1213 The Neptune Summit
It’s at the Neptune Diner on Classon Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The participants are Ralphy from Flatbush and Sergei from Brighton Beach.
They gather here from time to time to discuss business. Usually, it’s a breakfast time when it’s really busy and their conversations get lost in the background noise, or in the small hours of the morning when there aren’t many customers and they can get a booth in a far corner. Same reason.
Ralphy is a shoemaker with a little store on Church Avenue. Sergei says he’s in the import export business. Just a couple of businessmen from Brooklyn.
There are rumors, and they’re only rumors, that these gentlemen are what they call in certain circles “connected.” And when they meet, they are often followed by clean cut young men in well pressed white shirts, rep ties and dark suits.
The thinking among the suits is that these guys may have … um … associates in Italian and Russian organized crime which we all know doesn’t exist.
Nevertheless, the discussion this morning is about what some ignorant souls believe are competitors or maybe colleagues.
Whitey Bulger is the main topic.
Bulger is the Boston gangster who was just convicted of 31 counts and will be given what amounts to a life sentence, which at age 83.9 could be anything from a week to a couple of years.
Sergei: This guy was a flat out punk.
Ralphy: Yeah. Killing women and children just because they could. Robbery. Dirty loans.
S: We don’t do loans. But if we do, they’re straight up.
R: We do the same, only when we get deadbeats, we pay them friendly reminder visits. This gavone, Bulger, gives our thing a bad name.
S: Sometimes we have to be unfriendly. But we always start with a smile, a joke and a glass of tea or vodka. And we run some classy women.
R: Good they made the streets of Boston safe for the rest of us. Ever been there?
S: Nah. I just stick close to home. The Neptune is about as far as I stray.
R: Strange city.
The topic then turns to payday loans.
R: Was a good business in the old days. We’d operate out of candy stores and luncheonettes. The new breed makes us look like a charity.
S: Did you see where the state is going after that Western Sky outfit. Three hundred percent interest? We never do anything that big.
R: Well, they’re on an Indian reservation and those are considered separate countries.
S: If they are Indians then I’m a Japanese papoose.
R: Yeah, well, they have an office on a reservation somewhere. And then there’s that guy Montel Williams, does ads for Money Mutual.
S: “My fellow African Americans, contact Money Mutual and we’ll put a grand in your checking account overnight.”
R: Yeah, that’s what he says. And you’ll be paying that off for longer than … well, there are guys that hang out in my shop sometimes and they talk about lending. But they’re not as harsh as the TV lenders.
S: The only thing, these loan sharks are trouts but they have figured out ways to suck money right out of customers’ bank accounts. Like putting a straw in a Pepsi! Wish we could do that. Would save a lot of friendly visits.
R: Yeah. Any messages for my good friends across town?
S: Nope. You?
R: None today.
They shake hands. Each puts a 20 on the table and they walk out separately.
After which a guy in a well pressed white shirt with a rep tie and a dark suit walks over to their table and pockets one of the twenties.
Could be evidence, you never know.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013