Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

WE WERE QUIET ON THE DRIVE back to the apartment, but as we pulled into the complex, Bob mimicked, “She was wearing a black dress and a strand of pearls. Nice guess, Jimmy. How’d you know?”
I pointed to my heart and said, “An Angel told me. I just repeated it.”
He sighed.“I guess this is good-bye.” We shook hands and Bob said, “We’re even, kid.”
“you did that for me just because I helped you win a poker hand?”
“No. Because you explained the karma thing. It makes a lot of sense. I been thinking that’s why I don’t feel too good. My actions must be having a negative effect on my aura. So I’m changing.”
“That’s beautiful, Bob. I’ll see you back in the Second City.” “you really think we’re all going bye-bye?
I nodded. We had a moment of quiet reflection on our future behind bars, then I got out of the car.
There still was the matter of what would happen if the law caught up with Nick Sure. I’d deal with that when the time came. For now, I was in the clear, relieved and content.

HARVEY GELLAR WAS RIGHT when he said funeral plots were the hardest thing in the world to sell. After that, everything else would be easy.
In August of 1979, I decided I belonged in Chicago, so I moved back home. As I drove back into Illinois early one evening, I looked out of the car window at the city and wondered which part of “everything else” I should go with. Harvey said that the key to sales was to find something everybody needed—in his case, coffins and a final resting place. I smiled at the memory. Harvey could be so entertaining in his own way. I had developed a deep love for him because he was the only person other than the staff at St. Ailbe’s who had taken the time to teach me any- thing good.
As we passed the highest point of the Skyway, I again heard Harvey saying “Sell something everyone needs.” At that precise moment, I looked down and saw my future. It was a peculiarly Chicago scene: perfectly straight streets that sped across the prairie to a single point on the horizon, lined with houses. The setting sun glowed on each window as if it were made of gold. There had to be millions of windows in Chicago, and I bet a lot of them leaked. I decided then and there to go into the window business.
I settled in an apartment in Arlington Heights, one of the northern suburbs. I located a nearby window company and applied for a sales position. Over time, I became one of their best sales people and dreamed of the day I could go on my own. But with an indictment still looming, I knew a good employer reference would be critical to avoiding hard time. For the next year and a half, I planned my move from the window company to my own business. The biggest problem I had was how to get leads, since I couldn’t afford advertising. early one Sunday morning, I heard a radio commercial for what was billed as “The Buyer’s Flea Market.” I drove over to the west side to check it out. The flea market was located in a huge warehouse that was subdivided into hundreds of booth-sized spaces. There vendors were selling everything from apples to zebras. There was even a booth for a bank.
I chatted with the banker, and asked if the flea-market was generating any business for him. Did any dealers, for instance, send him customers who needed a loan to buy their merchandise? During our conversation, he told me about a little-known government loan product called FHA Title One, which was basically a government-guaranteed loan to the bank. The bank loaned money to low-income people who met certain criteria, and if the clients didn’t repay the loan, the bank could collect from the government.
I told the banker about my plans to start a window company, but knew I’d need financing for the majority of my clients. And before long, I became certified as a Title One Federal Housing Authority representative.
Next, I found a window manufacturer to represent. I had a small pop-up window to display, and the following Saturday and Sunday I rented space in the flea market for twenty-five dollars. After pitching burial plots, selling replacement windows was a piece of cake, and by Sunday night, thirty browsers had asked me to come out and give them estimates. I felt as if I’d just been dealt a royal flush, with a ton of money in the pot, and because I’d been careful with my cards, none of the other players in the game knew my hand.
However, rather than cash in, I decided to hold my hand. Sooner or later the game would be up for Nick Sure, I’d be back in court, and it would be much, much better for me to be in court as an upstanding sales representative for a respectable company than somebody running my own, possibly suspect, enterprise.

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