The Old Neighborhood
So, it’s about noon and I’m walking down in the old neighborhood. I hadn’t been back to town in years. I could almost hear the tug boats from Lake Erie, two blocks away. I came up to the apartment stoop where my pal Freddie the Fish used to clean fish for his father. We called him Freddie the Fish because his name was Freddie and he stunk like fish. I hear, “what’s goin’ on Willie?” I look and see Freddie sittin’ there. See’em, hell I could smell’em. “Freddie, what’re you doin’ here? You’re still a kid.” Freddie looked up from cleanin’ fish, “you’re only two months older than me Willie, you ain’t no big shot.” I looked past Freddie and saw Wally the Whale comin’ up the street. Wally was so named for being, uh, big for his age. Wally would remind people that he was only Wally the Whale to his pals and any offenders would get, ‘what for’. There were no offenders. Wally whiled away the next fifteen minutes telling us about a gang of hoodlums a couple streets over that challenged him for being in their neighborhood. Well to hear of the ungodly thrashing Wally gave them was certainly not for the timid. Wally had a propensity for happening upon such a group of criminals and they all apparently left town subsequent to the beatings because Wally could never point them out to us.
Freddie’s mother yelled out the window, that if Freddie wanted to eat tonight, he’d damn well better get those fish cleaned before his father got home from ‘his meeting’. His ‘meeting’ was at Louie’s Bar and Grille on the corner. I don’t what they met about, but for the time they spent they must have got a lot done. Freddie finished the fish and took’em in the house. Wally put me in a headlock and administered a ‘Dutch rub’. Wally’s cordial way of saying, “see ya”. I watched Freddie’s door shut and Wally disappear around the corner. I walked away, patting my hair down from the Dutch rub thinking, I should stop and see the fella’s more often.