It was a sunny spring Friday around noon, when Junior stooped to pick up the large glob of poop, with a paper towel, that was just discharged from the butt of the large German Shepard named Brutus, a dog that was willed, well almost, to Junior by the estate of the dearly departed Billy the Blade. The Blade had no wife, no children and no blood relatives on earth. So of course, when the Blade met his untimely death, he had no freaking will either. When Junior found out the Blade was no more, he rushed to the Blade’s Mulberry Street apartment, before the police got there. He used the key the Blade had given him “just in case” and cleaned out all the Blade’s worldly possessions.
The dog, of course, Junior found first, because as soon as he walked through the front door, Brutus jumped up, put his paws on Junior’s two shoulders and gave Junior’s face a nice warm tongue bath, probably immediately after Brutus had just licked his own balls and butt, because that’s what his breath smelled like he had just done.
Junior quickly found some jewelry hidden in a coffee can in the refrigerator, but finding hard cold cash was not an easy thing to do. After about 20 minutes of frantic searching, Junior finally hit paydirt. Twice.
First he found a hidden safe, dug into the floor of the bedroom closet, hidden by about a dozen pairs of Georgio Brutini shoes.
Now opening the safe was no problem for Junior, since his father had taught him safe-cracking 101 as soon as Junior was old enough to count to three. Other kids played with GI Joes or Erector Sets, but Tony B taught his son how to crack safes, in case this skill would come in handy some day. And now it did.
Junior only found five grand hidden in the safe, along with a few old snapshots of the Blade and Junior, when they were half in the bag in some seedy night club, which could be one of about a thousand they had partied in throughout the years.
Junior knew there had to be more cash hidden someplace in the apartment, but with the police most likely making an appearance within the hour, Junior didn’t have time to pillage the place completely.
Then he saw it.
It was in the middle of a row of books, in a narrow bookcase, standing in a corner the living room wall. The title was “The Complete Works of Shakespeare.” Every other book in the bookcase was a mob book of some sort.
- “Honor Thy Father” by Gay Telese. A book about one of the first mob bosses — Joe Bonanno
“The Godfather” by Mario Puzo. A work of fiction, in more ways than one.
“The Valachi Papers” by Peter Mass. A book about that rat bastard Joe Valachi, who sang like a canary to the feds to save his own hide.
But “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” was about as likely to be on Billy the Blade’s bookshelf, as a book on “How to Teach Yourself Ballet.”
Junior snatched the book off the shelf and immediately became another 20 grand richer. The inside of the book had been surgically removed by a sharp blade and stacks of hundred dollar bills inserted in place of the pages. Looked like Billy the Blade had learned this trick from Louis J. Lombago.
Billy was about to leave, when Brutus started moaning and groaning, probably because he had not eaten in about 2 hours. Junior could not bear to leave the dog alone there, because Brutus would most certainly be destroyed and who wanted a crap machine with the appetite of a gorilla anyway?
So Junior took Brutus under his wing and into his apartment, over the severe objections of his father Tony B.
“I ain’t walking no dog.” Tony B told Junior. “You want the mutt, he’s your responsibility. You walk him. You feed him. And if he eats the freakin’ furniture, you put a freaking bullet in his freakin’ head. Do ya hear me?”
Junior agreed to all his father’s demands, and when Brutus did eat a kitchen chair, on his first day in the apartment no less, Junior replaced it so fast with a duplicate from a furniture store a friend owned and his father was none the wiser. Junior had seriously thought about buying a duplicate piece of furniture for every piece in the apartment and keeping them in storage, in case of an emergency, like Brutus getting hungry in the middle of the day when no one was home. Which in fact was what Junior actually did do. It only set him back a few hundred bucks, because his apartment furniture was so cheap, Ralph Cramden would have felt right at home.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and Junior was strolling in Columbus Park with his new best friend Brutus on a leash, when Brutus spotted a female German Shepard being walked on a leash by a pretty young Chinese girl. They were right in front of the old Park House, which had been a dance hall dating back to the 1920’s.
Brutus bolted forward so fast, he pulled the leash out of Junior’s hands.
The Chinese girl screamed and her dog immediately turned her butt toward Brutus. In seconds, Brutus had mounted the female German Shepard and they were doing the dirty dance in the middle of the park. Fast and furious.
Junior sprinted towards the dogs and tried to pull Brutus back off the other dog. But Brutus would have none of that. He turned his head and snapped at Junior, which Junior thought was the same thing he would do, if the situation were reversed
The Chinese girl was frantic. “Oh please stop them! Stop what your dog’s doing to my poor Daisey Mae!”
Junior surveyed the situation and shook his head. “Lady, I don’t know what to do. We might just have to wait till they’re finished.”
“We can’t do that,” she said. “I was just going to the vet’s office to have her spayed. I got her yesterday at the ASPCA. She’s a dog rescue. She might get pregnant!”
Junior tried pulling Brutus away again, but to no avail. He snapped at Junior twice, nicking Junior’s hand. Junior backed off again. “Sorry lady, but he just won’t let go!” He wiped the blood off his hand with a handkerchief.
“Why didn’t you have your dog neutered?” she screamed at Junior.
Junior shrugged. “He’s not my dog anyway. I just got him a few days ago. My friend, whose dog this really is, died a sudden death. So I took the dog, so he wouldn’t get destroyed.”
Suddenly both dogs began howling louder and spinning in circles.
“Oh, my God! He’s going to get my poor Daisey Mae pregnant!” she yelled.
Suddenly an old Chinese woman waddled fast out of a Chinese Restaurant on Mulberry Street, a bucket of water in her hands. She rushed into the park, reached the dogs and poured the entire contents of the bucket on Brutus’ head.
Brutus yelped and shook violently. And like a cork propping out of a champagne bottle, he became dislodged from Daisey Mae.
The Chinese woman shook her fist at Brutus, who was now whimpering. “You bad dog!” the old lady said. Then she turned to Junior. “And you, you keepee your dog on leash, you moron!”
The old Chinese lady rushed across the street, back to her restaurant and disappeared inside.
The Chinese girl bent down and patted Daisey Mae. “My poor Daisey Mae” She looked up at Junior. “I hope she’s not pregnant.”
Junior pointed to his right leg and shoe. They were both saturated by a white gooey substance.
“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Junior said, as he leashed Brutus.
“You think that’s all of it?” she said.
“It’s hard to believe it’s not all of it,” he said. “I think the old lady nailed him right in the nick of time.”
The Chinese girl stood up and offered Junior her hand. “My name is Lily Low.”
Junior grabbed her hand gently. “Junior. Junior Bentimova. “
They looked at each other quizzically.
“You’re not related to Tony B Bentimova, are you?” she said.
Junior’s shoulder’s slumped. “Unfortunately, he’s my father.”
“Oh,” Lily said.
Junior said, “You said your name is Lily Low. By any chance, are you related to Hung Far Low?”
Lily bowed her head. “Yes, unfortunately, he’s my father.”
“Oh,” Junior said.
“Oh my God,” Lily said.
Junior smiled. “Hey, that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, does it?”
She lifted her head and smiled. “No, it doesn’t.”
“Good,” Junior said. “But it might be a good idea not to tell our fathers that we’re friends.”
“Not a good idea at all,” Lily said.
“How about we walk around Columbus Park, just to chat?” Junior said.
“How about you bring your dog home and I’ll bring my dog home. Then we’ll meet someplace for coffee?” she said.
“Good idea, but maybe we should meet out of the neighborhood. Just in case.”
“Good idea. There’s a coffee shop on John Street, just off Pearl. Know where it is?”
“No, but I’ll find it,” he said. “Meet you there, in say, an hour?”
“An hour is fine.”
And that chance meeting between two people, on a sunny, spring day in Columbus Park, changed the dynamics of the entire neighborhood, for generations to come.