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The Valentine Dilemma

Excerpt from my new book, available in the Amazon Kindle store:


...Lenny rolled his eyes, turned to Jimmy, and changed the subject. “We’re running out of time.”
   “Then, let’s just get the bracelets,” Jimmy said.
   “There’s gotta be something cheaper,” Lenny said.
   “The guy said Valentine’s Day is a jewelry holiday.”
   The words ‘valentine’ and ‘jewelry’ piqued Vic’s curiosity. He pretended to read his magazine while he listened. It didn’t take long for him to put two-and-two together. “So…you boys got yourself a couple girlies.”
Lenny cringed. Cool lingo was another one of ‘Vic’s things’. Unlike the fist-bump, Lenny thought that ‘Vic-ism’ was stupid.
   “I remember my first V-Day with the girly,” Vic said.
   “Nobody cares Vic,” Lenny said.
   “Stacy O’Brien,” Vic smiled—he enjoyed the sound of her name.
   Lenny stuck an index-finger in each ear. “We’re not listening to you.”
   “She was hot.”
   “La-la-la-la-la-la…I’m not listening to you-hoo-hoo,” Lenny sang out the words.
   “Whatever you do,” Vic cautioned. “Don’t do what I did.”
   Lenny froze—even with plugged ears, he heard what Vic said.
   After some tense silence, Jimmy asked, “What’d you do, Vic?”
   Vic smiled a wry, knowing smile. He leaned in toward the boys as if he were about to tell them a secret. Jimmy and Lenny leaned in too. Vic let them stew a little. Then, he whispered, “Red panties,” and howled a thundering belly laugh.
   Jimmy blushed. Lenny bit his lip and said, “Valentine’s Day underwear…how very-creepy of you Vic.”
“Come on Jimmy. Let’s ride to Sealfon’s and be done with it,” Lenny said. (The little flip-flopper now seemed ready to kiss-away the bulk of his life-savings.)
   “Hey?” Vic said. “Was the guy at the counter named Sultan?”
   “Yeah,” Jimmy said. “You know him?”
   Lenny winced, sensing a trap.
   “Yeah, he’s captain of the soccer team,” Vic said. “His family owns Sealfon’s…a real smooth-talker too. How much he gonna getcha for? Fifty bucks?” No answer came. “More?”
   Lenny’s face turned beet-red. He gave Vic the evil-eye. “Come on Jimmy. This is just a big joke to him.” Lenny moved toward the door. Jimmy followed.
   “No really…I wanna know,” Vic said to their backs.
   Jimmy whirled around. “Ninety-nine ninety-five,” he blurted out.
   “OUCH!” Vic clutched his heart like he’d just been stabbed. Then, he pulled the imaginary knife from his chest, and pretended to die. Lenny wished he had, for real.
   “See why I didn’t want to ask him for help,” Lenny said. Jimmy nodded. The boys walked away, but halfway down the hall they heard Vic yell, “It’s okay with me if you wanna be...THAT GUY.”
   Lenny stopped short; Jimmy bumped into him from behind. They exchanged whispers. Then, a feeble voice echoed down the hall. “What guy?” It sounded like someone trying not-to-sound scared.
   Vic appeared at the doorway and yanked his hands from his pants-pockets—the white lining stuck up like rabbit ears. “Broke guy who spends all his money on his girly,” Vic said, miming a crying face.
   “Thanks Vic. As usual…you were NO HELP!” Spittle flew from Lenny’s mouth.
   “Jewelry for V-day…impressive,” Vic said. “Can’t wait to see how you top that for her birthday.”
   Lenny let out a rebel yell. He charged his brother, and unleashed a flurry of punches to Vic’s stomach. “WHY-ARE-YOU-TORTURING-US?” Vic absorbed a few blows, laughing. Once he had enough, Vic grabbed his little brother’s wrists. Lenny huffed and puffed, and tried to wriggle free—he was trapped.
   “Whoa-lil’-bro, calm down,” Vic said, letting Lenny go. “I’m just trying to help.”
   “How is being a big fat jerk helping?”
   “I’m just saying,” Vic said. “Spend a hundy on Valentine’s Day…then you gotta spend more than that on her birthday. You don’t want her thinking you’re downgrading your gifts…do ya?”
   Neither boy answered.
   “What you don’t realize lil’ bro,” Vic continued, “It’s not just Christmas, Valentines, and birthdays. Whatever you buy now sets the bar for every other present you’re ever gonna get her. And there are a million gift-giving occasions.”
   “Liiiiiiiike what?” Lenny said, sensing more of Vic’s baloney coming.
   “Like anniversaries.”
   “We’ve been going out…like two weeks,” Lenny shot back. “Why would I be worried about something that’s a year away?”
   “I said anniversaries…plural,” Vic calmly corrected his petulant little brother. “Girls don’t just celebrate anniversaries once a year.”
   Lenny chewed on his lower lip.
   “They don’t?” Jimmy said.
   “No Jimmy…they don’t,” Vic said. “Girlies your age are anniversary crazy. You got your first date… first kiss… first day you met. And they celebrate ‘em every month. That’s a lotta gifts…don’t ya think?”
   The boys looked like someone just stole their baseball card collection. Jimmy crossed his arms and stared at the floor. Lenny plopped down into a kitchen chair, mopey and bitter.
   The room was dead silent, except for the hum of the refrigerator; they all sat there listening to its buzz. Suddenly, raindrops splattered across the kitchen window; in an instant, it was pouring again. Since Lenny was too-stubborn to ask his big brother for help, Jimmy did, “What should we do Vic?”

Book is available for purchase after October 8, 2012.

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