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“Leo’s Things” Series

“Leo’s Things” Series

By Leo Apilash

Episode 1—Camber

“I’m thrilled to introduce our next guest. Joining us today is the candy-apple red Camaro Berlinetta formerly owned by Leo A____. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us today.”

“My pleasure O_____, I’m always happy to help shape the minds of future generations. You know, I used to frequent this very theater quite a lot back in the day when they had midnight showings of rockumentaries. He couldn’t get enough of that crap, The Wall Flower, Final Waltz, Kids Are Okay, all of them. Song Remains of the Day was his all-time favorite—he fancied himself some suburban, retro-progressive-contemporary version of Robert Plant. If it wasn’t for the short brown hair, inability to sing, complete lack of charisma, stage presence, and personality, and no game with the ladies, he might have pulled it off.

“Quite honestly, his self-delusion knew no bounds; he was the opposite of all the things he professed to be—he had an unhealthy need for external validation, he was a slow learner and tended to overthink things or get bored quickly and quit, he was slow to adapt to new information and was a late bloomer in just about every aspect of his life. I mean, look at the evidence: He didn’t start his uni studies until his late 20s, didn’t start a real job until the age of 30, married at 32 (after eight years of courtship, mind you), had his first kid at 34. His mind and ambition were always about a decade too late.

Anyway, the midnight showings were quite popular back then—I took him to see Heavy Mental, I don’t know, maybe 20, 30 times. He and his friends would pile in all stoned … is it OK if I say that on TV?”

“Oh sure, we can just edit that out in post-production.” O____ turned to the audience and gave them a little wink, which just thrilled them to their toes.

“OK, good. So they would pile in and reenact their favorite scenes word-for-word, like the Fiste, Sternn scene: ‘I told you Charlie, I got an angle,’ or when Ned decides to remain Den: ‘On Earth I’m nobody, but here I’m Den.’ It used to drive me crazy.”

“It sounds like your animosity goes back a ways. Was it hate at first sight?”

“No, not at all—in fact, our relationship began by him saving my life. My early life was spent sitting idle under a large maple tree, sap drip, drip, dripping all over my factory-grade, metallic gray paint. My former owner was a bit of a gamble-aholic and bought me on a spur-of-the-moment splurge after a particularly large take, but he already had 4 cars and so I was parked behind the garage and quickly forgotten. It wasn’t until he lost a large wager on the ’82 Super Bowl—49ers beat Cincy by 5 and the spread by 4—that I found my way into the Leo bubble. I was a gift from his grandfather who happened to be my owner’s bookie. He—the former owner—was short on cash at the time and offered me up as payment in-kind. Leo was 16 back then and fell in love with me at first sight—and why wouldn’t he? I mean, look at me.” Light applause.

“Was the feeling mutual?”

“Sure. I guess. I mean anything was better than being left to rust in a pasture.”

“Sorry, you said metallic gray?”

“Yeah, funny story, about a year into our relationship we were driving in a quiet residential exurb on the north shore of Long Island. As usual, Leo was driving too heavy on my gas pedal and as we approached an intersection he noticed another car quickly approaching from the passenger’s side. This was a four-way-stop intersection so he figured rather than jamming on the brakes to avoid a collision, he’ll accelerate through the stop sign, figuring the other driver would obey the law. Wrooonnngggg! They both had the same idea, and the timing was such that I got hit broadside at like 60 miles per hour, right between the wheels.”

“Oh my, did anyone get hurt?”

“Besides me? No. His friend Russo was sitting in the passenger seat that day but he managed to leap across my center console in time to avoid any real injuries. Not sure about the other car. Anyway, $6,500 later they put me back together, but to save some money his dad decided to Earl Scheib me.” Oooohs and aaaahs ripple through the audience. “Some Scheib aficionados in the audience I see. Earl Scheib is to paint jobs what McDonald’s is to cuisine. Christ, they ended up getting paint on my tail pipe, my hubcaps, my headlights. It’s like they didn’t even try … and the color? You guessed it, candy-apple red. One, maybe two coats, that’s it. ‘$99 please, NEXT!’”

“I trust no other major accidents since then?”

“Well, there was this one strange happenstance that occurred about six months after the crash. Shortly after I was back with Leo, he started to notice a clank-clank-clank from my right-front wheel well. Initially, it only happened whenever I turned left, but slowly, over the course of the next few months, it became louder and more persistent and was no longer confined to just left turns. No one could figure out what it was until one early autumn morning on our way to school, the sound got noticeably louder and louder as we got closer and closer to the high school, and as Leo took the slight left fork toward the student parking lot at a moderate 30 miles per hour, blammo, my right wheel came flying off and went careening into someone’s large shrub bush, just missing an old man and his dog out walking.”

“What was it, a flat tire?”

“No. The damn lug nuts were never fully tightened and over the course of the next 6 months they gradually became looser and looser until they finally gave way. The tire sheared the bolts right off the axle hub. How no one got hurt is a miracle. Me and Leo skidded to a halt without hitting any other cars—another miracle. To think that we were driving on the highway during these six months at 70-plus miles per hour; if the tire decided to give way then, I probably would not be here to tell the tale.”

“My word, what an experience. So Camber, I have it from a reliable source that while living in Hamilton, you were stolen away from Leo not once, but twice. Have I got that right?”

“Yep. He was living with his older brother Avi at the time and Avi was not particularly ambitious. While Leo attended uni, Avi used me to deliver pizzas. We’d drop Leo off at class, go deliver for a few hours and then pick him back up afterward. It was usually easy peasy with little drama, but this one time I was parked outside the restaurant in front of a fire hydrant. While Avi was inside picking up his next delivery, a cop pulled up behind me and was readying to issue a citation. Avi caught sight of him and ran outside to remedy the situation but … did I mention Avi is very impatient, cause if I didn’t, let me be clear: Avi is very impatient. Rather than start my engine and roll me forward a few feet, he decides to yank my PRNDL out of P into N without starting my engine. I would like to point out that the keys were sitting in the ignition, a bad habit of his, but rather than expend the energy to reach up and turn the key, this genius decides tearing through my transmission is the smarter move that will save him, what, half a second? So he shifts into neutral, gets out and pushes me forward a few feet, jumps back in and rips the PRNDL back to P. The consequence of all this was to permanently jam the keys in the ignition. You see where I’m going with this.”

O____ gave no indication that she saw where Camber was going with this.

“One evening soon after this incident, as I was parked behind the bar Leo worked at—a rather low-rent affair in a rather seedy part of town—some white-trash dick strolling through the parking lot on his way to beat his kid or cane his dog or some such thing notices a rather nice sports car sitting there in the dark. ‘Hmmm, I wonder if the door is locked’, and trying his luck grins delightedly when my driver’s-side door gives way with no alarm triggered. Back then there were no automatic door openers, you needed your keys to lock and unlock the door, and as we’ve already established, the only set of keys these morons owned was jammed into my steering column. So do the math: A sexy sports car, a poorly lit parking lot, doors that don’t lock, keys hanging in the ignition. I might as well have had a ‘First come, first served’ sign on my hood. So that was the first time I was stolen. A few hours later when Leo got off-duty, he called it in to the local police and cabbed it home. The cops found me two days later abandoned at the mall, out of gas and stripped of my radio but more or less intact … and still with the keys dangling.”

“Wow, that’s amazing! What did this guy do with you for two whole days?”

“The first few hours were a blur. I was brought to a garage and in a matter of minutes my radio was gone. They looted my trunk which only contained two things: a spare tire and a large, black garbage bag that served as Leo’s laundry bag. They siphoned off most of my gas and then, figuring they had a few hours before the cops would be out searching, took me for a scary, alcohol-fueled joyride through the streets of Hamilton until finally abandoning me at the town-center mall parking garage. It took Hamilton’s finest two days to track me down and return me to Leo.”

“And the second time?”

“One week later, this time from out in front of his house. A couple of colleagues of Thief No. 1 figured I was an easy target, so they followed Leo home from work one evening, waited until they knew the brothers were in for the night, and then repeated the dirty deed. That was the last time I saw Leo. The perps drove south all night until they sold me off to a used car dealer in Tampa for three grand. A few days later I was bought by a Tampa Bay Buccaneer as a gift for his spoiled sixteen-year-old daughter and spent the next four years chauffeuring her between home, school, the mall, and the back of the abandoned Shell station on the corner of 41st and Hillsborough Avenue where sex or drugs or sex-and-drugs were meted out in gross proportion. A few months after she went off to college the Buccaneer was summarily cut from the roster and eventually fell far enough behind on his car payments that I was repossessed and put up for auction by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which is where you all found me.”

“That is quite the tale. Any lessons learned from your experience that you care to share with our audience?”

“I don’t know. When I was waiting on the auction block, I remember thinking about Guildenstern’s final words before being hung: ‘There must have been a moment, at the beginning when we could have said no, but somehow we missed it.’ To be honest it wasn’t all bad. It ended poorly and with bad feelings, but there were also plenty of pleasant memories from our time together. I know he loved me, and for a time I loved him. If it wasn’t for the PRNDL incident we might still be together today.”

“Well thanks for your time today, Camber, we’ll be right back after these messages.”

When the cameras were finally turned off O____ thanked Camber for sharing, and as she turned to go, Camber leaned in and asked, “Do you validate parking?”

Episode 2—Bonzo

“Our second interview in the ‘Leo’s Things’ series is brought to you by Spork Clothing, where fashion sporkles. With us today is Leo’s dog from back in the day, Bonzo. Hello Bonzo, and welcome to the show.”

“Thank you for having me here today, O_____.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when I received the call from your office. I’ve had a bone to pick with Leo for some time now and it will be nice to finally get it off my chest.”

“Our viewers might recall from Part 1 that Camber, Leo’s car from his Hamilton days, was not particularly pleased with the way things ended. A double theft within the span of a week, through no fault of his own, left him angry and bitter. I’m sensing there was some bad blood between you and Leo as well—but before we get into the sordid details, why don’t you take us back to how you two first met.”

“Sure. The beginning of our relationship was nothing very special, just your traditional boy-goes-to-local-shelter, boy-feels-a-connection-with-a-mutt, boy-takes-mutt-home story.”

“Oh, so you’re a mutt?”

“Half golden Lab, half collie—the latter from my mother’s side. I didn’t really know my father, he ditched us shortly after knocking up my mom—a real mongrel.”

“I see. So Leo felt a spark when you first met—was the feeling mutual?”

“I guess. I mean, I was mostly just glad to get out of that place. Whoo, the smell. But yeah, I seem to recall there was genuine affection for him. You have to remember I was young and naïve back then, less than a year old. I was a puppy in need of a master and when someone finally poured some attention my way, I was ecstatic. It was right-place, right-time kismet.”

“So tell us about your home life once you got settled in.”

“Life was good in those early days. I was living in a house with like eight other college-age boys, so pizza was always readily available, and I enjoyed getting high with them.”

“Excuse me?”

“They threw a lot of parties and so someone was usually filling my water bowl with beer or blowing bong hits into my nose. Abusive maybe, but damn fun. I can tell by your look you’re wondering about the bong hits. Someone would take a hit, then grab my face and close their hands around my snout like a bullhorn and blow. It was all going swimmingly until I started taking liberties.”

“How so?”

“I would regularly defecate around the house.”

“No, really?”

“Oh yeah, in their rooms if the opportunity presented itself. I landed a few on their pillows, as I recall. Man, would they get pissed. It wasn’t just me by the way, I had a partner in crime—Buckwheat.”


“Buckwheat. He was my mate and co-pet of Leo’s. Technically I think he belonged to his brother—Leo’s brother that is—Buckwheat was his—Avi, his brother—Leo’s brother, not Buckwheat’s. Buckwheat, the pet of Avi, Leo’s brother, was also my good friend and dare I say, my brother.”


“Any-hoo, Buckwheat was also a mutt, and also from the pound. He was younger than me by six months and dumb as a stump. Hell, I could get him to do anything with the simplest provocation. If I’m not mistaken, his thickheadedness was the reason they named him Buckwheat, you know, from the Little Rascals? I guess Buckwheat was kind of simpleminded and, well, that was Buckwheat all right—the dog that is.”

“Well, we have a special surprise for you Bonzo. Buckwheat, why don’t you come on out and join us.”

To uproarious applause, Buckwheat bounded out from behind a large yellow curtain, tail wagging so violently he could hardly walk straight. He made directly for Bonzo and the two of them spent a full 30 seconds sniffing each other’s butts, clearly pleased to see one another.

“Oh my god, Buckwheat, I can’t believe it. When was the last time we saw each other, it must be what, 49, 56 years?” but Buckwheat was too busy chasing his tail to realize his contribution to the proceedings was expected. This distraction was swiftly followed by a sprint up through the audience and out the back of the theater.

“Holy shiii…shoot, I just remembered the exact moment when me and Buckwheat parted ways. Seeing him hightail it out of here just now has triggered a rush of memories. In the spring of ’88 Avi had decided he had had enough of Hamilton and was going to move down to Florida. Leo was toward the end of his senior year anyway and I guess Avi figured the timing was right. He and Leo decided that it was probably best if he took me and Buckwheat with him, what with Leo about to graduate and start a new life.

“I remember the first few days on the road were fantastic. We lived simply. We would drive uninterrupted for hours, Avi would push his seat all the way back so that it required a full stretch to reach the accelerator. He would chain smoke Bob Marley spliffs while Eat a Peach or Hot Tuna would play over and over again on this old, portable 8-track player that sat on the dashboard and was wired through the car speakers. Unless it was pouring rain outside, he would lower all the windows and let me and Buckwheat catch the wind to our hearts’ desire. Oh, and the food—let me tell you we ate like we were going to the chair. Anything Avi ate, we ate. Potato chips, Mickey D’s, the finest Waffle House bacon, eggs, steak, grits. No horse meat and filler for us, nosiree. In the cool of the evenings we would sleep in the back of the Lincoln, which was plenty big for the three of us to stretch out comfortably. We were in doggie heaven and knew it—which is why Buckwheat’s sudden departure was all the more inexplicable.

“One evening while we were snoozing in some interstate rest area, Buckwheat awoke suddenly, alerted to some disturbance outside. Before I had a chance to realize what had happened, he shot up and leapt out the back window, ostensibly to sniff out the danger and then make his way back, except he never did … make his way back, that is. When Avi and I awoke the following morning, we searched everywhere in and around the rest area but found no sign of him. Avi speculated he must have been dognapped by some transient and then never appeared to give it a second thought. We continued our journey down to Florida and I figured I would never see Buckwheat again, which was an accurate prediction up until today.”

“Oh my, I can see you are choked up about this, I’m so sorry. I had no idea you and Buckwheat had such a traumatic and abrupt past. What I’m struggling to understand is what caused such animosity between you and Leo. It sounds like he was pretty much out of the picture once Avi took you to Florida.”

“That’s just it: When Avi asked Leo about taking me and Buckwheat down to Florida, Leo didn’t put up the slightest resistance. He just gave us up like so much fodder and gave no consideration to my wants, dreams, desires. I loved him. He was my master, and I would have done anything to stay with him. Do you have any idea what it’s like to be tossed aside by a loved one? I mean, Avi treated us like family, and for that I am eternally grateful, but Leo pulled me out of the dog pound—literally. I owed him my life but was denied the opportunity to repay him with the kind of devotion only a dog knows how to give.

“A few months after we settled in Kissimmee I got picked up on the street for not having a collar and I’ve been moving around from dog shelter to dog shelter ever since. Older dogs are not too popular at those places, let me tell you.”

At this point there was not a dry eye in the audience, and after a pregnant pause to allow the viewers at home to soak it all in, O____ said, “I want to thank my guests Bonzo and Buckwheat—wherever he is—for joining us today. I’ve enjoyed talking with you and wish you all the best in whatever your future holds. We’ll be right back after these messages.”

O____ had quickly packed up and started to make her way back to her dressing room. As she passed Bonzo, she gently petted him on the head and whispered “good dog” in his ear. Bonzo looked up and politely asked “Do you validate barking?”

Episode 3—Sandy & Pitch

“Joining me today to celebrate the third and final interview in our ‘Leo’s Things’ series are two special guests who have quite a story to share with us: Leo’s pitching wedge and sand wedge from his golf bag. Welcome … gentlemen?”

“Thank you O____, and yes, we are male clubs. There’s nothing physical that distinguishes us from female clubs, we simply take on the sex of our owners.”

“So what if you switch owners?”

“Then we switch sexes. We don’t use sex to propagate our species, we are all manufactured from a maker. The sex thing is really an anthropomorphic convenience to help practitioners come to grips.”

“Come to grips with what?”

“Grips. Overlapping, interlocking, baseball … you know, grips.”

“I see” she said, looking to move on, “and how many makers are there? There must be hundreds?”

“There are indeed many, all claiming to understand and know exactly what you need to achieve golf perfection—some legit, some bogus.”

“If I may ask, what brand are you?”

“Titleist.” Out of the corner of her eye O____ managed to catch the sand wedge mime a big T across its shaft. “Sandy too.”

“‘Sandy’, short for sand wedge,” O____ said matter-of-factly, not as a question.

“Sandofsky actually, though that is a common misconception. The engineer who pioneered my uniquely contoured head design and counterbalanced striking surface was named Sandofsky. For a brief spell my species was the only one of its kind in the universe, and Sandofsky was a god of sorts in the golf world, at least until the patent wore off.”

“He must have been very proud.”

“She, actually.”

Slightly rattled, O____ turned her attention back to the pitching wedge, attempting to pick up where they left off, “And … uh … do you profess to know how to achieve perfection?”

“No” he said with a slight chuckle, “we don’t believe in that hocus-pocus crap. There are ways in which we can help, but we can’t magically transform a punter into a pro golfer. What gets these wannabes into trouble is putting too much faith into brand names or celebrity endorsers. Time and resources get misplaced, they lose sight of the fundamentals of the game, oftentimes injuring themselves and others in the process. In the end it’s all about entertainment: If you’re not having fun, then you’re doing something wrong.”

“Still, all that evangelizing must keep you and your kin in high demand.”

“It’s a beautiful thing, really, and our shareholders couldn’t be happier. They reap substantial dividends every year that far outpace the averages.”

“Do they play golf? Your investors I mean.”

“Nah, they prefer to just hang out in the clubhouse and get free drinks when someone gets a hole in one.”

“Does that happen often?”

“Miracles are known to happen.”

“Did Leo ever manage a hole in one?”

“Hah, no. Getting a hole in one requires that you actually play the course. As far as I know Leo has never actually played a single round of golf.”

“Well, so now I’m confused. If he never played golf why are you guys even here?”

“Excellent question, why don’t I turn things over to my illustrious colleague Sandy to answer it.”

“Thanks Pitch. Leo and his brother Avi came by the game of golf in a most unusual way. First a bit of background—the day after Leo went off to college, literally the next day, Leo’s parents moved down to Kissimmee, Florida, and bought a home right on a golf course. This was his dad’s dream: to just step out of his back door and onto a course. He desperately wanted to pass this passion along to his kids, and handing Leo a set of clubs was his way to nudge things along. Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan—soccer was really Leo’s passion—and so we ended up at the back of his closet collecting dust.

“Then one dreary, rainy, soggy, cold afternoon in late August, the door suddenly opened, the shirts and jackets parted, a bright light shone upon us and we were released from purgatory. There was a heightened sense of excitement as we were tossed into the back of the Berlinetta—yes, that Berlinetta—and made our way toward the nearest golf course. Except we never made it to the golf course. We ended up in deep right field of the local high school baseball field.”

“So it’s raining and you’re nowhere near a golf course, but you were retrieved ostensibly for some golf-related reason, yes? So what happened next?”

“Leo retrieves us from the back of Camber, walks out where Avi is waiting in the outfield…”

“A makeshift driving range, am I right?”

“Good guess, but no. He rests the golf bag against the outfield fence, grabs ahold of Pitch and me, hands Pitch over to Avi and walks about 10 paces away.”

“No balls or tees?”

“No nothing, just the four of us. They get a good grip of our shafts, face each other, and in unison scream at the top of their lungs “DIVOT FIGHT”, and for the next 10 minutes launch huge clumps of grass and dirt at each other without pause. Swing after swing, clump after clump, pounding our heads into the water-drenched turf and flagellating each other with divots … huge divots, some half a foot wide and a full foot long, with inches of soil attached underneath to give it some additional heft.”

Pitch picked up the story from there, “Yeah, I mean, it was really a sight to see. Dirt, grass, rocks, bugs, worms, covered them both from head to toe. Sandy and I were seriously put to the test, but our makers knew what they were doing and we were able to absorb this kind of punishment without too much damage. A few scratches here and there, and dog poop buried deep within the grooves of our faces—and theirs for that matter—but generally intact.”

“My god, that must have just been horrific for you two. After all, that’s not why you were created. You had a higher calling, a more meaningful purpose. Wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes, that was our initial reaction. The assault did not end there, by the way. After the initial 10 minutes, the boys paused to catch their breath—both from exhaustion as well as from laughing so hard. But once they recovered, they found a fresh patch of outfield and went at it again for another 10 minutes, then another and another. The outfield looked like a war zone when they finally called it quits. When at last we found ourselves back in the recesses of the closet the rest of the gang looked at us aghast and asked the same question: ‘Was that as horrible as it looked?’ Our answer surprised even us. The answer was that we never felt more alive and of value. More times than not—a lot more time than not—we are a source of frustration and heartache rather than elation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been thrown like a boomerang across the fairway”—Sandy shook his head in violent agreement—“or slammed into the side of a sand trap because of failed expectations. Leo and Avi found a way to employ our services that brought nothing but unadulterated joy and laughter. Every stroke, every divot was answered with a resounding peal of laughter. These couple of bozos found enlightenment where most others squandered faith, and for that we were eternally grateful.

“This routine occurred a few times each spring and summer for four glorious years. By the time Leo reached his senior year we had finally reached our limit. Our scars were deep, grips worn smooth, shafts warped, but I’m sure I speak for Sandy when I say I wouldn’t have traded it for all the ‘tee’ in China.”

“Gentlemen, I can say it has been a privilege and a pleasure having you with us today, I just wish we had more time, but I’m afraid I have to end it there. Please help me in thanking Sandy and Pitch for their inspiring story and wrapping up our ‘Leo’s Things’ series on a distinctly positive note.”

As the lights of the studio came up, Pitch leaned in to say something to O____ over the din of applause, but O____ was wise to this ruse and answered before the question was even asked, “I cannot validate whatever it is you need validating, please just pack your things and go.”

“I wasn’t going to ask about validating anything, I was going to ask if you had a few bucks to lend me to tip the valet parking guy.”

“Oh sorry, my mistake, how much do you n…”



Contingencies is delighted to announce a new contest for original fiction. We’re looking for submissions that haven’t been published elsewhere related to the concept of risk. We’ll be publishing entries over the next year, and the winner of the contest will receive $500. For complete rules and to enter, visit actuary.org/2023contest.

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