|East Bronx Kids
© Copyright 2007 by Jerry Vilhotti
On our second visit to see our present hijacking and future bank robbing brother Leny One N at the Lewisburg penitentiary, we also requested to see his young cell mate and good friend Talfie Maletesta, known as the East Bronx Kid, who came from our old neighborhood and was introduced to Leny by his aunt Lollie when working for Leny when he was earning a very temporary honest living making Neapolitan style pizzas. Leny's prices and going to the trotters to feed the horses as our father said when he was betting big amounts of money that once belonged to others and like Leny would say when doing his time he was no different than politicians, corporations and investment brokers who were doing all kinds of end runs with a sucker's money. Our father often said, also behind Leny's back, that he was like a whore whose name was on everyone's lips so popular he was with his throwing money around and it could be said that Leny showed Talfie new ways of making money after they burned the pizzeria down for the insurance money. So like big money - buying one politician and getting another free - we got Talfie to join us swearing on the constitution he was a very close relative; exercising our freedom of speech rights.
Talfie had a great sense of humor, being one of the few prisoners who was on most of the guards' "pay him no fucking mind list", and tended to dominate the conversation at all turns. Talfie worshipped Leny who was ten years older than he; thinking Leny was the best thing to come along since all those New York City guys, and Talfie actually thought they were for real gangsters, like Raft, Eddie G. Robinson, Bogey, Garfield and Cagney. I liked the guy a lot since we were still living in our home that my siblings begged me to put up for Talfie's bail and I was grateful to him for not running off - like he would from Riker's Island - and leaving a teacher hovering just above the poverty level by society that entrusted their children to them, a wife who never complained carrying our third child and two children not ready to enter an educational system "Leave no child behind" - homeless.
On this occasion we were joined by my older brother Tom (the flying psychologist), his wife Rhoda (give a man everything and he will give you back double!) my sister Alice in Wonder Land (who invented the word gullible) and her husband Gus (the "shooterdowner" of a million kamikaze planes when he was in the navy) and he would always get mad when I'd say if the Japanese had that many we would be talking Japanese with a Divided USA accent and then to rub it in since he was an FDR hater too that since the country and most of the politicians at the time half of whom were being bought off by the American nazi Bund we would have been doing the same in German and since all FDR's distracters were looking in the wrong places for the truth about how he had indeed squeezed the Japanese into attacking us so getting the nation to unite as one that the great man thought they were going to hit the Philippines and our two hundred soldiers there would have escaped death and injury. The only president elected four times - and this would bug Gus too when I'd say that FDR - was just as shocked as the rest of the country when Pearl Harbor was hit bad.
"Leny you was an original Baldy right?" Talfie, all ready knowing the answer, said.
"Let's not talk about that Tal-" Leny tried to say putting on his modest act but was interrupted when Tom said pointing at me: "And our kid brother Johnny was their mascot and after Leny taught him how to fight southpaw and made lots of money on him by pitting him against the older guys on Hewes Avenue and so I figure he beat up as a five year old kid half those guys in that movie "A Bronx Sorrow" who dismantled those bikers in the bar because they were jerks!". Tommy Tom Tom had not been allowed in the gang due to his polio leg.
"You seven guys were so tough you could take on and beat every and all gangs in the whole city - right Leny?" Talfie said.
"Yeah we was tough guys but we could sure harmonize," Leny said waving at Jimmy, an x-union president and another guy who was to become the boss of bosses of all the New York families in the future, filling the soda machine.
"You weren't even born then, Johnny!"
Gus said having the same resentment as all my siblings shared just because
I, the last born, had the somewhat misfortune of becoming our father's
favorite and many times I tried to tell him not to tell everyone that -
especially my siblings.
"Yes he was! yes he was ! Yes he was!" Tom said having forgotten to take his lithium pill before leaving the motel.
We all fidgeted fearing when Tom talked
in threes he was about to take another trip to go find Christ in Northshredder,
New York as he had twice before.
After lunch and two more hours of visiting with our father constantly saying we had to leave if we were to beat the traffic but he could never finish his sentence since everyone was ignoring his wisdom.
Only when our father began to hit himself in the head with a closed fist was when we began doing all our hugs and kisses; with my wife holding up our two young children to be kissed as well while Talfie had me in a tight embrace which made me feel very uncomfortable doing all his wet kisses on my cheeks.
We were back on the road again and as our father would sadly say: "We traveled this road before and it won't be the last time, right Johnny?"
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