By Jim Colombo (USA)
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The spider began by making an octagon to establish the perimeter, then
cascading loops were constructed from the eight sides. The loops became smaller as
the spider ventured to the center and when the web was spun, the spider waited at the
top for its next meal. It was Friday morning and Milan had watched the spider spin its
web for an hour while waiting for Detective Bowen and just as the spider caught the fly,
Detective Bowen appeared as if from the web. Bowen gazed at Milan for a moment,
then he introduced himself, "Detective Bowen L.A.P.D. Homicide, and you are Milan
"Yes, I am."
"I have some questions for you. Please follow me."
Milan could sense this was going to be a painful interview. Bowen looked like
someone had thrown him away in a garbage can and he had been retrieved by
Goodwill. There were two dark stains on his coat and a faded stain on his white shirt
from spaghetti or pizza. There was a small hole burned in the middle of his tie bellow
the daisy. One sock was brown and the other was black. He cleaned his glasses with a
less than clean handkerchief. Bowen's coffee cup had layers of brown coating inside
the cup that had penetrated the base material from years of neglect. The detective
removed a pen knife from his pants pocket and began to clean his pipe. He opened a
red can of Sir Walter Raleigh and filled the bowl with tobacco. He pressed the tobacco
down and poured more until he had a full bowl with a firm pack. He lit the tobacco and
blew the smoke over Milan's head. The Inquisition began. "How are you related to
Three hours later Bowen had finished his questions. Milan had remained
composed knowing that at the end of the day Detective Bowen would crawl back into
the depths of squalor, and he would fly home to Saratoga. Bowen reminded Milan that it
was an ongoing investigation and that he would be called upon for additional
questioning. Milan could hardly wait for another encounter with Detective Bowen
watching him pursue and snatch that elusive wild nose hair that drove him nuts. Maybe
it was that spider Milan saw while waiting for Bowen that had crawled up his nose.
Bowen became obsessed with the capture and disposal of whatever foreign invader
was residing in his left nostril. He walked Milan to the elevator. "We'll keep in touch,"
he said. Milan could feel Bowen's stare penetrate his back until the elevator door
closed. Milan needed two perfect Manhattans and a relaxing bath, but for now he was
going to Honeywell Burbank.
"Hi there. You must be the new receptionist. Milan was right. You are very
The receptionist blushed and her neck and ears turned bright red. As she began
to reply each word poured from her mouth like thick maple syrup. "My lands, why thank
"Do I detect a charming accent?"
"I'm from Greensboro, North Carolina, sir "
"I surely would like to thank Mr. Milan for those kind words."
"He's a busy man. I'll tell him that-- "
"--that Rochelle would like to make his acquaintance."
"Why thank you, sir."
"You have a nice day, Rochelle."
Milan walked down the hall to his office at Honeywell Burbank. Rochelle turned
to the switchboard operator and asked who that handsome man was? "That was Milan,
the company wolf. Careful, honey, he's got a black book with more phone numbers
than Carter has pills."
Rochelle looked confused. "But he seemed so nice."
"They're all nice until you become another bean in the bean jar."
"What's a bean jar?"
"A collection of broken hearts."
"That's right honey. Every time he has a lady she gets chalked up as another
bean in the jar."
Milan settled into his office and made phone calls to catch up on the last two
days. He called Guido at the restaurant and asked them to cook brociloni. He would
be at the restaurant at 7:30 PM. Two hours later the guard came by and smiled. It was
7:00 PM. Time to leave for dinner, then catch the 9:30 flight back home.
Guido soaked the day old bread in water, then let the excess drain in a strainer,
and put the soft bread in a large bowl. Two onions were chopped, one bulb of garlic
was minced, and fresh parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper were added to the bread and
the ingredients were tossed. A cup of grated Roma cheese and two eggs were added
while Guido mixed the ingredients with his hands. The eggs made the ingredients
squeeze through Guido's hands with the consistency of a turkey stuffing. Three flank
steaks were tenderized and seasoned. The stuffing was spread on top of the flank
steaks, then rolled and tied. Finely chopped onions were spread on a large cookie
sheet. The steaks were put on top of the onions and a sheet of aluminum foil covered
the top of the steaks. One hour thirty minutes later, brociloni. The steaks were removed
and olive oil was added to the onions and meat juices, and ingredients were brought to
a boil. The strings were cut, the steaks were opened, and the fried onions with meat
juices were poured over the bread stuffing. Thin slices were served with three bean
salad with olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. A hearty Chianti was served and
Milan was back in Italy.
Milan enjoyed being at the restaurant. It was his oasis to escape demanding
times. In the real world, time and pace were much faster. The restaurant was a slower
pace, a friendly confine, with good friends and memories. When the real world became
foreign, the restaurant was a retreat to rediscover who he was and where he came
from. Time was expiring and reality was creeping in. There were a few moments for
one last glass of wine and a quick phone call to Ron. Milan explained his encounter
with Detective Bowen. Ron confirmed his meeting with Joe Steckle. It was time to
re-enter the other world. Dominic drove Milan to the airport and Milan was whisked
away into the clouds. Dominic noticed a black car had following him back to the
restaurant from the airport. Dominic turned off from the freeway and the black car
proceeded on interstate 10.
It was Friday May 20th, and the Heidleberg was with filled with the chatter of
folks enjoying lunch and the special of the day, Hilda's chili. Ron and Joe walked up to
the bar and ordered two beers and the blue plate special: meatloaf, mashed potatoes,
and a garden salad. Ron gave Dieter a ten-dollar bill. Dieter gave Ron four dollars and
a number. Joe took two bowls of pretzels and walked to the table outside by the tree.
"Have you made your decision, Joe?"
"This was the toughest decision I have ever had to make. I spoke several times
with my wife and she finally said, 'Just this one time.' My boss at Sylvania won't be
happy. He'll demand that I stay until the plated through hole project is finished. That's a
couple of months. I'll join the venture, if Milan can wait for two months and guarantee
one year of wages."
"Milan has two friends who are in the carpet business. He is the second T in TTT
Carpets. Milan is also going in partnership with a soccer friend to start a proto shop.
His carpet friends will be silent partners in the printed circuit shop Milan will start and
you will manage it. We have funds for a year, and we'll keep you busy for a year.
During your final two months at Sylvania, we will need your expertise. We would like
your signature on this contract. Take it home and read it twice. If you have any
questions, call me."
Joe glanced the first two paragraphs, which guaranteed employment for a year at
a salary 25% more than he was currently making, profit sharing, and a share of the
business at the end of the first year. "Wow! That's more than I imagined."
"Milan gives a lot, but expects a lot. You are going to earn your share. We need
you by July first. That should be enough time to satisfy Sylvania. Milan doesn't want to
create an enemy. He likes to build allies."
"That's fair. I'll be there the first of July."
The waitress placed two large oval blue dishes with meatloaf covered with a
tomato sauce and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. She served a salad and warm
rolls. "Man that smells great." Ron looked in disbelief as Joe began by quickly finished
the salad , and with precision began an assault on a half a pound of meatloaf and a
pound of mashed potatoes. "Dig in Ron, while it's hot and pass the rolls." Joe was in
"Ron, I didn't know that Milan was part of TTT Carpet. How did that get started?"
"Milan met Tolbert and Taylor when he sponsored their son's soccer team. He
had just bought the house in Saratoga and needed carpet and they got to know each
other. A new television station started in San Jose, Channel 36, and Milan knew the
program manager. Gary, a soccer friend, had worked part time at Fred's Soccer World
during high school and had served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1962. He returned and
went to Foothill College to get his AA in Accounting. Milan hired Gary to work at the
carpet store selling carpet and doing bookkeeping. He arranged the advertising time
and had Gary do the TV ads. The advertising took off like a shot. Everyone liked
Gary's creative way of selling carpet on a TV station that had nothing to lose. When the
circus was in town Gary would sit on top of an elephant while doing a commercial or get
hit in the face with a pie at the end of a commercial. The television station and the
carpet store sales grew. Milan had invested in the television station and owned a third
of the carpet business. It worked out very well for everyone."
"He has good timing," said Joe.
"I sometimes think that Milan can see things most of us don't. He is very savvy
with business and the friends he chooses. Consider yourself honored to be one of the
"You mentioned a proto shop."
"Yes. Another soccer friend, Bill Borg will start a proto shop the end of August.
Milan has stock options from Honeywell that he will exercise the beginning of August.
Bill is selling his house and using the equity for his share of the business. The shop will
have a separate room with a shower for Bill to live in."
"Which shop will I manage?"
"Ours to begin with. We need you to set it up. Then in September we will need
you to set up the proto shop."
"What will be the name of the company?"
"Lytron and the proto shop will be T&B Circuits."
"I feel better knowing that it is well funded and that I have a contract for a year."
"Good, Joe. Read the contract and call me if you have any questions. Sign it
and mail it in the return envelope. I think a two month notice with Sylvania is fair."
"I should have the project finished by then."
"How will you settle any proprietary issues, Joe?"
"Sylvania is a member of the Institute of Printed Circuit Technology. There are
others working on the same project and we share information. When Milan becomes a
member of IPCT, there will be no proprietary issues. Time goes too fast, Ron. It is
already five after one." Joe scooped the remains of the mashed potatoes and plowed
through the gravy. Two swoops and the potatoes were history. Joe grabbed the
contract and shook hands with Ron. "See you later, Ron."
"Slow down, Joe, and let the mashed potatoes settle in that cast iron gut."
"After years of being exposed to sulfuric acid my gut is permeated with the
fumes, and those taters are toast by now."
"Take it easy, Joe."
Friday night, May 27, 1964
Franco had called Paolo's parents, but they had wanted to talk to Milan. The sun
had just risen when Milan called Paolo's parents. It was evening in Italy and they had
finished their dinner. Milan carefully chose his words, trying not to lie but sparing them
most of the possible reality. Paolo's mother cried and Milan felt bad. After the phone
call he went for a long jog. When he returned Francesca offered him a large glass of
orange juice and his vitamins. His concern for Paolo's fate and hearing Paolo's mother
cry weighed heavily, but he had to continue with the burden.
Dominic slowed down and allowed the black car to pass. The lady waved and
continued on her way. "What was that all about, Dominic?" asked Leo.
"I've been seeing a black car near the restaurant, and the night I took Milan to
the airport the same black car followed us. Since Paolo's disappearance, I've been
"Let me know the next time you see the black car."
"I will, Papa."