Chapter IV - The Silver Ball and More
Early the next Saturday morning found Jason and Rod down at fat Paul’s Narberth News Shop with their fresh slugs, compliments of the Pennsylvania Railroad. They took seriously the playing of pinball machines and prided themselves on their ability to play for hours on a single nickle or train track-slug. It was the idea of getting games for free that most appealed to them, much as a bank robber loves the idea of free money more than the cash itself.
Jason and Rod were only 11 and 13, but they could best even the high school greasers with their ducks-ass haircuts and workboots with cleats. They played all the machines: Stable Mates, Multi-Free Races, Stepper-Upper, Hit Number, Magic Lamp, Hot Tip, Fire Ball, Ten Strike, which comprised most of the machine’s at fat Pauls. Other than girlie mags and the Life Magazine that Rod swiped to exchange at Mapes, the pair didn’t boost merchandise from that store. Unlike the other merchants fat Paul would beat their asses. He was Sicilian and most everyone assumed he was a made man or was in some way connected to the Angelo Bruno crime family which ran things in Philadelphia at that time. Nobdy messed with him.
He wanted his store to be a hangout for the hipsters and the cool crowd, a jumping off point before they headed into the city to gyrate on American Bandstand.
Much of the boy's success at pinball hinged around their mastery of the Chill Manuever a test of nerve and restraint. If a center post is between the flippers the ball may be saved from a drain when it heads into dump by simply allowing the ball to hit the center post pin and then bounce back up onto a flipper. The trick is that you must try not to flip so that the ball does not have to travel as far or as straight in order to come back up through the flippers. In order to perform the Chill Manuever correctly you must be able to accurately analyze quickly whether the ball is going straight enough between the flippers because if it comes in on an angle or does not hit the post with the center of the ball, it may hit the post and deflect left or right under the flippers.
After an hour or so, Jason and Rod decided to leave fat Pauls in favor of Ricklins where Rod hoped to lift a set of drill bits for his father. He'd been given the money for them but if he were able to steal the items he could use the cash to buy a milkshake at Davises. They were the best in the world, handmade from scratch by the tall wirey soda jerk named Clyde. Clyde was the most beloved human being in the entire county on account of his unparalled milkshake artistry. Rod and Jason so respected Clyde that ripping off a milkshake from him was unthinkable. If word of such a crime got out Rod and Jason would be hunted down and probably be lynched or shot dead.
PINBALL WIZARD The Who Performs at Woodstock