Hasidim from Hell


This is a short story about the craziest blues singer in the craziest blues bar this side of Purgatory. “Elmo the barkeep had already splintered three Louisville Sluggers over the usual heads and was now stationed at the door with a big lead pipe,” reads the beginning–and you know the situation’s only going to get worse.

In walk three evil-looking Hasidic Jews, the baddest guys in the bar. They’re the night’s musical act: a trio fronted by Barucha Boy, “a thin wiry guy with a knife scar down one cheek, a fifth of peppermint Schnapps…and a wicked looking guitar wail like a cantor on a bad acid trip getting his throat slit in slow motion.”

Vampyre Mike Kassel, an author from the San Francisco Bay Area, included this story, “Barucha Blues,” as part of his 1991 collection Graveyard Golf and Other Stories. The story is obviously a fabrication–at least, we think it is–but the way Barucha Boy and his backing band are described, it’s more genuine than many depictions of Hasidim in popular culture (The Good Wife, we’re looking at you). The story’s twist ending alone is more than worth the price of admission–we won’t give it away, but let’s just say that the only character more freakish and scary than Barucha Boy is his mother.

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