GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO FOLD

Corner of Windsor and Ninth.

Saturday morning.

A little before nine.

The sun is out, temperature is in the mid-30’s. Going to warm up a bit today but not too much. May get to forty by 3:00PM says the guy on WINS 1010 radio.

Jimmy’s reading the New York Post, standing against the brown UPS box. He’s got the paper opened, spread out on top of the box. Saturday’s paper is thin. Not much in it.

It would be impossible for someone to drop anything in the box if they needed something delivered.

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Cup of coffee, light and sweet in his right hand.  A buttered roll in his left hand.  Bagel shop around the corner usually has a combo during the week, Monday through Friday but not on the weekends.

“How come there’s no combo on the weekends?” he often wonders.

You can get two eggs with ham on a bagel and a cup of coffee for three dollars.

Jimmy’s focused in on the Knicks story written by Marc Berman from last night, they got their asses kicked in Chicago. Jimmy loves Berman. Guy knows his stuff. Reads him religiously.

The Bulls played without their star point guard Derrick Rose.

Jimmy loves to read. If he’s not reading the Post, Daily News or Newsday he’s got a paperback in his back pocket. The nuns up at Holy Name had him reading early. He’s been addicted to it since third grade.

God they looked awful last night,” Jimmy says to himself.

Billy crosses Windsor Place and comes walking towards him. Jimmy gives him a look. He’s pissed. The look is a dirty one. Billy knows the look.

“WHAT?” Billy asks.

Jimmy shakes his head.

“WHY YOU SHAKIN’ YOUR HEAD?” Billy wanted to know.

Jimmy is silent as he scans the boxscore from the game. He sees that Carmelo Anthony shot eight for eighteen from the field.

“Lemme guess, you bet the Knicks last night?” Billy mentioned.

Again, Jimmy is silent.

Billy shakes his head and walks into the Bagel shop.

A few minutes later Billy comes out but not before he holds the door for a young couple who look to be in the their late  twenties.  They hurry inside.

“YOU’RE WELCOME!” Billy shouts at them.

“I hate when people don’t say thank you after you hold the door for them,” Billy groaned to Jimmy as he walks over towards him. Jimmy’s still reading the paper.

“YOU GONNA TELL ME WHY YOU SO MAD?” Billy growled.

Jimmy turns the page and moves to the next story as Billy waits for a response. He flips the lid off the cup and chucks it in the garbage which is a few feet away.

“Think sanitation is gonna come by and empty this shit?” Billy mocked.

The garbage is overflowing. Papers and cups on the sidewalk.

“Maybe if people just throw their shit away the right way, push their trash down, press it down so that shit doesn’t fall out,” Jimmy answers in a rather sarcastic tone.

Billy sips his latte, it’s his favorite drink.

“You told me to bet Michigan State the other night,” Jimmy piped up.

No answer from Billy as he checks out a female jogger across the avenue, on her way to Prospect Park.

“Damn that babe is looking good,” Billy snickered.

Jimmy could care less.

“I must have been stupid to bet against Nick Saban,” Jimmy uttered.

Billy sips his latte again, keeping his eyes on the jogger as she gets down towards Farrell’s. Billy used to run the park three times a week. He hasn’t worked out in a long time. He used to be a member of the fifth avenue gym too.

“Yeah man, sorry about that one,” Billy apologizes as he takes another sip of his latte.

Making a ton of noise, a big, white garbage truck pulls up in front of them. Joey, a guy Billy and Jimmy grew up with jumps off the back and walks to the overflowing can. But before he does anything he snatches up the litter on the sidewalk.

“People forgot how to put their trash in the basket,” Joey proclaims. “The parents don’t teach them anything at home.”

Without looking up from his newspaper Jimmy adds, “If sanitation does their job, the streets would be clean.”

Joey glances over at Billy, lifts the garbage can and empties it in the back of the truck. Billy takes a peek at Joey. Jimmy still has his head buried in the paper. Joey keeps his mouth shut. He’s smarter than that. Or maybe it’s because a year ago Billy and Jimmy got into a fight at the Holy Name Neighborhood reunion. It got ugly. The police had to be called.

“Have a good day fellas,” Joey shouts as he jumps on the back of the truck and adds a parting shot.

“Jimmy, you should really give up gambling,” the sanitation worker shouts as the truck pulls away.

Billy tries not to smile, sipping his latte.

Jimmy, watching Joey and the truck pull away takes a bite out of his buttered roll.

“Yeah whatever fuck-head!” Jimmy adds.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

 

 

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