Wednesday, February 25, 2015

fun, part 10

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

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.

jerry suspects that roselle intends to kill him.

and he seeks to locate his old army buddy "whitey" wilson to help him avoid this fate, perhaps by murdering roselle.

stopping outside of syracuse with his new acquaintance pandora wilson on his way to meet whitey in rochester, he buys a newspaper with a sensational headline.

a body identified as roselle's has been discovered in an alley in brooklyn.


“this is a murder case like any other, “ detective harold hogan told this reporter with a straight face. “ we treat every case the same, whether the victim is a scrubwoman or a dame that wears two mink coats to bed.”

hogan had expected fireworks, but the chief, when he called him in, seemed in a surprisingly mellow mood.

not enough to offer hogan a cigar when he lit one up himself, but he did indicate a chair for hogan to sit in without glaring or barking at him.

"this case -" the chief began, and then yawned. a colossal, world record yawn, which caused the freshly lit cigar to shake a bit in his fingers, and which left a trace of tears at the corners of his gray eyes.

"oh - were was i?" he asked hogan when he was finished.

"the winfield case," hogan answered.

“winfield. yes.” the chief rubbed his eyes. “you’ve talked to some of the relatives of the winfield woman already, right?”

“yes,” hogan replied cautiously. “ but there are more. a lot more. you know how it is with these rich people.”

“yes. yes, indeed. ever wonder about that? why these rich people seem to have families that just go on and on? even more than poor people who live twelve in one room?”

“i guess nobody ever runs away from home. too much money lying around.”

“i agree. anyway, some of the relatives have been talking to the commissioner - or the commissioner talked to them - you know how it is -“


“and the commissioner noticed something right away.”

hogan just nodded.

“maybe you noticed the same thing,” the chief continued.

hogan hesitated.

the chief continued. “something not totally surprising. but a little bit - that they would be so frank about it.”

“nobody liked them. her - or the husband.”

“right. nobody is crying about her - or defending the husband. you talk to any of their so-called friends yet?“

“a few.”


“’so-called friends’ is right. so far, nobody has a good word to say about either of them.”

hogan waited. had the chief called him in just to tell him this? “it is still a case. somebody has to work it. am i still on it?”

“oh, of course. by the way, i liked your comment to the paper that this was just a case like any other.”

hogan shrugged. “what else was i supposed to say?”

the chief laughed. “indeed. well, keep up the good work. “ he picked a pen up from his desk, indicating that hogan was dismissed.

“the papers might still make a big deal of this case,” hogan said as he stood up.

“you know how to deal with that, ” the chief answered without looking up.

“do you want me to keep you informed?”

“not particularly. just keep up the good work.”

so that was the message. that it really was just another case. despite the wealth and position of the victim and the likely killer, there was no pressure from the commissioner , or the d a, or any other politician.

hogan should have felt relieved. he was, but he was also curious. a little more curious about the case than he had been before.

closing the door of the chief’s office behind him, hogan suddenly thought - maybe they actually want the case not to be solved. maybe the commissioner and the d a are covering up for somebody. maybe that was the message.

but that was too subtle for him. he decided not to worry about it, and get a cup of coffee and a couple of doughnuts before talking to some more of the winsteads’ “so-called friends”.


“i want to see the body. i want to see this so-called body of auntie roselle’s.”

ophelia did not look up from the steaming cup of breakfast tea she was raising to her pale lips. “don’t be a bore, minerva. the matter is settled. well bred little girls do not go to the city morgue to look at mangled bodies.”

“i do not care to be well bred. and i’ve seen dead cats and dogs. how much difference can there be?”

“it is out of the question,” ophelia repeated.

minerva kicked the underside of the table with her two feet in the familiar way she had - so familiar that the table had been padded to accommodate her. no tea or toast or grapefruit or newspaper was disturbed by the kick.

“this body can’t be auntie roselle’s. just because it had her drivers license or whatever - that doesn’t mean anything.”

“davenportia identified her,” ophelia replied, as she put her tea down and picked up and spread open her two-day old airmailed copy of the london times.

“davenportia is a nincompoop. couldn’t they get somebody with a few brains to identify her? couldn’t they get a lawyer or a doctor to identify her?”

“davenportia is her first cousin. they grew up together as girls.”

“ha! what else would they grow up together as, monkeys? vacuum cleaners? and roselle didn’t like her. ”

“you don’t know that,” ophelia replied mildly, as she began reading an interview with sir stafford cripps. “and that’s not a very nice thing to say.”

“not at all, “ echoed the only other person at the table, cousin hapwell.

cousin hapwell was beneath minerva’s notice and she ignored him and kicked the underside of the table with her two feet again.

minerva was a classic dreadful child, but a dreadful child with a future. in seven years’ time, on reaching her eighteenth birthday, she would come into full possession of the largest slice of the gray family fortune.

ophelia’s slice was modest by comparison. and nobody was sure what cousin hapwell’s slice was, or if he even had one. hapwell ate his three meals a day, handled his liquor moderately well, and never made a fuss.

now minerva returned to the charge. “you would think a death or a murder had never been faked before. it happens all the time.”

ophelia laughed. “only in the excellent entertainments of miss agatha christie and mister john dickson carr, dear. not in real life.”

“ha! what is ‘real life’ if you please?”

ophelia glanced at cousin hapwell. “don’t answer her.”

“i had no intention of doing so,” hapwell replied. “ah! thank you, bessie.”

a maid had brought in a tray with platters of scrambled eggs and three kinds of sausages.

a few pale rays of sun filtered through the curtains of the breakfast room.

part 11

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slaves of Sappho, chapter three

a novel of forbidden passion

by Horace P. Sternwall {writing as Hortense Paula St. Claire}

(Previously in Slaves of Sappho: the Macy’s salesgirl and Barnard graduate Missy Hallebrand, while nursing a lonely cup of coffee in the automat just across the alley from the venerable Hotel St Crispian, has made the acquaintance of the tall and attractive Southern girl Muriel Armitage, and has agreed to join Muriel for a cocktail. – Dan Leo, editor of Horace P. Sternwall: Hack or Genius? A Critical Roundtable, the Olney Community College Press.)

Original Illustrations by rhoda penmarq for penmarq/sternwall productions™ (color-timing by roy dismas; lettering by eddie el greco).


Outside on Bedford Street night had finally arrived, and the air was not quite so oppressive as when Missy had gone into the automat, which wasn’t saying much, as this was still August in New York City, and immediately she felt perspiration breaking out under her dress, one of her three “work outfits”, this one a prim black-and-white checked square-necked Chanel which had cost her a month’s wages even with her staff discount.

Muriel had stopped on the sidewalk, facing Bedford Street, and after taking one last drag on her Herbert Tareyton, she flicked it into the gutter.

“Where to go,” she said. “So many bars in this town. So little time, ha ha.”

Missy had nothing to say to this. Except for a few occasions with Chad, she had hardly ever been to a bar in her life. But she decided to ape Muriel’s nonchalance, and so she flicked – or rather, awkwardly tossed, as if she were throwing a dart – her own Herbert Tareyton into the street. Unfortunately the cigarette flew into the open rear window of a passing taxi cab, hitting a fat man on the side of his jowls, and causing him to let out a piercing yelp. As the cab drove on up the street the man turned and screamed out of his window, using some words Missy had never heard before.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” called Missy.

“Ha ha!” laughed Muriel.

The cab continued on up Bedford Street, but then pulled up to the curb at the corner.

“Oh, no,” said Missy. “I think he’s getting out!”

“Ha ha,” said Muriel. “Let him, the fat slob.”

“Oh, but Muriel, what if he attacks me?”

“Then I’ll hit him with my bag,” said Muriel.

Sure enough, the fat man had gotten out of the cab, and was apparently giving money to the driver through the front passenger window.

“Muriel,” said Missy, “we have to run! What if he gets a policeman and has me arrested? I can’t go to jail!”

“Good point,” said Muriel, and she grabbed Missy’s wrist and hustled her up the steps of the Hotel St Crispian, which stood conveniently quite near to where they had been standing.

An old but very tall and robust-looking doorman opened the door for them.

“Good evening, Miss Armitage,” he said, and bowing slightly to Missy, “and to you, miss. Welcome to the Hotel St Crispian.”

“Hi there, Olaf,” said Muriel. “This is my friend Miss –”

She glanced at Missy, raising one thin eyebrow in what Missy guessed was an interrogative way.

“Oh!” she said. “Hallebrand! Missy Hallebrand!”

“Very pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Hallebrand,” said the old man, in an accent that reminded Missy of Boris Karloff, and this time he actually clicked his heels, something Missy had only ever seen done before in movies.  

“Say, Olaf,” said Muriel, “you see that fat old boy huffing and puffing his way down the sidewalk towards us?”

“I do indeed, miss.”

“He’s been following my friend Missy here, trying to pick her up, and making mean and hateful remarks, and he’s just an awful nuisance. Do you think you could make him go away?”

“Of course, miss.”

“I’ll make it worth your while.”

“That won’t be necessary, miss. I consider such tasks to be well within the purview of my occupation.”

“You’re a doll, Olaf. Missy and I are just gonna quick duck into the Prince Hal Room.”

“Enjoy yourself, ladies, and don’t worry about that fellow. I know how to handle his kind.”

Missy glanced over her shoulder; the fat man was still slowly but surely waddling down the sidewalk toward the hotel.

Olaf closed the door behind Muriel and Missy, and they saw him squaring his shoulders, facing in the direction the fat man was coming from.

“Sometimes it really pays to be a woman,” said Muriel. “Come on, honey, let’s get ourselves outside a couple of nice cold Tom Collinses.”

She took Missy’s arm and together they started across the very old-fashioned lobby in the direction of a pair of double doors off to the far right, with a sign above them that read “The Prince Hal Room”.

“How did you come to know that doorman?” said Missy, speaking almost in a whisper, although she didn’t know why.

“Oh, but I live here, darlin’,” said Muriel.

“You live in this hotel?” said Missy, in a slightly less whispery voice. She had never known of anyone actually living in a hotel, except maybe in the movies.

“Sure do,” said Muriel. “I find it more convenable than keeping my own apartment. Never could stand to do housework and such. Oh, hiya, Mr. Nolan!”

She was now addressing another very large older man – although not quite so old as Olaf the doorman – sitting in a very comfortable-looking stuffed chair next to a large zebra plant. He was smoking a cigar, and he didn’t look happy, but maybe that was just the way he always looked, or maybe he was just annoyed because he had been interrupted from reading the Federal-Democrat he had open on his lap.

“Hello, Miss Armitage,” he said.

“And how’s the family?” said Muriel. “The wife and that passel of girls you’ve got at home?”

“Presumably clucking happily away at one another, and probably at the present moment stuffing a freeloading priest or two with scones and cakes.”

“Ha ha,” said Muriel. “Hey, listen, Mr. Nolan, just want to let you know – some very mean and very hateful strange fat man was trying to bother my friend Miss, uh –”

“Hallebrand,” piped in Missy. 

“Miss Hallebrand,” continued Muriel, “saying the rudest possible things to her, and following the both of us down the street, and I asked Olaf to get rid of him if he tries to enter the hotel, but –”

Mr. Nolan did nothing to hide the great sigh he now heaved. He held up one enormous hand, the enormous hand which was not holding his cigar.

“This mean and hateful fellow,” said Mr. Nolan – and Missy noticed that he too spoke like someone in the movies, with a slight Irish accent, like Victor McLaglen maybe – “besides being fat, is he a big man?”

“Sort of big,” said Muriel. “But more like enormously fat like a big old hippo in the zoo.”

“Well, I’m sure Olaf can handle him then,” said Mr. Nolan. “But I’ll tell you what, I’ll keep a weather eye on the door, and if Olaf seems to need my assistance I will dash to his aid like a shot, with my faithful blackjack in hand.”

“You’re a doll, Mr. Nolan,” said Muriel.

Mr. Nolan said nothing to this, but picked up his Federal-Democrat and presumably resumed reading it.

Muriel gave Missy’s arm a tug and they continued their progress across the lobby.

“That was Mr. Nolan, the house detective,” said Muriel. “He’s a little gruff, but he’s a sweetheart. Reminds me of my Grampa, even if he is Irish, and a Yankee to boot. It’s weird.”

“What is?”

“Everything. All these people up here, all of ‘em Yankees. No offense.”

“Oh, uh –”

“You can’t help it. But I do feel somewhat a stranger. Like Alice down that ol’ rabbit hole.”

Missy was thinking that it had never occurred to her before that she was a Yankee. Muriel was making her think so many things for the first time, and it was all so very confusing. And it was almost like walking with Chad, walking this way with her arm in Muriel’s, and Muriel being much taller than her, and wearing trousers, it was confusing – but, yes, exciting

There was a glass-encased sign next to the double doors of the Prince Hal Room, advertising something called Tony Winston and his Winstonians, featuring the vocal stylings of the lovely Lily LaRue, with twelve-by-five black-and white photographs of Tony Winston and Lily LaRue, and then they were through the swinging doors into some sort of night club or lounge,

Muriel waved away an old man who must have been the maître d'hôtel, another one who seemed as if he were from a movie, named Anatole apparently, and they were walking past a lot of tables with people sitting at them, with a band playing at the other end of the room, a girl singing with the band (“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”), and they came to a long bar on the left, with exactly two seats open near the middle and now they were sitting at the bar on old but comfortable cushioned stools.

“At last!” said Muriel, and she brought her big map case of a bag onto her lap, opened it and began fishing around in it.

Muriel placed her own modestly-sized black plastic purse on top of the bar, and felt awkward because of her almost complete lack of experience in sitting at a bar. What did you do with your hands? This problem was solved almost immediately by Muriel bringing out her somewhat crumpled pack of Herbert Tareytons and offering the pack to Missy.

“Go ahead, honey. If you’re gonna drink, you might as well smoke. Oh, hello, Raoul, how’s it shakin’ ol’ boy?” 

This last sentence was spoken to the slim and dignified-looking man in the red vest who had suddenly appeared on the other side of the bar, with a lighter in his hand.

“Shaking very well, Miss Armitage,” he said, and he lit the cigarette which Muriel had just put between her red lips. He then gazed in a somewhat expectant-looking way at Missy, with just the slightest hint of a smile on his dignified face.

Missy felt a surge of panic, as if something were expected of her, something she could only guess at – and then it hit her, causing her to flinch as if she had been poked with a pin between her shoulder blades – the man was waiting for her to put the Herbert Tareyton she was holding in between her lips so that he could light it! Quickly she did so, and the man unflappably clicked the lighter and applied its flame to the cigarette. She coughed, but not too much, and fortunately Muriel spoke again:

“How are your Tom Collinses this evening, Raoul?”

“I trust they are no worse than usual, Miss Armitage,” said Raoul.

“Then we’ll take two of ‘em. Oh, by the way, Raoul, this is my friend Miss, uh –”

“Hallebrand,” said Missy, holding one small fist near her mouth, as she was still coughing just a bit.

“Miss Missy Hallebrand,” said Muriel. “And Missy, this is Raoul, if not the best bartender in town then the best one in this ol’ flea trap.”

“You exaggerate, Miss Armitage,” said Raoul, with that same barely existent smile.

“Well, exaggerate us two of those excellent Tom Collinses, Raoul, if you please!”

“Right away, Miss Armitage. And very pleased to meet you, Miss Hallebrand.”

“Um,” said Missy, and Raoul went away somewhere behind the bar. Muriel turned to Missy.

“Okay, this place is corny, but what can I say? It’s home. Sort of.”

“I like it,” said Missy.

“You do?”

“Yes, it’s sort of like, I don’t know, a movie.”

“That’s just it,” said Muriel. “You have hit on the exactly correct simile. This whole hotel is like a movie, ‘cept one that came out twenty-five years ago. We’re not careful Warren William and William Powell are gonna walk right up and ask us to dance.”

“Who are Warren William and William Powell?”

“Never mind. But listen, whole reason I’m about to get you outside a drink is what I got to tell you. You want to wait until you drink it, or should I just spit it out and get it over with?”

“Is it really horrible?”

’Is it really horrible’,” said Muriel. “Well. That all depends on how you look at it.”

“I’m afraid.”

“Don’t be afraid. Once you get over the initial shock you’ll be fine.”

“I will?”

“Let me put it this way, honey – you’ll be more fine than you would wind up bein’ if I never told you what I’m fixin’ to tell ya.”

Missy looked into Muriel’s dark eyes, and then she looked away, at the bottles on the other side of the bartender’s area,

and at the mirror, in which she could see her own face, looking confused, and next to her – Muriel, looking at Missy, her face in profile under that Panama hat, and looking not confused at all. What am I doing here? thought Missy. How had all this happened, and why did she feel that her life, her sad little life, was about to come crashing down all around her, and her with it. 

She sighed, and then turned and looked at Muriel again, who was still looking calmly at her.

“All right,” said Missy. “Go ahead and say it, please.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’m not sure of anything, but I can’t stand the suspense.”

“Okay, then,” said Muriel, “here it is.” 

She took a drag of her Herbert Tareyton, and exhaled the smoke, slowly, before continuing. And then she said:

“Your boyfriend – Chadwick?”

“Chad, yes,” said Missy.

“Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to call him Chad. Do you mind if I refer to him as Chadwick? I mean that is his real Christian name, is it not?”

“Yes, but he prefers to be called Chad I think.”

“Here’s the thing about Chadwick,” said Muriel. “He’s gay.”


“As the day is long.”

“But –” Missy felt a great, a palpable feeling of relief suffusing her whole being – “I already knew that, Muriel, I mean, gee.”

“You knew he was gay.”

“Of course!”

The man Raoul was suddenly there, putting down two tall beaded golden-colored drinks, each one with a multi-colored straw sticking out of it, and a slice of orange and a cherry impaled on a little red plastic arrow fixed to the rim of the glass.

“Thank you, Raoul!” said Muriel. “Put ‘em on my tab.”

“Certainly, Miss Armitage,” said Raoul, with that barely noticeable smile, and he went away.

“So,” said Muriel, turning again to Missy. “You know. About him bein’ gay and all.”

“Of course I do, Muriel!” said Missy, trying to hold her cigarette at the elegant angle that Muriel held hers. “Everyone knows what a gay fellow Chad is! Always so – so jolly, and ready to sing show tunes around a piano at the drop of a hat, or to go ballroom dancing, and in the winter he loves to go ice-skating, and, and –”

Muriel held up her hand.

“All right, honey, I get it. Now you just listen to me for a little while. Okay?”

“Okay,” said Missy.  

Muriel picked up her little plastic arrow and ate the cherry before continuing.

Chapter 4: Twilight Life

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

fun, part 9

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

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.

roselle has enticed the drifter "humphey p strawfeather" to help her murder jerry.

jerry has intuited that roselle intends to kill him.

and he seeks to locate his old army buddy "whitey" wilson to help him avoid this fate, perhaps by murdering roselle.

stopping outside of syracuse with his new acquaintance pandora wilson on his way to meet whitey in rochester, he buys a newspaper with a sensational headline.


it was with a strange feeling of foreboding that jerry folded the newspaper he had just purchased from the milk truck driver, and followed pandora into the dimly lit little diner.

there were no other customers in the diner. a tall thin waitress was taking pandora's order, which seemed to be a large one.

there were five stools at the counter. jerry took the one nearest the door. pandora was seated at the one second furthest from the door.

jerry didn't want to read about the hideous murder of the socialite just yet. he placed the paper face down on the counter and waited for the waitress.

the back page of the paper indicated that the yankees had lost to the st louis browns 6-4 despite two home runs by joe dimaggio. and the giants had beaten the phillies 2-0 in ten innings on a home run by johnny mize.

jerry heard the milk truck pull away. the driver had not entered the diner, but left his milk bottles and papers outside. jerry felt a curious relief that he was gone.

the waitress was standing in front of him, with her pencil ready over her little order pad. she was one of the tallest and skinniest women jerry had ever seen. she had dark sad eyes, like she had been alive for ten thousand years and never met a person she could trust.

"how about you, mister?" she asked. "you want a big breakfast like your lady friend?"

suddenly jerry was hungry. and eating would postpone turning the paper over and reading about the hideous murder of the socialite.

"yes, i'll have what she's having," he told the waitress.

"that's three eggs sunny side, pancakes, hash browns, toast, orange juice and coffee."

"yes, that sounds good."

"what kind of jam you want on your toast? strawberry"?"

"strawberry's my favorite."

"you want syrup or jam on your pancakes? both? ”

"uh - jam. strawberry jam."

"you want your coffee now?"


the waitress moved away. she brought jerry his coffee and then went over to the grill and started on the orders.

jerry put some cream in his coffee and then took out his cigarettes and lit one. pandora was already puffing away, staring into space. jerry felt grateful that she wasn't in a talkative mood.

the waitress was not talking either. it was very quiet, except for the hiss of the eggs and pancake batter hitting the grill.

the face of johnny mize looked up at jerry from the back page of the paper.

as if it had a mind of his own, jerry's hand turned the paper over. the headline hadn't changed. it still read:


by mac o’connell

violent death took a holiday from the back alleys and waterfronts of the city last night, and planted his bloody flag in the uppermost peaks of manhattan’s haute monde - with a grisly murder that would have shocked the most jaded rat scurrying through the darkest catacombs of gotham.

a body discovered in an alley off 15th avenue in brooklyn, a few blocks from the bay ridge parkway, was identified by police as that of mrs roselle gray winfield, of east 85th street. mrs winfield was the daughter of the late chester b “buck” gray and heiress and sole owner of gray shipping lines - but that, according to our sources, was only the “first page in her impressive portfolio” of blue chip properties.

mrs winfield had until a few years ago been a prominent figure in the society pages of the local fishwraps - but had not been seen and heard so much of lately by those who make it their business to see and hear.

according to police, a drivers license and passport led to quick identification of the body, despite its seriously mangled condition, and her identity was confirmed by a member of the gray family.

a spokesman for the gray family declined any comment on the circumstances, nor did they make any immediate offer of a reward for information relating to the murder.

police have so far been unsuccessful in trying to contact the deceased’s husband, jerome “jerry” winfield, of the winfield mines family. whether mr winfield is considered a suspect, or may be thought to be a victim of foul play himself, the police declined to say.

“this is a murder case like any other, “ detective harold hogan told this reporter with a straight face. “ we treat every case the same, whether the victim is a scrubwoman or a dame that wears two mink coats to bed.”

this reporter did succeed in talking to joseph parker, a doorman at the swanky apartment house on east 85th street that the winfields call one of their many homes. according to parker, a former standout lefthanded pitcher at charles g dawes high school in the north bronx and a former radioman in the 25th infantry division during the late hostilities in the pacific, mrs winfield was visited earlier in the evening by a person previously unknown to parker, who identified herself as mrs winfield’s former high school algebra teacher. parker thought it was a gag or that the woman was a crank, but mrs winfield had her admitted, and shortly thereafter left the building in the company of the erstwhile pedagogue.

she was never seen alive again!

anyone with information regarding mrs wnfield’s subsequent whereabouts, or the identity of the supposed algebra teacher, or where jerry winfield might be found, is urged to contact the police.

the police are, of course, treating this case as just another murder.

and if you believe that, i got a nice selection of bridges for you, and a hot tip on the belmont in 1956.

more on this story on page 16

jerry didn’t want to read more on this story. he folded the paper back up and put it back on the counter with the back sports page facing up. his hands shook slightly.

he wanted to light another cigarette - the one he had been smoking had burned down to his fingers - but he was afraid his hands would shake too much.

the waitress put his glass of orange juice and his plate of toast down in front of him. she moved an ashtray in front of him, and he put the tiny smoking butt out in it.

“more coffee?”

“yes, please.” jerry managed to keep the tremor out of his voice.

“you through with that paper?” pandora asked him. she stuffed almost a whole piece of toast into her mouth.

what could he say? he had folded it up.

“how did the giants do?” pandora asked.

“they won. mize hit a homer.”

“about time. he’s been in a slump.” pandora finished her first piece of toast and picked up another. “they got the races in that paper?”

“probably.” with an effort jerry opened up to the back pages. “here you go.” he folded the paper carefully so that the two full pages of racing results showed front and back, and shoved the paper down the counter to pandora.

he took as deep a breath as he could without being obvious about it, and lit a cigarette.

what was he nervous about anyway? he didn’t kill roselle. he didn’t know who did.

but would the police believe him? would anybody believe him?

nobody ever had.

in his whole life, nobody ever had.

part 10