Thursday, June 23, 2016

games, part 2

by harold p sternhagen writing as "ralph desmond"

being a sequel to fun

illustrated by konrad kraus

originally appeared in the july through october 1952 issues of walloping midnight stories magazine

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

part two

for part one, click here

julie, a girl who wanted something to remember…

mrs smith woke up. it was just beginning to get light.

she had slept better than she had expected to, under the circumstances.

this was the morning. the one she had been waiting for.

she just hoped julie would get up on time, and not have to be dragged out of bed.

then she heard someone moving in the kitchen.

for a second she thought it must be an intruder, or george come back after all these years…

and then she realized it must be julie. that she had actually gotten up by herself - early!

maybe julie was nervous about the upcoming day. as she might well be, although she always slept like a mountain range.

mrs smith got up and put her bathrobe on and went over and opened the bedroom door a crack.

“is that you, julie?” she asked.

“yes, mother, ” julie answered in an even voice. a lot of people would say something like “who else would it be?” but julie was not one of those people.

mrs smith felt hugely relieved. everything was going be all right.

they would get through the day as planned - and then - hallelujah! - she would be rid of julie.

mrs smith decided to have a cup of coffee before getting dressed.

julie was seated at the kitchen table with a big plate of ham and eggs and pancakes in front of her. she did not look like she had been crying or was otherwise distressed.

maybe she was finally coming around to accepting her fate - or even looking forward to it. that would be nice!

mrs smith put the kettle on to make herself coffee. julie never drank coffee, just endless big glasses of milk.

mrs smith started to make some remark about the coming day but thought better of it. let well enough alone!

when they finished breakfast, and mrs smith got dressed, mrs smith would then drive julie to the bus station, in plenty of time to catch the 9 o’clock bus to thomasville, where she would get a connecting bus to the city.

waiting for julie in the city would be her new husband - well of course he will be her new husband, mrs smith thought, she’s never had an old one - whom neither julie nor mrs smith had ever seen, except in a smudgy photograph.

the blurry photo might have aroused suspicions in someone less trusting than julie, or less determined to see things through than mrs smith.

all contact and negotiations with the new husband, mister garver, had been made by mrs smith, and the deal had been sealed in a letter they had received three days ago.

on the night before, julie had gotten all packed and ready to go.

lord knew it was surely an old fashioned way to get your business done in this modern age, but what could mrs smith do?

looking at julie now, packing away the pancakes, mrs smith thought yet again - maybe if only the girl didn’t eat so much!. enough for three hired men on a windy day in haying time.

but there you had it. julie was nineteen years old, out of school almost two whole years, and showed no sign of either catching a husband or being able to hold a job.

the girl was not too bad looking, neither good looking nor ugly, and so far, neither fat nor thin. although surely that last would change if mr garver allowed her to keep feeding her face the way mrs smith had.

she had had several jobs, but none had lasted more than a few weeks. although she had usually showed up on time, and was never rude or argued with either her employers or any customers, her daydreamy ways - she would just stop what she was doing - even if it was bringing an order to some customers in a diner - quickly proved her undoing.

and they had no relatives close enough to take her on and keep her because she was family.

so julie just sat around. with nothing much to do, now that they had sold what was left of the farm. mrs smith continued to give her a small allowance, like she was still a little girl, and julie spent most of it on comic books. mostly romance comics, but she liked walt disney comics and archie comics too.

mrs smith was just stirring some cream into her coffee when julie put her fork down and announced “i’m ready, mother. whenever you are.” which was a long speech for her.

“well, that’s nice, dear. just let me finish my coffee.” mrs smith decided to take her while the taking was good and have her own breakfast when she got back.


watching the bus pull out from thomasville - thank goodness it had been on time! - mrs smith shed a few tears.

it occurred to her that neither of them had mentioned writing to each other.

mrs smith decided, if she didn’t hear from julie or mister garver in two weeks, she would send a short note or a postcard to mister garver.


six p m, the busiest time of day at the bus station.

edna had first served the girl a strawberry ice cream sundae almost five hours ago. since then she had continued to sit there, hardly looking at the clock on the wall, and ordered a couple of glasses of milk and a cup of tea.

the girl looked kind of country, though of course you never saw any real country folk any more.

it was not that unusual for someone to wait long hours for someone to pick them up at the bus station.

but after a couple of hours, edna had asked her, friendly like - “waiting for someone, honey?”

and the girl had answered politely, “yes. my husband.” but she did not seem inclined to talk, and it was pretty busy, so edna left her alone.

when edna finished her shift at ten o’clock the girl was still sitting there.

part 3

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