Sunday, December 9, 2012

"From Riches to Rags With Abbott and Costello" by Anonymous

From Riches to Rags

"Idiot! Dope! Moron!" stormed Bud Abbott.

Lou Costello just smiled his big-baby smile. "I don't care how you flatter me," he said, "I'm still going into business!"

Abbott groaned. "Ooooh, murder! What're you using for brains?"

"Brains!" Costello replied brightly. "Just wait till I'm the Bubble Gum Baron. You'll be sorry you tried to discourage me."

"The what?" Abbott could scarcely believe his ears.

"The Bubble Gum Baron. Ya see, I just bought up five hundred dollars' worth of bubble gum. That's a lotta gum, Abbott. An' I'm gonna sell all of it!"

"What makes you so sure?" Abbott asked suspiciously.

"I'm only chargin' five cents a slice, that's what!"

"Well, what's so wonderful about that!"

"Gosh, Abbott you must be stupid!" Here Costello looked pityingly at his partner. "Don'tcha get it? I myself paid six cents a slice. It's a bargain. The kids'll buy, buy, buy!"

"And you can say 'bye-bye' to your money, flattop! Don't you realize that you're paying more than your customers? Every single slice of bubble gum costs you, personally, a penny!"

Costello looked sadly at Abbott, shook his head and clucked. "Gee, you don't get it," he said finally. "It's the quantity, Abbott the turnover! What I lose on each slice, I make up buy selling a lot!"

Abbott stood up, looked coldly at Costello and said, "You'll lose your shirt!"

Two days later, in the office of Costello Enterprises, the little chubby businessman sat at his desk and moaned, "You were right! I did lose my shirt! I still can't understand it! Such a bargain, such a...."

Abbott was triumphant. "Ah!" he chortled. "Maybe this will teach you a lesson! I warned you Costello, that your harebrained schemes would lead to ruin and disaster!"

"Yeah," sighed Costello. "That's why I decided on a sure thing this time!"

"Uh-oh!" Abbott shuddered. "Here we go again! Look, Costello, how many times must I..."

"You cant stop the spirit of enterprise!" exclaimed Costello, pounding his desk. "I am now in... the post office business!"

Abbott did a fast double take. "Give me that again!" he demanded.

"Sure," Costello exclaimed agreeably. "I figured out, all by myself, that the government is making plenty of cabbage by printing and selling stamps. So what did I do?"

"Don't tell me," waited Abbott, covering his ears.

"I designed the new Costello stamp with a picture of me on it! I sell every stamp for one cent, see? Then I deliver the letter myself, see? Then I make plenty of cabbage too, see?"

"Then you get arrested for breaking the postal laws, see?" Abbott shouted.

"Aah, what can they do to me? I'm a citizen! I'm a tax-payer! I'm a voter!"

A hard voice broke into Costello's impassioned speech. "Are you Lou Costello?" asked a muscular man with a tough expression.

"That's me," Costello answered.

"You're under arrest for federal offense!" announced the detective.

Abbott waited for Costello outside the courthouse. When he saw the little round man leaving the building, he yelled, "Lou! What happened?"

Costello wiped a tear from his eye. "The judge said I was a ba-a-a-d boy!" he sniffed. "He fined me five hundred dollars!"

This was too much for Abbott's patience! "Now are you satisfied?" he demanded. "Now that you've lost all your money, have you learned your lesson?"

"I still have a hundred bucks left," Costello said. "An' while the judge was talkin' to me, I got a terrific idea! I'm gonna put water in bottles the size of glasses! Then, when somebody wants a glass of water..."

"No, no, no! I forbid it! I'm against it! I tell you..."

"You don't like it, huh? Too high-class, huh? Well, how about this? Who's richer than anyone else, Abbott? A millionaire, right? So, how's about a rest home for homeless millionaires? With my money, I could..."

"You could march to the bank and deposit it!" Abbott ordered firmly. "For the last time, Costello, I'm telling you. Save your money and forget business. You haven't got a head for it! In fact, you haven't got a head!"

Costello's feelings were hurt. He turned away and marched down the street, without a word to Abbott. To himself, however, he said plenty. "No head!" he repeated. "All the time, he discourages me! After all, I'm a man with vision, ambition, courage! Also, I still have one hundred bucks and that gives me an idea!"

Late that afternoon, a truck drew up outside the office of Costello Enterprises. "Lou Costello?" the truckman inquired.

"No, I'm Abbott, I'm happy to say. He's Costello!" Bud Abbott pointed scornfully at pudgy Lou.

"I'll unload the stuff right here," said the truckman.

In half an hour, the office was filled almost to the ceiling, with thousands of strange-looking objects. Costello rubbed his hands together gleefully and chuckled, "They're mine! All mine!"

Abbott's voice was a mere whisper. "Okay, so they're yours," he rasped. "Now would you mind telling me what they are?"

"Who knows?" Costello shrugged. "The War Assets Administration was selling them cheap. Government surplus, see? So I figured that if Uncle Sam's selling, who am I not to buy. The stuff's good... whatever it is!"

"You figured!" To Abbott, this was the last straw. "I oughta have you committed. With your last hundred bucks, you buy up a roomful of useless junk that nobody..."

A timid knock sounded at the door. "Come in," thundered Abbott.

"Er... are you Lou Costello?" a small, thin man with a worried face entered the office and looked wistfully at Bud Abbott.

"For that insult, I could kill you!" Abbott shouted. "No, I'm not Lou Costello, he is! And whoever you are, get out! We haven't any more money and we're not buying anything... so beat it!"

"Oh, but I'm not selling anything!" the newcomer explained. "I'm here to offer Mr. Costello a quarter of a million dollars!"

"I'll take it!" Costello said quickly.

Abbott could do nothing but gasp. "For... for what?" he breathed.

"For these!" answered the little man, pointing to the wooden objects. "You see, these time clock handles were put on sale by mistake! Now, all Washington's going crazy! Without time clock handles, the government can't get any work done. Please sell them back to us. You must!"

"I said I would," Costello grinned. "Lend me your pen, Abbott."

As Bud Abbott weakly handed Costello his fountain pen, the barrel-shaped little guy grinned again. "Hey, Abbott," he said, "with this dough, I can really go into business! How'd you like to be my office boy?"

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