Authors: Robert Klane
When he awoke, Lynn was gone. Nemiroff looked around for the bartender. He found him. "Do you think I blew it?" Nemiroff asked. There was no answer.
Several months after the incident Nemiroff was still heartbroken. He couldn't sleep at nights. He continually dreamed of Lynn cuffing him in the movies while she munched on the popcorn. It was too much. It was driving him mad. Of all the times to pick to throw up.
Nemiroff was not easily put off. He called Lynn ten times a day. He begged her for a date. He told her he would hold his breath and turn blue if she didn't go out with him, but she still wouldn't go. Finally, in desperation, Nemiroff told her that he was going to tell people he went out with her anyway. Horrified, Lynn made a date with Nemiroff on the condition that he would never tell anyone about it.
Nemiroff drove to Lynn's house and parked the car. He was surprised to see her come running out of the house before he had a chance to get out of the car. He opened the door for her. "You must really like me after all," he said. "Can't wait to get going, huh?"
"I didn't want my parents to see you," she stated.
"Oh." He started up the car. "Where would you like to go?"
"I don't care." She was looking out the window.
"A movie." Nemiroff spit the words from his mouth.
"Yeah, O.K.," she said.
Nemiroff's mind ran through the dream one more rime. Lynn was barely down in her seat when Nemiroff, panting, turned to ask her the most important question of the night. "Would you like some popcorn?"
"Yes, thank you."
Oh joy, oh joy. Nemiroff's heart raced wildly. The movie. The popcorn. Everything would be just like the dream. He tripped all over himself hurrying out to get the popcorn. Nemiroff ran over to the candy counter. "Give me a box of popcorn," he ordered, "a big one."
The woman behind the counter looked at him. He must really love popcorn, she thought, look at the way he's drooling. She almost hated to tell him. "I'm sorry, but we don't have any more popcorn."
Nemiroff almost jumped down her throat. "What do you mean you don't have any more popcorn?"
"I'm sorry, but I just sold the last box." She pointed to a little boy walking away. "Would you like some bonbons?"
Nemiroff thought for a fraction of a second. No. Bonbons wouldn't do. He raced after the little boy and caught him by the arm. "Kid, give me the box of popcorn." He was trying to grab it away.
"No, get away from me or I'll tell my father."
Nemiroff reached into his pocket. "Here, I'll give you a dollar for it" He held out the dollar to the little boy.
"Boy, you must really love popcorn." He looked at the outstretched hand. "Make it two bucks and you've got a deal."
Nemiroff raised his hand to smack the boy, then pushed it back into his pocket and pulled out another dollar. "Here, you fucking thief," he said, grabbed the box of popcorn and raced back upstairs to Lynn.
"I'm sorry I was gone so long," he apologized.
"Were you?" Lynn said.
Nemiroff let it go by. He settled down to enjoy the movie.
Nemiroff didn't want to seem too anxious, so he waited for what he thought was a reasonable length of time before putting his arm around Lynn. She tried to get away but he was prepared for this and held on tightly to her shoulder. After a few minutes Lynn gave up on trying to escape and settled back in her chair. Nemiroff was beginning to feel good inside when he noticed with some alarm that Lynn had finished the box of popcorn. What a slob, Nemiroff told himself.
"Would you like some more popcorn?" he asked. He could always find another kid to bribe.
"I don't think so," Lynn said, her eyes glued to the screen.
Nemiroff wondered if she would do it without the popcorn. Then he realized that it just wouldn't be the same without the popcorn, and if he couldn't have it that way, he didn't want it at all. He sat through the rest of the movie in silence.
After the movie they stopped off for a few beers and hero sandwiches. Nemiroff carefully picked out all of the onions from his sandwich. There was still the ride home, and who knew what might happen. He watched Lynn pick up all of his discarded onions and shovel them into her mouth. Nemiroff ordered a small plate of raw onions for himself. Two can play at that game, he thought.
He noticed that Lynn kept ducking out of his way every time he tried to speak to her. It became very disconcerting. "What's the matter?" he finally asked.
"I don't want you to get sick on me," she said.
Nemiroff laughed nervously. "How about going down to look at the water?" Nemiroff asked.
"I'm sure it's still there," Lynn said. "Why don't you take me home?" She noticed that Nemiroff had already turned down the road that led to the water.
"We're almost there," he said. "We might as well go the rest of the way." He hoped she had gotten the double-entendre. She evidently had, because Nemiroff just caught her before she jumped from the car. Nemiroff drove the rest of the way holding onto her arm and parked the car near the edge of the water.
"You haven't said a word all night," Nemiroff said, turning to her.
"I know," she said, trying to find the door handle.
"Do I bore you?"
"Then what is it?" he went on, ignoring her answer. Nemiroff knew that she must have guessed he was Jewish, that's why she didn't like him.
Lynn suddenly realized that the door handle was missing.
"It's in the glove compartment," Nemiroff said.
Lynn reached out for the glove compartment.
"And that's locked," he said, bringing her to a halt "Why don't we just talk a little?"
Nemiroff leaned over and grabbed her, forcing her down on the seat.
"I thought you wanted to talk." She was trying to defend herself.
"How can I talk with your hands around my throat?" He was starting to gag.
"If I let go, do you promise to behave yourself?" His face was turning purple.
Lynn released her grip. Nemiroff lunged at her. He grabbed her head and tried to kiss her. A burst of onions exploded in his face. Nemiroff choked again. A little bad breath wasn't going to stop him now. He put his face close to hers and blew in it. She choked. They kept blowing onions in each other's faces until they both were faint Nemiroff realized she was weakening. So did she. "O.K., Nemiroff, you win," she said. "Just get up a minute will you?"
He got up.
Lynn reached down and started to pull up her dress. She wiggled it past her thighs and slipped her panties off. Nemiroff could hardly believe it. Wait'll he saw Marshall the next day. He fumbled with his belt as Lynn laid back down on the seat, draping one leg over the seat, the other over the steering wheel. Nemiroff started to climb on her. It wasn't the same as the popcorn, but it would do. Lynn let out a yell as he climbed on top of her.
"What's the matter?" Nemiroff asked.
"My leg," Lynn said.
"What about your leg?"
"It's caught in the steering wheel." She yelled again as Nemiroff shifted his weight. "Get off me, you stupid son of a bitch."
Nemiroff got off. "Try and move it now."
Lynn struggled. "I can't It's stuck."
Nemiroff examined the foot that was caught between the metal bars of the steering wheel. "You've got to get it out" Nemiroff whined. "How the hell am I going to drive back home with your foot caught in my steering wheel?"
"That's your problem," she stated.
"Christ" he cried, "get your goddamn leg out of there." He pulled on her foot. He gave up when she yelled again. "I have to get home," he said. "I have to work tomorrow."
"What about my foot?" she asked.
"I'll see if I can drive with it in the steering wheel." Nemiroff started the car and tried the wheel. He could barely move it but there was just enough play in the wheel to steer it backward, since he couldn't turn around. "I'll just have to drive home backward," he said. Nemiroff put the car in reverse and started to back his way home.
"I'll call the garage," Nemiroff offered.
"Why didn't you call the garage last night?" she asked.
"It was too late."
"It's too late for you, you schmuck." She was frantic. "Get her out of that car. I have shopping to do." A final blow on Nemiroff's head, and she left Nemiroff was sound asleep when his mother came in the next morning. "Nemiroff," she shouted, "get out of that bed."
He rolled over and looked at the alarm clock. "I still have fifteen more minutes to sleep."
"You'll have fifteen more minutes to live if you don't get out of that bed," she said. She was even angrier than usual, so Nemiroff got out of the bed.
"What's the matter?" he asked, and then realized he shouldn't have.
"What's the matter you want to know?" She was beating him over the head as she talked, driving each word deep into his skull. "What's the matter?" she said. Nemiroff tried to stave off the blows. "Nothing's the matter. It's every morning I get up to use the car and find a girl in there with her foot caught in the steering wheel." She had him backed into a corner. "With no pants on yet"
"Oh, that." Nemiroff tried to be nonchalant.
"Well, she's stuck," he said.
That's an answer? She's stuck?" She smacked him on the head again. "Why can't she go home like a normal person?"
When Nemiroff arrived at camp, Uncle Bernie was calling a special counselors' meeting to order. Nemiroff parked the car and ran over to the meeting. He got there just before Uncle Bernie silenced everyone with a shrill blast on his whistle. Nemiroff knew that only a stupid Jew would stand there and blow on that goddamn whistle.
Uncle Bernie was the owner and director of Camp Winiruck. The first piece of equipment he had bought after opening the camp was his whistle. A shiny silver whistle that was guaranteed to break any eardrums within a mile. Uncle Bernie was never without the whistle. He cherished it like some men might cherish a beautiful woman. The whistle was his symbol of authority, and he wore it like a god. Nemiroff was convinced that without his whistle, Uncle Bernie would be mortal just like everyone else.
Uncle Bernie insisted on silence the second the whistle blew. A person would be better dead than to be caught talking after the whistle. Uncle Bernie always had something important to say after the whistle blew. Like sit down, or shut up. Once, when someone was heard whispering after the whistle, Uncle Bernie made the entire camp sit for the rest of the day and practice keeping quiet when the whistle blew. Uncle Bernie enjoyed these little sessions. That's why he would never just casually blow on his whistle. Instead he would try to sneak it into his mouth when nobody was looking and hope to catch some poor slob talking. No one was ever safe from the whistle.
Uncle Bernie had started Camp Winituck about fifteen years before. When he started, Uncle Bernie was poor and Camp Winituck looked like a poorly run concentration camp. Now Uncle Bernie was rich and Camp Winituck still looked like a poorly run concentration camp. He prided himself on never putting a penny into it that he didn't have to.
Uncle Bernie appeared to be a confident and assured man to Nemiroff. This fascinated Nemiroff because he knew that Uncle Bernie was Jewish, so he couldn't think of any reason why he should be either confident or assured.
But Uncle Bernie was not always that way. In fact, Uncle Bernie had grown up in intense fear of everything around him. He was afraid of cars, people, dogs, even the dirty old man who sold pornographic books at the candy store. But most of all, Uncle Bernie was afraid of subways. The noise they made was enough to frighten him to death, but it was the strange people who inhabited those long tubes that really scared him. Unfortunately for Uncle Bernie, he had to take the subway to school five times a week.
Uncle Bernie felt very lucky because of one thing. He lived on an express stop, which meant he didn't have to take the local trains. The locals took twice as long as the express, and Uncle Bernie was sure that if he ever had to ride on one he would die. He hated to ride with all the pushing and shoving sweaty people, but it was the only way he felt safe. He didn't figure anyone would try to kill him if there were enough people around. And Uncle Bernie was sure that if anyone was going to get killed, it was going to be him. Uncle Bernie was very afraid of dying, which was why he was very afraid of cars, people, dogs, the dirty old man and especially subways. Uncle Bernie knew he would be murdered on the subway.
Uncle Bernie thanked God for the express train, but it had one drawback. The express train bypassed a station called Bliss Street. The name Bliss Street held Uncle Bernie in awe. He thought how wonderful it would be to be able to go home every night to Bliss Street. It seemed so sweet. Uncle Bernie cursed himself for not having the guts to take the local train just once so that he could get off at Bliss Street. He was sure that if he did he would surely find paradise. But day after day Uncle Bernie rode by Bliss Street on the express train and waited to be murdered.
One day Uncle Bernie had to work late at school, and it took him a long time to make up his mind to take the subway home without the crowds to protect him. Finally he just prayed that his killer wouldn't be on this train, and he decided to take it. Besides, he didn't have cab fare. Uncle Bernie waited as the doors of the subway hissed open, then he saw a seat and sat down. He scanned the car to see if his murderer was present, and just as he thought that nobody in the car looked like a killer, he spotted the Negro sitting right next to him. Uncle Bernie told himself to remain calm, that not all Negroes were killers, in spite of what his mother had told him. He breathed deeply and waited. The train started with a lurch and Uncle Bernie was thrown up against the Negro. The Negro looked at him coldly. Uncle Bernie was just about to faint when the Negro turned away and put his head down between his knees. Uncle Bernie studied the back of the Negro's head carefully. Then he saw the Negro's shoulders start to flutter and he turned away.
Uncle Bernie turned back when he heard the Negro start to retch. He looked and saw that the Negro was spitting up slightly. Uncle Bernie studied the Negro, almost fascinated. Probably been on a bender, Uncle Bernie thought. What the hell, maybe he's too drunk to kill me. Uncle Bernie was starting to feel queasy himself now. He tried not to look at the Negro, who was spitting up more and more now. Uncle Bernie thought about moving away from him, but he was afraid. He might hurt the Negro's feelings, and the Negro would kill him, because Uncle Bernie knew that Negroes killed everyone they didn't like. So Uncle Bernie stayed. Every time the Negro spit up, Uncle Bernie started to gag. He wouldn't move. He really liked Negroes. Maybe he'd invite this guy home for dinner. The Negro man started to retch again, and this time Uncle Bernie felt himself going. He vomited on the floor. The Negro man looked over at him. Uncle Bernie felt sure he was going to kill him for making fun of him. The Negro looked at Uncle Bernie with something more than disgust and moved to another seat "White trash," the Negro said.