Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I hate lemon meringue pie.

I had a slice today at work and it made me sick. I'm just now getting better, and that's only because I broke down and went to a store and bought some Alka Seltzer. So I got nothing done, tonight short of a bit of smoothing over in stuff I'd already written. Here's some of it. This is early in the story, when Vinnie's edging closer and closer to joining up with the Mob.


Y’see, I always looked older than I really was, and that can be a ton of help when you’re young and wanting to get away with shit. I go to a social club, I don’t get carded. I make time with a girl in a school hallway and they think I’ve been around. Fourteen years old and everybody acts like I’m forty. Well, not THAT old, but over twenty-one.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little? So what? Life’s crap enough without some fantasy to it, and my head could be just as filled with crap as anybody else’s. And I really did look a couple years older than I was. And it did help me make some time with girls who wouldn’t of given me the time of day if they knew my real age. Like Carla, a junior, in high school, not college. I got to cop a feel with her in between some stacks of lockers, but then a couple days later she found out and smacked the shit out of me. By then it was too late; the whole school knew she’d made time with a freshman. It was perfect.

Then there’s Maria, with hips out to here and tits out to there. Always in a blouse that had no sleeves and tight pants that stopped halfway down these calves that glided into ankles that just about killed you when she’s walking around in high heels. Hair swept on top of her head and eyes like Connie Francis. Her little brother, Alvie, and me were best buddies and I had the worst hots for her, but you think she’d give me half a chance? Hell no.

Y’know, it wasn’t till I was working at Patty’s pastry shop that I really started after her. I’d seen her around Alvie’s apartment lots of times, even on the street more times than I can count, but this one day I was headed on one of Patty’s "deliveries" and I saw her headed home from the market, a net bag in one hand holding tomatoes, basil, a brick of Parmasean, can of olives and all the other crap you need to make a good marinara. Something about the way she was swinging it all casual and unconcerned, matching the gentle whisper of her hips, it was as erotic as all get out, and I started humming “Volare”. Don’t ask me why; it’s just the first tune hit my head.

What’s wild is, other people in the area seemed to pick up on it -- some passing me on the street; some hanging out of windows or fire escapes up three, four, five stories; some sitting on stools at a door and drinking a beer; nothing but old tight buildings on narrow streets and no trees but lots of decent paisans. Some began humming it along with me, like a chorus dancing from one to another as I walked, so I started mouthing the words. Then some kids on skates whipped past and rolled around to circle me and their skates kept the rhythm of the music and the noise of the traffic began to blend in -- cars and delivery vans and horns and tires squealing. I felt like I was in another world.

Now I dunno why all this started to happen; I never was that big on Dino since Bobby Darrin was more my style. “Mack the Knife” is still one of my favorite songs. But something about the way Maria’s hips rolled to the left and then to the right in these elegant motions, like Gina Lollobrigida, it was almost like she was keeping rhythm with my humming.

Then she turned to look at me, her slanted eyes with their Elizabeth Taylor makeup, the net bag still swinging as she walked backwards, so I started singing the words, like I was caught in a dream.

“Volare. Oh-oh.

Cantare. Oh-oh-oh-oh.”

She laughed and stopped to let me catch up to her, and I swung up all dramatic and stuff and kept on with,

“Let’s fly way up to the clouds.

Away from the maddening crowds.”

And I whipped an arm around her and swung her in a circle, her net bag whistling out away from her, her body soft and comfortable, bits of her hair drifting away from the pile on her head as I kept singing and people joined in, dancing and clapping around us, stopping traffic and even making the beat cops grin big and laugh, until she stopped dead and snapped, “Vinnie, what you doin’?”

And I jolted back to the city street, still about twenty feet behind her, watching her stopped by the entrance to her building. She was looking at me with one of those, “I can’t believe you,” looks on her face.

“What you mean?” I asked.

“Starin’ at me like that!”

I blushed and took what I thought was a cocky pose and said, “Admirin’ the view.” That’s a line my cousin, Fredo, used and he said it got him plenty of action.

“C’mon,” she napped back, “you’re Alvie’s age.”

“I can still appreciate a pretty dress on a pretty girl.” Follow-up line if the first one don’t work.

She just shook her head, flipped her hand at me and went into the building.

Wow. Talk about stuck up. It’s not like she’s all that much better than I am. Both our dads worked the shipyards so I know. And she’s only three years older than me -- well four; she passed into eighteen a couple weeks back and had a party, and all I got out of going was a thank you note for the flowers I brought her. Not even a peck on a cheek. Cost me a week’s pay, too.

I think I started seeing right about then that if I wanted to make serious time with a girl, it was gonna cost me. A lot. So I needed a better way to make some cash.

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