The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

Sylvia Answers the Door
by Marvin Pinkis

Sylvia Fine (nee Fein) was at the pinnacle of her fame and fortune, renowned, well-publicized, a generous benefactress of the arts, a philanthropistess of great largesse, a patron of the downtrodden. Her wealth stemmed from shrewd investments and fortunate speculations, enhanced by winning substantial lotteries. The world was her oyster to say naught of caviar and other gourmet delicacies.

Often a guest on talk shows, during one in particular she divulged never having known her parents as her mother had inadvertently swallowed seventeen mah jong tiles. Her father, on the paternal side, was besides himself with despair after the tragic demise of his spouse although the union had never been consummated and, losing no time, committed himself to a life of the dissapated. Sylvia was an infant in swaddling clothes and was thrust into the world of foster families and those environments not sanctioned by anyone. Many was the time she had fled those inhospitable environs only to wind up in orphanages and other facilities for the unspoken for.

The revelation of her heritage’s ambiguity made front page news and was even considered as the theme for a pilot television series to be named “Up From the Bootstraps”, or “If She Could Do It, Why the Hell Can’t You?”

Sylvia steeled herself to the bombardment from charities and fortune seekers with hard luck stories.

On one occasion she answered the doorbell to see a woman in shabby attire standing there. In the whisk of an eye the woman in shabby attire extinguished a cigarette and concealed a bottle of bourbon under her coat.

Sylvia inquired, “Hello, who are you?”

The woman replied, “I didn’t expect you to recognize me. I’m Valerie, your long lost sister and I’m here to share our lives, mostly yours.” A tear appeared in the woman’s eye, then another and another and so on.

Sylvia was thrilled to discover an unknown relative and welcomed Valerie with open arms. Valerie said all the right things and Sylvia commenced a succession of extravagant parties, lavish dinners, gifts galore, like a subscription to “Boy Scout Monthly” and, oh yes, a new car. The new wardrobe was yet another amenity.

One day Valerie was upstairs doing her nails. Downstairs, Sylvia had to make a phone call. She picked up the phone only to hear Valerie say, “Yeah, Tommy baby, it’s me. You won’t believe all the gifts I got. It would take a truck to take it all away. And tomorrow’s the big day when I’m gonna hit the old witch up for half a million. When I get it I’m outta here and it’s gonna be just you and me, kid.”

Sylvia was infuriated and profoundly hurt. She waited until Valerie came down and confronted her with what she had heard, mentioned ingratitude, and booted her out.

After some time Sylvia got over such betrayal and disappointment and put on a new face for her public. Then one day the doorbell rang. She answered and saw a man practically in rags and reeking of spirits. The man hiccupped and said, “I’m Tommy, the brother you never knew you had.”