Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Bagman Pays Off
Today would set me right, today was the pay off. Mid-morning, about the time my hangover was half way gone, I came into Carmine’s Gym to meet The Bagman. A couple of punks were working speed bags, some kid in the corner jumped roped in front of a mirror and watched his biceps shiver. Carmine leaned against the wall, spat into a bucket. There was nothing he could do with these bums, except set them up as tomatoes for up-and-comers from Greenville. He waves at me, then points to the locker-room room door. He’s inside there, drinking coffee. The Bagman’s always early and is always drinking coffee. He routes his rounds so his scheduled stops are always close to a Dunkins. He likes the hazelnut. The Giants was out of it early this season, then a lot of folks with high hopes lost money on the Jets, which meant the Big Man didn’t mind so much making the pay off for the low buy-in, high-risk, big bucks Super Bowl Pool. The union toughs didn’t like me winning so big, but the Big Man put the chill on their gripes. A bet’s a bet, he says, youse pays your money and youse take your chances. Big Man plays it fair and what he says is the final word. There'll be no trouble for this score. In tough times like this recession of ours, more people bet, they bet big, they bet their last two bits. Everybody in this town plays a Sap at least once in their life, and for more than many, it’s a life-long job. Saps always have a dream. Their dreams make the Big Man rich. The Bagman takes a sip off the coffee, said this is what’s left after the vig is paid off. The jump-rope jumping punk comes in, heads right for the pisser. We ignore him. I give the Bagman a fin for the kick back and pocketed the see-bees. He nods, leaves. Never leave together. Never let anybody see money exchange hands. Never engage in useless chit-chat. Those are the rules. I don’t know what the punishment for breaking them is, and I don’t want to know. When I finally hit the sidewalk, the Bagman was already across the street at Dunkins ordering a Hazelnut extra-large and reading the J.C. Independent. Sports section, always the sports section. Spring training starts in two weeks. It was going to be a good day.