Would They Ever Love Again? by Johnny Dragona by Johnny Dragona - Read Online

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Would They Ever Love Again? - Johnny Dragona

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Unpredicted Romances 3

Johnny Dragona

They fell in love despite her father’s opposition and couldn’t stop loving each other.

When Joey was eighteen, two street punks tried to pick a fight with him and wound up getting the worst of it. The next night, Laura, who was sixteen, confronted Joey and warned him to stop picking on her older brother. It didn’t take long for them to start dating. Nor did it take long for them to fall deeply in love with each other.

The problem was Laura’s father, an émigré from Ireland, hated Italians almost as much as he hated Catholics. And Joey was both. Their romance didn’t last long. Laura was grounded indefinitely after her father found out what she was doing.

But Laura and Joey get together again sixteen years later, despite the threats of an admirer of hers to kill Joey. Can they pick it up from where they left off?

Reader Advisory: Contains ethnic prejudice, some violence and descriptions of sex.


Unpredicted Romances 3





Unpredicted Romance 3

Copyright © June 2015 Johnny Dragona

ISBN: 978-1-910899-02-1

Cover Art by Poppy Designs


No part of this literary work may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without the written permission of the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.


To my daughters, Christine and Jolee


With nothing better to do on a Saturday morning, Debbie took a casual walk to enjoy the refreshing, spring air. Turning onto a side street for no particular reason, she admired the one and two-family homes, all of which had gardens in front of them. It must be nice to live in a neighborhood like this, she murmured and inhaled the pleasant scent of blooming hyacinths.

About halfway up the block, she saw a man walking back and forth in the street in front of his driveway. Thinking he looked familiar, Debbie wondered why he was doing that. I wonder if he lost something, she murmured and approached him slowly just in case he was drunk.

Excuse me, she said and stopped alongside him. Are you looking for something? Scanning the street around him, she couldn’t see anything that appeared to be of value.

Yeah, Joey Labianco said, sounding mildly frustrated. I can’t find my garbage barrel. Realizing how that sounded, he smiled at the girl apologetically and added, I’m blind.

Oh. That’s why, she said to herself and remembered where she’d seen him before. There’s a square, plastic barrel with a lid…next to your driveway…um on your neighbor’s sidewalk. I’ll get it for you. Debbie couldn’t understand why the men who picked the garbage up didn’t put it in front of his house for him. They must know he’s blind.

Thanks. That’s mine. Joey smiled at her gratefully and wondered if she was a neighbor. Do you live around here? She didn’t sound familiar. Maybe the kid was just passing through.

That’s okay, she said and answered his question. I live a few blocks away from here. And I know you’re blind. I saw you on the avenue with your dog. A German shepherd, right? There was something about the man she liked, something that made her want to keep talking with him.

Yeah. That’s Simba. Joey closed the lid of the garbage barrel. He’s in the house now. Unfortunately, I can’t train him to find my barrel. He had meant that last part as a joke.

Those dogs can’t be trained to find things? Debbie thought that was odd since they seem to be able to do so many other things.

I’m sure some of them can. But if it’s not filled with food, Simba wouldn’t be interested in it.

Debbie laughed and asked, But they can be trained to do lots of other things, right?

Yeah. Joey smiled at her. They’re very smart dogs.

Glancing into his front yard, Debbie noticed something and thought of an excuse to keep the conversation going. You have some small weeds in your front garden. Maybe he would ask her to help him pull them. Then they could talk a little longer.

I know. Joey grunted a laugh. It rained yesterday. And the weeds love the rain. The other problem was he fed his gardens so well with nitrogen rich compost that those unwelcomed invaders thrived as well as the regular plants did. On the brighter side, he mulched the weeds with leaves, kitchen scraps and grass clippings and had a steady supply of free, organic fertilizer.

That must be a lot of work. Debbie looked up the driveway and noticed the tulips and daffodils that were already blooming. Your flowers are beautiful though. Does your wife help you with the gardening? If she lived in a place like that, she would be out there every day.

No. Joey blinked away the tears that welled in his eyes. My wife…died about a year ago.

Ohhhh, I’m sorry. That’s a bummer. Something was nagging at Debbie. For some reason, she wanted to get to know this man better, even though he was probably old enough to be her father.

My mother died a few months after I was born, she said, not knowing why that would be important to him. Perhaps it was just to mention a similar loss, something they had in common.

Sorry to hear that, Joey said, forgetting about his own grief for the moment. So your father raised you?

My father and my older sister, Debbie said and chuckled. Sometimes, she’s like a mother to me though.

There was something about the kid Joey liked. Maybe it was because she sounded as lonely as he felt. How many years separate you and your sister in age? By now, he also wanted to keep the conversation going, although not sure why.

Well, I’m sixteen, and she’s in her early thirties. Oh, by the way, my name is Debbie.

Hi, Debbie. I’m Joey.

Hi, Joey. I’m still Debbie, she said and giggled, which caused him to join her in a laugh.

Well, it was nice talking with you, Debbie. Although Joey really didn’t want to end their pleasant conversation, there was a lot to do that day. And the sooner he got to it the sooner he’d get done. But I have to get rid of some of my weeds today.

Debbie was about to say goodbye when a thought came to her. Can I help you? she asked with a pleading intonation in her voice. That would give her the chance to talk with him a little longer.

You wanna help me pull weeds? That surprised Joey. Most of the kids he knew just wanted to get high and stare into space while listening to music that was too loud. But this girl didn’t seem lazy.

I’d like to…If you don’t mind. We live in a six-family house. And we can’t use the yard…not that the landlord takes care of it anyway. The place looks like a jungle.

The dirt is kind of damp though, Joey warned. You’ll get mud on your pants. He didn’t want her older sister coming over and yelling at him.

That’s okay. She was glad he hadn’t flatly refused her offer to help him. I can change them when I get home.

* * *

Hi, Debbie said and smiled broadly while walking into a neatly kept kitchen two hours later. What cha cooking?

I’m making a pot of stew. Laura turned to look at her and frowned. And don’t tell me. You were playing in mud. Aren’t you kind of old for that?

Oh, yeah. Debbie looked down at her jeans. I wiped most of it off. But they’re still dirty.

What were you doing? Laura replaced the lid on the pot, rinsed the stirring spoon off in the sink and laid it on the counter.

Pulling weeds. I’ll throw these into the hamper and change into a clean pair.

Pulling weeds? Laura asked in disbelief. She would never be able to figure that kid out. Where were you pulling weeds?

Debbie had begun to walk toward her room and stopped. I met a guy. And I helped him pull weeds in his front yard.

Noticing the distant intonation in Debbie’s voice, Laura suspected it wasn’t just any guy. On the other hand, how many men meet young girls and ask them to pull weeds? This is too strange, even for her. I’m going to have to find out more about this mysterious guy.

He’s real nice, Debbie said, interrupting her thoughts. He lives alone. And he’s got a beautiful house.

Now Laura was even more concerned. "He lives alone? And you went into his house? How old is this real nice guy?"

About your age, Debbie said, a dreamy look emanating from her eyes. We only have lemonade in his kitchen. But there’s something really special about him.

What kind of special? Laura wondered if he was a pedophile.

I don’t know, Debbie said thoughtfully while shrugging. I can’t put my finger on it. I just wanted to keep talking with him for some reason. Seemingly as an afterthought, she added, And he’s got a great body.

Oh, my od. Laura almost forgot what she had wanted to ask. But then she remembered. Did he try to…? She deliberately left the rest of the question hanging, knowing Debbie would understand what she meant.

No, Debbie said and giggled. But I wouldn’t have minded. He’s a hunk.

Laura’s eyebrows arching, her heart skipped a beat. Although she suspected Debbie of not being a virgin, a young girl who was as pretty as she was didn’t need a man who was old enough to be her father. Change your clothes. We’ll talk about this later.

* * *

The next day, Debbie visited her new friend again so they could do some weeding in his back garden. The day before, Joey had said he could handle it alone, but she had insisted. I really enjoy doing this. She pulled a weed out by its root and dropped it into the pale that was between them.

Good, Joey said with a smiling intonation in his voice. You’re hired.

You don’t like to pull weeds? Debbie took a slow, deep breath. Everything around them smelled so fresh and clean. Even the chirping birds seemed happy.

Actually, I enjoy it. This is a good way to relax. After working in a stuffy office all week, he appreciated the chance to get some fresh air.

What caused your…blindness? Debbie hesitantly asked. That had been on her mind the night before, along with other things about Joey. She wanted to get to know him better, a lot better.

It was a progressive thing. Joey used his trowel to dig out the root of a dandelion. After I graduated from high school, I worked as a laborer in the construction business about ten years. When I couldn’t do that safely anymore, I went to college.

Cool. Debbie couldn’t help but admire him. What kind of work do you do now?

Now I work for the government, helping members of minority groups to start and run small businesses.

Wow. Debbie was glad he couldn’t see the way she was looking at him. Something about Joey was very appealing. Actually, he stirred her a little, or even a little more than that. You didn’t let your blindness stop you, she said to change her mind set.

Life goes on. Joey pulled out another weed and shifted into philosophical mode. It’s just like these weeds. You can keep pulling them, but they’ll keep coming back. So we have to go on, too, regardless of any hardships that might confront us.

I quit high school. Debbie was suddenly ashamed of that because of what he had accomplished despite his disability. So did my sister when she was younger. But she works in a bank now.

You can get back into it if you want to. And so can she. Most of the people Joey helped to start businesses hadn’t graduated from high school. But he usually encouraged them to get