by CC Carter
Gustavus Montaigne Schmidt, aka Smitty, was not only on the run, but literally running. Running from a small time mobster and collector known as Break-bone Bob. As he intersected 42nd Street doing the full tilt boogie, he skidded and almost fell. Cart wheeling his arms for balance, barely keeping upright, he inadvertently hailed a passing cab.
A woman, stepping into the rain from an unseen doorway and carrying several upscale shopping bags, was flagging the same cab. She considered it her hail; he, his.
“Share?” he asked, reaching the door first, looking past her at the approaching mobster who was just then rounding the corner.
She turned to follow his gaze and her face went pale.
“Yes, fine, please hurry.”
They both scrambled in and the driver queried direction in the rearview mirror with one raised eyebrow.
“Downtown,” said Smitty.
“Uptown,” said the lady.
“Uptown it is,” answered the driver, calculating the greater tip with barely a glance. Smitty and the lady were both looking backward; his pursuer had also found a cab.
“Step on it,” they said together.
What gives, thought Schmidt. Does she know Bob? What’re the odds? He looked sideways at his fellow passenger, who was also following the progress of the pursuing taxi. Late twenties, buxom, leggy, a smear of strawberry lip, a freshly swollen black eye beneath a black beret festooned with lace. Her skirt-jacket combo would have paid Smitty’s bar tab for a month. Smitty noticed things. The driver’s I.D. number was zero, zero, twenty-six.
Turning onto 53rd, they suddenly met with stopped traffic, two hundred red taillights blurred by rain.
“Here, take this,” said the lady to the cabbie, handing him a fifty. She disembarked in a hurry, taking all of her bags but one. Smitty grabbed the remaining bag, and slid out the other door, thinking he might catch her, but she’d already disappeared.
He pulled his coat up over his head and jogged the two blocks to the subway. A train was loading and he hurried in, the last one through the door. Dripping, shivering, making sure he was unobserved, he glanced into the bag and smiled. He could read the wrappers on some of the bundles, fresh twenties, $20K per bundle, a minimum of ten bundles. He bought a transfer to the airport.
In Nevada, Smitty walked into the first casino on the strip and cashed in one bundle for chips, feeling the juice, knowing he was on a roll. He’d always liked roulette and put
$5K down on number twenty-six.
It hit, paying thirty five to one. A small crowd gathered.
After only a beat, Smitty said, “Let it ride,” and held his breath. The pit boss nodded to the croupier. The ball rolled, popped, landed in the slot, spun to a stop. Twenty-six again.
The crowd whistled and clapped. As Smitty exhaled, he noticed a tattoo on the dealer’s wrist. The symbol of Infiniti. In black.
“Black eight,” said Schmidt. The dealer spun the wheel.
* * *
CC Carter is a poet, a writer of short fiction, and a Singer-Songwriter.
His music can be heard at cccartermusic.com or at Ouroborosartists.com
He lives in Bradenton, Florida.