Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Wild-Ride Journal of a Hollywood Bookseller, Series 2, Episode 3

by Arnold M. Herr

A Friend in need:

I was zonked when the phone recently rang at  2:45AM.  It was Mickey and he was whispering hoarsely.

Mickey:  He’s dead.  Rupert Barnyogurt is dead.

This bulletin could have waited ‘til morning.  I liked Rupert Barnyogurt well enough, but being awakened and told of his demise at 2:45 in the morning is a bit rude.

Me:  Couldn’t this have waited until later?  It’s the middle of the night.

Mickey:  It can’t wait!  He’s here.

Me:  Where?

Mickey:  Here at the store.  I’m in trouble Arnold.  He died here in my book shop.  Behind the counter.

Me:  Heart attack?  Stroke?

Mickey:  Premature burial.  He died in an landslide.  He was looking at
some Blavatsky volumes I had back there – he kinda dug that Theosophical claptrap when suddenly there was a tectonic shift in the heapage and he was buried.  Simple as that.  All I could see of him was one of his legs and a hand.

Me:  Are you sure he’s dead?

Mickey:  He stopped twitching half an hour ago.

Me:  You could have called 911.

Mickey:  What good what that have done?   Lots of questions for me.  You know how I detest authority figures.  One look around the store and they would have been blaming me.

Me:  Well….

Mickey:  Now don’t YOU start.

Me:  Whaddya want me to do Mickey?

Mickey:  Help me get him out of here.

Me:  And then what?

Mickey:  We’ll take him home.

Me:  Whose home?

Mickey:  His.  I don’t have a home, I live here in the store, remember?

Me:  Right, and you wouldn’t want him there.

Mickey:  And I’m sure you don’t want him at your place.

Me:  Good guess.

Mickey:  So his place is the logical choice.

Me: Uh huh…

Mickey:  We’ll toss him in your van…

Me:  After we pull him from the Vesuvian lava flow…

I could imagine the slag heap behind the counter wherein Barnyogurt lay.

Me:  Yea verily, you really are the wizard of ooze…

Mickey:  We’ll deposit him in his own place.  Who’s gonna know?

Me:  You.  Me.  God.  Someone could see us struggling to get him into the van.  His neighbors might see us dragging him into his house.

Mickey:  Once we get him inside, we leave him there and we can split. 

I didn’t say anything for a moment.  Mickey must have thought I had hung up.

Mickey:  You still there?

Me:  Yeah.  You make it all sound so easy.

Mickey:  What’s so difficult?  Didn’t you once say that his dead mother was in there somewhere?

Me:  Yeah, mommy’s mummy.

Mickey:  What?

Me:  His mommy’s a mummy.  She croaked years ago and I guess he saw no need to bury her when he could just keep her at the house.  It’s not like there’s anyone else around that dump to complain…

Mickey:  You saw her, right?

Me:  Yeah, a long time ago.  She’s probably still there, propped up on the couch.  A dried-up carcass.
I remembered that once when I attempted to buy books from Rupert Barnyogurt it was like performing surgery to remove a polyp from an unyielding intestinal tract.  Once inside, it was “snip, snip”, grab some books and then crawl backwards with them through the serpentine channel and emerge through a narrow, contracting aperture. 

“Rupert,” I yelled, “does your mother know you live like this?”

Rupert:  Yes she did.  In fact, you might have come across her body somewhere in there.  When I moved her in here for the last few months of her life, she said she thought she had died and gone to heaven.  A short time later she did die.  And since she liked it here so much, I left her where she was.  There’s such a potpourri of smells in here, I hardly noticed the stench.
Mickey:  So we place Rupert right next to her.  Sounds like a plan.

Me: If we can get Rupert through the tunnels.  He’s a pretty big guy.  Really, really big.

Mickey:  Oh, I almost forget the best part:  he bought that 12-volume set of Frazier’s THE GOLDEN BOUGH.  Paid me cash for it.  That means I get to keep the dough AND the books.   I can sell them to someone else.  Who’s gonna know?

Me:  You’re a prince among bookmen, Mickey.

Mickey:  That’s true, I am…but you WILL help me won’t you?

Me:  I’m your friend Mickey…that’s what friends are for.

Mickey:  You’re more than a friend Arnold, you’re a GOOD friend.

Me:  Yeah, that’s me all right……He was right you know…

Mickey:  Who was right?

Me:  Nat, another friend of mine.  He once said “a friend will help you move.  A GOOD friend will help you move a body.”

Next: Mickey's mommy, Bomba the Jungle Boy, and a bottle of tabasco sauce take the stage.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email