by Scott Casper, thanks to Lee and Kirby for Tales to Astonish #35
180th Street & Daly Avenue, The Bronx
September 5, 1962
Bernie Spengler stood at his favorite newsstand and plucked a 12-cent comic book off the rack, right out from under the big sign that read ‘cigarettes’. The last time he’d bought a comic book, they were only 10 cents. Bernie did not balk about the price increase, though; he had a lot of free time on his hands today and much to take his mind off of.
“You read that stuff?” a familiar voice asked. Bernie looked up at Jacob Stern, his coworker as of yesterday. Wearing his gray suit and matching Fedora with his customary red tie, Jacob looked just like he was heading into work — which Bernie, supposed, he did too, just out of habit.
The newsstand was at the corner where the two men would meet every day before heading to Dr. Carter’s office in the Bronx Zoo, where they had worked as assistants, at least until Carter had dismissed them. They had letters of recommendation from Carter and his promise to help them land jobs at any zoo in the world — but their jobs were “no longer required” here.