The magician says he can send the man into the world of any book he wants. All Persky needs do is toss in a book, tap three times and person will be projected into the wished novel. Daphne Kugelmass was an oaf. He also had two dull sons by his first wife, Flo, and was up to his neck in alimony and child support.

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Daphne Kugelmass was an oaf. He also had two dull sons by his first wife, Flo, and was up to his neck in alimony and child support. You see my point? I need softness, I need flirtation.

Mandel shifted in his chair and said, "An affair will solve nothing. Your problems run much deeper. Daphne would really sock it to me. Not that anyone on the faculty at C. Kugelmass-" "Help me. I had a dream last night. Kugelmass, the worst thing you could do is act out. You have been in treatment long enough to know there is no overnight cure. And with that he terminated his therapy. A couple of weeks later, while Kugelmass and Daphne were moping around in their apartment one night like two pieces of old furniture, the phone rang.

Or should I say The Great Persky? Yes or no? Where are you calling from, Persky? Peering through the darkness of the hall, he found the door he was looking for and pressed the bell. Seconds later, he was greeted by a short, thin, waxy-looking man.

You want a tea? I want music. I want love and beauty. Persky reappeared, pushing before him a large object on squeaky roller-skate wheels. He removed some old silk handkerchiefs that were lying on its top and blew away a bit of dust. It was a cheap-looking Chinese cabinet, badly lacquered. I developed it for a Knights of Pythias date last year, but the booking fell through.

Get into the cabinet. If I throw any novel into this cabinet with you, shut the doors, and tap it three times, you will find yourself projected into that book. Not just a novel, either. A short story, a play, a poem. Whoever you dreamed of.

You could carry on all you like with a real winner. Kugelmass remained skeptical. Persky tucked the bills in his pants pocket and turned toward his bookcase. Sister Carrie? Hester Prynne? Maybe someone by Saul Bellow? Hey, what about Temple Drake? I want to have an affair with a French lover. I know! What about Emma Bovary?

That sounds to me perfect. Is anything safe in this crazy world? Kugelmass was gone. Before him was a beautiful woman, standing alone with her back turned to him as she folded some linen. This is uncanny. Emma turned in surprise. Then, realizing that it was he whom she had addressed, he said, "Excuse me. A professor of humanities. I-oh, boy!

A glass of wine, perhaps? What a contrast with the troglodyte who shared his bed! He felt a sudden impulse to take this vision into his arms and tell her she was the kind of woman he had dreamed of all his life. No, red. No, white. Make it white. After the wine, they went for a stroll in the lovely French countryside. They passed a small church.

For the next hour they reclined under a tree and whispered together and told each other deeply meaningful things with their eyes. Then Kugelmass sat up. He embraced her passionately, and the two walked back to the house. Did I lie? Just bring a twenty. His heart danced on point. I am in love, he thought, I am the possessor of a wonderful secret. A bald Jew is kissing Madame Bovary?

What goes through their minds! Kugelmass visited Persky the next day, and in a few minutes was again passed magically to Yonville. The two spent hours together, laughing and talking about their different backgrounds. Before Kugelmass left, they made love. Those guys have nothing better to do than flirt and ride horses. With the Helmut Berger hairdo.

Oh, well. See you later. Last night at dinner, Mr. Personality dropped off to sleep in the middle of the dessert course. Emma, to be sure, was just as happy as Kugelmass. She had been starved for excitement, and his tales of Broadway night life, of fast cars and Hollywood and TV stars, enthralled the young French beauty.

The man is great. He sets all kinds of rushing records. Such moves. You explained it. With Strasberg maybe. Stranger things have happened. We were discussing Socialist agriculture in Poland.

You know Popkin. On Saturday? We can see the twins. And Cousin Hamish. You should be more polite to Cousin Hamish-he likes you. He leaned against it and took a deep breath. In a few hours, he told himself, he would be back in Yonville again, back with his beloved. And this time, if all went well, he would bring Emma back with him. At three-fifteen the following afternoon, Persky worked his wizardry again.

Kugelmass appeared before Emma, smiling and eager. The two spent a few hours at Yonville with Binet and then remounted the Bovary carriage. When they opened them, the carriage was just drawing up at the side door of the Plaza Hotel, where Kugelmass had optimistically reserved a suite earlier in the day. Oh, there-I see. Emma unwrapped a package and held up a pair of black velvet pants against her perfect body.


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