by Arnold M. Herr
I may lose sleep over this:
Was I being evil? Maybe so, but it was irresistible. Since I’m now semi-retired, Mickey figured I have all the time in the world on my hands and that I would jump at the chance to help him out at his bookstore. I actually had some free time when he phoned me last week and asked me to spell him on Thursday because he had three doctor appointments that day and no one to open the store and man the counter until he returned around 5:00 PM. So when the store phone rang while I was behind the counter trying to find a place to plant my feet and avoid being crushed by the ever-shifting, ever-falling heaps of debris, I was feeling a bit malevolent.
The caller was a guy named Franklin, one of Mickey’s steadfast suppliers of shlock. Mickey had come to rely on him to come by once a week to supply the store with about five or six boxes full of old mass-market paperbacks, book club fiction, VHS tapes, raggedy sweaters, an assortment of shoes, broken toys and mute eight-track tape decks. Franklin said he’d like to come over right away, but I told him Mickey was being examined by his doctors and wouldn’t be back until around five o’clock or so. I didn’t know what kind of deal Mickey had going with Franklin and I was reluctant to involve myself in any of their horse trading.
Franklin didn’t want to wait that long and asked if I knew where Mickey’s doctor was located. I figured he was at doctor number two by this point and I knew him to be Dr. Glass on Olympic Blvd. in Beverly Hills.
I later learned that while Dr. Glass had Mickey’s testicles in his hand in one of the examination rooms, there was a brief commotion outside the door, some yelling, the door flew open, and Franklin ambled in wheeling a dolly with five boxes of miscellaneous detritus which he quickly emptied on the floor and examination table. The doctor was a bit stunned but was still gripping Mickey’s balls. Mickey was studying the scattered mess doing some mental calculations. He was trying to figure out what to pay Franklin.
Dr. Glass (to Franklin): How much for those Woody Allen cassettes?
Mickey: Just a minute, Doc. I haven’t settled with him yet. I get first dibs on this stuff.
Dr. Glass: But I saw those Woody Allen movies before you did.
Mickey: Doesn’t matter, he brought this stuff over for MY perusal. He’s MY supplier.
Dr. Glass (tightening his grip on Mickey’s fuzzy little gonads): Yeah, but he’s in MY office.
Mickey (his voice up three octaves): Yes, but I’m conducting business here. You have to deal with the middleman and that’s me.
Dr. Glass (tightening his grip a little more): And I’m still holding your balls. Surely that gives me some bargaining power.
Mickey: That isn’t fair. Don’t you adhere to a hypocritical oath?
Dr. Glass: That’s a Hippocratic oath and you can blow it out your ass. I want those Woody Allens.
Franklin: C’mon Mickey, let him have them. I’ll get you some more.
Mickey: Blow it out your barracks bag. It’s the principle, not the tapes.
Franklin (grimacing at Mickey’s obvious discomfort): No Mick, it’s your nuts.
Dr. Glass twists Mickey’s scrotum several degrees without loosening his grip.
Mickey (his face and balls empurpled): OK, OK! You can have them.
Dr. Glass releases the Mickster’s testicles and Mickey doubled up in anguish. After several minutes Franklin and Mickey came to terms on the rest of the swag and he helped Mickey cart the stuff to Mickey’s car.
When Mickey returned to the book shop he was a little bowlegged walking to the counter. He told me what happened and he looked kinda sick and deflated and winced when he gingerly sat down on his favorite milk crate. To soothe his rattled nerves I tuned the radio from the static he usually listened to, and set the dial on some classical music. But Mickey wasn’t soothed; they were playing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.
Next: William Makepeace Thackeray eats Alpo, Mickey hits and runs, and a Steal-This-Book Memorial Day Sale.