Charlie entered the kitchen early the following morning. His stomach growled from hunger. He noticed the table was set, and Zach had already prepared breakfast. Zach climbed down the step stool in front of the stove holding a pot of freshly brewed coffee. “Morning, sleep well?” He poured coffee into their cups.
“Like a log,” Charlie said. “You?” He sat where the huge plate of scrambled eggs waited for him.
“Fine, thanks.” He took a slice of toast from a plate and passed the rest to Charlie. “Some show last night, huh?”
“Yeah, I really liked it. It wasn’t like I thought it would be,” Charlie said.
“Yeah, how so?”
Charlie took a moment and thought about it before he answered. “Even though I didn’t understand what they were singing about since it was all in I-talian, I could still make out what was going on. It was a good story and the way that Prince fella sang was—”
“Spectacular?” Zach interjected.
“Good, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Wait until you see what I have planned for us next,” Zach said. Charlie looked as if Zach had just dropped a bomb in his lap. “Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a tuxedo for this.” He chuckled at Charlie’s expression and then picked up the morning paper to check the stock market. He noticed a small article about them on one of the pages inside. “Hey, check it out, there’s the article on us and the shop.” He handed the paper to Charlie.
The article had a small photo of them standing outside their store. Betty was standing between them. They were all smiling. The headline under the photograph read Small & Tall Shop and Tailoring opens it’s doors for men of all sizes. The article continued with: Eli’s Shop & Tailoring [731 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94103] is now under new management and ownership. After fourteen years of serving the public, the store had been recently purchased by Mr. Zach Mullins and Mr. Charles Franklin. It is managed by Ms. Betty Washington. The new owners and staff are enthusiastic and are tapping into a new market, well aware of the demand for specialized tailoring for men of all sizes. The owners came up with the idea from personal experience since Zach Mullins is a little person and Charlie Franklin is a considerably large gentleman. For years, they constantly found it difficult to find clothing that fit them correctly. They decided that large and small people needed a clothing store that catered to men of all sizes. They provide free alterations with each purchase of a business suit or tuxedo.
“Great publicity, don’t you think? Zach said.
“Sure is,” Charlie said. “Hopefully everyone will see it.”
“Let’s hope so,” Zach said.
Located near the Bay Shore Freeway was the Southern Pacific Bayshore Rail Yard. It was a popular area where vagrants gathered. They’d muster around garbage cans and throw scraps of wood, newspaper and whatever else they could find that would burn to start fires for warmth. One drifter in particular noticed the newspaper article about Zach and Charlie’s new shop in a pile that was about to be tossed into the fire. He removed the paper with his filthy hands and read the article attentively. Then he folded the paper and slid it into his pocket. A smile stretched across his scared and grubby face. It was Lucas Diehl and the thought of retribution delighted him. And if he could get some money from his old well-to-do friends, it would be even better.
Later that evening, Cary Grant and Constance Bennett appeared in Topper’s living room as George and Marion Kerby. They were a fun-loving couple that had died and became ghosts. They decided to help the life-style of their friend, the henpecked, stuffy Cosmo Topper played by Roland Young.
Zach and Charlie were transfixed with the huge movie screen and would belt out laughs from time-to-time as they enjoyed the movie. They sat together crunching on their popcorn in the dark theater. This was the surprise that Zach had mentioned during breakfast. The movie was called Topper, and Zach and Charlie were enjoying the comedy.
When the movie ended, Zach and Charlie walked out of the theater exhilarated. They talked about the film as they walked down the busy sidewalk. Zach thought the entire process of filmmaking was fascinating. He carried on about how in the early days of films; they were mostly silent until 1927 when The Jazz Singer was released. It was the first successful feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialog. He pondered for a moment on whether the film industry was something they should look into, perhaps invest in.
Suddenly Zach noticed Charlie wasn’t at his side and that he had been talking to himself for who knows how long. When he turned and looked for Charlie, he was behind him about fifteen yards away standing in one spot staring into a store window. What the heck is he doing? He then backtracked to Charlie and watched him. Charlie didn’t say a word. He just stood, smiling into space. Zach thought that Charlie had finally lost it. “Hey, what are you doing?”
Charlie went to the store window and tapped on the glass. Zach couldn’t see what he was staring at until a clumsy puppy leaped up and attempted to go after Charlie’s finger. Oh boy, Zach thought. He watched as Charlie waved to puppy through the window. Then he turned to Zach with a pathetic look on his face. Zach knew exactly what he was thinking. “Okay, but you’re taking care of it. That means cleaning up any mistakes it makes on the floor. I’m not cleaning any messes. Ya got that?”