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J.E. The Neighborhood Bully

           by Jack Rothstein

          J.E. was an authentic hitter…the infamous bully who enjoyed terrorizing kids smaller than himself…I was fortunate in managing to avoid his rage…one day at the pizzeria on 40th street and 48th Ave across from the P.S 199 school yard, the late Jackie Walsh (AKA Burma) and I were dining on a slice and a coke …Burma was getting ready to go to work…as a trainee transit cop…like many sons of the Irish working class who found their way into police work…

          We finished our snacks…said our goodbyes… no time passed when looking up from the book I was reading I was shocked to see a fight taking place just outside the pizza place…with a couple of young toughs by his side J.E. was kicking the shit out of Burma…the blood of the young Irishman was flowing… bloodied Burma dropped out…platinum-haired Joey R. moved in to take up the fight… big bully J.E. hoisted Joey R. over his head and threw him into a car…next thing I see Joey’s older brother...ginger-haired himself...screaming bloody murder and racing up the street wielding a butcher knife in the air…wanting no part of the butcher knife J.E and his tough young friends fled…running hard up the avenue away from danger… Burma walked into the pizzeria bloodied and battered …in no shape to go to work...stared at me and said just three words…”look at me” …then turned and walked out….

          Burma died a few years later of cancer at 23…the year before he died, he blew the brains out of a seedy skel who came at him on a train brandishing a pocket knife…Burma was a cop…made his first kill and hated it…spent the last year of his life kneeling before God in the local Catholic church…nothing the priest said could heal his troubled soul…

Jack Rothstein, a native New Yorker, spent his formative years in Sunnyside Queens. He attended PS 199,  JHS 125 and graduated from Long Island City High School in 1968. He earned a BS degree from NYU.   Jack spends his retirement in the Philippines with his lovely wife and 5 year old daughter. 

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