Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

She left for lunch. I leaned back in my chair and thought about what had just happened. I needed to be a nobody in this apartment operation, but I wanted to be somebody to Cherish. Sure I was interested in her, but I had the feeling she was sup- posed to do something in the future and I needed to make sure she arrived there safe and sound. Alex had been in a bitchy mood all morning. Now that Cher- ish was gone, he rounded on me.
“Hey, kid! you going to daydream or pitch some phones?” “I’m meditating. you should try it. It might change the way you look at life.”
“Don’t start with me, kid,” he snarled. “I’m not Bob.”
“There’s no fooling you, Alex. you know what I’d do if this was my action? I’d put in three new phone lines, somewhere in another building so walk-ins don’t overhear. Our people answer and give the caller the run-around. The caller asks if the land- lord’s in, and of course, he’s not. We take messages for days until the caller burns out. It gets tricky, though. you have to code the landlord’s name so you can tell how long the caller’s been after him.” Alex’s elevator hadn’t left the basement yet, so I explained that the first week we’d name the non-existent landlord Mr. Adams. The next week, he’d be Mr. Butler. Week three, Mr. Carlson. Week four, Mr. Davis. After a month, change all the names again; Abbot, Braun, Conner, Dorsey. When the new month starts, we’d tell the Adams callers that the apartment was just rented. Alex found that confusing. “It’s a scam, buddy. It’s supposed to be confusing so we won’t get caught.” I reminded him that it was Friday and he owed me two hundred.
“Maybe yes, maybe no,” Alex said.
“you might lose big at the poker game tonight. Right now I have an errand to run before lunch, and then I’m eating with Nick, Bob, and Fat Petey. Nick probably will pay you when we get back.”
After he left, I went across to the Jack In The Box and bought some tacos for Stella Petrovski, who lived two doors down from the office. I’d met her at the hamburger shop; we were both in line waiting to place an order. She was about five feet tall, with white hair. She always wore a dress and black lace-up shoes that reminded me of Sister John’s. She loved to talk, and had an Old World approach that made me feel like part of her family. Having been shorted in the family department myself, I naturally adored her. That day I hurried to her building and rang her buzzer. When I identified myself at the speaker, she buzzed me in. I bounded up the flight of stairs to her flat.
“Jimmy, you’ve come for dinner! Where’s this nice girl you’ve been talking about?” “She couldn’t make it. Sorry, ma’am, I can’t stay for dinner. I just dropped by to pick up what we talked about yesterday.” Her eyes softened.
“I hope it works out for you. We all need to be loved. I’ve been reciting a rosary everyday that things will work out just the way you want.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Petrovski. Do you remember what we talked about yesterday?” you could never be sure with someone her age.
“Of course! It’s such a lovely gift. Would you like it now?” I nodded.
“And you had the right color?”
“I sure did.” She went into another room and returned with a large zippered canvas bag. After thanking Mrs. Petrovski, I returned to the office, grabbed a ice pick off the back counter we used as our bar and went over to Alex’s door. I slipped the ice pick into the middle of the doorknob, wiggled the pick, turned the knob to the right, and heard the lock pop. I looked over my shoulder and saw Nick’s Lincoln Town Car easing into a parking space across the street. I unzipped the bag and emptied it on the floor of Alex’s office.
Then I zipped up the bag, quickly returned to my desk, and sat cleaning my fingernails with the ice pick. Nick, Fat Petey, Bob, and Alex walked through the front door.
“That’s disgusting, cleaning your nails with that thing,” Fat Petey shrieked. Nick shook his head and headed for the bathroom. “What in the bag?” Bob asked. “Nothing yet. It’s for me to put my poker winnings in.” “Funny, kid. Hey, you remember the last time we were together when you were talking about this karma thing?” I nodded.
“Do nice things you do count, too?” I nodded again. “The Great Plan is the same on the right side of the universe.”
“So you’re saying if I do something good, then something good will happen back to me.” “yes. Negative follows negative, and positive follows positive.”
“That is a bunch of nonsense,” Alex said. “It’s my question, not yours!” Bob snapped.
“He’s getting in your head,” Alex said. “All you think about now is karma this and karma that. It isn’t productive, seeing our line of business and all.” Bob glared at Alex.
“So you’re telling me not to think? Maybe you don’t think I can think. you’re saying I’m stupid. I take that as an insult.” “See what you started, kid?” Fat Petey said. “Knock it off, Bob.”
“No, I’m the one who started it, and I’m the one who’s going finish it,” Bob said. “easy, Bob,” Alex said. “I meant no disrespect.” “Go ahead, kid,” Bob told me. “Say a bunch of guys stick up a bank, and they get caught in the moment of robbing the bank. The next moment or twenty years of future moments are spent in the federal pen.”

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