A/N – I've had this written for quite a while now, but I wasn't going to post it until I had finished my other stories. But oh well. I'm kind of bored so I thought I may as well go ahead and post it. :)
Chapter One – What? You Never Hit a Nun Before?
The last time I agreed to help my Uncle Sal with one of his documentaries I ended up punching a nun in the face. It's not that I have anything against nuns – as long as they're not those hardcore nuns who believe in corporal punishment and are super, super strict – it's just that I was really tired. It had been a long day, I was cranky, and Sister Mary Colleen had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I thought she was my cousin Enzo dressed up as a nun. It's a pretty easy mistake to make after being awake for thirty-two hours straight, overloaded on caffeine. Of course no one believed me when I said that, they all just thought I was some psycho nun beater or something.
Let me explain how the whole thing came about. My Uncle Sal is this aspiring documentary filmmaker – he thinks he's going to be the next Nick Broomfield. Unfortunately no one really shares that view. Anyway, there was this thing on the local news about how the nuns at a nearby convent had claimed to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary in their vegetable garden. Uncle Sal thought it would be great to make a short documentary about this, and seeing as he has no money to hire any crew, he always enlists the help of me and Enzo.
And so to cut a long story short, it was three o'clock in the morning and we were in the aforementioned vegetable patch trying to lure the Virgin Mary into making an appearance. To do this we had to have a nun present, because apparently, the Holy Virgin would only let herself be seen by the convent nuns – at least that's what the nuns told us. But all the nuns were sleeping, so we had to get Enzo to dress in a cunning disguise. Hey, he asked if he could be the one to dress up. He's very, very gay – I don't know if that explains it.
So anyway, skip forward a few minutes to me discovering that Enzo had eaten my last packet of jellybeans, which I had been saving for an emergency. He had gone to take a toilet break, and when I saw him coming back, I just charged right on up to him and slugged him on the nose. Only he was actually her. Sister Mary Colleen. I'm still doing penance for that one little mistake. That was why when Uncle Sal emailed me and told me he had an exciting new project coming up that I just had to be a part of, I emailed him back and told him to count me out.
Nothing good ever seems to come out of working on Uncle Sal's documentaries. Not for me at least. Uncle Sal doesn't give up easily though. He says it's one of the traits that makes him such an edgy an insightful filmmaker. Whatever.
So it was a Saturday morning and I was lying in bed, peacefully dozing in that warm fuzzy place just between sleep and wakefulness, when I heard my little brother Nick hollering at me from downstairs.
'Angela! Angela! Uncle Sal's on the phone! Get your lazy butt out of bed!'
I whimpered and stuck my head under my pillow. No way was I getting up. No way, no day. He could call back later. After about a minute Nick barged into my room and threw the phone at me. It was on speakerphone and Uncle Sal's loud voice boomed out at me.
'Ang, come on, talk to me,' he bellowed. 'I've got some exciting news!'
'And I've got periods pains,' I shouted back. 'So leave me alone!'
'Ewww,' Nick squealed, grimacing. 'You are so gross!' I rolled over, opened my bedside cabinet drawer and started pelting him with tampons. He couldn't get out of the room fast enough. Even though, at age thirty two, Uncle Sal's twenty three years older than Nick, I was sure if he had been in the room and not just on the phone, my tampon attack would have had him running for the hills too. Males are males, be them young or old.
'Listen Angela,' Uncle Sal went on, 'you're really going to want to be a part of this I swear – '
I picked up the phone and pressed the end call button. A second later my Mom stepped into the room.
'Angela Marie Teresa Moretti! Did you throw tampons at your little brother?!'
'What, he told me he needed them,' I grumbled.
'He's crying now!' she exclaimed. 'You made your little brother cry! Are you proud of that?'
'Hmm,' I said thoughtfully. 'Not unless he's curled up in a corner, rocking backwards and forwards, hugging himself too.' Okay, so before you start accusing me of being a heartless bitch, and thinking that I did punch that nun on purpose because I'm really evil, you should know that my brother is the biggest brat on the planet. He's always pretending to cry just to get me and my other brothers and sister into trouble. His one and only talent is being able to cry on cue and he milks it for all it's worth.
'That's it, get out of bed,' my Mom yelled. 'I'm not going to let you lounge around here like a lady of leisure if all you're going to do is pick on your little brother!'
I clambered out of bed and stuck my feet into my fluffy red Elmo slippers. 'Fine,' I replied. 'I'll go lounge around downstairs.'
'Nuh uh,' My Mom said, shaking her head. 'You little missy are going to your Grandma's.' My mouth dropped open. She had just uttered the words that all us Moretti kids live in constant fear of.
'Ma,' I whined. 'No, I don't want to!' In a pathetic attempt too show her what a caring daughter I was I hurried over to her and began untangling one of her big dangly gold earrings that had gotten caught up in her long wavy peroxide blonde hair. Surely such a caring daughter didn't deserve such a cruel fate as spending Saturday with Grandma?
'Angela, one of these days your grandmother is going to be dead.' She slapped my hand away from her ear and fixed her earring herself. 'And then you'll be saying, "Oh why didn't I spend more time with Grandma – now she's dead, I'll never see her again, boo hoo".'
I knew this was an argument I wasn't going to win. When Mom starts playing the 'one day she'll be dead' card, you really just have to give in. Grandma Liliana is almost eighty and there's no denying the fact, that one day, she will be dead. Okay, one day we'll all be dead but Grandma Lil was going to be meeting her maker way before any of the rest of us did.
Half an hour later Nick watched from the window as I rode my bike down the path and headed for Grandma Lil's. I had to leave the house in such a rush that I didn't even get a chance to kiss my beloved goodbye. Who's my beloved you ask? Well technically, it's not actually a person – but that's really not as weird as it sounds. My beloved is a person, but when I kiss him goodbye, I'm actually kissing the poster of him that hangs above my bed.
Rhett Zoltane. Sigh. The hot lead singer from one of my favorite groups, ever, A Few Bad Men. But anyway, I couldn't dwell on that because I had to get to Grandma Lil's as soon as I could. You know, in case she dropped dead or something.
The thing about Grandma Lil is, that like a lot of old folks, she's a widow. But she's also fiercely independent and insists on living alone. There are a lot of things she can't do for herself though, like the laundry and cleaning the toilet, you know all those little pleasure filled chores. So each week one of us grandkids take a turn at going over to her house and helping her out. Not that she's grateful for that or anything.
Every time I show up there she says the exact same thing without fail – 'Oh, it's you.' And she doesn't even say it like she's pleased to see me. She says it like I'm some mangy three legged, one-eyed dog that's come to pester her for scraps of food or something. When I arrived at her house I pressed the doorbell and patiently waited the five minutes it took her to shuffle to the door. When the door finally opened I was greeted by the sight of dear old Grandma Lil scratching her butt like some beer guzzling man, stockings rolled down to her ankles and her short gray hair stuck up in every which way.
'Oh, it's you,' she muttered. 'What did you do this time?'
'Hi Grandma,' I replied flatly.
'So what did you do?' she asked. 'And don't tell me you didn't do nothin'. I know your mother only sends you kids over here as a punishment.'
'Grandma, can I just come in?' I asked. 'That toilet isn't going to clean itself.'
She let me past and I made my way to the laundry room where she kept all of her cleaning supplies. I grabbed an assortment of bleaches and detergents as well as a wide array of scrubbing implements and headed for the downstairs bathroom. She didn't even offer me a drink or anything. She's a terrible hostess. She makes up for that though by being the worlds greatest gossip. In fact that was the only upside to paying her these little visits. After a couple of hours with Grandma you knew all the juicy news about the latest goings on in the Moretti family and it's many extensions. Last time I'd come she'd told me all about how my second cousin Joe's new wife had 'turned lesbian.'
As I knelt on the floor, scrubbing at the toilet bowl I listened to Grandma as she went on and on about all the weeks' goings on. Aunt Marisa had crashed her car; cousin Sarah had had herself mutilated (translation: she'd had her belly button pierced). Then she started talking about Uncle Sal.
'He was over here yesterday,' she was saying. 'Going on and on about this new little cartoon he's making.' For some inexplicable reason Grandma Lil thinks documentary and animation are one and the same thing. And God help anyone who tries to correct her – she's been on this planet for nearly eighty years dontcha know, she ougtha know what she's talking about. Suffice to say no one can be bothered to argue with her.
'He was saying he's doing it about some kind of rock,' she went on. He was doing a documentary about a rock? Wow. Good old Uncle Sal had really surpassed himself this time. 'And I just don't understand,' she continued. 'Because one minute he's talking about this rock he's going to be drawing, then he's talking about these bad men.'
Okay, it was time to give Grandma her pills. I don't know what they're for exactly, but they tend to shut her up when she starts babbling incoherently. 'A few bad men this, and a few bad men that, he kept going on and on about them.'
Hold on there a second. Maybe it was just the fumes from the detergent that were making me go wacky, but…
'Grandma?' I asked, looking over my shoulder at her. 'Are you sure he said he was making a cartoon about a rock, and not a rock band?'
'Of course I'm sure!' she snapped. 'Whaddaya think I am? Some kind of idiot?'
'No.' I had to call Uncle Sal. I had to be sure. The chances of him making a documentary about A Few Bad Men were about none to minus infinity. But this was A Few Bad Men we were talking about. If he was making a documentary about the then I had to know about it. More than that, I had to be a part of it! I was more than willing to forget what had happened with Sister Mary Colleen. As a matter of fact, I'd even punch a few more nuns just for it to be true!
Once my visit with Grandma was over I headed back home. I have to admit, as much as the old bag irritates me, I do love her and I do feel guilty about leaving her alone, but that's the way she likes it so what are you gonna do? When I finally arrived home Uncle Sal's car was parked in the driveway. I ran around to the backyard and found him sat on the back porch with my Mom.
'Uncle Sal!' I yelled, all excited.
'Forget it,' he said, putting a hand up in my face. 'You hung up on me before. That offends me. Kindly leave me alone, you are dead to me.'
'You've been spending too much time hanging out with Enzo – you're even starting to talk like him.' I nudged him along the top step of the porch and sat next to him. 'So tell me more about this documentary.'
'I thought you weren't interested,' he replied nonchalantly.
'You just caught me at a band time,' I said.
'A band time?' he asked with an arch of his unruly eyebrows.
'I meant a bad time,' I muttered. Ulterior motives were playing on my mind and my clumsy mouth was betraying that fact.
'You've been talking to Lil haven't you?' he asked with a grin.
'Kind of,' I replied. 'But you know what she's like – she never really makes much sense. Anyway, this new documentary of yours…'
He pretended to stifle a yawn and inspected his fingernails. 'Hmm? Oh yeah. That. Well I really don't want to bore you with the details.'
'No I want to hear about it,' I insisted. 'From what I could gather from Grandma's jumbled ramblings it sounds cool.'
'Yes, well it is the biggest opportunity of my life as a documentary filmmaker to date, but I really don't want to gloat about it – '
'Uncle Sal!' I exclaimed, elbowing him in the arm. 'Just get to the point please. Are you making a film about A Few Bad Men or not?'
A small smug smile formed on his face. 'Perhaps.'
'Yes or no?' I urged.
'A Few Bad Men?' my Mom asked. 'Isn't that one of those awful bands you like Angela?'
'Uncle Sal,' I went on, ignoring my mother. 'Is it true?'
Slowly he nodded his head, looking very pleased with himself. 'The drummer saw that film I made about that guy who was a pizza delivery man by day and an S&M drag queen by night. He loved it - said it was 'gritty'.'
Gritty? Whatever. Something else that rhymed with gritty, maybe…
'I don't believe this,' I gasped. 'This is amazing! Are you sure you're not just yanking my chain?'
'Would I do a thing like that?' he asked, pretending to be offended.
'Well when do you start shooting it? Where are you shooting it? Do you still need some help? Are you hiring a professional crew? I could save you heaps of money – you know that I'm an awesome sound recordist – I could so do it, I wouldn't even expect payment. Just food and expenses only. I swear, I'd be totally professional – '
'Ang,' Uncle Sal interrupted, raising a hand to silence me. 'There is no need to humiliate yourself by begging. Of course you can help. The band are going on a tour of the country this summer and they've asked me to tag along and film it. It will take the whole summer, so as long as you don't mind sacrificing your summer – '
'Are you kidding?!' I yelled, leaping to my feet. 'It wouldn't be a sacrifice!'
'And as long as your mother doesn't mind,' he added.
'Mind?' she snorted. 'I'd pay you to take her off my hands for the summer. I'll be more than happy to let her go. I could turn her room into a giant closet while she's gone.'
Ah, my loving mother. So maternal, so devoted. But whatever – it didn't matter to me that she was so eager to get rid of me. I was going to meet Rhett Zoltane. TheRhett Zoltane. My beloved Rhett Zoltane. Unbelievable.