The only thing worse than a thug is a copycat thug.
The useless bastard’s conscience functioned like that of a 1950’s Chevy that hadn’t received an oil change in half a century. Originally, it was a spur of the moment thing, punching some unexpected victim, just because. For some maniacal reason it gave him a thrill. He did it again, and again. Newspaper coverage fed his demented frenzy. Then, he happened upon an elderly, bearded clergy. The media picked up on it.
Now, it became like a drug. He couldn’t stop.
His victims were all targeted.
The news coverage was all over it. It was as if they were waiting for the next punch. He’d be derelict, if he didn’t oblige them.
What the hell’s the difference if one more of their kind was cold-cocked?
He found it all too humorous. The fame. The anonymity. The dichotomy amused him.
What would happen if he came forward?
What would his mother say?
She’d be shocked. Raised him to be a Christian, to love thy neighbor, and to abhor violence.
He put her out of his mind. The victims count rose, six, and then seven. His knuckles reddened, swelled, but that made little difference. No one had noticed. No one would notice as long as he kept his hands in his pockets. The unknown celebrity, he dubbed himself. He’d pick his spots; go on forever, until he was ready to call it quits.
But, why should he?
Even though he went unnamed, this was the first time in his life anyone had paid any kind of attention to him.
Damn those copycats, knocking innocent people out cold. Hell, it was his idea. He’d started it. He had an agenda. Those with any smarts would know that. Know the fakers. One day, he planned to get to them, but in the meantime, there were hairy faces to hit, bodies to fall, and stories to be written.
Three teeth smashed, his broken jaw wired shut, Yankel Rosen replayed the scene in his mind. The eighth and most recent victim of an insidious game dubbed, “Knockout,” he recalled walking home, a smile on his face, thinking about the pleasant aroma of Shabbat dinner before being cold cocked.
He’d have to wait a few weeks before seeing a dentist and being able to take a bite out of his wife’s homemade challah. He caught a glimpse of the coward who punched him and that vision was the reason he now rode silently in the Lincoln’s passenger seat, Stu Feld, his attorney, at the wheel.
Feld parked the car and the two men headed up a short flight of cement steps into the downtown community’s police station. They shook hands with Captain Barker who immediately led them to a small room, bare except for a wooden table and four mismatched chairs. The three stood before a one-way mirror.
Barker broke the silence.
“Take your time, Mr. Rosen. Make sure you get a good look at all of the potential suspects.”
Rosen nodded his head and Barker gave orders for the lineup to begin. Six bored looking men, two black, two white and two Hispanic took their places in full view of Rosen.
“Suspect number one, please take two steps forward,” commanded Barker. Rosen twirled his payas while studying the face of first potential perp. The routine was repeated until Rosen had examined all six.
With one eye still swollen shut from the punch, he shook his head, no.
“No, what?” asked Barker, now appearing annoyed.
Rosen shook his head again.
“You don’t recognize any of them? Really? You indicated that you had a good look at the guy that struck you. Isn’t that true?”
Rosen nodded in the affirmative.
“And you don’t see the man here? You’re sure about that? Please, Mr. Rosen, take another look. Take your time.”
Rosen shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, no.
“Jeez,” Barker mumbled under his breath. “Okay, let ‘em all go,” he said disgustedly as he opened the door to let the two men out.
Feld led the way. A few steps into the hallway, he turned back toward Rosen. Rosen put up four fingers and held them against his stomach. Feld excused himself and headed out the door while Rosen stayed behind to complete some paperwork.
Stu Feld, Yankel Rosen and a third gentleman, Itzhak Silverman, clutching a little bag of tools and a bottle of kosher wine, faced a large overweight slob. Frank Johnson was suspect number four in the police lineup a day ago. Feld offered his hand, noticed Johnson’s grease-shined fingers along with two empty bags of crispy fried pork skins and thought better of it.
“What the hell you Heebs want? Get the hell outta here.”
Johnson put down his beer can, belched, and looked at the three men. Ha! He pointed toward Rosen.
“You! I knocked your ass out with one punch. Can’t be sure, though, you all look alike. Now get lost. You’ve got no right to…”
“Your actions are considered a hate crime. Are you aware of that, Mr. Johnson?”
Johnson slurped beer, showed missing teeth and blackened gums, “You beards don’t scare me. Get the hell out!” Johnson spit.
“We’re not here to scare you, Mr. Johnson. Deuteronomy calls for an eye for an eye. But we don’t always agree with everything in the Talmud. Sometimes, an eye for a penis seems more equitable.”
Johnson’s bewildered look amused the attorney.
“We want and will get a little justice. Our way, not the police way.” Feld motioned to Silverman.
“Here’s my card, Mr. Johnson,” said the third man as he put down the tool bag and a bottle of kosher wine and handed Johnson a business card.
Johnson glanced at it. “What’s this? I can’t read this shit. It’s in freakin’ Hebrew or some shit.” Johnson flung the card to the side.
“My mistake,” said Silverman. “We all make them.” He smiled, pulled another card from his wallet. “Here you go. My secular card.”
Johnson glanced at it:
Itzhak Silverman, Mohel
Bio : Bruce Harris is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: ABout Type. Get a copy: HERE