Like a jaded, Jewish juggler in the cheap sideshow of life, one cold, gray afternoon I suddenly found myself with five balls in the air. Unfortunately, two of them were my own. Ah, but the other three! That's where the story really began. For the first time since God gave Gatorade to the Israelites, I had three potentially big cases all going for me at once. Many aspects of this investigative trinity were so daunting that I'd taken to referring to each case with a code name. Rambam, my half-Jewish, half-law-abiding P.I. pal, had provided the three investigations with their cryptic monikers. I was not wild about the three names he'd chosen, but at least they provided a handy way to converse clandestinely about these matters, thereby keeping the other Village Irregulars in total innocence.
"I'm just not sure," I said to the cat, "that Moe, Larry, and Curly are quite the correct nomenclature for matters of this import."
The cat, of course, said nothing. She contented herself with sitting precisely in the middle of the desk and looking at me with pity in her eyes. This did not surprise me. Cats, like many people, have almost no sense of humor. The last thing on the planet liable to entertain a cat would be the Three Stooges.
All I knew about the cases at this point was as follows: As regards to Moe, I was four steps behind a possible serial killer. As far as Larry went, I was tantalizingly close to locating a missing autistic child who only said the word "shnay." As far as Curly was concerned, I can say nothing at all except that the investigation was so big it made the Giant Rat of Sumatra look like Mickey Mouse.
For a few furious hours, I manned the phones, talking tersely to Rambam, New York Police Detective Sergeant Mort Cooperman, Detective Sergeant Buddy Fox, and various other concerned parties whose identities I feel morally obligated to protect at this time. I maintain two red telephones on my desk, both attached to the same line and both placed precisely equidistant from the cat. If I'd had a million red telephones, I felt, I'd still not be on top of things. Finally, I took a break. I lit my third Cuban cigar of the day and walked over to the window to watch the garbage trucks. It's a little funny and a little sad to see the things people throw away in their lives. Some of them won't even fit into a garbage truck.
The only sound within the loft emanated from my commercial-sized espresso machine, which appeared to be dangerously close to liftoff. The hissing, steaming, gurgling tones sounded very much like "Blowin' in the Wind" being performed by a drowning kazoo player. I myself, worn to a frazzle from attempting to conduct three investigations at once, felt like a man dying of syphilis at the turn of the century. The cat, as one might expect, was invariably in a mood that ran counter to my own. She practically frolicked along the windowsill in unbridled, John Denver-like joy.
"It's almost good to be alive," I said, paraphrasing my father.
The cat did not respond. She did not believe in paraphrasing anybody. If a cat can't quote things precisely, the cat nearly always prefers to remain silent. If people pursued this same feline wisdom there'd be a lot fewer misunderstandings, a lot fewer wars, and a lot fewer people ripping off Oscar Wilde at cocktail parties.
I drew a hot, bitter espresso from the giant, gleaming dildo that took up about a third of my little kitchen and wandered back over to the window and stood with the cat, watching some more garbage trucks. There were worldfuls of garbage trucks and worldfuls of cats and worldfuls of people like me wondering where the hell everybody went. As far as a financial pleasure for the Kinkster went, my previous three cases might've just as well ridden out on one of the garbage trucks. I'd managed to cajole the Village Irregulars into infiltrating Winnie Katz's lesbian domain in the loft above and wound up wearing a red wig. I'd tackled a cell of international terrorists and was just happy to finally have the severed finger removed from the freezer compartment of my refrigerator. I'd also attempted to locate McGovern, who'd disappeared off the coast of Hawaii while researching recipes for his cookbook, Eat, Drink, and Be Kinky. He was eventually found with a little help from one of Stephanie DuPont's four-legged friends, an intrepid young Maltese named Baby Savannah.
Even though there'd been no payoff and the cases all had mixed results, I nonetheless took a small measure of pride in the seminal role I'd performed in my recent work. Had I not been successful, I thought, the world might've been overrun with lesbians and terrorists and McGovern might've been still wandering around lost in a fog somewhere. There are those, of course, who might point out that that's a fairly accurate description of how things are these days anyway.
My past triumphs and defeats, however, were all smoke now, I thought, as I glanced at my dusty reflection in the windowpane. The puppethead, which currently resided atop the mantel of the fireplace, had watched it all go down and now seemed to be smiling at me with a little wooden smile on its face. It was, I noticed, almost precisely the same little wooden smile I was currently wearing myself. Like father, like son. It pays to have a sense of humor in this life. If you don't, Allah knows what will happen.
I was puffing rather pridefully on my cigar, thinking of how challenging and potentially profitable my three new cases might be, when the phones rang. It could well be a call regarding Moe, Larry, or Curly which would, no doubt, send me into another fugue of feverish activity. I rapidly finished feeding the cat a can of Flaked Tuna with Egg Bits in Sauce, goose-stepped over to the desk, and picked up the blower on the left.
"Start talkin'," I said.
"Kinky!" said a highly excited, out-of-breath-sounding female voice. "It's Cousin Nancy from Utopia!"
I puffed stoically on the cigar, settling back in my chair for what could be a long winter. I blew a patient plume of blue smoke upward toward Winnie Katz's lesbian dance class.
"Come in, Berlin," I said.
Copyright © 2002 by Kinky Friedman