Irish Pickled Herring

I’m going to continue with another made-up story about our next-door neighbor. If you read yesterday’s post, you know we have a mysterious new neighbor. Mysterious, because he seems reluctant to make our (or anyone’s) acquaintance, doesn’t seem to have a job, and seems to sit in the dark. Because we can’t figure him out, we are writing our own stories. Names are made up. By the way, do you remember this neighbor of ours?

Jason Big Nose McGill is getting tired of being a hit man for the Irish Mob in Cleveland. Being a mobster is all he knows how to do. He’s been a part of the mob since he was 12, when he delivered messages to those owing the Boss money and hitting them in their kneecaps with a croquet mallet for good measure. Not surprisingly, he could never get excited about playing croquet after that. Until now, he hadn’t minded being part of the Irish Mob. It’s what his family did. His own father had been the Consigliere to the big Boss before he got shot by a rival gangster while in the arms of his mistress who had dropped by for some of his famous Irish stew.

His heart just isn’t in it anymore. Not since he met Astrid Bjorg, a nice Norwegian girl from the right side of the tracks. His parents had stopped speaking to him ever since he brought her home to meet them. She even brought lutefisk and pickled herring. It didn’t help. He wants to settle down, maybe have a kid or two (would they be Norwish?) and work at the ironworks plant alongside her father.

It isn’t easy to leave the Mob, however. But he has an idea, one that’s dangerous but has possibilities. He knows about an upcoming hit on the mayor, who also happens to be a member of the rival gang that killed his father. He’s pretty sure he can work out a deal to be placed in a Witness Protection Program if he alerts the authorities to this hit.

And he’s right. They agree to send him to Mesa, AZ, if he will testify in court. He does as he said he would do, and then goes to tell Astrid the good news.

“Are you flipping kidding me?” she says, much to his surprise. “There is not a bit of Norwegion food south of Strasburg, Nebraska. I’m not going someplace where they eat tamales instead of Kjøttkaker.” She would hear none of his arguments, and he finally gave up.

But he knew his time was limited if he didn’t get out of town soon. The FBI placed him in a quiet neighborhood in east Mesa. They gave him a furnished house, a nondescript car, a nose job, and a new last name.

He isn’t giving up on Astrid. But he’s laying low and keeping quiet. He avoids the neighbors by driving his beige 2001 Toyota Corolla into the garage and closing the door before he gets out of the car. There was only one mishap, when the next door neighbor, who always has his butt sticking out of a red Ferrari, came over and introduced himself.

“Maybe you could come over sometime for a cocktail,” the neighbor said.

“Fat chance,” he thought. “I’m busy teaching myself how to pickle herring. Now, if I could just find herring in this damn town.”