My friend Marty Volare almost got himself into some very big trouble the other night...
"Excuse me, but are you Bugsy Scarfather, the notorious underworld loan shark?"
"Maybe. Who the hell are you, and why the hell are you holding a palm tree?"
"Oh, well, I'm Martin Dangerfield Volare, and this isn't a palm tree. A palm tree would be much, much bigger."
"THEN WHAT THE HELL IS IT AND WHY THE HELL ARE YOU HOLDING IT?!"
"It's a rubber tree plant."
"Why the hell are you holding a rubber tree plant?"
"Oh, it's a peace offering from Veronica Stanwyck."
"VERONICA STANWYCK!!!" Enraged, Bugsy motioned for one of his goons to come to the door.
Marty smiled. "She told me you'd be excited to hear from her."
"That dame owes me $60,000! She's past due! I was just about to send out a couple of my boys to collect."
"Oh, she told me all about it, Mr. Scarfather. You lent her money so she could start her own combination greenhouse/ice cream stand. It was a pretty good idea, and I'm sure if the economy hadn't tanked, it would have gone over big. I mean, it gets pretty hot in a greenhouse. A cone or Popsicle or maybe a bowl of orange sherbet would be just the thing to cool you off as you peruse the fauna. But, like I said, the economy. Anyway, this rubber plant is Veronica's token of appreciation."
"That's it. The broad's gonna get whacked!"
"Well, Mr. Scarfather, I think she's a little old for a spanking, and, besides, once I'm done here, me and her are off to Vegas to get married."
"Oh, you are, are you?" With that, Bugsy motioned to another one of his goons, who walked up behind Marty, and held up what is known in the gangster vernacular as a "heater" up to his head.
Marty didn't seem to notice. "You see, me and Veronica are in love."
"Just how long have you known Veronica?"
"Oh, about an hour ago. No, make that two."
"ABOUT AN HOUR AGO?!"
"I said, make that two. You see, I went to the Looking-Glass Cafe to bowl a few frames, and, while I was changing into my bowling shoes--"
"Wait a second. I've been to the Looking-Glass Cafe. You can't bowl there."
"Sure you can. Just stick in a few quarters--"
"You're talking about one of those machines? Then why the hell were you putting on bowling shoes?"
"I was hoping they might improve my game."
Bugsy let out a sigh, and then said, "Go on with your story."
"Well, I put on the shoes, and I heard this whistle. I turned, and, sitting in the corner was this beautiful woman in a white dress and big white hat and wearing an ankle bracelet. I walked over to introduce myself, and you know what she said?"
"I'm sweating with curiosity."
"She said, 'A girl like me could fall for a guy like you.'"
"And then what?"
"I fell for her. She led me to the alley in back, and, and, and--"
"She gave me a peck on the cheek."
"That's some passionate love affair you two got going there."
"And tonight's the honeymoon! Lip to lip!"
"We'll see if you make it to the honeymoon. What I want to know is how you ended up on my doorstep with that palm tree."
"WHY THE HELL ARE YOU HERE INSTEAD OF HER?!"
"Well, soon after we met--in fact, I was still wearing my bowling shoes--I told her I was deeply, madly in love with her, and she promised to fall deeply, madly, in love with me if I just did her this one little itty-bitty favor. That's how she put it. One little itty-bitty favor."
"I bet I can guess the little itty-bitty favor. Stall me while she blows town."
"Oh, no, she hasn't blown town yet. Not without me. Like I said, we're getting married."
"So you walked all the way over here from the Looking-Glass Cafe with that palm tree, while--"
"Oh, I didn't walk. Veronica drove me."
"Drove you? I happen to know her car was repossessed!"
"She was driving my car."
"She drove you in your own car?! Where's your car?! I know it's a foggy night, but I should at least be able to see your car."
"Oh, she dropped me off. She had some errands to run and needed my car. I figure I'll take a cab to the airport. Or maybe the bus. Is there a bus stop around here?"
"Yeah, I think there's one around the--forget about the bus stop! You mean to tell me she talked you into coming here, and then talked you out of your car?! How the hell could you let her do that?!"
"Like I said, we're in love. At least I'm in love with her. And she'll fall in love with me once this little itty-bitty favor is over with."
"Man, this is so pathetic, I'm not even going to kill you."
"Oh, good. Like I said, she's waiting for me at the airport. And, for safekeeping, she's holding all my credit cards."