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Excerpt for Tutti-Frutti Love by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Tutti-Frutti Love

Copyright 2019 JT Evergreen


Published by JT Evergreen

at Smashwords


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgement


Tutti-Frutti Love


About JT Evergreen

Other Books by JT Evergreen

Connect With JT Evergreen


Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Khris Lawrentz for his tireless proofreading.



Tutti-Frutti Love

I’m December, and I was about to meet May … against my better judgment, of course. A romance, let alone falling in love, were definitely not on my agenda of things to do, especially after I overheard someone refer to me as a woman of a certain age.


You can make a fool of yourself over romance when you’re young, and get away with it, but not … when you are ‘of a certain age’. Jesus, I hate that expression. I can’t remember who said it about me, but if and when I remember – and I will remember – I shall make one of those little voodoo dolls and stick pins where it will really hurt. In the meantime . . .


There had been too many frogs, too many nightmares, and the accumulation of far too many years in my life to even consider the possibility of loving someone again. I mean, how many times do you have to be hit over the head before you finally wake up to the fact that it isn’t going to happen ever again – at least not to me it isn’t.


Rivka, one of my oldest friends, had the annoying habit of reminding me, “Age doesn’t matter, dear.”


When I heard that for the umpteenth time, I told her in no uncertain terms, “Age does matter … unless you’re a bottle of wine or a brick of Limburger cheese.”


That was the last time she said it, after which she gave up trying to fix me up, and told me I was ungrateful and impossible. She then turned to others who were more amicable to her match-making proclivity. But I will have to admit, she had a pretty good track record of matching folks. It didn’t matter to her if you were straight, gay, bi – whatever. It was love that mattered and it had to be fulfilled as far as she was concerned – at all costs. She was quite deft at finding and convincing the right folks within the canyons of New York City to fit whoever she was matching for – whether they liked it or not.


I said she finally gave up on me, but that’s not entirely true. She may have said it, but I could tell she was up to something. She was just too blasé about dismissing me as a lost cause. Even though she was Jewish, she lacked the subtleties of a professional matchmaker.


So, when she showed up unannounced in the commons of my apartment building with this handsome thirtyish man in tow, headed in my direction … I panicked.


“Darling, how are you?”


“Rivka. Hi … I’m fine, how are you?


“I’ve been looking all over for you.”


“And now … you’ve found me.” I gave her a wimpy smile.


“Where are you going?”


“I have an appointment.”


“At this hour?


‘Yeah, well … psychiatrists have funny hours.”


“A psychiatrist? Since when? Are you joshing me?”


“I wouldn’t think of doing such a thing; and if I don’t leave right now … I’ll be late.”


“Well, at least say hi to Stanley.


“Hi, Stanley.”


“He’s a detective with the NYPD Homicide Division.”


“You don’t say?”


“I told him you’re a writer. I thought the two of you might have something in common. You know … like solving crimes together.”


There it was. Out in the open for God and everyone to hear. She hadn’t, as I had hoped, given up after all. “No, Rivka. You are mistaken. No offense, Stanley. I’m sure you’re very good at whatever it is you do, but I write love stories. Nothing to solve – no criminal activity. Just happy endings which I’m not going to have if I don’t get going.”


“You are such a buzz-kill, Imogene. I don’t know why I bother with you.”


“Neither do I. Nice meeting you, Stanley. Toodle.”


As I moved away, I overheard Stanley whisper loud enough for everyone in the commons to hear. “Forget it, Rivka. She’s too old.”


Too old! Mr. Spring Chicken telling her I was too old – boy if that didn’t cut to the quick. But, in a way, I was glad to hear it. At least I wouldn’t have to dodge him should we have the misfortune of running into one another. I could continue to be my usual down-to-earth charming self. Too old! What the hell was Rivka thinking?


It was time she and I had a conversation, one she undoubtedly would not appreciate. Too old, indeed. What annoyed me most of all was the fact I even cared. Now that I think about it, I wonder if he intentionally said it loud enough to make sure I heard him. And if so, why? I will have to admit, Stanley was kind of cute in a burly, unkempt sort of way. Definitely fling material if one was interested in flinging which I was not.


I had to laugh about the time she decided I needed a sensitive man, someone who would cry when I slapped him. And, she was serious. But, I suspect she was thinking of yourself and not me. In a way, I felt sorry for her. Her classic beauty had faded long ago which she attempted to maintain with too much make-up and a girdle far too small. Her hair was obviously no longer blonde but she was careful about not letting the roots reveal their secret.


It was her décolletage which was scary. It was dangerously low with the ever-present danger of having her bosoms escape their resting place, and cleavage that looked like two wet sandbags pushed together. Proud and perky were definitely long gone. I, at least, had the good grace to adopt silk, lace, and the proper foundation garments to maintain the image of what once was. And I still get enough second looks to make it worthwhile.


But I diverge from my tale. Yes, Stanley was cute and probably would not cry if slapped. Who knows, he may even enjoy it. But I was not about to find out. I was not interested in a May/December relationship. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.


Fast forward a few weeks – a visit with my publisher and the rejection of my latest novel put me in a suicidal state of mind. All I could think of was comfort food to assuage the pain. Ice cream was high on the list. Double chocolate with sprinkles seemed the right aphrodisiac. So, I headed for Trader Joe’s on 14th Street near Union Square Park. And, as my luck would have it, guess who I saw in the store? Detective you’re-too-old Stanley whatshisname.


I was at the fruit counter contemplating a bunch of bananas as topping for the ice cream, when I got the feeling someone was watching at me. So, naturally, I looked up and there he was, with a fistful of kumquats under his nose. I did an involuntary double-take when I saw his expression which reminded me of Eddie Cantor singing, “Ma, he’s making eyes at me.” Of course, Stanley wasn’t makin’ eyes at me. I doubt he knew how to ‘make eyes’ at anyone let alone me.


I was going to ignore him but decided I better acknowledge him or I would hear about it from Rivka on how rude I was. So, I forced a smile and saluted him with a cluster of bananas, then I made a beeline for the checkout counter only to get stuck in line because some ne’er-do-well ahead of me couldn’t get his credit card to work, and evidently had no cash. To make matters worse, I could see Detective Stanley move smoothly through another checkout line.


I forgot about him as the agony of waiting in line turned into a murderous rage, but I had to laugh when the customer behind Mr. Clueless finally ended the stall by paying for the single banana the idiot was trying to buy. Everyone cheered as the line moved forward and the indignant punk slithered out of the store – with his banana. New Yorkers – you gotta love ‘em. They ignore each other when out and about but come together at the slightest provocation.


As I gathered my bag of groceries, I looked about to make sure Stanley wasn’t lurking. He was gone and almost forgotten … until I exited the store.


“Need a lift?”


“Detective Stanley. How nice of you to ask. No thanks. But as you know, I only live a short distance from here.” I turned and headed for home.


“Are you sure?”


God, he was persistent. I waved my hand without looking back and kept going.


“How about I walk with . . . hey, you can’t do that.”


I turned. “Do what?”


“Jaywalk. It’s against the law.”


He had to be kidding. “Are you going to arrest me?”


“I could.”


“And take me to jail?”


“If you resist.”


“Will I get a cavity search?”


“What?”


I shook my head in disbelief, smiled, and walked away – toward the corner. The poor guy was clueless and had no sense of humor to boot. What a shame. I suppose he was good at whatever he did as a detective. At least I hoped he was.


Little did I suspect I was about to find out.


A week later, I got mugged and wound up in the hospital with two broken fingers and bruises which made my face look like the rear end of a baboon.


“Why didn’t you just give the rat what he wanted instead of putting up a fight?”


“Rivka, I had visions of canceling all my credit cards. It was too much to bear.”


“I wish I had been there. I know kung fu and would have given him what-for.”


I laughed in spite of the pain, “No, you wouldn’t.”


“Well, I know how to kick some jerk in the balls when he gets out of line.”


“Your talents cease to amaze me. Where did you learn how to do that?”


“My daddy enrolled me in a self-defense class when I was twelve.”


“How far-sighted of him.”


“This guy certainly would not have gotten everything you were carrying and made you look like road kill.”


“Rivka, take it easy. I don’t look that bad.”


“Yes, you do. I’m sorry, Imogene. I just hate seeing you looking like this. You obviously can’t take care of yourself; you need a protector.”


“Stop right there. I know what you’re about to suggest.”


“Stanley would be perfect for you.”


I glared at her and said nothing – for a change.


“When are you being discharged from this antiseptic mortuary?”


“Soon, I hope. Oh, goodie … here comes Nurse Ratched … ask her.”


“I heard that.” She tried to smile “She’s not being discharged, she’s being expelled for conduct unbecoming road kill.”


“See … what did I just say?”


“She probably overheard you.”


“Do you know this person?” The nurse glared at me and cozied up to Rivka.


“Yes, I do . . . unfortunately.”


“My sympathies.”


“…unfortunately? What the hell is that’s supposed to mean?”


“Imogene, what have you been up to?”


“I hate this place ... the food sucks. Oh, and look … here comes Doctor Death, and he’s smiling.”


“Good morning, Miss Imogene. How’s our little patient this morning?”


“Very funny, doctor. When can I leave?”


“Today, my friend.” He smiled at Rivka. “Are you her caregiver?”


I snapped, “No, she’s not my caregiver.”


“Thank you, Doctor. I’ll see to it she gets home safely.”


“Very good. I’ll phone the results of your blood test. We want to make sure that fellow who beat you up didn’t have a disease you don’t want. I’ll leave the discharge papers at the nurse’s station. Goodbye for now.”


“Goodbye forever.”


“The rat bit you?”


“Twice … the little weasel. Did you see the way the devil just looked at you?”


“Yeah … he’s kind of cute.”


“Trust me, Rivka. He has the touch of a love-starved cobra.”


“That sounds kind of kinky.”


“Will you please put a lid on your hormones and help me get dressed. Thanks for bringing clean clothes.”


“I looked for a push-up bra in your dresser but couldn't find one. All women should have one on hand.”


“Thanks, Rivka. But I think I can manage just fine without one.”


As she helped settle me in my apartment, her phone rang.


“WHAT? That’s wonderful. She’ll be so pleased. Yes, yes, see you soon.” She lowered her phone and turned to me grinning from ear to ear.


“Rivka, what is it?”


“They got him.”


“WHAT?”


“The rat! He’s being interrogated as we speak. Your purse and watch have been recovered. Credit cards and cash are still inside your wallet.”


“Jesus, I can hardly believe it. Glad I didn’t cancel those cards.”


“Well, you can check it out to make sure it’s all there. You’ll have them in your hands within the hour.”


“How so?”


“Detective Jones is bringing them over.”


“Detective Jones?”


“Stanley. You know. The guy I…”


“Yes, I know. How kind of him.”


“Grace, what is it with you?”


“I would prefer not to see him.”


“Why not? Oh, wait a minute. I get it.”


“No, you don’t get it.”


“I do, I do. I just knew this would work. Now admit it … you find him interesting.”


“Rivka. For God’s sake, I’m twenty years his senior … old enough to be his mother. Does he know I’m a Republican?”


“What? You’re not a Republican.”


“I am.”


“You are such a liar. He’s going to be here in a little bit … with your stuff. Talk to him. Thank him. You don’t have to make a lifelong commitment.”


“He said I was too old … remember?”


“When did he say that?”


“The evening you dragged him into the commons.”


“Did he really? I don’t remember that.”


“Yes, you do. He said it loud enough for everyone to hear it. And he’s right. I am too old for him. Though I prefer to say he’s too young for me.”


“There he is. Now behave yourself for at least five minutes. Then I’ll get him out of here.”


“Five minutes . . . not a second longer.”


“Stanley. Come in. I’ve just been telling ...”


“Hi, Imogene.”


“Stanley, please, come in.”


He smiled so beguilingly, I think my heart skipped a beat.


“I need you to identify this mug shot and check your belongings to make sure it’s all here. Where can I put this?”


Rivka pinched his sleeve and pulled him gently, “The kitchen table. This way. I’ll make coffee.”


“Rivka?” I glared bug-eyed at her.


“That’s all right … Imogene? I’m happy to help. Come along.”


She was working it for all it was worth and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. I followed obediently.


An hour later, Detective Jones leaned back in his chair, “Well, that about does it. Just sign at the bottom and I’ll take care of the rest. Are you sure you don’t want to press assault charges?”


“Yeah. He’s just a kid, and I hit him first.”


“I’ll say you did. He’s got a shiner like I’ve never seen before.”


“He only hit back in self-defense. I wouldn’t have done that if I had realized how strong he was.”


“I found out he’s an amateur boxer.”


I laughed. “I can sure pick ‘em. Are you going to see him again?”


“Yes, I’m going to book him for…”


“Wait a minute. Does he have a record?”


“No, as a matter of fact, he doesn’t.”


“I’m not pressing charges.”


“Not even for robbery?”


“No. I got my stuff back. I don’t believe he’s a thief … just down on his luck. I don’t want to be responsible for adding to it. Here, give him this when you see him and then let him go.”


“A hundred bucks?” Stanley looked up with the most bewildered expression. “Are you sure?”


“Yeah, I’m sure. He probably needs it more than I do. Will you do that for me?”


“Yes, of course. Poor kid will probably go into shock.”


“I’m sure you’ll tell him all the good-cop things like … crime doesn’t pay.” We laughed, then I yawned.


“Come along, Stanley, let’s go. Imogene needs her rest.”


“Yeah, okay. Thanks for the coffee.”


“You bet.”


“Hey, can I come back sometime? Your philosophy in handling this kid impressed me. I’d like to talk to you. I’ve been doing everything by the book which may not be altogether the right way.”


“Sure. Anytime. I’m usually here.”


“Thanks. Can I bring ice cream?” He smiled that crooked smile of his and reached for my hand.


“What?”


“I saw you drooling in front of the ice cream freezer at Trader Joe’s.”


“I don’t drool, Stanley. But, if you can find Tutti-Frutti . . . bring it.”


“Trader’s doesn’t carry it but I know who does.”


“You do? That’s wonderful.” The moment he grasped my hand, I was sunk. When he held it longer than necessary, I felt my hormones moving in a direction I did not think possible. And he did have a sense of humor after all.


"What flavor?"


"Oh, I don't know…"


"You look like Cookies N Cream girl." That lopsided grin of his told me a lot more than I think he wanted me to know.


"No, I'm more of a Chocolate with sprinkles girl, if they have it."


"Okay. I'll get Strawberry Cheesecake for myself."


“Stanley, you go ahead, I’ll catch up.” Rivka practically dragged him to the door.


“Okay.” He smiled again and paused, "How about some Tutti-Frutti Jelly Beans?"


I gave him a thumbs up as he threw me a casual salute and walked out.


Rivka turned to me. “Imogene? What’s going on? Tutti Frutti?”


“It’s only ice cream, Rivka.” I gave her a goofy grin and sighed.


"There was a lot more going on in the tones of your voices. Very naughty tones."


"You have a very vivid imagination, Rivka. Now, go. Don't keep Stanley waiting."


But she was right. There was a lot more going on. I had a fleeting vision of licking Chocolate Tutti-Frutti out of his navel, or was he licking it out of my navel? And someone got slapped – I wasn't sure who. Was I being naughty or nice or both at the same time? It was very confusing.


She kissed my cheek and walked to the door, turned, and sealed her fate. “Women of a certain age should be very careful about eating ice cream, especially Tutti-Frutti.” She patted her hips, winked, and closed the door.


It was Rivka! She was the one who made that awful comment to me about being of a certain age. I laughed when I thought of my voodoo doll threat. But maybe not. After all, she did bring Detective Stanley into my life and, if nothing else, he and I had one thing in common – Tutti Frutti ice cream. Not much to build a relationship on but … you can never tell. And, of course, there was the promise of those jelly beans which held endless possibilities also.


I had to admit it . . . Stanley just walked into my heart … without knocking. My only hope is that he doesn’t have mommy issues.


THE END


About the Author JT Evergreen

OCCUPATION - Retired from the grind. Reflecting on successes, failures, and regrets. Exploring new aspects of self, writing that book which will get me an Oscar, staying out of trouble - well, small amounts of trouble are ok. Bringing joy into people's lives with random acts of kindness - the ones who aren't expecting it are the best.

ABOUT ME - Alone in blessed singleness. Wicked sense of humor, enjoy my own company, glad I'm not young any longer. I do miss the intimacy of being in love. Enjoy the possibilities of every moment, an imagination that won't quite, a master weaver - give away everything I make, excellent portrait painter, a national treasure - though no one agrees with me, a good listener, intuitive, a good conversationalist, avoid boredom and boring people at all costs - that's a career all by itself.

INTERESTS - Intelligent conversation: hard to come by these days, metaphysics, mysticism, my pups - Charlie, Max, and Bailey, seeing the funny side of life, going to Macy's at Christmas time - kicking Santa and punching an Elf. If I had a singing voice, which I don't, I would sing all of the time, wherever I was - even in WalMart. Wouldn't that be enchanting? When I receive the Oscar for the book I'm writing, I will have some baritone sing On A Clear Day, and I will lip sync his voice. It will wow the audience.

LOVES - Color and lots of it, strawberry jam, hiking up Yosemite Falls, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, sourdough bread, only made in San Francisco. Hearst Castle, Big Sur, sea air, Adams peanut butter, chocolate milk, rainy days, canaries singing, chocolate chip cookies my mother made, Greek yogurt with honey - oh, yum. Laughter. I make it a point of doing this many times a day.

HATES - Stupidity, insensitivity, bad table manners - come on, how difficult is it to hold a fork properly - it's not a shovel for God's sake. Snow, ice, slush, freeway traffic, lima beans - what was God thinking, sleepless nights, people who are late, texting - it's a cop-out, alcohol, red meat,

FAVORITE BOOKS - The Spiritual Journey of Joel S. Goldsmith.

FAVORITE MUSIC – Joplin’s Peachrine, Ahmad Jamal - Country Tour - the absolute best jazz - never tire of it. Someone Waits for You – Carly Simons, Helen Kane singing Button Up Your Overcoat and I Want to Be Bad – I relate to the lyrics. And the Tenor who sang Springtime for Hitler in the Zero Mostel version of The Producers. No one seems to know who he is. What a voice.

FAVORITE FILMS – The Celluloid Closet, Witness for the Prosecution, It Could Happen to You, Maltese Falcon, Inherit the Wind, 12 Angry Men, Harold and Maude, Murder on the Orient Express, Hope and Glory, Sorry Wrong Number, Speed, Practical Magic, Apollo 13, Where the Red Fern Grows, The original Producers - touch me, hold me - Estelle was terrific, and Zero - what can I say.

FAVORITE QUOTES – The poetry in writing is the illusion it creates: by me. Lord Chesterfield: “Sex: the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” The saddest words of tongue or pen are these - It might have been - indeed they are. If you want to make a success out of old age, you better start now: my mother when I was 15. On a clear day, you really can see forever - you just have to look. I may be rancid butter, but I'm on your side of the bread. Inherit the Wind.

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Omar Khayyam



Other books by JT Evergreen

PUBLICATIONS – Short Stories to Celebrate the New Year, Alone at the Beach 25 short stories to keep you company, Home Alone 8 Great Stories to keep you company, Born in the Twilight, Injun Summer, This’nThat, Short Stories for a Summer’s Day. Holiday Short Stories, With All My Love, Father Frederick Monahan, Shangri la, Stepping Stones to God, I’m Gay Mother – Get Over it, The Olde Book Shoppe, Naked Before God, The Italian Call Boy, The Silence of Healing, Death of a Pope Birth of Hope, The Best Short Stories Ever, and My Love Affair with Father Tomas McTavish, working on a new character, Father Gibbon with Sister Mary Magda. I get choked up when I re-read some of my sentimental stories. I’m told that’s a sign of being a good writer.





Connect with JT Evergreen


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Here’s a collection of tunes to send you on your way. Cheers, JT

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