Baseball (From To Fetch A Thief)
We left the big top, went past the ticket booth and took a little walk around the fairgrounds, me and Bernie. Were we going anyplace special? I didn’t know, but I never turned down the chance for a walk. Soon we came to one of those places for throwing baseballs at milk bottles. We’d been to one before, me, Bernie, Suzie. The guy running it – tattoos all over his face, I never like that in a human – told us to get the hell out of there and never come back. By that time Bernie had won too many stuffed animals to carry, but why anyone would want even one was beyond me. Bernie showed no interest in this particular booth even though the woman at the counter with the baseballs in her hand said, “Try your luck, big guy?” Instead we kept going, stopped at a little outdoor bar at the end of the row of booths. The only customer was one of those little Filipoff dudes, sitting at a corner table with a mug of beer.
“Once in a while,” Bernie said, “you’ve just got to roll the dice.”
Oh, no, not the dice. The last time – in some late-night dive after the Police Athletic League fundraiser – we’d had to pawn Bernie’s grandfather’s watch, our most valuable possession, with Mr. Singh, our go-to move in financial emergencies.
No dice appeared. We walked around the railing, entered the bar and stopped in front of the little dude. Bernie looked down at him and smiled, a nice big friendly smile, and Bernie has the best smile going. “Ollie Filipoff?” he said.
The little dude glanced up. “Sorry, bud,” he said. “Off duty.”
“Off duty?” Bernie said.
Bernie pulled up a chair and sat down. “Wouldn’t dream of it,” he said. I sat beside him. Under the table I saw that Ollie Filipoff was wearing flip-flops. His feet had an interesting smell – leather, sweat, toe-jam. I was all set to like him.
Tags: To Fetch A Thief
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