It turned out that Grollman could get his furniture over the phone. He told the furniture lady, who was willing to take any kind of a check when she understood what a fish she had on the line, to pick out some nice stuff sufficient to fill a two bedroom apartment on Lizard Creek. In two hours he had a green and red sofa bed, a glass table with an umbrella in its center, two canvas director chairs, an army surplus cot, two red plastic chairs that had “Texas A&M” on their backs, a Naugahyde ottoman with baby alligators festooned on its side, and a stand-up desk like that used by Johann Strauss only made of cardboard and painted mustard. Grollman was delighted that he had gotten so much good stuff and for only $1400. He had had to write seven $200 post-dated checks for the stuff, but slept the sleep of the boob on the sofa-bed until his new phone rang for the first time at 3:30. It was on its seventh ring by the time he was conscious and had found it.
“Dr Grollman,” he said from the habit of five years of night call.
“Who the fuck are you?” said a virulent male voice. Grollman was paralyzed with shock, fear, and lingering sleep. “Tell Mabel I’ll be over there in five minutes and that I’m going to shoot you both.
“Who?” he said at owl level.
“You know who you asshole, Mabel Stuart.”
“Mabel Stuart doesn’t live here.”
“Is this 565-2391?”
Grollman looked at the phone, elevated to parrot class. “Yes.”
“Then I’m gonna kill you.” The virulent caller hung up.
Grollman, now human, was seized with a panic attack even though it was not yet fashionable. Some madman is going to kill me, he thought. He started to trot around his Naugahyde ottoman until it hit him. Mabel Stuart didn’t live here anymore.