Guy Walks into a Bar One Night in Queens...

Paulie drove to a bar outside LaGuardia airport. This was in the 1990s. He was meeting Stevie, a man with the kind of reputation that, once you heard about it, you couldn't forget it.

Stevie had done serious prison time and was charged with crimes such as extortion, assault, and kidnapping.

Stevie's eyeballs were not aligned. Based on a layman's Google search, exotropia could be the condition. It was bizarre in that it seemed to be a physical manifestation of part of his personality. Looking him in the eye even in casual conversation was unnerving, but then that might have been an occurrence only for those who knew of his decidedly unnerving past.

Otherwise, he was a convivial and funny man, who had everyone laughing one Christmas Eve dinner. He was a tall, hulking, rough-hewn type, who was a hustler, someone who worked outdoors year-round with his hands. He sold merchandise at flea markets and made a killing selling seasonal products, ACs in summer, Christmas trees in December.

He was completely unpretentious and conducted himself like a gentleman.

Paulie was meeting Stevie for reasons unknown. Paulie had been at a wedding reception earlier that night, and because his wife had gotten drunk and was making a fool of herself, he left early. He was still wearing a pricey fitted suit.

He arrived in the bar and Stevie wasn't there yet.

He ordered a drink and popped money into a jukebox. Whatever song he'd chosen it suddenly stopped. A woman had unplugged the jukebox, then plugged it back in and played something else. (Honestly, Paulie had terrible taste in music; I can't really blame her.)

He waited until her song was over. Then he played his song again.

She again unplugged the jukebox, again plugged it back in, and again played another song.

Paulie approached her, because he never let anything like that happen to him.

"I was listening to that song," he said.

The woman started hollering, telling him he had nerve talking to her like that. And Paulie found himself facing two other men who were with the woman. They'd been watching the whole thing from a booth in back.

"You gotta problem?" one of them said.

So it began. There were words, threats, a "let's go outside and talk about this."

There was going to be a fight. Paulie was going to fight the two guys and get his ass kicked. It had happened before and he was more than willing to let it happen again. It was just one of those things. A man stands up for himself, consequences be damned.

Paulie was more concerned about his suit as they started for the door. It would likely be ruined. Plus it's not easy throwing punches wearing a fitted suit.

They were about to file outside into the night when our story changes. As Paulie, first in line,  reached the door, it opened. Stevie walked in.

"Whats going on here?" he asked Paulie.

Paulie explained. "We're going outside because ----"  Whatever he said....

"He disrespected my woman," one of the two men interjected.

Stevie gestured at the woman who was standing there with them, at the door, and asked, "This woman?"

The man, who knew of Stevie, nodded and --

Stevie punched her in her face, knocking her across the bar like a rag doll.

"Get lost," Stevie told them, and they did.

Stevie and Paulie sat at the bar and discussed whatever they had to discuss.

Growing up on Long Island and in Queens, I've crossed paths with a few connected guys. Heretofore, I've never written about them. The preceding was me writing about them. I'm not writing polemics. Also, these stories will be short and to the point, with as little extraneous detail as possible.