Thursday, January 4, 2024

Roberto Denofrio Kelly (Part 1 of 2 Parts) blog post #635

 Image Courtesy of Vecteezy:


Last week Monday met Wednesday and Friday, and they got something going together.


This week, a totally different tone. Hope you enjoy it.





Anyone else would introduce himself as Robert or Bob Kelly, but not Roberto Denofrio Kelly. You got the full moniker every time. And to top off matters, if you used the familiar with him, he insisted on Bobo.

“If my proper Christian name is Roberto, not Robert, then my proper nickname is Bobo, not Bob,” he endlessly explained.

Roberto always had a flair for the dramatic, so this affectation should have come as no surprise. It was easier to tack on the “O” than to argue with him. But I had to get back at him… just a little bit.

“Well, my name’s properly Bryson Charles Haggerty, but it’s okay if you call me Bryce.”

He’d been a part of the social set I ran with long before I moved to Albuquerque, so putting up with him was a must if I wanted to hang with the others. I often wondered how his wife Estelle put up with him, but she was a mousy thing who seemed to let a lot of things sail right over her head… which was probably the answer to my question.

My friends threw me a birthday party—the first one in my new habitat—at my house this past week. Wasn’t a surprise. They’d openly planned it for a couple of weeks. I had the grace to be born in late June so we were able to grill steaks and eat a decorated cake on the patio. Joe the Jock—probably my closest friend since we worked in the same law firm—and his wife Francine, Brimley the intellectual—appropriately a professor of history at UNM—and his wife Nancy, and the Kelly couple laughed and joked with me for two solid, pleasant hours. I was solo since I’d moved here last year from back east following the termination of an unhappy marriage.

Did I fail to mention Bobo owned a popular neighborhood bar not surprisingly called “Roberto’s?” So naturally, there was a surplus of alcohol at the party. Joe got snockered, which was unfortunate because he had a court date at ten the next morning. Brimley drank steadily, but booze seemed to have no effect on him. Bobo didn’t drink more than the birthday toast. I guess being around alcohol so much left him looking for other outlets. Oh, I exaggerate. He usually had a glass in his hand or on a nearby table at the party, but I seldom saw him sip from it. Me, I simply got pleasantly looped. I had neither a drive home nor a morning court date, so I was okay.

The ladies pretty well stuck to their end of the patio, gossiping among themselves, except for the occasion foray to our end to say hello or plant a peck on an appropriate cheek, including mine as the birthday boy.

As agreed, the gifts were minor and jocular—an awful, psychedelic tie that would never adorn my neck, a pair of equally scandalous socks—but Bobo handed over a bottle of twenty-five-year-old Laphroaig Scotch that must have cost five hundred bucks. Despite my protest it was too much, he refused to take it back. So I popped the cork and allowed my guests to partake of the excellent whiskey or whisky—Bobo informed us that while Scotch is whiskey, it’s whiskey without the e. Hey, I’m a lawyer, so I know the law. He’s a barman, so he knows his whisky. However you spell it, it was outstanding, and probably wasted on that lot.


A week later, I returned home from the office at the same time Bobo pulled up in front of the house in his Mercedes. We met on the sidewalk and shook hands.

“Bobo,” I acknowledged him, trying not to smirk as I did so.

“Bryce,” he accordingly responded. “Glad I caught you. Wanted to talk a little business if you’ve got the time.”

“Business? Isn’t the place for that in the office.”

He shook his head. “Not law office business. Business between you and me.”

Curious, I waved. “Come on in, and I’ll serve you a drink of twenty-five year-old Scotch some generous soul gave me.”

We mentioned the beautiful weather and the state of the union and other tidbits while I poured. Then we took seats in my den.

As he settled himself into an easy chair across from me, it dawned on me he was a good-looking man with an easy manner. Perfect for a lounge owner. He could put his customers at ease and in a drinking mood without breaking a sweat. “What can I do for you?” I probed.

“Appreciate it if we can keep this confidential. Just between us.”

I went on guard. “Sure, if I can. I mean—”

“I know what you mean. Shouldn’t be any problem.” He paused for a sip of his drink. “I’m not certain how much you know about New Mexico liquor laws.” He hesitated.

“Not much,” I filled in the pause. “My practice hasn’t rubbed up against the Alcohol and Gaming Division much so far.”

“Well, to put it succinctly, I’d like you to obtain a dispenser’s license. You get it, and I’ll lease it from you.”


“I want to open a new place.”

“You have a license.”

“Yes, but in New Mexico you can’t split licenses. Need one for each place of business. But you can lease them. That’s what I want to do.”

“Have your wife or son get one.”

“I don’t have children, and I don’t involve my wife in my business.”

“Not even as a place holder?”

“Not even as a place holder. Let me tell you what I have in mind. I’ve got a prime spot in the North Valley on hold. It’ll attract a totally different crowd from Roberto’s. I’ve got a young Latino on salary as my assistant manager. Bright young fellow in his thirties. Good at working with the crowd. Understands the business. He’ll manage it for me.”

“Then have him get the license.”

Bobo wrinkled his brow. “I’d rather risk half a million on a solid, reputable professional man.”

I felt my eyebrows climb. “It cost’s half a million dollars to get a license in this state?”

“Naw. Costs between five and ten grand, depending upon the type, but we’re limited to the number of licenses the state can issue, so that means new bars have to buy or lease existing licenses.”

“Where would I find one?”

“I’ve located one.

“Then lease it from the owner.”

“The old boy’s in his nineties. Doesn’t want to lease. Wants to sell, but I already own a license and can’t buy it. That’s where you come in. Interested.”

“I don’t have five-hundred thousand to invest.”

“Don’t have to. I’ve got it worked out. That way, your lease fee is pure profit.”

Both my interest and my antennae rose. My ex took a hell of a lot of my assets with her in the divorce… but for some reason this just didn’t seem right.



Smells fishy to me too, but the liquor license game has been going on in New Mexico for a long, long time, so I guess we shouldn’t rush judgment. Let’s let it play out next week.

Until then, stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

Please check out my BJ Vinson murder mystery series starting with The Zozobra Incident and ending with The Cutie-Pie Murders.

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Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time. 


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