ch6 pg 39-42

FATTY"S was located just off the strip that led into Waikiki. It was a simple drabby building that shared it's parking lot with a muffler shop. No neon signs to welcome you; nothing to even indicate whether or not the place was open for business. If the door was open, they were open. If it was closed, they were closed.
I paid the cabby and ran through the rain for the open door. Despite the outward appearance, Fatty's was furnished nicely. the place was well lighted and clean. The booths were upholstered in brightly colored vinyl and the tables were spotless. There were two big screen T.V.s located where all could see. The light colored carpet looked like it had just been installed for there were no worn spots to be seen. A full sized pool table sat in one corner and electronic dart machines rested in the other. The smell of Chinese food made my stomach rumble. Fatty's was like a second home to me.
Walking into the place was like walking into a carnival. The effect was heightened by the Christmas trimmings hanging from the ceiling and the music blasting out of the old jukebox. Men and women filled the booths, their tables crowded with food and drink. Bursts of laughter erupted from various corners of the room like people cheering for some unseen challenge. The electronic dart machines blared out sing song bleeps every time a bulls eye was hit, which was often. The click and clatter of billiard balls broke the silence between songs. No one looked up when I entered. No one cared.
People from all walks of life came to Fatty's. From the blue collar guy to the business men that pulled up in expensive cars, they came because they loved the place. When you walked in the bar, you left your status at the door.
I scanned the room looking for familiar faces and came up empty. There was a time when I could have called half the people in the place by name. Being here felt too much like I some lost soul who was trying to recapture something in my past.
There was no sign of Willy so I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer. Chin, the bar owner approached and put a napkin down in front of me.
"Long time," Chin said. He wasn't much for words.
"I've been busy." What could I say? I didn't have to give him a reason for my lack of patronage.
"First one on me."
I was surprised he remembered my brand. He put a fresh beer and cup of ice in front of me. The local term for this was a beer and a bucket of ice. Once I had ordered the same thing on the mainland, the bartender game me a beer in a bucket of ice. Leinani and I almost died laughing at that one.
I nursed my drink and looked around the room. The memories that started to come back to me were like an unwanted pet. The harder you tried to get rid of them, the harder it became.
Leinani and I came here often to just hang out. When we had no special place to be, we could found here. You know you are a regular when you start getting phone calls from at the bar from people looking for you.
I looked at all the friends and couples sitting around, laughing and having a good time. Here I was, by myself, just my memories to keep me company.
I shook the self pity out of my head and motioned to Chin. "You see Willy around here?"
He shook his head and walked away.
My attention was drawn to the T.V. behind the bar. The early news was featuring a piece on the Tiger Sharks. I watched the program and poured the rest of my beer into my glass. Chin appeared out of nowhere and replaced the empty bottle with a new one.
"I hope they win. I got some bucks on them."
The guy two seats away was talking to his friend. Between them, there were three plates of food they were trying to eliminate.
"You crazy," the other guy said. His chopsticks were working overtime.
"I telling you, the line going change."
"I ain't worried. They going win. Outright."
I smiled to myself. The guy was confident. Someone put a hand on my shoulder. I almost jumped.
"You getting old brah. Now you letting people sneak up behind you."
"I was getting worried. Thought you weren't showing up. Was getting ready to leave."
Willy chuckled and motioned to Chin. "We going in the office."
Chin nodded and disappeared into the kitchen.
I hopped off the bar stool, dropped a five on the counter and followed Willy to the back.

The office was sparsely furnished with a desk, a file cabinet, and a calendar that hung on the wall above some beer boxes in the corner. The room reeked of cigarette smoke and mildew. An ashtray overflowing with half smoked butts sat in front of me. Willy took a seat behind the desk.
"So what's up? What can I do for you?"
"Not even going to ask me how I'm doing?"
"I know what you doing," Willy said.
We smiled at each other. Willy and I went back a long ways, to the days when I worked at the Hilton. Although we hardly say each other, when we did it was like we had seen each other yesterday.
"I need all the information you can get me on a bookie named Greenie and a runner named Chucky."
"What's this all about?" he asked.
I looked him in the eye. He didn't look away.
"Willy, you know when I ask, it means trouble," I said, warning him.
"If you like lay down one bet, you can trust me."
"If I wanted to lay down a bet, I'd call Vegas. When you figure it out call me."
"That ain't much to go on," he said.
"That's all I got."
Willy looked down at the table. He was thinking about all the people he would have to talk to. What I was asking was not a small job.
He smiled at me. "I'll be in touch."
I stood up to leave.
"What about Manny?"
I stopped and looked back. I hadn't even thought of Manny Fernandez.
Manny and I grew up together. On different sides of the fence.
"What about him?" I asked.
Willy shrugged and looked away. Our conversation was over.

Chin called out at me as I passed the bar. "Eh Darling."
"Yeah?" I walked up to where he was leaning on the counter. One of the waitresses wearing a Santa hat stood next to him.
"She only come here on Wednesdays."
I stared at him for a second before nodding my head and walking out the door.

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