Good Narrative Principles

Amy Winehouse


I open up the paper and bam first thing I see is Amy Winehouse. Check. At the corner, the light is turning yellow and the Ben & Jerry’s truck is driving away. Check. Check. My spot at the counter — third stool from the left, with the ripped naugahyde is open and there are, not one, but two corn muffins under the yellowing display case thing with the plastic crown. I know it has a name. Just can’t put my finger on it.

And the clincher is, Bobby Jr. hasn’t rolled his sorry ass out of bed, so I can eat my breakfast in peace and concentrate on today’s line up.

I got a good feeling about today. And if my luck holds I’ll be able to slip up to the window, place my bets and be out there before all the local moochers deflate my odds by copying my bets and spreading the good word to every postman who wanders in loaded down with Christmas catalogs.

OTB doesn’t open until ten, so that gives me forty minutes or so to hang low, study the sheets and figure out today’s strategy. On days like today my toes are almost itchy with a feeling of good luck. Used to be that I refused to even name that winning feeling to myself. But, there’s no percentage in holding yourself back. Today I’m a powerhouse of luck with the Midas Touch.

The light always hits the apples at the stand just right on days like today. They look so, what’s the word? Good luckish. I slide into OTB seconds before the mud boys. I’m wearing my old groddy hat, doesn’t look like a good luck but it is. I was wearing it in high school, when the Boss waved me over.  I was wearing it when I nailed the Superfecta and walked away with a cool…never mind. Let’s just say a lot of money and I became the neighborhood legend.

I tug the hat down low so no one spots me. I slide in double my usual bet and I’m out of there before Bobbie Jr or any of the other malooks nab me. Then I’m off to check in with the Boss before I start “my rounds”.

“Rounds”…Which makes me sound like a doctor. I could get used to that. I look over the problem, make my diagnoses and then start them on their therapy which if they’re lucky lands them at the doctors. If not, well…everyone’s luck runs out eventually. You just don’t know when or how.

Signs help. Reading the signs is how I got here. I got a nice car. Nice TV. When I want to step out I got the cash to do it.

So I’m riding to the Boss’ place. And woah! No. Parking. Space. Not good. Not good at all.

Fuck. Shit. But I hang tight. Reflect back to seeing Amy Winehouse in the paper first thing and the two corn muffins. And the Ben & Jerry’s truck. But now I’m on my guard.  Can’t help it. I play it easy. I don’t wanna even know if the angel in john is facing forwards or back. I don’t even look. I do my business and I pick up the punch list for today. But I’m jittery

Sure enough, come lunch time they’ve run out of the rolls I like. Idiot behind the counter laughs and tells me I should have been here ten minutes ago. I almost nail him, but I like they’re turkey provolone. Something about it.

Fist clenched, I walk to see the mother of all bad luck signs. The fuckin’ Meter Maid — ‘cept he was a guy — so what does that make him Meter Bachelor? — is writing me a fuckin’ ticket. I’m busted by five minutes. Five minutes. I knew better than to argue. I man up. Slide my fat ass into the car and head home to tally my losses in solitude.

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