the big fight. between chicago jimmy kelly and the chihuahua kid.
the undercard fights at the vyacheslav molotov memorial auditorium were over and forgotten.
there was a fifteen minute break between the last preliminary bout and the big fight.
some of the locals and other ordinary folks in the back rows had left their seats and were buying drinks, popcorn and cigars.
the big shots in the front rows - surrounded by their followers and bodyguards - stayed put. it was too much trouble for a whole crew to get up and move around and they already had everything they wanted.
red fuller and his boys were in the fourth row on the right of the ring, sipping their beers or coffee and puffing on their cigars. they had a good view of the entrance the two fighters would come through from the dressing rooms.
“but nobody’s going to be looking at the fighters, red,” said charlie “the cowboy” callahan. he gave willie “the weeper” wattleback a nudge in the ribs.
“hey,” willie protested, “you almost made me spill my beer. and get ashes all over my nice new coat.”
charlie and red both ignored him. “and why is that?” red asked charlie. red seemed lost in thought, slumped down in his chair.
“because everybody’s looking at your nice new hat.”
“yeah, right.” red didn’t rise to the bait. nobody else laughed either.
“here they come now,” said “doc” polanski, pointing with his paper cup of coffee to the entrance.
flash bulbs started going off. the chihuahua kid, wearing a red white and green robe - the colors of the mexican flag - was coming up the aisle with his trademark expressionless face, to thunderous applause. he seemed to be the favorite of the crowd in the house.
“jeez, what an ugly bastard,” squawked a female voice behind red and his crew.
then came chicago jimmy kelly, in a royal blue and red robe - the colors of the chicago cubs - punching the air and waving at the crowd. he got some applause too, but not as much as the kid. it was pretty clear where the crowd’s money was.
several female voices could be heard - ooh, he’s so cute - oh my god he’s gorgeous…
everybody sank back in their seats.
up in the ring the announcer was standing under the microphone checking a little notebook.
the chihuahua kid was sitting in his corner surrounded by his handlers, and chicago jimmy kelly was standing up and leaning on the ropes in his corner, waving at somebody on the left side of the arena.
“who’s he waving at?” red fuller asked. “some dame? he should keep his mind on the matter at hand.”
charlie shrugged. “he’s young, red. what can i say?”
red stood up to try to see who chicago jimmy was waving at.
suddenly a shot rang out.
a single bullet hit red right in his hat, sending the hat flying.
the bullet then ricocheted into the ring, hitting chicago jimmy kelly in the heart and killing him instantly.
“well, how do you like them apples?” asked chuck borgia, staring up at the big television screen in his fine food and drink emporium. “you could bake them apples in a pie and serve it to the pope on the fourth of july.”
the television screen was filled with the frowning face of a news announcer, who was talking about what a promising career chicago jimmy kelly had had. behind him could be seen a crowd of people in the ring surrounding chicago jimmy’s body and getting ready to take it away.
“i wonder if red is okay,” mused maury the lawyer.
“i thought i saw him in the crowd walking around,” said terry, who was watching the screen more intently than anybody else in the bar. “but i couldn’t be sure.”
“what i want to know,” said the bartender, “is what happens to the bets. does the chihuahua kid win?”
“all bets are off,” maury told him. “absolutely. i guarantee it. by international law.”
“is that right, judge?” the bartender persisted.
“maury’s right,” the judge told him. “according to international law. of course - i don’t know - you might have put your bet down with somebody other than international law.”
the bartender nodded.
chuck got up from the bar. “well, looks like the party’s over. sorry there wasn’t a little more excitement.”
“oh, i thought it was kind of exciting,” laughed lily, the blonde at the table.
“i meant in the ring,” said chuck. he started to walk away.
“how about one last round, chuck?” asked the judge.
“sure, why not?” chuck nodded at the bartender, and walked away, alone.
jerry had remained silent. he did not know what to think. he looked over at lily, who was placidly lighting a cigarette.
lily felt jerry’s eyes on her. “oh yeah. you want to talk about - what we were talking about before?”
“yes, i would,” jerry answered. “i most certainly would.”
“sure. we’ll go somewhere where we can talk.” when jerry glanced over at terry. lily added, “and then i will drive you back wherever you want to go.”
“great. that sounds great.”
terry was staring at lily. “then i guess you don’t need me any more,” she told jerry.
“no, but thanks for everything. how much do i owe you?”
“a double sawbuck will do nicely.”
“here you go.” jerry took out his wallet and gave her a twenty dollar bill. “say, we should keep in touch.”
“sure, why not?” terry got up from her stool.
“you got a number?”
“just call the cab company - blue light cab - and ask for terry.”
“i’ll do that,” jerry smiled.
terry nodded, gave a glance at the television screen, and left.
“we might as well get going too,” lily told jerry.
“might as well,” jerry answered as evenly as he could. after all this, he wondered, could this dame really help him?
“just let me finish this nightcap, that our host has so kindly provided.”
“sure.” jerry looked around. he wondered where chuck had been in such a hurry to get to.
terry got behind the wheel of the cab. she lit a cigarette.
she started the cab up, and drove around the block until she came to an alley.