Friday, September 2, 2016

Flying Shrapnel, Flying Squirrels

The Polatouche boys were twisted, evil scumbags, especially youngest brother Rocco.  I know because we were best friends till seventh grade, after which he stopped participating in Newark’s scam to educate its youth.

When a truant officer phoned Mr. Polatouche requesting a home conference, Tony bounced Rocco’s head off the fridge, strongly suggesting he handle his own shit.  On conference day, Big Tone chugged boilermakers at Dorfman’s, while Sal, Gianni and Remo held the functionary and 13-year-old Rocco tire-ironed his first kneecap.

Relieved to be rid of the fourth and final brother, the school requested no more conferences.


A year behind me in the system was another Polatouche: Sabrina, whom Rocco charged me with protecting at school.

“I ain’t gonna be around to kick the dick off anybody looks at Sabby cross-eyed, so you have to step up.”

At five-four and 118 pounds, I couldn’t have kicked the dick off a Yorkie, but I knew better than to say no.

The gig was easy.  Shy Sabrina’s toxic surname cooled even the horniest suitor’s interest, so she went from gangly dork to raven-haired beauty, still unkissed at seventeen.

During those years, I worked toward a scholarship while the Polatouche brothers beefed-up their thug reps, meaning Rocco and I naturally drifted apart.  He still trusted me, though, so I was the one he tapped to take Sabrina to prom.

“She’s bitching 24/7: Rocky, you’re scaring off any guy who might want to ask me out.  Well, fuckin’ duh.”

Despite wanting to shield her from nasty boys, he caved because prom was such a big deal to her.  Rocco covered the tux, corsage and limo, but warned me what would happen if I did anything more than dance and fetch punch.  It involved my learning what my own balls taste like, and he wasn’t kidding.

Prom night Sabby and I fell in love, our formal, 18-inches-apart hold melting into a clinch that had us draped all over each other by the final slow dance.  Through my freshman year at college we kept our secret, amping the heat with frequent trysts and passionate emails.


Then, last week, I proposed to Sabrina, hoping the honorable nature of my intentions would discourage her siblings from making me floss with nutsack hair.  She suggested we not tell them.

“Let’s kill them instead, Joshy.  All four of those psycho fucks.”

How could I deny my sweet fiancée?  Especially after she revealed that, as kids, the boys had routinely used her as a punching bag.  Practice, no doubt, for the day they’d slip a stolen diamond on the finger of some bimbo dumb enough to say yes to the mess, and then knock the crap out of her for the next forty years.

Sabby tearfully told Rocco I’d taken her virginity and dumped her, triggering a predictable Polatouche revenge offensive.  He called, all buddy-buddy chill, asking me to meet him the following day at the warehouse where he and his bros stashed drugs, hot merchandise and the occasional severed finger.  With Sabrina demanding retribution, he never suspected her of helping me trap him.

Rocco said he’d come solo, but we watched from across the canal as Gianni, Sal and Remo joined him, all four unaware of my early morning visit to plant the explosives cheerfully provided by a nine-fingered rival.

Entering through the rear door as instructed, I saw Rocco standing alone.

“Hey, Rocky,” I chirped.  “Whussup?”

“You back-stabbing little shit.  Thought you could fuck my sister and get away with it?”


He pulled his gun, but I wasn’t afraid.  Even back in school, Rocco always toyed with his victim first.

I didn’t give him the chance.

“Isn’t that just like a Polatouche, bringing a gun to a bomb fight,” I said, lifting my hand so he could see my thumb on the dead-man’s switch.

“Ambush!” he shouted.  His brothers materialized and the four scampered like squirrels for the front door, which Sabrina had already locked from the other side.

Darting out the back, I released the switch and ran like hell, debris and Polatouche parts exploding upward, then arcing over into descent.  For some reason I found myself humming that disco classic “It’s Raining Men.”