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A NOVEL Idea

Trying out a few ideas for a novel with the central character based on my dad, Sammy. I'm not sure where its going but I've experimented with a screenplay and now a novel.

Here's a sample chapter. What do you think?

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        Barry wheeled Sammy into Haim’s Deli. As soon as he stepped through the front door, the unmistakable smells and sounds of the delicatessen settled over Barry’s senses and calmed him. He spotted Haim Shear working behind the counter, slicing meat carefully in long strips and placing them in butcher rap. Haim learned the business from his father, Izzy. He carried on the tradition when Izzy passed away 10 years ago and bought the building that bears his name today. 

“Sam. You’re looking pretty chipper today.”  Haim yelled across the counter as he spotted the Levines. “Is Barry taking you out on the town today?”

Sammy pointed to the meat counter. “Say, Haim  ... Make me a corned beef on rye very lean ... lots of mustard and potato salad.” 


“Coming right up. Barry ... what can I get for you?”

“Pastrami for me ... the works.”

“Oh … Haim ...” Sammy added. “This is my son, Barry.”

“A fine looking boy, Sammy.” He winked at Barry. “Sit. Sit. I’ll bring it over.”

Barry slipped Sammy’s wheelchair into a table and settled into his seat.

“Did I tell you that Bertha died?” Sammy looked at Barry.

“Who died?”

“Bertha. Remember Bertha? She used to sit with me at lunch and dinner. She died ... Another one dead ... They’re dropping like flies. I really liked Bertha. She had a real asshole for a daughter though ... never came to see her.” 

“I remember Bertha. I didn’t think you liked her.”

“She was a lovely woman. She stopped sitting with me about a year ago. Said something about me to the nurses. I guess I didn’t have good table manners. What are you gonna do?” 

Sammy pulled out his wallet. It was worn and thin just like him. He took out a piece of folded paper and handed it to Barry. “Barry ... I want you to do me a favor.”

Haim came up to the table with lunch and set down the plates.

“Okay ... Corned beef for Mr. Sam and Pastrami for the boychik. Anything else?”

Sammy grabbed the note back again quickly. “No nothing. This is fine.” 

Sammy shooed Haim away as Barry grabbed his sleeve. “Thanks Haim ... this looks great.”

Barry took the note and opened it. Sammy closed it. “No, no not here. Don’t open it here.”

“Top secret, huh? Is this the formula for Coca Cola?”

“What? What are you talking about Barry? This is very important to me and I need your help. It’s no joke.”

“I will guard it with my life. The last note is still in a safe place at the house. I remember the coded words ... ‘sans-a-belt pants in size 34 and a bar of soap’.”

“Always joking. Ha ha ha. Well this is not a joke Barry. It’s very important to me so try to do what I ask.”

“I will. How’s your lunch?”

“Too much fat on the corned beef. This should be lean. Haim must be getting his meat from gentiles. It’s not like the old days. Remember Izzy’s? Now that was great food.” 

Barry’s mind drifted back in time. He was sitting at Izzy’s as a little boy. The usual crowd was there. Lots of old Jews yelling at their children, talking with their mouths full and gesturing wildly. At his table were Sammy and his mom, Esther. They were in their 40s then. He and his younger brother Mikey were sitting across from them. 

Younger Sammy spoke. “Too much damned fat on this corned beef. I’m not gonna pay Izzy for kosher meat if he keeps serving this crap.” Sammy grumbled and then turned his attention to Barry. “Don’t play with your food. Look at your little brother. He’s four years younger than you and eats like a real gentleman.” 

Barry answered. “Mikey’s eating crackers and cheerios with his fingers.”

“And he sits up very straight.” Esther pinched Mikey’s cheek. “Such a good boy”.

“Eat your food Barry.” Sam said. “Listen to your mother.”

“You’re not eating yours.”

“I’m an adult, Barry. The difference is that you just need to listen and eat.”

Barry continued to stare at present day Sammy.

“Barry. What the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Huh? Oh. Just thinking.” 

“Well. I’m ready to go if you are.”

Barry grabbed the check and walked to the deli counter.

“Oh ... And Barry tell Haim how delicious the sandwich was. I loved it.”

Haim smiled at Sammy and rung up the check for Barry.

“He LOVES it Haim.”

“God’s got a special place for you, Barry.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

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