Your Money Or Your Wife

By:
helmutluchs@sbcglobal.net

I don’t regret what happened. As they say, everyone does it — I just got caught. It was about a month ago. I was watching an old Fred MacMurray film on Turner Classic Movies called Double Indemnity. It’s about an insurance man who falls for a dame in a big way. They murder her husband to collect on his policy, but an insurance investigator smells a rotten egg that leads him straight to their little love nest. Do you like yours fried or scrambled? The basic idea was good, I thought; the trouble was, there were two of them. I decided I would try something similar, but without the dame. I immediately began to draw up plans. Nothing would be left to chance.

When my wife walked through the front door that night I acted as if everything were normal, as if our life together could go on for an eternity, never faltering, never changing, never drifting from its destined dreary course; and then, quite suddenly I chopped off her head with an ax. I had meant to wait until she sat down. Until she was reading comfortably in her favorite chair. She often complained that I was in her reading light, and I thought it would be fun (or at least appropriate) to hear her say one last time as I stood behind her, ax raised overhead, “Honey, you’re in my light again.” But somehow (and you’d know how if you knew her), when she came through that door I had what the amateur psychologist might call an insane compulsion to kill her. Not a bad guess. The professional, however, would’ve recognized it as merely the dog in me which instinctively desires to see an old thing buried. Preferably six feet underground with a marker to remind what and where it is.

After I was quite sure she was dead (which was doubtful at first since her head rolled around on the living room floor for several minutes, biting at table legs and pausing now and then to throw a hideous glance my way), I quickly removed all the eye shadow and hair clips from her purse to create the impression she’d been robbed. Then I called the police. I told them my wife had been horribly murdered. The Captain asked if I might be “exaggerating just a wee bit.” I admitted it was possible but insisted she had been badly murdered at the very least, and furthermore, whether it had been good, bad or indifferent the result was fatal, and they should skip over here immediately. The Captain threatened to hang up on me at the first sign of another ill-tempered outburst. After a mild debate he agreed he would come out the next day a little after lunch to check the body, but he warned me there would have to be someone home to answer the door. I promised to stick around.

It was only after I had hung up and settled myself in a comfortable chair to gloat over my accomplishments that I realized neither my wife nor I had insurance of any kind. My dreams of incredible wealth were fading before my eyes. My ship had at last come in, but it had hit the dock and was sinking fast. How could so much go wrong when I had been so careful?

I had to think fast. I called the police again. “Hello,” I said. “I’m the man who just murdered his wife. I mean, the man whose wife was just murdered. What I really mean is, she’s not actually dead at all. She’s simply suffering from extremely poor posture.” I finally convinced them everything was all right by agreeing to buy two tickets to the policeman’s ball.

It was late now and nothing more could be done tonight. Tomorrow I would go down to the insurance office and fill out their best policy in person, and then take it home and forge my wife’s signature. But the next day was Christmas and everything was closed. So I watched the parade, then went home to open my presents. Damn! More neckties, and after all the trouble I had gone through to buy her perfume and a new frying pan. If I hadn’t killed her last night, I would’ve used one of those ties on her today. I was happy I had killed her. For once in my life I was doing something for me.

The next day I picked up the policy. After experimenting a while, I realized it would take an expert’s hand to forge my wife’s name. I decided on the little neighbor boy. He had once forged my name on an ugly letter that had somehow ended up in the hands of the President of the United States and put me in bad with most of Washington.

I took the policy next door but the kid was busy watching TV. He finally signed it during a commercial break. The little bugger was good, real good. I slapped a five-dollar bill in his hand and closed it tight. “Listen,” I said, “you ain’t never seen me here, see?” He grinned and closed his eyes. “No, I don’t see,” he said. I gave him a slap in the face that sent him sprawling. I don’t like smart aleck kids.

Returning home I discovered there was quite a collection of policemen around my house. Most of them were playing on the swing set in the back yard, but a couple were removing my wife’s body on a stretcher. I was about to run but it was too late, I’d been spotted. One of the officers was calling me over to the swing set to balance off the seesaw, which had four on one side and only three on the other. Another cop who had been sniffing around for clues approached me and announced that I was under arrest for the murder of my wife. “How can you prove it was me?” I demanded. “As the saying goes,” he replied, “a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.” “But I live here,” I said. “I’m sorry, sir, but the saying makes no provisions or exclusions for those living at the scene of a crime.” “That will never hold up,” I said, “not even in a court of law.”

But I was wrong. At the trial it seemed things were hopelessly against me, but then came a new piece of evidence. It was a letter the police had received in the mail, signed by me and claiming responsibility for the murder of my wife, as well as confessing it was I who had stolen the athletic equipment from Lincoln Elementary School last spring. All the experts agreed it was definitely my signature. I looked at it and it was, but I had never written any such letter. Then they brought out the insurance policy. The experts all agreed it was positively nothing but a cheap forgery of my wife’s name. In fact, one of them pointed out, it was so bad a child could do better. In the audience of the courtroom I spotted the little neighbor boy eyeing me with an impish grin as if he were watching an insect squirming near a hot match.

The jury deliberated for 14 hours. There was one sweet old man who insisted that someone of my apparent intelligence were going to kill his wife, he would have done it years ago. In the end, however, the jury found me guilty and the judge sentenced me to death.

I guess it’s what I deserve for watching a movie that stars Fred MacMurray. Now it’s just one hour before the State of Illinois is to execute me by means of lethal injection.

I only hope it’s good stuff.

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The Mysterious Maya

By:
grampsoldster@hotmail.com

The Maya have always been a mystery, even to themselves. This is partly on account of the lack of archeological information, and also because the Maya have all been dead so long that they hardly remember what it was like back in the good old days of Preclassic Mesoamerican Civilization. Recently, archeologists have unearthed numerous hieroglyphs, bits of microfilm and other refuse left by the Maya. In most cases these have been promptly buried again, but enough has survived to allow us, for the first time, to put together an accurate picture of the Maya and what they did after hours.

Their origin is still obscure. Some think they were simply Irish fishermen who lost their way in a storm around 500 A.D., entered a time warp and arrived in Mexico 250 years earlier. A radical school of thought speculates that the Maya did not exist at all, being only figments of their own imaginations. But this is just wishful thinking.

Whatever their origin, the Maya appeared in Mexico around 250 A.D., unpacked their valises and set about starting a civilization. Their first accomplishment was the creation of an organized religion, the Church of the Unreformed Sodomites, which was inspired by the consumption of enormous quantities of fermented llama drool, the local beverage. Snakes and pink elephants played minor roles in their mythology, the major deity being Kiwiwug, the great were-monkey, who swooped out of the jungle to suck the brains of Mayan peasants. Legend has it that Kiwiwug died of malnutrition.

The next achievement came in the field of architecture with the building of the first Mayan step pyramids. These were probably based on Egyptian models, which we now know were used to preserve fruit, mummies and edibles, and also to sharpen razor blades. Mayan pyramids were put to the same uses, with the notable exception of sharpening razor blades. Archeologists believe the Maya had no razor blades at all, which led to endless bickering between the peasants, who wanted them, and the ruling priests, who considered them “the pinnacle of bourgeois decadence.” Engravings from this period depict wild, bearded commoners confronting inexplicably clean-shaven officials. This point seems to have caused several civil wars.

It might increase our understanding of the Maya to describe the little man, the average Mayan and his occupations. We will call this average fellow “Joe,” because that was every Maya’s first name.

Joe Maya was a high school dropout who lived in a sombrero on the edge of town, along with his nagging wife (also named Joe), a small herd of sheep, and a somewhat larger herd of children. He was 5’7″, thirty-ish, with dark hair, horn-rims, and a tattoo on his left arm. He was wanted on various charges in 47 states.

Joe’s main occupations were drinking fermented llama drool, building sacrificial altars, and burying cryptic hieroglyphs for future generations to uncover. This work gave him a sense of purpose in life. In his spare time he took a stab at subsistence farming. When he had had one too many, he sometimes took a stab at his wife, just for laughs.

On the whole, Joe’s was a happy existence. His basic needs were taken care of, and his desires were few: wealth, position, power, and a clean loincloth every Tuesday.

One might well ask why such an advanced and thriving culture eventually collapsed. All we know is that shortly after coffee break, around 10:30 a.m., the Mayan civilization suddenly came to an end.

However, this is not the end of the story, because the Maya passed their civilization on to a warlike tribe called the Toltecs, who in turn pawned it off on the Aztecs. The Aztecs tried giving it to the invading Spaniards, but the conquistadors, being no fools, took the Aztecs’ gold instead. Let this be a lesson to us all.

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From The Casebook Of Dreadlock Holmes

By:

At the foot of the portico at Dunbroke-on-the-Wye, I was left dumbstruck by countenance: darker than a Moor’s, and framed by thick cascading ropes of benighted locks I can only liken to Medusa’s, extending far past the point of any notion of propriety I had yet brought it upon myself to consider after fifteen years among the trollops, scalawags and ne’er-do-wells that any Scotland Yard inspector engages while navigating the multifarious skullduggeries of our calling.

After our exchange of salutations, he said not a word all the way through the wisteria to the portcullis. I would not venture to say he was taciturn, but rather unprepossessingly inquisitive, pausing to stare at the ironwork, the knockers and the doorknob. The furrowed brow fairly froze upon his visage as we moved through the manor into the study, where Crumwall Thurton, Esq. had been found slain not two days before. He ran his hands slowly across the wainscoting, and then swerved suddenly to the desk, producing an immaculate kerchief to draw up the slender vial containing a tincture of laudanum that lay beside Crumwall Thurton, Esq.’s manteau.

Yet there was something malodorous about him. Not his character (at the time, I had nothing upon which to base any supposition), but rather his person. Despite his startling appearance, I had no reason to doubt his ablutions, and would have settled without hesitation upon the notion that they were beyond reproach, save for the mysterious treacly pungency that wafted in the ether wherever he stood, a mixture that whispered of incense and shouted some herbal concoction I had not yet encountered, one foreign to the opium dens I had frequented during other investigations, but perhaps not distant cousins from the same. His studious carriage was further undermined by his bloodshot eyes, an unsettling affliction palpable even at a distance.

Then, too, this: he dropped to the floor suddenly, indiscriminately on all fours, to examine the single peculiarity that had all but announced itself among the particulars of Crumwall Thurton, Esq.’s study, namely the heretofore inexplicable, small, circular creosote stain upon the oriental rug to the left of the base of the desk. And then, moments later, with equal alacrity, Dreadlock Holmes leapt up again and spoke.

“De man you seek is a left-handed man, not tall, yah, wit’ a cane or somet’ing he’ll be leanin’ on, paaaale and stuttering as the day he was born.”

My mind reeled at the rapidity of his assertions. “But…how can…are you certain?” I gasped.

“Inspectah Frampton, dis I know, as I know de one who is God and God alone witout apollo-gee, Jah Rastafari Haile Selassie-aye, has not yet been born upon dis eart’.”

“But,” I ejaculated.

“Inspectah Frampton, dere is not time for aaall dese tribula-tions,” he said. “We must return witout delayin’ to Londontown and find my asso-ciates, Jimmy, Peeet-ah and Bob.”

*****

Apace we caught the ten-past to London. During our trip, I took it upon myself to commence my inquiries as to the origin and delineation of the singular deductive methods of Dreadlock Holmes. He spoke calmly and freely, but in an accent I had never crossed in all my years of investigation, and though it was not for lack of wanting on behalf of both parties, our initial forays into the forest of his methodology proved less than fruitful. I asked him what in the arrangement of the elements and sundries of the study conspired to bring forth his assertions regarding the telltale characteristics of the perpetrator of the foul deed visited upon Crumwall Thurton, Esq., a query met with the following response:

“All praise to Him Alone Most High Haile Selassie-aye, de mighty, mighty lion of our redemption who has not yet come to greet us.”

And as I ventured ever backward during our trip, seeking only the most rudimentary encapsulation of his methodology, he spoke of all things flowing from Jah Rastafari, brought forth in radiance from the Kingdom through the line of Solomon. In truth, the only sliver of light shed upon my bewilderment came forth when I asked Mr. Holmes what, in his estimable opinion, was the central necessity of fundamentally sound investigative endeavors.

“De vibe,” he said. “Most definitely de vibe is aaall sal-vaation, witout hesi-taation.”

The vibe; a term whose meaning I did not and could not hope to grasp at its broaching, but came to know as our evening wore on.

Arriving at his flat in Camden Town, I was taken aback to be greeted by a thick obscuring haze the moment we opened the door, and equally surprised by Dreadlock Holmes’ lack of affect upon its apprehension. He merely welcomed me to his abode and escorted me into the living room, where we were met with another peculiar tableau: three somnambulant gentlemen strewn in haphazard fashion upon a plush divan bedecked in verdant fabric, half buried amidst a lavish pile of gold and vermilion pillows, and all enshrouded in smoke.

“Inspectah Frampton, may I present, left-right, my humble assoo-ciates, Jimmy, Peeet-ah and Bob.”

With that prompt, from letheward Jimmy returned, sluggishly lifting his hand to greet me.

“Bob, Bob and Peeet-ah, Dread is back, mon. He come wit’ a friend. Lively up, Peeet-ah,” he said.

And slowly the other two rose.

Like Dreadlock, this shambolic triumvirate bore the same stolid expression, the same Moorish complexion, and the same extravagances of hair. And like Dreadlock, this soporific trio had long since acclimated to the haze; indeed, it appeared to be their quotidian atmosphere, the result of the butts of several curiously outsized cigars burned to their end and now resting upon a table before the divan, adjacent to a small lacquered vase holding several burning sticks of a beguiling incense, contesting the acrid smoke of the long-spent rivals. The bittersweet, malodorous mixture was familiar to me upon first sensing it at the door: that it was the source of Holmes’ distinctive pungency was beyond conjecture.

“Bobby. Pee-tah, Jimmy, you know what?” said Holmes. “De game is afoot, mon.”

And with that the threesome slowly stood up, mumbled “De game is afoot, always de game is afoot,” shuffled toward the door, and presently disappeared from the room. As we sat on the divan, Holmes produced two cigars the likes of which I had not seen before, identical in their prodigious circumference to the remainders on the table, and daunting in length.

“Inspectah Frampton, togethah we must contemplate de perfidiousness of our villain, yah,” said Holmes, lighting the cigars. “One for you, an’ one for me.”

I fumbled at first, but when I took to the instruction of Holmes as to the proper method for drawing in the smoke, I was soon overtaken by a series of sensations to which I can do no justice by resorting to the weak verisimilitude of words.

Time slowed, rushed and slowed again. Contrary to Holmes’ exhortation, I soon found myself unable to concentrate for any length of time on the matter at hand, and found respite only when Jimmy, Peter and Bob rejoined us with musical instruments. As Bob strummed a guitar gently and slowly to the syncopation of Peter’s patient but unerring drum, Jimmy used his hands to pluck a cello, producing sonorous and pleasingly fathomless bass rhythms. In time, Dreadlock rose to attend to a simple melody on his spinet by the window, and as the room began to stretch and whirl, the merry foursome sang a sweetly plaintive tune whose refrain I ascertained and participated in after only a few repetends from my befogged colleagues.

No woman no cry. No woman no cry…

I felt the heady sensation normally associated with an evening spent in the company of strong libations, coupled with an incessant urge to touch my nose, a pleasing inclination towards easy laughter, and a sudden, unaccountable zeal for biscuits, which Jimmy presented in abundance upon my mentioning.

Cigars, music, biscuits and eventually claret engulfed the evening, and at some moment I cannot honestly pinpoint, all faded blissfully into oblivion.

*****

I found myself prostrate on the divan in that same living room under a diminished cloud the very next morning, drawn from a cave of pillows and deep slumbers by the welcome scent of bangers and mash, prepared expertly by Bob and placed on the table before me.

“And where is Mr. Holmes?” I asked.

“Jimmy an’ Peeet-ah went wit’ Dread,” said Bob. “To appre-hend de man who done dat nice gentleman wrong.”

I could hardly believe my ears.

“What? Where did they go? How did — what man?”

To which Bob smiled with this rejoinder, “De vibe, mon, de vibe.”

It had come to Dreadlock Holmes in a reverie during the night: our nefarious quarry was none other than the diminutive Sir Clive Bloodnought Redrumming, notorious for his bilious temperament, his club-footed gait, his unbesmirched alabaster complexion, and his unbounded hatred for Crumwall Thurton, Esq., who had outwitted him in business matters, building a thriving establishment specializing in chimney construction, the very trade in which Redrumming had failed.

By a miracle of Providence and the grace of London traffic and all its vicissitudes, I rushed and caught up with Jimmy, Peter and Dreadlock in their pursuit. Met with our formidable bill of accusation, Sir Clive briefly attempted defiance, stuttering vociferously and waiving his creosote-stained cane with his left hand, but the weight of evidence, the burden of his own madness, the plangent insistence of his revivified conscience, the specter of Scotland Yard, and the spectacle of Dreadlock Holmes and his redolent, wild-haired assistants was too much for his protestations, and he desisted soon after.

Brimming with the ebullience befitting a job well done, we returned to Holmes’ abode to celebrate much as we had contemplated our criminal conundrum the night previous. And within the year, our intrepid magistrates saw to it that the murderous Sir Clive would answer for his transgressions.

And to you dear readers, I must now confess that which I have not yet divulged; even in those first few hours, my brief encounter with the peculiar and perspicacious methods of Dreadlock Holmes had forever changed me. For I no longer ask as to the origin of his gifts; indeed, a steady cadence of relaxation had by then already gripped my constitution, wrought from the enchanting power of the indigenous cigars an infectious rhythms of Dread, Peter, Jimmy and Bob. And here I can only relay in the briefest of terms that in future cases and further collaborations, I became further acquainted with the uncanny ability of Dreadlock Holmes to delve into the salutary revelations and secret truths that can only be derived from a resolute communion with that which I now know to be none other than de vibe.

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Appendix To My Curriculum Vitae

By:

Dear Committee on The Life Time Achievement Award:

Thank you for your recent rejection letter in response to my application for The Life Time Achievement Award. I sympathize with your feeling that I’m inadequate for the award. I, myself, have often had that feeling before recalling my various potentials. In order to initiate a reconsideration of my application, I have attached an appendix to my Curriculum Vitae, which you may place before or after the references as you see fit.

I look forward to meeting each of you at the award ceremony.

Sincerely,

Justin Kahn

Appendix One: Great Moments in History I Could Have Done

The Invention of the Wheel

When I look at a car I don’t think, “Hey, maybe that thing would go faster with square tires,” or “Sure that race car is fast, but what if it had triangular tires? Can I ask you that?” That is the kind of technical ingenuity that history expects from its greatest inventors. Plus, I have such a bad back that there is little surprise I would have been the one to invent something that would aid in the transporting of heavy loads.

According to archaeologists the first wheels were used over ten thousand years ago. Had I been born much earlier, I think there is good reason to believe that I could have come up with the idea for a wheel.

The Start of the Renaissance

Most people, they like boxes. Square, practical, clean, what have you. They use them. They store them. And they think inside them. Not me, though. I’m totally out of the box. I love getting people together and making something happen.

Further, I love the arts and am not really superstitious. If I had money, lived in Italy, and lived 600 years ago, I could have played a major role, if not the majorest role, in starting the renaissance.

The Discovery of America by the Vikings

A great discovery requires a combination of sweat, planning, and luck. Firstly, I am among the sweatiest guys you have ever seen. I’m the one with the messy brush of armpit hair on the basketball court, getting everybody else wet on the rebounds. I also get that atypical back sweat stain, just by walking down the street on a humid day.

Planning-wise, I can plan. I have a daybook and I’ve gone through it for the rest of the year, ticking off all my paydays. And, lastly, luck. Well, yesterday I found a crisp ten under my seat on the subway.

I’m clearly the kind of guy on whom such elements converge. Land ho!

The Discovery of America by Columbus

In 1492 Justin could have sailed the Ocean Blue. Had I done so, I think history would have found the outcome not unlike the one told about Columbus.

For example, I recently took a road trip to San Diego. Except I ended up in Little Rock. That is fairly typical of how I handle myself. The discovery of America could have been mine.

Photo Opportunity with Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt

I have frequently had my picture taken. To my mind, standing next to, or even between, these three gentlemen is completely in the realm of my capabilities. I would have combined excellent posture with a pleasant smile and twinkling eyes.

Being the First Man to Walk on the Moon

Admittedly, I couldn’t have been an astronaut, being near-sighted, asthmatic, and afraid of flying. No matter. I could have taken the first step. And I probably would have said something really memorable like, “While I as an individual am moving forward only very slowly and a rather small space when you look at the vastness of the universe, this represents a much greater movement forward for all of humanity.”

The Moonwalk

I could have been the one to unveil this to the world in a 1983 television special. As things stand, at the time I was only five. But use a little imagination. I could have been a couple of years older. Having executed the Moonwalk, just as my fans were going crazy, I would turn to the camera and say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. He, heeeeee.”

Coining Nike’s Slogan, “Just Do It”

My own temperament is such that I tend to try and reduce the number of words to an absolute minimum so that what I have to say is to the point, memorable, and yet still forceful and, where possible, majestic. If I was born before Nike came up with their current motto, I almost certainly would have been the one to come up with this slogan.

Also, I could have easily designed Nike Trademark symbol, The Swoosh (although I would have called it the “Super Thick Checkmark”).

Composing “Crazy Frog”

Sometimes a song rises up out of your heart. In a maniac fit, you record it and share it with the world. All of posterity hails you as an innovator. That could have been my story. I could have written the ring tone “Crazy Frog Axel F” This is just a variation of the theme song to Beverley Hills Cop which is the first and only song I learned to play on the piano. For that reason it seems natural that this would have been the one I had written. Indeed, that is just another of the many impressive things I could have done.

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