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Monday, November 23, 2015

Up In Smoke



From the outside....It looked like any other storefront in the neighborhood , but inside was a beautiful Bistro....


And it was owned ,lock stock and barrell by Master Chef, Ralph Scallion...our good friend...

He walked me, Sometimes Private Investigator, Kevin Morris and my wife, Sepia around the restaraunt...and into it's huge kitchen...
"Look Sepia, Bonita...All this is mine..."said a very proud Ralph Scallion...

 My wife Sepia and my friend, Attorney Robert Foxworth and his wife, Bonita all smiled...

"Wow...this is beautiful Ralph, beautiful....We are so proud of you....and Roquel too..."they said...

His daughter Roquel, a great chef in her own right was his head chef...

She greeted us all as we walked in and were seated...

"Kevin, because you've helped me so much in the past and been such a great friend...and Bonita, Sepia.. because you two brokered the deal which allowed me to buy this property...I invited you guys in first and have seated you and your spouses at the head table." said Ralph Scallion..

Sepia and I and Robert and Bonita and I all sat down at the head table...

"Wow..Roq...Open the doors..let everybody in...This is it.."he said....

In all the time I'd known Ralph Scallion...I'd never ever seen him this happy...This was a dream come true..He had his own restaurant...He was the boss and his daughter and he were working together..He had invested his life savings in this. I was happy for him...

Normally on a Friday night..we'd all be at Josies...but tonight we were all here for his gala opening...
My former client...Bridgett Jones arrived with her date and another former client of mine...the Attorney,Hoagie..



Lingerie maven and Bridget's competitor, Victoria's Secret Manager..Cherry Johnson and her date,Calvin walked in quietly next....


As the crowds came in...I spied some old friends of ours...Attorney Olivia Bennett-Alexander, her beautiful niece, Beverly West, her boyfriend, Attorney Nelson East and Olivia's husband and my friend,Donnie Ray Alexander , who like me was a private investigator..





They all waved as they sat down at the table across from us and we exchanged pleasentries....

Josie Boyd, a former client of mine ,who now worked for Olivia,Beverly and Donnie Ray at their law firm, came in with her boyfriend, Paris and Blake, Cherish, Chance Howard and Anita Jenkins,Cole and Nicole...They all looked very nice...

As you  can tell ,I love people watching..

Eva Carona...Who was also a former client and who now worked for Sepia and Bonita also came in and sat with us at our table...

They were off tonight...but all of our musician friends and their wives and girlfriends were in attendence tonight...starting with Reed Nelson and his wife, Debbie and Downtown Rob Brown and his girlfriend, Delores...



Bone Hampton, Dutch Van Buren, Chazz Gillison and "88'' and Mabel Jenkins rounded out the circle..






Reverend Struthers and his wife and Deacon Basil Robinson and his wife also were in attendance...
And rounding out the guests were my friends and favorite cops..

Lt. Sissy Van Buren and her husband, Eddie C..



 Assistant District Attorney Keith Wallace and his beautiful wife, Detective Carlotta Rodriguez-Wallace..

Detectives Tyriq and Sirena Pile..
My good friend, Detective Angela Belton-Barlow and her husband,Detective James "Jimmy "Barlow,


Detective Edwin "Duke" Baylor and his lovely wife, Forensic Investigator, Dr. Hazel Baylor-Barlow..



 Detective Tony Hopkins and his wife, FBI Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Sharon Ferrell-Hopkins,



 And rounding out that crew, Captain Edward Cantrell and his wife...Regional DEA Director, Carol Redding..



 It was a virtual who's who of our neighborhood... Chris Thompson and his date, Chess and Rell, Donald Smooth and his wife and my guys, Harry Charles and Bernadette, Sean and Sheila Jackson,Clerow and Cora beth, Owen Todd and his date, Peeping Tom and his date and Lockpick Johnson and his date all finished up the gathering....or so I thought...
The big man, Walter "Kool Kat" Jones and his fiance, Chelsea walked in...He was immaculately dressed as usual..He smiled and waved....

I looked at Ralph...

"Damn Ralph...Anybody you didn't invite?" I said...

"I'm pretty sure I invited everybody I could think of..."he said.
Honey Brown, her husband B-Flat, Gus, the owner of Josies ,Joe Neptune, Owner of the Mermaid Club and Cock Robbins and his wife, Vanessa were the last people I saw walking in...

I smiled at Ralph...

"I think you got everybody buddy."I said..

Ralph smiled broadly...

''And if I can keep em packing in like this...every night..I'll be a happy man...You know it takes three or four years before a joint like this even starts to make a profit."he said.

"Yeah..So I've heard." I said.

II- 
 The food was served and everybody raved...It was excellent...Some of us ordered seconds...Ralph Scallion had outdone himself..

Sepia and I were so happy for him....It was a dream come true... It was so nice to be dressed nicely and out on the town with all of my good friends and associates...

Our neighborhood had grown so much since I had originally moved here...Straight out of the Military and College...I had bought a house here along with Sean Jackson because they were cheap...but over the years...Chris and Chess and Clerow and Owen Todd and my wife, Sepia and Robert Foxworth's wife Bonita had bought up all of the real estate and had new homes ,apartments and condos built and had sold them and rented them to a new younger and diverse clientele...Chris and Chess had built two shopping centers and employed thousands...and made a fortune...and as a result other businesses that had already been around had flourished...Josie's Bar and Grill, The Aqua Bar, The Mermaid Club...Sam Mother's Diner...Mabel Jenkins and sisters's Southern Cuisine, The Brewery and now Ralph Scallion's new Bistro...

Ralph Scallion walked me to the kitchen after I had finished my meal..

"Kev...I do have one concern..."he said.

"What's that Ralph?" I said..

"Look out the window across the street." he said..

I did and I saw two men...The shorter man was screaming his head off at what looked like his head chef...

"You know who that is Kev?" he asked..

"Hmmmmm..Is that Joey Thompson?" I said.

"Yeah...Remember back in the day they used to call him "Machine Gun."? said Ralph..

"Yeah...I remember ..and that goon with him is his lieutenant..Mason Moon Doggie Montana.." I said.

"Right...That's his joint across the street..Peer in the window.."said Ralph Scallion..

I looked...I saw one person in the lobby and he looked like he was drunk...

"Wow...He doesn't have much of a crowd over there..."I said.

"That's right...He uh aint too happy about me opening up over here...He has kind of warned me without warning me that us being here could result in me or Rock having an uh unfortunate accident.."said Ralph Scallion.

"Well depending on how long he's out there...He must have seen that the top cops on the block and an ADA are your dinner guests and friends....And outside of cops..there are enough attorneys in here..to sue the pants off of him...I don't think he'll make a move.."I said.

"I hope you're right Kevin..."said Ralph..

"Relax Ralphie....You got me and my guys here.....and the Lieutenant of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Philadelphia Police department and her top investigators...The Deputy SAC of both the FBI and The DEA in here too...He doesn't want that type of heat on his back...He was just talking..."I said.

"I sure hope you're right Kevin.."said Ralph...

"Sure I am..Relax Ralphie..you got a good thing going here...A damn good thing.."I said..

I couldn't have been more wrong about anything...

III-


Ralph Scallion hired ten D.J.'s and even though this wasn't going to be a dancing joint...They cleared the floor and allowed for dancing tonight...

This brought in even more people who spent money on drinks......We danced and partied until three in the morning...

Sepia waited for me in the car....By now, everybody had left and headed home...I was sweaty and a little tipsy myself...

I smacked Ralph on the back...

"Man Ralph...you know how to throw a party babe...People are going to be talking about this night for a long time..." I said laughing...

Ralph smiled..

"I'm glad everybody had a good time.."he said.

Just then ,Joey "Machine Gun"Thompson walked over to Ralph, who was at the front door saying goodbye to the last of his staff...

"Hey Ralphie...Some night you had here tonight..."he said..

"Yeah...Opening night..."said Ralph nervously...

"You know...I didn't make a dime tonight...Only one guy in my joint....My brother in law and he was drunk.."said Joey...

"Well you know...every night is not going to be a big one...This was my opening night.."said Ralph diplomatically..

"I asked you nicely not to buy this property....." he said.

"Joey come on man look..."said Ralph...

"It's a free country Joey...He can buy wherever he can afford." I said.

Joey Thompson smiled..

"Kevin Morris...neighborhood do gooder..."he smirked..

"Hi Joe...Long time no see...You been away?" I asked..

"You got a pretty wife, a new baby...a thriving business....Why don't you tend to all of that and stay out of things you don't belong in."he said.

"Ralph is my friend...So I'm making it my business Joe."I said..

His goon, Moon Dog Montana said to him...

"You're a nosy guy...I could break that nose and your jaw for you."he said.

I stared at him..

"You sure you want to go that route Moon Doggie?   You can try....Go ahead..."I said..

Joey cautioned him...

"Relax Doggie...Relax...Not tonight...Go home Kevin ,stay out of this...You can make money other ways.. As for you Ralphie...Welcome to the neighborhood..I wish you nothin but the best..."he said without smiling...Good night gents." he said.."Come on Doggie" he said.

"Watch yourself Kevin.."said Moon Doggie..

"You watch me Doggie.."I said laughing...

They got in their car and left...

"Don't worry about him Ralph...He's all talk...He's always been a wanna be thug...I remember when Chris Thompson and Fathead Newton ran him out of town? Only reason he's back in town is because both of them are out of the game..He stayed in Camden and South Jersey for years...He's a punk.."I said.

"Yeah Kev..I guess you're right." he said..

"How you gettin home Ralph?"  I said.

"I was gonna call Minay to come and pick me up...but it's late..You mind givin me a lift?" he asked..

"Where is Rock?"I asked..

''She left about an hour ago with some friends...Let me lock up.."he said.

''All of your alarms on?" I said.

"Yup." he said smiling...

"Okay,let's go....Congratulations...You a boss now babe!"I said and put my arms around Ralph...

He got in the car with me and Sepia and we pulled off..

IV-
Some two hours later at around 5:00 am...A massive explosion rocked the area...destroying Ralph's Bistro completely....and the two empty  buildings next to it... Fire Engines rushed to the scene...

Ralph Scallion and I drove to the scene....

The smell of smoke was all over the area....Flames and smoke could still be seen......

"Oh My God Kevin...My dream...My dream man....it's up in smoke...Oh My God...One night man...ONE DAMN NIGHT!" he screamed...

I held him...

Tears streamed down his face....

Joey Thompson stood across the street...

"Damn man...what happened here? Looks like you uh had a little fire...Damn shame...I told you this corner was bad luck."he said ,smiling...He got in his car...His goon Moon Doggie was laughing....as they pulled off..

"He did this...that jealous son of a bitch did this to me..."said Ralph...

"I know he did Ralph..and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that little sawed off runt pays for his crimes."I said.

(TO BE CONTINUED)




3 comments:

Toni said...

Great Intro Story! Had to read both installments this morning...

Angie B. said...

I'm just catching up too! Great Story...

Sunflower said...

Nice to see the entire Escapades nation together!