Wednesday, May 18, 2016

the golden gumdrop caper, part 23

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

pippi’s friend sally was able to find angie a room to rent, from one of the members of sally’s little congregation.

it was on bleecker st near lafayette, above a pawn shop, and angie paid twelve dollars up front for two weeks.

a perfect spot to dream of scoring millions.

the congregation lady, who ran the pawn shop wth her husband, directed angie to a parking lot on crosby st where she was could park the desoto.

after some consideration, angie had decided to keep the car, even though it made her nervous.

she did not want to fritter her money away on cabs, or be reduced to taking the subway or buses.

the people - or person, if the lawyer dick richmond was to be believed - who had been able to spring her from the women’s reformatory - surely they could provide her with a safe car.

and she had seen no sign that she had been followed or spotted.

she felt she could trust ruth barry, who might not have even seen the car.

after leaving the car in the lot, she returned to the little room over the pawn shop, pulled the shade on the single window, and slept for twenty-four hours.


“where’s golden girl?” marrero asked iron mask.

angie’s dorm mates were puzzled by her absence, but only marrero and collins were interested enough to ask about it.

they felt, as they did about a lot of things, that some kind of fast one was being pulled.

iron mask didn’t look up from the paperback book she was reading. “you mean ricardo? she’s sick.’

“i didn’t hear nothing. and nobody else did either.”

“i guess you’re a sound sleeper. that’s what happens when you have a clean life and gets lots of exercise.”

“so she’s in the infirmary?”

iron mask hesitated. “i heard she got taken outside.”

“you don’t say. she must have been pretty sick.”

iron mask finally glanced up at marrero. “i guess she must have been.”

marrero met iron mask’s gaze. “did she have something we are all going to get?”

“i couldn’t say. i’m not a doctor.”

“did they say it was contagious - what she had?”

“not that i heard.”

“i don’t want to get sick,” marrero persisted.

iron mask looked back down at her book. “don’t worry. if you do, we’ll take good care of you. just like we always do.”

“maybe princess was pregnant.”

iron mask laughed. “did she look pregnant? and if you don’t mind may asking, madam, what business is it of yours?”

“i’m just nosey.”

“well, run along, nosey, and get some of that good exercise that makes you sleep good at night.”

“you mean in the yard?” marrero asked. “you’ll give me a pass right now to go out in the yard?”

“yeah, i’ll get you a pass to go in the yard. for one hour.” iron mask reached for her phone. “because you’ve been such a good girl.”

collins had been hanging back behind marrero during the whole conversation. now she spoke up. “can i have one too?”

iron mask looked at collins. “you can have one after she comes back.”

“thank you,” collins answered.

marrero looked back at collins. the two of them were able to communicate with few or no words, and the look marrero now gave collins said -

“something is going on here.”


angie woke up.

it wasn’t a dream. she was in the little room, so all the other stuff must have happened too.

she sat up and rubbed her eyes. she was not sure what time it was, but she felt she had slept for a while and from the sunlight coming through beneath the shade, it must be the next afternoon - friday afternoon.

and she was not to meet dick richmond at red’s diner until monday. she had been careful to leave enough time, but now wished she had made it sooner.

she had been so beat after parking the car that she had not even gone to a drugstore to buy some soap or toothpaste.

she got up and got a glass of water from the little sink in the room and rinsed her mouth out. the bathroom was down the hall.

a good place to dream of scoring millions.

she wasn’t particularly hungry. she decided to get a cup of coffee - with two or three refills - and a doughnut or a piece of pie, and then find a drugstore and get what she needed - including some black or brown hair dye.

the dye job wouldn’t be much, but it would be worth it.

there was a side staircase that she could go down without going into the pawn shop.

when she got down to the street she found salome sitting on the sidewalk outside the pawn shop.

salome jumped up when she saw angie. “miss brown! did you have a nice nap?”

“i did, thank you.” had angie asked the girl to wait for her? she didn’t think so. she started walking east, back toward broadway and the bowery, and nodded to salome to follow her.

“where are we headed?” salome asked her.

“the first place i can get a cup of coffee.”

“there’s a place i know just down here. they got good jelly doughnuts. you can buy me one.”

“sure, why not? where’s your friend?”

“you mean pip. oh, her and her friend sally, they were talking on about saving souls and such.”

angie laughed. “and you - you didn’t want your soul saved?”

“maybe not right now, this morning. i thought i’d get some fresh air, and check up on you, miss brown. see how you were doing, you know? we didn’t know if you were dead, or just sleeping. “

“thank you, that was very thoughtful.”

they walked a little way without speaking.

“look here,” angie finally said. “this pippi - and all this stuff about the lord and saving souls - is she on the level?”

“ha, ha! i guess so. i got to know her pretty good up at the school. it’s like she’s two different people in one. she can rob and steal and con with the best of them, but then she gets on about the lord and that’s real too, know what i mean?”

“i’ve known people like that,” angie said. “they are two people, or even three or four. a lot of people are like that. i think most people are like that.”

“if you say so, miss brown. but here we are.”

the coffee shop had a sign above it, but it was faded and angie couldn’t read it with the noonday sun glinting off it.

salome pushed the door open, and angie followed her in.

part 24

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