Desperate to escape the bookie’s wrath, Jack tried every way imaginable to pay off the mounting debt. The interest was over the top. In less than two weeks the tab tripled. Jobless with nothing left he had one option, to lie as his existence depended on it.
With the plan in place, he grabbed four passports off the shelf and raced downtown. He knew he had one chance to sweet talk a few drunks exiting the gentlemen clubs. Upon arrival, game face set, he searched for patrons exiting from a night of wicked fun. In his sights, he targets the perfect victim, a tall, heavyset man in a black Armani suit.
“It’s time to earn” he whispers under his breath.
“Sir, excuse me, sir, twenty minutes ago I was mugged. The bastards took everything. My pregnant wife is in the hospital, and I need $2500 for a flight home. I swear on my mother’s grave once I land I will pay you back triple. And for collateral, you can hold my passport.”
Annoyed, the man slammed Jack against the wall. In an Italian accent, he said, “Che palle! What the fuck the matter with you, what are you talking about, you prick.”
“Sir, please, you don’t understand. These five punks jumped me at gunpoint. They took my credit cards and cash. I need to get back to Burbank immediately as my wife is having a baby! For the love of Christ, help me!”
Compelled, the man reached into his vest. As he pulled out his wallet, he noticed something odd in Jacks shirt pocket. A daily racing form and a few ticket stubs totaling $15k.
Furious, the man yells, “You little prick, you low-lying son of a bitch.”
Stunned, Jack grabs the man insisting he’s telling the truth. The man took one step back and BAM, a right hook to Jacks jaw knocking out two of his front teeth. “That’ll teach you, you pile of shit.”
Half conscious, face down in the gutter, Jack knows he’s a dead man. If he doesn’t pay the bookie by nine, the henchmen will hunt him down. The thought of a fractured skull is too much to bear. Last time they showed kindness by only breaking both legs. This time there would be no next, they guaranteed it.
With no way out, Jack decided to end it on his terms, quick and easy. He reached behind his back, pulled the 357 from the holster and cocked the hammer. As he lifted the gun to his head, his life flashed before him. With tension on the trigger, ready to end it, a golden glimmer catches his eye. He drops the gun and spots a small black canvas bag ten feet away hidden under a dumpster. With nothing to lose, he crawls over and opens it. At first glance, he didn’t believe his eyes. Gold! One thousand one ounce Canadian maple leafs. Finally, Jack could pay off the bookie and leave this godforsaken town once and for all.
He pulls himself to his feet, straightens his coat, takes a deep breath and hails a taxi.
“Where you headed?” the driver asked.
“South 3rd and Carson and make it quick.”
As the cab sped away, the driver rambled on about a bank heist gone bad earlier that day. The story was all over the local news. The reporter said it was a mob hit, and they got away with over $1.5 million in gold coins. Irritated Jack screams, “Shut the hell up. I don’t care about the damn news, or you. Just hurry the hell up!”
“Okay, whatever you say boss,” the driver angrily mumbled.
“Did you say something?”
“No sir, two more minutes.”
Exiting the cab, Jack hands the man two gold coins and storms into the building. He approaches the bookie staring him square in the eyes. He slams down the bag and boasts, “I have your fucking money.” Before the bookie could speak, Jack put the entire mountain of gold on number seven. A man in a black suit watches the scene unfold and whispers to a guy on his right, “che stronzo, son of a bitch.”
The Croupier yells, “No more bets! Round and round it goes where it stops nobody knows.”
The ball jumps, it clanks and clicks, hitting every number on the wheel. As the wheel slows the ball bounces over seven, then ten, then thirty-one. Anxiety kicks as Jack watches the ball come to its resting place.
“Twenty-one,” the dealer announces!
In shock, Jack stares the bookie down as he reaches for the revolver. It’s not there! He then realizes he left it where he found the money.
The next morning a gruesome story broke on national TV.
“In a brutal attack last night four men were found ruthlessly murdered in Las Vegas. Two men including a local loan shark were decapitated with multiple gunshots to the head and knees. The police believe the gun used was a 357 revolver. They found a fourth victim, a white male in his forties, with two gold coins lodged in his throat and multiple fractures to the skull. On his body, the police found several racing forms in his left breast pocket with a note nailed to his forehead reading, “you should have listened.” An eyewitness stated he saw a man in a black Armani suit fleeing the scene. If you have any leads, please contact your local police.”
Jack by K. Saitta © 2017, A Walk In Verse