Green Dodge Darts Redux

The Best Of The Zola System

In 2000, I made the mistake of letting my father stay with me in my small New York apartment instead of a hotel. One morning, around 7:30 , I heard him screaming in Russian. I ran into my living room to find the Old Man trying to open the window that holds my air conditioner in place and asked him what he was doing.

“The pigeons nesting on the A/C unit are keeping me up,” he said.

I reminded him that opening that window would send the air conditioner crashing down into the alley below and someone could be hurt.

“How much would a new unit run me?” He asked.

“Something like $350 for a good one,” I replied.

Aron scratched his head and listened to the pigeons purring. “Fuck it. It’s worth it,” he said.

I tackled him before he could do any damage and dragged the Old Man out for breakfast. Not that I had a problem with him trying to kill the flying rats that used my living room window to keep warm, far from it. I was worried about potential criminally negligent homicide charges as the air conditioner crashed down on the head of some unsuspecting super in the alley below. If I was embarrassed by immigrant father and his street ways on a regular basis, just think of the shame of listening to his explanation to a New York Superior Court Judge. ‘They were keeping me awake, your honor,’ seems like a sure fire way to the Big House.

I tried to tell him this over eggs, bacon and coffee at the Odessa Diner. He scoffed at me.

“That’s the problem with this fucking town,” he said. ” New York . Everyone here thinks they are classier or better than everyone else because they are from New York . Fuck that, kid.”

“The talent pool is larger here. It’s like that Sinatra song says if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” I offered.

He shook his head and grabbed me by my forearm. “Listen, the best hustlers in the world come from Detroit. Your average New York hustler is shit in comparison to anyone from Detroit .”

“Really,” I asked.

“Back in the early ’60’s, the Rabbit and I would need food money or whatever. So I would go over to Greenspan’s Service Station and would look for anyone who was driving a Green Dodge Dart. There would be six or seven guys that would come to fill up at Greenspan’s. I walk over to them and ask if they wanted to make $20. They wanted to know what the catch was. I’d hand them ten bucks and tell them to drive around the block at, say, Farnsworth and Hastings in twenty minutes. After that, they could come back here and get the other $10. I’d remind them there was someone would be watching so they had better do it. While I was doing that, the Rabbit was sitting on a stoop with some schmuck. He had gotten the guy to lay $500 that at least five green Dodge Darts were going to drive around the block in the next forty five minutes.”

Maybe the Old Man was right. I’ve never met a New York hustler with that kind of wit.

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