COOL JOE, Chapter 30

COOL JOE, Chapter 30

A Story by Betty Hermelee

Family Saga



Chapter 30




After Mike Lopez gives his schpeel, my eyes still bulge and my head spins. My opinion is that all of these side jobs are risky, though Pete might not think so. But what are the other things we can do, mow lawns, never? We all need the money in order to get the protection, cause Boss Bellini is on the run; yes, I guess we could work in the real world, but nobody would hire us with our backgrounds. We’re stuck where we are, for better or worse. So, we all have to think about which job we like the best. Pete wants to call another meeting so we know what each family member will be doing and the pay, of course, is the most important thing. From what I know, Pete has the list of jobs and the pay. Lopez told him the pay may not be the same each week, depending on what we bring in, or how well we do our work. So, we’ll have to wait and see. I know this much; we all need the money because we’re all in debt.


I’m thinkin that there is a real possibility that we may get caught, cause those gun shots are not firecrackers…and we heard them more than once. If anything happens to my kids, I’ll feel so guilty the rest of my life; I can’t even say what I would do. I cross myself and pray that all goes well. I think I’ll go to church tonight.


“Hello, Pete?”

“Yea it’s me, just wanted to let you know we called another meeting tonight at my place. I know this is getting crazy, but we have to know the details of these side jobs; I got a paper from Lopez which tells us about the pay and the hours, his take on how much money we bring to him. Can you make it Frankie?”

“I think it’s my night with the kids, but maybe I can convince good old Anna to keep them until the meeting is over.”

“Well, do your best cause we we’ll miss you and you will miss an important part of these offers.”

“I’ll do my best to be there, Pete. By the way, what time tonight?”

“6:00PM at my place.”

“You got it Pete. Bye now.”


This is part I hate, havin to deal with Anna and the kids. It hasn’t been easy. I just pray that she’s free tonight and can take the kids for a few hours. Now, I have to call and argue with her.

“Hello Anna? It’s me, Frankie, how ya doin?”

“Fine Frankie; what favor do you need now?”

“Well Anna, we’re havin a meeting at Pete’s place tonight and I gotta be there at 6:00PM. I know it’s my night to be with the kids, but could we switch? And maybe you could take them tonight and I’ll do you a favor too.”

“Well, I do have a date with my girlfriend, but maybe I can have her come over instead of going out. But Frankie, let me warn you; don’t pull this s**t on me too many more times or I’ll start saying no to you, understand?”

“Yes, I do Anna, and boy do I appreciate your kindness (I feel like I’m going to throw up).”

“Okay Anna, I’ll drop them off before I go to Pete’s place. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“Oh, shut up Frankie.”

And she hangs up

Boy what a lovely woman! Sometimes I feel like strangling her, she’s so damn angry all the time; and what did I do? She kicked me out of the house; probably didn’t like my line of work either. Oh well, at least I can see my kids


I drop my kids off at Anna’s place and I’m greeted with a scowl. The kids kiss me goodbye and I tell them that I’ll be back later to pick them up and if they get tired to sleep and I’ll carry them to the car. Actually, they’re pretty heavy, but we’ll figure it out.



“Hey Pete, it seems like we see each other almost every day now, not that its’ bad, it’s great!”

“Always good to see you, bro; go help yourself at the bar; we’re still waiting for Danny, but he should be here soon.”


I go help myself to a bourbon on the rocks and schmooze with my brothers. I can tell we’re all nervous (except for Pete) about these new jobs and the risks we’re takin. But hey, that’s life in the underworld, right?


Danny arrives and Pete calls us to order and we all take a chair or the couch. He has some papers in his hand, and I’m guessin we’ll each get a copy tonight.

“My dear brothers”, says Pete with a smile, not looking nervous at all.

“I know we’ve been meeting a lot lately but for good reasons, right? We’re all in the same boat here, to make extra money to pay off our loans and to get good protection for our families so we don’t live in constant fear of Boss Bellini, whom I believe knows a lot by now and he may be after us. That’s the reason for this meeting; to give us side jobs so we can make extra money. Remember what Lopez says; no talking to anyone, even our wives about what we’re doing; just make up some kind of story that you have to leave the house. If this leaks in any way, we’re in trouble not only with Boss Bellini, but with our new Boss Lopez. Does everybody understand the consequences of this? Okay then, I have some papers here that list the jobs and the pay or the cut. Like for instance, the jewelry store, it’s a cash cow and it’s doing very well; so, if you work there and you sell a piece then you get 40% of the profit and the Boss gets 60%; it’s just math, but you have to document on a certain form which I have, exactly what the cost and profit is, and then every week the Boss will collect his money and you will keep yours. Next, if you decide to work in the drug trade, the more dangerous, I will say, you can make lots of money, if you’re smart about it. But, it’s also the trickiest, because the cops, the under-cover detectives are all over the place, so be extra careful with this one. Next, if you want to help small businesses from being broken into or destroyed, you can be a night guard in poor and edgy neighborhoods.  This means you watch mom and pop stores to make sure there’s no trouble; you’ll definitely need your gun for this job. This a bit risky cause there are also gangs in these neighborhoods, but I think the pay is pretty good. The last, and maybe the most dangerous, is to join Lopez’ sharp shooter team, where you go out at night as a team, and you kill the people the Boss wants knocked off. You where you might get hit in the crossfire, but it pays well. Are there any questions?”

“I have one or a few”, says Tommy. Which one do you think is the least risky?”

“Well, in my opinion, the jewelry shop is the least risky, because you’re just selling and keeping some of the profits, little risk there unless some jerk robs the store and ties you up or worse.”

“Other questions?” repeats Pete.

“Yes” says Danny. “Which one do you think will make the most money?”

“In my opinion, I think either the drug or the sharp shooter business, but again they are the riskiest.”

“Frankie? I see you’re very quiet tonight; you must have some questions, right?”

“Well Pete, I’m just takin it all in, and doin my thinkin, that’s it. Oh, I forgot, do we get a copy of the sheets you have with the different jobs and the pay?”

“Yes, you all get a copy of the job descriptions and the pay. Now, Lopez told me the pay may vary according to how much you sell or kill, like the jewelry shop, the drugs, the sharp shooters. The guard business is a steady pay per week and depending upon how many sign up, we can do shifts; but remember, some of that money always goes to the boss.

“Should we just hide the cash in our houses?”, asks Tommy.

“Well, it’s dirty money so you can put it in a safe deposit box in a bank, or get a heavy safe at home, or hide it in a secret place.”

“Any other questions? Yes Danny, go ahead.”

“Well, I have another idea, so listen carefully. In order to get protection, which is a big goal for us and it’s expensive, we could do an exchange with Lopez. We work for him and in exchange he provides the protection for us. Now its doesn’t make us cash, but we get most of what we want.”

Frankie blurts out: “Yea, but it doesn’t give enough cash to pay our debts”

“It’s just a suggestion” says Danny; “think about it; we could get killed by the Boss because of what we did to his men. Maybe we should get raises at work to make more money for the loans.”

“Ha-ha”, say Frankie, “I wouldn’t count on it “


“Okay then”, says Pete. “I think Danny’s idea is not bad at all, and I think we should mull it over in our minds.”

“I will pass out these sheets. Take a good look at them and make sure you’re choosing the right job for you. Lopez would like to have them the sooner than later, as we are already in a bit of trouble and we need protection. We’ll have another meeting with Lopez attending a week from today at my place, men only and figure out something to tell your families. Just remember, everything we speak about stays in this room. Thank you, my dear brothers, for coming tonight; I know there are big decisions to be made, and if you chicken out, that’s fine too. I, for one, will proceed with a side job, cause I know the dangers that may come.”


So, after Pete stops blabbin, we talk among ourselves and whose interested in this job or that job; Tommy doesn’t talk much, not sure he’ll go for this kind of work. We all still have a week to decide, so no big rush. I guess we can lean on each other for help in deciding cause we can’t talk to other family members, which is going to be hard, at least for me.


At 10:00PM, we decide to call it a night after a glass of brandy. On my way home, my mind is spinnin with decisions to make and the thought of dealing with Anna again. I think I’ll call her and just tell her I’m too tired to pick up the kids tonight and will get them to school in the morning.


“Hello Anna, I’m exhausted and I’m going straight home; I’ll pick up the kids first thing in the A.M and take them to school” I hang up before she gets a word in!










© 2021 Betty Hermelee

Author's Note

Betty Hermelee
Don't give up...more to come!!

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It's Frankie's turn in this installment, the main part of which concerns a meeting of the brothers to discuss Lopez's offer of jobs to them. They see it as a possible way to pay off debts incurred in their revenge efforts against Boss Bellini's people. Some of the Lopez jobs are respectable, such as working in a jewelry store or as security guards. However, others are unvarnished criminal activities like the drug trade or acting as assassins. Here is where the reader might start to regard the brothers in a different light. If they would consider such pursuits are they any different than the hard core gangsters? No firm decision is made by chapter's end. We yet give the brothers the benefit of the doubt.

Posted 1 Week Ago

Betty Hermelee

1 Week Ago

Ah yes John, the benefit of the doubt!
Thanks my loyal friend.
Best, B
Hope he turned his phone off after that one, but just putting off until later the argument would be my choice too and worry about it later, which kinda fits into the bigger picture of the story too, what with needing eyes in the back off your head and scrambling for money to protect what it's all about in the first place, family.
Choices choices, on the lesser of two evils would be a real head scratcher, but shop is the safest bet I think, drugs would be Uhm, which drugs and how heavy, hitman sounds cool, until you have to look them in the eye and wonder "do they deserve it or did they just annoy the wrong person.
Money eh? We chase it, get it, pay it out and the chase for more becomes never ending.
Shall look forward to finding out the choices they make in the next instalment of cool Joe 😊

Posted 1 Week Ago

Betty Hermelee

1 Week Ago

Ah dear Lorry, choices, choices... you will see!
Thank you my dear friend for keeping up with.. read more

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2 Reviews
Added on July 15, 2021
Last Updated on July 15, 2021


Betty Hermelee
Betty Hermelee

Black Mountain, NC

My love of poetry resulted from my love of art. As a painter I am able to express myself on a canvas. As a poet my words come from my heart, my moods, sometimes sad, mostly upbeat. I like to use vivid.. more..