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A Wiseguy's Odyssey
Part 5 - Picking Up The Pieces
Severely shaken, I decided to forge ahead with the last partner I could trust - Rob. After all what is the sense of wallowing in self pity? It accomplishes nothing but taking up time that could be put to better use rebuilding. We finished off the NBA and college baskets with little fanfare. Our operation had dwindled to working with only one very sharp out and a fairly slow call by then.
To make matters worse the plays were stinking up the joint. Isn't it ironic when you have to hustle like crazy to beat the move to get in a losing play? At that point we saved our sharp friends and ourselves considerable dough by not getting in on time to secure the desired line. When all was said and done and the season over, we had made squat and were actually out of pocket.
Tom had come back to implore us to allow him to re-enter the fold, but we told him where to go. By now Spiro was in hot pursuit by everyone he owed money to. It totaled to a tidy sum of a couple hundred thousand. At the point that his girlfriend started getting hassled he decided to visit a bud in LA and seek refuge working at the guy's restaurant.
But before leaving, and even after all the carnage he had caused, he still had it in him to plant the seed that would shape my future. He had arranged for Steve to meet us in the hope that we could team up with the Vegas big boys.
Steve had been Spiro's partner in their original foray into the world of professional betting. They had enjoyed gangbuster success during their short-lived stint which came to a screeching halt when Spiro blew his brains out with their connection's bankroll. They were working for a pioneer in the business named Stan, who had contacts with the all the best people. Spiro managed to talk Steve out of killing him which was no mean feat considering Steve's hot temper and paranoia - not to mention his hulking 250 plus weight. Anyway Stan was constantly calling Steve whenever Spiro's payment plan wasn't going as scheduled - which was most of the time.
Spiro sold Steve on the idea that he could join Rob and I who were totally standup and knew the business and together we could start working for Stan with part of our commission going to pay off their old debt. Turns out Steve had big ideas about working the offshore sportsbooks and local outs.
He was really enthusiastic about the 10% bonus on deposit being offered offshore. He also had pie in the sky ideas about the local guys shaving their lines for us or giving us a kickback on our losses to them. We made arrangements to meet Stan in the big apple (NYC).
I should have had an inkling that working with Steve was going to be like marrying Lorena Bobbitt. Just before we left, Rob and I related to Steve that we weren't happy with the planned commission split. I don't remember the details but the lions share would go to the existing debt until it was exhausted. Well Steve almost blew a blood vessel. The trip was off until we relented. We really wanted the connection.
Worst part is that Spiro would have been more than happy to hook us up to this guy had we had the presence of mind to do it without Steve. Had we done it that way, we could have worked out our own deal. I guess not having tasted any real success on our own and in a vulnerable state we felt Steve's street smarts would be a big plus.
The trip went well enough. We stopped halfway at Saratoga for a fantastic turkey lunch with all the trimmings and later met up with Stan in a Mexican joint in NYC. Stan was cool and seemed to really warm to me. We made our deal and he agreed to hook us up with the poker players who are a premium group and a class act. We went on to Atlantic City where Rob and I watched Steve make a few bucks on the Blackjack tables. Neither of us is a casino gambler although Rob likes to dabble more than me. What the hell, the drinks were free and the surroundings plush.
We headed back the next day and Steve already started his himming and hawing. He wasn't happy with the fact that we were responsible if money in our possession was lost through stiffs. He felt that the risk was too great and he was right. I wish he had stuck to his guns during the meeting instead of busting balls after the fact. That was only the beginning of what turned out to be a roller coaster of his on again, off again whims.
Finally, what seemed like months later our bankroll started arriving - $10,000 each in four shots by courier - COLD HARD CASH! They sent the first shipment cross border and it was only by the grace of God that it wasn't intercepted. Our contact told us he hadn't thought about customs - I guess he was totally concentrated on his other tasks.
I was keeping the loot in my safety deposit box and I must tell you it felt great to manipulate that kind of dough. At one point Steve took a shit fit and told me to be at his place within a half hour with the cash or else. He scared the fuck out of me so I complied. In hindsight I was very lucky he didn't take it out of my hands and before long it was back safe in my lockbox.
Finally, and to my great relief, Steve chickened out and left the operation in our hands with the proviso that our deal work down his and Spiro's debt. We were finally ready to start in the big leagues after so much crap. Our next task was to secure new outs and re-setup working facilities. At least we were free of our "extra baggage".