Two men came into my office, one day. One guy had bushy blond hair, and the other had black hair and a mustache. Blondie wore a gray suit, and Blackie a black suit.

"Can I help you?" I asked.

"You Barefoot Jenny?" Blondie asked.

"That's right?"

"Valentine Val sent us."

Blackie suddenly pulled out a gun! While he held it close to me, Blondie knelt down at my legs—I was sitting in my chair—and grabbed my feet—I was barefoot. He began pinching and squeezing them. I could tell that he was an expert at torture—and he enjoyed it!

I tried not to scream, but the pain he caused was unbearable. So I did scream.

Finally, he stopped. Chuckling, the pair of them left my office.

I was bewildered. Why did Val have them do this? Did I cross him, in some way? I decided to call him at his restaurant, the Vineyard.

I got one of the hostesses, who transferred me to him.

"Barefoot Jenny, great hearing from you! How've you been?"

"Terrible—and I think you know why!"

"What are you talking about? You sound like you've been crying!"

I told him what just happened to me.

"Barefoot Jenny, I swear on my mother's grave I had nothing to do with that!"

"You didn't?"


He sounded pretty sincere, I had to admit.

"I see."

"You're at your office, right?"

"Yes, I am."

"I'll be right there."

He came about a half hour later. A distinguished older man was with him; he had a black bag.

"Hi, Jenny. This is Dr. Osborn, my personal physician. I brought him to look you over."

"Where did they attack you?" he asked.

"My feet."

He looked them over. They still hurt, but his hands were gentle. After a couple minutes, he got up.

"You have no broken bones, as far as I can tell—thank God." He took a bottle and a vial from his bag. "Here's a lotion you can rub on your feet. And here's some pain pills. Don't take them with alcohol."

"Thank you."

I rubbed the lotion on my feet; it did sooth the pain. "That does feel better, thanks."

"You're welcome."

"Thanks, Al," said Val.

They shook hands. Dr. Osborn also shook my hand. "Good luck, Jenny."

"Thank you."

He left.

"Ok, describe the two men for me," said Val.

I did this. He nodded.

"I know those two boys—Rocky Ventura and Pedro Escavar. They're thugs for Will Bambino, one of my rivals."

I nodded. "I see. So, he had them do it?"

"That's right."

"But why?"

"To discredit me. You're pretty well respected in these parts, Barefoot Jenny. And you helped me solve a murder, which means we're friends. So if that was upset, that wouldn't look good for me—or you."

"I see."

"Look, Jenny, I promise you, if I'm ever upset with you for some reason, I will let you know in a friendly way. I will NEVER send around my boys to beat you up—and that's a promise!"

I nodded. "OK, Val."

"Now, I have a special favor to ask you: Could you visit my restaurant, tonight? It will give Bambino a clear signal that his plan didn't work."

I thought for a bit. "It depends on if I'm up to it, by this evening."

"I understand."

"I tell you what: I'll call you, if I can't make it. And if not, I'll definitely do it within the next few days."

"Good. Think you can walk, right now?"

I got up from my chair and walked around. It was painful, but I did it.

"Yes, I think so."

"Good. I've got to get going, now. Again, I'm sorry, Jenny."

"I believe you. Thank you, Val."

"Need some protection?"

"No, thanks. If those two come back, I can deal with them, now that I know them."

"You're good, Barefoot Jenny!"

He kissed me on the cheek and left.

I went to the Vineyard that evening. I had a good meal—on the house—and Val gave me $1000 for my troubles.

A few weeks later, two minor gangsters named Rocky Ventura and Pedro Escavar were found dead.