Monday, July 20, 2015

fun, part 22

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.

earlier that evening roselle had been seen leaving her apartment with a mysterious stranger...

suspicious of the mysterious stranger's motives, roselle escapes from her and enters a dark bar, where she encounters "blackie" bascomb, who spins a tale of skullduggery on two continents...

and then suddenly it all comes together...


you didn’t think you could get away that easy, did you?” agnes asked roselle.

tomo laughed.

blackie’s shoulders slumped. any fight that he might have had in him was gone.

tomo opened the rear door of the “five city cab” and blackie stumbled into it.

roselle hesitated. she looked down the street. it was hard to see anything in the pouring rain, but there did not seem to be any pedestrians in either direction.

agnes pointed to the door of the cab which tomo was holding open. “get in.”

“no,” came a deep, weary female voice from the back seat of the cab - the “countess”? “leave her.”

“leave her?” agnes asked. but she did not seem too surprised.

“we will deal with him first,” the mysterious voice replied. “we will come back for her later.”

“all right,” agnes agreed. she turned to roselle and laughed in her face. “we always know where to find her.”

agnes closed her umbrella and got in the front seat of the cab beside the driver.

with a wink at roselle, tomo closed his umbrella and got in the back seat with blackie and the presumed “countess”.

with a splash of water, the cab sped off.

roselle was left alone.

with the rain and the wind on the empty sidewalk.

in a daze, she put up her own umbrella and started walking.

she did not know where.

uptown, downtown, east side, west side, what difference did it make?

we always know where to find her!

should she go back to the apartment?

no! that was the last place she should go.

who could she trust?


where was jerry? he was probably in on the plot - whatever it was.

her bankers? her lawyers? even if she could reach them at this time of night, they were probably in on it too.

friends? she didn’t really have any any more. nobody she could trust.

suddenly roselle was tired. and hungry.

and she needed a drink.

it was raining so hard she was getting wet even with the umbrella.

a gust of wind turned her umbrella inside out. before she could get it fixed she was soaked.

now she really needed a drink.

she remembered she had no money, except for a little bit of change, because agnes had stolen her wallet.

where to go?

she supposed she could find a decent hotel. even looking like a wet rat, and with no money or reservation or identification, she could bluster her way into a room - “i am mrs roselle winfield, and i -“

but then she would probably sleep for twenty-four hours and agnes and the countess would find her and be waiting outside.

no, she knew what she had to do.


run tonight.

roselle ducked into the next doorway. she checked her purse - she still had her car keys. agnes had not thought to take them.

she could go back to the apartment, have the bentley brought around, and head on down the highway. at least get a good head start.

was there any gas in the bentley? she could not remember the last time she had used it.

there must be enough loose change in the apartment for gas to get her started. or she could even bum a couple of dollars from the doorman.

yes, that was a plan. she would find a cab and have the doorman pay him.

as soon as she figured out where she was.

but before she reached the next street she had second thoughts. what if they were waiting for her ? they said they would be back for her “later”. they did not say how much “later”.

no, better to start running now. right now.

she would hitchhike.

even in her wildest and most abandoned youth, roselle had never actually hitchhiked.

but there was a first time for everything.

she would go far, far away. to philadelphia or wyoming or argentina or russia.

where no one would ever find her.

she began walking faster, looking back over her shoulder for any cars she could stick her thumb out at or wave at.

looking over her shoulder.

this was her new life.

this was the way it was going to be.

always on the run, always looking back over her shoulder.

never stopping in one place.

down each dark highway to the next crummy town.

bumming nickels and dimes and cigarettes and drinks from strangers.

in the shadows.

in the wind and the rain.


the end.

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