Friday, December 21, 2007

BIG MONEY, Chapter 22

Max squeezes into the shotgun seat of Jerry’s rumbling new silver Corvette. Max’s knees stretch the dashboard. His right shoulder bends the door glass. He feels like stick of gum in a shiny metal wrapper.

Max contorts his upper body to reach the window button, uses his hand to tug on his left leg, squashing his nuts to make room for Jerry to work the Corvette’s floor-mounted gear shift.

“Let’s steal a car quick,” Max says. “A big one.”

Jerry guns the loud V-8 engine, racing the car’s four-hundred horsepowers like a NASCAR driver. Or a kid with a new toy. Max knows Jerry four years now and each one is the same. Fast cars and faster women. Only thing new is fancier suits and big diamond earring Jerry wears since he started playing golf with those pro football players.

“You see something with New York plates, holler,” Jerry says. “Otherwise, I know a good spot on the other side of the tunnel.”

Max points with his left hand, his index finger touching the Corvette’s windshield. “Pull into bus lot one mile ahead, right by entrance to Parkway. Many New York cars park there, take bus to Atlantic City casinos.”

“Yeah? All right, let’s try it. Look for a Lincoln Town Car, or a Caddy, some snazzy wheels. I heard the chef at this place we’re going to cooks for gourmets at the James Beard House.”

Max grunts.

“What’s the matter?” Jerry says.

Jerry points the Corvette’s shiny silver nose toward the Garden State Parkway. Road rushes past like black river of individual rocks, the sports car so close to the ground. A cold wind stings Max’s face.

“Come on, Max. I know you. What’s the matter?”

“We should hide, wait for mark in his bedroom,” Max says.

“The boss’s way is better.”

“No mistakes when I catch mark by surprise,” Max says.

Jerry glances at him. “What the hell are you worried about? Not that bartender’s lucky kick?”

Max breathes deeply. “Bartender was quick like cat. Only a little lucky.”

“Nothing like that ever happened before. A freakin’ fluke’s what that was.”

Maybe Jerry is right. “Is true Max only get knocked down twice in whole life.”

Jerry brakes at a red light, hits the right turn signal. Click-click. Click-click. The bus parking lot is just across the street. Max will be much happier in bigger car. So will Max’s nuts.

“I bet the other time was an elephant,” Jerry says.

Max says nothing. Elephants are usually nice. It was a big cat that brought Max to his knees. A mean smelly lion named Victor.

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