Oh, how little Ruby longed to be a stevedore.
Breaded Veal Cutlet Man
Usually it’s a closet. At least it was until yesterday. I’m going to open the door again, but first I have to get up my nerve. It might take a while. Nerve has never been one of my strengths. Timid and frightened is more my style. I admit it. So, yesterday in the morning when I was ready to leave for the office, I opened the closet door to get my coat. A thick white fog churned there. I heard a piano playing, a woman singing. I drifted through the fog like I was hypnotized or something. The girl at the piano nodded and continued to play and sing.
‘Evening, Mr. Cooper. What’ll it be? The usual?’ The bartender smiled, hair parted in the middle, handlebar mustache. I caught sight of myself in the mirror behind the bar. Shocked, I looked down and saw the vest, the gunbelt, the gun, the boots.
I backed up, fell on the floor. My coat hung on its hanger, shirts and slacks on theirs, sweats on hooks, shoes below. The closet was a closet again. I went to work. What else was I going to do? I’ve never been absent a single day, or even late. I guess I managed to do the job, though my mind wasn’t on it. I rode the elevator down at the end of the day, deeply baffled, doubting my sanity. I caught the bus, walked the final block, and now I’m home. There’s the door. All right, I’ll open it.
‘Evening, Mr. Cooper. What’ll it be? The usual?’
‘Yeah, Ben, and set ‘em up for everybody. I’m buying this round. Oh, Sally, will you sing that one again for me?’
‘Sure thing, Coop.’
When the man came out and said, ‘The fish are sad, the fish is sad, are is r, the devil wears plaid’, the people moved back hurriedly.
Every morning Bert would splash some Old Elephant under his arms, and he was good to go.