"I came here to see myself because someone told me I had died. I
arrived to much
confusion and found out that I was not dead. It was somebody pretending
to be me. He was dead until I gave him a clop for giving
me such trouble. No sooner was he healed by the Great
Dombitz than there was a gun duel in our room and somebody
was shot who was not me or myself. It was another fellow
whom we hid in a closet because Flip told me to."
Brophy was another of Flip's unique customers. He had one word
for everything and everything was "Brophy". His dog was named
"Brophy". His wife was named "Brophy".
When he asked for something for breakfast, all he
said was "Brophy". In all the years I'd watched
him while at Flip's Hole, I'd never heard any other words
than "Brophy". Even the garrulous Buddy Taub
could not provoke him into an exchange much beyond that
Buddy would sit next to him and ask Brophy his name.
"Brophy?", asked Taub.
"Brophy" was the reply, said with an intonation
that offered confirmation. If Brophy wanted salt or pepper, he would point
at the item and then add "Brophy". Taub would then point to
it and ask if he really wanted the item by saying "Brophy" in a questioning voice
and "Brophy" would be the reply. It did not leave much room for scintillating conversation, but as Taub once said "A few politicians
I know could say a lot more by taking a few lessons from Brophy."
I was thinking of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton becoming
a one-word Senator, but that would be too much to hope for. Besides
"I quit" are two words, not one.
Lori came from the back, where she was putting the finishing
touches on the cybernet cafe she had installed almost as soon as Flip was
out the door. Flip was still at the hospital and it was getting near
"Any calls from Daddy?", Lori asked.
"What do you think? Should we call the hospital and
find out how Rabbi Dombitz is? If Daddy is in his
room, maybe he'll pickup the phone."
Lori tried the number and actually was able to dial into
Rabbi Dombitz' room, but no one was answering the
"I guess we'll hear about it tomorrow," Lori said.
"Yeah. We'll hear about it right after Flip makes us
undo all this work."
"He's gonna leave that stuff alone, Boo-Boo. Trust me.
If anyone can get around Flip DeGaetano, it's me."
"You forgot your Mother."
"Same thing. She can. I can... and I can do to you what
I do to him!"
It called for a smile, so I flashed one while thinking "no
way, baby... never". What did I say to her?
Easy. I just said "Brophy".
As we were locking up for the night, Flip and Dombitz were
confronting a security guard at the hospital. A gang member
was in Dombitz' room, hiding in a closet and bleeding
from a wound. To get him to safety Flip and Dombitz went
looking for the police. Instead what they found was Officer
Scott Valenzano did not seek to be a security guard. Like many
people do, he fell into this kind of a job quite by accident.
The regular pay, easy work and good hours kept him at
the hospital year after year. Soon Scott no longer thought
about being anything more than a day older, if not wiser.
He was now in his fifth year of service.
The best place to hide at the hospital was the cafeteria.
It was the last place Valenzano expected to be approached...
and certainly by this unlikely pair of men. He was
about to sink his teeth into a plate of industrial strength
lasagna, when they approached from behind and the shorter
of the two tapped him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me, but there is a problem on the fifth floor
and we need help."
"Security phone is on the wall. Dial a 6 and ask for
Gary Simpson. He'll be glad to take your call. If
he's not there, leave a message or dial a 1 for the Helpdesk."
"You are here and you want me to use a phone to reach
you?", asked Domitz incredulously.
"No, I want you to let me eat dinner. The phone on the
wall is what you need."
"So a man should bleed to death in a hospital because
of you?", Flip chimed in.
"See this? It is dinner. Dinner. I am eating here. If
you need Security, use the phone."
Flip was a bit annoyed by the brusque reply, and he'd have gone
to the phone and dialed the number just to get faster
help. Dombitz was less patient. He grabbed the lasagna
and ran. He shouted behind him "You want to
eat? Good. Catch me and you can eat." He was off
and running. Valenzano looked at Flip and Flip shrugged.
The chase was on. Valenzano followed after the Rabbi
and Flip followed behind them both.
Now, to add to the confusion I have to tell you that all day long
Valenzano had been playing hide and seek with an escaped
loon named Glasser. Glasser was not only certifiably
insane, he had Tourette's Syndrome. His Tourette's
Syndrome caused him to wrinkle his face in a questioning
way while repeating "Yeah, you want that?".
He did this all day long, even when he did not want
As a patient in the hospital, Glasser had been confined to
a locked ward. He somehow managed to escape and as he fled asked his
"Yeah, you want that?". It was the last thing they
heard before he disappeared. Valenzano was on the job and looked all over
the place for Glasser. He found him hiding in different places, but Glasser
would leap out and shout at him then run away. At dinnertime, Glasser
was still loose and roaming about. He had somehow managed to get a white lab coat
and, each time he found a doctor would engage a doctor with a
ponderous question. "Yeah? You... you... want that?". If
doctors had many patients during the day, they'd have no idea what this was in reference
to. The easiest thing was to say "Yes" and move along. Glasser
heard this reply all evening, even when some doctors were approached a second
time. The reply just became more surly. "I said I did, didn't
I? Just take care of it!".
Who turned the corner as Dombitz fled down the hall? Glasser, of
course. He stopped Rabbi Dombitz to ask if he wanted "that".
Dombitz handed the lasagna to Glasser and sped off. Glasser
had not eaten all day, so he began to pile the food
into his mouth. It was at this point that Valenzano
turned the corner and bowled right into the pasta munching
wack-o. When Flip caught up in the chase he found Valenzano
sprawled on the floor, out cold and covered in pasta
"What the heck is Dombitz doing? Oh, look at this mess
Flip bent down and tapped lightly on Valenzano's cheek trying to
revive him. He also tapped on Glasser's face and it was
a stunned man who replied "Yeah... Yeah..."
before groggily rising to his feet, stumbling off. It
was shortly after that Sgt. Simpson arrived holding both
Dombitz and Glasser in two rather sizeable arms.
"Here. Help me out. Hold onto this fellow," he
said, passing Dombitz along to Flip. Simpson handcuffed
Glasser to Dombitz and then bent down to look at a waking
"What the hell happened here?", asked Valenzano.
"I was just about to ask that of you. Bad enough we
have Bloods and Crips dueling in our hallways, do
we have to have pasta-faced security guards sprawled
out on the floor, too?"
"I was chasin' this guy," Valenzano pointed to
Dombitz, "who stole my dinner when I ran into
this guy who I've been chasing all day."
"You could have wiped your face off, couldn't you? You
look like you swam through an ocean of lasagna."
Somhow in the collision, none of the pasta had covered Glasser.
It was all over his pursuer.
"Let me explain, " chimed in Dombitz. Flip let
out a groan. "I came here to see myself because someone told me I had died. I
arrived to much confusion and found out that I was not dead. It was somebody
pretending to be me. He was dead until I gave him a clop
for giving me such trouble. No sooner was he healed by
the Great Dombitz than there was a gun duel in our room
and somebody was shot who was not me or myself. It was
another fellow whom we hid in a closet because Flip told
Dombitz gestured to Flip and continued "So then we ran to
get help but instead we found him and he was no
help at all. I borrowed his lasagna to get him to come
to the room and help us. On the way this clumsy fool bumped
into this gentleman and here we are. See?"
Simpson stood listening to Dombitz shout. Flip was staring at the
ceiling. Valenzano was wiping pasta sauce from his face
and Glasser added his own commentary to the end
of the story.
"Yeah? You... you... want that?"
Flip just said "I know it sounds crazy, but if we all go to
room 406 you'll find a gang banger with a bullet in his body. We tried to
get some help so the fellow would not get shot a second time. See for yourself."
- . -
To be continued...
to Robert J. Baumann: email@example.com