Saturday, August 25, 2012

71. "ten grand to Bora Bora"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo*

illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq

*Associate Professor of Middle English, Assistant Badminton Coach, Olney Community College; editor of The Final Furlough: Previously Uncollected Stories of War, by Horace P. Sternwall; Olney Community College Press, “The Obscure Modern Masters Project”.

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

click here for synopsis of all chapters so far

It is past midnight in the great unsleeping city, and a man of about thirty years of age strides determinedly down Seventh Avenue.

The man’s name is Michael Chandler, although his wife calls him Henry.

Not fifteen minutes ago he had been on the verge of passing out -- not only from having drunk nine Old Fashioneds, but also because of the natural weariness incurred from having worked over fifty hours that week drawing up unbelievably tedious legal contracts, and from spending the present evening in the company of people even more boring than he was -- and Michael, unlike a true, dyed-in-the-wool master bore, knew himself to be a fairly boring fellow.

No, Michael was wide awake now, in fact he felt more awake than he had ever felt in his life, and he walked quickly and steadily, staggering and weaving not in the least. He felt his manly stride gobbling up the six or seven blocks from Henry and Estelle’s building to his destination, the venerable Hotel St Crispian, and these were his thoughts as they rioted through his brain:

Ten grand.

Ten thousand dollars.

Ten thousand simoleons.

And for what?

For giving the police some information leading to the capture of the arch criminal Stanley Slade.

Stan Slade, whom Michael and his wife Carol had picked up hitchhiking in the fog on their way into the city tonight. This charming fellow in his stolen, ill-fitting clothes, a fellow roughly Michael’s age, a fellow who had readily admitted to them who he was: the infamous Stanley Slade, international jewel thief and now escaped convict.

Why had he admitted his identity so readily, even cheerfully? Why had he trusted them, total strangers, not to turn him in?

Because he had, as he had said, taken one look at them and thought, “These are people who'd want to help out a guy who's stood up to the bankers and the fat cats and given them a taste of their own medicine.”

Michael and Carol Chandler -- this professional thief had trusted them. Michael (or Henry) and Carol, this not-very-successful attorney and his unhappy and bored wife -- Stanley Slade had trusted them.


Michael and Carol did not look like rebels, they looked like what they were: middle-class, suburban, vaguely unhappy, ordinary people.

The only thing extraordinary about them was that they hadn’t had children yet.

They were always putting off having children for “another year or so”, until Michael got more “settled at the firm”.

Well, they had been married now for seven years, and they were still putting off having children, even though Michael/Henry was quite settled at the firm. He was settled all right. He was the one they dumped all the boring work on. He was settled in his little niche, in his little office, writing his tedious contracts, while young hotshots who’d joined the firm years after him had already been made junior partners.

He was settled all right.

There was the hotel, the St Crispian.

This was where they had dropped Stan Slade off earlier that evening.

The last they had seen of him he had given them a jaunty wave and disappeared into an alleyway at the rear of the hotel…

Their meeting with Stanley Slade was undoubtedly the single most exciting thing that had happened, ever, in either Michael’s or Carol’s lives. That had been it. That had been the high point. After that one very strange ride with this world-renowned criminal, their lives could go nowhere but downhill.


Down and down, into middle age, into old age, into decrepitude and death.

Unless Michael made a change in his life.

And this possibility for a change in his life had been handed to him by none other than this stranger out of the fog, this charming and oddly-trusting criminal -- Stanley Slade.

Stanley Slade had handed Michael the opportunity to earn ten thousand dollars -- ten thousand bucks, ten thousand simoleons -- and legally, indeed by means of being an exemplary law-abiding citizen.

Ten thousand.

What he could do with ten thousand…

Michael had never wanted to be a lawyer.

As a boy he had wanted to be a cowboy, or a circus clown maybe, but he had never wanted to be a lawyer.

Now he no longer wanted to be a cowboy or a circus clown, but what he really wanted to be was -- a beach bum.

A bachelor beach bum. Without Carol. Carol didn’t love him. She didn’t respect him. She didn’t even like him. No, he would leave Carol, leave her the house in Scarsdale, leave her the Hudson too, while he went off and became a beach bum.

A guy with a shack on the beach who spent his days fishing and drinking rum.

In Tahiti maybe, or Bora Bora.

Ten thousand would go a long way to setting himself up as a beach bum. In fact, if he invested the bulk of the money in government bonds he might be able to live off of it for years, maybe even for the rest of his life, because how expensive could it be to live in a shack on the beach in Bora Bora?

He would eat the fish he caught.

He would vary his diet with fruit he would pick from the trees -- coconuts and mangoes, bananas and pineapples.

His only real expenditure would be for rum and cigarettes.

Maybe he would take a native wife, one who preferably spoke only the most basic English. Or maybe he wouldn’t. Even a native girl might turn out in the end to be an emasculating bitch like Carol…

Suddenly Michael was aware that he was walking up a set of steps, and that an old man in a uniform was opening a door for him.

“Good evening, sir,” said the old man. “Welcome to the Hotel St Crispian.”

“Yes,” said Michael, almost as if he were surprised to be here. “The St Crispian.”

“Is this your first visit here?” said the old man.

“Yes, yes it is,” said Michael. “But I’ve heard your advertisements on the radio.”

“Ah, yes,” said the old fellow, with what sounded like a practiced chuckle.

“How’s that song go?” said Michael. And he sang:

“Welcome to the Hotel St Crispian,
the old St Crispian Hotel,
where you can always tell
that the service will be swell..”

“Yes,” said the old man, chuckling again, “it’s quite an amusing jingle.”

“But (Michael continued to sing) if you find
that you don’t like us
here at the old St Crispian,
the St Crispian Hotel,
oh well,
fear not,
for you can just go straight to…
some other hotel!”

“Ha ha,” said the old man. “You know all the words.”

“Yes,” said Michael. “I know all the words.”

(To be continued.)

(click here for our next thrilling episode!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

the story thus far, chapters 51-75

chapters 1-25

chapters 26-50

chapters with asterisks* edited by Prof. Dan Leo. others by rhoda penmarq

*51 - "Alan Ladd" - flossie and mortimer converse in elevator.

52 - "flossie vs hyacinth, round 2" - flossie interviews hyacinth in her apartment. hyacinth suggests they go out to automat.

*53 - "play it light" - flashback to angie conversation with olaf before checking in. she tips him generously, warns him of possible questioners.

54 - "dependable" - cosette recruited by stan. cosette goes up to hyacinth's apartment. hyacinth and flossie are leaving for automat. stan wants to send jake on errand, has no money.

55 - "nolan cogitates" - nolan ponders the night's events, decides to walk around the block.

*56 - "the visitors" - introduce BURGOYNE and O'TOOLE, aliens (in human form) who land on roof of hotel.

57 - "not going anywhere" - cosette lends stan a few dollars (tip she just got from hyacinth). cosette returns to work. after vague discussion of future (stan determined to avoid old cronies and start "new crew"), jake goes on errand to drugstore.

58 - "angie philosophizes" - angie recruits chester to her "crew". she brings up subject of art heist.

*59 - "the stairwell" - hipsters sniffy and rooster smoking weed and conversing in stairwell.

*60 - "splendid indeed" - continuation of 59 - burgoyne and o'toole appear. sniffy and rooster offer them weed.

61 - "speed is your best thing" - after the fight in the alleyway, conrad, carol and frisco johnny ramirez all agree to go to conrad’s house to discuss conrad’s new career as a boxer. conversation of cab drivers, including the previously encountered mac.

62 - "excitement is where you find it" - the private detective flanagan tails conrad, carol, and frisco johnny. conversation between flanagan and his driver (mac).

*63 - "hoo boy" - still in the stairwell, rooster and sniffy offer to score more pot for the now very-stoned and possibly addicted Burgoyne and O’Toole. the somewhat unethical hipsters agree to sell the na├»ve aliens two ounces for “only” two thousand dollars.

64 - "closing time at al's" - fortescue and al in bar. fortescue gets call from COSIMA COLLINSON, art gallery proprietor and sister of conrad. fortescue agrees to meet her at collinson residence on e 86th st.

*65 - "Mr Zilch" - introduce HAROLD P STERNHAGEN, hack writer living in the hotel - he begins story about MR ZILCH, small time hood.

66 - "williams" - back story of williams, butler at collinson residence. wartime experiences with colonel collinson (deceased). mention of CORPORAL GRAY. conrad, carol and frisco johnny arrive at residence. cosima calls, tells williams she has invited fortescue.

67 - "import/export" - cosima sees mac's cab (flanagan passenger) outside residence, but they take off. cut to angie in hotel room - she can't sleep, calls RED at his "west side cafe", inquires about "export " - connection with art heist? cut back to cab, flanagan tells mac to head for west side cafe.

*68 - “snake dance” - return to the apartment of Estelle (the eviscerator) and Peter, and the drunken sad end of the party with the last remaining guest, Michael Chandler (called “Henry” by his wife Carol, who has gone in search of Stan Slade but has now wound up at the uptown Collinson house, with Conrad Collinson and Frisco Johnny Ramirez). Michael/Henry hears on the radio of the reward on Stan’s head, now totaling $10,000, and he heads off to the Hotel St Crispian, where he and Carol dropped Stan off earlier that night.

69. “cosima gets down to business” - at the Collinson townhouse, Williams the butler prepares refreshments for two sets of late-night guests: Conrad Collinson with Carol Chandler and Frisco Johnny Ramirez; and Cosima Collinson and the private detective Francis Fortescue. Cosima comes in and pumps him for information about Conrad and his guests, who have already arrived. Shortly afterwards Fortescue arrives, and Cosima tells him of the threats she has received that the upcoming exhibition of paintings by the avant-garde artist Pete Palomine will be burgled.

70. “the procedures of pete palomine” - continuing the preceding scene, Cosima explains to Fortescue the peculiar methods of the artist Pete Palomine, viz., that he pays random people he finds to paint his works for him; she posits her theory that the threats to steal Palomine’s work in his upcoming exhibition at Cosima’s gallery come from one or more of Pete’s disgruntled and underpaid “apprentices". Insert: an interview with Palomine conducted by Florence (“Flossie”) Flanagan in which Pete explains his unique artistic “procedures”.

*71 "ten grand for bora-bora" - making his way to the St Crispian, Michael considers the advantages of seeking to collect the reward money for Stan Slade.

72 - "ghosts of old new york" - jake takes his time on stan's errand. he recognizes burlesque queen GAYLE WARNING through window of ace diner, goes in and introduces himself. also introduce waitress EDNA and horse player LULLABY LEWINSKY.

*73 - "Hank Blank" - Michael arrives at the hotel in search of Slade.  Is questioned by Olaf .

74 - "a curious destination" - angie can't sleep, decides to go to poker game at red's diner.  takes cab driven by AMBROSE, whom she recognizes as former leftist agitator.  first mention of angie's sister, "RED" ROSIE RICARDO

75 - "a lady present" - angie arrives at red's diner for poker game.  encounters TOMMY SULLIVAN and his crew. introduce GUS GOLDBERG.

chapters 76-100

chapters 101 -

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

the story thus far, chapters 26-50.

chapters 1 - 25

chapters with asterisks* edited by Prof. Dan Leo. others by rhoda penmarq

26 - “shirley” - back story of shirley de la salle.

*27 - "a stranger appears" - "man with mustache" buys conrad a drink. conrad agonizes over speaking to him.

28 -"jake's not here" - nolan appears at hyacinth's door. she stalls for time as stan takes jake down fire escape to room 603.

29 - "a certain discrimination" - angie (now "disguised" as blonde) arrives back in new york by plane. begins cab ride from airport to st crispian. introduce MAC the cab driver.

*30 - "without a tip" - hyacinth lets nolan into apartment. he questions her about jake and "gentleman caller".

*31 - "Rumble in the Prince Hal Room" - nolan looks through apartment, continues to press hyacinth. mortimer arrives - announces "rumble in the prince hal room".

32 - "hyacinth - miss brown to you" - beginning of back story of hyacinth, formerly agatha brown. introduce drama teacher MISS DORIAN and high school swain BILL BRADFORD

33 - "across time and space" - introduce FRED FLYNN, sci-fi writer living in hotel. visited by farmer brown, who gossips about jake, and about stan.

*34 - "prelude to a rumble" - "man with mustache" introduces self to conrad and carol - he is frisco johnny ramirez! - conrad slugs johnny for remarks about angie.

35 - "stanley: long ago sunny afternoon" - beginning of back story of stan. introduce RITA, older woman who leads young stanley astray.

36 - "stanley: to build a dream on" - continuation of 35. rita enlists stan's help in disposing of jewelry. reference to MAX JACOBS, pawnbroker.

*37 - "My Name is Hyacinth Wilde" - continuation of hyacinth's back story. she arrives in new york, heads to Demotic Theater. introduce actor/director ANGUS STRONGBOW and playwright ARTEMIS BOLDWATER, also aspiring actress MISS FORSYTHE.

38 - "in a civilized manner" - cut back to prince hal room, recap of conrad slugging frisco johnny. they take fight outside, followed by bar patrons, including "hipsters" LANDON CROW and SNIFFY SMITH. fade to angie crossing bridge in cab.

*39 - "nothing like a lady" - nolan and mortimer arrive in deserted prince hal room. nolan declines to intervene in fight, until he realizes frisco johnny is involved, then he heads outside.

40 - "the cabbie's tale" - mac the cabdriver relates his wartime experiences to angie.

*41 - "room 603" - jake wakes up. stan puts fear into him, then relents, recruits him.

42 - "enter flossie" - scene: times square bar. introduce FLOSSIE FLANAGAN, reporter. she obtains hyacinth's address, resolves to question her about stan

*43 - "Mortimer's theory" - back story of Mortimer. his view of the universe.

44 - "flossie vs hyacinth" - from pay phone in bar, flossie calls hyacinth at hotel. hyacinth agrees to be interviewed. first sight of desk clerk ROLAND

*45 - "a friendly argument" - nolan breaks up fight. patrons return to bar. conrad and johnny discuss possible boxing career for conrad.

*46 - "Call me Mac" - angie arrives at hotel. gives mac big tip, gets his phone number for possible future collaboration.

47 - "all in this together" - angie checks in at front desk, goes up to room. jake returns to front desk, after getting story straight with stan. angie gives big tip to bellhop CHESTER, tells him she "needs a friend"

48 - "midnight swim" - return to al's bar. introduce PHIL O'HARA. who has dug up background on angie for vance and gracchus. first mention of possible art heist.

*49 - "the night clerk" - back story of roland

50 - "enter cosette" - jake reports to bernstein, who is skeptical but accepts his story of falling down and hitting head. cosette discovers stan in room 603. she questions him, is skeptical of his answers. he threatens her, then attempts to recruit her.

chapters 51 - 75

chapters 76-100

chapters 101 -