The Mop Martini

Hank Kirton

“Before we start – I’m sorry, toots – what’s your name again?”


“Okay, Mavis. I just want to tell you that I’m not gonna talk about my marriage. Y’know. To you-know-who…”


“Because I’m not here to provide material for the gossip rags. It’s nobody’s goddamn business. Hedda Hopper can go pound sand up her ass – pardon my French.”

“Dishwasher savings.”

“I know she’s dead. It was a figure of speech.”

“Clinical sergeant trombone.”

“Good. Thank you. By the way, you look really nice in that outfit. Those colours really bring out the green in your eyes.”

“Puff. Hazard baking soda.”

“Okay. Shoot.”

“Death sacrum unicycle. Water lizard under the empty clean. Pinch. Pinch goldfish sitar?”

“Um, let’s see. I came to Hollywood in the spring of 1946, a few months after I got out of the army. I couldn’t go back to my family’s little farm after my adventures in Europe. It would have suffocated me, stuck out in the middle of nowhere with Ma and my little brothers. Fields of endless spuds. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved my family and all that but I wanted more. I thought maybe I could make it in the pictures, based on my looks. I was a fairly handsome fellow in those days. Plus I had done some acting in school.”

“Cream investigation? Abide beguine?”

“Rendon, Idaho. The most boring place in the universe. At least that’s what I thought. But remember, I was still a kid, barely twenty-one. And boy, I was dumb as tree bark.”

“Epeirogeny, repeat Dictaphone?”

“Well, after pounding the pavement for a week or so, I landed a job at Universal as a shit-shoveller.”

“Pinecone rubberize?”

“Ha! Not literally! I mean I was a gopher, a flunky. I did everything from lugging props to picking up lunch to sweeping the stages. I toiled. It was a long, tough workweek I can tell you, and I was a wage-slave, barely getting by, and I got no respect but I’ll tell you, I loved every minute of it.”

“Ginger gigolo. Ephemeral pons?”

“Well yeah. I suppose. I don’t know…”

“Dormant hurry? Imploding jellyroll?”

“Well, I worked hard but that didn’t keep me from schmoozing with the actors and the studio higher-ups when I could. The guy that really changed things for me was Lou Costello. A lot of people talk about what a royal pain in the ass he was, and maybe he was – I never worked with the guy – but he always treated me square, treated me like a real-life human being instead of a lowly peasant, y’know what I mean?”

“Loam brusque maskingtape?”

“I don’t know. I never really got to meet Bud Abbott. I watched Lou work though, without Bud, on The Time of their Lives. Bud was in the picture, but for some stupid reason they didn’t work as a team and I just didn’t see his scenes being shot. I’ll tell you who I fell in love with on that picture, though. Marjorie Reynolds. Man oh man. What a little cutie. I wanted to fuck her so bad…”

“Monochiamydeous stint?”

“Heh. No, I didn’t. Thought about it a lot though. I mean, what the hell, I was twenty-one and the last time I’d been laid was, like a year before, in France. That was my longest dry spell until old age finally shriveled my pecker. Anyway, Lou had a pal named Brodsky who worked over at Monogram and he introduced us and Brodsky hired me on the spot. No audition, no screen test. I had one line in an East Side Kids picture called The Lucky Kid. I say, ‘Will that be all?’ See, I play a waiter and Leo Gorcey says, ‘Ain’t dat enough?’ I think The Lucky Kid was called something else when it came out. I forget. Anyhow, that’s how I met good old Huntz Hall and he changed everything, thank God.”

“Rampion sixteen confused kelp?”

“Huntz Hall? Best goddamn friend I ever had. He taught me everything I know about comedy.  Introduced me to a bunch of great people like director Bill Beaudine, Bebe Dupree, the famous burlesque dancer, Shemp Howard. Those were my salad days, for sure. With extra croutons.”

“Kitchen predisposition? Soft chancre recognize?”

“Lemme tell you a story. One day, after work, Huntz and me go over to the Coach and Horses for a couple highboys. We sit at the bar and order our drinks and no sooner than they arrive when this gorgeous blonde, I mean gorgeous with a capital EVERYTHING sits down next to us. She’s stacked to high heaven, okay? And neither one of us can take our eyes off her. She glances our way a couple times and then orders a martini and a glass of water. When she gets her drinks, she turns to us and says, ‘Are you boys looking at me?’ in a voice that could melt frozen shit. And Huntz leans on the bar, trying to act suave – which was impossible – and says, ‘Why yes, you’re so fetching it’s hard not to.’ He actually said that! Fetching! So she laughs and says, ‘Mind if I look at you back?’ And Huntz is caught a little off guard by this but he says, ‘No, we don’t mind.’ And this broad, and she was fucking incredible, reaches up, pulls out one of her eyeballs, drops it in the glass of water and slides it over toward us! Haw! A glass eye! Our jaws hit the floor and the bartender’s cracking up and what she says is, ‘Here’s looking at you.’ She says that! Verbatim, swear to god! Anyhow, we spent the whole rest of the night with her, drinking and laughing and telling stories. That kind of stuff used to happen all the time in those days…”

“Flyblown cucumber paradox.”

“Yeah, well. That was Hollywood. It was a crazy town then.”

“Talcumpowder goon fest. Mushroom pagoda.”

“No, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.”

HANK KIRTON has published six books of fiction (three collections & three novels). In arbitrary order they are: The Membranous Lounge, Conservatory of Death, Bleak Holiday, The Famous Well-Equipped Twins, Leaves from the Smorgasbord and Razor Wire Kiss. His fourth novel, The Winter in Seraphis will appear later this year. His work has appeared in Bitterzoet Magazine, A capella Zoo, Antique Children, Paraphilia, The Delinquent, Alien Sloth Sex and so on and so forth etcetera… He has a blog – Crumbling Asphalt – at