The fat old one that was like a ball gripped his pen and scribbled something on the paper. “Here, hold these,” he said to the other one who was standing. “No, no, give me that, you’re messing up my system. Hold it.” And he snatched a couple back, passed a few tickets to the standing one and directed his pen to the other. “eight, four, twenty-one, seven. I have a system,” he said, “I have it all here.” The standing one and the one holding a little bag with money and papers in it, both chuckled. “Let’s see…” and he added the numbers, shuffled the papers, passed them to the other, wrote some more, consulted his crumpled little green pad with another series of numbers. “You see? I have it all worked out.” And he flashed it briefly.
The man rested his hand on his cane, leaned back and peppered his compatriots with little bits and pieces to match his little papers. “You know, you have to be precise. I have a system, There is an order. Let’s see,” he said again. “The seven must be here, and the eight there. The twenty-one has to be like this and add this way.”
The other two nodded and remained quiet.
“Let me tell you something, my money is my money. My wife said she wanted an ATM. I said, why would you need an ATM? When I go to the ATM, I want my money to be there. Better to get them a credit card, eh?
The others nodded in agreement.
“I mean, my money is my money. I need it to be there when I need it… not for some woman and her capricious spending. Don’t give them money, boys. Keep a tight rein on your money, don’t let them waste it.” He paused, consulting his papers again. “All right, I think I have it all, seven plus eight plus twenty-one plus four…” He repeated it one more time, double checking. “You didn’t get those out of order, did you? Give me those again.” And he snatched all his little tickets back and shuffled them once again, then dispatched them to the one with the little bag of money. “Here you go,” and he handed over some bills. “You see? You have to have a system. The system works. I’ve been doing this a long time. I have it all worked out.”
The other two rolled up the little bag of money and departed without looking back.