Pete’s Gun



3005 Astoria Blvd, Long Island City, NY

Neighborhood: Astoria, Queens

Even though I’ve trained myself in hand-to-hand combat, I’ve never been eager to fight and I always surprise myself if I do something brave in that area. One of my proudest moments came when I was about 18.

My friend Angelo was dating a girl Gina who had been seeing this other guy from another neighborhood. We’d regularly hang out in Gina’s basement until she and Angelo would announce that they wanted to be alone. We’d all pile out into the adjacent and wait until they finished fucking. It rarely took too long.

One night, Gina’s ex-boyfriend, Doug, decided to pay her a visit and that’s where the trouble began. Angelo came to me for help and we chased (on foot) Doug’s Mustang away, tossing rocks and batteries at him.

Word spread quickly and soon we had about 15 guys milling around on Gina’s block. When nothing happened for about a half-hour, I guess everyone let his guard down a bit. That’s when the counterattack came.

About six or seven carloads of guys came screeching up to the corner and everyone took off-except me, Angelo, and Angelo’s younger brother, Pasquale. Don’t ask me why I didn’t run. I had a vague sense of loyalty to Angelo and Pasquale (they lived across the street from me) but no one would’ve blamed me if I took off. But I didn’t. I stood my ground with a bottle in my hand and when two or three guys pounced on Pasquale, I pulled them away.

Fortunately for us, no one started pummeling us right away. Instead, these idiots made the mistake of trying to humiliate us first. They had seen far too many movies and their feeble attempts at flair were laughable. In fact, when Doug hopped out of his Mustang, he did so in such a hurry that he left it in drive and the car rolled right in a garbage can. Pasquale and I stifled a laugh.

Anyway, like I said, we didn’t get our asses kicked because Doug and one of his larger friends circled us and played the taunting game.

“You like to throw things at cars, huh?” Shit like that. Big mistake.

Someone had run inside and told Gina’s step-dad, Pete, what was happening. Pete liked us, especially Angelo, so he didn’t like a bunch of punks fucking with us when we ere just defending our territory. Also informed of the situation was Timmy. He dated Rita, the girl who lived upstairs from Gina. Timmy was older than us and had a reputation around my way. (He ended up drowning at Rockaway Beach a few years later but that night…he was there when it counted.)

So Pete and Timmy come out and start shoving punks out of the way until they reach the epicenter of the fight. Timmy slaps a bottle out of one punk’s hands and sneers: “What the fuck you gonna do with that?”

The punk had no answer. We were still outnumbered about 25 to 5 but that punk backed down. Then came the fun part.

Pete picked out the biggest guy in the batch. Pete was not big but he carried himself like a brawler: early 40s, blue collar all the way. You definitely did not look at Pete and think “pushover.”

Pete grabs this guy by the collar, slams him up against a car, and gets his face about a fraction of an inch away from the punk’s face.

“Who wants to fight? Who wants to come on my fuckin’ block and fight?”

You could feel the confidence draining from Doug and his boys. Me, Angelo, and Pasquale started staring them down when Pete looks around at how many guys are surrounding him. Oh-so-slowly, Pete opens his flannel shirt to reveal a gun tucked into his belt: “Which one of you motherfuckers is first?”

I was in my glory. Doug and his band backed away towards their cars.

“And this better be the last time I see you around here,” Pete bellowed and they were gone. Pete winked at us, rubbed Angelo’s head, and left and we yelled “thanks” after him.

Little by little, our friends re-emerged. We were legends for not running and Pete’s show became part of the local lore.

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