Friday, December 14, 2012

"Fool's Luck" by Anonymous

Fool's Luck
Anonymous/Unknown

Lou Costello was busily engaged warming a park bench when his dour-faced partner walked up with a chip on his shoulder and a gleam in his eyes.

"Costello!" Abbott's voice cracked like a rifle shot. "How would you like to assist in a circulation campaign?"

Costello shook his head, grinning. "Nothing doing, Abbott. My circulation is okay, but I do need glasses."

"Why, you can't even read! Why should an illiterate like yourself need glasses?"

"Simple, Abbott! I just hate to drink through straws!"

"Don't change the subject! What have straws to do with eyesight, Costello?"

"Plenty! If my eyesight was better, I wouldn't always get the short straw when we draw lots!"

"All right! So your eyes are bad, you need a pair of cheaters. Who are you going to? An oculist or an optometrist?"

Costello stuttered: "A w-w-which or a w-w-what?"

"You mean to sit there and tell me you don't know the difference?"

"Oh, sure. An optimist gives you rose-colored glasses!"

"But, Costello. Glasses cost money! You haven't two dimes to rub together and your credit rating is 4F."

"Nuh-nuh, they raised it to 3F since I paid up the balance I owed on my Yo-yo."

Abbott was getting impatient. "Skip it!" he snapped. "Here's your chance to make a day's pay in one evening." He handed Costello a bunch of coupon blanks.

Costello raised his eyebrows and lowered his voice. "Subscriptions? What are we taking subscriptions for, Abbott? Life, Liberty or the pursuit of happiness?"

Abbott threw a contemptuous look at his chubby partner. "Why should we work for our competitors? We're going to sign up new subscribers for our own magazine. You know. the one with our pictures on the cover!"

Costello jumped to his feet. "Well! Why didn't you say so in the first place? When do we start?"

"There's no time like the present," Abbott said, leading his partner across the avenue and into a side street. "You work one side of the street, and I'll canvass the other. On your mark, get set, GO!"

Costello was grinning. "Goody! I just love to ring door bells!"

At the first house, Costello's knock was answered by a beautiful blonde. "What are you selling, tubby?" she asked.

"Subscriptions! For the greatest periodical on the atomic age!" Costello announced proudly.

"I'm not interested in atoms, and my age is none of your business!" the blonde shot back at him.

Costello beamed at her. "Say! You're quick with the quip, kiddo! How'd you like to be on the screen, on the air, and on the cover of Abbott and Costello Comics?"

"Make up your mind, fat boy. I can't be three places at once!"

"Skip it, toots. Just sign this subscription blank on the dotted line, and fork over a buck. We pay the postage. Abbott loves to lick stamps."

The blonde stepped into the hall and came back with her purse. "I'll take a hundred subscriptions," she said. "Wait till I count out the money."

Costello shook his head violently. "Nothing doing, baby! Only one subscription to a customer. There's just enough to go around, and we can't play favorites."

The blonde stamped her foot and flushed with anger. "Look, fatso! I'm not having the hundred subscriptions sent to myself! I'll take one, and the other ninety-nine will go to my friends!"

Costello's double chin dropped three inches. "You got ninety-nine friends?" he whispered huskily. "What's the secret of your popularity?"

"My father sells automobiles at list prices."

"Wha-what?" Costello gasped. "Hurry! Sign those subscription blanks and gimme the hundred bucks!"

Costello waited impatiently while the blonde signed, and handed him the blanks with the money. Costello mumbled, "Thanks," tipped his hat, turned on his heels and jogged down the street in pursuit of his partner.

"ABBOTT! WAIT FOR ME!"

Abbott came away from a house halfway down the block and caught Costello as he tripped over the curb. Pushing him back to his feet, he held him with a fixed gaze. "Costello, what's the matter with you? I made fifteen calls while you stood on the porch of the first house, gabbing with a blonde! Look at these subscriptions I took!" Abbott waved a bunch of slips under Costello's nose. "Eleven of them. There was no one home at four of the houses."

Costello was squinting at the slips of paper in Abbott's other hand. "I see one buck, but what else did you take for subscriptions? Soap coupons and dog food labels?"

Abbott fanned the slips out in his hands, staring closely at them. "Why, the dirty crooks!" he gasped. "Come back with me, Costello, while I make those gyps exchange these worthless coupons for real dollars!"

Costello bit his lip thoughtfully for a moment, then said: "Wait a minute, Abbott! You can't do that. You might insult the honest subscriber who gave you the dollar bill!"

"What do you mean by that?"

"Well," Costello said brightly, "how will you know which house to skip? You don't know which subscriber gave you the dollar!"

Abbott scratched his head and brushed the sawdust from his shoulder. "Yeah... I guess you've got something there, Costello," he admitted sorrowfully. "Let's skip the whole business. How about loaning me part of your life's savings? I think I'm the one who needs glasses."

"Nothing doing, Abbott. In the first place I have no life's savings, and in the second place I collected a hundred bucks from the blonde in the first house."

Abbott's eyebrows hit the brim of his hat. "YOU collected a hundred dollars? For what?"

"Subscriptions! What else? The blonde's old man sells autos at list prices, so she has lots of friends, and all her friends read. And I'm socking this hundred bucks as down payment on a new jalopy. Let's go!"

"Don't be stupid, Costello! Where can you buy a new car today without giving a five hundred dollar bonus?"

"Follow me! I've got connections!"

"Yeah, but they're all loose," Abbott muttered as he fell in step behind his partner.

Around the corner Costello headed for what appeared to be an automobile showroom. "This must be the place," Costello said, pointing.

But when they stopped on the sidewalk in front of the show window, Abbott gulped like a whale coming up for air, "Look, Costello! Do you see what I see in there on the floor?"

"Y-y-yeah," Costello piped weakly. "Late models, huh?"

"How would you like to take a ride in one?" Abbott rasped as Costello started to back away, shivering.

"No, Abbott! NO! I didn't do nuthin'!" And suddenly Costello had turned to run away.

Abbott looked up at the neon sign over the window, and shook his head. The sign read: HEARSES AND FUNERAL COACHES — Prompt Delivery At List Prices.

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