I guess maybe this is a much better polish
I guess maybe this is a much better polish
He had been living this way for almost a month, when, one day, just as he was about to prepare his lunch, the door bell rang. He opened it and found a man standing on the step with a sample case in one hand and a derby hat in the other. Homer hurriedly shut the door again.
The bell continued to ring. He put his head out of the window nearest the door to order the fellow away, but the man bowed very politely and begged for a drink of water. Homer saw that he was old and tired and thought that he looked harmless. He got a bottle of water from the icebox, then opened the door and asked him in.
“The name, sir, is Harry Greener,” the man announced in sing-song, stressing every other syllable.
Homer handed him a glass of water. He swallowed it quickly, then poured himself another.
“Much obliged,” he said with an elaborate bow. “That was indeed refreshing.”
Homer was astonished when he bowed again, did several quick jig steps, then let his derby hat roll down his arm. It fell to the floor. He stooped to retrieve it, straightening up with a jerk as though he had been kicked, then rubbed the seat of his trousers ruefully.
Homer understood that this was to amuse, so he laughed.
Harry thanked him by bowing again, but something went wrong. The exertion had been too much for him. His face blanched and he fumbled with his collar.
“A momentary indisposition,” he murmured, wondering himself whether he was acting or sick.
“Sit down,” Homer said.
But Harry wasn’t through with his performance. He assumed a gallant smile and took a few unsteady steps toward the couch, then tripped himself. He examined the carpet indignantly, made believe he had found the object that had tripped him and kicked it away. He then limped to the couch and sat down with a whistling sigh like air escaping from a toy balloon.
Homer poured more water. Harry tried to stand up, but Homer pressed him back and made him drink sitting. He drank this glass as he had the other two, in quick gulps, then wiped his mouth with his handkerchief, imitating a man with a big mustache who had just drunk a glass of foamy beer.
“You are indeed kind, sir,” he said. “Never fear, some day I’ll repay you a thousandfold.”
From his pocket Harry brought out a small can and held it out for him to take.
“Compliments of the house,” he announced. “’Tis a box of Miracle Solvent, the modern polish par excellence, the polish without peer or parallel, used by all the movie stars . . . ”
He broke off his spiel with a trilling laugh.
Homer took the can.
“Thank you,” he said, trying to appear grateful. “H much is it?”
“The ordinary price, the retail price, is fifty cents, but you can have it for the extraordinary price of a quarter, the wholesale price, the price I pay at the factory.”
“A quarter?” asked Homer, habit for the moment having got the better of his timidity. “I can buy one twice that size for a quarter in the store.”
Harry knew his man.
“Take it, take it for nothing,” he said contemptuously. Homer was tricked into protesting.
“No,” said Harry, as though he were spurning a bribe. “Keep your money. I don’t want it.”
He laughed, this time bitterly.
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