883 Mr. Riley Was My Boss and He Taught Me. 01-25-2020

He was retired NYPD.
He got into delivering newspapers
to keep busy
and to add some cash
to his monthly budget.
I was ten,
workin’ papers in my pocket,
deliverin’ all the big
New York City newspapers.
He’d drop ’em off
on my stoop ’round 4AM.
I’d come down around 5.
(Yeah.
That was New York then.
They’d still be sittin’ there.)
I’d load ’em into my bag
and off I’d go.

Once some customer complained
I whistled too loud,
too early in the morning.

“Damn!” said Mr. Riley.
“If that’s all they got
to gripe about…
F-em!
Whistlin’!
Just you keep
deliverin’ your papers….
Whistlin’!
Jesus Christ…!”

And one time Mr. Esposito’s
teenaged son,
Vinnie,
and his guys
give me a hard time
when I come to collect…

“Oh! Look! It’s the paper boy!
You want your money now,
huh, kid?
Here!
Jump for it!”

He held it above my head.
He was taller than me
and I was just a kid.
But I didn’t jump.
Then he dropped it
onto the sidewalk.

“There it is, delivery boy!
Pick it up!”

I was scared, a little,
but I turned around and walked away,
calling back to him,

“I guess you’ll be gettin’ up early
to buy your fathers Daily News
at the Deli
from now on…”

I didn’t look back.
I figured I’d hear his steps
if he come for me.
But I was hopin’ he was yellow.
I flipped him the bird.
Yep! He was yellow.
And his guys laughed at him.
And I left the money on the concrete.
It was worth it.

When Mr. Riley asks me
why the Espositos was offa my list,
I told him some of the truth
and he guessed the rest.

“Fuck-em, Kenny.
You’re right.
Life’s too short
to suffer shit.
Don’t tell your Mother
I said that.
Want me I should speak
to Mr. Esposito?”

“Up to you, Mr. Riley.
You’re da Boss.”

So he did, I guess.
And I never seen Vinnie again.
I heard he was sent
to some Military school
up in Dutchess County.
And maybe by the time he come home,
I was bigger.

Messing with one of
Jack Riley’s boys
wasn’t a good idea.

Bein’ boss means
bein’ there.
Showin’ up.
Takin’ care of your guys.
Mr. Riley was my boss.
He taught me that.
And I delivered
his papers.

About Ken Greenman

Married and Happy. Retired and busy. Living in NC. 71 and counting. December 12, 2020 and it's 72! ... I would love some written comments, critiques, adulation or kind suggestions.... If you have the time and or inclination, please feel free! Not in fear but by faith. We will see. See you later! If you ever want to talk for real, email me and I will send you my cell number.... I am enjoying this!
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