Friday, February 22, 2013

Twenty-One--Quincy Meets the Shouting Man

Coming upstairs from the basement, where Quincy had been experimenting with a new pattern for Galaga—he loved the old-school games—he froze at his bedroom door.  Next to his bed stood his mother.  In one hand, she held a brown teddy bear that looked like its guts had been turned inside out—but only if its guts were a large Ziploc bag full of cash, which she held in her other hand.

“Poker?” she asked.

He nodded.

“You’re sure this is not from . . . drugs?”

“Drugs?”  He was puzzled.  He tried to imagine an equivalent number of cough drops.

“Come with me,” she commanded.  Quincy followed, thankful that she hadn’t looked inside his box-spring.  Mountains of cough drops in there.

Whenever his mother faced a new problem, she turned to the yellow pages.  And when she wanted to fix an old problem, she used the yellow pages.  She had folded pages from last year’s edition and placed them beneath the lopsided leg of the kitchen table to even it out.  It was her tool of first and last resort.  Any problems that the yellow pages could not fix tended to remain unresolved.

She flipped it open and soon had the pages whirling until her thumb stamped down authoritatively on her destination.  With her free hand, she was already dialing.

When she asked for Doctor Brown, Quincy thought, First drugs, now doctors?

The first half-dozen calls were duds, but Annie had steeled herself for the long haul.  On her seventh call, she asked two questions, smiled at the answers, and was soon driving Quincy through Truckee’s postage-stamp-sized downtown.  When she pulled up at the curb of an office building, Quincy had the strongest feeling of déjà vu

Suite 105,” she said.  “Go.  Teddy will be right here waiting for you when you come out.”

He was worried.  “Who’s in there?”

“A nice man who wants to talk with you.”

“Does the nice man run fast?”

She gave him the same smile she used to give him when he would say silly things about kindergarten.  Like: Do I get paid to go to school?  “Well I don’t know, sweetness.  Why do you ask?”

“I just wanna know how much of a head start I’m going to need if the nice man is going to chase me to the car like the Gamblers Anonymous people did.”

“Oh,” she said.  “Ha ha.  Don’t worry.  He sounded quite old.”

Quincy remembered the septuagenarian who had been leading the pack chasing him that night.  In his desperation, the oldster had nearly used his cane as a pole vault to launch his surprisingly athletic body at his mother’s car.

“Some old people run fast,” he said.  “The crazy ones.”

“Well—ha ha—he’s not crazy.  In fact, he’s going to help you with your—” she stopped herself short.  She leaned across him and opened his door a crack.  “Go.”

Inside, the place smelled of disinfectant.  He wandered along a long, white-tiled hallway until he saw a picture on a door of a doctor with a stethoscope lifting the top of a patient’s head like the lid of a cookie jar and peering at the gray matter inside.  The doctor looked ecstatic.  Below the picture: 105.

“Oh no,” Quincy whispered.

He knocked as lightly as he could, hoping that there would be no answer.  Instead, a voice inside bellowed, “In!”

Quincy sighed and opened the door to reveal a closet-sized space bisected by a desk behind which sat a man whose nose, eyes, and forehead were surrounded by grizzly grey hair poking in all directions.  Somewhere inside his thick beard, a mouth nearly shouted, “Sit!”

The room was so small that the doctor’s desk touched the east and west walls.  Two bookshelves populated with brown and gray tomes stood like frowning guards behind the doctor.  To sit, Quincy had to shut the door first.  Once he did, he felt overwhelmed by the smell of sweat.  He had to move the chair in front of the door to seat himself.

Beneath bushy eyebrows, the doctor’s eyes sparkled with insanity.  “My name is Kvist!” he nearly bellowed.  “Doctor Kvist!  I ask many questions!  You give many answers!  We see if you are crazy!”  Kvist released a surprisingly high-pitched, feminine giggle.

The shouting was stressing Quincy out, so he shouted back, “Okay!”

“Your name!”


“Cash or charge!”


“You pay before we begin!  Cash or charge!”

“Cash!”  Quincy pulled a wad of hundreds out of his pocket.  “How much!”

Kvist’s voice suddenly dropped to a whisper: “Two hundred.”  Quincy peeled off two Benjamins and placed them on the table.  When Kvist snapped them up, Quincy recalled the time he tossed a fish into the mouth of a grizzly bear at the zoo.

After the bills disappeared, Kvist shouted, “We begin!”


“Four men on the train tracks!”


“Four men on the track tracks!  The train is coming!  You can stop the train by pushing a man off a bridge in front of the train!  If you do it, you save the other four!  Do you do it!”


“You see a bum dying in an alleyway!  He has money!  Do you take it!”

“Yes!”  Actually, he had done exactly that in order to cobble together a roll for poker.  Easy questions, Quincy observed.

“What is your favorite color!”

Tough one.  He pondered a bit.  Then he shouted, “Blue!”

“What color is your underwear!”


“Coffee or tea!”


"Would you ever kill another person!"




"Would you ever punch another person!"


"Cut another person!"


"Kidnap another person!"

Quincy thought briefly of Natalia Pertman.  "Yes!"

"Rob a bank!"


“How much money do you have in your pocket!”

“About 5k!”

“Where did you get it!”


“Aren’t you too young for that!”


“How old are you!”


Quincy’s ears were ringing.  He wanted to get out . . . now.

“Now we do the speed round!  You look at pictures and tell me what you see!”


"What is this!"  He showed him a card:

"Pocket sevens!"

"Pocket sevens?"

"Pocket sevens!"

"What is pocket sevens!"

"Two sevens!"

"Are you serious!"


"What is this!"

"Natalia Pertman playing paddy cake with Natalia Pertman!"

"Who's that!"

"She's in movies!"

"What is this!"

Quincy laughed.

"Why do you laugh!"

"That's Piotr in a swordfight with the jack of diamonds!"

"Who is Piotr!"

"My agent!"

"What is this!"

"Ace of spades pooping a bowling ball!"

Kvist turned the card toward himself and peered at it.  "I see that," he whispered.  "I do."  He showed him another card.

"What is that!"

"Natalia Pertman wearing a bat suit!"



"It's a bat!  It's obviously a bat!  So say it's a bat!"

"It's Natalia Pertman in a bat suit!"

"What is that!"

Quincy blushed deeply.

"Answer!" prodded Kvist.




"Just say it!"

"It's an animal skin!"

"Animal skin?  This is why you blush?"

Quincy looked down, nodded.

"No, kid!  Tell me!  Tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me--"

"She's naked!"

"Naked!  Who!"

"Natalia Pertman!"

"What?  Forget that one.  What are these!"

"A poker table!  Two bears climbing onto Natalia Pertman!  Ten nine of diamonds!  Two gigantic nuns trying to eat the Eiffel Tower!"

"We finish!" Kvist declared.  "Sit!  I write my analysis!"

He finished his analysis within ten seconds, folded it in half, slipped it into an envelope, and sealed it.

"Finish!" Kvist said.  "Go!"

Quincy hurried from the room as quickly as he could, but the chair kept getting in the way of the door.  Once he was outside, he ran down the hallway and through the entrance into the sunshine.  Teddy had parked his Mom's Subaru at the curb.

Once inside the car, Teddy said, "So what happened?"

Quincy shrugged.  "Lots of yelling."

"Who?  Him?"

"Both of us."

Teddy saw the envelope and motioned for Quincy to hand it over.  Quincy did.  Teddy opened it.  It read:

PATIENT NAME:  ________Quincy Capers            


PATIENT      Quincy Capers     possesses the following disorders.

  X     Sociopath   

  ?      Psychopath


 NO   Delusions of Grandeur  

  X     Crazy

  X     Needs to be hospitalized

Yours Truly,

Klaus Kvist

P.S. Keep patient away from poker and movies starring Natalia Pertman.  The kid is obsessed.

"Huh," Teddy said.

"What does it say?" Quincy asked.

"Never mind.  Tell you what.  Gimme a thousand bucks and we'll make this letter disappear."

"Do I want it to disappear?" Quincy asked.

"You do if you like poker."

Quincy pulled out his roll and handed Teddy a thousand dollars.

Teddy ripped the letter into pieces, rolled down the window half an inch, and pushed the pieces through the gap.  "Now let's go get some pizza."


  1. Quincy would be crazy if he didn't like Portman!

    1. The Ace of Spades pooping a bowling ball!!!

    2. These last couple chapters have been longggggggg. I see some shorter ones in the future.

  2. I saw that too. Another great chapter in the life of Quincy Capers