Chapter Fourteen

   The woman hired to watch over the Kennedy estate at Hyannisport didn't expect to find a Powloo Indian from the Eleventh Century huddling in the bushes just beyond the boat dock and, fortunately, she never did. If she had, there is no doubt she would have been scared out of her mind. But she didn't see him.
   Hi, I'm back, and I'm in a great mood. Tell you what, let's have some fun. Remember that aspiring writer who called earlier? I'm going to ring him up. Just play along with me here for a minute. I'm dialing. Metaphorically, that is.
   Uh, yes, hello. Is this the fellow I spoke to earlier?
   "Yes it is, but -- "
   Because I wanted to ask you something. I wanted your opinion --
   "Wait, wait, I'm sorry, but could you call back in, say, an hour?"
   He hung up! Uh oh, here comes Mrs. Dinwiddie.
   "Good morning, young man. Is the safe deposit vault open?"
   "No, ma'am, not yet. It'll be open at ten o'clock. That's just a few minutes from now."
   "Thank you." (Where the hell are we? -- Ed.)
   She asks me the same thing, every day the same thing. That's why I get bored, and daydream -- and get caught daydreaming. Practically every day. Torpor. I've asked about a teller's job, or security guard, but the bank manager, Mr. Butler, thinks I'm incapable of handling anything more complicated than sitting at the "Information" desk. And this is at a bank that, so far, has only one customer, Mrs. Dinwiddie.
   "Sit up straight!"
   "Yes sir, yes sir."
   "And pick that stuff up. Is that money on the floor, Reynolds?"
   I looked down, and yes, there were a few loose bills scattered about at my feet.
   "Do you realize how ridiculous it looks to come into a bank and see money lying around on the floor?! Do you!?"
   "Yes I do sir, I can see your point." I leaned over and picked up a five and a one.
   "Come see me before you leave today."
   Dum-de-dum-dum. I should have seen it coming.
   "You're damn right!" someone squawked in a vaguely familiar squeaky voice.
   "Who said that?" I whispered.
   "I said that," came the response. I opened my hand up and there was my old friend, Abe Lincoln, speaking from his cameo on the five.
   "Hi, Abe. What should I do?"
   "How should I know? Ask George."
   "On the one."
   Meanwhile, across the vast expanse of the marbled First Federal Security Savings and Loan's pretentious lobby, Mr. Butler was discussing my predicament with an assistant, Mr. Perkins, while also keeping an eye on me.
   "What do you think, Perkins? Should we get rid of him?"
   "The man is talking to money, sir, I mean, as the bank manager, what else can you do?"
   "I'll meet with him later, and if I determine he's crazy, then I'll fire him." Mr. Butler didn't really want to fire me, but he felt he could keep that open as an option. Of course I knew all this because I know everything.
   Perkins seemed satisfied and returned to his desk. Over at my desk it was me, Abe, and George, in conversation.
   "So, what would you do, George?" I asked the father of our country.
   "You say you think you're going to be fired? Here's what I'd do: Take the offensive."
   "Take the offensive?"
   "Exactly. Complain about the inadequate wages, the shoddy conditions, the inhumane treatment. Tell him you'll sue. And hire a good lawyer."
   "I'll take the case!" Abe squeaked up.
   "Abe would be an excellent choice," George added.
   This was an interesting twist, I thought. A class action suit against the bank. There could be millions of dollars in damages. And there could be an interesting, and surrealistic, story in all this, too.
   "Yes sir!" It was Mr. Butler. He motioned to me to follow him. I stuffed Abe and George in my pocket (My pocket! Why didn't I think of that before! What a great place to keep money!) and followed the tall or short bank executive to his office.
   "Sit down, Mr. Reynolds." I did so as he sat down behind his impressive-looking desk, although what it looked like I can't remember. Oh, there might have been one of those metal ball pendulum pacifiers, but only because I like those words. And, for the same reason, a piping hot pumpkin pie.
   "Now, Mr. Reynolds," he began, "you know that we all like you here at First Federal. You've been a, well, a source of good humor and comic relief, especially in times like these, when things aren't going so well." (Speak for yourself -- I'm in the bubble!)
   "What about Mr. Perkins? He can't stand me."
   "Even Mr. Perkins has mentioned to me, on more than one occasion, that he felt that, given the pay level of the Information Director, it couldn't hurt to hire someone like you, as long as you were behaving in a reasonable manner during banking hours."
   "A ringing endorsement," I observed, wryly. Mr. Butler smiled, then held out a gold case and opened it. Inside, arranged as if they were the finest cheroots from Havana -- bubble gum cigars. Mind you, they were the finest bubble gum cigars.
   "Pink Owl?" he offered.
   "Uh, no thanks, I don't chew." He took one for himself, removed the cellophane wrapper, and then removed the paper cigar ring and put it on his finger.
   "You don't mind if I keep the ring, do you?"
   "No, not at all, sir, not at all." It took Butler quite a while to chew the entire bubble gum cigar into a wad soft enough to blow bubbles, so I waited, patiently, trying to think of what would happen next.
   "Now, Reynolds, I have your file here... excuse me... "
   He stopped to blow a bubble, and did he blow a bubble! He kept blowing and blowing until he'd inflated it to the size of a basketball, and then -- Pop!!! -- he was covered with it. Not the kind of thing you'd expect from a bank manager. I waited, patiently again, while he peeled the sticky pink mask off his face. Yuch.
   "Now, the file indicates that you have been employed here for... two-and-a-half years. Is that correct, Mr. Reynolds?"
   "What? I'm sorry, I -- "
   "Don't play with that, please!" He grabbed the pendulum pacifier with the five metal balls away from me. "And stop eating the piping hot pumpkin pie!"
   "Mplhfghh... mplhfghh -- "
   "What? Oh, yeah, all right, you can swallow what's already in your mouth." He sighed in exasperation. "Now, let's continue, shall we? Two-and-a-half years. Fine... "
   He stopped, to blow another bubble. This time it was bigger, much bigger...

(This ends Chapter Fourteen.)

Chapter Fifteen