[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Christopher Sorrentino, has ended. Original price: $1. Final price: $38.]
My parka (Coat, Cold Weather, Men’s, Field, OG-107) hangs from a hook whose shape is in the likeness of Pickwick, of Dickens’ classic and eponymous book. The hook is mounted on the back of my door. Above the olive-drab parka, I can see Pickwick gesturing expansively. This is kind of a funny coincidence because just earlier today I was standing outside the home of Stanfield Mooney, in my accustomed spot, hoping to get a chance to talk to him about my ideas and see if he might be able to put me in touch with his agent, a simple but apparently impossible request, when I noticed that a box of books had been placed on the sidewalk just before the wrought-iron fence there. In the box was a copy of The Pickwick Papers. Yehudi, I said to myself, now there is a sign if you’ve ever received a sign. I opened the book. Sure enough: Ex Libris Stanfield Mooney. No interlinear comments or significant underlining, though.
I took Stanfield Mooney’s personal reading copy of this timeless classic back to my room and made a Survivor Sandwich. This is slices of apple between which you put cheese, or meat, or what have you. It provides stamina, fiber, and internal purity. While eating I gazed at the photos of Stanfield Mooney that I’d pinned to the cracked plaster of the walls enclosing my small and shabby one-room crash. Mooney with Mailer. Mooney with Vonnegut. Mooney accepting the National Book Award. Mooney disappearing into a limousine during his intense but brief affair with the beautiful Lauren Holly (what role did he play in bringing about the end of her bright career?). A somewhat Pickwickian figure himself, come to think of it. It’s very interesting that Mooney is here, there, and everywhere but never seems to have a moment to talk to me about The Underwater Mosaic, a novel idea which I’ve been told by Bernard Gerthner himself, the Bernard Gerthner, would probably make a very appealing motion picture idea. It’s all about ideas, and I have them. I am simply without the necessary connections to say, Let’s make this happen!
When I finished my sandwich, after the prescribed two Nutter Butters, I searched in Stanfield Mooney’s personal reading copy for clues. I don’t like to read much, so I didn’t find anything. Gun magazines, sure. Magazines with full-color photos of women blowing up balloons in their underwear, definitely. Books, though, are a problem, especially since the Bernard Gerthner himself assured me that it was all about ideas, which I have galore of. Then I stared at the brass effigy of Pickwick, leering and gesturing above the slump of my empty parka, bringing myself into a mild trance state. Do you like paperback word-search puzzle books? Playing 33 rpm records at 45 rpm? Me too. Messages abound. “Kill.” “Lock and load.” “Let’s do lunch.” “Does not meet our needs at the present time.”
I like to think that one day someone will be waiting, rain or shine, outside my own stately home, where among the elegant furnishings and appurtenances I will have scattered some of the “lesser things” from my “salad days,” such as the Mr. Pickwick coat hook. That?, I’ll chuckle. Oh, there’s a real story behind it. Then I’ll smile and gently shake my snifter. Perhaps there’ll be a Mrs. Pickwick hook for Lauren, when she starts answering my letters already. They’ll find a box of books and thrill to see Ex Libris Yehudi Mirandez when they check out the endpapers. I’ll slap my name right over Mooney’s.