Thursday, June 23, 2022

“Your Own League”

“And so you see,” said Terry Foley, “I never meant any harm by making the heroine of my book have mismatched breasts, but still Araminta took it as some sort of personal attack on her –”

“And this what’s her name,” said Mickey Pumpernickel, “Annabella –”

“Araminta actually.”

“Araminta – does she in point of fact have mismatched bosoms?”

“Well, yeah,” said Terry, “I mean not drastically, but one is just slightly less uh –”

Terry made a surging motion with both hands.

“Bulbous?” suggested Mickey.

“Bulbous, yes,” said Terry, “one is just ever so slightly less bulbous than the other, but just slightly – I mean, only if you look at it from a certain angle. But here’s the thing, Mickey –” yes, Terry was conversing directly with a wooden ventriloquist’s dummy, while the ventriloquist, Waldo McGee, drank his bock and smoked a cigarette and stared off into space, his lips almost imperceptibly moving – “the thing is,” continued Terry, “I found this very slight imperfection somehow deeply moving, as if it brought her ethereal beauty into the world of reality, thus transforming the world –”

“Can I interrupt you just to ask you something, kid?” said Mickey, with his squeaky, raspy voice.

“Sure,” said Terry.

“What the goddam hell ever possessed you to put that, uh, detail in your novel?”

“Uh, well, I don’t know, really –”

“I mean, are you really that dumb?”

“Uh –”

“Waldo,” the dummy said to Waldo McGee, whose lap he was sitting on, “you ever hear anything so dumb in your life?”

“What?” said Waldo.

“I said you ever hear of anything so incredibly stupid?” said Mickey, and Terry could see Waldo’s lips definitely moving now, not much, but maybe like he was muttering to himself under his breath.

“I wasn’t paying attention,” said Waldo.

“Oh, Christ,” said Mickey, and then to Terry, “In a world of his own this guy. An alcoholic little world of his own.”

Waldo said nothing to this, but just took a drink of his bock.

“Buy me another shot of Cream of Kentucky, kid,” said Mickey, “and I will give you some very valuable advice. Some very valuable advice that will stand you in very good stead for the rest of your life.”

Terry got Bob’s attention and ordered Mickey another shot of Cream of Kentucky. Terry hadn’t actually seen the dummy drink the two previous shots, but nevertheless when Terry had gazed elsewhere for just a moment, as one does in any conversation, when he looked again the shot glass had become empty.

Bob poured Mickey a fresh shot and took a quarter from Terry’s little pile of change. Terry watched Bob take the quarter down to the cash register in that unhurried way of his, and he rang it in. And when Terry turned back to Mickey and Waldo the shot glass was empty again. Someone or something was drinking the bourbon, that was for sure.

“What’s your name again, buddy?” said Mickey.

“Terry, Terry Foley.”

“Listen, Jerry –”


“Terry. Listen. Here’s my advice for you.”

“Oh, great,” said Terry, without a trace of irony.  

“Stay in your own league, kid,” said Mickey.

“Pardon me?”

“Stay in your own ballpark. I mean, you are an okay looking young feller, but this Angelina –”


“Araminta. I seen her in here with you, on more than one occasion I seen her in here with you, and I gotta say, I always wondered, what was a swell-looking frail like that with her glamorous movie star looks doing with a just okay-looking guy like you. I mean no offense.”

“Oh, no, sure,” said Terry. “In fact I agree with you, Mickey. I never really saw what she saw in me.”

“It’d be different if you was some rich guy, but you ain’t, are ya?”

“Oh, no, I’m just barely getting by on the GI Bill, and, well, my mother sends me a twenty every week or so –”

“But you ain’t rich.”

“Oh, no, far from it.”

“And this Arabella babe, well, hey, I seen a lot of good-looking hot tamales in my line of work, working clubs and and jernts all acrost this great land of liberty – chorus gals, canaries, magicians’ assistants, even hat-check babes – I seen ‘em all, believe you me, and this Agatha babe is one of the cutest little fillies I ever laid eyes on.”

“Yes, she is very beautiful.”

“So like I say, stay in your own league, Jerry. Antoinetta, a gal like that, she is major league all the way, like 1927 Yankees. And you, my friend, no offense, but you are double-A ball, at best.”


“Lower your sights.”

“You think so?”

“I know so. Like little old Daisy down the bar there.”

Mickey pointed his little wooden hand past Terry, and Terry turned and saw a small dark-haired young woman sitting down at the corner of the bar.

“That girl?” said Terry.

“That girl,” said Mickey. “You know her?”

“No. She seems nice though.”

“She is nice. They call her Daisy the Dip.”

“Daisy the Dip?”

“Daisy the Dip. Send her down a drink. If she accepts it, that means she’ll talk to you. If she talks to you, you got a chance. I ain’t saying you’re in like Flynn, but you got a chance.”

“She’s not bad looking,” said Terry.

“Not bad looking at all,” said Mickey. “I seen better, but I seen plenty worse, I’ll tell you that much. But, most important, she is in your league, Barry. A good solid Double-A player. Maybe even triple-A on a good day, but, irregardless, she is not totally out of your league.”

“So you think I should send her a drink?”

“I do. But first order me and McGee another round.”

“Well – okay,” said Terry. “What do I have to lose, right?”

“Nothing but the price of a drink, my friend.”

So Terry got Bob’s attention again, and ordered another bock and a shot for Waldo and Mickey, and also whatever the girl down at the corner of the bar was drinking.

Daisy the Dip accepted the drink, and, after she raised her fresh glass to Terry, Mickey gave Terry a nudge in the ribs.

“Now go down and ask her if she would mind if you joined her.”

“You think I should?”

“Absolutely. But one word more of advice, keep your wallet in your pocket what’s on the other side away from her.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean she’s a pickpocket by trade, and I know for a fact she don’t normally work where she drinks, but just to be on the safe side, keep your poke where it’ll be hard for her to grab it, just so you ain’t rubbing her nose in temptation.”

“Okay,” said Terry.

“Good luck, kid.”

“Thanks, Mickey,” said Terry, and he looked at Waldo, who was still staring off into space, smoking his cigarette. “And thank you, Waldo.”

“For what?” said Waldo.

“Don’t mind him, Jerry,” said Mickey. “Like I say, he’s in his own little world…”

{Kindly go here to read the “adult comix” version in A Flophouse Is Not a Home, profusely illustrated by the illustrious rhoda penmarq…}

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