The Second Time Around

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The black Cadillac parked on the curb behind a dark gray SUV with tinted windows and black powder-coated steel bumper guards on the front and back. The driver stepped out of the Cadillac, scanned the area briefly with one hand under his jacket. Then the broad-shouldered man stepped to the back door and opened it.

Lucky Aricello stepped out of the Caddy and straightened his jacket. He walked up to the driver's side window of the SUV, and the tinted glass rolled down. One of his button men sat in the driver's seat with two enforcers in the back.

"Which one is the Professor's?" Lucky asked, and the man pointed to a Tudor style house three driveways down on the opposite side of the street. Lucky walked down the sidewalk until he stood opposite of Professor Mathis' home. The lawn was meticulously manicured as were the shrubs that lined the front of the home. Four beautiful rose bushes sat under a window that Lucky guessed would be the kitchen.

Light still shone in three of the windows, though no shadows moved in the house. Everything along the street was still, quiet. No dogs barked, and no cars moved along the broad avenues. Lucky checked his Rolex and saw that it wasn't quite midnight yet. He strolled back to the SUV and the glass rolled down once more on the driver's window.

"Keep an eye on it," Lucky said, "Anyone comes home, anyone goes in or out, you call me, understood? Me," Lucky repeated, "And no one else. Don't make any moves until you hear from me."

The button man nodded and rolled the window up once more. Lucky walked back to his Cadillac and the driver/bodyguard that stood by his door. After one last look down the street at Professor Mathis' dark and empty home, Lucky slid into the soft leather seat and the driver closed the door.

"Call the restaurant, Anthony," Lucky said to the driver, "Have them let Dessa know that I'm on the way and that I got held up at work."

"Right away, Mr. Aricello," Anthony answered, and Lucky pressed the button to raise the partition between the driver's compartment and the back seat. The Cadillac had been modified to serve as a sort of low-key limousine for Lucky. It also sported bullet resistant glass and armored door panels to protect against most calibers of firearm. Lucky had risen to his current position in the Boston Family when his predecessor had stopped at the wrong intersection and a Russian hit squad had fired more than two hundred AK-47 rounds through the door and side of his stretch limousine, killing him, his mistress, three captains, and the driver.

Lucky didn't know of anyone out to get him, but his former boss could have said the same thing the day before he was hit. He clicked on the overhead lamp and opened the file on the seat next to him once more and began reading. Something just didn't quite fit with this Professor Mathis. The man had been a habitual loser, small time, betting no more than fifteen hundred at the time and racking up a considerable debt. Normally, Lucky would let a fish like that land himself in hot water, then he'd turn up the heat and squeeze them for all the juice they were worth.

But today that pattern went right out the window. Professor Mathis went from making risky small time bets to dropping twenty grand on a called winner that actually hit. And immediately after that, he leveraged those winnings across three different betting profiles online to lay two hundred thousand on four full ticket races, each with a possible pay out of thirty to one.

And then the unthinkable happened--all four races hit.

Lucky now owed this Professor six million dollars in the bosses' cash and he couldn't even find the man. For the moment, at least, he'd been able to keep the marker quiet, but that wouldn't last. Once his superiors got word of it, Lucky might find himself sitting in the wrong intersection just like his former boss had.

Suddenly, Lucky didn't have much of an appetite.
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