by Betty Reich
know the drill, kid,” said Big Marko. He gave the tribal salutation and pushed
Frankie Boy out into the ugly, dark night. Cold rain seeped down through his
paper-thin windbreaker and saturated his worn sneakers, but nothing could daunt
the boy; he was on a mission.
this initiation would afford him a roof over his head, maybe a couple of Big
Macs and fries, even when his stomach was not aching for food. He’d no longer
be the Artful Dodger to Fagin; no more bullying terrified little girls for
their lunch money, or lifting candy bars from the bodega—all petty crimes.
was the Big Time!
pictured himself in the black satin-lined jacket with the gang’s name
emblazoned on it, standing loyally with them—being called “Bro”—belonging to
the Rods, forever.
and chilled, he turned into the alley, which was covered in filthy muck,
ignoring the stink of the over-laden garbage bins, the piles of feces, and the
huge Tom cat that gnawed on the remains of a half-eaten rat.
years old, abandoned, and lonely, he dreamed of acceptance in a world that
neither knew, or cared, about his existence . . . until now.
it seemed a wall of the darkness was moving. A heap of rags, like something
from a horror movie, stepped toward him. His balls shriveled up in fear until
he realized his search was over; his quarry had actually come to him.
homeless woman emerged from behind the dumpster, unaware of the intruder.
first kick brought her to her knees. In her stupor, she thought she’d tripped
on some rubbish and despite the pain, groped around for the package she held
tightly to her breast when she had stumbled.
crawled over to reach it, licking her cracked lips hoping to savor the last
drops of wine left in the bottle, but Frankie Boy kicked it out of her grasp
and brought his foot down on her fingers. She wailed in pain, as the fog of her
looked up at her attacker, who now mercilessly punched her again and again.
Frankie Boy felt a stir in his groin, a hard-on growing bigger each time he hit
her. Christ, he’d better cool it before he came in his pants.
broken piece of humanity lay motionless at his feet. Frankie Boy spit,
snickered, and even giggled nervously; then, he let out a victorious howl as he
turned away. The yellow-eyed Tom, the only witness to the slaughter, watched
the punk, as he swaggered out of the alley.
the bathroom at the corner gas station, he washed up, checking his image in the
cracked mirror; a boy looked in, but a young man stared back. Big Marko would
interrogate him, and he would describe it with morbid joy, step-by-step. He
felt he had earned his membership in the Rods.
celebrate, he decided to add another tattoo to his already decorated body—a large
crucifix adorned his thin back; a fire-breathing dragon leaped from his
into the parlor, the owner—who knew Frankie Boy and signed the consent forms
himself—gave him a high-five greeting.
it be this time? A naked lady, a swastika?”
Boy peeled off his sweat-soaked shirt and flexed the muscle of his right arm;
he pointed to the drawing he had chosen. The artist set up his table of
needles, inks, airbrush material—all the tools of the trade—and began the
outline in deep blue ink.
the precision of a surgeon, he etched “MOM” into Frankie Boy’s pale skin.
Betty Reich is a
feisty senior (87) living in Boca Raton. She belongs to a women's writing group
and they suggested she submit “Irony” to Yellow Mama.