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My book “Mobsters, Gangs, Crooks, and Other Creeps” been selected as a finalist for the eFestival Awards Indie 2013 Book of the Year in the category “Nonfiction.”
http://www.efestivalofwords.com/vote-here-for-best-non-fiction-t399.html

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Joe Bruno on Boxing -DeNiro-Scorsese


This column has a little to do with boxing, but a lot to do with right and wrong in the streets of New York City.
I was abjectly disgraced by fellow paisans Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro at the 1999 Academy Awards. The duo who brought us the Academy Award winning boxing film “The Raging Bull” (DeNiro also played sleazy lawyer/boxing promoter Harry Fabian in “The Night And The City”), drastically shrunk in stature when they accompanied disgraced Black List Informer Elia Kazan onto the stage to receive his controversial Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy. Kazan spilled his yellow guts in 1952 to a Congressional committee investigating Communist influence in Hollywood. Kazan cowardly named the names of people who along with him belonged to a pro-communist group 20 years earlier. Those people were blacklisted and never worked under their own names in Hollywood again. Some even committed suicide.
For me pal, this one was personal.
In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, although we were not friendly, I grew up on Baxter Street in New York’s Little Italy, just scant blocks south of Scorsese’s Elizabeth Street apartment building . DeNiro grew up a few blocks west and to the north in Greenwich Village. If there was we learned one thing in the old neighborhood is that you just don’t tolerate rats. Even multi-talented rats like Kazan.
The true men in the audience were ones like Academy Award nominees Ed Harris and Nick Nolte, who sat on their hands during the tribute to Kazan, maybe as an alternative to giving the 89-year old canary the Italian salute.
Comedian Chris Rock said earlier in the show as he stood at the podium presenting another award, “I saw DeNiro backstage. They better keep DeNiro away from Kazan. We all know he hates rats.”
Boy, did Chris Rock miss the boat on that one.
What’s next for Bobby Ba Da Bing and Marty the Mook? A tribute to Sammy the Bull Gravano?

Nobody Asked Me But—Who’s Funding the Mosque at Ground Zero?


 

Who is Sharif El-Gamal and where did he get the money to buy the old Burlington Coast Factory property at 47-51 Park Place, in order to build the controversial mosque 600 feet from Ground Zero?

Just a few short years ago Sharif El-Gamal was waiting tables at Serafin’s Restaurant and Michaels on West 55th Street in New York City. His brother Sammy, his partner in SOHO Properties was waiting tables at Tao Restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They originally got into the real estate business by renting apartments on commission and were not actually buying and selling any properties.

Fast forward 8 years later, and SOHO Properties now owns four NY City properties, costing tens of millions including, 31 West 27th Street, which cost $45.7 million and the proposed Cordoba House Mosque near Ground Zero which E-Gamal and his partners, which included Nour Moussa, who is the nephew of Amr Moussa, the secretary of the Arab League. 47-51 Park Place was bought for a very low price $4.85 million, but all of it was in cash. SOHO Properties also owns two apartment buildings in Washington Heights. On the one at 31West 27th Street, El- Gamal has a co-granter named Hisham Elzanaty. Who is this mysterious man? Considering recent events, we sure won’t find out from El-Gamal.

Now where exactly did a man who was waiting tables for minimum wage and tips, get all of the money, especially the $4.85 million ALL IN CASH to buy the property for the proposed mosque near Ground Zero?

Unfortunately, El-Gamal is not talking; very adamantly not talking.

After Fox News sent several letters and emails to El-Gamal asking for a interview and not one missive was answered, they sent WNYW’s reporter Charles Leaf to nab him on the street for an interview. What was shown on Megyn Kelly’s America Live Program on August 24, would be funny if it weren’t so damn serious.

As Leaf followed E-Gamal up and down sidewalks and into back alleys, with mike in hand, Gamal ignored him like he wasn’t there and just kept walking away from Leaf.

“Sir, I’d like to talk to you about the funding for the Mosque at Ground Zero?” Leaf would say.

El-Gamal brushed past him and kept walking.

Leaf again stuck the microphone near El-Gamal’s mouth. “Sir, where did you get the money to buy the property on Park Place for Cordoba House?”

Still nothing from El-Gamal.

They walkded through a building and out into a backyard. Leaf was still in hot pursuit, microphone in hand. “Sir, why will you not answer any of my questions?”

Nothing. Nothing and Nothing from El-Gamal.

Yet Gamal was quite chatty when he agreed to an interview for an article named “Muhammad Comes To Manhattan” written by Mark Jacobson from the ultra-liberal New York Magazine.

When asked by Jacobson how he came pick to out the Park Place old Burlington Coat factory for his proposed Cordoba house, El-Gamal said, “Listen do you have any idea how Manhattan real estate works, what is involved? People seem to think we picked that building to make some kind of point. But that is simply insane.”

Jacobson then asked him a good question, but not the best question. He asked El-Gamal if he didn’t think twice about the possible controversy of building a mosque so close to Ground Zero?

“No,” El Gamal said. “Not for a second. It never entered my mind.”

Oh really? How can that even be possible? Three thousand people died on 9/11 by terrorist attacks executed my Muslim terrorists, and not once did El-Gamal think someone might be a tad tcked off at him for putting a Muslim mosque so close to ground zero ( body parts actually hit 47-51 Park Place on 9/11). This man is either an utter liar, or totally delusional. I’ll bet on the former.

Yet the one question Jacobson did not ask El-Gamal in his cream puff interview is where did a former waiter gets millions of dollars to buy anything, let alone $4.85 million in cold hard cash for the old Burling Coat factory near Ground Zero? And where does he propose to get over $100 million to build a 13-story glass and steel monstrosity of an “Islamic Cultural Center, which is just a fancy phrase for a mosque?

United States politicians including Peter King and Rick Lazio have asked for an investigation as to SOHO Properties financing, especially foreign financing, which may, or may not include funds from terrorists groups such as Hamas, Al Quida, the Taliban, or Hezbollah. King said, “The people who are involved in the construction of the mosque are refusing to say where their $100 million funding is coming from.”

Dr. Zundi Jassar, President of the American Muslim Forum also chimed in, agreeing with King. He said, “There should be transparency about who those investors are, whether that money is coming from domestic interests, or not. And if it is coming from foreign interests, we need to know, because I think that’s a liability, and it shows that there is another agenda rather than domestic security and tranquility.”

So there you have it. Even right-minded Muslims want to know if terrorist money is behind the proposed mosque near Ground Zero.

Where is Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama on this issue? They readily chirped about how this mosque must be built to show everyone in the world America is a tolerant country and that we have a Constitution that preaches Freedom of Religion.

But there is no Freedom of Religion if that religion preaches the destruction of the infidels ( that’s us folk) in the name of Allah, Muhammad or whatever they are calling their Supreme Being these days.

On September 11, at Park Place near West Broadway, at 3pm, there will be an anti-mosque rally. Be there and voice your displeasure, otherwise, our country, as we know it, may not exist anymore.

It Started at the Red Apple Rest


 

Tony B knew he wanted to make Ann his wife, but then things became a little complicated.

Being the old dog most men usually are, Tony B still had his goomaras in NY City, who he would bang vociferously on the weekdays when he was not in Greenwood Lake. And after the frozen rubber incident, Tony decided not to have sex with Ann in the Caddy any more. After all, what were they? Lowlifes? Getting a hotel room was the right thing to do.

There were a few hotels and motels in the neighboring towns of Warwick and Monroe, and Tony B used almost all of them at one time or another for his trysts with Ann, alternating them, so as not to fall into a pattern, in case he was clocked by law enforcement, or God-forbid, by someone who wanted Tony B very dead.

Then after they were finished doing what they were doing Tony B always made sure he got Ann home at a reasonable time, usually around midnight, so he wouldn’t have to run into her drunken, Irish -bastard father, who worked weekends delivering the New York Daily News.

O’Reilly’s newspaper delivery job usually kept him out until dawn, but sometimes he got home earlier, because he had paid a flunky to do the deliveries, while he hit almost every bar from Lower Manhattan up to Greenwood Lake. By that time, that Irish punk was ready to get rough with his wife, daughter, or anyone else who might get in his way. Tony B knew it was just a matter of time before he would have to flatten the drunken bastard.

One Saturday night, Tony B took Ann home just before midnight. Betty O’Reilly was sitting on the living room couch, watching an old movie on a 21-inch black and white RCA television. She was balancing a large snifter of brandy in her right hand. Tony B knew it wasn’t Remy, Hennessy, or any other premium brand. It was her usual, Christian Brothers brandy, a rotgut so vile, the Christian Brothers who produced it should burn forever in the fires of hell. Betty received limited funds from her husband to run the house, so spending his money on decent booze was just not in her budget.

“Oh, you kids are home early,” Betty said. She stood up and waved the wretched snifter in front of Tony’s face which immediately curled up his nose hairs. “Care for a bit of brandy?”

“No thank you,” Tony said. “I need to be headed back to NY City tonight.”

“Oh, I thought you stood up here until Sunday night?” she said.

Tony said, “I usually do, but something came up and I have to be in on city on Sunday.”

Betty noticed a large, white stain on Tony B’s Levi Strauss blue jeans, suspiciously near the zipper. Tony B liked the comfort of jeans when he was in the country, as New Yorkers called Greenwood Lake. In the 4th and 6th Ward, blue jeans were worn only by plumbers, electricians, handymen and bums.

Betty pointed at the stain and her eyes twinkled. “You really shouldn’t go back to the city with that milk stain on your jeans.”

Tony B looked down at the stain and raked his forefinger across it. “Nah, that’s not milk. It’s probably some toothpaste. I brushed my teeth a little while ago.”

Betty said, “Ann has a pair of your jeans upstairs in her closet that you stained around Christmas. I washed and pressed them for you. Why don’t you go upstairs and change into those jeans. I’ll wash and press these and have them ready for you next weekend.”

Without thinking, Tony B did what she suggested.

The next Friday night, Tony B went to the O’Reilly residence to pick up Ann. When he arrived, Ann was upstairs dressing and Betty was sitting on a love seat in the living room. Judging by the glow on her face, she was sipping about her fourth martini of the evening.

Betty stood and waved the martini in Tony B’s nose. “Let me get your jeans from last weekend.”

She went upstairs and soon returned with Tony B’s jeans, draped on a wire hanger. She handed Tony B the jeans. Then she slipped a six-pack box of rubbers, with three missing, in Tony B’s other hand. She smiled and said, “You left these in your jeans last weekend.”

Betty took a long sip of the martini, then popped open the top two buttons on her blouse. Tony B could see she was not wearing a bra.

“Well, at least I know you’re doing the right thing with my daughter,” Betty said, fingering the next button down on her blouse. “And don’t worry, I didn’t tell my husband about the rubbers. In fact after what happened the last time, I don’t even mention the word rubbers to my husband even when I’m referring to his rain boots.” She popped open another button on her blouse.

Just before Tony B had a heart attack, Ann came down the steps into the living room. Tony B grabbed her hand, mumbled a fast goodbye to Betty and nearly dragged Ann out the front door of the house.

When they were safely in Tony B’s car Ann said, “What was that all about?”

Tony B told her about the found box of rubbers, but omitted the part about her mother doing a slow striptease in front of him.

Dog that he was, Tony B knew that there inevitably would be more action later concerning her mother, he must also keep a secret from Ann.

Tony B and Ann were dating for about six months, when Ann began applying the pressure for Tony to declare as to his intentions concerning their future. In other words, “When are we going to get freaking married?”

The only problem was, Tony B found it extremely difficult to ask Ann for her hand in marriage, when he was also banging her sweet old mother.

Truly, it wasn’t Tony B’s fault. He was a victim of unavoidable circumstances. And anything concerning his penis close to a willing female, was definitely unavoidable.

One day, he came to pick up Ann at the O’Reilly resident. Betty answered the door, and there she was, half dressed in panties and a negligee.

“Is Ann in?” Tony B stammered. Knowing full well that was impossible, considering the way her mother was dressed.

Betty spread her legs slightly and Tony B could see she was wearing no underwear. “No, she just went out shopping for a while. She’s be home in an hour, or two. She asked me to keep you company.”

And that she did. Right on the couch in the living room, with the shade open slightly, so they could see if either Ann, or that crazy Irish bastard husband of hers were parking in the driveway.

Then things got slightly out of hand. And that also was not Tony B’s fault.

Out of nowhere, Betty started making veiled threats, that she would tell her daughter about Tony B’s actions, unless Tony B started plowing her fields on a more regular basis. For example, like at least once a week.

Tony B decided to do as he was told.

For their weekly trysts, he settled on the Red Apple Rest, which was a famed rest stop/cafeteria, located in Tuxedo, NY, on Route 17, just over the treacherous, two-lane Route 17 A leading to Greenwood Lake. The Red Apple Rest consisted of a large cafeteria and a small motel across the road on top of a steep hill.

During the 40’s, The Red Apple Rest was basically a rest station for the Jews and Jewish comedians who were on their way to the Borscht Belt Hotel Resorts in the Catskill. The Red Apple Rest was approximately half way between New York City and Jewish Resorts like Grossingers, Browns, Brickmans and the Concord Hotel. Hotel guests heading to the Borscht Belt stopped at the Red Apple Rest for refreshments and to hit the head. While the working comedians stopped to eat, crap and steal each others jokes.

When the NY Thruway was built in the early 50’s, it bypassed the Red Apple Rest. Due to the decreased traffic, the Red Apple’s Rest’s popularity declined. Still many Jews jumped off the Thruway at Tuxedo to patronized the Red Apple Rest bathrooms. Or to sample crap Kosher dishes like vegetable-barley soup, lox with vegetable cream cheese and raw onions on huge onion bagels or bialys, corned beef, tongue, brisket and pastrami sandwiches, knishes, tomato herring sandwiches and freakin’ sardines packed in tomato sauce.

Tony B hated all this Jewish junk, but the Red Apple Rest was the perfect place for him to meet Betty, since he was sure he’d never run into any of his Italian, or Irish friends in a place packed with Hebes.

Once a week, on a weekday afternoon about 2pm, Tony B would rent a room at the Red Apple Rest under an assumed name. Then he’d zip up the FDR Drive, across the George Washington Bridge. Route 4 to Paramus, New Jersey. Then Route 17 back into New York near Ramapo, through Sloatsburg, through the town of Tuxedo, right to the Red Apple Rest. With the rush hour traffic not yet starting, Tony B could make it from Little Italy to the Red Apple Rest in 45 minutes flat, doing his customary 90 miles an hour, with a trusty radar detector set on the dashboard.

Each and every time Tony B banged Betty, he told her he loved her daughter and really didn’t particularly like what he was doing.

“That’s alright,” Betty wold say. “I’m not looking for love and I figure this might be the best way for me to keep you from banging those fat Italian bimbos in New York City.”

Just when things started to get unbearable for Tony B, two things happened that changed the equation enormously.

The first thing was that Ann inexplicably became pregnant. Tony B had always used a rubber and somehow the rubber failed to work. Tony B would find out why later. And would do something about it.

The second thing was that Tony B finally cold-cocked that fat Irish bum Ryan O’Reilly and came off looking like a good guy doing so.

Ann getting pregnant caused Tony B to rethink he whole outlook on life. No matter what, he was still a Catholic and a back-room abortion was not an option. This was before Roe versus Wade became law and when it did, Tony B thought it was about two ways to cross a shallow stream.

Tony B and Ann decided to do the right thing and get married. Which would not please either of her parents too much, but for totally different reasons. For one thing, Tony B banging Betty would become a thing of the past, since Tony B and Ann decided they would make their home in New York City, making Tony B’s trips to the Red Apple Rest almost impossible. And certainly impractical.

Plus, Betty decided having sex with her daughter’s boyfriend was one thing. But banging bodies ugly with her son-in-law was absolutely out of the question.

As for blasting out Ryan O’Reilly, this was one opportunity Tony B could not possibly pass up.

It happened at a Labor Day weekend picnic, sponsored by the New York Daily News. O’Reilly bought four tickets to the picnic and he drove Betty, Ann and Tony B in his boxy, Buick station wagon, to a remote New Jersey campsite, in a town that might as well have been called Nowhere, New Jersey, as far as Tony B was concerned.

They started out at the O’Reilly residence, the head onto Jersey Avenue, through West Milford. Then after about a dozen turns down winding country roads and maybe a hour of driving, they came to a clearing in the woods, which was the site of the picnic.

Right off the bat, O’Reilly left his family for dead at a picnic table and began mingling, with Daily News female staffers. He did this right in the open, so everyone could see the embarrassment he was causing his wife and daughter. He puts his arms around different broads, kissed them on the cheek, on the neck, patted their buttocks. Things like that.

After an hour, or so of steady drinking by O’Reilly, Tony B spotted him grabbing a blond by the arm, then disappearing into the woods with her. Betty noticed this too and when her husband came back to the table about a half hour later all hell broke loose.

“And where the hell were you?” Betty said.

O’Reilly took a slug from a can of Schlitz. “Why don’t you mind your own fuckin’ business?”

Betty was irate. “Well, screw you then. You do that again, I’m taking the car and driving the kids back home.”

“Do what you want,” he said. “I’ll find my way back.”

That said, he left his family at the picnic table again and started making the rounds of the female pulchritude at the picnic.

Betty soon changed from drinking beer, to boilermakers, which were double shots of whiskey, followed by gulps of beer.

As the afternoon wore down, it was time for the Daily News raffle. First Prize was a Basket of Cheer, which was about a half a dozen bottles of booze, surrounded by cheese, crackers, and chocolates, arranged in a large wicker basket. The numbers on the stub of your ticket for admission was your chance at the gold.

Tony B sat at the picnic table with Ann and Betty. O’Reilly was somewhere in the crowd, probably feeling up a broad.

The bloke at the microphone was tilting in the wind, when he asked a young lass in a tight sweater, to come up and pick the winning ticket out of a metal bucket. He mixed up the stubs. She closed her eyes, reached deep in the bucket and pulled out a single stub. The half-a-drunk master of ceremonies held up the stub to what was left of the light and read, “The wining ticket number is 04-123-758.”

Tony B was barely interested, when Ann grabbed the stub from his hand. Sure enough, the numbers on it were 04-123-758.

Ann stood up from the picnic table, waving the stub. “We have a winner here.”

Ann hustled up to the MC and handed him the stub. The MC squinted at the stub. “Looks like we do have a winner.” He handed Ann the Basket of Cheer.

She brought it back to the picnic table and handed it to Tony B, just as her father arrived at the table. “Tony won the Basket of Cheer,” she told her father.

O’Reilly tugged the basket out of Tony B’s hand. “Like hell, this wop won. I bought the freakin’ ticket. The prize is mine.”

Tony B really could give a crap about the Basket of Cheer, but what O’Reilly did next was totally out of line.

Betty tried to take the Basket of Cheer back from her husband. He pulled back, and with his free right open hand, he smacked her across the cheek. Then he backhanded her other cheek, causing blood to trickle from her nose.

You could hear the collective gasp from the people at the picnic. But O’Reilly size was so intimidating, no one said, or did a thing.

Except for Tony B of course, who immediately stood up and delivered an overhand right to O’Reilly’s temple, felling him backwards, like a big oak toppling in a rain forest. Tony B hovered over O’Reilly, thinking about landing a few kicks, but O’Reilly was already out cold.

The picnic was winding down anyway. So two men helped Tony B carry O’Reilly to his Buick station wagon. They threw him in the back seat and Betty got in the back seat with him. Tony B took the wheel and Ann served as his co-pilot, since Tony B didn’t know where the hell they were, or how to get back to Greenwood Lake.

Tony B put the car in gear and exited the campsite. “Now where do I go?” he asked Ann.

“Just keep driving straight,” Ann said. “I’ll tell you where to turn.”

Tony B had driven about 20 minutes when he finally realized they were lost. Ann told him a right turn here, a left turn there, but the fact was, she didn’t know where the hell she was going either.

It was now dark and Tony B was still driving on desolate two-lane forest roads. One after another.

After about a hour of probably driving in circles, Tony saw a road sign with a yellow arrow that said, “Florida, – 5 miles.”

Now Tony B knew he was really screwed, since everyone knew Florida was in Miami, not in New York. He was worried the next sign he’d see would say “Key West – 20 miles.” Then he’d really be in a jam.

Panic began setting in. Tony B looked at his watch. It said 9 pm. He came to a fork in the road and stopped. Betty yelled from the back seat, “I know where we are. Take the right fork.”

Tony B was really angry. “Right fork? What am I eating salad here? Which way do I go?”

Betty bit her lip. “Bear right.” Knowing full well if she had said “Bear Left” Tony B would have thought hunting season was over.

Tony took the right fork. And dammit, another two-lane forest road. It was pitch black now, with a little fog, so Tony B flipped on his hight beams, by tapping the button on the floor by his left foot, which made matters worse.

Suddenly, O’Reilly’s head rose in the back seat, like he was coming out of a coffin. His eyes were blurry and he started to say, “What the F……” when Betty clocked him over the head with a frying pan, she had for some reason on the floor under the front seat. Her husband made a sound like a wounded animal, then fell back to sleep.

Fifteen minutes later, they entered the town of Warwick and Tony B let out a sigh of relief. He knew the way from there.

When they arrived at the O’Reilly residence, Tony B’s wristwatch said 10 pm. So an hour trip took approximately two and a half hours, because nobody awake in the car, including Tony B, knew where the hell they were going.

Tony B dragged O’Reilly from the car and tried to stand him up straight. It was no use. So Tony B put O’Reilly’s right arm around his shoulder. Betty did the same on the left and Ann unlocked the front door of the house. They somehow got the big lug into the house, up the stairs and into the master bedroom, where they flung him onto the bed. O’Reilly lay back, snoring with his mouth wide open, which was not a pretty site to Tony B.

Tony B kissed Ann on the lips goodbye. A long, passionate kiss. Then he tried to kiss Betty on the cheek. She turned her head and offered her puckered lips instead. Not taking the bait, Tony did an about -face and exited the house. He jumped in his car, hit the ignition and headed back to civilization — good old New York City.

It happened at a Labor Day weekend picnic, sponsored by the New York Daily News. O’Reilly bought four tickets to the picnic and he drove Betty, Ann and Tony B in his boxy, Buick station wagon, to a remote New Jersey campsite, in a town that might as well have been called Nowhere, New Jersey, as far as Tony B was concerned.

They started out at the O’Reilly residence, the head onto Jersey Avenue, through West Milford. Then after about a dozen turns down winding country roads and maybe a hour of driving, they came to a clearing in the woods, which was the site of the picnic.

Right off the bat, O’Reilly left his family for dead at a picnic table and began mingling, with Daily News female staffers. He did this right in the open, so everyone could see the embarrassment he was causing his wife and daughter. He puts his arms around different broads, kissed them on the cheek, on the neck, patted their buttocks. Things like that.

After an hour, or so of steady drinking by O’Reilly, Tony B spotted him grabbing a blond by the arm, then disappearing into the woods with her. Betty noticed this too and when her husband came back to the table about a half hour later all hell broke loose.

“And where the hell were you?” Betty said.

O’Reilly took a slug from a can of Schlitz. “Why don’t you mind your own fuckin’ business?”

Betty was irate. “Well, screw you then. You do that again, I’m taking the car and driving the kids back home.”

“Do what you want,” he said. “I’ll find my way back.”

That said, he left his family at the picnic table again and started making the rounds of the female pulchritude at the picnic.

Betty soon changed from drinking beer, to boilermakers, which were double shots of whiskey, followed by gulps of beer.

As the afternoon wore down, it was time for the Daily News raffle. First Prize was a Basket of Cheer, which was about a half a dozen bottles of booze, surrounded by cheese, crackers, and chocolates, arranged in a large wicker basket. The numbers on the stub of your ticket for admission was your chance at the gold.

Tony B sat at the picnic table with Ann and Betty. O’Reilly was somewhere in the crowd, probably feeling up a broad.

The bloke at the microphone was tilting in the wind, when he asked a young lass in a tight sweater, to come up and pick the winning ticket out of a metal bucket. He mixed up the stubs. She closed her eyes, reached deep in the bucket and pulled out a single stub. The half-a-drunk master of ceremonies held up the stub to what was left of the light and read, “The wining ticket number is 04-123-758.”

Tony B was barely interested, when Ann grabbed the stub from his hand. Sure enough, the numbers on it were 04-123-758.

Ann stood up from the picnic table, waving the stub. “We have a winner here.”

Ann hustled up to the MC and handed him the stub. The MC squinted at the stub. “Looks like we do have a winner.” He handed Ann the Basket of Cheer.

She brought it back to the picnic table and handed it to Tony B, just as her father arrived at the table. “Tony won the Basket of Cheer,” she told her father.

O’Reilly tugged the basket out of Tony B’s hand. “Like hell, this wop won. I bought the freakin’ ticket. The prize is mine.”

Tony B really could give a crap about the Basket of Cheer, but what O’Reilly did next was totally out of line.

Betty tried to take the Basket of Cheer back from her husband. He pulled back, and with his free right open hand, he smacked her across the cheek. Then he backhanded her other cheek, causing blood to trickle from her nose.

You could hear the collective gasp from the people at the picnic. But O’Reilly size was so intimidating, no one said, or did a thing.

Except for Tony B of course, who immediately stood up and delivered an overhand right to O’Reilly’s temple, felling him backwards, like a big oak toppling in a rain forest. Tony B hovered over O’Reilly, thinking about landing a few kicks, but O’Reilly was already out cold.

The picnic was winding down anyway. So two men helped Tony B carry O’Reilly to his Buick station wagon. They threw him in the back seat and Betty got in the back seat with him. Tony B took the wheel and Ann served as his co-pilot, since Tony B didn’t know where the hell they were, or how to get back to Greenwood Lake.

Tony B put the car in gear and exited the campsite. “Now where do I go?” he asked Ann.

“Just keep driving straight,” Ann said. “I’ll tell you where to turn.”

Tony B had driven about 20 minutes when he finally realized they were lost. Ann told him a right turn here, a left turn there, but the fact was, she didn’t know where the hell she was going either.

It was now dark and Tony B was still driving on desolate two-lane forest roads. One after another.

After about a hour of probably driving in circles, Tony saw a road sign with a yellow arrow that said, “Florida, – 5 miles.”

Now Tony B knew he was really screwed, since everyone knew Florida was in Miami, not in New York. He was worried the next sign he’d see would say “Key West – 20 miles.” Then he’d really be in a jam.

Panic began setting in. Tony B looked at his watch. It said 9 pm. He came to a fork in the road and stopped. Betty yelled from the back seat, “I know where we are. Take the right fork.”

Tony B was really angry. “Right fork? What am I eating salad here? Which way do I go?”

Betty bit her lip. “Bear right.” Knowing full well if she had said “Bear Left” Tony B would have thought hunting season was over.

Tony took the right fork. And dammit, another two-lane forest road. It was pitch black now, with a little fog, so Tony B flipped on his hight beams, by tapping the button on the floor by his left foot, which made matters worse.

Suddenly, O’Reilly’s head rose in the back seat, like he was coming out of a coffin. His eyes were blurry and he started to say, “What the F……” when Betty clocked him over the head with a frying pan, she had for some reason on the floor under the front seat. Her husband made a sound like a wounded animal, then fell back to sleep.

Fifteen minutes later, they entered the town of Warwick and Tony B let out a sigh of relief. He knew the way from there.

When they arrived at the O’Reilly residence, Tony B’s wristwatch said 10 pm. So an hour trip took approximately two and a half hours, because nobody awake in the car, including Tony B, knew where the hell they were going.

Tony B dragged O’Reilly from the car and tried to stand him up straight. It was no use. So Tony B put O’Reilly’s right arm around his shoulder. Betty did the same on the left and Ann unlocked the front door of the house. They somehow got the big lug into the house, up the stairs and into the master bedroom, where they flung him onto the bed. O’Reilly lay back, snoring with his mouth wide open, which was not a pretty site to Tony B.

Tony B kissed Ann on the lips goodbye. A long, passionate kiss. Then he tried to kiss Betty on the cheek. She turned her head and offered her puckered lips instead. Not taking the bait, Tony did an about -face and exited the house. He jumped in his car, hit the ignition and headed back to civilization — good old New York City.

Sitdown at Forlini’s


 

They sat at a round table in the back room of Forlini’s Restaurant. No one else was in the room and no one else was allowed in the room. The back room was usually reserved for private parties; baptisms, confirmations, birthdays, anniversaries and an occasional Bar Mitzvah, or two, even though Manishchewitz wasn’t on the menu.

Tonight, important business was to be discussed in this room and if a customer made the mistake of entering the room, or made a wrong turn to or from the bathroom, they would be quickly told to get out or else. And in the history of Forlini’s, no one had ever asked why.

On the table in front of them were several platters of cold and hot antipasto.

“Hey Junior, pass me the platter of proshoot and mozarell,” Tony B said.

“Want some cabacol too?” Junior said.

Mannaggia, you want to get me fat, or something?” Tony B said.

Big Fat Fanny sat at the right hand of Tony B. “And what’s wrong with being fat?”

Tony B pinched her plump cheek. “There’s nothing wrong with being fat, sweetie. In fact, even though you’re a little hefty, you look beautiful. If you were skinny, like Skinny Benny, I wouldn’t even look at you twice.”

Junior handed his father the platter he requested. Tony B forked the Italian cold cuts onto his plate, until the platter was empty.

“Now you’re going to get fat,” Big Fat Fanny told Tony B. “And I don’t like fat men.”

Skinny Benny picked from a hot platter of fried calamari. “I eat like a pig, but I can never gain any weight.”

Big Fat Fanny dipped a large piece of buttered Italian bread into a plate of Italian meat sauce. “That because all those schifosas you go out with, work off all the calories on your bony body.” She shoveled the bread into her mouth, took a few bites, then swallowed. “ Your wouldn’t know what to do with a real woman like me.”

Skinny Benny forked some more fried calamari into his mouth. “Va fongool, they ain’t all skanks. Some of the broads I date look like movie stars.”

Big Fat Fanny dunked another piece of bread into the meat sauce. “Yeah, some of them look like King Kong, that’s for sure.” She devoured the bread in two bites. “What is it with you anyway? White girls don’t turn you on?”

Skinny Benny put down his fork. “Hey, I don’t date any Moolies.”

Tony B spoke with his mouth full of salami. “Maybe you don’t date them. But quite a few have been seen sneaking in and out of your apartment.”

Skinny Benny leaned forward. “Meengya, those are my cleaning ladies, for Christ’s sake. I have them come in once or twice a week. To do the laundry and things like that.”

Tony B almost choked on a piece of bread. “Cleaning ladies? What are you, kidding me? The only thing those ‘cleaning ladies’ clean are your fuckin’ pipes.”

Big Fat Fanny put down her bread and looked Tony B square in the eye. “Enough with the cursing. There’s and lady in the room.” She picked up the bread and dipped it in the meat sauce. “And before anyone gets cute, the lady is me.”

Tony B patted her chunky cheek. “Of y course you’re a lady. And I’ll try to stop the freakin’ cursing.”

Skinny Benny took a sip of red wine. “So maybe I throw the cleaning ladies an extra ten spot now and then. Those girls gotta earn a livin’ too, ya know.”

Tony B chewed, then swallowed a large chunk of provolone cheese. “Oofah. Let’s stop taking about this stuff while I’m eating. You’re giving me agita here.”

Big Fat Fanny shoved a large piece of provolone in her mouth. She chomped a bit, then swallowed. “Yes, let’s get down to business, before they bring out the main courses.”

Tony B wiped his mouth with the cloth napkin. He clanged his fork on a water glass to get everyone’s attention. “This place may be bugged. So we’re all going to write things down. Then destroy the papers.”

He took out a spiral notebook, fingered a pencil and wrote: “Charlie Crap is a stone fag. And he’s gotta go.”

He handed the notebook to Big Fat Fanny. She read the note, nodded her head, then handed the notebook to Junior.

Junior read it, nodded his head, then handed it to Skinny Benny.

Skinny Benny read the note, then yelled out, “Crappy’s not a stone fag. He’s got more broads than Jesus Christ.”

Tony B slammed his hand on the table. Glasses and dished shook. He said in a loud whisper, “Will you freakin’ be quiet!”

Skinny Benny turned the page of the notebook to a new sheet of paper. He scribbled something, then passed the notebook around until it got to Tony B.

Tony B read the note:“This is bullshit!”

Tony B, turned to a fresh sheet, wrote something, then flipped the notebook across the table at Skinny Benny.

Skinny Benny caught the notebook against his chest, then read the note: “I have proof. Someone we know caught him in the act.”

Skinny Benny turned to a fresh sheet of paper and wrote, “Bring that person to me.” He flung the notebook across the table to Tony B.

Tony B caught it in his right hand. He read the note, turned to a fresh sheet, then wrote: “I anticipated you saying that. Later on, I’ll take you to the witness. Then we gotta do what we gotta do.”

He flipped the notebook back across the table to Skinny Benny.

Skinny Benny caught the notebook, read the note, nodded and flipped the note book back to Tony B. “Whatever you say boss.”

Tony B caught the notebook and ripped out the pages that had been written on. He handed the pages to Big Fat Fanny, then whispered in her ear, “Get rid of these, will ya..”

Big Fat Fanny rolled the sheets of paper into a ball. She dipped the paper ball into the Italian meat sauce, then shoved the paper ball into her mouth. A few bites and a huge swallow, and the papers were gone for good.

“Now what are we having for dinner?” Big Fat Fanny said. “I’m starting to get hungry.”

Who Put the Pinholes in the Condoms?


 

A few days later, Tony B found out something that made him angry, like a bull with his butt caught in a barbed wire fence.

It seemed that some jerk who worked at Tony’s Drugstore on Mulberry and Canal, thought it was a funny thing to put pinholes in the store’s condoms that neighborhood people bought at the counter in the back.

So now Tony B knew exactly why Ann had gotten pregnant and why Tony B’s life would undergo a drastic change, for about the next fifty freaking years, if Tony B was lucky to live that long.

The jerk’s name was Lenny the Lunkhead. Lenny was so dumb, he never got past the 4th grade at PS 130, a school so low in academic standards, a rock could graduate on time, with honors.

Lenny the Lunkhead (nobody knew his last name and nobody cared), spent his wretched life in a series of one insignificant job after another. The Lunkhead made the bulk of his yearly cash in the two month period before the 4th of July, when the streets of the 6th ward, all the way to the Holland Tunnel on west Canal Street, were one gigantic firework sale.

People from all over the tristate area rushed into the 6th Ward to buy fireworks for their 4th of July celebrations. Every block in the 6th Ward was manned by at least one runner, ages 10 up to social security age and older. Their job was to holler loud to every passing car, “Fireworks! Fireworks! Get your fireworks here!”

When the runner found a willing customer, he told them to pull over and park by the nearest hydrant. He would take their order and also take their money in advance, to make sure they stuck around. Then the runner would dash to the nearest drop area, usually a cellar, or a first floor apartment, or maybe even the trunk of a parked car, and give the fireworks order to the block boss, the man actually responsible for divvying out the fireworks. The block boss would fill the order, by placing the fireworks in a large paper shopping bag, which he handed to the runner.

The runner would dash back to the customer’s parked car and hand them the bag with the fireworks saying, “Quick get out of here fast. There’s cops all over the place.” Which indeed they were.

The truth about the cops was that they could care less about who was selling what, as long as they got their weekly cut, which they always did.

Every once in a blue moon, the police brass from uptown would order a firework crackdown in the 6th Ward. When this happened, the local 5th Precinct cops would round up the designated pinchees and load them into a Paddy Wagon for transport to the city prison called the Tombs. Every year, the people who took the pinch, were well taken care of by their associates, so in some ways it was a good thing for them. They got to stay off the streets and out the scorching heat for a few days, get three squares a day on the arm and still get paid as if they were in the street running the works.

The lucky runners were selected by the mob in advance to take the pinch.
It went down like this. The cops would send word to the mob, “Tomorrow one pm, have the guys you want pinched standing in front of 96 Mulberry.” And like clockwork, the next day at one pm, half a dozen cops, in riot gear, would descend upon the building with drawn handguns, like they were after Public Enemy Number 1. They were followed by an empty Paddy Wagon, which would not be empty for long.

Hoods with long criminal records, like Charlie Chickens, Waldo the Walrus and Pigeonhead, would be at the appointed area, all spruced up and ready to go. They were like kids going on a vacation upstate with the Fresh Air Fund.

The cops would go through the public act of cuffing them, but as soon as they were in the Paddy Wagon, the cops would take off the cuffs and give them ham and cheese sandwiches to eat later, while they were being processed at the Tombs, which was conveniently located around the corner on Baxter Street, smack in the middle of the 6th Ward firework sales extravaganza.

The trust between the fireworks runners and the customers, who paid for their stash in advance, was indeed a sacred thing. The block boss made sure all his runners understood that shorting a customer was not a great idea, because it could be very bad for business. If the word got around customers were getting screwed, the firework businesses, and it was a very profitable business for the mob indeed, would be in danger of extinction. And if a runner was caught shorting his customer, the runner would be in danger of extinction too.

None of this made any impression on Lenny the Lunkhead. Whenever he felt the urge, which usually meant after he had a bad night at Yonkers Raceway, after receiving the fireworks from his street boss, the Lunkhead would go to his own hidden drop area, usually the first floor apartment he shared with his grandmother on Hester St. There the Lunkhead would remove half the fireworks, fill the bottom of the bag with crumpled newspaper, then throw the other half of the fireworks on top of the newspaper .

The Lunkhead would then run to the customer’s car, hand them the shopping bag and yell, “Put this on the floor in the back seat, then scram. Don’t stop until you get to where you’re going. The streets are flooded with cops.”

After he had accumulated enough stash to carry in two huge shopping bags, The Lunkhead would take the subway to South Brooklyn and drop off the works with a cousin, who would would then sell them on the street, splitting the profits with Lenny the Lunkhead.

This went on for a few fireworks seasons, until The Lunkhead’s scheme just went blotto. One of the customers who he had shorted, just happened to be the cousin of one of the 5th Precinct cops on the take. The customer reported the shortage to his cop cousin and soon the Lunkhead was out of a job and minus a few front teeth to boot.

With The Lunkhead’s academic limitations, and the fact he was banned from doing anything even remotely connected to the mob, the Lunkhead got a job at Tony’s Drugstore at the corner of Mulberry and Canal. It was a combination luncheonette, soda fountain, with a full drug store in the back.

Lunkhead’s job at Tony’s was refilling the shelves with whatever and making a few chocolate, or vanilla eggs creams at the soda fountain up front. But the Lunkhead was soon relieved of his fountain duties and with good reason.

One day, mob captain Boots Latoure sauntered into Tony’s Drug Store. His gumada, a bleach blond named Cuddles, sat in his Caddy Convertible double-parked outside, with the top down. The thing was, Boots didn’t like to use rubbers when he performed the horizontal mambo, so Cuddles told him there was a new foam spermicide contraceptive called Emco, that would kill the little buggers before they got a chance to do any damage.

Boots never heard of Emco and Cuddles was too embarrassed to go inside Tony’s Drug store to ask for anything that would indicate she was engaging in sexual relations with half the neighborhood, which she certainly was.

So Boots Latoure moseyed up to the soda fountain where Lenny the Lunkhead was ostensibly reading Sports Illustrated, except Playboy Magazine, stuffed in side the sports magazine, was really the object of his attention.

Boots didn’t want anyone to know why he was there and wasn’t sure the drugstore sold Emco anyway, so he motioned for the Lenny the Lunkhead to come over.

He whispered into the Lunkhead’s ear, “You got any Emco in the back?”

Now what Boots and any normal human being would expect, was for the Lunkhead to go quietly into the back drug store section and ask his boss about the Emco.

Instead, the Lunkhead cupped both hands to his mouth and yelled towards the back of the store, “HEY TONY, YOU GOT ANY EMCO?

With the Lunkhead yelling so loud, Boots ears felt like they were bleeding, and the entire neighborhood, including Cuddles sitting in the Caddy outside, knew Boots and Cuddles were planning to do some sexual experimentation in the near, or even immediate future.

As Boots was strangling Lenny the Lunkhead, so bad the Lunkhead’s eyes were hyper-extending from his skull, Tony the Druggist ran from the back of the store and used every ounce of his strength to extricate the Lunkhead’s throat from Boots’ death grip.

From that day on, the Lunkhead was banned to the back of the store, to refill the shelves, wash, the floors, dust the cabinets and do anything that didn’t include him being anywhere near the soda fountain up front.

This Lunkhead did not like this too much and he was hell bent on revenge. Only at first, he did not know exactly how to extract that revenge.

Tony’s Drugstore also did a brisk neighborhood business in condoms, which were not on the shelves, but in the back, behind the drug counter, under the cash register.

If someone wanted a pack of condoms, they had to pass the soda fountain, go the the back of the store and ask Tony the Druggist, in a nice soft voice, to give them a pack of Trojans, ribbed, lubricated, or maybe just plain. Tony the Druggist was the model of discretion and no one, but the customer and Tony the Druggist ever knew about the rubber transaction.

After a few weeks of being banished to the back of Tony’s Drug Store, the Lunkhead, now angry at the entire world, but especially at the people of the 6th ward, decided to get even in his own evil way. The condoms not behind the drug counter were kept in the secluded stock room in the back of the store. During breaks Larry would got back there, usually with a screw book of some sort, and play choke the chicken, with a lubricated rubber on his member, which made the task all the more pleasurable.

One day, the Lunkhead thought it would be a great idea, to remove the condoms from the boxes and put pin holes in them, with a safely pin he had secreted in his pocket. He did not stab every condom, but maybe one of every three boxes stacked on the shelf. Lunkhead was a gambler at heart and he wanted to give everyone at least a sporting chance.

The Lunkhead pin-holed the condoms for a few months, waiting patiently to hear the news about any surprise pregnancies in the neighborhood. Sure enough, the word began circulating that a few girls did get pregnant. Some were married. Some were not. But one thing for sure, in Little Italy no unmarried girl could ever be seen walking the streets with a belly as big as a balloon. Marriages were hastily planned and carried out, at Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter, at Transfiguration Church on Mott and as far north as old St. Patricks on Mulberry, near Houston.

The Lunkhead was also pleased to hear that the epidemic had spread into the 4th Ward, as St. Joseph’s and St James Churches also had a deluge of hastily arranged weddings. And not to be outdone by the Catholics, Protestant Mariners Temple on Oliver Street also did a brisk wedding business. And the Lunkhead was pleasantly surprised when he heard they were a spate of Jewish weddings at the old Chasam Sopher Synagogue down on Clinton Street.

The only thing that pissed off the Lunkhead a little, was that because of Lunkhead’s deeds, all these houses of worship were making a mint off the weddings and he could not avail himself of even a little taste of the cash.

Nobody was the wiser about Lunkhead’s shenanigans, until another co-worker at Tony’s Drugstore, Sammy Splash, caught the Lunkhead doing the dirty deed with his nasty old safety pin.

Sammy Splash was not rat, but he instantly recognized the ramifications of what Larry the Lunkhead was doing. Neighborhood girls were getting pregnant and even girls outside the neighborhood might get pot bellies too, if they were screwed by the Beau Brummells who had purchased their rubbers at Tony’s Drug Store.

So Sammy Splash did the right thing and reported Lunkhead’s heinous crime to the proper authorities, meaning the mob guys in the neighborhood, once of whom was Tony B.

When Tony B found out about Lunkhead and the safely pin, he put two and two together and came up with Ann O’Reilly’s pregnancy. This did not please Tony B not one bit.

One evening near dark, and in the pouring rain, Tony B and Skinny Benny waited in a stolen Buick outside Tony’s Drugstore near closing time. Finally the Lunkhead departed and he was apprehended by the two, then thrown in the back seat of the Buick. Tony B sat beside the Lunkhead in the back seat, a Colt 38 with a silencer in place, snuggly pressed against the Lunkhead’s ribs.

Skinny Benny did the driving and before long, they were on South Street, under the FDR Drive, near Market Slip. Skinny Benny parked the Buick with the engine running, sideways, up against the curb of the East River, which was flowing rapidly ten feet below street level.

Without saying a word, Tony B shot the Lunkhead in the side, but before he could put one in the Lunkhead’s half-a-brain, the Lunkhead flung open the back door and jumped into the East River.

Tony B and Skinny Benny sped out of the car and looked down into the dark waters below. All the could see was blood and bubbles, but no Lenny the Lunkhead. Thinking the drink had swallowed up the Lunkhead, Tony B and Skinny Benny absconded to Moochies Bar, on the corner of South and Market Slip, to celebrate their accomplishment.

To their surprise, about an hour later, as Tony B and Skinny Benny were about half sloshed themselves, Lenny the Lunkhead staggered through the front door of Moochies, soaking wet and holding his bloody side with both hands.

The Lunkhead screamed at the owner Moochie, who was tending bar. “Quick, call an ambulance. I’ve been shot.”

Moochie, a dour man, did not suffer fools too well. He looked up at Lunkhead and said, “There’s a pay phone in the back. Call them yourself.”

“I’m busted. Can I borrow a dime?” the Lunkhead said.

Just as Moochie was reaching into the register to get a dime, the Lunkhead spotted Tony B and Skinny Benny seated at the far end of the bar. Moochie turned around with the dime extended, but by then Lunkhead had already dashed from the bar, never to be seen again in the lower east side of Manhattan.

The Warwick Drive-In


In 1960, Tony B met the love of his life, Ann O’Reilly, a lovely Irish lass, who was a librarian at the local Greenwood Lake library. Tony was used to the Italian broads in Little Italy, who were a little rough around the edges, didn’t hesitated to curse and would cut your throat like a man. Ann was different. Blond and built like Ginger Rodgers, she had a sweet smile and a vocabulary an English professor would admire. Tony B met Ann, when he dropped into the Greenwood Lake library to pick up the biography of Al Capone, for some light summer reading.
It was love at first sight for Tony B. He had never met a girl like Ann before. So soft and sweet, always smiling. Not bad thing in the world to say about anyone. Not like the bawdy cuginettes, strutting about Manhattan’s Little Italy and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn whom Tony B hung usually around with. The kind of broads who were either snapping their chewing gum, puffing an unfiltered Camel, or cursing and spitting out of the side of their mouths.
After a few more trips to the Greenwood Lake library, and after he ran out of mob books for Ann to find for him, Tony B asked her for a date. She accepted and Tony B was floating on air when he arrived at the door of her Greenwood Lake home.
But not for long.
Tony B didn’t know it at the time, but the problem men had with dating Ann, was her loud, vulgar, Irish-bastard father, who was incidentally the Major of Greenwood Lake and loving every minute of it.
Ryan O’Reilly drove a Daily News delivery track for a living, and that being a union job, he was controlled by friends of Tony B’s. In truth, O’Reilly did not like Italians too much. He called them Guineas, Greaseballs, Dagos and Wops. And that was on the days he was feeling good about them.
Wearing his best sharkskin suit and holding two dozen roses in his hand, Tony B knocked on the O’Reilly resident door. It was opened by a big, fat, tub of lard, whose immense figure blocked the entire entrance.
“Yeah, what do you want!” Ryan O’Reilly snapped at Tony B.
Tony B forced a smile. “I’m here to pick up your daughter, sir.”
“My daughter? What is this? Some kind of sick joke?”
That said, O’Reilly slammed the door in Tony B’s face.
Tony B could hear the Mick bastard scream from inside the house, “Oh Bejesus. What, in Paddy O’Leary’s name is that greaseball doing at my front door?”
The door soon opened and a pretty, middle-aged, blond woman appeared. She smiled at Tony B. “You must be Tony. I’m Ann’s mother Betty. Please have a seat on the porch and my daughter will be out shortly.”
Tony B He sat on a wicker chair. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“Can I get you some ice tea, or a soda?” Betty said.
“No thanks, Ma’am.”
Betty smiled. “I’ll tell Ann you’re outside waiting for her.”
That said, she sashayed back inside the house and Tony B could not help but admire her fine rear end.
A few minutes later, a stunning Ann O’Reilly walked out the front door.
Thus, started their first date. The first of many more to come.
Tony B didn’t think it was a good idea to take a classy lady like Ann to one of the hot joints in Greenwood Lake, at least not on the first date. So he thought it would be a nice idea to take her to the Warwick Drive-In Movie, which was just on the other side of the scenic Mt. Peter, on Route 17 A.
Tony B was a little confused as to what the proper protocol was on a first date with a class act like Ann. Most of the bimbos Tony dated in NY City, would open their legs wide on a first date, as easy as opening a bottle beer with a church key. But Ann was different, so Tony B decided to proceed with caution.
They were sitting at the Warwick Drive-In, in Tony’s 1960 black Fleetwood Cadillac convertible, with the top up, watching Anatomy of a Murder, starring James Stewart. The Caddy had red leather, bench seats in the front, and Tony B didn’t exactly know how far he should slide over to the middle, without giving the impression he was trying to get fresh. So Tony B sat far left in the driver’s seat, almost touching the driver’s door, not to give the impression he was about to put on any moves.
The speakers in the Drive-In were hooked to poles jammed into the ground, with a removable speaker attached to either side of the pole. It was situated so that two cars could share one pole, with each having their own speaker. You removed the speaker from the pole, slid your window down a bit and hooked the speaker onto your window,
After picking up a box of Bob Bon’s, a large bucket of popcorn and two sodas at the Drive-In- refreshment stand, Tony pulled the Caddy into a parking spot, halfway back from the screen, in the middle of the Drive-In. He parked so that the speaker was by Ann’s window, so that she could hear the movie more clearly. It was the courteous thing to do.
Soon after, a small foreign car pulled on the other side of the pole. The driver removed the other speaker and hooked it onto his window.
Tony and Ann watched the movie quietly, with nary a word passing between them. Which was kind of strange since they were not in a movie house, where speaking out loud was considered not of good decorum. But when Tony B got nervous, he clammed up. Better to say nothing than to say the wrong thing, especially on a first date.
The movie had a decent plot, and Tony had a soft spot for the killer, played by Ben Gazzara, an Italian paisan, born and bred on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In the movie, Gazzara’s character is on trial for killing the creep who raped his wife, played by Lee Remick, who looked strikingly like the girl sitting right next to Tony B.
Ann wore a tight black cashmere sweater, over a black cotton skirt, cut at the knee, and ever so often Tony B would peek at her shapely legs from the corner of his eye.
The movie ended and a second feature was about to start. It was called Night of the Giant Leeches. Tony B knew a few two-legged leeches in his lifetime, but as soon as the first scene started, Ann let out a soft moan.
“You like these kind of movies?” Tony B said.
Ann shivered. “No. I actually hate them.”
“Do you want to split? ”
“Yes, that would be a good idea.”
Tony B started the car, put it in drive and pulled away from the parking spot, unfortunately before Ann could remove the speaker from her window.
Tony B’s Caddy moved barely twenty feet, when he heard, a loud crack and Ann screaming.
Tony B glanced to his right and saw that he had pulled the speaker pole right out of the ground, and in the process, had snapped the fogged window out of the small foreign car parked next to them, sending shards of glass flying in all directions.
Tony B stepped on the accelerator and yelled to Ann, “Quick, unhook the speaker from the window!”
She did just that, and Tony B screeched a wheelie to the left, swirling up the gravel. He looked in his rear view mirror and spotted the driver of the foreign car dart out the driver’s door, then fall flat on his face. The dope’s pants were around his ankles and those not immersed in the Attack of the Giants Leeches, got a clear look at his skinny ass and embarassing half-a-hardon.
Tony B floored the Caddy, raced out of the Drive-In, sped over the Mt. Peter and didn’t stop until he was safely back in Greenwood Lake.
The Warwick Drive-In became the weekly Saturday night date for the two lovebirds. Instead of stopping at the Warwick’s Drive-In’s refreshment stand, Tony B stocked his car with treats from home, including beer and sometimes scotch, or brandy, which came in handy on the cold winter nights, when Tony B had to keep his car running, the heater on full blast, just to keep from freezing.
As the weeks and months passed by, Tony B and Ann sat closer together in the front seat of the Caddy. Showing her the proper respect she deserved, Tony B limited his amorous attempts to no more than kissing and light petting. And an occasional hand exploration of her curvy body.
Starting around the Christmas holidays of 1962, things took a turn for the better. It started with Ann giving him an occasional hand job, because Tony B convinced her, if she didn’t relieve him in some way, he’d get a bad case of the “blue balls”, which would render him bent over in terrible pain.
One thing led to another and pretty soon it was time for the main event.
Tony B always carried a rubber in his wallet, just in case. The Saturday before Christmas, while Norman Bates, the proprietor of the Bates Motel, was going Psycho on the big screen and the temperature outside in Warwick was nearing zero degrees, Tony B and Ann, rubber in place, consummated the relationship in the back seat of the Caddy. After the deed was done, Tony B removed the soggy rubber and flung it out the passengers side window.
They watched the rest of the movie, and after Norman Bates dressed in his mother’s clothes and a scraggly wig, tried to slice up a female guest and was thereby sent to the nuthouse, Tony B started the Caddy, left the Warwick Drive-In and headed back to Ann’s Greenwood Lake home.
He parked in her home driveway, nose of the Caddy facing in.
“Come inside” Ann said. “My parents bought you a Christmas present.”
Tony B cut the ignition and he and Ann entered the front door of the O’Reilly residence. The living room was decorated in Early American, with a huge Christmas tree with presents under it propped up by the front bay window.
Ann’s mother Betty was radiant as ever. A forty-something fox with roving eyes, especially after she had imbibed a few martinis, which was almost every night. Tony B figured, a woman with an husband like Ryan O’Reilly, had to knock down a few regularly just not to go crazy.
“Oh Tony, so good to see you,” Betty said. She was holding an empty martini glass delicately by her right ear. “Can I get you something to drink?”
Tony and Ann sat on the couch.
“No thanks, ma’am,” Tony B said, “I have to be going in a few minutes.”
“Oh don’t be silly,” Betty said. “I was just about to refill mine. How about a small martini?”
“Could you make it a scotch, straight up, instead?” Tony B said.
“One scotch, neat, coming up.” Betty said. She turned to Ann. “Anything for you dear?”
“No mom, I’m fine,” Ann said
Betty did an unsteady about-face and disappeared into the kitchen.
Tony B and Ann sat on the couch and she snuggled her head on his shoulder.
“Mom’s a little tight,” Ann said.
“I’d be tight too, if I woke up every morning next to your father,” Tony B said.
Ann returned with two drinks and handed Tony B the scotch.
“I propose a toast,” Betty said.
She raided her glass. Tony B did the same.
“To you and my daughter,” Betty said.
“Salute’,” Tony said, and he watched in amazement as Betty downed her entire martini in one gigantic gulp.
Ann got up from the couch and went to the Christmas tree. She bent down, extracted a present from the bunch and handed it to Tony B.
“This is from my parents,” Ann said. “I’ll give you yours from me on Christmas day.”
Tony B was in the process of ripping off the Christmas wrapping paper, when the front door bolted open and Ryan O’Reilly burst through.
He stared at Tony B with murder in his eyes.
“Come here you!” he said. “You have some explaining to do.”
Tony B stood tall. “What’s the problem?”
O’Reilly busted over, grabbed Tony B’s arm and squeezed. “Come outside and I’ll show you.”
He pushed Tony B towards the front door.
Tony B wanted to sucker punch this bastard so bad, but he took a deep breath, then headed out the front door, with O’Reilly and the two females following.
Tony B stood by the driver’s door of his Caddy. “Well, what is it?”
O’Reilly strode around the back of the Caddy to the passengers side. He motioned to Tony B with his forefinger. “Wrong side of the car. Come over here.”
Tony B obeyed, and when he saw what was making O’Reilly angry, he almost swallowed his tongue.
There it was, the spent rubber Tony B had used at the Warwick Drive-In, frozen stuck on the passenger side of the car, back panel, near the trunk.
Tony B felt sweat running down the back of his neck, even though it was near zero degrees in Greenwood Lake. “I swear to God, I don’t know how it got there,” Tony B said.
Ann rushed around the side of the car. When she saw the rubber, she gasped and to stifle a scream, she held her right hand to her mouth. Betty followed her, but when she saw what all the commotion was about, her mouth formed a tight smile.
O’Reilly’s face had now turned beet red and Tony B knew it wasn’t from the cold.
“I’m listening,” O’Reilly said.
Tony B took a deep breath. “It must be Skinny Benny, or Richie Ratface. They live a few blocks from here. They must have followed me and planted it.”
The veins bulged in O’Reilly’s neck. “They planted a used rubber on your car? And who do you think they used the rubber on?”
Tony B forced himself to finger the frozen rubber. “This is just frozen milk on the rubber. Here, touch it. See for yourself.”
O’Reilly scrunched up his mouth, “Touch it? What are you, some kind of a nut? I’m not going to touch it.”
Betty marched up to the rubber and dipped her forefinger into the frozen goo. She put her finger to her mouth, licked it, smiled and said, “It’s milk alright. Some kind of sick joke to play on the holy days.”
Tony B stared indignantly at O’Reilly. “See, I told you it was milk.”
Without saying other word, Tony B played his act to the hilt. He got into the car, started the engine, backed out of the driveway and sped away, burning rubber (but not that rubber) on the icy street.
From that point on, Tony B knew he had an ally in Betty O’Reilly. And he couldn’t help but get a little hard at the thought of his girlfriend’s mother, licking his frozen come off her forefinger so cheerfully.