One very large hand landing on your shoulder is not a good sign at McCloskey’s on 46th Street. Two hands, one on each shoulder, is red alert. And that is what I felt Wednesday night as I was downing a shot of Wild Turkey and wondering whether the blonde doll behind the bar had health insurance. Mrs. McCloskey runs a good bar, but does she provide employee benefits? Could I risk making a pass at a good looker who might not have seen a doctor since she was last in the emergency room with a bloody nose?
illustration by Avi Katz
I did not look right and I did not look left, just crooked a finger at the girl to show her I needed another shot in my glass. But I could feel the two goons settling onto the stools on either side of me. I could feel their emanations, I mean. What was emanating was “red state,” and “shaft the poor,” with a dash of “corporations are people.” Goons do not need to be seen to be felt, and I mean even before they shove a piece in your backside.
The blonde poured me a shot. I glanced up at her and said: “Gorgeous,
you see these two guys on my either sides? Would you mind telling them to move on?”
Two hands landed with a thump on the bar, both containing large wads of cash. Gorgeous palmed the greenbacks and headed back to the beer keg, looking back at me with what might have been what my pal Harry the Horse likes to call the agenbite of inwit.
“So guys,” I said, downing my bourbon. “Who sent you?”
“Slot-Machine Seymour,” said the one to my left.
I froze. Slot-Machine Seymour was not good news. Every player in Manhattan knows he runs the biggest Super PAC in town. Not to mention the rag he publishes in Tel Aviv.
The one to my right grabbed my chin and forced me to look him in the face.
“We represent …”
“The Lollipop Guild?” I shot back, removing his fingers from my face. No one makes me look at what I do not want to look at. But I had enough eyeball time to see that he was wearing a dark suit, red tie, black fedora, and sunglasses that would do a blind mouse good. I figured the guy to my left looked the same.
“We represent,” he repeated, “the Jewish Republican Coalition.”
I whistled. “So you guys are the morons from the oxymoron.”
I felt cold iron on the nape of my neck. Big mouth. Big surprise.
The guy to my left, the one who was holding the gun to my esophagus, whispered in my ear.
“We thought you might be disappointed with Barack Hussein,” he said.
“Disappointed?” I said. “A guy who’s never held down a job long enough to get hospitalization?”
“Louie here,” he said, pointing across my nose to his partner, “would be very disappointed if you was not disappointed. And we wouldn’t want Louie to be disappointed, would we?”
Louie, I noticed, was slipping on a pair of brass knuckles that shined so bright that they looked like they were made of gold. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were.
“Hey guys,” I said. “You got no business with me. I am a lifelong Democrat. So was my Dad, even if he occasionally was known to take a shining to a LaGuardia or a Lindsay.”
Suddenly I felt heat on my back and the revolver pushed into my upper vertebrae. I glanced behind me. There was a camera crew there with the biggest spotlight this side of the Helen Hayes Theater.
“What the hell is going on here?”
“Carl and me,” Louis said, indicating his partner, “we’re doing some issue-based television ads. You know, to inform the American people. The chosen people, in particular.”
“We’re not coordinated with anyone’s campaign,” Carl said loudly, so that the whole bar could hear.
Gorgeous, over at the beer keg, smiled. “I’m so happy you said that,” she said. “Because I was kind of worried that you were in violation of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and we don’t allow that in this joint.”
“So we are scouting for some members of the tribe who might be willing to help us,” Louie explained. “We can make an attractive offer. Financial instruments, and an opportunity not to be disfigured by large and ugly scars.”
Carl grabbed me and swiveled me around so I was facing the camera.
“Could you tell us why you believe Obama is bad for Israel?”
“Bad for Israel?” I exclaimed. Then I felt Carl’s rod dig deeper into my nape, and I thought that maybe it would be good for my health to be more politic.
“We mean,” Louie said, “his weak and apologetic foreign policy, which has left the Jewish state virtually defenseless in the face of its enemies.”
“Oh, that,” I said. “You know, I can’t really breathe so well with that barrel pushing into my larynx.”
Carl pushed harder. “Start singing,” he ordered.
“Well,” I said, staring into the camera. “I guess I’m disappointed that Barack Hussein did not firmly support Israel in the United Nations. Oh, wait, sorry, he did that. Let me think of something else.”
“We don’t have all night,” Louie hissed.
“I’m really disappointed with Barack Hussein because he hasn’t persuaded the Western world to impose severe sanctions on Iran in order to halt its nuclear project,” I said. Louie gave me a right hook on the chin with his reinforced fist.
“Oh geez,” I said, as Carl handed me a tissue to wipe up the blood. “I screwed up. He did that, too.”
“Let’s try Jewish values,” Carl suggested. “Don’t you think that, under the influence of his Muslim heritage, Barack Hussein is undermining Judeo-Christian ethics?”
“Most certainly,” I said. “He’s a socialist, which puts him in the same league as infamous Jew-haters like David Ben-Gurion!”
Louie did a half-nelson on me and squeezed hard.
“I mean, his confiscation of money from hard-working men and women in order to provide a strong safety net for the poor and for those who suddenly come on bad times,” I gasped. “I mean, the last time I heard anything so anti-Jewish was when I heard the Torah reading last Shabbat.”
Carl gave me a black eye.
“Oh, come on guys,” I pleaded. “I’m trying!”
“Immigration,” he said, pointing at the camera. “Tell them about how Barak Hussein is allowing the United States to be flooded by foreign immigrants.”
“That is so bad,” I agreed. “I mean, look what happened last time we allowed such a thing. Every Jew in the Ukraine ended up on our shores.”
Louie sighed. “I am afraid that you are not helping us in the manner in which we hoped. Please do not force us to use methods prohibited by the various Geneva conventions, et cetera.”
“Can I talk about terrorism? I am pretty good on terrorism.”
Carl and Louie nodded.
“I mean, these Islamic terrorists,” I said. “On the one hand, every time you need to fly somewhere you wait in endless lines and have your underwear x-rayed, but try going to see a movie in Colorado and look what happens.”
“That’s good,” said Carl. “Isn’t that good?”
“Idiot,” Louie hissed. “That guy wasn’t a Muslim. He was American.”
“Really?” said Carl. “All those high-powered rifles and explosives? That wasn’t from al-Qa’eda? Where did he get it?”
“On Amazon, I think,” Louie said. “We’re for that.”
“Oh, my mistake.” He cocked his pistol. “Let’s talk about the economy.”
I tried to think fast. “I’m really aghast at what Barack Hussein is doing to the economy. Spending government money to stimulate the economy and create jobs when he could be cutting taxes on the super-rich so that Slot-Machine Seymour can use more of the money he makes in his casinos to buy elections in all fifty states and Israel as well.”
Louie sighed. “We are so disappointed with your lack of disappointment,” he said, “that we will regretfully have to beat you to a bloody pulp.”
Which they proceeded to do.
I woke up to find Gorgeous mopping up the blood from the floor and doing her best to realign my eyes, ears, and nose into their proper human positions. She helped me back up to my stool, went behind the bar, and poured me another Wild Turkey.
“You’re cute,” she said, “but stupid. Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to fool around with Republican Jews?”
“How could she?” I downed the shot. “When I was a kid, who ever heard of such a thing? I mean, of course there were some. There was Jacob Javits, but he didn’t count because the Liberal Party endorsed him. And maybe there were a few lowlifes who worked in big law firms or on Wall Street. I remember that Susie Weinstein, the girl next door, married one of those. It was such a shonda that her parents sat shiva.”
“You know what I like about you?” Gorgeous said, shaking her head. “You’re an incurable romantic. New Deal, Great Society. You live in the past.”
I downed my bourbon. “Gorgeous,” I said, “if those guys win, the past will be the only place any of us can afford.”