Brutal November rain punished the city.  A surprise purification that provoked power outages, crippled traffic and drowned small animals.  Gutters flushed east to west and west to east, wreaking havoc at the valley’s lowest point, the Las Vegas Strip.  But if the uncompromising downpour happened to quarantine you between the sheets with a new love, it was the perfect storm.

Lauren was a looker.  Blond, and not quite at the age where women stop counting.  One might call her a MILF, but only on a technicality as she had never been married and had no family.  No particular reason, her cards just hadn’t fallen that way.  Until she met Gilly Spoon.  A rubber-faced comic whose bedroom walls were covered with memories of over fifty years in the spotlight.  Framed newspaper clippings and show programs.  Prized photographs of Spoony on the set of The Ed Sullivan Show.  On The Tonight Show with Jack Paar.  Dozens of black and white shots of the funnyman mugging with the likes of Jackie Mason, Morey Amsterdam and Henny Youngman.

The thunderstorm raging against the bedroom window made Spoony think back to the night when a washed-out highway left a Borscht Belt supper club without an opening act, and how the manager tapped a wise-cracking busboy as an emergency fill-in.  Stuffed the kid into a three-sizes-too-big tuxedo from the locker of an off-duty maître d’, then announced with great fanfare, “Ladies and gentlemen.  Let’s have a warm round of applause for a young comedian who has been wowing sold out audiences from the Copacabana in New York to the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach …”  The manager looked off-stage at the teenage Gillis Kupferberg who, only minutes before had been polishing the silverware.  “… Gilly Spoon!”

Spoony was so scared he pissed his pants.  Then chuckled as he realized they weren’t his pants, and fired his first zinger.  The crowd laughed and he was on his way.

He paid his dues on the nightclub circuit, but for all the laughs had never quite earned top billing.  A career second banana who eventually settled in Las Vegas.  Opened for Danny Thomas at the Dunes.  For Red Skelton at the Sands.  For Shecky Greene and Dean Martin at the original MGM Grand.  These days he pressed his tuxedo for occasional warm-up gigs off the Strip that paid mostly with applause.  But it was that applause that kept him vital, along with residual checks from playing the nosy neighbor on a resurgent ‘70s sitcom.

Lauren had fallen quickly for Spoony as he filled her life with the one thing no man before him ever had – laughter.  It didn’t matter that he was always on, always playing the clown and always needing to be the center of attention.  It was part of his charm and Lauren loved him for it.  But it was the day he waltzed her into Tiffany and bought her an expensive diamond bracelet that she knew the never-quite-made-it funnyman was hers forever.

Lauren playfully danced her fingertips through Spoony’s curled white chest  hair, then reached into his nightstand for the sex toy he enjoyed most.  She took the .45 caliber pistol from the drawer and made sure it was loaded.  Straddled him, then tickled the lips of her pussy with the barrel of the gun.  Eased it inside.  The cold steel painful as it abraded her inner flesh, yet she moaned with delight as that’s what pleased her man.  She thrust the gun in harder, faster then harder still until the script called for a scream that peeled the wallpaper.  Then she dropped the weapon and stroked the real thing.

Spoony looked at the bedside clock.  “You haven’t given me my present yet.”

“Be patient, my impetuous clown.  Your birthday gift will be here in a little while.”

He went soft.  Again checked the clock.

“What can I do, baby?” she purred as her fingers attempted to resuscitate his limp dick.

“Well, there is one thing.”  He made a funny face.  Always on.  Always performing.  Couldn’t make a simple statement without turning it into a production.  “But you’d never do it.”

She looked at the loaded gun on the bed beside them.  Knowing that no matter how disgusting the desire, she could deny him nothing.  “I’ll do anything you want, my handsome funnyman.”



Spoony took a long pause and steadied himself.  Then like a sheepish little boy he baby-talked, “Will you make me some waffles?”

“Of course I’ll make you waffles.”  She kissed him softly.  A sweet simple kiss that conveyed a love that would be forever.  “With crumbled bacon inside, just the way you like them.”

Spoony was pleased.  Then all-of-a-sudden not.  “I just remembered, I’m out of syrup.”

“I’ll run to the store.  Only take a minute.”

Rain continued to pelt the window.

“I couldn’t ask you to go out in this downpour.”  He made a sad clown face.

She was defenseless against the sad clown face.

The closest parking spot at the supermarket was the furthest parking spot at the supermarket, leaving her at the mercy of a biting November wind that punched her umbrella inside out.  Drenching her to the bone as she splashed toward the door.  Safely inside she reached for a basket, figuring as long as she was there she might pick up extra bacon and a few other comfort foods for a lazy day in bed with her man.

“Lauren Driscoll?”

She turned.  A police badge in her face.

“What is it, officer?”

“Please step over here out of the way.”

“I don’t understand.  What’s this about?”

“Please.”  It was more a command than a request.  He was a big man wearing plain clothes and an open windbreaker stamped Metro Police on the front.  Imposing.  Even more so when he made sure she saw the gun holstered to his belt.

Still dripping, she stepped out of the doorway toward a bank of video poker machines.

“Hold your hands in front of you.”

Lauren did as she was told.

He pushed back the sleeves of her wet coat, revealing the diamond bracelet on her right wrist.

“You’re under arrest.”

“For what?  I didn’t do anything!”

The policeman unlatched the bracelet and put it in his pocket, then handcuffed one wrist to the other behind her back.  Pushed her into the rain toward an unmarked car with emergency flashers on parked at the curb.  Opened the back door, put his hand on top of her head and eased her into the vehicle.

Lauren was frightened out of her wits.  Arrested and handcuffed in the back of a police car and she had absolutely no idea why.

“What’s this all about?” she sobbed uncontrollably.  Choking out the words as she pleaded with the policemen who had gotten in the front seat and started the car.  “It’s a mistake.  Whatever this is, it’s a mistake.”

“That’s right.”  He shifted his body to face her. “And you made it when you stole this sparkler from Tiffany’s.”

“I didn’t steal anything!”  She was now terrified out of her skull, her thoughts speeding a million miles an hour.  How did he know she was at the supermarket?  How did he know she’d be wearing the bracelet?  Why did cops chase crooks in the pouring rain?  “That bracelet was a gift from my fiancée.  I was with him when he bought it.”

“Prison will be no picnic for a lady like you.  Hard work all day.  Locked in a cage at night.  No manicures, no facials.  Your hair will be gray and your face so wrinkled that not even your own mother will recognize you when you get out in ten years.”

“Ten years!”  Lauren shook uncontrollably, barely able to squeeze out the words.

“Maybe less, maybe more.  That’s up to the judge.”

“What if I return the bracelet to the store?”

“I thought you said it was a gift from your fiancée.”

“It was.”

“Then he stole it?”

“No.  I mean yes.  I mean …”  She was frantic.  “I don’t know what to think anymore.”

“Even if he did steal it we have nothing on him.  The bracelet was in your possession, and either way that makes you guilty of receiving stolen property.  But with a smart lawyer and a sympathetic judge, maybe you’ll get off with only five years.”

“But if I gave it back, the store would have their merchandise and they wouldn’t have any reason to prosecute.”


“You already have the bracelet,” she pleaded through tears.  “Just give it back to Tiffany and let me go.  Please!  I’m begging you!”

And so it went.  The beautiful woman playing on the sympathies of a tired cop.  He held strong, but she was hysterical.  Gulped air as she hyperventilated.  Then pleading more with her eyes than her voice, she expelled one last meek, “Please.”

The policeman’s face crumpled into a frown.  “I oughta have my head examined.”

Lauren lit up.

“This bracelet will go back to the store and you will consider yourself the luckiest woman in this town.”

“You won’t regret it, I promise.”

“And if you go anywhere near Tiffany’s, or I hear that you are so much as in the same neighborhood as that thieving boyfriend of yours, I guarantee you’ll spend the next ten years scrubbing the skid marks out of your cellmate’s underwear.”  He glared at her.  Hard.  “And if I in any way find that you played me for a fool, I will come down on you like a ton of bricks.  Understood?”

“Yes sir.  I understand.”

He got out and opened the door.  Unlocked the handcuffs.  “Now get out of here and don’t let me ever see you again.”

Rain never felt so cleansing as when Lauren splashed through the parking lot to her car.  She got in and quickly locked the door.  Rubbed the marks on her wrists where the handcuffs had pinched her.  Her first instinct was to drive to Spoony’s house and confront him, but if the policeman followed her there she would go to prison.  She took her phone from her purse.

Spoony’s line was busy.  His cell went straight to voicemail.

“You shoulda seen her blubber when I told her she was gonna get ten years.  It was all I could do to keep from cracking up,” the voice on the phone told Spoony.  “I almost felt sorry for this one.”

“Did you get the bracelet?”

“On my way to your house with it now.”

“No.”  Spoony had been down this road before.  “Wait a while before you come over.  I want to make sure Lauren doesn’t show up.”

“Not a chance in hell of that.  I scared the broad so bad she won’t come within a mile of you.”

“Regardless.  If you see her car out front, keep driving.  The last thing I need is for her to see you here and call a real cop.”

Not likely.  Lauren had given up the bracelet without any drama, and all Spoony had to do now was return it to Tiffany and get his money back.  It was an old con he had learned from a vaudeville song-and-dance man who had learned it from Rudy Vallee, the cheapskate ‘30s movie star.  Impress a girl with an expensive gift, fuck her until you’re tired of it, lay a few bucks on a friend to impersonate a cop, take the swag back to the store and all’s right with the world.

Right as rain, Spoony thought as he stretched out on his bed and relaxed.  Smiled as he remembered the mink stole that had sealed the first deal with that little hat check girl at the Stork Club in New York.  Over the years the gifts had gotten more lavish and the women more refined, but the scam never failed.

Spoony looked at the photos on the wall as if viewing a slideshow of his life.  The baby-faced fifties.  Clean-cut skinny tie sixties.  Jew-fro wide tie seventies.  Hanging on into the eighties and nineties.  Spoony gazed into a time-warped mirror and, as always, loved what he saw.  His hand found his dick and he massaged himself hard, never taking his eyes away from the personal shrine surrounding him.  He stroked faster.  Felt the swell.  Almost there …


Damn it.

It was too soon for his friend the phony cop, especially after he had told him to wait a while.  “Maybe the broad came back to make my waffles.”  He said it out loud.  Laughed out loud.  Always performing, even in an empty room.  Delirious with the power of knowing that his manipulation had shaken a woman to her very core.  The bedroom window faced the pool, so he could not see who was at the front door.  The safe play would have been to ignore it.

The doorbell rang again.  Twice.

Sometimes a sex toy was more than just a sex toy.  Not knowing what to expect, Spoony took the .45 from his nightstand drawer and crept down the stairs.  Peeked sideways through the curtains and saw that the sun was bright and sidewalk almost dry, an aftermath not unfamiliar to even the most severe desert storms.  What Spoony also saw was that there was no car parked out front.  The scene didn’t add up.  The unknown spooked him and he quietly stepped toward the door.  Glimpsed the peephole and found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

Was the broad looking for revenge?  Was it the phony cop looking to shake him down for more money?  A common burglar or deranged fan?  He couldn’t tell and it didn’t matter as all he saw was the threat of a gun.  And in the eyes of the law, he knew he would be justified shooting any armed intruder trying to break into his house.  The newspapers would call him a hero.  Headlines would lead to bookings.  Bookings would lead to a comeback.  He stepped to the side and in one fluid motion pulled open the door and fired.  Hit the clown square in the chest.

The clown, rocking full Bozo gear, collapsed to his knees.  Gun still trained on Spoony as in a blurry voice he sang, “Happy b-birthday.  A funnyman for … my … funny … man.”  The voice weakened and last word tailed off.  The gleeful clown smile belying the fact that the eyes of the man behind the face paint had fluttered and closed.  He fell backward.  As his orange wig conked the sidewalk, his finger jammed against the trigger, firing a blast of confetti into the air that floated harmlessly down on Spoony.

The clown squeezed out one final breath.  “With love … Lauren.”

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