The First Visit: A Story of the Early Sixties

by

 

Paul was sitting alone in his apartment over the Rexall where he worked. As he had finished supper, Paul had listened on the radio to Jack Kennedy declare support for President Diem and liberty in Indochina. Now he was half listening to a radio episode of Gunsmoke. Paul had a lonely life. The brutal realities of the Cold War and life in the Old West were unlikely to cheer him up. But he was very happy. Aunt Emma, his last remaining relative, had finally died.

Her death itself did not make him happy. He had liked Emma, a bit. But Paul’s aunt had left him enough money to buy new clothes, rent an apartment with a private bath, and buy a new Studebaker Lark convertible. He was signing the lease on the apartment tomorrow morning, and it wasn’t over the Rexall where he worked. He was talking to the Studebaker dealer tomorrow afternoon. By next week Paul’s friends might start to respect him.

Paul finally had enough money to live. People said he should be happy he wasn’t still a stock boy, but Paul knew he had no future standing behind a soda fountain in a drugstore. Jerking sodas is cool when you’re eighteen, but not when you’re thirty-two. Today the bank had transferred the funds for a new life into Paul’s new personal checking account. Paul was very happy indeed.

Paul was sipping Champale when he heard heavy footsteps on his stairs. Since he had the only apartment at the top of stairs, he got up to answer the knock he expected. But before he got there, both the latch and the bolt lock released themselves. The door swung in.

A muscular arm ran up from the door knob into the shadows above the door frame. Only the chest and lower body could be seen behind the opening door. Then the shoulders dropped as the giant ducked his broad face under the door frame and strode into the room. The giant stretched himself to full height, straightened his sharkskin suit, and looked around with satisfaction.

Paul stepped back. “What do you want?”

Turning, the giant folded his arms and smiled down at Paul. His eyes were a warm brown, and his smile seemed good humored. Paul watched him reach up and tease a corner of his dark mustache.

“I want your money, Sonny Boy.”

“What?”

“Come on. Fork it over, Paul. Everything you’ve got.”

“I only have ten dollars, and change. Honest.”

The giant cupped both hands and stuck them down below Paul’s chin, as if to catch the jackpot from a slot machine. Paul emptied the bills out of his wallet, Then dropped his change into the giant’s hands. His money seemed so small in those hands.

“That’s all I’ve got.”

The giant moved about the apartment, dumping out drawers and occasionally pocketing small objects. He didn’t even glance at Paul. But once, as he passed, he bent down, parted Paul’s hair quiff, and looked inside. “Any gold in here?” Then he laughed and patted Paul’s head.

The giant pulled a book of counter checks from his pocket and handed it to Paul. “Now write me a check. Make it for the amount in that rockin’ new checking account of yours. I’ll go by your bank when it opens and cash it.”

“I only make minimum wage.”

The giant laughed. “Now put down what’s in your account, Paul. And don’t you forget what your sweet auntie left you.”

How could he know? Paul opened the book and found dozens of signed checks, each drawn on a different account. He found many names he knew. John Dickens, the pharmacist. His landlord, Mr. Ladd. Patty Schmidt, who worked beside him at the soda fountain. Even Rex Masters, the Chief of Police! Finally he found a blank check. His name, bank and account number were already printed in.

“Put it down as a visitation fee.”

Paul saw a chance for delay. He wrote down seven dollars more than what was in his account. In the morning, his bank would refuse the check and he would have time to find help. Surely someone would help! Paul handed back the book, but he couldn’t look into those brown eyes. All he could see was the giant’s mustache, and a spreading smile.

“That will do for now, Sonny Boy.”

Paul followed the giant to the door. He listened to the steps going down the stairs, so unhurried, so sure.  He didn’t know who could help. Half the people he knew were in that book. He leaned against the sides of the open door. The radio inside his apartment had moved on to Sam Cooke singing “Wonderful World.”

Then the giant reappeared as a shadow that filled up the lower hallway and moved to the foot of the stairs. As he started back up, a step creaked and Paul felt hot urine rushing down his leg. The giant paused near the top to study the puddle still forming around Paul’s feet.

“Sometimes,” he said, “I have a bit of trouble with young folks. They don’t respect me when I first visit. But you will respect me, Paul. And we will have a long life together. Tomorrow I will give this check to the teller and watch it bounce. Then you will cover the amount, and more.”

The giant looked up and Paul saw that his eyes were blue. His face still seemed the same, all but those eyes. Such a bright blue! Paul blinked and saw that the giant’s mustache had turned white. Paul could no longer feel his shoulder against the doorjamb or even the wetness of his pants.

The giant slid Paul’s Gruen watch off his wrist. “Ten p.m. already, Sonny Boy,” he sighed, dropping the watch into his pocket, “and I have so many people like you to visit.”

The giant guided Paul back into his apartment. Then he gently shut the door.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Michael B. Smetzer

 

1960 Studebaker Lark Regal Convertible - cars on line

1960 Studebaker Lark Regal Convertible – Cars On Line

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