Michael Schlimazl and Jacob Schlemilh rented an apartment near his office in the Bronx. It is a large and fully furnished apartment that occupies the second floor of an old two-story house in whose first floor resides a man of about seventy years, of Italian descent, and whose only occupation apparently consists of spying on the neighbors above. But do not be fooled by appearances. Behind this gray and rude facade, a very different personality is hidden. Indeed, in these years (we are in the mid-thirties) have started to become popular the comic strips superheros each one with a secret identity… But let’s go back to our protagonists.
In the few days that Michael and Jacob have lived in their new apartment, they have realized two things primarily. One is that their neighbor is nuts. The other is that they have surplus space on the floor and, on the other hand, they lack money to pay the rent. In order to solve this anomaly, they have placed an ad in the New York Times requesting a roommate.
Today is Sunday afternoon. Michael has spent the day with his girlfriend, a lesbian typist (but he doesn’t know yet), while Jacob has stayed at home listening on the radio to his favorite show “Mysterious Universe”. Suddenly, the program is interrupted to issue an urgent communication. Jacob listens alarmed to the news of the escape from “the Tombs” (the City Prison) of a murderous maniac. The announcement puts special emphasis on a distinctive feature of the individual: a chevron mustache that the inmate feels proud of (so the police doubt that he has shave it off).
While the communication on the radio alerts the population about any stranger with a chevron mustache who comes to their homes, Freddo, the nuts neighbor, intercepts on the stairs an individual with a violin case and a chevron mustache. He asks who he is and what he does there and the stranger replies that he is a Hungarian violinist and goes upstairs “because of the announcement.”
Moments later, while Jacob is still digesting the news of the prisoner’s escape, somebody knocks the door. Jacob turns off the radio and goes to open, but cautiously he looks through the peephole first. On the other side of the door, there is a chevron mustache that looks gigantic to Jacob!
-What do you want?
-I come for the announcement.
Jacob rolls his eyes at the confirmation of his suspicions. “Get the hell out! (he shouts) I’m going to call the police!” And rushes to the phone: “Operator! Get me with the police. Hurry up … Police? I have the chevron mustache killer in my house …”
While Jacob provides the police with the information requested, the chevron mustache guy becomes impatient and knocks repeatedly on the door. Jacob hangs up and goes to the door:
-I warn you that the police is already on the way
-I’m here because of the announcement. I talked to you yesterday on the phone. I am the violinist.
Jacob looks again through the peephole and, indeed, observes that, apart from the chevron mustache, the man wears a violin case.
When the police arrives after a few minutes, the violinist has already left. The officers kick down the door and burst into the apartment saying “Hands up!”. At that moment, Michael is climbing the stairs after returning from his appointment with the lesbian typist (whom he doesn’t know is lesbian and typist) when he hears the imperious order coming from his apartment. He descends the stairs quickly in search of Freddo, who has been involved lately in the reading of a comic strip of his favorite superhero, the Phantom, so he has missed the latest events. But hearing that Michael is calling him, immediately leaves his apartment and meets him.
-What’s the matter?
-There are bandits in my apartment! Call the police, quickly!
And Michael goes back up the stairs to help Jacob, who meanwhile is exposing the details of what happened to the officers. Suddenly Michael burst into the apartment and, perplexed, meets a lot of uniformed officers.
-Geez, how fast are you! I just asked Freddo to…
“Who the hell is Freddo?” the officer asks. But the question answers itself when Freddo barge in like a gale with a black domino mask and a purple skintight bodysuit -the Phantom’s official uniform- and crying “Here comes the Phantom, the ghost who walks!”
The next morning, an individual with a chevron mustache circulates on the sidewalk when, seeing a police car passing by, he enters the first portal, which turns out to be the house of our protagonists. Meanwhile, on the second floor, Michael apologizes to Jacob for not having warned him that yesterday morning a violinist had called after reading the ad in the newspaper and he had announced his visit for that very afternoon.
-So you didn’t let him in and even called the police?
-I confused him with the chevron mustache killer.
-Do you know how many people wear chevron mustaches in New York?
-No. How many?
-Well, I don’t remember the exact number, but a lot. No matter. I have fix it. I called him and he told me he’ll be back this morning. So I stay here to receive him. You go to the office
Once Michael is left alone, they knock on the door. It’s Freddo who comes to apologize for the scene he made last night with his stellar appearance as the Phantom. And he’s ready to leave when he goes back to say that down on the portal there’s a guy who is giving him a very bad feeling.
-Does he have a chevron mustache?
-Yes indeed, and a very large one
-Then he is the person that I expected. He comes because of the ad. Make him go up, will you?
Moments later Michael opens the door to the chevron mustache killer:
-You come without the violin today. Jacob told me that yesterday you came with it.
-Was I here yesterday?
-Don’t you remember?
– Oh, I got so much on my mind. When one is chased by the police…
-Ah, I take the hint! I apologize on behalf of my friend. He confused you with another person. Do you want me to show you the apartment?
-It is not necessary
-So you aren’t a demanding man
-You see, when one is chased by the police…
-Okay, okay. I already took the hint the first time
In the meantime, events happen on the portal. The real violinist arrives with his violin and his chevron mustache, just like yesterday. Freddo appears and, seeing the mustache, asks if he also comes because of the ad. At his affirmative answer, he hurries to enter his apartment and calls a friend of his who wears a chevron moustache: “Some nuts neighbors of mine have placed an ad in the newspaper requesting guys with chevron mustache. What does it mean ‘so what?’. What are you wearing under your nose? Maybe we can get some money. Okay. Don’t delay”.
While Michael and the chevron mustache killer talk, they knock on the door. Michael is stunned by the presence of another individual with a chevron mustache: the violinist. Michael accompanies him to the living room, where he takes a seat on the other side of the sofa where the chevron mustache killer is sitting.
But a few minutes later, they knock on the door again. Michael goes to open and for a moment it looks like he’s going to faint when he sees another mustachioed man (Freddo’s friend). But he recovers and makes him go into the living room. The other two mustachioed ones look puzzled as the third mustachioed sits on the sofa between the two of them.
Suddenly, the chevron mustache killer jumps as if impelled by a spring and shouts: “What’s this?! A police lineup?!”, and he takes a gun out of his pocket. But at that moment, Freddo, who has followed his friend cautiously to the apartment and has remained hidden spying on them, bursts into the room disguised as “The Phantom” and, screaming his war cry “Here comes the Phantom, the ghost who walks!”, pounces on the unsuspecting chevron mustache killer, punching him in the face and knocking him out.