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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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