I was driving through the parking area at Turfway Park, and I was looking for a place to park. About a hundred years ago I was 20-years-old, and I used to run the parking lot, as I couldn’t find a good place in that zip code. I pulled up against the fenceline that really wasn’t a spot. It was an area that was hallowed ground. It belonged to Fat Johnny, and he used to pull up nightly in his Lincoln. He would smile and slip a $10 bill out the crack of his window. Yep, Johnny was a goodfella’.
He came nightly, and that $10 spot never failed. Not bad money even by today’s standards, and he was a good guy. He had a Jersey accent, and every night he dressed to the nines and always had his girl friend with him. My buddy had worked there for 20-years before I came on-board and said he just appeared one day and practically rolled in nightly.
Johnny said he was an accountant and moved down here to start a new business. Sounds good, huh? He was at least 6’4″ and had hands that could leave a bruise after shaking one… Naaah, he wasn’t an accountant. Caveman maybe, but I couldn’t see him behind a desk. He had a swagger that exuded cool confidence. You know, the kind they don’t teach in night school, and you can read about it in a book.
He was walking around one night and had a few adult beverages under his belt. He immediately bought me a big soda and wanted to talk horses as he was knocking them cold. We jabbered about some handicapping and eventually things turned personal. I asked the million-dollar question of what brought him down to Kentucky. He looked down and slowly said that he was in some trouble long ago. He and another man from New York had landed here. He never said what type of trouble he outran, but the look on his face told me it wasn’t parking tickets. It was about that time I did the smartest thing to date. I shut my mouth and asked who he liked in the next race.
As I slammed the door shut and thought about parking in Fat Johnny’s spot. It felt like it that all happened ten minutes ago. The East-coast swagger, the girl in the car, and the crisp ten spot he would give us each night. That spot was paid for, and it was given to me for the day. But make no doubt about it. That is Fat Johnny’s spot as long as the sky is blue.