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WING AND A PRAYER – HOW THEY MET – PART THREE

WING AND A PRAYER

HOW THEY MET – PART THREE

“Hi, Father.” Lisa Vito smiled as she approached the two men. Her hair was pulled back, and she was dressed for serious training in cutoff shorts, kicks, and a crop top that revealed her taut shoulders.

“Good afternoon, Lisa,” he replied. “Nice to see a young lady with an interest in pugilism.”

“I think there must be some kind of mistake,” Vinny said. “This here is boxing lessons, not choir practice.”

She razzed him. “Trust me, I’ve heard you sing. With all due respect, if I wanted singing lessons I wouldn’t be coming to you anyways.”

Vinny scoffed. “You heard me sing?”

“Yeah. That’s right. I did. In that three-rounder against Dempsey. I heard you singing bloody murder.”

“That’s ‘screaming bloody murder,’” the priest advised.

“Tuh-may-to, tuh-mah-to.” She folded her arms and locked eyes with Vinny, taunting him playfully. “The big palooka here has a higher vocal range than Mariah Carey. I swear I heard him hit six octaves a few times.”

As in the ring, Vinny absorbed the jabs and attentively studied his opponent. “If I ain’t prying, why exactly are you interested in boxing lessons?”

“It’s self-defense, ain’t it?”
“Yeah. Why? Is someone picking on you?” “That’s right. Yeah. A couple of guys.”

“Ain’t you got a boyfriend to stand up for you?”
“I ain’t hiding behind nobody. I fight my own battles.” “These two hoodlums,” Father John began, “are they boys from my parish?”
“Well yes and no.”
“Meaning?”
“They live in your parish but…”
“But what? Because I’d be happy to sit these two hooligans

down and remind them of their manners.”
She was quiet for a moment before giving up the names. “It’s

my brothers, okay? Dino and Terry. They’re always on my case and ragging on me. I’m tired of taking crap from them. I figured a few pointers from Rocky Balboa over here would get them off my back.”

Vinny was neither shy nor lonely and was experienced with women, but for some inexplicable reason found himself taken with the feisty young dynamo. Beneath the soft skin and pretty eyes beat a heart like his, the heart of a lion.

Father John smiled. “Lisa, I like your gumption, but are you sure this is the best way to handle things? Giving your brothers a pair of black eyes may not be the most diplomatic way to settle the score.”

“Yeah. I want to be able to stand on my own two feet. I’m pretty sure a couple of quick pops to the nose will shut them up once and for all. Now is Rope-a-Dope here gonna give me a boxing lesson or what?”

Father John opened his mouth, but Vinny cut him off before he could speak. “It’s all right, Father. I don’t mind showing Lisa a thing or two…I mean being there aren’t any men brave enough to show up today.”

“Are you sure about this, Vinny? I don’t want anyone getting hurt.”

“Don’t worry, Father,” Lisa said with a grin. “I’ll go easy on him.”

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WING AND A PRAYER – HOW THEY MET – PART TWO

WING AND A PRAYER 

HOW THEY MET – PART TWO

Our Lady of Grace Church, Brooklyn, New York Some time later

Vinny arranged four construction cones in a twenty-foot square on the floor of the church gymnasium and ran a clothesline through holes he’d made in the tops of each. He stood in the center of the makeshift boxing ring examining his handiwork. It appeared to him that the shape of the ring looked a little off, so he moved two of the cones until the ring seemed square.

Father John carried a smile wherever he went. He spotted Vinny in the center of the makeshift ring and called out in a robust voice. “I see you’re here bright and early, Vinny. Got your ring set up and everything.”

Vinny stepped outside the square and wiped his hand on his sweatpants before extending it. “How’s it going, Father?”

“Ah well, I’m fighting the devil this morning.”
“Really, Father? What’s going on?”
“Sticky fingers in the collection plate.”
“Really? Someone stealin’ from the church?”
“Not stealing—just sticky. It’s the curse of being located down

the block from an IHOP—the sweet stuff gets on everything. I found chocolate chips stuck to a five-dollar bill and the holy water smells like maple syrup.”

“Is that a big problem?”

Father John raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you read the papers, Vinny?”

“What? Uh…I don’t get it.”

“Money laundering?” Father John smiled even more broadly than usual and gave Vinny a heavy swat with his big paw. He was every bit of six-foot-three, with wide, rounded shoulders, and a thick middle.

Vinny clipped him playfully on the chin. “Good one, Father. You had me going for a minute.”

“Thanks for helping out. By the way, how’s the wrist feel?”

“Yeah. It’s coming along.” He held out his hand. “At least I can hold it straight again.”

“But no more boxing?”

“Only with the kids,” he said halfheartedly. “The doc says I can’t fight no more on account I shattered the whole thing on Dempsey’s face. He said it’s good enough for day-to-day stuff, but it can’t take a lot of punishment.”

“So what are you going to do now? Not that your fighting purses ever amounted to a hill of beans.”

“I got me a hack license—been driving a cab in the city a couple of nights a week.”

“I’ve got faith in you, son—always have. I know you’ll land on your feet.”

“I did against Dempsey.”
“That’s right. You did.”
“Do you think we’ll get any kids showing up for these here

boxing lessons?”
“Well I know one is coming, and I’m sure others will follow.”

He looked past Vinny to the opposite end of the gym, motioning for someone to come forward. “Come on over and say hello to the coach.”

Vinny turned and was stunned by who he saw approaching. “What the hell?”

“Watch it, coach,” Father John said with a smile. “Let’s not forget that we’re in the house of God.”

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WING AND A PRAYER – HOW THET MET – PART ONE

New Release!

Vinny and Lisa are back with a new tale, guaranteed to have you double over laughing. Preorder now at a discount and receive your copy on August 10, 2020.

How They Met – Part One

Brooklyn, New York – Ten years before the Alabama Murder Trial

Gleason’s Gym smelled of sweat and liniment, of worn leather and guts. It was an old-world gym that carried the legacy of seven decades of athletes training and sparring, of men’s soaring hopes and shattered dreams, broken bones, and blood.

The boxer in the ring was just an average Joe, but he had the heart of a lion. Vinny Gambini was thirty years old—burly with not quite cat-like reflexes and a front foot he continually forgot to keep outside of his opponent’s stance. But in close, body-to-body, he was a deadly combination-throwing juggernaut, a gladiator willing to bleed for glory. He’d easily overpower his opponent if he could only draw him in close.

He was fighting “Blazing” Al Dempsey. Al wasn’t short for Alan, or Albert, or even Alexander. It was short for Aloysius, and he was a direct descendant of the great Jack Dempsey, with a right hook like the release of a medieval catapult. He was born in Ireland and had trained in the same gym as his ancestor, a school-of-hard-knocks brawler’s gym, where you spit teeth before you got a shot at a real contender. Aloysius was way too smart to be suckered in close and allow Vinny the opportunity to put out his lights.

They were in the third and final round of an exhibition match. By Vinny’s estimation, they were about even in scoring. A nine-minute amateur match spans no more than a heartbeat and permits absolutely no time to expand on or modify pre-fight strategy. Vinny attempted to lure Dempsey in over and over again, but he wouldn’t take the bait and with just seconds to go in the match…it all happened in the blink of an eye—Vinny was off balance but saw an opening that was just too good to be true, a chance to throw his left cross. He reared back, his glove just off-angle—the punch broke Dempsey’s jaw and his wrist all at the same time.

He fell against the ropes, cradling his shattered wrist in his free hand, too much of a man to show how much pain he was in. He refused to take his eyes off his fallen opponent until the referee counted to ten. And then he could hold the pain at bay no longer. He dropped to his knees even before the referee could raise his hand in victory. His gloved hand hung limply. Although he was gratified by the knockout decision, he knew in his heart that his career as a boxer had come to a tragic close.

He was writhing in pain as his trainer and the gym doctor rushed to his side. Through the ordeal, a solitary image kept him from going to pieces. She sat in the front row with her father and her two brothers, the prettiest girl he’d ever seen in his life, far prettier than any woman who had ever shown interest in him. He couldn’t understand why this incredible beauty was smiling at him as if he were a god who had just descended from the heavens. Through sweat-burned eyes, he was able to make out the name on the pendant that hung at the end of a gold chain around her long and perfect neck: Lisa.

WING AND A PRAYER – Click the link below to purchase the new book, substantially discounted until publication day, 8/10/2020. Interested in all three books? A package is available for all who’d like to get up to speed on the new HILARIOUS adventures of My Cousin Vinny.

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GAMBINI RETURNS!

New Release!

Vinny and Lisa are back with a new tale, guaranteed to have you double over laughing. Preorder now at a discount and receive your copy on August 10, 2020.  Click the link to preorder from your favorite E-tailer and enjoy a publisher’s discount.
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Maya and Josh, two kids as different as black and white collide in the heat of a North Carolina summer. The billboard leading into town reads Historic Maxton: A Good Place To Live. Though it was good for many, it wasn’t for everyone. It was a place where goodhearted salt-of-the-earth folks lived alongside the narrow-minded and intolerant.

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As Maya and Josh work to stem the tide of imminent global disaster, they face challenges both personal and professional and are beset upon by forces that seem to defy explanation—a shadowy figure drifts in and out of their lives over the course of decades causing irreparable damage, and the powers who once turned to them for help now seem to conspire against them making Josh’s life a living hell. The weight of the world rests on his shoulders but is he still the altruistic youth who set out to change the world or has he become someone very different, and will the results of his work be those everyone expects?

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BACK TO BROOKLYN Is The Perfect Gift For The Holidays!

The Holidays are all about merriment and there’s no better way to be merry than to get wrapped up in a Laugh-Out-Loud novel like BACK TO BROOKLYNPublishers Weekly  said, “Fans of the movie will enjoy Vinny and Lisa’s further adventures.” The book will leave you howling!

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BACK TO BROOKLYN, Excerpt #2

CHAPTER TWELVE

He Said, She Said…No

The Caddy sat on the street all the next day because Vinny and Lisa were both terribly hungover, too impaired to drive after Vinny’s surprise party. God only knows how they made it home afterward.

Lisa’s father Augie grimaced when he heard the noise coming from under the hood of the big red Caddy as it rolled into the repair bay the following day. “Lisa, you threw a rod?” he asked with disappointment in his voice.

Lisa and Vinny hopped out of the car. “Me? I didn’t throw nothin’. It was Captain Lead Foot over here.” She smirked. “He thought he could go up against a Mercedes AMG.”

Augie frowned. “Vinny, for real? Before or after you got loaded at the party?”

“Before,” she snitched.

“Benedict Arnold. When did you become such a tattle-tale?”

“Face the music, Mario Andretti.”

“Ah, I didn’t push her so hard. Maybe the oil pressure was low or something.”

“Oil pressure, my ass,” she said. “Listen, Vinny, I change the oil every two thousand miles and check the oil pressure while I’m at it. It’s always around thirty-two PSI, which is well within tolerance for this motor.”

“She’s right,” Augie said. “Thirty-two is right on the money.” He felt under the hood for the release latch and popped the massive hood. “We may be lucky,” he said and pointed to the left valve cover, which had a prominent bump on the top surface. “The rod broke while the piston was on the way up. We’ll pull the valve cover and see what’s going on.”

“You’re a lucky fuck, Vinny,” she said. “If the rod broke while the piston was on the way down, it probably would’ve cracked the block and then we could’ve thrown the whole engine in the garbage.”

Vinny was gazing at the concrete floor as he pulled off his leather jacket. “Augie, you got a set of coveralls I could use?”

“No way!” Lisa said. “We’re just a few blocks from the house. You put on a suit and go to work. I’ll fix the valve train.”

As usual, she was elegantly attired in pumps and a skirt. Vinny’s eyebrows peeked. “Dressed like that?”
“No, ya dope. I’ll walk back with you and change into my coveralls.”
“You two go ahead,” Augie insisted. “I’ll remove the bolts and we’ll talk about the repair when you get back.” He kissed Lisa on the forehead. “Besides, you know how much I like having my little girl around the shop.”

“Thanks, Pops.” Lisa blushed and pushed Vinny toward the door.

Vinny unlocked the front door and pushed it open.
“So, what’s your plan for today?” Lisa asked.
“I’m gonna go see Judge Molloy’s friend to file my

application for that assigned attorney thing. Then I’m gonna call Angie and start working on her case.”

“What about taking some office space like we talked about? You know, so you got a place to talk to your clients.”

“Yeah. I’ll look into that too…if I got the time.”
He was starting for the staircase when the phone rang. The voice on the end of the line sounded foreign. “Hello. This is Detective Parikh.”

“What? Did you say, ‘Detective Prick?’”
“Yes.”
“Fuck you!” He slammed the phone onto the cradle. “The

nerve of that guy.”
“Who the hell was that?” Lisa asked.
“Some asshole wasting my time with a prank call. I can’t

believe the son of a bitch called just to break my balls.” The phone rang again. “Ah shit. Do you believe this guy?” He answered the call in a hostile voice. “Listen up, wiseass. This ain’t funny.”

The caller interrupted. “Is this Vincent Gambini?” “Yeah. Who wants to know?”
“Detective Parikh.”
“Detective Prick?”

“Yes.”
“Get a life and stop wasting my time, you sick bastard.” “

Mr. Gambini, this is Detective Nirmal Parikh of the New York City Police Department.”

“Normal prick? Yeah, well, Normal Prick, I’m a big prick and I’m gonna kick the ever-loving shit out of you if you don’t hang up and stop calling this number.”

“Hey!” Lisa said. “What’s with all the foul language? You don’t know who that is.”

He covered the receiver. “Friggin’ asshole. I’ll teach him not to screw around with a Gambini. Watch this.”

“Vinny, are you sure about this?” she asked. “Maybe you just oughta hang up.”

“A guy like this? Forget about it. He’ll never stop calling. Give a guy like this an inch and he’ll take a whole mile.” He uncovered the receiver. “Hey, Normal Prick, why don’t you hang up and call back when you grow up and become a full- size prick.”

“Mr. Gambini,” the caller asserted. “This is Detective Nirmal Parikh with the New York City Police Department. I’m calling on official police business.”

“Yeah, right. Who is this? Hey, is that you, Giacomo, you sick bastard? I know it’s you, you crazy son of a bitch. You still hung over from my party the other night?”

“No,” the caller insisted, “I already explained, sir, this is Detective Parikh.”

“Now listen, Prick, I’ve got lots of friends in high places and if I ever find out who this is, I’ll kick your teeth in.” He disconnected again. “There. I showed him.”

The phone rang again. Lisa stepped in front of him and answered the call. “Can I help you?” She listened for a few moments and then turned to Vinny with a look of abject horror on her face. “Oh my God. Yeah? I see.” She remained quiet while she listened to what the caller had to say. “Sure. Yeah. I understand. I’ll put him right on. Hold on.” She covered the receiver and turned to Vinny with a look of utter disbelief. “Yeah. You showed him all right. The man’s name isn’t Prick. It’s pronounced Par-eek. It’s an Indian name, ya dope.”

“How was I supposed to know with that thick accent of his? I couldn’t understand a fuckin’ word he said.”

She shook her head. “Forget all that. It’s important. He wants to talk to you about some woman named Theresa, Theresa Cototi.”

“Theresa Cototi? Who the hell is that?”

“Like I know.” She shoved the phone into his hand. “Would ya just talk to the man already?”

“Yeah, yeah, sure.” He put the phone to his ear and began to pace the room. “Uh…Detective…sorry about that.”

***

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