[Frontispiece: Along he comes with some dame he must have kidnapped from the Follies when Ziegfeld was busy countin' up the receipts or somethin'.]
ALEX THE GREAT
H. C. WITWER
Author of "From Baseball to Boches," "A Smile a Minute," etc.
ARTHUR WILLIAM BROWN
SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY
BY SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY
RALPH T. HALE
—EDITOR OF SMALL, MAYNARD AND COMPANY—
MY PUBLISHER—BUT STILL MY FRIEND
I INTRODUCING ALEX THE GREAT II THE SELF-COMMENCER III PLAY YOUR ACE! IV DON'T GIVE UP THE TIP! V YOU CAN DO IT! VI THE LITTLE THINGS DON'T COUNT VII ART IS WRONG
Along he comes with some dame he must have kidnapped from the Follies when Ziegfeld was busy countin' up the receipts or somethin'. . . . . . . Frontispiece
I struck a match and he tells me they is 9,765,543 of them used in New York every fiscal year.
"She's going to marry me, she's going to marry me!"
She's knittin' a sweater for me that will prob'ly make me off her for life.
"How perfectly sweet! If you two only knew what a pretty picture you make!"
"Heavens!" says the vampire. "You must have worked all your life to acquire ignorance, for no one was ever born as stupid as you!"
When the dames cast languishing glances at his handsome form, he glared at them like an infuriated turtle.
ALEX THE GREAT
INTRODUCING ALEX THE GREAT
Girls, listen—if friend hubby comes home to-night and while hurlin' the cat off his favorite chair, remarks that he's got a scheme to make gold out of mud or pennant winners out of the St. Looey Cardinals, don't threaten to leave him flat and accuse him of givin' aid and comfort to the breweries. Turn the gas out under the steak, be seated and register attention—because maybe he has!
Scattered around all the department stores, coal mines, butcher shops, the police force and banks, there's guys which can sing as well as Caruso, lead a band better than Sousa, stand Dempsey on his ear, show Rockefeller how to make money or teach Chaplin some new falls. Yet these birds go through life on eighteen dollars every Saturday with prospects, and never get their names in the papers unless they get caught in a trolley smash-up. They're like a guy with the ice cream concession at the North Pole. They got the goods, but what of it? As far as the universe is concerned it's a secret—they're there with chimes on, but nobody knows it but them!
Y'know this stuff about us all bein' neck and neck when we hit the nursery may be true, but, believe me, some guys are born to run second! They get off on the wrong foot, trailin' the leaders until the undertaker stops the race. They plod through life takin' orders from guys that don't know half as much about any given thing as they do; they never get a crack at the big job or the big money, although accordin' to Hoyle they got everything that's needed for both. Take Joey Green who used to be so stupid at dear old college that the faculty once considered givin' him education by injectin' it into his dome with a hypodermic. At forty he comes back to the campus to make 'em a present of a few new buildin's out of last month's winnin's from the cruel world. Where is Elbert Huntington, which copped all the diplomas, did algebra by ear and was give medals for out-brainin' the class? Where is he, teacher? And the echo chirps, "Workin' for Joey Green, drawin' twenty a week and on the payroll as No. 543!"
The answer to this little thumb sketch is easy. Elbert Huntington had brains and Joey Green had confidence. Elbert expected to dumfound the world with what he knew, and Joey did dumfound it with what he didn't. Now if Joseph made good with nothin' but nerve, what could a guy do that had brains and nerve both?
I'll tell you.
After we won the world's series in 1914 and the dough had been divided up to the satisfaction of everybody but the guys that was in on the split, me and the wife had figured on one of them trips to Europe. You prob'bly know the kind I mean, "$900 and up. Bus to hotel on fifth morning out included." I had looked forward to this here expedition for thirty years, like a guy looks forward to eight o'clock the night he's gonna call on his first girl. We had learned French and Eytalian off of a phonograph record and from givin' them spaghetti dives a play. Also, I had collected a trousseau that would of made John Drew take arsenic if he'd ever of flashed me when I was dolled up for the street.
Prob'ly you have seen somethin' in the papers about how the old country was closed to traffic right then. From what I hear it was all dug up like lower Broadway and tourists had to detour by way of So. America, so we never got nearer Europe than the Williamsburg Bridge, and you can't see a thing from there.
Well, when we found out that as far as trips to Europe was concerned they was nothin' stirrin', the wife took both bank books and went down to Lakewood, while I stayed in New York as a deposit on the new flat. I went to the station with her and I'll betcha from the fond farewells we give each other, people must of thought she was gonna take the veil or somethin', instead of just goin' to entomb herself in Jersey for a month. I swore I'd be in every night at ten, although that's kinda late to start out for the night, and she promised not to get in no bridge melees where the sum they battled for was over six bits. Then we took some more bows on the lovin' good-by stuff, and I'm alone in the big city.
I managed somehow to live through the day, but the next afternoon I lured a bunch up to the flat for a little pinochle. I begin by invitin' two guys, but by the time we got to Harlem we was a dozen strong. Once inside the portals, it turns out that only six of them is wild about pinochle, so the rest of 'em take up the rugs, start the victrola and give themselves up to dancin'. Pretty soon the telephone rings with great violence. I grabbed the receiver and learned it was the woman which lives underneath.
"Them steamfitters you got rehearsin' up there has got to call it a day!" she says. "Otherwise I'll moan to the landlord. The chandelier has left the ceilin' already and four pieces of my chocolate set is busted. I never heard tell of such carryin' on!"
"Wait till you been here a little longer," I says, "I ain't carryin' on, me and some boy friends of mine is tryin' to kill a dull afternoon and—"
"If them's friends makin' that racket," she butts in, "I hope I have moved when your enemies call! What am I gonna do about that chocolate set, hey? D'ye hear—there goes another piece!"
"If I was in your place," I tells her, "I'd drink coffee, and if your furnishings is all as frail as that chocolate set you're featurin', you better grab hold of the piano, because I'm gonna sneeze!"
"Don't you dare make no cracks about my furniture!" she yells. "I got my opinion of what you do for a livin' when you can afford to be home in the daytime!"
"I make chocolate sets," I says. "We're workin' on one now and—"
"Wait till my husband comes home!" she cuts in. "He'll take care of you!"
"I don't need nobody to take care of me," I comes back, "I'm self supportin'."
"Why don't you let go there?" yells Eddie Brannan. "Are you and that dame doin' an act or what?"
Zip! she hangs up and just then the front door-bell makes good.
"See who it is!" I calls to one of the gang, sittin' in the game again. "Tell 'em I'm in Brazil and—"
One of them dead silences took place in the hall and—in walks the wife!
For the next five seconds it was so quiet in that flat that a graveyard would seem like a locomotive works alongside of it. Joe Leity starts to whistle soft and low, Abe Katz opens the dumbwaiter and looks down to see what kind of a jump it is and I dropped a hundred aces on the floor. The rest of the gang eases over to the door.
"Why—ah—eh—ah, what does this mean?" I says kinda weak. "I thought you had went to Lakewood."
"Well," she says, turnin' the eyes, that used to fill the Winter Garden every night, on the gang, "where d'ye figure I am now? I'll give you three guesses!"
"Ahem!" says Joe Leity, "I guess I'll blow! I—"
"Me, too!" pipes the gang like a chorus and does a few more vamps to the door.
"Why don't you introduce your friends?" says the wife. "Or maybe you just run across these boys yourself when you come in, heh?"
"Excuse!" I says. "This here's Joe Leity, Abe Katz, Phil Young, Red Dailey, Steve—"
"Never mind callin' the roll," she butts in. "I'll let it go en masse. I'm delighted to meet you all, and I hope you won't run away simply because I'm here."
"Oh, no—not at all—we ain't runnin' away!" they says.
"There's no reason for you boys runnin' anyways," the wife goes on, "because the elevator is right outside now and I think the boy is holdin' the car for you—"
"And now," says the wife to me, "what d'ye mean by bringin' them plumbers up here for a union meetin', eh?"
"Don't be always knockin'!" I answers, gettin' peeved. "Them boys is all honest and true, even if they do look a little rough to the naked eye. But how is it you come back to-day when you wasn't due for a month?"
"You're tickled to death to see me, ain't you?" she asks, pullin' the pout that formerly helped sell the magazines.
To be level with you, I was—mad and all.
"Why, dearie!" I remarks, kissin' her. "You know I—"
"Easy with the oil!" she cuts me off. "Get on your hat and coat; we're goin' right down to Grand Central Station."
"Don't you think it's liable to tire you, honey," I asks her, "runnin' back and forth from Lakewood like this?"
"I'm not goin' to Lakewood, Stupid," she says. "We're goin' down to meet Alex Hanley—of course you remember him?"
I threw in the self-starter on the old brain, but there was nothin' doin'.
"No!" I says. "To come right out with it—I don't. I realize though that he must be a lu-lu when we're goin' down and meet him at the station. What did he do—lick Dempsey?"
"Idiot!" says the wife, callin' me by her favorite pet name. "He's my cousin."
We was goin' down in the elevator and I sunk in the seat with a low moan. In the short space since me and the wife had been wed, I had met her father, six brothers, four nephews, three cousins and a bevy of her uncles. They all claimed they was pleased to meet me, though they couldn't figure how their favorite female relative come to fall for me—and then they folleyed that lead up with a request for everything from a job to ten bucks.
"All right, dearie," I says, finally, "I'm game! Believe me, though, while your family is all aces to me on account of bein' related to you, I often find myself wishin' that you had been an orphan!"
"I could of married a couple of millionaires!" sighs the wife. "And to think I turned 'em down for you!"
"If you had married a couple of millionaires, you would of been pinched!" I says. "What d'ye think this cousin of yours will want to start off with, from your affectionate husband?"
"Nothin'!" she tells me. "Alex never asked a favor in his life. Believe me, this one is different!"
"I can see that from here!" I says. "If you claim he won't take me for something he's different, all right. In fact I can hardly believe he belongs to the family at all."
"I was brought up never to brawl in the open," says the wife, "so I'm lettin' your insults go. This boy is fresh from the mountains of Vermont. He's never been to New York in his life and he's comin' here now to make his mark."
"I'll lay you eight to five I'm the mark!" I says.
We was at the station then, so we had to practise self-denial and quit scrappin'. The wife explained that she had hardly got to Lakewood when she found a telegram there from her cousin Alex sayin' that he was comin' down for a visit. So she beat it right back to meet him, not wantin' the poor kid to breeze into a town like New York, all by his lonesome.
Well, we stand in the middle of the waitin'-room like a couple of boobs for a while, and then a guy, which I figured must be a college devil bustin' into a new fraternity, comes gallopin' across the floor, slams a suitcase down on my foot and throws his arms around the wife's neck. He had on a cap which could of been used as a checker board when you got tired of wearin' it, a suit of clothes that must of been made by a maniac tailor and the yellowest tan shoes I ever seen in my life. If he had been three inches taller and an ounce thinner, you could of put a tent around him and got a dime admission. On his upper lip, which was of a retirin' disposition, he had a mustache that was an outright steal from Chaplin.
I watched him and my wife embrace as long as I could stand it and then I tapped her on the shoulder.
"I suppose this is Alex, eh?" I says—while he looks at me for the first time.
"You got Sherlock Holmes lookin' stupid!" admits the wife. "Alex, meet my lord and master."
"Howdy, cousin!" hollers Alex. "I knowed you the minute I seen you from them, now, big ears you got. Y'know they went to work and printed your picture in the Sunday papers last month on a charge of havin' won the, now, pennant for—Well, that's neither here nor there. I come here to make good! A feller with brains can always do that in these big rube towns like New York. Of course a baseball player don't need no brains—you know that yourself and—"
"C'mon, Alex," butts in the wife quickly, seein' I was gettin' ready to grab Alex by the neck. "We'll go right up to the flat and have something to eat. I'll bet you haven't had a bite since you left home—you ought to be starved by this time!"
"I'd rather see him shot, myself!" I growls, taggin' along after them, carryin' this bird's suitcase. If they was clothes in there, Alex must of dressed in armor up in Vermont. The thing was as heavy as two dollars' worth of corn beef and cabbage. However, I figured I'd get back at Alex the minute he asked me for a job. I was all set for this bird, believe me!
"So this is New York, hey?" he pipes through his nose the minute we get outside the station. He stops dead in the street, gazin' up at the big buildin's and then down at the crowds like a guy in a trance. All he needed was a streamer of hay in his mouth and the first seven guys that passed would of offered to sell him the Bronx. He gasps a couple of times and wipes his eyes.
"Well, Alex," I says, tryin' hard not to laugh in his face, "what d'ye think of New York? Considerable burg, eh?"
He shakes his head kinda sad and sighs.
"I'll speak plain to you, cousin," he says. "Of all the rube burgs I ever seen, this here's the limit!"
I liked to fell down one of them Subway holes!
"Rube town?" I yells. "Where d'ye get that stuff? Are you seekin' to kid me?"
He grabs me by the shoulders and swings me around.
"Just you look at that crowd of folks on the corner there!" he tells me. He points over to where half New York is bein' held up in a traffic jam—wagons, autos, surface cars and guys usin' rubber heels as a means of locomotion, all waitin' for the cop to say, "Go!"
"Just look at 'em!" repeats Alex, sneering at me. "From the reports that have reached me, this here's the town where all the brains in the world is gathered. There's a couple hundred of them brains on the corner there now, I reckon, and they can't go nowheres till that constabule gives the word! Huh!" he snorts, turnin' away. "All just a lot of rubes, that's all!"
We get in a taxi and all the way up Alex kept lookin' out the window, shakin' his head and mutterin' somethin' about Manhattan bein' a well-advertised bunk and all the inhabitants thereof bein' hicks. I don't know whether he was after my goat or not, but in a few minutes he had it.
"Listen, gentle stranger," I says, when nature could stand no more, "I realize that New York is nothin' but a flag station and that we're all Reubens and chew hay, but we have, amongst other things, six million merry villagers, the biggest buildings in the world, the subway, gunmen, cabarets, Broadway, and—well, a lot of things that you gotta admit ain't hit dear old Vermont as yet!"
"And I most sincerely hope and trust they never will!" pipes Alex. "We don't need 'em! We got good, clean mountain air, plenty of honest green grass and—and—neighbors! There's just a few things you ain't got in New York. Cousin Alice tells me she was here two years before she knowed the folks in the next flat. That shows you people is suspicious. You know you're rubes and you're afraid to welcome the stranger for fear he'll sell you one of them, now, gold bricks. I also hear you pay five and six dollars for a seat at an entertainment. You so-called wise New Yorkers pays that much for tickets and then go in and laugh your fool heads off at a scene showin' a, now, farmer bein' stung! Ha, ha, ha! You—"
We was up at the flat then, and I let him rave on, tryin' not to get peeved, so's we'd have some peace and quiet in the family. I knew if he kept on pannin' my town, I'd get sore and bite him or somethin'—and then the wife wouldn't gimme no smile for a month. Alex was a new one on me so far, but I figured that in a couple of days he'd be tellin' the world that New York was the greatest place on earth and people that lived anywheres else must be nutty—the way they all do.
After supper the wife calls up a girl friend of hers so's we can make up a little theatre party. Me and Alex goes into the parlor for a smoke, and I asked him how he come to be in our mongst if he already knowed what a hick town New York was.
"I come here to make good," he tells me, "because, in my opinion, this is the easiest place in the world to do that thing. This town is no different than Ann Harbor or New Haven, except that it's bigger—that's all! The trouble with most fellows that come here from a small town is, they let New York get under their skin and it takes their nerve before they get started. Advertisin' is what has made this town what it is to-day and nothin' else. It's easier to make good here than it is in a burg, because in your own town everybody knows you and now fourflushin' will get you nothin'. There's so many people here that a feller can keep some of 'em guessin' all the time. All anybody needs to get ahead here is confidence—"
"Well," I butts in, "if all a guy needs is confidence, you ought to be a knockout! What are you figurin' on doin' first?"
"I'll look around to-morrow," he says. "I wanna start off with the hardest proposition in the town right away. Out in my town five of us fellers formed a little club. Each of us has swore to come to New York one after the other and make good in six months to a year, just to show you folks how easy it is. For one thing, we all got our own private little plans for winnin' out here and every one of us is goin' to go at the proposition from a brand new angle. I was elected to be the first one, and that's why I'm here."
"Alex," I says, "you're an ambitious feller, and I gotta hand it to you. I don't doubt you'll go a long ways at that, if you don't get pinched for speedin'. But this stuff you're pullin' about dear old Manhattan gets under my collar! I hate to hear you pan the capital of the world in that rough way of yours, and when you claim it's a simple matter to make good here, you have gone and pulled a bone. If it's as soft as you say, I must of lost the combination or somethin', because it took me thirty years to get over right here, and, at that, I ain't causin' Rockefeller or George M. Cohan no worry! So just to show you that your dope is all wrong and that you're due to hit the bumps if you play it out, I'll lay you eight to five you muff the very first thing you try here—what d'ye say?"
He looks at me for a minute and shakes his head.
"I don't want to deprive my Cousin Alice of no luxuries," he tells me, "or I'd snap you right up on that."
"I see they're still makin' 'em yellah up in Vermont!" I sneers.
"D'ye mean to insinuate that I'm a quitter?" he asks me, gettin' red.
"You ought to be a fortune teller!" I says.
"By gravy, I'll take you up!" he hollers. "I got five hundred dollars in my left shoe and I might as well add to it now as later. I'll bet you the five hundred to your eight hundred that the first thing I tackle here, I make good!"
"You hate yourself, don't you?" I says.
"Who's yellah now?" he comes back.
"The canary," I tells him. "You're on!"
Just then the door-bell rings, and they was sounds of kissin' by women principals in the hall. In walks the wife with what looks to me like a opium-eater's dream and a Fifth Avenue evenin' gown model combined. Alex takes one flash and turns red, white and blue.
"This is my friend Eve Rossiter," says the wife. "My husband, Eve, and my cousin, Alex Hanley."
"Charmed!" breathes Eve, pullin' a smile that lit up the room.
"Me and you both!" I says.
But Alex clears his throat, grits his teeth and flushes up. They was a glitter in his eye and he begins to talk fast and hard.
"Howdy, Miss Rossiter!" he says, shakin' hands like he was bein' give a knockdown to the new bartender. "I'm astounded to meet you! I just come to New York to-day, but if I'd of knowed you was here, I'd of been here long ago. However, I'm here now and better late than forever, as the feller says. I just bet my cousin here that the first thing I tried my hand at in New York I'd make good. I'm goin' out to-morrow and show him how easy it is for a feller to get to the top in this here prize rube burg, provided he has now gumption and his methods is new. I'll see you to-morrow night and let you know how I made out; I know you won't have no peace till you hear about it!" He digs into his pockets feverishly and grabs out a handful of letters. "Here's what they thought of me up in Vermont!" he goes on, never takin' his eyes off the girl's face. The wife is starin' at him with her mouth and eyes as open as a crap tourney, like she figured he'd gone nutty—and me and Little Eva is runnin' neck and neck at tryin' to keep from laughin'. "They say a man that can make good in New York can make good anywhere," he goes on, throwin' the clutch into high again. "I say a man that can make good anywhere can make good in New York! What's the difference between New York and Goose Creek, Iowa?—New York's got more people in it, that's all! It's harder—"
"Alex, Alex!" butts in the wife, finally regainin' control of her voice. "What is the matter with you? You—"
"Hush!" says Alex, turnin' back to Eve again. "It's harder to make good in a little town than it is in a big one, because—"
"Alex, look here!" cuts in the wife, gettin' sore. "Miss Rossiter ain't interested in that patter of yours—we're goin' to the theatre. Now both you men run along and dress, we'll miss half the show as it is!"
"I'll be right back!" chirps Alex to Eve. "Them eyes of yours is simply now dumfoundin'!"
I took Alex in my boudoir and while I'm gettin' in the banquet uneyform, he takes a thing that was a cross between a tuxedo and a dress suit out of his bag and dolls up. When set for the street, Alex was no Greek god, but he was fairly easy to look at, if you closed one eye. He wanted to know what kind of an entertainment they had at the opry house this week, and I told him I'd show him somethin' that had them huskin' bees, he was used to up in Vermont, beat eighty ways from the jack.
Well, we go to the biggest musical show on Broadway, and instead of faintin' dead away from joy, Alex claims it was rotten and spent the night explainin' to Eve how he was gonna take New York the next mornin'. After the show we went to a cabaret and still no rise out of Alex. He was off the gay whirl, he says, and his idea of a holiday was to sit beside his own fireside, readin' yesterday's mail, while his wife made the room resound with melody by hummin' "Silver Threads Among The Gold," the while knittin' a doily for the front-room table.
At this, Eve, which has been gazin' at Alex all night like he was Coney Island and she was gettin' her first peep, asks if he was married.
"Don't crowd me!" he tells her, tappin' her arm playfully. "I ain't gonna get married till I make good. By to-morrow night, though, I reckon I'll be in a position to talk it over with you!"
"Ooooh!!" gasps Eve, turnin' a becomin' shade of red. Can you tell me why them big league dames fall for these guys like Alex? If you can do that, I got an easy one for you—I wanna know who started the world. From one flash at Eve, bein' a married man, I could tell where she'd be the next night when Alex called—and it wouldn't be—out! The next minute Eve laughed and tells Alex if he's got as much ability as he has nerve, he ought to have New York on its ear in twenty-four hours. The wife asks him will he kindly lay off pesterin' her girl friend to death and quit boostin' himself for a minute, because we was out for pleasure and he had played the one record all night.
"Go on, Mister Hanley," butts in Eve, "I love to hear you talk. You're so different from any one else I've met, and I really believe you will do something big here, because you're—well—new!"
"You have remarked somethin'!" agrees Alex. "I'm gonna show 'em somethin' they never seen before and make 'em like it!"
Well, he takes Eve home that night for a starter, and the next mornin' he's up bright and early at seven, ready to startle Manhattan. He said he wanted me to go out with him and watch him win my eight hundred bucks and also to notice the way he worked. He picks up the mornin' paper, runs through the "Help Wanted" columns for a minute and finally clears his throat.
"Aha!" he says. "Listen to this—'Wanted. High class automobile salesman for the Gaflooey light delivery wagon. We have no time for experiments and successful applicant must make good at once. We don't want an order taker, but an order maker—a real, live, simon-pure hustler who will start delivering the goods the morning he goes on the payroll. This job pays ten thousand a year, if you show us you're worth it. Apply personally all day and bring references. This is imperative. We want to see your past record of sales elsewhere. Ask for Mr. Grattan, 1346 Broadway. If you haven't the experience, don't come!'"
"Well?" I says.
He puts down the paper and reaches for his hat.
"They'll probably be a lot after that there job, hey?" he asks me.
"About four thousand, I'd say offhand!" I grins.
"Fine!" he says, rubbin' his hands and smilin', "I love competition because it puts a feller on his mettle. Now look here, if I go down there and secure that job this mornin', do I get your eight hundred dollars?"
"What?" I hollers. "What d'ye mean, do you get my eight hundred?"
"Listen!" he says. "The bet was that I make good at the first thing I tackle, wasn't it—all right! Now this here job looks good to me. Ten thousand a year is nice money to start. If you're fair minded, you'll admit that in goin' after this job I'm up against a pretty stiff proposition. In the first place I don't know no more about automobiles than you do about raisin' hogs. I never sold one in my life. I don't know a soul in New York outside of you, Cousin Alice and that girl I took home last night, so I can't furnish no references on my ability as a salesman. The advertisement says you have to have 'em. As you say, they'll be thousands after that job. Fellers with swell fronts, high soundin' records in back of 'em and gilt-edged references. Now under all that handicap, if I walk in there and get the job, won't you admit I made good?"
"If you go down and ask for that job and they turn you down, you'll pay me, eh?" I asks him.
"At once!" he says, firmly.
"C'mon, Alex!" I tells him, puttin' on my hat. "I hate to cop a sucker bet like this, but maybe losin' it will reduce the size of your head a trifle and do you good!"
Once out in the street, he stretches his arms, pulls his hat down hard over his dome and stamps his feet.
"Watch me close!" he says. "Watch me close and you'll get some valuable tips on how to put yourself over. I told you I was gonna be new—just observe how I go after this job. The average New Yorker who wanted it would go right down to the office, present his, now, credentials and ask for it, wouldn't he?"
"The early worm catches the fish, y'know!" I says; "and in New York here—the town that made pep and hustle famous—a man would be down there at six a.m. waitin' for the place to open. Why, there's prob'ly a hundred or more there right now!"
"I hope there's a million!" he comes back. "It'll be more satisfaction when they hire me over all them others. Now I ain't goin' near that there office as yet. My system gets away from the old stuff—just keep your eye on Cousin Alex from now on!"
He buys a newspaper, finds the automobile section and, finally, a big display advertisement of the Gaflooey Auto Company. He takes out a letter from his pocket and on the back of it he marks the price, style, and a lot of other dope about Gaflooey light delivery wagons and then throws the paper away.
"Now," he grins, "I'm all ready, except to give them folks my full name for the payroll!"
At that minute, somebody slaps me on the back and I swing around to see Buck Rice chucklin' at me. Buck used to be one of the best second basemen that ever picked up a bat, till his legs went back on him and he got into the automobile game. I remember thinkin' how funny it was that he come along right then when me and Alex was talkin' about autos.
"Well, how are they breakin', Buck?" I says, shakin' hands and introducin' Alex.
"I think I have fanned with the bases loaded again," he laughs. "I put in five hours to-day tryin' to get the Mastadon Department Store to put in a line of six-cylinder Katzes on their delivery system. I got a private tip that they're changin' from the Mutz-36 and the first order will be about eighty cars. Of course that's a sweet piece of money for somebody and everybody in New York will be there to-day tryin' to grab that order off. You might as well try to sell radiators in Hades though, because Munson, the bird that does the purchasin', is stuck on the Clarendon and he wouldn't buy anything else if they was givin' 'em away!"
"Well, that's tough, Buck!" I sympathizes.
"Sure is!" he says, givin' me and Alex a quarter perfecto and grinnin' some more to show how disappointed he feels. "But I should worry! If I lose that one, I'll get another, so what's the difference?" He turns to Alex, "Y'know in New York here," he confides, "we don't have no time to hold no coroner's inquests over failures. We forget about 'em and go after somethin' else—always on the job, get me? You'll learn after you're here a while—that's what makes the town what it is. If I stopped to moan over every order I didn't put across, I'd be nowhere to-day. Nope, you can't do that in New York!"
"Another of them there New Yorkers, hey?" sneers Alex to me, after Buck has blowed. "Don't you see how that feller proves my argyment about how simple it is to make good here? From the way he's dressed—them, now, diamonds and so forth—he's probably a big feller in his line. Makin' plenty of money and looked on as a success by the ig'rant. Yet he lets a big order get away from him when it was practically a cinch to land it!"
"Say, listen!" I yelps—this bird was gettin' on my nerves. "If four-flushin' was water, you'd be the Pacific Ocean! You gimme a pain with that line of patter you got, and as far as salesmanship is concerned, I'll bet you couldn't sell a porterhouse steak to a guy dyin' of hunger. I'd like to see you land an order like Buck spoke of, you—"
"That's just what you're gonna do!" he butts in. "You're gonna see me land that very order he told us about—what d'ye think of that, hey?"
I stopped dead and gazed upon him.
"You're gonna which?" I asks him.
"I'm gonna land that order from that department store!" he repeats, grabbin' my arm. "C'mon—show me how to get there!"
I fell up against a lamp post and laughed till a passin' dame remarked to her friend that it was an outrage the way some guys drank. Then I led Alex to the subway.
"Listen," I says. "What about this job you was gonna get? Of course you know if you quit, I win the bet."
"Quit?" he says. "Where have I heard the word before? Who said anything about quittin'? I'm gonna get that order and I'm gonna get that job!"
"Fair enough!" I tells him, "but you're goin' at the thing backwards. How are you gonna take an order for autos when you ain't got no autos to sell? I suppose you figure on grabbin' the ten thousand dollar job first and then makin' good with a loud crash by landin' the big order, eh?"
He shakes his head and sighs pityin'ly.
"Would there be anything new and original about that?" he asks.
"No!" I says, "there wouldn't! But I don't see how you're gonna win out any other way."
"Of course you don't!" he sneers. "You're a New Yorker, ain't you? I'm supposed to be the rube, simply because I wasn't born on Sixth Avenue. Now I already told you my methods was new, didn't I? Anybody would work the thing the way you lay it out—and probably land neither the job nor the order. What a chance would I have goin' up there and askin' for that job first? Where would I come out against all them sellin' experts with letters and so forth to prove it? Why, they'd laugh me outa the office! B-u-t!—if I go to them with an order for fifty or sixty of their cars as actual proof that I can sell not only autos, but their autos, what will they say, then? D'ye see the point now? They ask me for a reference and I reach in my pocket and give them the order, which I've got before applyin' for the job, to prove to myself and them that I can sell automobiles!"
"Alex," I says, when I got my breath, "I gotta hand it to you! When it comes to inventin' things, you got Edison lookin' like a backward pupil. Go to it, old kid! If you put this over the way you have just told it to me, you'll own Broadway in a week!"
"I'm figurin' on ten days!" he says.
We arrive at the Mastadon Department Store and shoot up in the elevator to the office of G. C. Munson, the general manager. Alex has been readin' the notes he made on Gaflooey delivery wagons like the same was a French novel, and, by the time we got there, he could repeat their advertisement by heart. He starts to breeze right into the office and some dame appears on the scene and nails him.
"One moment, please!" she says, very cold—givin' Alex a look that took in everything from his hick clothes to his rube haircut. "This happens to be a private office. Whom did you desire to see?"
"If I thought they was anybody prettier than you here, I'd ask to have them brought out," says Alex, in that simple rube way of his which give no offense, "but of course I know that's impossible. Still, as long as I'm here, I'd like to see Mister Munson."
The dame melts and releases a smile.
"What did you wish to see him about?" she asks.
"About ten minutes," pipes Alex. "D'ye know there's somethin' about them navy blue eyes of yours that makes me think of my mother—isn't that funny?"
The dame surrenders and shows Alex all her nice front teeth.
"I'll see if Mister Munson is in," she says, handin' him a card, "but you'll have to fill this out."
Alex looks at the card which had this on it,
Desires to see .......................
He laughs suddenly, takes out his fountain pen and fills the thing out. Lookin' over his shoulder I seen him write this,
Mr......... Alex Hanley
Desires to see ...... Mr. Munson.
Regarding .... The price of petrified noodles in Siberia.
"There," he says, handin' it to the girl without a smile, "give that to Mister Munson."
She takes it in without lookin' at it.
"Well, you crabbed any chance you might of had, right off the bat!" I says to Alex. "He'll get so sore when he reads that, he won't even let you in."
"Let him get sore!" chirps Alex. "He'll not only get sore, he'll get curious and then again I'm figurin' on him bein' human, besides bein' general manager and havin' a sense of humor! He's probably been pestered with auto salesmen all day—if I wrote my real business on that card he'd send word he was out. As it is, he'll read it and he won't be able to resist the, now, temptation to get one look at a feller which would want to know from a man in his position the price of petrified noodles in Siberia. No matter what happens afterwards, he'll want one look—wouldn't you?"
Before I can answer, the dame comes out laughin'.
"Step in," she says. "Mister Munson will see you."
"Now!" hisses Alex, as we ease in on the velvet carpet. "Watch how I go about sellin' autos. Y'see I got a nibble already because I was new! I—Howdy, Mister Munson!"
We was in the private office.
Munson was a little, keen-faced guy—bald, nervous and fat. He looks up over his glasses with Alex's card in his hand—and Alex looks back. In one second they had each found out all they wanted to know about the other.
"What's the meaning of this nonsense?" barks Munson.
Alex walks over to the desk, wets his lips and gets goin'.
"Mister Munson," he says, "if you called on a man at his office, would you care to write your business on a card for the office boy to read? No—you would not! A big man like you would probably tear the card up, leave the office in a, now, rage and never return! You'd be insulted, your, now, dignity would be hurt, eh? You might be from out of town and comin' here to leave a big order and that little thing—prob'ly invented by one of your New York efficiency stars—would make you so mad you'd go away and order where they wasn't so efficient, but a little more courteous! Look at that card—the, now, wordin' of it. Look how cold and hard it is! No warmth, no 'glad-to-see-you-stranger what-can-my-house-do-for-you?' about it. It's like a slap in the face! Maybe it does keep the panhandlers away, but did you ever figure how many orders it must have cost you, hey?"
Munson has listened to every word, first with a heavy frown and then with a kind of thoughtful look on his face. He taps the desk with a lead pencil, reads the card a couple of times and then slams his fist on the desk.
"By Peter, young man!" he snaps out suddenly, "you may be right! The wording of that office blank is rather insulting, now that I dissect it—been too busy before to notice it. Yes, sir, I would resent having my business blatted out before a whole staff of subordinates! There must be some way, of course, to keep out the hordes of jobless and what not who would get in if it wasn't for that blank and now, by the eternal, we'll find one less liable to turn away gold with the—er—grist! I thank you for the suggestion. And now, what did you want to see me about?"
"Automobiles," says Alex, "and—"
Munson freezes right up and slaps his hands together.
"That's enough!" he snarls. "Perhaps that office blank of ours is not so bad after all! If you had filled it out properly, you wouldn't be here. I've heard enough about autos to-day to last me for the rest of my life. Yesterday, I mentioned casually, and I thought in confidence, that we were considering a change in our delivery system. Beginning at eight this morning, there has been a constant stream of automobile salesmen in this office! The only persons who have not tried to sell me automobiles are George Washington, Jack Dempsey and Billy Sunday! I'm quite sure every one else has been here. The air has been filled with magnetos, self-starters, sliding gear transmissions, aluminum crank cases and all that other damnable technical stuff that goes with automobiles! You need not open your mouth—I know exactly what your sales talk is, they're all alike, more or less. Your car is far and away the best on the market, of course, and—"
"Excuse me, Mister Munson!" butts in Alex. "You get me all wrong. Our car—the Gaflooey—is not the best on the market. There are others just as good and some of the higher priced ones are, naturally, better. You can't expect the best on the market for the price we sell at—750. A man of your intelligence knows that and when a salesman tells you his five hundred dollar car is better than a standard make at five thousand, he's insulting your intelligence. We make a good, honest car—that's all. I ain't gonna take up your time tellin' you about the—eh—ah—the—eh, magneto and so forth. Unless you're a mechanic, you wouldn't understand about 'em anyways. All the parts that go with any car are on ours, or it wouldn't work—that's understood. However, as I said before, I ain't gonna take up your time. I know how you New Yorkers do business, and you've probably made your mind up already. You big men are all zip!—like that. Mind made up and nothin' can change you. Even if you do miss somethin' good now and then, you don't mind because you have the satisfaction of bein' known as a quick thinker. We just got in a new consignment of cars to-day and if you're interested our place is at 1346 Broadway. Well, good-day, sir!" he winds up, reachin' for his hat.
"Wait!" says Munson, takin' off his glasses and wipin' 'em. "You're a new one on me, son! So you admit you haven't got the greatest auto that was ever made, eh?" he chuckles. "By Peter! That sounds strange after all the talk I been listening to to-day. If your car is as honest as you seem to be, it's all right!" He sits lookin' off in the air, tappin' the desk with the pencil again.
Alex nudges me and we start for the door. Halfway he stops and looks at a photo that's framed over the desk. It's a picture of a barn, some chickens and a couple of cows.
"Right fine landscape, that!" chirps Alex to Munson. "Makes a feller like me homesick to look at it. Them are sure fine Jerseys, too—and say, see them pullets, would you!"
"That's my little farm down on Long Island," says Munson, throwin' out his chest. "I suppose that makes you laugh, eh? Big, grown New Yorker having a farm, eh?"
"Mister," says Alex, sadly, "it don't make me laugh! I was raised on a farm in Vermont and—"
"That so?" cuts in Munson, lookin' interested. "Country boy, eh?"
"Yep," goes on Alex. "Now, speakin' of them pullets there—if you'd try 'em on a straight diet of bran and potatoes—pound of each—they'll fatten up quicker."
"Yes?" pipes Munson, brightenin' up some more. "Well, well! And—hmph! Thanks, Mister Hanley, I'll make a note of that. Now—eh—sit down a minute! I don't want to take your time, but—eh, what did you find best back home for saving the young chicks? What foods—"
"I'll just leave you a few little rules," says Alex, his eyes glitterin', as he rams his elbow a mile in my ribs. "I got to call on another department store this afternoon, where I'm almost certain to take an order and—"
"Young man!" Munson shuts him off, "I'm frank enough to say that you've made a very favorable impression on me. You're honest about your car, and you didn't try to overawe me by hurling a lot of unintelligible technical terms into my ear. You don't claim it's the bargain of the age. Now we have recently inaugurated right here in this store a policy of absolute honesty with regard to our merchandise. No misrepresentations are permitted. We sell our goods for what they are—we don't allow a clerk to tell a customer that he's getting a five-dollar shirt for two dollars. I can't get the car I want to put in here—they want too much money and their salesman spent most of his time here speaking in terms that none but a master mechanic on their own auto would understand. I'm a pretty good judge of character and you look good to me. Give me a price on fifty of your cars for immediate delivery and—well, let's hear your figures!"
Alex drops his hat on the floor, but when he picked it up, he was as cool as a dollar's worth of ice.
"Just a minute," he says, sittin' down and reachin' for a desk telephone. He gets the Gaflooey Company on the wire.
"Hello!" he says. "Say—I want a lump price on fifty delivery wagons—what?—never mind who this is, if the price is right I'll come up." He winks at Munson like he's lettin' him in on somethin'—and, by gravy, Munson winks back! "Yes—fifty," says Alex on the wire. "Thirty-five thousand dollars?—thank you!" He hangs up the phone and turns to Munson. "They'll give you twenty-five hundred off, accordin' to that figure," he says.
Munson grabs up a pad and writes somethin' on it.
"There!" he says, givin' it to Alex. "Tell 'em to get as many cars over here to-morrow as they can. Get your bill and I'll O.K. it. Now—" he pulls his chair over closer, "About those chicks and—oh, yes, I want your opinion on some figures I have here on my truck—"
An hour later, me and Alex walks into the salesroom of the Gaflooey Automobile Company. I was in a trance, and if he had of promised to lift the Singer Buildin' with one hand I would of laid the world eight to five he could do it! The whole place is in confusion—salesmen chasin' around, telephonin' and actin' like they just heard they was a bomb in the basement. Alex asks for the manager, and some guy chances over and asks what he wants.
"I have come for that ten thousand a year job you advertised this mornin'," says Alex.
"Job?" howls the manager, glarin' at him. "You poor boob, can't you see how busy we are here now? We just got a tip on a real order—fifty cars, and we can't trace the thing!" He rubs his hands together. "Fifty cars! That's how the Gaflooey sells—fifty at a time!" He sneers at Alex. "Your approach is terrible!" he says. "You'll never land a job in this town like that, my boy. Go somewhere first and learn how to interest a busy man with the first thing you say and—"
"Listen!" butts in Alex. "Gimme that job, will you, or I'll have to go somewhere else."
The manager laughs, as a couple of salesmen come along and join him. They all sneer at Alex and the manager nudges his minions and winks.
"So you think you're a ten thousand dollar auto salesman, eh?" he says. "Ah—who can you refer to?" He makes a bluff at takin' down notes.
"Mister Munson, of the Mastadon Department Store," says Alex.
"Ha, ha, ha!" roars the manager. "Department store, eh—that's rich! You quit the shirtwaist department to sell autos, eh? Ha, ha, ha! What does a department store manager know of your ability to sell autos?" he snarls.
"Well,—I just sold him fifty of yours!" remarks Alex. "So I thought—"
"What?" shrieks the manager, grabbin' his arm.
Alex hands over the order Munson give him.
"Now before I go to work here," he says, "it might be a good idea to let me look over one of your cars, because, to tell you the truth, I ain't never seen one of 'em in my life!"
Well, they had Munson on the phone in a minute and in another one the manager hangs up the receiver and comes back.
"Do I get the job?" asks Alex.
"Do you get the job!" yells friend manager, slappin' him on the back. "No, you don't get it—only if you leave here without signing your name to a five-year contract and accepting a check for fifteen hundred dollars' commission and as much more as you want to draw on your expense account, I'll—I'll—murder you! But first, you lunch with me at the Fitz-Barlton and we'll map out a campaign—"
"Gimme that eight hundred!" says Alex to me.
I passed it over still semi-conscious.
Alex stretches his arms, puts the money away and grins.
"Get me that Eve girl on the phone, will you?" he tells me. "I—I had a little bet with her, too!" He lights the cigar Buck Rice had give him in the mornin', blows out some smoke and looks over at Broadway, jammed with the matinee crowd. "Some burg!" he says, shakin' his head and grinnin' at me!
There's nothin' the world loves so much as a good tryer. I don't mean the birds that havin' everything in their favor, includin' a ten-mile start, finishes first in the Big Race—I'm talkin' about the guys that never get better than second or third, but generally land in the money. The old Consistent Charlies that, no matter how many times they're beaten, figures the time to quit is when you're dead and buried!
Did you ever stop to think that the tryers which never get nowhere is responsible for the other guys' success? They're the babies that make a race or a fight out of it, and if it wasn't for them dubs there'd be no successes at all. In order to have winners, we got to have losers, don't we? And don't forget that yesterday's losers are to-morrow's winners and vice-president or vice versa, whatever it is.
A fighter knows that these birds which come up smilin' no matter how many times he drops 'em for the count is as dangerous as dynamite, until he knocks 'em cold. No matter how bad this loser may be battered up, he's always got a chance while he's tryin'. I've seen guys that was winnin' by two miles curl up and quit before a dub they had beaten till the crowd was yellin' for mercy, simply because this poor bunged-up simp kept comin' in all the time—battered, bloody, drunk with wallops—but tryin' up to the last bell!
Now these guys may never get nowhere, but they're the birds that's put most of the guys that do where they are. Why? Think it over! You gotta be good to beat them birds, don't you? They make competition keen, they keep the other guys on their toes, they're the gasoline that keeps the old world goin' forward on high and the birds that get over are only the chauffeurs. You gotta have both to run the car and the universe wouldn't move forward six inches if we didn't have one failure for every success.
So if you've failed to set the world on fire up to date, don't walk out on the dock to see what kind of a jump it is. If you can't be a winner, you can be a good loser and it's a toss-up which is the bigger thing! A guy who can beat the yellah streak we all pack somewheres, every time he fails to register a win, and will keep rememberin' that to-morrow has got yesterday beat eighty-seven ways, is no loser! On paper he mightn't be a winner, but he is. He's a bigger winner than the bird that gets over, because he's whipped the quit in him without no kind applause to cheer him on. I've seen losers that attracted more attention in runnin' last than any six winners in the same precinct.
Them kind of birds can't help tryin'. They couldn't quit if they wanted to, which they don't! They got somethin' in 'em that keeps shovin' 'em along whether they're regrettin' the breaks or not. They're always full of the old ambish no matter what the score is in the ninth. They're what you might call self-starters in the automobile of life—they don't need a win now and then to crank 'em up, they keep goin' forward hittin' on all cylinders from the nursery to the embalmer!
Alex was one of them guys.
The Big Town fell for his stuff because it was new, the same as it will fall for yours to-morrow if you get somethin' it never seen and the nerve to try it out!
About a month after Alex was workin' as head salesman for the Gaflooey Auto Company at a pittance of ten thousand a year, he come up to the flat for dinner one night. I seen right away that somethin' was wrong, because he only eat about half of the roast duck and brung along his own cigars. After nature could stand no more, and we had dragged ourselves away from the table to let the servant girl make good, we adjourn to the parlor and the wife gets ready to punish the neighbors with the victrola.
"Well," says Alex, sittin' down in the only rocker, of course, "it looks like they have finally gimme somethin' that even I can't do!"
"Can that be possible?" I says, pickin' up the sportin' final.
"Wait till you hear this one!" remarks the wife, crankin' up the victrola. "John McCormack singin' 'If Beauty Was Water, You'd Be Niagara Falls!' It's a knockout!"
"Say!" snorts Alex, gettin' peeved. "Can't a man find no attention here?"
"Look in the telephone book under the A's," I says.
"Never mind, dearie!" the wife tells him. "I'll listen. What's on your mind?" She goes over and sits on the arm of his chair, knowin' full well it gets my goat.
"I see you're the only one in this family that's got any sense!" pipes Alex, pattin' her hand.
"Yen," I says, "I ain't got enough sense to turn on a radiator. All I'm good for is to get the dollars, which of course is nothin' at all in keepin' up the home!"
"Well, you'll never have Rockefeller and that crowd gnashin' their teeth with all the dollars you'll get!" says Alex, "and that ain't no lie!"
"Now, boys," butts in the wife, "let's all be friends even if we do belong to the same family. What is it, Alex? Speak up like a man."
"Well," he says, "the Gaflooey people has started to make tourin' cars and roadsters! What d'ye think of that?"
"I'm simply dumfounded!" I says. "Has Congress heard about this?"
"There you go again!" snorts Alex. "Always tryin' to ridicule everything I do. It's simply a case of sour grapes with you—jealousy, that's all!"
"Sour grapes ain't jealousy," I says. "Sour grapes is brandy. Go on with your story, Alex."
"Don't mind him," whispers the wife in his ear. "He'd laugh in church!"
"Why not?" I says. "I ain't done no gigglin' since you and me first went there together."
"Will you let go?" she says. "Go on, Alex."
"Well," he says, "they called me into the president's office to-day, and the former begins by tellin' me I'm the best salesman they ever had."
"He don't care what he says, does he?" I butts in. "I suppose you admitted the charge, eh?"
"After that," goes on Alex, snubbin' me, "he tells me they have decided to get into the pleasure car game, instead of just makin' trucks and the like. Their first offerin' is gonna be one of them chummy, clover-leaf roadsters which will hold five people comfortably."
"If they're well acquainted!" I says.
"Will you leave the boy alone?" asks the wife. "I never saw anybody like you in my life!"
"Don't I know it?" I says. "Otherwise, how would we ever of got married?"
"Now," goes on Alex, "they want me to go up and see Runyon Q. Sampson, the well-to-do millionaire, and get him to buy the first car. You can imagine what a terrible good advertisement that will be for us if he should buy it, can't you?"
"It'll be O.K. till he tries to ride in it," I says, "and then the chances are you'll have to leave town and the Gaflooey people will be facin' a suit!"
"There ain't another car on the market that can hold a match to the Gaflooey!" hollers Alex, his goat prancin' madly about.
"What's it made out of—celluloid?" I says.
"You may think you're funny!" he tells me, "but that's nothin' more or less than ig'rance. Here I am wastin' valuable time tryin' to explain somethin' to Cousin Alice and you keep interruptin' till a man don't know where he's at! Let's see now, where was I?" he asks the wife.
"The beautiful and good-lookin' princess had just promised to wed you," I says, "but the crusty old king couldn't see into it!"
The wife throws a pillow at me and it busted a vase that cost me three hundred green certificates. After a short brawl over the remains, I laid off Alex and he went ahead.
"As I said before," he goes on, "the president of the Gaflooey Company has selected me to go up and sell old Sampson this here chummy roadster. If I land the order, which naturally enough I will, it means I get made manager of the New York salesrooms. Then me and Eve Rossiter will prob'ly get married and—"
"What?" squeals the wife. "Are you and Eve engaged? And she never said a word to me!"
"How could she?" I says. "When he prob'ly had her doped?"
"No, we ain't engaged," says Alex. "I ain't even asked the girl will she be mine yet."
"Then how do you know she'll marry you?" asks the wife.
"Well," says Alex, "I figure if you married this here pest, I ought to be able to marry anybody! But what I'm up against is this—I got to take one of them roadsters up there to-day and demonstrate it to Sampson. They have gone to work and made an appointment for me, and what I don't know about automobiles would fill seven large libraries. Here I'm supposed to show Mister Sampson the points on our car which is better than any other and I can't tell the windshield from the magneto. Now d'ye blame me for bein' worried?"
"I thought you was the world's greatest salesman," I sneers. "You don't mean to say this job has got you yellin' for the police already, do you? What are you gonna do, quit?"
"Speak English!" he comes back. "That word quit don't belong in our language. Who said anything about quittin'? Even though I don't know a thing about automobiles, I'm gonna sell Runyon Q. Sampson a Gaflooey chummy roadster. A feller don't need knowledge to be a success half as much as he needs confidence and I got more confidence than a feller shootin' at a barn with a double-barrelled shot gun. Anyhow, I'll betcha a rich millionaire like Sampson don't know any too much about automobiles himself, bein' too busy with makin' money and the like, eh?"
"I suppose you're gonna make him think that you know more about them gas buckboards than the guy which wrote 'em, eh?" I says.
"You'll never get nowhere!" he answers, lookin' at me like how can a guy live and be so thick behind the ears. "You'll never be nothin' but an average citizen, because you never get a new idea! No, I ain't gonna make Sampson think I know more about automobiles than anybody in the world—that's what has queered many a sale. I'm gonna make him think he does, and that him buyin' our roadster proves it!"
"I'll bet you could make Rockefeller think they wasn't a nickel in oil!" says the wife admirin'ly.
Alex gets up and reaches for his hat.
"If they was enough money in it for me, I'd try it," he says, "and that ain't no lie!"
I didn't see Alex till the next mornin' and then he blows in the flat.
"Hello!" he says. "Here you are as usual, loafin' away the hull mornin'. It's almost eight o'clock, d'ye know that?"
"Sure!" I says. "You can't get me on that one. The answer is seven fifty-five!"
"What d'ye mean, seven fifty-five?" he asks.
"Ain't seven fifty-five almost eight o'clock," I says, "and didn't you ask me if I knew it?"
"Ain't he clever?" says the wife, pattin' me on the back.
Alex looks at me in open disgust.
"If that's bein' clever," he says, "I'm a professor from Harvard! Where d'ye get that stuff?"
"It's a gift!" I says. "What are you doin' here this hour of the day?"
"Hurry up and git through eatin'," he says, "I want you to take a ride with me."
"What have you been pinched for?" I says.
"Will you leave him be?" butts in the wife. "Don't mind him, Alex, he'll go with you. Where are you going?"
"Up to Runyon Q. Sampson's to sell him a Gaflooey roadster," says Alex. "I got the car right outside now. Just wait till you git a look at it, you'll be crazy to buy one yourself!"
"You said it!" I tells him, puttin' on my coat. "I certainly would be crazy if I bought one of them! Who's gonna drive this up there?"
"I got a mechanic from the shop," says Alex. "A feller which knows so much about automobiles that he could take a pair of pliers and a lug wrench and go clear to Frisco with nothin' else!"
"Not even a car, eh?" I says. "Some mechanic!"
"Be still!" says the wife. "Well, Alex, I certainly hope you have all kinds of luck. Let me know how you make out, will you?"
"Sure!" I tells her. "Call up police headquarters in about an hour and you'll prob'ly be able to get all the details, right off the blotter."
We go outside and there's the Gaflooey chummy roadster leanin' right up against the curb. It looked like it might be a regular automobile when it grew up, but just then it seemed like it had been snatched from the cradle before its features was fully formed. Two of them roadsters would of made a nice pair of roller skates and the expense for tires must of been practically nothin', because the ones that was on it looked like a set of washers. The body was painted yellah and the trimmin's was in Alice blue and catsup red.
In the front seat is this guy which Alex claimed was the world's greatest mechanic. You could see that at a glance anyhow, because he was dressed in a pair of overalls that had lasted him ever since he first broke into the automobile game and he carried about three quarts of medium oil on his face and hands.
"Well," says Alex, throwin' out his chest, "what d'ye think old Runyon Q. Sampson will say when he casts his eye over that, eh?"
"You'd only get sore if I told you," I says, "but I'll say this much, Alex. If you can sell him that mechanical toy there on the pretense that it's an automobile, I'm goin' up to-morrow and sell him Grant's Tomb for a paperweight!"
"Git in," pipes Alex, "and stop knockin'!"
"I won't have to knock after we get started—that's if we do," I tells him, forcin' myself into the rear, "the motor will look after that!"
Alex nudges the mechanic.
"This here's my cousin," he tells him. "He ain't a bad feller in spite of that."
He turns around to me, "Joe," he says, "I want you to meet Mister Eddie Worth, the best man on gas engines that ever burnt his hands on an exhaust pipe!"
"Greetin's, Eddie!" I says, shakin' hands with him and gettin' a half pound of grease for nothin'.
"Gimme a cigarette!" answers Eddie. "I been waitin' here an hour for youse guys. The motor is prob'ly all cold now and the starter may gimme an argument."
He gets out and monkeys around the front of the car.
"Ain't it nice and roomy back there?" Alex asks me.
I moved my knees away from my chin so's I could talk.
"Great!" I says. "Only the Gaflooey people is liable to get in trouble on account of them coppin' the design from somebody else."
"What d'ye mean?" he asks me, lookin' puzzled.
"Well," I tells him, "you gotta admit that the seatin' arrangements back here is a dead steal from a can of sardines!"
"Did you ever see anything you couldn't find fault with?" he sneers.
"Yeh," I says. "I once got three nickels in change for a dime."
At this critical moment, the mechanic gets down on his hands and knees in the street and begins to worry the car like a dog with a bone. Then all of a sudden he crawls underneath it and disappears from the public eye. A lot of shippin' clerks, bookkeepers, salesgirls, brokers, lawyers and the like, on their way downtown to their jobs, figures that you can go to work any day, but an auto bein' fixed calls for immediate attention and gets around us in a circle. This seemed to get Alex's goat, but it was huckleberry pie to the mechanic. He crawls out from under, rolls up his sleeves, ruffles his hair, looks over the crowd and rubs his hands together.
"Gimme a cigarette!" he says. "And reach down in that tool box there and hand me up them pliers, a couple of S wrenches, the hammer and a screwdriver!"
The crowd sighs with delight, but Alex leaps off the seat like they was bees in the upholstery.
"What d'ye want all them there tools for?" he yells. "Stop this monkey business, I'm an hour late now! What's the matter with the car?"
The mechanic looks around at the crowd and shakes his head pityin'ly. They give Alex the laugh, and a manicure tells her friend that if she was the mechanic she wouldn't bother with it, but would make Alex fix it himself for gettin' so bold.
"What's the matter with the car?" repeats the mechanic, waggin' his head from side to side with a sarcastic movement. "It's been abused, that's all! I ain't had time to go over it carefully; it'll have to be towed down to the shop where we can git it up on jacks and take it apart. I found a leak in the radiator, the bolts is missin' from the muffler, there's a crack in the rear housin' and the clutch seems to grind a bit."
Alex grits his teeth and grabs hold of the windshield.
"Is that all?" he hisses.
"Well, not all, no!" says the mechanic, scratchin' his chin. "They must be a couple of pins sheered off of the differential and the—"
"They ain't no sich a thing!" roars Alex. "This here's a brand new car, right from our factory—you wooden-headed fule! It ain't been run a mile and they ain't a thing the matter with it, not even a scratch on the paint! You was sent up here to drive this car, not to wreck it. You—"
"Hey, don't git to callin' me no wooden-headed fool!" hollers the mechanic, jumpin' around and wavin' the pliers. "That's against the union rules, and you'll get the worst of it if I bring it before the board. They must be some mistake here. I thought you wanted me to look over this boat for your friend here and see what it needed. How'd I know you only wanted me to drive? I ain't no mind-reader, I'm a mechanic and—"
"Shut up!" says Alex; "and drive us out to Tarrytown. As a matter of fact, the car's all right, ain't it?"
"Certainly!" says the mechanic. "Ain't it a new one? Gimme a cigarette and I'll see if I can get this tin can here to roll."
It's just about eighteen miles as the pigeon soars from where we started to Runyon Q. Sampson's country home at Tarrytown, and we fled up there in two hours. This car was a wonder on hills, that is it's a wonder we got up 'em at all. We climbed most of 'em with the emergency brake on so's we wouldn't slip back to the garage, and I figured that the car must of been painted yellah in honor of the motor, which quit like a dog every time the goin' got rough. The mechanic drives us in through the entrance of Sampson's domicile, as we remark at the garage, and then stops for encouragement before goin' further. Alex elects me to go up and notify Sampson that we're all set to show him the Gaflooey chummy roadster, while he and the mechanic stays behind to look over the car and see that everything is workin' fairly perfect. I got as far as the porch and a guy in a drum-major's uneyform without the hat nails me. He was as big as the Woolworth Buildin' and just as emotional. He looked like what them stage butlers tries to.
"What would you wish?" he asks, friendly as a traffic cop to a taxi-driver.
"Well, if I thought they was any use," I says, "I'd wish I had a million bucks, but as it is, I'd like to see Runyon Q. Sampson, your master."
"Step this way!" he says, startin' to walk ahead.
"I can't step that way!" I says, watchin' him close. "It must be a gift. I'll have to folley you in my own way on account of havin' a blowout in my rubber heels an—"
Just then a little bald-headed guy with one of them short gray mustaches which the wealthy banker wears in the movies, crosses our path and the big feller stops and salutes him.
"Gentleman to see you, sir," he says.
"Hmph!" grunts Runyon Q. Sampson, which is who the little guy was, as the gentle readers has prob'ly guessed. "I can't see any one now. I have an appointment this afternoon to—"
"I guess I'm that appointment," I butts in, "or part of it, anyways. Was you expectin' to look over a Gaflooey chummy roadster?"
"Well, what of it?" he snaps.
"My lord, the carriage awaits!" I says, makin' a bow. "Folley me and you'll go motorin'!"
"Are you the agent?" he asks, as we walk back over the lawn.
"No," I says, "I'm his cousin. He's carryin' me along for luck or somethin'. We also have a mechanic with us in case of fire. Are you fond of automobilin'?"
"Much more so than of conversation!" he barks.
"That stops me!" I says. "I'm dumb from now on. What is it who's this says? Silence is golden, speech is human—ain't it?"
We have reached the car by this time, and Alex steps forward.
"Good morning, Mister Sampson!" he says. "I want to thank you for the company and myself, for volunteering your judgment as to whether our new model chummy roadster is a good car or not."
Sampson walks around it a couple of times, opens the hood, looks at the motor and sniffs.
"It's entirely too small!" he announces. "The body is grotesque, the paint is a horrible color and the chassis seems out of alignment."
"Exactly what I thought you would say!" agrees Alex, noddin' his head like Sampson had raved over the car. "We will make any changes you suggest. After all, you'll be the one to use it and that makes you the one to be pleased. We have custom made suits, shoes and shirts—why not custom made automobiles?"
"Hmph!" grunts Sampson.
"I'll fall," I says, hopin' to break the embarrassin' silence. "Why not?"
"Shut up!" hisses Alex. "Would you allow us to give you a little spin?" he asks.
"Ha, ha!" pipes the mechanic all of a sudden. "That's a hot one, ain't it?" he grins at Sampson. "Sure, old top, we'll give you a spin!" he says, jabbin' the floor board with his feet. "That's if this boiler will roll. Some of you guys will have to give the motor a little spin, if you want to go away from here. She's gone cold on me again! Gimme a cigarette, will you?"
Alex presented him with a glance that would of froze boilin' oil.
"Step right in, Mister Sampson," he says. "We'll run around the roads here and—"
"We'll do nothing of the sort!" snaps Sampson. "I've got to be at my office by three o'clock and you can drive me down there. In that way I'll be wasting no time and I can see what your car can do through traffic as well as on the road."
"Elegant!" says Alex. "Step right in."
Runyon Q. Sampson steps right in and after gettin' a cigarette from me, the mechanic steps on the gas. We run every bit of a hundred yards across the lawn and then all of a sudden the Gaflooey roadster stops deader than Columbus. The mechanic tried everything from blowin' the horn to crawlin' underneath it again, but they was nothin' stirrin'.
"Well," he says to Alex, finally, "there's only one way we can get away from here now!"
"What's that?" asks Alex, bendin' down so's Runyon Q. Sampson won't hear it.
"By freight!" says the mechanic. "It seems to me that one of them rear axles has gone to work and busted on us."
"Listen to me," says Alex. "Get us away from here right away and there's ten dollars extry in it for you!"
"Now you're talkin' sense!" says the mechanic. "Gimme a cigarette."
He grabs up the tool box and hides himself under the car again, while Runyon Q. Sampson begins to fidget around and look at his watch like it was the first one he ever seen.
Twenty minutes passed, folleyed by thirty more, and still this mechanic is under the car, makin' sounds like he was fillin' a rush order for tin pans. Alex is as nervous as a cop makin' his first pinch and our friend Sampson begins sayin' things about the Gaflooey roadster that would never of been used by the builders as testimonials. Finally, Alex whispers to me will I get underneath and see what the world's champion auto mechanic is doin' to while away the time.
I got out and looked under and—Oh, boy!
This bird is layin' on the ground under the car, readin' a dope book on the races! He's got the book in one hand and a hammer in the other and every now and then he reaches back and wallops the dirt pan, without lookin', so's it'll sound like he's fixin' things up.
"What seems to be the trouble?" I asks him.
"I think Dimpled Dan is like money from home in the first race to-day," he says, "provided they—what—what are you doin' here?" he winds up, droppin' the book.
"Git outa there!" I hollers. "If you're a mechanic, I'm Christopher Columbus!"
"What d'ye expect for seventy cents an hour—Edison?" he growls.
Runyon Q. Sampson has took it all in and now he lets out a beller and leaps from the car.
"You infernal idiot!" he bawls at poor Alex. "You've made me miss my appointment. What do you mean by taking up my time with this travesty on an automobile? Why, the thing can't even move! If this is the way it performs when it's fresh from your factory, what can a man expect when it's a few weeks old?"
"Maybe it ain't ripe enough yet," I butts in, hopin' to save the situation. "It does look kinda young, don't it?"
"Silence!" roars Runyon Q. "I wouldn't buy one of your cars if they were selling at three cents a carload! That's final! Don't you dare come up and bother me again. Get this pile of junk off my place here just as fast as you can, or, by the eternal, I'll have you all arrested for trespassing!"
With them few remarks he stamps off across the lawn, bellerin' like a bull.
"Well, Alex," I says, "at last you have hit somethin' in little old New York that you can't do, eh?"
"That old boob gimme a pain anyways!" remarks the mechanic. "What does he know about machinery? Gimme a cigarette!"
Alex sits down on the runnin' board of the Gaflooey chummy roadster and lights a cigar. He puffs away, lookin' off in the air kinda sad and mournful, like he had just been handed a wire readin', "Father has told all. We are lost.—Agnes," or somethin' to that effect. Even though he was a relative of the wife's and had spent every minute since he hit New York confessin' to bein' a world beater, I felt sorry for him! Runyon Q. Sampson was off the Gaflooey people for life, and Alex had fell down on the biggest thing he'd tried yet. I knew how he must of felt about it, so I went over and slapped him on the back.
"Cheer up, Alex," I says. "I know that was a tough one to lose, but a guy can't finish in front all the time! You know you ain't up in dear old Vermont now and this town's much harder to beat than the average. I told you that when you first come here. I knowed it was only a question of time before you'd hit the bumps—everybody does sooner or later in New York—and then you—"
Alex gets up and throws away the cigar.
"All I hope," he says. "All I hope is that the one they deliver to him works all right!"
"Deliver to who?" I says.
"Runyon Q. Sampson!" he comes back. "I come up here to sell that feller a Gaflooey chummy roadster and that's what I'm a goin' to dew! I'll have his check before the end of the week. I don't know how I'm gonna do it now, but in some way this here sale is gonna occur, you can gamble on that! D'ye think a little thing like this can discourage me? Why if the car had exploded and blowed us all up in the air while we was sittin' in it, I would of sold Sampson the speedometer for a watch before we had hit the ground again!" He turns around on the mechanic and rolls up his sleeves. "The faster you git away from here, the longer you'll live!" he snarls. "What art was you follerin' before you took up automobiles?"
"Well, to be on the level with you," says the mechanic, "I was second man in a cigar store on Twenty-third Street. I got fired because me and the cash register could never agree on the day's receipts. I seen an ad for a mechanic at the Gaflooey service station and I got took on there as a helper. A feller has got to do something don't he? Gimme a cigarette."
Alex makes a dash for him, but I hold him back.
"Fade!" I warns him. "You're gettin' away with murder as it is, and if I let this bird go they's no tellin' what'll happen to you!"
"What do I get for my mornin's work, heh?" he hollers.
"You're gettin' immunity!" I says. "Beat it!"
"All right!" he snarls. "I oughta knowed I'd only get the worst of it goin' out on a job with a coupla boobs like you guys. This feller claims he's a salesman, hey? Well, I'll lay the world eight to five he couldn't sell ice cream sodas in Hades! Gimme a ciga—"
Alex throws the tool box at him, and he blows.
While we're standin' there tryin' to figure out some way to get this chummy roadster to make good, a guy steps out from behind a hedge and joins our little party. He had just about passed the votin' age and he wore a raincoat with one of them cute little belts around it, a dare-devil soft hat and carried a suitcase. His feet dragged like they wasn't used to such heavy exercise as walkin' and he steps in front of us with a cigarette droopin' outa the corner of his mouth.
"Pardon me," he yawns. "Are you having some difficulty with the car?"
"Oh, fluently!" I says. "You must be a fortune teller. Some difficulty is right! We been attemptin' to get away from here all mornin' and it's the same as makin' the Russians think the Czar was a good feller—there's nothin' doin'. I don't think the motor is tryin' and—"
He sets down the suitcase and yawns some more.
"I know something about autos," he says. "Have a couple of my own and occasionally I have to fuss around 'em a bit. Do you mind if I look at the motor?"
"We'd just love it!" I says. "Go to it."
He opens the hood, yawns a coupla times and monkeys around for a minute.
"Try her now," he says.
Alex gets in and pushes a button with his foot.
I don't know what this handsome stranger did, but whatever else it was, it was a success, because the motor immediately begins to tear holes in the peace and quiet of the surroundin' country.
"She'll be all right as soon as she warms up now," says our savior. "The gas was disconnected—coupling jolted off evidently—and one of the cylinders was missing. Must have given you trouble on hills, what?" he yawns some more. "Nice little bus," he says, "and, now, I wonder if you'd do a favor for me?"
"I only got four bucks on me," I says, "but you're welcome to that if you can use it."
"It isn't money," he says. "It's something more important than that."
"Fudge!" says Alex. "There ain't no sich thing in this town!"
"Yes there is!" says the newcomer, steppin' back to a hedge, "and here it is!"
With that, out steps the Venus de Milo wearin' both arms and a set of scenery that must of enabled some Fifth Avenue store to move over to Easy Street. She looked like what the press agents claim is in the chorus of every musical comedy that hits Broadway and she's wearin' enough diamonds to have keep the Alleys in tooth powder. After I had got over bein' dazzled by the first look, I give her the East and West again and recognize her. She's nothin' less than Margot Meringue, the big movie star.
"I'm Arnold Sampson," says the young feller, "and this is Mrs. Arnold Sampson. My wife was formerly—"
"I know," I butts in, "I seen her the week before last with the missus in Marvelous Margot's Mistake. She was vampirin' around and—"
"How did you like me?" smiles Margot.
"Well," I says, "we seen the pitcher three times runnin'—is that good enough?"
"We have just been married," goes on Arnold, throwin' out what chest he had with him.
"Congratulations!" pipes Alex, shakin' his hand.
"Pretty soft!" I says, doin' the same.
"I saw you and father in the car here," explains Arnold, "and as you appear to be friends of his, I wonder if you'd come up to the house with us? Father is less liable to make a scene, if there is some one else present. You see, he doesn't know that we're married as yet."
Alex suddenly looks interested and nudges me to keep quiet.
"I can see the whole thing in a nutshell," he says. "Your father objects to you—oh—now—marryin' an actress, heh?"
"No," yawns Arnold. "In this case the traditional is reversed. My father objects to the actress marrying me!" he bows to Margot. "He is personally quite fond of my wife and his objection is based solely upon his own unflattering opinion of me. He declares I'll never be able to support Mrs. Sampson in the manner she is accustomed to living, as her income is something like fifty thousand a year. Father allows me a bare five thousand and he refuses to increase it until I go to work in his office, or something equally as silly. Can you imagine anything more idiotic than that? Dad is worth millions and he expects me to work!"
"What an inhuman parent!" says Alex. "What have you got against work?"
"My dear fellow," says Arnold, "I don't really know. I don't seem able to get enthusiastic about it—that's all. I wouldn't mind going down to Dad's office and toying with an adding machine or driving nails in packing cases, but I'm sure I'd fall asleep on the job, or something idiotic like that! You might say I lack the urge," he yawns and grins. "I guess I wasn't built to hustle. I haven't got the pep, as we used to say at—"
"Listen!" butts in Alex, his eyes beginnin' to glitter. "You was built the same as anybody else, only thinner. I know what's the matter with you—c'mere, I'll show you!" He takes Arnold by the arm and leads him over to the Gaflooey chummy roadster. "D'ye see that automobile there?" he says. "Look at it. What is it—nothin' but a pile of metal and wood! It can't talk, it can't think—but it's got a little button down there in the dash and when you push it, that car will keep on runnin' till the gasoline gives out or it hits a tree! That button's called a self-commencer and that's what you need! Ain't there no buttons up in your head that you can push and get yourself goin'? Is that pile of metal better than you? You can go down now and take a job where you won't get your hands dirty, but if your Dad hadn't been a self-starter fifty years ago, you'd be callin' a Wop foreman 'Boss' to-day and likin' it!"
Arnold stops yawnin' and looks interested, where he don't look mad. Margot nods her head and puts her hand on his arm.
"Arnold dear," she says, "he's right! It's time you did try to do something, especially now. I don't want to lecture you, dear, but—"
"I don't know whether he's right or not," says Arnold, "but I do know that extraordinary speech of his has me thinking. Also, it sounded great to me and there's no reason why it shouldn't sound just as great to Dad! He loves that sort of thing and I'm going up and repeat it, word for word! I'm going to tell him we're married and that I'll start to work for him whenever he likes. I can try it, anyhow!"
Margot looks at Alex like she would kiss him if it wasn't for the looks of the thing, and Alex whispers in my ear that the Gaflooey roadster is as good as sold. We all got in it—it was runnin' like a watch now—and roll up to the house. The newly-weds goes inside, while me and Alex stays out on the porch, and in about half an hour they come out again, bringin' old Runyon Q. Sampson with 'em. The old gent walks over to Alex and holds out his hand.
"My boy," he says, "I want to thank you for what you've done to this cub of mine. I don't know what you told him, but he's a different person from the time I saw him last. He sounds like a real man, now! I'm going to do something for you in return. I won't buy one of these infernal cars of yours, wouldn't have it for a gift! But, if you'll tell me what your commission on the sale would have amounted to, I'll write you a check for that figure."
Margot looks at Alex, and then she looks at the car.
"Why, I think its a perfect dear!" she says, "and those colors real harmony itself!"
Alex bounces forward, his eyes glitterin' again.
"We were thinkin' of callin' this model the Margot Meringue," he says, "and—"
"Come, come!" interrupts old Runyon Q., "let's straighten this matter up." He takes out his check book and fountain pen. "I want to take you children down to Tiffany's and have Margot pick out a suitable wedding gift. We have—"
"May I have anything I want?" asks Margot, kinda innocent.
"Of course you can!" beams the old boy, pinchin' her cheek.
"Then buy me a Gaflooey chummy roadster!" she says. "I think this one is a perfect love of a car!"
Alex tries to look unconcerned, but he couldn't help droppin' his hat. The old man coughs and gets red in the face, but he was game.
"All right!" he snorts at Alex. "You win. You can say you're the only man that ever got the best of Runyon Q. Sampson! What's the amount?"
I went into the office of the Gaflooey Company with Alex when he went back and the president is waitin' for him with blood in his eye.
"You needn't begin your excuses!" he says to Alex. "The mechanic has told me how you made a mess of everything and Sampson refused to buy the car. I didn't think they made any ten-thousand-a-year-men up in Vermont when I hired you, but I took a chance. New York's too big for you fellows; I guess you were only a flash in the pan! Just think what it would have meant had you sold the car to old Sampson! Why, the advertising alone would—"
"I guess you're right about me bein' a flash in the pan," butts in Alex, "but I found another pan! I don't know whether this is any good for advertisin' or not, but I sold that chummy roadster to Sampson and he has give it to his daughter-in-law for a weddin' gift."
The president jumps from his chair, very light for a man of his heft.
"Great!" he hollers, "great!" He looks at Sampson's check which Alex hands over. "I knew you'd do it! I saw you had the stuff in you the minute you first walked in this office. That's the place to get first string men—right from the country, and Vermont has furnished more than her share. They told me you'd fall down because New York was too big for you, but I knew different. They can't fool me when it comes to judging men! I'll get our advertising men right to work on this copy, and we'll hit the morning papers with it. This is great! Now if Sampson's daughter-in-law was only in the public eye, know what I mean, this would be wonderful! We've had a man after Margot Meringue for a month, but she's away somewhere. You probably won't know her; she's a big movie star and we'd give her a car if she'd only endorse it. Why, if we landed her—"
"That's who Sampson give the car to," says Alex. "His son and her just got wed and he give her the Gaflooey roadster for a weddin' gift. How about that New York manager job—do I get it?"
"Do you get it!" shrieks the president. "Why, say—you're it, right now!"
"That's fine!" says Alex. "I'll take the job the day after to-morrow!"
"I see!" says the president, breakin' his neck tryin' to make himself a good fellah. "You want a day off after your labors, eh?"
"No!" says Alex, "I got to go out and see Sampson again to-morrow, because havin' give this roadster to his daughter-in-law, naturally he'll need one for hisself now!"
PLAY YOUR ACE!
This here combination that opens the door to success is a funny thing—everybody's lookin' for it and everybody's got it! Some guys knows just where to put their hands on it when they get the big chance to crack the safe of fame and as a result they become boss bankers or boss bricklayers—either of which is a trick and hard to do. Other guys forget the first three numbers or somethin' and never get better than John Smiths in the telephone book of life.
It takes speed to get a baseball from the pitcher to the catcher, but it's control that puts the pill over the plate, which may be the answer to why John D. Rockefeller ain't payin' you rent and you got your first time to be elected president of anything, from the dear old U. S. A. to the Red Carnation Social Club. Instead of sittin' around knockin' winners every time the papers print a new one, give yourself the once over and see if you can find out what your trick is. You may only be able to wiggle your left ear funnier than anybody on the block—Great! Cash on it! It's a cinch you can do somethin', and once you find out what that somethin' is, the rest is as easy as fallin' off Pike's Peak!