Chuck Norris Ain’t Shit

The other day a young woman entered our diamond exchange to sell a diamond ring. I examined the goods. The stones were poor quality, but I saw about $500 in it.

“Come with me.” I sherried her over to my friend. Eddie needed the business and I owed him $200 from a sale in early January. I explained the circumstances and walked back to our counter.

Stepping inside I turned around to be confronted by Lil’ RV, a Bukharian first-generation diamond dealer occupying the middle window booth.


“I should whack you in the face. I get all the shots after you.” RV wagged a finger in my face. The short twenty-six year-old with a swiftly receding hairline and perpetual 5 O’Clock shadow had been mouthing off to me, as only the young can when they don’t know any better.

“You little shit.” I leaned forward with clenched fist and spoke in a deadly whisper, “That’s the second time you’ve threatened me. You do it one more time and I’ll throw you down the stairs. Then I’ll drag you up the stairs and throw you down them again. And if you call any of your Bukharian stick pussies to back you up, I fucking break them like dogs, because that’s all you are to me. A dog.”

No one in the exchange heard a single word and RV stomped outside to smoke a cigarette.

I could tell that RV was expecting an apology and I followed him onto the sidewalk. The Block was busy with early morning schleppers hurrying to drop off diamonds and wandering diamond dealers kibitzing with the bigtime brokers.

“RV.” I wanted to tell him that there was no bad feeling.

“My name is Avi.” His fingers were holding the cigarette, as if he wanted to flick the butt in my face.

“Not until you show people respect.”

The previous week one of his thugs had tried to steal a customer from my partner Hlove, who was equally as hotheaded as me, and twice he had tried to take Gs from Eddie’s counter.

“Why should I show you respect?” Bukharians suffer from very high self-esteem. Their sloppy food is the best, their hairy women are the most beautiful, and no mirror can reveal the good looks of a High Steppes man.

“Firstly because I’m older than you and I do what I want. Not what you want and this is just a job. Stop taking it so serious.”

“Maybe it’s a job for you, but for me it’s my life.” RV was high on something.

“Then I’m sorry for you.” I figured Big Pharma speed. He didn’t look like a coke fiend. There was no talking to speed freaks.

Later in the day RV said loud enough for me to hear, “It’s not about how big you are, but how vicious.”

Hlove saw me tense up.

“Don’t, he’s just a kid.”

“He’s over 15. He ain’t no kid.” I was 60. My temper was as hot now as it had been when I was young.

I strode over to his booth. Three of his fat thugs stood at the counter. I pushed them out of the way.

“You’re right about size. The toughest fighter in the world was Bruce Lee.”

“Chuck Norris was a better martial artist.” RV wasn’t in a listening mood and he wanted to be right..

“Maybe, but like me or Hlove Bruce Lee was a brawler. Our best fights were never in a ring and the best fights of all was beating down someone who thought they were tougher than us, as Bruce Lee dusted Chuck Norris in WAY OF THE DRAGON. There was no contest.”

“I don’t like Orientals.” He knew my wife and kids were Thai.

“And you think you’re not Asian.” I came from Irish-Yankee stock. “There’s nothing about you that’s white and remember that.”

“Fuck you.” RV had been brought up rough in Brooklyn.

“Nice mouth.” I returned to my booth with a smile.

“Feeling better?” Hlove had witnessed the entire exchange.

“Not really.” I glanced over to the stairs. I envisioned grabbing RV by the shirt and chucking him down the stairs.

“And beating him up would help?” HLove was my age. Neither of us thought we were old.

“Only a little.” Each tumble would hurt the meshugannah boychik. A second fall would hurt even worse.

“Forget about it.”

“I will.” RV wasn’t worth the hassle. I breathed deeply a few times and the adrenalin cooled in my blood.

“It’s only business.” HLove was no peacenik, but he was right.

On 47th Street everything was business and I returned to the task of making money. Eddie came over to slip me a commish from the earlier sale. It was bigger than I had hoped.

“I gave a little extra for telling that punk off.”

“My pleasure.”

I split the commish with HLove. We were partners in every sale. 50/50.

Working together was what we did on the Block.

Life was easier that way.

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