"Uh," Newsboy said. Then he left. He never liked to fool around about money.
He spent more than 25 years taking chances—big chances—to get money. He lived in constant fear of the holdups he often was hit with in recent months. So he dressed like a bum and went around like a phantom to protect his money. But the pressure broke him and he left the money in garages. Now he is 52 and he has to sit in the No. 4 Wing at the state penitentiary in Trenton, and guys who never took a chance on handling a bet are going around and finding his millions and taking them away from him.
The story of Newsboy Moriarty is one of the strangest the world of gambling ever produced. He is about the last of the oldtime Irish gambling operators. He ran a business with no underworld partners, and he needed no muscle men to keep going. And he loved to take a chance. When somebody gave Newsboy a dangerous amount of money to handle on a single number, he would say, "Lights out!" and jam it into his pocket and lay it off with nobody, and if the thing hit he was there that night with a small, sealed yellow envelope that contained the right count.
He started in life selling newspapers, then began to pick up bets as a sideline. On January 13, 1935 operators in New Jersey were crushed by a heavy winning play on 113. The resident Jersey City man, Frank Paula, was a bit slow on the pay. This aroused many citizens. When this news reached city hall it shocked Mayor Frank ("I am the law") Hague. The mayor, acting with the full power and majesty of his office, decreed that henceforth nobody was going to pull a runout on his constituents. He named Moriarty as the new man in charge.
"I pay the winner and I always pay," Newsboy always said. "But the winner only."
There was no bending of this code. A guy named Eugene could have written you a book on that a couple of years ago. He hit Newsboy for $1,000, but before he could collect he was plucked up by police in New York on some kind of charge and was put in jail when he couldn't come up with the fine. Eugene's wife went around to collect the money from the bet to spring him, but she couldn't get a quarter.
"I pay the winner," Newsboy said. He didn't move.
Neither did Eugene. He had to sit it out in the can for five days. When he finally got out and came back to Jersey City, Newsboy had the $1,000 waiting for him.
"Thanks, I just had to do five days on account of this," Eugene said.
"Supposin' I give it to your wife and she never gets it to you?" Newsboy said. "Now at least you got it."