Packing Heat

Dovey Elimalach was nervous. Many of the Orthodox Jews who went to his synagogue in Crown Heights were getting mugged. It had happened to poor Hershell Ostrepeller three times. He didn’t want to become the next victim.

In Dovey’s neighbourhood there was a tough guy that everyone called ‘’Beasto’. Dovey didn’t know how he earned the nickname and wasn’t interested in finding out. Beasto told Dovey he would have been called ‘’Beast’’ but there were four other guys who lived a few blocks over who shared the same nickname. Everybody wanted to be a Beast. Beasto didn’t want to inherit his neighbours enemies, thus he became the one and only Beasto.

Dovey offered to buy Beasto a bite and Beasto happily accepted the offer. Dovey had never taken him for lunch before, in fact it seemed when Dovey saw him he always crossed over to the other side of the street to avoid him.

When they walked into the Haimisha Kosher Deli a few heads turned. The patrons weren’t sure what was going on and every single person was beyond curious, the only one who didn’t seem to care was Gladys the waitress. Gladys had seen just about everything.

Gladys brought over a bowl of pickles some coleslaw and buns. She didn’t look up from her order pad. ‘’What can I get you?’’ Dovey ordered the triple, which was corn beef, pastrami and smoked turkey on toasted rye bread. Beasto wasn’t sure what he wanted and started going through every item on the menu. Gladys interrupted him and said ‘’You look like a Corn Beef lean on rye, with a side of fries, am I right?’’ before he could answer she said ‘’ A couple of black cherry cokes work for you guys.’’ They both nodded in agreement and she headed off to deliver her order to the kitchen.

Beasto commented that the restaurant was a kind of a cool place, and Dovey told him it had been an institution in Crown Heights for years.

There was a quiet pause and Dovey got right to the point. ‘’The Jewish community is uptight. There have been so many muggings lately and people are scared. I’m thinking maybe I should get a gun.’’ Beasto looked at him and broke out in loud laughter.

‘’Dude, I know your people were raised on an eye for an eye shit, but man do you have any idea how dangerous guns are?’’ Dovey nodded. Beasto continued ‘’On the street there are desperados, these are bangers who want anything and everything they can get. They don’t care how they get it. They want what others have, doesn’t matter if it is a corner for hustling drugs or a wallet off a kid, they will take it. You try to use a gun on them, and one or two things will happen. They will kill you or if they don’t kill you their brothers or sisters will hunt you down, so Dovey, be cool and forget about the gun idea.’’

Gladys brought their food over and after his first bite, Beasto lit up like a light on a runway. ‘This is damn fine Corn Beef, I appreciate you bringing me here.’’

Dovey was trying to process everything that Beasto had just told hin. ‘’I was thinking of getting a concealed weapons permit, and only using the gun if I absolutely had to.’’ Again Beasto looked at him, this time a little longer with a more intense stare. ‘’I am going to repeat what I said Dovey, any weapon you have can be used against you. Don’t get into that shit.’’

A quiet passed between them as they finished their sandwiches and Beasto munched on his fries. Gladys came over with the check and to make sure everything was okay. Beasto was completely and totally impressed with the food and the service. Dovey grabbed the check and gave Gladys his credit card. She walked away with it to the counter where she processed it and brought it back. Dovey signed and lunch was finished.

The two men left the restaurant together and headed back towards their respective businesses. ‘’So, Beasto what do we do? Orthodox Jews are being targeted for robbery and violence. The threat seems to be growing and it is a real problem. We have no choice we need to defend ourselves.’’

Beasto remained quiet while they walked and it was obvious he was thinking about everything. ‘’I honestly don’t know what to tell you. You start shooting and it will become a game of who can shoot first and nobody wins, everybody loses, I know from experience. You don’t fight back and the street creeps think you’re easy targets, you do fight back and you get the shit kicked out of you. Dovey man you Jews got a real problem.’’

The two men said their goodbyes, Beasto thanked Dovey for lunch and told him he wanted to do it again, and Dovey agreed.

Two week later Hershell Ostrepeller was mugged for the fourth time, this time he ended up with a black eye. That night Dovey went home and filled out his application for his concealed weapon permit. What else could he do?

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.