The 7 Deadly Sins Series: Nick Valenti – Swim Club Gigolo

Nicky V. hustled.  He went to community college and worked at the bowling alley.  He’d been there long enough to be able to run the whole show.  He sprayed disinfectant in the rental shoes when he had to, but where he really shined was shmoozing the moms who came in to have birthday parties for their little brats.  He’d make sure the bumpers were up and that they kept off the hardwood with the pizza and soda.  Nick couldn’t help but look at those moms with their shiny SUV’s and wish he had some better wheels.

In the summer months, business fell off at the alley and Nicky worked over at the Delcrest Swim Club.  His cousin Jimmy “One Thumb” Valenti was officially the manager, but Nicky did the work.  Jimmy just picked up a check – nine fingers or not, he had no problem with that skill.  Nicky should be so lucky.

Nick was a bit of a player with the lovely young ladies at the pool.  This summer was different.  Nicky was tired of the teenagers, he had his eye on bigger game.

Nicky figured the woman was in her 30’s, and she had him in some kind of trance.  She was built like a centerfold.  Strippers should have studied the way she moved.  Her name was Crystal Light, just like the diet drink mix.  Funny, because her old man looked like he’d never been within a mile of lo-cal anything.  Nicky looked at that fat slob and dreamed of having his life.  As if having a knockout like Crystal wasn’t enough, the round man owned a classic Caddy.  It drove Nicky crazy that this guy had it all, and more chins than a Chinese phonebook.

When Crystal started chatting with Nicky down by the diving well, he thought maybe she was going to hit him up to work on the Caddy.  The trunk lock had been popped and it was held closed with clothesline.  He couldn’t believe that tub of Beefaroni would drive a number like Crystal around a classic car rigged like that.  Where was the justice?

He was trying so hard to look cool that he wasn’t sure he heard her right.  She smiled, then turned and walked away to find her husband at the snack bar.  Nicky tried to recall her exact words, but the sight of her walking away wasn’t helping his thought process.  He was convinced that she wanted Mr. Light turned off for good.

Nick was no murderer, but he kept imagining driving the Caddy with Crystal snuggled up against him.  He pictured himself pulling into the driveway of the Light’s split level over on Belmont Terrace.  He deserved that life.  He’d do it.

That’s how he found himself crouching in a cluster of  rhododendrons at the edge of Light’s property, his fingers sweating as his grip tightened on the handle of the gun he’d lifted from One Thumb’s desk at the swim club.  That 500-pounder-with-cheese was bound to come out of his house eventually, and Nicky would be waiting, swatting mosquitoes.

Nick felt the presence but didn’t even have a chance to turn around before the bowling pin cracked across the back of his skull and knocked him into dreamland.

The man stood over Nick, wearing torn jeans and a badly scuffed leather jacket, scrapes on his hands and face.

He said, “Sorry kid, but there’s already a line formed for guys who want to kill that fat bastard.”

Willie Prader pulled out a Lucky and leaned back down into the shadows of the bushes to light it without being seen.

Willie Prader, Private Eye – Deadly Sin Series – A Glutton For Punishment

Willie Prader had a bad feeling about this one.  Like maybe he’d bit off more than he could chew.

The leggy blonde named Crystal had sauntered through the door and into his life just a week before.  For someone who made his living being observant, he should have learned by now – trouble was always blonde, and it always sauntered.

The job was simple.  She was convinced that her husband was cheating.  Willie’d been a private dick since Moses was a pup, but still had to wonder what kind of guy cheats on a bombshell like this dame.  She had the face of a starlet, and he couldn’t help but notice how her legs got together and made an ass of themselves.

Prader parked his battered Lincoln at the White Castle across the highway from the Palace Diner and waited.  The guy drove a ’68 Fleetwood, so he’d be hard to miss.  When Mr. Light finally pulled up at the Palace, Prader was amazed to find out just how hard to miss he actually was.  The guy got out of the Caddy and the chassis elevated like one the Impalas the kids drive out in L.A.  Only this car didn’t have complicated hydraulics, it heaved up because the guy who got out of it had to tip the scales at five bills or more.  He leaned down and checked his massive face in the little mirror on the door, then shifted his bulk toward the diner entrance.

Prader chuckled to himself.  He never would’ve guessed that a doll like Crystal would be married to a guy who looked like he was built when meat was cheap.  He leaned back on the Lincoln, lit a Lucky and watched across the lanes of blacktop as the round man somehow crammed himself into a booth.  The waitress was hovering at his table, spending too much time for someone who should be hustling up and down the aisle slinging hash for tips.   She laughed and smiled at him,  touching his arm as he shifted his attention between her and the glossy menu.

Willie decided to get a closer look at this little romance.  He jogged across the highway and stood in the shadows just outside the neon glow of the flickering sign.  He considered his surroundings, making sure he wouldn’t be too conspicuous.  He looked back up to the window and saw the booth was empty.  For a minute, he thought maybe he was looking at the wrong booth.  Just then, he felt the massive ham-hand grip his arm like a vise.  He was pretty sure the pain in his ribs was the business end of a Colt, maybe a Baretta.  The man-mountain pushed him toward the diner door and the barrel of the handgun kept him moving.

Light stared at him across the booth with tired eyes.  The waitress looked at Prader with just a hint of dull surprise after putting three platters down in front of the big man.  She smiled briefly at Light as she left.

“My wife sent you snooping” Light declared.  “She knows I’m cheating,” he continued, “but look at this plate of sausage and eggs with hash browns.  Do you have any idea how many points that meal is?  Sorry pal, but I can’t lose Crystal because of what you or some team of cardiologists tell her.”

Prader swore at himself as he lay bound and gagged in the trunk of the Caddy, probably on his way to a landfill.  If he got out of this alive, he’d need to listen closer to clients, especially the blonde ones.