Tommy DeSoto flipped up his collar and splashed across Boulevard
Drive to the canvas covered entrance. He shook off his Panama, opened the heavy
glass door and entered the warm, dry restaurant. "Hey! Squeaky! Get me a table!"
Tommy ordered in jest as he shook the rain from his shoes.
pick, Soda." said Gina, the waitress with the high raspy voice. She gestured at
the nearly empty room. "What happen? You find some money in the street or
something?" Gina snickered and dug her pen out of the pouch in her apron and
totaled her customer's order and handed him the ticket. He gave her a look that
said: "I wanted lunch not yo' damn grocery bill."
"Something wrong, Sam?"
she asked the stern faced man as she smoothed her uniform.
compliment to da chef." he quipped.
"That'll make his day." Gina replied
then turned her head to the kitchen. "Hey Morey, another satisfied
"Call 911!" Morey yelled.
"You havin' a heart attack
'cause somebody likes your slop?" Gina mused. "You got it, Squeaky!" Morey
affirmed as he raked his spatula across the grill.
Tommy settled himself
in his booth. "Yeah, you're real cute, Squeaky. I had a female like you once.
Cute as a button." he quipped.
"Don't tell me. You had her spayed,
"Oh, you heard that one, huh?"
"Screw you, Soda." Gina
"What dat fool's problem?" Sam asked.
Gina sighed. "Old
war injury." she replied as she wrote out another ticket.
"I heard dat."
"Grits, Americans and coffee, Squeaky. Sometime before
midnight." Tommy ordered as he shook the rain off his Panama.
got your grits on'a grill, Soda. Your like a damn clock; two fifteen every
afternoon." Gina retorted as she poked her pen into her apron. "That
doppleganger catch up with you yet?"
"Shut up, Squeaky! Just get my
coffee!" Tommy protested.
Gina poured Sam's last cup of coffee and
offered: "Get you anything else?"
"Dopple-watsit? What you talkin' 'bout,
sugar? Dog dat ugly got a littermate?" Sam mused.
"Just a guy that looks
like him only real deadpan. Kinda spooky. Greek guy; at least he talks like a
Greek. Comes in here a few minutes after Tommy leaves every day!" Gina
Sam shook his head. "Maybe da fool throw on some otha' skin
and do a repeat." Sam proposed, smoothing the lapels of his
Gina smiled. "I don't think so, Mr. Aitkens. Other guy's got a
real tattoo on his cheek; strikin' Cobra."
"Better get me them grits,
Squeaky, or I'll introduce you to a size nine!" Tommy bellowed.
packin', Soda?" Gina exclaimed in jest and held out
her index finger like it
was a pistol.
"I'm talkin' about my boot you dumb blonde." Tommy
Gina chuckled and retorted: "Oh, that old thing. That's
good 'cause I wouldn't want you to exaggerate." Gina took the coffee to Tommy's
table and poured him a cup. "Can I get you anything else?"
"Just bring my
food before you forget, Squeaky." Tommy ordered. He pulled a notebook and a pen
out of his shirt pocket and began to write.
Gina spoke in her best dumb
waitress voice: "I'm sorry, Mister. What was your order again?"
down the pen and picked up the ketchup and pointed it at Gina.
exclaimed in her dumb waitress voice: "I'm sorry, Mister DeSoto! I'll get it
right away!" Gina duck walked toward the kitchen.
"Pick up on loading
dock seven!" Morey declared.
"You're loaded Morey." Gina
"'Bout damn time!" Tommy declared.
"Don't worry Mister
DeSoto. We'll have you fed and out of here before your evil twin shows up." Gina
"Don't worry about that sonofabitch, Squeaky. I kicked the
hell out of him a short time ago. He won't be bothering me tonight." Tommy said
in a deep, rough voice.
Gina brought Tommy's food and set it on his
table. "Soda! You didn't. Tell me you're lying. Was he hurt? Did he bruise a
knuckle or something?" Gina said, giggling.
"Go ahead and laugh, Squeaky.
But if he shows today you'll see bruises a lot higher up on that jerk." Tommy
"That's no way to treat your brother, Soda." Gina
Sam rose up from his table and said: "Hey
Gina, I alway' wond'ed. Why day call you Squeaky, anaway?" Sam smiled. "Caus'a
Gina looked down at her feet. "It's not the shoes when I
walk, Sam. I've been workin' long hours and, well, manners only take you so far.
You know what I mean?" Sam thought a moment before he started laughing. He was
still laughing when he left the diner.
"Tommy, you probably left him for
dead, didn't you?" Gina asked with concern. "You should at least call him an EMT
or something if you really hurt him. I mean, I know he's been a nuisance
"Will you dry up Squeaky! I didn't beat up some kid. He's my
size, remember? I'm sure he won't have any problem crawling away."
you sure he's not your brother, Soda?" Gina asked. "You sure act like he was
Tommy responded, exasperated: "How many times I gotta tell
you, Squeaky? I ain't got no damn brother. I've never had much of a family...
period. If anybody wanted to claim me they should have done it long
"Well, how do you explain it then?" Gina
"Explain what?" Tommy said, puzzled.
"He's a dead
ringer for you."
Tommy shrugged his shoulders and said: "I'm better
Gina placed one hand behind her head and the other she pressed
against Tommy's shoulder. "I dunno'... I've never known you to do anything like
this before. Maybe we're makin' the damn coffee too strong or something." Gina
offered. "Look, haven't you got enough trouble with your little computer hobby.
You should try staying offline for awhile." Gina bent down and kissed Tommy
sensually. Gina added: "I don't understand why the University gets you involved
with other systems and things, anyway. You're supposed to be in
"It's just research. Part of my job is protecting systems
from hackers like I used to be. Squeaky, you ever know me to fall in fertilizer
and come up smellin' like anything but a rose?" Tommy quipped. "I didn't do
anything major with the University's computer system. I'm no thief or anything
like that." Tommy looked at her and she stared back blankly. "Chill out, chick.
It's Saturday night. Maybe I'll see you tonight." Tommy assured. "At Pappa's."
"Sure thing, Soda." Gina assured.
A few minutes later,
as Tommy left the diner, Gina felt something hit her stomach like a block of
fresh ice. She wasn't convinced that Tommy wasn't in serious
Tommy hit the street dodging traffic in his usual ambivalent
style, splashing through puddles with his head down.
Inside the diner the
smell of deep fat fryer grease and coffee was pungent. Gina cried out: "Morey,
are we closing early for sure?"
Morey answered: "Yeah, I told you! It's
Saturday and Pappa needs me to help set up."
"Well, you're not going to
make me close by myself." Gina groaned.
"Didn't I just tell you I gotta
help Pappa?" Morey yelled back.
"Yeah, but that guy with the tattoo is
probably gonna show up and he's gonna be ticked off 'cause Tommy just beat the
crap out of him." Gina complained.
Morey sighed heavily and then
explained: "Lock the door. Don't let him in. If he bothers you about it, call
Gina placed fists on her hips and shook her head slowly back
In the early evening, Tommy drove his car through
countless puddles that slowed him each time he hit one. Pappa's was busy when he
arrived and he found it necessary to park a block away. Morey was waiting tables
and Squeaky was nowhere in sight. Probably decided not to show Tommy thought.
The Greek with his silver hair and rough, weathered face strode over to Tommy's
table soon after DeSoto made himself comfortable in the booth. "E', Toomass!
What can I do for you tonight, my old friend?" Pappa greeted, wiping his hand on
"Hey, Pappa! I thought you were about ready to hang up your
apron for good." Tommy teased.
"I'm no' ready to put out to pasture yet,
you bastard! " 'helpin' Morey runna place. How 'bout I get you a little Ouzo?
Get you' stomach ready for some nice Greek food. You sure you no' drink too much
already?" Pappa said, looking around the restaurant.
"I had two beers at
Pete's today. That's it." Tommy said, bewildered. "Anyway, I'm only gonna stay a
few minutes. I came in here to call someone." Tommy glanced around and spoke in
low tones: "Besides, I hear you want to talk."
"Wha', you mean you' gonna
call on someone. I know about d'at. No need talkin' about business now. I bring
you a little Ouzo... on me." Pappa said with an upward nod.
you' girlfrien' workin' her ass off ina diner anyway. You know I gonna leave
tonight; gonna visit my family in Greece. Grandkids, you know. Tommy shook his
hand back and forth to refuse but later as he ate alone he began to feel a
dizzy, warm sensation which he attributed to the Ouzo. Soon he seemed to be
swaying gently like the whole restaurant had been picked up and
The next morning, as Tommy regained consciousness, his
nose was greeted by a nasal bokay of sassafras and... barbecued beef? He
remarked to himself: Someone's having a picnic! as he realized his eyes had
struggled open to view a new horizon; one full of ocean. Somewhere nearby
someone was calling: "Ice coke! Ice coke!" The entire picture was foreign; the
beach, the faces, the signs at the marina. If this is Greektown, where did the
ocean come from? is all Tommy could formulate. Yet... this place did seem
familiar. He must have been here in his youth.
Tommy DeSoto lifted
himself from the beach and swiped the sand from his body. "Jesus, I don't
believe this... " Tommy started to say. In his mind he could only remember a
striking cobra tattoo and flying over the water. Everything was fuzzy.
Toomass, what you doin' ona' beach? You got sand all up you' butt!" Pappa cried
as he and his companion began to chuckle. "E, com'ere I gonna let you meet
Alex!" he summoned. Pappa and Alexandra left their Ouzos on the umbrella table
and rose to greet Tommy.
"If this is Saturday, this must not be Kansas."
Tommy quipped as he shuffled over to his Greek hosts. Tommy held his head
between his hands as he complained: "What did I drink, Tequila? I don't remember
a freakin' thing."
"This Sunday. This Alexandra my grandchild. She sa'...
she's big fan-a-you." Pappa paused a liberal amount of time for effect. "I tell
her you know how to fix big computer like ina' University in Michigan." Pappa
regarded Tommy with eyes that held fire and looked into the soul for only what
they wanted to see.
"Hello, Alex." Tommy greeted warmly. "You don't mind
if I call you 'Alex', do you?" Tommy held out his hand. The other was still
glued to his skull. "Your name's Alexandra, isn't it?
"Sure Thomas. How
are you? Yeah, everyone calls me Alex." she said in a sideways, hair shaking,
aloof kind of way. "It's really nice to meet you. I don't know a lot of
midwesterners; not to mention computer experts."
"I'm not an expert."
"Sure. Maybe I'll see you up at my place in a little bit.
I'm going sailing with Andy. Gotta go. See you." Alexandra said and was off for
the Marina. "Remember, Pappa! Those files belong to me! Anything happens...
you'll be the one who pays. You know what I mean!" Alexandra shouted
"I tol' you; we fix for you, Alex!" Pappa replied as Alexandra sped
Tommy looked at Pappa and asked: "Who's Andy?"
"E', kids." Pappa
grumbled. "Andros... her boyfriend." Tommy watched Alexandra pitch sand into the
air behind her with her sandals.
"How old is she?" Tommy
"Twen'ytwo." Pappa answered.
"She's a free spirit." Tommy
"She's a baby." Pappa acknowledged.
"What the hell are
we doing in Greece, Pappa?" Tommy said with sudden shock.
"How you know
we in Greece?" said Pappa bemused. "You sleep all da way in'a Lear Jet. You no'
wanna wake up when we put you on'a boat here."
"I read Greek, remember?"
Tommy explained. "Pappa, how in the name of hungry little fish did you expect me
to know if I was still dreaming?"
"I tol' you not to feed da fish, kid.
Don' feed da fish. You' not dreamin' now." Pappa explained. "That's why." said
Pappa, indicating the now small figure of his granddaughter. "She in trouble now
an' need you help."
There was a small crowd at the marina and in the
blustery mid-morning, yachts were milling about the harbor. The local yacht club
was holding a season-opening rally and picnic. Smoke rose from the fire pits as
the cooks were busy preparing food.
"I'm not interested in doing anything
illegal; especially in a foreign country." Tommy DeSoto argued as he became
visibly agitated. "Which reminds me, now that I think about it. I only remember
having one drink. Isn't there a law against kidnapping in this
Pappa waved his hand and rebuffed: "Is no foreign country. Is
my home. This where I grew up. You got big trouble in the states and you know
it. The University gonna have you locked up and then throw away the key. I do
you a favor. You make a little money here, I take you back and fix everything.
Do me this favor, e'? I know if I ask you... you say no, so I don' ask. I jus'
put a little chloral nitrate in your drink. E', you don' have no heart trouble,
e'? Anyway, your brother put you in'a jet and we bring you. You know...you
shouldn' beat up you' brother like dat!"
"Again with the brother!" Tommy
"Ged over it ,Toomass, da' was a long time ago." Pappa insisted.
"You both made a choice. He stayed here. You went to the States. I's no' you'
brother's fault you' family was separated. I knew you' whole family when you
lived here; you' just a little guy like dat." Pappa said, indicating the height
of a small child by holdin g his hand flat above the beach.
sighed. "I knew this wasn't going to be a social visit." he
Pappa breathed deeply. "No. This important business. Alex keep
the records for the family and she has a problem. I's just a little glitch. You
can fix it in no time and nobody's the wiser, you know? E', look, I already talk
to your boss. You don' go back to the University tomorrow... you covered,
"Great!" Tommy thought; half-heartedly. From the marina he could
still hear the vendor shouting: "Ice coke, Ice coke!"
picnic, Pappa drove Tommy up to the estate which had an entrance cased in large
stones on the side of a hill. They found Alexandra sitting in the study in front
of an IBM tower computer. One file after another was displayed until Tommy
cleared his throat. Alexandra hit a key and the computer went to screensaver
mode. Alexandra turned with a blank face and tossed her hair. Then she smiled.
I've just been getting the system ready for you, Thomas.
"You go ahead,
Toomass. I don' like dose things anyway. I go shower." Pappa said then left the
room to freshen up and change clothes.
Alexandra got up from the
captain's chair and invited Tommy to sit down. "See, right now we just have a
little trouble getting files to come up. Only certain files. That's not a big
problem. A problem with the iniation files on a couple applications. I can
probably fix that myself." Alexandra explained.
"So... what do you need
me for, Alex?" Tommy queried as he pulled his wallet from his pocket. "What's
that for?" Alexandra asked. "See, I keep a few notes in here... just in case.
You know. You can't carry books with you everywhere." Tommy
"Well... Pappa brought all your books here from Michigan."
Alexandra said, puzzled. Then she laughed. "I still remember you when you were a
little boy. You had long hair... all dressed in white and eating cherries."
Alexandra laughed again.
Tommy blurted: "What the hell right does he have
going into my apartment?" Tommy stared at her for a moment; aware that his anger
and confusion must be showing. "Yes well, I won't need all that right
"You see," said Alexandra almost whispering. "What we really need
is a way to protect files that won't... you know, show up. Either here or on the
network. This system is the main backup terminal for the net we
"Something like a hidden password?" Tommy posed.
like that only a bit more sophisticated." Alexandra explained.
elaborate. I mean... what do you want the system to do when someone tries to log
on?" Tommy asked.
"Without authorization?" Alexandra
"Yes." Tommy responded.
"We want the system to destroy
itself." Alexandra answered.
"Well, it's possible to disable the hard
drive... " Tommy began.
"No." Alexandra said firmly. "We want everything
to erase. Software, files, everything."
"You want a virus?" Tommy said
with surprise. Alexandra smiled. "Something like that." She
"Now I understand, Alex." Tommy said. Alexandra slowly
said: "Understand what?" and tossed her hair.
"Why Pappa wanted somebody
from out of the country. This must be really big." Tommy concluded.
don't know about all that." said Alexandra. "I just keep the books for the
family's vineyards. Yeah, there's a lot of stuff; files that I don't know about
on the drive. Some things that... aren't exactly legal."
"So you can show
me a wine list then, huh?" Tommy said with his eyes lit up.
"Isn't it a
little early for you?" Alexandra inquired with eyebrows raised. She tossed her
hair again and punched up the files for the household wine cellar.
said Tommy. "I want the family's wine list.
Alexandra hunched her
shoulders and said: "That's a big list!"
Tommy gave her a couple
encouraging upward head-shifts and insisted: "Punch it up."
tossed her hair again and brought up the database. DeSoto pulled a computer disk
from his shirt pocket and started with the file directories. "You carry one of
those with you?" Alexandra remarked as she pressed her hand to her
"Always." Tommy said.
When Pappa returned he looked
refreshed. He wore dark gray trousers and a white pinstriped shirt. Pappa's hair
was slicked back and he wore a splash of aromatic cologne. He walked around the
hall to the study to find no one was there. Pappa left the room and came back
with a bottle of white wine and a glass. He set the glassware down and punched
in the password on the computer only to find the machine unresponsive. He tried
a second time. "Alex!" He cried. "Wha'... you change the password?"
moment Alex returned and blurted out: "Pappa! Wha' you doin'? Why you always
want to mess with my computer when you come home. What did you do?" Pappa stared
at her wild eyed. "I just put ina password!" he explained. Alexandra's eyes got
"My God, I changed the password!"
"So wha's the new one
'den?" Pappa asked.
"You don't understand! Tommy already installed the
protection program. The memory is being erased while we speak!" Alexandra
Pappa tried frantically at the keys then turned the machine
"It's no use." Alexandra said.
"It's too late." Tommy
Pappa got to his feet, pointed his finger at Tommy and
threatened: "I gonna wait till you sitting in your own home and I gonna have
you' brother come and shoot you. No! I gonna come and shoot you jus' like 'dat
myself." Pappa's face lit up like a poor poker player; caught bluffing by
everyone at the table, as he continued: "You two plan da whole t'ing di'n you?
You wait till I come out an' check da file an' see what you doin'. You wise guy!
You knew I was gonna check it!" He pointed his rage at Tommy. Alexandra's
features went stiff with indignation. Her eyes were lit with a fire like Tommy
had never seen in a woman before.
"Pappa, that's absurd! What the hell
are you talkin' about, Pappa?" she began with speed and intensity. She
continued: "What'you think, Thomas's just some second rate hack you can blow off
like some fly! He's got friends back in the States, even some here! Somebody
could be lookin' over your shoulder right now."
"Look, it's not worth it,
Alex." Tommy protested.
"Yes it is, Thomas." Alexandra continued. Then
she brought her attention back to Pappa. "Maybe flying over your head! He's got
kids you don't even know how to find. Maybe a couple years from now someone
shows up and puts a hole in your belly. What're you thinkin', Pappa? You think
he gives a damn? He's got so much damn pressure now, he don't know what to think
about anything. You think he gives a damn about your operation? You know I'm the
one who knows the most about Thomas. I'm just like him." Alexandra's face was
searing. "I don't give a damn about your operation either! Thomas knows he don't
need your help with Michigan anyway; and he still helped you."
left the study in a rage then slammed the door on his way out of the
Tommy blew out a long breath. "You've got backup, don't you?" he
asked of Alexandra.
"Of course." she said, smiling. "But it's gonna cost
him a new boat to get it and he knows it." she continued, tossing her hair
aside. "And I'm not settling for a small one."
"So what about me?" Tommy
Alexandra smiled again and cast a sidewards glance. "He'll cool
off." She looked down and saw the wine glass she was still holding. Alexandra
drained it before she spoke: "You want me to show you around Athens for awhile
before they get the plane ready for home?"
"Yeah, that'd be great but can
we stay away from the beach for a while? I still haven't gotten rid of all the
sand." Tommy complained.
"I'll make this trip worth your time, Thomas.
Just getting that old man like we did is worth more than you know." She
winked."You better freshen up. I'm going to give you the deluxe tour." Alexandra
insisted. "I'll be out on the patio. I'll bring the car around." she indicated
the west side of her home.
The next day when Tommy arrived at the
diner on Boulevard Drive, he caught
Sam leaving. "Hey, Sam, how ya doin'?" he
Sam returned the greeting: "Fine, 'Soda. How you? Hear you'
been outa town."
"Fine, Fine." Tommy reported. "Yeah,
"Word ona streets you's kidnapped, Soda." Sam said with a big
Tommy gave Sam a double-take.
Inside, Gina was busy setting
up tables. "Hey, squeaky, get me a table!" Tommy cried.
"Get it yourself,
Soda!" Gina replied.
"What's got your hair in a tangle this time?" Tommy
Gina took a deep breath and spoke: "You're gone for a whole
weekend, you don't call, I heard several rumors including 'you left the
country'. You want to know what's got my feathers ruffled! By the way your
brother called this morning and said you should have stayed home and also that
he is going to kill you. Does any of this make any sense to you? By the way,
your brother also said he was going back to Greece after the
Tommy DeSoto thought for a moment before saying: "Yeah, he
probably is my brother. Anyway, if somebody wants to adopt you bad enough and
there's a family resemblance...I'm a little fuzzy on the funeral part
"What?" Gina responded with her hands on her hips.
got my grits ready, Squeaky?" Tommy ordered.
"Get'm yourself, Toomass!"
Gina shouted back. She paced to the kitchen, issuing a flurry of
Tommy tilted his Panama down over his eyes and pulled the
floppy disk from his pocket. I'll have to think of a good place to put this
other copy now. he thought. He put the floppy away, leaned back and cast his
eyes side to side. Then he looked out the windows in the direction of the river
and remembered the seemingly inappropriate comment that Pappa had made on the
beach in Athens.
I tol' you kid: "No' to feed da fish. Don' feed
If Pappa only knew what was eating him.