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New Jersey

“You don’t get the same quality of nicknames,” says Ticonderoga. They’re playing chess in the park. Ticonderoga likes to use six bishops.

“You don’t,” agrees Flynn.

“Used to be you earned a nickname.” Ticonderoga cracks sunflower seeds. “Me, I broke a pencil off in a man’s nose.”

“Everybody knows that story.”

“Exactly! Snap, I’m Ticonderoga! These days, it’s Vinnie the Bull because… he’s like a bull. Sure, and Sammy, he’s kind of like another bull.”

“Durkheim. Ritualization of collective effervescence.” Flynn knocks a bishop sideways. “Jersey could have been his petri dish.”

“Nobody ever mentions your nickname, Flynn,” Ticonderoga says narrowly.