There was a story this week in The Brazil Times about an apparent pipe bomb exploding -- in Brazil Indiana no less! This incident occurred just a few doors down from the home of a young man of our acquaintance. He doesn't need an alibi, of course; but should anyone ask, he really was with us at the time -- honest. Certainly a bomb is a serious thing, and no one should joke about it. But, I've heard of worse.
Back in the late 70s, we lived in a nice area about 30 miles west of St. Louis. There is a long history of so-called Mafia organizations in St. Louis, dating back to when Al Capone would visit from time to time on behalf of his furniture repair business. I think that's what he said. Over the years a couple of "families" developed which were, shall we say, competitive. One of the members of one of these families lived in our neighborhood. It was no particular secret. Overall he was considered a nice enough guy, in theory. Nobody I ever heard of tested that theory.
It was a big story, even made national news, when the head of one of the families had the automobile he was driving suddenly explode while cruising down Highway 70. The roads were closed for hours as police tried to pick up the pieces. Getting home at rush hour was a bit of a problem that day. Don't know if they ever found out who did it.
A month or so later it seems another member of another family discovered there was a bomb in his car which could level an 18-wheeler. Unfortunately he learned of the bomb just a few seconds too late, after he'd already turned the ignition key. Don't know if they ever found out who did it.
This brings me back to our former neighbor. One sunny summer day a few weeks after the second bombing I noticed an unusual number of marked and unmarked police cars protecting our streets. A nondescript white van sat at the end of the block for longer than it would take to become suspicious under any normal circumstances. Our children, along with about every other kid in the neighborhood, were playing on and in the street. Finally I flagged down one of the unmarked cars and asked if there was anything I should be worried about? No, I was assured; just keep my kids on their own block.
A few days later our good neighbor had an arm and leg blown off in yet another car bomb. As shocked as I was that such a thing could happen to such a nice guy, I was just as happy it didn't occur close to home. Don't know if they ever found out who did it.
Sometimes I hang out at our son's business; mostly to have something to do in my alleged retirement. Nathan wants me to get ID from anyone who pays by check or credit card -- which is the right, business-like way to do it. I never bother. I just tell folks I know people in the Mafia. I never mention that the only one I ever knew was blown up and is probably dead or in prison by now.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.