…And Then Things Got Weird….


August 2019

The Working Dead

In 2024, after major breakthroughs in science, including the possibility of humans  living a second life by using a series of drugs called ‘2nd Wind’ (which unfortunately could not slow down decay of the human body and did make the newly risen smell like someone broke a 2nd wind) — So, the US Supreme Court ruled that death, as it now stood, “does not terminate the deceased’s obligations to paying one’s bills, student loans and taxes etc.— until the human body reaches such a state of decay that at least three out of four limbs have fallen off.”

But dead Neal Orenstein was determined to go back to work — because he enjoyed it. Work was his life. His death. We all know someone like Neal.


After scraping through his coffin lid and six feet of loose dirt over his grave for two days, Neal was now able to see daylight and the exasperated face of his long suffering wife, Stella.

“Tah dahhhh—cough cough…Tah Dahhhh! I made it!” he said.

“Don’t touch me! Just look at those fingernails,” she scolded. 

“I love you too, Stella.”

“The dirt! Just where the hell you think you’re going, Neal? Certainly not in MY kitchen.” After 60 years of marriage, Stella, holding flowers, could read his mind, even if it was becoming worm chow.

“Well, it’s nice to see you, too,” Neal sat up and spat out soil. “Stella, what are you doing here so soon? I thought that I was the one who was to supposed to haunt YOU! And why was I buried? You didn’t have to bury me.”

“We paid ten thousand for the plot, so I decided you should at least spend a few days in it. Was it comfortable?”

“No, it wasn’t comfortable! “Well, Stella,” Neal said brushing off dirt, “off to work. I got to get myself a doctor’s or coroner’s note or that young manager, that punk, Cabebe, will fire me. He hates old people.”

“You mean, dead people,” said Stella. “I admire your dessiccation, I mean dedication, but you aren’t going to work. Not over my, I mean your dead body! So, lay back down and relax. I’ll call your boss and tell him you’re not coming in, ‘cause — SURPRISE! — you’re dead!”

“Dead I can handle,” Neal said, “but unemployed and dead? Pour some coffee on me, Stella. Look at the time.”

“Happy Hills Cemetery doesn’t have a Starbucks. Go back to endless sleep, old man. There is no more job and there’s no more you! I feel like a fool. I came here to grieve your death, so tell me what I’m doing here. I feel like a brainless idiot.”

“No, Stella, I love brains. I mean I your love your brains, brain, your mind,” Neal sputtered.“Where’s my tie? What time is it?”

“It’s 8 a.m., idiot. They just opened the gate.”

“Give me your hand, dear. Help me get up. I’m already late.” Stella reluctantly pulled her husband to his unsteady feet. She was shaking her head, accepting he’d never change. 

“I gotta catch the Long Island Express,” Neal told her, spitting out a beetle. “Is this burial suit okay?”

“Except for the morgue’s slit down the back, it’ll do.”

“I can stop at Target and get some duct tape.”

“I have some in my purse.”

“Somehow, I thought that you would.”

“Turn around. Here. Let me fix that coat. So … You think that you can just climb out of your grave and leave me standing here, for a crappy job?”

“Yeah! I feel great. I’m rrrrrready to go, right out of the box.”

“If you feel so great, you promised you’d fix the roof. You silly man. Just stay outside until you get cleaned up.”

Neal stood and wobbled unsteadily, brushing himself off. “Stella, after my first heart attack, Cabebe, said that myocardial infarction is not a good enough excuse to skip work.

“Listen, Neal. I’ve got a nail appointment. Have a nice afterlife. I feel dejected. Ach! You never needed me, did you? And your precious job is probably gone too.”

“Oh, thanks. I’m barely cold and you start in with the guilt. And you came over here just to tell me I no longer have a job?”

“That would seem logical, Neil.”

“Logical? Well, Mrs. Spock, then I’d better hit the pavement. By law, I’m supposed to have a job until my last limb falls off. The grand kids will need college money.”

“Maybe the office staff never got the memo that you’d died,” said Stella. “It was sudden. I never had a chance to call them. Hey, watch where you’re tossing that dirt! I just bought this dress. Look at those nails. When you talk to God, Mr. Big-shot, ask him to get you a manicure. Ugh. “

Stella pointed to his nose.


“You’ve got a worm in your nostril.”

“I love you too.” Neal promised to make it up to Stella the following weekend, but today, he had obligations. 


Neal arrived at work a few minutes late and was given a warning by Cabebe, “Just because you ARE “the late Neal Orenstein,” it doesn’t mean that you can come into work late.” Neal was back at his old desk by 9:10 a.m. 

The next day, after a restless night drinking and vomiting coffee and shambling around town in pursuit of an ambiguous protein snack, Neal was still able to make it to work, and right on time. 

Young Cabebe, was happy, because he no longer had to pay ‘old, faithful’ sucker Neal a living wage.  The slick, young exec sniffed the air and suspected that Neal had passed on. No one else knew that Neal was still working and rotting in his corner office making Mr. Milton Armstrong, the top CEO, rich.

On Tuesday, when Neal realized that Cabebe was taking him for a —nearly free — ride, he began to lose the feeling of pleasure he felt working. He left the office while the blinding sun was still high and the season was moving toward Daylight Savings. Neal stumbled toward the station thinking about his grandkids. Tomorrow, he would hit the pavement, seeking the American dream like the other millions of recently deceased workers. Over 20 million of the dead wandered the boulevards. The smug ‘living’ called the sad, dead guys ‘suckers.’ You could see the dead, worn out executives, in every city, shuffling and mumbling “Jobs. I neeeeeeed a job.”

Only because of habit, Neal stopped in at a Denny’s (Stella and Neil’s favorite restaurant when he was alive.) He really didn’t have an appetite for the Grand slam breakfast that he always had ordered. However, the coffee, grown in the blood rich soil of a former cannibal island in Micronesia, named Kupaio, was excellent. As Neal studied the menu, he felt a psychic nudge. It was Stella, conducting a personal seance at another nearby Denny’s, haunting him again. 

Is there no peace even in death? he wondered. These new ouija boards make it impossible to hang up on a call. 

That afternoon, the commuter train passed by Happy Hills Cemetery as it approached Neal’s old neighborhood. Graveyards are for slackers, he thought. A real man needs to work.

While waiting at the 5th Avenue crosswalk, he saw a hopeful sign. A literal sign — on a telephone pole, illuminated by the ghostly moonlight. 

Highly Motivated Executive Services Wants You! YOU need $$$ and WE need BODIES to fill our Diamond Lane passenger jobs! 

We’re also seeking Parking Space Holders, and ticket line space holders — Downtown, Full Time. 24 hours shifts available. 

Call 090-888-0000.

The Adams Hotel

The Adams hotel

(Miami Beach, 1956)


With his left hand, Freddy had just finished popping open a full can of spinach and crushing it with his fist and pouring it down his gullet. With his right hand, he was busy beating Neil Friedman’s oversized buzz-cut head to a pulp with the nearest available city bus. The bus spilled an endless black and white crowd of cows, monkeys, rhinos, and hippos wearing ballet skirts out of its elastic windows and into the swaying city street.

In his six-year-old mind, his “Olive Oyl (real name Ellen Weiner)” was safe until the next Popeye Show.

Popeye was the six-year-old’s mentor. One of them…

* * * *

In the mid-50s, Freddy’s family moved to Miami from New York after the passing of his father. The remaining Deutsch family had left Rockaway Beach forever, while Freddy was still in the midst of fighting for his Ellen. Thanks to the wisdom and guidance of “the Sailor Man,” Freddy, and Freddy alone, would always be the victor in the ongoing battle to win the hand of girl-next-door Ellen, who he had happily chased through her plate glass back door for a bloody finale.

He just could not hand Ellen over to the big clumsy Bluto-ish hands of Neil Friedman. Ellen was Freddy’s first whatever-it-is-that-six-year-old-boys-fall-in-love-with.

There wasn’t enough spinach in the entire world to heal Freddy’s heartbreak when his family headed south.

So, what to do….

* * * *

Here he was, in the TV room, next to the tropical garden at the rear of the hotel, ready to turn off the TV. There would be no more vegetable-fueled ass-kicking until tomorrow.

Freddy kept twirling the knob on the TV, and caught a few minutes of Kiss of Death, starring Richard Widmark in his role of the laughing murderer, Tommy Udo. Freddy froze wide-eyed as Mr. Udo gleefully pushed an old woman in a wheelchair down the steps from the second floor landing.

Wow! The laughing killer Tommy Udo is much meaner than Bluto. Luckily (?), for six-year-old Freddy, Tommy Udo, the psychopath, from that day on, would become another one of the boy’s closest “imaginary friends.”

* * * *

Mr. Udo called down from the second floor.“Hey, Freddy. We’re pals, you an’ I. Ain’t we? Whattaya say we take a little stroll down to the lobby? It’ll be fun. We like ‘fun’, don’t we, pal?”

It was Dinosaur Walk Time! Freddy went to fetch his pet baby alligator from his room and take it for a stroll through the hotel lobby.

To get to his family’s hotel room, where two modern “dinosaurs” (an alligator AND a crocodile) ruled the bath tub, he had to walk from the Palm Garden television room in the rear of the hotel and pass through the front of the Adams Hotel lobby. The Adams was an old art deco hotel now converted to long term apartments.

Freddy stood quietly in the lobby of the Adams Hotel, with his 10-inch dinosaur on a shoelace leash. He waited for Al, the desk clerk, to entertain him.

Tall, thin Al, dressed in a long-sleeved white dress shirt, black bow tie, and slacks, sorted mail while looking through his thick glasses at the tiny lobby desk. Al was always working, but happy to talk to the boy. He brought Freddy chocolate covered coconut patties every day and talked to him about “Little Al,” the dinosaur. Because of Al’s kindness, Freddy may have missed his father a little less.

“How’s Little Al today, young man?”

“Hi, Big Al! Little Al ate hamburger for breakfast!”

“Better than eating our guests!” said Big Al.

“Do you want to see him fall asleep when I rub his tummy?”

“Not now, Freddy. I’ve got to sort the mail.”

“Someday, I’ll learn to write a mail, Big Al!”

“You mean a letter? I’m sure you will.”

“I’m going to take Little Al for a walk. We’re hunting smaller dinosaurs today!”

“Have fun, you two! Take a coconut patty with you, Freddy!”

“Thank you, sir!”

* * * *

Welcome to Geriatric Park

Freddy called his pet dino “Little One” until he met Al the desk clerk. (Hey! He was only six years old; give the kid a break!). Al, was a perfect name for an alligator (though he was most likely a South American Caiman, which may have been a crocodile). Al the Alligator! Brilliant!

Little Al lived in the bathtub of their sunny garden view apartment with Freddy, Freddy’s mother, and Freddy’s older brother, Bob. Bob’s baby crocodile, named Tick Tock lived in the tub with Little Al. The five of them were probably the only critters under the age of ninety-five years old staying at the Adams.

It was 3 p.m. Al and Tick Tock, were relaxing in the tub surrounded by old hamburger and dino-poop.

It was time to go to the ground floor room, take Al for his daily walk, and sunshine on the hot Miami sidewalk fronting the hotel lobby.

Tick Tock hissed as Freddy picked Al up from his home in the tub. Today, they were both dressed as fin-backed “dimetrodons.” The boys had used scotch tape and cocktail umbrella parts from the nearby Pickin’ Chicken to make both of the reptiles’ sporty fins. In just a few minutes, Dimetrodon Al would kill many plastic soldiers, in full view of many horrified ancients overlooking the front lawn of the hotel.

Al the caiman led Freddy through the old art deco lobby. The aging furniture inside was filled with old male ‘duffers’ wearing old-duffer hats. There were blue-haired female residents with their routine comments of, “Are you my little Ronny?” “Eddy?” “Rosie is that you?” “Is that you, my husband, Morty?” Thankfully, some of the hotel’s permanent residents recognized the boy, and said, “Good morning, little Freddy!” “How’s Little Al today?” “ Ooh. He is getting bigger, isn’t he?”

“Look Mrs. Sleiffer. If you rub his belly, he will fall asleep. See? You wanna try?”

“Get that goddamned thing away from me!”

“Old bat.”



Yes, Al was no longer that cute these days. He would soon reach a lethal ten inches long and was already perforating Freddy’s ankles regularly with his rows of needle-like teeth.

Cave Boy and beast pulled a left turn out of the front doors and along the front porch lined with white Adirondack lounge chairs.

As master and dinosaur strolled, Freddy barely noticed a woman behind them who let out a weak chirp. Squeak? Was that a shriek?

As they trampled through the prehistoric jungle of gardenias toward the front lawn, Al suddenly stopped. He began to chew and—“Hack. Hack. Hack—” finally spit out a small parchment-like portion of the chirping old woman’s ankle.

Nobody else seemed upset, except Little Al, who hissed when Freddy tugged on his leash. They continued to stomp through and crush the primeval forest of ferns near the lobby sign.

Freddy and Al stopped near one of the stone planters. Al quietly stalked the smaller, and/or weaker dinosaurs like stegosaurus, triceratops, and even the eighty-foot plant eating diplodocus which all somehow resembled three-inch green Anole chameleons. Al ate a palmetto bug instead.

After Al lunched and sunned on the lawn for ten-seconds, they sneaked quietly, with caution, back to their room.

This was a dangerous trail, on which they tried not to disturb the prehistoricals slumbering and slobbering in the lobby’s overstuffed chairs.

* * * *

The next morning, an entire army of green anole chameleons, attracted to the smell of bacon, hung all over the apartment’s window screens. Bacon and eggs were “good for you” in the 1950s. The smell of fresh Holsum bread drifted into the Deutsch’s window from the nearby bakery.

Freddy ate his breakfast at the breakfast nook in their apartment. He was going to get a string and lasso Little Al, when suddenly a heavy knock sounded at the door. His mom opened it and there stood Freddy’s friend, the other soon-to-be-the-smaller-of-the-two Al’s. Al from the front desk.

“Mrs. Deutsch? Can I talk to you?”

“Of course, Al. What about?” Freddy got up from the nook and hid behind his mom’s dress as she stood at the sink.

“Well, we’ve had a complaint from one of our long time residents. Your son’s pet alligator bit the ankle of an elderly woman yesterday, so we really can’t let him walk his pet through the lobby, near the guests. We really don’t even allow pets in the hotel, so Freddy will have to keep Al in the room or give him away.” Big Al peeked at Freddy. I’m so sorry, Freddy. You know that I like Little Al, too.”

“All right,” Freddy’s imaginary friend,Tommy Udo, said from the second floor landing, “Who’s the canary that made it so my pal here can’t take his alligator for a walk through the lobby anymore? Who’s the lousy rat? I wanna have a friendly little chat with the stool pigeon, ‘cause me an’ Freddy we’re pals. Ain’t that right, kid?”

Freddy suddenly asked, “Who’s the lousy rat?”

“Rat?” Al the clerk asked. “Does Freddy watch many James Cagney movies, Mrs. Deutsch? Where did you learn to speak like that, Freddy? Listen, son, I’m not allowed to tell you who it was that made the complaint. Your ‘Little One….'”

“Give my pal a break, four eyes,” said Udo. “He’s only a kid!”

“Button up, Udo!” Freddy shouted up at the ceiling. “There’s already enough heat down here in the kitchen!”

“Huh?” they all said.

“Little Al is getting to be a big gator, and you two almost gave one of our 85-year-old residents a heart attack. Did you know that little Al took a piece of her ankle off? So no more ‘dinosaur walks’ Freddy,” the desk clerk said with a pointed finger. “Listen, I’ve got to get back out front. Sorry to bother all of you. Good day.” Big Al looked up, “Nice to meet you, Mr. …uh…Udo.”

Likewise, I’m shua!” said Udo, from another dimension. “Any friend of Alligator Boy is a pal of mine.”

Al didn’t really hear nuttin’, see nuttin’, or smell nuttin’, but he did feel a chill when he looked up at the ceiling.

* * * *

When Freddy slept that night, he was visited by his imaginary personal raven-haired pagan goddess friend. Bettie Page wore the same leopard-skin bikini that she was wearing on the holy pinup calendar given to Freddy by his strange Uncle Louie.

“Wow! We alligators sure have fun in Florida!” said the lucky, smiling reptile who was about to turn Bettie’s sweet caramel colored tush into its favorite everlasting chew toy.

In the vivid airbrushed dream, the alligator was poised to bite, as Bettie talked to Freddy in breathy Goddessese.

“Freddy, you must learn how to express yourself through the fine art of letters. Ask your brother Bob to teach you. Oh, no. I dropped my towel. Could you please pick it up for me?”

Freddy could swear that he smelled his goddess’s delicious peanut butter and jelly perfume.

Bettie spoke to him almost every day.

“Freddy… your big brother … knows… dirrrrrrrty … words.”

“Dirty words? Like soil? Mud?” Freddy said out loud in his sleep. “What do you mean Bettie?”

When Freddy awoke that morning, he followed the advice of his goddess, and asked his brother Bob to teach him how to write a dirty word.

“Bettie told me that I should learn how to write. She told me that last night, after she dropped her bath towel….again. Do you know that she has no wee-wee? She always…”

“Who? She what?”

Mom turned from the stove and said to Bob, “Bettie Page, is the girl on Freddy’s calendar. The one in the leopard-skin bikini? — with a big gator always trying to turn her tush into saltwater taffy. Bettie is another one of your brother’s imaginary friends.” Damn that Uncle Louie.

Bob said, “Huh?”

Freddy whispered in his ear, “Bob! I need to learn how to read and write.”

In the Goddess Bettie’s exact words, Freddy wanted to say, “Big brother! Bwana Devil! I must learn how to express lofty platitudes and reveal my deepest feelings and my most secret desires and inner thoughts to the world. Oh…Can you pick up my towel?”

Instead, he whispered, “I can’t spell! I can barely write ‘See Spot run’ with my broken Crayons.”

“I can teach you to spell,” said Bob.

Next, Freddy needed to find out who had complained to Big Al about Little Al.

Freddy heard the voice of the murderous Tommy Udo, from above, “We’re gonna tell dat lousy weasel, in no unsoitin toims, exakly—”

“Zip it you monkey! I’m warning you!” said Freddy.

“Huh?” Bob was looking up.

“Bob,” whispered Freddy, “is mom listening?”

Bob moved his head in the negative.

“Good. Now, listen. Tommy says that, first I need to write a letter to the fink.”

Now Freddy was sure he could hear Tommy Udo say, “… Then we’ll push the old bat’s wheel chair off of the landing on the second floor and snap her old turkey neck. Heeheeeeheeeeeeheeeeeheeeeeeheeeeeheeeeee. Ain’t I your best pal? Ain’t we gonna have laughs, you and me?”

Freddy turned to Bob and said, “Tommy said that we should make certain that the stool pigeon who ratted, uh, fibbed on me, knows that I’m really, really mad and… sniff… she made me cry! Then we’ll push the old bats’s wheelchair off of the landing up on the second floor and snap her old turkey neck. Heeeeheeeeheeeeheeeee….”


“What’s a stool pigeon? My pal, Tommy, said that ‘the old fossil sung like a canary and may know a few other tunes from the Hit Parade.’ What does he mean?”

“Do I know this Tommy?” brother Bob asked. “Is he your friend?”

“Tommy also said that I should ‘leave warning notes, just to make sure the other geezers know that I mean business.’”

The message was clear. Bob knew what his little brother was asking for and offered to teach him to “write his ‘favoritest’ word.”

* * * *

“It is a very powerful word,” said Bob. “I guess. Almost as powerful as doo-doo. Certainly more powerful than pee-pee. The older kids say it all the time. They usually say it when they are mad.”

“What does it mean?”

“I dunno, but it’s also called a ‘dirty word.'”

“What’s a ‘dirty word’?”

“I dunno, but Mom scolds me whenever I say it, so it must be a bad word.”

“Oh, I get it. A bad word like poopy. It’s worser than poopy?”

“Worse than horse poopy!”

“Worser than Frankenstein poopy or elephant poopy?”

“Yeah, even worse than tyrannosaurus poopy!”

“Worser than brontosaurus poopy?”

“Yeah even worse than house-sized Godzilla poopy!”


“It’s easy to write. Gimme your crayon. Here’s how you write it… F-U… ”

(In the words of Freddy’s third bestest imaginary friend, Boris Karloff) Within in one hour little Freddy had become a mathter (master) of Crayola calligraphy, writing thith magical and powerful word with the thkill, color, and beauty befitting an illuminator of medieval texths.”

* * * *

Freddy was geared up to deliver the lucky note to… Hmmmm. So which old witch AM I writing this letter to? He thought.

Big Al, the clerk, had the day off. There was no one at the front desk to help the kid put all of his poison-crayon letters into the mailboxes.

The rat could have been any one of a hundred fossil relics in the Adams Hotel.

The kid figured that if he delivered a note to every room, it would eventually find the stoolie. So he grabbed his package of brightly colored construction paper and wrote nearly a hundred notes in his best penmanship using his many-colored crayons. The penmanship wasn’t too bad considering that more than a few teachers at his new Miami school had tried for months to teach him how to write with his right hand.

As Tommy said, “If his hot little teach, Miss Broadstern, had opened her baby-blues or even watched the kid handle his gat in the boy’s room, she would have seen that my little pal is a ‘southpaw’ and a pretty good shot.”

That morning, the young scribe’s masterpieces were distributed under every door, throughout the six floors of the Adams hotel. The odds were excellent that the note would reach the guilty party through sheer numbers alone.


“He thtarted at the creaky top floor of the old hotel and worked hith way, methodically, down to the ground floor. An evil note thlipped beneath each and every door…. To the young mathter Freddy, it did not matter if the room’s occupant was thtill breathing.”–Boris Karloff

Later that afternoon, to avoid embarrassment, the family was moved across the street to the Plymouth, the Adams’ “sister” hotel. The Plymouth was designed for the short-term, high end tourists. They showed movies out by their pool a few times a week. And, it was at that pool where Freddy met Angie, who was a dead-ringer for his lonely Ellen who waited for him back in Neponsit.

( Imagine poor little Ellen, shedding tears at her window in Neponsit, as time and snow buried the memory of her lost hero. Not very likely.)

Back in Miami, Freddy was falling in love again. Despite his six-year-old love at home, He would have gladly crashed through another sliding glass door for Angie — mostly because he was always a dumb accident prone kid.

After the two children played in the hotel pool, Angie’s parents left them alone together (“how cute”) and Freddy chased Angie’s white tush around her hotel room, for reasons still unknown to a six-year-old.

* * * *

Freddy Deutsch’s Comments about the Adams Hotel:


* Most of our family time in Miami was magical and I began to love Miami with its endless summer.

In the daytime, we visited the Monkey jungle, the Parrot Jungle or the Seaquarium. We took Everglades boat rides to watch the Seminole Indians wrestle smelly bull alligators in the mud at the Indian village.

During the week, I even went to a mostly outdoor school where they did try to teach me, a lefty, to write with my right hand. Mom, who spent many of her lunches schmoozing with Milton Berle’s mom at the Saxony, would pick me up after school and walk me over to Fred & Angie’s for a slice of Miami’s finest pizza. Later in the day, we would all play at the Shelbourne Hotel’s giant pool.

On many warm evenings, we would gaze at Saturn, the moon, and the stars through a telescope in the park outside our hotel for five cents a peek. We either ate dinner at Wolfie’s Deli or strolled past gleaming suits of armor on our way to enjoy meals at Pickin’ Chicken.

When I returned to Miami with my new family in 1960, I first saw the famous Coppertone billboard over Miami Beach. I was sure that the girl up there on the billboard was my Ellen or perhaps Angie. The “original Coppertone girl” was named Cheri Brand. To me, that girl was my Ellen, immortalized.


* * * *

The Tillis family


After my father had passed away, the surviving family was invited to come down to Miami by my mother’s brother and her close friends, the Tillis family. Mr. Irv Tillis, the spouse of my mom’s best friend, Gertrude, was sales director and general manager of The Diplomat Hotel (a movie star favorite). Because of Mr. Tillis, we were treated like royalty at the Shelbourne Hotel. There I’d learned how to swim by “accident” when I missed the “target” inflatable raft from a high diving board. We swam and played there every afternoon.

The Tillis’ had a teenage daughter we called “Cousin Eileen.” One day in 1956, she showed my brother and me a record called “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley and took us over to a small auditorium where, after Elvis performed (solo), people were allowed to come up on stage, hand the future King a dollar and then shake his hand. It seemed to have been a fundraiser or telethon. We all went up on stage, shook his royal hand, and walked back into the audience. Elvis also signed Eileen’s record for her.

* * * *

“Like a six-year-old knows from hot!” my Uncle Izzy would say.

I knew that Ellen was cute, though I didn’t know why. She was cute enough to encourage me to chase her around the back of her house with enough passion to lead me right through a heavy plate glass sliding door that she had quickly and quietly closed behind her. I was blind with 6-year-old lust and I still proudly bear those scars today.

Ellen Weiner was the neighbor girl from across the street. Our parents probably thought, “Oh, how cute,” when they set up a sleep-over for the cute little playmates. I did chase her cute tush around the bedroom for reasons unknown to me.

Neil Friedman was the neighborhood bully. He was the big, but blond version of my nemesis Bluto, until one day, dressed as a towel-caped super hero, I leaped on top of him from the roof of his own house. I knocked him down in his driveway and bloodied his nose (from that day on, after he had crumbled beneath my muscular 40-pound frame, Neil Friedman never bothered me again. That’s how I found out that big bad Neil was a “bleeder”) .

On my last trip to Rockaway Beach before moving to Queens, I saw Ellen Weiner one last time. We were about to drive away from our old house, when I spotted “a rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem.”

It was Ellen. My mom waved her over.

She stepped over to our Chevy wagon to say goodbye. A giant fat Cyclops was peering into the car window, chewing gum like a cow and squinting like my hero Popeye.

Rather than Brigitte Bardot, or the Coppertone Girl, my little girlfriend, at eight-years-old, looked like the wall-eyed Hollywood character-actor Jack Elam, except for (I swear) her blonde chin whiskers.

I put my head down and rejected this coarse looking “stranger” who was once the lovely golden damsel-in-distress. The goddess for whom I had risked my life and even once for whom I had considered eating spinach.

Murder at Raging Hormones Theme Park & The Kids from Geezer World

“Wait here for the police detective, you two,” said Bernie.

Frankie pulled Bernie aside and began to tell the new agent about the new trend among American teens. “Those two old bats are kids. It’s the fashion trend of last resort, pal.” Frankie had read about it in a Newsweek article last month. “What we have here, Bernie baby, is a couple of bored, rich, teenage jokers who have started a new clique.”

“Those are kids?”

“Yeah. A bunch of spoiled teenagers got together and purchased the retirement community named Geezer World near Sea Lion Point, a few miles from your old stomping grounds at Bolsa Chico. They spend most of their time complaining about aches and pains and doctors. This ‘old’ routine is their idea of recreation. Total Kooks-ville. A few times a week they get together for miniature golf, shuffleboard, canasta and a couple of shots of Geritol. They’ve got a style all of their own, buddy boy.”

“This boy Jules dyed his hair white?” asked Bernie.

“And shaved his head to look like he’s got male pattern baldness!” said Frankie.

“Claire dyed her hair blue! She must have on a gallon of cheap perfume.”

“Today’s kids are recycling the bottom of the fashion barrel, Clyde,” said Frankie. “One of their gang, a kid named Morris, had his back surgically bent. A fifteen-year-old known as Gramps drove that white Dodge here last night. Crazy cats.”

Dr. Green chimed in, “I’ve got grandkids living at Geezer World. Everyone there uses a walker.”

The Barnett’s were only sixteen.

Jules wore an “Old Guys Rule” T-shirt and belted “old guy” slacks that were pulled up; any further and he could have used them as a body bag. Claire wore an “Old Girls Rule Old Guys” T-shirt beneath a blue housecoat, along with bath slippers, and support hose.

Some got canes they use as weapons against a gang called the YW or the Young Whippersnappers,” said Green, who was lifting the sheet to get a look at the body.

Bernie asked the Barnett’s to tell him more about the apparent killers.

“Sure. Really ugly mugs. Mouths full of nasty teeth. That’s all. But we know who they are, Eggs. I mean Agent Benedict.”

“They’re a musical group called The Claspers,” said Claire. “They’re a band from New Guinea,” said Claire. “All they sing about is eating meat. They opened for us last night.”

“They file their teeth into points—very sharp points,” said Jules.

“What did you say, Julie?” said Claire.

“Pardon her, sir. “ The boss lost most of her hearing playing rock ’n’ roll with our band, Geezer. Have you heard of our band?”

“Should I have?”

“We used to be known as ROF, or Rich Old Farts. Then we went punk and called ourselves the Irritating Bowel Syndrome. We have a number one single out called ‘The Sound of Sirens’ from our hit CD called Elevator Music. You should check out our blog on”

“We’re sorry that we couldn’t get better descriptions for you,” said Jules. “We can’t see as well at night as we used to. Their band truck, with the shark fin on top, was parked next to ours. Ours is the Handi-Van over there. Their truck had a name on it. Coral something—painted on the side.

Dr. David “Soylent” Green pulled Frankie aside. “Agent Samidino, this may be the onset of rare epidemic form of a disease that we call progeria. It is normally a rare genetic condition where symptoms resembling aspects of aging manifest at an early age. In the Barnett’s’ case, the premature aging could possibly be blamed on a new recreational drug these kids use, called X-Lax-Tasy, that reportedly gives its imbiber what they describe as ‘a spiritual bowel movement of biblical proportions.’ You’re looking at our future, agent. X-Lax-Tasy.”

Poor Dayna was still wailing as the sun rose. Bernie turned to the two sixteenagerians. “Let’s go somewhere quiet and talk,” said Bernie. “Frankie, T.K., and I head the investigative unit called COED, the Crimes of Exotica Division. My friends and I believe The Claspers are a small part of a group of international criminals.”

Dauna Heads for the Mainland

Dauna, in mermaid mode, felt the stranger’s shadow looming above her on the beach, but kept herself still.

Even ‘it’s’ shadow smelled bad. The disgusting thing was standing behind her, trying to … A net?

Yes, a net. Captain Bill suddenly threw a heavy section of fish netting over her head, and with compulsory drooling, he began to run his hands over the rest of her still half-fish body. He began calling her “his prize” and “his fortune.” He squatted next to her with the intent of lifting the sleeping mermaid into his boat.

She was dead weight, and he was too drunk to budge her.

“Damn! Well, what doooo we have here?” Bill whispered in her ear. “I’ve been following you, my fine little filet. Your boyfriend Mr. MacHeath, told me to look after you! I should take you home with me, and stuff you.” He began to stumble backward but managed to stay standing. “Maybe I’ll sell you to a fuggin’ museum.” Bill was trying to unzip the button fly on his pants. Wait a goddamn second, babeeeee. How do fuggin’ mermaids make wookie, anyways?”

Before he could jam his filthy hands into the sand beneath her human breasts, Dauna’s scythe-shaped tail swiftly raised itself from the sand and sliced off Bill’s pickled head. The graceful tail quickly transformed into shapely human legs. She stood and tossed the net aside. Take a breath Dauna.

Fully human now, Dauna checked out her fine bod in the reflection of Bill’s sunglasses. The nap had done wonders. She put the. Captain’s glasses on, stripped him of his shirt and pants, slipped them on and dragged the headless body across the sand, back to The Kegger. Eighty-proof blood poured from the man’s throat like a spigot. Dauna, a five-foot-four powerhouse, lifted the fisherman’s body by its feet, smashed it against the side of the cabin and spilled the remaining guts on the deck. — All this before Bill’s pickled, brain, bobbing jauntily in the shore-break had a chance to spark its last.

Dauna tossed the head onto a pile of rocks for the harbor seals to play ball with. She sliced and diced the captain with an axe she found aboard and fed the bite-sized chunks pieces to the starving tuna imprisoned in the vessel’s hold. In the crowded tank, over a dozen large fish swam in patient circles around Bill‘s cold beers.

“Let’s have lunch!” Dauna said, tossing scraps and drinking a beer. “Sorry I couldn’t give you something better. Don’t get too drunk off of CAPTAIN FUCKFACE! And before you go home, pick yourselves a designated swimmer.”

Bill’s excess trimmings were tossed overboard for the crabs. The moment that the tuna were done eating, Dauna released her blitzed, but satiated new friends back into Mother Ocean.

“The word ‘dispatch’ came to mind. I like that word. I just dispatched that two legged pile of detritus! Dauna downed a beer screamed to the heavens, “Hey MacHeath, you asshole, wherever you are, I just killed your SCHEISSE FUR GEHIRNE (shit for brains) captain! Just call me the FUCKIN’ DISPATCHA!”

Dauna fired up The Kegger’s engine and swerved in the direction of LA and destiny.

Fish often “vocalize” through a series of body movements and grunts.

That night, the school of stewed tuna belched, “I love you, man,” to their buds — between bouts of blowing gastric chunkage. The dudes didn’t seem to care that their freakin’ heads would be pounding major ass the next morning.

On the deck of the Vinnie Maru


The next morning, Dauna had to return to Kupaio, to take care of the coffee business on her island and rendezvous with her new husband for the ‘obligatory’ honeymoon that would, in theory, bring peace to the Pacific. It was the idea of the ‘mating dance’ in the middle of the ocean that she dreaded. Six days later, they would swim toward their final honeymoon destination of Disneyland, in Anaheim, California.

To mate safely, the bride and groom needed to be far out at sea, alone. Alone with that dork? Dauna did not want to get ‘biblical’ with her louse-of-a-spouse.

It had been an arranged marriage and the still-young three-thousand-year-old shark goddess was agitated. She’d only agreed to the wedding only to preserve the future of her people and her beloved island of Kupaio. After thousands of years of war, it was her duty as the leader of her people to bind the families of the two nations together. Yeah, right, she thought. Why the &*&%^ did I fall for this *&#$@ked up fairytale &%^*?

Dauna’s idiot husband, Bunji, following her cute shark butt, was barely thinking. “Chomp, chomp, chomp,” he said to himself. (Translation: “Whoa! Hey. I’m gonna score!”)

Dauna wasn’t looking forward to spreading her fins for the golden-scaled doofus. Oh, what she was willing to do for her family and her caffeinated minions, the same idiots who swam and ran pointless endless laps around her island daily.

Dauna and Bunji were heading toward the chosen honeymoon spot for all gods and goddesses: Disneyland. The newlyweds headed toward the busy Port of Long Beach, just outside of San Pedro.

Dauna would have to get rilly detritus-faced drunk by munching on a few drunken sailors before the mating dance. That was when, from the warm Pacific Ocean outside of Catalina Island, she spotted the conveniently placed commercial fishing vessel, the Vinnie Maru. The best part (she could tell by the chatter aboard) was that the Vinnie Maru’s crew was staffed by enemies, the Hotat tribe of New Guinea.

And though Dauna could kill, but not nibble, on the Kuru infected Hotats aboard, she could partake of a few of the spicy drunk Caribbeans on board.

Hey! This could be fun.

“Thou art a general offense to farts in the breeze!” —- Dauna the waitress (Shark Fin Soup)

At first, Bernie was relieved to see the headline:

‘Schoolmarm Cleared of Underage Molestation Charges. However…’

Chief Bernie knew that the rest of Bolsa Chico was reading along with him that morning, when “Fiddlesticks!” The scandal centered around his wife , Sylvia, had taken a ghastly turn.

The so-called “young punk,” who had actually bagged Bitch Benedict was only a few years shy of the NINETY. A junior to the ninety-five-year-old fisherman Sam Swathorn, who’d originally ‘finked’ on the unrepentant tramp, Sylvia to Reuter’s News Service. Sylvia’s lover turned out to be 88-year old Wayne Noway Sr. and not the grandson, sixteen-year-old Wayne Noway III. Bernie had seen the grandfather before. The old bastard was walking parchment! Bernie’s heart sank into his colon.

Apparently, Sylvia was very popular with the old guys she volunteered to chauffeur from Geezer World to Bolsa Chico Beach for surfing three times a week. She’d been noticed by lifeguards, hanging around the beach ogling flat-assed geriatrics with huge potbellies hanging over their Speedos. Lifeguards were afraid to tell their close buddy Bernie about his spouse’s odd behavior. When she whistled at the deaf old men, most people thought that she was just teasing.

Only last week, Sylvia and the old Wayne had been spotted sipping soup together by a local highway patrolman at a 3 p.m. (Early Bird dinner time at Denny’s). Sylvia had been overheard yelling at the old duffer who’d been sharing her one-piece bathing suit photos with his shuffleboard buddies. In one of the pictures, her covered, but generous, boobs hung over Wayne Sr.’s walker. Hoo hah!

The following day, Sylvia Benedict was discovered crying inside of the steamed up Sea Lion Beach – Geezer World Van by local lifeguard, Brad Stokely. “I found Mrs. Benedict sitting inside the van, crying over Mr. Noway Sr. The motor was still running. The van’s motor, not the old fart’s. Wayne Noway the first had passed from a heart attack.”



Sylvia Benedict, the spouse of beloved Bolsa Chico Surf Patrol Chief, Bernie Benedict, confessed to the ambulance staff about what led up to the death of her eighty-eight-year-old lover: 

“We’d just had a friendly dinner, celebrating Wayne’s new Thriller Driller Penile Implant. He suggested that we to go out and replace all of the steel fasteners on the Long Beach bridge with his new… Oh, poopsieeeeeeeee!” (Crying.) “Wayne seemed fine! He really did. Then, after his little nap time, he wouldn’t respond.”

“That’s quite enough, Mrs. Benedict,” said the nauseous ambulance driver.

The truth was el vomitosio. Somehow, the video of her story ended up on the local news.

Wayne Noway III’s (the grandkid) surfer buddies said that the sixteen-year-old surfer had been “blowing major chunkage,” “praying to the porcelain” and “hurling with a mighty chunder” after reading about what his grandpa and his ex-teacher had been doing. Los barfos, mesdames et messieurs.


My Sylvia! Bernie thought. And…and Wayne’s grandpa?! Noooooooooo!

He had to get out and get some fresh air, now.


After the broadcast, it seemed that the entire town of Bolsa Chico wanted to line the pier and join their local hero Police Chief in his major heave fest. It was if they’d all been hit with the dreaded Nosoi flu.

For days afterward, Bernie felt as though he were wearing a big red ‘D’—for Dumbass — on his forehead. Time had come for him to leave his longtime friends, his beloved job and his hometown of Balsa Chico.


It was the following Sunday, Bernie’s birthday, when he ordered his final breakfast at Donette’s.

The TV was on and…

“Oh, Fuck! No! Not……. on…….. my………goddamned birthday!” Bernie said. The other customers were wondering if the chief had caught Tourette’s from Dauna.

Nope. The news was on CNN — and Bernie was pissed. His tragic ‘train wreck’ had gone both bacterial and viral. Millions, perhaps gazillions, were following Bernie’s sad story. 

CNN: “Surf Patrol chief and local hero, Bernie Benedict, suffers major wipe out” was on the television screen above the lunch counter. It showed Bernie along with thirty other Bolsa Chico residents hanging over the pier railing retching.

Though he just lost his appetite, Bernie had ordered his usual: orange juice, toast and two runny sunny-side up eggs.

Hector, the truck driver joked to Dauna, “How does our chief, Bernie, order his eggs?”

“How?” Asked Dauna.

“Over easy—like his wife? Hahahahaha.” Hector came in every morning to drink Dauna’s dangerous coffee and, like the others, watch her wiggle and listen to her allude to forbidden lust.

“I hope that you enjoyed the little surprise that was swimming around in your coffee,” Dauna told Hector in her most sophisticated 16th century Tourettes. “You starveling, you ELF-SKIN, you dried NEAT’S-TONGUE! BULL’S-PIZZLE. STOCK-FISH!”


“Methinks thou art a general offence to farts in the breeze, you poisonous BUNCH BACKED TOAD!”

“Ma’am, where are my eggs?” Bernie asked with caution.

“OSCULUM MIHI RECTUM! (Latin: Kiss my ass!) Sorry, Chief. I didn’t mean… (she smiled at Bernie)…well, maybe.”

The chief, feewing wejected, looked lost and alone in the big mean corner booth. Months later, Dauna told Bernie that she’d felt compelled, on that horrific day, to offer him a comforting breast. “It would have been the civil thing to do.” Dauna wanted to wish Bernie a happy birthday in her own special way. Sadly, Bernie was in no shape to appreciate her gushing sympathies.

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