A Jew to be Proud Of

    a novel excerpt

    by Jon Sindell

Roman rolled up the aisle and parted us like bowling pins. “Move over,” he slurred as he dropped down next to Rex and proclaimed in a voice meant to be overheard: “You’re quite a clever Jew, Rex. Quite grandiloquent.” Lean and strong though he was, Rex looked as small as a ventriloquist’s dummy next to Roman. He bobbed his head like a surfer as he weighed his response. “Cool," he said with a toothy grin. Roman smiled broadly and wrapped a

pythonesque arm around Rex’s neck. “Rex,” he began with a knowing air, “your people understand Iraq. You apprehend the Arab mind, and you’re much too smart to play softball with `em! Hell, back in the Eighties you bombed their reactor! That was chutspuh, for sure.”

“You know, Coach, my people are kinda like—” He gestured at our mélange of blacks, browns, whites, and Wasabi—but Roman was on a different page.

"It's Skip, not Coach—like captain of a ship. And you know damn well what I mean about Arabs! I’m telling you, Rex, you Jews can play hardball.”

“Speaking of hardball,” Pat interjected—but Roman waved him off like a gnat.

“You guys don’t negotiate with terrorists, and you’re not afraid to rough `em up a bit. Waterboarding. Hah! That's kid stuff to the Mossad, I bet.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not sure how to say this, Coach—”


"But I’m kinda like ... American, you know?”

“Sure,” said Roman, “but we’re all somethin’ way back. Take me. I’m a Slovak, with an extra big order of Kraut on the side. You need to be proud of your heritage, Mose. Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax ...”

As if a switch had been thrown, Rex glided into the aisle to recite his father’s homage to the great Jewish pitcher while miming his miraculous pitching motion:


When Sandy had the ball,

He stood tall on the hill:

Two–hundred­–ten of power and grace

A kindly man with a fierce, dark face—

The finest model of his race!


He peered in for the sign

And rocked into his motion

The pill enclosed in his giant hand,

He stretched out wide his great wingspan,

And rolled home like the ocean!


“That’s what I’m talking about!” Roman thunder–clapped, prompting M.C. and Jamonte to roll their eyes at his off–key jive. “And the fact is, Rex, there’ve been a few pretty good Jew ballplayers over the years, and even my dad said Koufax was great—which for him is saying a lot. Of course, another thing you Jews have going for you is lots of scientists and doctors and stuff, so forget the—you know, the swindler types and all, and be proud of your heritage.” Roman’s magnanimous smile implied that he had bestowed a generous tribute.

“You know, Skip, it's kind of like, all my heritage, you know? The human race? We the people of a more perfect union?”

Roman flushed a little, unwrapped his arm from Rex’s neck, and stared as if reappraising an ungrateful first date. “Well I’ll say this for you, you’re a stubborn little ... Hey. And I like that! You’re stubborn on the field, that’s for damned sure. Now listen, Mose, you do me a favor and write that Koufax poem down. There's a Jew to be proud of.” He rubbed Rex’s head with the flat of his hand, and Rex winced like a boy whose dad is too rough with the bath towel.

    Jon Sindell writes and reads his fiction in San Francisco, where he curates the Rolling Writers reading series. His short stories have appeared in Hobart, Word Riot, Zouch, New South, Many Mountains Moving, Prick Of The Spindle, Switchback, Gray Sparrow, and elsewhere. His novel The Mighty Roman is a journey to the manly heart of baseball darkness.