Sunday, August 31, 2014
5th Street Gang Interview with Elizabeth Reyes Part 1
to East LA
I take in the crowd around the gym, waiting to get a glimpse of their hometown guy and the “Pride of East LA” who has made it to the big time. Felix Sanchez. Women. Lots of scantily dressed women. They must not know he’s not here tonight.
I spot Elizabeth and try to press through the line as she waves me forward. Suddenly, the women part like the Red Sea. Gone are the vipers that were striking at me and pushing me back a few seconds ago. I look up to see what is happening. A handsome young man has his sights set on me. Noah. Some of the vipers complain as I move forward and leave them behind. People, get a life. And then I do an inner sneer and nananahnana at them.
“Judy?” Noah asks.
I search for my voice and can’t find it, so I shake my head up and down like some damn bobblehead. He smiles and I melt. Good thing he takes my elbow and gently leads to Elizabeth.
I give Elizabeth a hug, then she turns to introduce me to a young gal she’d been chatting with. “Judy, this is Ella. She teaches self-defense classes here at the gym.”
After greeting the petite young woman, I wonder how in the world someone as small as Ella could be teaching self-defense. I’m brought back by Noah’s deep resonating voice. “Let me show you around.”
Noah, Ella, Elizabeth, and I begin walking. I notice a plaque on the wall dedicated to Jack the founder and father figure to these five men who now own and run the gym. Carefully, I brush a tear away. So much has happened in this gym and to the lives of the men involved here.
And it’s not over yet. Felix still has his story and I wonder how it can have a good ending. I’m a bit jaded about him. His womanizing and bad boy antics are plastered all over the news and gossip rags. I don’t see him falling in love, committing to one person. I catch myself from letting all my preconceived ideas take off as I remember the time Felix sat in his limo waiting for Bianca to join him. Alone and grieving. Yes, he does have another side. A soft side. It’s not Felix I’ll be meeting and interviewing tonight, but his friends. Maybe we can gain a little insight about the elusive fallen champ.
After a quick tour of the gym itself, we go upstairs for more privacy. Ella tells me this is the room she teaches her classes in. I walk in and lose my breath. I’m a professional. I am not intimidated by these men. I survived meeting the Moreno’s. I survived an interview with Romero. My mood lightens and some of the fear floats away. Romero called and asked me to give Felix a message if I met the guy while at 5th Street. Romero thought I should give Felix a pep talk about getting his **bleep bleep** together. Seems Romero lost quite a bit on some fight. Not happening.
These guys are so big, ripped, and handsome they should be outlawed. I look around and try to control the gasp from escaping as I come face to face with Gio’s striking green eyes. Wow. I realize that Elizabeth is poking my arm trying to get my attention. I slowly peel my eyes away and look at her. I’m sure I’m dazed—again. This is going to be some interview if I don’t get myself together.
“Judy, you okay?”
“His eyes,” I whisper in awe.
“Yeah.” the great Elizabeth Reyes even sighs.
After I check that our camera’s and mics are in place. Elizabeth begins introductions.
“Judy,” Elizabeth starts, “Let me introduce you to the gang. You’ve met Noah already, this—” she points to the woman next to him, “—is his wife Roni. That handsome guy there is Giovanni Bravo and his wife Bianca.”
“Come on, Eli, just Gio is fine.” The green-eyed hunk gives Elizabeth a smile that women everywhere are bound to envy while watching this. I think her cheeks pinken slightly.
Elizabeth calmly smiles at him and continues, “Gio and Bianca. Next is Hector and Charlee Ayala.”
Charlee with her red hair and white skin was easy to guess. Not that I was paying much attention to the gals.
“And last we have Abel and Nellie Ayala.”
As if Elizabeth hadn’t already urged me to push against the ropes with these guys, just as I had done at my Moreno interviews, she let the street team send in questions and they got so personal. I’m a bit hesitant as these guys are bigger and used to punching someone’s lights out. Not sure I want my lights punched out. Am I a get-in-their-face interviewer or a mouse? Squeak!
Hector comes forward with two comfy looking stools. Backs, arm rests, foot rest, nice. He settles one front and center and motions me to have a seat. He settles a stool for Elizabeth off to the side. I glance over the questions on my tablet once more. Three...two...one... Showtime.
“Welcome to our virtual live show here at Just Judy’s Jumbles. We are so honored that the guys at 5th Street Gym have taken time from their busy schedules to join us.”
“We are here tonight to get to know the 5th Street gang and hopefully get some insight on Felix Sanchez. The man who helped make 5th Street Gym famous along with making quite a name for himself.” I bite my lip before saying in the ring and out of it. “The questions were gathered from some of your biggest fans who send their love and kisses.” Not to mention some personal items that Elizabeth disposed of.
“This first question is actually for you, Elizabeth. This question is from Lisa. Do you think your Moreno guys would clash or get along with these 5th Street guys?” Elizabeth had told the guys here at the gym about her friends in La Jolla, so there is no confusion. Just curiosity as they await her answer.
Elizabeth smiles big and confident as if this is a no-brainer. “I think the only time my guys get their feathers ruffled is when anyone messes with their girls. As long as they all stick to their own and don’t get any ideas, which after working so closely with each and every one of them I can say with all certainty, NONE, have eyes for any other girl but their own. My Moreno men love spending time at the gym and my 5th Street men all love some good eatin’ best of all Mexican cuisine. So I think they’d actually get along great.”
“Thanks, Elizabeth.” I feel my cheeks heat up knowing what the next question is. “The first round of questions are for all of you.” I look across at all the guys. They lean forward a bit, their wives look at me and I can see them mentally shaking their heads in pity. “Boxers, briefs, or commando?” **laughter erupts**
“Let’s take one at a time.” I point and say, “Noah.”
Oh, that wicked smile, as if I weren’t already beat red. “Well, that depends what time of day we’re talking here. In general, I’m a briefs guy but at night...” He turns to Roni and thankfully I’m not the only one blushing. “She likes me commando.”
Roni swats his arm playfully then brings her hand to her face shaking it as if she can’t believe he just said that.
Next, I point at Hector who seems to be laughing the loudest but Charlee touches his arm and answers for him. “Before he says anything silly. Unless he’s at the gym, yes commando.” She turns to him and gives him a look. “Let’s just leave it at that.” **more laughter** Hector shrugs pretending to kick rocks but leans over and kisses her.
I clear my throat as I point to Gio. “Briefs,” he says immediately with a smirk. Gio and Bianca share a look that says they have a dirty little secret.
I move on quickly to Abel just as my face begins to cool finally and then the image of him in tight briefs comes to me and my face is suddenly hot again. “I like boxers,” he says, then those dark Ayala lashes drape over his smoldering eyes as he locks them on me, making me gulp and freeze in place, “when I happen to wear anything.”
Thankfully I managed to survive without lighting the room on fire from the heat coming off my face. I clear my throat and stop myself from fanning my face. “What do you think you would be doing if you didn’t have this gym and boxing?”
Again I point at Noah first. “What I’m doing now,” he says simply. “Training.”
Nodding I point at Gio. “Same here.”
Easy enough. Thank God. Next Hector. He stands and rolls his hips scandalously. “A stripper maybe.” The other wives act like fan girls and start wolf whistling, cheering, and screeching. Charlee quickly swats his thigh and he sits back down laughing. “I’d be training too.”
Lastly, I point Abel. “I can’t think of anywhere else any of us would want to end up but here running 5th Street.”
“I know this is a far off question, but fans want to know. How would any of you feel if any of your kids start dating each other when they are older?” The guys instantly frown and something tells me that has everything to do with their little boys more so than the thought of anyone messing with their little princesses.
Nellie speaks up first. “I think it would be cute.” She smirks. “Sometimes I think I already see a little crushing between some of them.”
Abel’s face instantly sours. “No, you don’t!”
“I’ve seen it too.” Roni smiles wickedly.
“No,” Noah is quick to protest.
“Next question,” Abel says, and of course I move right along. I ain’t about to argue when he’s looking so Aweless Ayala like.
“For you gals. How do you feel about all those girls who continually flirt with your men here at the gym?” I think of the brood of vipers I passed just to get in here and shiver.
Bianca takes this one. “Personally, I don’t ever see it. If they do, so far they’ve been pretty respectful as to not do it in my face. As far as it happening.” She lifts her hand in the air then drops it. “It is what it is. There’s only one person’s actions I can hope to have any real influence on and that’s him.” She leans towards Gio and he kisses her cheek.
Charlee nods. “I agree. I mean you saw it just now when this one.” She swats him gently again and Hector laughs licking his lips. “Obviously, they have admirers. As long as they stay that way and respect the boundaries there’s nothing more we can do besides trust our guys.” She points at the guys who are now sitting there looking so saintly. “It’s either that or drive ourselves crazy.”
Roni and Nellie nod as in complete agreement.
“Great answers so far. Thanks. Now for some individual questions. Frances has a question for Hector. If you had to choose between chess and boxing which would it be?”
He crinkles his nose. “I don’t see why I’d have to choose. But if I did, boxing hands down.” He turns to Charlee. “Then I could get home every night and play chess with my babe. Win win.”
“Oh, dear.” A trickle of sweat runs down my back. Really, Tess? “This is a tough question for Abel and Hector, but remember it’s fun and hypothetical. Tess wants to know...” Tess wants to rock the boat is more like it. “Hector, for your birthday Charlee has planned a romantic dinner and some other fun activities...”
Abel laughs. “Fun activities. I’ll bet.” **laughter**
“Guys.” I try to look tough but can’t help but smile. “You find out your mom has made all of your favorite dishes for your birthday dinner at the same time. You can’t postpone either offer. Whose offer do you choose?”
Hector smirks pointing at the camera and shaking his head as if to send Tess a “bad girl” message then laughs. “Charlee’s a sweetheart,” he says reaching out and squeezing her knee. “I’m sure she’d understand if we skip her dinner to eat at my mom’s then head back home for all the fun activities.”
“Abel: Whose offer do you think your little brother should take, your mom’s or Charlee’s?”
“I think he figured it out just fine,” he says, sitting back and putting his big arm around Nellie’s chair.
“Abel: The team isn’t done with you yet.” I smile, as he straightens up again. I just can’t help it when you see a big guy like that with uncertainty flash across his eyes. “Who would you say is a better cook, Nellie or your mommy?”
He laughs suddenly turning to Elizabeth. “What’s with your team trying to get my mom all riled up?”
Elizabeth shrugs bringing both hands up then flutters her lashes. “They’re just curious.”
“They’re both good in their own ways,” he says safely. “My mom likes to stick with all the old school stuff and Nellie does that too but she likes trying all kinds of new recipes so I get the best of both worlds.” He too looks into the camera with a smile then winks as if to say “Gotcha!”
Okay, so far so good. No one is upset. Yet. I’m a bit nervous knowing what questions are coming up. If they think they’ve been put on the spot at all today...wait until Wednesday when the tough questions come. “Nellie, this one is for you. Talking about food, Maryely seems to recall you going on a date with someone who took you to a restaurant in La Jolla. Do you remember that date?” Abel turns to Nellie, no longer smiling. “And how was the food?” I glance over to see Elizabeth with a smirk. What a troublemaker.
“Moreno’s,” she says too quickly and that Ayala brow is up. “I uh believe that’s what the name of the place was. It was so long ago, but I’m pretty sure that was it. I don’t remember a whole lot, but I do remember the staff was really friendly and the brunch was great.”
Nellie gives me a look only another woman would understand as Abel continues to eye her so I have mercy and don’t push her to answer all the questions. Softy, right? But in my defense, she’d already said it was a long time ago and she didn’t remember. I almost asked if that friendly staff included a few to die for handsome men, but I think I’ve done my job here. Moving on.
“Now that we are through all the easy questions.” A few groans come from the crowd. “Let’s take a commercial break. We’ll be back with the...” I do air quotes, “tough questions. Get ready for some squirming, some tightening jaws and a whole lot of tensing muscles because at Just Judy’s Jumbles...we aren’t afraid to ask those questions.” Like heck, we aren’t.
“Please join us for part two or our interview later this week. Seems our boys here have some clout at this gym,” **laughter** “and were able to clear the schedule so that we can move down to the arena and invite some of you to join us. See you next time.”