McMuckle Makes a Minyan

A Boy and a Fish

McMuckle cover

“I’ll wash the glass,” said Shlomo Bim.

The Power of Prayer (and a good hustle)

“Sixty-forty,” said McMuckle. “And win or lose, you double the retainer.”

Ivor McMuckle, a song plugger, has been summoned to Hyperion II, planet of the Last Diaspora, where all faiths mingle in a shared state of abject poverty. He sells off shares in excess of 120 percent of a bad, really bad, pop tune. His client, Maven Lipchutz, a lounge pianist with a dream, is not beyond a little interspecies hanky-panky: the Maven’s light o’ love, Heidi, is a singing fish. Final judgment devolves upon a Higher Power, said Higher Power being among the company of the conned.

“We need eight more to pray for a hit, right? I’ll get them. Is there some temple, tabernacle, whatever, where I can hustle us up a quickie minyan?”

“There’s Shlomo Bim’s—the saloon.” Lipchutz looked discomfited.

Time Passes...

“This is it, the Big One,” said Schmulka Weisbrod between gasps. “You’re gonna be one short on your minyan, McMuckle. Sorry about that. And take a spotted hare. God loves bunnies.” Weisbrod gave out a mighty exhalation and slumped lifeless in McMuckle’s arms.

“Exalted and sanctified is God’s great name,” said Shlomo Bim.

McMuckle Makes a Minyan is a farrago closer to Jim Henson’s Pigs in Space than the Septuagint—a happy borrowing, a bissel here, a bissel there. Special thanks to Ezra and Josh Feigenbaum, proprietors of the Feigenbaum and Suss saloon on New York’s Rivington Street in the 1950s, where slivovitz and scalding tea were a specialty of the house. Add a dash of McSorley’s over on Cooper Square. The bar’s name, Svartze Shikse―which I considered changing to “The Gypsy Girl” then discarded―is a lift from Jaroslav Hasek’s Good Soldier Schweik.

“When two or more are gathered together in My name...”

“More than two. That’s three,” says Ivor McMuckle.

“Jews need ten. A minyan,” says Schmulka Weisbrod.

“Whatever,” said McMuckle. “You got a defibrillator in this place?”  read the story »

“McMuckle” is an homage to the author’s years as a radio engineer in the salad days of Rock ‘N’ Roll. The characters of the song plugger and the ever-hopeful piano thumper are cameos from 1010 WINS, then at New York’s Columbus Circle, where record company promotion men hovered like undertakers at a train wreck. The spotted hare appears courtesy of Warner Bros.

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