Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“The Our Father tells us to seek first the kingdom of heaven, because there is perfect order in heaven. If we do, God will take care of us, always giving us what we need for our spiritual growth.” “But what does that have to do with karma?”
“Humans are imperfect, but because of karma, people learn from their mistakes. The process of growth leads to a perfect out- come. It’s the simple idea of law and order. God is The Cause, karma is our learning curve. And believe me, God is not going to appreciate Alex taking advantage of Cherish. Alex will have to pay this debt back. Someone will victimize him if he victimizes her.”
“your father a priest, kid?” Fat Petey asked.
“Priests don’t have kids,” I replied. I could see Alex’s face in the rear-view mirror. even through his shades, it was obvious he was taking in every word. His gaze alternated between me and the street ahead. “If this meet doesn’t go good, kid, you may not be around much longer,” he growled.
“So I wouldn’t be making waves.” We pulled up in front of a restaurant and walked through the dark main room to a table in the back corner, where another olive-skinned wise guy was sitting, a star of David around his neck just like Alex, beady black eyes. He had wavy salt-and-pep- per hair and was wearing a starched white shirt (but oddly, no tie) and a beige suede zippered jacket. He looked forty to forty- five years old.
“My name is Nick Sure, kid. Sit. you look hungry.” We all sat down and two waiters brought out heaping platters of food. There was plenty of everything, except there hadn’t been many Jewish delicatessens in mostly Catholic Stony Island so I didn’t know what any of the dishes were. It must have been obvious, because Nick said,
“Come on kid, try it. Or should I just call for some Irish potatoes?” everyone laughed as he spooned a helping of some sort of noodles onto my plate. I took a bite and then asked,
“Why am I here?”
“I wanted to meet the brain who figured this apartment twist. I wanted to thank you and also see if I could do anything for you.”
“Nothing,” I said.
“you sure, kid? I could do a lot for someone with your skills.” “Like what?” “For starters, five hundred a week, but you’d have to earn it.”
“What would you want?”
“you know, go to the office every day and help out.” “I’ll work for a while, and then I’m gone, like water down a drain.” Nick looked dumbfounded. “Who’s not interested in five bones a week? everybody needs five clams. Why not you?”
“I’m a nobody, just a guy stopping in for a short visit. Besides, it’s going to end up bad.” “How so?” he inquired.
“Nobody’s thinking ahead. I’ve already been in a five by eight and I’m not going back.”
“Oh yeah? Where’d you do time?” he asked.
“I was grounded in the bedroom when I was a kid.” everybody looked at each other and then finally figured out it was a joke.
“He’s sweet on this broad Cherish,” Fat Petey said.
“Who’s Cherish?” Nick asked.
“She’s a dumb thing down at the office who doesn’t know what’s shaking,” Alex said.
“She actually believes she’s got a real estate career. We’re going out for some learning Friday night.” Again laughter around the table.
“I’m done. Time to go.” I pushed back from the table.
“you’re done when I say you’re done,” Nick said sharply.
“Let’s take a walk.” The daylight was blinding after the dark restaurant interior. I looked around for the cop car—by this time I’d convinced myself the brown car had to belong to the police—but there was a ladder in the way. I walked casually toward it, casually looking around for our shadow, and ended up right underneath. Nick had been chattering away beside me but stopped cold at the ladder, then dodged out to the curb to go around it. Once on the other side, he turned to face me. “Listen, kid, you can do it the easy way or the hard way. Believe me, you don’t want the hard way.” I stood my ground, which was still under the ladder.
“Nick, here’s your play. Tell Alex to back off from Cherish and I promise you’ll make so much money you’ll never be able to spend it.” “Sure, kid. But why is it so important?”
“Let’s just say she’s been placed in my care. Things like this can change a person’s future forever, and she’s young. She has her life in front of her and I don’t want Alex to destroy her, so she’s my price. And five hundred a week is tempting but if you grant this favor, I’ll settle for two hundred.” He looked at the ladder over my head, seeming confused. He started to say something but stopped and motioned me out from underneath the ladder. “Kid, you’re peculiar. you come in and make easy money for us, and all you’re concerned about is some broad’s future.”
“yep, and you’re living off the poor, and you see nothing wrong with it. I find that peculiar. Maybe we’re both a bit confused.”
With a slight grin, he said, “Have it your way, kid. It’s done. Now earn us some money.”

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