It was 9:30 pm and I was finishing my second vodka and trying to figure out how to smoke a cigar without my wife smelling it on me. The phone rang and I ducked thinking it’s my wife and what the hell, is she reading minds now? But it wasn’t her. Instead an old-lady crinkly voice demanded to know if I bought comic books. I could tell from the way she talked that she smelled funny. Maybe like one of those European cheeses with high bacteria counts that people are leery of. Anyway, she wanted to meet in the parking lot across the street from the store, the comic books were in the trunk of her car she said. The drug dealer aspect of all this should have rang some alarms, but I agreed to it and the next morning when I saw her I knew that this would not end well. She was about 70, had a silver buzz-cut and the eyes of a Viet-Cong sniper. She popped the trunk and I looked down at the box of shabby Archie comics and I said $20. Ha! she snarls, you ain’t low balling me and she slams the trunk on my head. I say ouch (or maybe shit) but she keeps the trunk door pressed against my head. Now I’ve watched Goodfellas at least a dozen times so I knew it was touch and go at this point. I said Lady, you’ve got to let me get my head out and she glared at me while I moved my head out of range. Maybe I should’ve offered $30.
Later the same day, an elderly man with an iron-curtain accent and a disapproving wife came in with what looked like an inflated pizza delivery bag, the kind with the aluminum foil lining on the inside. The wife said “these are good books” and he says “good books”. She says “these books are worth money” and he says “worth money”. I look inside the bag and it looks like the books were flung into it during a regime-change evacuation panic. The aluminum foil is a little weird so I ask them if the books are radioactive. This must be a standard question where they’re from because she looks solemn and shakes her no but he looks a little guilty and says you look at books, we go for ice cream. At the door, she turns around and warns “they’re counted” and he says “counted!” I decided the books were radioactive after all and went for lunch.