The sleepy officer opened one eye and disregarded his dispatcher's call because it was for another unit. He yawned and stretched before turning down the volume and checking the time. Then he set aside his last doughnut and brushed the crumbs and powdered sugar off his bulbous belly from the half dozen he "muscled" from the bagel store owner. Money took the last swig of his now cold coffee and tossed the Styrofoam cup out the window. After a deep sigh, the malingerer decided to stay put in his oasis for another few minutes, as if to start the new day (Thursday), right.
The policeman lit his last Camel and flicked the spent match and empty pack onto the already littered pavement. He took a long drag and stared off into space as his mind wandered from one grim topic to another. He agonized the longest, on losing his part-time job earlier that day, (as a security guard at the bank on Texas Avenue). Money was fired without warning when his boss caught-on to his extended, unsanctioned breaks, at Off Track Betting (OTB).
While Money continued to milk every gold-bricking moment, he removed several losing, OTB tickets from his wallet, tore them in half and tossed them into the gutter. All that was left of tangible value in his bill-fold was his decrepit, "lucky" two-dollar bill...and three ones. Then he spotted the edge of his son Kevin's photo, under a divorce lawyer's business card. A lump formed in Money's throat when he remembered that his estranged wife (Karla) had filed for a restraining order which would prevent him from coming into his Kindergartner's class, to attend his boy's Cinco De Mayo-themed, birthday party.
To fight the regret, Money perked-up for a second when he recalled his greatest victory at the track. He once won twelve-thousand on a trifecta at Aqueduct and that nest-egg, gave him the confidence to propose. His bubble of happiness burst seconds later, when he realized that he only won because his friend who placed the bet, screwed up the numbers and accidentally bet, 8-7-6 instead of 7-6-5.
Louis C. Money's expression soured when he thought of his two nicknames. Around the precinct, his brethren sarcastically called him "No-Money" because he was always broke and trying to borrow. And his in-laws began calling him "Lou-Zerr" shortly after his expensive honeymoon. That's when he squandered the little he had left on the ponies and started his downward spiral, into heavy-duty debt.
Before getting back on the job, to ease his boredom, Money wished he had the next issue of, "THE DAILY RACING FORM." He wanted it so bad that he closed his eyes and his body trembled. It would have looked like he was meditating or having a seizure as he summoned all his powers of positive thinking to produce it. Then he looked out from his squad car and was actually disappointed that his faith didn't magically have one appear in the street.
|ESTABLISHED IN CHICAGO ILLINOIS, (1894), "THE DAILY RACING FORM," IS STILL ACTIVE AS A TABLOID NEWSPAPER PROVIDING STATISTICAL INFORMATION ON HORSE RACING.|
Money was not a religious man but during financial swoons, he prayed long and hard...just in case. He was not smart either and was famous for poor decisions that weren't well-thought through. So it was common for him to take a careless plunge after convincing himself that the law of averages was on his side and that he could not POSSIBLY fail again.
Of his many get-rich-quick schemes, the worst was a multi-level marketing (pyramid), fiasco. It required him to buy thousands of dollars of an off-brand, car engine fuel additive and encouraging friends (soon to be ex-friends) to do the same. That stupidity was the final straw that caused Karla to leave him after he lost their down-payment on her dream house.
Money didn't believe in the para-normal either but in his most desperate moments, he wasted salary, time and energy, in palm readings, the occult, horoscopes and numerology.
|A PYRAMID SCHEME, IS A NON-SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL THAT INVOLVES PARTICIPANTS PAYMENT OR SERVICES, PRIMARILY FOR ENROLLING OTHER PEOPLE INTO THE SCHEME, RATHER THAN SUPPLYING ANY REAL INVESTMENT OR SALE OF PRODUCTS TO THE PUBLIC.|
A few minutes after twelve, Officer Louis C. Money resumed work. He put his cruiser in drive, turned on his searchlight and slowly examined every crevice in the blackened alley. Suddenly, the dispatcher's voice crackled, "Car fourteen, respond to a possible 505 in progress, at the Pentagon Stock Tower."
Money grabbed his radio's microphone and said, "One-four, on the way. What's up Paddy?"
"Night watchman didn't report in at midnight and isn't pick up the phone."
In a short time, Money arrived at the scene. He shined his spotlight at the front door and reported back to headquarters, "Nothing out of the ordinary at the main entrance. I'll circle around back and investigate the rear." At the back, he saw a glint of light between the door jamb and the door. He reported his findings, asked for backup and kissed the two-dollar bill in his wallet for luck. Money got out of the police car. He drew his service revolver and readied his flashlight before reluctantly advancing to the five-storied warehouse.
He pushed through the ajar door. Inside, the only thing that broke the silence was his soft foot steps. The ground-floor was dominated by an empty garage, a loading dock and a set of huge elevators that could transport trucks upstairs. Money tip-toed to the lit reception area up front and its adjacent business offices. He heard dim country-western music and inched towards the louder sound of Johnny Cash.
Money was at a bad angle to see inside the outer office. The coward chose to linger there in the hope that his back-up would arrive. When they didn't, the image of his son's party later that day flashed through his mind as he pounced across the threshold with his weapon ready to fire. At the secretary's desk, he discovered the night watchman slumped over, his throat slashed.
A quick scan of the bloody crime scene revealed that there was something wrong with the victim's right hand...all his fingers were mangled. In his left hand, there was a white, #2 pencil with its point snapped off. Under his left forearm was that day's, "DAILY RACING FORM."
Money was not a good policeman but he was savvy enough to avoid tampering with evidence. But, he was swayed by the mystic arrival of the paper and rationalized that fate was on his side. Plus, his curiosity to get a scoop from the corpse's racing notations, got the better of him.
Money kept a diligent ear open for his back-up as he gently slid the newspaper out from under the weight of the dead man's arm. On that page, he found a single semi-circle was drawn around one item. Money guessed that the guard was murdered while completing the circle.
He flipped through all the pages and returned to that semi-circle before realizing that it was on the fifth page, around the fifth horse, in the fifth race...and was the only mark, in the entire booklet. The mounting coincidences involving the number five didn't strike him until he saw that the horse, Fortunate Finn was going off at five-to-one...even the unknown jockey's names, Edgar and Mills, both had five letters.
Louis C. Money took these developments as a sign of Divine Intervention. It never crossed his mind to hunt-down the perpetrator(s). He didn't even call the station house. Instead, his mind raced, to find a way to bet this, "lead pipe cinch, lock of a lifetime."
The phone system at Pentagon Freight Forwarding had five out-going lines. Money decided to call Lefty, his bookie, from the last one. His bookie would know he didn't have two nickels to rub together, so he had to come up with a plausible way, to make the bet on credit.
Before dialing the telephone, Money shut off the watchman's transistor radio as the headline news story featured President Nixon. While the phone rang, he looked down at the decedent's deformed right hand and wondered, if they called him Lefty too.
The bookie picked up and Money said, "I want a thousand on the nose. On the number five horse, Fortunate Finn in the fifth, at Santa Anita."
The bookie said, "Okay Lou, but you gotta pay up front."
"Lefty, you know I'm good for it..."
"No you ain't...you gotta bad history and there's no percentage in me chasing down, dead beat cops."
"How's about I drop off my Caddy, the registration and title...the whole shebang...as collateral, at noon."
"I don't want that puke-colored heap for grand."
"Lefty, it's worth over two...and it's kelly green."
"Kiddo, right now you got no action, capisce? I hear it in your voice that you're all hyped-up. I say, cool off...and if you don't come to your senses, see me tomorrow. And to prove I have a heart, maybe, I'll let you have five Benjis for the car."
Money said, "C'mon, make it five hundred and fifty-five and you got a deal!"
Lefty said, "Whatever?"
Money heard screeching brakes outside and said, "See ya."
Money hustled to the rear entrance and ushered in a sergeant, three other cops and the warehouse owner. Money reported, "I secured the building. I took the elevator to the top floor and worked my way down."
The owner whispered to the sergeant, "The elevators are shut off at night."
The sergeant's right eyebrow arched as he ordered two officers upstairs and the third to the office. Then the owner said, "Where's the night watchman and the custodian?"
Money stammered, "Custodian? I-I-I was upstairs and didn't see him."
The cop in the office called for them. The sergeant told the owner wait right there but he followed them anyway. Money tried acting surprised when he saw the body. The owner turned, winced and went into his private office.
The sergeant said, "We tried calling you on the phone."
Money shrugged, "I was upstairs...I probably couldn't hear it."
"But the dispatcher said the line was busy..."
Before Money could conger-up an excuse, one of the policemen from upstairs came running in and said, "The janitor is in the locker room, his throat's been..." He saw the dead security guard and gulped, "slashed."
Seconds later the owner came out and said, "I've been robbed and Friday's payroll is gone too!"
At the precinct, Money spent five hours that morning being interrogated by his lieutenant. The proceedings were finally over at 10:00AM. At that point, he was informed that he was suspended pending further investigation and was asked to forfeit his gun and shield.
Two hours later, in civilian garb, Money was all smiles as he entered Quint Coyle's Tavern and said to the bartender, "Lefty's expecting me." The barman pressed a button and Money pushed through a door to the back room. Lefty was there with a brutal-looking collector named James.
Lefty didn't look up and said, "Louie, you still wanna go through with it?"
Money jiggled his car keys, extended the title and registration and crowed, "I'm parked by the fruit stand, I'll be back for it and my $27,750.00, tomorrow."
The goonish henchman smirked when Lefty said, "Einstein, check your math, you only stand to win twenty-seven hundred and fifty bucks..."
Money blushed as he gave up his car and said, "Umm, uhh. I knew that. I was jus' kiddin'."
On the way out Money wanted to shake hands but Lefty refused, "I ain't no gentlemen and we ain't friends. If you lose, I don't want the whole fuzz department up my ass. So don't even think about charity or begging for special favors."
James smashed his fist into his palm and said with a sickening grin, "Ya know, the hand represents all the elements on earth."
Money said, "Heh?"
James admired his freshly buffed fingernails and said, "Yeah, the four fingers are for fire, water, air and the land...and the thumb, is the spirit." Money quivered as he thought of the night watchman's hand.
|MONEY PICTURED HIS OWN HAND MUTILATED AND SAID, "IF I LOSE, I WON'T CAUSE YOU ANY TROUBLE."|
James opened the door as a cue for Money to leave. The disgraced policeman was passing him as James said, "Five is the symbol of the Man-God. Jesus had five wounds on the cross...five is the number of grace...don't risk your fingers."
At 2:00PM, all that was left in Money's wallet was his two-dollar bill when he showed up at his son's school. Karla controlled her rage as the dutiful father slapped palms with his son before handing the delighted birthday boy, a chintzy pinwheel with a five-pointed star.
In private, Money tried to tell his wife how everything is going to be all right. He apologized for the time he pushed her down and for his "meaningless," violent threats. She had heard so many variations of the same nonsense and tuned him out.
Karla ducked out for a minute as Money resigned himself to eating tacos and happily looking on at the festivities. A little later, Karla and the teacher were organizing the Pinata game when two uniformed men in blue, appeared at the door. They caught Money's attention and signaled him into the hall.
Money ranted at the police and struggled with them while getting handcuffed. He was locked-up over night. Late the next morning, Money walked back to his efficiency apartment and drank his last beer for breakfast. He was so excited that he couldn't wait to call Lefty, collect his winnings and get his life back in order.
When noon finally rolled around he called Lefty and confidently said, "So how did my five-to-one shot Fortunate Finn, the number five horse, do in the fifth race?"
Lefty said, "He came in fifth."