Saturday, April 14, 2018

Orlando, Back to the Beach and Sammy's First Adventure


We took a break in the middle of the week to head to Orlando to Universal with Dennie and Tom.

Stayed at the Portofino and sailed to the park in the morning. Drank butter beer, saw Blues Brothers, had Margaritas at Jimmy Buffet's, ate at  Emeril's, shot aliens at MIB 


But the most mind bending, complicated, challenges of all came AFTER we left. We stopped at Pinera to eat breakfast and skipped the line to try out the ipad menu. It took four of us about a half hour and we STILL couldn't figure it out. We left and tried three other places until we settled at First Watch.

Look at these people crowding my beach!

Beautiful day and I spent most of it on the porch back at my computer working on the Sammy novel. 

It was so nice to get another week to do this because I'm now at 25,000 words (about halfway done).

By the way thanks for your suggestions on where Sammy could go on his adventure. I'm going to use some of them. 



Here's another chapter (Sammy's first Stop) :

      “Can I see your Driver’s License, Mr. Finklestein?” asked Raul, the front desk manager of the Roosevelt Hotel.

Sammy didn’t think of this when he was collecting bogus credit cards and making his plans for escape. Crap. I have no identification. “Son … I haven’t driven in 10 years. My son makes sure of that. Gave up my license years ago.”

“Any ID?” Raul asked.

“Only my credit card I’m afraid.”

“I see.” Raul handed him back his card. “I am sorry sir … really can’t …”

“Not a problem my friend. I understand.” Sammy hoisted his backpack and headed into the Sazerac Bar. He shuffled into one of the low tables in the corner, folded his trusty old walker with the worn out tennis balls and collapsed into the leather chair. He reached down and opened his backpack and pulled out the powder blue urn, placing it gently right next to his oversized bar menu. “Esther … looks like we are not gonna see the inside of one of those Roosevelt Hotel rooms. So let’s just have a drink at the Sazerac for now and I’ll get us another place to stay.”

Caesar, the bartender, was taking this all in from his station listening intently. He came up to the table. “What can I get for you sir?” 

“Old Fashioned for me, thx.” Sammy winked.

“And for …” Caesar nodded to the urn. “The lady?”

“Why she will do the Sazerac of course.”

“Of course.”

Caesar had done this job a long time. He knew better than to ask a lot of questions … especially to an old man talking to an urn and ordering it a drink. He smiled to himself. He figured it out right away. Wife passed away, lonely widower can’t part with her and brings her to their favorite place for one last drink.

Close … but no cigar.

Caesar stepped behind the elegant bar to mix the cocktails. The Sazerac is one of the oldest and best known bars in New Orleans. Named for the first ever mixed drink, the Sazerac was visited by the famous and infamous. Governor Huey Long (The Kingfish) would visit regularly as well as countless celebrities who played the hotel’s Blue Room like Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra.

In about four hours … it would be packed with patrons but for now it was just Caesar and Sammy … and Esther.  

Caesar stepped up to the table and served Sammy first. “Sir.” Then he reached over and placed the Sazerac in front of the urn. “Madam.” 

“Thank you.” Sammy looked at his name tag. “Caesar.”

“My pleasure.” Caesar continued. The curiosity got the best of him. “If I might be so bold … can I ask what was her name?”

“Her?”

“Yes.”

“Esther.”

“Your … wife?”

“She was.”

“I’m sure she was a lovely person.”

Sammy took a long sip of his Old Fashioned. “Actually, she was a real bitch.”

Caesar was silent.

“It’s okay Caesar. The great thing about being 86 years old is that it frees you up to say all the things that you couldn’t when you were 40. Plus … she’s dead you know? I can actually get a few words in.”  Sammy smiled that semi toothless smile where his dentures were missing. “You married?”

“Yes I am.”

Sammy motioned him closer. “I’m sure she’s a lovely woman.”

Caesar looked around as if she might be behind him. “Actually … she’s kind of a bitch.”

They both laughed loudly.

“Caesar … let me buy you a drink. This one’s on Ira Finklestein.”




Saturday, April 7, 2018

I Need Your Help

I've been bad.

I haven't written a blog entry in ages and I want to apologize to my fan. (No that's not a typo. I'm probably down to one "fan") So here's an update ... I have been spending any free time I can get at our beach condo writing my Sammy novel. 

Getting pretty far into it.

I sent my first 50 pages to my buddy Dave Scheiber who is the best writer I know and who I hope to be when I grow up (which as you all know will never happen ... the writing part and the growing up). Dave's gonna give me some notes and I know him well enough that he will certainly tell me the truth ... that it is brilliant.

But until then I'm pushing ahead.

So ... the novel plot centers around Sammy (who is based on my dad) who lives in a nursing home, is depressed and plans an escape. He takes with him two urns ... one with Esther's remains (based on my mom) and one empty for his own. His plan ... go back to his hometown and visit his favorite places that Esther hated and make her go to them with him.

Now I've copied a chapter below so you can get the gist. YOU can help me write it because I've got lots of ideas about where to take Sammy ... but I bet you do too.

Comment some of yours back to me. 

Okay ... enjoy (I hope)

 SAMMY ... the novel 


Chapter 11


Sammy’s face crinkled around the edges as he smiled and looked out the back window of Uber driver Ahmed Kumar’s car. The night air felt good. It was fresh and a little cool and gave Sammy a feeling of renewal. This would be his last and greatest adventure. In truth, Sammy didn’t feel he ever really had a great adventure. Maybe a few pretty good ones? Not really. Not even close. So this was going to be his last chance for the adventure that he never had.

He had been planning it for well over a year.

Sammy knew that he needed money. At Star of David, there was no money that changed hands for anything, In fact, residents were not allowed to even carry money. Older residents were forgetful and were prone to misplacing valuables, there would be no temptations for light fingered staff members and it just made sense to limit liability. So, he needed a plan to find a different source.

The answer came from his old friend Bertha.

“So Sammy … did I tell you about my sister Sarah’s daughter?” Bertha told him one night at dinner (when she still ate with him).

“Sister?”

“My sister, Sarah. I told you about her Sammy. Lived in Brooklyn, married the butcher and had three selfish kids who tried to bleed her dry. They were the most selfish girls … I swear my poor sister had her hands full. Oy … what a mess even at the funeral …”

“Bertha … Bertha … stay on track”

Bertha put her fork down and straightened her dress. She whispered to Sammy (not the best strategy). “So … when Sarah died last year, her daughter Isabel decided to steal her identity.”

“Steal her what?”

“IDENTITY … her IDENTITY.” Bertha said very loudly. About a third of the diners turned to look at her. The rest were as deaf as Sammy.

“She’s dead for God’s sake. What identity?”

“That’s the point. She died so no one noticed that her identity popped up again on credit cards … on credit cards … can you believe it? Isabel got credit cards in Sarah’s name.”

“That’s crazy. How could she just get credit cards like that?”

“She just applied and used all her mother’s information. And … she just charged and charged and charged and never paid them off. They kept trying to contact her but guess what?”

“She didn’t answer… because she’s dead.”

“Right. The only way they found out was when she forgot and signed her own name to one of the charges and left her real phone number with a clerk.”

Brilliant, thought Sammy.

Six months later, when three of the residents of Star of David passed away, he sent off three brand new applications and got three approvals and three credit cards in just weeks … Ira Finkelstein, Arthur Smolensky and Sandy Weiner. They were real people … just not breathing any more. He’d probably just use one but he might live longer and need more cover, he thought.

The rest was easy. Airline reservations, hotel rooms and some new clothes were all done in the last month to reduce the investigation time if there was any suspicion.


“Which airline, Mr. Finkelstein?” Ahmed asked from the front seat. At first Sammy thought Ahmed was talking to someone else on his cell phone, forgetting his new identity.“Mr. Finkelstein?”

Sammy jumped in, “Oh … yeah … (reading his ticket) that would be Delta.”

“You got it.” Ahmed smiled. “Big escape?”

Sammy was flustered. “Escape? What makes you say that?”

“That crazy ComicCon is in town this week. Traffic and parking are a nightmare.”

Okay you gotta calm down, thought Sammy. “What the hell is a Comie whatever?”

“Comic Con. It’s just a big conference for people who dress up like comic book superheroes and come together in one big place. My girlfriend is really into it. Can’t say I mind. Man does she look hot in that Wonder Woman costume. You know?”

Ahmed looked in the rear view mirror and saw that Sammy was not listening. Sammy was tired. His adventure hadn’t even begun and he was already feeling like he needed a nap ... or at least an aspirin for the pain in his shoulder and hip.