By Pete Moss
I don't know much about playing Scrabble but the sandwich Ramona makes is pretty good.
There's a decent breeze blowing in through the windows of the van. It's kind of pleasant to sit and eat a sandwich and study the Scrabble board and try to think up a word. I have too many vowels though. I can't seem to stop pulling I's.
I look on the Scrabble board list and there's 12 I's. Why are there so many I's? Who needs all these I's? I is really a useless letter. It's silent most of the time. It doesn't do anything, I suppose if all the other letters got together and voted on which letter is getting kicked out of the alphabet, the only letter that would stand up for I would be E.
The E really depends on the I. All those times when it's I before E except when it's not. Those I's and E's have a thing going. Not like J, which goes it alone and proudly, or that workhorse: A.
Anyway, YoYo is winning after she drops 'except' on a triple word score. Ramona keeps chattering on about being a writer.
The dogs loll about. Ramona has some doggie treats that she doles out. Ramona doesn't seem to be very competitive when it comes to Scrabble. We're all just having fun.
Then there's a knock on the door of the van.
"Open up Ramona, it's me, Larry," says a voice. Ramona tenses up.
"We're playing Scrabble," yells Ramona.
"That's nothing new," yells Larry "Open up!"
Ramona goes and opens the door.
Larry comes into the van. He's a pint size guy. But has an aura.
"Who are you all?" he says.
"They moved from 'Frisco just this day," says Ramona.
"More goddam refugees," says Larry. "I got you set for a game tomorrow night," he says to Ramona.
"Oh?" says Ramona.
"All the way from England. Got ten grand says he can beat you at Scrabble," says Larry.
"What's his name?" says Ramona.
Later on YoYo and Spela and I are at Spela's motel room.
"I can only stay in San Diego for a couple of days," says YoYo. "Dragen and I will keep an eye on the Oakland property for you. You have to be aware though, you're going to have bills coming up, taxes and fees."
"How much?" I say.
"At least 20 grand," says Spela.
I blow out my breath.
"Where we suppose to get that?" says YoYo.
"Exactly," says Spela. "You're probably going to have to sell the property. That's the best case scenario. It's entirely possible that the whole thing could be bogged down in court for years."
"So?" I say.
"You should probably sell it ASAP." Spela looks at me.
"But if I do I'll never return to the Bay Area. That's my hometown," I say.
"That's OUR hometown!!!" says YoYo.
"You think you're the only people who ever got run out of your hometown?" says Spela.
"Yeah, yeah," says YoYo, rolling her eyes. "I know, back in Russia you had to walk ten miles uphill both ways in the snow to buy a potato."
"I'm not Russian!!" says Spela.
"Whatever, Serbadonian," says YoYo. "What you gettin' out of this anyway? You tellin' me you representin my man here out of the goodness of your heart?"
"What you gettin' out of this yourself? You just hanging out with him cause you want a cut when the place sells," blazes Spela. Suddenly there's two angry females about to kill each other in the motel room.
Pedro intervenes. I forgot we brought him along. He places himself between the combatants most expertly.
"You better not hurt my dog!" says YoYo.
"I would never injure an innocent animal!" says Spela.
"You know, I'm kind of sleepy," I say. "What you say we call it a night."
"Think about what I said," says Spela, as we're leaving. YoYo and I walk back across the street to my van.
"So what about this Larry guy?" says YoYo.
"What about him?" I say.
"You heard he said about playing Scrabble for ten grand."
"Just street bullshit," I say.
"What if it's not?" says YoYo.
"None of our business anyway," I say.
"So where else we gonna get the money for the taxes on the house?'
"What are you talking about?" I say.
"I'm saying this Larry dude is Ramona's Scrabble pimp."
I laugh out loud. "What on earth are you getting at?"
"Maybe we could get Ramona to switch over to us. She don't like Larry. We offer her a better deal...you see where I'm going?" says YoYo.
"Jesus H Christ! We just landed in this scene 24 hours ago. I think you're smoking crack," I say.