Rabu, 15 Februari 2012

BET ON CRAZY / WHO DONE IT by Peter Nolan Smith

47th Street was dead on Friday. None of the Hasidim had shown up to work for high holiday of Sukkot. The yidlocks would be out for a week. Gabriel our broker had left us ten big diamonds. I had put them in the window. Gypsies entered every half-hour and asked, “How much for the big stone?”“It ain’t for sale.” I had never sold to a gypsy. They were a WOT or a waste of time. Worse was the possibility that they might rob you. Gippos had a bad reputation for a good reason. They were thieves and I gave them a price. “But the price is 40K.”“$40K for a 6-carat F SI3?” The man was wearing a Italian suit. He was top of the line Roma and had dibs on any score in the Diamond District. “Would you take 20K for it?”“Thanks but no thanks.” The diamond cost me $35,000.“I have the money.” He brandished a roll of hundreds. It was thick enough to be 20K, unless the center was all $1 bills.“Sorry, the price remains 40K. That’s the bottom line gypsy price. No haggling either.” I got 10% of the profit. $500 was half a ticket to Thailand, where my kids lived, but there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Death Valley of selling this Gippo a toothpick.“Let me speak to your boss.” He waved the money in my face.“So you can waste his time?” I slapped away his hand.“That’s not nice.” He stuck the roll into his jacket.“Hey, that’s depends on how you see it.” I signaled the guard to throw him out.“I’m going, I’m going.” He exited from the exchange. There were other marks on his list. It was Friday and everyone wanted to make money for the weekend.“Good luck.”I sat at my desk and the girls behind the counter asked if i wanted a lobster roll for lunch from the new take-out. Coming from Maine I was eager to try the lunch special. Richie Boy signaled that he was in too, even though lobster was tref or unclean and unfit for consumption according to Jewish tradition, however only one member of our staff was religious. The rest were bacon Jews.Lunch came, we ate, and then discussed the lobster rolls. Cindy thought it was good. She had gone to UMass. Richie Boy was unimpressed. He was nursing a hangover. I had eaten better in Maine, but the Lincolnville Pound was an eight-hour drive from 47nd Street.A hand slapped the window.Lenny.The Hassidic bum was sweating in a tee-shirt. His thinning hair was plastered against his skull. A pudgy hand was twitching for money.“First a gypsy and now Lenny.” Richie Boy had little patience for Lenny. The 53-year-old was a drunken bum. His mouth was a volcano of insults. The fat man called Richie Boy a country-club Jew. Lenny was no Don Rickles, but he made me laugh. I put down my lobster roll and went outside.“Lenny, you’re messing up the window.” His greasy hand imprint was scattered on the glass like prehistoric paintings. “I have to clean it.”“Sorry, Damian.” Lenny was a slob. Filthy tee-shirt and ripped flannel trouser were matched by sneakers shaped like melted cheese. He has been living on the street for more than twenty years and the fat beggar earned more than $200/day. I’ve seen him deposit his daily stash at the bank. Some people said that this lunacy is an act. His eyes told the truth.“No worries.” I liked that he called me ‘Damian’. The name smacked of THE OMEN, the Son of Satan.“You know that the president of Iran said that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks. He’s stupid, but there are still questions that no one has ever asked about that day. Like how the third building collapsed or how there are no black boxes or how the police found Mohammad Atta’s passport intact or the 15 Saudis. None of them pilots.” Lenny’s rant was punctuated by occasional assaults from his unwashed body.“That’s all old news.” Something was missing.“You want names?”NYPD had installed CCTV on the street. Every words was live. A story like this could lead to dead. Lenny had lived in every homeless shelter on Manhattan. Fear was a stranger and he named names. Current and past. Some people on the street regarded Lenny as a genius. His trajectory revealed a keen intellect dependent on studious reading. “And we bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, because their radio operators were running the war from a supposed safe haven.”1999.“Bill Clinton showed chutzpah that day.”9/11.“You really think a band of fanatics could have executed 9/11. A military operation. Could have been anyone?”“Even the Israelis.” I whispered the word, because any criticism of the Holy Land was off-limits on 47th Street. My pay check was more important than politics. I had four children.“The Chinese were deeply involved in numbers.” Lenny was on the verge of launching into a primal reverie about cardinal numbers. He actually understood Georg Cantor’s set theory. I should have grasped how one-to-one correspondences referred to equality of sets, but I must have slept through that class in high school.“Lenny, I don’t have the time for this.” I had to make a little money. It was Friday. I wanted to buy a box of wine. 3-liters lasted for the weekend.“You got a dollar for the holiday?”I handed him two bills. He wished me luck and called for a blessing on my kids in Thailand. It was Sokkot, a festival to commemorate the wandering the desert. “May you get home soon.”“Thanks.” Seeing my kids was my greatest wish.That and an old motorcycle.I went back inside the diamond exchange hoping to close a deal in the last hours of Friday.Stranger things have happened and stranger things weren’t too much to ask from life, especially with Lenny’s blessing.He was a mitzvah.

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