Living In The Backup Plan: Part 2

     France was a cockup. Joe did not realize he’d applied a slang he acquired from his British friends and associates. He walked briskly in the late evening rain using back streets. He needed to put distance between him and the hotel and lose anyone who might be following.
              From the start, he should have recognized that dinner with Caminski and Bilko was frivolous. Non-essential. Caminski could have said all that nonsense in London. Returning to his hotel room paid for by the ‘company,’ he found a subtle change though only a slight repositioning of his travel bag on the bed. Joe searched through it. Marked and sequential thirty-thousand US dollars wrapped in foil lay under his shirts. A frame to ensnare him to get him out of the way using treason and taking bribes from anyone of the USA’s enemies. Russia, China, Iran, it wouldn’t matter which.
              Joe dumped his company phone in the bathroom trash and grabbed a towel. On the bed he took the money out of his travel bag, stacked and wrapped it in the towel and stuffed it into his tumbled leather briefcase he’d carried with him to the meeting in the hotel dining room. One last glance around Joe picked up his briefcase and left the hotel by the back staircase.
              First chance Joe got he ducked into a sports store, grabbed a blue rain jacket, a black baseball cap, paid cash and put them on. Down the block was a convenience shop where Joe bought a pre-paid phone. While walking the mile to the auto repair shop and car rental service which a drinking buddy of his, Raulf owned Joe phoned him. Joe plan was to rent a car but Raulf insisted on driving him with no explanation professing that if Joe needed to get out of France that’s enough for him.
         Joe found himself focusing on the rain pelting the car’s windows mulling over what happened and why. It was half-past eight in the evening on a warm Saturday night for October and people on the streets, some under umbrellas, were hurrying to their destination. What happened had everything to do with Caminski and what was done to Rener in Istanbul. Joe guessed Caminski was haunted by Mark Rener’s death four years earlier and Ginnie Mira’s imprisonment for it. And now with her getting a new trial Caminski wanted loose ends tied up. Joe knew he was that loose end. All this time Joe could only surmise that Caminski shot Rener. Joe heard a shot, and raced to the end of the building, maybe three seconds, and there was Rener on the ground and Caminski was standing over him, his back to Joe. Caminski turned and seeing Joe said he, himself had just arrived and asked had Joe seen anything. Joe stated he had not. But clearly, Caminski feared Joe had seen him do the killing.
              Joe left Istanbul that night on a scheduled flight to Japan to work with the PSIA, Public Security Intelligence Agency Japan intelligence agency on a newly forming terrorist group. By the time his part in the operation in Japan was over, Ginnie Mira was tried and convicted for murder as a star-crossed lover. So he had to be deft with in Caminski’s view. What better way than to frame him for treason to discredit him.
              Why haven’t I seen this coming, Joe grimaced glancing at his briefcase at his feet? The thirty thousand dollars inside had to be hidden. He decided on a safe place.
         While they drove toward the outskirts of Paris he phoned Aeton Drakos. Aeton agreed to leave right away from his home in Greece to meet Joe once Raulf got him into Austria. Few people would do what he was asking of Raulf and Aeton. This was going to be a straight run, a long road trip for all of them.
              Joe hated calling in favors but he had no choice here. Aeton would do anything to help him after Joe, Cyril Jones and Meka Hebib, another detective from the Rimble's Detective Service tracked the child traffickers who had taken Aeton's three-year-old daughter from Aeton's mistress' house five years back.
         Next, Joe spent some time going over his plan. When the Central Intelligent Agency recruited him from the Marines, Joe made up several scenarios and an end game for each including something like this happening. All he had to do now was make it foolproof. But his mind turned to the woman he met at the bar the other night. The wish he had to know more about Danie Torderelli shocked him. Then another thought followed. Joe phoned the Rimble's Detective Service emergency phone. Seven rings, hang up and wait.

              Cyril heard the burner phone ring placed on his night table and hopped out of bed, got his trousers from the chair and hopped into them. Donning his shirt, socks, and shoes he raced down the stairs to the office. Once dressed Cyril slipped the emergency phone kept in his locked deck into a pocket and headed for the back door. Out in the pouring rain, Cyril put as many blocks between him and the office as he could so the phone would not show up on the CIA's radar. His umbrella fought the wind and rain along the way passed a second cell tower before Cyril stopped in front of a house where leaves of a large tree overhung an iron fence. He hit call on the phone and leaned against the fence letting the leaves shelter him like a canopy.
              Joe answered on the first ring. "Cyril, the worst has happened."
              "Good heavens, I was hoping this wasn't it," Cyril replied.
              "Get everything out of the house, all traces of me, to a safe place as soon as you can. Especially my desk computer, the outer drive, and files the way we planned it. They've decided on a frame using espionage. It's over what happened with Rener's death and Ginnie Mira. I called Aeton. He'll get to me in a few hours I should think. Guard this burn phone, Cyril. This is how we'll communicate.”
              "I will. I'll get it all done right away. Were you followed?"
              "No, I'm sure I made it without a tail. I assume they are looking for me, or they will be soon. And they'll have the word out."
              "I'll tell them you’ve moved," Cyril asked. "Can you tell me what went down?"
              "I came back from that imbecilic meeting in the hotel dining room and found marked thirty thousand US dollars planted in my travel bag," Joe said. "Can you call your greek banker friend and ask for a safe deposit box account to store the money in?"
              "Will do," Cyril denoted. "Stay safe. Ah, I looked into that woman. Though, I suppose it can wait now."
              "Go ahead. What'd you find?"
              "Sure, her full name is Geordana Catherine Torderelli. There are two brothers who she was caring for, parents both are recently dead. Her mother's family sued her for custody of the brothers and Danie lost. The three kids were left about three hundred thousand dollars each and split the money from the sale of their family house worth half a mill. Get this, she lives off the dividends and interest from her own money. It's most in index funds, CD and some stocks. She’s a smart cookie"
              "Is she still at the Pondham Hotel?" Joe asked.
              Cyril did not miss his friend’s interest. "I don't know. Is that where you met her?"
              "At the bar next door, will you see if she is still there?"
              "So this is personal!" Cyril added with a smirk.
              "No!" Joe denied with strenuous force half dreading Cyril's teasing. But he scoffed at himself. Why not admit it? He added before ending the call, "Yeah, it is. I'll call next when I can."
              Still smiling, Cyril didn't bother with the umbrella in the pouring rain and trotted home to get to work.

         After working the rest of the night to erase all signs of Joe from the house, the following morning Cyril set a tail on Danie. Meka Hebib would do mornings, he, himself, would take the afternoons while Marcus Crandell-Jones would work nights.         
              This morning a realtor drove Danie out to the view a couple of quaint thatched country-style cottages in the iconic Cotswolds about an hour and a half from London.
              At noon she was shopping on Oxford Street and bought a green stripe dress and four-inch heels and then took another taxi and was now looking at computers nearer to the Rimble’s office in the Nottinghill. If she keeps spending money this way she’d be using her investment’s principle soon, Cyril predicted while walking up to the same display the young woman stood in front. She was eyeing two of the latest models. The weather was warm for late October and Cyril was carrying his coat. He sat the outer drive he this moment decided to purchase on the counter. He said to the neatly attired junior clerk stocking a cabinet, “Can I pay for this here?”
              “Certainly, sir.” The clerk took Cyril’s money and walked away.
              Danie glanced at the middle-aged man with thick black glasses to her left immediately concluding he could be someone’s butler dressed as he was in a neat dark suit, white shirt and black tie. The man carried his coat over one arm and she realized she was warm also.
              She took off her green leather trench coat weighting the price of the desktop that fit her allotted budget for the purchase. Now her problem was how to get it to the hotel if the shop doesn’t deliver. Her belongings, ten suitcases full arrived this morning but she still couldn’t find a place to live so Reilly could join her. She missed him and everyone and everything she’d left behind. Danie angrily wiped at her nose. You’d think I’d be done crying by now, she berated herself. She began to think this was a mistake to come to England and start over.
              The cottages she looked at were nice. However, she couldn’t decide on one let alone afford to pay for them outright. She hoped her share of the money from the sale of their family home would cover a new house. But lord knows when the house will get sold.
              Seeing the woman was upset Cyril took that moment to state, “I have that one you’re looking at. It’s very reliable.”
              Danie smiled. “That’s good to know. Thank you.”
              The clerk bagged Cyril’s purchase and handed it over the counter with his change. “Thank you, Sir.”
              With a grin, Cyril took it then glanced at Danie.
              Danie was asking the clerk while searching in her handbag, “Can I get this computer delivered to my hotel?”
              “Yes, we can deliver it,” the man said, as Danie handed him a bank card and then mopped her nose with a tissue.
              Oh dear! Cyril groaned she’s crying.
              The clerk gave Cyril a forlorn sympathizing look for her as Danie mumbled the hotel’s address and then sobbed.
              Cyril leaned down and whispered, “You seem awful distressed. Can I buy you a coffee? There’s a shop across the way. I’m Cyril Jones.”
              That was it, Danie sobbed again, it was kind people who always make her more vulnerable. Danie grabbed at her dignity with a few deep breaths and nodded.
Cyril took her arm and steered Danie outside mindlessly chatting about the area's history to the distressed younger woman.
              In the Starbucks, they ordered and went out into the courtyard and set in the warm breeze even though it looked like it could rain at any moment.
              After she took a sip, Danie said feeling embarrassed, “I’m Danie Torderelli. Sorry, I’m so emotional and it fell on you.”
              “No problem, really. I was overdue for coffee anyway,” Cyril said. “Do you feel better?”
              “Yes, I do. Thanks to you,” Danie added with a warm smile. “Do you live around here?”
              “Not far. Do I understand you live at the Pondham Hotel?” Cyril said and took out his leather business card holder from his suit jacket. Slipping a card out of it he passed it to her.
Danie nodded and looked at the card. “Oh!” she inserted, “I have one from someone already.”
         “Really,” he exclaimed. Why hadn’t he thought about that? Joe would have given her his card. “Who from, Marcus Crandell-Jones? He’s my nephew. How did you meet?” Cyril elaborated on the fairy tale.
              “No, a young man with gray air at his temples,” she told him while turning over the card to read Cyril Jones on the back. “We met at the bar next to the hotel.”
              “Joe Graydon you must mean. Yes, he’s a punter there,” he put in and sipped his coffee.
              Danie smiled. “Oh, he goes there often? This is a coincidence, meeting both of you in only a few days. I haven’t seen him since.”
         Danie went back to the bar last night hoping to see him again. It was a let down she had to admit when he wasn’t there. Until now she had no interest in men and grimaced. Not since Ben decided they should ‘just be friends.’ Her only serious relationship was with Ben who she knew from grade school. There would be no one else, she had thought, for the rest of her life until that day. That was last year. Devastated and in despair at first, but when her mother began to die, that all dissolved. Caring for her mother was more important, and after some time she believed Ben was right. And it turned out that he would help her when no one else would through the coming ordeal.
              Cyril changed the subject. “Are you visit from America?” That was when Danie began to talk about her troubles. Cyril knew it all but Danie needed to talk and he let her. When she started talking about her dog, Reilly, Cyril found he couldn’t stop himself from adding offhand while pointed at the card in Danie’s hand. “Why not let your dog stay with us at the office. It’s a house, you see. There’s a walled yard in back and you can come and take care of him there until you find a place. We can stop at the office and you can see what you think,” he finished with a sense of satisfaction which he believed might meet with Joe’s approval. And if not, well, Danie would find a place of her own in the future, he told himself.
              Danie was grinning now. “Okay, yes let’s go if you have time now? I do.”
              “Certainly,” Cyril said getting up. “Where do you want to settle in London?’
              “I was thinking of the Cotswolds, actually.”
              “I love that area myself,” he added. “I have friends who have a cottage in South Cotswolds. I can ask them any questions you might have if you like.”
              “That would be great. It probably sounds silly but I read about it in a mystery series,” Danie said as they walked to a car park along the road.
              “You don’t mean the Agatha Raisin series?” Cyril put in.
              “Yes, have you read those books?” she asked.
              “I have. I love M.C. Beaton! Though I wish Agatha would end up with Sir Charles Fraith,” Cyril conceded.
              “Me, too. James is so, oh, I don’t know, hard to deal with,” Danie said, falling into step with her friend.
              “I agree. And bad for Aggie,” Cyril said leading her to his newly refurbed black nineteen-sixty-two, 4-door Austin complete with ‘bunny-eared’ roof-mounted turn signals. It was minus the taxi roof sign and advertisements which helps little with the odd unaware persons trying to hale him for a ride. He then added, “You’ll like the house. It’s a townhouse really.”

Copyright by J.D. Holiday 2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Living In The Backup Plan: Part 1 at:

Truth As Strange As Fiction: Walking A Mile In Her Shoes, Part 2

 Walking A Mile In Her Shoes, Part 2
Left -SadieNichol, RuthDay, BabeBaron - James Brennan (with hat on)tennis champion
My mother is second from the left.

My mother’s mother was forced on us each summer for two weeks. My father couldnt stand her and so my parents tried any way they could to get out of it. Many telephone fights with her siblings went on before and after each visit. One year we all had the german measles and that included my father. Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 
It fell on the week the ‘battle-ax’ was due for our summer visit from her. We lounge around in the living room where the TV was with our pillows and blankets, our father sat in the armchair. My mother came in from the kitchen and said in a worried tone, “We should tell them so someone else can take our turn. Old people can die from it.”

“Let her come,” my father said. “Maybe she’ll die and put an end to our misery.”
My mother threw up her hands, made a clicking sound and left the room. I was horrified he would say that until I learn of the abuse my mother had to deal with from her.
MOM (Ruth c Dunn Day) and me (Janice Day Amenta)1951
MOM (Ruth Day) and me.
When I met my future husband, Buddy on a blind date when we were fifteen and sixteen, he came over after school before he would go to his part-time job at the supermarket. One time was while my grandmother was there and she wanted to sit on the porch. She was frail now and walked with a cane. Buddy help her to the porch carrying a chair and walking behind her in case she fell. When he left, my grandmother said to me, “He’s a nice boy. Too bad he’s Italian.” One of her daughters married an Italian and this had been a bone of contention. Later I told my father what she had said and he laughed. He never liked any of the boys I or my sisters brought home but this changed everything for me and Buddy! Buddy became like a son to my father.
I once heard my father and mother talking in a way I never heard them do before. My father used to take trips to Washington D.C. as the accountant on a team of negotiators for Curtis-Wrights Industries working on government contracts. My parents stood at the pantry door. Dad was saying, “Why Ruth? Why?” The pain in his voice. My mother had drank all the beer and to try and hid it, filled the bottles with water. I didn’t know for a long time what that conversation was about until my sister Doris told me all she knew of our mother’s alcoholism.
Dunn sister - Ruth Day and Alice Bamper abt 1950s-see the washing machine behind them_edited-1
Ruth Day (left) and her sister, Alice -
see the washing machine behind them.
My mother was abused, persecuted as a child with a sick mother.
I wonder if she felt the beatings were her own fault. Was it the guilt her mother heaped on her. Maybe mom did feel being mistreated was her own fault; she was bad so that was why she deserved the mistreatment. Did all this lead to feelings that she had no room to talk or criticize others? Did she think she didn’t deserve to feel good about herself and so never talked about the good she’d done?
When she was twenty-three, she had a mental break-down. Her father who liked to drink gave my mother beer to get through it. So that was how she learned to cope with life.
I believe my father tried to take care of her in the best way he knew with the information and lack of support available to them. 
In the nineteen fifties and sixties alcoholics with treated badly to say it mildly. There was little support for those with the disease and their families. It would be a year or so after my mother’s death before alcoholism was declared a disease and the understanding we now give it.
Mom and dad, Ira and Ruth Day 1967
Mom and Dad, Ira
and Ruth Day, 1967
My mother was persecuted by people which included her own family and my father’s mother. She received anonymous phone calls a few times a week as long as I can remember. All we knew about these calls were that they shouted names at her and she would be upset after one. In those days there was no way to find out who the caller was. I suspected it was a hostile friend of my father’s mother who did it at that grandmother’s direction. She was another piece of work.
My father died sixteen months before my mother of heart disease. I was nineteen at the time. We were all lost without him. None more than my mother. She stopped eating and just drink beer. These months were even more horrible than the year and a half leading up to my father’s death. With her being out of it all the time people disappeared from her life quickly. Some showed up for the money she was willing to give away just to have them talk to her.
One sister wouldn’t take her phone calls. This was the same sister that when her husband was cheating on her, my mother would drag us all over to be with and comfort her.  Later, when my mother was dying in the hospital she came. She screamed at me, “Why didn’t you tell us?”
I said, “Where were you when she needed you!”
Another sister wanted her to still watch their mother for the two weeks that year, and without my father to intervene, that sister said to her, “He had to die to get away from you.”
I was standing next to her in the kitchen on Lake Avenue the house my father bought for us before he became ill. My mother began sobbing and I took the phone telling her sister to never call us again.
Places she shopped at for years and took her credit wouldn’t now and some told her not to come there again. She doctor offered no help. No one did. She was not in an acceptable condition and did not have an acceptable disease.
To this day some have nothing kind to say about her. Even many years after her death there were still people making derogatory remarks with disdain like, ‘She came to my house with a six-pack and wanted to drink it!’
My mother was dying. So what was their excuse for abandoning her?
I still miss her. Ruth Catherine Day. 

© 2019 by J.D. Holiday

Part 1 of Truth As Strange As Fiction: Walking A Mile In Her Shoes is at:

Truth As Strange As Fiction: Walking A Mile In Her Shoes, Part 1

Walking A Mile In Her Shoes, Part 1

Left -SadieNichol, RuthDay, BabeBaron - James Brennan (with hat on)tennis champion
My mother is second from the left.
In the mid-1960s, my mother, Ruth, saved a toddler's life when our family was a Lake Rick-A-Bear Lake, in Kinnelon New Jersey. She was heading for the snack bar on the beach and coming along the path of trees that ran beside the lake just past the picnic tables she saw it in the water apparently having fallen off the bank. No one else was around or watching the baby. She waded into the water and grabbed the child. I came along shortly after and one of the beachgoers rushed up to me and said, your mother saved that baby over there from drowning. I didn’t say a thing while looking to the side. I couldn’t see the baby with the crowd of people huddled around, many of them talking loudly.I kept walking back to your picnic table more off the path and in a secluded area of the woods. My dad was grilling burgers and chicken wings the rest of the family sitting either at the table or in Adirondack chairs smiling. For once no one was saying a word. I said to my mother, someone said you saved a baby?
Mom just continued to smile, she blue eyes shining and gave me a shrugged. That was her.I discovered something else about my mother when I was in high school. I took French my first year from Mrs. Chackmanoff. She was a French Jew teaching in a Catholic school. The first day she called my name and asked me to stand. She told the class that she was honored to be teaching me because it was my mother who taught her English. 

Ruth 36' Garet Mountain overlook PatersonSITE
My mother at 21.

When I told my mother this after school she just said, Yeah,” with her smile, “she didn’t speak English. They lived upstairs from us when you were a baby. We babysat for each other. Her husband was a Russian Prince.”

We lived on Madison Avenue in Paterson and we had lived on this block once before eight doors up from where we were living in a block of terraced rowhomes. Mrs. Chackmanoffs family had the apartment above ours.
At the end of freshman year, Mrs. Chackmanoff called me up to her desk and told me she was passing me even though I failed French because she used to change my drapers and for all my mother did for her when her family first came to this country. She told me she had been in a concentration camp in World War II when the Germans held France. When the Russian arrived her future husband was among them and they liberated the camp saving thousands. She later married him and came to America. At first, our two families could only wave and smile at each other. One day my mother went to the small grocery store on Market Street and found Mrs. Chackmanoff standing in the last aisle crying and looking at the change in her hand. My mother saw she was trying to buy bread and jelly. She pointed out the coins for the two items and from then the English lessons began.
Mom didn’t tell me any of that. She was like that. She didn't talk about others as I remember it. I told my mother what Mrs. Chackmanoff said about finding her in the grocery stores and she did her usual shrug with a smile. I felt such admiration for her.

My mother never spoke badly about anyone. And she didn’t talk badly about her own mother.
There were signs I suppose along the way. Though what did we, her children, have to compare it with? We know only our own bubble, our small safe and comfortable albeit lower middle-class sphere created by our two parents. My friends home life seen just like mine with else kids as far as I could tell. We had fun times at our house. Great holiday with wonderful meals. Getting ready for Christmas’ would be weeks of examining Sears and Spiegel’s catalogs to write our lists for Santa and then drives to toy stores to view what we wanted. Our father would come back later and buy the gifts though at times saving money with a cheaper version. There were board or card games on Saturday night after my mom’s weekly great fried chicken dinner. Some Sundays, long car rides, four kids stuffed in the back seat elbow to elbow after the kids went to church and then for dinner, sandwiches and a bakery layer cake, the special treat of the week. This was followed by watching Bonanza and the Ed Sullivan Show. Thursdays were chili dogs, known in Paterson as Hot-Dogs-All-The-Way, and fries from any number of hotdog restaurants around the city. In the summer, day trips to the lake to swim and a week at the Jersey shore.
After school some days I would come home to find my sister, Doris having tea with our mother, the prized tea set all laid out on the dining room table. They would be talking and laughing. I spent some afternoons watching the Million Dollar Movie of the day with our mother. She would go back and forth to the kitchen cooking supper.
Then my mother worked around the house more times than not she would be happily humming her favorite tunes.

I suppose some signs something was wrong was that sometimes lunch would be on the table when we ran in from school and sometimes mom would still be in bed. Then we would make our own lunch from lunch meat and cheese in the refrigerator or peanut butter and jelly. Sometimes we would find her crying in the bedroom.
John & Sadie DunnSite
Her parents.
She did not like conflict. If any of her five children were fighting and telling them to stop didn’t work she would fling one of her penny loafers at them usually missing. One time the shoe hit her china cabinet breaking the glass door and her prized china inside. I remember it. That was me and my brother, Ike. She sat and cried as we ran from the house only to return when we knew the heat would be out. All the glass was cleaned up and nothing was said about it, ever!

I first learned about my mother’s early life from my sister, Doris, who spent time with her godmother, one of my mother’s close sisters, and years after the same accounts from a couple of her sisters in the few conversations I had with them.

The story goes that my mother was her mother’s ‘whipping boy.’ Her mother beat only her even though she had six other children. No one seems to know why. And those we talked to said they knew not to intervene.
Years later my parents would help two other members of my mother’s family elope with ‘unacceptable’ men drawing the ire of the ‘old battle-ax’ that my father called his mother-in-law. I think this was an act of rebellion, long overdue, by my mom inspired my dad’s self-assertive nature.

Other things my aunts told me about my mother was that she was always kind, quiet, pleasant, smart, religious and always nervous. She like roller skating. She went to Saint John’s Grammar school in Paterson and then business school and became a comptometer operator, the comptometer being the first commercially successful key-driven mechanical calculators made in the United States back in 1887. She was so good at it she was in demand at banks. 

Ruth C Dunn Day abt 16 years
My mother at about 16.
During World War II my mother set up offices for Curtis-Wrights Industries who made plane for the military and where my father worked for all his life though the two did not date until meeting at a Holy Name parade one year. My father was a member of The Holy Name Society and my mother a parade goer.
What I know about my parents' wedding was that it was a judge of the piece ceremony. My mother wore a business suit. One of her closest sisters, Aunt (Frances) Babe and Uncle Marty, my father’s best friend, stood in for them. It was during the war and no other family members were present and there were no pictures taken.

© 2019 by J.D. Holiday

Next in Part 2: My grandmother is forced on us each summer for two weeks. We all get the german measles one week the ‘battle-ax’ was do to visit.

Part 2 of Truth As Strange As Fiction: Walking A Mile In Her Shoes is at: 

The Book Report: Silent Voices, Review by J.D. Holiday

Silent Voices speak from the grave in this gothic style collection of short stories by Fran Lewis.

If you ever felt wrong and thought of revenge, one of these characters in Silent Voices could do the job and do it well. And you might find you agree with me that some of the characters deserve what they get.
The atmosphere and characters feel real in these stories and you are drawn in to see what happens next. At times I was there with them in their GRAVES. I read the whole book in two short sittings.
Fran Lewis is one of my go-to authors for great short stories. As a short story writer and reader myself, I was fascinated by the fabulous imagery in this collection.
You will be enthralled by Fran Lewis’ talent. My Grandmother is my favorite. This grandmother outwits her three granddaughters and they don’t see it coming.
You can find more stories like these in Fran’s other books; Faces Behind the Stones, Bad Choices and Hidden Truths & Lies. Enjoy this read!
You can find her book reviews at

Faces Behind the Stones

Bad Choices: Faces Behind the Stones (Volume 2) Paperback

Hidden Truths & Lies (Faces Behind the Stones)

Living In The BackUp Plan: Part 1

              Why am I on a stool in this bar, Danie thought staring into her G&T in the East End London? Why she was drinking a Gin and Tonic was easy. It was the go-to drink of her favorite detective character by B. C. Beaton. And she supposed this travel to London England was too, in a way. One of the planes leaving out of Philadelphia heading away from her life was to England. Agatha Raisin's England. Britain or Italy were the choices having ancestors from both countries.
              The pub was in a centuries-old darkish building with a wooden-beamed low ceiling and yet the candlelit lamps around the room gave it an attractive atmosphere. The place was crowded with thirtysomethings occupying both ends of the bar with her in the middle fitting right in being four years younger. Some of the tables had the seventies and counting ups crowd at them with a few tables sporting the in-between generations. She didn't want to talk. Luckily the woman dressed for the kill and covered in jewelry on her left gave Danie her back as she was engaged with making a score with a guy in perfect business attired.
              The large guy on her right wearing a shirt with a multi-color grid necktie tried chatting with her using an unusual line. "Where'd you get those clothes, sweetheart?"
              Danie glanced down at her 1960's ensemble; vintage white short leather jacket, Lambskin black Mod cap, black and white mini skirt and go-go boots. Bought in a retro boutique near Spitalfields Market while doing her own walking tour her guide book in hand. She was trying to obliterate her life from her mind by absorbing the amalgamation of cultures around. She had to admit, it didn't work.
              "This is the twenty-first century, sweetheart!" the man was saying, an open mouth grin on his face."And your hair is all wrong. It's too straight for that time frame. Are those dark roots?” he leaned in for a closer look. “Your blonde color isn't really blonde, is it?"
              Danie got rid of Mr. Notmytype when she said using a posh accent, "Piss off, dear."
              He turned away and Dannie sighed, maybe I'll travel to the Cotswolds and buy a house like Agatha's. That was followed by the thought she should get back to the hotel and hideout. Be alone.
              Forgetting Mr. Notmytype she pictured her father as she remembered him. Then pictures of her mother going through her illness floored back followed by her brothers as she said bye to them in the courthouse. She was weary; worn out yet she felt the tears that come behind seeing all their faces once more. Danie's body sagged as she leaned forward and put her head on her hands.
              Movement next to her made Danie glance around. Mr. Notmytype was getting up and headed for the door. The two men were standing behind her talking. What was said make her glance at them?
              The deep voice of one said, “Wait outside. When she leaves you go with her.”
              Danie frowned, what's that about? She eyed both men. One was thick-set in a dark jacket, light pants, and a cap. The man who talked moved into the vacated stool on her right. He was in a dark suit, had a full head of dark hair going gray. From his voice, Danie knew he was an American.
              He turned to look at her. Danie quickly opened her purse and searched inside for a tissue. She closed her purse and wiped at her eyes with the tissue. She picked up her drink only to sit it down again.
              GOD knows what will become of her two younger brothers. Forced to be divided and each moving in with a greedy aunt, their mother’s two sisters, who lied to the court. Her mother’s will giving them custody and power over both her brother’s money. They denied that they had promised their dying sister her last wish to disregard the will and let the boys stay with Danie living in their own home until they were of age and the estate would go to them directly. Danie told her mother she wouldn’t need more money than what she already had been given after the death of their father three years earlier.
              Danie had run from the courthouse unable to bare the total ending of her family. It was all gone. Yes, hugs and kisses were sparse at home but that wasn’t all there is to love. There was kindness and lots of it.
              A quick good-bye to the boys at the end of court she drove to Ben’s house. She ran from the hurt like escaping from an abusive lover. A place unknown to her other than what she knew from tv shows she saw and books she read. Some of them were places she'd like to see before making a final decision. All her belongings were packed in Ben's car since he would drive Danie to the airport and sell her own car for her. He was already caring for her black lab, Reilly and would send him on to her once she found a place she could live. She was going to start over in the backup plan she had worked out.
              Her brothers Skylar, age seventeen and Leland, fourteen, told her they would miss her but reassured her they would be okay since there was nothing any of them could do to change the situation. Skylar added they would think of it as a new adventure after all the sadness. They would still have their friends, a few cousins their own age and be in the same school. They were just trying to comfort her, she knew. The three of them spent the night before the final court hearing talking and making arrangements to keep in touch by texting and skyping.
              Danie swiped at her eyes again, not caring that her smudged makeup was being totally swiped away.
              “You’re not doing very well at drowning your sorrows,” the man now sitting in Mr. Notmytype’s seat said.
              Danie looked his way. He was sitting facing her. She glanced at the half-full glass in front of her. “That’s not wise I’ve been told,” she remarked, liking the sound of her own British accent.
              He kept glimpsing across the room at a table where a couple was having an engrossing conversation."No, it's not," he said tilting his head to one side and meeting her brown eyes.
              Danie hurriedly looked away slightly flustered and took a sipped from her drink.
              "You live around here?" he was asking.
              "No, I'm staying at the hotel next door," she said darting a look his way.
              But he was looking at that couple again.
              "Your girlfriend? Why are you watching them?" she queried, now supposing that was the case and he was stalking the woman.
              He turned to Danie and gave her a smile. "No, she’s not. I'm Joe. Joe Graydon. What's your name?"
              “Danie people call me."
              "Short for Danielle?" he pressed while once more surveying the couple across the room.
              She studied his profile. "No," she retorted, not liking his presumption. "That’s what everyone thinks! You didn't answer my question."
              "About what?" he said transferring his gaze back to her. He scrutinized her not missing a thing.
              "She's not your girlfriend so why are you watching them?" Danie questioned, now with a strong interest.
              Joe shrugged and the chuckled. "Let's say I'm doing a job. Nothing more."
              "If your a spy you need to work on your technique," she remarked.
              His mouth fell open. "Really!"
              "Unless you are trying to be obvious. Then you have it down pat. I heard cops sometimes do an open tail."
              He was looking across the room again. Danie did the same.
              He said laughing out loud, "You get that phrase from a tv show?"
              Danie blinked and focused on finishing her drink to cover her red face.
              "I'm a detective of sorts," Joe added and held out his hand.
              There was that quick smile of his. Danie didn't hesitate and shook his hand. This time his grin turned into a quick laugh then back to that smile that said he was listening. She stared at their interlocked hands. "I'm Geordana Torerelli."
              "Like another drink?" Joe asked.
              "No, I should get back," Danie said, taking out her wallet. She frowned thinking she didn’t really have any reason to go.
              Joe was disappointed. He was enjoying the light exchange they were having. "I like your outfit. I remember..." he stopped, glancing from her to the couple and then back.
              Danie looked too. The man was looking their way.
              "You remember from the 1960s," she said finishing his thought.
              "Hardly," he quipped with a raise of an eyebrow. "I was going to say I remember seeing pictures with your style of dress from then. I'm probably not much older than you."
              "Sorry. I saw your hair and..." She motioned for the bartender, to hid her screwup. She should go back to the hotel thinking she needed to be alone.
              But Joe said, his money in hand, "I've had gray in my hair since I was sixteen. I'll get the bill."
"Thanks, you don't have to," Danie said, her emotions swirling. She did like him; his face, his great smile and the lull of his deep-set voice.
              As the barman took the money Joe demanded, "Hey, what's happened to your accent. It vanished. You're an American or Canadian. Where are you from?"
              Danie gave a little laugh. "New Jersey, USA," she told him and looked across the room, "You aren't watching your couple anymore. They're leaving. You didn't detect that!"
              "You're a funny person, I see. I saw what I needed," he said.
              Danie nodded and stood. "Thanks for the drink Mr. Gumshoeman."
              "You're welcome. Will you be here long?" Joe asked.
              "I don't know. No, I guess. I have to find a place soon. My dog is going to be shipped over so I need to get a place for him and me."
               Joe nodded and reached into his suit jacket. He pulled out a business card. "Here's my card. While you’re here call me if you like. Hope I see you around, Danie."
              Danie took it and said goodbye. Walking to the door she read the card.
'Rimble's Detective Service. Joe Graydon.' On the back was a cell number and Kramer Road, Nottinghill. She tucked the card into her jacket pocket and realized she'd stopped crying some time ago.
              As Danie went out the door Joe stood and watched her go fighting an inner battle to go after her. There was no denying, Danie was something special.

Joe put his phone away. A call from HQ out of the blue never sat well with Joe. He wasn’t sure what was happening but something was up. His jobs came from the head of the Europe station: Stan Wright; another rat in the pack. In the best of times, Morton Caminski was squirrelly. Lately even more so. Joe sensed a difference in the running of the Company in Washington and it started when Caminski took over.
              Turning onto Kramer from Pembridge Joe went to the Victorian-style townhouse that Rimble used for the Detective business and turned the key in the lock. He walked through the entrance way to the hall with the crimson wood trim that permeated the entire house.
              Cyril Jones came from his office. "How’d it go?"
              "She did what she was supposed to. Simon and Moreley can take it from here, " Joe informed his trusted friend. "I'm off in the morning to France. I’m meeting with Wright and Koler. Something’s up. I’m wondering what Caminski has up his sleeve. He phone a few minutes ago."
              “Oh,” Cyril mouthed startled, all to mindful of the consequences that could mean coming from CIA headquarters.
              He took the stairs two at a time heading for his apartment on the third floor. The second-floor being Cyril’s rooms and their ‘safe house’ if one is needed. Halfway up, Joe stopped, "Searle?"
             Cyril halted on the threshold to his office. "Yes, boss?"
              "Find out what you can about a Geordana Torderelli from New Jersey, USA. Danie to her friends, mid-twenties, blonde hair, brown eyes," Joe said continuing up the stairs.
              "Anything in particular you want to know?" Cyril called.
              "Anything. And everything," Joe exclaimed, reaching the second-floor landing.


THANK YOU Fran Lewis for the Wonderful Review of SIMPLE THINGS!

March 22, 2019

Simple Things: J.D. Holiday
Review by Fran Lewis

Imagine what would happen if there was a world where young teens or middle school children got along. Imagine what would happen if kindness, understanding and true friendship weighed heavily above greed, material gain and bullying. Author J. D. Holiday introduces us to the Cameron children and their friend Carlos. Meeting them will endear you to the entire family, including a special dog named Mitch. What happens when a young girl named Trisha comes into their lives? Magic, love, helpfulness and the true meaning of Christmas just might win out when presents take a backstage to helping someone in need.
When a Trisha Johnson finds herself all alone when the only person caring for her dies, the events that follow will warm your heart to a group of teens that show kindness, understanding and true friendship an orphan named Trisha. Taking all the money that her Uncle John had before he died, learning about his death from the nurses in the hospital, Trisha is on the street with her dog, Mitch. Tying him to a pole to go into the mission, she comes out to learn he was stolen. Trisha is now all alone in this world, but miracles can happen in many ways as she becomes friends with the Cameron children and events might change it all. Hoping to find Mitch, her dog by going back into the mission and asking for help leaves her nowhere.
While this is happening Kirby. Phoebe, Tucker, and their friend Carlo are watching for a delivery van hoping it will bring them their Christmas gifts. But someone hits the driver and hijacks the van and the gifts or whatever was in the van is gone. Vic is cruel, hurts his dog and does not care about anything or anyone. Daring anyone to try and stop his reign of terror little does he know he is about to come up against this feisty girl. Watching him pull and tug at his dog, somehow, they manage to get Bates and bring him safely to their home.
But their Gram seems to think that Vic can do no wrong so what will happen if they ask her for help with Trisha, to find her dog or should they call the police? But Trisha pleads with them not to phone the police because she realizes that she might be in trouble with child services and be placed in a foster home. Hoping to find her real father and with a note from her mother that arms her with what she needs, she meets Phoebe and her brothers and immediately they bond, but daring, zealous and highly intelligent as each one comes up a plan or part of a plan to help Trisha find Mitch and have a haven in their home.
Gram learns about Mitch as her grandchildren tell her about Vic and something happens where they learn more about other missing dogs and the possibility of illegal dog fights as Trisha spots Mitch and other dogs in the back of a truck but she’s too late to rescue him.
What is important to most children at holiday time is receiving gifts and namely the ones that they want. Some people in Santa while others become jaded and think he does not really exist. However, believing in something is what makes the holidays come alive and special for kids and even adults.
Vic is dangerous and as the reader and the kids get to know him and watch him with Bates and his actions with others, you come to realize that Gram has been blindsided and does not want to face the truth about him. But, will this ever change, and will she come to terms with who he really is and help Trisha find her dog and act against him for his other deeds?
Gram did not want to believe that Vic was as dangerous as they were saying and then Trisha saw a sidebar on the news on the net stating that there was a dogfighting ring the police suspected operation in their city, leading her to believe that somehow her dog might be in danger and that Bates the dog really meant BATE.
Things spiral out of control, but first the author introduces us to Tom Frankel and something about him sends a flare in Trisha’s mind and could this man be someone she needs to know if so why?
When the truth behind why Tom is interested in her comes out things take on a different and dangerous turn for all the children as they are determined to stop what someone has put in place. Presents are important to everyone during the holidays and things spiraled out of control when the children asked to go shopping with their mother and the truth behind their reasons might have costed them more than they ever would expect.
Betrayals, deceptions and a family and several friends that ban together to help one young girl, find the clues and reason for the dog’s being taken and hopefully restore their faith in friendship, hope, understanding and family as the Cameron children teach everyone the true meaning of friendship and the spirit of the holiday season. But, what about Gran and her faith in someone? The intelligence and ingenuity of the Cameron children and the faith they have in each other this book could lead to a series having them solve other mysteries and adding in Trisha and more about her and Tom. Characters that are well developed and realistic and a plot that will keep younger teens and middle school children wanting to learn more about these children and even deciding in discussion groups how they would have handled helping Trisha and taking down the dog fighting ring, this book teaches lessons in understanding, forgiveness, friendship, loyalty and love.
The future of many are at stake, but the one thing that I really loved is how author J.D. Holiday makes us all realize that it’s not riches, jewels, expensive cars and items that are important it is just plain and SIMPLE THINGS.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, textReview FRAN LEWIS can be found at: 

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Truth, As Strange As Fiction: Life In Riverside

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The Great Falls of Paterson, NJ
Riverside is a larger neighborhood in Paterson, New Jersey. Its boarded on three sides by the Passaic River, hence its name. My husband Angelo grew up in Riverside on Fifth Avenue. Everyone in the neighborhood was familiar with the mob's management style learned from fearful whispers. From the 60s through the 70s the mob was in control of this Italian neighborhood. Like other ‘families’ in other places, in Riverside the mob owned most everything. They owned many types of businesses. Among them oil and textile, dozens of factories that had seen better days, the local lumberyard, a couple of bars and a few restaurants. Even the local laundromat and a whole lot of real estate - many run down houses which crammed the city streets. It was far from an upscale area.
Random crime was not done in Riverside without the perpetrator facing retaliation to set an example. And the only killings, shootings and stabbings, handled the 'family.'
Between the police presence and the mob it was safe to walk the streets. Joseph D. Pistone aka FBi undercover agent ‘Donnie Brasco,’ said that growing up in Paterson he learned how local mobsters acted as he saw them hanging around, gambling, doing ''the basic things that wise guys do.”
The street rules were, don’t meet their eyes if you could help it, or if you did, look away as 
quick as you can. And if spoken to, be polite. You could see them at their local hangout
in the back booth and a nearby table in the pizzeria on River Street talking, smoking and reading newspapers or the daily racing forms.
During the race riots that followed the death of a great uniter Martin Luther King (1968) whose words and deeds would be later hijacked for political gain, the Riverside area stayed untouched for this very reason.
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This is what the house Angelo grew
us it looks like today.
While Riverside escaped the turmoil, my part of town near Madison Avenue and Market Street wasn't so luck. The riots brought nightly looting and fires to the businesses. We kept our doors locked and shades down through the curfewed nights. Each morning we'd wake and feeling jittery head out for school once the seven AM road barricades lifted.
National Guard lined the streets and manned the barriers while their military tanks (this was my first time I’d ever seen a tank) and jeeps parked nearby. My dad drove me to St. Joseph’s High School through these narrow cobblestone back roads. We meandered along those street to avoid any lingering problem passed an unkempt park.
This whole area was hundreds of years old. I asked my dad how he knew about these street. They were new to me. He smiled. In his college days, he said he attended William Paterson college then located on twenty-third Ave and worked for a beer distributor. He would deliver beer weekly to the St. Joe’s rectory for the priest’s Friday night deliver on these very roads.
Any murders in Riverside were not gangland killings, those between mob families over turf. But of anyone who betrayed or inform on the mob. Their bodies left in the open over night as an example to others. A few major cases were of a guy knifed on Fifth Avenue and left at the bus stop for the morning commute. Another was a man shoot threw the windshield and his car backed into a parking space in the A&P lot, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company-an extinct grocery stores chain. The third happened at 1:30 AM on October of 1966. A neighbor of Gabriel ‘Johnny the Walk’ DeFranco, (known for a limp when he walked), looked out and saw three men assail DeFranco on his apartment porch at the corner of Madison and 5th Avenues. DeFranco answered his doorbell to his killers. They beat DeFranco before slashing his throat. His killing would be later connected to an earlier murder of a young married woman shot twice in the head in February of that year. Her body dumped in a Garden State Parkway gully not far from her home. Her car was found in Newark doused with gas and on fire. Both murders were later connected to a wife-swapping club, amateur porno shoots, and counterfeiting.
Angelo was paperboy in the early 60s in the neighborhood and DeFranco was his best tipping customer. Angelo rode his bike to do his paper route after school. One time a couple of mob guys stopped him. They ask him to take a bag and ride down a block and throw it into the open window of a black sedan. Angelo murmured, “I got to get home,” and rode off. He knew not to do anything of that source.
Angelo and I married in 1970 and for a time we lived with my in-laws. (More on that in a future post.) Shortly we moved next door with our baby to the first-floor apartment of the corner house. Both my parents had died sixteen months apart and the rest of my family imploded in the squabbling aftermath. For me, my father was the glue. When he died my mother slipped away from the rest of the cracking paste which crumbled after her.
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THIS is the house we rented in the 1970s.
This is what it looks like today.
The mob boss drove himself around in a Cadillac. He would stop by for the rent money from my mother-in-law first of every month and have coffee with her. My husband’s family paid sixty-five dollars a month for as long as they lived there while most renters paid one hundred-fifty dollars and had to go to the lumber yard to pay it. If my father-in-law had a few drinks he would say the landlord was sweet on her. She got us the apartment next door.
I only met the mob boss twice and remembered all the rules of engagement barely looking at him while greeting him with smiling. I couldn't have described him if someone paid me.
Both meetings were in my mother-in-law’s unattractive aqua colored kitchen. All the rooms were the same color. That included the walls, woodwork and ceilings of this early nineteen hundreds house remodeled for the 1960s.
Near the end of the four years we lived in Riverside Angelo begun interning as a nuclear medical tech . He was now lived near that Pennsylvania hospital. So it was up to me to walk around to the lumber yard where renters paid there rent on the first of the month. Lumber of all sizes laid around in neat stacks lining the driveway you had to walk down. I don’t think lumber in the yard or at else from those stacks ever moved. I would write the check out at home to be able to get in and out of the office fast. You didn’t know who would be in the office. Usually a few men hung around a water cooler off to the side of the front counter giving you the eye. But it you were luck it would just be the one nice guy there was working the office. He wasn't much older than me and he was always respectful. Only once did one of the wise guys try to chat me up as I nervously looked away. But Mr. Nice Guy told him, “She’s married and a young mother,” to him and a smile for me.
Soon a new reason to leave arose. By this time muggings and worse began devastating the area. The neighborhood schools continued the downhill spiral they’d been on for years. My daughter was now a four year old and this was on our minds heading into the future. On weekday mornings I would feed my daughter, get ready for work and then get her dressed for another day with her grandmother. This one day, she couldn’t find her pink bow headband. It was a favorite for the moment, so I joined in her search. Earlier, she was playing on the couch in front of the TV. Thinking that was the best place to start, I moved a cushion and put my hand around it feeling to the beloved headband but pulled out a warm died baby rat. I knew mice from rats. I dropped it and drew my daughter away from the couch, leashed the puppy we took in after someone had dumped it in our backyard and ran to my in-laws. The lumber yard sent a couple of men right over in answer to my frantic phone call where I was told, "Yeah, we are have that problem in the area right now." They gave me the all clear the next day, but that was it for us. While we packed to move we found huge lifeless relatives of the baby rat in the yard. We saw our future elsewhere now. The old Riverside mob was beginning to lose its grip and the younger guys, now heavily into the drug trade and the crimes that it brought with it. No more ‘safety’ from the horrors of life.

~JD Holiday

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