Thursday, October 8, 2015

the golden gumdrop caper, part 6

by manfred skyline

illustrated by roy dismas and konrad kraus

originally appeared in the june through september 1956 issues of last stop - excitement magazine

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

in our previous chapters, we met the notorious adventuress angie ricardo, recently sentenced to a long term in a federal penitentiary, who has been contacted by mysterious personages who propose to get her released, for their own purposes... finding herself suddenly free under even more mysterious circumstances, she stops by the roadside for a cup of coffee...

a little bell rang over angie’s head - not loudly, she barely heard it - when she pushed open the door of the cafe.

she saw a counter with only four stools. there was nobody behind it or anybody sitting on the stools.

there were two booths - one beside the window and another beyond it in the corner.

a woman in a faded blue dress with a waitress’s apron was rubbing her eyes and yawning in the corner booth, as if the bell over the door had awakened her.

there was nobody else in the place.

angie thought the woman looked familiar.

“need gas?” the woman asked angie, without looking at her.

“no, just coffee, “ angie told her. “if you don’t mind changing a twenty.”

“no, i don’t mind changing a twenty.” the woman got up out of the booth. she looked at angie for the first time.

their eyes met. the woman looked like she was starting to say something, then just moved behind the counter.

“just coffee? you sure?” the woman asked angie as she filled a mug.

there were some slices of pie in a glass case on the counter. they didn’t look too appetizing, but suddenly angie was hungry. when would she get a chance to eat again?

“i’ll have a slice of pie.”

“apple, pumpkin, or blueberry?”

the apple looked a bit gray and the pumpkin disgusting. “um - blueberry.”

the woman put the mug in front of angie. it looked scalding hot. she pointed to the cream and sugar on the counter.

then she looked angie in the eye. “i know you.”

angie put a few drops of cream in the coffee. “you think so?”

“you’re angie ricardo.”

what was the point of denying it? when you are made, you are made. angie looked up at the woman.

“and you’re ruth barry.”

“yeah. it’s been a few years, angie.”

“yes, it has.” angie looked at the coffee. steam was still coming off it. “so how have you been, ruth?”

“all right. running this place. me and bob bought it about three years ago. it’s a little busier in the day time.”

“i guess. how’s bob?”

“he had a little accident last year.”

“oh - i’m sorry to hear that. is he - “

“no, he’s not dead, just laid up. but he keeps busy.”

“that’s good.” angie took a forkful of the blueberry pie ruth had placed in front of her.

“yes, he is writing a book.”

“cool. what is it about?”

“the revolution.”

“oh? which one?” angie looked over at the clock on the wall. two minutes to four.

“all of them.”

“that should keep him busy.”

ruth laughed. “yes, it should, shouldn’t it? all the revolutions and what went wrong with them. and when he finishes it he will write another one - about the next revolution and how it should go right.”

angie nodded.“ that sounds like what the world needs.”

“yeah. say, you hear from rose much?”

“not so much.”

“but i do.”

“oh?” angie looked down at the pie.

“yeah, we keep in touch. we write long letters back and forth.”

“that’s nice. but you should be careful what you put in the mail. you never know who is going to read it.”

ruth laughed. “i wish we had anything to be careful about. it is not a problem these days,”

angie took a sip of the coffee, which was finally cool enough to drink. “she ever say anything about me?’

“all the time. she keeps good track of you, more than you do of her, i guess.”

“oh. i hope she gets her details right.”

“i am sure she has the big picture right. which is why i was kind of surprised to see you in here tonight.”

“i had a little trouble with the law. maybe not as much as rosie thought.”

ruth stared at angie for a few seconds. “then you should get in touch, put her mind at ease. i have her address, if you need it.”

“yes, that would be nice. i would appreciate it.”

ruth took a pencil and a little order pad out of her pocket and scribbled something. “you ever hear from any of the old gang?”

“not much. but you know who i did run into?”


“ambrose. ambrose carter.”

“ambrose! of all people. i haven’t heard from him lately. and what was he doing?”

“driving a cab. in the city. i was going to look him up again but - events intervened.”

“i see.”

angie heard another voice beside her. “this is a cozy chat you’re having. what’s this about an old gang?”

angie turned. the speaker was a boy, about fifteen or sixteen, chubby, wearing the thickest glasses she had ever seen. they looked like opera glasses pasted to his face.

he had a surly expression, at least as much as he had any discernible expression with the glasses. angie smiled at him and he did not smile back.

“this is petey,” ruth told angie. “this is angie, petey, an old friend of mine and bob’s. say ‘hi’.”

“hi.” petey stated at angie. “i pump the gas. you woke me up. you need gas?”

“no thank you,” angie answered with a polite smile.

“then i guess i should go back to sleep,” said petey. but he didn’t move and kept staring at angie.

“so what do you do when you are not pumping gas, petey?” angie asked him.

“i’m a poet and a dreamer.”

“petey hasn’t decided if he wants to be walt whitman or joe hill, “ ruth added.

“joe hill, huh?” angie looked at petey. “so i guess you want to be a revolutionary as well as a poet and a dreamer.”

“i think the whole concept of revolution needs to be reevaluated.”

“maybe.” angie glanced up at the clock again. it was still quiet outside, but she thought traffic should start to pick up pretty soon.

“where are you headed?” petey asked abruptly.


“you don’t want to know where angie is going,” ruth broke in.

“she’s going to yonkers,” said petey. “what’s in yonkers?”

“probably nothing much you won’t find anyplace else,” angie told him.

“i’ve always wanted to see the wide open spaces of america,” said petey. “yonkers sounds like a good place to start.”

“yes, but not tonight,” ruth laughed.

“and besides,” said angie. “it feels like it’s going to rain. you wouldn’t want me to have to leave you off somewhere in the rain, would you?”

“i love the rain - the wind and the rain.”

“look, petey,” ruth said, “angie - might be - just might be laboring under a little misunderstanding with the authorities. all a mistake, of course, but you wouldn’t want to be picked up with her, would you? if that was the case?”

“i don’t know. it sounds exciting.”

“yes,” said angie, “it might be exciting if we had guns and were going to shoot at the police, but since we do not, there would not be anything exciting about it.”

“if you say so.” petey hung his head, acknowledging defeat.

“well, it’s been great talking to you folks, but i got to run.” angie picked up the coffee and finished it off. “what do i owe you?”

“ten cents for the coffee, fifteen for the pie. an even two bits.”

“i told you, i only have a twenty. “

“and i told you i could break it.”

“this doesn’t sound like revolutionary comradeship, making her pay,” said petey.

angie laughed. “i really came in here to break the twenty,” she told petey. “and besides, it’s not supporting the workers to not pay them for their work, is it? it is really a fat cat attitude to make a show of generosity. it is a demonstration of ownership, of the power of the bosses.”

“huh. you sound like you got all the answers,” petey said.

“that’s right,” ruth told petey, “back in the day, when she was no older than you are now, angie could talk dialectics with the best of them. even bob. she was a real firebrand.”

“i learned the lingo,” angie agreed. she handed ruth the twenty dollar bill.

part 7

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