“I can’t believe it,” I said in my thick Bronx accent as I leaned against the polished wooden surface, before tossing a handful of peanuts into my mouth.
Jimmy looked at me from behind the bar, “What’s it this time Petey?”
I pulled the folded piece of paper from my inside breast pocket, shoved it at him.
Jimmy got me my usual, three shots of bourbon with a splash of soda as he read over the letter. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said, passing the page back to me.
I looked it over again while I sipped my drink. It was from the IRS and it said my Man-Card had been revoked. I thought one of the guys was ribbing me, but when I asked around they all seemed genuinely surprised. I had called the number at the top of the page, and when they confirmed it, I went to the county clerk and they confirmed it too.
At least the guy at the county clerk’s office had been able to tell me what I had done. And I was in a bit of a pickle now. I finished off my bourbon and slid the glass back towards Jimmy.
“You want something a little more fruity this time?” The barkeep asked with a wink.
“Not you too?” I sighed. It felt like junior high all over again since I had begun asking around about the letter. “You know, Tony sent me flowers the other day.”
Jimmy laughed, putting another bourbon and soda in front of me. “Slim Tony? I can see him doing that. So how did you, you know, lose your card?”
“You know the opera seat I’ve held for the last five years? The one I keep around in case I need a quick alibi?”
Jimmy’s mouth formed a small ‘o’ and he smiled his crooked smile again. “And they got you for that?”
“Yea, apparently a grown man can’t enjoy a well sung aria by himself anymore.”
“Apparently not.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a slip of paper, pushing it toward me.
I palmed it, reading the note about the new cleaners on 52nd.
“What are you going to do about it?” Asked Jimmy as he flipped through the channels on the old tube television mounted above the liquor.
“I guess the boss wants me to spook the owner. Put a little fear into him.”
“No, your card!”
“Oh. I’ve been thinking. The letter said I had one year from the date I received it to do something extremely manly and my card would be re-instated, as long as I paid the fifty dollar fee and had three witnesses sign reports.”
“Sounds like a racket to me, fifty dollars?”
“Hey toots,” Slim Tony walked in and slapped my ass.
I cut my eyes at him, and received a cat call from Tommy who was one step behind him. They quickly took a seat at their usual table in the back. Jimmy disappeared for a moment to deliver a round to them.
By the time he had returned, I still hadn’t figured it out.
“You could wrestle a bear.”
“Where would I find a bear? I don’t think the zoo’d appreciate that.”
“What about taking down the mob?” He chuckled. So did I. “You know you could always go climb a mountain or something.”
“I’ve got it,” I said, a smile upon my face.
Jimmy looked at me as I tossed back the few remaining sips in my glass. “You want another?”
“Nah,” I shook my head. “I’ve got just the thing to get my man-card back and take care of this other thing at the same time.” I held up the note from the boss.
Jimmy stared at me as I calculated in my head. “Well?” He finally asked.
“You and me go back a long way, right Jimmy?” I asked him, a sparkle to my eyes.
“Yeah sure, ever since Big Jonny brought you in. You looked like you were fresh off the boat. Man, Jonny’d be proud to see how you’ve turned out.”
“Thanks Jimmy. I was asking because, well, would you do me the honors of being one of the witnesses for my big event?”
“Sure, what are you gonna do?”
“I’m gonna go over the falls in a barrel. And I know just the schmuck who’s gonna be in that barrel…”
The light flashed in Jimmy’s eyes. “That’ll sure as hell scare him.”
I snorted. “Yeah. And with you and the boys saying it was me, that should sure get my card back.”