The Tuna’s thinking Joey is damaged goods. I gotta be soft on him, the poor kid is a couple cannoli short of a dozen. “Joey, you got my word, nobody here got a wire. Nobody is gonna rat you out. Nobody is gonna go on witness protection after they testify against you.”
Joey nods then begins, “Thanks, Tuna. We was playing straight poker with kings, queens, jacks and aces wild . . .”
From the bar, Legos’ cast iron skillet size of a palm slams down on the bar and he breaks into a hysterical, tears flowing, belly hurting, snot flowing from your nose kind of laugh.
Nick says, “It musta been something Legos heard on the TV. Nothing funny happening here.”
Joey continues, “The game’s going on and we’re talking about this thing and that thing, but we wasn’t talking about the other thing until Mickey the Chin opens his mouth. Mickey the Chin says, ‘My cousin Dom is the accountant for the Donut King. He knows all about the big contest worth one-hundred grand the Donut King is promoting.’
“Al James says, ‘You mean we can get inside information when the Donut King is gonna put the winning donut in one of his stores?”
“Mickey the Chin starts laughing. He says, ‘The Donut King got more money than he knows what do with it. Dom says the Donut King already got a guy lined up to be the fake winner. It’s gonna happen next Wednesday. The Donut King is going to put the winning donut in the tray when his guy walks in the Donut King shop.”
“The Donut King come up with the perfect scheme. He’s a crook and nobody can catch him,” says Tony.
Joey continues, “I was thinking if I can find out the store the Donut King is gonna use, we bust in after the Donut King puts the winning donut in showcase and cut in front of the guy who is to get the donut. We got a hundred grand to split. What do you think, Tuna? It’s a can’t miss, can’t miss idea for sure.”
Nick says, “Joey, I got bad news for you. You’re can’t miss idea is gonna miss again. The Tuna’s gonna ban you from The Lucky Canary for life.”
“We can only be that lucky,” says Legos from the bar.
Joey says, “What’s the problem, Nick. What I miss?”
“You missed the most simple thing,” says Nick. Nick pauses enjoying the attention from the Tuna, Tina, and Tony. He continues, “Who’s gonna eat all the donuts in showcase until we get the right donut. What if the winning donut breaks a tooth? Anyway, how’s the Donut King gonna fit a hundred grand into a jelly donut. I can see a c-note but not a hundred grand.”
Joey sticks both thumbs in his mouth.
The Tuna says, “Good points, Nick. Your problem is you are not thinking out of the box.”
Nick looks around, “I don’t see no box, Tuna. How can I think out of the box when there is no box?”
The Tuna thinks about how he can simplify this. The Tuna says, “First of all, the Donut King is getting rich selling donuts. What’s he got, two hundred donut shops in the state? People gonna be buying donuts like crazy for the next week trying to bite into the winning donut. Problem is, nobody is gonna bite into the winning donut because the Donut King put in a fix. See, you don’t have to eat all the donuts, you only have to bite into the donut with the winning ticket inside. It’s gonna be impossible to get to that donut because the Donut King will probably personally put the donut in the showcase, and he’ll be in the store when it happens.”
Nick says, “That’s what I was saying, Tuna. It’s impossible but I didn’t say it as smart as you.”
The Tuna shakes his head, “I didn’t say it was impossible. I got an idea. Joey, maybe your can’t miss, can’t miss idea is not gonna miss this time.”
“Joey takes his thumbs out of his mouth. Tears begin steaming down Joey’s cheeks like a mountain stream overflowing its banks in the spring runoff. Joey says, “This is the happiest day of my life. I never had a can’t miss, can’t miss idea that worked. What are we gonna do, Tuna?”
Tuna points his index finger at Legos who’s standing behind the bar. He says, “Joey, what you’re gonna do is borrow a car, not from the neighborhood and go back to Bridgewater. When we’re through here, Tony will give you a ride to the medical center. Take a car with MD plates. When you get back to Bridgewater, park it in the parking place reserved for doctors. They won’t find the car maybe for weeks.”
“You think of everything, Tuna,” says Joey.
“What’s the plan, Tune?” says Tony.
“Was I talking to you?” says the Tuna. “You member what you are sposed to do or do I have to have Nick write it on paper for you?”
Tony taps Nick on the shoulder, “What was I sposed to do?”
The Tuna points at Tony with his index finger, “Nick, tell Tone everything he’s got to do.”
Nick glances at Tina hoping she’ll toss him a lifeline.
Tina says, “You’re on your own, Nick. You and me are nothing until you propose.”
The Tuna refills Tina’s shot glass. “Beautiful broad, I like the way you are playing hardball. Maybe, I’ll have Tony or Nick take Joey’s place in prison tonight and let Joey help me do what I have to do.”
Nick hollers, “I member. I member. It just came to me. Tony sposed to call Mario Fanetti about the inspector’s job and then he’s gotta drive Joey to the med center so Joey can heist a doctor’s car to get back to Bridgewater.”
The Tuna turns toward Tina, “Beautiful broad, see what happens when you apply the pressure? You squeeze a little bit, then you squeeze some more. If they don’t get the message, you squeeze and twist and they turn into overcooked spaghetti.”
Tina lays her ice pick on the table with the point of the icepick pointing toward Nick.”
The Tuna says, “Nice touch, Beautiful broad.”
Nick starts sweating. He tries to change the subject, “You need help with Joey’s can’t miss, can’t miss idea that really can’t miss this time?”
The Tuna stares at Nick, doesn’t say a thing, he keeps staring.
Nick looks at Tony who’s looking at Joey who’s looking at Tina who’s looking at Nick. Legos wondering what crime the Tuna is planning. He reaches for the bottle of Tums under the counter and hopes The Lucky Canary doesn’t get closed for being a center of criminal activity in the neighborhood.
Before the Tuna explains what he plans to do, the door to The Lucky Canary swings open.