S.J. Melvin, an avuncular, somewhat sleazy, portly and terribly silly-looking man, sat behind his 1950’s over-sized aluminum desk and ruffled through a stack of invoices before him.
“This-a-here non-sense is costin’ me a heap-ah money!” he coughed aloud in his curious, not-quite-Southern drawl. “I’m-ah loosin’ mah shirt!” he squawked.
Before him stood his, at the moment, only employee; a thin, weasely scruff of a labourer, Hank double clutch Grizniack, who polished a greasy crescent wrench with a greasier rag, which apparently competed with his dungaree overalls for the salvage yard’s most greasy object title.
“Now-ah listen heah, Dubbah Clutch,” Melvin barked. “You pullin them crankshafts as fast as any one evah deed, by gawd. But you can’t sell a box-ah Girl Scout cookies to a church laydah on a mara-ju-wanna orgy with her dead husband’s pension money!”
Melvin was, of course referring to the ups and downs of the inherent nature of the salvage yard industry; such as it was at Mahattama Kane Jeeves Towing and Salvage Yard, Inc., S.J. Melvin, Proprietor, established 1984.”
Grizniack stopped polishing his wrench for a moment, and woefully faced his boss. “S.J., I’m only one man! I can’t be haulin’ wrecks for ya, strippin’ cars apart and helpin’ folks with looking for alternators and whang-flanges all at the same time, boss. I’m tryin’ my best; but something has ta give, S.J. Something has ta give.” You cheap bastard, he silently added to himself.
Located on the corner of K and N 26th street, in a hardscrabble corner of Philadelphia, S.J.’s towing and salvage yard was something of a local landmark. Dating back to the ’50s, it had been, alternatively, a used car lot, junk yard, hobo camp, short-lived artists’ commune, tow-truck repair shop, and, finally, a junk yard again. For some reason, the “Mahattama Kane Jeeves,” name seemed to be attached to the place, for as long as anyone cared to remember. S.J., if asked, often theorized that it was Old Indian, in origin, and was no more strange than the other Indian names which survived in the city.
“You take-ah Shackamaxon, or Passyunk, or Conshohocken, well it’s all like that!” Melvin would offer in defense of his reasoning.
Adding to the legacy of the Salvage Yard, was the curious relationship with the City itself. Melvin declared it was an Indian blessing, that, for reasons no one could explain, the City Zoning, Licencing, Inspections, and Measurements offices, notorious if not infamous, for making small business long suffer endless red-tape calisthenics–for reasons unknown–had zero interest in what Melvin or his salvage yard did, or did not do. This, of course, added to the mystique of the place, giving rise to rumors that the business was a front for some illicit enterprise–which, of course, it wasn’t; though Melvin did nothing to dissuade such talk. And the more folks talked, the more Melvin began to think he was missing on a golden opportunity.
“Dubbah Clutch, I have an idea. Put down that grubby rag for one minute an listen heah! We’re goin’ to open this a heah yard intos ah speak-easy! We’re gonna be the first salvage yard to offer the workin’ man some liquor! So when they goes out in thah yard with a wrench, they can a-take they time and socialize with theah fool friends. While they a-dooin’ that–you are gonna up-sell the crankshafts and alternatahs!”
Grizniack dropped his rag–and the wrench.
“Mr Melvin, sir–don’t we need a license for that–and I really don’t see the connection, becau–”
“Shut it! This ideah is what I say. And what I say goes. And you stand to make a heapah money too!”
Grizniack liked the sound of that, admittedly.
“First things first. Imma gonna get mah lawyer in on this. Imma callin’ Galusha V. Peppys!”
“Mr. Melvin…..isn’t he the friend of that weird British guy you used to let hang around here, a while back? The one with the MG that was broken down like every other week. What’s his name? Burnt Pennypeckwhores?”
“Pennypakah! The benefactah! Hahaha! That fool don’t know it yet–an he gots more money than sense anyways–but he’s gonna bankroll our little venture! I’m glad I thought of him.” Melvin relished the idea a moment, then added, “Now, let me make a few calls, Dubbah Clutch. You go pull some extra fuel pumps, or a-somethin’–”
If you want to continue the shenanigans, you ought to be here.