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VI

Did I tell you the one about the time we tried to get the bathing suits, and didn’t?

You know what an island showcase is? This was twenty-twenty-five years ago. You’ve seen these stores with two big show windows outside the door and the door set way back, maybe fifteen-twenty feet or so. Well, in that entrance, between the windows up to the door, the stores used to have high glass showcases—they were almost locked, with a padlock—they they were called island showcases.

They were permanent showcases that stood in the lobby. You still see some of them.

Well, this was in the summer. There was three of us that always palled around together. There was Harry and Benny an’ me. Harry wasn’t around this time though. There was a place about a mile away, in the Italian neighborhood, where we used to go swimming. It used to cost us a penny apiece. It was hot as hell that day I remember, and we wanted to go swimming like all hell. Only we couldn’t, because we didn’t have no bathing suits. In this here island showcase I’m telling you about, Benny an’ me, we saw something that just fit the bill, bathing suits, lots of them, all kinds, and we went over an’ looked them over an’ picked out the ones we wanted—one one for Harry too; Harry wasn’t with us, I think I told you.

The payoff was the padlock on the showcase wasn’t locked; so Benny an’ me, we made out plans, which ones to get an’ everything.

Well, it was a long vigil. All evening and till about four o’clock in the morning. We knew enough not to take any chances. Every time we were ready to raid the case someone would come stragglin’ along, sometimes some cop on the beat, sometimes some palooka out walkin’ the streets—it wasn’t till about four before we got the chance we was lookin’ for.

So we rushes over. The padlock ain’t locked, an’ we take it off an’ go to open the case. An’ I’ll be a son of a bitch! — the goddamn thing had an inside lock, an’ it was locked! We was so mad we started to cry, both of us. We stood there blubberin like a coupla babies. Jesus.

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