Then I got your ass into a jam, sometimes with snapshots to prove it.
Billy liked to pick the girls either way. He did this because (A) it made him feel like a sheikh, and (B) he said he didn't want anybody to ever call me a pimp.
"Let's face it, Jammer," he'd say sometimes, "I'm no good and can prove it."
I don't mind telling you, in the interest of full disclosure, that Billy's career in business began with a job that involved him taking $500,000 from New York to Miami in a suitcase in 1957. He didn't tell me a lot about some of his other duties in those days, but when he did, it would all come out sounding like the first season of The Sopranos. When he got drunk enough sometimes, he'd hold up his hands, which were big enough and beat-up enough that they could have belonged to some old baseball catcher like Yogi Berra, and say, "You don't want to know where these hands have been...."
He was right, I didn't, but I did know that particular routine the way cops know Miranda.
Anyway, that would be Mr. Perfect's weekend at Amazing Grace, courtesy of the Jammer. If one of Billy's girls ever did go public, it would be her word against ours. When you came right down to it, it would be hard for her to prove she was ever on the premises in the first place, unless she clipped the complimentary robe or the remote for the big-screen TV.
Put it this way: We never needed our VIPs to fill out a Satisfied Guest card to let us know they'd had a good time. Some guys might get busted by their wives somewhere else along the dusty old trail, but never on my watch. It's why they all came back, and when they did, treated me like we'd pledged the same fraternity in college and knew the secret handshake. It is also worth pointing out that every time they did come back, they dropped enough money to buy a G-5 at Billy's tables, which he thought was the real national pastime, not baseball or football or sending dirty e-mail.
I was thirty-five. An old girlfriend said I reminded her of the way Harrison Ford looked when he used to wear the hat. I had stock options from Billy as high as the volcano he'd built in the main lobby. I was still single, living just off the fifteenth green at God's Acre, carried a five-handicap in golf, still drank Scotch, smoked the cigars I hadn't given away to whoever was my new best friend that week. When everything happened that changed my life and the course of pro football history, at least for a little while, I had just broken up with Stacy, who made Cindy Crawford look like a boy.
Stacy was a dancer in our Show Tune Revue and an aspiring actress.
"Let me ask you something, Jammer," Billy said the first time I described Stacy as an actress. "Aren't they all?"
I'd worked in television, bartended for a while in New York, invested in a couple of places there, even opened a place of my own. When that finally went bust, Billy'd offered me the gig at Amazing Grace and I became the Jammer. There I was. I knew everybody, drove a cream-colored Mercedes convertible, and generally felt like that if I ever did retire I'd have to come out of retirement to do it. Billy said I was the closest thing to a son he ever had. The only thing his ex-wife, Roxanne, had ever given him was a daughter who'd turned into a Rodeo Drive junkie and was currently married to a tattooed mutant from a rock band known as Fourth Level of Hell.
I had my secrets, but who doesn't?
Life was good for the Jammer.
That was before God became such a cutup. Usually on Monday I didn't do anything except pretend I was still sleeping when Stacy woke up wanting to play Wounded Soldier/Naughty Nurse.
That was before she'd informed me one morning, the Vuitton bags I'd bought her packed by the front door, that I was hampering her growth as an artist and as a woman.
Reprinted from Bump & Run by Mike Lupica by permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Mike Lupica. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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