The Jewish Kid and the Cannibal

The Jewish Kid and the Cannibal

A medium rare to well-done true story about overpopulation

By Karen Cole

1,300 words


You only get a partial tale when you read this. Due to dismemberment of limbs, and how things are not good when you’re…involved.

Once upon a time, I visited the mental ward of a psychiatric hospital. I had lost my first husband to a disease called putting people on phony, major pharmaceutical cures for depression. His mental illness was caused by his girlfriend Angela committing suicide by shot gunning herself in the stomach. This was due to his having made her pregnant, and also she had a daughter who died of so-called genetic leukemia. My first husband was Jewish, with parents who’d escaped the Nazis via being teenagers and traveling with their folks to America.

Anyway, some three score years after that, when I was visiting my husband’s now deceased cousin on said mental ward, I met a Semitic, youthfully wiry teenage boy, probably around 14 years old. I had read extensively about the Jews of New York, researching old books. Did you ever notice that all books are old books? The reality there is that you can only get a recent book. It’s amazing, but there’s no such thing exactly as books of the present or future, unless you’re reading them in progress, sometime during the publication or whatever process of print.

The young boy I met in the paragraph above? Well, he slid back and forth along a number line at me, stating with his body language that he was and still is possibly less than zero, which is a book title. The lad I now call the Jewish kid explained his situation. He said he originally lived in the Seattle area, and that he had been staying at an apartment somewhere in the vicinity, but was now looking for another place. A knife-wielding maniac dwelled in his building. Meanwhile, the kid had been gauged as mentally ill, possibly by himself. Or someone or several such someone else family members, teachers or friends. But he appeared completely normal, and gave me no indication of any evaluable mental illness.

He was small, white, dark-haired and Semitic-looking. I recalled those stories I had read, about New York Jews in the old days. So the kid explained to me while we were on full view by the nurses on the mental ward that he didn’t really care about his life much anymore, he just wanted to maybe…an allegedly Hebrew word…find a new place to live, one apart from the cannibal down the hall. He was worried about that knife-wielding man, but he made a mistake of sorts. He was talking to someone who knows how to throw a karate punch. I learned it over six months’ worth of time in a Japanese-style dojo. The kid was quite interested, mentioning that he might stay where he was already living instead of finding a new place, if I taught him how to fight correctly enough.

I immediately told the Jewish kid to settle down, softly so that no one would interfere with us. I risked a lot doing this, teaching that kid how to punch his cannibal opponent out; but maybe he wasn’t a real man yet. That would require some silly boyhood party where he gets elevated on a chair, receives ritzy adult presents, and has to believe he’s become an overnight adult. Maybe he’d already had his bar mitzvah – another phrase my Word program accepts. Well, Jews are around nearly everywhere.

I taught that boy how to punch, and like Ray Bradbury the science fiction writer stated, he was done in a red-hot second! Intelligent and muscular, he threw a gorgeous split-moment punch in the air to my left, inches away from my face. In an instant, he chose exactly where to punch the criminal haunting him, who lived down his apartment’s narrow hallway. But he didn’t see himself as more valuable than a weirdo who had unnecessarily disappeared into the bottommost pit of human depravity, namely a stranger waving a knife at him down the hallway.

The fact is the cannibal was human – there for a reason, not necessarily under God, but something like that. Maybe, who knows? So the kid left the mental institution, with a punch in him, and the right thing was clearly to attack the human, not-so-miserable and overly enjoying his life cannibal – before the Jewish kid joined a long list of dead people. Not too many, because of course the smell of rotting parts is way too there, hovering around, and makes it obvious which one is the cannibal’s apartment, and eventually he gets turned in by the police, of course. After a lot of dead victims; but even one is way too much!

Well, the Jewish kid was supposed to punch him ‘til it hurt enough to stop eating say, 10, 50 or 100 or plus people in his apartment building. I don’t know how large it was there, before he got caught at it. Sort of like a depraved lion stalking folks. The Jewish kid learned well in just that short, snappy way, either using it to punch the man, or of course, he could have jerked him inside and simply ate him. How many people move into or out of an apartment building near you? Do you live in one?

Or maybe at least the cannibal learned some respect. And stopped waving cutlery at the lad, and inviting him in. Then the Jewish kid got his things together, leaving the building for good. Anything could have happened from teaching that boy how to fight properly, and my having run out of time to teach him how to actually kick and block. Without the dude grabbing a leg or an arm, and my not teaching how to twist his arm away either. The nursing staff was too close by. I was lucky they didn’t see me demonstrate how to punch, or the kid’s returned overhead blow.

I guess it is largely a case of anything goes. Well, the kid potentially ended up at a karate dojo somewhere. Maybe he attained his resources, as he was on a locked mental ward – and they moved him to Section 8 housing. Once there, he must have made a fresh start. But he told me he was weirdly fascinated by the strange man who kept waving that knife at him, and saying, “Hey, come here, I got something for you! You can come visit me, you don’t have anyone else! Right, Hymie?”

I’m hoping the kid punched him out. In the face, several times; the dude’s knife clattered to the floor, and that calm, cool kid waltzed over the body and texted the police. But, what if the cannibal got up? The kid would have to figure that one out by himself. Well, he could’ve shouted, “I’m calling the cops, I punched out a knife-wielding looney!” But I had no time to teach him how to shout a karate ki-yi; you need to know about that. And the Jewish kid was living alone, with limited family support. The cannibal probably had…uh, nobody. Except for severed bloody parts, smelly ones leaking out into the hall and attracting neighborly attention over time.

Did I teach a kid how to be a man in ten seconds? I met a young Jewish soul cashiering at the Safeway, years later. He told me: anything could happen out of that, including a hideous job on the side. What if the kid descended into stark, raving depravity over what he had done? But I like to think that it simply meant fewer human lives were destroyed. And that everyone else in that apartment building is safer now, while things go up and down in the realm of overpopulation.