I got to our gang’s hangout on Hicks Street and I see Reno the Greek sitting on the curb. He is moving his arms back and forth scraping a belt buckle on the curb’s stone. What in the hell could he be doing? When I got close to him I stood over him but he never stopped, he just kept on scraping this big belt buckle like he was possessed by the Devil. After a few minutes I tapped him on his shoulder and said. “Hey Reno, what in the hell are you doing?” He stopped scraping and looked up at me. “I’m getting ready for the gang war. When my brother, Henry told me all about those new kids who moved into the Red Hook Projects and all the shit they want to pull, I got blind with hate. All I could see is “RED” and I want to walk into the projects and beat the shit out of them. Who in the hell do they think they are?” I hold up my hand and say, “Okay, I get it, but why are you grinding your belt buckle against the curb?”
Reno looks down at the belt buckle in his hand and then looks up again and says. “Huh, yeah, well I need protection when I face these guys. Manny Cross Eye, from the Dukes, told me that your Garrison Belt could save your ass in a fight. Manny took off his Garrison Belt and told me to touch the edges of his belt buckle. Holy shit; when I touched the buckle with my finger, it hurt because the points on the buckle are so sharp that it almost cut me. I pulled back my finger and said, wow, how did you do that? Manny laughed at me and then he sat down on the curb to show me how to grind down my Garrison Belt Buckle with sharp points like his. That’s why I’m sitting here doing this shit.” “Oh, there’s more, he showed me how to get your belt off in a hurry, rap the leather part around your hand and swig the buckle of the belt like a whip. Keep the belt on your hand ready for combat short for one person and long for group combat. Then he told me if you’re going into enemy territory and you know that there’s a chance that they may bush whack you, you have to be ready to take your belt off in a split second. That’s when I unbuckle my belt, slide it out of my pants loops and then I wrap the belt around my waste again and only buckle it in the second hole so the belt falls loose on my hips. It’s almost looks the way a gun slinger’s six shooter’s belt falls on his hips. This way you can get your garrison belt off in one second and ready for battle if you’re under attack.”
After Reno finished telling me all about the garrison belt I put my hand up to my chin, wrinkled my nose and said, “Wow that’s great, I am going to get my garrison belt and sharpen the belt buckle too. This way I’ll be able to protect myself if and when I need it. But I have a question, who the hell is this guy Manny? I never heard about him from the other guys on the Dukes, and why did you call him crossed eye?” Reno then says, “Manny just moved into the neighborhood with his parents and three sisters about two weeks ago. He moved into Prospector Frank’s building on Huntington Street. According to my brother Henry, he is one tough dude. He’s over six feet tall, built like a shit house and he can kick your ass around the block in no time. He’s Blackie Parisi Italian cousin from Argentina and need I say more. I don’t know much about the thing with his eye. From what I heard his left eye doesn’t line up with his right eye. Henry said that if you’re looking at him he can only look at you with his right eye and his left eye goes towards or crosses over to his nose. That’s why the gang nick named him Manny Cross Eye.”
I’m thinking to myself that the whole neighborhood is going crazy. Reno with his garrison belt, Roger with his zip gun and I hear that Reno’s brother Black Face Henry is collecting bottles and rags to make gasoline bombs. I don’t like the feeling I get that we will kill each other in a gang war. Just as I’m sitting with Reno on the curb Pecker and Prospector Frank show up. They ask about the garrison belt and Reno tells them the Manny story all over again. Prospector Frank puts his hand on his forehead and says, “Holy Crap, you can’t walk around your own neighborhood without getting mugged or getting into a gang war. I hate this shit and I don’t want to think about it. I say let’s go over to the Lido Movie House a see the new Treasure Island movie this afternoon.” I chime in and say. “That’s a great idea. I heard that a lot of good things about the movie.” We all agreed, Reno put on his garrison belt and we all took off for the Lido Movie House on Columbia Street just above Union Street. We were all a little hungry and Pecker thought we should stop for one of Louie’s hot dogs along the way. Wow thinking about going to the movie and eating one of Louie’s famous hot dogs with onions made me feel a lot better than thinking about all this gang bullshit.
As we were walking to get Louie’s hot dogs I started telling the guys all about my events the past few days. I told them about my uncle Frank’s new Buick, the Drive in Movie, seeing the Ten Commandments, Joanie’s Portable radio, our trip to Woolworth’s, but I left out the part about Roger’s Zip gun because I had enough of all this gang shit. When we got to Louie’s hot dog stand on Columbia and President Streets we sat on a stoop nearby to eat our hot dogs. That when I told the guys about my trip to the library with Henry to get a book Treasure Island and even though Henry was keen on reading the Treasure Island storybook I was so looking forward to seeing the movie. We finished our hot dogs, got to the Lido and paid our twenty five cents for admission for the Matinee. The movie was everything Henry told me about. It was the best movie that I ever went to see. I loved the story about Jimmy the cook on the pirate ship. I liked seeing Long John Silver with his one leg and his sword fighting off the other pirates to save Jimmy’s life. The best part of the movie is the treasure map of skull island and Long John Silver with Jimmy trying to find the pirates burred treasure before they do.
The movie had everything, the pirate ship, the sword fighting, the Treasure Map, Jimmy and Long John racing to find the treasure and much more. When we left the movie house I was pumped. That’s when Prospector Frank said, “Hey, I have an idea, I think we can start an adventure of our own.
We can collect some of those rocks that look like silver in the vacant lot near my house on Huntington Street and make a treasure chest. I’ll play Long John Silver and Reno could be Jimmy. You Pepino and Pecker will be the bad Pirate Red Hook who steals the treasure chest from the ship and buries it in Brooklyn. We can make some swords from some old wood and stage some fights.” I yell out, “Wait, wait, a minute suppose I get Roger to bury the treasure chest in Coffey Park or in one of baseball fields down by the docks. People have been telling stories about where Pirate Red Hook’s Treasure is buried for years. No one knows if it ever happened so we can make up our own story about Pirate Red hook. I’ll ask Roger to make a real looking Treasure Map, tear the map in four or five pieces and hide the pieces of the map around the neighborhood for us to find with clues as to where we should be looking like a scavenger hunt. It will take a lot of work to pull this together but if this game can take our minds off all this gang crap it will be worth it.”
Then the ideas started flowing like water and we agreed to meet the next day to make the treasure chest, wooden swords and anything else we need for this pirate game. You may of guessed it by now, yes, I was elected to convince Roger to work on this project for us.