Gary’s car was a graveyard of coffee containers and fast food wrappers waiting to be recycled when the car was crushed. The old Caprice Classic looked like she had seen better days, but Gary pampered her and if you looked under the hood you would see a gleaming power plant that would make a Detroit engineer blush. He drove her with care and respect of an old lover.
Dan tried to avoid looking at the center of the dash. There in the place of honor was a rabbit’s foot and the chattering teeth.
Gary finished his coffee and tossed the latest archeological treasure on top of its brethren.
“Tell me, why did we take your car?” asked Dan.
Gary ignored the comment. “Maybe instead of going to your psychic hottie you could ask the chattering teeth. They might know all and it would be cheaper.”
Dan pointed at the rabbit’s foot. “You making fun of Zoey’s powers when you have a rabbit’s foot on your mirror?”
“You believe in luck as much as I do,” Gary responded and made the teeth chatter some more.
“I believe in luck, but not rabbit’s feet. Come on, how lucky was the rabbit that gave that one up?” Dan asked.
Gary slapped the dashboard. “Duh! Much luckier afterwards. See they only work if you have odd numbered lucky objects. Four legs means no luck. Everything cancels.”
Dan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “So you’re telling me that it was better for the rabbit to lose it’s foot.”
“Have you seen a three legged rabbit?” asked Gary.
“See, lucky enough to not get caught again.” Gary started to laugh.
Dan tried once again. “Why did we take your car.?”
Gary pulled over to the curb and pointed. “There he is.”
The he was Victor “Pops” Salvatore. He was in his mid seventies and always dressed in black pin stripe suits and black fedoras with a feather. Today’s color was red. That meant either he was on the warpath or it was closest to the top when Victor was heading out. Age wasn’t his friend and his mind wasn’t as sharp as it had been a few years ago. Still he was a man to be reckoned with if only for who all still owed him a favor.
Pops walked into Paul’s Barber Shop. Paul’s was a family place, both with a small f and big F, to find out what was going on. Currently three generations of Pauls kept up the business. The patriarch, Paul, the son Pauli, and the grandson Lil Paul held court there every Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment on Monday. Sunday was a day of rest.
Dan stopped the teeth from chattering. “Looks like we can get a haircut as well.”
Gary got out of the car and rubbed his hand along his bald head. “Did mine this morning.”
“Sucks to be you then.” Dan opened the door to a gentle jingle of bells and held it open for Gary. “Age before beauty.”
“Wisdom before stupidity,” muttered Gary as he walked past Dan and into the shop.
Pauli and Lil Paul, sporting the same cut as Gary, were sitting in their barber chairs reading the paper. Paul and Pops were no where to be seen. Pauli spoke up first. Pointing to his smooth dome he said, “Hey man, glad you decided to join the brotherhood.”
Gary laughed. “I can understand why I do it, but you guys?”
Lil Paul chimed in, “Show the customer the worst case scenario. Hard to complain about a bad hair cut then.”
“True enough,” Dan said running his hand through his hair, “but I think I don’t think I’ll apply for membership today, thank you very much.”
Pauli got down to business. “So what can we do you guys for?”
“We were wondering if we can ask Pops a question,” Dan answered.
Lil Paul looked at his dad. “Did you see Pops come in?”
Pauli shook his head. “Nope, haven’t seen him today. So unless you’ve come for a haircut or shave.” Pauli let the sound die right off.
Dan got tense. Gary sensed it and placed a hand on his arm. “Sorry about that,” Gary said. “My eyes must have been broken because I was sure I saw him come in here.”
Pauli stood up and put on his don’t mess with me pose. “Happens all the time. Have a nice day.” The silence said far more than Pauli ever could, even if Pauli had wrote War and Peace.
Gary started to walk out, partially dragging Dan with him. After the bell tinkling from opening the door faded back into the silence Gary threw out, “If you do see Pops, tell him that Cunningham and Sherman are going to pick up his nephew Luigi for breaking parole.”
Lil Paul laughed. “We’re barbers, not answering machines.”
Pauli looked at Lil Paul and let his silence speak for him again. Lil Paul almost fell as he jumped out of his chair and quickly went into the back room. Gary let the door close, enjoying the sound of the bells once again. Dan finally started to calm down. He looked at Dan, but Dan shook his head, wanting to match the volumes Pauli was saying.
Lil Paul came out of the back room a bit flustered, but he managed to keep his voice neutral. “I guess Pops must have sneaked in while Dad and I weren’t looking. He’s waiting for you in the back.”
“Of course,” said Gary. He turned to Pauli. “Happens all the time. Have a nice day.”
Pauli never pulled his gaze off of Gary as Dan and Gary walked into the back. There were three doors back there, but only one was open and had sounds coming from it. Dan pulled his arm from Gary’s hold and whispered, “Why did…”
Gary cut him off. “What’s getting into you?”
“Nothing,” Dan said.
“Better not.” With that Gary left Dan and entered the back room.
The back room was definitely a notch above the barren front of the shop. Here there was only one chair and it was occupied by Pops. Paul had not followed his son and grandson and proudly wore his white hair long and wild, almost Einsteinesque. He was lathering Pops for what looked and smelled like quite the luxurious shave.
Pops waved at Dan and Gary. “I would invite you to sit and cut the shit with me boys, but as you see, we don’t have no chairs back here, so let’s make it quick before my lather goes away.” Paul stepped behind the chair and picked up the straight razor, but held off starting the ritual.
Dan decided to take back control from Gary. “Sorry about bothering you Pops, but Luigi’s been seen at the track again.”
Pop’s dismissed it with a wave. “Luigi is always at the track, that’s his problem. We all have problems. Why you making it my problem? I don’t like problems.”
But he’s not supposed to be there,” Dan continued. “That was part of his plea deal.”
“Look, I’ll talk to him, so go on home and do something important.” Pops waved impatiently for Paul to begin his shave.
Dan didn’t let up. “But he’s talking to the jockeys. Trying to fix races. We can’t ignore that.”
“Can’t, or won’t?” Paul seemed to take over for his customer as he expertly attacked the lather. “There’s a big difference there.”
“Can’t.” Dan waited for the response.
Paul looked at Pops and nodded. “Do it. Just make sure he knows Pops isn’t happy about it, or him.”
Dan nodded. “That will mean a lot. Thanks Pops. See ya Paul.”
“Don’t let the door hit you in ass on the way out.” After that Paul went back to work, ignoring them completely.
Pauli and Lil Paul glared at Gary and Dan as they left the shop. “Have a great day.” Gary teased as they left the shop, the only response was the tinkle of the bells from the door closing.
Gary got into the car and slammed the car door. “I hate asking a civilian, and I do say that in the most loose sense of the word, if I can go arrest a goofup that can’t even follow simple parole directions. Directions that the loosely called civilian helped write up.” Gary pealed away from the curb and put on the siren.
“Isn’t that a bit much?” asked Dan.
“No. Not after that,” said Gary. Gary weaved in out of traffic on the way to the track.
“You’ve got to admit. If we hadn’t done that Pops would be pulling every trick in the arcane book of lawyerdom, including favors to make sure Luigi got out, or at the very least made us look bad. You know what they say, an ounce of prevention…”
Gary grimaced and hit the horn to get a slow car to move out of the way. “An ounce of prevention feels like a rose bush up my ass.”
Dan shifted in his seat. “Ouch, that seems a bit harsh.”
That got a laugh out of Gary. “True enough. I hope I get my pound of cure though.”
“And that is?” Dan asked.
Gary put on his evil smile. “Luigi resists arrest.”
Dan smiled too. “Now that sounds good to me.”