Dr. Barry: “If I Wasn’t a Pharmacist, I Would Have Been a…”

Today, Dr. Barry Pascal recounts the story of how the sight of Mickey Spillane’s obituary transported him into a brief, parallel career in another dimension.  (It’s not clear from his account who had to wipe up the drool off the pharmacy counter.)  You can find Barrys humorous works for sale here.—EGF


pharm_a_dickIf I Wasn’t a Pharmacist, I Would Have Been a…

Humorist, Satirist, and All-Around Nice Guy

I looked over the counter at the newspaper rack.  The headline on the article in the lower left corner of the Times jumped out at me.  Mickey Spillane, the creator of that tough, hard-nosed detective, Mike Hammer, had passed away.  Well, that means we have lost another one…Hammer is gone, too.

“Good morning Mrs. Smith, how are those twins of yours today?” I asked, as I was preparing to take all the fax refill requests left over from yesterday and re-fax them this morning.  I like to keep up on the refills, so I keep faxing them until I get a response from the physicians.  My high-speed machine can handle up to 800 transmissions an hour, so this batch shouldn’t take more than three hours.

“We lost one, I’m sorry to say, Dr. P., and that’s why I’m here,” she said tearfully.

I was taken aback.  Lost a twin!  What would I now call the one that was left—the leftover, or the lucky half, or what?

“Oh yes; the Sheriff sent me over here.  He said you’re the best in town,” she sobbed.

“I’ll do whatever I can to help, and I really mean that.  Just let me finish counting these blood pressure pills.  I only have 239 left to go.  Or was that 392 left to go?” I said cheerfully, trying to help lift her spirits, and not think about the recounting.

“Sheriff Tripp said that you would find him.  You could do it…you’re the man!” Mrs. Angel Smith said as she sat down in the broken-down brown wooden chair facing the suppositories and next to the laxatives.

Angel Smith was a real angel—blond, beautiful long hair, creamy rich complexion, and a figure that would stop a Viagra® 100mg from hitting the floor when it fell out of the tray.  She married Hank Smith right out of high school, and they have been the Ken and Barbie of our town for the last 10 years.  If I wasn’t so busy, or if I was better looking, or if I was five inches taller, she would have been the pharmacist’s wife instead of the butcher’s.  Oh well.

Hank was a good guy, all right, but did he really deserve “an Angel?”

“Now then, Angel.  Can I call you Angel, Mrs. Smith?” I asked calmly.

“Can you help us, Doc?  You’re the town detective.  Did you know everyone calls you the ‘Pharm-A-Dick?’” she asked.

Yeah, I am pretty good, I thought.  Sure, I’ll help you, doll, I wanted to say, but didn’t.

“Give me a few minutes, Mrs. Smith. I am about ready to close up the pharmacy and we can get to the bottom of this,” I said as I started my final daily wind-down procedure.

I re-re-faxed all the refill requests again, filled up the labels, shut down the computer, transmitted the order, turned on the answer machine, put away a few of the bottles that were left out, filled up the 10 dram vials, bolted the back door and checked the morning schedule to make sure Cathie would be here to handle the calls.  Yup, the schedule is OK, and Bobby will be in at 10:00 to run deliveries.

I then set the alarm, turned off the lights, locked and bolted the front door, and put the chain over the handles when I remembered.  Mrs. Smith was still sitting in the laxative department and I locked her in the store.  I quickly opened up again, shut off the alarm and made some excuse about checking the system.  I decided to check the bathrooms to make sure the water wasn’t running while I was inside again, and then Angel and I locked up the store again.  She had no idea what really happened.

I was prepared for this adventure as I am on all my cases.  I tucked my spatula in my belt, I turned on my beeper and cell phone, I stuck a new black ink pen in my left breast pocket, and I tucked a blank green refill pad in my back pocket—just in case.

“Angel, where was the last place you saw him, before he disappeared?” I asked in a deeper voice.  After all, I am now a Pharm-A-Dick, not just a pharmacist.  Detectives always have a tougher, bolder voice.

“The twins were in the back yard,” sniffle, sniffle, “and when I went out to bring them in…oh, oh …he was gone….” She sobbed softly on my shoulder as we leaned up against the side window of the pharmacy—the one listing all the insurance plans we take.

“We’ll start looking right now.  First, let’s go to the butcher shop,” I said as I tried to comfort her.

Everyone we passed stopped me and started asking questions on our way to Second Street.

Why did I have a spatula in my belt?

Why does the new, generic Zocor® cost so much?

How many Lomotil® can you take at one time?

Well, you get the idea.  And while everyone we saw had a question, no one seemed to realize that I was not the pharmacist right now.  Didn’t they know I was a detective?  I had an extremely important task at hand.  I wanted to yell at them to leave me alone, but I couldn’t.  You see, I forgot to take off my white smock, so I guess I still looked like a pharmacist.

“Look, Angel, look,” I yelled in a tough, leathery detective voice.  “At the back door – behind the trash bin—it’s him!  It’s him!”

Angel Smith started sobbing as she ran over to the trash bin.  She was such a good-looking dame that even with the tears she lit up the alley.  As she bent down and picked up the little runt, you could just see the love in both of their faces.  They were both jumpin’ and wigglin’ with joy.  Together again, not gone forever.

The little brown poodle couldn’t stop licking her face and wagging his stubby little tail.  You would have thought he had just been given a pound of hamburger.  Angel was overjoyed, too.  I knew it was another great job—another case solved by the incomparable Pharm-A-Dick.

It’s hard dealing with a sobbing doll, but hey, when you’re the best, well, what’s a Dick to do?

“Hello, this is Susan, can you please continue to hold the line please?”

“Hello…hello—are you there?”

The newspaper, my green new-script pad, and my pen fell to the floor.  I was sitting on the stool, on hold, waiting for Dr. Pishmeyer to come to the phone when…I don’t remember.  I must have dozed off.

There, on the front page, in the lower left corner of the paper, was the obituary for Mickey Spillane.  Yeah, and that means Mike Hammer, too.  Oh well, if I wasn’t a pharmacist I bet I could have been a great detective.

But I bet Mike Hammer would have made a lousy pharmacist.


Reader Comments:

French Police Inspector Jacques Clouseau: “Brilliant, mon ami. Sum-day, we works togezher, oui?”

Walter Mitty:  “Barry, very educational article, but not unusual.  The same thing has happened to me—many times.”

Local Pharmacy Association Chapter:  Pascal, this is not new—if you would come to meetings once in awhile or read your mail, you would find out that we have Continuing Education programs, lectures, and classes on PTSS—Pharmacist’s Temporary Sleep Syndrome.

Inspector Harry Callahan:  “I’m with you, son. This article made my day!”


About the Author: Barry Pascal owned Northridge Pharmacy for 32 years and is now retired.  He has written seven comedy books and writes a supposedly humorous monthly newspaper column.  He also claims that, under the name of Alexander Fleming, he discovered penicillin.

© Barry Pascal 2013


  1. Dr. Louis Pasteur

    I am busy at the moment but will read your article when I return from the pasture. Dr. Pasteur

    1. E.G. Fabricant

      Tres bien, Monsieur Docteur! Nice to have you on this astral plane, again!

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