Extracts from The Diaries of 'Professor' Cornelius Crane

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July 10th, 1969

Today I decided that it was high time that I repaid Hannah for the special gift she once gave me; in fact this is to be a token of my appreciation for everything she has ever done for me!

Today, I was standing across from Second Chances watching the pawn shop window and wondering how to proceed with Hannah’s surprise.

Before long the solution to my dilemma presented itself carrying a large suitcase.

I knew full-well that it would be impossible to just waltz into the pawn shop and pull out fifty bucks without drawing attention to myself. It was imperative that I remain anonymous for now. Combing my hair differently and wearing the wire-rimmed spectacles was out of the question.

I had watched the man with the large suitcase approaching from the direction of the distant Train Stop Motel at the edge of town.

The small figure had slowly increased in size until, “Hi pal,” he said tipping his hat and introducing himself. “John Statler! Vacuum cleaner salesman out of Boston on a short business trip. Does your mom have a vacuum cleaner, yet?”

“Unfortunately, yes!”

“Unfor…why unfortunately?”

“Because my father’s the biggest arsehole on the planet.”

“Whoa, pal! A kid your age shouldn’t be using language like that.”

“Yeah, so what’s the proper age to start using profanity?”

“Pro…what?”

“Forget it!” I suddenly had a brainwave. I would need the secret stash in both my shoes to pull this off. I pointed at the large suitcase he was carrying. “What sort of commission do you make selling those fuckers? Sorry, I meant to say suckers!”

“Uh…look, pal, I don’t think that has anything to do with…”

“I’m guessing somewhere between ten and twenty dollars per unit. Right?”

“Well…yes. It depends on the model and the accessories and…”

“How’d you like to make a quick ten for five minutes work?”

“I’m listening?”

I pointed my chin towards the pawn shop. See that shop with the big old clock?”

He read the name above the clock. “Fry’s Second Hands.”

I nodded. “There’s a music box in the window. A special one with a twirling ballerina. It costs fifty bucks. I got the money right here in my pocket. I need you to buy it for me.”

“Why?”

“Ten bucks means and no questions asked.”

“Fine, let me have the fifty then.”

“Here,” I said handing him five tens. “And don’t get any clever ideas.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah!”

“So,” he said counting the money and grinning wryly,

“What’s to stop me taking this $50 dollars right now and walking away with it, pal?”

“What’s to stop me from telling the police you took me into the bushes and offered me $10 dollars to play with your johnson?”

“What?”

“You heard me, fucknut! Now do as I’ve asked or you’ll be sleeping in the clink tonight.” I put on my best whiny-voiced kid act. “That’s right officer, and when I said no, he tried to force me. But I got away and ran straight here.” I returned to my normal speaking tone. “I wouldn’t be too surprised if they think you’re actually the Willow Creek Killer. It’ll be a very long time before you see Boston again, pal! If ever!”

“Holy shit, kid! I was only pulling your leg.”

“Well, why don’t you shake yours and do as I’ve asked before I decide to keep the $10 as well. I’ll wait for you in the alley. Be quick about it now!”

Five minutes later he presented me with the music box. “Here you are, pal! Now, where’s my money.”

“Not so fast John Statler from Boston,” I said leaving him holding onto the music box. “I need you to do me one last favor.” He was about to say something, but I quickly added, “There’s another ten in it for you. You’ll get the full twenty when it’s done?”

“What now?”

“I need you to post that off for me. You got a pen and paper?”

“Sure.”

I wrote down the address to Marnie’s Bakery & Dry Goods. “Be sure you make it to, Miss Hannah Marnowijk, just like I’ve written it here.”

“No problem, pal.”

“Another thing,” I said handing him the address. “Very important! I want you to send it express. It must arrive there before Saturday. Got it?”

“Got it!”

I handed him a ten. “This should cover the cost of both the packaging and postage. Off you go! And remember, that I’ll be watching.”

I was waiting for him outside the post office when he exited.

“Good news,” he said handing me the receipt. “The package will be there by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.”

“Great!” I exclaimed. “That’s fantastic!” I quickly checked the details on the long slip of paper before smiling and saying, “John Statler from Boston, you done real good today! I’m very proud of you!” I reached into my pocket and handed him two tens. “There you go. Twenty bucks as promised. You run along now and play, you hear?”

He didn’t need a second invitation.

I went off to Pop’s to celebrate. It was only on paying for the lime milkshake that I realized that the bastard from Boston had never given me my change from the ten.

Ah, well – he had served his purpose splendidly.

I can’t wait to hear what Hannah has to say on Saturday night. It’s always a pleasure just to see her smiling face.

Making love to her is a bonus!!!

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