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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

When Joey runs out on Jack the Barber's insidious job offer - he knows there is only one alternative left - the most forbidden place in all 'The Forbidden Zone' - The Fox Hole!!

The Fox Hole. Even the sound of it is intriguing. Scary. All the rest of the night I mull over the possibilities of maybe going there to look for a job. This place was a kind of a legend in Roselle, like The Jersey Devil. You’d hear all kinds of spooky stories about it over the years.

Supposedly, the guy that owned it was some kind of big Mafia don, sort of a belligerent madman, who'd actually crushed people’s skulls with his bare hands. Some of whom had even worked for him. His whole family ran the place, and they were allegedly just like him. They lived in Newark, in a section called the North Ward, which was infamous for gangland shootings and rubouts. Apparently, during the riots in the late 60s in downtown Newark, him and a bunch of other Mob type guys blockaded off The Ward from the rampaging black onslaught with their Cadillacs, andrifles, and just started dropping the rioters right there. No questions asked.

 The Fox Hole is another place that none of the kids I know have ever ventured. And with good reason. It’s all the way over by the border of Linden, the next town over, in a creepy, forbidden industrial zone, that’s mostly deserted after five o'clock.

The next morning, I make up my mind that I’m going to set out for The Fox Hole after school. I have a vague sense of its whereabouts and check the Yellow Pages for the exact address. When three o’clock rolls around, I don’t want to be around anyone - I need to go into myself, be totally alone, like I did when I first took that bus ride to the PAL in Elizabeth. I walk down Chestnut Street to Young’sChinese Kitchen, by myself an egg roll, and lock myself in the bathroom. Concentration. I gotta summon the guts to overcome the jitters. I need silence.

After five minutes, Mrs. Young starts banging on the door.

“Hello! Hello! Why you stay in bathroom so long? You no make dirty in there! You no throw up, ok? Hello! Hello!”

I soon realize there will be no refuge in this bathroom. I finish my egg roll, wipe the grease off my lips with the toilet paper, and move out. I’m ready to begin my latest odyssey. With great determination, I march down Chestnut Street, make a right onto Fifth Avenue, past the familiar sights of St. Joseph’s Church, and the Knights of Columbus building, and up four more blocks till I reach Poplar Street. Re-energizing my focus, I head the three blocks towards the boundary of boundaries, St. Georges Avenue. The dividing line between Roselle and Linden. Almost immediately you can sense a distinct change in landscape, in feeling. Foreboding and grey. The goosebumps rise on my arms, and that energizing rush starts to kick in again. I’m really starting to dig that sensation now, in a weird sort of way. Soon, I come upon the Romerowski Brothers factory, where about six or seven years ago they had had this horrifying fire, and the workers there, mostly immigrants, were jumping out the window because there were no fire exits. Until like twenty-one of them had perished. But here it is, still going. A gloomy testament to desperation - and they still probably have no fire exits. A group of frumpy looking women in kerchiefs, are gathered around a silver lunch truck parked outside the windowless factory, conversing loudly in Polish or Russian, or whatever. Eating these greasy kielbasa sausages. It’s weird for me to actually see a place, of which I had only read about in the newspaper.

After that, it’s just block after nasty block of check-cashing places, boarded up warehouses, bail-bond storefronts, White Castles, and more fast-food chicken restaurants than I had ever seen in my life. Either a Kentucky Fried Chicken, or a Popeye’s on every block. You could literally smell the accumulated grease for blocks.

At one point, I think I’ve been propelled into a parallel universe. Because on one block, there appears a Harrison’s World of Liquors, Willie’s Barbershop, and Thompson Hardware, all lined up in the exact same sequence as their counterparts - Coogan’s Liquor’s, Jack’s Barbershop, and Gustav’s Hardware, on Amsterdam Avenue! What an eerie replica. In front of Willie’s, sit three old black guys with those old time racing track kind of hats, perched on milk crates, slurping down pint cans of Olde English 800, debating each other animatedly in gravely, raspy voices. As I pass by, the conversation abruptly stops, and they all stare at me.

“Hmm… you know that - that mo’fucker don’t be livin’ round here - hmm.”

They all break up hysterically, then go back to their debate. What is it about barbershops and me?

 I square my shoulders, pretending I don’t hear them, and stride onwards. A couple blocks more and it becomes slightly more residential, a couple of rather ramshackle houses scattered here and there. Finally - there it is. The fabled Fox Hole. Actually, it’s nothing like I imagine it would be, not at all grandiose. In fact, it’s kind of ordinary looking.

The one singular thing that really distinguishes it, are the three flags flying in front of it. An American flag, an Italian flag, and a black MIA flag. And a statue of the Virgin Mary, enclosed in a glass case. I find it amazing that nobody in this area had broken it a long time ago. Well, I’m here. Forty-five minutes into the unknown I have journeyed. I made it.

Submitted: March 29, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Joe Montaperto. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


G. Adams

I had trouble reading it because of all the different fonts. You can touch the curser and a a bar pops up. You can choose select all. And choose one font. Unless you meant to do that.

Mon, March 29th, 2021 6:52pm


Thanks for your comment, G. Adams - I will look into that!

Thu, April 1st, 2021 1:30pm

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