Bo'sun Jones and Peepeye Culpepper were at Peppermint Squad headquarters off Codman Square in Dorchester during a squally night last March. They were involved in the perennial club project of rejiggering the gear box of the squad's flagship, vintage, mint green-around-the-rust-spots Vespa PX.
Peepeye laid a wrench on the dropcloth and said, "I got a catalogue from a gambling supply wholesaler the other day."
Bo'sun took a swig of Red Bull then reached with an awl to clean some rust and oily build-up out of the third gear sprocket. He said, "What of it?"
Peepeye said, "It got me to thinking. This outfit in New Jersey sells roulette tables for $2,700 a table complete with wheel, cash box, a full felt playing board, and chips in six different colors. I was thinking about how we're always looking to raise money for orphans and stray dog adoption programs. I was thinking maybe the Peppermint Squad could get into the casino business. You know, I was thinking we could run roulette games to raise money for the club."
Bo'sun picked up Peepeye's wrench and handed it back to him. He said, "Tighten that cowl hook will you?" He said, "Peepeye, we live in Massachusetts. The only people who can host that kind of gambling are Indian tribes and the mob and that is only theory. The lottery doesn't count; the Commonwealth runs that racket all by themselves and roulette is very different from running numbers anyway. We'd have the law all over us in no time. Nobody is allowed to play table games in Massachusetts, that's why people go to Connecticut. "
Peepeye said, "We're the Peppermint Squad. We're like a tribe. We're a tribe of scooterists. We're vesperadoes, lone wolves banded together in a bond of blood brotherhood and blood sisterhood. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for a fellow Pepperminter."
Bo'sun replied, "It's not the same. The Squad isn't a recognized 503(c)(3a)(k) charitable, sovereign organization. Sure we do our part for widows, orphans, abandoned pets, veterans, the homeless, the underemployed, debtors behind on thier mortgages, barflies behind on thier tabs, students behind on thier tuition loans and rakes behind on thier alimony, but the goverment doesn't officially recognize us. We play by our own rules; that's what makes us the Peppermint Squad." Bo'sun flashed Peepeye the Peppermint Squad hand signal.
Peepeye threw his wrench across the room. He was frustrated. He said, "I just know a roulette wheel would keep all the hungry babies between Mattapan Square and Codman Square in powdered milk for the winter!"
Bo'sun calmed him down by saying, "You're right Peepeye, but that isn't the way to go about it. We'll raise money the honest way, the way the Commonwealth of Massachusetts prefers. We'll have rallies and show off our scooters taking up collections wherever we go. We'll participate in parades to raise awareness. We'll be active wherever there is space enough to park our scoots. We'll hold scrap metal drives, bake sales, raves, and beauty contests. We'll be visible and we'll tell people what we're about. Raising money for a good cause isn't about gambling. It is about investing in the community. That is what the Peppermint Squad is all about."
Peepeye fetched his wrench out of the pile of empty Good 'n' Plenty boxes and ladies' undergarments where it had landed. He looked seriously at Bo'sun for a moment and then shook his head. He offered to shake Bo'sun's hand. He said, "I guess your right, brother. I still want a quick fix, but I guess your right. Let's raise money legally. The legal way is the Peppermint Squad way."
Bo'sun shook Peepeye's hand. He grinned ear to ear while he exhulted, "That's the Peppermint Squad way, brother!"