The downtown gangbanger stares at me through opaque shades.
I’m kind of terrified. These Latino guys are big as refrigerators. Nasty prison tats snake up and down their muscled arms.
“Um, looks like you guys put a lot of work into your cars.”
“Yeah, these our things, man.”
“Is it okay for me to take some pictures?”
The gangster studies me, gazes at one of his homies and says something in Spanish. His pal responds in rapid fire.
No subtitles, but the dialogue sounds, ah, hostile.
“You a reporter?”
“No, I just like to take pictures.”
“Gimmee a thousand bucks and you can take ten pictures.”
He chuckles. He has a gold tooth right up front.
“Just funnin’ you, man. Knock youself out. But just the steel, no pictures of us.”
Son-in-law #1 and I are downtown, at the L.A. Gun Club. We were supposed to get in some target practice, but inexplicably the club is closed. Instead, we discover the parking lot filled with classic Detroit steel, lovingly restored. Bright and shiny fetish objects.
My hands shake a bit as I trip the shutter.
“How come you guys are here with your cars?”
“We havin’ a service.”
“One of our boys got killed. This is a whaddayacallit?”
I’m dying to ask how their boy got killed, but I’m pretty sure I already know.
“Thanks, man. You like the wheels?”
“Beautiful. Just beautiful.”
My gangster buddy grins proudly.
His gold tooth sparkles in the dazzling California sunshine.
Karen and I wish Offspring #2 a very happy birthday. You are a wonderful and loving daughter, wife and mother.
And to all our friends and relatives, we wish you a restful and meaningful Shabbat.