Maria Bernardi sits at the next table
eavesdropping and talking
simultaneously--a familiar phenomenon at the Cauliflower Alley Club. Maria
says she almost went to jail after her first husband. They got into a
fight at the Garden after the Louis-Conn fight.
She bet on Louis; he bet on Conn. "He was prejudiced, and I won. When I
asked him for my money, he slapped me. I knocked him all over the place.
Drew a bigger crowd than the main event. When we got home he started to
get tough so I dropkicked him down the stairs." Her husband filed for
divorce and charged Maria with barbarous assault."The Club is elite
and prestigious," Jack Ellis murmurs with syrupy hyphens between each
syllable, a pattern developed in response to Jack's passionate affair with
his collection of lexicons. Every object has two satellite adjectives in
Ellis's verbal universe. Soon he will meet a younger woman who will take
him for every penny he has. Jack is trying not to faint. His memorized
punchlines have left him as surely as if he'd received a right to the
ribs from Gorilla Jones. "My friend, my friend," Gorilla whispers. His
head is also nodding like a teaspoon balanced on a finger.