Big Mike

I may be a little bit late to the game for this weeks (and my first) writing challenge, as it is now Friday at 10:30 pm and I am just getting started. That’s fine because my buddy and I were just talking about my Character for this post and it should come about fairly easy. No matter how well this story turns out (you readers will be the judge), it should motivate me to write more often.

Growing up in the Bronx has always been a source of pride for me and I may be a “Community Leader” now, as a teenager I was more of a detriment to the community. I grew up around Fordham Road (and being about 5′ 3″ at the time) with a Napoleon complex. I was 14 when I first met Big Mike who was working as a bouncer in a Brooklyn nightclub. He stood 6′ 4″ and weighed about 245 lbs. with a full beard, the biggest Puerto Rican I had ever met; he was 8 years older than me. I would see him hanging out in front of the bodega drinking Colt 45 tall boys when he wasn’t working. Mike’s Mom had recently moved to the neighborhood and he lived with her at the time. The thing that stood out most about Big Mike was that he never wore a coat, you would see him dressed the same way year round. A sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off and carpenter pants, oh and he also wore an 8 inch hunting knife on his belt. Just imagine someone with his looks standing out in front of the store on a daily basis. Soon he had drawn the attention of almost everyone on the block.

I’m the father of 3 great kids now and I don’t want to condone drinking and getting high but it was the 80’s and Big Mike became a Bronx legend by having an incredible tolerance and fondness for booze and drugs or as he used to say “better living through chemistry”. In fairness to Big Mike he would also throw in the disclaimer “Kids, don’t try this at home. I am a professional”.

Unfortunately this was the 80’s and we didn’t have smartphones with video cameras and to be honest we would use what money we could get to party. This is a story that I wish we had video taped because it would have gone viral for sure. As big and mean as Mike looked he was as one of my ex-girlfriends called him “a big teddy bear” and always respectful and a gentleman with the ladies. So this one night Mike, Jimbo (quite the character himself) and I are “hanging”. We have a case of Colt 45 tall boys, a quart of Jack Daniels, 20 hits of mescaline, a handful of Black Beauties and I even think we had some weed (although Jimbo and I didn’t smoke weed back then). There is nothing like the arrogance/ignorance of youth, it was just about midnight when we made a pact to not live past the age of 40. “Die young and leave a good looking corpse” one of us boldly proclaimed it might have been me.

Well we drank and partied through the night like a band of pirates on the high seas (pun intended), and just as the sun was about to come up, Mike remembered that he had promised this woman Olga that he would help her move. No way in hell was I going to help anyone move, I could barely move myself let alone furniture. Big Mike being the man, said to Olga “Don’t worry Sweetheart, I will be there”. Olga said “Mike all I need is for you to move the big stuff, I have enough people to help with all the little boxes and things”, well Mike went over and she was right, all they needed was him to move this huge sofa and love seat, everything else was done when he got there. One small problem though, when they bought the sofa, the furniture store had their movers lift it through the window because it was too big for the elevator or staircase. Well Mike being Mike said “Throw the sofa out the window and I will catch it”…I kid you not and that is EXACTLY what happened.

They dropped this huge white sofa from the 2nd floor, now when he said this Jimbo and I were standing on my stoop across the street and actually thought he was kidding. I’m not sure if it was the mescaline or the booze but it went out that window in slow motion but fell like it was a safe in a Bugs Bunny cartoon and hit Mike like a torpedo, all the while Olga was screaming out the window “Mikey please don’t drop my sofa” at the top of her lungs. The sofa pinned Mike to the sidewalk like a javelin, but to Mike’s credit, the sofa never hit the floor. We found out two days later that it had cracked two ribs and dislocated his shoulder.

It took us two days to get Mike to agree to go to the hospital, but that was his way. Big Mike is just one of the many characters that I grew up with here in the Bronx and he will be one of the main characters in my upcoming book (read a piece here). Big Mike was the only one of us that followed through with the pact. He passed away on Christmas Eve of his 39th year. I miss him dearly everyday but I take solace in the fact that he lived every minute that he was alive and was able to follow his creed, “I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a GOOD time”. Rest in Peace my brother, I love you!!!

Well this story has run a little long for the challenge but I think it is funny and worth telling and I have been meaning to post something for my writing section for a while now.

Peace, Love And Justice For All