Odd's Lot, a serial novelette
Easy Odds Elbows and Knockers
Anthony Fiorelli Jr., got the nickname Odds the day he was born. His father, a local bar owner, took bets on the day, time, height, weight and sex of his birth. It started a neighborhood tradition, if your parents were bar regulars chances are there was money wagered on your first birthday too. It was not unusual to see two or three names on the chalk board grid behind the bar at any given time. Some folks that started out as bets on that chalkboard were now placing action on their own kid’s birthdays.
Aces, was a small neighborhood bar, a place where the VFW met and a co-sponsor of Police Athletic League Baseball. Anthony Sr. took it over from his father, who bought the building as a bakery during prohibition and turned it into the bar sometime in the 40’s when he decided selling booze was more lucrative than baking bread.
Odds was standing with his boys outside the Metro Race Course smoking. He didn’t have another bet until the eighth race so they had time to kill. The four men had been friends since grade school and two of them now worked for Odds who had taken over Aces for his father the year before. This was the first time the four of them had managed a day off together in six months and as was always the case they had pooled their cash to back Odds bets at the track hoping to bankroll what they hoped would be a long night of cutting loose.
Pops Antonelli, lit his smoke, he had the most ‘legit’ job working for a shipping company. A fetish for plastic packing bubbles as a kid earned his moniker and that irony was an ever producing source of humor at his expense. “If we hit again man, we should go get a dime bag from Roscoe, his shit is good.”
“I haven’t smoked weed in so long, I’ll just nod out or end up eating bunches of crap and my wife‘ll kill me for blowin’ my diet.”
“Easy, you are such a pussy!” Pops smacked his friend on the arm. “I’m gonna blow my diiiiet!. My wife is gonna kill me!”
Eddie “Easy” Debartolo was a large man by any standard but nobody would call him fat, at least not to his face. But at six foot six and pushing 300 lbs. he wasn’t the hard body he was in college when he once dunked on Patrick Ewing. His quickness at grabbing Pops arm belied his size but demonstrated his nickname “Bite me Pops at least I still gotta wife.” Odds looked up from his racing form.
“Be cool Easy, let him go." Odds took a drag from his cigarette. "Anyway, you know what they say, third times the charm-right Pops?”
“Fuck you Odds at least I had the balls to get married.” Pops tried in vain to free himself. “How long now you dating Rox? You hit a decade yet?”
“Yeah but we ain’t exclusive, she knows I see your Mom on Friday nights.”
“Mother shit?!” Pops finally wrenched his arm free from Easy. “Now we’re doin’ Mother shit? What are we in the fourth grade again?”
Odds put his form in his back pocket. “You said you wanted an old school night Pops.”
“Hey check this out Odds.” Tommy Elbows brought his own form over to show Odds. “In the seventh Tuned Tommy is 3-1, that’s gotta mean something right?”
Tommy Elbows was the only one of the group that wasn’t Italian. He knew he was half Irish, his old lady’s name was O’Meaney but his father split before he was born and Elbows didn’t think his mother was even sure who his father was. Tommy Elbows was a nickname that stuck dating back to an incident in his youth involving the eating of a kindergarten art project.
“It means you bet like a girl. Next you’ll be looking for someone with silks that match your outfit.” Odds was a serious horse player, he didn’t bet names or colors and he never played a hunch. Hunch players were suckers. Odds had a system; he worked the form every day, even days he wasn’t going to the track. “It’s a 15k claimer Elbows; that horse is worth 3 times that it’s not gonna show anything in this race. They want him to look bad today so they can run him in a pricier race next time. He’ll get longer odds ‘cause he’ll look bad today on purpose against these dogs and they’ll run it next time against tougher horses. Wait until they put him in a 25k or better he’ll be long then and you can make some money. I got him marked I’ll let you know.”
“OK Sweet, now I got a savings account. So you got nothin’ until the eigth?” Odds shook his head no. “Let’s go up to the Derby then and grab a real beer ‘stead of this watered down track piss. My old lady’s new boyfriend is behind the bar tonight.”
“Ol’ Meany’s got a new dude?” Jimmy Razolli the youngest of the bunch chimed in using their nickname for Tommy’s mother. “What happened to Fitz? I liked that guy.”
Elbows tossed his smoke on the ground “Don’t know Knock, I rolled by her house a couple weeks ago and saw Fitzy’s old truck was down off the blocks and gone. I asked her about it and she just said he left.” Knock was short for Knockers, Jimmy’s nickname which stemmed from a fight in Junior High where Jimmy punched a guy out for commenting on certain parts of his cheerleader sister’s anatomy.
BWEEP! The familiar sound of a police siren blast turned the four around to see a local cop car roll up and turn its headlights on.
“Damn we haven’t even done anything yet.” Easy took his usual position in front of his friends. His size alone had walked them out of more than a few scrapes in the past 20 some years. Not bad asses by any stretch of the imagination the four friends were also not choir boys or strangers to being rousted by the cops.
Knockers walked in front of Easy. “Chillax big guy, its Billy Squires he probably just wants some of Odds action.” Billy Squires was younger than the group by a couple years but they knew who he was and were friendly with him. Billy was a good guy, came back to town to be a cop after some time in the Gulf. He and his wife had bets running on the chalkboard right now waiting for their second kid. Knockers knew him best since they were closer in age. “What’s up Billy boy? Come to get some a Odds action?” He extended his hand and Billy shook it.
“Hey Knock, how’s it going boys?” He looked over the group but his eyes landed on Odds.
“I got something in the eighth if you need some action. You wanna get in with us Billy? Just between us like always.” Odds walked towards Billy extending his hand.
“I wish that’s what I needed Anthony” The use of Odds given name wasn’t lost on anyone, Pops spoke up.
“Anthony? Hell, I ain’t heard nobody call him that since his old lady died. You musta done something Odds cops are using your real name and shit.”
“Shutup Louis!” Officer Squires barked using Pops real name and things suddenly got very real. “Anthony I need you to come with me, it’s your Dad.”
“My Dad? What’s the matter? Is he alright?”
“Yeah he’s fine…physically, we got him down at the station.”
“Billy, what’s going on? What’ya mean he’s fine physically? And whatta the cops want with him?”
“He’s been arrested.”
“Arrested? For what? What he do? He’s an old man, he ain’t been outta his recliner in a year.”
“I can’t tell you right now just get in the car please.”
“I’m not going anywhere until you tell me why you locked up my old man.” Odds crossed his arms and Easy took a step forward to stand next to him.
Officer Billy Squires considered for a moment and then said simply. “Murder, we charged him an hour ago.”
“Murder?!” Odds laughed “My old man? He catches spiders in a shot glass to take ‘em outside and passes out if he cuts himself shavin’. Who the hell is he s’possed have killed?”
“John Abignale” There was silence for a moment then Odds started moving toward the police car yelling to his friends as he dropped his racing form.
“Pops, call Vic Mancuso tell him to meet me downtown. Easy, you gotta go to the bar, send Cheryl home and do not leave until you hear from me. Knockers go place our bet in the eighth we’re gonna need that cash then meet Easy- and somebody call my sister.”He got into the police cruiser.
The three men were moving before the police car had rolled back to the street. As they got in their own car Pops turned on the radio.
…the name of the suspect is not being released at this time. To repeat our top story-Alleged Mafia Crime Boss Johnny Abignale is dead. The apparent victim of a shooting at his palatial Gracie Street home he was pronounced dead at the scene. No motive or other victims are reported at this time but police say they have a suspect in custody. We’ll bring you more details as we receive them. In the weather-