Billy Phelan's Greatest Game
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The second novel in William Kennedy’s much-loved Albany cycle depicts Billy Phelan, a slightly tarnished poker player, pool hustler, and small-time bookie. A resourceful man full of Irish pluck, Billy works the fringes of the Albany sporting life with his own particular style and private code of honor, until he finds himself in the dangerous position of potential go-between in the kidnapping of a political boss’s son.
pork chops and put them into two large frying pans over a low flame on the gas stove. Then she went back to Billy, who was pouring a shot of Wilson’s into a soiled coffee cup with a dry, brown ring at the bottom. The phone rang and Peg answered, then handed the instrument to Billy, who closed his eyes to drive out all phone calls. “Yeah,” he said into the mouthpiece. And then, “No, I’m closed down. No. NO, GODDAMN IT, NO! I mean I’m CLOSED. Out of business and you owe me fifty-four bucks and I
bleeding and dying scab, his head laid open, face down on the floor of the trolley, one arm hanging over the top step. The scab had driven the trolley down Broadway from the North Albany barns, and when it reached Columbia Street a mob was waiting. Francis and two other young men heaved a kerosene-soaked sheet, twisted and knotted into a loose rope, over the overhead trolley wire and lit it with matches. The trolley could not pass the flaming obstacle and halted. The militiamen raised their
little. An uncle did it. They found the kid in the Pine Bush, safe, and brought him home and put him in the window so everybody could see that he was all right. The kid was only four. Everybody wanted to hang the uncle, but he only went to jail. Billy walked toward Pearl Street, heading back downtown. He remembered Georgie Fox, marked lousy for what he did to Daddy Big. All anybody on Broadway needed to hear was that Billy was finking on Morrie, and they’d put him in the same box with Georgie.
funerals, and did not now believe in these or any other prayers. Yet as he prayed, his pulse slowly slackened, his eyes stayed closed. And as he moved into sleep, he knew that despite his infidel ways, the remnants of tattered faith still had power over his mind. He knew his mind had no interest in the genuineness of faith, that it fed on the imagery of any conflict that touched the deepest layers of his history. Years ago, he’d dreamed repeatedly of hexagons, rhomboids, and threes, and still
Richard Wentworth, the polo-playing playboy, is secretly The Spider, avenger of wrong. More than just the law, more dangerous than the underworld. Hated, wanted, feared by both. Alone and desperate, he wages deadly one-man war against the supercriminal whose long-planned crime coup will snuff a thousand lives! Can The Spider prevent this slaughter of innocents? When he put the magazine back on the floor, Billy found an empty BB package. He put the light out and went downstairs and met Peg