THE POKER GAME

“How do, ladies and gents? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dougal James MacTerrier, but everyone calls me ‘Mac’. I’ve been top dog at Barktower Manor for ten years now. You see, his lordship, Hound Ruff Branan saved my life one night after that fleabag Angus ‘Scotty’ Montgomery caught me sniffing around his bitch and nearly tore me apart. In my clan, when another saves your mangy life, you’re beholden to them forever. Truth be told, I’ve had a good life here. 

Tonight I’ll be donning my vest and tam as I’m the greeter for the weekly poker game. Sir Ruff and the boys always have a great night playing cards, drinking whiskey and smoking cigars. Well, there was that one game a few weeks back that didn’t turn out so well. 

That particular night started out like any other. Sir Ruff, his four cousins the Hounds of Baskerville and the two Boxer Brothers were having a grand time. M’lord’s sweetheart, Madam Pompadour, owner of the fabulously successful pup salon Shampooch, and her saucy poodle assistants were there to cater to everyone’s needs. They looked extraordinarily fetching in their French maid outfits. Tails were wagging, for sure! 

It was no secret that the Boxers were in debt big time to loanshark Weezy “Pit Bull” Mulally, and had cooked up a scheme to win back their losses that night.  The game was going strong and the pot was getting bigger when one of the Boxers slipped the other a card under the table. Things were looking good for them and they surreptitiously exchanged a few more cards without anyone noticing. The hounds were growling their displeasure as the Boxers won game after game. 

Just then Madam Pompadour and her delightful maids came in carrying silver trays of bones, kibbles and bits. When Sir Ruff looked up from his paw of cards, he caught the reflection in a tray of the Boxers passing winning cards. M’lord began barking and howling loudly, alerting the other hounds who immediately pounced on the cheating Boxer Boys. The two connivers were no match for the five rabid hounds and things did not end well for the brothers that night .. but they did end permanently. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear our guests scratching at the door, eager for tonight’s game. Let’s hope the night goes well. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, you know!” 

NAR © 2018

THE TENDER TRAP

The south side of Chicago is a dangerous place. Dingy bars, seedy hotels and strip joints are scattered throughout the city. Gordon Peters had a taste for all of them .. along with bourbon, brunettes and black silk stockings. 

Most nights Gordon would slither into his favorite bar, The Tender Trap, jacket collar turned up and hat low on his forehead.  He’d sit on the end barstool, order a bourbon and case the joint .. just the usual losers. But Gordon had patience. He’d nurse his bourbon, smoke his Marlboro’s and sooner or later she’d walk in .. maybe a secretary working overtime or a bored and lonely housewife. 

After about 45 minutes, she ran in from the rain, shook her damp dark brown hair, headed to the bar and ordered a martini. Glancing around the room, her eyes landed on Gordon, then looked away. He walked over and, removing his hat, asked if he could join her. She was startled to see how handsome he was – a regular George Clooney. 

Making himself comfortable, Gordon motioned for another round. They talked for a while; her name was Christine and she had recently taken a job as Pathologist at Chicago General.  He asked if she’d like to get a bite to eat and she agreed. After dinner, Gordon was ready to make his move. 

“Look, it’s stopped raining. Let’s take a walk.” Strolling the dimly-lit streets, he suddenly pulled her into a dark alley, pinning her against the wall. She could feel his hardness against her belly and forced herself to remain calm. Slowly he pulled a black silk stocking from his pocket and, wrapping it around her neck, began strangling her. The wetness in his pants and bourbon breath repulsed her. Gagging, struggling, her eyes bulged and she slipped to the ground. Removing the stocking, he placed it across her face snarling  “Courtesy of Gordon Peters“, and ran off. 

But Christine was smart. Being an M.E., she knew exactly how to feign death. She didn’t move until she felt safe, then ran to the nearest police station and reported the attack. The police said their detectives had been looking for this guy after four women were found strangled by black silk stockings. Now, thanks to Christine, they had his name and the name of the bar. 

The next night as Gordon left The Tender Trap he was surrounded by cops. Case closed. 

NAR © 2018

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

With vacation just one week away, Lauren was excited about buying a new bathing suit. Over the past year she had been diligent about diet and exercise and lost 65 pounds. She was proud of herself and eager to show off her great new figure.

At the mall she passed a few swimwear shops until one caught her eye. There was no loud music or glaring, off-putting lights; rather the atmosphere was quiet and relaxing. Feeling comfortable, she went in. 

Welcome” said the saleswoman. “May I help you or would you care to just browse?” 

Lauren explained her recent weight loss and asked for a few suggestions. 

Impressed with Lauren’s recent accomplishment, the saleswoman said she needed an eye-catching suit that would leave everyone speechless. Darting between display racks, she returned with three suits for her to try on – a blue and white polka dot bikini, a strapless jungle print bandeau and a simple one-piece with matching tunic set. 

Lauren entered the softly-lit dressing room. Stepping into the one-piece, her breath caught when she saw her reflection. The suit fit her perfectly, modestly showing off her curves, while the subdued shades of purple and turquoise shimmered slightly. The purple cotton tunic provided just the right amount of coverage. “I look amazing!” she whispered.        

Lauren bought the set and as a first-time patron received a coupon for 15% off her next purchase. 

During the week she was busy packing. On Friday morning an Uber picked her up for her flight to Mexico. 

In her hotel room Lauren put on her bathing suit, cover-up and stepped out into the pool area.  She found a free lounge chair and swept the tunic over her head. Suddenly she heard loud gasps, laughing and lewd whistling. Looking down she was appalled to see her beautiful new suit had turned totally transparent in the bright sunlight! 

Grabbing her tunic, she covered herself, humiliated. Immediately hotel security arrived and escorted her inside. 

“I don’t know where you come from, señorita, but here in Méjico we have laws!” barked the hotel manager. “I must insist you leave this hotel at once.” 

Back in her hotel room Lauren suddenly noticed the tiny label inside her bathing suit – “THE REVOLUTIONARY ‘DARE TO BE YOU’ COLOR-VANISHING SUIT!” 

Bags packed, she tossed the scandalous suit into the trash thinking ruefully to herself, “caveat emptor”. 

NAR © 2018

IN THE KEY OF GEORGE

With exactly 67¢ in his pocket, George Adams made his trek for a morning cup of coffee. He would walk from his rent-controlled Greenwich Village apartment, buy his coffee and sip it while flipping though his beloved book, “The Complete Organ Method”. 

On this particular morning, he trudged through the slush in his beat-up boots, 67¢ jingling in his pocket. Placing the coins on the counter, he ordered his usual.

“Sorry” said the girl behind the counter. “The price is now 69¢.” 

Befuddled, he exclaimed “I’ve been a patron here for years. The price is always 67¢!” 

Apologizing, the girl explained that she didn’t set the prices. George scooped up his 67¢  muttering “oughta be some laws” and trudged back home. 

George was, to put it nicely, frugal. He grew up during The Depression and knew how difficult his parent’s life was. His father’s last words were Never trust banks!” Fortunately George was an excellent student, earning a scholarship to college and a grant to continue his studies, receiving a Doctorate in Music. 

His first job was assistant organist at Trinity Church. The following year the organist retired. George replaced him and began teaching organ lessons. He made a good salary yet continued his frugal lifestyle by eating canned soup, buying used clothing and drinking 67¢ coffee. 

George’s favorite student was Brad Ridgeway; he reminded George of a young version of himself. Brad worked in the mailroom at Dun & Bradstreet; his salary was so meager the only place he could afford to live was at the YMCA. He was determined to become a great organist some day but music school was beyond his budget. Brad’s parents worked for Walmart back in Ohio and he wouldn’t dream of asking them for money. Times were tough but he just kept on trudging through one day at a time. His only real friend was George; Brad didn’t realize it at the time but George felt the same way about him.

One day at his lesson Brad noticed that George was coughing more than usual and not looking well at all. He asked George if everything was alright, if there was anything he could do. George just shrugged it off, mumbling something about the long-term effects of a case of childhood tuberculosis. At the end of the lesson George handed Brad a small sealed envelope and whispered “Son, if anything should happen to me, I want you to open this. Keep it safe and don’t tell anyone. It’s for your eyes only.” Brad slipped the mysterious enveloped into his pocket, knowing better than to ask any questions. If George wanted him to know more, he’d tell him.

Uncharacteristically, George missed Brad’s next lesson. Brad waited at the church for about fifteen minutes then went to George’s apartment to check on him. The landlord informed him that “the old guy” had passed away in his sleep three days earlier. Crushed, Brad slowly walked home. Suddenly he remembered the envelope. Reaching into his threadbare pocket, he opened it finding a note with a key taped to it and the inscription “For Brad: G.C.S. #520”.

Everyone living in Manhattan knows “G.C.S.” stands for Grand Central Station and the key was obviously for a locker. Brad raced there, found locker #520 and with trembling fingers unlocked it to discover at least fifty paper bags stuffed with $100 bills! Scrawled on each bag was “NEVER TRUST BANKS!”

Dumbstruck, Brad slowly closed the locker and with tears in his eyes, he looked heavenward whispering “Thank you, my dear George!”  

NAR © 2018