By Pete Moss
I'm adding some water to the radiator of my van when Larry pops up.
"Hey," he says. "I'm Larry." he sticks out his hand. We shake hands. "They call me Pacoima Larry."
"You're from Pacoima?" I say.
"Burbank, actually. So anyway I have a job for you and that female you have with you."
"The black one."
YoYo comes out of the van. "Who you talking to?" she says. Then she sees Larry.
YoYo is all smiles. She sticks out her hand and moves in close. Larry takes her hand and actually kisses it. "The lovely Yolanda Sharpshooter," says Larry.
"Pleased to meet you Mr. Pacoima Larry," says YoYo, smiling like she won the Powerball jackpot. "I couldn't help overhearing, you have a job for us?"
"It might take a minute to explain it," says Larry. "You guys hungry?"
"I could eat some lunch," I say.
"You like KFC?" says Larry.
"We prefer Taco Bell," says YoYo.
"I was hoping you would say that," says Larry. "There's a Taco Bell around the corner on Rosecrans. I'll be right back."
Once Larry scoots I say to YoYo, " Why you speaking up for me like that? I hate Taco Bell."
"Whatchou mean speaking up for you?" says YoYo.
"You said we."
YoYo rolls her eyes. Then Larry pulls up in an aged Cadillac. We hop in. There's a flashy looking female next to Larry. "This is Desiree," say Larry.
If Desiree isn't a stripper I'll donate my shoes to charity.
We roll over to the Taco Bell. It's barely 400 yards away. I'm going to have to get used to this SoCal car culture where you drive the car even if you're barely crossing the street.
"Go through the drive-through," says Desireee.
"Nah babe. We got to take a meeting here. We gotta go in and get a table," says Larry.
This is a discussion they've had before. Larry parks the car. We all get out and go into the place.
"I'm paying," says Larry.
Once we're settled in a corner booth, our greasebombs all spread out on soggy wrapping paper and giant tubs of sugarwater before us, Larry launchs into his spiel.
"So....you guys know anything about tournament Scrabble?" he says.
"I heard you talking about some ten grand pot of money," says YoYo.
"I like you. You get right to the point," says Larry.
YoYo smiles and takes a bite of her Taco Bell.
"So here's the thing," says Larry. "Each player gets to have an official scorer. I was wondering if you two wanted to keep score for Ramona for this match?"
"What's it pay?" I ask.
"Hundred bucks if Ramona loses. Two hundred if she wins," says Larry.
"I'm Templeton Ptolemy and this is my scorekeeper Hepzibah Hapsburg," says the distinguished gentleman getting out of Pacoima Larry's old Caddy.
I look at Larry. Larry shrugs. YoYo is speechless.
"We were not informed we would be playing Scrabble amongst a gaggle of street Arabs," says Templeton.
"You got the ten grand or not?" says Larry.
"I might ask the same question of you."
Larry snaps his fingers and Desiree opens her purse. It's chock full of greenbacks.
Templeton turns to Hepzibah and she opens her purse, also full of greenbacks.
"Well then, we have you a room at the motel right across the street," says Larry.
"Oh lord. What a dump," says Templeton.
"You are free to book yourself a room at the Marriott by Seaport Village. I hear they have a very nice rotating restaurant on the roof," says Larry.
"I'm afraid we'll have to make do," says Templeton.
So Larry and Templeton and Hepzibah cross the street and proceed to check in. YoYo and I go in Ramona's Winnebago.
Ramona watched the whole exchange from inside her vehicle.
"Whaddaya think?" I say.
"I can beat him no problem," says Ramona.
A minute later Larry shows up.
"Can you believe that guy?" says Larry.
"He's just using some Psyops," says Ramona. "I can beat him in my sleep."
"I know you can Ramona. Your Scrabble skills are one of a kind. But you know..."
"I know, I know, I have to keep it close for the bettors," says Ramona.
"That's my girl," says Larry.