Mike Mazurki

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.