Adventure One: “The Release”

written by David Garber


           I was sitting across from a vaguely familiar looking man with a heavy European accent.  Have you noticed these days how all the doctors at the hospitals seem to be foreigners?  “Kyle, how do you feel about debt?

            “Debt?”  What a curious question for a doctor to be asking me.

            “No.  Not debt. Debt.  It’s my accent.  How do you feel about debt, like dying?  Za big sleep.  Bite ze dust.  Playing harp duets with Jimmy Hoffa.

            “Oh, you mean Death.  Other than how permanent it tends to be, I guess it’s okay,” I shot back at my psycho-neurologist.

            About four weeks ago, I had a ‘near death’ experience.  I was hit by an explosive line drive while playing softball, the victim of poor reflexes and a general lack of physical agility.  I’m just a normal guy and the behemoth who blasted that torpedo into the side of my head was really humongous.  I say was because he got the short end of the stick.  I got knocked out and awoke in the hospital.  He was hit by a car coming out of Starbucks a few hours later and sadly he’s never coming home.  His double shot, half-caf venti caramel macchiato flowed until Ventura Boulevard was awash in it.  Along with the rest of his body fluids.

            “Do you feel guilty in any vay?” the good doctor responsible for my discharge, inquired.

            “In what way?  The coffee wasn’t for me.  I feel sorry, but maybe he’s…”

            The doctor finished my sentence for me, “… in za better place?”

            I shared that any place other than Van Nuys was a better place.  That’s where he lived — the guy who put me here in Cedars.  But now, two weeks later, I was going to be okay.  According to all of my tests and consults, I’m out of the woods – and back into society.

            My diagnosis was a concussion leading to temporary PSD — Paranoic Schizophrenic Disorder.  In simple English, it means I was seeing and hearing things that weren’t real.  But, according to my doctor, it’s over.   I’m better.

           I have to admit that the first few days were rather exciting.  I got to play poker with JFK, Thomas Edison and Napoleon who spoke fluent English but was terrible at Texas hold’em.  His “tell” was he reached inside his shirt and scratched himself.  I asked him about that famous picture of his with his hand tucked into his shirt – “Wool,” he told me.  “Itchy as merd.”

            I’m gonna miss those guys.  Unfortunately, now that I’m better, I’ll never get that chance to ask J. Edgar Hoover, who sat in on the game one evening, about those secret files he kept.  I’m dying to know what he had on Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon.

             The good doctor found it all very interesting.   After this brief interview with the psycho-neurologist, I was going home.  And I was going to be able to drive, do all things I used to do and deep down inside, I was hoping maybe the conk on the head might have even made me better, somehow.  I don’t know — Speak a foreign language? Play the piano?  Maybe I’d be a great lover – but then I surreptitiously played a little ‘pocket pool’ and felt no miracle down there.  I was still ‘mini’ me.

            My doctor assured me that other than perhaps an occasional headache or tingling sensation in my extremities, I’d have all the skills and dexterity I had before.  I then tested out my very special talent, to make sure I still had it.  I generated a small bubble on the tip of my tongue, which I proceeded to blow in the air, then catch it on the tip of my nose until it popped.

            “Pretty impressive,” indicated the good doctor.  “Do you do zis often?”

            “Mostly when I’m bored, or at parties,” I beamed.  “Where do you think the little dent on the tip of my nose came from?”

            I wasn’t perceiving an abundant sense of humor from this guy as we segued from my parlor tricks to my dreams — who was in them, what took place, were they sexual in nature?  Hell, I’m a single, 26 year old guy. I wouldn’t be normal if they weren’t sexual in nature.   But of course in those dreams, I was Kyle the Conqueror, seducer of lusting, usually large breasted, scantily clad women.

            I started to feel a bit self-conscious of discussing that theme and tried to change the subject…  Somehow I mentioned to the doctor that the softball accident happened on my birthday.

            “Really?” posed the medicine man with a raised eyebrow.   Actually, he might have raised both but they ran together forming one so it was hard to tell.

           “Vat a coincidence.  I vas just reading da article dat says statistically zere’s a greater chance of dying on your birthday zen on any other day?”  He turned his laptop and showed me a HuffPo article that indeed bore this out.   And it even indicated 11 AM as the most common time of death.

            “If that’s true, shouldn’t the Last Supper actually be breakfast or brunch?”  I suggested.

            He nodded, “Perhaps.”

            “11 AM,” I ruminated as I turned his laptop back around.  “Now I know why that’s the checkout time at most hotels.  Oh, and what about Daylight saving’s time?  You get an extra hour, I guess.”

            “Do you think about debt very much?” pondered my physician.

            “Not at all.  You’re the one who seems fixated on it,” I defended.

            The medico continued on, “Do you zink subconsciously zis fellow who caused your injury vas a victim because of vat he did to you?”

            “No.  He’s dead because he stepped in front of a speeding car.”

            “It vouldn’t be zo much stretching for you to feel some of ze blame or zome deep seated responsibility, you think?”

           “Are you trying to blame me?”  I was getting a little anxious now and I wanted to have him just sign off and set me free.   Instead he was doing, what do they call it, blame transference?  Next thing you know, he’ll want to know if this guy’s death had anything to do with his mother not loving him or his dad beating him as a kid.

            “You don’t zink his parental upbringing haz anyzing to do vith it, do you?” this quack curiously probed.

            See!  I knew it!   “So how about signing my release forms and we’ll call it a day?”

            He cautioned me to stay calm, take some deep breaths and relax.  “Zoon.  First I vant to  try ze little game of free azzociation.  I give you a word and you tell me ze first zing to come to your mind.”

            “Let’s not.”

            That didn’t stop him.  “Zoftball.”

            “Dick.”  I went on to explain, that’s what I think the guy’s name was that hit the line drive that put me here.


            “Pregnant.”  I didn’t want to go into it but I did pay for one abortion.  Don’t ask.  Rest assured I no longer drink and screw.

            He went on with a few more words and somehow, when I played them all back in my mind, I bet this guy assessed me as some kind of pervert.  My replies were “Head first… balls… snatch… high riser… double-play… hard and fast… dinger… and peanuts.  P-E-A-N-U-T-S.   I spelled it out for him so with his accent he didn’t think I said something else.  I had the softball game my mind.  Cut me some slack.

            Fortunately, Dr. Nutcake felt I was okay by him and I was released.  I bolted out of his office quicker than a 13 year old Kentucky girl with older six brothers.

           But, wouldn’t you know it?  I left my cellphone on his desk when I turned it off to talk to him.  I reluctantly retreated to his office and for the first time noticed his name on the door – Dr. Sigmund Freud.

            I popped my head in to grab the cell.  He looked up and tossed me the phone.  “You forgot zis, yes?”


            I caught the phone and stared at him briefly.  He did look familiar.  I started to say something when he continued on, “I’ll be sure to ask Hoover about dose secret files ven I zee him at tonight’s poker game.”

            Oh boy.  And here I thought I was supposed to be cured.   I paused out in the hallway and looked back at the door.  It no longer had Freud’s name on it.  It was now Waldstein.  I popped my head back in.  It was a totally different guy.

             “Did you forget something else, Kyle,” the new doctor asked?

             I just closed the door, much confused but a lot relieved… I tiptoed away, curious and a bit apprehensive of who I might run into when the elevator doors opened to take me down to my car.



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Adventure Seven: Art Smart

Written by: David Garber

       Sunset Blvd night - the strip

“You okay with doing this?” Shelby asked as we drove west along the Sunset Strip to Holmby Hills and her boss’s exquisite mansion.   Shelby boasted, “His house used to belong to Tony Curtis and Sonny and Cher.”

“Kinky.  I didn’t know they were a threesome.”

Shelby wasn’t amused. I knew why.  We had stopped for drinks along the strip.  I thought it might lessen the pressure on her, but truthfully, I think it was loosening me up even more.  Now she was nervous that I might slip in some politically incorrect humor at tonight’s dinner and this was a big occasion for her.  No other paralegal was invited to the managing partner’s mansion.  This is a first at the law firm of Likma, Beever & Crotch.

“That’s Crouch.  It’s Likma, Beever and Crouch!  So I’m begging you, don’t embarrass me.  See what a few drinks can do to you?”

“Trust me.  I’ll be on such good behavior that by the time the evening ends, they’ll be changing their letterhead to Likma, Beever, Crouch and Seymour.”

 She looked at me, incredulously as I defended, “What?  Seymour is your last name.”

 “Oh, God, what am I getting myself into?” she exasperated.  She reminded me how important this dinner was.  She’s hoping it meant Howard Beever, the law firm’s managing partner, wanted her as his personal paralegal assistant.  That would be a big step.  “Please don’t screw it up.”

 You didn’t need a chainsaw to cut the underlying tension. And this being the first time Shelby and I had gone out together as a couple to any company function meant a lot to both of us.

 “What do you know about fine art?” she asked me.  “Mr. Beever’s a collector.  He owns some of the world’s most famous, original artwork.  His collection is priceless.”

 “How much does ‘priceless’ cost?”  I wondered aloud.

I could see Shelby’s eyes roll.  “The only thing I know about art is what I recently saw on the Internet,” I said. ” Some guy nearly got away stealing some paintings from the Louvre.  But they captured him two blocks away when his van ran out of fuel.  Asked how he could mastermind such an intricate theft and then make such a stupid mistake, he replied: ‘I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.’”

Shelby’s stare could have thawed Alaska in the wintertime.  “Promise me you won’t ever repeat that one again.”

Sonny and Cher house

We pulled up and buzzed at the gate of this magnificent estate.  As we walked to the impressive front door we noticed it had a stained glass inlay.  Shelby commented that it’s probably a Chagall.  I was so tempted to ask if Chagall wasn’t the new shortstop for the Cubs, but I didn’t.

Howard Beever opened the door, greeting us.  As we entered, he indicated a decorative, Persian rug in the foyer.  On it were a few pairs of shoes.  As Shelby started removing hers, I looked at Beever, “You got anything in a size 9½ D?”

He chuckled and I thought that I could actually like this guy.  I followed Shelby’s lead and slipped off my footwear and placed it near the others.  He offered to have his valet bring us slippers but Shelby and I both passed.  I was impressed that he had a valet, though.

As we entered, Mr. Beever introduced us to his stunning, Persian wife, Seema.  I couldn’t help thinking I hope she uses her maiden name, whatever it was, because it had to be hell going through life as Seema Beever.  Tonight she was cooking us an authentic Persian dinner — her husband’s favorite — Khoresht Fesenjan.   She excused herself as she headed off to check its progress.  “Wouldn’t want to burn my Khoresht.”

I couldn’t help myself and replied, “Of Khoresht.”

Before dinner we were taken on a tour by Howard.   He insisted we call him that, but Shelby just couldn’t bring herself to calling one of the partners by his first name.  As we walked through his stately and well-decorated living room, various uniformed servers offered us appetizers which were amazing.  It was like a mini-parade of delicious Persian delicacies on silver platters.

I have to say this was the height of decadence and Mr. Beever made us feel quite at home.   But honestly, how can you feel at home living in what was comparable to a fine museum.  You just wouldn’t feel at ease knocking back a brewski or two, watching a Laker or Dodger game.  Come to think of it, there wasn’t a TV anywhere in sight. I asked our host about that and he replied, “With all of this art, who needs TV?”

I guess he had a point there.

We suddenly stopped in front of a magnificent painting.  Colorful.  Interesting.  I have to admit I liked it but had no idea what it was, exactly.

Picasso's Desmadmoiselles painting larger

“This,” Beever said, “is Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.  I feel most fortunate to have it on loan from MoMA.”

“Picasso?” semi-asked Shelby.

“Very good.  Yes, this is from his proto-cubist period, around 1907.  My understanding is these are five women who Picasso made love to.  This was his homage to them.”

“What a moron.  That’s four bitches and me in the bottom right!  And they were whores, all of them!  But that was some night!

That Spanish accented voice startled me.  I looked over at the nearby male server, quite a bit older than the others.  Instead of a silver tray he carried an artist’s palate and brush.

I looked at him, disbelieving.  Picasso?

Pablo Picasso color image

Beever seemed confused, thinking I was talking to him. “Yes, you know him?”

I smiled uncomfortably, “Like he was standing right here.”

The old man nodded to me, “Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso.   Call me Pablo if it’s easier.  And your friend over here, the art collector?  He doesn’t know his abstract from his El Greco.  Those four strumpets lived below me in Paris when I first moved there.  I painted them because I couldn’t afford the rent.”

Awkward.  Here’s Picasso next to me and Shelby’s boss regaling us with legends that aren’t really factual.  But I decided to keep my mouth shut, for Shelby.

Beever remarked I looked a little distracted and I told him that all his remarkable works were taking my breath away.  I couldn’t tell him standing next to me is the greatest artist of all time – and I certainly couldn’t tell him that the painter thinks he’s full of crap.

The lawyer continued giving us the history of this particular work, declaring it was this very painting that transitioned Picasso into his African-influenced period.

“Bullshit,” came a reply from Picasso.   “I went through my African-influenced stage because I was given a few statues from the Dark Continent, gifts from one of my whores.  I tried Black and I went back… often.”

At this moment, I was being torn between Picasso and Howard.  For everything Beever would say, Pablo would contradict it.  Then it happened. The unthinkable.  I called out Howard on one of his statements.  He had said Picasso had the greatest respect for women, hence so many lovers.

“He may have made love to many women, but I hear he actually disliked them,” I said, egged on by the master painter.

Beever wasn’t used to being challenged.  “Then how do you explain his fondness for his best friend and benefactor, the great Gertrude Stein?  She was a woman.”

“She was a dyke,” Pablo said, “and more of a man than this guy will ever be.”

I was able to stifle the latter part, but the first part slipped out and drew Shelby’s attention.

“Kyle!” Shelby shot to me.

Pablo goaded me on.  “Then how do you interpret his contempt for women when he questioned them as being goddesses or doormats?  Picasso is but a Minotaur in a canvas-and-paper labyrinth of his own construction.”

The room went silent.  Profound, I thought.  Hey, I was just repeating what I was told.  The head of the law firm, growing ever defensive, said his artwork showed Picasso’s true love of mankind, especially women.

I looked over to Picasso. He just shrugged, “I loved to shtup.”

Then the painter leaned in and challenged me to ask, “If he loved humanity so much, why paint the carnage and gruesome images of The Guernica?”

Picasso's The Guernica

Beever thought about it for a moment.  He upheld, “The artist was moved by the slaughter.”

“Moved, or repulsed?” I echoed Picasso’s exact words. “He said it’s the public who look at the picture who must interpret the symbols as they understand them, not you.”

“Kyle!”  Shelby was a bullet short of shooting me.

“When did he say that?” asked Beever.

“Just now.”  After a confused, awkward beat, “I mean, everybody knows that.”

Picasso was thrilled with me and the vigor in which I aped him.  I can’t say Shelby or her boss shared that same enthusiasm.  I ranted for a moment longer, filling the air with more words the great artist was putting in my mouth.  I was like the ball in a ping-pong match.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.

Shelby looked over to her boss and apologized for my behavior.

“All I was doing was trying to let the light in so that the art could survive,” I revealed.  Those were my words, by the way, not Pablo’s.

Then I heard a duet of, “I’m impressed.”  Both Picasso and Howard were speaking to me at the same time.

I didn’t know what to do.   Maybe I hadn’t screwed things up all that badly for Shelby after all.

Then something went off in Beever’s head.   During an epiphanous moment he looked over to Shelby. “Now I get it.  Someone at the firm got you to invite this talented, young art genius to test me.”

“Genius?”  I was never called that before.

“I’m right, aren’t I?  Who put you up to this, Likma or Crouch?”  He broke into smile.  “You both had me going, there.”

Shelby uncomfortably looked over to me, “Maybe we should be going.”

“Are you kidding, and miss Seema’s Khoresht?” Shelby’s boss proffered.  “Not a chance and during dinner, you and your boyfriend are going to share your other insights into my art.   What a pleasure to have someone so knowledgeable to speak art with.  What gallery do you work for, Kyle?”

“Big Buy’s Electronics,” I reflexively replied.

Howard’s thigh-slapping laughter at what he perceived to be my joking was broken up when we heard Seema ring the dinner bell.  As we headed into the dining room we passed a framed Picasso sketch — a pen and ink doodle.  Our host asked my take on it.  So I confidently looked over to Picasso to get the skinny, but he was gone.  I obviously didn’t know anything about it.  So after a slight hesitation, I did what any young “art critic genius” from Big Buy’s Electronics would do — I made up an elaborate story.   Beever swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

       Hollywood Street - driving - night

On the way home, Shelby was so happy – and impressed with me.  Over dinner, Beever did ask her to become his personal paralegal protégé and that made her feel really significant.  She thanked me and asked why I had never demonstrated such knowledge of art before.   I told her I had a lot of secrets yet for her to learn.

“When we get back to my apartment, and if you’re good, maybe I’ll share with you something from my ‘private’ collection.”

She playfully smiled, “And what if I’m not so ‘good’?”

“Then you’ll definitely get to share it!”  I couldn’t wait to get home.


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Adventure Six: $$$ Marx the Spot

Written by: Bill Braunstein

It was another one of those days at work where if time went by any slower, it could be timed with a calendar.  I look at the clock and it says 3:17 p.m.  That means another 4 hours and 43 minutes working here at the electronics superstore.

We sell gizmos and gadgets of all kinds.  If you can plug it in, wind it up, or put a battery in it, we probably stock it on our shelves.

Int Electronics store 1

And if Sir Isaac Newton’s law of gravity says “what goes up must come down,” then I’m the living, breathing example of the department store corollary: “what goes out, must come back.”

That’s where I come in – I work in “customer service.”   In reality, it’s the complaint department…because that’s what I hear all day long.  Complaints.

Thank goodness there’s only one more person in line.  Finish with her, and I can take my break.

“Next.”   A middle-aged woman, dragging a large opened box, approaches the counter I’m standing behind.

“This vacuum cleaner sucks,” she says.

“Then, what’s the problem?”

 “It doesn’t suck!  And that sucks!!”

 “Oh, okay, I get it.  Please take this form over there and fill it out.  Name, address, reason for the return.”  As the woman starts off, I’m ready to head to the employee lounge where I can text Shelby and start making plans for our date this weekend.

Listen…  She beat me to it.  That “chime” going off is the special ringtone I assigned to Shelby’s incoming texts.  I glance at the screen.

“Will b gr8 2 c u l8r.”

Texting 1

Was that a message or her license plate?  For a guy who works in a store that sells upscale technology, I’m more butter knife than Ginsu blade.

“Where do you want to go Saturday night?” I texted back.

I’d love to take Shelby to a fancy restaurant and then a movie, but it’s tough.   I’m dating a girl who deserves nothing but sirloin, yet I’m living on a burger budget.

“N e where U like,” she writes.  “Jst wnt 2 B w/U.”

Just then, as I’m about to sneak away for my break, an older man approaches.

“Fill out the form,” I say to the guy automatically, without looking up.   My thumb presses “send,” winging to Shelby my reply — “No worries.  I’ll think of something fun.”

As the man grabs a pen and jots away, my thoughts return to this weekend.  Dating costs money.  If I’m going to continue seeing a great gal like Shelby, I need to figure out how to afford the things she deserves.  Things we both deserve…  I need to…

“Young man, you’re not paying attention,” the customer growls.  “You’re as absent-minded as my wife.  That’s why I never got married.”

“Huh?”  Shelby was going to have to wait.

The guy places an old-school tube radio on the counter, and pushes it towards me.  I look at the radio, then at the man.  This was not your run-of-the-mill customer.  He sports a jacket with ducktails, there’s a cigar in his mouth, he wears wire rim glasses, and his black mustache and eyebrows are made of greasepaint.

Old tube radio 1

It couldn’t be him, could it?

He pushed the item closer to me.  “I’m having trouble with this radio.  I think it all started with Marconi.  I’m a big fan of Marconi.  But before a nice Marconi, I prefer a minestrone.  Or maybe an antipasto.  No wait, I’m pro-pasto.  It’s ravioli I’m against.”

I try taking control.  “Sir, just tell me what the problem is.”

“Something’s wrong with the tuner.  I have to fish for a signal, and I hate tuner fishing.   I’d settle for a ham sandwich.  Right now, I’d settle for a ham radio.  But it would probably only play in pig Latin.”

Glancing at his complaint form, I scan the top line.  “Julius Henry Marx.”

Right then, it all made sense.  That is, to the extent my seeing deceased people ever makes sense.  “Groucho?”

He waggled his cigar, raised his brows, and with a glint in his eye, beamed, “You just said the secret word.”

Groucho 4

At that instant, I heard Shelby’s text tone again.  I look down at the screen.  Then, up at the man.

“What’s your name, son?” Groucho asked.

“Kyle,” I replied.

 “You seem a bit distracted.”

“Start seeing dead people,” I said, “and you’d have frayed nerves, too.”

“Frayed nerves?  Why, you’re the picture of a fine young man.  And I think that young man wants his picture back, so just be yourself.”  He paused for second.  “Tell me what’s got you down.  I know what’s gotten me down — the inside of a pillow. “

I decide to walk away from the complaint counter to get out of earshot of customers and  co-workers.  If someone thought I was talking to Groucho Marx, they’d think I was crazy.  Hell, maybe I am.

But as I walk off, Groucho follows.  I look at him and in a hushed tone, confess that I’m a big fan, that I loved Marx Brothers movies –“A Day at the Races,” “Monkey Business,” “The Cocoanuts.”

Marx Brothers posters

From what I’d seen in those films, Groucho knew a thing or two about being down and out, and needing to get ahead.  Maybe I should tell him my dilemma.  I mean, if you can’t confide in a famous dead comedian, who can you confide in?

“Groucho,” I said, “I’ve got a girlfriend, whom I love very much, but I just don’t know how I’m going to give her the things she deserves.  On my salary, it’s just not possible.”

“I get it…  You want to go out and paint the town red.  Try a bucket of paint and a brush.   A wide one if you can get it…  The brush, not the girl.  Kyle, you either need an account at Sherwin Williams, or more money.”  He paused for a second as he fiddled with his cigar. “When was the last time you asked for a raise?”

“Never,” I replied.  “I’m not sure I’d even know how to ask. “

Groucho looked me in the eyes.  “I’m going to share with you something that my mother Minnie used to say.  Or was it my uncle Teddy?  Wait, it couldn’t have been my uncle Teddy because I haven’t got one.  But it doesn’t really matter because I’ve forgotten what I was going to say.”

Still, he had me thinking.  Asking for a raise was worth a shot.  And Groucho’s got the gift of gab.  How could I fail if he was with me?  I rolled the dice and queried, “Will you help?”

“I can only be in one place at a time,” he said, “and I’m getting pretty tired of that place.  So, I’ll do it.  I’ll be right at your side.  In fact, if I get any closer to you, I’d be right on your other side.  Let’s go.”

We walked down the store’s long hallway, past the stockroom, wash rooms and arrived at the executive offices.  As we made the long approach, Groucho moved in a half-crouch, knees bent, ogling every pretty woman he saw.  And to his credit, he kept pumping me up.

“Ever think electronics isn’t your game?  Maybe you should be in Men’s Clothing.  Wait, you are in men’s clothing.   If you weren’t in men’s clothing, something would be amiss.  And if you were a miss, you’d be in women’s clothing.  Maybe you should just stick to electronics.”

All right, so maybe he wasn’t the biggest confidence booster, but I was game.

We arrived just outside the door of my boss, Richard Hacker.  Normally, I’d be a little uneasy since I’m not a great salesman, but now, with Groucho at my side, I felt composed and ready.

Then, I warned Groucho.  “You know, this might be awkward.  Sometimes Mr. Hacker likes to take a ‘Candy’ break.”

“So?  The man has a sweet tooth.  We all have our vices — especially hardware stores, auto garages…and cops.”

I knocked on the door, then entered.  Perhaps a little too quickly.  A startled Mr. Hacker was behind a heavy oak desk, his blonde secretary sitting on his lap.  I turned to Groucho, and whispered, “That’s Candy.”

“Candy is dandy,” Groucho opined.

“Candace, why don’t you wait outside,” Hacker nervously stuttered to the secretary.  “We can finish our dictation later.”   Candy awkwardly grabbed her pen and pad off the desk, adjusted her skirt and tried hiding the embarrassed look on her face.

As she walked to the door, I noticed Groucho eyeballing her from top to bottom, then walking in lock-step right behind her.

Groucho oggling 2

“I’ve always said that women should be obscene and not heard…   Call me a Candy man.  In fact, call me cab.  Toodles, Kyle.”

“Get back here!”

Candy turned around.  “Mr. Hacker said I should go.”  And she did.

Obviously, I wasn’t talking to her.  But Groucho got the message.  I knew he was a skirt chaser from way back, but he was a man of his word.  He stopped in his tracks.

Hacker looked me in the eye, knowing what I had just witnessed.  It wasn’t good for him.  “Kyle, I wonder what it would take to make you forget what you’ve just seen here today?”

Groucho duck-walked behind Hacker’s desk and picked up off the floor a pair of woman’s underwear.   Spun it around on his finger, placed it back on the floor, then walked to my side.

“Kyle,” he said, “when you catch a man in a compromising position…  He’s in no position to compromise.  If I were you, I’d go for the jugular.  But if you went for the juggler, you’d be at the circus.  So, stay here and just tell this cad your price and be done with it.”

I took the hint.   And as Groucho slouched his way to the door behind me, I moved closer to Hacker.  Emboldened by Groucho’s advice, and indicating the panties on the floor, I told Hacker that I’d be happy to forget what I’d seen.  Then, I mentioned something about a raise…  One thing led to another.  And, let’s just say things worked out really well.

When I turned around to thank Groucho, he was gone.  I left Hacker’s office in shock…   A raise.   A pretty good raise.  I was wondering if I shouldn’t have asked for a company car too.   But the important thing was this; I’d finally be able to take Shelby to places better than ones that serve breakfast all day.

My head still spinning, I practically floated back to the customer service counter, wondering if I’d imagined what had just happened.   I looked at my station, and still sitting there was a radio…and a cigar.  Hmm…

I could swear I heard music in the air…  But it was actually Shelby’s text chime.   No doubt, she wondered where I’d disappeared to.

Kyle texting

“Good news, Shelby,” I spelled out.  “But we’ll talk later.  Way busy here at work.”

She typed back…  “Hav u made r plans 4 Sat nite?”

And right then, it hit me like a thunderbolt from the sky.  I knew exactly where to go…and now I’d be able to afford it.

 “How about,” I texted back, “A night at the opera?”

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Adventure Five: A Shining Moment

Written By: John Tellegen

768px-TimberlineLodgeFront John Story

It must have been 3 or 4 in the morning when I awoke with a jolt, like someone had zapped me with a Taser. I sat up, soaked with sweat and panting. I wasn’t used to panting in bed; I rarely lasted long enough in the throes of passion to warrant extra breaths.

I glanced over at Shelby, hoping I hadn’t woken her. She was still sleeping like an angel, her hair fanned across her back. It was a beautiful sight but I was still shaken from the nightmare. Two blood-soaked young girls, twins perhaps, were standing in a hallway of blood–a hallway that resembled the hallway just outside the hotel room Shelby and I were sharing.

I had surprised her with an overnight trip to a Chateau in yet another attempt at romance, but when the Magnum-sized condom I brought slipped off at my moment of triumph, I had destroyed our little dance in one failed oops. Now I was left to wonder if the blood-soaked twin toddlers from my nightmare were really just a vision of my future in nine short months, a future neither Shelby nor I were ready for.

I climbed out of bed and whispered my way to the bathroom for a glass of water. I wasn’t thirsty but I couldn’t fall back asleep, and in the movies a glass of water always seemed to wash away the night terrors. I removed the paper covering on the glass and while I was filling it from the faucet, I heard the distinct sound of an old-fashioned typewriter clicking away. At first I figured the sound was coming from another room because the old walls of the Chateau were thin but then I recalled we had been bumped up to a suite at the end of the hall because I lied and told the old woman in reception it was our wedding anniversary. Shelby later joked that it was bad karma to lie to an old lady and if we were ever to marry we were destined for divorce. I reminded Shelby that I had complimented the old lady’s hairstyle, a hideous nest of purple twigs, so karmically we were about even.

I followed the typing sounds and made my way into the living room of the suite where I found a bearded man sitting at the desk in a green parka and frantically hammering away at the keys.

“Shhh,” I shushed, “you’re gonna wake Shelby. And what are you doing in our suite?”

“What’s it look like?” he fired back, “I’m typing.”

He kept on typing like he was afraid if he stopped he might lose his momentum. As I stared at him, the imagery was all coming together. The Chateau. The bloody twin girls in the hallway. A man frantically typing. It all started to make sense. I had watched “The Shining” a few weeks before during the Halloween Haunt Movie Marathon on the Syfy channel; that was probably where the idea of bringing Shelby to the Chateau subconsciously originated. But this man in the green parka was certainly not Jack Nicholson from the movie.

“Who are you?” I asked, my voice cracking a bit.

“My friends call me Stanley.”

That’s when it hit me like a Drill Sergeant with a knack for putdowns. “Kubrick?” I uttered.

“Just Stanley. Let me ask you something. Do you think stories of the supernatural are always optimistic?”

While I stood in my boxer shorts talking to Stanley Kubrick in this creepy Chateau, I was certainly hoping so. “I guess…”

He continued, “Because I figure that all ghost stories assume that we survive death and that seems pretty optimistic to me.”

“Well, I’m not really afraid of surviving death, Mr. Kubrick, I’m afraid of surviving life.”

“Interesting paradox…and not a bad line.” Stanley quickly scribbled a note to himself then promptly scratched it out, “Actually it’s a horrible line. Why are you so concerned with your life? You have a beautiful girl who looks to be way out of your league sleeping like an angel in the next room. Her brown hair gently resting on her naked back…”

“Hey,” I cut him off, obstructing his view.

“Sorry, I’m a stickler for details,” he said with a smile.

“Well stop drooling over Shelby’s details.”

“You never answered the question. Why are you so concerned with your life?”

“I ruined everything.” I explained, “I’ve played out our entire love story in my head from the moment I met Shelby to the time we’re old and wrinkled and sitting on a porch swing sipping lemonade and watching our grandkids dance in the sprinklers.”

“How did you ruin it?” he asked.

“I wanted to impress her with a condom fit for a donkey but as it turns out, I’m just a jackass.”

“You mean, it—“ Kubrick made a motion with his hand.

“Slipped off,” I said as I dipped my chin.

“And now you think with your luck she’s pregnant with twins.”

“Don’t say twins!”

Kubrick pushed himself back from the desk and placed his hands on his knees. “I pride myself on my problem solving skills,” he said as he tilted his head. “I never went to college but by teaching myself photography I learned many life lessons.”

“I’m not following,” I muttered.

“Maybe you should pick up a camera and learn something. Be proactive and don’t watch your life like it’s a movie.”

I nodded, “Oh, I see what you mean.” But I didn’t really.

“Why would a baby be so bad?” Kubrick asked. “I’m sure you love her. Procreation is an important step in populating the planet. Maybe you two will make great parents, or at least not screw it up completely.”

Kubrick had a way of talking that was both intelligent and wry but with a heart.

“I do love her, but it’s not how the story is supposed to go,” I almost pleaded, hoping the cosmos would take pity on me and make sure my sperm never made it to the promised land. “We’re supposed to date, then get married, then have kids, then have grandkids, then sit on the porch swing.”

“I hate predictable stories,” he interjected as he furrowed his brow. “Stories should play out in different ways. It doesn’t always have to be, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. These days it can be: boy meets girl, boy loses girl when she runs off with another girl, girl and girl get married, have kids, and move to the country to raise alpacas.”

“I suppose,” I unconvincingly agreed.

“Didn’t you see ‘Eyes Wide Shut’? In a deleted scene I had a girl making it with a masked house plant…talk about unconventional.”

I wasn’t in the mood to laugh but I forced a smirk.

“Alright, all kidding aside, I’ve spent my career telling unconventional stories and looking to change the form. Looking at story from different perspectives and points of view. So what if she’s pregnant? It’s a complication to your journey not an ending. There’s no reason why your story can’t continue and who’s to say the actual ending won’t be happy?”

“Happy before or after her father removes my manhood with a gardening spade? Look, I’m not ready to shoulder the responsibilities of parenting; the only benefit I get from my job is 10% off electronics. How am I supposed to raise a family?” I started to pace and wave my arms wildly like my dad used to do when my mother would spend too much money at the mall. “When Shelby finds out she’s pregnant she’ll drop me like the deuce that I am! She’ll realize that she needs someone who can provide for her and the baby. She’ll want someone… else! I don’t know what to do.”

Shelby stirred in the bed. I looked over my shoulder, eyes wide open, afraid she would be startled by Stanley sitting in the living room.

“Listen, Mr. Kubrick—’’

“Call me Stanley,” he interrupted.

“…Stanley. I really think you should go before Shelby wakes up and sees us talking.”

“I have a better idea,” he said with a smirk, “let’s wake her up and see how she wants the story to end.”

Stanley rose and walked toward the bedroom. I jumped in front of him.

“No!” I shouted. “Just please let me try to figure out what to do. Our story doesn’t need anymore complications.”

Stanley arched an eyebrow, “When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.”
At that moment, Shelby came around the corner to see what all the commotion was about.

“What are you doing?” she asked, half asleep and standing in the doorway.
I turned and not knowing what else to say blurted out, “Why do you ask?”

“Then why don’t you come back to bed, it’s late.” Even with her hair a mess and wearing a sleep face, Shelby was the most gorgeous girl I had ever seen.

“I think we should talk first, alone.” I looked back toward Stanley but he and his typewriter were gone. For a moment I wasn’t sure if I was still in my nightmare. I shook it off.

“We are alone, Kyle.”

“Right. I just want you to know that I’m really sorry about what happened earlier and if you are…I mean, ya know…with child, I’ll do whatever it takes to provide for you and the baby, or babies, because, well, I choose you.” I stammered a bit, “I mean, I love you.”

I was almost in tears and not because of the heartfelt sentiment I just dropped on my half-asleep girlfriend but because I was truly terrified that she might already be growing my blood-soaked twins in her womb.

“That’s really sweet, Kyle,” Shelby said as she gave me a peck on the cheek, “but I’m on the Pill so the odds of me being pregnant are pretty slim.” She smiled through a yawn then lightly swatted me on the butt. “Now come to bed.”

“Wait…we never talked about that. Why are you on the Pill if I’m using rubbers?”

“Because you’re a guy and guys like to buy extra large condoms because it makes them feel better about themselves. I’m a girl who isn’t ready to be a mom. Now come back to bed and if you want we can do it again, this time without Mr. Magnum.”

My spirit started to smile long before it hit my lips. She was such an incredible girl, knew me better than I knew myself. My biggest hope in life was that I would never do anything to alienate her.

“Wait!” I said with a hitch in my jaw, “There’s not a severed horse head in the bed, is there?”


“Oh, never mind, I think that was Coppola.”


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Adventure Four: Good Advice

Written by: Bruce Kalish

Shelby and I entered my apartment, our clothes soaked from the pouring rain.  We kicked off our soggy shoes as Shelby laughed about my weather forecasting abilities.

“No, Shelby.  You don’t need a jacket.  The clouds are going to burn off.  They always do.  It’s Southern California” Shelby was mocking the speech I gave her two hours earlier when I picked her up from her apartment to go play softball.

It was Sunday and exactly two months to the day I suffered the head injury. Things were going well with Shelby, work was progressing and best of all, there were no more headaches and everything had seemingly returned to normal. At my two-month check-up, my doctor showed guarded optimism.  I thought best not to discuss with him my celebrity visits, as I was sure I’d be locked up, and truthfully, I was starting to enjoy and look forward to them.

It was good to get back to playing softball, one of the two things I haven’t returned to doing since the accident.  I went 1 for 3 at bat and committed only one error in the field, which you really can’t blame me, as I was I was thinking about Shelby sitting in the stands wearing that ultra tight t-shirt, and noticing I didn’t see any bra straps underneath.  The ball missed my head by inches.  But if thinking of Shelby’s body was the last thing I ever thought about before my untimely death, it was all right with me.

I was up to bat with the winning run in scoring position when the thunder and lightning started and though I wanted to play on, Shelby reminded me that the bat was made out of metal and with my luck…


I dropped the bat and we ran home as the skies opened up and it poured down on us.

She stood in my living room shivering.  “Hot chocolate?” I asked, hoping Baron Goldberg, my roommate, hadn’t finished off the remaining packs I “borrowed” from my office’s coffee station.

“Yeah, sure.  But first I need to get out of these clothes and into something dry.”   Shelby was a girl who knew what she wanted.

“What you need is a hot shower,”  burst from my mouth.  Was this me trying to seduce Shelby or me channeling my mother’s irrational fear of catching pneumonia?

She looked at me with her soft eyes.  “Sounds delicious.”

Despite a 137 IQ, I am an idiot.  There she was standing inches from me in her rain-drenched t-shirt, no bra, nipples beaming like an army poster, pointing at me saying I Want You! Which reminded me of the other thing I hadn’t done since the accident and not as often as I might have claimed to friends before the accident.  And even less times with someone else in the room.  I wanted to say how much I wanted her right then.  How I desired her.  How I had to have her.

But what came out of my mouth was “Be careful, the hot and cold knobs are reversed.”  Apparently I am not the stud I imagined myself to be.

Shelby smiled, not showing relief or disappointment.   She stood there, looking at me for a good minute, then smiled at me.  “You’re funny, Kyle.”

I’m not funny.  I’m scared.  I’m stupid. I’m weak. I’m losing you.  I’m nauseous. Apparently, that blow to my head two months ago also knocked my balls off.  So I just looked at her and smiled a half-smile.  “Thanks.”

Shelby whipped her wet hair around and headed for the bathroom.  I was going to ram my head against the wall but decided the noise might disturb Shelby.  I am such a pussy!  Before making the hot chocolate, I opted to take a quick shower in Baron’s bathroom to warm myself up or better yet, drown.

Though, I am a normal single male who cleans his apartment, when there’s a chance of a female coming over, by cramming dirty clothes from the floor into the closet or the empty pizza, cereal and cracker boxes into the darkness under my bed. Baron, to his credit, is not ashamed of who he is and the squalor he lives in.  I’ve often thought of calling the television show “Hoarders” as Baron’s room alone would pay our rent for years.

Hoarders bedroom 4It took me a minute or so to push the door open and make my way through to his bathroom, which was relatively clean in comparison to his room.  Well, except for the several boxes of “junk” piled on the sink and the naked middle-aged woman amidst the bubbles in the bathtub.

“AGGGGH!” Was my first response as I backed up against the sink spilling the boxes to the floor.  I scrambled to pick up the mess I created.

“I wouldn’t bother,” came the firm voice from the attractive woman in the tub. “I think your roommate has strudel on the noodle.”

“I am so sorry. I didn’t know anyone was in here.  I’m going,” I stammered as I turned around and tried to exit the bathroom, though the fallen boxes had jammed the door closed.

“Don’t be ridiculous.  I’m the visitor here.  I have all the vital places appropriately covered with bubbles.  And, most importantly,  I’m here to see you.”

Bubble bath feet

She was so matter of fact about it all, I had to turn around. “You’re here to see me?  Why are you in a tub?”

“It’s a good place to take a bath, don’t you think?  And, I do my best thinking in the tub.  I’m Esther Lederer, but you might know me better as Ann Landers.”  She smiled and started to rise.

“Don’t get up!”  I leaned down and shook her hand.  Of course I knew Ask Ann Landers, twin sister to Dear Abby, the two most famous advice columnists there ever were.  “My mom loved you.  She even wrote you for some advice a few years back.   She signed it, Mother of a Nut in Hollywood.”

“I remember the letter well.  I wrote her back, and I quote, ‘One in four people in this country are mentally unbalanced.  Think of your three closest friends; if they seem okay, then you’re the one.’“  Ann took the bar of soap from the side of the bath and a washcloth and handed to me. “Be a dear and scrub my back.”

I started to get embarrassed and then realized if Ann is a figment of my imagination, then washing the back of someone who really isn’t there was perfectly normal.  I took the washcloth and soap and got on my knees outside the tub and began to wash her back.

“Did your Mom ever seek psychiatric help for the entire family like I recommended?”

I shook my head no.

Without even looking around to see, Ann nodded knowingly.  “That would explain why I’m here.  Let me see how I can put this in today’s language and still keep it ladylike… Where’s your sack?  You’re ball-less. You’re a pussy.”

Her words hit home, so of course, I denied it immediately and vigorously.  “Me?  Afraid? You don’t know as much as you think you do, Ann Landers!”

She turned and winked at me. “Probably not.  But then, why are you in here, rubbing the back of a woman old enough to be your mother instead of in the hot steamy shower rubbing the back of your girlfriend?”

Advantage lady of the tub.  I thought, what the hell, if I can’t talk to Ann Landers, who can I talk with. “Okay.  Normally, sex doesn’t terrify me.  But Shelby means something to me.  It’s just different.  I think I love her but I know I love our friendship.  What happens if sex ruins everything?”

“Get my neck now, will you?”  I scrubbed her neck.  She sighed.  “Love and friendship can coexist.  Love is just friendship that’s caught fire.”

I thought about that and agreed.   Shelby and I have certainly caught fire.  “I can trust you, right?”

“I’m letting you wash my back, aren’t I?”

I couldn’t argue with that. “Well, Miss Landers, I’m not as experienced as I may come across to you.”

Ann turned around and just gave me a look. She immediately saw right through my false bravado and turned back around.  “So you’re differentiating sex and making love.  Sex is great.  Making love, in my humble opinion, is better.”

“I can do sex,” I stammered. “It’s making love I’ve never done.  Where do you learn how to do that?”

Ann Landers laughed, “Making love is not something you learn.  You can’t read how to do it in a book or Google it online.  It’s personal to each and every one of us.  It expresses something inside of us for that other person, and they in return, for you.”

It sounded so easy and beautiful coming from her.  “And if I’m not enough?  Or I’m too quick? Or I mess it up?  Or, I’m…?”

“Kyle, shut up.  Your mother should have gotten you help when I suggested.  Look, the first time is never perfect… and it’s absolutely perfect.  It’s the first time and the first time will never happen again with you and that person.  Hand me a towel.”

I took the last clean towel from the towel bar and opened it up.  I turned away from Ann Landers as she rose out of the tub and took the towel.

“You can look at me again, Kyle.”  I turned back, as she had wrapped the towel around herself.  “Kyle, the beauty of being in love and making love… Is that you can do it over and over again until you think you have it right.  Then when you do it again, you realized it even gets righter. ”

It’s really hard to argue with the common sense she was dishing out.  So I didn’t.  “I just go do it?”

Ann smiled. “Someone has to start it.”

“And how do I start it?” I asked.

“Okay, Kyle. My advice stops.  If you want, I can send for Rudolph Valentino or Frank Sinatra if you really want to know.”

“That won’t be necessary.  I get your point.  Like the Nike ad says, Just do it.”  I turned to look at myself in the mirror and saw a fire building in my eyes.  When I turned back, Ann Landers was gone.  There was no water in the tub, the towel was still on the towel bar.  “Thank you.”  With a new determination, I pried open Baron’s door and headed to my own bathroom.

I opened my bathroom door, Shelby was still in the shower. “Is that you Kyle?”

I could see her beautiful outline through the steamed glass of the shower door.  “Yep.  It’s me,”  I confidently said as I stripped off my damp clothing, grabbing a towel and rubbing my shriveled, cold penis to bring some warmth and dignity to it.

“Did you make the hot chocolate?”

I opened the shower door and for the first time saw the astounding beauty of her nakedness.  She turned, unashamed and looked at my nakedness.  I stood strong, not running like almost every part of me wanted to do.  “No.  I don’t want hot chocolate.  I want you.”

She looked deep into my eyes for what seemed like hours.  Then a smile crossed her face that sprung me to life.  “Good.  Me, either.  Get in here.”  I did.

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Adventure Three: “Some Like it Hot” (Revisit)

Written by: David Garber

I know it’s time to do my laundry when:

1. I’m wearing my last pair of underwear in the shower to clean them.
2. I no longer fold or roll up my socks, they stand up on their own in the corner.
3. I wear my sheets to work because I can’t get them off me.
4. My red T-shirt is now green – in places.
5. Even after stuffing a few spring scented dryer sheets to the inside of my shirt, my       girlfriend, Shelby, still says I reek.

Laundromat exterior

While I was transferring a damp wash into the dryer I heard the lady using the machines next to me kind of humming/singing to herself. Her pleasant and playful voice soothingly broke up the monotony of the spin cycle noises, which were truthfully, driving me crazy.

(Go ahead, click and play)

Now I wouldn’t have paid much attention but the tune was one I remembered from an old movie and it was killing me that I couldn’t remember the name of it. So I decided I’d ask. I looked over to the woman who turned out to be very attractive, stunning actually.

Before I could say anything to this statuesque goddess, she smiled at me. “Some like it hot.”

I shook my head, astonished. That was the movie! How did she know what I was going to ask? She pointed to the ‘settings’ knob on the dryer and indicated the wet clothes in my hands and repeated, “Some like it hot — but cold reduces shrinkage… and who likes shrinkage?”

Though she and I might have been thinking about two different kinds of ‘shrinkage’, I couldn’t help realize – This woman was not a woman, woman. She’s THE woman. She’s Marilyn Monroe. And she was talking to me.

“I know guys sometimes can use little tips when it comes to doing laundry. I hope you don’t mind my butting in.”

“Mind? You kidding me? You’re like one of my all-time favorite actresses,” I effused.

“Oh, Sugar, you’re so sweet. Not everyone is that kind. One of my co-stars said I came from the Copacabana School of Dramatic Arts. And after that famous shot of me from behind, walking in ‘Niagara’…


…a very well-known actress, who shall remain nameless, remarked, ‘There’s a broad with her future behind her.’ Imagine that? She should talk. If the truth be known, that turnstile to her backside rang up more visitors than Disneyland at spring break.”

“You are kidding me! You’re an incredible actress, I mean. It must be amazing to be so famous.”

“Silly… Fame is something I experienced, but that’s not where I live. To be honest, dreaming about being an actress is much more exciting than being one.”

“I’m Kyle. Kyle Benson and if you don’t mind my saying so, you’re one of my fantasies.”

“I’ve been called worse” she said with a smile and a wink. She took my hand which I had extended, “Eww. It’s wet! I hope that’s not from one of your fantasies…” We laughed as we both wiped our hands dry.

“Wet — from the wash — I promise you.” It took a beat to catch my breath. “Whoa, I can’t believe I’m really talking to you.” I saw she had a puzzled look on her face, so I continued. “No, I mean really talking to you.”

“I don’t bite. Dogs do.”

“I suffer from PSD — Paranoiac Schizophrenic Disorder. I see people, dead people, who aren’t really there.”

“Gee, I wouldn’t go around telling people that. They might think you’re crazy. My mother was, you know? And I was put away in a psychiatric clinic back in ’61. Fortunately Joe got me out. You gotta be so careful.”

“If my talking to you means I’m crazy, let me be crazy. I’m talking to Marilyn Monroe… the greatest sex symbol who ever lived. What the hell…“

“Ever notice how ‘What the hell’ is always the right answer?” she offered. “Jack and Bobby used to say the same thing whenever I asked them something? So did my Artie. He was a great writer you know. Really smart, too.”

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller

“How smart could he be? He divorced you.”

“I like you.” She just pondered that for a minute and then confided, “Something I learned the hard way is that men are so willing to respect anything that bores them. You’re not one of those, are you? “

“No. No. I respect my girlfriend and she never bores me.”

Marilyn suggested that before there’s a huge puddle at my feet, that I put the damp clothes in the machine and start the drying process. As I was filling up two machines I noticed she was folding a few ‘revealing’ nighttime lingerie. She caught me peeking at them and shot me an ‘I know what you’re thinking’ kind of look. “Everybody in Hollywood thinks I sleep in the nude. Truth is I wear something to bed every night – Channel No. 5. Shall I let you in on a little secret?”

Marilyn Monroe in bed - alive

Like a bobble head toy, I rapidly nodded.  I must really have looked goofy.

She leaned close to me and in a near-whisper shared, “They reported that when I was found, you know, dead — that I had nothing on. It’s not true. I had the radio on.” She gave off an infectious little girl giggle, having made a small joke. As I pulled back, I was savoring that tiny hint of her special perfume.

When I told her she was funny, she said the trick is to tell jokes, not to look like one. This lady was amazing. She was a lot smarter than she had been given credit for. And then it occurred to me that this was the opportunity of a lifetime to get some advice about dating.

“Marilyn, you’re a woman,” I began.

“So I’ve been told,” she sparkled.

“I was thinking you could help me.  I’ve been going with my girlfriend for a while now and I was hoping to make it kind of exclusive.  I just don’t know how to ask her.”

“Well, you know what they say, “Square-cut or pear-shaped,
These rocks don’t lose their shape, Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

Collection of cut diamonds

“On my salary, I can’t even swing a Cubic Zirconia. “Lint is about all I can afford.”

“Well, you’re in the right place for that.”

“But I want to make a good impression on her…”

The siren smiled at me, “You’re doing your laundry. That’s a good start. Shows you care.”

“Oh, I do. Plus I didn’t have anything clean to wear and we’re getting together tonight. Shelby’s really terrific. She’s sweet; she’s kind, and maybe even a little bit shy.”

“Nothing wrong with being shy. I am too, you know? But I do believe that the female body is meant to be seen, not all covered up. That’s the trouble with censors — They don’t make much sense.  They worry if a girl has cleavage. I think they ought to worry if she hasn’t any, don’t you?”

I agreed but quickly changed the subject back to Shelby. “You know, Shelby’s a lot like you, also very sexy.”

“Sex is a part of nature. I go along with nature. As I’ve always said, I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.” Her smile brought out something special in me, some inner insecurity and she became concerned. “What’s the matter, Kyle?”

I wasn’t sure how open I should be, but then relented, “It’s just sometimes I’m afraid I’ll lose her. And I’ll be all alone.”

Marilyn just shook her head. I had hit a raw spot for her. She blankly shared a seemingly painful confession, “It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.”

I told her I was sorry if I made her uncomfortable to which she casually responded, “I hope I’m not making you uncomfortable. I tend to ramble… You want to know another thing about me? As much as I always try to be on time I’m invariably late for appointments – sometimes as much as hours. Funny, when you come to think of it, I’ve been on a number of calendars, but I’ve never been on time.”


“That is funny.”

“I know that if I had observed all the rules, I’d never have gotten anywhere. Remember that a career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night. For that you need a man. A real man. Your Shelby is one lucky girl to have you loving her so much. Be there for her, always, Kyle.”

“I will.”

Hollywood Sign

“Don’t be like everyone else out here. Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” Then she hesitated for a moment. Something deep inside of her surfaced before she agonizingly admitted, “No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t. Make sure, no matter what you may be thinking, you tell Shelby that she’s pretty. Promise?”

I nodded and she smiled, reassuringly.

“People rarely understand me at all. But you do, Sugar. You get me. I guess we’re just two crazy people, peas in a pod, huh? “

She finished folding her last item, then looked over to me. “You might want to put a few extra quarters in those machines… Make sure the clothes totally dry before you go out with Shelby tonight.” Then, out of nowhere, Marilyn leaned in and gave me a little hug and peck on the cheek.

Marilyn then nodded over to the door where Shelby had just entered and was heading right for me, a warm smile on her face.


“Almost done?” Shelby asked.

“A few more quarters’ worth,” I replied. Then I looked over to where I had been watching Marilyn fold her clothes.  She was already gone. Turning back to Shelby I took her in my arms and hugged her.

“What’s that for?”

I replied, “Did I tell you today that you’re pretty?”

Shelby was flattered and suggested that maybe we should hang out at the Laundromat more often. And thinking about my few minutes with Marilyn and the pleasure I was having with my girl in my arms, I was as happy as I had ever been.

Now was as good a time as any.  I asked her to go steady — “You know, be exclusive to each other.”

She gave me a kiss and said, “I thought we were anyway. ”  Then Shelby curiously began sniffing my neck, “Are you wearing Channel No. 5?”

marilyn-monroe-chanel-no-5.jpg 2

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Adventure Two: “Never The Twain Shall Meet”

Written by: David Garber

             Hey.  My name’s Kyle Benson, but my buddies call me KB.

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           I just spent four weeks in the hospital, diagnosed with PSD – Paranoiac Schizophrenic Disorder — the result of slow reflexes on a line drive during a softball game.  Long story short, I was seeing people who weren’t there.  But the doctors say I’m better now, no more hallucinations, no more voices.

           Probably the worst part of the whole thing was all of the hospital tests.  One of the X-ray dyes they gave me caused some acute stomach disorder – okay, I had to fart, and in the worst way.  They pushed me by wheelchair onto the elevator, taking me down for an MRI.  When the doors shut, I become conscious of the music playing really loudly, so to prevent my exploding, I timed my ‘toots’ with the bass kicker beat.  What a relief.   When I was wheeled off at the second floor I noticed the other passengers giving me the “stink eye.”  I thought that was strange until I got into the hallway and  realized they couldn’t hear the loud music I was farting along to.  It was coming from my iPod.

          Today I’m going on my first date with my girlfriend since my release – if you can call grabbing coffee a date.  And if you can call Shelby my girlfriend.   I mean she is a girl and she is a friend – but we haven’t officially linked the two words together yet.  That’ll come.  I know it will.  Fingers crossed?  Check.  Sign of the cross?  Check. Kiss the mezuzah my Jewish buddy gave me?  Check.  I’m not too superstitious… just covering all the bases.


            When I arrived at our favorite coffee place, she wasn’t there yet – maybe my being twenty minutes early had something to do with it.  Or maybe she was tied up picking out which of her 30 pairs of shoes were the right ones for her outfit.  Funny how guys only need two pairs and can make anything work.

             I ordered coffee while I was waiting.  I’m not awkward or goofy or anything like that, it’s just I’m nervous around girls.  I’m what you might call, passively unconfrontational.  To avoid arguments with my last girlfriend about lifting and putting down the toilet seat, I started peeing in the sink.  T.M.I.?

             My coffee came but there was no cream.  I wasn’t too successful getting my waitress’s attention so I leaned over to the next table where this older guy was sitting alone.  I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if I could borrow his creamer.

             Something struck me about this guy as he handed me the carafe — he looked vaguely familiar.  Then again, in Hollywood, lots of people look like other people.  Some even have plastic surgery to help that along.  Can you imagine someone going into their doctor and saying, “’Make me look like Honey Boo Boo?’  Or worse yet, her mother?”


             Having just recovered from PSD, I was mentally walking a thin line.  Just a week ago in my hospital room I was sharing hits on a hookah with Thomas Edison, Groucho Marx and Marie Antoinette.  I liked her.  She brought cake and ate it too.

             Though I’m better now, I still felt I knew this guy with the cream from somewhere.

             “I hope you don’t mind, but you look curiously familiar,” I mentioned.

             “Familiarity breeds contempt — and children,” the gentleman replied, all the while noodling with a pencil and piece of paper at his table.   Then his next words he spoke registered with me – “I would rather have my ignorance than another man’s knowledge.  Guess it’s cuz I got so much more of it.”

             “Mark Twain!” I recognized those words and even more shockingly, I now recognized him.  This is Mark ‘Friggin’ Twain sitting at the next table.   I smiled and said, “I thought you were dead.”


            The white-haired gentleman stared dryly at me and commented, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

             I lightened up my coffee, and then turned back to the man, “Don’t you mean, ‘rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated?” I smiled with self-assurance.  Twain was one of my favorite authors.  I was a history major in college but I took a ‘lit’ class on him, my senior year.

             “I know what I wrote,” the codger shot back, putting me in my place.

             He held his hand up, refusing the cream.   “You can hold onto it.  You’re probably expecting someone.”

             “As a matter of fact, I am.  Meeting up with my girlfriend.  Today is our month and a half anniversary…  Not all that long, I know…

             “Unless you count in dog years.  She’s not a dog, is she?”

             I chuckled, “Hardly,“ as I indicated a perfectly quad-folded piece of paper I was eagerly waiting to reveal.  “I wrote her a little poem.  Hope she likes it.”

             “Yer  quite the romantic.  I’m sure she’ll love it.”

             “Getting just the right words and sentiment wasn’t easy,“ I offered.  Then I realized, “What am I saying…? You of all people would know that.”

             “I do.  Might surprise you to know Tom Sawyer started out as Tom Hickock.”

              He read my dubiously stunned look because he continued.

             “I had met Wild Bill a year or so before writing it.  Mighty impressed with the man, I was.  He up and got hisself killed the year the book came out so I changed it.  Had almost forgotten about that.”  He looked wearily at me.  “Ya know, of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most… that and my wife.”

             “Mr. Twain, how long were you married?”

             “Eighteen blissful years.”  He smiled, followed by an acknowledging nod. “Course I was married for thirty-four total, but eighteen was blissful.”  While I chuckled at his strange sense of humor, he added, “Secret to my marriage was it’s better to keep yer mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.  Olivia surely would echo that.”

             “Well I appreciate any words of wisdom from you.  You’re books inspired me. They’re classics.”


            “Classic, eh?  Ain’t that what they call a book which people praise and don’t read?”

             This guy sure had a brilliant view of things… And he did make me smile.  Now, more than ever, I couldn’t wait to be with Shelby.   I kept looking at my watch, thinking she’d appear sooner if I was watching the moments tick away.

             “Might be yer two months anniversary by the time she shows.”  Twain flashed me a benevolent wink.  He assured me my ‘gal’ would be along presently. “Gal?”  Who uses that anymore?

             The humorous thought was broken by Twain’s “Don’t let this celebration of yers get yer britches all up in a knot.  Ever think of what ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Ask me?  Mere killing would be too light, don’t you think?”

             Twain fascinated me.   All the while he was reading my nervousness and trying his best to sooth me with humor.  “Tell you what, son, I’ll part a piece of advice to ya, if yer so inclined.”

             “Please.  Go right ahead,” I gushed.  “I can use all the help I can get.”

             “You want to get this gal’s mind a to ya?  Give her something she’ll always remember you by?  A little parlor trick I learned back in Connecticut.”

             “I’m not good with tricks.”

             “Don’t have to be.  She’s the one gonna be a doing it.   After she sits, have her rotate her right ankle in circles, clockwise, like this.”  He demonstrated.

             “Then,” Twain said, “bet her a kiss you  can make her change her foot’s direction into a counter motion.  She’ll argue with ya but when she agrees to the kiss, tell her to draw a “6” in the air with her right finger.  Her foot’ll change and start going in a counterclockwise direction. Promise ya.  She won’t be able to figure it out none, and while she’s a trying again and again, read her yer poem.  No matter whether it’s good or not, she’ll remember it ferever. Rest my word on that!”  And you’ll remember it fer the kiss.

            “KB?  KB?”  This was followed by a firmer, “Kyle?”  Shelby’s voice snapped my attention to and I quickly turned away from Twain and toward her.


             “Shelby, you made it.  I want you to meet…” And I turned back to… an empty seat.  Samuel Langhorne Clemens was gone.

             She looked at me peculiarly, “Meet who, Kyle?”

             I plucked the paper from his table and read it:  “Grief can take care of itself; but to get the full value of a joy you must have someone to divide it with.”  Signed, Pudd’nhead Wilson.  I smiled reading that.  Twain was writing about love, Shelby’s and my love.

             “Who did you want me to meet?” she asked again.

             “Nobody,” I hesitantly replied, trying to withhold my disappointed confusion. “Sit down.  I want to make a little bet with you.  I’ll bet you a kiss…”


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While we’re hard at work on Season #2 of A FEW MINUTES WITH, please feel free to read the brilliantly entertaining stories in Season #1.  Thanks.

Hard work

The Writing Staff of A FEW MINUTES WITH.

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Adventure Twenty-seven: Going… Going… Gonzo

booksby Bill Braunstein

If the stack of tomes at my desk was any taller, onlookers would think I was playing the textbook version of Jenga.  But I’m not.

I’m here in the downtown branch of the Los Angeles Public Library doing research.  And piled high in front of me is just about every book I can find on schizophrenia.

You’d think that meant I had everything under control.  Insane people never think they’re crazy.  It’s always the sane who are convinced they’re nuts.

So, where does that leave me?

For the past seven months I’ve been getting visits from dead celebrities who are visible only to me.  But it’s time to stop this madness.  I’m looking for anything that can lead to a cure.


“Jesus creeping god, man!” came a voice from across the table.  “What’s with these books?”

I moved some volumes aside to see who was talking…  Sitting on the other side of the table was a balding man wearing aviator glasses, holding a silver cigarette holder in his mouth.  He wore a shoulder holster, which sported a snub-nosed .44 revolver.

“Cornering the market on crazy?” he asked.

I immediately recognized famed journalist and author Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

“I’m afraid I already have,” I said.

My condition always seemed to manifest people who offered advice and observations about things in my life.  So, I suppose it was no coincidence that the man who had written books like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” which blurred the line between reality and fantasy, was now sitting before me.


“I’m looking for a cure for my Paranoiac Schizophrenic Disorder,” I explained.  “It cost me my girlfriend, Shelby; it’s affecting my work life; and it makes strangers think I’m nuts.”

As I chatted, a woman walked by, holding the hand of a young girl.

“Mommy, why is that man talking to himself?” she asked.  The mother eyeballed me, the book at the top of my stack, “Schizophrenia: Causes and Cures,” then looked back at me.

“Come on, dear, let’s leave that gentleman alone.”  And they briskly walked off.

“See?”  I said to Hunter.  “This has got to stop.”

But Hunter paid little attention to me.  He was emptying a vial of white powder onto the cover of a book called “The Complete Guide to Schizophrenia.”  Pulling his cigarette out of its long silver holder, he proceeded to use the tube to make the white line disappear up his nose with one long snort.

“Elixir of the gods.  Care for a toot, Kyle?”

“I don’t need that right now,” I said.

Thompson laughed.  “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone,” he said, “but they’ve always worked for me.”

Just then a security officer walked up.  “Sir, we’ve received complaints about your talking.  This is a library; could you please keep it down?”  Then he left.

I looked across the table, and now Thompson was smoking a joint.  “Takes the edge off the coke,” he said with a contented hazy smile.

“Come on, I’m trying to work here,” I said, reaching for a book from someplace called the PSD Institute.

“Suit yourself,” Thompson said.  Then, I saw something that shocked me.  No, it wasn’t the bottle of Jim Beam that Thompson was now drinking.  It was a person at the other end of the building.


Near rows of legal tomes that lined the room, walking down an aisle, was Shelby.

I could feel my heart beating faster.  It had been about four months since our breakup.  She never admitted it, but I always felt my PSD put our relationship on the road to ruin.

“Shelby!  Shelby!” I yelled.

About five people looked up from their books, all giving me a collective “Shusshh.” But I didn’t care.  Damn, it was Shelby!

I had to find her.  I ran up and down aisles of books, past authors whose names started with A’s… then B’s, next C’s… “Shelby!  Where are you!”

Then, right around the M’s…  It happened.  There she was.  Shelby.

She gave me a sheepish grin, looking up at me with those big brown eyes I always loved.  “Hi, Kyle.”

“Shelby.  Long time.”

My first instinct was to give her a hug, but then I thought better of it.  Best to play it cool.

“Kyle,” she said.  “What brings you here?”

I spilled the beans about my PSD.  The hallucinations.  Everything.  “Surely, you must have known something was up.”

“Yes…   Your behavior was odd.  I got tired of the excuses, the secrecy.  I couldn’t take it, Kyle.  I had to leave to maintain my own sanity.”

“But that’s going to change, Shelby, I promise.  I’m a man on a mission to get rid of this cursed condition.  Then things can go back to the way they were when we first met.”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible anymore, Kyle.”

“Nothing’s impossible, Shelby.  I can change.  I’ve found a place—the PSD Institute—I think they can cure me.”

Just then Hunter Thompson approached me.  “Sweet god of Isis, Kyle, you need to calm down.”  He offered me his joint.  “You could use this.”

“No! Stop! Go away!”

Shelby looked at me.

“No, not you, go away…  Him, go away!”

“Kyle, this is all making me very uncomfortable,” said Shelby.

Then she approached Thompson.  “Hunter, I could use a hit off that joint.”

Shelby took a long drag, and instantly she seemed more at ease.  But something wasn’t right.


“Wait a second,” I said. “You can see him?”

“Yes,” Shelby said.

“Then, you understand my PSD.  You understand what I’ve been going through.”

“Yes, Kyle, better than you’ll ever know.”

I felt a hand on my shoulder.  It was the security officer.  “We’ve gotten more complaints about you, sir; you’re going to have to leave.”

“Fine,” I said.  “Come on, Shelby, let’s talk outside.”

I reached for her hand, but it went through hers as if it were a mirage.  Then I grabbed Shelby’s waist, but it was like she was made of smoke.

Then it hit me…  Shelby could see Hunter Thompson.  Her body was a mere wisp…

“Shelby…  Are you…”

“Dead as a door nail,” she said.

I stopped in my tracks.  “What?  How?”

“You can read about it in last week’s L.A. Times.  Let’s just say you were right about Koreatown not being safe after 2 a.m.”

“Oh my god, Shelby,” I said.  “This can’t be.  It really is over between us.”

“Well, Kyle,” she said as her body slowly dematerialized into vapor, “you were never a fan of long distance relationships.”

Then, she was gone.

I left the library, knowing what I had to do.

I gave notice at work, sold my furniture, ditched my apartment.  I packed my car with the barest of belongings I still owned.  It was time to leave Los Angeles.  There was nothing to stay here for.

But there was one piece of business left for me.

The next morning I drove to Forest Lawn, the huge cemetery on a lush hillside near Griffith Park.


I walked to the top of the hill, until I came upon a gray headstone.  I looked at the name:  Shelby Seymour, 1988 – 2013.

“Goodbye, Shelby.  I wish things could have worked out.  But fate had other plans.”

“You crazy rat bastard!  Get a grip.”  I turned around and standing behind me was the good doctor himself, Hunter S. Thompson.

“She was the love of my life,” I said.

“Relationships come and go, boy.  Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

The fact that I was standing in a cemetery, casually chatting with an actual dead person, told me my insanity had reached its zenith.

“I’m heading to the car,” said Thompson.  “Meet you there.”

“Sure,” I said.  “Give me a moment.”

Shelby always loved roses.  But I was allergic to them.  I placed a long stem rose on the ground, and started sneezing uncontrollably.

Clearly, it was time to go.  I walked past rows of statuesque oaks that lined the spacious grounds.  Then, I came upon a fountain.  Standing there, no doubt talking about music was Marvin Gaye chatting up Andy Gibb.

Liberace, wearing a long flowing robe waltzed on by and said, “You’re making the right choice, Kyle. Go for it.”

Not far away was an odd sight, two old TV cops, Telly Savalas and Jack Webb.  “Hey, babe, you need an escort out of here?” asked Savalas.

“No, I’ll be fine,” I said as I moved past them.

Rounding a bend, I saw Buster Keaton practicing pratfalls while Stan Laurel and Marty Feldman looked on, both laughing loudly.  I waved, and Freddie Prinze gave me a thumbs up.


Near the bottom of the hill, I saw a crazy mix of old and new Hollywood as Brittany Murphy was in a heated argument with Bette Davis.  John Ritter stood nearby and shook his head as if he’d seen it all before.

A warm feeling shot through me as Ozzie and Harriet Nelson approached.  “Now you drive safely, Kyle,” said Harriet, ever the good mom.

Finally, I reached the bottom of the hill.  I looked up at the huge black wrought iron gate that was the entrance to Forest Lawn and scanned the nearly 100,000 plots that populated the place.

I couldn’t help feeling that the dearly departed had given me comfort in my hour of need.

“Goodbye, dead people” I said.  “I love you, but I hope you finally leave my head once and for all.  I need a new beginning.”

“You are correct, sir,” I could hear a distant Ed McMahon say.

Then, I walked to my car.  Seated on the passenger side was Hunter Thompson.

“We’re off to the PSD Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota,” I said.  “If there’s one place that can stop these hallucinations, that’s it.”

“Strange place for a psychological institute,” said Thompson.  “On the other hand, any state that could elect both Al Franken and Michele Bachmann, must know a thing or two about schizophrenia.”

As I grabbed my sunglasses from the dashboard, Thompson rummaged through a lap bag.

“What’s it gonna be?” he said.  “Some mescaline, acid, amyl, coke?  How about a shot of tequila?”

“Not while I’m driving,” I said.  “You trying to get me killed?”

I put the car in drive, and started on my journey for a cure.

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Adventure Twenty-Six: A Liz Brainstorm

by Lawrence H. Levy

“That’s fuckin’ disgusting,” I announced.


Elizabeth Taylor and I were dining on the patio at La Piazza in the Grove, a trendy outside shopping mall in L.A. She was devouring a huge turkey leg caveman style, juices running down her chin and turkey skin hanging out the side of her mouth.


“Tough shit, Kyle,” she said as she sent a piece of turkey airborne with her words. “My whole life I had to watch my weight or my public would get on my ass. Now I say fuck my public. Fuck ‘em, fuck, fuck, fuck!”

She stood up on her chair and, using the turkey leg as one of her middle fingers, she repeatedly pumped her hands up and down flipping the bird to everyone in the restaurant and any Grove shoppers passing by.

“Charming,” I said. “You through making a spectacle of yourself or would you also like to flash a few people?”

“Oh, chill. You’re the only one that can see me, PSD Boy.” Liz plopped back down in her seat. She had licked the turkey leg clean, so she tossed it back into her purse

“Then at least give me a break. I’m eating here.” Not really eating. Liz’s antics had dulled any desire I had for my risotto.

“Jeez, Kyle, you’re such a pussy.”

I had heard rumors of Liz being an emasculating bitch, and now that my balls were beginning to shrink I realized they probably had merit. She pulled two Twinkies out of her purse and stuffed them in her mouth, barely taking time to unwrap them first. She started to speak, but only garbled sounds came out.

“Finish chewing and then tell me.”

But Liz ignored me, spraying Twinkie everywhere as she spoke.

“You have no idea what a relief it is to eat as much as I want and stay the same weight as when I did “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

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I wasn’t listening. All I could see were the bits of Twinkie cream that landed in my risotto. I knew they weren’t real because Liz wasn’t, but I had had it. I pushed back on my chair, pounded the table, and stood up.

“That’s it. I’ve had enough of this shit! I’m outta here!”

Suddenly I heard loud applause, and I turned to see everyone in the restaurant was thrilled at my decision to leave. I was obviously getting too comfortable talking to people who weren’t there. Embarrassed, I quickly paid the check and left. Liz followed along, bowing and blowing kisses as if they were her adoring fans.

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As I sulked along the main street of the Grove, my hands in my pockets, Liz tagged along, this time munching on what looked like a Wetzel’s Pretzel, dripping with butter.

“Stop being so grumpy, Kyle.”

“Me, grumpy? Why would I be grumpy? Oh, I know. Maybe it’s because I’m a fuckin’ nutcase!”

“Hey, you know what always cheered me up when I got down — a nice, big-ass diamond.”

“Gee, thanks for the great suggestion,” I said as facetiously as possible. “But even if I was a big enough pussy for that to work, how am I supposed to afford it?”

“Oh, that’s right,” Liz quickly responded, “I forgot that you’re also a complete loser.”

As my balls retreated northward, I could swear I felt them in the bottom of my throat when I freaked out.

“Goddamn it! I hate this PSD,” I screamed. I grabbed my head and started squeezing as if my hands were a vice. “Get it out of here. Make it go away!”

By then I had almost cleared the street. The shoppers at the Grove wanted no part of me and more than one person went looking for security.

“If you hate it so much, Kyle,” Liz said as she licked some of the butter off her upper lip, “why don’t you get rid of it?”

“I can’t. There’s no cure. I’m just fucked.”

“There’s always a cure. How did you get it?”

“I got hit in the head with a softball.”

“Have you ever thought of getting hit on the head again?”

“Why? So I can materialize you and Richard Burton at the same time and you can curse out each other in front of me?”

Liz grew impatient. “Think, dipshit. Amnesia victims are sometimes cured by getting hit on the head a second time. Why not you?”

It was so simple, so obvious. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? As ideas rushed through my brain as to how I would accomplish this, I saw two security guards heading my way, and I took off in a sprint.

Once I was off Grove property the security guards gave up, but it didn’t matter. I was a man on a mission, and no one was going to stop me. I got in my car and headed west to Oak Park in Brentwood where it all began. I was determined to get hit in the head by a softball once again and be cured.

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As luck would have it, there was a game in progress when I got there. I stood by the foul line, close to the third baseman, waiting for my opportunity. It didn’t take long.

A monster guy smacked a scorching line drive down the third base line. I immediately stepped in front of the third baseman, ready to take one right in the ol’ noggin. Then the unthinkable happened. The third baseman heroically pushed me out of the way and took the ball right in his nose. He fell to the ground, blood gushing everywhere. Everyone rushed to his aid. I was seriously pissed.

“Next time mind your own goddamn business!” I screamed at him then stomped off.

I spent the rest of the day trying to get someone to hit me on the head, but no one was buying. I even stepped out into the middle of traffic, and all the cars crashed into each other to avoid hitting me. It was frustrating as hell.

That night I went to MacArthur Park, a place known for its gang activity. I figured if I couldn’t get mugged there, I might as well give up. I walked through the park waving five twenty dollar bills in the air.

“I got money here. Come get it. I’m a sucker.”

It wasn’t too long before a muscular Latino with gang tatts appeared. This had to be my guy.

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“I’m real happy to take your money, ese.”

“Fine, take it. But first, you have to hit me over the head with the butt of your gun.”

“I don’t have a gun.”

“What kind of mugger are you?” I said. “Okay, I’ll wait while you go get one.”

“Will this do?” he said as he pulled out a knife.

“No, no knives. I’ve got to be hit over the head. Those are my rules.”

“Yeah? This is my rule, ese.” And he started for me with the knife.

That was my “aha” moment. My desire to rid myself of PSD was crazier than living with it. And living was very much on my mind at that moment.

I turned and started to run as fast as I could, but I didn’t get far. I tripped over the bench behind me, hit my head on the lamppost and fell to the ground, out cold.

I woke up in the hospital, and pretty soon a doctor came in. I was a little wary. The last time I was in the hospital I was talking to Freud, but this guy seemed normal and after a few questions I realized he was real. I went through a bunch of tests and passed them okay. Everyone and everything seemed normal, whatever that was. Finally, it was all done, I was declared lucky, and a nurse came in to give me a sedative so I could sleep.

“Thank you,” I said, relieved I was finally going to get some real rest for the first time in a very long while.

The nurse turned to me. It was Richard Burton, and he spoke to me in his deep, melodious voice.

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“Elizabeth told me you were a pussy, Kyle. That woman can be insufferable, but she has a great nose for pussy… Wait, I may have phrased that incorrectly.”

“Fuck!!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs then passed out.

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