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  Humor stories > Funny stories : No Returns

No Returns


Funny stories Rating : 3.00, 6 votes. Reviews : 0 [add review]
NO RETURNS
Jimi Bernath

It was too late to turn around. It was 10:53, according to the illuminated clock on the dashboard of my Caddy, which I had bought with the little rainbow-shaped air freshener for $2.49 at Woolco just that week. It was a package deal. I saved over a buck, but the rainbow was stinking to high heaven, making me gag and wish I had one of those pine-tree kind instead.
The clock was handy, though. Besides telling me that it was too late to turn around, it also flashed the date at me: 10 31, Halloween night, when I should have been home taking my kids trick-or-treating instead of barreling down in my Caddy this god-forsaken highway. If I had any kids, that is. Guys in my line of work usually don’t. There was a time in my life when I’d wanted kids and a girl just like the girl that used to wait tables down at the Pick-Me-Up Bar & Grill, Daisy, that was her name, with the greatest pair of dimples this side of wherever it is they have the best dimples. But there was no sense in dwelling on that. I didn’t have any, not any kids, not not any dimples, and now it looked like I never will. Because it was too late to turn back, and back is where I would have to be to have any kids or even a steady girl. Ahead were only Highway 13 as far as the headlights of my Caddy could see. And at the end of it, a rondalay-vou with destiny. A showdown with Mr. Big. Was I ready for it? Who knows? I only knew it was too late to turn back because it was after 11 and my boss, the mysterious Mr. Bromo, had told me when I left that 10:30 was the latest I could turn around. Don’t ask me why. Guys in my line of work don’t question the rules. Much less break ‘em. They’re there for your protection, you know.
I wheeled my Caddy into the parking lot of the deserted gambling ship at the end of Highway 13, checked the safety catch on my .39, wrapped my Wrigley’s in the reeking rainbow and, tossing it into a nearby dumpster, walked across the creaking gangplank. It smelled like an ambush, or else my Odor-Eaters just gave out. Maybe this time I’d stepped in more than I could chew.
How they got the drop on me the second I stepped inside, I’ll never know. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, and that doesn’t pay in my line of work. The pay’s pretty good, though, when you can collect. And I collected the non-business end of a .46 behind the ear, dropping me like a sack of manure cut from a rope hanging on a hook somewhere. Down I went into a black bottomless whirlpool of unconsciousness, and hit the floor with a thud I never heard.
When I came to, I was staring down the barrel of the most gorgeous blonde I’d ever seen, much less spoken to. So I did.
“Pardon me, doll, but if you untie me from this chair I’ll let you take all your clothes off and dance seductively around the room before jumping my bones.”
Sorry, handsome. Maybe in your next life.” Just my luck. A Hindu dame. I thought about offering to show her my rope trick, but then I spotted the guy standing next to her, all 400 pounds of him in a pin-striped suit. I wouldn’t have been the guy’s tailor for a million bucks.
“Reginald Big at your service, Mr. Liverpill,” he said in a booming voice like a big bass drum in the devil’s own orchestra pit.
“I hate drum solos, Big,” I said. “So what’s your game?”
“Cribbage. You and me, Mr. Liverpill. Winner take all. And I must warn you, I’ve never been beaten.”
The tomato untied me and we sat down to play. Fifteen once, fifteen twice, fifteen a hundred more times while the doll moved the pegs with her long slim fingers and I knew it was getting close to dawn on Nov. 1 and it looked like Mr. Big had me right where he wanted me. He only had two pegs to go, and he puffed on his cigar and grinned and didn’t even offer me any coffee. Probably didn’t have any on board, the fiend.
Then it was over, quicker than it had begun all those hands before. He had me dead to rights, on ice, up the creek without a leg to stand on; it was finito, curtains, check-out time. There was no way out. Except for the door, and between it and me were 400 pounds of trouble packing a deadly .46 and a dizzy gorgeous Hindu broad. I had to think fast.
“Double or nothing?” I said.
He chuckled a hideous chuckle like an ice cream man from hell, and I was about to get the big Dreamcicle. He reached for his rod. Eyeing the blonde, I started thinking maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to get it over with so I could come back and start getting into her karmic drawers.
“Not only does your firm have to take back all the siding you sold me,” said Big, “but I’m going to have to send you to that big slimy sales meeting in the ground.”
“Hell’s a state of mind, Big!” I yelled, and made a dive for him before he could whip out his iron. Bouncing off, I grabbed the doll and held an ivory cribbage peg to her throat. Sure, I’d sold him 4.3 million feet of maintainance-free vinyl siding for his shopping center. So what if it clashed with his carpeting? A deal’s a deal. I got lawyers too. It didn’t matter. If Mr. Big didn’t kill me, Mr. Bromo would. It was more than just a property improvement company, I’d known that for a long time. What it was, I didn’t know. All I knew was I had to escape, get out of that door and into that Caddy and down one lonely highway after another for the rest of my days.
“Drop it Big, or the girl’s a cocktail frank!” I said, digging the pick a little deeper into the soft white flesh of her neck, and edging toward the door.
It didn’t matter. He drilled us both, killing us as dead as doornails, which I don’t believe have ever been alive. But we got the last laugh. Mr. Big had to keep his crummy siding and me and the dame… Well, let’s just say we did come back, as lesbian tennis players and we’re rich, famous, and madly in love. In fact, it was Bobbie who talked me into having a medium put me in a trance so we could find out all this weird stuff. I don’t know if I believe it or not, but that’s the way I wrote it down in this Madame Rosa’s creepy little apartment.
Whether it’s true or not, I guess everything works out in the long run. I mean, if I had turned around before it was too late, I’d still be a man and have to sell that awful siding and worry about whether my thing was bigger than the next guy’s.

(1985)


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