Mort Laitner

An American Pogrom

As I climbed into Ed’s spanking-brand new F-150, he handed me a cup of Starbucks.

“Mort, I got it for you a black. I remembered that’s the way you like it.”

“Thanks Ed. I needed some caffeine to wake me up. As my lips warmed to the coffee, I smelled its aroma and smiled, wondering, “Had Ed topped off my coffee with a shot of brandy?”

My taste buds told me he hadn’t.

Ed was known for taking a swig or two throughout the day. He claimed, “It calms my nerves.”

And Ed was an old friend of mine. A thirty-year-old friend who was a retired school teacher, a Democrat and no friend of  “Mr. Dictator-for-a-Day.”

How could I not like him?

We belonged to the same temple. And Ed, as a kid achieved the rank of eagle scout; now ran a Boy Scout troop out of our temple.

But in 2020, when I asked him if he wanted a Biden/Harris bumper sticker. He politely declined, saying, “That’s a good way to get your car keyed or spat on. Those Trumpers are nuts. As a scout leader, I teach the kids how to avoid unnecessary problems.”

But now in 2024, I noticed Ed had removed the mezuzah from his doorpost. And he no longer wore the gold chai around his neck. I wondered, “Was Ed paranoid? Had the alcohol gotten to him? Had Trump and his team of crazies driven him nuts”?

I replied, “No guts. No glory.” And we both laughed.

As I sipped the bitter tasting coffee, I scanned Ed’s pickup and spotted some unusual stuff on the backseat.

“Ed, I love your new Ford. The metallic blue is awesome. The leather seats feel so comfy. But what’s with all the haserei in your backseat.”

Ed drew in a deep breath, as if he was getting ready to give me a long speech.

“Well, I just finished reading Philip Roth’s book, The Plot Against America. The novel is about the 1940 US election. The famous anti-Semite and first aviator to cross the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh beats Wendell Wilkie for the presidency. After the results were announced, riots or pogroms or an American version of Kristallnacht broke out throughout the South. You remember that Russian word, pogrom, it means to wreck havoc or demolish violently. Yeah, in the1880s through the early 1900s, Russians attacked and killed Jews throughout their Empire. Remember the pogrom in Fiddler.”

Ed paused, took a deep breath and continued, “Now back to The Plot Against America. As I said, Lindbergh’s followers burned down synagogues and murdered a bunch of Jews. It was an American pogrom.  They pulled Jews out of their cars and trucks and beat the crap out of them. Well, with the 2024 election just around the corner, I’m preparing, just in case Herr Trump wins. I’m disguising my truck with what you’ve called haserei.

I bought the stuff in the backseat in preparation for the night of the election or the next day if the results are too close to call. If Trump wins, I jump into action, using the following stuff:  a dashboard Jesus, a silver crucifix, a King James, a Trump Christmas ornament, a Trump bumper sticker, a Trump bobblehead and a Trump flag with an aluminum flagpole. It’s all camouflage for my truck and myself. If some Nazi thugs or the Klan or the Proud Boys pull me over and they see this stuff, they’ll leave me alone, let me pass and I’ll be on my way.

I interrupted, “Ed, once a scout, always a scout. Your motto always was, “Be prepared for any contingency.”

Ed nodded in agreement and smiled as if he was really proud of himself.

“Ed, knowing you as well as I do, I bet there’s a backstory to each of the items.”

“Well, since you asked. Here are some backstories.

I faked Donald’s autograph in the Bible. I also added a note in Donald’s handwriting. It reads, “Ed, thanks for being one of my greatest supporters. The Boss.” You know,  I acquired that New Testament from a Mr. Gideon, the guy left it in the nightstand of our local Days Inn;

Online, I studied over 100 Trump bumper stickers. I settled on: I VOTED FOR TRUMP IN 2020, because it would give me some cred and the appearance of being an old time supporter;

On Amazon, I saw the solar-powered dancing dashboard Jesus. It was so cute I had to buy it;

I purchased the Donald Trump Kissing the American Flag Glass Christmas Tree Ornament and I’ve left it in its cardboard box, so if Biden wins I can return it;

I bought a Gold Trumpinator Bobblehead figure, with a limited run of 2024 units. Mr. Insurrection holds a gun, wears sunglasses and army boots. It cost me $49.95 but I figured out that once a neo-Nazi saw it, I could try to barter my life for it.

Mort, I’m telling all my close friends to buy this post election emergency safety kit. I even typed up a list for my buddies on where they can buy this stuff. It only costs around a hundred bucks. You know, the election is just around the corner. You and your family better be prepared.”

I stared into Ed’s blood shot eyes, took another sip of my coffee and said, “Pal, I ain’t buying none of that stuff. It goes against my religious beliefs and my political convictions.  But I’ll carry my fully-loaded .45 caliber pistol the night of the election, just in case your prediction comes to fruition.”

“Now that a good idea Mort. That’s one fucking good idea.”

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About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. ChatGPT says, Mort is known for his works that often explore themes of love, loss, and the human connection. Laitner has published several books , including “A Hebraic Obsession.” His writing style is characterized by its emotional depth and introspection. Laitner’s works have garnered praise for their heartfelt expression and keen insight into the human experience.
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