Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“Um, Fred, tell everybody it’s not a good night. I’ve got a temperature.”
“Um…sure thing, Jimmy. Take care of yourself. Call me when you’re feeling better.”
I hung up the phone sat down on the bed to think. If the phone was tapped, it was time to fly. But where? And how far would I get on five hundred dollars?
RINGGGG! I jumped and stared at the phone. On the third ring, I picked up.
“Fred, please, it’s not a good time.”
“This ain’t Fred, kid. Guess again!”
I heard the phone click.
“We must have a bad connection, Nick. There’s noise on the line. How are things in Washington? Have you called on Jimmy Carter yet?”
Nick laughed.
“Still funny as always, aren’t you, kid? I just called to say if you’re interested, we’ve landed and set up shop.”
“That’s nice,” I said. “I’m going to take a vacation. Maybe I’ll stop and say hi.”
“You know where we are. You’re family—always welcome.”
The world was closing in. Despite my brave words to Cherish, all I could think about was running. If I disappeared from Chicago and put together just one big score, maybe I could get something legitimate started and Cherish would want me again.
So off I went, driving east with no particular plan in mind beyond getting the hell away from my old life in Chicago. The crazy thing is, I really felt like I was on vacation. Life felt fresh and exhilarating as I left Illinois behind. every now and again I’d remember that if I got caught in the middle, I’d do hard time for sure, but I pushed the panic away. By the time I reached the Alleghenies, reality settled in. Angel had been dead quiet for at least a hundred miles—I hoped she’d bailed during a rest stop—but suddenly there she was again.
“You’re going to Washington, aren’t you? To meet Nick.”
It was a statement, not a question.
“Nick who? I’m just on vacation,” I said, hoping she’d go away. “Nick Sure, and don’t play games with your conscience.”
“Shut up, Angel.”

THE CLOSER I GOT TO D.C., the more I told myself I’d sneak in just one more week of work, at full salary, for Nick & Co., and then hightail it back to Chicago.
It was like a game of Ping-Pong. I’d serve the ball and tell myself I wouldn’t see Nick. Then I’d run around the table and hit the ball back and decide I would see him. Then yes and No switched to Tug-of-War, and Nick was an evil force aligned with yes. The closer I got to Washington, the stronger Nick’s pull became.
About fifty miles out, I stopped for lunch and picked up a Washington newspaper. Like a homing pigeon, I zeroed in the classifieds and there it was, an ad for a service called Apartment Finders. My life of crime awaited.
I stopped again just outside the Beltway and called the number from a pay phone.
“Hello, Apartment Finders, may I help you?”
“I want to speak with a big man, stocky but handsome, whose name is Bob.”
“Jimmy, where are you?” Bob asked.
“In the neighborhood.”
“You stopping by?”
“Bob, this is what I’m thinking. I’m short on bread. I need a stake and a place to live.”
“Not a problem. Just this morning Fat Petey arranged an account at a hotel called The Deluxe. It’s on Third Avenue. I’ll make sure you can check in this afternoon.”
“Is Nick around?” I asked.
“He’s in Detroit, taking care of a few things. He said you might show and I was to take real good care of you.”
“When’s he coming back?”
“Maybe next week.”
This was good. I could be in and out with a week’s pay before I had to look at the slime ball.
“Bob, tell him I’m committed.”
“Sure, kid. He’ll be happy to hear it.”
“I’ll stop in tomorrow, after I get situated over at the Deluxe.” I could feel the blood flowing through my veins again, like I’d come back from the dead. It felt good to be in charge of my life again.

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