Our grandfather, known as Paw, would hand out quarters to each of us cousins when we gathered at his house each Sunday. There were eight of us. There were only two girl cousins, sisters, and they were rarely with us on these Sunday visits.
We’d clutch our quarters and dawdle down the street to Lerby’s to buy licorice pipes and chocolate bars. Lerby’s was a small confectionary store at the corner of little Belview Street and busier Dunfield Avenue. That was in the nineteen fifties. Today, Lerby’s Smoke Shop would be known as a convenience store or milk store.
Most times, Mr. Lerby was upstairs in their apartment over the store. He liked to sleep a lot I guess, because he was very fat and drank a lot of beer. Mrs. Lerby liked some of the boys, and one day took Harvey into the back store. She knew the rest of us were stealing stuff out front, like Potato chips, chocolate bars and bubble gum. She didn’t care, it seemed.
When Harvey came out of the back store, he told us why Mrs. Lerby took him there. He said she wanted to play with his monkey.
“What monkey?” Paul said. “You ain’t got no monkey!”
“My dick, dickhead,” Harvey boasted. We were all aghast and dubious. “She called it my monkey and she played with it.” I asked him how? What did she do when playing with it?
“First she opened my fly and reached in to get my dick out of my underwear. Then she just looked at it with a smile on her face. She started to waggle it back and forth, and it got stiff and hard.” I looked around at Paul, Marty and Ricky. They were as spellbound by the story as was I.
Harvey kinda puffed himself up and took on an air of superiority. I could understand it. I had never had a woman see or touch my willy.
“She said it was ‘way bigger than she expected, and she took it into her mouth.”
“Oh my god!” Paul inhaled and caught his breath. We were afraid to know more.
Paul had a plan for the next Sunday. We went out to the old shed on the lane behind our grandparents’ home. There, we discussed Harvey’s adventure. Harvey filled us in on some of the unbelievable moments he enjoyed with Mrs. Lerby. It gave Paul an idea that he outlined for the rest of us. In the end, Paul talked Harvey into partnering him in his scheme.
The following Sunday, we gathered together to march down to Lerby’s store. In the store, we were milling around as usual, and Mrs. Lerby invited Harvey into the back store again. This was Paul’s opportunity to act. We didn’t know his plan until he suddenly went behind Lerby’s counter, unplugged the cash register and carried it away. We all ran out with whatever we had stolen and followed Paul. Harvey caught up to us a few minutes later and we all went to the old shed at the back of my grandparents’ yard.
Paul began trying to open the cash register. He pushed buttons, clawed at the drawer, banged on it with a stick. It would not open. Finally he heaved the heavy machine at the wall. It fell to the ground… unopened. Furious with frustration, Paul stormed out and went we don’t know where.
I walked over to the cash register, picked it up and placed it on a rickety little rough wood table. The electric cord hung down to the ground. I picked it up and reached up to the outlet thing that was screwed into the light fixture and the bulb was screwed into the outlet thing. The plug slid into the receptacle. The cash register buzzed for a second.
There was a button that said “No Sale”. I pushed it. The door slid open with a clang of a bell. When we divided up the money, we got $2.46 each. We took an equal share to Paul. We had enjoyed that Sunday more than usual.