2017! When I think back I still remember the New Year’s Eve when the calendar flipped and we were in a new century. Here we are seventeen years into that century. It makes me wonder about history. What were people thinking and doing in 1917? World War I was on the forefront of society. Woodrow Wilson was the president. Woman still could not vote in a presidential election.
Are we making history? Yes. All of the time. Each time a new invention is created or another book is written. Television shows that capture the spirit of the time period only to become dated within a decade. Music, art, and sports twisting, molding, and changing with the times.
Even with all that life throws at us, it is still important to take a step back, reflect, and examine how we spend our time, who we spend it with, and how we contribute to our families and communities. I invested in a Passion Planner for 2017. My friend, Dede, who is also a writer introduced it to me. It is an amazing book that approaches the next twelve months differently than a typical calendar or planner. It forces you to examine your goals, achievements, desires, and catalogs how you use your hours in a day. I love it because as a writer I definitely find myself off track, distracted, caught in the everyday chores, or dropping down the rabbit hole of the internet. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
I love this planner and I wanted to share it with my readers. There may be a few of you out there that would find it useful. Here is to a great 2017!
Happy reading, happy life, happy you!
P.S. If anyone orders a Passion Planner of their very own, please mention Amy Rachiele in the referral section. Thank you!
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The door to the pool room swings open harder than I intended, letting cigarette smoke hit me in the face. It bangs against the wall. All eyes swipe my way. I stroll in and head straight for the bar, which is open in the middle of the day. Only a few of the cracked leather stools are occupied, stragglers, third shift workers, or others who never made it home last night.
The hardcore players are here too, gathered around the rectangular green felt tables. Smoke wafts my way again, annoying me. I never could understand how anybody smoked anything. Even Antonio smokes and I’ve always hated it. I turn my head away and motion to the bartender for a beer. The bleached blond slides a Blue Moon over to me. I don’t give a shit about what kind of beer because it all tastes the same to me.
I scan the room. He is here. I knew he would be. I figured him for a pool hustler. He is wearing a baseball cap low on his brow, hoping the shadow of the brim will cover some of the markings on his face. He is in serious mode. This is how this kid makes a living.
The pool balls rattle when the kid shoots hunched over, aiming. The balls split, rolling in all directions. More than one slips into the pockets.
“Stripes,” the kid calls out.
His opponent stands watching, leaning on his pool stick, sizing up the kid. Two lanky guys in the corner flatten out hundreds in front of them. Gambling. I’m sure they are putting their money on this kid. I know that I would.
“Justin!” the bleached blond calls out. The kid raises his head. “Another?”
He shakes his head no. He wants to keep his head in the game. Alcohol will fuck with his aim. Another smart move.
A pool stick is lifted and balanced on the other guy’s thumb as he calls out his shot.
“Six corner pocket.” Dark hair flops into his eyes; he shakes his head to clear the strands away before he shoots. The felt tip connects with the white ball, and it travels to collide with the one marked six, which drops gracefully into the corner pocket.
The game is quick, just like how I take an opponent down in the underground ring. Justin’s movements are smooth, slick, and efficient.
“You cheated, you little bastard!” Justin’s challenger has rage in his eyes.
The marred face of Justin looks up from being hidden beneath his cap as he addresses his adversary. “I. Did. Not.”
This kid didn’t cheat. Justin was totally brilliant with his game. That surprised me because part of hustling may involve some deceitful play. He did not need to. He is that good.
My anger starts in my stomach and rises to manifest itself in my throat. I want to say something. I want to punch this guy square in the face. Asshole! Does he think because he is playing a kid that he swindled him or that the distance in age was going to change anything? The guy fucking lost. Plain and simple.
The man hovers over Justin and points his finger in his face, making sure to reach below the cap brim on his head. If there is one fucking thing that I cannot fucking tolerate it’s when people point a finger in your face. Do they think that makes them look more intimidating or forces their argument? No, it only makes you look like a bitchy sore loser.
For some reason, I feel I need to back this kid up. I take my empty beer bottle by the neck and slam it on the bar. I slip off my stool and stand tall, my stance stiffening. Some people jolt from the intensity of the crack. The bottle didn’t break but served its purpose.
The guy Justin is squaring off with narrows his eyes at me, trying to read me.
“The kid didn’t cheat,” rolls smoothly off my tongue. I glare right back at the guy.
“I don’t want any trouble in here!” the female bartender calls out. I ignore her.
“Who the fuck are you?” the guy spits.
“Someone who is gonna fuck you up if you don’t pay him. I watched the whole thing, asshole.”
The other player rethinks his strategy of strong-arming Justin. He takes a few hundreds off the side table, crumples them in his fist, and shoves them hard into Justin’s stomach, pushing out his breath. Justin grabs the money.
“Next time, Justin.” The guy saunters to the door. Others in the bar who were watching swig down their last bit of alcohol and meander out with him.
Justin has his back to me. He is smoothing out his money and begins tucking it into his pocket. I walk over.
“Hey,” I utter. Justin doesn’t turn around. “Kid, I want to talk to you.”
“What do you want?” he says sarcastically. He keeps his back to me. “Why do you keep bothering me?”
I think for a second and before I can formulate any sort of answer Justin starts for the door. “Wait a minute,” I get out.
Justin spins on me and locks eyes with me. “This is my life. Dude, leave me alone.” There is no fear in his voice, no wavering. That surprises me. This kid, Justin, fucking surprises me at every turn. Really, he even looks me straight in the eye. Fuck! No one does that. This punk ass kid looked me in the eye!
I reach my arm out. “Wait!” I take hold of his sleeve and he yanks his arm away. I stand stone-still.
People don’t do this shit. Not listening to me. No one ever walks away from me like this kid is doing. My nose snarls in agitation, and I let him. I take it. I let him walk away. I was there once—tough, fending for myself and alone. Doesn’t matter how many people you have around you or how great your best friend is. Sometimes we just have to rely on ourselves.
Justin pushes the horizontal handle on the door, flinging it open, and then sprints away.
I chase him, my feet slapping against the pavement. This kid is fast. He ducks down an alleyway and I notice a familiar part and I reach it, taking a turn myself and cutting him off. He comes to a dead stop.
“Hey, kid, why you running?” I ask.
“Why do you care? I don’t need your bullshit.”
“What kind of bullshit do you think I have brought with me?”
“I don’t know. But I can tell you want something from me.”
I look at him quizzically. This kid is very intuitive…very.
“I don’t want anything. I just want to talk,” I rebut.
He grunts out a half laugh. “Yeah, you just want to talk.” He assesses me, looking from my head to my feet and back up straight into my eyes.
“You don’t swing that way, do you?” he sneers, disgusted.
“Holy shit, kid! What the fuck?”
“Believe me, I’ve had offers,” he tosses out.
Hearing those words from him makes me want to spit on the sidewalk to get out the “dirty.”
“Then what do you want?” he asks again.
“I don’t…” I watch him take a step back. I can take a lot of shit, bloody, gory shit that makes me a killer, but that kind of sexual crap coming out of the teenager makes me fucking ill.
“Look, I told you it’s not that way. You living on the streets?”
“No, I live in a mansion with a mother and a father and a sweet sister. Oh yeah, my mom’s in the PTA and my dad is a stockbroker.”
“Don’t get cocky with me. I’ve been where you are. Maybe not in the same destitute way but I know people like you. You’re a fighter.”
“How the hell do you know what I am? And again I ask, why do you care?” The snarky smirk he is wearing as he talks is fucking irritating.
“You know, kid, I have been asking myself the same question. Why do I give a fuck about anything that happens to street brats hustling for money in a pool hall and beating kids up with lead pipes? You’re right, I don’t know why I give a fuck.” I turn on my heel, shove my hands in my front pockets, and walk down the sidewalk in the opposite direction.
He yells from behind me. “What is your name, dude? You took all this trouble to track me down so what’s your name?”
I swivel my head a few inches, just enough so he can see my profile.
“My name is Vito and people give a fuck about me.”
I hope you enjoyed part four of Mobster’s Heart and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to reach out to me.