Just Hop Away

The Street Hustle



One Sunday in May found me aimlessly walking the streets of the Lower East Side, nibbling on a knish and sipping on a coffee.   I turned onto Third Street and saw five or six people crowding around a happening of some sort.   Ever curious, I pushed into the middle of the crowd and there was my daily dose of theatre – the Easter bunny was taunting three Hell’s Angels.


Old New York had an element of moving carnival to it.  Whatever day, whatever time, anything could happen.  Some days the best thing you could do for entertainment was just to walk the streets and watch the living theatre as it evolved.  But this odd sort of degenerate behavior in front of me was sure to make the tabloids; if not land you in the Gramercy Funeral Home a few blocks up Second Avenue.


The guy in the Easter bunny suit looked like a pink Bugs Bunny with long ears, a white belly and a little white cotton tail.  He even remembered the black whiskers.  He stood in front of three Hell’s Angels, one about 50, although he looked older with a beard that was nearly white, and two who were younger, in their 20’s.  All three were large, scary individuals who you would cross the street to avoid on any given night.


“F*** you, you pussies!”  The Easter bunny screamed.


The older Hell’s Angel stood in front of his younger friends as if to hold them back.  “Look man, just hop away,” He said.


This went on for a few minutes, the Easter bunny taunted and the Hell’s Angels demurred, issuing the same warning over and over again.  “Look man, just hop away.”


Finally, obviously tired of the side show, the older Hell’s Angel hailed a cab and threw the bunny inside.  I wondered if the Angel’s were under indictment or being watched by some law enforcement agency, as this was a rather reasonable ending for the situation.  No blood or beatings, just a cab ride away from the madness. 


The Easter bunny rolled down his window and started laughing.  “I knew you were pussies.  F*** you, you pussies!”


“Ok, that’s it,” the older Angel said.  He grabbed the bunny by his ears and ripped him out of the cab window.  For the next few minutes, the three Angels stomped him mercilessly.  The five of us who were watching stood there with our mouths open, shocked at the utter violence of what we were witnessing.


And the cab waited.


Finally, the Older Hell’s Angel grabbed what was left of the bunny, a twisted mass of pink, white and red, and threw him into the taxi, which sped off.  I couldn’t decide whether the Easter bunny needed an emergency room or the sixth floor at Bellevue.


“Thank G-d there were no f****** kids around.”  One of the Hell’s Angels said as he walked into his clubhouse.


True, but my childhood was irreparably changed.






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