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David Petruzelli


Today's Catch

In On the Waterfront, most of the faces
you saw for a moment were Hoboken faces,
and for five weeks in 1953 my father
and his oldest brother Corrado wanted in
as extras, especially when they noticed
Alan, off by himself in their favorite bar.
The stranger’s clothes said West Coast,
and my father and uncle swore the man
introduced himself as Waterfront’s casting
director, yet here were two wannabe actors
buying drinks for their new friend
they’d later find out was an electrician
in Columbia Pictures’ camera department.
Midway through his second beer Corrado
goes into his well-rehearsed tale of brothers
back in 1930 one summer morning
who spot a corpse floating in the Hudson,
and how they rowed a small leaky boat,
pushing the body with a floorboard.
Hoboken police called it “Today’s Catch”
and the like, interviewing the two boys
who managed to keep from throwing up.
Probably some New York bum who drank
too much,
one cop said, sounding like a line
from the film. By the time Alan
the electrician heard all this, the corpse
sported a tailored suit with bullet holes.
There was even a gold ring that quickly
vanished, along with a wet roll of bills

like regurgitated lettuce. The name
Dutch Schultz was heard several times
to help identify the possible triggerman
and confirm how serious this was.
If he’d been sitting there that night,
Budd Schulberg, the film’s screenwriter,
with more mob stories than he knew
what to do with, might have perked up
at the thought of two teens poking
a corpse with a floorboard, and suggested
they show up the next day. And hey,
bring along that gold ring, before it
ended up again in somebody’s pocket.

David Petruzelli has had work published in Crazyhorse, Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, Pleiades, Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. A collection, Everyone Coming Toward You, won the Tupelo Press Judge's Prize and appeared in 2005. He lives in New York City.

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