Funny Stories by Dick Oakes, Jr.

Dick Oakes, Jr.

Dick Oakes, Jr.

It had been a couple of weeks sleeping on a cot in the office of the towels by the pound joint when the crazy old broad that owned the place came in one morning.

“My husband died on that cot,” she said.

“Yeah? Somebody died just about near everywhere. What’s the difference?”

“I’ve got a room for you at the Murray. We’ll take it off your pay.”

I didn’t argue none.

I drove myself downtown in the ancient old car with the big rusted fins off the back. It was a five-story brick structure of another era but they had fashioned one of them angular neon signs out front and had fixed up a little cafe next to the office.

The owner was a friendly-looking older guy with a beard and a booming laugh who was already a little bit drunk.

“You Murray?”

“NO SIR! MY NAME IS FRANKLIN TIBBS! I BOUGHT THIS VERY HOTEL FROM THE MURRAY FAMILY. WHY, THEY ALL WENT IN FOR THE GOVERNMENT TRAINING PROGRAM! WHAT A DELIGHT!”

“You got a place on an end? Overlooking something? Maybe a little cross breeze?”

“WHY, ABSOLUTELY! WE HAVE A DELIGHTFUL ROOM FOR YOU MR. OATES. THE VERY TOP FLOOR!” He gave out a thunderous laugh that I couldn’t figure on none and took a sip from a gold flask that was shaped like a bowling pin.

Then he handed me a key on a plastic fob.s-l1600

We took an elevator up. There was a sullen teenage kid dressed in a bellhop’s getup. He threw the gate and pushed one of the numbers.

“THIS IS GUMP! MY SON! GUMP, MEET MR. OATES. HE IS EMPLOYED AT THE TOWELS BY THE POUND CONCERN! WHY, MR. OATES, THE MURRAY BUYS ALL ITS TOWELS FROM YOUR DELIGHTFUL ESTABLISHMENT!!!”

The kid didn’t say anything and the elevator lurched and started going up slowly.

“You like them towels by the pound, huh, Tibbs?”

“OH YES!  MY GOODNESS!  THEY ARE AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT, MR. OTTS!”

The elevator spilled out onto a depressing hallway decorated in dark greens and browns. There was a shit-colored carpet on the floor and strange paintings depicting women dressed in aprons and holding up kitchen appliances. There was no merit to any of it.

“WHY, HERE WE GO, MR. OTTS!  ROOM 526!  THIS IS, IF I MAY SAY SO, A DELIGHTFUL ROOM!  WHY, JUST SEE FOR YOURSELF!!!”

The door swung wide revealing an ordinary bed, nightstand, brown wagon wheel rug and peeling green wallpaper.

Tibbs took a hefty swig from the flask.

“Mr. Otts,” he said in a low voice. “Have you ever spun a wheel of fortune?”

“What?”

“NEVER MIND, MR. OTTS!” Suddenly, Tibbs bent over at the waist and started laughing in his weird, booming way.

When he finally stopped, he stood up and wiped his eyes with a handkerchief.

“OH MY, MR. OAKES.  OH MY!  WHAT A DELIGHT!”

“What the hell’s so delightful, Tibbs?” I put down my battered paper shitcase of tattered clothes.

“LIFE, MR. OAKES.  LIFE IS JUST…SUCH A DELIGHT.  DON’T YOU THINK? WHY, LOOK AT THE BIRDS OUTSIDE, MR. OAKES!”

He pulled me over to a muslin-curtained window and threw up a yellowed roller shade. There was nothing but a cracked parking lot and a fire escape out there.

“WHY, IF YOU LOOK CAREFULLY, MR. OAKES, YOU WILL SEE THE BELTED KINGFISHER SO COMMON TO OUR REGION.  LOOK!”

I thought about letting him know that there wasn’t anything out there but I ditched the idea.

“Yep, look at that Tibbs. Hell of a thing.”

“OH YESSSSSSSS!  IT IS AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT.”  He emptied the flask in one final paroxysmal swill.

He pitched the flask into a dark corner. “I WILL FIGHT ANYBODY AT ANY TIME!”

“Alright, Tibbs. Alright. Let me get some rest, wouldja?”

“OF COURSE, MR. OATES. OF COURSE.  I TRUST YOU FIND THE ROOM TO YOUR LIKING?”

“It’s a good damn palace, sure.”

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.   OH, WHAT A DELIGHT!  WHAT A DELIGHT!”

 

I made sure the door was double-locked after he left.

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