Mr. Pickwick Coat Hook

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Object No. 73 of 100

[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.


Christopher Sorrentino is the author of Trance and other books.

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