Back to P. S. Ehrlich's Artist PageTo the Artist's Page                  Back to the Unlikely Stories home pageTo our home page
Taking AvailTo P. S. Ehrlich's previous piece     Proud to Be ShortTo P. S. Ehrlich's next piece

The Street Freak and His Old Lady the Ex-Law Student

Once upon a time, in the days of old when flowers still had power, there was a Street Freak who went out every day and annoyed respectable passers-by with his drooling and twitching and requests for spare change. He had nary a care in the world, and no desire save to keep on doing his Thing.

One fine hangin'-out morning this Freak was dangling parts of himself in Kitsch Creek, when what should come floating along but a bottle of Old Sumbidge. "Hunh!" said the Street Freak as he fumbled it out of the water. "Time for a li'l touch of luncheon, I calls it."

But when he uncorked the bottle, out fwooped a silver-streaky cloud that transmogrified into a gigantic fish. "Thanks be to you, my friend!" it said. "You have released me from a wearisome prison."

"Oh waow," said the Street Freak. "I never been this spaced out before."

"I am the Holy Mackerel with the Magic Fingers," the fish was continuing. "Street Person, listen to me. Have you any wish or want in this wide bright world? Anything you choose shall be yours."

"Got any 'ludes?" asked the Street Freak.

A moment later he was wending his way back to the crumbling Munchiesville crashpad he called home, and to Gadda Davida, his belligerent ex-law student of an old lady, who had bulging eyeballs and a hundred-dollar-a-day habit. The Freak looked keenly forward to sharing his reward with her, but when Gadda Davida heard the story behind it she was not at all pleased.

"What! anything you wished for was yours, and you asked for Quaaludes?"

"Just be cool, mama," said the Street Freak. "What else I got to wish for in this wide bright world?"

"What else! You could've wished me clean and back in law school! You might at least have wished for that, instead of this miserable bunch of pills. But maybe it's not too late-there may still be a chance. Hustle back down to the creek and find that Mackerel again!"

So the Street Freak went back to Kitsch Creek, which in the brief time he'd been away had turned thick and dark and muddy. He stood at the creekside and called out:

Hey Holy Mackerel up the creek,
It's me, your friendly local Freak!
My old lady is SO uncool-
Go figger 'em who been to lawyer-school.

Up the Mackerel came popping, and said: "Well, what might you want?"

"Oh waow," said the Freak, "my old lady don't wanna be a junkie no more, and she wants to go back to law school!"

"Head along home," said the Mackerel. "She is back there already."

The Freak went home to Munchiesville but Gadda Davida was not at the crashpad, nor at the headshop, nor down at the playground with Dealin' Sam. It was Sam who told him she had moved uptown to an apartment building near campus. And when the Street Freak went up there to see her, he found Gadda Davida looking hale and hearty and dressed in a upscale suit, sporting a shiny new briefcase. Her apartment was small but tidy, with only a few cockroaches in the kitchen and a single crack in the ceiling; and it was filled with a hundred glossily-bound law books.

"Well, mama," said the Freak, "ain't this nice? We oughta be able to mellow out here." But his old lady said: "I've been thinking-why should I waste the next couple of years slaving away in school, when I could be cleaning up out there practicing law? Go back to your Mackerel and have me admitted to the bar, right away!"

"Aw, what do you wanna rush things for?"

"Look here, do as I tell you! Get your butt back down to the creek, and do it pronto!"

The Street Freak didn't think this was the right thing to do, but he got his reluctant butt back down to Kitsch Creek. And when he got there he found it clogged thick with garbage. But the Freak called upon the Holy Mackerel again, and up it came popping.

"Now then, what this time?"

"Oh waow," said the Freak, "she wants to be admitted to the bar, right away."

"Head along home," said the Mackerel, "she has been already."

The Freak went back to the apartment house near campus, but Gadda Davida wasn't there. A neighbor told him she had graduated with honors and been admitted to the bar, and now had a firm of her own and an eleven-room house in a plush part of town. So the Freak went there to see her, and Gadda Davida showed him a well-furnished living room and dining room and kitchen full of all the latest utilities. In the garage was a fine gas-guzzler, and in the backyard a splendid garden.

"Not bad, not bad," said the Street Freak. "Course we got to freak it up a little to make it really homey-"

"What are you talking about?" demanded Gadda Davida. "Do you think I could get anywhere with that dinky little practie? Go back to your Mackerel and tell it to give me the best-known firm in the state-and while it's at it, have it make me a judge as well."

"A judge! Now mama, whatcha wanna be a judge for? Here, I got something new from Sam, try a little o' this on your tongue-tip-"

"Get away from me with that stuff!" said his old lady, who had exchanged her syringes for chic little spoons. "Get your butt back down to the creek, right away-I've got to be a judge!"

So the Freak went back, very much put out that his old lady wanted to be (of all things) a judge. "Ain't the right thing to do, not at all," thought he to himself; and when he came to Kitsch Creek he found it at low tide and infested with industrial pollution, exuding a horrible stench. The sky was clouding over and the wind had begun to moan, but the Freak summoned up the Mackerel as before.

"What does she want now?"

"Oh waow! she wants to be a judge, with the best law firm in the state."

"Run along home," said the Mackerel, "she's a judge already."

This time the Street Freak found Gadda Davida in a much larger house on a couple of acres in the most exclusive of suburbs; and before he was allowed to see her, he had to wash himself and comb his beard and cut his filthy fingernails. Then he went through two stout oaken doors into his old lady's private chambers; and there she sat behind a bench of mahogany, wearing a majestic black robe, gripping a large and menacing gavel.

The Street Freak approached her bench and said, "Well, mama-so now you're a judge."

"Yes," said the Honorable Gadda Davida, "now I am a judge."

Then he stood and had a good if unfocused look at her; and when he had gazed at his old lady for a long time, he said:

"Well now, you got everything you could possibly want in this wide bright world; there ain't nothing left for you to wish for."

"Oh, I'm sick of this already!" said Gadda Davida. "Go back to your Mackerel and tell it to make me Chief Justice of the Supreme Court."

"Hey, mama!" said the Street Freak. "There ain't no fish can make you Chief Justice! Not even the Holy Mackerel!"

"Now look here," said his old lady, "if the Mackerel could make me a lawyer and a judge, it can make me Chief Justice-and besides, I'm the Law and you're just a grungy little Street Freak, so get your butt moving if you don't want it busted!"

So the Freak had no choice but to go; yet he was very uncomfortable about it. "Going too far this time," thought he to himself. "H.M.'s gonna get sick o' seein' me if this keeps up."

It began to rain when he set out, and at creekside it was coming down buckets with thunder a-rumble and lightning going CRACK! and Kitsch Creek now a foamy river, sending up vast nasty waves into the howling wind. But in a trembly voice the Street Freak invoked the Mackerel once more.

"Well, what now?"

"Oh waow! she wants to be Chief Justice!"

"Go home! she's Chief Justice already!" said the Mackerel.

And this time the Street Freak had to hitchhike all the way to Washington D.C., and make his way through an enormous crowd of people outside the Supreme Court building; and when he finally got into the awesome marble-and-velvet chamber, there sat his old lady behind a high bench in the black leather throne of the Chief Justice. The marshal was Oyez Oyez Oyezing with circumstantial pomp; the eight other Justices were murmuring deferentially; and a throng of young male law-clerk groupies hung well-endowedly about. "Well," said the dazed Street Freak as he stared up in his old lady's general direction, "so now you're Chief Justice."

"Yes," pronounced Gadda Davida from afar. "Now I am Chief Justice. And I've been thinking-"

"Whuh-oh," said the Freak.

"-why should my career have to depend upon a fish? Here I am, the first woman to fight her way up from five thousand years of male oppression to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: triumphant over impossible odds. But to owe it all to a Mackerel with Magic Fingers? No way! Go tell your fish to get its butt back into the Old Sumbidge bottle-I'm going to be Holy Mackerel from now on, and a Living Legend in my own time!"

The Street Freak fell on his knees before the bench, clasping hands in supplication toward what had once been his old lady. "I can't tell it that! You can't just trash the Holy Mackerel!"

"You goddam better try!" roared Gadda Davida, "unless you want to find yourself in Leavenworth! Order in the court! And once you've gotten rid of that fish, I advise you to keep the hell away from me-I won't be needing you again, either!"

Off crawled the Street Freak, shivering with fright, struggling against the dreadful wind and torrential rain that lashed at him. Trees and telephone poles were being uprooted before his eyes; huge, terrifying chasms yawned suddenly in the sodden ground at his very feet; and when at last he reached Kitsch Creek he found it overrunning its banks and carrying off all Munchiesville. The flood lapped greedily at the Street Freak's chin as he staggered and stumbled and shrieked:




The fish flipped him a bottle of Quaaludes, and the tempest immediately stilled.

"Get your butt back home," the Mackerel advised him. "Your old lady is an ex-law student again."

And when the Street Freak returned to what was remained of his old crashpad, he found Gadda Davida there with rebulging eyeballs and a three-hundred-dollar-a-day habit. The Street Freak went back to drooling and twitching and asking passers-by for spare change.

He lived happily ever after.

To the top of this pageTo the top of this page