The barbecue happened spontaneously. Deborah was surprised at how many people wanted to help her move back into the little house she used to share with Vince, and then wanted to hang around and keep her company, and then wanted some beer, and then got hungry. Dolly went out for hot dogs and some deli coleslaw, and impulsively bought a whole fresh pineapple too, so Deborah’s mother supervised the making of grilled pineapple slices with ice cream for dessert. Hootie rigged speakers to his smart phone so everyone could hear his play list, which was embarrassing for Hootie in the end, since there was also a recording in his iTunes collection of him singing along to Bitch Better Have My Money.
Uncle Al didn’t drink beer, so asked his driver to go and fetch him some rye whiskey from the liquor store, and Leep, who of course was there too (he seemed to be everywhere these days, Deborah thought), asked if he could go with the driver as he no longer drank Budweiser, preferring eastern European beer for the moment. Uncle Albert sighed and glared at Leep, but made no objection.
That’s how Leep became friends with Franco “The Barber” Francesco, the childhood friend and employee of Albert Demarco, uncle of the slain Vincent Demarco. Leep didn’t have many friends. If any. And it turned out the demands of driver/bodyguard to Albert Demarco barely left time for family, let alone friends.
“Why do they call you ‘The Barber’?” asked Leep on that first ride, the night of Deborah’s barbecue.
Franco chuckled and said, “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
Leep laughed, too, but he never really understood what that expression meant. What would be the point of telling someone and then killing them?
In fact, Franco The Barber answered very few of Leep’s conversational questions that evening, and didn’t ask many either. Leep, however, had nothing if not patience. Sometimes he would go spend time with Franco when he was waiting in the car for Uncle Al, outside Lizzie or Deborah’s house. Franco usually read the newspaper to pass the time, but seemed willing to entertain a youngish man who definitely needed advice about life and, especially, women.
Leep asked in all sincerity how Franco met and won his current wife. He asked about women in general, since Franco was not averse to mentoring (as he called it) this strange, ineffective man about the intricacies of dealing with the fair sex; specifically, how to get laid.
That was not Leep’s priority really, and neither did he have complete faith in Franco’s ideas about what women wanted. He certainly felt it would be difficult to develop false confidence, present an illusion of wealth, and make promises he had no intention of keeping. It was not just this technical difficulty (Leep did not have a lot of cash to flaunt, for example) but did women really respond to Franco’s techniques? He was pretty sure Lizzie would not be impressed.
Lizzie. Now that Deborah was no longer living with her mother, Leep anticipated problems in seeing Beth as regularly as before. That grilled pineapple was pretty good, so Leep dropped by the day after Deborah’s barbecue to get the recipe.
Maybe he should think about giving Franco’s tactics a try, since Lizzie was definitely unimpressed by Leep asking for a recipe for grilled pineapple slices.