Sunday, May 29, 2011

9. softboiled tangerine

by manfred skyline

illustrated by roy dismas

click here for previous episode, here to begin at the beginning

"don't gulp your coffee, conrad."

"i'm sorry, mother. but i am in a hurry."

"a hurry? about what?"

"why, about appearing in court again."

mrs collinson put her own coffee cup down. "again? about what this time?"

"why - the same matter as last night."

"but mister perkins straightened that all out."

conrad cleared his throat. "mister perkins did a great job getting me out of the station house last night. but now i have to appear before another judge this morning."

mrs collinson just stared at him.

"some tiresome nonsense about posting bail," conrad added apologetically.

"why can't perkins post the bail? what are we paying him for? i hardly think he did a 'great job' as you so blithely put it, if you have to go with him."

"well, it was part of the agreement to get me released last night. it's really not a big deal, mother. not half as big a deal as the terrible situation i find myself in with angie."

"and you have to be there? what's next? if the housekeeper sends the cook to the grocers to buy potatoes, will i be required by law to go with her? what are lawyers and housekeepers for?" mrs collinson took another sip of her coffee.

conrad smiled weakly and glanced out the window. it was a cold overcast morning, threatening rain.

"this country gets more bolshie every day. pretty soon it will just float across the ocean and attach itself to russia." mrs collinson frowned. "this is all roosevelt's doing."

"mister roosevelt is no longer with us."

"no, but his spirit lives on." mrs collinson sighed. "as for this 'terrible situation' i think it's all for the best myself. now you can forget that creature and find a nice girl of your own class."

"i can't find a nice girl of my own class in jail."

"nonsense! you're not going to jail. perkins may not be the world's greatest lawyer, but surely he can keep a collinson out of jail."

"you have to admit it is all very mysterious."

"pooh. hire a detective then, if you are so curious about it. maybe he will do a better job than the lawyer."

conrad stood up suddenly. "well, i had better be going. davis is probably waiting for me."

"for heaven's sake. finish your coffee and your softboiled egg. davis isn't going anywhere. and neither is some pompous little judge."

a few raindrops fell on the windows.

"really, i think it would behoove me to be on time in this particular situation."

"always be late. it's servile to be on time."

"ah - excuse me, sir." williams the butler had appeared at conrad's elbow. he had a small envelope in his hand. "this just arrived for you."

"early for the mail, isn't it?" asked mrs collinson. "i like the mail to come at the same time every day."

"it was delivered by messenger, madame." williams turned to conrad. "not at all your usual messenger, sir."

"oh?" conrad turned the envelope over. it was unmarked on both sides. "in what way?"

"a bit too well dressed for a messenger - and he didn't linger for a tip."

"i don't care what time the mail comes," mrs collinson went on. "as long as it comes the same time every day."

davis the chauffeur appeared in the doorway. "ready, sir?" he smiled apologetically. "you did ask me to remind you."

"of course, of course." conrad put the letter carefully in his jacket pocket. "well, mother, i shall be back as soon as i can."

"tell perkins it had better be sooner than later, or i shall want an explanation from him."

conrad and davis hurried down the steps of the brownstone. the rain had begun to fall a little harder.

as soon as conrad was settled in the back seat and the car began to pull out, he took the letter from his pocket and opened it.

the letter was neatly typed, with a new ribbon. "if you hunger for the truth," it read ,
"refer yourself to the galapagos consulate at 503 w 193rd st, at any time of the day or night."

"west 193rd street!" thought conrad. "whoever suspected such a place existed!" he looked at the window. the rain was now coming down in earnest. "and i never knew that galapagos had a consulate."

"do you know where west 193rd st is?" conrad asked davis.

"um - north of west 192nd st?"

"let me rephrase that. do you know what is at west 193rd street."

"no, sir, i do not. but mike might know."


"we'll see if he's at his spot, when we turn down eighth avenue. if he is, i'll ask him. if he's not, we'll look for him on the way back."

"if we come back," thought conrad. aloud he said, "but who is mike?"

"just a guy who knows where everything in new york is."

"oh. and where is his spot?"

"a little grocery at 77th st. they got the best tangerines in new york. mike likes tangerines."

"so that's why he hangs out there?"


"that makes sense."

they drove in silence for a while. rain drummed on the roof of the bentley.

"maybe mike won't be out in this rain," conrad said as they turned down eighth avenue.

"weather doesn't bother mike."

conrad looked down and noticed a spot of softboiled egg on his jacket. he wondered if he had time to get it cleaned off before he appeared in court.

chapter 10: "Olaf, or Fifty Million Frenchmen"

thanks once again to jackie jones for providing the following film clip


Peter Greene said...

This is great fun.

Unknown said...

Conrad has soft-boiled egg on his coat? I would have thought his mother would have taught him better table manners.
Although, a terrible slob myself, I suppose some people can not be taught to eat a soft boiled egg civilly.