the thin man looked up from his endless game of solitaire to see dick richmond hovering around the bar yet again.
“have another drink, richmond,” he snarled. “one more won’t kill you.”
“thank you, sir.” dick richmond flushed slightly. he was already pretty flushed.
as he poured his drink he thought, does he really have to be so nasty about everything?
and as he took a sip of the drink he thought, but i am an attorney, a rather high priced attorney at that, who makes a good living taking abuse from wealthy clients. what is there about this fellow that he gets under my skin so much?
the thin man affected a lot of people, not just dick richmond, that way.
sylvester mcdonnell jefferson, known as “the thin man”, was an embittered individual.
in his not so distant youth he had had one goal - to be, and to be recognized as, the richest man in the world.
that was all. he didn’t want to rule the world, he didn’t want to change the world or start a new religion,he didn’t mean no man no harm, he believed in live and let live.
all he wanted was to be the richest man in the world.
it was not to be. he came close a few times but it was just not to be.
but that was not all.
even if he was not recognized as the richest man in the world, he felt he should have some attention paid to him.
he had been young, not hideously ugly, one of the ten or twelve richest men in the world, and he could tip headwaiters at the stork club or 21 with the best of them.
but could he get a line in a gossip column? no.
not even from the lowest of the low, harry hobble of the new york progressive-sentinel.
the end had come one night at the parrot club, lou renaldo’s joint that he was trying to make a rival to toots shor’s.
sylvester was at one of the front tables, with marion dilworth, a young actress who had just made her debut to resounding success in the latest play by charles marcus turnwell.
also at a front table was the international playboy ali sanchez, with the slightly fading but ever glamorous film star adele marchmont.
that harry hobble or bert stafford of the federal-democrat would find ali sanchez more worthy of note than himself was annoying but understandable, even though ali sanchez was not even an american.
what could you expect? after all, the federal-democrat was a mouthpiece for stalin, and the progressive-sentinel for the rothschilds.
also in the house, but discreetly seated against a side wall, was the international jewel thief stanley slade, along with a young actress who was quite unknown compared to marion dilworth.
and both harry hobble and bert stafford mentioned slade in their next day’s column along with ali sanchez but not himself, sylvester!
a jewel thief! a common criminal!
it was as if a door had suddenly opened for sylvester, exposing both the darkness of the universe and the perfidy of the human animal.
sylvester was crushed. he had to confide in someone, and at his next tete-a-tete with marion dilworth, at a discreet little private club in the north bronx, he poured out his frustration.
marion was amused. mildly amused, but amused.
“that is the way it is, my dear friend,” she assured him in her combination british-dixie accent. “that is how it has been since the world began, or at least since walter winchell wrote his first column.”
“but it isn’t right - i am worth tens of millions and harry hobble and bert stafford are creatures from the gutter. and this slade - a common thief!”
marion shrugged. sylvester realized, not for the first time, that he was boring her. “well, “ she drawled, “this jewel thief personage was with hyacinth wilde, after all.”
“and who might she be?”
“a young woman with sharp claws and bright eyes on the main chance - reputed to be quite the person to watch on broadway this coming season. this slade person must not be the jealous type, because she has her hooks in much bigger fish than him.”
sylvester just nodded. he realized that marion had little sympathy for his plight.
and if she did not, who would?
this was a turning point. sylvester gradually withdrew from the bright lights and became an increasingly embittered recluse.
years went by.
sylvester harbored and nursed grudges. harry hobble and bert stafford and the other gossip columnists were beneath him, but he kept his eye on ali sanchez and the other international playboys who found their favor.
and slade and his ilk . sylvester became obsessed with criminals who gained any slight fame or were accorded any glamour by the press.
he waited for a chance to get his own back at them.