On this our ninth visit to see our unsuccessful hijacking
brother Leny One N at the Lewisburg Reservation with such in house residents
like an x-labor leader who one day would be buried under a football stadium or
so it was suggested by media pundits who never fully what day it was and a
future godfather who was born about four blocks away from us in our old East
Bronx neighborhood - and Leny would mention these facts on our every visit -
Leny taking on the role of moderator said: "Tell the truth - not for nothing -
but don't I look like George Raft?"
My brother Tom, his fourth wife Rhoda, my sister Alice in
Wonderland and her "hero" husband who claimed to have shot down a million
kamikaze planes during his service in I think was our navy and many really
believed this lie so desperate we were in need of heroes being elected alderman
seven times in a town called Burywater and only for the fact he would have to
do some time in Allenwood with some of Nixon's hoods for following the
political manta of "What's in it for me?" and might, indeed, have become the
mayor of the town situated by a polluted river that would drown the town every
so many years..
"If you look like him then Woody Allen looks like Paul Newman,"
I said with the enthusiasm of a six year old.
Everyone but my father, I was his favorite, my wife and our
young children gave me the dirtiest of dirty looks not wanting Leny to become
I just smiled still believing that if everyone had stopped
babying Leny and refusing to give him moneys when he'd threaten he find what he
needed in the streets - Leny might have straightened himself out and become a
million dollar pizza man like our brother-cousin Carado had; instead of
graduating from five penal institutions and all ready in position with tuition
at the ready for the fifth one that was waiting for him nine years in the
We attempted to eat the almost identifying prison food as Leny
greedily devoured the large hero sandwiches our mother made which were smuggled
in by my father, my wife, my mother and me while the children stood by
nervously counting their fingers over and over. It seemed coincidentally that
all the others would come in just after we were sitting at the table telling us
traffic was a nightmare.
After lunch, Leny still seething that we had not visited in two
months, gave his "get rid of them line" by saying had he an important sit down
to do with his case worker, a guy named Ziggy Freud
I was more than happy to get out of the claustrophobic place
with its clanging doors shattering the deep silence as Alice said: not able to
resist a line from a thirty-nine movie she had seen a dozen times: "Tomorrow is
"Sure. Sure," Leny said trying to act like the tough Jewish kid,
Jules Garfinkle who had who would become John Garfield, been shipped to our
neighborhood by loved ones trying to straighten him out away from the tough
streets of Brooklyn and went to the same public school our oldest sister Tina
of the Troy did, "And don't forget stay at the motel that keeps its lights on
for all the fucking weary travelers."
We were tired.
Very very tired.