By the time I was finished at Horse Trader Ed's and had been given the keys to the Karmann Ghia, Emma was walking toward me. "Is that your car, Sam?" she asked. I nodded. "Hey, I love those. What's the name?" "Karmann Ghia," I said. "Oh, yeah…Italian, right?" "No, German," I answered, feeling a little agitated discussing the hot little red number I was now the owner of. I wanted a drink, like right now, and that's all I could think of. "Say, why don't we drive over to Tommy's Joynt and get a bite to eat," I said, knowing I had no coin and hoping she did. I think I paid her recently and was counting on her to still have a few shekels left.
She was on to me. "Do you have any money?" she asked. "Ah, not right now, baby. Soon, real soon." "Uh, huh," she said, giving me the look. You know the look. The look that says, 'don't con me asshole.' After a slight pause, standing there feeling like the asshole she pinned me for, she said, "Ok, let's do it because I'm 'starving like Marvin, plus I need a drink." I knew I did the right thing by hiring Emma, I thought, smiling on the inside.
What she didn't know about Tommy's Joynt is that it's been one of my haunts for years. I knew Tommy's son Mickey, who now ran the place. I had done some work for Mickey a few years before when he was going through a divorce. He wanted some dirt on his wife so she couldn't take him to the cleaners. I had my photographer, a guy I use for such jobs, get some really incriminating pictures. Mickey came out that divorce smelling like a rose.
I could probably get my food and drinks comped. Maybe even put the arm on Mickey for a few bucks. He knew I was good for it, and that's precisely what I did. After a couple of Reuben sandwiches, Emma's drink, and three scotch and sodas for me, Emma started to dig into her purse to pay the check. A waiter I had never seen before came over after noticing Emma reaching into her purse. He said, "It's on the house, Mam." She sat there with her beautiful mouth open and looked over at me. "Did you swing this? I saw you talking to that guy over there," she said, nodding toward Mickey, who was standing near the entrance to the kitchen smiling and waving. "Who is he?" she asked.
"He's the owner and a good friend of mine," I said. "You didn't think I was gonna let you pay, did you?" "C'mon, let's get out of here," I said, taking her by the elbow. "Are you Ok to drive?" I asked. "I'm fine. I should be asking you that!" she said, laughing. We walked to our cars. Emma turned to me. "Y'know Sam, I've been thinking about the ‘8mm SBD’ phrase you found in the notebook. I think SDB might mean a SAFE DEPOSIT BOX." I remember standing there when it hit me like a ton of bricks. "Holy shit Emma! That's it! That's gotta be it.”
To be continued…