"First, you got moves, then you got moves, then you got MOVES! It all comes down to who's got the best moves. Billy Douglas is the man with the MASTER MOVES. I want to train under him."
"Nicky, are you fucking nuts? Billy don't need you or anybody else. He ain't had a new student in years."
"Hell, Vach, here's how I look at it: he loves fucking the casinos. I love fucking the casinos. He needs agents, dealers, shills, take-off guys and what-the-fuck ever. People burn out, you need other people to replace them. I want a shot at it. All I'm asking for is an intro. Cut me into the man. I'll take it from there."The scene: the lounge in the Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas, 1965.
Nicky - Stan Nicoletti - 24 years old, presently a BJ dealer at the Mint, ex-marine and anxious to become a member of a closed society - crossroaders - casino thieves - men who make their living relieving the casinos of their excess profits by taking the gamble out of it.
Vach - also a Nicky, Nicky Vachione - late 30's, top pool hustler and a pretty good card man in his own right. In town for a major pool tournament.
Billy Douglas - mid 40's, the world's top card man, top casino thief. The only student Titanic Thompson ever had. You'll remember Titanic as the Damon Runyon character, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. We're talking reality here. As real as it gets.
Vach lets out a major sigh and says, "All right kid, I'll make the intro. But you're on your fucking own from there. I don't want to know nothing. And, don't take this personal kid, you know I gotta ask. You got to give me your word you won't fuck anybody you ain't supposed to, no matter what Billy says."
"No problem Vach. I didn't use any connections when I got here. Don't intend to unless somebody fucks with me. You know I know the rules. Can't fuck things up for my Dad back in Philly. No fucking problem."
They proceed to the pool tournament area hoping to find Billy. Sure enough he's sitting in the stands, surrounded by his usual entourage of aides and admirers.
Billy spots Nicky and Vach working their way up to him and lets out a smile he was noted for. You know, one with a twinkle in the eye that says, Boy, is this a lot of fun. I'm delighted to be here. He and Vach go back a long way, made a ton of money together. They both earned their reps in the trade and they both respect the shit out of each other.
"Hey Vach, good to see you. Figured you'd be here looking to pick up some easy money."
"Yeah Billy, you know how it is. Can't turn a good thing down."
After they share a chuckle or two, Billy looks over at the kid with an inquisitive eye, then back to Vach and says, "Who's your friend?" This breed of man never waste words or beat around the bush. They also have that uncanny ability of sensing when something's up. Knowing when a person has something on his mind, something to say other than the usual "Hi you doin'" sorta shit.
"Say hello to Nicky, Billy. He's a good friend of mine, worked with me last summer in Atlantic City and Miami in the winter. Backed me up and played in the side games while I did my thing at the poker tables in the rug joints. He's an honorable thief, 100%! He wanted to meet you."
Billy gives Nicky the once over and says "What do you want?" I told you these guys never wasted words. Never missed a beat.
"I want to help you fuck these casinos." says Nicky, trying to sound as serious as possible.
"I already know that. I said what do you want?" says Billy putting Nicky square on the spot.
Nicky knows this is the moment of truth. If he doesn't come with the right answer, he's dead in the water. "I'm a dealer at the Mint. I want to fuck them royally until I build a nice bankroll. Then I want to move to the outside of the table and work with you. When I burn out, I want to leave town with a pocket full of money, a truck full of worldly possessions and I want to be good enough with a deck of cards to be able beat Vach here in gin."
Pretty good answer, thought Billy, "It'll take about five years, I'll have to earn at least 200k for my end and you'll have to take orders without asking any questions until I give you permission."
"Sounds good to me." says Nicky, knowing he's close to being accepted.
"You might could get hurt, take a beating or two." challenges Billy.
"I've taken plenty of ass kickings for nothing, so that don't bother me. Also been known to administer one or two my damn self. I'm a marine, 4 years, honorable discharge."
Looks and sounds good enough to pull it off. Just might be the one I'm looking for, thinks Billy as he reaches out to shake Nicky's hand. "Glad to meet you Nicky. I think we're going to do alright. Give him my number Vach, call me in the morning Kid. I got to get back to what I was doing."
Vach looks at Nicky and says "Well, you're in Nicky. I gotta get down to the tables. See you later." and he too starts walking away. In case you haven't noticed, these guys aren't big on social graces.
"Vach, wait. I didn't get a chance to thank you for the patch."
"Don't embarrass me Kid, or yourself, that's all the thanks I need. And, remember, don't ask no questions til he gives you permission... Oh yeah, give Joyce my best."
"Oh fuck. What'd I get myself into this time?" mutters Nicky to himself, "Now I know what they mean when they say, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."
As he turns to leave, Nicky's chest swells with pride and he feels a rush of sweet anticipation race through his veins... he mutters to himself... "This is what life is all about. Being on the firing line. Learn from the best, up against the best, or the worst, depending how you look at it. Ain't life something!"