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Sure enough, couple of weeks later I'm hanging around the Old Luna Gym, who do I see with a cheap cigar stuck in his ugly face but Manny Klein. I suppose I should forgive him by now, seeing he lost the champion he stole from me, but I still hate him like poison and I wish I could fix him but good.
We're both watching Willie work in the ring with a colored kid who is pretty fast. You should see how nice Willie hooks off a jab! Twice he feinted the kid into a right lead and then knocked his head off with beautiful classical left hooks. And then a short uppercut travels maybe six inches and the colored kid is lifted right off his feet and sits down.
Manny squints at Willie and chews his cigar. He looks at me very profound. The last time he looked at me that way I lost a heavyweight champion. "Kid could go places," he says, nodding at Willie. Just then I get an idea how I could help Manny make a fool out of hisself and maybe lose a little of that money he made from Messina.
"A Real Sweetheart"
"Manny, you lousy thief," I tell him, "you're looking at a kid I could make a fortune with, only some jerk here got him tied up hand and foot and won't sell his contract. I could of had my first champion with this boy. A real sweetheart!" I wasn't sure he'd be stupid enough to swallow this but Manny sees a chance to steal a fighter. It's like a red flag to a bull.
Manny got little beady eyes with pale eyelashes. He got eyes like a pig, matter of fact. He puffs on this horrible-smelling cigar some more and squints at Willie again. "I like to make this fella with Jensen," he says. Now Jensen is no longer a heavyweight contender, but a win over him will help a boy into the top 10 pretty fast. He's slow but he could still knock out a horse with a right hand. And if he don't kill you with his fist he'll blind you with his elbow. Manny should at least have some misgivings about this. They have an Earth-Moon weight conversion table in the gym, right on the scale, and he knows about Moonboy Williams and the others. But he's dumb this way. He don't think, he looks, and Willie looks good. Of course he looks good! He could move like Pavlova up here. On Earth he'll be nothing. Omnivac says so, but Manny doesn't know that. Everything with him is by instinct.
"Listen you crumb," I tell him, "one thing I'm glad for. Maybe I can't have this kid, but you can't either. You don't have no syndicate behind you up here and his manager won't sell out." I know the manager would give up the contract for nothing just so Willie should have a chance at the big time. This way he'll get some money for it which he'll probably give to Willie's old lady.
Well, he offered the fella $10,000 and he took it like a shot and Manny takes Willie back to Earth like he got a bargain. Willie's mother got the money as I figured and right away got married.
I figured it ain't much, but at least I'll have the pleasure of making Manny look foolish and lose about $15,000 all told, which will kill him, and the worst that could happen to Willie is he'll get a job instead of sponging on his mother.
So I relax over at the Diana Club and wait to hear about Manny Klein's big fiasco. After a while I begin to see a little mention here and there in the telepaper, KLEIN BACK WITH NEW MOONBOY and so forth. Then pretty-soon a whole column confirms what I already know, Manny got him back there and for a month he lays around like a sick elephant. Nothing. He can't do nothing. He can't work with the speed bag, he can't work with the heavy bag, he can't skip rope, he can't run, he could hardly walk. The column is titled, "The Bitter Green Cheese of Manny Klein." A few more pieces come out, KLEIN GOOFO WITH BUFFO, and MOONMADNESS and everybody is laughing their head off at Manny. I bet he could hardly hold up his head when he walks down Eighth Avenue. And he knows who done it to him. Very good. After a while I don't see no more mention of Willie. Three months go by and Patsy Di Palma shows up at the Diana Club on a vacation with the missus. Patsy trains most of Manny's boys so he could tell me about Willie.