Tony Gallino told Zeke and Mickey what he needed done. The boys nodded. Tony left without saying a word. Gus kept washing beer mugs and shot glasses. He wanted no part of what he heard.
Zeke turned to Mickey, “Looks like our luck finally turned, we’re rolling in clover.”
Mickey placed his mug to his lips and let the beer roll down his throat without so much as a swallow reflex. He finished, put his mug on the bar, burped, and wiped his face on his bare forearm. He turned to Gus, “Gimmie one of those expensive dark beers. Put it on Tony’s tab.”
“Me too,” said Zeke.
“This is how it’s got to be to wake up and know you hit Powerball,” said Mickey.
Gus was pouring a draft of the dark larger into a mug and was thinking, what a couple of schmucks.
“It’s better than hitting Powerball. I’ll tell you why, Mickey. It’s a good thing we never hit the Powerball because everybody who hits it dies,” said Zeke.
“You got to be kidding me. And here I am buying ten tickets a week. I buy even more when the money gets up there. It’s like I’m asking to win so I can croak,” said Mickey reflexively sticking his left arm out to catch the sliding mug of larger.
Mickey turned toward Gus, “Me and you coulda played for the Sox. We’re a good combo. You play shortstop, me at second base. Nothing woulda got through.”
Gus said, “I could never hit a curve ball. You guys know everybody dies, right?”
“But they die faster if they win Powerball,” said Zeke defending his turf.
Gus shrugged, “If you say so.” He thought, no sense arguing with geniuses.
Zeke and Mickey clinked their dark lagers and took a long drink. Both guys went through the ritual of the burp and forearm wipe. Zeke said, “If we do good, we don’t have to look for work. Tony will bring us into his organization. Then we’ll be living the good life.”
Gus edged himself down the bar toward Zeke and Mickey. He got in front of them, wiped his hands on his apron, looked around the bar to make sure no one was listening. There was no one listening because they were the only people in the bar unless the Feds had bugged the place. This was always a possibility with his clientele.
Gus bent over toward the boys, he whispered, “How long I know you two guys?”
“Is this a trick question?” asked Mickey.
Zeke said, “You know us since you opened this place twenty years ago.”
“That’s a long time. Did I ever steer you guys wrong? Did I give you guys tickets to Patriots games when I couldn’t go? Did I give you free drinks on Christmas Eve before I closed?”
Mickey looked confused. Too many questions. He was still processing the first question, “I think it was twenty-one years.”
Zeke who had two fewer beers than Mickey was a bit more coherent, said, “All the above is true. What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Between us and I will deny I ever said it if you repeat to anybody, plus I will bust a bottle over your heads if you repeat a word of what I say, you understand?” said Gus.
“Hey, Gus, you know us, it’s in the vault. You and Marie splitting, is that it? I never hit on her. It wasn’t me,” said Mickey.
Gus wanted to bust a bottle across Mickey’s head but resisted the temptation. He said, “This is what I got to say, do you really want to get mixed up with Gallino? Do you really think the package is harmless? I tell you to think about it. And, don’t spend the one-hundred. You ought to give it back. That’s it. I’ve said my piece.” Gus turned and walked down to the end of the bar and returned to washing mugs and shot glasses.
Zeke looked at Mickey. Mickey looked back at Zeke. Zeke turned and stared into his beer. Mickey finished his beer and signaled for another one. He turned to Zeke and said, “What are we going to do, Zeke? I’m scared.”
Are Zeke and Mickey in over their heads? What is in the box? What’s Tony Gallino up to?