Knaus and I

            Since drafting ‘Thies and I’, it became apparent to me that some of the characters found herein and such probably require similar tales to be told. Chances are that in the collected edition, the T&I story will follow this one and thus what I am writing about probably makes no sense at all, unless you are a clever enough monkey to skip about or perused the formidable table of contents. If not, I’m certain you are already confused and having made your way this far, you might as well continue, as my words, I am certain delight to you even more than fresh cherry cobbler.

            Though it is probably of little interest to the reader, I met Knaus the same way I met Psycho, at one of the Wargames meetings. He had somehow, and without my knowledge or consent, been brought in by Louis to help ‘run the day to day operations’; something I was perfectly capable of pretending to do. Although threatened by the intrusion, I discovered early on that he was mentally in the same magnitude of bizarre that I was; something that I found strangely comforting. We also found ourselves taking the same art class in sophomore year, which is where he picked up the long discarded moniker, Mouse. As each of us took to the comic book style of art, I introduced him to Collector’s Inn, pleasing Jim to no end, as Knaus always seemed to have a wallet full of cabbage every time he walked in.

            That year I also managed to create another connection by bringing Dave to the art show where Knaus and I were showing off our wares. Within 5 minutes of meeting each other the two were wrestling like dogs in heat in the parking lot. A beautiful bromance was born, and one frankly, that I sometimes became the third wheel in. This was my first and only successful attempt at integrating groups of friends from previous periods in my life with newcomers, probably because it is usually something I try to avoid.

            The first time I stayed over at the Knauses over night, I knew I had met my match in oddness. The kitchen table was covered with newspapers, atop which were a collection of batteries in various stages of disassembly. Knaus revealed that he was performing detailed dissections on them, and although I had abandoned my childhood attempts at alchemy, I resolved to put my chemist hat back on and see what forbidden substances I could take apart at home, resulting in many burns. Knaus also revealed that day his own particular brand of logic when making scrambled eggs. I witnessed him dumping in quantities of vanilla extract into the mix, and when I pressed him on why, he stated that vanilla made things taste better, end of story. It was a principle that could simply not be argued with, though I will say they were pretty sucky eggs.

            That first sleepover was also memorable as it revealed Knaus to be as daring an intrepid explorer as I was, perhaps even more so. We decided to walk over to the old Thruway Mall from his house, taking a back channel along some old abandoned rail road tracks, something Dave and I used to do ourselves. After screwing around there for a while, we headed back utilizing a “shortcut” Knaus claimed to have intimate knowledge of. Somehow we became lost in this area, readily observable by entering these coordinates (42.904482,-78.786821) into Google Maps. This delightful looking “park” area is in truth nothing of the kind; the area is actually an industrial dumping ground amidst a swamp treacherous with piles of corroding hulks of strange machinery and murky channels of slightly frozen over sludge and water filled ditches. Did I mention it was February?

            Knaus led us deep into this wasteland with was what I feel were deliberate intentions to cause me the maximum amount of discomfort possible. We scurried around the piles, snagging our jackets and flesh on the razor sharp edges of rusty metal and frequently plunged one or both legs into one of the horrendous bogs. A mixture of snow and drizzle started to come down, further obscuring our limited view and sense of direction. For several hours we wandered, forced back to the center by the presence of trains or some insurmountable obstacle. Eventually we found our way to one of the side streets and took the by ways back, ending up in Town Park on Harlem. There we were accosted by an angry gentleman we affectionately referred to as ‘Dickhead’ afterward. With our muddy disheveled appearances he mistook us for a pair of sophisticated second story men who had been doing some breaking and entering in the local area weeks prior. We managed to convince him otherwise, but he banished us from the premises anyway.

            Despite the horrendous trip through the bog of doom, I let him convince me to accompany him through the tunnel that runs beneath the Galleria mall shortly after it was built. We began the journey in the mall proper and had Jeff along in tow. We got some cheap flash lights at the Dollar Tree, the kind that you have to hold down the button to keep lit, and ventured to the start of the tunnel, resembling old timey Roman catacombs. Jeff freaked within the first few feet and pledged to meet us, if we emerged alive, around the other side. Creepy does not begin to describe it. Pitch black, sterile, with a slow creek running through. At some points you could look up through a grate and see the happy shoppers walking above in a very different world. Near the end we found a side tunnel and began to venture down. An indescribably horrific noise, however, led us to believe a cult of Satanists was looking for fresh sacrifices, so we bolted out of there post haste.

            We managed to maintain a tight friendship through high school even to the point where I hooked him up with my cousin Ann for the senior prom. He was actually supposed to return the favor hooking me up with his cousin Lin, but fate intervened and I ended up going with Ende’s girlfriend’s friend instead. Before high school ended and after we both got accepted to UB, we made arrangements to become dorm mates the following fall; a service UB was willing to provide as roommates with prior friendships were less likely to cause administrative headaches by requesting room changes mid-semester. We were assigned to Schoellkopf hall on the South Campus on the fourth floor reserved exclusively for freshmen men. Not an ideal choice by any means, but it was a start.

            Our living arrangement was an interesting one, defined by the contract we drew up on the first day that allowed for privacy with female visitors (never required) and the settling of disputes on the field of honor. The field of course turned out to be whatever manner Knaus chose to enact his insidious revenge. In order to shield myself from him better, I constructed an enormous wall from the top of my desk, almost to the ceiling that I referred to as my ‘fire hazard’ as it consisted of mostly paper. Knaus respected the wall to a minor degree, though would often tear pages out of the phone book to turn into paper airplanes and launch them over in miniature raids. Fortunately for me, he had not yet stumbled on the notion of lighting them afire just yet.

            At least once a week we would trundle down to Shirley’s O’Aces, with or without the Irish Club, and stumble back in the wee hours of the morning. It was a grand tradition that later moved to Anacone’s but always followed the same pattern of cheap beer, some sort of bar food, and a traditional playing of William Joel’s classic, ‘Only the Good Die Young’ on the juke. On the walks back we would wax into bizarre conversations, such as what we would do if we stumbled upon a patch of decapitated heads on stakes. Knaus, I recall, immediately concluded that he would take as many of them home as he could carry. Hmm… it occurs to me that this post, as well as some of the others, will probably be deposed as evidence against the defence argument that he is sweet and silent as a lamby-pie.

            As a gift that year, Knaus procured for me a small collection of mice, one male and two females. By April the collection had grown to 42 mice and stunk up the room with great aplomb and all too frequent defecation. One weekend, when we least expected it; they made a bid for freedom. I came back to the room Sunday night and immediately noticed something different. The large tank I kept them in now sported a hole where there had been none before and no mice where there had been 42 before. Looking over at my desk I bore witness to the one named ‘Stripe’ after the Gremlin’s character dive into the moldering water in my hot pot, swim across, and jump out the other side slick with putrid grease. Furious, I called Knaus’s house to get him to come help round them up, but no one picked up. By the time he returned that evening at 11, I was sweaty, disheveled and had managed to recapture 3 of the slowest; the rest defeating my best efforts with ridiculous ease.

            Knaus did manage to help me capture the rest in a comedic run about, John Hughes style, with head clonking, crashing falls, frequent collisions, and all manner of events that would indicate the mice were far cleverer than we. At the end it was Knaus and I against Stripe, the lone hold out, and we were hopelessly outgunned and maneuvered. At some point the little bastard made it into the hall and we happily bid good riddance, but he made a surprise return a millisecond before we shut the door. Finally, improbably, Knaus got the mouse and a day later the lot was taken to a pet store with the most likely final destination in a large reptile of some sort.

            Knaus at this point, and for years on forward, became the prime initiator of trips down to Alleghany to get lost, camp, or make every attempt to get injured in course of photographing wildlife and wee pretty flowers. Most of these trips simply involved a lot of hiking, though there were several traditions that had to be met each trip. One was a visit to Thunder Rocks where we would climb around and scale the impressive boulders. Second was the trip to the legendary beaver damn, the jumping off point where we all got lost that epic journey recounted in ‘How I Became a Horseman’. If this chapter precedes that, well, tough luck. Finally, no trip was complete without a stogie enjoyed usually on the trail leading down from Thunder Rocks to the stream that led to the dam. Due to our impoverished condition, these were usually Dutch Masters, but on one occasion toward the end, we enjoyed authentic Cubans.

            Despite the abuse suffered at his malicious hands, and in spite of the fact that he took to calling himself Malfeus for some reason, we decided to room together the following year rather than take chances on a devil unknown. Common adventures shared between all the roommates in that situation are recounted far too often elsewhere, so I will concentrate on a few items unique to point of this post. While it didn’t trouble us in the past, at least not me anyway, a point of contention came up regarding both my habit of snoring loudly and engaging in distracting sleep talking that made little to no sense. These things enraged Knaus and from time to time I would awaken to see him standing over me gritting his teeth in fury. At site to keep you awake at night assuredly.

On several occasions I did some sleep walking as well, always to his inconvenience. One happy night he was treated to being awakened by me piling the contents of his desk on his sleeping head as “they were about to start air brushing”. Another night I somehow found myself in the hall way, locked out, necessitating a furious pounding on the door until he unhappily let me in. His remedy was to play the same Nine Inch Nails CD on auto repeat each and every night; a condition that kept me from ever really falling asleep soundly and led to many missed classes after sleeping through them on the 5th floor of Lockwood.

Knaus also had an excellent habit of distracting me from schoolwork; something I heartily embraced. He’d look over at me from his desk, exclaim, “I have waaaay too much work to do”, then pull out the latest issue of ‘The Mask’ and commence to reading. This always resulting in me aping his behavior as Matter Eater Lad was far more engaging than BF Skinner. He also had a way of dragging me out to Anacone’s and such on nights before an early morning class. Always with the one-upmanship, if I had an important lecture, he would claim a critical final. He probably did as it was shortly after this that it was strongly suggested he change majors from aerospace engineering to something more his speed like basket weaving or photography.

Knowledge of fine and classical music was an area in which Knaus felt I was severely lacking and attempted to educate me in. Prior to knowing him, I was completely unaware of the iconic 90’s superstar band Transvision Vamp and how they rocked the air waves with such classics as Trash City. We had the opportunity to see them in concert once and to this day I contend that lead singer Wendy James was looking me dead on with the hairy eyeball, such was my magnetic presence in the crowd. I also learned of other enduring legends such as Savatage, Shriekback, and was treated often to the cat like wailings of a post-Blondie Debbie Harry. I’m sure it was musical ignorance that I often sought out knitting needles to end the agony.

When we finally all moved to Comstock, Knaus took on a more reclusive role especially once Aaron and I began our reindeer games and intimidation campaign. Still, on occasion, he would emerge from his oft locked sanctuary and announce he was on a quest for alcohol and trundle down to Anacone’s with or without anyone else in tow. Despite his apparent either shyness or unwillingness to speak in general, with a few beers in him a charismatic demagogue emerged who drew in the enfeebled masses. Often in such circumstances we would find him amidst a crowd of drooling hangers on, gulping up his every ill spoken word. If anyone thought to supply him with endless brandy the world could easily have another JFK or David Koresh, such was his inebriated cult of personality. 

In those heady days of yore he introduced us to one of my favorite summer festivals of all, Allentown. His enthusiasm for going downtown on the subway, slurping raw clams and beer, and looking at all the art we couldn’t afford was infectious! Since those days each trip back is a search to recapture the raw joy of Buffalo’s first summer festival of the season. We used to badger Knaus about entering his own photography as the camera apes down there were pulling down serious green for the same tired old shots of the Central Terminal and shit, but he was unwilling to lay down the cabbage to rent some space despite being able to command four digits a pop for abstract snaps of me eating dog food or Litter Box Jam. Even now I hope to run into him down there, but so far he has declined to compete.

As time progressed he emerged less and less unless it was to bang away on the worlds oldest word processor or not clean the cat box which had become an impressive tower of feces. Once, however, he emerged in a manner most unusual. I came home and was surprised to hear a small commotion and a female voice coming from behind Knaus’s door. As ¾ of the house, a demographic to which both Knaus and I belonged, were not currently being seen with female companionship, this stuck me odd. A bold enquiry led me to believe that Aaron and my cousin had ensconced themselves in there, apparently without Knaus’s knowledge or permission. I began to sweat at what he would do to them, or so I still contend, and when he came strolling through the side door like a thundercloud of death I gently broke the news to him in order to bear the brunt of his immediate wrath.

To my surprise he remained nonchalant about his sanctum sanctorum being so rudely violated. I could only imagine that he was saving his volcanic outburst for the soon to be damned. I threw myself in his path, but he simply stepped over me, the ashes from the cigarette dangling from his lips blinding me from making further pursuit. I managed to come up behind him just as he opened the door and prepared to bludgeon him before he could blast them with his eyes with a bolt of eldritch energy, but while I looked around for an appropriate tool, it became clear that the three of them were really in cahoots. The story, as I was led to believe, was that Knaus egged on by Aaron and Ann in their little exclusionary ka-tet, used a bed sheet tied to his handcuff ring above the bed to shimmy down the side of the house if for no other reason than to annoy me.

When the Comstock project wrapped up and Knaus moved back to his folks, much to their soul crushing dismay I’m certain, we worried he would become a fixture in our past; more of a relic than the hideous goat lamp we absconded with. In the final months we saw very little of him as he spent his time elsewhere and discouraged questions as only Knaus could. At times he would bring Malice, his familiar, along with him as they embarked on dark and mysterious deeds. Instead we were delighted to find that he now actually chose to spend more time in our vicinity, often making the long haul over to Princeton and joining us for our very frequent beer and movie nights. The newest recruits to the Whole Sick Crew, like Jenn with the tongue, Mary, Rob, Chet, and even Dave’s new interest Jennifer took a shine to him. It was the silver age of Knaus and we thought it would last forever.

When things at Princeton degenerated in the last year or so, Knaus, perhaps feeling the Discordia when mom and pops were on the outs (I’m pops by the way), kept his distance. Meetings with him became consigned to long evenings of coffee with myself, Dave and Jen or old school excursions to the forest where to my dismay, increasingly longer periods of time were being devoted to setting up complex equipment to photograph wild posies. When I broke the silence about my intended enlistment to him and Dave, I received open support, though some degree of skepticism as to my true intentions. Anyone who knows me well has difficulty pinning me as a ‘Yessir!’ style military man, except perhaps in the tradition of ‘Stripes’.

While in Basic training Knaus became my most frequent writer, a condition I was intensely grateful for. Basic was a dreary place in which I received frequent verbal comeuppances and days would pass without hint of a smile. Knaus, however, managed to coax out of me the very first laugh out loud with his long and convoluted tales of his wanderings with Dave in the land of UB looking to fulfill the Celestine prophecy. I attempted to share with the other folks, who could all use a giggle as well, but apparently I was the only one cracked enough to appreciate the mad ramblings of shellac headed penman.

Despite the distancing he displayed prior to my departure, he certainly made himself available on a near constant basis when I managed to make it home on leave. Although he had a full time job, not to mention achieving high year tenure at Work-n-Gear, he still managed to drag himself out each and every night until the wee hours. Not only that, but since I didn’t have a car at my disposal, he even drove. Fun nights of pool and beer were spent at old Anacone’s, Bullfeathers, old favorite Caputi’s, and of course our new favorite down on Franklin, the Sanctuary (or Spankuary as it was sometimes known) with its midget bar tender and gothic crowd who moved in from the now defunct Icon.

When I returned for good, Knaus came by to help move me in, although he conveniently showed up just as the very last box was removed from the truck, but had a bottle of SoCo in hand and was forgiven. I don’t recall much after that due to the illness, except that the annual Christmas exchange with Dave resumed and that a screening of our old classic ‘Eric the Viking’ was made to break in my new digs. Next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital, bored from my near death experience only to have it relieved by a considerate Knaus shipping me a hefty load of books overnight.

In the year or two after my return, Knaus was around for a time, but gradually began to slip away into the night. He was a force to be counted on when Tiffany came to visit, once again eschewing work (since I couldn’t, new in my crap ass job at GP:50) in order to entertain her during the days. He was around often in those days and I think made one last epic trip to Allentown with us. He was also instrumental in decorating my pad with his home grown bonsai trees, necessitating me to line up someone to water them every time I went out of town.


All About Larry

Mike’s recent line of Air Force stories has inspired me to document the stories of our friend Larry.  Larry is ten years older than us, and spent time in the army.  Some of these stories are from him time in the military, while others are simply centered around the continual chaos cloud that lives around Larry.  These events are in rough chronological order.  While my recollection of the stories I was not present for may not be entirely accurate, I hold my versions are better due to Chris’s proclamation, after hearing Larry tell one of these tales himself, “Aaron’s version was better!”

Many of these stories have lasting one-liners, sometimes that is the only remarkable aspect of the story.

Real Ninja’s Don’t Die
Set back when Larry was still in him home town, he and his friends used to walk home near a construction site.  To reach this they crossed a bridge that was above a stream.  They would tempt fate by balancing on the edge, precariously above the stream, ready to drop to at least a broken arm.  Being young and stupid Larry had the bright idea to sneak into the construction site and balance across the steel, frame five stories up.  Brushing off the fear of his friends Larry proclaimed, “Real Ninja’s don’t die!” and promptly make like Spider-Man.  The events of this story are not particularly interesting, just punks being punks, but the quote is everlasting.

We now move forward to Larry’s time in the U.S. Army (motor pool).  Larry was a notorious troublemaker in his home town, and got away with a few more activities only because the town authorities knew he was leaving for good in a short time.

The Mad Shitter
Someone in Larry’s barracks would leave a shit in the toilet that emerged out of the bowl like a great tower.  Soldiers were shocked.  No one knew who it was, and over the course of basic training they could never find out who it was.  The brown tower appeared every week, without fail.  There was a period of several weeks when no construct was found, and the barracks thought they were rid of the “Mad Shitter”, but just as they felt safe it appeared again.  Some think it was a soldier fomr another barracks.  We will never know.

The New Roy
It was the last day of basic training.  The next morning they would all be shipped out to their respective assignments.  What else you gonna do, but party?  Larry’s entire barracks (two-stories) was turned into a beach house.  Lounge chairs, Hawaiian lays, even sand on the floor.  The party was in full swing.  The barracks had a central hallway down the length, with rooms off to each side.  Larry and some other hooligans where drinking in one of the second-story rooms.  Suddenly his buddy stands up, turns, yells “I can make it!  I am the new Roy!”, and runs out the room, across the hallway, into the room across the hall, and out the window!  Everyone rushes to the window.  They see and imprint in the snow (I forgot to mention that) of a spread-eagle body.  Ten feet from that imprint, and a bit skewed, they see another body imprint.  They watch “The New Roy” stand up, walk in a staggered fashion, then collapse in a snow pile.

No one ever knew who Roy was until many years after the incident, when the story was told for the millionth time.  The listener of the story stated, “Roy is the first name of Evel Knieval.”

Fast forward to Larry’s stint in Germany.  Who says you don’t see the world?

The Russian Judge Game Him a 9
Larry’s squad was packing a tank (amazing right).  They pack them in these giant pieces of hard foam.  In the middle of this process a piece of this foam, that was to go under a tank, was positioned on the grounds in from of Larry’s barracks.  Larry was struck by a brilliant? idea.  “Private Sims, I never heard that.”  Larry climbed up to the roof of the barracks.  He climbed to the edge of the roof and entered a driver’s position, complete with folded hands.  He played to the crowd a bit with some bobbing and hesitation.  Everyone on base within view was staring up at him, including at least one Captain.  Larry jumped off the roof of the two-story building only the GIANT foam, 6 foot tall.  He would have been entirely safe, except he somehow managed to miss anywhere near the middle, and hit his body on the edge.  The foam compressed and his body was fine, but his head danged off the foam, so when the foam compressed it bounced off the pavement.  Thanks to another chaos miracle he was OK.  More proof that Larry will some day die in a remarkably mundane manner.

Mr. Jack
Larry and his buddies left base for a night of drinking.  I should mention Larry’s drink of choice is Jack Daniels, something that I often find myself drinking at events.  Larry returned to base past curfew.  The base gates were closed and guarded.  He was going to be in big trouble if he returned now, especially in his inebriated state.  Pondering what to do he turned to his buddies, “Men, Mr. Jack said we’re going over the wall!”  Larry then moved down the fence line, away from the gate, in a relatively secluded section.  He gathered all his concentration and began to scale the 15ft fence.  A challenge for a drunken man by itself, but nothing compared to reaching the summit only to face the barbed wire.  Using his “drunken toughness” he somehow traversed over the barbed wire without cutting himself to ribbons (even when something crazy happens to Larry he often manages to pull off an impressive feat). The hard part over, or so he thought, as upon starting his decent he found his coat inescapably tangled in the barbed wire.  A final grasp by the defense had landed.  In a sobering moment he realized base patrol would be passing at any minute.  Larry was not about to find out how much trouble he would be in when they found a drunken soldier hanging from the fence.  Mr. Jack, as he is want to do, said, “You are on your own son.”  Larry’s solution was to spin, twist, and kick until his coat ripped free.  Success!  The wire released it’s grip, and Larry fell 10ft into some bushes, where he passed out until 5 minutes before morning formation.  The nearby gate guard ran to investigate, but never thought to dig through the bushes.  BTW, his buddies used the distraction to scamper through the gate and sneak back ot their barracks.  I don’t think they ever formally thanks Larry.

I’m a Professional
Larry’s squad was clearing the area and positioning multi-ton blocks for a foundation.  They had already successfully positioned three of the four blocks.  They positioned the last, but due to a bout of idiocy it was several feet off.  This does not sound like much, but it was a huge deal, and given the “their just a bunch of screw ups” reputation they had, harsh punishment would fall to them if this was not fixed pronto.  The problem was the crane used to position the blocks was long gone.  They were screwed!  Larry had a plan, and the CO on site was left with no choice but to let him try.  “Private Sims I never heard this.”  With quiet permission, the CO was probably just as curious to see the outcome as anyone, Larry got behind the wheel of the massively heavy military truck (dusen?).  He carefully backed her up, then slammed on the petal, heading at full speed headlong into the misplaced block!  So much for Larry.  Just as he was about to end his life in once of those Darwin Award winning moments he stood on the brakes and twisted the wheel.  The truck spun around and slammed sideways into the block, hitting with a tremendous crash!  The CO taking a measurement found the force of the collision had moved the block the few inches into perfect position.  Larry was now a professional.

Sometimes a Picture is Worth More than a Thousand Words
Larry was no Paul, but he did have a period where he carried around a camera.  In a very Paul-like moment, he thought it would be incredibly artistic to take a picture of someone pissing down a chimney.  Larry gathered up to comrades who had nothing better to do than indulge him.  They climb onto the roof of a three story building and Larry straddled the apex while one guy peed down the chimney.  What the third guy was doing just hanging out on the roof, who know.  As the peer zips up and the acrobatic trio begins decent the two peers slip and slide down the roof!  They managed to knock each other further along until they both grabbed the last pipe protruding from the roof.  Larry stood over the apex and laughed.  Destinic karma punched him in the face as he too fell and slid rapidly towards the edge, a three story plunge, and certain brig time.  He failed to grab anything to stop himself, including the outstretched arm of his buddy, not tha the drunk coudl hold Larry – he could barely hold himself.  Larry finally succeeded in grabbing the edge of the roof, his last chance.  Luckily Germany houses do not have flimsy aluminum gutters.  The three managed ot pll themselves up and climb down to ground level without further incident. The inhabitants of the home must have been dead, drunk, or gone.  The camera fell off the roof in the slide down the roof.

German Fourth of July
It was the German Fourth of July equivalent.  Fireworks were all over the place.  Larry, drunk as you might expect by now, lit an explosive, stuck it in his jacket pocket and ran screaming down the road.  Moments later it exploded, as explosives are want to do, sending Larry flying head-long into a street water fountain.  After recovering, a newly sober Larry inspected his jacket.  Luckily it was winter, for he had four layers on, and the firework had blown a large hole through all of them, leaving a large red circle.  If he had been wearing only three layers, or even two, he may be dead.  Another point on the side for his forthcoming extremely mundane death.

That is enough “Larry in the army” stories.  Now fast forward to his time as a game store owner.  These next stories took place at or near “The Black Store”.  It was called so because it was opposite “The White Store”.  The White Store was in a very nice neighborhood were people had money – very clean, and the Black Store was in a far less affluent part of town – dirty.  Hence the crew of employees came up with the names.

The reoccurring theme to the Black Store was the halfway house at the corner.  We would hang out at the Black Store for hours at the time, which lead to the inevitable trips to Wilson Farms a block away for supplies.  This meant running the gauntlet of the halfway house druggies who always wanted a handout or the more hard-working ones would try to sell you some piece of crap from the dumpster, which they tried to pass off as some relic escaped from a museum.

The back room of the store had a giant table, made of a piece of plywood. Some argument ensued, as it often did, about something weird.  This time, could you shovel with no thumbs.  Larry was adamant that he coudl do it.  He grabbed a snow shovel and help it with only his fingers on each hand.  As proof to the table he categorically held it out to the table.  With his un-muscled pinky finger Louis barely touched the edge of the shovel blade, sending it spinning.

Louis, “You forgot about torque.”

The following stories highlight a few of the more unusual people who appeared regularly at The Black Store.

Baby Paw was the most pleasant of the corner’s half-way home residents.  While the others flat out begged for money, he would always offer to do some pathetically trivial job for some cash.  Free the sidewalk in front of the store for snow or leaves, which took all of two seconds, was one of his common offers.  This was refreshing at first, but as the other half-men “graduated” the home and left, we were always left with Baby Paw.  Sometimes he offered to clear the already cleared sidewalk several times in the same day.

What the hell kind fo name is “Baby Paw”?  The guy had thick speech, and not one understood more than 30% of what he said, except when he wanted money, in which case he was as eliquent and clear as ever a Human has been.  Baby Paw was some common phrase he used.

“Break me off a piece of that Baby Paw.”

As best we can tell, it means “Please, can you spare me some cash kind sirs.”

Baby Paw was seen a few times walking past the store, then walking back again later.  On his return pass he was seen with a TV under his arm, “as if he owned it.”

A rare treat was when he entered the store to barter.  Once he entered with a rusty metal box that contained ribbon and an open condom.  He explained it was some valuable Chinese treasure, but he would part with it for $5 US.  His only successful transaction of this kind was “The Artifact”.  It was a giant yarn-woven pattern.  Larry was in a generous mood that day, and still has “The Artifact” hanging the wall of his pool room.  “The Artifact” played a biut part  in a previous post about Larry’s parties.

James was a guy who hung around the store constantly and sponged his was into everything we did.  Other than being exceptionally weird he was harmless, and mostly in the background.  He did forever ingrain a place in our memories by licking the dirty, metal pole in the store.  No reason or prodding for this, he just did it.

Rico the Blood Letter obtained infamy for two reasons.  One, he was in the paper for going to a BAD part of town, stripping himself almost naked, and walking down the street just so he could be beat up and experience the blood, which turned him on.  He got his wish.  The second reason was he would tell anyone who entered the store of his pierced penis.  Why?!  Either he was pierced, and therefore a waste of oxygen, or he was making it up for attention.  Either way he was clearly a folder, and not long for this world.

Erin was an attractive girl, who was not too bright, not Sue the Boot dumb, but not a lot better.  She liked Larry, so hung around the store frequently, generally interjecting a dose of estrogen.  Initially a pleasant change of pace, her discussion of feelings and continual talking about her problems, only to ignore any suggested solutions drew ire quickly.  None of this is surprising.  What was of interest was the fact that she changed her name from “Erin” to “Aryn” because she felt “Erin” was a fat girl’s name.  She was by no means fat, in fact she was rather skinny, but she was not starving for lack of crazy.

These last few stories are in the modern era (2000+).

Larry is a BIG Fan
When Larry falls asleep it is like a bear who passed out on his back, spread eagle.  Often one hand would be draped over his face.  Larry was also prone to placing large fans very close by.  Can you see where this is going?  You would think a fan is not a problem because they all have a housing to protect any clumsy passer-by, however Larry is want to last out sometimes, sending his fist anywhere out to meet anything within range.  Many times I was sitting across the table from Larry when a snide comment sent his fist out on another mission, but since I was out of range he hit the guy next to him.  Most of the time his fist missions resulted in nothing, but if there was a fan nearby he was sure to hit it – breaking the fan guard.  The end story is that Larry would fall asleep, and in mid-slumber his hand would seek out and find the fan, either breaking the fan guard, or jetting himself awake as his fleshy appendage found the spinning blades.  Lucky he never had a metal fan.

Kissing Death
Our final tale involved Larry and myself.  It was a Thanksgiving even, and Larry volunteered to teach me to sky.  We piled into my car and he led me to Kissing Bridge.  The entire dirve was slow.  The wind was kicking up snow across the windshield, leaving visibility low.  I was having doubts.  Was my first ski trip also my last?  Bah, we pressed on.  Nearing our destination, or so I was assured, we wound our way up a hill.  Up and up, and up a little more.  As we finally reached the top, and began to wind down the other side we reached a fork.

“Go left.”, a confident Larry stated

About 50 feet down the left fork we discovered this was assuredly NOT the correct path.  We had discovered a dark dead end.  I stop, and put it in reverse.  As we rolled backwards something was amiss.  What was it?  We were instead slowly rolling forward!  After a few heart heart-palpitating moments the car stopped rolling down the hit.  We got out to assess.  The front of the car was aat the exact edge of the cliff by the road!  In fact, my front, drivers tire was hanging off the edge.  Thank god Larry was on the passenger side (for he is much heaver than I).  We both looked at the situation, then looked at each other.

Larry: “Dude, we almost died.”
Aaron: “We still might.  Be careful.”

I got back in the car and Larry carefully pushed where he could until the car went in reverse reverse.  I breathed a heavy sigh of relief when we got to the main road.  After this skiing was easy.  What?  Break a leg?  Better than plunding over a cliff to my death, or better yet to survive the fall and slowly freeze to death in the dark.  Likely with Larry falling on top of me.

Just to finish the story, when we arrived he went down the bunny hill with me twice, then ditched me for some girl who was trying to learn, but her boyfriend lacked the patience to stay, so he headed off to the real hills.  By the time Larry was done with his failed courting there was just enough time for us to reach the top of a real hill.  I did pretty well if I do say so myself, considering I fell on ever turn until I was 3/4 down the hill and noticed I should my lef when turning lest my skis cross and force a fall.  Larry never filled me in on this important detail.  This only lengthened the last run of the night, aggravating the Ski Patrol who was following us down the hill.  Certainly not a fate anywhere near death.

The Night of Revelations

Like the yet to be written, but often mentioned creamer story, this story requires some tact to recant. The opposite of which is what our crew is known for. Before now this story has been largely secret to anyone outside the participants. In small part, I feel I am revealing the secrets of the Freemasons.

It was a Friday night, in the post-Princeton era. I was attending a Sabres game with a friend. I had been informed hours before the game that Dan was hosting a Trivial Pursuit drinking event. I informed Dan I would stop by after the hockey game, after all, the game would be over by 9:30, placing my arrival at Dan’s place no later than 10. Surely, the event would still be in full swing by then, right? Aside from my late arrival, the other attendees were to be Dan, Mike, Chris, and another Aaron. I expected all of them to be there well before me.

After the hockey game I headed back to my car, and noticed several voicemail messages left by Dan and Mike. Both had called me individually pleading for my hurried arrival as it turned out no one but the two of them had shown. Having already played a few games of Trivial Pursuit, the social glue of beer was not enough to entertain the two of them. Neither Chris nor the other Aaron had shown up. i had gone to the game with a friend who had driven in from out of town. He had left his car at my place, so I had to take him back to my apartment to retrieve his car before I could head over to Dan’s place. While en route home I received calls from Chris and the other Aaron, both of which were only now heading over to Dan’s place. Chris knew the way, but wanted to make sure I was on the way so he was not left to suspiciously peer in the windows of Dan’s abode. The other Aaron had never been to Dan’s place, and giving directions while driving was a failure, so I told him to meet me at my place. I was still near downtown,and lived on Sheridan at the time, so the other Aaron should have been at my place well before me. A block from my apartment I passed the other Aaron driving in the opposite direction. As I arrived home expecting the other Aaron to arrive any minute. After my friend used the restroom, and said good-bye, still no other Aaron. I decided he must have had an epiphany of direction sense and made a bee-line to Dan’s house. As I am turning off the last major street en route to Dan’s place I again spy the other Aaron driving past me. This time he sees me for sure. I am able to call him, “Turn down the street you just passed!”

I arrived at Dan’s place, just and Chris and the other Aaron both also pulled up. It was closer to 11pm now, and when we entered Dan’s place he told us no one else showed except Mike, who left an hour ago. Just as a depression of a lost Friday night set in Dan revived the night with the most improbable statement ever, “Let’s go have a beer at McGee’s. I’m buying.” Shit, if Dan is offering to buy you better take that opportunity!

Excited as we were at the forthcoming Dan-purchased beer, we still expected some cheap ass brew, or a single glass for us all to share. Dan once more blew us away by purchasing a pitcher of Kilian’s Red. McGee’s was never my favorite place; it is small (not as small as Anacone’s) and very loud (most often due to some band). Thee was no band playing so the four of us found a nice table at the far end, near where the band plays. Our spirits bolstered to high levels by Dan we all were eager to enjoy ourselves. The usual conversation started. Eventually the topic turned to the “standard” positions to “attack” a woman. The other Aaron maintained there is was one more that the rest of us could come up with. He smiled and said no as we guessed what his extra assault angle was. Eventually he told us, and an argument ensued because the rest of us held the contention that his extra attack was just a combination of two of the other three attacks. Eventually this topic led to talk of The Plaque.

For those who do not know “The Plaque” is a concept created by our group years ago. To get your name on The Plaque you had to have launched an offensive (some pun intended) on a woman involving a specific maneuver. At the time the only names on the mythical Plaque (we certainly could never create a tangible Plaque for it would incriminate those inscribed) were Larry and Dan. Both had been proud members for many years.

Back to Darcy McGee’s. So the other Aaron’s “extra attacks” discussion has reveled he is now on the Plaque. There is 20 seconds of dead silence, and Chris breaks out that he is a member also. This is followed by the obvious questions and cheer from the table. Another 60 seconds of dead silent before I break down, “Alright! I’m on the Plaque also!” The obvious question again and more cheer. It is now pointed out that in the span of a few minutes the inscribed on the Plaque has skyrocketed from an elite two, to five! The event was sworn to secrecy (oops) and was hwence forth referred to as “The Night of Revelations.” After this night “The Plaque” was never really mentioned again, as the elusive award had lost it’s luster, somehow now appearing dirty.

Tops Never Stops

Over the years of Goodyear, Comstock, and Princeton, there was one more-or-less constant presence. I speak of course of the Tops behind the Amherst Theater; it also happened to be in front of the Princeton Apartments and next to the backyard of one Rev. Mooney. It was an unfortunate distance from Comstock, and even when someone had a car Wilson Farms beckoned, but frequent trips to Dan’s house and the desire for any type of obscure food would dictate a “run” to Tops, the home of cheap food and many a sugar ration.

In the passing of years and acquisition of roughly 10,000 gallons of Mountain Dew, it was bound to happen that notable events would occur at Tops. Some of these have been previously told of, such as Dan shouting “In the BROWN!” somewhere around the checkout aisle, or some feeb’s naked run through the lot; others are lost to history. In fact, as I write this, I realize that very few of the Tops connected stories are related to the University Tops; nevertheless I shall tell these and move on to the rest of the story. No doubt the comments on this subject will be better than my telling.

One instance that Larry has never ceased to tell, and which I will relate here, is the time that for some reason I drove Larry to Tops. Why this occurred I cannot say, because it was nowhere even close to any of Larry’s stores; but I assume I was somehow returning from or headed to ODS in Williamsville. Either way, to hear Larry tell it, we were walking in “Aisle 9” when the following occurred:

“Larry… Stop.”
“What, dude?”
“Something bad just happened. We need to leave.”
“I just drew mud.”

This was followed by Larry nearly dying of laughter, and me trying to find a solution to my dilemma. Naturally there was no better alternative than to head over to Dan’s house, where Dan was not expecting us at all, but luckily was home and not naked. I demanded immediate entrance to his bathroom, and defiled it thoroughly. As some kind of brutal reminder of Comstock, there was no toilet paper and I had to call out for assistance from Dan (of all people). Apparently disoriented, Dan complied and I was not even forced to use sandpaper or some kind of paper towels (missed your chance there I guess). One side note here – Dan talks a big game about his crap eating films, but he is thoroughly disgusted by a description of bodily functions. I will spare our readers the details, but I reveled in telling Dan this tale and am somewhat hopeful that this memory will cause him discomfort.

Aside from diet-induced exploding intestines, the other story I know of related to the University Tops is that Chet worked there. This is not particularly interesting, except that it came up one day in a discussion of Chet’s economic philosophy. I made some sort of salary related comment, to which Chet responded:

Chet: “$50,000/yr should be enough for anybody.”
Louis: “That’s bullshit.”
Chet: “Bullshit? I had to work full shifts bagging groceries for $3.50/hour. That, sir, is bullshit!”

I should note that this was probably years after he worked at Tops, but who knows. This exchange might be meaningless but it stuck in my head so I am writing it down. Another random fact: when I worked at UB in the summer of 92, I walked from the chemistry building to Tops each day to get lunch. Lunch usually consisted of a sour cream donut, a chocolate chip muffin, and a 24 oz Mountain Dew.

Of course, Tops was also a welcome presence across the Buffalo area (this was in the days before their merger with bland corporate Giant Food, and also before Wegmans literally browned Tops into irrelevance). Many were the associations with Tops, not the least of which was that Schultz worked there. He worked at Tops for years, rising through various ranks to become associated with the meat department. This led to many hijinks and hilarity as it was common practice to go find out if Schultz was at work, and bother him in various ways during his break. It also introduced various unsavory Tops workers into our midst, since Matt would date them. In any case, I cannot order the events of Matt’s Tops career in chronological order, so I will simply spew them forth in a stream of consciousness fashion.

The first incident I recall was the time Sean B., Aaron, and I visited Matt while the poor unfortunate Schultz was on cart duty. It was a fairly cold, windy fall night and we taunted him as he slowly wandered the huge parking lot on Elmwood Avenue (next to Channel 4!) and stacked cart after cart for a long journey back. We decided without question that Schultz had to try harder to earn his scratch, so as he took one train of carts back to the store, Sean drove his station wagon (the one with wood paneling) over to a lone cart which was kind of close to the entrance.  We signaled Matt (to be sure he was watching) and then Sean skillfully drove the station wagon right behind the cart, pushing it slowly it first, and then faster, almost alarmingly fast, driving the cart from one end of the parking lot to the other end – in fact, a remote corner near the street. Matt’s expression of disgust was priceless. I think we did this or something like it more than once that night. For pure harassment value this had to rank slightly above asking Matt (or any other server at a Denny’s, IHOP, or Perkins) for a milkshake. (When you order a milkshake, they are required to clean the machine afterwards, and apparently it sucks.)

Another effect of Matt’s time at the Tops meat department was his sudden, but short-lived, “no red meat” diet. Matt declared one day that he was sick of “meat, meat, meat!” and that was it. There would be no more beef or pork for him; he was a chicken and fish man, that was it. I didn’t understand how that was possible given our frequent consumption of Mighty Taco and Burger King, but for a time he did stick to Bean Tacos and Chicken Sandwiches. Matt further explained that “working in the meat department is incredibly gory. One of our policies is that blood, bone, fat, and gristle are free. Last night, some lady asked for a bucket of blood. Why the hell would someone want a bucket of blood! I guess she was making some kind of vampire soup out of it. We had to practically milk the sides of beef to fill up this bucket with blood. Then you get the people who ask for the fat and you have to take all these goopy shavings of fat. It doesn’t make you want to eat red meat.” I guess it doesn’t. The question I had was, who asks for gristle? But it never was answered.

Tops was also the subject of idle speculation on living a life of crime. Schultz once revealed that the “cash room” had over $400,000 on a typical week day before the money was taken out of the store. Our theory was that no one would expect you to rob a grocery store, and this would be a lucrative way to rip off cash… certainly far better than bank robbery, and safer than knocking off an armored car. The difficulties in such a plot are twofold: One, the cash is largely in change and small bills; and secondly, the cash room is somewhat vault-like and located in a corner of the store with cameras. One could never hope to take on the Tops behemoth in a standard robbery, lest you end up like the fools who tried to rob the Wal-Mart in Amherst years later (at opening time no less – dumbasses). Thus was the plan of the EMP bandits born. The team attempting to rob Tops would use a large truck, like a full size pickup or van, and knock out all electronics with some type of EMP weapon. Then the truck would be used to haul the loot away, apparently after somehow also demolishing the wall. We never really planned that part. I’m sure it is for the best, since we also didn’t possess a portable EMP device or any means of laundering $400,000 in small bills.

Speaking of crime and Tops, one of my classmates at Canisius worked there as a stock boy. One day he was assigned to work security just before Thanksgiving. Sure enough, he watched a guy walk out with a turkey without paying for it. As he put it, “The guy just tucked it under his arm and marched out, as if he owned it!” Of course, the employee did nothing, because he was not getting paid enough to actually confront a shoplifter. This shows a flaw in Chet’s logic: he may have had to bag groceries, but what the hell, he didn’t owe his penny-pinching employer anything either for his meager take. Such is capitalism.

Eventually, the age of Tops faded. Matt ceased working there, became a UB employee, and eventually lost his hard-working, two-job ways in favor of railing against the man and being a “liver”. If only he had taken up the offer to become a butcher, he might have remained a productive citizen rather than having his mind corrupted in the highly-overrated university setting.  After the Princeton days, Tops became just another destination in the car, too inconvenient to attempt when Wilson Farms was always closer, and not good enough for Wegmans lovers such as MikeO. The Royal Ahold corporation sacked all of the corporate types (bet they were making more than $50,000) and moved operations out of state. Nowadays it is indistinguishable from other cookie-cutter grocery stores, although I hear they are going to try a comeback under new ownership. For most of us, it is now irrelevant, but I suppose Wolf may reap a slight benefit if they return to past glory.

Because this story, and particularly the ending, is so weak, I will relate one more tidbit of information. Every year he worked at Tops, Matt would proclaim his triumph; he survived the “annual purges” that occurred every year before the union contract required a 25 cent per hour pay hike. He managed to quit on his own terms after a long tenure. I guess even Schultz has his day.

And, unlike Tops, this post finally stops here.

Boogie Nights

Larry has hosted a few parties I have attended. The house is filled with people, lots of goons and eye candy from Baily’s, strange new beings,and the usual suspects.

At one such party the usual suspects existed on the front lawn. At some point Larry took his 21 year old girlfriend, Larry was far her senior, to the nearby Tops to procure another keg. An hour and a half passed before they returned. To regurgitate the story, Larry was being helped by the Tops manager in acquiring the keg. Larry decided to roll the keg down the isle, breaking the tap, which was attached for some reason. Larry exercised his fast-talk abilities to entice the manager to give him another tap.

On Larry’s return from Top, he emphatically states to his barely legal, but hardly ethical woman, “I am an excellent driver.” then drives directly into a ditch.

Another party that had only myself and one other usual suspect in attendance. The rest of the house was filled with the aforementioned goons and eye-candy form Baily’s. The party was surprisingly uneventful for almost it’s extent. A dumb goon and smart goon got into a serious pushing match. These two, alone with the five other men in the house (excluding myself, Larry, and the remaining non-Baily’s goon) entered the small, dirt first floor bathroom. The three of us looked at each other, looked at the eye-candy (themselves looking at the CLOSED bathroom door), and finally laid rest our eyes upon the bathroom door. There were no screams from the bathroom. Nary a sound escaped the flimsy, dirty portal. An extended ten minutes later the goon squad existed the bathroom, all in good spirits. They all rebuffed any attempts to discover the bathroom proceedings. Larry did later throw them out when we discovered their earlier fisticuffs (that one is for you Wolf) had engraved an hefty scratch in his very expensive dining room chairs.

Many parties center around the keg, which is often the basement. Larry used this setup also, but he also placed his pool table in the basement. The usual suspects often congested around said table. An added bonus to easy access to refills and pool was the view of the people descending the stairs to refill their own cups (the standard red, plastic party cups). One night gave us witness to several people falling down the stairs, including a particular female repeatedly. Put a pin in this. Placed on the wall of the basement, adjacent to the dart board, was “The Artifact”. This was one of those giant, yarn circle things. When Larry previously owned a store on Elmwood the many transients for the half-way home on the corner (since demolished and replaced by a bakery and pottery store). They took more than they gave, bu occasionally they would offer to shovel his sidewalk (a mere two thrusts of the snow shovel and it was clear), or bring in some random item and attempt to sell it as some high-value treasure while wiping off the caked on mud. One of these transients once presented Larry with “The Artifact”. Now you can take the pin out. Picture a party in full swing; dart board and pool table in use. Here comes the previously mentioned female who manages to make it half way down the stairs (we have grown to identify her boots so we can pause to watch her tumble) before she slips, lands on her ass, slides down the staircase until she lands hard on the bare concrete floor, this triggers “The Artifact” to semi-spontaneously fall, roll down the wall, hit a chair like a ski ramp, and hit a guy in the arm just as he releases a dart, which goes off line and embeds in the dirty wall next to the ear of some fool. A side note to this party was it ended with about 40 people in the backyard scarfing down hot dogs.

These final party incidents center around women. Going back to Larry’s basement pool table at one such party; I am playing pool with someones girlfriend, who has no experience playing pool. Only due to my level of intoxication, and my familiarity with said friend and the girlfriend am I able to remark to her, upon noticing her high level of difficulty of deciding upon how to hold the cue, “Just hold it like a cock.” Problem solved.

The final incident starts out away from Larry’s party. I take my new girlfriend (of only a few weeks) to see a show recommended by Broome. We arrive and sit down to chat with Chris and Broome. Being a new female in my like, I have not yet divulged my proclivity for roleplaying. A short time into our conversation Chris says, “So Dan… combat?” Dan what not there, but Chris was failing miserably as he tried to subtly remark upon our current game of DnD. My date was perceptive enough to pick up on this. She turned sharply towards me and said, “What?” Chris and Broome immediately excused themselves. This story continues later as after the show we head over to Larry’s party. We head downstairs to find a circle of drunken fools I call friends. My lady soon asks them all questions about DnD. To my amazement no real damage was done until she asked if we dress up; to which Mike replied with, “Well of course there is always the crotchless Batman outfit.” As you can guess tremendous laughter erupted and my date bolted upstairs; as I headed after her to determine the level of her outrage, I head Dan remark, “Good luck with that one Aaron.” In closing, when I caught up to her she was not upset, but rather bent over laughing. A few weeks later we broke up; nothing to do with “combat”.

Larry, Me, and a Bee

Given the recent comment of a Larry fan on our disclaimer page my fancy was tickled to document this story.

Back when I was unemployed for eight months, in the time before I was a post man (another story to come) I would spend the morning search thew web for jobs, then going to the gym. I still had a membership to the Buffalo Athletic Club (BAC) and Larry was a trainer at Baily’s. Larry provided me with a free pass for a few months. I would go to the BAC in the afternoon, hand out at home, then head over to Baily’s in the evening for a change of pace. Sometimes I would that around and go to Baily’s in the afternoon.

One day I head into Baily’s to run on the treadmill. Larry spy’s me and comes over, “Hey dude. When you leave can you give me a ride to pick up my car?” A simple request correct? As you will soon see, nothing is ever that simple with Larry.

I had not spent any time with Larry in many months at this juncture, hence forgetting the high score of Larry’s chaos factor. Larry had two free day passes to Darien Lake. I was shocked when we lasted the entire day without an incident. When we left Darien Lake we spotted two girls peeing in between cars in the parking lot. Not directly Larry’s fault, but close enough.

I track down Larry after I complete my work out. I find that Larry left his car in the Mighty Taco parking lot at the corner of Sheridan and Niagara Falls Blvd. The car had stalled and so he flagged down a ride some one of the millions of people he knows, or just talked some passer-by into driving him around. Larry has this cloud of Chaos and influence. Anyone who knows Larry has experienced this.

Larry: “Dude, I’ll square you away if you give me a ride home.”
Stranger: “What? Huh? I don’t even know you.”
Larry: “”I’ll totally hook you up.”
Stranger: “OK”

Larry being Larry left his car in the parking lot for five days. We pull into the parking lot and low and behold (I have never written that phase before :)) half the parking lot is sectioned off and a crew is re-paving this area. There is no sign of Larry’s vehicle. We pull up to a three-some that appear to be in charge. Larry hangs him imposing body literally half out my door.

Larry: “Dude, what happened to the cars that were here?”
Dude: “We posted a warning notice four days ago. The remaining cars were towed to Brown’s Auto.”
Larry: “DAMN IT! *violently pounds the side of my car, scaring the three-some into taking a simultaneous step back*

Larry needs to figure out what he is gonna do, so we head over to Wegman’s back by Baily’s to grab lunch. Naturally I have to pay for Larry, which I do not learn until we are checking out. While eating Larry, of course, runs into some other man he knows and we waste some time talking to this fool. While he did not exhibit any foolish qualities I did not know him so I dub him a fool. Larry borrows my cell to call Brown’s Auto. He stares at the phone a minute before, “How do I make a call?”, “Dial the number and press call.” He is again denied as his fingers are too fat to depress a mere single buttons, hence like cutting the meat of a two year old, I dial the number for him; and for a bonus I press the call button for him.

Larry speaks calmly to Brown’s Auto frantically makes a pen motion in the air to elicit a writing implement from me. I supply said implement and Larry scrawls the info required to retrieve his car on the place mat on his Wegman’s deli tray. Lunch shortly thereafter ends and after Larry dumps his entire tray into the garbage I remark, “Didn’t you need that?” Larry responds with an expletive. He makes a lone attempt to retrieve the info by thrusting his arm into the bassura bin, and then decides he will just call Brown’s Auto again – at a later date.

The final incident in our story occurs as exit Wegman’s. I unlock the car doors with the key chain as we approach my car. Larry enters the car as I pause a minute to put something in my pocket. Suddenly my car gyrated as Larry was waving his arms in a panic mode. He threw open the door and lept out, screaming and dancing around. He scared the crap out of the old lady passing by. It has just now occurred to me the trend of screaming and old ladies (see the “In the Brown” story). Apparently a bee had infiltrated my car.

I drove Larry back to Bally’s and did not see him again for a few days. A typical three hour lunch. I never found out of Larry retrieved his car.

Get Me A Salami Sandwich

This is a tale of woe for Larry. It came ot pass one day that Louis, Larry, and I were all at his dirty, little apartment above the ODS store on Elmwood. Louis and I got up to make a usual trip to the corner Wilson Farms for provisions. We offered to get Larry something. Larry, as per his M.O., asked for a lot and provided very little in the way of funds. Larry requested a salami sandwich and 1lb. of potato salad form the Wilson Farms miniscule deli. He was also parched, so he requested a large orange juice. The grand total he provided for this feast? $3. This did not even cover a 1/4lb. of potato salad. We purchased a load of bread (the only thing we returned with, exactly as requested) and a Slim Jim; but it was a LARGE Slim Jim. To say the least Larry was not amused. He took out two pieces of bread and held them together in sandwich fashion, shaking furiously in the air, “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?! HAVE AN AIR SANDWICH! HMMM! YUM!” Louis and I were bent over laughing.