Friday, September 11, 2015

The Return of "Every Man His Own George D. Painter" ("Painter" als Wiedergänger)

To My Brothers in Apollo (Not to Be Confused with My Brothers at the Apollo)

While it certainly would be true, reflected Lieutenant Moffo-Lupo1 of the Baltimore City *…* Squad, to say that the interior of Apartment 754 gave every clichéd appearance of having had a bomb (the proverbial bomb) detonated in it, this description on its own was hardly illuminating; for (he reflected) mutatis mutandis, it undoubtedly could be said of apartments what Leo Tolstoy or Yogi Berra had said of families, viz. that all tidy ones were interchangeable but all untidy ones were unique.  “Every mayah’s nest of a bedsit like dis one,” he declaimed aloud for the presumptive benefit of his eminently trusty but by no means servile and in fact judiciously irreverent sidekick and helpmeet, Corporal Marshall “Sarge” Majors, “has its own very special walbeit wahften exquisitely hahrrifying story to tell.  Take dis rug, for instance.”  “You mean your toop, boss?” Sarge insouciantly queried, as if in deliberate illustration of his judicious irreverence.  “Shut your muddahfuckin’ Dangerously Delicious Piehole, boyo,” rejoined Moffo-Lupo, through an eye-crinkling smile whose ineffable douceur trademark-worthily belied the peremptory gruffness of the riposte itself.  Then, hunkering down on the hams of his a** or ****e, he gestured spastically yet expansively with his signature unlit Emporia cheroot at the prevailingly khaki and black all-Orlon ersatz Persian rug that dominated the wall-less imaginary rectangle that perforce does duty for a living room in a bedsit, and resumed thus: “Prima vista, it’s just an wahdinary prevailingly khaki-and-black wall-Owahlon ersatz Persian rug, a rug whose identical twins or clones are to be found in tousands o’ bedsits trueout dis pissant boig.  But look a little closer and you’ll see dis.”  “See what?” Sarge queried in genuine unamused bemusement.  “Dis, fuckpeepiz,” replied the good lieutenant, apparently pointlessly pinching the air a(n) half-centimeter above a khaki patch with one of his thumb-and-forefinger combos (probably the right one, as M-L was no southpaw).  But as he drew his hand aloft to eye-level, Sarge saw that he had taken hold of a small quantity of something that although khaki in hue could not have been more than five-percent Orlon in constitution.  What ever could it have been: a quid of unsmoked blonde shag tobacco, perchance? Or a tuft of pubic fur from one of the more endearing montane mammals like the chamois or the agouti?  “Needah,” said Moffo-Lupo: “it’s a mwhahso or fewmet of sock meat.  I dayahsay you’ve never hoid o’ sock meat, Swahj?”  Sarge shook his head in the negative. “No, of cwahss you heeaven’t.  At eeass you may be nuttin’ but a douche—in fact you most soitainly ahh nuttin’ but a douche—but at least you ain’t a bum.  I mean, you got a wife and kids to suppwaht, aintcha, blodwyn?” Sarge shook his head in the affirmative (i.e., nodded).  “You ceean’t get away wid goin’ around in substandard hosiery, can you?  I mean, you may have a potatər or two in da weekend section o’ da drawahh, but—” He broke off on seeing Sarge’s eyelids suddenly plummet in what was undoubtedly an access of shame or embarrassment.  “Don’t tell me,” he (Moffo-Lupo) confidentially resumed: “you’re wearin’ a sock widda a potatər in it right now.”  Sarge in not lifting his eyelids implicitly assented.  “Swahj, Swahj, Swahj,” M-L remonstrated, apparently more in genuine concern than in feigned scorn, “you gotta take better care o’ yourself.  If clothes make da man--which dey most soitantly do--den socks make da clothes.  I swayah, boyo, you can be wearin’ a bespoke wall-silk suit-and-tie and da finest hand-made, neat-soled shoes, and if you ain’t got on da socks to match ’em you won’t be able to get a table at a 24-owah Denny’s on Pulaski Highway, let alone at a proper restrint.  But wid good socks, every restrint in the woild is your oyster—and I ain’t just twawkin’ about seafood joints.  Look at me: I dress like da junior floowahwalker of a provincial Soviet depaatment stowah, and yet I can traipse into da Black Olive or da Chaahleston, or even Boin’s or Emchai widdout a reservation, and be seated in five minutes flat.”  Sarge was initially tempted to ask the lieutenant to prove his latest assertion by postfixing to this late-morning recce an impromptu lunch at the Charleston (the Black Olive, as far as Sarge was concerned, was off-limits on account of its fins-and-all presentation policy), but he resisted this temptation partly because he was certain that M-L, being a notorious skinflint, would make him pay his ineluctably triple-digit share of the bill; and partly because his (Sarge’s) last significant conversational intervention had been an irreverent one, and judicious irreverence, being on the whole dactylic in its prosody, generally calls for every harsh blow of impetuosity to be followed by two taps of gentle complaisance.  And so Sarge asked to see the socks.  Moffo-Lupo, still hunkered down on the rug, had only to point to one of the two quasi-rectangles of fabric already exposed to Sarge’s view. The sock was indeed a very nice one.  And so it was without a trace of affectation, albeit with a great lashing of grammatical license, that Sarge thereupon said, “Those are nice socks.”  “Tanks a milliard, blodwyn.  And apropos: let me axe you a kestiONG.   How old would you say dese socks are?”  Meter, Sarge self-spiegled, called for this next riposte to be complaisant.  The kestiONG in this case was which of the two alternatives, comparative antiquity or comparative modernity, was the more complaisant.  At that moment the only pointer in either direction that came to Sarge’s mind was Jerry Lewis’s purported hosierial policy of not wearing a pair of socks more than once.  Hence, at that moment he (Sarge, not Jerry Lewis) had no choice but to plump for comparative (and indeed extreme) modernity as the more connoisseurial, and hence more complaisant, of the two.  And so, having factored in the assumption that M-L had donned the stockings no earlier and not much later than six o’clock that very morning, Sarge guessed that the socks were three hours and thirty-six minutes old.  “Wrwahng!” triumphally (not triumphantly) cried Moffo-Lupo, as he brandished the cheroot within a potentially conjunctivitis-inducing distance (yes, despite the cigar’s unlitness) of one of Sarge’s eyes (more likely the left one, as the right one was lazy).  “If you woulda said tree owiz and toidy-six yeeeez old you woulda been much closer to da bull’s eeass.  I bwaht dese socks da very day, specifically the mwahning befowah, I peeeassed da swahgeant’s exam—da mwahning o’ May 27, 1979.  Paid five hundred-and-eighty-tree bucks for ’em at the heeaberdeeashery counter at Hutzliz’s.  I eeactually bwaht two pairs, so da total was neely twelve hundred dahlliz.  Heead to take out a second mwahgage on da house to cover it.  But boy oh boy, boyo, was it woith it.  You know why?  ’Cos to dis day, dose two pair o’ socks are de only ones I ever weeah.   I keep ’em in constant rotation.  On Mundee I put on one paiaah and wear ’em right on troo to da following Sundee (That, ruefully-esquely remarked Sarge to himself, explains the awful cheesy smell that permeates the interior of the General Winder), when I give ’em to Mildred, and don de uddah, clean, paiaah da next day.  I reckon dat, adjustin’ for inflation, over da yeeahs I’ve saved at least a whoppin’ five tousand two hundred and seventy-two cents, a.k.a. nearly fitty-tree Somalians [sic], by having bwaht dose two pair o’ socks, in loo o’ da Hanes crew-sock six-pack I was den considerin’ as an walternative, and dat at minimum woulda had to be replaced in its entirety every two yeeahs.  Dayaz’s no doubt about it, if you want to save in da lwahng run, you got to pay mowah up front, ’cos quality ain’t cheap.  Which brings me full coicle beeack to dis here piece o’ sock meat.  At da very, very bottom, da very eeass of the eeass, o’ da men’s hosiery market, are dese socks dat have a strwong tendency to shed—no shit!—from widdin.  Wid every warsh a little bit mowah uddah feeabric sloughs wahf, and most o’ dat little bit ain’t rinsed or torsed out in da warsher or dryer; in uddah woids, it stays inside da sock.  So when you go to put on oneuddese socks—you realize, I hope, dat I’m employin’ ‘you’ in de impoissanal sense?”  In point of fact Sarge hadn’t realized this, and now that he had learned it he felt an immeasurable sense of relief and gratitude that rather strongly militated against his conforming to the prosody of judicious irreverence in the short term, such that he merely nodded in simultaneous assent and encouragement-to-continue, prompting Moffo-Lupo to resume, thus: “right, so you go to put on oneuddese socks, and you feel your toes and foot-bwahlls runnin’ into little lumps o’ feeabric or sock meat, and you gotta turn da fucking ting inside out and give it a few good tweeacks to shake it clear o’ de offending cahnage; ’cos uddahwise you’re goin’ to be walkin’ around wall day feelin’ mutatis mutandis like da princess in da fairy tale about da pea under da meeattress, or mutatis rarioris mutandis, da king o’ da Littleputzes in Gulliviz Treeavals.  Neeaturally, dis sock-meat clearin’ operation takes tens or even dozens o’ seconds per sock-pair dat can eeadd up to whole minutes or even tens o’ minutes over da cwahss of a decade.  And den you got to figure dat just cleanin’ up da sock meat, gettin’ it wahff da floowah, has got to take a butchiz’s-dozen seconds per sock-pair won its own.”  Of course, Sarge noted and pointed out (in all prosodic neutralness, or, if one insists, by way of inserting a much-needed caesura), in the present case the sock meat afflictee evidently had been in the habit of sparing himself those extra butcher’s dozen seconds.  “Exeeactly, Swahj!  And when you put da peeast presence o’ da sock meat and da present non-absence o’ da sock meat, its never-having-been-cleeahed-awayness, togeddah, you wawlready staht to get a pretty good—a pretty rough but still a pretty good—idearrof of da swaht o’ saad dis schlwahwngsucker is.  Foistoff, he was too much of a tightwad, a cheapskate, a skinflint, a miser, a [his voice sinking to a momentary whisper] n****rd, and what is mowah—as I have wahlready indicated via de account o’ my own hosierial expenditures—too much of a damn fool, to buy decent socks.  So dat’s two strikes against him.”
“B-but—”  
“Dat’s right, Swahj: two strikes—one for da [his voice again sinking to a momentary whisper] n*****liness, the other for da foolishness.  Den, owen toppadat, he couldn’t be eeassed to clear away da leavings of his pennypinchingfest, videlicet, da sock meat.  So in da second—”
“Or, rather, third—”
“that’s right—so in da toid place, he’s at-foistblushially lazy, but laziness don’t begin to scratch da soiface o’ this here veritable parfait, this tiramisu skyscraper, of vices.  ’Cos no matter how lazy he was, his laziness shoulda been preempted by a gwahden-variety, lowest-common-denominator, baagain-basement consideration of da bienséances.  And dat consideration breaks down into several classic virtues.  Foistoff, in efficient-causal sequence if not in moral priority, you got your prudence.  He shoulda been tinkin’ to hisself, immejiately upon seeing dat foist clump o’ sock meat hit da rug, Hey, I may be payin’—and payin’, I daresay, a mere pittance, a meyahh wahn-quintillionth of his lawwwwwldly quadrillions (more on dose anon)—to live heyah, but dis place—dis peead, if you will—ain’t just some kinda gropeable annex of my private psyche.  I gotta consider de effect it’s gonna heeave on uddah people.  Suppose, for instance, I have a lady friend over—not dat dis pattetic piece of fuck could ever get the cwahpse o’ Phyllis Diller to spend ten seconds alone wid him, but we’ll dat peeass for now –suppose I have a lady friend over: what’s she gonna tink about a guy wid sock meat on his floowah?  Is she ever gonna let me get to foist base, let alone let me bowl a googly into da wicket, once she’s set her eyes on these objects of whorah?  And suppose da super stops in to have a look at the pipes while I’m out; nay, suppose a pair o’ Bawlmer City’s finest—here he glanced over at Sarge with what a lesser stylist would describe as a “knowing, mischievous twinkle in his eye”—need or needs to do a little impraamptew exploratory investigation here.  Wooder dey gonna t(h)ink of a potential suspect whose floowah is literally littered and figuratively figured wid sock meat?  Are dey gonna go easy on him, soivice him widda provoibial (?) lamb-skin sheath?  No, dey’s gonna streeap owen da so (and rightly) cwalled Iron Swain, and go to woik owen his anal schphincter like Gangbustiz—you know da flick I’m twawkin’ about—da 1996 cleeassic buddy picture starring John Dough, Stephen St. Croix, et al.”  Sarge nodded (in assent), although he had never heard of the film of which M-L had just been talking, as M-L continued, thus: “Christ, you can’t imeeagine how much I’m looking fwahwahd to reenactin’ dat scene.  But I’m getting a little ahead o’ myself.  Back to de itemization of the classic voichews flouted by dis punk.  It was, as I said, imprudent o’ him to leave da sock meat lyin’ around, and it was wallso inconsiderate o’ him to do so.  ’Cos nobody, and I mean nobody but nobody, needs to see dis shit—nobody is gonna get any sort of pleasure or enlightenment out o’ seein’ a clump o’ sock meat.  I myself have soitanly seen mowah dan my share o’ de ol’ ess-em, and I soitanly don’t need to see any mowah dan dat mowah any mowah than I need to see anuddah payah o’ emus coitin’ (Bawlmer City zoo, 1965, lwahngish story, anuddah time).  And as for you, Swahj, well you were a bonerfied sock-meat voigin until today, and if it hadn’t o’ been for dis toid’s negligence you might very well have gwahn to your grave as one.  Whereas now as tings stand, you’re gonna heeave to live widda godwahful troowahma of hosiocaahnal knarledge for da rest o’ your life.  But some people, or radda some antropomwahphic defecatin’ machines, never tink of anybody but demselves.  Speaking o’ which, I’d like to drwah your attention to de uddah salient cleeass o’  floowah blemishes in dis dump—vida lick it, da books.”  Here he was referring to perhaps a dozen volumes strewn in a single layer throughout the 24 square feet of floorage set off by the rug, the bed, the desk (distinguishable in function from a card table [and a jolly rickety one at that] only by the presence of a laptop computer atop it), and the windows.  “Suppose, Swahj, suppose, H.R.H. J. H. Christ forbid, dat a fiyah suddenly broke out in heyah: we’d wallmost soitainly die of incineration or ass-phyxiation, ’cos neither of us would ever make it to da windəs in time to open one of ’em, on account o’ all dese stinkin’ books.  Just kickin’ da fuckin’ glorified hockey pucks-strowik-cow chips out o’ da way has got to be an eeafternoon’s job o’ woik.  Of kwahs, eo ipso it’s wall well and good and proper for a dedicated, lifelong Plutonist to live in a self-set detttrap, ’cos eeafter wall dett couldn’t come soon enough to such a desiccated old husk of a prune.  But what about da rest of us, dose of us who still got somethin’ to contribute—”  “--i.e.,” Sarge, having long since renounced the prosodic niceties of his character in favor of a career as an alibdinous seconder and in-filler of his boss’s thoughts and actions, interjected, “because we still got kids, with costly mobile phone plans, car insurance policies, drug habits, etc.”  “Exeeactly, blodwyn, exeeactly.  Are we to leave our loved ones high and dry, bereft of our essential and utterly infungible tee ell cee, on account of the willful negligence o’ da likes o’ dis toerag?” Meanwhile Sarge, newly and for the first time mindful of his duties as a so-called pipe-layer (not by any means to be confused with a so-called donneur des pipes), had already examined the spines, flyleaves, etc. of most of the books, and noted a stunning shared feature of them: their bearing or sporting of the ink-stamped legend “ENOCH PRATT FREE LIBRARY.”  On learning of this bearage or sportage, Moffo-Lupo simultaneously crossed himself and retched before incredulously asking “You mean, Swahj, dat every single one o’ dese books is from de public lyeberry?” Sarge, after begging him to wait ten seconds for him (Sarge) to complete his survey and then completing it, agreed that yes: that was precisely what he meant.  “I tell you, boyo,” quoth Moffo-Lupo again, “dis megacunt is really pressin’ wahowhal my buttons.  As you know, Swahj, I am deeply, peeassionately, nay, maniacally against da dett penalty.  But I tink when it’s abwahlished dey wahowhaddah include in da statute or amendment a special entrapment clwahz for fuckiz who check out mowah dan one lyeberry book at a time.  I mean what could be more obvious: you check out a book.  You read it woid by woid, and line by line, and page by page, until you get to de end.  And den and only den do you retoin it to da ’berry and select anuddah book.  What is da fuckin’ point of havin’ mwah dan one book out at a time?  I mean, is it physically paassible for a yuman bein’ to read even two books, let alone ten or twenty, at da same time?  Has any yuman bein’ got two pair of eyes?  No.  Can any yuman being really move de only two eyes he’s got independently of each uddah, ’cept for five or ten seconds at a time, as pwaht o’ some dumbeeass pwahty trick?  No.  So nuttin’ shwaht uddah most cuntish pervoisity could account for borrowing heeabits like dose o’ dis glob o’ colostomy tube byeeackwash.  Dat and—once again— a downright hypersociopattic lack o’ concoin for other people’s needs and well-being.  ’Cos as long as da nine or nineteen books dis fuckplug ain’t readin’ are sittin’ here on da floowah, dey ain’t accessible to da tens o’ tousands of penniless Bwalmerians doubtlessly pinin’ away for a glimpse o’ dem.  But what else can one expect from a cuntfuckin’—’skewed me, cuntfuck-eschewin’Plutonist?”  At this point, pipe-laying duties obliged or compelled Sarge, who, having completed his survey of the sub-library, was circling round the desk en route to the kitchen, to ask the saintly sub-captain how he knew the suspect was a Plutonist.  Whereupon Moffo-Lupo could not forbear striking one of his two thighs (probably the left one, as he had a hernia just above the right one) and exclaiming in patently jocular outrage, “It’s a goddamn good ting we ain’t got privates in da fwaace—and don’t you dayahh chuckle about ‘privates’—’cos a question as greenhornish as dat shoerly merits de eeaskiz’s demotion.  Practically da foist piece o’ dicksmanship I ever loint—it was owen a ridealong with old Ed ‘Tubbs’ Beatty, way back in ’67, when I was still a beat cop—was dat da foist ting you should wallways do, da moment your old GP clears da treshold o’ de old Tatort, is take a look at da bed, ’cos by quadrangulating da bed size widda suspect’s age and marital status, you can instantly, and widda hundred-percent accuracy rating, detoimine his or her sexual heeabits down to a cunt or scrote hair.  An unmarried 15-year-old with a double king-sized bed, for example, is obviously quite copulatively precocious and industrious, and consequently wahtomeeatically headed straight for a statutory rape conviction and da Bisquick.  Any single poisson over de age of 25 widda twin bed, on de uddah heeand, is guaranteed to be a Plutonist, a dude or blokess who, in de immwahtal woids o’ Marcel Duchamp or Buddy Hackett, grinds his or her own kwahffee.  From his station below the three now (but not formerly)-open kitchen cupboards, Sarge remarked (“Wryly?” you ask.  Sure, or “deadpanly,”  “laconically,” “Rip Taylor-esquely”: take your pick) that this particular Plutonist didn’t seem to have any coffee to grind—or percolate, autodrip, French-press, serve instant, etc., for that matter.  “Oh really?” Moffo-Lupo asked without budging from the immediate post-cubicular area: “den what’s he got in dayahh?”  “Three cans of Progresso-brand chicken noodle soup.”  “And nuttin’ else?”  “Nuttin’”  “Are you shoer?”  “Sure as Shaw.”  “I gotta see dis.”  Whereupon M-L trudged unceremoniously over the books, de-covering two and flattening three others in the so-called process, and sprinted the remaining eight feet leading into the kitchen.  “Just tink of it, Swahj,” M-L adjured, as he hefted one member of the unholy troika the way a Tex Avery Hamlet hefts (or would heft) Yorick’s skull: “yankin’ off a can-lid, pourin’ de contents into a swaaahcepeeean, and crankin’ a knob on a stove toidy, toidy-two widdershins degrees—dat is da utmost limit, de Ultima Thule, o’ dis son of a Biz-Markey impoissonator’s culinary ambition.  Da self-fucker couldn’t even be eeassed to make his own chicken noodle soup from screeatch.  And it’s not like we’re twawkin’ about da most complicated preparation in da woild, chicken noodle soup.  All’s you need’s two tablespoons of olive oil, an onion, tree gaalic cloves, two carrots, two celery ribs, fwah thyme sprigs, one bay leaf, a heealf a box o’ egg noodles, a cup-and-a-hyeeaaf o’ chicken, some kosher swalt, some bleeack pepper, some paasley, and for your stahck, a free-range chicken (giblet-free, neeatch), two carrots, tree celery stwahlks, two white (i.e., big) onions, a head o’ gaalic, a turnip, a quarter bunch o’ thyme, two bay leaves, and a teaspoon o’ whole bleeack peppercwaahns.  You get your stahk ready by putting your chicken and your vegetables in a pot over medium heat.  You pwah in je-e-e-e-st enough cold wooder to cover da shit; too much’ll make da brwaht taste weak, like sickbed piss.  Next, you torse in your thyme, bay leaves, and peppercwaahhns, and allow it slo-o-o-o-wly to come to a boil.  Lower da heat to medium-low and gently simmer for an hour, hour and heeeeaf,  partially covered, until da chicken is done.  As it’s cookin’, you skim away any snotty, jizzy, mucky scum dat  typically rises to da soiface in scroteloads; eeadd a little more wooder if necessary to keep da chicken covered while it’s simmerin’.  Meanwhile, you get a second pot, put it owen da stove, toin de geeass up heeafway, and coat de inside o’ deeat selfsame pot witcher olive oil.  Den you adjer onion, gaalic, ceearits, thyme, and ol’ bay leaf.  You cook wall diss shit for five, maybe seven, but soitanly not six minutes, until de vegetables are swahft but not browned--until, in uddah woids day look exeeactly like a bunch o’ mashed-up gibbon or lemur toids but not quite like mashed-up human toids.  Den you pour in da chicken stock and bring da whole revoltin’ mixtcha to a boil.  You addjer noodles and simmah for five minutes or until tendah--until da noodles is tendah, dat is, not until you is.  You fold in da chicken, and keep simmerin for anuddah cooplah minutes so’s to make shoowah da chicken wahms wall da way true--’cos of kwaahs da chicken noodle soup-gwahmandizah knows no hwahsher buzzkillah dan bitin’ into a chicksickle; den you season widjer swahlt and pepper.  Finally you sprinkle just a little--a meyah mouse’s moikin--of paasley on da top and you’re done.  What could be easier or simpler?  And mowah to da point, what da fuck else of any conceivably greater value could diss spoim-spiller ever have to do widdis free time?  You a man? You got no wife?  You got no husband?  You got no kids?  All right, den, I wanna see you doin’ one o’ two tings for each and every minute and millisecond uddah 60-hour interval between 6:00 p.m. Fridee and 6:00 a.m. Sundee: standin’ behind a hot stove-cum-oven like dis one or hangin’ upside down by your bwalls in a muddahfuckin’ slwahddahhouse.”  And with these imprecatory words, mustering all the muscular memory of his days as a closer on the Poly Junior Varsity squad, he lobbed the can of soup at the nearest patch of wall from which he needed fear no splattering of his person, specifically the patch catty-cornered to the door.  Upon impact the can burst open, miraculously without even denting the sheetrock, and in its subsequent descent it allowed a goodly portion of its former contents to describe on the wall a pattern that Moffo-Lupo positively ached to compare aloud to the work of some great modernist Stateside painter.  The trouble was that all the really famous such painters of the proper non-representational phase had already long since been appropriated by screenplay writers and standup comics, leaving the would-be comparer with the unappealing choice between dropping the name of a minor master that would not be recognized (or worse yet, laughed at as evidence of the name-dropper’s second-class taste) or likening the phenomenon in question to the production of some hyper-representational pop artist and consequently being assailed by a chorus (or phalanx) of propped chins and arched eyebrows.  Or perhaps even more implausibly yet, you’d have to fall back on one of the so-called minimalists, like that guy who specialized in solid black canvases or that other one who specialized in solid white ones.  Specializing in solid white canvases, he thought, what a gravy train of a gig that’s got to be.  Talk about money for jam: all’s you got to do is take any old plain section of white wall, like any section of this here sheetrock wall…here Moffo-Lupo triumphantly (not triumphally) realized he had found his quip to make about the soup stain; why it practically wrote itself.  “Da way I sees it,” he said to Sarge, “I just done dis muffuckin’ vixen a favor.  I mean, look at dese walls, at wall two, tree hundred square feet o’dese staahk white sheetrock wwooowaahls: what, apaat from da maak I just left owen ’em, do you see?”  After only semi-figuratively scrutinizing every one of those selfsame two to three hundred square feet (the operation must have taken more than ten minutes all told), Sarge in all candor and in some apparent astonishment reported that he saw nuttin’ on them.  “Exeeactly.  And now tanks to me, dey got somethin’ on ’em, probably for the very foist time since this dung beetle’s toid moved in here.  Seriously, when was da leeast time you walked into a room dat any yuman being had to spend any amount o’ time in, by which I basically mean any room uddah dan a futatin’ storage closet, dat didn’t have at least one specimen o’ some kind of visual watt in a highly conspicuous place?   What’s da foist ting you notice when you’re settlin’ up for a lube job in da proprietor’s wahffice at an watto-mechanic’s?  Is it da tree hundred beeack issues of Car Aficionado Monthly on da utility shelves, or de wahtogreeaphed photo of Jeremy Claackson on da wall?  No: It’s da fly-speeattered glossy reproduction o’ Rembreeandt’s Night Watch or Gainsborough’s Blue Boy lovingly being made to span da panty-shot-foiler of his desk.  Even da humble wahto mechanic, philistine’s philistine and preschool dropout dat he is, has a place in his life for serious visual waaaht.  And a blue whale cunt widdan advanced degree, like our current poisson o’ interest, ougttah have at minimum ten signed and numbered prints from a living modern master—a Koons, a Hoist, a Hockney, et al.—on each mural soiface.  Sarge begged leave to point out that his educational credentials notwithstanding, Mr. Robertson’s annual income was reportedly quite modest, namely [here he did a spot-on impression of Moffo-Lupo about to say “n*****d”] the lower-low middle five figures.  “Bob Villa-beveled bullshit!  I ain’t never hoid of a postgraduate-accredited Plutonist over toidy, let alone forty, who wasn’t richer than Croesus to da power of Howard Hughes times Gill Bates.  And in any case, poverty’s no excuse for unregenerate philistinism.  Take my nephew, f’rinstance: an humble entry-level sanitation woiker, a lowly gahhhbage-truck remora, up in Poughkeepsie.  Da fucker’s got the largest collection of Joseph Beuys originals in the entiyah western hemispheyah.  No shit.  And what’s mowah, for de best paat of his career as a Beuysian, he hasn’t been a Plutonist, meanin’ he’s meeanaged to come up wid enough money to suppwaht his Beuys jones even eeafter bringin’ home da non-Franciscan bacon to his wife and kids.  If he woulda stayed a Plutonist, he’d probly have da biggest Beuys collection in de entyeah woild by now—unless, of kwahs, one o’ dose Gauleiters at da fuckin’ Pinakotex der Moderne or the Kuntsmuseum Bonn hadn’ta bumped him waff to keep him from gettin’ too big for his Beuysian Unterhosen.  So anyways, when I walk into da digs of a lifelong Plutonist allegedly pullin’ in [here he did a spot-on impression of Sarge doing a spot-on impression of him (M-L) about to say “n*****d”] upper-low middle five-figure wages, I expect by default to see a display of waatistic trezzhis every bit as impressive as da woild’s lwahgest Joseph Beuys collection.  And when I don’t, why den, I figure soomit fishy’s goin’ owen.”  “And by something ‘fishy,’” quoth Sarge, ‘you mean something strange, odd, not quite right…?”  “Yes, yes, but most impwahtantly—” “--…outré, outlandish, off-base…?”  “--Yes, for fuckin’ in swahft, yes!  But I mean specifically for us, a pair o’ Poe-leases, da main ting about fishiness is dat it correlates with soomit’s being….?”  “…Illegal?”  “‘Ding-fuckin’-ding,’ as dey used to say, and ‘It’s about fuckin’- time,’ as I’m shoer dey still say.  Now given what we know about our poisson of interest, what swaht of illegal activity would dis cunt of cunts most likely be up to?” The question seemed not to be merely rhetorical, and to bespeak at least some detectable quantum of genuine bemusement.  In answer to it (i.e., the question), Sarge proffered a single monosyllable: drugs.  “Ehh, possibly.  Admittedly not likely-ly, but still possibly.  You checked the fridge and the freezer yet?”  Sarge reported that he had not.  “Well, den, get to woik!  Whatchoo you bein’ paid [some inscrutable bureaucratic code redolent of the jargon of orthodontists] wages for, to play bocce witcher nutsack?”  The refrigerator turned out to contain two bottles of white wine  (Hugo Grüner Veltliner) and five-sixths of a bottled six pack of Sierra Nevada pale ale; the freezer, nuttin’.  Moffo-Lupo was visibly perplexed.  “I don’t get it.  Sometin’ just duddn’t eead up.  Da booze is wall wrwahwng for a junkie of any stripe.  In a junkie’s fridge you expect to find plenty o’ Jack, Jim, Johnny, Schlomo—in shwat, da classic speedbwall chasiz—but nary a bottle o’ hippie beer or pussy wine.  But if he ain’t a junkie, he’s gotta heeeave some degree of a neeeatural eeeappetite, an eeeappetite for wahdinary food.  We done seen da soup, of kwahss, but it’s even haadah to live owen soup alone dan owen bread alone: even widdah noodles it ain’t got enough solid bulk--you know, enough shit-buildin’ shit.  And yet dayaz’s no cleeeassic sloteful Plutonist’s shit buildin’ shit-rich provender in sight: no Cheetos, no swalted nuts, no beef joiky sticks, et cet.  So what da fuckfest’s he been noshin’ owen?”  No sooner had he asked the question than the sighting of a tiny triangle of waxed paper peeping out from beneath the lid of Robertson’s munchkin’s-office-sized wastebasket led Sarge to believe that it (Moffo-Lupo’s question) was about to be answered.  The color scheme of the paper—swathes of yellow-trimmed green against a white background—was what suggested as much to him (Sarge).  And sure enough, on activating the lid-lifting mechanism on the trashcan via a pedal at its (the can’s) base, Sarge as good as activated the mental release catch on the I think I got an idea, boss that he had been holding in reserve for the preceding eight seconds.  For, severely crumpled though it was, there was no way of tricking oneself into believing that the sheet of wax paper in its rectangular entirety was anything other than the wrapper of a foot-long submarine sandwich manufactured by the Subway chain (of submarine sandwich manufacturers).  Moffo-Lupo reacted to (or at or on) the sight of the wrapper almost with awe; one (e.g. [i.e., not i.e.], Sarge) got the feeling that if he (M-L) had been wearing a hat, at that moment he would have doffed it.  “Jesus H. von Kleist,” he ejaculated in a whisper: “I nevah wooda guessed.  Well, if nuttin’ else, dis explains da creeappy socks and d’eeabsence of waaht on da walls.  He’s been blowin’ preeactically da whole load, wall umpteen bijillion Somalians of it, on carryout food.  It’s amazin’ he can still make rent even on a microscopic cess-cube like dis place.”  Sarge, not in an access of his old judicious irreverence, but in fulfillment of his sporadic and prosodically inexact (and unexacting) role as the writer’s mouthpiece, took the liberty of informing M-L that even in the proverbially unlikely event that Mr. Robertson consumed three premium foot-long Subway submarine sandwiches a day, his total annual expenditure on food would amount to 8,760 dollars, or a mere 26.2 percent of the lowest of low-middle five-figure annual incomes.  “I don’t keeyah if it amounts to a meeyah 2.62 percent of a one-legged octogenarian Calvert Street trans-hooah’s owly income,” roared Moffo-Lupo: “dey ain’t noboaaahdy in da history o’ da moddin woild who’s meeeanaged to live even prevailingly, let alone quasi-exclusively, owen non-self-cooked meals, for an entiyahh yeeeah.  I mean you really gotta go beeack pretty fuckin’ faah f’ra precedent---wall da way beeack to say, Louis da Fwahtteent, and he preeactically bankrupted Freeance wid wall his made-to-waddah crème brûlées and Chateaubriands (sic).  For Chrissakes, nowadays even da Queen o’ England brews her own tea and toasts her own toast.  (“I wonder if she grinds her own coffee?” Sarge thought but did not say.)  And when I tink o’ dat empty freezer”…here he broke off, quite clearly too verstimmt (or, in Sassenach lingo, choked up) to continue.  With exemplary tact that was all the more commendable for never having previously been required in all his years as Moffo-Lupo’s sidekick, Sarge whipped out his pocket handkerchief, handed it to his boss, and kept his gaze steadily averted floorward while the well-nigh-anchoritishly virtuous public dick dabbed his eyes, mopped his brow, and finally gave his schnoz a good stentorian blow.  Only when Sarge felt the snot-glutinized hankie being pressed back into his palm did he dare look up, just in time to catch M-L swinging the freezer door back open and poking his head in.  “OK, so da kielbasa cooler at Ostrowski’s it ain’t, but it’s still quite a respectable-sized freezer.  I’d say in culo it amounts to a good tree, tree-point-two cubic feet.  Now if dis sod hadn’ta been (as he obviously still is) a total sociopath, if, in uddah woids, he woulda heead da tiniest soup’s son of a scintilla o’ regaaaahd for da woild outside his own cuntishly fwahshwahtaned nwath smwall intestine, dis is what he woulda done ages ago widda freezer dis size.  He woulda gone down to da Save-a-Lot down on twenty-foist and Maryland—no, not to da Safeway on twenty-fit and Chaahles, and not to da Giant on toidy-toid and Greenmount, let alone da Gucci Giant on foity-foist and Roland; nosir-fuckin’-ree-fuckin’-bob, you gotta oin da right to shop at groshery stwahs like doze (I really tink day waddah be a tree-child minimum for wall shoppiz at wall da premium supermwahhket chains; for fuck’s sake, what bidness have dese seed-&-egg spilliz got clwahggin’ up de aisles and effectively sneeatching bushels of arugula and Camembert from da mouds of infants?)—he woulda, I say, gone down to da Save-a-Lot and made a beeline for da meat section, and specifically for da discounted meat coolah, weah he woulda found bottom round steak owen sale for a dollar-ninety, two-dollars, two-and-qwahta per pound tops.  Of kwahs da reason it’s owen sale is ’cos it’s widdin a mayfly’s lifespeean o’ needin’ to be torsed out; occasionally you’ll see a bit o’ green owen da kwahnahs of a particulary gamy sleeeab, but you can cut dat away at home, and what’s left after dat is poifectly safe to ingest rwahh if need be…but, anyways, you buy up…by da way, Swahj, jermind if I switch from da toid poisson preterite conditional to da second poisson simple present?” Sarge had no objections thereunto. “Tanks.  It’s just dat it gets a bit cumbersome, keepin’ treeack of wall dose if he shoulda wouldas and whatnot…well anyways, so you buy up eighteen, twenty, twenty-five pounds o’ dis shit—not dat I’m sayin’ it’s shitty beef; I mean, da hoin of Africa is teemin’ wid people who’d literally give an wahm and a laig to eat a medallion or two of Save-a-Lot discounted bottom round, pervoise as it may sound, meat-mass-ratio-wise—and you put it in da freezer.  Den you goes to your local Goodwill—in diss case da one on toidy-second and Greenmount—and sploige on a used prisshah cookah.  Da ting wahhda setcher back no mwah den fifteen bucks.  And if you’re lucky and play your caads right, you may even manage to neeab one for as little as ten-fitty.  Da trick to gettin’ hold of a bwahhgain basement-priced prisshah cookah, you see, is to visit da sewing nayewtions section befwahh you visit dah kitchenwayah section.  Tree-point-two times oudda ten some Guamless schmo onda steeaff has trown a prisshah cookah vent weight in widda shwaks’ teet and minnichah kewpie dolls and mummified hyrax scrota and uddah asswahted gewgaws for makin’ necklaces and whatnot wid.  And accwadingly it (da affamentioned vent weight) cwowsts whatevah da goin’ rate for dese gewgaws is—viz., at most, a greeand total o’ ten or twenny cent.  So you take da vent and sashay over to da kitchenwayah section, where seven-point-one times outta ten you’ll find a prisshah cookah widdout a vent, and accwadingly sellin’ for less den heealf da kwost o’ da Jackson & Jefferson-priced models widda vent still atteeached.  Den on da way to da registeh you stop by da hwaadwayah section and pick up one o’ dose woodwoiker’s swahhs—you know, dah kind widda a blade as tin as a spoim whale’s cunt hayah and a heeandle like a kestiONG mahhk.  Setcha beeack five bucks tops.  Den you takes da whole caboodle-cum-kit home and gets to woik.  You saws off sixty-five, seventy-point-watt squayah inches uddah bottom round from da sleeab or cube in da freezer, trow it in da cookah, eeadd a couple of cups of wooder, let it simmer for two, tree owiz, fish out da beef, which’ll now be as tender as de inner eeass-cheek of a well-nigh unsalvageable preemie newbwahn, sore wahff nine point-two-nine, ten point-watt squayah inches from dose sixty-five, seventy-point-watt, and dat’s your dinner for da day.  Da remaining fitty-five-point-seven-one, sixty-point-watt you trow in da fridge and microwave nine point-two-nine autcetera squayah inches at a time each day, and when you get to the end uddah load and da beginning uddah next week, you retoin to the freezer and repeat da praacess.  Widda dinner routine like dat you can live for ten months straight owen literally a dime a day—even if you do fwall wahff da chuckwagon—skewed me, da bottom round wagon—every ninte weekend or so by substitutin’ homemade chicken soup.  So dat leaves you wid ninety nine point nine-to de umpteent powah percent uddah umpteen tousand bazillion dollahs of your Plutonist’s trust fund to spend on truly woitwhile tings like wahht, or trips to da teeadah, or to faahrein countries, to see how de uddah nine hundred ninety-nine percent lives in all its glorious plenifecund splendahhto eat a genu-wine tostada in downtown Mexico City, or a genu-wine stromboli in downtown Palermo, a genu-wine pizza in downtown Pisa, a genu-wine deli sayngwich in downtown New Dehli or even a genu-wine aile du bufle in downtown Buffalo…
*
From the kitchen it was an easy transition to the so-called walk-in closet or so-called dressing room, where initially they encountered nothing unusual or objectionable, at least as far as Sarge could tell.  “What da Frank Finlayson’s fuck do you mean, nuttin’ unusual or objectionable; are you toinin’ into a Plutonist sociopat y’self?  Is Karen a full moon tonight?”  Quite equanimously but not completely unstroppily Sarge protested that in all Finlaysonness he could see nothing untoward in an overcoat or two, a pea jacket, a farting jacket, a business suit, a pair of belts, a blazer or three, a fistful of neckties, a dozen-and-a-half long-sleeved dress shirts, and another dozen-and-a-half pairs of casual-dress slacks.  “Well, of kwahs day’s nuttin’ untuwwowowid wid any o’ dese gahmments and haberdasherial accessories per se or eo ipso, fuckfemur.  What’s untuwwowowid and indeed absolutely unacceptable about dis here clwahhset is de eeabsence o’ soitin udder gahmments exedera dayahfrom.  It’s just like widda wwwahls: day’s soomit dat should be heeyah and iddn’t.  I mean, just tink o’ your own clwahhset.  What’s da foist genre o’ gaament you’re likely to reach foe from it owen, say, a Saturdee moanin’ (and no jokey Milton Boyle-esque references to your wife’s goidle and garter belt, pretty, pretty please!)?”  Never before had Sarge come so close to punching or clocking Moffo-Lupo across or in the gob or puss as at that moment.  For all that, he managed to answer in a Dead Sea-even, utterly un-stroppified tone, A pair of pants.  “And what swahddah peeants: some prissy, neeamby-peeeamy, bed-wettin’ prep-schooler’s navy blue or shit-brown twill peeeants like one o’ dese peeays?”  Never before had Sarge come so close to begging Moffo-Luppo to unzip so that he could orally gratify him in rapt admiration of the prowess of his intuitive faculty as at that moment.  For all that, he managed to answer in a Dead Sea-even, utterly untumesced tone, Of course not: jeans!  “You’ll peeass da swahjent’s exam yet, Swahj.  Lwahng eeafter I’m retie-id and dead, of kwahs, but someday nonedeless, it’s gonna heeappen.  Anyways, as you just as good as pointed out, here in da hwaat o’ de smwall intestine of da second decade o’ da twenny-foist century, it is in feeact wallmost completely unhoid of for a livin’ American man’s clwahset not to contain a single pair o’ blue jeans, for da simple reason dat voitually every livin’ American man spends every wakin’-cum-non-wankin’ minute of his life he is permitted to do so wearin’ jeans.  Of kwahs, woikplace dress codes may requiyah him to wear trousiz of a different cut and make—as for example doze comprisin’ da lower heeaf o’ de abovementioned Sovietesque doubleknit poly lemur suit dat I’m spwahtin right now—as many as fwahhty houwiz a week, but de instant he’s off da company clock, da noxious dress sleeacks are torsed like leper’s reeags into da lwahndry heeeampah, and da jeans are fitted owen to his eeass-cum-laigs like da cuisses of a good old-fashioned knight o’ da trilling days of chivalry.  And I’m soitanly no exception to da rule in dis regaaahd.  Da foist split second I’m waff da claahk, da foist split second I’m no lwangah on doody, no lwangah eeat dah city’s beck and cwalhll, I’m walso out o’ dese lemur pants and in a pair o’ jeans.  And you know I ain’t exaggeratin’ when I say da foist split second, ’cos you’ve witnessed it, specifically on dat one time I was gracious enough to give you a ride to dah bus stop, so’s you could ceeatch da numbah 19 directly home and not heeavee to treeansfer from da numbah 8.  Remember how you peeassed me my Wrangliz from da glove compaatment?  Remember how I kept my right foot on de geeass pedal as I slipped da left one into a jean laig and den—widdout deceleratin’ or takin’ my eyes waff da road for a second—deftly slipped my left foot owen to da pedal and my right one into de uddah jean laig?  We was bobbin’ and weavin’ wall ovah da place, acrwoost wall tree lanes o’ da outside carriageway o’ Hahford Road, wasn’t we?  In feeact, at one point, we went right wonta da median strip and rode da muddfukkah troo tree red treeafic light’s dontcha remembah?  Remembah how we reean ovah dat old lady’s dwahg, deeat old lady wowahkin’ her dwahg in da middle o’ de intahsection o’ Hahford and Oidmann, how we towah dah wretched pooch clean waff dah leash in our peeasage?  How its pattetic little kwahps went koi-TUNK, koi-TUNK, koi-TUNK against de underside o’ dah cwah, wall da way to Nwahdn Pwahkway, eeaftah which deyah waddn’t enough of a kwaphs left to make a noise?   I tells you, blodwyn, sometimes it really pays to be a cop.  But anyways, like I was sayin’, for any nwoahhmal American meeeaan, be he straight as a rod or gay as a pink helium balloon siamang, jeans are a 24/7—or 24/2-plus-15-5 or whaddevah da fuck it is—sign qua non, a veritable inalienable appen(d)age, of non-woikin’ life—except, and I walmost foggot dis, for de two-and-a-heeaf mont stretch between Fleeag Day and Labah Day, when shwahts are a must troo-out wall male non-woiking owiz.  And of cwahss dis here clwahzzit is no less conspicuously devoid o’ shwats dan it is of jeans.  And jeans and shwats alike are a nwohmal twenny-foist century American man’s way of sayin’ dat he’s not owned by his job.  Like me, frinstance.  I may oin my daily bread by bein’ a cop, but when I’m wearin’ jeans or shwats I’m effectively sayin’ dat dis is da time for da real Moffo-Lupo, de extra-gendarmerial Moffo-Lupo, to come out of his shell and show his true culliz and really shine, you dig?, and dat I defy you—Mr., Miss, Ms., Mr., or Dr. Supermahhket Casheeyah or Dentist or Heyah Stylist or Proctologist—on pain of eatin’ a moutful o’ lead for elevenses, to so much as mention a just-expiahd pwahking meter in Alice Springs (i.e. da most minor case o’ legal delinquency in da woild in da foidest English-speaking town in the woild from Bawlmer), even if and especially if I’m twahkin’ you into a coma about de minooshi-eye o’ my métier as a Poe-lease.  ’Cos da whole point is dat you should be grateful dat I’m twawkin’ to you at wall during my waff owiz; da jeans or shwahts prove dat whatevah I’m doin’ I’m doin’ for fun, and by wearing dem when I’m twawkin’ to you, Miss, Mr., Ms., Dr., or Mrs. Supermahhket Casheeyah or Dentist or Heyah Stylist or Proctologist, I’m signifyin’ to you dat my bein’ around you is an occasion o’ fun, and dat you’re woit spendin’ my poissonal fun time around.  When, on de uddah heeand, like dis cunt, our current poisson o’ interest, you wear dress slacks instead o’ jeans or shwahts to da supamahket or dentist’s or heyah stylist or proctologist’s, you’re effectively sayin’, make no mistake, Miss, Dr., Mr., Ms., or Mrs. Supermahhket Casheeyah or Dentist or Heyah Stylist or Proctologist, bein’ around you is woik; dis is pee-yewwahly a business transeeeaction, and I defy you on pain o’ eatin’ a moutful o’ cold meeanshoulder for your sixteenses (your Plutonists are notoriously late riziz) to try to lighten my mood by engagin’ in any smwahll twawk, by easskin’ me how ’bout dem Eeeows or dem Ravens, or about deeat Nor’easter (or Sou’wester) dat’s blayowin’ in from de Ayowcean, or about what I got pleeaned for da weekend (as if an unregenerate Plutonist like Robertson’s ever got anyting pleeaned for any weekend but poundin’ his perimenopwahhhsal pud).  No, effectively says de off-da-woik-clock non-jean cleead male Plutonist, just give me my heeyahcut, my root canal, my grosheries, my colonoscopy, and lettest dy meeeastah go in peace.  Wearin’ dress sleeacks off de woik clock is basically de unregenerate male Plutonist’s way o’ sayin’ he’s got mowahh impwahhtant meeadahs to attend to dan da petty concoins of us peons, which is just anuddah way o’ sayin’ he’s better dan da rest o’ us, dat he’s too good, too lwahfty, to mingle widdus, which is highly iraaahnic, cwaz da lowest o’ dwahgs, da smwahllest, shwhatetst, mangiest, tree-laigged, one-eyed son and heir of a mongrel bitch in Bawlmer, wouldn’t lift its stump to piss on him if he was boining to dett…
After the plenifecund horrors of the main chamber, the kitchen, and the closet, thought Moffo-Lupo and Sarge simultaneously, the bathroom was bound to be a prosaic anticlimax.  But a tour of that perforce smallest of small rooms could not be avoided, as departmental (to say nothing of squadronal) regulations required a thorough, meticulous, and comprehensive scouting of the premises…the last guy who tried even once to skirt these regulations—or should that be this regulation?—thought Moffo-Lupo (but not Sarge), was poor old Vince Spuvnik back in ’82, “and thirty-three years later he’s still rotting in nude one-bucket solitary at Jessup.”  Besides, it (the scouting of the ’throom) would give him (M-L) a chance to put his brand-gibbon-spanking-new SK-17 through its paces.  The SK-17 was nothing less than the dernier cri, the bee’s knees, the Great Dane’s bollocks, in forensic counter-sympiesisosis, the first wholly automated sympiesisosis-detecting and measuring device.  It put to shame and left trailing in the dust the previous state-of-the-art sympiesisosis-detecting and measuring device, the SK-09, which, in requiring the user to input manufacturer and model data before the administration of analysis, had been only partially automated; to say nothing of the gizmo in use before that, the so-called Brannyck device, a wholly acoustic plumb-line and ruler-centered affair whose construction (and degree of accuracy) did not (or had not) appreciably change (or changed) between its mists-of-time-obscured invention in fourteenth or fifteenth-century Antwerp and its all-too-tardy outphasing from routine forensic applications in the early-late 1990s.  Yessirree (or should that be Nosirree?)bob, thought Moffo-Lupo (but not Sarge), with the SK-17 all you had to do was strap the tube in, flip on the power switch, and let her (or should that be him?) rip.  Of course, thought Moffo-Lupo (and also Sarge [Don’t ask, as they used to say]), the increased accuracy had come with a hefty price tag: at $9,573 per squad unit or $533,463,982 in total costs, the implementation of the SK-17 was (or had been) the single-most expensive single-line capital outlay in the force’s 268-year history.  Luckily, thought Moffo-Lupo on his own again, Accounting had managed to massage the numbers adroitly or dexterously enough that the pension fund hadn’t had to take a hit qua slack elevator.  The redoubtable yet eminently approachable Ub Eiwerks, the police department’s deputy chief of business services, had filled him in on the financial-cum-fiduciary fingerwork over sock monkeys at the Whistling Oyster.  “You see,” had said Ub, “we lease the SK-17s back from the company we sold them to.  That way they come under the monthly current budget and not the capital account.”  For all the Sapphic cantankerousness (or cantankerous Sapphistry) of the staff, you could always count on getting a good sock monkey at the Oyster.  The trick to a good sock monkey, of course, was not to overdo the cranberry juice…
*
[…] “Here we, or rather I, go again,” thought Moffo-Lupo, as he felt Sarge’s unmistakably lackadaisical-yet-urgent tug at his (Moffo-Lupo’s) right shoulder (had the tug been an equally lackadaisical-yet-urgent one at his left shoulder, the unmistakability and the again-ness would have had different referents, referents that shall not be named).  Slowly, effortfully, he (Moffo-Lupo) unglued his lower lip from 4.5 square centimeters of mercerized Orlon and 3.2 square centimeters of laminated corkboard; and even more slowly and effortfully, he raised himself into a sitting position and tried to ignore the stroboscopically stabbing pain in his right foretemple (as against the eminently ignorable, because audio-test-patternly steady, pain in his left foretemple).  Once again, the wait for his sidekick to finish putting the ineluctable procedure in procedural (minus the terminal ‘e,’ of course), had proved simply too boring for him, and he had passed out on (to) the floor of the dwelling-place of the person of interest.  But Sarge’s over-the-shoulder, ’throomward-bound ejaculation of his signature the-game-is-afoot analogue Check this out, boss! acted on Moffo-Lupo’s sensorium-cum-organism like a flagon of smelling salts.  Inside a half a minute he was standing alongside his sidekick at the bathroom sink and gazing down at a spectacle whose appallingnesss buggered delineation, let alone description.  The pink and white mass shackled into place on the SK-17’s flatbed was barely recognizable as a toothpaste tube, so multitudinously pitted was it with greedily deep finger indentations.  If one had suspended the newly unboxed virginal tube from a rope and taken bee-bee gun potshots at it from ten feet away at ten-second intervals for a full solar day, thought Moffo-Lupo: then and only then could one otherwise have put it into such a legally (i.e., international war crimes tribunal-indictably) atrocious state.  It was only many (i.e., several more than several) minutes later that Moffo-Lupo managed to summon up enough composure-cum-gumption to ask Sarge what the reading was.  This reading, it should now be mentioned, expressed and indeed still expresses the ratio of the of the median forward distance of all the finger indentations from their respective ideal indentative spots as determined by a triangulation of the latest carbon dating-refined (and SK-17-calculable) data with a factor of 1.9 cubic centimeters of tubic discharge per day, a factor determined in turn by the assumption of two brushing sessions per day each requiring .95 cubic centimeters of tubic discharge.  When, at the fourteenth plenary convention of the Forensic Dentists’ Association (or FoDA, to distinguish it from the Food and Drug Administration), the convention that saw the official launch of the entire SK series, a certain lone-wolfish design-committee member pointed out that application of the .95 x 2 coefficient would lead to woefully inaccurate readings in the case of toothpaste users who brushed their teeth only once a day or used fewer than .95 cc’s per brushing session, he or she was very nearly dismembered alive for having dared to intimate the living presence of such dental-hygienic reprobates in the modern developed world.  But anyway-stroke-so anyways, a reading of zero was of course ideal.  A negative reading of any sort was in principle highly disturbing, proving as it did that the toothpaste user had devoted some measurable quantum of squeezing energy to a portion of the tube manifestly incapable of yielding any further pastage.  But negative readings were statistically unheard of; so rare, indeed, were they that the two or three-fifths of a handful of them as yet on record had been thrown out of court on the eminently plausible grounds that they had more likely been occasioned by faulty electronics in the SK-17 (“whose absolute impeccability qua gauge of sympiesisosis is by no means hereby being called into question,” quoth the bench on each of that duo or trio of occasions) than by behavior of the requisitely flagrant outréness in the defendant.  A positive reading of up to .019, meaning 1.019 times the optimum distance from the rear of the tube, was considered normal, although law enforcement agencies at all levels of government had for many years been under considerable pressure from rightly called special interest groups, most notably MAUS (Mothers Against Untreated Sympiesisosis) to lower the legal limit of normal sympiesisosis to .0187 or even .0185.  Readings between .20 and .2319, signifying squeezage greater than or equal to 1.2 times the optimum forward distance, were sure tokens of pre- or borderline sympiesisosis, and required the notification of the incipient malefactor-cum-sufferer’s primary care provider.  At a reading of .2320, full-blown sympiesisosis was diagnosed, and both daily counseling and round-the-clock biosurveillance were strongly indicated.  Anything beyond .2325 was considered morbid-cum-criminal sympiesisosis and mandated the patient-cum-malefactor’s immediate institutionalization or incarceration.  If the reader will keep everything from “This reading, it should be mentioned” above onwards steadily in mind, he or she will readily appreciate both why Sarge considered a reading of .3142 eminently out-checkable and why the sight of this reading elicited the following (again many-minutes-in-coming) reaction from Moffo-Lupo: “I tell you Swahj, in point o’ sheer blood-coidling horrificness, I’m really stumped for a comparison to anyting else I seen in wall my fwahhty-nine yeaahs owen da fwaace.  Da closest ting dat springs to mind—and minejew, I still ain’t sayin’ it’s anywhere’s neahh as revoltin’ as dis—is da scene o’ da moida uddah little Stubbins boy back in ’82.  As I recall, da kid was about tree years old, four tops.  His faddah had greeabed him by boat laigs and swung him against da wall like a baswebwall beeeat.  His little head exploded like, well, dat can o’ soup I trew against da wall here oilier, and made da wall at da ’tort look like, well, erm…” “…a de Koenig canvas?” Sarge chimed in in gormless would-be helpfulness.  “If you say so,” replied Moffo-Lupo, his horror momentarily yielding pride of place to embarrassment; then he resumed in the narrative mode: “So anyways, da kid’s brains was wall over da wall, and not only da wall but wallso a good pwaht uddah flowah.  And dat, day, and specifically dat mwahnnin’, I’d brought alwahng my breakfast wid me, as I walways used to do till da wife switched over to fixin’ me Lincoln continental ones.  My breakfast dat mwahhnin’ was a screeeambled aig sayngwich.  So anyways, I’m conductin’ my preliminary soivey o’ da ’tort, checkin’ what’s left o’ da kid for signs of pre-mortem trwawhma—bruises, broken bones and whatnot—and wall da while’s I’m checkin’ I’m walso munchin’ on my sayngwich.  I poke and prod and take a bite and poke and prod and chew and swallow, poke and prod and take anuddah bite and poke and prod and chew and swallow, and so owen.  And just as I’m about to take bite numbah five or six, de antepenultimate or maybe even penultimate bite o’ da whole reppeaaast, a bit o’ aig fwalls out and leeands owen da floowah, owen de caahpet, and widdout tinkin’, let alone lookin’ down, I sneeatch it, de bit o’ aig, beeack up and stuff it in my mout.  Just like dat.  It’s a reflex wid me not to let fwallen food go to waste.  Don’t f’get, Swahj, I toined sixteen during da great recession of 1958; nobaahdy but nobaahdy my exact age ever takes food for granite, and anybody and everybody my exact age woulda done exactly like I did at dat moment.  You younkers who’ve never known a minute o’ hwahdship blidely go owen about da five-second rule; well, for folks o’ my micro-micro-generation day’s no such ting as da fuckin’ five second rule, or even da tree second rule, or even da one-second rule, ’cos none of us has ever left a piece o’ food on da flooah for mowah dan heeaf a millisecond.  So anyways, owen account o’ de feeact dat my riddim has been trown woff by da droppage, I chew up and swallow what I take to be dat penultimate or antepenultimate bit o’ aig foist, and den and only den look beeack down at the floowah as a proper doo-dick to resuming my pokin’ and proddin’.  And da foist ting my eye catches sight of down dayah is—get this—a fragment o’ screeeambled aig.  And neeaturally I immejiately put two and two togeddah and realize dat if dat bit o’ aig is owen dah flowah, den—’cos eeafter wall I just dropped one bit o’ aig—the ting I just swallowed has got to have been a dollop o’ da kid’s brain.  It’s a right prahpaah shakaaah, to be shwahh, dis discovery.  I stwaaht tinkin’ I’m gonna upchuck wall over da floowah, which reminds me dat if I do dat I’m gonna corrupt de evidence, so I try to twawk myself out of my nwazha: look at it dis way, I says to meself: it’s protein, just like de aig; it soives da same nutritional poipose.  And it ain’t like da kid needs it anymowah, so it might as well be put to some use.  By dis point, my nwazha is completely gwahn and I’m feelin’ downright chipper.  In fact, I’m so bowled over by dah cast-ironological duckassesque woodertightness of my own rhetoric, dat I’m strwahwngly tempted to help myself to anuddah bite o’ kidbrain.  But den I realize just in da Knick of thyme dat eatin’ de evidence walso counts as corruptin’ it, and I coib myself.  So, anyways, da moral o’ dis comparison, Swahj, is dat even after eatin’ a good coupla tablespoons o’ dat tyke’s brain I meeanaged to keep pushin’ da foodstream in da right direction, towahhds the eeeashole, whereas now, after what I seen in dis chamber o’ whoriz, I ain’t so shoer I’m gonna meeanage to keep dat stream from debouchin’ outta da wrwong ahrrifice.”  Just then, the good detective’s gaze alighted once again on the hideously gnarled toothpaste tube—now being conveyed from the SK-17 into a self- hermetically sealing transparent titanium ziplock bag by Sarge with the aid of a pair of eighteen-inch-long lead-sleeved tongs—and instantly prompted him to revise his forecast as follows while panickedly flinging open the lid of the commode and plunging his head into the bowl beneath: “No: dis time, Swahj, I’m definitely shoer I ain’t gonna meeanage to keep it from doin’ dat.”   

  1. Lieutenant Moffo-Lupo’s ideolect synthesizes the most irritating features of the Divine-type Baltimore pseudo-dialect, the Archie Bunker-type New York pseudo-dialect, the Cliff Claven-type Boston pseudo-dialect, and the Chris Farley-type Chicago pseudo-dialect, along with equally irritating bits of certain other pseudo-dialects that it would be unwise to name.  While the author is loath to spare the reader a scintilla of the pain occasioned in his own mind’s ear by this largely phonological melange, he is also sensible that the most successful attempt to do it justice without resorting to the alphabet of professional linguists (which in any case he has not managed entirely to dispense with in his own attempt) is bound to be about as intelligible as a month’s installment of Pogo Possum minus the pictures.  Accordingly he has produced a dialect-light version (see immediately below), which the reader may either consult as needed as a kind of pony text to the dialect-heavy version or take in on its own as a complete alternative text.  In this version most grammatical and vocabularial irregularities in Moffo-Lupo’s idiolect have been retained because, while they are often intrinsically mystifying, the mere representation of them occasions the author no difficulty and consequently occasions the reader no difficulty in merely apprehending them.  The omission of dialect from all passages in which Moffo-Lupo’s thoughts are reported, either in self-addressed dialogue or free indirect discourse, is deliberate, in conformity with the author’s conviction, expressed before in the essay “Against Intralingual Diversity,” that no Anglophone thinks in dialect.  The dialect-light version also contains footnotes glossing certain extra-idiolectal elements of the text that may occasion bemusement.    

Dialect-Light Version

While it certainly would be true, reflected Lieutenant Moffo-Lupo of the Baltimore City *…* Squad, to say that the interior of Apartment 754 gave every clichéd appearance of having had a bomb (the proverbial bomb) detonated in it, this description on its own was hardly illuminating; for (he reflected) mutatis mutandis, it undoubtedly could be said of apartments what Leo Tolstoy or Yogi Berra had said of families, viz. that all tidy ones were interchangeable but all untidy ones were unique.  “Every mare’s nest of a bedsit like this one,” he declaimed aloud for the presumptive benefit of his eminently trusty but by no means servile and in fact judiciously irreverent sidekick and helpmeet, Corporal Marshall “Sarge” Majors, “has its own very special albeit often exquisitely horrifying story to tell.  Take this rug, for instance.” “You mean your toop, boss?” Sarge insouciantly queried, as if in deliberate illustration of his judicious irreverence.  “Shut your motherfucking Dangerously Delicious Piehole, boyo,” rejoined Moffo-Lupo, through an eye-crinkling smile whose ineffable douceur trademark-worthily belied the peremptory gruffness of the riposte itself.  Then, hunkering down on the hams of his a** or ****e, he gestured spastically yet expansively with his signature unlit Emporia cheroot at the prevailingly khaki and black all-Orlon ersatz Persian rug that dominated the wall-less imaginary rectangle that perforce does duty for a living room in a bedsit, and resumed thus: “Prima vista, it’s just an ordinary prevailingly khaki-and-black all-Owahlon ersatz Persian rug, a rug whose identical twins or clones are to be found in thousands of bedsits throughout this pissant berg.  But look a little closer and you’ll see this.”  “See what?” Sarge queried in genuine unamused bemusement.  “This, fuckpeepers,” replied the good lieutenant, apparently pointlessly pinching the air a(n) half-centimeter above a khaki patch with one of his thumb-and-forefinger combos (probably the right one, as M-L was no southpaw).  But as he drew his hand aloft to eye-level, Sarge saw that he had taken hold of a small quantity of something that although khaki in hue could not have been more than five-percent Orlon in constitution.  What ever could it have been: a quid of unsmoked blonde shag tobacco, perchance? Or a tuft of pubic fur from one of the more endearing montane mammals like the chamois or the agouti?  “Neither,” said Moffo-Lupo: “it’s a morceau or fewmet of sock meat.  I daresay you’ve never heard of sock meat, Sarge?”  Sarge shook his head in the negative. “No, of course you haven’t.  At ass you may be nothing but a douche—in fact you most certainly are nothing but a douche—but at least you ain’t a bum.  I mean, you got a wife and kids to support, aint you, blodwyn?” Sarge shook his head in the affirmative (i.e., nodded).  “You can’t get away with going around in substandard hosiery, can you?  I mean, you may have a potato or two in the weekend section of the drawer, but—” He broke off on seeing Sarge’s eyelids suddenly plummet in what was undoubtedly an access of shame or embarrassment.  “Don’t tell me,” he (Moffo-Lupo) confidentially resumed: “you’re wearing a sock with a potato in it right now.”  Sarge in not lifting his eyelids implicitly assented.  “Sarge, Sarge, Sarge,” M-L remonstrated, apparently more in genuine concern than in feigned scorn, “you got to take better care of yourself.  If clothes make the man--which they most certainly do--then socks make the clothes.  I swear, boyo, you can be wearing a bespoke all-silk suit-and-tie and the finest hand-made, neat-soled shoes, and if you ain’t got on the socks to match ’em you won’t be able to get a table at a 24-hour Denny’s on Pulaski Highway, let alone at a proper restaurant.  But with good socks, every restaurant in the world is your oyster—and I ain’t just talking about seafood joints.  Look at me: I dress like the junior floorwalker of a provincial Soviet department store, and yet I can traipse into the Black Olive or the Charleston, or even Bern’s or Emchai1 without a reservation, and be seated in five minutes flat.”  Sarge was initially tempted to ask the lieutenant to prove his latest assertion by postfixing to this late-morning recce an impromptu lunch at the Charleston (the Black Olive, as far as Sarge was concerned, was off-limits on account of its fins-and-all presentation policy), but he resisted this temptation partly because he was certain that M-L, being a notorious skinflint, would make him pay his ineluctably triple-digit share of the bill; and partly because his (Sarge’s) last significant conversational intervention had been an irreverent one, and judicious irreverence, being on the whole dactylic in its prosody, generally calls for every harsh blow of impetuosity to be followed by two taps of gentle complaisance.  And so Sarge asked to see the socks.  Moffo-Lupo, still hunkered down on the rug, had only to point to one of the two quasi-rectangles of fabric already exposed to Sarge’s view. The sock was indeed a very nice one.  And so it was without a trace of affectation, albeit with a great lashing of grammatical license, that Sarge thereupon said, “Those are nice socks.”  “Thanks a milliard, blodwyn.  And apropos: let me axe you a question.   How old would you say these socks are?”  Meter, Sarge self-spiegled, called for this next riposte to be complaisant.  The question in this case was which of the two alternatives, comparative antiquity or comparative modernity, was the more complaisant.  At that moment the only pointer in either direction that came to Sarge’s mind was Jerry Lewis’s purported hosierial policy of not wearing a pair of socks more than once.   Hence, at that moment he (Sarge, not Jerry Lewis) had no choice but to plump for comparative (and indeed extreme) modernity as the more connoisseurial, and hence more complaisant, of the two.  And so, having factored in the assumption that M-L had donned the stockings no earlier and not much later than six o’clock that very morning, Sarge guessed that the socks were three hours and thirty-six minutes old.  “Wrong!” triumphally (not triumphantly) cried Moffo-Lupo, as he brandished the cheroot within a potentially conjunctivitis-inducing distance (yes, despite the cigar’s unlitness) of one of Sarge’s eyes (more likely the left one, as the right one was lazy).  “If you would have said three hours and thirty-six years old you would have been much closer to the bull’s ass.  I bought these socks the very day, specifically the morning before, I passed the sergeant’s exam—the morning of May 27, 1979.  Paid five hundred-and-eighty-three bucks for ’em at the haberdashery counter at Hutzler’s.  I actually bought two pairs, so the total was nearly twelve hundred dollars.  Had to take out a second mortgage on the house to cover it.  But boy oh boy, boyo, was it worth it.  You know why?  ’Cos to this day, those two pair of socks are the only ones I ever wear.   I keep ’em in constant rotation.  On Mundee I put on one pair and wear ’em right on through to the following Sunday (That, ruefully-esquely remarked Sarge to himself, explains the awful cheesy smell that permeates the interior of the General Winder2, when I give ’em to Mildred3, and don the other, clean, pair the next day.  I reckon that, adjusting for inflation, over the years I’ve saved at least a whopping five thousand two hundred and seventy-two cents, a.k.a. nearly 53 Somalians [sic], by having bought those two pair of socks, in lieu of the Hanes crew-sock six-pack I was then considering as an alternative, and that at minimum would have had to be replaced in its entirety every two years.  There’s no doubt about it, if you want to save in the long run, you got to pay more upfront, ’cos quality ain’t cheap.  Which brings me full circle back to this here piece of sock meat.  At the very, very bottom, the very ass of the ass, of the men’s hosiery market, are these socks that have a strong tendency to shed—no shit!—from within.  With every wash a little bit more of the fabric sloughs off, and most of that little bit ain’t rinsed or tossed out in the washer or dryer; in other words, it stays inside the sock.  So when you go to put on one of these socks—you realize, I hope, that I’m employing ‘you’ in the impersonal sense?”  In point of fact Sarge hadn’t realized this, and now that he had learned it he felt an immeasurable sense of relief and gratitude that rather strongly militated against his conforming to the prosody of judicious irreverence in the short term, such that he merely nodded in simultaneous assent and encouragement-to-continue, prompting Moffo-Lupo to resume, thus: “right, so you go to put on one of these socks, and you feel your toes and foot-balls running into little lumps of fabric or sock meat, and you got to turn the fucking thing inside out and give it a few good thwacks to shake it clear of the offending carnage; ’cos otherwise you’re going to be walking around all day feeling mutatis mutandis like the princess in the fairy tale about the pea under the mattress, or mutatis rarioris mutandis, the king of the Littleputzes in Gulliver’s Travels.  Naturally, this sock-meat clearing operation takes tens or even dozens of seconds per sock-pair that can add up to whole minutes or even tens of minutes over the course of a decade.  And then you got to figure that just cleaning up the sock meat, getting it off the floor, has got to take a butcher’s-dozen seconds per sock-pair on its own.”  Of course, Sarge noted and pointed out (in all prosodic neutralness, or, if one insists, by way of inserting a much-needed caesura), in the present case the sock meat afflictee evidently had been in the habit of sparing himself those extra butcher’s-dozen seconds.  “Exactly, Sarge!  And when you put the past presence of the sock meat and the present non-absence of the sock meat, its never-having-been-cleared-awayness, together, you already start to get a pretty good—a pretty rough but still a pretty good—idea of of the sort of sod this schlongsucker is.  First off, he was too much of a tightwad, a cheapskate, a skinflint, a miser, a [his voice sinking to a momentary whisper] n****rd, and what is more—as I have already indicated via the account of my own hosierial expenditures—too much of a damn fool, to buy decent socks.  So that’s two strikes against him.”

“B-but—”  
“That’s right, Sarge: two strikes—one for the [his voice again sinking to a momentary whisper] n*****liness, the other for the foolishness.  Then, on top of that, he couldn’t be assed to clear away the leavings of his pennypinchingfest, videlicet, the sock meat.  So in the second—”
“Or, rather, third—”
“that’s right—so in the third place, he’s at-firstblushially lazy, but laziness don’t begin to scratch the surface of this here veritable parfait, this tiramisu skyscraper, of vices.  ’Cos no matter how lazy he was, his laziness should have been preempted by a garden-variety, lowest-common-denominator, bargain-basement consideration of the bienséances.  And that consideration breaks down into several classic virtues.  First off, in efficient-causal sequence if not in moral priority, you got your prudence.  He should have been thinking to himself, immediately upon seeing that first clump of sock meat hit the rug, Hey, I may be paying—and paying, I daresay, a mere pittance, a mere one-quintillionth of his lordly quadrillions (more on those anon)—to live here, but this place—this pad, if you will—ain’t just some kind of gropeable annex of my private psyche.  I got to consider the effect it’s going to have on other people.  Suppose, for instance, I have a lady friend over—not that this pathetic piece of fuck could ever get the corpse of Phyllis Diller to spend ten seconds alone with him, but we’ll that pass for now –suppose I have a lady friend over: what’s she going to think about a guy with sock meat on his floor?  Is she ever going to let me get to first base, let alone let me bowl a googly into the wicket, once she’s set her eyes on these objects of horror?  And suppose the super stops in to have a look at the pipes while I’m out; nay, suppose a pair o’ Baltimore City’s finest—here he glanced over at Sarge with what a lesser stylist would describe as a “knowing, mischievous twinkle in his eye”—need or needs to do a little impromptu exploratory investigation here.  What are they going to think of a potential suspect whose floor is literally littered and figuratively figured with sock meat?  Are they going to go easy on him, service him with a proverbial (?) lamb-skin sheath?  No, they’s going to strap on the so (and rightly)-called Iron Swain, and go to work on his anal sphincter like Gangbusters—you know the flick I’m talking about—the 1996 classic buddy picture starring John Dough, Stephen St. Croix, et al.”  Sarge nodded (in assent), although he had never heard of the film of which M-L had just been talking, as M-L continued, thus: “Christ, you can’t imagine how much I’m looking forward to reenacting that scene.  But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  Back to the itemization of the classic virtues flouted by this punk.  It was, as I said, imprudent of him to leave the sock meat lying around, and it was also inconsiderate of him to do so.  ’Cos nobody, and I mean nobody but nobody, needs to see this shit—nobody is going to get any sort of pleasure or enlightenment out of seeing a clump of sock meat.  I myself have certainly seen more than my share of the old ess-em, and I certainly don’t need to see any more than that more any more than I need to see another pair of emus coiting (Baltimore City zoo, 1965, longish story, another time).  And as for you, Sarge, well you were a bona fide sock-meat virgin until today, and if it hadn’t have been for this turd’s negligence you might very well have gone to your grave as one.  Whereas now as things stand, you’re going to have to live with the god-awful trauma of hosiocarnal knowledge for the rest of your life.  But some people, or rather some anthropomorphic defecating machines, never think of anybody but themselves.  Speaking of which, I’d like to draw your attention to the other salient class of  floor blemishes in this dump—vide licet, the books.”  Here he was referring to perhaps a dozen volumes strewn in a single layer throughout the 24 square feet of floorage set off by the rug, the bed, the desk (distinguishable in function from a card table [and a jolly rickety one at that] only by the presence of a laptop computer atop it), and the windows.  “Suppose, Sarge, suppose, H.R.H. J. H. Christ forbid, that a fire suddenly broke out in here: we’d almost certainly die of incineration or asphyxiation, ’cos neither of us would ever make it to the windows in time to open one of them, on account of all these stinking books.  Just kicking the fucking glorified hockey pucks-stroke-cow chips out of the way has got to be an afternoon’s job of work.  Of course, eo ipso it’s all well and good and proper for a dedicated, lifelong Plutonist to live in a self-set deathtrap, ’cos after all death couldn’t come soon enough to such a desiccated old husk of a prune.  But what about the rest of us, those of us who still got something to contribute—”  “--i.e.,” Sarge, having long since renounced the prosodic niceties of his character in favor of a career as an alibdinous seconder and in-filler of his boss’s thoughts and actions, interjected, “because we still got kids, with costly mobile phone plans, car insurance policies, drug habits, etc.”  “Exactly, blodwyn, exactly.  Are we to leave our loved ones high and dry, bereft of our essential and utterly infungible tee ell cee, on account of the willful negligence of the likes of this toerag?” Meanwhile Sarge, newly and for the first time mindful of his duties as a so-called pipe-layer (not by any means to be confused with a so-called donneur des pipes), had already examined the spines, flyleaves, etc. of most of the books, and noted a stunning shared feature of them: their bearing or sporting of the ink-stamped legend “ENOCH PRATT FREE LIBRARY.”  On learning of this bearage or sportage, Moffo-Lupo simultaneously crossed himself and retched before incredulously asking “You mean, Sarge, that every single one of these books is from the public library?” Sarge, after begging him to wait ten seconds for him (Sarge) to complete his survey and then completing it, agreed that yes: that was precisely what he meant.  “I tell you, boyo,” quoth Moffo-Lupo again, “this megacunt is really pressing all my buttons.  As you know, Sarge, I am deeply, passionately, nay, maniacally against the death penalty.  But I think when it’s abolished they ought to include in the statute or amendment a special entrapment clause for fuckers who check out more than one library book at a time.  I mean what could be more obvious: you check out a book.  You read it word by word, and line by line, and page by page, until you get to the end.  And then and only then do you return it to the ’brary and select another book.  What is the fucking point of having more than one book out at a time?  I mean, is it physically possible for a human being to read even two books, let alone ten or twenty, at the same time?  Has any human being got two pair of eyes?  No.  Can any human being really move the only two eyes he’s got independently of each other, except for five or ten seconds at a time, as part of some dumbass party trick?  No.  So nothing short of the most cuntish perversity could account for borrowing habits like dose of this glob of colostomy tube backwash.  That and—once again— a downright hypersociopathic lack of concern for other people’s needs and well-being.  ’Cos as long as the nine or nineteen books this fuckplug ain’t reading are sitting here on the floor, they ain’t accessible to the tens of thousands of penniless Baltimoreans doubtlessly pining away for a glimpse of them.  But what else can one expect from a cuntfucking—excuse me, cuntfuck-eschewingPlutonist?”  At this point, pipe-laying duties obliged or compelled Sarge, who, having completed his survey of the sub-library, was circling round the desk en route to the kitchen, to ask the saintly sub-captain how he knew the suspect was a Plutonist.  Whereupon Moffo-Lupo could not forbear striking one of his two thighs (probably the left one, as he had a hernia just above the right one) and exclaiming in patently jocular outrage, “It’s a goddamn good thing we ain’t got privates in the force—and don’t you dare chuckle about ‘privates’—’cos a question as greenhornish as that surely merits the asker’s demotion.  Practically the first piece of dicksmanship I ever learnt—it was on a ridealong with old Ed ‘Tubbs’ Beatty, way back in ’67, when I was still a beat cop—was that the first thing you should always do, the moment your old GP4 clears the threshold of the old Tatort, is take a look at the bed, ’cos by quadrangulating the bed size with the suspect’s age and marital status, you can instantly, and with a hundred-percent accuracy rating, determine his or her sexual habits down to a cunt or scrote hair.  An unmarried 15-year-old with a double king-sized bed, for example, is obviously quite copulatively precocious and industrious, and consequently automatically headed straight for a statutory rape conviction and da Bisquick5.  Any single person over the age of 25 with a twin bed, on the other hand, is guaranteed to be a Plutonist, a dude or blokess who, in the immortal words of Marcel Duchamp or Buddy Hackett, grinds his or her own coffee.  From his station below the three now (but not formerly)-open kitchen cupboards, Sarge remarked (“Wryly?” you ask.  Sure, or “deadpanly,”  “laconically,” “Rip Taylor-esquely”: take your pick) that this particular Plutonist didn’t seem to have any coffee to grind—or percolate, autodrip, French-press, serve instant, etc., for that matter.  “Oh really?” Moffo-Lupo asked without budging from the immediate post-cubicular area: “then what’s he got in there?”  “Three cans of Progresso-brand chicken noodle soup.”  “And nothing else?”  “Nuttin’”  “Are you sure?”  “Sure as Shaw.”  “I’ve got to see this.”   Whereupon M-L trudged unceremoniously over the books, de-covering two and flattening three others in the so-called process, and sprinted the remaining eight feet leading into the kitchen.  “Just think of it, Sarge,” M-L adjured, as he hefted one member of the unholy troika the way a Tex Avery Hamlet hefts (or would heft) Yorick’s skull: “yanking off a can-lid, pouring the contents into a saucepan, and cranking a knob on a stove thirty, thirty-two widdershins degrees—that is the utmost limit, de Ultima Thule6, of this son of a Biz-Markey impersonator’s culinary ambition.  The self-fucker couldn’t even be assed to make his own chicken noodle soup from scratch.  And it’s not like we’re talking about the most complicated preparation in the world, chicken noodle soup.  All’s you need’s two tablespoons of olive oil, an onion, three garlic cloves, two carrots, two celery ribs, four thyme sprigs, one bay leaf, a half a box of egg noodles, a cup-and-a-half of chicken, some kosher salt, some black pepper, some parsley, and for your stock, a free-range chicken (giblet-free, natch), two carrots, three celery stalks, two white (i.e., big) onions, a head of garlic, a turnip, a quarter bunch of thyme, two bay leaves, and a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns.  You get your stock ready by putting your chicken and your vegetables in a pot over medium heat.  You pour in je-u-u-u-st enough cold water to cover the shit; too much’ll make the broth taste weak, like sickbed piss.  Next, you toss in your thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it slo-o-o-o-wly to come to a boil.  Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for an hour, hour and half,  partially covered, until the chicken is done.  As it’s cooking, you skim away any snotty, jizzy, mucky scum that  typically rises to the surface in scroteloads;  add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while it’s simmering.  Meanwhile, you get a second pot, put it on the stove, turn the gas up halfway, and coat the inside of that selfsame pot with your olive oil.  Then you add your onion, garlic, carrots, thyme, and old bay leaf.  You cook all this shit for five, maybe seven, but certainly not six minutes, until the vegetables are soft but not browned--until, in other words they look exactly like a bunch of mashed-up gibbon or lemur turds but not quite like mashed-up human turds.  Then you pour in the chicken stock and bring the whole revolting mixture to a boil.  You add your noodles and simmer for five minutes or until tender--until the noodles is tender, that is, not until you is.  You fold in the chicken, and keep simmering for another couple of minutes so’s to make sure the chicken warms all the way through--’cos of course the chicken noodle soup-gourmandizer knows no harsher buzz-killer than biting into a chicksickle; then you season with your salt and pepper.  Finally you sprinkle just a little--a mere mouse’s merkin--of parsley on the top and you’re done.  What could be easier or simpler?  And more to the point, what the fuck else of any conceivably greater value could this sperm-spiller ever have to do with his free time?  You a man? You got no wife?  You got no husband?  You got no kids?  All right, then, I want to see you doing one of two things for each and every minute and millisecond of the 60-hour interval between 6:00 p.m. Friday and 6:00 a.m. Sunday: standing behind a hot stove-cum-oven like this one or hanging upside down by your balls in a motherfucking slaughterhouse.”  And with these imprecatory words, mustering all the muscular memory of his days as a closer on the Poly Junior Varsity squad, he lobbed the can of soup at the nearest patch of wall from which he needed fear no splattering of his person, specifically the patch catty-cornered to the door.  Upon impact the can burst open, miraculously without even denting the sheetrock, and in its subsequent descent it allowed a goodly portion of its former contents to describe on the wall a pattern that Moffo-Lupo positively ached to compare aloud to the work of some great modernist Stateside painter.  The trouble was that all the really famous such painters of the proper non-representational phase had already long since been appropriated by screenplay writers and standup comics, leaving the would-be comparer with the unappealing choice between dropping the name of a minor master that would not be recognized (or worse yet, laughed at as evidence of the name-dropper’s second-class taste) or likening the phenomenon in question to the production of some hyper-representational pop artist and consequently being assailed by a chorus (or phalanx) of propped chins and arched eyebrows.  Or perhaps even more implausibly yet, you’d have to fall back on one of the so-called minimalists, like that guy who specialized in solid black canvases or that other one who specialized in solid white ones.  Specializing in solid white canvases, he thought, what a gravy train of a gig that’s got to be.  Talk about money for jam: all’s you got to do is take any old plain section of white wall, like any section of this here sheetrock wall…here Moffo-Lupo triumphantly (not triumphally) realized he had found his quip to make about the soup stain; why it practically wrote itself.  “The way I sees it,” he said to Sarge, “I just done this muff-fucking vixen a favor.  I mean, look at these walls, at all two, three hundred square feet of these stark white sheetrock walls: what, apart from the mark I just left on ’em, do you see?”  After only semi-figuratively scrutinizing every one of those selfsame two to three hundred square feet (the operation must have taken more than ten minutes all told), Sarge in all candor and in some apparent astonishment reported that he saw nuttin’ on them.  “Exactly.  And now thanks to me, they got something on ’em, probably for the very first time since this dung beetle’s turd moved in here.  Seriously, when was the last time you walked into a room that any human being had to spend any amount of time in, by which I basically mean any room other than a futating storage closet, that didn’t have at least one specimen of some kind of visual art in a highly conspicuous place?   What’s the first thing you notice when you’re settling up for a lube job in the proprietor’s office at an auto-mechanic’s?  Is it the three hundred back issues of Car Aficionado Monthly on the utility shelves, or the autographed photo of Jeremy Clarkson on the wall?  No: It’s the fly-spattered glossy reproduction of Rembrandt’s Night Watch or Gainsborough’s Blue Boy lovingly being made to span the panty-shot-foiler of his desk.  Even the humble auto mechanic, philistine’s philistine and preschool dropout that he is, has a place in his life for serious visual art.  And a blue whale cunt with an advanced degree, like our current person of interest, ought to have at minimum ten signed and numbered prints from a living modern master—a Koons, a Hearst, a Hockney, et al.—on each mural surface.  Sarge begged leave to point out that his educational credentials notwithstanding, Mr. Robertson’s annual income was reportedly quite modest, namely [here he did a spot-on impression of Moffo-Lupo about to say “n*****d”] the lower-low middle five figures.  “Bob Villa-beveled bullshit!  I ain’t never heard of a postgraduate-accredited Plutonist over thirty, let alone forty, who wasn’t richer than Croesus to the power of Howard Hughes times Gill Bates.  And in any case, poverty’s no excuse for unregenerate philistinism.  Take my nephew, for instance: an humble entry-level sanitation worker, a lowly garbage-truck remora, up in Poughkeepsie.  The fucker’s got the largest collection of Joseph Beuys originals in the entire western hemisphere.  No shit.  And what’s more, for the best part of his career as a Beuysian, he hasn’t been a Plutonist, meaning he’s managed to come up with enough money to support his Beuys jones even after bringing home the non-Franciscan bacon to his wife and kids.  If he would have stayed a Plutonist, he’d probably have the biggest Beuys collection in the entire world by now—unless, of course, one of those Gauleiters at the fucking Pinakotex der Moderne or the Kuntsmuseum Bonn hadn’t have bumped him off to keep him from getting too big for his Beuysian Unterhosen.  So anyways, when I walk into the digs of a lifelong Plutonist allegedly pulling in [here he did a spot-on impression of Sarge doing a spot-on impression of him (M-L) about to say “n*****d”] upper-low middle five-figure wages, I expect by default to see a display of artistic treasures every bit as impressive as the world’s largest Joseph Beuys collection.  And when I don’t, why then, I figure somewhat fishy’s going on.”  “And by something ‘fishy,’” quoth Sarge, ‘you mean something strange, odd, not quite right…?”  “Yes, yes, but most importantly—” “--…outré, outlandish, off-base…?”  “--Yes, for fucking in soft, yes!  But I mean specifically for us, a pair of polices, the main thing about fishiness is that it correlates with somewhat’s being….?”  “…Illegal?”  “‘Ding-fucking-ding,’ as they used to say, and ‘It’s about fucking- time,’ as I’m sure they still say.  Now given what we know about our person of interest, what sort of illegal activity would this cunt of cunts most likely be up to?” The question seemed not to be merely rhetorical, and to bespeak at least some detectable quantum of genuine bemusement.  In answer to it (i.e., the question), Sarge proffered a single monosyllable: drugs.  “Ehh, possibly.  Admittedly not likely-ly, but still possibly.  You checked the fridge and the freezer yet?”  Sarge reported that he had not.  “Well, the, get to work!  What are you being paid [some inscrutable bureaucratic code redolent of the jargon of orthodontists] wages for, to play bocce with your nutsack?”  The refrigerator turned out to contain two bottles of white wine  (Hugo Grüner Veltliner) and five-sixths of a bottled six pack of Sierra Nevada pale ale; the freezer, nuttin’.  Moffo-Lupo was visibly perplexed.  “I don’t get it.  Something just doesn’t add up.  The booze is all wrong for a junkie of any stripe.  In a junkie’s fridge you expect to find plenty of Jack, Jim, Johnny, Schlomo7—in short, the classic speedball chasers—but nary a bottle of hippie beer or pussy wine.  But if he ain’t a junkie, he’s got to have some degree of a natural appetite, an appetite for ordinary food.  We done seen the soup, of course, but it’s even harder to live on soup alone than on bread alone: even with noodles it ain’t got enough solid bulk--you know, enough shit-building shit.  And yet there’s no classic slothful Plutonist’s shit buildin’ shit-rich provender in sight: no Cheetos, no salted nuts, no beef jerky sticks, et cet.  So what the fuckfest’s he been noshing on?”  No sooner had he asked the question than the sighting of a tiny triangle of waxed paper peeping out from beneath the lid of Robertson’s munchkin’s-office-sized wastebasket led Sarge to believe that it (Moffo-Lupo’s question) was about to be answered.   The color scheme of the paper—swathes of yellow-trimmed green against a white background—was what suggested as much to him (Sarge).  And sure enough, on activating the lid-lifting mechanism on the trashcan via a pedal at its (the can’s) base, Sarge as good as activated the mental release catch on the I think I got an idea, boss that he had been holding in reserve for the preceding eight seconds.  For, severely crumpled though it was, there was no way of tricking oneself into believing that the sheet of wax paper in its rectangular entirety was anything other than the wrapper of a foot-long submarine sandwich manufactured by the Subway chain (of submarine sandwich manufacturers).  Moffo-Lupo reacted to (or at or on) the sight of the wrapper almost with awe; one (e.g. [i.e., not i.e.], Sarge) got the feeling that if he (M-L) had been wearing a hat, at that moment he would have doffed it.  “Jesus H. von Kleist,” he ejaculated in a whisper: “I never would have guessed.  Well, if nothing else, this explains the crappy socks and the absence of art on the walls.  He’s been blowing practically the whole load, all umpteen bijillion Somalians of it, on carryout food.  It’s amazing he can still make rent even on a microscopic cess-cube like this place.”  Sarge, not in an access of his old judicious irreverence, but in fulfillment of his sporadic and prosodically inexact (and unexacting) role as the writer’s mouthpiece, took the liberty of informing M-L that even in the proverbially unlikely event that Mr. Robertson consumed three premium foot-long Subway submarine sandwiches a day, his total annual expenditure on food would amount to 8,760 dollars, or a mere 26.2 percent of the lowest of low-middle five-figure annual incomes.  “I don’t care if it amounts to a mere 2.62 percent of a one-legged octogenarian Calvert Street trans-whore’s hourly income,” roared Moffo-Lupo: “there ain’t nobody in the history of the modern world who’s managed to live even prevailingly, let alone quasi-exclusively, on non-self-cooked meals, for an entire year.  I mean you really got to go back pretty fucking far for a precedent---all the way back to say, Louis the Fourteenth, and he practically bankrupted France with all his made-to-order crème brûlées and Chateaubriands (sic).  For Chrissakes, nowadays even the Queen of England brews her own tea and toasts her own toast.  (“I wonder if she grinds her own coffee?” Sarge thought but did not say.)  And when I think of that empty freezer”…here he broke off, quite clearly too verstimmt (or, in Sassenach lingo, choked up) to continue.  With exemplary tact that was all the more commendable for never having previously been required in all his years as Moffo-Lupo’s sidekick, Sarge whipped out his pocket handkerchief, handed it to his boss, and kept his gaze steadily averted floorward while the well-nigh-anchoritishly virtuous public dick dabbed his eyes, mopped his brow, and finally gave his schnoz a good stentorian blow.  Only when Sarge felt the snot-glutinized hankie being pressed back into his palm did he dare look up, just in time to catch M-L swinging the freezer door back open and poking his head in.  “OK, so the kielbasa cooler at Ostrowski’s it ain’t, but it’s still quite a respectable-sized freezer.  I’d say in culo it amounts to a good three, three-point-two cubic feet.  Now if this sod hadn’t have been (as he obviously still is) a total sociopath, if, in other words, he would have had the tiniest soupcon of a scintilla of regard for the world outside his own cuntishly foreshortened north small intestine, this is what he would have done ages ago with a freezer this size.  He would have gone down to the Save-a-Lot down on twenty-first and Maryland—no, not to the Safeway on twenty-fifth and Charles, and not to the Giant on thirty-third and Greenmount, let alone the Gucci Giant on forty-first and Roland; nosir-fucking-ree-fucking-bob, you got to earn the right to shop at grocery stores like those (I really think there ought to be a three-child minimum for all shoppers at all the premium supermarket chains; for fuck’s sake, what business have these seed-&-egg spillers got clogging up the aisles and effectively snatching bushels of arugula and Camembert from the mouths of infants?)—he would have, I say, gone down to the Save-a-Lot and made a beeline for the meat section, and specifically for the discounted meat cooler, where he would have found bottom round steak on sale for a dollar-ninety, two-dollars, two-and-quarter per pound tops.  Of course the reason it’s on sale is ’cos it’s within a mayfly’s life span of needing to be tossed out; occasionally you’ll see a bit of green on the corners of a particularly gamy slab, but you can cut that away at home, and what’s left after that is perfectly safe to ingest raw if need be…but, anyways, you buy up…by the way, Sarge, do you mind if I switch from the third person preterite conditional to the second person simple present?” Sarge had no objections thereunto. “Thanks.  It’s just that it gets a bit cumbersome, keeping track of all those if he should have would haves and whatnot…well anyways, so you buy up eighteen, twenty, twenty-five pounds of this shit—not that I’m saying it’s shitty beef; I mean, the horn of Africa is teeming with people who’d literally give an arm and a leg to eat a medallion or two of Save-a-Lot discounted bottom round, perverse as it may sound, meat-mass-ratio-wise—and you put it in the freezer.  Then you goes to your local Goodwill—in this case the one on thirty-second and Greenmount—and splurge on a used pressure cooker.  The thing ought to set you back no more than fifteen bucks.  And if you’re lucky and play your cards right, you may even manage to nab one for as little as ten-fifty.  The trick to getting hold of a bargain basement-priced pressure cooker, you see, is to visit the sewing notions section before you visit the kitchenware section.  Three-point-two times out of ten some gormless schmo on the staff has thrown a pressure cooker vent weight in with the sharks’ teeth and miniature kewpie dolls and mummified hyrax scrota and other assorted gewgaws for making necklaces and whatnot with.  And accordingly it (the aforementioned vent weight) costs whatever the going rate for these gewgaws is—viz., at most, a grand total of ten or twenty cents.  So you take the vent and sashay over to the kitchenware section, where seven-point-one times out of ten you’ll find a pressure cooker without a vent, and accordingly selling for less than half the cost of da Jackson-&-Jefferson-priced models with the vent still attached.  Then on the way to the register you stop by the hardware section and pick up one of those woodworker’s saws—you know, the kind with a blade as thin as a sperm whale’s cunt hair and a handle like a question mark.  Set you back five bucks tops.  Then you takes the whole caboodle-cum-kit home and gets to work.  You saws off sixty-five, seventy-point-ought square inches of the bottom round from the slab or cube in the freezer, throw it in the cooker, add a couple of cups of water, let it simmer for two, three hours, fish out the beef, which’ll now be as tender as the inner ass-cheek of a well-nigh unsalvageable preemie newborn, saw off nine point-two-nine, ten point-ought square inches from those sixty-five, seventy-point-ought, and that’s your dinner for the day.  The remaining fifty-five-point-seven-one, sixty-point-ought you throw in the fridge and microwave nine point-two-nine autcetera square inches at a time each day, and when you get to the end of the load and the beginning of the next week, you return to the freezer and repeat the process.  With a dinner routine like that you can live for ten months straight on literally a dime a day—even if you do fall off the chuckwagon—excuse me, the bottom round wagon—every ninth weekend or so by substituting homemade chicken soup.  So that leaves you with ninety nine point nine-to the umpteenth power percent of the umpteen thousand bazillion dollars of your Plutonist’s trust fund to spend on truly worthwhile things like art, or trips to the theater, or to foreign countries, to see how the other nine hundred ninety-nine percent lives in all its glorious plenifecund splendorto eat a genuine tostada in downtown Mexico City, or a genuine stromboli in downtown Palermo, a genuine pizza in downtown Pisa, a genuine deli sandwich in downtown New Dehli, or even a genuine aile du bufle in downtown Buffalo…
*
From the kitchen it was an easy transition to the so-called walk-in closet or so-called dressing room, where initially they encountered nothing unusual or objectionable, at least as far as Sarge could tell.  “What the Frank Finlayson’s fuck do you mean, nothing unusual or objectionable; are you turning into a Plutonist sociopath yourself?  Is Charon a full moon tonight?”  Quite equanimously but not completely unstroppily Sarge protested that in all Finlaysonness he could see nothing untoward in an overcoat or two, a pea jacket, a farting jacket8, a business suit, a pair of belts, a blazer or three, a fistful of neckties, a dozen-and-a-half long-sleeved dress shirts, and another dozen-and-a-half pairs of casual-dress slacks.  “Well, of  course there’s nothing untoward with any of these garments and haberdasherial accessories per se or eo ipso, fuckfemur.  What’s untoward and indeed absolutely unacceptable about this here closet is the absence of certain other garments etcetera therefrom.  It’s just like with the walls: there’s somewhat that should be here and isn’t.  I mean, just think of your own closet.  What’s the first genre of garment you’re likely to reach for from it own, say, a Saturday morning (and no jokey Milton Berle-esque references to your wife’s girdle and garter belt, pretty, pretty please!)?”  Never before had Sarge come so close to punching or clocking Moffo-Lupo across or in the gob or puss as at that moment.  For all that, he managed to answer in a Dead Sea-even, utterly un-stroppified tone, A pair of pants.  “And what sort of pants: some prissy, namby-pamby, bed-wetting prep-schooler’s navy blue or shit-brown twill pants like one of these pairs?”  Never before had Sarge come so close to begging Moffo-Luppo to unzip so that he could orally gratify him in rapt admiration of the prowess of his intuitive faculty as at that moment.  For all that, he managed to answer in a Dead Sea-even, utterly untumesced tone, Of course not: jeans!  “You’ll pass the sergeant’s exam yet, Sarge.  Long after I’m retired and dead, of course, but someday nonetheless, it’s going to happen.  Anyways, as you just as good as pointed out, here in the heart of the small intestine of the second decade of the twenty-first century, it is in fact almost completely unheard of for a living American man’s closet not to contain a single pair of blue jeans, for the simple reason that virtually every living American man spends every waking-cum-non-wanking minute of his life he is permitted to do so wearing jeans.  Of course, workplace dress codes may require him to wear trousers of a different cut and make—as for example those comprising the lower half of the abovementioned Sovietesque double-knit poly lemur suit that I’m sporting right now—as many as forty hours a week, but the instant he’s off the company clock, the noxious dress slacks are tossed like leper’s rags into the laundry hamper, and the jeans are fitted on to his ass-cum-legs like the cuisses of a good old-fashioned knight of the thrilling days of chivalry.  And I’m certainly no exception to the rule in this regard.  The first split second I’m off the clock, the first split second I’m no longer on duty, no longer at the city’s beck and call, I’m also out of these lemur pants and in a pair of jeans.  And you know I ain’t exaggerating when I say the first split second, ‘’cos you’ve witnessed it, specifically on that one time I was gracious enough to give you a ride to the bus stop, so’s you could catch the number 19 directly home and not have to transfer from the number 8.  Remember how you passed me my Wranglers from the glove compartment?  Remember how I kept my right foot on the gas pedal as I slipped the left one into a jean leg and then—without decelerating or taking my eyes off the road for a second—deftly slipped my left foot on to the pedal and my right one into the other jean leg?  We was bobbing and weaving wall over the place, accrosst all three lanes of the outside carriageway of Harford Road, wasn’t we?  In fact, at one point, we went right onto the median strip and rode the motherfucker through three red traffic lights, don’t you remember?  Remember how we ran over that old lady’s dog, that old lady walking her dog in the middle of the intersection of Harford and Erdmann, how we tore the wretched pooch clean off the leash in our passage?  How its pathetic little corpse went ker-THUNK, ker-THUNK, ker-THUNK against the underside of the car, all the way to Northern Parkway, after which there wasn’t enough of a corpse left to make a noise?   I tells you, blodwyn, sometimes it really pays to be a cop.  But anyways, like I was saying, for any normal American man, be he straight as a rod or gay as a pink helium balloon siamang, jeans are a 24/7—or 24/2-plus-15-5 or whatever the fuck it is—sine qua non, a veritable inalienable appen(d)age, of non-working life—except, and I almost forgot this, for the two-and-half month stretch between Flag Day and Labor Day, when shorts are a must throughout all male non-working hours.  And of course this here closet is no less conspicuously devoid of shorts than it is of jeans.  And jeans and shorts alike are a normal twenty-first century American man’s way of saying that he’s not owned by his job.  Like me, for instance.  I may earn my daily bread by being a cop, but when I’m wearing jeans or shorts I’m effectively saying that this is the time for the real Moffo-Lupo, the extra-gendarmerial Moffo-Lupo, to come out of his shell and show his true colors and really shine, you dig?, and that I defy you—Mr., Miss, Ms., Mr., or Dr. Supermarket Cashier or Dentist or Hair Stylist or Proctologist—on pain of eating a mouthful of lead for elevenses, to so much as mention a just-expired parking meter in Alice Springs (i.e. the most minor case of legal delinquency in the world in the farthest English-speaking town in the world from Baltimore), even if and especially if I’m talking you into a coma about the minutiae of my métier as a police.  ’Cos the whole point is that you should be grateful that I’m talking to you at all during my off hours; the jeans or shorts prove that whatever I’m doing I’m doing for fun, and by wearing them when I’m talking to you, Miss, Mr., Ms., Dr., or Mrs. Supermarket Cashier or Dentist or Hair Stylist or Proctologist, I’m signifying to you that my being around you is an occasion of fun, and that you’re worth spending my personal fun time around.  When, on the other hand, like this cunt, our current person of interest, you wear dress slacks instead of jeans or shorts to the supermarket or dentist’s or hair stylist’s or proctologist’s, you’re effectively saying, make no mistake, Miss, Dr., Mr., Ms., or Mrs. Supermarket Cashier or Dentist or Hair Stylist or Proctologist, being around you is work; this is purely a business transaction, and I defy you on pain of eating a mouthful of cold manshoulder for your sixteenses (your Plutonists are notoriously late risers) to try to lighten my mood by engaging in any small talk, by asking me how about them O’s or them Ravens, or about that Nor’easter (or Sou’wester) that’s blowing in from the Ocean, or about what I got planned for the weekend (as if an unregenerate Plutonist like Robertson’s ever got anything planned for any weekend but pounding his perimenopausal pud).  No, effectively says the off-the-work-clock non-jean clad male Plutonist, just give me my haircut, my root canal, my groceries, my colonoscopy, and lettest thy master go in peace.  Wearing dress slacks off the work clock is basically the unregenerate male Plutonist’s way of saying he’s got more important matters to attend to than the petty concerns of us peons, which is just another way of saying he’s better than the rest of us, that he’s too good, too lofty, to mingle with us, which is highly ironic, ’cos the lowest of dogs, the smallest, shortest, mangiest, three-legged, one-eyed son and heir of a mongrel bitch in Baltimore, wouldn’t lift its stump to piss on him if he was burning to death…    

After the plenifecund horrors of the main chamber, the kitchen, and the closet, thought Moffo-Lupo and Sarge simultaneously, the bathroom was bound to be a prosaic anticlimax.  But a tour of that perforce smallest of small rooms could not be avoided, as departmental (to say nothing of squadronal) regulations required a thorough, meticulous, and comprehensive scouting of the premises…the last guy who tried even once to skirt these regulations—or should that be this regulation?—thought Moffo-Lupo (but not Sarge), was poor old Vince Spuvnik back in ’82, “and thirty-three years later he’s still rotting in nude one-bucket solitary at Jessup.”  Besides, it (the scouting of the ’throom) would give him (M-L) a chance to put his brand-gibbon-spanking-new SK-17 through its paces.  The SK-17 was nothing less than the dernier cri, the bee’s knees, the Great Dane’s bollocks, in forensic counter-sympiesisosis, the first wholly automated sympiesisosis-detecting and measuring device.  It put to shame and left trailing in the dust the previous state-of-the-art sympiesisosis-detecting and measuring device, the SK-09, which, in requiring the user to input manufacturer and model data before the administration of analysis, had been only partially automated; to say nothing of the gizmo in use before that, the so-called Brannyck device, a wholly acoustic plumb-line and ruler-centered affair whose construction (and degree of accuracy) did not (or had not) appreciably change (or changed) between its mists-of-time-obscured invention in fourteenth or fifteenth-century Antwerp and its all-too-tardy outphasing from routine forensic applications in the early-late 1990s.  Yessirree (or should that be Nosirree?)bob, thought Moffo-Lupo (but not Sarge), with the SK-17 all you had to do was strap the tube in, flip on the power switch, and let her (or should that be him?) rip.  Of course, thought Moffo-Lupo (and also Sarge [Don’t ask, as they used to say]), the increased accuracy had come with a hefty price tag: at $9,573 per squad unit or $533,463,982 in total costs, the implementation of the SK-17 was (or had been) the single-most expensive single-line capital outlay in the force’s 268-year history.  Luckily, thought Moffo-Lupo on his own again, Accounting had managed to massage the numbers adroitly or dexterously enough that the pension fund hadn’t had to take a hit qua slack elevator.  The redoubtable yet eminently approachable Ub Eiwerks, the police department’s deputy chief of business services, had filled him in on the financial-cum-fiduciary fingerwork over sock monkeys at the Whistling Oyster.  “You see,” had said Ub, “we lease the SK-17s back from the company we sold them to.  That way they come under the monthly current budget and not the capital account.”  For all the Sapphic cantankerousness (or cantankerous Sapphistry) of the staff, you could always count on getting a good sock monkey at the Oyster.  The trick to a good sock monkey, of course, was not to overdo the cranberry juice…

[…] “Here we, or rather I, go again,” thought Moffo-Lupo, as he felt Sarge’s unmistakably lackadaisical-yet-urgent tug at his (Moffo-Lupo’s) right shoulder (had the tug been an equally lackadaisical-yet-urgent one at his left shoulder, the unmistakability and the again-ness would have had different referents, referents that shall not be named).  Slowly, effortfully, he (Moffo-Lupo) unglued his lower lip from 4.5 square centimeters of mercerized Orlon and 3.2 square centimeters of laminated corkboard; and even more slowly and effortfully, he raised himself into a sitting position and tried to ignore the stroboscopically stabbing pain in his right foretemple (as against the eminently ignorable, because audio-test-patternly steady, pain in his left foretemple).  Once again, the wait for his sidekick to finish putting the ineluctable procedure in procedural (minus the terminal ‘e,’ of course), had proved simply too boring for him, and he had passed out on (to) the floor of the dwelling-place of the person of interest.  But Sarge’s over-the-shoulder, ’throomward-bound ejaculation of his signature the-game-is-afoot analogue Check this out, boss! acted on Moffo-Lupo’s sensorium-cum-organism like a flagon of smelling salts.  Inside a half a minute he was standing alongside his sidekick at the bathroom sink and gazing down at a spectacle whose appallingnesss buggered delineation, let alone description.  The pink and white mass shackled into place on the SK-17’s flatbed was barely recognizable as a toothpaste tube, so multitudinously pitted was it with greedily deep finger indentations.  If one had suspended the newly unboxed virginal tube from a rope and taken bee-bee gun potshots at it from ten feet away at ten-second intervals for a full solar day, thought Moffo-Lupo: then and only then could one otherwise have put it into such a legally (i.e., international war crimes tribunal-indictably) atrocious state.  It was only many (i.e., several more than several) minutes later that Moffo-Lupo managed to summon up enough composure-cum-gumption to ask Sarge what the reading was.  This reading, it should now be mentioned, expressed and indeed still expresses the ratio of the of the median forward distance of all the finger indentations from their respective ideal indentative spots as determined by a triangulation of the latest carbon dating-refined (and SK-17-calculable) data with a factor of 1.9 cubic centimeters of tubic discharge per day, a factor determined in turn by the assumption of two brushing sessions per day each requiring .95 cubic centimeters of tubic discharge.  When, at the fourteenth plenary convention of the Forensic Dentists’ Association [or FoDA, to distinguish it from the Food and Drug Administration], the convention that saw the official launch of the entire SK series, a certain lone-wolfish design-committee member pointed out that application of the .95 x 2 coefficient would lead to woefully inaccurate readings in the case of toothpaste users who brushed their teeth only once a day or used fewer than .95 cc’s per brushing session, he or she was very nearly dismembered alive for having dared to intimate the living presence of such dental-hygienic reprobates in the modern developed world.  But anyway-stroke-so anyways, a reading of zero was of course ideal.  A negative reading of any sort was in principle highly disturbing, proving as it did that the toothpaste user had devoted some measurable quantum of squeezing energy to a portion of the tube manifestly incapable of yielding any further pastage.  But negative readings were statistically unheard of; so rare, indeed, were they that the two or three-fifths of a handful of them as yet on record had been thrown out of court on the eminently plausible grounds that they had more likely been occasioned by faulty electronics in the SK-17 (“whose absolute impeccability qua gauge of sympiesisosis is by no means hereby being called into question,” quoth the bench on each of that duo or trio of occasions) than by behavior of the requisitely flagrant outréness in the defendant.  A positive reading of up to .019, meaning 1.019 times the optimum distance from the rear of the tube, was considered normal, although law enforcement agencies at all levels of government had for many years been under considerable pressure from rightly called special interest groups, most notably MAUS (Mothers Against Untreated Sympiesisosis) to lower the legal limit of normal sympiesisosis to .0187 or even .0185.  Readings between .20 and .2319, signifying squeezage greater than or equal to 1.2 times the optimum forward distance, were sure tokens of pre- or borderline sympiesisosis, and required the notification of the incipient malefactor-cum-sufferer’s primary care provider.  At a reading of .2320, full-blown sympiesisosis was diagnosed, and both daily counseling and round-the-clock biosurveillance were strongly indicated.  Anything beyond .2325 was considered morbid-cum-criminal sympiesisosis and mandated the patient-cum-malefactor’s immediate institutionalization or incarceration.  If the reader will keep everything from “This reading, it should be mentioned” above onwards steadily in mind, he or she will readily appreciate both why Sarge considered a reading of .3142 eminently out-checkable and why the sight of this reading elicited the following (again many-minutes-in-coming) reaction from Moffo-Lupo: “I tell you Sarge, in point of sheer blood-curdling horrificness, I’m really stumped for a comparison to anything else I seen in all my forty-nine years owen da force.  The closest thing that springs to mind—and mind you, I still ain’t saying it’s anywhere’s near as revolting as this—is the scene of the murder of the little Stubbins boy back in ’82.  As I recall, the kid was about three years old, four tops.  His father had grabbed him by both legs and swung him against the wall like a baseball beat.  His little head exploded like, well, that can of soup I threw against the wall here earlier, and made the wall at the ’tort look like, well, erm…” “…a de Koenig canvas?” Sarge chimed in in gormless would-be helpfulness.  “If you say so,” replied Moffo-Lupo, his horror momentarily yielding pride of place to embarrassment; then he resumed in the narrative mode: “So anyways, the kid’s brains was all over the wall, and not only the wall but also a good part of the floor.  And that day, and specifically that morning, I’d brought along my breakfast with me, as I always used to do till the wife switched over to fixing me Lincoln continental9  ones.  My breakfast that morning was a scrambled egg sandwich.  So anyways, I’m conducting my preliminary survey of the tort, checking what’s left of the kid for signs of pre-mortem trauma—bruises, broken bones and whatnot—and all the while’s I’m checking I’m also munching on my sandwich.  I poke and prod and take a bite and poke and prod and chew and swallow, poke and prod and take another bite and poke and prod and chew and swallow, and so on.  And just as I’m about to take bite number five or six, the antepenultimate or maybe even penultimate bite of the whole repast, a bit of egg falls out and lands on the floor, on the carpet, and without thinking, let alone looking down, I snatch it, the bit of egg, back up and stuff it in my mouth.  Just like that.  It’s a reflex with me not to let fallen food go to waste.  Don’t forget, Sarge, I turned sixteen during the great recession of 1958; nobody but nobody my exact age ever takes food for granted, and anybody and everybody my exact age would have done exactly like I did at that moment.  You younkers who’ve never known a minute of hardship blithely go on about the five-second rule; well, for folks of my micro-micro-generation there’s no such thing as the fucking five second rule, or even the three second rule, or even the one-second rule, ’cos none of us has ever left a piece of food on the floor for more than half a millisecond.  So anyways, on account of the fact that my rhythm has been thrown off by the droppage, I chew up and swallow what I take to be that penultimate or antepenultimate bit of egg first, and then and only then look back down at the floor as a propaedeutic to resuming my poking and prodding.  And the first thing my eye catches sight of down there is—get this—a fragment of scrambled egg.  And naturally I immediately put two and two together and realize that if that bit of egg is on the floor, then—’cos after all I just dropped one bit of egg—the thing I just swallowed has got to have been a dollop of the kid’s brain.  It’s a right proper shocker, to be sure, this discovery.  I start thinking I’m going to upchuck all over the floor, which reminds me that if I do that I’m going to corrupt the evidence, so I try to talk myself out of my nausea: look at it this way, I says to meself: it’s protein, just like the egg; it serves the same nutritional purpose.  And it ain’t like the kid needs it anymore, so it might as well be put to some use.  By this point, my nausea is completely gone and I’m feeling downright chipper.  In fact, I’m so bowled over by the cast-ironological duckassesque watertightness of my own rhetoric, that I’m strongly tempted to help myself to another bite of kidbrain.  But then I realize just in the Knick of thyme that eating the evidence also counts as corrupting it, and I curb myself.  So, anyways, the moral of this comparison, Sarge, is that even after eating a good couple of tablespoons of that tyke’s brain I managed to keep pushing the foodstream in the right direction, towards the asshole, whereas now, after what I seen in this chamber of horrors, I ain’t so sure I’m going to manage to keep that stream from debouching out of the wrong orifice.”  Just then, the good detective’s gaze alighted once again on the hideously gnarled toothpaste tube—now being conveyed from the SK-17 into a self- hermetically sealing transparent titanium ziplock bag by Sarge with the aid of a pair of eighteen-inch-long lead-sleeved tongs—and instantly prompted him to revise his forecast as follows while panickedly flinging open the lid of the commode and plunging his head into the bowl beneath: “No: this time, Sarge, I’m definitely sure I ain’t going to manage to keep it from doing that.”   

  1. Bern’s: the famous steakhouse in Tampa, Florida; Emchai: the famous Thai restaurant in Barnet, Greater London.

  1. The General Winder: Moffo-Lupo and Sarge’s nickname for their squad car, officially known as BCP9028H.

  1. Mildred Forbes: not his wife (who by convention must never be named), but the Moffo-Lupo(e)s’ Singhalese laundress, Mildred Forbes.

  1. GP: short for glans penis--either directly, or obliquely via the euphemism general practitioner; nobody is quite sure which.

  1. Bisquick: a calque of right-Pondsidial porridge that is held by connoisseurs of demimondial argot to be much more trenchant than its original (cf. received opinion of Baudelaire’s translations of Poe)].

  1. Ultima Thule: one of Moffo-Lupo’s favorite adult video starlets of the late-mid 1990s.

  1. Schlomo: i.e., Schlomo Minkowitz, a kosher bourbon-style whiskey.

  1. Farting jacket: better known in the wider Anglosphere as a windbreaker or wind-cheater.

  1. A Lincoln continental breakfast is, in the words of Honest Abe himself, “just coffee.”  Incidentally, there is no inconsistency in Moffo-Lupo’s being both a champion of self-prepared meals and a partaker of spouse-prepared breakfasts, for his objection to canned soup, Subway sandwiches, etc., springs from their expensiveness and extra-domestic and extra-touristic provenance rather than from their exploitativeness of the labor of others per se (or eo ipso).

THE END

No comments: