Gary and Jimmy Z

Arian Knops

Gary and Jimmy Z

3 mins
October 5, 2021

Jimmy Z was an Italian guy I knew only slightly who was always on the lookout to make a buck.  For a short time, he owned a pizza joint just two blocks from my house.  He also had a side business of selling South African gold coins called Krugerrands.  He was arrested in the height of his pizza selling career for selling Krugerrands, but not delivering them to the purchaser. In plain English, he was an accomplished thief.

Jimmy’s pizza joint was called “Bambi’s” and I once, only once, went and ordered a pizza.  I immediately guessed that Bambi’s was a cover for some illicit endeavor since, when I ordered, the cook had to run two doors down to the grocery store for a jar of pizza sauce, pepperoni, sliced black olives and some mozzarella cheese.  The excuse from Jimmy for not having the ingredients on hand was that the refrigerator had failed.

As I sat waiting for my pizza, I noted that the rest of the clientele were not eating pizza, but instead smoking cigarettes and having a muffled discussion much like the one you would see of pirates in an old movie sitting at a table talking about their adventures over a pint of rum.  That group, all male, were a mixture of troglodytes, drug burnouts, your average cretin and really more like a bunch of guys who looked like they had spent the last few days on a cross-country trip in a boxcar.  In two words, tramps or bums.  Bambi’s, despite the wonderful name, was not family friendly.  After about three months in business there was a fire at Bambi’s, and nothing was really lost other than the front windows that the fire department smashed to get at the fire in the kitchen. I doubt it was a grease fire.  This was in the same time frame that Jimmy was arrested for his thievery. 

What I didn’t know about Jimmy was that he lived, along with his wife who was a knockout in the looks department, in one half of a side-by-side duplex on 37th Avenue Northeast in the Minneapolis suburb of Columbia Heights.  The resident of the other half of that duplex, I found out later, was my Irish friend Gary, whose wife was also a looker.

37th Avenue N.E. is a main east-west drag across the city with two full lanes of traffic each direction.  The duplex was built before 37th became a four-lane road and to make the street the needed width the city had stolen most of the front yard from houses on both sides of the street. So, those front yards were quite small.

Well, Jimmy had to make restitution to the purchasers of the invisible Krugerrands and also had to eat jail food for six months.  He didn’t qualify for work release under the Huber Law since being an unemployed thief isn’t a job anyway.

During his incarceration Jimmy’s wife got lonesome for some male companionship and became enamored with a young Italian guy named Antonio who had a Mafia sounding last name.  Well, Mrs. Jimmy and Antonio were still busy burning up the bedsheets when Jimmy was released from jail.  To say the least Jimmy was upset since he lost his home and place in bed to another man.  His wife even had the audacity to change all the locks.

Like any man in such a situation Jimmy plotted revenge.  Nothing that would put him back in jail permanently, but something a little more subtle than murder.  He came up with a great idea, for him, not so much for my pal Gary.

Jimmy rented a large, flashing sign board.  This was the kind with flashing lights across the top that ended up making an arrow pointed toward the house and a large lighted display board that boldly stated, “MY WIFE IS IN THIS HOUSE HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH ANTONIO (mafia name inserted here)!!”

Well, this displeased Gary to a great extent since Jimmy had to put the sign approximately where the two halves of the house met and plugged it into the outside socket of Gary’s half of the duplex since the one on his own half of the building wasn’t working.

Gary called the city, but they told him that since there was no city ordinance against the sign and there was no foul language on the sign, he had to live with it.

The sign disappeared one night, and Gary denied any knowledge of its disappearance.  Jimmy had to pay for the lost sign.

This article was orginally reported by
Arian Knops

Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.