“See? See, this right here, this is what I’m talkin’ about,” Frankie said, pointing at the television bolted to the ceiling. The fact that the boxing match was even airing was a surprise; it was an amateur event, making a local access station only in the absence of the usual high school basketball games that would be airing again in another month or so.
“If you watch,” Frankie continued, shaking his head and speaking to no one in particular, “If you watch, you can see this kid flinch every time the champ throws a punch, but not when he throws it, no… just a, just a milisecond
before the the guy draws back.”
He shook his head. “Goddamn fake bullshit,” he grumbled, and took another pull on his beer. It was bad enough that the match was clearly rigged, but Frankie had dropped a good chunk of change on the kid.
He was scrappy. Or rather, he should have been, if someone hadn’t so clearly paid him to take a dive. How’s a guy to make an honest buck if all of the games are rooked? Not that most people would see it that way; Frankie’s handler in the LVPD tended to get a little uppity when it was suspected that Frankie was engaged in a few less than legal endeavors on the side.
Well, Frankie figured, that wasn’t his
problem. In fact, his only current problem was the cash he’d dumped on the hopes the kid would pull off an upset. Disappointment was the risk of optimism, he supposed, and it certainly didn’t do well to go about thinking everyone was going to screw you over in the long run.
Frankie would rather lose a few bucks to a rigged boxing match than spend his life looking at the glass half full. After all, he was alive, he had a good beer and the pleasant company of the pretty young bartender mopping the bottle sweat off the bar, and it was a beautifully sweltering day in the most exciting city in the world. Yeah, that was worth all the cash he’d be losing and more.
The bartender smiled. “How much you lose this time, Frankie?” she asked, cocking her head to the side. She always treated him with a pleasant sort of affection, the type he thought she would have reserved for a vagabond uncle or a cousin who would show up every once in a while, looking for a handout. Affectionate, but exasperated. That was just fine with Frankie; he thought he would have made a damn good vagabond uncle, if he’d had any siblings to pop out a few kids, but there was no point in dwelling on that.
“Just a couple hundred, April,” Frankie told her with a shrug, taking another pull on his beer. April, that was right; her name was April. She had sisters, May and June, she had told him once. Frankie asked what had made their parents hate them so much, and she laughed. “Nothin’ that’s gonna break the bank. It’s just the point. Lousy cheat.”
April laughed and shook her head. “You’re gonna be pretty disappointed if you assume people are gonna be honest all the time,” she told him.
“Hey, gotta try and be optimistic, yeah?” Frankie replied and finished his beer. “I’ll take another bottle when you get a chance.”
“Sure thing,” April agreed, clearing away the empty bottle. Policy was to take away the empties as soon as possible after a few too many fights on the rowdy weekends, and at least one shattered bottle stem to the face. The guy had lost an eye; April much preferred working the quiet afternoons in this particular dive since then.
“Hey, I’m gonna order a sandwich in from the place on the corner, you want anything?” she asked, popping the cap on a fresh bottle of beer and placing it on the bar in front of him. Frankie was the only customer, after all, and she didn’t mind sharing a meal with the guy.
Frankie smiled and tipped the bottle towards her as a salute. “Yeah, sure. Order me a tuna melt.”