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Authors: Robert Klane

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BOOK: The Horse is Dead
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"And you never played doctor?"

"I never wanted to," Harry answered. "How do you do it?"

Nancy Weinburger leaned over to Harry. "First you have to find a dark closet," she whispered.

"Who the hell wants to play in a closet?"

Nancy Weinburger got up and started to walk away.

"O.K.," Harry called after her, "we'll get a closet'' He was hooked.

Harry led Nancy into the house. He stopped her in front of the hall closet "This good enough?" he asked, opening the door. Nancy peered in. "Fine." They got into the closet and closed the door.

"Now what?" Harry asked.

"You be the doctor." Nancy Weinburger picked up her little blue dress and held it over her head. "Examine me."

"This is playing doctor?" Harry asked. "I want to get out of the closet!"

"You can't leave until you examine me," little Nancy Weinburger said. "I'm your patient!"

"I don't want to."

"You have to or I won't pay you."

"You're going to pay me?" He was shocked.

"Sure, all patients pay their doctors." She grabbed Harry's hand. "Now examine me."

Harry Chittleman figured what the hell. His fingers got very busy. The busier his fingers got the more he liked being a doctor. And the more Nancy Weinburger liked being a patient. This was fantastic, Harry Chittleman thought to himself. Why didn't I ever think of this before? That's where fate came in. It was at that very moment Harry Chittleman decided to become a doctor. He would have his own little closet somewhere, hang out his shingle, and women would come to see him in his closet and he would examine them. Not only that they would pay him to examine them. Harry Chittleman wondered why everybody didn't want to become a doctor.

But things hadn't exactly worked out the way Harry Chittleman planned. He had gone to medical school, he had served as an intern, a resident, and now he was a full-fledged doctor. But Dr. Harry Chittleman had yet to get one woman into a closet with him. Somewhere, fate, that lousy son of a bitch, had thrown Dr. Harry Chittleman a bad ball.


Nemiroff read the name pinned on the pocket of the man examining him. Dr. H. Chittleman.

"Take a deep breath," Dr. Chittleman said. Nemiroff took a deep breath. "Uh hmmm," the doctor said.

"I don't want to die," Nemiroff told him.

"You're not going to die," the doctor reassured him.

"What do you know," Nemiroff yelled. "That pregnant woman's sister-in-law's nephew. He knows."

"I can assure you, you're not going to die," the doctor said.

"Are you sure?" Nemiroff could hardly believe his ears.

"I'm positive," Dr. Chittleman said. "Now just drop your pants and let me finish the examination."

Nemiroff thanked God for letting him five. He felt a little sorry for the person who was going to die to make room for the pregnant woman's baby, but that was his tough luck. He noticed Dr. Chittleman staring at him.

"What a funny pair of balls," the doctor said. He started to laugh.

"What are you talking about?" Nemiroff asked.

"That's a very funny pair of balls," Dr. Chittleman repeated. "Has the nurse seen this?"

Nemiroff was gaping. "What do you mean, has the nurse seen this?"

Dr. Chittleman was laughing harder now. "I think the nurse should see this. They're very funny."

Nemiroff was mad. "How can a pair of balls be funny?"

Dr. Chittleman was holding his sides now. "They're just funny." He opened the door and called to the nurse. "Nurse, come in here and take a look at this."

Nemiroff lay back down on the table. He couldn't believe it. The nurse came in and walked over to the table.

"Have you ever seen a funnier-looking pair of balls in your life?" Dr. Chittleman asked.

Nemiroff felt his face turning red. The nurse started to laugh, and now both she and the doctor were hysterical.

"Has Dr. Beaton seen this?" the doctor asked the nurse.

"I don't think so," the nurse said.

"Get him in here." The nurse went out to the desk and paged Dr. Beaton. She came back five minutes later towing Dr. Beaton. "Take a look," Dr. Chittleman said.

Dr. Beaton looked over at Nemiroff, naked from the waist down, lying on the table.

"Is that funny?" Dr. Chittleman asked his colleague. All three of them were now laughing at Nemiroff.

Dr. Chittleman ignored him. "Where's Nurse Lane," he asked. "She'd really get a kick out of this."

Nemiroff couldn't stand it any longer. He got up off the table and started to pull on his pants. "You're all out of your fucking minds," he told them. They just laughed at him.

"Please," Dr. Chittleman begged, "just wait for Nurse Lane."

"I'll be damned if I will," Nemiroff shouted. He started to walk out of the room. The doctors and the nurse followed him, still laughing hysterically. Nemiroff didn't know which way to go. He just knew he wanted to get the hell out of that hospital, and fast Nemiroff started down the long hospital corridor, looking for a way to get out. He stopped for a moment to pull up his pants. A nurse walked by wheeling a woman on a table. The woman looked over at Nemiroff. It was the woman from the ambulance. Nemiroff noticed her, then he noticed the baby on the table beside her. The baby was alive and so was Nemiroff. He hoped she wouldn't get upset and try and kill him or something to make room for her baby. The woman watched Nemiroff as he pulled up his drawers and started to hitch up his pants. She picked the baby up and held it out toward Nemiroff.

Nemiroff smiled. Maybe he had her all wrong. Maybe she wanted to be friends after all. Nemiroff started to walk over to the woman and the baby.

"Stop," she yelled, "don't come near my baby. I don't want my baby to be near someone who is going to die."

Nemiroff stopped. "Then what did you hold the baby up for?" he asked.

"I just wanted my baby to see a funny pair of balls," the woman said. "It would be a shame if he didn't see them before you die."

She put the baby down next to her and the nurse wheeled them both off. Nemiroff turned and walked out of the hospital. He kept walking all the way home.


Nemiroff watched the rain come down and cried. Nemiroff didn't always cry when it rained, but ever since that first day he had spent locked in with those kids at Camp Winituck with no escape, he secretly wished it would never rain again.

It was too much. Even some of the more stable counselors would begin to crack at the first sprinkle. For Nemiroff, it was an impossible situation. It was whenever it rained that Nemiroff seriously thought that maybe the army wouldn't be so bad after all.

Uncle Bernie loved the rain. Uncle Bernie was a frustrated showman. A ham. And every time it rained, Uncle Bernie had an audience trapped inside the converted stable that served as Camp Winituck's recreation center. Uncle Bernie played a bad piano, sang bad songs and played a lousy fiddle. Uncle Bernie secretly wished that it would rain every day of the summer.

The rain was really pouring down, and the one hundred and thirty-seven campers and counselors were crowded into the small area of the recreation room. They all were deathly silent as they waited for the dreaded announcement they knew must come. This time the unfortunate chore fell upon Mr. Robinson. He got up in the center of the crowd and raised his hands.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, "it gives Camp Winituck the great pleasure of introducing the one, the only"—he paused for emphasis—"Uncle Bernie."

The front door burst open and in rushed Uncle Bernie complete with straw hat, cane and tap sneakers.

"If you knew Susie, like I knew Susie. Oh . . . oh . . . oh, what a gal. ..'"

The booing and catcalling started with a whisper and grew to ear-breaking volume.

" 'There's none so classy, as this fair lassy. Oh ... oh . . . oh . . .'"

The booing had stopped bothering Uncle Bernie a long time ago. He did seven choruses, broke into a little time step, and finished big with a double backward somersault, catching his straw hat in his teeth.

"Throw the bum out," one of the campers yelled.

"The hook," screamed another, "somebody give him the hook."

Uncle Bernie didn't care how much they screamed and booed. They had no place to go, and by God, they were going to be entertained whether they liked it or not.

" 'Swanee . . .'" Uncle Bernie went on to his second number without a break. " 'Swaaahaahaaneeee ... the sun shines east... the sun shines west...'"

Somebody's shoe caught Uncle Bernie in the head.

" 'But I know where the sun shines best...'" He picked up the shoe and tossed it back without missing a note.

It had been a long time since it rained. Uncle Bernie did twenty-eight songs before he moved on to the piano. There was a pile of shoes knee-deep around the spot he had been singing from. Uncle Bernie banged a few introductory notes on the piano.

"O.K., everybody, it's request time once again." He let his fingers run up and down the keyboard. "C'mon, now don't be shy. Speak right up and see if you can stump old Uncle Bernie."

"Burn the piano," somebody suggested.

"Did you say 'Come to Me, My Melancholy Baby'?" The piano started tinkling. He did a twenty-minute version. Uncle Bernie must have been tired because he only played for five hours. He didn't notice that half the camp was now standing outside in the pouring rain.

Uncle Bernie finished on the piano and immediately picked up his fiddle. The shoes flew at him from all directions. "Now for the real treat," Uncle Bernie announced, still ducking the shoes, "a real old-fashioned square dance." He started to play a few notes on the fiddle. Nobody moved. "C'mon, get out here for the square dance." Nobody moved. He pointed to eight of the counselors. "If you aren't out here for the square dance by the time I count ten, you're fired."

The eight counselors got out on the floor.

"That's the spirit," Uncle Bernie cheered. "Now grab a partner." He started to fiddle some notes.

Nemiroff took a chance and asked Miss Booe if she would like to be his partner. To his surprise she accepted. He would be able to touch her again.

"Everybody square off," Uncle Bernie sang, fiddling like mad.

The four couples formed the square.

"Bow to your partner ... bow to your corner..." Uncle Bernie was really getting in the mood. The bow was just a blur against the fiddle. "Take your partner and promenade..."

Nemiroff took hold of Miss Booe's hand and put his other hand around her tiny little waist. They skipped around the circle. Nemiroff couldn't keep his eyes off Miss Booe's jugs.

"Back to where you started and bow again..." the words sang. "Turn to your partner and do-si-do . . ." Nemiroff turned to Miss Booe and did the step. On the way back he brushed up against her behind. He shuddered.

"Now all join hands and round again . . ." The call was getting faster. Nemiroff watched the jugs.

It was on the second do-si-do that Nemiroff jumped on Miss Booe. At first Uncle Bernie kept on playing and singing, not giving a damn what the hell was going on. Then the other dancers stopped to watch Nemiroff and Miss Booe struggling on the floor.

Uncle Bernie stopped playing and walked over. "I don't remember that part of the dance," he said. "What are you doing?"

There was no answer.

"Come on," he ordered, "break it up." The people who had gone outside started to come back inside when they heard the music stop. What they saw was Uncle Bernie busting his fiddle over Nemiroff's head in an attempt to get him separated from Miss Booe. When that failed, Uncle Bernie was left with only one alternative. He went back to the piano. " 'If you knew Susie, like I knew Susie . . . oh ... oh ...'"

The room cleared out in seven seconds. Nemiroff and Miss Booe included.


Nemiroff thought about his latest scene with Miss Booe all the way home that night He figured he really blew it this time. She would never even look at him again. But at least Nemiroff had touched her again. That was worth something.

Nemiroff heard the music coming from the bedroom as soon as he walked in the front door of his house.

"Goddamn it, Rena, can't you ever stop playing that lousy guitar?"

"Shove it." Rena had a way with words.

Nemiroff tried to read a magazine but the rotten music coming from the bedroom was getting to be too much. "Put down that fucking guitar," he said. The moan coming from the bedroom reminded Nemiroff that he better watch his language. It bothered Nemiroff that Rena never put the guitar down. Not even to eat. She was always picking and strumming on it. There was always that stinking guitar. And the dirty talk. God, Nemiroff was getting sick of the dirty talk. It was starting to get to him.

Nemiroff made up his mind. He pushed the chair back from the desk and stood up. "Rena," he yelled, "I'm coming back there. And this time there isn't going to be any dirty talk." He paused for effect "This time there's just going to be dirty actions."

Nemiroff shed most of his clothes while he ran down the hall to Rena's bedroom. He tore off his shorts as he entered the room. "Rena," he said, looking at her nude body lying on the bed, "enough is enough."

Rena saw him flying through the air, heading straight for her. Nemiroff was oblivious of everything except finally nailing her once and for all. He struggled to climb on top of her, and with a quick jab, he was in. It was beautiful. There were bells, and music.

"Oh, Rena, baby," he sighed, "do you hear it?"

"Uhmm," she said.

"It's wonderful, isn't it?" Nemiroff kept pumping away. "Just like in the movies."

"Yes," Rena said.

"I mean I thought hearing music when you made love was just make-believe." Nemiroff kept humping.

"It is make-believe," Rena said.

"It can't be," Nemiroff said. "I hear it! You hear it, don't you?"

"Yes," Rena admitted, "I hear it"

"It's love," Nemiroff said, "that's all it is. At last real love."

"No it isn't" Rena said. "You're hearing music because you happen to be fucking my guitar."

It was impossible. Nemiroff had to look. "What the hell is going on?"

BOOK: The Horse is Dead
10.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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