Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“I’m Harvey. Wanda says you’re a salesman. Is that true? Have you ever had formal training?”
My heart sank.
“No, but people like me.”
“Jim, you sound as if you’re from the Midwest. Chicago, maybe?”
“South side,” I said.
“Cubs or White Sox, Jim?”
“Cubs, sir. Up until two months ago I lived two blocks from Wrigley Field. There’s nothing quite like the right field bleachers at Wrigley.”
“Sixty-nine was something, huh? What really happened out there?” Harvey asked, referring to the disastrous ending of the Cubs’ 1969 season.
“August and September were hot. Playing daytime ball wore them out. The Mets caught on fire and BAM! it was over. We’ll win someday, though.”
“you’re probably right. I miss the Senators.”
“I understand that! Back in ’65 I had appendicitis and ended up in the hospital. It was astounding because I’d been walking around with a burst appendix for a week. The poison settled in the bottom of my stomach and didn’t spread throughout the rest of my body. If it had, I would have died. It was like the angels took care of me.”
I heard one particular Angel snort in the background, but I kept on going.
“I had this little AM radio, and at night, it could pick up Senators’ games. The Senators had great players back then.”
Harvey nodded.
“My sentiments exactly.”
I smiled. Something good was happening here. I kept on going.
“At night a breeze would blow in the hospital window. I could smell the trees outside and I’d listen to the games. Like I said, me not dying from peritonitis was a phenomenon. Only a few cases similar to mine were ever recorded. All the doctors said I was spared because I was supposed to do something real important with my life.”
I paused and looked down at the table.
“But that doesn’t appear to be the case.”
“What brings you to Washington, Jim?”
I looked at Harvey, then out the window, and back to Harvey. Angel was whispering, “Tell him the truth.”
So I did, for once in my life. I laid out the whole story, start to finish. Reaching in my coat, I pulled out the envelope containing the five thousand dollars.
“And now I have to give it back. But I still have the same problem. I need a job.”
“Are you going to jail?” Harvey asked.
“I don’t think so. I don’t have a record, and I only took two hundred a week in salary. I’m going to be nobody in the eyes of the court.”
“And you’re going to give the five thousand back?” Harvey asked. “yes. If I take it, I will have to do something for it, and I can’t.”
“Jim, consider yourself hired,” Harvey said. “you can start when all your ties to Nick are behind you.”
“I have a good feeling about you. And just this morning, as I was leaving the house, my wife reminded me that we’re all here to give. I’ve been trusting Charlene for forty years now, and it’s always worked out. Besides, you’re a Senators fan!”
He paused, as if a thought had struck him.
“Jim, when you give back the money, will you have anything left?” “eighteen dollars.”
He reached into his wallet, pulled out a business card and handed it to me. It read Parklawn Cemetery.
“Are you familiar with Silver Spring? It’s the first Maryland suburb beyond D.C. We’re near Rock Creek Park.”
I nodded.
“Seeing as you’re down on your luck, I’ll give you an advance on your training salary, which is, by coincidence, two hundred a week. Here is one hundred. Training starts as soon as you want. you’ll get four weeks of training with pay and then you’re on your own.” “Thank you so much. I don’t know what to say except I won’t let you down.” I reached out to shake his hand.“Now I’d better be going and give this money back. I’ll see you first thing Monday morning.”

WALKING OUT OF THE DINER , I was euphoric and kept repeating,“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
I needed to return the money to Alex.
A couple of things nagged at me as I drove. The office was open but Nick was supposed to be in Detroit. That didn’t make sense. Nick never put himself very far from his money. He stayed away from the Chicago office during the day, but at night, after everyone left, he came in to count his cash.
And another thing—how did Nick know the exact moment to call the office and find me there? Coincidence? Not likely. He had to be close by, watching to make sure I hadn’t drawn the cops.
Finally, I knew if Alex was the only one in the office when I returned the five grand, he’d steal it for himself and say I ripped them off.
So I had to flush Nick out from his hole. As I drove back to the office, I thought about the buildings on the block. All were low-rises except one on the corner across the street. It was three stories high, with windows facing the street in front of the Apart- ment Finders office.
I parked across from the office so I could see those windows. It was getting dark. One by one, the lights in the building popped on. I scanned the front windows facing Apartment Finders. All the lights were out.

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