I am not inside the Liquor & Rubber Balls Sports Bar and Underwear Pressing Service since it was shit down like everywhere else, so it is a pleasant surprise to bump into (so to speak) Duck Diamonds as he emerges from Hollywood Discount Liquors. Takes me a click to recognize him, thanks to his mask, and he doesn’t t recognize me at all.
Doing your drinking at home, I see.
He literally jumps, gives me a double-take. “Squatty!” he finally exclaims. “Long time, dammit. Took me by surprise.”
We stand about 10 feet apart in the parking lot. I ask him how business is. Remember, Duck is a professional gambler.
“Huh,” he says. “Sports betting is in the toilet, for sure, but you’d be surprised how much action there on-line even if you exclude card games. Which I want nothing to do with. The other day I had some money on one of the teams that drove cross-country to set a new record.
Yeah, I saw that. It’s called the Cannonball, or some such crap.
“A million percent irresponsible, alright, but hey, money is money. People are taking bets on the number of COVID cases reported, number of deaths, which country or state will show the biggest increase day-to-day, etc.”
That’s just sick, if you’ll pardon the expression.
“Gamblers are sick people,” he shrugs. “I oughta know!”
You think they’ll play baseball this season?
“Oh, sure. They’ll cook up a scenario, like playing all the games in one state like Arizona or Florida where there are lots of minor-league and spring training stadiums. Play one after another, 10 a day. No fans in the seats, of course, not to start.
No fans? Hell, we’ve been doing that for years here in Miami! And Tampa.
“Good point. Can’t wait to see the stats generated at the end of the season. More asterisks than a coded password.”
Would be better off flushing the whole damn thing.
“It’s all about the money, of course, although count on MLB to bray out some bullshit about their duty to distract Americans from their misery, life their spirits, establish a sense of normalcy, blah blah blah. Just a way to generate some revenue with ad sales. Can’t blame ‘em. You’ll probably see as many pharmaceutical ads as beer commercials.”
And of course there’s the sports book to consider.
“Yeah, which makes me happy. Or happier. As it is, I’m stuck at home drinking ‘way too much.” He brandishes his purchases. “Going through the Jack Daniels enough to drink Tennessee dry! How about yourself?”
That’s why I’m here. Big bottle o’ JD for the week, two bottles of Partida for the weekend. Guido can’t work, either. I ask her how she likes forced retirement, and she says, “Fattening.” Lotta beer, too. Fortunately, Publix delivers. You hear from anybody else at LRBs?
“Not a soul. Place is shut down like it’s Prohibition. God only knows what those dykes do all day and night without that watering hole to graze at.”
Well, I know what I’d be doing, and it wouldn’t be alone.
Duck sighs an old man sigh. “Me too – are we still allowed to say that?” He laughs. “Lemme get going. I got some calls to make.”
When do you think baseball will start?
Duck gives me a classic sideways raised eyebrow look. “Call me later,” he says. “I’ll give you some odds, some dates, and we’ll get you on the books.” He mock salutes, gets in his car, and drives off.
Can’t blame a man for making a living, I guess. I affix my mask, snap my gloves like a proctologist taking the plunge, and stride to the bourbon aisle like I own it.