At one point in the ’60s, Hal, armed robber and free lance enforcer for La Cosa Nostra, lived in a relatively large apartment house in Bayonne. The residents were all White — as was the entire neighborhood. Everyone in the building was White, that is, until Hal’s African-American girlfriend moved in with him.
Then and there, people were not what one might describe as particularly broad-minded. Even so, under certain circumstances they might decide that every rule required an exception or two. With the Mob at the height of its street power, very few people would do anything to upset anyone connected even by the thinnest thread. And for any unconcerned with clouds still over the horizon, Hal at 6′ 4′, a formidable 250 lbs, and staring out at the world with the Devil’s own burning blue eyes, alone was reason enough to keep quiet concerning contrary opinions.
All except for a little old guy, the place’s superintendent. Every time Hal happened by, the character always seemed to be coughing or clearing his throat: “Uf, Uf, pieceofshit, Uf, Uf”, “Ur, Ur, Ar, asshole, Ur, Ar”, “Huw, Huw, lowlifeclown, Huw” and with many, many variations on the theme.
Hal ignored the snipe for a while. One day, Hal was putting the garbage in the basement and the super was there.
“Ahuh, Ahuh, scumbag, Ahuh, Ahuh”
Hal’s right arm shot out and grabbed the other much smaller man by his spindly throat. Hal lifted the guy up, keeping him at arm’s length. Looking right into the feeble fool’s terror-struck eyes, Hal simultaneously released the grip of the right hand and slapped with the left. The super went flying into the garbage cans, collapsing in a heap.
Hal started to go up the couple of flights of stairs. Hearing the sirens, he turned around and went outside and waited for the police to arrive.
A couple of police cars screeched to a halt out front. As the officers opened the doors of the vehicles, the super yelled from the basement window.
“THAT’S HIM! THAT’S THE ANIMAL THAT ATTACKED ME!”
Hal said nothing. The police placed him under arrest.
Later that same morning, Hal was led into court. The super scowled at him from the front row. Charges were read and the supposed victim was sworn in before testifying.
The super at first provided a factual account of the morning’s doings, leaving out his own provocative mumbling. The judge and the the others in the courtroom looked at the old man with expressions of shock and sympathy. They then turned their eyes to Hal, glaring at him with anger and contempt, and then looked back to the source of the story.
Instead of following sage advice of “go on till you come to the end: then stop”, the super so enjoyed being the center of attention that the he kept on talking.
“And after I hit the garbage cans, he put one foot on my throat and kicked me with the other. Then, he picked up a shovel and beat me on the head with it. And after that, . . .”
The judge and the rest listening to the tale now were looking at the old guy with expressions of disbelief. All heads then turned to Hal, nearly big enough to be two people, but seated and silent, as if in church and not appearing at all threatening.
“. . . he took a wrench and hit me on the knee. I tried to get away, …”
The judge interrupted, “When did all this happen?”
“About two hours ago, your Honor.”
The Judge looked at the huge defendant and then — sternly — at the thin and tiny complainant.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but if this was true, you’d be in the hospital for a VERY long time. If you ever waste the court’s time again trying to make trouble with your lies, I’LL make sure that YOU are in JAIL FOR A VERY LONG TIME! CASE DISMISSED!”
Standing, Hal allowed himself a slight smile.