had no luck in hearing anything from Flip about Rabbi
Dombitz, but there were larger problems on the horizon.
Against all wisdom Lori had cleaned up Flip's storage
area. It was nothing more than a table or two which had
filthy boxes stacked to the ceiling. The tables were the
only ones in the Hole and Flip deliberately put them out of service, not wanting
to have to walk back and forth to the tables to provide
service. The Hole was only a counter operation... or at
least it was until now.
Lori had wasted no time in cleaning up the place with my help and
had put computers on the tables. She was going to re-christen
the place as "Flip's CyberCafe". She wanted
to upgrade Flip's re-cycled grounds to a full menu of
coffee options. It was almost laughable to think of the
usual customers being faced with a choice of a double
frappucino, but that was Lori. She thought the higher
prices would upgrade the clientele. Flip knew better.
Brophy probably would have not minded the change. He could always
web surf for the thousands of references to his name,
the only word that he ever spoke. Schnipple, of course,
would avoid the computer like the plague as that was how
Buddy Taub had tracked down hundreds of his brothers and
sisters worldwide. Lloyd Flahs, our discount Media Guru
and Marketing Maven had a computer of his own. It led
me to wonder who would be the first to sit down for a
Might you guess? No, it was not Jesse or Fax. It was Buddy Taub
himself. Only Buddy would sit in a public space and access
adult web sites. Lori would not let me go to the tables
to bring him his latte. She said I was not allowed to
view such things and simply avoided any description of
what Taub had been into. It was relatively safe as Lori
had been sure to disable the ability of the computer to
download. Taub, however, was undaunted. He used the printer.
At $5.99 per hour for the computer time Lori felt she'd be making
some money. The printer time was charged at .25 a sheet.
When she gave Taub his double digit bill, he smiled and
told her to add it to his tab. "Include a nice tip
for yourself, Lori," he intoned. "Say 15%".
" 15% is a standard tip, Buddy," I admonished.
"OK, make that 20%, then," he said.
Lori gave him the malocchio, a combination of death wish and curse
combined. The evil eye, as it was called in Italian, was
Lori's version of Marie DeGaetano's look when she first
met me. It simply conferred upon the recipient a host
of plagues to be endured for a short and miserable lifetime
followed by an excruciatingly painful death. I think the
downfall would be extended until payment on the account
was made. Following a cleaned up bill, I expected Taub's
days on the planet to be quite short. Knowing how slowly
Taub cleared up his debts he would no doubt die of old
age, which if Lori had a say, would not be pleasant at
Breaking into this love fest was Moe Ippai, the one armed Japanese
sign painter that Flip had once used to make a new sign
for his store.
"Heard anything about the Rabbi?", he asked.
"Not a peep. We closed last night and opened this morning
but we've had no word from Flip at all. I hope everything
will be ok, but the silence is disturbing. Lori had tried
to call the hospital last night but the operator said
that a gang fight had taken place in the ER and everything
was in a state of panic. It did not change when we called
later on. Couldn't even dial into the Rabbi's room."
It was more than a gang fight that delayed Flip's return, as you
have read here. Here's the rest of what happened then,
as Flip had told it to me afterwards:
"I guess I could begin to tell you that it wasn't pretty.
I've been in combat situations and there's a lot I don't
like to talk about. I get depressed thinking about what
I have seen, so it is something I block out of memory...
as much as a human being can block stuff from memory.
"That kid we left in the clothes closet was shot, but we had
no way to know how severely. I just thought hiding him
would help save his life. If any of those gang bangers
came back and found him, he'd have been shot and possibly
even Trabsend might have been taken care of too, just
to be sure.
"We saw the kid was bleeding, which was why we tried to get
real help as quick as possible. It just wasn't soon enough."
Flip went into the whole story of how he and Dombitz had gone looking
for assistance. He picked up the narrative when he and
Dombitz were taken back to the room by the hospital security
"Dombitz was both explaining and protesting all the way down
the hall. It wasn't going to do much good, so I kept quiet.
Dombitz never was one to be silent and nothing I could
signal to him would've changed much.
"This guy Simpson was the first into the room with his gun
drawn just in case. We followed him in when it was clear
and this other alleged guard was behind us. Dombitz was
still handcuffed to this other fellow name Glasser. It
was a joke. Every time Dombitz stopped to take a breath,
Glasser looked at him and asked 'Yeah, you... you want that?'. A lesser
man would've just shut up, but not Dombitz.
"Anyway, there's blood all over the floor, leaking out from
the closet. Simpson gave Valenzano a look and then he
was out the door looking for a medic. The closet was opened
and the kid dropped out of it. He looked pretty bad. Must've
lost a lot of blood from the wound. They eventually put
the kid on a gurney and headed him down to the E.R."
"How about Trabshot?", I asked.
"Trabway? Oh, he was fine. Still in the bed recuperating but
not yet conscious. He missed it all."
"Did the kid make it?"
"Nah. Some of the bangers were still around and still on the
prowl. They finished the job and shot the orderlies taking
him down the hall."
"The guards, too?"
"No, but they winged one or two of the attackers. It almost
doesn't pay. A few years in jail and they'll be out again.
It's just a shame what the country has fallen into."
"What about Dombitz?", Lori asked.
"He ran down the hall at the sound of the gunfire. He and
the loon were still handcuffed. Nobody shot them. They
were not the kind that looked like gang members. The Rabbi
was just there trying to offer some comfort to the orderlies
and gang bangers who were shot. Glasser, too."
"How was that fellow of any use?", I asked.
"He was behind the Rabbi all the time. While Dombitz prayed,
Glasser looked right at those wounded Bloods. All he said
was 'Yeah? You.. you want that?'. I think I've had
enough for one day. I'm going home to my wife."
I thought it but it was Buddy Taub who said it: "Yeah!...
Before he could finish everyone spoke the usual three words he
was used to:
1. Shut 2. Up 3. Buddy.
Just one more day, much like any other at Flip's Hole.
_ . _
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to Robert J. Baumann: email@example.com