December 10th, 2002

Don't Ask


Who’s good or bad depends on your point of view. Bully, for instance. A man with massive shoulders, muscular arms, a beer belly, smile wrinkles at the corners of his blue eyes, a big moustache, and a deep but soft voice. He got that nickname because of his close resemblance to President Theodore Roosevelt. Both were cut more or less from the same bolt. Men who weren’t afraid to act, who were comfortable in their own skins.

Picture Bully sitting on his couch, three telephones arranged before him on the coffee table. His white poodle, Max, is snuggled beside him as he takes bets, sips from a shot glass of Seagram’s 7. He keeps his eye on three television sets tuned to the games. He never writes anything down, he doesn’t need to. It isn’t because he’s afraid of leaving evidence, because every six months or so the cops come by the house for their cut. It’s like the numbers during The Depression.

To Betty, Bully is the greatest. But to Betty’s ex-husband, Mike, Bully is scum of the earth. His words. Mike had been married to Betty for five, six years. Betty would say Mike is the opposite of Bully. Bully is a powerful man and Mike is a skinny runt. She’d tell you that Bully is kind. On the other hand, Mike is moody, touchy, demanding, impatient, quick to raise his hand to women, or to threaten violence with his blazing black eyes.

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