmeal cookies, por favor.”  She started to leave then stopped. “Rosa’s oven is open for business. Esther wants a phone chat, Lily. Ok. Buenos dias, Sarge.”

“Buenos dias, Rosa.”



Breakfast Special #24

Breakfast Special, twelfth helping, “Equations”, #12


After they’d dealt with the leftovers, Rosa cleared the children out of the kitchen then brought two of the folding chairs to the table, placing her own where she had a clear view of the children in the other rooms. “Sit, Lily.” Rosa patted the other chair. “Come. We use English. I need to use or forget todo, everything.” Lily pulled her chair next to Rosa and for a time they sat in comfortable silence watching the playing children. “This big man. He the one from the egg bar  last week?”

“Same one. Si.”

Rosa sighed and resisted speaking in Spanish. “You feel safe down there with him? Ricardo check generator late and he see you come home in taxi car with this man. He act right with you?”

“Yes Rosa. He’s been behaving himself. I haven’t had a problem with him.” Lily absently twirled her braid as she watched the children playing in the next room.

“I don’t want to put my nose in your business. You are a grown woman. Maybe he a good man. Maybe he a bad man. I don’t know. What I know is you are a small woman. He is a muy big man. You and me see what he do with the pipes and wood. Use only his hands. Ricardo no can do like that. You understand? If he want, he take easy. Little Lily like bug.”

Lily turned and rested her forehead on her friend’s shoulder. “Yes, I understand. I’ll be careful.” Why am I not feeling any need to be careful? Hmm? Solve that equation for me, Rosa.


Ricardo and Sarge were still sitting at the small table seriously intent on the paper between them on which one or the other wrote with a pencil in turn when Rosa began organizing the children’s sleeping arrangements for the night. While Lily set out blankets, pillows and sleeping bags, Rosa supervised the children lined up to use the bathroom and kitchen sink for washing up. Noticing that the children were no longer playing nearby or under the table as they’d been, Sarge looked around then saw the older ones helping Lily arrange things in the spacious front room without any furniture in it. “Ricardo, what’s with all the kids here? They can’t all be yours or Rosa’s. There’s just too many for that. I’ve heard of folks with large families, but this many is huge.”

Ricardo set down the pencil and scratched his neck. “Just two are mine. Rosa has three. Rosa watches the others while their parents work. Parents pay her what they can afford or with things instead of money. Sometimes they drive Rosa places.” Ricardo gestured at the walls.”Some help do the painting. It all works out pretty good usually. People who work in M—and outside of Falls haven’t been able to get home with this hard snow. So Rosa keeps their children here with us, this way they’re not home by themselves. It gets a little crazy at times like this, but I don’t mind. It’s kind of fun actually. Always laughing, playing. I come home from work and relax just watching them do whatever. Better than having a tv.” Leaning back in his chair, Ricardo watched Sarge who was watching the goings on in the far room. “How about you, Sarge? You got family? Sisters? Brothers?”

Sarge nodded and held up a hand. “Five younger brothers. Oh yeah, I have family, Ricardo; parents, sisters-in-laws, nieces and nephews out the wazoo. Your sister Rosa, hell man, she could give lessons in child crowd control like none other. In the time I’ve been here she hasn’t raised her voice or a hand to any of these kids. Not once. There’s like what, I think I counted twenty-five of them. She is one impressive lady. My sister-in-law Irene can’t keep three kids in line from the house to the car without having a meltdown. My brother is no help to her at all. Truth be told, Francis only makes things worse when he helps. The others are the same way. Frankly, I do not understand any of their constant kid chaos considering how we were raised. Not that I would raise any kid of mine like that. No way. But my brothers don’t seem to have any idea of what they’re doing with their kids. From what I’ve seen there’s not much of any ‘with’ at all. Maybe that’s the problem right there.”

“Families are a tricky business.”

“You sure got that right, Ricardo.” He adjusted his feet so that Marianna, the little girl whose laughter Kozy thought was the squealing of a pig, and was now inspecting the tread pattern on the thick soles of his boots, could get a better look.


After Rosa’s concerned chat, Lily found herself wondering why she was anything but nervous or worried about being alone with Sarge for another night or quite possibly several more as the ongoing snowstorm apparently had no intention of moving east any time soon. Something about how they’d ‘squared things’ before venturing to the second floor for dinner had squashed any of the usual concerns a young woman in such a situation ought to have had. The more attention she paid to her home people vibes, or as Anton would have put it, the more she listened to her bones’ whisperings, the more she was glad that telling Sarge to find his way home was entirely out of the question. There was no getting around that reality that the weather conditions had worsened throughout the day to the point where everything in the Falls and M- had been shut down. Not even the commuter buses between Falls and M- were running. Anyone with a vehicle capable of moving through the snow packed streets had literally nowhere to go if they could even get going. Ricardo had barely managed to make it home late last night due to the white-out conditions on the main highway from M-.

Rosa had reminded her that there was the option of giving Sarge a sleeping bag and sending him to the empty room with the generator at the front of the house for the night. But for some reason just thinking about that option made Lily very uneasy even though she now had no doubt he’d make no argument about complying if she sent him in that direction. During the course of the evening spent upstairs she watched  him good-naturedly go along with the ongoing usual flow of all things Rosa, Ricardo, their children and all their young guests. The children playing underfoot didn’t seem to bother him, not even Marianna, Ricardo’s six year old daughter, who explored and thoroughly investigated him just as she did everything that found its way into her domain, he made no complaints about the unfamiliar foods, nor did he comment on the lack of the usual household furniture such as couches, dining tables, chairs above the folding chair grade, a television and all the rest of the standard accessories.  He seemed to have easily caught on that the main living areas were in a regular state of flux depending on what the current situation required for accommodating the extra twenty children. Rosa had her action plans, Ricardo had no intention of interfering with any part of the program, and the children were willingly going along with the whole show, especially those old enough to know their only option was exile to home alone, if they could even get there.  Here with Rosa and Ricardo there was company for play, plenty of simple good food, heat and an endless supply of reassuring hugs.  Sarge appeared to be just as content with the entire state of things as the children. Knowing full well that Rosa had simply given voice to the usual concerns anyone would have about any man who was still mainly an  unknown quantity, Lily opted for sticking to her usual Saturday night routine and as long as things remained mellow and easy-going leaving the new wrinkle of sharing her down quilt in place.

All Lily had to do when it was time to take their leave was nod and gesture with her hands. Sarge read her cue, stood and shook hands with Ricardo.  He called a thank you to the busy Rosa for the meal and followed Lily out and down the stairs.  Upon reaching the first floor hallway they went to stare out the front door window at the still falling snow continuing to mount up in the space where the street ought to have been. Not a single truck or car of those parked along both sides of was visible anywhere. “The last time I saw so much snow was when I was a kid. I don’t remember if the cold and wind were this bad. But I do remember it being so deep we couldn’t even go out to play in it. It was something like a foot over our heads.  How about you? Ever seen this much snow before, Lily?”

“Not deep like this with such high drifts. At home the wind would drive the snow constantly so it didn’t pile up and collect like this here. But the cold, I have experienced it before.”

“Where is home?”

“Now it’s here. It doesn’t exist anymore.”

Looking down at the top of her head as she spoke, Sarge sensed a subject better left alone and refrained from asking another question. Turning away from the window, Lily sighed. “I ought to get caught up with some work while I can. I don’t mean to be rude or unsociable. Just need to keep on top of things. Keep my mind in the groove.”

“No problem. I want to finish The Devil is an Ass, that Jonson play I started reading when Anton was here. You do what you need to do. I’m quite content to read.”

“Okay, sounds like we’ve got a workable game plan. All we need is something hot to drink and we’re set.  How does a pot of cinnamon tea sound to you? There’s green and some herbal too if you prefer. And coffee, of course.”

“Cinnamon sounds perfect. Should go well with Rosa’s spices.”

“Good. I guess we’re set.”

Nearly three hours later Lily had caught up on all current assignments and worked two weeks ahead on the syllabus for Calculus. Deciding coffee and some bread and butter were needed before she commenced on doing another week of math problems, she left her study spot on the couch and went to the kitchen. There she discovered that Sarge, he’d finished reading the Jonson play some time back, had brought a diverse selection of books to the table along with physics and geometry books through which he was intently searching. Coming up beside his chair, nearly silent in her bare feet, she tried to get some sense of what he was after. “What are you looking for?”

The unexpected sound of her voice startled the man. “Had no idea you were there. Damn.” He caught his breath then pulled from under the books the piece of paper he and Ricardo had been working on earlier. “Making sure the idea Ricardo and I came up with will work correctly for reinforcing those old wooden foundation joists in the basement. I think I’ve got all the angles worked out. Now I’m just wondering about the pressure part for these areas with the xs.”

Lily took the piece of paper from him and sat down at the table. After studying the diagram of the basement, the notes written by both men, then Sarge’s calculations on the other side of the paper, she looked at him then spoke very gently. “Doing even half of this is pretty expensive. Rosa and Ricardo don’t have the money for anything like this, Sarge. It looks like it should work. But there’s no way they can pay for the materials. Labor would be no problem. Most of the parents of Rosa’s kids would be more than willing to help. And with the Watch there’d be plenty of muscle. But the cost…” She frowned when he smiled at her and shook his head.

“Lily don’t look so worried. Actually there’s only one obstacle to doing this right now—the damn snow.” He gestured at the falling snow outside the kitchen window.

She watched the snow for a few moments then pulled her attention back to their conversation. “I don’t understand. You can’t be thinking of paying for this yourself.”

Sarge laughed a little. “No one has to pay cash for anything. Do you remember what I said about living in a converted warehouse?”

“Yeah, you said something about that last night.” Lily laid the paper on the table and lightly rubbed her fingertips across it.

“Bear with me for a bit, okay.” Sarge got comfortable in his chair.  “Well, Kozy, the guy who owns the building, hasn’t trashed any of the building materials since we started renovating the place. Kozy has been collecting salvage metals from similar buildings everywhere in something like a hundred mile driving range for years. He uses just a small amount of it for his art and a little more for renovations. But he’s a bit compulsive so he’s collected probably a ton or two more than he’ll ever use.  He knows this. He also knows the city is none too thrilled with his stockpile. He also knows via his good buddy who works in the codes office,  that it’s not a matter of if the city is going to fine him for what they consider an unpermitted garbage dump site, but of when they decide to declare war with the crazy Russian artist. Kozy has no interest in wasting his time or money fighting with the city. The city knows damn well that there is no garbage being dumped anywhere and that it is perfectly legal for those materials to be where they are in the freight district.”

Lily pulled up her feet onto the seat of her chair and leaned her chin on knees as she listened.  “So why would they fine him if it’s all legal? Is someone trying to settle a personal score?

Sarge snapped his fingers. “Bingo. Yeah, it’s a vendetta. It’s a weird complicated story that goes all the way back to Mother Russia. So Kozy has decided that the easiest way to put an end to this mess is to cut it off before things wind up again. Bottom line is that he wants to get rid of his current stockpile and then start another with new salvage. All that metal needs a new home. Why shouldn’t some of it find one in Rosa’s basement? Don’t look at me like that. I’m not joking around here.”

Skeptical written all over her face, Lily’s fingers drummed on drawn up shins. “But why would this Kozy give away the metal for free when he can sell it?”

“Because Kozy has all the money he needs and probably will ever need.” Sarge leaned forward as he spoke about his friend. “He doesn’t care about making money. He cares about his art. He cares about good ideas. He cares about good people.” He reached across the table and tapped his fingernails on the diagram. “This is a very good idea. Rosa is a very good person. That’s why Kozy will give Rosa all the rebar needed for free.”

Lily dropped her feet to the floor and stared at the young man. Very softly, wondering what else she might coax out of him regarding his motivation, she said, “You just met her today. You barely know her. Your Kozy has not even met Rosa.”

“Yeah.” He shrugged and leaned back in his chair. “But what I learned from watching Rosa tonight with all those kids, that’s more than enough for me to try to work this out. Besides she just doesn’t have enough muscle to be her own plumber in that basement. Furthermore, Kozy loves a challenge and this is a fun one for a guy like him.”

Lily sat straight in her chair, picked up the diagram again. She scanned both sides and looked at the man watching her. “I suppose there’s no harm in tossing the idea at your friend Kozy. Just please don’t say anything to Rosa about him helping until you find out if he actually wants to. I hope he does. Something definitely needs to be done before the basement turns into an indoor swimming pool.” It was plain to see that her willingness to entertain the notion that his friend just might help out a complete stranger, pleased Sarge as he grinned and lowered his suddenly shy eyes. Wanting to put some hope in his plan and yet hesitant based on past experiences with other supposed helping hands, Lily wondered if Sarge could really make this happen. She almost started to explain her skepticism then decided not to taint the conversation with recounting bad memories.  Remembering what had brought her into the kitchen she said, “I’m going to make some coffee. You want some?”

“Yeah, I’ll have a cup.” He looked at her from under his mop of hair. “How about I toast some rye bread to go with it?”

“Toast sounds really good, please.” Lily set about preparing the coffee while glancing at him already slicing bread thin enough to fit into the toaster. “A warm buttery snack should keep me going for a little while longer.”

Remembering watching her eat her toast at Big Bob’s, Sarge fought down an urge to laugh as he tested his bread slices in the toaster slots. He managed to contain himself by imagining Kozy meeting Rosa for the first time. In a few minutes toasted rye bread slathered in butter and fresh rich coffee occupied their attention until Lily wandered back to her books and Sarge to his. Each was keenly aware of the other’s presence even when out of sight.


Later, upon reaching the point where the need for sleep was impossible to ignore any longer, Lily stacked her books on the table behind the red velvet couch then shuffled her way into the kitchen. Seeing that Sarge had moved on to reading Bartholomew Fayre she leaned against the doorway. “Hey Mr. Night Owl, me Lily has to sleep now.” She gave a little wave when he looked away from the book to her. “I can leave the light on if you need it. I’ll just get all the way under the quilt so it doesn’t bother me.”

“I’ll be okay in the dark. Get some sleep. I’ll try to be quiet.”

“Okay.” Lily started on her way then turned back. “You always stay up this late, Sarge?”

“I work a lot of graveyard shifts so I’m used to it.”

“Hey, I don’t even know what kind of work you do.”

“Just throwing freight on the docks. It’s nothing fancy, but it pays well. Quiet. The night guys are easier to get along with than the day shifters. That’s a bonus in itself. So now you know. You better get to bed. You’re slipping away pretty fast just standing there, Lily.”

“Yeah, I feel it. Well, now I know. Night, Sarge.”

“Night, Lily.” Sarge watched her sleepily sway her way into the bedroom. Certain from the look of her that she’d be dead asleep inside of a minute, he decided to finish the scene he was reading then slide under the down quilt himself. He had plenty on his mind to think about until he’d fall asleep and he was enjoying the idea of doing it knowing she was curled up under the quilt nearby soothingly breathing soft and low in her sleep.


Breakfast Special, #13,  The Most Important Meal of the Day


Video Note:

 Upload and music added by  wolfiecanmeow

footage from:…  [silent version]
song: beautiful girl – william fitzsimmons

Breakfast Special, fifth helping, “Pussy No More” , #5

Pussy No More

When morning made a feeble attempt at sending a few dull rays of sunlight across Nora’s glossy cherry top dining table, Dylan was stirring a single spoonful of honey into his cup of fresh black coffee. Setting the spoon aside he pulled the cup close so he could inhale the steam rising from the rich dark roast. He watched his wife glance towards the empty stairs then back at the window where her array of snake plants resided on the wide inner sill. “He slept in the back bedroom last night. Didn’t go out after the rest left, judging from his shoes.”

Nora turned in her chair a little and pointed with her cup towards the closet near the front door. “Coat dry? It snowed a little just before I got up”

“Very dry. Checked when I first saw his shoes still on the mat where he set them after helping Francis load up his brood.”

Nora made a face. “Dyl, do you think he’s, I dunno, maybe he’s like coming out of the closet?”

A ripple of quiet laughter flowed from the big man as he shook his head. “You mean like a gay fella? No, Nora, I certainly think not!”

“I could handle it if that’s what’s going on with him. Be a bit of an adjustment certainly. . . But I’d cope. I know could. There are worse things than having a gay son. Never mind what Father Joseph says. Don’t care much for half of what that sad excuse for a priest yaps about anyways. I think he hates anyone who enjoys sex judging from what comes out of his mouth.”

“No argument from me on that score, love.” Dylan sipped his coffee then rubbed his chin. “I’d have placed good money on Sarge stepping out with Blondie last night though. You see the legs on that girl? Sweet Mother of God. Can’t say Irene didn’t pull out all the stops with her.”

“No blaming Irene at all indeed. Nor the rest of them. Sure there’s been a few poor picks over the years, but that’s got to be expected considering human nature. You never know for sure what some people will turn into after a few glasses of wine.”

“Or bottles of beer.”

“Indeed.” Nora folded her hands around her cup. “Did I go too far with the razor yesterday, Dyl?”

“Naw. Don’t think so at all. It was a good move having you lead the charge. He’d have fought me tooth and nail soon as he figured the score. But not you. No way he’d ever lift even a finger against his Ma. You didn’t bleed him a bit. Even if you had, hell, the result is worth it. He’s a fine-looking man. Cleans up right well. He ought not to go round looking like same damned overgrown stray dog.” Dylan reached out and put a huge hand around Nora’s. “Might be that our Sarge is just one of those fellas who play the field their whole life, love. It’s not like we’re wanting for grandchildren either.”

Nora nodded then frowned. “Could be, Dyl, could be. But then shouldn’t he have gone off with Blondie?”

“Well, you got me there for sure. I Can’t figure that score at all, Nora.” At sound of the doorbell, Dylan went to the front door. “Well, well, if it ain’t Benj come bearing gifts.”

Dylan held the front door open wide for their youngest son, Benj, who entered holding a large bakery box. “Morning, Ma. Hey Dad. Went to Pearl’s first thing to get sweet rolls for Sharon and they had a fresh load of chocolate éclairs.”

“Oh they’ve not had those in months. You’re a dear, Benj. Thanks so much. Can you stay for one and some brew or are you on the move?” said Nora as she opened the box holding a baker’s dozen of her favorite pastry.

“I’ve got time for a hot cup and a taste. Sharon’s not even awake yet.” Benj hung his coat on the back of his chair then sat down as Dylan poured him a cup of coffee. Benj was as tall as his father and eldest brother but with his mother’s lean slender frame. “He up yet?” said Benj with a nod towards Sarge’s shoes on the mat by the front door.

“If so, he’s being deadly quiet about it,” said Nora.

Benj licked a smear of dark chocolate icing from his éclair. “Who did the dirty deed?”

“Your Ma can lay claim to the fine work.”

Benj held up a hand for a high-five with Nora. “Good job. Why did you stop? His mop needs major clipping.”

Nora swallowed before answering. “Wasn’t sure I could keep from just taking it all off.”

Benj snorted. “It wouldn’t have mattered if you had. Rogaine would make a fortune if they could figure out how his mop grows so fast and market it to baldies. You should have gone whole hog on him. You remember when we were kids and we would chop it off just to see how long it would take it to grow back.”

“Oh do I ever.” Nora laughed a little at the memory. “Speak of the devil. Here he comes now.”

The trio enjoying coffee and éclairs watched Sarge come down the stairs and warily approach the table. Benj turned sideways in his chair to make eye contact with his oldest brother who had come to the room’s arched entrance but no further. “So big bro, what’s the score? Hmm? You blow a major man fuse or what?”

“What the hell are you talking about, Benj?”

“You leaving that scorching hot dish to freeze last night is what I’m talking about, Sarge. What else did you think?”

“Is this some kind of intervention or what?” demanded Sarge as he looked at his parents and youngest brother in turn.

“Hey, good word, Sarge. Yeah, this is an in-ter-vent-ion. Humor me just a tad will you, Sarge. Considering how invisible you’ve been for the last month or so, can you at least satisfy my very healthy male curiosity as to why you left Debbie high and dry last night? Hmm?”

“Your healthy male curiosity can mind its own business, Benj. I’ll mind my mine.” Sarge eyed the empty cup, Dylan held up to see if he wanted coffee. “No thanks, Dad.”

“Frankly, all things considered, my curiosity would like a little satisfaction too, Sargent.” Nora pushed a chair towards Sarge with her foot indicating that he ought to take a seat. She stared at her son and waited for him to sit until he took a few steps backward instead. “What’s going on with you? Hmm? Tell me or you’re gonna get a visit when you least expect one. If you didn’t hit it off with Debbie, that’s fine. No problem. Just say so if that’s the case. Shed a little light on the subject is all we’re asking.”

Sensing that his son was suddenly planning a fast exit rather than answer Nora or Benj, Dylan quietly rose and made his way to the front door mat and picked up Sarge’s black loafers. Holding the shoes behind his back, he stood silently but effectively blocking access to the front door. This did not go unnoticed by Sarge who was also aware that Benj was already sitting directly in the path to the kitchen door rear entrance.

Wondering what sort of attack the trio was plotting, Sarge backed up against the nearest wall. “What do you want from me? Huh? What?”

“Jesus, Sarge, we just want to know what the hell is going on with you. And I don’t mean the last few weeks. Even before the lousy weather set in, you have been more AWOL than present. Right, Ma? I figure you been weirding out for at least the last eight months.”

Nora nodded. “Oh yeah, eight at the very least, Benj. Maybe eleven if I really start thinking about it.”

Sarge considered his options. “Nothing is going on with me. Just been working my ass off is all. Between regular shifts, overtime and helping Kozy with the wiring and plumbing I’ve just been busy.”

“Busy? Aha.” Benj’s disbelief was obvious. “You’ve been too overworked and busy for a single pussy run? Seriously, man for over eight f’n months? We’re not morons.”

“Benj, don’t be vulgar.” Nora glanced at Dylan who shrugged and remained silent. “Sargent, are you sick? You catch something along the way with all your flying about from girl to girl? Forget to use a condom in the heat of the moment?”

Stunned by his mother’s candidness, Sarge couldn’t do more than shake his head in denial.

“So? What then, Sarge? Hmm?” demanded Benj.

Feeling cornered and unsure of how to get out of the situation Sarge looked around the dining room in frustration. The Sunday morning paper caught his eye and he recalled the start of his conversation with the delectable, but never to be tasted, delight named Debbie. Grasping for any straw with even half a chance of ending the current standoff, Sarge said, “Okay, okay. No big mystery. I’m seeing someone.”

“What?! Who?!” demanded Benj. Rising out of his chair he faced off with his brother.

An exchange of incredulous surprised looks passed quickly between Nora and Dylan. Forcing herself to remain seated, Nora took a deep breath and held it for a count of twenty while waiting for Sarge to answer the questions Benj had spoken on everyone’s behalf.

“Just someone. A woman. Satisfied? Okay? Everyone happy now that Sarge’s big secret is out of the bag?”

Benj shook his head. “Bullshit. No way.”

“You calling me a liar, Benj?”

“Oh yeah. Big time. If you’ve been seeing someone steady why not bring her home for a meet? Hmm? Why not?”

“Bugger off, Benj.”

“Hey, just because I’m your only brother here at the moment doesn’t mean we all haven’t been wondering, Sarge. We all have been.”

Nora looked from son to son and wondered what her eldest was really lying about. “This someone have a name?”

Thinking that no one would ever be the wiser, Sarge decided to give them whatever it would take in order to make an escape from the brownstone as soon as possible. “Lily. Her name is Lily. Don’t believe me, Benj? Hm? Make a curtsey run to Big Bob’s on Fifth. Ask Stanley who I had breakfast with Friday morning. Go ahead. Remind him that Lily ordering poached eggs pissed him off.”

Without a single squeak from the hardwood floor, Dylan came up and dropped Sarge’s shoes next to his stocking feet. When Sarge looked him in the eye, Dylan arched his brows and returned to his seat at the table. Without another word, Sarge slipped on the loafers, grabbed his coat from the closet, walked to his mother, took her birthday present out of the inner pocket and laid it on the table next to her coffee cup. Seeing the dark look in her eyes, he decided against kissing her cheek. “Dad. Benj. Later.” Pulling his coat on, Sarge nearly ran out the front door in spite of his effort to maintain some semblance of calm.

As Sarge made haste down the street putting distance between himself and the family home as quickly as the slick soled loafers allowed, Nora, Benj and Dylan waited for someone else to speak first. Dylan filled everyone’s cups then sat down slowly. “Do it Benj. Have a word with Stan. See if he has any clue.”

“About this fake Lily? What for? We all know he’s lying through his teeth.”

Dylan shrugged, “Lily or no Lily makes no difference at this point, Benj. We need to find out what’s up and clearly Sarge ain’t talking. He’s been catching breakfast at Big Bob’s for a while now. Stan’s got good eyes and ears. So maybe he knows something we don’t.” Dylan and Benj turned their attention to Nora as she opened the small envelope like package Sarge had given her. “What’s it this time? How much did he blow?”

Nora shook her head as she laid out a pair of plane tickets and other travel information on the table for them to see. “Some resort in Jamaica for a full week. Plane, room, tour guide, meals, everything paid for. Maybe three grand?” She picked up a gift card with a note tapped to it and waved it. “For new swimsuits it says.”

“He’s nuts. If he was really seeing someone steady he’d be stashing whatever cash he wasn’t spending on snaring her. That’s more proof he just bullshit his way out of here,” declared Benj. “Furthermore, what guy in their right mind takes their steady squeeze to Big Bob’s for breakfast?”

Nora ran her hands through her hair then held her head in her hands. “Okay. Benj do like Dyl said. As soon as you can, make a delivery run out to Bob’s or nearby. Hit Stan up for anything he might have noticed. Dylan, get Irene on the phone. Tell her to get a hold of that Debbie and haul her back over here. We want to know everything she and Sargent talked about last night. Make sure she knows we’ll pay for a taxi if she needs one.”

“On it,” said Dylan as he went for the phone.

“I’ll call Sharon and get her started on finding baby sitters so we can have a decent family meet tonight,” said Benj.”Then I’ll call James and Patrick.”

Nora nodded. “That’s good, Benj. Do you think that Kozy will talk to me if I make a call or should I just show up in person?”

Benj listened to Dylan talking to Irene on the phone before answering. Tapping his fingers on the table top he thought hard. “Kozy’s kinda in his own world, Ma. I don’t think he’ll pay attention unless you’re right in front of him. Even then it’s dicey. Let’s face it; Kozy’s idea of normal is pretty far off from anyone else’s normal.”

“Well, that’s a given, Benj. I’d have to talk to him about Sargent without directly talking about Sargent. Maybe we can come up with something tonight. Need to out think Kozy or he might get the wrong idea.”

Benj laughed. “That’s rich, Ma. Really rich. Wrap our heads around Kozy’s? Better break out the hard liquor for that.” He looked up when Dylan returned to the table and immediately went to call Sharon.

“Irene is pretty sure she can get Debbie here with them. Seems she and Irene already had quite a little chat last night. So no problem there. And she’s gonna get Francis to call Mark so that’s all covered.” Dylan stared at the coffee pot. “What’s the name of that girl Patrick and Denise brought round? The last one we know Sarge stepped out with for a while.”

“The one with the gold streaks in her hair? That one?”

“Yeah her. You remember her name? Maybe we should have a chat with her too.”

“Mellie or maybe Millie. Denise will know for sure. I like that, Dyl,” said Nora.

“We’re gonna need some food for tonight. How about I go see if Pearl’s has a fresh turkey?”

“Yeah, that would do the trick, Dyl. If not, then just pick whatever’s not frozen that they got enough of on hand.” Nora helped her husband into his coat and kissed him hard before he set off for Pearl’s Market. Back at the table she stood looking over the plane tickets for herself and Dylan to the flashy resort in Jamaica. “Sargent, whatever is going on in your head? Jamaica? Me and Dyl? Swimsuits? Snorkeling? What the hell?”


Breakfast Special, sixth helping, ‘book-ends’ ~ In Pursuit of The Fox aka Volpone and Toe-ing Behind the Lines  —>>

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