Stevieslaw: Putin Need Not Fear

Stevieslaw: Putin Need Not Fear
It took me a few minutes to figure out that the text message was from my excellent Cousin Myron—the frenetic, red headed math whizz and recent Presidential candidate. Myron had not used his usual account. The message read: Big, big trouble. Meet me at Sal’s. Make sure you aren’t followed.
It was always a pleasure to go to Sal’s Pizza place on Sutter Avenue. Sal would cut you a slice the size of a sombrero with all the toppings you could imagine. It was serious Brooklyn pizza—and not much is more serious than pizza in Brooklyn. Well, it’s almost always a pleasure to go to Sal’s, but this text message had come in at 5:45 AM.
I found Myron nursing a cup of coffee at a corner table. Sal had opened the store, let Myron in, made him coffee and then gone back to bed. To Myron’s credit, he was not in disguise.
“I’ve been lying to Marsha,” Myron said grimly. “I’ve been lying to Marsha for years.” Marsha, Myron’s equal-to-the-task spouse, ruled the roost and much of the five boroughs, if Myron was to be believed. Most of us felt that Myron’s reasonable fear of his wife was the only thing that kept him from ending up in jail or in a cuckoo-bin. Myron had a huge heart, but a hair trigger temper that often got him into trouble.
“What lie?” I asked, while scanning the counter for the coffee pot.
“You know my book club? The one that meets on Fridays, once a month,” he continued.
I nodded, hardly able to keep myself from cracking up laughing.
“There is no book club,” he whined, “I play poker with the guys on that Friday. I’ve been doing it for forty years.”
“Myron,” I said with a huge grin. “That is the worst kept secret in the city.” “Just last week, Marsha told me, “That schnook of a cousin of yours still thinks I don’t know about the poker game that’s been going on forever. He comes home once a month, stinking of cheap cigars and peanuts and burping up beer, with his pockets full of cash. Book club!”
“Of course I know she knows,” shouted Myron. “What kind of schnook do you think I am? But, if she’s forced to acknowledge she knows—say, if she should happen to read about the game or see something about it on TV, I’d be up the creek.” “I promised her when the twins were born that I would give up gambling.”
“Why in heaven’s name would she ever see something about your crappy little poker game—one that I’ve never been invited too, I might add, in any form of media?” I asked reasonably.
“Because for the last twenty years, one of the players has been Donny,” Myron said in such a tiny voice I was only just able to make it out.”
“Who’s Donny,” I started to say and then it hit me. I knew.
“Donald Trump?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Myron, “Donny boy.”
“The news media sniffed out the existence of the game, and now they want me—the former presidential candidate, to write about Donny’s poker skills,” Myron continued. “And, I think I should as he sucks at poker—loses big every month, and I think that has a bearing on his big mouthed run for the presidency.” “He will tip his hand to foreign leaders every time, the same way he tips off his three of a kind or flush. A four year old can tell when he’s bluffing. The art of the deal, my ass,” he concluded.
Myron and I talked it out. By the time we finished, it was close enough to lunch hour for us to share a pizza. We decided that Trump didn’t really have a chance for the nomination and there was no real reason for Myron to stick his neck out. There would be time enough for that if Trump would, by some miracle, be nominated.
Myron called the next morning.
“Can I sleep on your couch until Marsha calms down,” he asked.
He didn’t need to ask. The poker game was the focus of all the local papers, the network news and the cable channels. The headline in our local paper had, “Trump Loses Shirt at Five Card Stud.” One of the card players, Marty “Uncle Milty” Schwartz, had given the interviews. He had told all—including the names of the other players. Trump’s poker playing impotence was trumpeted everywhere. As it should be, I felt. After all, you may love a guy who draws to an inside straight seven or eight times a night—particularly, if he has deep pockets, but you sure as hell wouldn’t entrust him with the nuclear codes.

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