Marco tucked the .45 in at the small of his back and pulled his shirt down over it. He pulled up the collar of his windbreaker and stepping into the windy, trash strewn street he looked up and down. Sure that the coast was clear, he headed for the rendezvous.
Sam slouched against a graffitied wall and pulled a quarter out of his pocket. He flipped it over each knuckle and back again repeatedly until he noticed Ben crossing the street. Putting the quarter away he reached out to shake hands.
“Hey bro. Been waiting long?”
“Nah, just got here. What’s the haps?”
“Marco says we do the meet at Frankie’s Place, you know down there on 3rd.”
“Marco says, Marco says, when we gonna take some action, man?”
“Look, he’s been doin’ good by us, so just leave it out.” Ben gave Marco the look.
Sam considered his options, looked down and spat by way of an opinion.
“Look, the dosh is large and ready, ain’t it?” Ben turned his palms out and shrugged his shoulders.
“Yeah, whatever. Let’s roll.”
Arriving at Frankie’s bar they sat down and waited, ordering a couple of beers. Ben tried to chat up the waitress, but she wasn’t having any. She rolled her eyes at him and walked on. Sam tried to high five him, but Ben wasn’t amused.
“So, light fingers, you all limbered up for the game?” Ben asked.
Sam grinned. “Oh yeah, i’m on today. Hope we can attract some suits, it’s a bummer when the take ain’t good.”
The waitress was passing by again. “Hey sweet cheeks, how’s about you bring us a pepperoni over here, eh?” She nodded and headed for the kitchen.
“Man, some day…” Sam sighed.
“Yeah, dream on, bro.” Ben didn’t believe in sugar coating things.
Marco sauntered in and plopped himself down. “Greetings gents. We all set?”
Ben was glad to see him. “Sure thing Marco. Sam’s limbered up and we’re ready to do the deed. We got a pizza coming first.”
“Cool. We’ll chow down and hit that corner on 8th Avenue we did a month or so back, should be cool now. Where’s that sweet thing? I need a beer.”
They arrived at the corner and Marco set up the folding table and got out the cards. Ben moved off down the street and got ready to go into shill mode. Sam waited across the street for the game to begin and browsed some store windows. It didn’t take long for the marks to start gravitating to the game. Businessmen, unemployed slouches, working stiffs on their day off looking for something to alleviate their boredom, there were always plenty of victims around, lots of fish in the sea.
“Hey, hey, who wants to play? Find the queen, make the scene. One chance in three, come and see.” Marco slid into action like a well oiled machine. The game was simple, three cards, one of them a queen. Face down on the table, some quick moving about and all the player had to do was tap the queen. Fat chance. Unless he seemed to be a gambler. Then Marco would let him win one to suck him in.
One by one they put their money down and Marco lightened their load, keeping up his patter, hooking one with a couple of wins and then cleaning him out. Meanwhile Ben worked from the side egging them on, offering opinions on where the queen and was stoking them up when they looked like they about to walk. He was animated and upbeat, a regular cheerleader for the greedy mooks.
Sam kept an eye on things, and when the crowd was large enough and Ben had them distracted he slid in amongst them, targeting the expensive suits. A gentle bump here, a “sorry, man” there, and in no time he had five fat wallets. He cased the crowd a bit more, but it was looking too risky. He moved to the side of the crowd and waited for Marco to glance at him. When it finally came he rubbed his nose and Marco gave an impreceptable nod.
Marco waited until there were several bets on the table and signaled to Ben and Ben threw his hands up in the air. “Shit! Cops! I’m out of here!”
Marco looked startled and pulled the .45 from the back of his pants. “Where?!” The crowd scattered like cockroaches and the gang took off in different directions. Ten minutes later they were back at Frankie’s celebrating with a cold beer.
Marco was pleased. “Nice haul, gents. Well done all around.”
Ben took a pull on his beer. He scratched his chin and hunched forward. “Listen, I been thinkin’. We’ve been making the rounds a lot, maybe we need a new grift. Sam’s good with his hands and all, but there’s another con we can do. I got a guy uptown who can get us some loaded dice that pass for good. We could switch off for awhile, you know?”
Marco and Sam looked at each other and grinned. Life was sweet.