When Mr. Michael Nitrous of West 43rd Street was still a tender youth of only ten years, and still known to the world as “Little Mikey Nitrous,” (you remember him, don't you? He would grow up to hold a respectable position within an advertising agency. Of course you remember him. Who can forget him?) he opened the door of his parents' suburban home one fine, shiny day.
(If you can make sense out of long, convoluted parenthetical asides such as the one in the last paragraph, more power to you, you freak of nature.)
(The biretta calling the cassock black, you might say.)
Enough. It was a fine and shiny day, and Little Mikey Nitrous had just taken his prescription pain killers, downed a pint of his father's bourbon, and was weaving his way to the little corner store, known for penny candy and Polish sausage. The lady who owned the place liked Mikey, and would sometimes give him a bonus gift of a free piece of penny candy or a shot of neutral grain spirits. Mikey was hopeful.
As long as we are one the subject, my brother Patrick had struck up a cordial relationship with the owner of a similar corner store in our hometown – of course having no relationship to the one in Little Mikey Nitrous' hometown. The owner of the store that my brother would visit often gave him small gifts such as the broken nibs of ink-pens and tiny bits of blueprints that had been torn up or fashioned into works of origami. Patrick never quite knew what to do with these little gifts, so he stored them all in an old coffee can that smelled of rancid bacon fat. He kept them there for many years, until the day that his gardener mistook them for garbage and threw them into the incinerator along with the Styrofoam packing peanuts that he burned every Tuesday – Tuesday was Styrofoam packing peanut day in his community. Thursday was bubble wrap day. The incinerators burned overtime both days.
Little Mikey Nitrous walked through the door of the shop, making the little bell tinkle merrily. It had the same effect on old Mr. Potchford, sitting near the counter. He shifted his weight on the rickety chair fashioned from the staves of a cracker barrel, broke wind, wet himself, and scowled at Mikey. “Damn kids,” he said in a creaky voice, “all that damn racket...”
“Good morning Mr. Potchford, you old loon,” said Mikey.
“Go to blazes, you lil' injun,” said Mr. Potchford, motioning rudely with his middle finger.
“Awww...Mr. Potchford,” said Mikey, “I'm sorry, I shouldn't call you a loon. I apologize.”
“You still go to blazes, you lil' injun.”
“That is hardly the politically correct term to use, Clarence,” said Mrs. Potchford, walking up and calling her husband by his name. Nobody else dared to call Mr. Potchford by his first name. Anyone foolish enough to do so would risk a severe finger-waving and dressing-down at the hands and mouth of Mr. Potchford. He had a reputation.
The old man grumbled, closed his eyes, and lowered his head to his chest.
“What can I get you, Mikey?” asked Mrs. Potchford, beaming at him in his Opossum-tagged Garanimals.
“Just an ice cream sandwich, please, ma'am.”
“That's all?” asked Mrs. Potchford. “No carburetor fluid or ice picks?”
“No thank you, ma'am...just the ice cream sandwich.” Little Mikey Nitrous slapped two thin dimes on the counter.
Mrs. Potchford produced a fine, fine ice cream sandwich from the folds of her apron. No one pondered quite how unlikely and incongruous this was, aside from Mr. Potchford, who merely feigned sleep.
“Thank you, ma'am,” said Mikey. “Keep the change!”
“Of course, Mikey.” said Mrs. Potchford, pocketing the money. “Oh, and Mikey...” she trailed off.
“Yes, Mrs. Potchford?”
“Here is a little Trudgey Mint® for you to suck on.” Mrs. Potchford slid the large, ominous capsule across the counter.
“Oh boy!” exclaimed Little Mikey Nitrous, “I love sucking on a Trudgey Mint®! There is nothing quite like the fresh, clean taste of a Trudgey Mint®! Thank you!”
Little Michael Nitrous skipped to the door of the Potchford's store, thinking of the delightful afternoon he would have, nestled safely in the secure bosom of his beloved treehouse, listening to old polka albums and sucking on a Trudgey Mint®. He paused before he left, and turned once again to the old man sitting near the counter on the rickety chair fashioned from the staves of a cracker barrel. “See ya, Mr. Potchford,” he said with a smile and a wave of his hand.
“Go to blazes, you lil' machine designed to convert thermal energy into mechanical energy for the purpose of producing force and motion,” said Mr. Potchford, his breath reeking of Trudgey Mint®.