A Bone to Pick
It had been the worst fight of their marriage: promises broken, bonds of matrimony shattered. Now, Jack needed to show Sally his love for her was true and everlasting. “Buy her some snazzy jewelry,” a friend recommended. “Tattoo her name on your arm,” said another. But after fourteen cans of beer at the local tavern, Jack had a much better idea: He would have an image of his wife’s beautiful face scrimshawed on his leg bone.
A salty dog named Pickles overheard Jack’s plan and, being an incurable romantic as well as a master scrimshawer, said he would help. They got started immediately. Pickles washed most of the bilge grime off his forearms and secured his oily, rancid-smelling hair with a rubber band. Jack then took off his pants and woozily indicated he was ready to be scrimshawed. The bartender had found a paring knife beneath the sink, and Pickles used it to cut through the flesh and muscle of Jack’s leg with near-surgical precision until he reached the femur. With only a tear-stained photograph of Sally to guide him, the swabbie proceeded to painstakingly etch her likeness onto the bone.
When he was done, Pickles set aside his gore-smeared knife … and began to cry. If only he had found a woman like this! Amid the slurry of blood and subcutaneous fat, Sally’s smile radiated warmth and comfort to Pickles, like a lighthouse on a stormy night. What would his life have been like, the lonely mariner wondered, had he spent it not upon the high seas, but in the safe harbor of her gentle embrace?
With an old sailor’s sinewy strength, Pickles suddenly yanked the femur from the remainder of Jack’s leg, twisting it around until it popped free of its tendons and connective tissue. Jack protested feebly but to no avail. Tucking the bone under his arm, Pickles stumbled out the back door of the tavern and down the street until he came to the Robertson’s neat, whitewashed bungalow. When Sally answered the door, he handed her the bone. “I love you,” Pickles stammered, “so I made this for you.” She told him it was the most wonderful thing anyone had ever done for her.
It was then Sally saw more than a greasy, malodorous seafarer standing on her front porch. She saw a kind and beautiful and honest soul. The sort of man who would never swear to his wife that the naked whore hiding in their closet had actually been canvassing for the Sierra Club. Something stirred deep in Sally’s heart. “Would you like a drink?” she asked, opening the door wider, and Pickles hurried inside.
For the Love of Money
CoinFest 2005, the county’s biggest coin show ever, was in full swing, and Bradley was positively goosebumpy as he walked down the main aisle of the exhibition hall. To either side of him were endless, intoxicating rows of glittering coins. So many to choose from! Bradley thought hungrily. The young numismatist reminded himself to relax, to not pick the first pretty thing he saw. It was much easier said than done.
After browsing for several minutes, one particularly well-stocked booth caught his eye. Bradley slowly walked the length of the table until he spied an 1882 Morgan Silver Dollar in mint condition. He gasped. Somehow, he knew, this was The One. “I’ll take it,” he said, tapping assuredly on the glass of the display case. The man behind the table slipped the coin into a paper bag and handed it to Bradley, who laid a neat stack of twenties on the table. Clutching the bag against his chest, he sprinted to the exit, oblivious now to every other piece of currency around him.
Back at his apartment, the curtains were drawn, candles were burning, and a dozen roses sat in a vase on the computer desk. Gently, Bradley slid the silver dollar from the bag and examined the coin in the flickering light. She looked like a Roman goddess—a pristine, shimmering beauty. What was she thinking beneath that demure gaze? She was a mysterious and complicated woman, and that thrilled Bradley. His fingertips trembled as he carefully removed her from her protective Mylar sheath.
Suddenly, he spied something else sticking out of the bag, something completely, fantastically, unexpected. He shook it and out fell a 1910 Barber Quarter! Had the coin dealer misplaced it? Bradley could scarcely believe his good fortune. The Barber was well worn and tarnished, its mintmark barely visible. Oh, she’s been around the block a couple times, Bradley thought excitedly. A real dirty girl. He placed the silver dollar on the bed and plopped the quarter on it with a sensuous clink. Bradley’s heart was racing, and the exhilaration in his pants was almost more than he could bear. “Don’t worry, ladies,” he whispered, unbuckling his belt with one hand, caressing the two coins with the other. “There’s plenty of Bradley Appleton to go around!”
Relaxing in the paleontology lounge with an afternoon cup of tea, Professor Reinhold Carlson saw a mail-order bride catalog draped over the armrest of his chair. Curious, he began flipping through the well-thumbed publication, no doubt the property of the department chair, F. Worthington Smythe, a repugnant and depraved man whose appetite for exotic young women was legendary. Carlson noticed one of the pages was dog-eared and flecked with dried spittle; on it, a single photograph had been enthusiastically circled in green highlighter and surrounded by a forest of exclamation points. He gasped.
Little Dimitra! Incredibly, it was her. Yes, Carlson was sure this was the darling girl he remembered from his fossil-hunting expedition in Siberia so many years ago. The same laughing, smiling youngster who had brought him fresh bread and honey from her family’s farm, who had watched wide-eyed as Carlson and his team hauled up wondrous dinosaur bones from the earth and brushed them clean of dirt in the cool summer breeze. Oh, how she had clapped and sung with joy!
Now, the little girl was all grown up. So beautiful. And so vulnerable. Before he knew what he was doing, Carlson was on the phone with his bank, instructing that the entire contents of his savings account be wired to the offices of Far East Beauties, Ltd. Dimitra would not be falling into Smythe’s lecherous clutches if Reinhold Carlson had anything to say about it!
A week later, the professor found himself standing nervously in the airport, waiting for Dimitra to emerge from customs. Would she recognize him after all these years? Could he, an aging widower, bring her comfort and happiness? Suddenly, she appeared, and all his doubts were forgotten. Carlson broke into a wide grin and began walking toward her, arms outstretched. But then he stopped. His arms went limp. Dimitra’s face and hair were covered in gravy. She was screaming obscenities in broken English and trying to caress a panic-stricken grandmother. On her head was a partially torn customs inspector’s hat.
Oh no! Carlson thought, terrified. It was not Dimitra, but her insane twin brother, Dimitri, last seen by the professor bounding away mirthfully from an excavation pit with a stegosaurus vertebra in his pants. The demented imp now had long hair and small, perky breasts. (The professor would later learn about his short and troubled stint in a Vladivostok cabaret.) Yes, he looked remarkably like his sister. But unlike polite Dimitra, he thought it perfectly reasonable to apply a flying karate kick to Carlson’s stomach, then leap onto the Avis counter and wet his pants.
Two policemen quickly pulled the screaming, urinating Russian to the floor and pinned him with their knees as they slipped handcuffs around his dainty wrists. Dimitri pounded the floor with his head and began to moo. Carlson, meanwhile, grabbed his cellphone and dialed Smythe, who was delighted to hear that his colleague had a very special someone for him to meet.