Chapter 15:
 
 
ZESTY ITALIAN
 
 
 
     Still holding onto the unused wad of Kleenex® in his hand, Harold perused over the remnants of his morning’s mixture of breakfast, saliva, phlegm and unsaturated bile reposed between his feet. The odor was tolerable considering the fact that drafts of farmland air would drift inside the ’57 through the broken window and useless vents. After another twenty-one minutes and nineteen miles had passed, the floorboard was nearly cleared and scrubbed of Harold’s puke after he used the remaining gingham container of powder-puff 2-ply tissue paper and disposed of it inside of the glove compartment, next to his emergency dill pickle jar. He shoved the empty box in the abyss between his drivers’ seat and the front door to use as a coin depository.
     The Bel Air’s radio speaker started to sizzle and pop for a couple of seconds then blurted out:
 
 
Don’t you give me no dirty looks
Your father’s hip, he knows what cooks
Just tell your hoodlum friend outside
You ain’t got time to take a ride…
Yakkity-yak
(Don’t talk back)
 
Yakkity-yak, yakkity-yak
Yakkity-yak,[1]
 
 
     “YUKITY-YUK-YUK-YUK…hibbity…YUKITY-YUK-YUK-GAAAAAAACK!” Harold spewed forth. He cocked his head to the side, then sighed, “Ahhhh, yeah…the Coasters.” He started reminiscing about one of his colleagues from a few years back…
 
     ‘Yakkity-yak’ was Rudolph’s favorite chirp. Rudolph was a couple of years older than Harold and was a tall, lanky kid who was just about to start school again when his family moved onto Harold’s block in Battle Creek. Summer had almost come to an end when they met at the Annual Convention of Epileptic Dog Owners (you figure it out) being held at Ed Norton Memorial Park. Harold had just finished running to the aid of an overbloated Pekingese that was in the middle of one of its quivering fits, spraying loose dog shit all over the playground. Rudolph grasped his arm and consoled Harold, explaining that everything was okay, Ghoul would be finished with the seizure in about six seconds. Harold alternated quizzical stares between Rudolph and Ghoul until the latter stopped shaking exactly on time then returned to its normal business of finding cat feces and consuming it.
     Harold turned to the black-haired kid and asked, “Is that your dog?”
     “Naw, it’za neighbor’s pooch, but I keepa care ov its.”
     “Does it always jump around like that?”
     “Look ah’round…itta convent’zhun for ah’crazy dogs, eh? Look’ah ta’night…pooch heres go crazy when da moon issa full an’ah dog issa full’ah, too! Ha!”
     “Full of what?”
     “Fulla meow shit!”
     “What? The moon?!?”
     “Aw, mamma-mia!” Rudolph Sicilianed, slapping his forehead, “Ya nutsa sum’thin’?”
     “Huh? My nuts are fine!”
     “I said, ya nutsa somma’thin’?”
     “What do you mean?”
     “Aw, nevah you mind’ah! Hey…my name issa Rudolph,” he said forcefully as he grabbed Harold’s hand and started pumping it vigorously, “Rudolph DaRandeer.”
     Harold stood there perplexed with his mouth agape.
     “Hey, what’za you name, wimp?” the boy wearing a working-class white tee-shirt with an opened pack of cigarettes rolled up in the left sleeve and cuffed blue jeans insisted.
     All Harold could think of to say was, “You mean your parents named you after one of Santa Clause’s reindeer?”
     “Naw, I’sa jussa kiddin’ widda you. It’sa Rudolph Coletti. Now…what’za you name, eh?”
     “Harold,” he hesitated, “Harold Bawles.”
     “Well, glad ta meet’cha, Harry! Dat’sa good Christian name, you knows.”
     “Thanks, Rudolph!” he replied in relief.
     “Ghoul! What’cha eatin’ now, eh?”
     “It looks like it found some squirrel turds.”
     “Ha! Ghoul find’ah av’tah dinner mints!”
     Harold laughed while shaking his head then started to feel more comfortable communicating with him, “Where are you from?”
     “I’za born inna Brooklyn. Ya knows, kid…inna New York. Da Big Apple!”
     “You were born in a big apple?”
     “Aw, mamma-mia, stupido! Where you from’mah? Da moon?!?”
     Harold lifted his hand, “No! I’m from right here in Battle Creek, Rudolph. You know…America’s Corn Flakes capital of the universe!”
     “Well, dat figures, mist’ah salesman! I guess’ah youz jus’ one’ah d’flakes! Hey…ya go’ta school heres?”
     “Yeah, at Jefferson Davis Junior High (!), right down the road. See where the smoke is coming out of the roof? That’s the school cafeteria. They serve…hee-haa-ha…’shit on a shingle’ every Wednesday, with refried okra and candied yam cobbler crunch…which, of course, is served on Mondays. On Fridays, for dessert, we get boysenberry cake that was supposed to be for the summer school delinquents. And…tee-hee…for a hamburger today, I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday.”
     “Go for its, Wimpy!”
     Harold tried to empathize with his new friend, “I think they serve pizza on Thursdays.”
     “Is itta real greasy, Harry?”
     “Most likely…all the food is greasy. Even the milk…”
     “Dat’sa pretty nice. I droppa outta school inna third grade.”
     “Really?”
     “My poppa…he slap’pah me silly, zo I go back ta school when we move outta heres. Maybe never.”
     “You mean, you’re moving out?”
     “Naw, Pablo, we’sa movin’ inna! Ya got dat?!?”
     “Well…I guess so.”
     “Good!” Rudolph played as he patted Harold on his back, “Yeah, we stays heres ‘til’ah Poppa gets da pink slip, den I guess’ah we movin’ on. Jussa like ah’bunch ah’stinkin’ gypsies, I tells ya! GHOUL…comma back heres! Quit sniffin’ dat ol’ vino’s butt! Jeez…crazy pooch!”
     “By the way…my name is Harold.”
     “What’cha say, bambino?”
     “My name is Harold, not Pablo.”
     “Aw, golly jeeza,” Rudolph whiffed as he slapped his forehead again, “dis issa gonna be ah’real case!”
     “A case of what, Rudolph?”
     “RUDY! Call me Rudy, paesano! I means Hair-old! I think we are good fellas, now. Rudy issa my real name and lookin’ snazzy issa my game. So, don’cha wears it out, eh?”
     “Okay, Rudy…happy to meet you.”
     “Youz, too, my little fella. Hey, Harry…ima gonna-“
     “Harold, please.”
     Rudolph rolled his eyes and emoted some slight frustration, “Don’ get’cha panties in’ah twist! Okay, Harold, ya like Italian pasta?”
     “Sure…I guess so. I like the greasy school pizza!”
     “That’za nice. Why don’cha come ov’ah an’ have some spaghetti? My momma an’ piccolo sorella cook’ah real good. We make ya eat ‘til ya throw up! How’s ‘bout its?”
     “Sounds great, Rudy! Thank you. But, does your cook have to play the piccolo when she cooks your dinner? Is that some kind of Italian thing?”
     “Aw, mamma-mia, Harold! It’sa my little adopted sister, Kimi. Mia poppa anno mia mama couldn’t make any more bambinos after I wassa born, so dey took in this orphaned kid. I hear fromma my parents dat her parents die inna somma natural disaster where she fromma and mia momma wanted a little figliola  anna presto…I hav’ah sister! She issa pretty cute, so don’cha get any ideas. Capisce?”
     “I guess so,” Harold remarked with a stupid look etched across his face. “I better go call my mom and see if it’s okay…ugh, to throw up!”
     “Sure. Pay phone issa ov’ah by d’crapper.”
     “Okay, I’ll be right back,” Harold stopped and turned, “Rudy? You got a couple of dimes?”
 
 
     Harold’s 1957 Chevy, by now completely in the wrong lane, was rapidly approaching a tan, gold, copper and metallic green 1968 Impala overloaded with a family of screaming, half-drunken, accordion-playing migrant corn pickers searching upstate Indiana for a place of employment where they wouldn’t be sprayed with pesticides and liquid humus along with the time-ripened crops. The vehicle’s driver was weaving from side to side and laying on the horn, trying to avoid a head-on collision with the careening ’57. He attempted to appear as a brave soldier in front of his brothers and cousins, as if playing a game of ‘chicken’, but at the last instant diverted the car off of the shoulder of the roadway where the right front wheel impaled in a quagmire of recently formed mud from an errant cow that couldn’t hold its bladder any further, causing the Impala to flip end-over-end three-and-a-half times before coming to rest upside-down in a smoldering heap. After a resounding backfire, eight Mexican nationals poured out of the broken windows and mangled doors, yelling obscenities, while throwing broken accordion keys and empty Budweiser® beer bottles at the misaligned ’57 barreling obviously down the wrong side of the road.
     Awaking Harold out of his stupor, he tried to recall some of the misunderstood language he had picked up with his uncanny radar-detection hearing, “Chingow…pootah…pende’ho green’go? Hmmm? Sounds like a really good Mexican food plate! Can’t wait to try some once I get into the Lone Star state. Yummmm-meeeee!” Shaking his head and abruptly looking through his sleepy eyes, he quickly realized his predicament and jerked his car violently back into its proper position, coaching himself to be punctilious and try to drive more carefully for the next few miles. Then he noticed another large billboard sign by the road, which stated:
 
 
 
ZAK’S PIZZA BARN
COME IN AND EAT THE MEAT ON THE SLAB!!!
South Whitley, Indiana
 
 
 
     Careful driving went down the tubes as Harold slipped back into his Italian-based reminiscences:
 
 
[1] The Coasters, “Yakkity Yak” (Duane Eddy, Lee Hazlewood)
Song: Chap. 15