Truth be told, I am not a crook. My brief encounter with crookedness occurred when I was about eight years old. Thankfully, the benevolent powers that be did not send me off to reform school for my heinous crime.
On the corner of Crescendoe Road and Perry Street, there was a marvelous little mom-and-pop butcher shop called Lawrence’s Market. It was called Lawrence’s Market, due to the simple fact that Larry Hladick was the dude that owned and ran this fine establishment. I don’t remember there being an actual grocery store near my house at the time, as we bought all of our groceries from this little stone building. Back in those days, milk was delivered by a milk man in a milk truck, and all meat was cut by a butcher and packaged on the spot. Butchering was the primary skill of Monsieur Hladik and his happy band of meat cutters. There was another jolly butcher there named Jim Beatty, whom my family were friends with for a time. Jim had two sons named Mike and Tom who were older than my brother and I. Later in life, Tom would be branded with the name Moe, which would stick with him until the day that he died. Moe Beatty’s story is a long and sordid tale that I shall expound upon in a future episode.
Lawrence’s Market had a huge meat counter, behind which the butcher boys would hack up sundry pieces of animal flesh for the consumption of the general public. Their home made sausages and salads were music to the palate. I particularly remember the fresh kielbasa, as that was one of our family favorites. The market also had a large candy counter that was partially obscured by the 50,000 ton cash register sitting on the end of the counter. Both of these facts are the key to my crime, which I shall now confess to.
One day, while all of the butchers were performing surgical procedures on a side of beef, I surreptitiously stole an extra large Boyer Mallo Cup, complete with a 50 point Mallo Cup Play Money card, from the candy counter and stuck it under my shirt. The whole event was blocked from sight by the monstrous cash register. I was never caught for this crime, however, I always felt like Larry knew. It may be just my guilty conscience, but my relationship with Larry was never the same after that. An analysis of the facts leads me to believe that this singular event was the “end of innocence” for me. It was one of those pivotal moments, after which, things were all different.
So that’s it. My crime spree ended as quickly as it began, put on ice due to a guilty conscience.
Driving by recently, I noted that Lawrence’s Market is now a sub shop or a deli. My guilty conscience reminds me that my one crime of passion probably put them out of business. I would later find out that the owners of the sub shop murdered one of their employees with a baseball bat, stuffed her into a garbage bag, and buried her in a shallow grave. I don’t think this was in any way related to my candy stealing spree, but I do think it is an interesting side note that warrants further investigation by this blogger.
As for Larry and Jim, I am reasonably certain that they have gone off to the happy hunting ground, where they are slicing off two pound rib eye steaks for the folks making it through the pearly gates.
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