Jimmy “One-Thumb” Valenti didn’t know where the hell his cousin Nicky was, but he knew where he wasn’t. He wasn’t at the freaking club dumping chlorine in the baby pool or putting more toilet paper in the womens’ bathroom. The kid was usually there and busy long before One-Thumb rolled in. Jimmy had no intention of getting out of his office chair and doing any of those jobs; Nicky could just work that much harder when he got there.
He rocked back in the squeaky chair and looked at the paper. He found no joy in the sports section, only betrayal and disappointment. It would take more than ten fingers to get One-Thumb out of the mess he was in. He got carried away after winning a couple of bets early in the basketball playoffs. Now he owed the fat guy $1800 plus the vig. Mr. Light had been more patient than most bookies. Once the Celtics got eliminated, the round man had had enough. Light cornered Jimmy in the snack bar and told him that he better come up with the cash or maybe he’d be kissing his remaining thumb goodbye. Jimmy glanced at the sweating hot dogs as they rolled on the grill. He promised Light the cash.
Jimmy spun slowly in the chair and opened the bottom desk drawer where he kept the .45, but reached for the pint of Old Grandad instead. He twisted the cap off with the flat of his palm, and poured a snort into his coffee. It seemed lately coffee didn’t taste right without some Kentucky in it. He put his feet back on the desk and looked out across the swim club, absently hoping to spot a money-tree back by the fence.
He was just 12 when he reached his hand under a lawn mower and got his nickname. They told him how important the thumb was, but Jimmy knew that he still had a thumb on his other hand, plus a brain. Push the right buttons and people will do the work for you – thumbs are over-rated. He wasn’t much for cutting lawns anyway.
The snack bar register couldn’t have more than five or six hundred in it, even on a good day. He’d already emptied the petty cash box back when the Celtics were still alive.
He couldn’t hit Mom up for another loan, she knew him too well to fall for that. Her house probably had a couple thousand worth of Disney knick-knacks and jewelry. He’d have to take the stuff to Philly to pawn it. Pennies on the freaking dollar. These days even the dumpiest pawn shop had some kind of camera recording every transaction anyway.
Jimmy thought about the gun. Nicky’d said that the bowling alley had big money in the bar register. He could wear a mask and a hoodie from the Lost-N-Found. He’d wear winter gloves so it’d look like he a had two thumbs, then toss the hoodie and gloves down by the railroad tracks afterwards. Maybe he’d just put a couple of bullets in Light’s fat head.
He reached into the back of the drawer for the gun, but found nothing. He rocked forward in his chair and pulled the drawer all the way out, but all he found was a couple of Playboys and a useless box of bullets.
There was no going to the police about a gun that was hot to begin with. He glanced down at his remaining thumb and wondered how much it mattered to him anyway. He rocked back, sipped his coffee and looked back out across the pools.