Monday, March 17, 2014

The Shady Russianhator

Barflies #3 

The Shady Russianhator

Jack Daniels 4 oz
Vodka 1 oz
A lot of ice
Served in 12 oz pint or mug

*Drink while burning the USSR flag and shouting out incorrect ethnic stereotypes

I'm sitting in the bar waiting for a friend who seems to be running late. I'm killing my cell phone battery, so I try to refrain from using it, futilely of course. The Olympics are on and the hockey game between the US and Russia is in full swing which is occupying the bartender and the few patrons' attention. I write off finding a barfly today since there seems to be little promise of excitement. However, the man a few seats down from me begins shouting expletives at the television screen that also involve the word "commie" and I just have to listen in.

I peer over at the guy expecting an old balding man in his 70's because who else would still use the word commie in reference to Russia? But no, he's a rough looking man not any older than me; I find this interestingly perplexing. I don him with the pet name Russianhator. He has one of those pubescent peach fuzz mustaches that just labels him as ex-con redneck. He speaks again and I realize I must amend the redneck thought. He's not a local but a northerner. He confirms this by explaining how he's from Ohio. 

He speaks loudly so that everyone can hear him, as if he is the shiznits and we should bask in his greatness. He is cocky and a bit brazen. When he goes to the restroom and back, he walks with a swagger tantamount to John Travolta in Staying Alive. Out of place and time, it is comical.

And then he talks--a lot. I half listen getting snippets of the conversation he's having with the bartender. The poor man must listen, but I can see he is getting increasingly uncomfortable and so am I. The Russianhator begins conversations with ludicrous statements such as "The first time I got of prison..." and "By the way, what's the time down here for aggravated assault?" The latter makes me want to bolt out of the bar like my life depends on it, and I'm starting to worry about my friend's whereabouts. 

He rambles on about Russian people, half his stereotypes wrong or about other cultures. He's an ignorant all American jailbird. He says commies again and the bartender finally questions it by repeating the statement. "Yeah, I grew up in the 80's," he says as if that explains and justifies everything. Being an 80's child myself, I remember the Cold War but I don't understand the latent hatred of Russians 30 years later. I guess the Olympics brought back painful memories of some sort. And this makes me wonder about his upbringing and past...

Little Russian boy (before he became the hater) grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, in a wealthy family that wasn't exactly loving. His father was an old school firm disciplinarian that bordered on abuse, his mother spoiling him in compensation. His mother stayed at home to take care of him and his three sisters while his dad "worked for a guy," and he was never told exactly what his dad did for this guy. As he got older, he realized the shocking reality that his dad was in the Cleveland Mafia. In response to this bombshell, he acted out in school and home; each time his "uncles" would bail him out figuratively and literally speaking.

Then one day things changed, drastically.

He's arrested for aggravated assault, again, but no one comes to bail him out or to give the cops the squeeze to get him out. He's stuck and he's afraid because if no one comes, it means very bad things for his father. His mother shows up to confirm his worst fears: his father is dead. There was an "accident" where his car blew up. Little Russian boy doesn't think about his father, no. He was raised to be a selfish creature and all he can think of is how he can get out if this. 

He doesn't. He serves his three year sentence but finds himself back in constantly between new charges and old charges that were "overlooked" at the time. Sure they can't admit the Cleveland Mafia got him out of it in the past, but they sure are giving him maximum sentences for simple bar fights to retaliate against him since he's no longer under the mob's tutelage. 

Here's when the Russian hatred comes in. His father had always hated Russians and would verbalize his anger and support of the boycott of the Olympics in the 80's. Our jailbird didn't buy into his dad's rantings but he'd overhear conversations he wasn't privy to. He learned as a child that there's no such thing as one mob. The Russian mafia was a posing problems, and the Cold War, despite it dwindling out, still was in full swing according to mafia turf wars.

Now out of jail, he hopes for good, he isn't satisfied with the circumstances of his father's death. He asks questions, is pointed in certain directions, and somehow ends up in a secluded parking lot in the middle of the night surrounded by five Russian guys with baseball bats.

The series of questions and beatings ensue, and he says anything and everything but the name of the mob boss his father worked for because that would be a different kind of death sentence. Suddenly, some gunfire is heard and the Russians scatter. One is hit and goes down. Russianhator is born as he watches with a vengeful heart as the man writhes and goes motionless. Justice is sweet. He's lifted up by some older guy that looks familiar--a friend of his father's.

"Here. Stop asking questions and go. You got lucky cause your dad was family. But come back to Ohio ever, you're dead and we ain't got your back kid."

Russianhator looks down at what was placed in his hand, a bus ticket. He looks back up but his savior is gone and the need for answers weighs heavily on him. He can't let go and digest his father's death unless he knows exactly what happened, but the death threat is pulling at his resolve.

He looks down to the ticket and reads, "Myrtle Beach, SC."

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