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In the Madisonian
In Bill Hart's "Spells 'R' Us" story world
by Feech
and Bryan
with thanks to Ch'Tah Daniels


        I never would have pegged Madison, Wisconsin as about the weirdest town to locate Spells 'R' Us in, but I'm beginning to think it's the strangest place I've watched the store in so far. Seattle is supposed to be pretty bizarre, but I haven't been there yet (not running the store, anyway; I had a crazy uncle who took us flying out there in his little bitty private plane to see the sights-- it took us several hours to get there to visit him by big ol' jet airliner-- get the reference? Ha-- anyway); I did New Orleans one day and found not only did I have a lot of competition, it also felt pretty normal, for a town with so much voodoo and magic going on. Maybe that's why it felt normal. I mean, I'm almost used to magic all around by now... almost. I still don't like the bits about it killing and destroying people. I could easily get un-used to that.

        This isn't even a real mall. It's one of those little shoppers' traps where there's a name on a board over the outside building, as if it's a specialty shop all to itself; this one is "Madisonian". Inside are benches and plants that look plastic but are really alive, and three tiny specialty shops, and no place called the "Madisonian" at all. "Isthmus Illusions" is a _very_ annoying little cove-shaped store with glowing relaxation bulbs and a smell emanating from it that resembles the color purple.

        Across from the neon red buzzing, blinking (if I'd known it would be so out of place I'd have asked the Old Man about changing the sign to something more appropriate for each city-- but this is the first fake mall I've worked the store in) "Spells 'R' *bzzt- sometimes the R is missing* Us" sign is a South American textiles store that appears to specialize in beads, which makes no sense. I'm almost afraid at times the beads will migrate out into the rest of the "Madisonian" and onto State Street, as they are multiplying and climbing the walls, windows and racks of their native textiles environment.

        This not-mall is located on "the" shopping street in Madison, although I have gotten the impression it is also "the" drinking, brawling, staggering and shouting out rude names street. It's popular for those activities, at any rate. Also people like to sit around on dented and chipped metal sidewalk chairs with holes in the design to let the rain through so they dry faster, most of which used to be painted white, and smoke. A lot. They smoke more than they talk, but they all think they are sitting out on those sidewalk chairs to converse. Or at least they pretend they do.

        Yesterday afternoon I called Mel and told her I'm going to die of secondhand smoke inhalation. She said, "Don't breathe." Nice, nice girlfriend.

        I also told Mel I'm going to starve to death in this Godforsaken "cultured" city. They go on and on here about "issues" but they can't make normal food. I think they're trying too hard to be ethnic for ethnicities they know nothing about-- if you're Iranian, run a gyro place, and if you're Norwegian (there are a lot of them), run an Iranian street vending caravan. Everything tastes very odd. I don't know what the Italians and the Greeks do. They might be running the chain places. Even the State Street Pizza Cabin (watch as I deftly avoid copyright infringement, sidestepping neatly as its blade cleaves the air near my store-watching bathrobe's hem) has odd toppings for the pizzas. I don't know what pesto chicken has to do with being cultured, but apparently it is some kind of offshoot. "They don't have any taste bud sensitivity," Mel said as if I ought to know. "It's all the cigarette smoke."

        "Riiiiight." I basically hung up the phone on that note, but then, my sarcasm immediately wore off and I had to call back and tell her I love her, because I never forget to do that-- except when I'm dropping everything to fly to her side to fight the latest evil nemesis her family history has managed to conjure, but she was very blunt with me and sounded distracted, and in a short time she said, "Bry, I love you too, but as soon as you hung up the phone I had to style my hair and now the hairspray is setting up and my bangs are all wrong. I hope you understand." Then _she_ hung up. I didn't hear from her again. Nice, nice female of the species.

        I do love Mel. Heh, I wouldn't mind if her bangs were plastered to her face and it was all my fault, but I bet she'd mind. Big time.

        I'm wiping down the counter when the little bell on the entrance door to the store rings, heralding the entry of yet another trio of transvestites. They always come in threes. I haven't figured that out. Don't they pair off? I used to think so, but maybe on State Street, everyone in the clothing of another gender mates in groups of three. You can never tell who is with whom. They always bounce off each other's arms and touch hands and call each other "Love" or "Honey" no matter which of their companions they are talking to. This goes for the women in men's clothing and the men in women's clothing. I don't get it. I've had many of these trios in here so far. They are beyond spells. I just sell them what they seem to be looking for.

        "Oh, Honey, look!" One purple and green haired individual wearing bright cherry lipstick and a black shoulder purse holds up some gold bath beads. "Transformational bath beads!"

        Immediately, the one being spoken to knows that "Honey" means him or her this time, and turns around, and the leftover friend pays no attention. It's amazing; I don't know if that skill comes with the clear lavender beads or the "Girls Rule" (interestingly, both genders in either crossdressed getup will wear these) buttons, but they all seem to have got it.

        "No no, Sweetheart," this person says, frowning with a lacy gloved hand. They all talk the same, except some have deeper voices. "Not gold. It will clash with your aura!"

        And on and on. They just pick out what they want while I watch. They ignore me, unless they half-smile. I feel like I'm wearing something very odd whenever any crossdressed persons walk into the store. When the butch-cut women in dusky colors and dark leather watches and men's belts come in and half-smirk at me, I feel naked. When men in long gauzy gowns step in, all calling each other the same things and making the same exclamations of joy over the store inventory as the jacketed women, I suddenly feel as if I'm wearing nothing but leather shorts and a brassiere.

        Could be the town, but it could be a deep-seated anxiety mixed with a bizarre, unexplored fetish of mine. I have yet to come to any conclusions about this.

        Eventually I am presented with piles of items, all of which shimmer in the manner of bath beads, except for those which have matte-finish lace decorations on hand-made paper. The paper has flecks of sawdust in it to prove how hand-made it is. This is a real big seller. I could probably just pile up everything these nifty types of customers buy, ahead of time, but then I might cramp their auras, or whatever.

        I never knew what half of the items I'm selling might do in terms of magic spells, but these people could definitely tell me. I know they're getting what they want so I just thank them a little reservedly (I still feel strangely costumed) and let them go.

        The trio leaves with a flourish of bell-tingling at the door, and I see their dresses waving over their trousers (at least one is wearing ladies' style beige slacks) as they descend on the iced cappuccino vendor outside the glass doors and windows of the "Madisonian" building.

        After this, a little old woman in a lilac Easter dress with a lace collar and a leather pocketbook with metal ball clasps minces in. The bell rings slowly. *chink chink... chink... chink.* The old lady looks around over her butterfly-wing-shaped glasses frames. I believe I see a frayed bathrobe edge showing under the Easter outfit. There are definitely ancient sandals, although there are also nylon stockings. The lady also has heavy whitish grey beard stubble.

        I cough, unable to keep from making some kind of comment.

        "Young man," the 'Old lady' says in a wobbly, creaky falsetto, "can you direct me to your magnetic pain management section?"

        I cough, then, I can't stop coughing. I feel like I'm going to laugh out loud unless I say something so I just out with it. "Look-- (I don't know what to call him; we usually don't talk about "The Old Man" directly to his face)-- look I know it's you."

        "What are you talking about, young man?" creaks the Old Lady. 'She' looks around over her glitzy glasses as if trying to see who else is in the store. It takes awhile for the voice to work up in between phrases. Eventually she adds, "Are you addressing me?" She tries to look accusing, like a schoolteacher from someone's not-so-fondly remembered childhood. I had one like that. I never did get much learned in that sex education class. The expression on my "customer" just makes it extremely clear who it really is in the outfit. I know my face is red. Mel would think this was entirely hilarious.

        "Um, 'Ma'am', I know it's you just coming to check up on me. Look..." I come around the side of the counter. "Don't you have things you could be doing?" I take the rickety shoulder of the aged person and turn him or her towards the door. "Come on, please, I asked to do this because you have things you need to do... issues that won't be resolved if you're worried about the store. It's still standing, and it will be when you get back, trust me. Why did you ask me if you don't trust me with the store?"

        All the while I'm shepherding the lilac-clad individual towards the exit. 'She' sputters deeply, then recovers a failing falsetto. "I don't know what you are talking about, but you are a very rude young man! I don't--"

        I push open the door and gently force the 'customer' out by the elbow just as six or seven different folks enter. They aren't all in one group. "Look," I whisper into the fuzzy ear of my disguised boss, "I've got to watch these people in the store, okay? Don't make this hard on me or yourself. For crying out loud, go finish your personal mission. Please, okay?"

        The aged individual frowns very familiarly, but at least looks resigned. Well, partly resigned. "Humph," he says, clumping off down the street with no trace of the earlier mincing. No one looks at him strangely. I hear him say something about antacids and children, mixed in with some swear words, but I hope he's back on his way to get his urgent personal mission out of the way.

        A balding, rotund man and several skulking, black-cloaked individuals have entered the store with a string of bell chimes.

        I notice some of the skulking persons are in one group, and some in another. Each group seems or pretends not to notice the other. Each group whispers about the man, all by himself, as if he's meant to be there and they wonder who put him there and why. He just looks sad and sort of out of focus behind his glasses. I wait on him first; the other more ominous customers are fingering through cards and looking up at displays that hang from the ceiling without exposing their foreheads from within their hoods.

        "May I help you?" I smoothly and professionally ask of the normally-dressed, heavy man.

        I wait awhile before he gets done looking around worriedly. "I hope so, young man." He sounds pretty lost. It doesn't help that he's balding and not as tall as I am. Makes him look even less in command. This one is a piece of cake, basically.

        "You see..." the man looks like he wishes he had something to wring in his hands. "You see, I..."

        I don't even have to ask him. Obvious bimbo. It's easy enough to select the method, too.

        The man looks concerned at his general surroundings, while the other customers skulk, and some little girls enter with their mother, one holding each of mother's hands.

        I barely glance at the new customers while I begin thumbing through the "regular use" spells list the Old Man left by the cash register for me. It's right next to my neon green haired gnome doll that's missing one plastic eye. I love that little thing. It's good company.

        I want to assure the middle-aged man that he doesn't have to tell me what's wrong, because he's obviously struggling with low self-esteem, but to explain it wouldn't necessarily mean I'd get it right. But these types are always bimbos. I mean, it might be that he really needs a new job, or to screw over his boss. His wife probably left him, that'd be my guess with this one, but it doesn't have to be the case. Maybe his evil twin brother is taking over his life. Anyway, no matter what the story, he'll get more than he bargained for. That's my job! Or at least, the one I'm standing in for. This is neat.

        But wait! What if I'm making a mistake?

        Hmm. The Old Man says to always follow the energy of the person, their personal story, draw your inner self together with their inner self and find the true spell that belongs to that person and that person only. I'm making an assumption, here, that this is a straightforward bimbo spell! I'd better metaphysically go into this a little more.

        Nope... I was right. Bimbo. They always are. The ones who are young and arrogant and still always have their hair are cheerleader bimbos, while a man of this age and stature is of course a career woman bimbo; if his wife came in with him, he'd be a sex slave bimbo, but those aren't my favorite kind. Makes me kind of crawly-creepy. Could be that whole bondage thing again.

        Again? Bondage? I actually don't know what I'm talking about, really. I shake my head quickly and find the appropriate career bimbo item for my esteemed customer... Although... it could be kind of fun if I had a sex-slave bimbo couple show up sometime soon... some of the items on the regular-use list for that heading are... interesting...

        "Sir!" I brandish a brown fine-quality felt fedora with a silk band inside that reads "love the ladies" and has a white silohuette stamped on it of a sitting woman with large-- well, large breasts, sheesh, what, you want me to be suppressed or something? Mel has nice breasts too! There, I said it and I'd say it again if I had to!

        The man looks startled and intimidated by my sudden display of merchandise, then the faintest of wimpy smiles crosses his mouth. "This will help you in exactly the way you need it to, I am sure," I say convincingly.

        "A power hat," he says wishy-washily, but with a dawning hope in his voice. His tiny smile turns into a grateful beam. "Thank you, I'm sure this is exactly what I need." He takes it from me, leaves twelve dollars on the counter (I wonder briefly how he knew what it cost, but then remember the price tag), and folds the top just enough for it to fit in one hand as he heads for the door. Outside, in the bench and plant area between Spells 'R' Us and the exit to the actual street, I see him stop anxiously and begin wringing the hat in what must be fairly sweaty palms. I just hope he gets around to putting it on his head.

        The man leaves for the street just as the two little girls and their smiling, but tired-looking mother approach my counter.

        "Didn't the pet store used to be here?" one asks in a voice that is supposed to be cute but is not. The mother beams tiredly. The other daughter nods at me, affirming her sister's question.

        "I..." I begin.

        "I want a pet!" whines one of the little girls.

        Before the mother can even give a reply, I toss down a rabbit-fur muff to the girl who just whined.

        "Take this with you free of charge, because your little girls are so... cute," I tell the mother, "and have fun finding the pet store."

        She looks more tired than ever but thanks me and resolutely sets out. The child with the muff is holding it up to her nose and nuzzling it. "I wish I had a rabbit," the opposite daughter muses. Too easy.

        The black-clad factions are still skulking around, sometimes peering down and sideways as if to get a view of the street. One of them approaches me, patting the side of his cloak. Where his hand creates pressure, I'm almost certain I can make out the outline of a dagger... eesh... reminds me a little too much of some non-human entities I've had run-ins with before. "Is it dusk yet?" he asks me with a voice of grey dry leaves. What I can make out of his face is painted with white and red and black grease paint. I believe his visage is supposed to resemble that of a skull. Somehow the bad make-up job doesn't afford me any comfort in his presence. "Why can't you look for yourself?" I point to the glass walls, which do show a bluing of the light out on State Street. It's May, and a sort of indifferently budding small tree that looks something like a smoker itself is changing colors slightly from yellow-green to orange dark green.

        "The light hurts my eyes."

        I want to say, "riiiight," but I refrain. Somehow I would rather not piss these bizarre people off.

        I hear whispering from some of the braver cloaked souls over by the exit. "is it dusk yet?" "I think it's dusk" "he said dusk" "are you sure it's dusk?" "wait a little longer, make sure" "we could miss our chance to beat him to the power source" and so on.

        A swaggering, ruddy individual who manages to look gaunt and ill-kept at the same time as dashing, steps through the door in a dramatic entrance, grinning but with some fear in the grin, and holds the door open long enough that the chime does not even ring. When he lets it fall and a muffled clink comes from the bell, the two cloaked factions are on either side of him, growling and hissing.

        The individual pats what looks like a never-sharpened sword at his side and strides manfully up to my counter. I get back behind it quickly; I had been going to sort the fuzzy bunny slippers and time machine display, but that sword looks like it could cleave the cash register and my gnome doll in one fell swoop.

        "Storekeeper! I require aid!" The skulkers are drizzling out through the door into as shadowed areas as they can find in the "Madisonian" court; the light outside is evidently too much for them and the heroic figure inside more than they care for as company.

        "Er... yeah," I reply.

        "Pssst!" he leans over the counter as the cloaked ones leave slowly. He jerks his head towards them slightly. He smells like beer and rubber mousepads. His mouth is right near mine. "How long have those guys been in here?"

        "Er... " I back off and wrap my bathrobe around myself a little more securely. "I dunno. Fifteen minutes, maybe."

        The man lets out a hideous roar. "Cowards!" The ceiling shakes. Then his yellow fingernail swashbucklingly taps my shiny countertop. "I'll give you three gold pieces to contact me on my cel phone if either of the groups comes back in."

        "Mm?" I raise my left eyebrow. It is getting dusky outside, I can finally see that for certain from here. I wish I had some decent supper.

        "What do you say?" he says in what I take it is supposed to be an engaging tone.

        Sheesh. Is this kind of person even Spells 'R' Us-able?

        It could cause a lot of damage, or it could make State Street an alarmingly and attractively entertaining place for at least a night or more. I reach for a vial vined around with gold paint.

        "Take this," I tell my customer.

        The man looks wide-eyed, as if I have done something entirely outside his experience. "Uh... " he raises his sword, then strides heavily out of the store with the vial.

        I see him stop in the seating area and down the entire contents, shake his head and lick his lips, then head energetically for the doors. I breathe a sigh of relief when he opens them and shoves through, because I'd really find chaos outside of the building more entertaining-- at least, chaos of the expected proportions.

        I set to sweeping and find a thumbtack on the floor which ought to be in the office supplies display; it turns my forefinger rainbow hues before I get it properly stuck into the sample bulletin board. I'm rubbing my thumb and finger together when I feel air move from the door opening, and look up to see this totally gay-looking guy walk in. The bell jingles, and the fellow looks over at me. He appears to be pretty glum. "Turn that frown upside down," I can't help saying. The broom continues picking up dust and odds and ends of loose aura while I sweep my way back to the counter. The gay-looking guy seems to want to smile at what I said, sort of gives a half chuckle, but seems down.

        He comes up to the counter and sighs downheartedly. "Right," I say, a little skeptically, "um, what can I do you for?"

        "Hehe, well, I..." he starts out seeming amused but then goes right back to totally glum. I can't say why he looks totally homosexual, he just does. I'm surprised he's alone. This kind also usually comes in more than pairs. I've never seen anyone dressed quite like him, though. He's wearing a driver's cap and some sort of odd pants and a heavy shirt with big buttons that make him look like he's trying to dress period for a Victorian Decadent Swing Era Reenactment, but he's also got alternative rocker sideburns, an eyebrow piercing and blue spectacles with dragonfly decals on the lower corners of the lenses. Gay, totally completely, as well as sad. Emotionally sad, not socially sad.

        "Well, you see, it's like this," he says finally, putting his hands together earnestly over the countertop. The in-counter display is of many different model raccoons made out of bone china, bunny fur, sequins, and action figure material. There's a real coonskin cap in there as well. I've thought about asking the Old Man if I could buy it, but I'm pretty sure it does something obvious.

        The fellow sighs again. "This may-- well, this is just bound to be my little Zilvy's worst birthday ever."

        Great, either a sob story or a sweet story. Suddenly, there is a great commotion in the street. About nine hundred cop cars go wheeling past in a swirl of red lights and sirens, with a few cloaked figures pouncing shadowedly out of their way-- you can only see the figures where their black forms are outlined by the red lights.

        My customer doesn't bother to look over his shoulder; I can see everything from behind the cash register without seeming to ignore him. Pretty soon, sirening fire trucks flash past as well.

        "Say, by the way, you're a different merchant than the other man that's always been here. Why don't you have a bath robe?"

        "I'm filling in," I explain, half watching the street. "and it is a bathrobe."


        "Is." I flap it around a little bit. "See, it's definitely a bathrobe."

        The red-headed driver-capped guy shakes his head. "You can tell by the braid on the lapels it's a dressing gown."

        "Look, what can I help your-- whoever-- the person with the birthday with?"

        "I hope you can," he answers, peering critically at my genuine bathrobe.

        "I'll do my best, of course. I hope you don't question the integrity of this establishment, as I have been put in charge personally by the owner while he is gone on urgent business." Three hundred police cars go at top speed the other way. The other six hundred are in a desperate, siren-wailing lock-up as they careen in a little too close to each other. Their headlights are locked on each other's beams and no one can see a thing, let alone speed out of the area. And they say Madison doesn't have enough police officers.

        The police are attempting not to panic, and headlights and sirens are being gradually shut off, but the ones who made it out do not come back to help. Meanwhile, shadowy figures and the occasional striding, be-sworded individual are making their ways swiftly in the direction the police and fire departments first took. Drunks meander in either direction. As evening has fallen, the sitting smokers have for the most part departed. There is an enormous "Thump" from somewhere down the street.

        My troubled customer looks mildly up at the ceiling, and only mutters something about "upstairs neighbors". Then he continues to tell me, "Well, it's like this. I bought my daughter Zilvara a Transforming Dragon for her fourth birthday, and every month since then she's had her heart's delight, another wonderful Transformation. I buy her the refill cards for the dragon. You know." He looks at me expectantly.

        "Well, I've never sold one of those, but I might know what you are talking about." I reach up to the shelf behind my counter, over my head, and bring down a purple velvet dragon toy. It has a set of what looks like recipe cards attached to it with a plastic thread.

        "That's it!" he almost reaches for it. I keep it defensively against my bathrobe. "So what's the problem?" I ask. "Thump!" resounds from down the street. There is a straggling cheer, then more full-bodied cheering from any number of individuals outside, while the police flee on foot-- those who are unable to disentangle their cars by driving on the sidewalks.

        "She lost the dragon!" my customer wails, making imploring expressions towards the ceiling with his hands. "It's not her fault." He immediately stops looking imploring and looks at me in a clear expository fashion. "She's moving and... well, the box with the dragon was never found. And I don't have any way for refill cards to work without the dragon, and she's expecting it for her birthday, I'm sure! Now she's brokenhearted because she lost what I gave her, but imagine if she doesn't get her Transformations, to boot! And the Transforming Dragon cost me _six_ _hundred_ _dollars_!" He resorts to imploring the ceiling again.

        "Look." I sigh. "You're a really regular customer, right?"

        He nods eagerly.

        A dark, night-swathed golden foot the size of Pizza Cabin slams down in the middle of State Street. Clamoring around it are variously garbed and variously armed individuals, including my skulking customers of earlier in the evening. They seem to be elatedly cheering. This is fun.

        "You bought the refill cards?"

        Again the nod.

        I sigh. I'm really in charge, right? And the point of this store is to follow the general train of magics, right? I have to just let go of my anxiety for a second before I hand over the dragon in my hands, though. I don't think of it as screwing up, and I'm really doing the Old Man a favor. I mean, this is a regular customer, and he gives things he buys to other people, right? Somehow I get a very strong feeling that this whole Spells 'R' Us business, when you get down to it, is about magic power, and spreading it around. I give the gay fellow the Transforming Dragon.

        Then inspiration strikes and I say, "The cards are free with it. Use them on yourself or someone else, if you already bought a refill for your daughter."

        His whole face lights up, dragonfly decals and all, as he nips that dragon toy right out of my hands. "Well this is just dandy!" he exclaims. I've never heard anyone say 'this is just dandy' in a non-sarcastic tone of voice.

        "By the way," I inquire, "How old is she going to be?"

        "Oh," the man replies happily, "Four years old again, just like last year." He turns to go for the door, humming perkily to himself. I'm thinking I might have just met someone to match the bizarre-ness of myself and Mel. Perhaps.

        The gay customer stops in the doorway to dodge a scrambling cloaked demon and the tip of a sweeping, block-long tail. As he pauses, he turns back before the door closes and catches the jamb and says to me, "I gotta get you to thank your boss for the transgendering potions; my daughter and I are completely satisfied." Then he grins and sort of tips his driver's cap with the hand still holding the stuffed toy dragon and Transformation of the Month cards.

        My own cellular phone rings and I fish it out of the side tray of my cash register as I absorbedly view a line of firebreath two stories long stream across the blacktop outside and barely singe the indifferent little outdoor tree. A nimble firetruck, having found its way between golden scaled legs or around the one-way streets in the neighborhood, follows up with a half-a-block-long heavily pressured stream of water from its hose, creating a clash of watery fireworks at about the level of the awning for the New Age Inspirational Wellness Shoe Store across the blacktop.

        "Cool," I say, pressing the button for answering my phone. "Spells 'R' Us, may I help yeew?"

        "Hehe, Bryan, turn off the professional voice, it's me, Mel."

        "Hi Mel!" I let out a low whistle as one of the black-cloaked skull-fellows gets caught in the heat radius of the golden dragon's breath. Fortunately, a nearby woman of great agility leaps to catch fire hose water in her new-looking fedora and puts the guy's flaming cloak out, then they stand there and gaze at each other in the light from the battle going on behind them. "Huh," I say.

        "What is going on? Bryan? Are you whistling at women again?"

        "Huh? Oh, no, I wasn't whistling at her-- to begin with, anyway."

        "Um-hum... Listen, I made a call for you and you might be interested to know there'll be a delivery guy stopping in at your store in... (she probably checks her watch) about seven minutes or so. I already paid him with my aunt's credit card."

        "Is that so. Thanks, I know you mean well, but the pizza around here is..."

        Mel giggles, that funny way she snickers in a non-nasty fashion. "I know what you think, but I found out, it was only a matter of logical deduction, there's an everything else 'R' Us, there's a Pizzas 'R' Us, and they're about as inevitable in their own way as our friend the Old Man's store is. You'll be sure to get just what you want... or at least, what they know you want." Mel blows a kiss into the phone, says "love you" at the same time I do, and then hangs up. If nothing else, this pizza ought to be different... or maybe, exactly the same as a pizza I've never had. The long, slim blonde on the sidewalk is holding hands with the skulking cloak guy, now that the cloak guy has half his outfit burned away. There's plenty of spell-induced chaos going on in rousing party-battle style around them, and it's still a great show, but they're not paying any attention.

        I see someone else enter from the street. At first I believe it's the pizza delivery guy, then I see dark glasses and think it's a cop, then I realize it's a cop uniform, sort of, on someone else's shape. The 'cop' shuffles into the store.

        "Out, now," I say to the newcomer, pointing sternly towards the exit.

        "Say, sonny, you think you're pretty tough. I think I oughta have a look around this place." The dark glasses are topped with a black toupee, badly fitted, and there are terrycloth threads showing around the bottom of the blue and brass colored coat, as well as the cuffs of the braided and navy pressed trousers. I can tell from the ankles the 'cop' is wearing nylons, in much the same style as those of an earlier customer.

        "Cops don't wear nylons," I point out.

        "They do in Madison!" the Old Cop exhorts.

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