Friday, February 7, 2014

How Did Mama Bones Cheat at Bingo?

My boss’s mother, Mama Bones Bonacelli, is on line one when I arrive at the office -- some kind of confrontation with the Branchtown police. Oh, boy. Line two is that tight-assed cutie from the American Association of Securities Dealers, Ann Marie Talbot. A pretty-but-repressed schoolmarm type, Ann Marie wants to update me on her regulatory audit of our bond firm.

I’d like to update her audit.

I flip a coin to see who gets first shot at me.

“Hi, Mama Bones. What’s up?”

“’Allo, Austin. I need-a your help.”

Mr. Vic’s mom, Angelina Bonacelli, has lived in Branchtown, New Jersey sixty-three of her sixty-eight years, but she still speaks English as if she’d heard our language for the first time last week. She does this on purpose -- makes herself sound helpless -- when in truth the woman is tougher than week-old tomato pie. I tuck the phone between my shoulder and ear. “What’s the matter, Mama Bones. One of your zombies bite a cop?”

“Up yours,” she says. “My boy Vittorio says I should call you if I need help while he’s outta town. And I need your help. I’m under the arrest.”

“Under arrest? You’re at the police station?”

“I’m home now, but the policeman is here to take me there. He says I cheated on the bingo game.”

“Bingo game?”

“At the church. You know. I go every Sunday night. The policeman says the game is fixed, that I gotta go to jail. Can you believe such a thing about Mama Bones?”


“Austin?” It’s my associate Carmela, tugging on my sleeve. “Ms. Talbot said to tell you she’s finished the audit and that she’s leaving town. She needs to talk to you immediately. And Bobby Gee says you have to speak with one of Vic’s clients.”

The heck with Talbot, the AASD, Vic’s client, and Bobby Gee. Bingo, huh? I’m really curious about this. The world of chance is Mama Bones’ oyster, and if there’s a way to cheat at bingo, she’s the one to have figured it out. By successfully playing the ponies each Saturday, the long widowed Mama Bones put Vic through four years at Rutgers.

“Can I talk to the policeman, Mama Bones? Maybe I can straighten this out.”

“Sure, smarty pants. That’s why I called. It’s your friend, Jimmy Mallory.”

This is how my days have been going since Shore Securities’ boss Vic Bonacelli took his family on an extended vacation to Italy, an event that kicked off my second mystery adventure, BIG MONEY. Last week on Dru Love's blog -- where this amalgamation of novel and blog post first appeared -- I tried to ask The Famous Author some pointed questions, but since I did that last time on her blog, Dru said it was Getze’s turn to make the inquiries.

His family and I call Getze The Famous Author because he is so NOT famous.

TFA – Scruffy, naïve, cocky, shady, scumbag, accursed and “a hot mess” are a few of the terms Goodreads reviewers have used to describe you. What’s the truth, Austin? Are you a good guy or a bad guy?

Austin Carr – Black or white, I’m a good guy. Pretty women can potentially make me twist a financial regulation or two, so I’d understand if you wouldn’t want me to handle your stock and bond investments. But my two children -- Beth and Ryan – are the most important things in my life. I’m a single dad. I love animals, redheads, Mexican food. And when life calls me to battle, my weapon of choice is a full-boat grin. Easy-going is my middle name. Also, in BIG MONEY, you’ll see I’m loyal to a fault.

TFA – I guess easy and loyal are two ways to describe your actions in the second Austin Carr Mystery, although I can think of less flattering terms: Risky, stupid, naïve –
AC – Hey! Everything I do, everything I say comes from your head, bozo. Don’t start.

TFA – And don’t forget self-incriminating. I love what Kirkus Indie said about your “vestigial moral sensibility, which like an appendix, makes itself felt at inconvenient times.”
AC – You want to talk about moral sensibilities, Getze? How many more times than twice have you been married?”

TFA – Ouch. Okay, I’m backing off. Let’s keep this discussion on point. Although it’s not really fair because I still owe you a zinger from the last time we appeared on Dru’s blog.
AC – You owe me two zingers now, ace. But trust me, a truce is in your best interests. I will out zing you all day and all night. You couldn’t catch up in a month of Sundays -- with Jimmy Fallon writing your material. You have no timing. Now ask me a decent question. Something interesting.

TFA – Dru’s guests often describe a typical day in their life. Why don’t you tell us what your days are like.
AC – Are you kidding? I did that already, remember? Mama Bones needed my help with Branchtown’s local law enforcement?

TFA – Oh, yeah. What crime did she commit again?
AC – She got caught cheating at the church bingo game.

TFA – That’s right. Odd. I already know the answer, of course, and I’m not going to ask, but shouldn’t you tell everyone how Mama Bones actually cheated at the bingo game? I bet they’re curious.
AC – I’m not telling. They have to buy the book. It’s called a sales hook, TFA.

TFA – Sounds more like a cheap trick. Some people reading this are really anxious to know.
AC – Cheap trick is my middle name.

TFA – I thought you said easy-going was your middle name?
AC – That’s right. I have three: Easy-Going, Cheap Trick and TFA is a Sucker.