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The Idiot Box I: Arthur, This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You

As I carried my prey into the cellar, Granma yelled, "Will your friend be staying for dinner?"

"If he's good, Granma," I yelled back. "If he's good."

I handcuffed the man to a chair that I had bolted to the floor for moments like these. I took off his blindfold, and I waved some smelling salts under his nose. He regained consciousness rather quickly, and I smiled as a look of horror spread across his face.

"What do you want?" he screamed. "Look, you must know who I am. I have money. I'll pay you whatever you want. Just let me go."

"I know who you are and what you can do... Mr. Fonzirelli. Or should I just call you The Fonz?"

Fonzie let out a moan. "Oh God, you're not one of them are you? Yes, I played The Fonz - but he was a character on TV. My name is Henry Winkler. I'm an actor. I'm a director. I'm a producer. I'm not Fonzie."

The wonderful scent of dinner came down to my basement. Pork chops, greens, rice and gravy invaded my makeshift prison. My stomach growled; so did Fonzie's.

"Can you smell that? Granma's making the good shit tonight. If you cooperate man, you're gonna eat like you've never eaten before. That's soul food man - that stuff kills more motherfuckin' niggers than gangs. I wanna eat, man. I'll feed you too... I'm tellin' you, you ain't never eaten until you've had some of my Granma's pork chops. What do you say, Fonz?"

Fonzie could hear my grandmother cooking and singing a Negro spiritual. Help me! I've been kidnapped! Please help!" he screamed.

I started laughing. "She don't care, jack. You just a nobody white man to her. Now if you was Sherman Hemsley, she'd turn my ass in to the police. So you might as well just save your screamin', my brother."

"What do you want from me?" he moaned.

That's when I went and grabbed a sports bag and pulled out two jackets - a light blue Eisenhower army jacket and a brown leather jacket.

"Which one you wanna wear?" I said. "The blue one?"


"I wouldn't wanna wear that either. Shit, when you wore this jacket, you was nobody, man. Shit, they were trying to soften your image. You wasn't Fonzie until you wore that leather jacket, man. Good choice. Very good choice."

"I am not Fonzie! Look in my wallet! Find my driver's license! It says Henry Winkler! Look at my credit cards. Do you know what they say? Henry Winkler! Look at my credit cards? Do you know what they say? Henry Winkler! Look in my wallet! Dammit, I produced 'MacGyver!' Wanna meet MacGyver?"

"Fonzie, play no mind game with me."

I heard a knock at the basement door.

"Who is it?"

"It's me, Marvis, man." I heard you got a house guest."

"Come on down..."

My close friend Marvis, a cabbie and a TV buff like myself, walked down the stairs with a pork chop in his mouth. "You didn't bring me any?" I said as my stomach growled again. "Hell, this ain't gonna take long, I'll be eating soon enough."

"How much you wanna bet?" Marvis said, eyeing Fonzie. "Fifty bucks?"

I nodded affirmative.

"Look, Fonzie," I said. "All you gotta do is admit your true identity. Put on the jacket. Let's cut your hair and put it in a pompadour. And then we're all upstairs eating some good food. Sound good? I think it does. Marvis, you think it sounds good? Marvis likes the idea. How about you, Fonzie?"

"What do you want from 'em? You want money, I'll give you both all the fucking money you want. Okay? You want your own TV show? I'll fucking get you your own TV shows. You want me to suck your dicks? I'll suck your fucking dicks. But I will not dress up in that jacket, I won't cut my hair, and I won't say I'm The Fonz! I'm Henry Winkler! I am an actor! I am a director! I am a producer! But I am not Arthur Fonzirelli."

"Shit," Marvis said. "Ja see that movie, 'Night Shift?' That was one sorry-ass movie."

Henry began screaming at Marvis. "That movie fucking made Michael Keaton! It fucking made Shelley Long!"

"It was one sorry movie, Arthur," I said, sighing. "Marvis, I guess I'm going to have to use the whip."

Marvis started laughing as I walked up the stairs.

"He's gonna whip your white ass blue," he said as he danced a little jig. "You better pay me my fifty dollars."

I returned with my bullwhip, and Marvis and I cuffed Arthur to an overhead pipe and I cut off his shirt.

"Don't do this," he pleaded.

"I'm sorry, Arthur, but you brought this on yourself."

I whipped him once to show him I meant business.

"What's your name?" I said.

"Henry Winkler..."

I hit him again breaking the skin. "What's your name?"

"Henry... Henry Winkler..."

I hit him again. And again. And again. And again...

"What's your name?"


I beat every inch of his back three or four times. Somehow he held on.

"Henry..." he whispered.

I lit into him with every ounce of my strength. I gave him licks for every time he turned on the jukebox with his fist. I gave him licks for every time he snapped his fingers and bagged a chick.

I gave him licks for not taking Pinky Tuscadero in his arms and making an honest girl out of her. I gave him licks for Potsie and Ralph Malph.

I gave him licks for the water skiing episodes. I gave him licks for growing the beard. I gave him licks for "Joanie Loves Chiachi."

"What's your name?" I said raising the whip to start another flurry.

"You're killing him, man!" Mavis said as he grabbed me.

"What's your fucking name? What's your fucking name?"

"Toby..." he whispered.


"Toby... My name is Toby..."

And then he gave up the ghost.


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