A sleazy contractor is pressing you for full payment for his inferior work. He’s showing you the document you signed and reading the six lines of very fine print that you didn’t pay much attention to before, especially since he’d said, “Oh, that’s just routine legalese.” Now he says, trying to make his sneer look like a sincere smile, that you’re legally bound by those lines to cough up the cash.

It looks hopeless, but then you remember you have an influential cousin who might be of some help. He’s imaginary, but he can still be very influential. “Okay, you’ve got me,” you say. “I’ll pay up by the end of the week. I have to borrow the money from my Cousin Rocco and he’s out of town right now on some kind of contract . ” At this point you’ll notice an arched eyebrow and a jittery look. “He’s out on a contract?” he’ll say.

“I’ve got your office address and Rocco might want to call you at home. But he knows how to get anybody’s number. He’s very resourceful.” The sneer is gone now. It’s not possible to sneer when your jaw has dropped open.

You give him a look of concern. “Don’t worry, you’re going to get what’s coming to you. Rocco is pretty well fixed. He’s a sought after police consultant, you know, like Sherlock Holmes and Monk. They’re always calling him down to the station to help out on a case. “Questions, questions, questions!’ Rocco complains. He’s at the top of his profession and he’s revered. The police have more than once given him the title of ‘a person of interest’.

“Rocco is a perfectionist, though and he’ll want to look over your work before he parts with the money. That’s just his routine. It’s not like Angie’s List, it’s Rocco’s list, ha ha! So rest assured, Rocco is a big softee, he’s a good fellow and he’s very fair, a straight shooter.

At this point Mr. Sleazy will be nervously trying to open the front door to escape. “There’s no rush on the payment,” he’ll say. “I’ll be around in a few days to inspect and correct any imperfections I find and I’ll probably throw in a few upgrades here and there.”

In my case it wouldn’t be a complete fabrication. I actually do have an Italian cousin. Her name is Dolores.

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