The chapter that follows is an excerpt from Book III: Hamilton & John.  As the title of the book suggests, this story centers around a new pair of characters.  This chapter features a young Hamilton and a wise-guy pharmacist.


July 1949

Hamilton walked into the small drug store, trying to look nonchalant.  He wandered through the aisles, stopping at the small rack of greeting cards while he waited for the pharmacist to finish waiting on the only other customer, an elderly female gopher.  At last the old woman left and Hamilton approached the counter at the rear of the store.

The pharmacist, a middle-aged gazelle, sized up his young customer.  “May I help you?” he inquired.

“Uh, yeah,” said the obviously nervous young elephant.  “I, uh, would like a box of condoms please.”

The druggist cleared his throat.  “Certainly, young fellow.  Would you be needing left-handed or right-handed?”

Hamilton blinked.  The puzzlement in his voice was evident, “Excuse me?”

“Left or right-handed?” the gazelle asked once again.

“I uh, didn’t know they came that way.”

The druggist leaned across the counter and said, sotto voce, “You’re new at this, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” Hamilton admitted.  The blush was clearly visible in the pachyderm’s cheeks.

“Well you see,” explained the pharmacist with authority, “during thrusting, a condom has a natural inclination to twist itself around the male organ.  In the trade, we refer to the phenomenon as precession.  It’s interesting to note that in the southern hemisphere the direction is reversed due to the Coriolis effect.  At any rate, during prolonged sexual activity, it can become quite uncomfortable.”  The gazelle tapped his finger on the counter for emphasis, “In fact, cases have been reported in which the twisting becomes so severe that the blood flow to the penis is restricted, resulting in permanent damage.”

Hamilton’s eyes were as wide as saucers as he considered the thought of permanent damage to his male plumbing.

The druggist eyed the expression of shock on the young male’s face and continued, “Fortunately, science has enabled the industry to develop condoms which are resistant to precession, although it is vital to use the correct handedness for the proper hemisphere.”  Once again the gazelle leaned across the counter and asked with an air of confidentiality, “So which is it?  Left or right?”

Hamilton thought for a moment before replying, “Umm, I write with my left hand.”

The pharmacist looked down on his young customer as if he were stating the obvious.  “Son, we aren’t talking about your hand unless you plan to wear these on your fingers.”

“Uh…  I don’t…  What I mean is, how can you tell?”

The gazelle sighed, “You really are new at this, aren’t you?  It’s actually quite simple.  Which of your testicles hangs lower than the other?”

“I’ve never really thought about it.”

“Look, son,” said the druggist, “we need to get this right, so why don’t you just come around here to the employees bathroom and have yourself a look?”  The helpful shop owner steered Hamilton around the counter.  “There’s a mirror that I keep in there just for this sort of thing.”  He closed the small door behind his customer and smiled.

A minute later, the young elephant emerged from the bathroom and announced, “Right.”

“Are you sure?” inquired the older male.  “You were looking in a mirror.  Was that your right or the mirror’s right?”

Hamilton furrowed up his brow in confusion.  “Damn,” he said, “Excuse me, I’ll be right back.”  The flustered young male stepped into the bathroom once again.  After another minute, he emerged and declared, “My right.”

“Very well,” said the helpful druggist, “and I assume you are average sized for a male of your species.  There’s a ruler in the bathroom too, if you need one.”

Hamilton nodded, blood flushing his cheeks once more.  “Yes, average sized.”

The gazelle reached beneath the counter and selected a small box which he placed in front of his young customer.  “Here you go, son.  These should work just fine.”

Hamilton inspected the box.  “It doesn’t say left or right,” he observed.

The pharmacist picked up a pen and wrote the word ‘GOTCHA’ on the box.  He handed it back to his customer with a wide smile.  “Son, I’ve been teasing you the whole time,” he admitted.

It took a couple of seconds for the words to sink in.  When he finally realized that he’d just been had, Hamilton couldn’t help but laugh.  “Oh!  Ha-ha!  You sure had me going there,” he said with relief.  “I should have guessed it when you mentioned the Coriolis effect and the southern hemisphere.”

“It sounded convincing though, didn’t it?”

“Yes, sir.  It sure did.”

“I’ll tell you what,” said the druggist, “you’ve been such a good sport and you really made my day, so these are on the house.”

“Really?  Gosh, thanks so much,” said Hamilton.

“Don’t mention it, son,” said the druggist.  “Just go have yourself some fun with that lucky lady of yours and come back when you need more.”

“Yes, sir.  I will, and thanks again.”  Hamilton slipped the condoms into his pocket and waved as he stepped outside.

Before the door fully closed, a nervous-looking young rabbit buck hopped in.  The pharmacist smiled broadly.  “What can I do for you, young fellow?” he asked.