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Irish pt. XXXVII

By Pete Moss


Ramona goes into training for the big rematch with Dee Redstone. Every morning Ramona gets up before dawn. She makes a smoothie and glugs it down. Then she straps on her running shoes. She runs along the bike path by the San Diego river. I go with her on an old beach cruiser bike Larry found for me. It's not entirely safe for Ramona to run along the bike path alone, what with all the homeless tweakers living in the bushes along the river.

Ramona runs out to Sunset cliffs then turns around and runs back to the Winnebago. Then she goes to the gym & swims and lifts weights. For lunch she has Pho. And then in the afternoon she hits the books. YoYo has 3 specialty dictionaries. YoYo will open a dictionary at random and shout out a word andf Ramona will reply with a definition and spelling.

It's honestly very impressive the depth & breadth of Ramona’s vocabulary. YoYo will shout out maybe 200 words a day and Ramona will miss, at most one or two, often, none. And these are not ordinary words. Obscure units of measurement. Letters of foreign alphabets. Technical terms from arcane trades and professions, all the bits and pieces a champion Scrabblero has to have at the tip of their fingers to win the really big matches.

Finally, in the evening, Ramona will have a dinner of chicken or pork, with steamed vegetables, no starch. Then meditate for an hour before turning in to sleep at 9:30.

This goes on for a month during which Ramona doesn't touch anything to do with Scrabble. Nor is anyone allowed to so much as whisper anything Scrabble related. And then the day of the rematch arrives. We all pile in Larry’s Cadillac and chug down the 5 to Chula Vista.

Ramona sits in back, between Desiree and YoYo, a towel over her head, muttering incantations.

We pull up to Olaf’s place in Chula Vista. Olaf is there, and Angus Quick and Ricky Wong, and the two Carloses, and the cam girl, Desiree goes in the bathroom to get into her work clothes.

Ramona takes a seat at the game table and cracks her knuckles.

Then Dee Redstone arrives. Dee & Ramona glare at each other like caged tigers. Dee and Ramona put together don't tip the scales at 220 pounds but the intensity of their hatred for each other could probably power a semi truck down the road. Dee has brought two handlers with her.

Larry and Desiree are making a little pre-match blather for the camera. Angus Quick and Ricky Wong are out back having a smoke. The cam girl fusses with her control panel. "Showtime in three minutes!" she announces.

Everybody takes their places.

Dee and Ramona draw a tile each. They both draw 'A'. They throw the tiles back and redraw. This time Ramona draws a 'B' and Dee draws an X. Ramona goes first.

Ramona scrabbles right off the bat with 'quailed'. Ramona sits back with a triumphant grin, staring Dee right in the eye, daring Dee to challenge the word. Dee doesn't challenge. For this particular match a five challenge limit has been agreed on.

Instead Dee comes out swinging, playing off the Q and Scrabbling herself with 'squamose'. Ramona doesn't challenge. Ricky Wong and Angus Quicks fingers fly on the laptops. Pacoima Larrys cell pings and Larry goes out back to answer.

And then Larry comes charging back into the house.

"We're about to get hit!" shouts Larry. And there's an explosion of activity. Angus Quick and Ricky Wong fold up their laptops and slip out the back door and stroll off down the street. Desiree erases the scoreboard. The cam girl begins shutting down her gear. The Carloses Go out in the yard like they were just a pair of Jardineros. Olaf hides the prize money.

Desiree and Larry sit on the couch, turn on the TV and start flipping through channels.

And then the house is full of cops. Frou of them anyway. Their leader is a tall woman in a silk pantsuit.

"Prudence! How nice to see you!" says Larry. Prudence glares at Desiree.

"Still with that brain dead bimbo, Larry?" says Prudence.

"That's right bitch! We're getting married next week, aren't we Larry?" says Desiree.

"We are? uh...I mean...yeah," says Larry. Placing himself between the two females who look like they are about to get exceptionally violent with each other. "So yeah, uh....what are you doing here?" says Larry to Prudence.

"I got promoted to detective," says Prudence, with an arrogant twist of her shoulders.

"Congratulations, but, uh, aren't you still SDPD?"

"Of course," says Prudence. "You never missed a trick, Larry."

"This is Chula Vista, so you're out of your jurisdiction," says Larry.

"Ah, but you see, I've been attached to a regional task force. SD county sheriff, SDPD, CHP, we even have a liaison with the Feds!" says Prudence, with vindictive pride.

"Lemme guess, Barona Casino kicked in a bunch of dough for this task force," says Larry.

"So what if they did? They're perfectly within their rights to do so," says Prudence. "If you'd just let them host your little tournaments, you wouldn't have to worry about my task force," says Prudence.

"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, but if I did why would I do all the work so Barona gets all the money?" says Larry.

"Larry, Larry, Larry," says Prudence. "You always have to be such an outlaw. Anyway, you're little party here today is over, you get me? I'm not taking anybody to jail so long as everybody packs up and leaves, right now."

On the way back up the 5 nobody says much of anything. Finally I have to ask. "So let me get this straight Pacoima Larry. You broke up with a cop to go out with a stripper?"