Maxwell’s – final excerpt … for 2014

I didn’t want to rule out further excerpts completely but I think I’ve about wrapped up Charlie’s story.  I spent some time this past weekend working through a hard copy with a red pen.  I didn’t make it all the way through but managed what I considered some decent progress.  Once I finish that initial read-through and revision I’m going to be trolling for beta readers.  (That’s the term, right?  Beta?  Someone who will read and provide feedback?)

Until that time, here’s a little more of Charlie’s story for those of you who have been following along.  Thanks for reading.

Jeff put the phone down and groaned.  He had hoped he could close up and head home for the night, pick up the Minnelli investigation in the morning.  But a quiet evening at home wasn’t meant to be.  Standing up, he put a fresh notebook in the pocket of his jacket, grabbed his hat on the way out of his office and locked up. 

Hazel’s was close enough he didn’t have to drive but since it was after dark the temperature had dropped some so he took the Jeep anyway.  He’d be headed home from there and it would save him a walk back.  Parking in the first available space, he went inside. 

“Hey Maggie,” he greeted the waitress, touching the brim of his hat in her direction.  He crossed to the booth where Luke and another, older man sat.  “Tyler.”

“Hello Jeff,” Luke said.  He nodded toward the other man.  “This is my client, Leo Delaney.”

Jeff held out his hand and the other man took it, shaking firmly.  “Sheriff,” Leo said.

“Call me Jeff,” the Sheriff said.  “We’re on the informal side around here.”

“Then I’m Leo,” the older man replied.  “Please, have a seat.”

Jeff slid into the booth opposite Luke, removing his hat and setting it aside.  He pulled the notebook from his pocket along with a pen. 

“So Luke tells me you have information I should hear.”

“I think you might find it of interest,” Leo said.  He put the last piece of steak in his mouth and chewed it slowly.  Then he drank the last of his beer and set the glass on his empty plate.  “Your ‘Blockhead’ as you call him, is probably Carlo Dante.”

“Car…, wait, isn’t that one of the shooters Jack testified against?”

“It is,” Leo nodded.  “The reluctant partner of Tony Minnelli.”

“And you think he’s here in Manning and shot Joey Minnelli?” Jeff was confused.  “Why would he shoot his partner’s brother?”

“Because he lost everything while he was in prison Jeff.”

“But wouldn’t that make him want to kill Jack?”  Jeff was scribbling notes as fast as he could.

“You would think so, wouldn’t you?”  Leo took a drink of water.  “However, when Jack ditched me a few months back I started looking into the old case to see if I could figure out what Jack was trying to protect me from.  What I found out surprised me.”

“Are you planning to share it with us old man, or just tease us?” Luke asked, straight faced. 

“Well not if you keep that shit up,” Leo replied, hiding a smile.

“Could you tell just me then?” Jeff asked politely. 

“Of course,” Leo answered, just as politely.  “Don’t let us worry you Jeff; Luke and I mix it up all the time.  He forgets I can beat the hell out of him any time I want to.”

“In your dreams Leo,” Luke said, but he was grinning and Jeff relaxed. 

“So, please go on,” the Sheriff invited.

“Back when Tony persuaded Carlo to go along with him on the DeFranco hit, Vinnie Minnelli, the Godfather was in peace talks with Gino DeFranco.”  Leo could see that Jeff was lost.

“The Minnellis and the DeFrancos were enemies, much like the Capulets and Montagues from Romeo and Juliet,” he explained.  When Jeff nodded, Leo went on.  “Vinnie was tired of the bloodshed and afraid for his daughters.  He reached out to Gino DeFranco with a peace proposal and Gino bit.

“They were negotiating the terms, dividing up territories, et cetera when Tony, who hated the idea of peace between the families, decided to throw a wrench in the plan.  He persuaded Carlo Dante to go with him to take out several of the DeFrancos.”

“You said Dante was reluctant?” Jeff asked.

“Dante has a reputation for being slow,” Leo explained.  “Could be he was mentally impaired, could be he had an undiagnosed learning disability, could be he got hit in the head once too many times.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know for sure.  But as a result he was easily manipulated, and Tony had always been there for him so he would follow Tony almost without question.”

“Almost?”  Jeff looked up from his notebook.

“Yeah, almost.  Apparently when Tony told him what they were going to do, Carlo balked.  He liked the idea of peace.  He was newly married with one kid and another on the way.  The prospect of peace between the families was like a dream to him.”

“Then why did he go with Tony?” Jeff asked.

“Tony convinced him that Vinnie planned to install DeFrancos in the family business,” Leo said.  “And that he – Carlo – would have no way to support his family.  Dante wasn’t a member of the Minnelli Family, he was what might be called a ‘hanger on’.  The Family owed him no loyalty and Tony persuaded him that with a peace there’d be no place for him.”

“That would mess with a guy’s head,” Luke said. 

“Which was what Tony wanted,” Leo replied.  “Carlo never would have been in that park otherwise.

“And you think the guy who shot Joey Minnelli is Carlo Dante?”  Jeff stopped scrawling notes and looked at Leo.

“Almost certainly from the description you have.”

“But I still don’t understand why he would be after Joey?”

“As I said, while he was in prison Dante lost everything.  His wife died in childbirth.  His children want nothing to do with him.  He has terminal cancer now, which is why he was released late last year.

“And he holds his partner responsible,” Jeff muttered, connecting the dots, “So he went after Joey because Tony’s still in prison and he couldn’t get to him.”

“That’s my theory,” Leo agreed, nodding.  “And I think my theory’s accurate except for one thing.”

“Here’s where I get to catch up,” Luke said, leaning forward.  He glanced at Jeff who was looking up curious.  “He wouldn’t tell me this next part till you came.”

“Except for what one thing?” Jeff asked, meeting Leo’s gaze.

“Except that Tony Minnelli was released from prison last week.”

Pour Me

With all the advances we’ve seen in medicine, science and technology wouldn’t it be nice if someone could figure out what makes some people prone to self-pity?

The “poor me” mentality may not be rampant in the world as a whole, but in my little corner of it I’m practically buried in the bullshit. Between JD and his mother I’m not sure who would win if it were a contest. Yesterday was the first day in a long, long time that I seriously asked myself what I was still doing in this marriage. For those of you not paying attention, yesterday was Christmas – a day of supposed joy and love. Uh huh.

Not being tuned in to their conversation, I wasn’t sure what happened this time, just that JD went out in the back yard where the dogs were, shutting the sliding door with a louder bang than necessary. And dear MIL sat there justifying whatever it was she said to him. Inside I felt the Grinch get a grip on my heart and I cringed.

A short time later JD came back inside and immediately went through to the front door and walked back out. My first inclination was to go after him but since that has always worked so well in the past I opted to stay inside, where I whined out loud that I was sorry I hadn’t brought the bottle of wine I had at home. Within a couple of moments I had a glass of a nice white zinfandel in my hand. I was enjoying the grandchildren and seeing my favorite daughter’s new beau win points with the rest of the family who were meeting him for the first time. If JD wanted to sulk in the truck let him.

Then apparently he started the truck and drove away. I didn’t see this, but a few others looked puzzled and one of the daughters wondered aloud where he was going. I can’t remember what I said but it was the equivalent of a verbal shrug. I do remember feeling so done. But I’d stopped at the single glass of wine. Sure it was more because the bottle was already nearly empty and others might want some. But I could easily have told myself “screw them” and finished it off.

When I finally texted him to see what he was doing, he responded back “gas” meaning he was filling the truck’s tank. Then he parked the truck back in front of the house and sat out there a bit more. When people started loading plates with food I texted him to say we were starting to eat and was he coming inside. His one word response was “maybe.” So I went ahead and got food for myself.  He’s a grown-up, numerically anyway, and can fend for himself.   When I finished eating and got up to carry the paper plate to the trash JD came in the front door muttering something about finding our dog wandering around out front.

We’d earlier put the dogs outside briefly and while we were eating our Beagle made her escape from the backyard.  I mentioned that I’d seen her in the backyard right before I started eating. It wasn’t what JD said next but his tone was sharp almost like a reprimand. He repeated that he’d found her wandering around outside and had just brought her in.   Like maybe I hadn’t believed him or I was disagreeing with him.  What the hell, I could see she was right there.  At the end of my patience I snapped back that he didn’t need to bite my head off and he said “fine” or something similar and went back out to the truck.

The rest of the day was much the same. When I went out a bit later to see if he was coming in for opening presents we disagreed about the interaction in the house and it was going nowhere fast so I went back inside. The daughters brought out dessert and someone found more alcohol so I added a healthy splash of bourbon to my coffee.

He did finally come back inside in time to watch the grandkids open their gifts. I think he even forced down some food. He didn’t speak to anyone though unless they asked him a direct question. And when his mother and sister left I don’t think he said goodbye.

Favorite daughter and S were planning to stay and watch the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with daughter A and her hubby and son so we said our goodbyes and headed out. It was a nearly silent drive and when we got home JD went to bed. And I let him.

Now that’s I’ve thrown up all that family drama I wonder what good it will do. The drama will subside eventually; JD will likely make up with his mother. But he’ll nurse the incident, build it up into more than it was and mitigate his own part in it. And somewhere down the road it will happen again.

It’s been like this for the eighteen years I’ve known this family. So what the hell am I still doing here? I think that’s something which needs further exploration because I’m not sure I know.

Time Waster Videos

Come on, waste some time and watch some silly videos. The video with the most views will get some moola from Honda so what are you waiting for?

I Refuse To Follow Your Blog


Honda has gone and done it.

They made a commercial that changes car commercials forever… 

Click here to view it: Skeletor Magic Eight Ball

How dare they not have a bunch of flashing logos and a big booming voice over! 

Seriously!  What were they thinking?  

(It makes me laugh every time I watch it.  I can image the writers of this commercial laughing hysterically as they wrote it. 

  Skeletor is so pathetic.)

Also!   Watch the videos below and Honda will donate money to a specific cause! 

(I’ll get back to my normal rants next week.  I’m off til Monday, so I’m taking a break.)

If the video below gets the most views…Honda will donate $50,000 to the Little League Urban Initiative.

If the video below gets the most views…Honda will donate $50,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County

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Beer – Updated

Today I saw that the photo challenge was to show what yellow means to you in this festive season of many other colors.  Well, I could have taken a photo of the pack of Juicy Fruit which stays on my desk for the attorneys who wander by now and again.  But I already had this perfectly good post just sitting here and one of the remaining shots below is YELLOW!  Of course it’s the sample I liked least, but you can’t have everything, now can you?  If you’ve figured out how to have everything would you pass that secret along?  😀

Enough said usually. But I suppose I should  elaborate. These six shots of awesome make up the beer sampler at Rock Bottom where we met to exchange calendars.


As you can see, I didn’t think to take the darn photo till after I tried the ones on each end. Hey, proof my brain works better on beer! The one on the left was called Kolsch (except the o had a sideways colon over the top, whatever that is called). Its counterpart was the brewery’s special release, something with Elf in the name. And an elevated alcohol level that keeps them from serving more than 10 ounces at a time ~ when you order it individually . Sweet!

No wait, the sweet one is the dark one next to the empty on the right. I hadn’t ever tried a beer that was slightly sweet. Yum!

There was an IPA, a red ale and something literally  in between. I’m not a fan of IPAs and this one didn’t win me over though it was okay. The center one wasn’t too memorable – obviously, but the red was really good.

So there you have it. I’m not a beer connoisseur but if we go back there I’ll definitely remember the ones I liked. Now I’m on the last train out headed home. Have a nice night peeps. Happy early Friday!

Goats in Trees

Last year a bunch of the secretaries got together after work one afternoon and started a new holiday tradition.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to participate.  This year though I’m eager to meet with everyone, share a beer or three and exchange calendars.

Yes, calendars.

This exchange was inspired by a calendar someone saw:

Goats in Trees

Yep, those are goats.  In trees.

Apparently this started someone’s brain working and the “Goats in Trees” calendar exchange was born!  The rules are simple:

  1. Pick out a funny, office appropriate calendar.
  2. Wrap said calendar.
  3. Attend exchange; drink beer (or other beverage of your choice; I may have to indulge in One Scotch, One Bourbon, and One Beer*).
  4. Trade calendars (since I didn’t make it to last year’s shindig I don’t know how this part works).
  5. Display the calendar you receive in your cubicle for the duration of 2015.

See?  Simple.  And this promises to be loads of fun.  No, seriously, loads of fun.  Here’s a calendar I almost picked up for the exchange.

Yoga Dogs

When I went back to buy it though it was nowhere in sight and I was disappointed. 😦  But I plowed on through the display and came up with a funny animal calendar with mostly work appropriate captions.  I didn’t think of taking a photo of it to share here and I couldn’t find it online.  Now it’s wrapped up but believe me, it was pretty funny.  Panda in a tire swing funny!

And then there’s this one which I would have totally chosen if I’d seen it first!

Sock Monkey Kama Sutra

Well, except for that stupid “office appropriate” requirement.

*I know you’re thinking I got the title wrong aren’t you?  Aren’t you?  Well my source tells me the original title was One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer; it was written by Rudy Toombs and recorded for the first time in 1953 by Amos Milburn.  Of course my source is Wikipedia so there’s that.  Personally, I think they should be alphabetical, but I think that could be the OCD talking.