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Yellow Submarine: Conclusion

October 4, 2013


Click (here) if you missed Part I.


We trekked back to White Front. The security guard at the door stopped us. A toothpick lodged in the corner of his mouth bounced up and down when he pointed at the plastic bag in my hand. “What you got there?” he asked.


“I have a return,” I said. “The Revolver album I bought skips.”


The security guard fixed me with a hard glare. “Ask for Gil Rutz in Customer Service. He’ll take care of you.”


We didn’t need to ask for Gil Rutz; he was the only guy behind the customer service counter at the back of the store and the badge pinned to his shirt announced who he was. In addition to the nasty comb-over, red bulbous nose and paunch stretching the front of his shirt, Rutz had an unpleasant expression, like he was about to spit. Three customers were ahead of me. When I turned around Ricky was gone.


The first customer in line had a Petula Clark album. I heard her complain that the record skipped on Downtown, her favorite song. Rutz took the album from her, removed the jacket and placed the record on the turntable positioned conveniently behind him. I listened when he dropped the needle:


When you’re alone and life is making you lonely

You can always go, downtown

When you’ve got worries all the noise and the hurry

Seems to help I know, downtown



Seven verses later the record hadn’t skipped a single word. The woman’s cheeks flamed as red as her painted fingernails. “B-but it skipped every time on our home record player.”


Rutz lifted the needle, returned the record to its cover and handed it to her saying, “It sounds fine to me. NEXT!”


A woman tried to return pajamas she’d bought her husband but she was turned away when her receipt showed she was a few days past White Front’s return policy.


My turn had arrived. “What you got there?” he asked, the echo of every cigarette he’d ever smoked lurking behind his words.


I handed over my copy of Revolver along with the receipt. “It skips during Yellow Submarine.”


The corners of Rutz’ heavy mouth twitched into a smile. “Really? Let’s check it out.”


He placed my record on the turntable but before he could lower the needle an overhead PA system blared, “Gil Rutz to the front door. Immediately!”


A deep crease appeared in Rutz’ wide forehead. “Back in a minute, kid.” He stepped out from behind the counter and stormed off.


Ricky appeared. I was glad to see he was keeping his word—no tell-tale bulges in his pockets. He slipped behind the counter, lifted the needle on the turntable and removed something. I couldn’t tell what he’d pinched but my heart sank to think he’d lied to me about not stealing. He pocketed the mystery item and managed to make it back to the customer side of the counter just as Rutz returned, huffing and puffing.


“Supposedly someone was fooling around with my car in the parking lot,” he explained, pulling out a handkerchief and mopping his forehead. “But my car’s fine. So let’s check your record.” He switched on the turntable and lowered the needle.


We all live in a yellow subbbbb-zzz-mar—

Y-zzz-ow subm—, yellow sub-zzz—


I was worried the record wouldn’t skip and I’d look as foolish as the lady trying to exchange her Petula Clark album.


Gil Rutz’s eyes widened. “Let’s try it again.” The results were the same.


Ricky ran and grabbed another copy of Revolver and Rutz, grumbling under his breath, tossed it in my bag, handed back my receipt. Ricky and I headed for the exit.


I was happy to have a new copy of Revolver, but upset at Ricky. He’d made a promise and failed to keep it. I wasn’t sure I could ever trust him again.


As we were about to leave the building Ricky approached the same security guard who was on duty when we’d arrived. In my eagerness to leave I didn’t hear what was said.


Later, when we were halfway home I pedaled to a stop. Ricky screeched to a halt beside me.


I couldn’t keep the disappointment from my voice. “You promised you wouldn’t steal anything.”


“I didn’t.”


“What was in your pocket?”


“A lead weight.”


I couldn’t conceal my confusion.


“They sell ‘em in the sporting goods department with fishing tackle,” Ricky explained. “If you tape something heavy to the underside of the arm near the needle it will make a record play slow and sound funny. But with just enough weight a record won’t skip.”


“Did you give that lead weight to the guard on our way out?”


“Yeah. I told him Rutz was probably looking for it.”


The cobwebs in my head finally cleared. “You were the one fussing with Rutz’ car, to get rid of him so you could get rid of that weight. With all those cars in the parking lot, how did you know which one was his?”


Ricky rolled his eyes as if wondering if I was too stupid to be his friend. “I didn’t touch Rutz’ car, didn’t have a clue which one was his. I wasn’t asked to identify or describe his car when I lied that a couple of teenagers were messin’ with it.”


I didn’t know what to say. 


“I promised I wouldn’t steal anything and I didn’t. Now, do you want to gab the rest of the day or do you want to go home and listen to Yellow Submarine?”


“What happens if we get home and this record skips as bad as the old one?”


Ricky flashed a grin at me. “I’m sure I’ll think of something.” 





Ricky was a great friend. I never heard of the lead weight thing before.
By: David Walston on October 4, 2013
Wow that was a genius plan. At least this time he was using his criminal genius for good instead of evil.
By: PT Dilloway on October 4, 2013
I also had a reprobate friend like Ricky when I was a kid.....I sure had a lot of adventures that I might not have had if I'd hung out with a goodie two shoes. Great telling of an equally fabulous memory. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on October 4, 2013
Shame on the store for NOT playing by the rules of honesty and integrity. Good thing Ricky was on to their scheming ways.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 4, 2013
Rickey is "Da Man!"
By: Cranky on October 4, 2013
And now Rickey is running for public office somewhere, I am sure.
By: Tabor on October 4, 2013
That Ricky is so ingenious!
By: The Bug on October 4, 2013
Ricky really had a street kind of smarts, didn't he. I admire his efforts to protect his good friend.
By: Cheryl P. on October 4, 2013
Ricky to the rescue! That guy deserves a cape-
By: Shelly on October 4, 2013
I love that you were able to cheat the cheater! Sounds like Ricky was a good friend to have around. Great telling, as usual!
By: Nancy Felt on October 4, 2013
Yep, i was right, it is an interesting occurrence! Ricky might not have been the best kid in the world, but he was a loyal friend.
By: mimi on October 4, 2013
Ricky, I love you so. Love, Janie Junebug
By: Janie Junebug on October 4, 2013
I LOVE Ricky Delgado!!
By: fishducky on October 4, 2013
what a smart friend you had - and one willing to go out on a limb for you.
By: TexWisGirl on October 4, 2013
I love Ricky Delgado too! A great story and ending, Stephen. Thank you, I enjoyed reading it.
By: Sharon Bradshaw on October 4, 2013
shame on that guy! It's not as if he was losing money by refunding the customer. And three cheers for Ricky!
By: Kathe W. on October 4, 2013
I love it when somebody gets one over on a jerk. Ricky kept his promise and got you a new album. That's a buddy!
By: Bouncin Barb on October 4, 2013
Good to know Ricky knew what that guy did to fool people. It's such a shame when people do that.
By: Anne on October 4, 2013
Yes, is he a politician now? Maybe a Republican in congress?
By: joeinvegas on October 4, 2013
Please tell me that you have reconnected with Ricky through the years. Whenever I see his name appear in your post, I know I'm in for an extra special treat.
By: Hilary on October 4, 2013
Ricky sounds great. It would be impossible for life to be boring with him around.
By: Jenny Woolf on October 4, 2013
Well? Did it skip? That Ricky was a street smart little dude and a really good friend. :)
By: Rita McGregor on October 4, 2013
So how close can you come to stealing with out actually stealing?
By: red on October 4, 2013
Is that SENATOR Delgado?
By: Al Penwasser on October 4, 2013
Without Ricky, you might still be listening to that skippy record. After reading this tale, I've moved on from The Beatles to The Band. Specifically, "The Weight."
By: Val on October 4, 2013
What a fun story - I loved it! And Ricky wasn't a thief after all. Clever ending to a wonderful tale. Have a great weekend! :-)
By: Lexa Cain on October 4, 2013
Hah! Enjoyed :)
By: jenny_o on October 4, 2013
This Ricky really has it all worked out mate. He's the kind of person that can worm his way right out of trouble, but you always need to be on the alert with him around. One thing for sure though, sometimes it takes a thief to know a thief, so Rutz got rambled, ha ha ha.
By: Rum Punch Drunk on October 4, 2013
Terrific story - as always. The 'Down Town' song brought back some great memories. And Ricky, for all his faults, clearly had some useful strengths to go along with his resilience.
By: Bryan Jones on October 5, 2013
I hope Ricky went on to great things!
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 5, 2013
What a great story, and I loved the twist in it! Three cheers for Ricky! I'd like to borrow him next time I take my car in for maintenance and repairs. And I absolutely love this sentence: "...the echo of every cigarette heâd ever smoked lurking behind his words..." Great writing!
By: Pixel Peeper on October 5, 2013
Seems like Ricky always lands on his feet. Sharp kid he :)
By: Scott Cody Park on October 5, 2013
What a great story. We used to put a coin on ours if a record jumped.
By: John on October 8, 2013
What a terrific story, Stephen! I felt as if I was standing in the store with you!! Have a great weekend!!! :)
By: Michael Manning on October 12, 2013

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