Wednesday, November 19, 2014

fun, part 4

by harold p sternhagen writing as "ralph desmond"

as originally appearing in the july-august 1951 issue of sinister destinies magazine

illustrated by konrad kraus and roy dismas

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for previous episode of "fun" , click here

to begin "fun", click here

in our previous chapters, we met jerry and roselle winfield, socialites and slummers extraordinaire.

on a lazy afternoon, roselle has attempted to take slumming to a new level by enticing the drifter "humphey p strawfeather" to murder jerry.


jerry had had a hard life.

one of his first memories was of his uncle walter, sitting on the porch of the family home in the midi with a drink in his hand, or maybe it was in newport or the rockies, and walter saying:

"i've had a hard life. every son of a bitch i ever trusted did me wrong in the end."

jerry was reminded of uncle walter's words often - but jerry had it even harder than uncle walter had.

because for the sons of bitches to do him wrong and betray him, uncle walter must have trusted them in the first place.

whereas jerry had never found anybody to trust at all.

not a single solitary soul.

lying on the bed after his afternoon getting plastered in the dark bar on broadway and blacking out and being carried upstairs by the doorman morris, jerry dreamed, as he often did, of uncle walter.

in the dreams walter was mixed up, as usual, with his old dog rufus, and with the first bottle of whiskey he had ever drunk - drunk it straight down, on a dare, from that slimy giggling skunk wilsonby forster iii, at the "exclusive" military academy in the maine woods he had been banished to as a young lad...

uncle walter was mixed up in the dreams with other things, too, like frogs, and mashed potatoes with chicken gravy , and camp richard taylor in louisiana...

jerry had learned a lot from uncle walter.

the first thing he learned was that the worst thing in the world was to be rich.

because no matter what you did, no matter what you were, no one would ever give you credit for anything. you would always be "rich" and have "everything done for you."

uncle walter told jerry stories of his experiences in the first world war. he had enlisted as a private, but the fellows never accepted him, and gave him nicknames like "percy van snoot". according to walter, when they had got to france, walter had risked his life to save a couple of fellows, and they had thanked him, but even so kept on calling him "percy"!

then, after the war, walter had tried to go "on the bum" and make his own way and be a "regular fellow" and a "good guy", but all for naught. the real born and bred "regular fellows" spotted him a mile away. he was beaten up and robbed several times when his pockets were empty because the other bums "could just tell" he had money on him.

the end came for walter when he tried to take a pie off the windowsill of a "widow brown" who was known to leave them out for passing boes. the widow appeared in the window took one look at walter and called him a fancy pants college boy and chased him away with a rolling pin and he didn't stop running until he was back in newport.

walter settled down to what he was born to do - drink.

he was a natural. water told jerry there was a surefire way to tell if a fellow was a natural born drunk. he said most fellows when they got drunk the first time, would wake up and say "oh my god, i will never do that again!" but the natural, even the first time, will wake up, and even with a hangover, will say "hey, that was great, i can't wait for some more."

jerry had found all uncle walter's wisdom borne out in his own life, and then some.

he was a natural drunk, no doubt about that. and no matter what he did - and in his few somewhat sober moments, jerry had to admit that, unlike walter, he didn't really try all that hard - nobody would give him a chance to be or do much of anything else.

like those old timers and secretaries at the firm. the firm! - how jerry hated the firm and in his stupor resolved once again to never go back there, to hell with grandfather parler - those wrinkle faced old butler types and those secretaries with their beehive hairdos and their fat backsides stuffed like salted hams into the girdles they probably bought at woolworth's -

looking at him like he was dirt just because he was worth - worth - whatever he was worth - i mean why make such a big deal out of it ...

jerry drifted back into his dream - he was back in camp richard foster in the middle of a swamp in louisiana - where he had spent the war except for the last few months when he had been transferred to san diego in preparation for the invasion of japan that never came - and he was walking on the swampy river with frogs in his pockets for the voodoo queen who was sitting in her canoe... on the shore another voodoo queen who was also one of the beehived secretaries in grandfather parler's office was typing something with grasshoppers...

and uncle walter who was also a teddy bear with an olive and a dash of vermouth was sitting in a cypress tree on the other side of the river and trying to get his attention but jerry had to get the frogs out of his pocket and give them to the first voodoo queen who was also roselle...

back at the house in the rockies jerry and walter had had a conversation about who could be trusted more, dogs or horses... and jerry had asked "what about women?" and uncle walter had burst out laughing, the only time uncle walter had ever laughed at jerry to his face ... good old walter...

and later when jerry met roselle and he told walter he could trust her because she had even more money than he did, and walter didn't laugh out loud but just said son, there's no woman has so much money she won't try to steal more or marry more if she gets the chance ...

"but walter, i have so much money i don't want to steal any more, and neither do you... "

"yes, some men are like that - but not all - in fact not most - look at old jonah parler! - but no woman, no woman that was ever born..."

jerry kept walking on the river with even more frogs in his pocket and a rolls royce and a blueberry pie ... and the voodoo queen was roselle and eleanor roosevelt and sergeant -major johnson who was saying, i'm sorry sir but these frogs are useless, completely useless and the first voodoo queen started to laugh and her big hairdo started shaking like a bunch of bananas with raisins and cornflakes...

jerry smelled smoke. he tried to wake up.... roselle had been fun at first, teaching him her evil ways of laughing at people and spying and making up stories about people... but lately he could tell she was getting sick of him... as he was of her...

he woke up. the room was dark but roselle was standing at the end of the bed smoking a cigarette and looking at him with her evil eyes...

and suddenly jerry knew what he had been suspecting for months ...

roselle was going to kill him. she was going to kill him...

he was no match for her.

who could he turn to? not walter, because walter had bellied up to the big bar in the sky during the war...

jerry was doomed.


because he didn't have a friend in the world.

part 5

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