Imagine a five-foot-nothing Italian with a heavy accent, oversized nose, and enough stories to ensure you always circumnavigate away from his porch if you’re in a rush. His goodbyes involve kisses on the checks and finger-wagging reminders that he expects to be invited to the (eventual) wedding. This is my dear, elderly neighbor, Nico.
Four months ago, Nico was diagnosed with brain cancer and deeply disturbed by the belief that his neighbor was running an illegal drug ring next door. His son moved him across the country to stay with family for a few months, giving his mind and body a rest.
Every few weeks he calls to ask about his house and inquire about the illegal activities going on next door. After an extended stake-out, the local police told Nico that he was crazy, so I’m his new PI.
Two months ago, I received a frantic call from Nico. He needed a favor, and he needed it done lightening fast!
Helllllo. E? You must do me favor. I will pay you $100 for your services!
You must go into my house. Next to my TV are two boxes.
You must take these boxes to my friend…
No, no… he is not my friend. He is a very baad man!!
You must take the boxes to the bad men by tonight or they will do very baad things to me. You must do this for me, E, you must.
Go to the intersection to the north and the men will be waiting for you.
You and your husband, I love you both. I know he his not your husband, but you have lived together so long that he is your husband to me.
Thank you, E! Tell me when you have talked to the baad men and I will repay you $100.
After 15 minutes of one-sided rambling, he smacked his lips and hung up the phone. I was happy to help the man out, but the problem was that his heavy accent paired with his audible anxiety made his words nearly indistinguishable and I wasn’t sure, exactly, what is was he had asked me to partake in.
Nico left an extended voicemail on my boyfriend’s phone, conveying the same urgent yet convoluted message.
I had not idea what to expect. Was Nico in trouble with the Italian mafia? Did he owe someone money? I grew more and more anxious as the day went on.
When I entered his house that evening, it suddenly clicked.
The only boxes next to the TV were the cable box and a router. The bad man was the cable company. The “very bad things” were the astronomical late fees. I laughed so hard that I fell to the floor and cried. Though it wasn’t exactly the mafia, the cable company is nearly as bad.
My boyfriend dropped of the boxes at the cable company and admonished them for harassing a sick, old man.
I called Nico the next day to inform him that we had taken care of the bad men, and he was a happy, happy man.