Pfarfenagle, A Collection
Charles Langley


Jonathan Pfarfenagle didn’t like his haircut. His name, which would
have troubled most people, he was perfectly happy with. But the haircut,
he said, made him look like a farmer. Some people would have complained
to the barber, some may have skipped the tip and a very few might have
stalked out of the shop without paying. Jonathan did none of these.
Instead he slit the stylist’s throat from ear to ear with the barber’s
own razor.

When Jonathan was little, he loved animals, just like other kids.
But his love was different. He loved to kick the adorable, cuddly puppy
end over end like a football and listen to it yelp. With cats, he loved
to pull out their whiskers one by one and chop off their tails. Birds he
expressed his affection for by shooting them with his air rifle. Parents
of other children tried to keep their offspring as far away from
Jonathan as was humanly possible. Jonathan’s parents blamed this
deprivation of the company of his peers for what they deemed a "slight
defect in his behavior."

The public defender assigned to the case never met a man he didn’t
like, as long as the man was engaged in criminal behavior that left him
needing the services of an attorney. What he really hated was victims,
for, he would tell anyone in hearing distance without victims there
wouldn’t be the need to harass those whom some unfeeling individuals
called "the criminal class."

The lawyer was sufficiently immersed in "psychobabble" to convince the
jury that this poor unfortunate was the product of public indifference
to his needs and to improper upbringing by his parents, who smothered
him with affection and didn’t allow him emotional room for development.
The jury fell for the hogwash and found him mentally impaired.
He was sentenced to a psychiatric facility for the time necessary to
make him again acceptable to society.

The institution to which he was remanded was an expensive one.
The fee the state paid was half what they got for private patients.
So it was in their financial interest for him to get well. In eighteen
months he was declared sane enough to again join the outside world.
One thing Jonathan had was sex appeal, he repeatedly told himself.
Otherwise, why would Kimberley Kassin have rushed him off his feet at
that cocktail bar. She couldn’t keep her hands off him. But she wasn’t
that love-starved when they got to his place. After a drink in the
kitchen she got down to business before getting down to business. God’s
gift to women was shocked, insulted, and infuriated. To be asked to pay
for something he wasn’t even sure he liked that much was demeaning. He
had to regain his respect. Where he thrust the butcher knife is of
interest only to the medical examiner.

This public defender was no slouch, either. Jonathan’s problem, he told
the court, was the lack of tender loving care when he was small. One of
his parents was busy making a place in society and the other was out
chasing women. He didn’t specify which did what. And the fact that the
little boy had been continually sexual assaulted by his younger sister,
helped in his downfall, the lawyer said.

But this jury was smarter. Eleven of them had him guilty, one was for
release. But the Thanksgiving holiday was coming up and not one of them
wanted to spend a sequestered holiday, so when the eleven failed to
prevail, they did the smart thing and went along with the hold-out. It
was back to the looney bin under the same conditions. It took
twenty-four months this time before he was completely well. They didn’t
know what had ailed him, but they were sure he was cured.
Jenny DeWald had never met a woman she didn’t like, unless it was one
who preferred men. Jenny would have slugged anyone who called her a bull
dyke, but men called her that behind her back. You wouldn’t know by her
trim figure that she had muscles some men would have envied, and that if
she had slugged one, he would have stayed slugged.

Seeing her standing in the subway station dressed in a short leather
skirt and chamois vest, Jonathan was impressed with her looks and with
her independent air. He had never in his life been known to perform a
single gallant act, but when she dropped her purse, he rushed forward to
pick it up. Jenny was having a bad hair day. And even things that
weren’t all bad weren’t good either. Jonathan charging toward her meant
one thing to her. This son-of-a-bitch was trying to push her under the
train. She stepped aside, executed a trip movement, brought his arm up
in a half nelson and hurled him into the path of the on-coming train.

Al Martino, Jenny’s lawyer, looked at her sitting in the courtroom in a
high-neck virginal white dress and liked what he saw. This would be an
easy case, and he expected to know Jenny much better as soon after it
was over. He wouldn’t need to blame her parents, the system, or
childhood wrongs. Any jury would know, before any evidence was
presented, that this baby-faced bit of feminine pulchritude could do no
wrong. Martino smiled as he looked forward to their future.



Love-Struck (Sequel to Pfarfenagle)

Public Defender Al Martino dragged himself up the courthouse stairs
with great effort and much pain. His right arm, broken in two places,
in a sling around his neck. His back hurt and his legs barely supported
him. But his physical pain, great as it was, bothered him less than his
emotional anguish. How could Jenny have reacted so violently to what had
been meant as a tender proclamation of undying love? And to be fired
from a case he was obviously winning (which she went on to win as her
own attorney) was the ultimate insult.

"I guess I’ll never understand women," he confided to his law partner.
"They have such varied and unbelievable personalities."

Sam didn’t answer. In the two years they had worked together, she had
tried everything short of rape to make it obvious to him that she wore
her heart on her sleeve and that her zippers were negotiable. Still he
treated her as a piece of office furniture. "I guess I’ll never
understand men," she told herself. "They have such varied and
unbelievable personalities."

After the Jenny DeWald debacle, Al had been lucky enough to be assigned
his present case, defending a man who had slugged his wife because her
pet poodle had mistaken his favorite pair of Adidas footwear for a
comfort station. The defendant felt the beating was his wife’s fault for
not being as fast on her feet as the poodle.

Al was now digging deep into the past of the defendant to find what
family actions during his upbringing had caused his violent streak.
He was stymied in his research because he could find no record that
his client had ever had a family.

Sam felt that the chain of events had broken Al’s infatuation with Jenny
DeWald and decided to give it another try.

"I don’t have a thing on for tonight, so I’ll probably soak in a warm
bath for a while and then loll around in the buff to air dry" she told him.
He gave no indication of any arousal of interest.

"I wish I were in that position," he told her. "I’m loaded with work on
my new case." He made his way out the door and moaned as he slowly
limped down the stairs.

It was 8:30 when she got his call.

"I’ve been stupid," he told her. "I never realized how much I need you.
Can you make it over here by nine?"

Sam dug into the drawer for her Victoria’s Secret secrets and searched
the closet for something irresistibly sexy. She settled on a red dress
she had never dared to wear on a casual date for fear the low-cut
neckline would become a war zone. A quick dab of her most
expensive perfume completed the bill. She packed her personal needs
into a beaded clutch bag and was on her way, her heartbeat tapping out
"Tonight’s the night" in cardiac code.

The street door was unlocked, so Sam hurried up the stairs, slightly
out of breath as she knocked and then opened the door. She had expected
candelabra and ice and white wine. Instead the table was piled high with
briefs and law books.

"I should have thought of this before," he told her. "If you will finish
the work here, I’ll just have time to hear Jenny’s last set at the Blues

He was out the door and clutching the knob on the stair railing when the
red tornado hit him, tumbling him heels over head down the stairs. It
was with great effort and no little pain that he got to his feet. Forgetting
the hot notes at the Blues Club he hailed a cab to the emergency room to
have his left arm set and splinted.

"I guess I’ll just never understand women," he dolefully told the cabby,
"They have such varied and unbelievable personalities."



Double Take

The cashier glanced over at the customer in the corner booth. Something
about the man seemed vaguely familiar, but he couldn't place him. Even
when the man rose, straightened his jacket, and started toward the
register his name didn't come to mind. At the register he reached for
his hip pocket and a look of consternation spread over his distinguished

"I'm terribly afraid I have a problem" he said. "I seem to have lost my
wallet. It was probably the inebriated person who bumped against me
after I paid off the taxi."

The cashier waited, not speaking.

"You probably don't recognize me. Most people remember the characters I
play but pay no attention to my own face. I'm Alec Guiness, you know. I
have a meeting with my producer in half an hour at the Bijou. And I'm
completely stranded."

The cashier still said nothing.

"If you could let me have a tenner for a cab, I'll get money from the
producer and stop on my way back to the hotel and return it to you. If
you like, I'll bring an autographed photograph for you, as well."

The cashier was softening, until he saw a man at a window table
gesticulating wildly to a uniformed police officer outside. The cop
entered, spoke briefly to the man who had summonsed him, then
approached the purported Alec Guinness.

"You promised me the last time you would give up this scam,"
he said to the man. "Now I'm going to have to book you."

"Sorry about this," he told the cashier. "I'm just going to have to
teach him a lesson." He led the scam artist out the door.

Outside, a police car pulled up to the curb. The two who had just left
the restaurant quickened their pace and disappeared around the corner.

"How did you know he wasn't Alec Guinness?" the cashier asked the man
from the window table.

"That's simple" was the reply. "I'm Alec Guinness. And the coincidence
is positively shattering. I seem to have left my wallet back at my
hotel. Could you lend me tenner for a cab? I'll have it back to you in
less than an hour."

"You must think I was born yesterday," the cashier roared. "Get the hell
out of here and don't ever show your face again."

The man left, embarrassed and apparently sorry.

The cashier was satisfied with himself. He had outwitted not one, but
two con men. And one was on his way to jail.Then he scanned the room and
saw two just vacated tables, each with an unpaid check on it. His face

Around the corner, three men were in heated discussion.

"I say we try O'Houlihan's bar," the one in the police uniform said,
"The help is all new there and no-one will know us."

"The hell with that," the first Alec Guiness said. "I've had two full
course meals today and eating makes me sleepy. I'm heading back to the
trailer to get some sleep."

"I don't miss the theatre a bit," the second Alec Guiness offered. "I
didn't eat nearly as well when I was on the stage."



Copyright 1998,1999 Charles Langley
Published on the World Wide Web by ""