Friday, July 1, 2016

games, part 3

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

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

julie was sly, and she had good peripheral vision. she had been constantly checking the clock on the bus station wall, although it might not have seemed to an observer that she was doing so.

this is too good to be true, she thought. she felt almost giddy.

she had resigned herself to meeting her prospective husband, the mysterious “mister garver” and going away with him for at least a little while, until she could manage to escape.

but now she was here, and mister garver was not! she could escape now!

but - if she left now, would he come looking for her? maybe he would ask the police to look for her, or to be on the lookout for her?

how foolish she would look! and it would not be the greatest way to start off with him.

but if she waited long enough… if she waited long enough that it would seen reasonable to wander off…

she did not have an address or telephone number for him. she was not even sure what city he lived in. just because he was picking her up at the bus stop in the city did not mean he lived there.

julie had had a plan all along to escape.

in the previous winter she had gone for a walk in a snowstorm - because she liked to go for walks in snowstorms - and she had found a small purse on a sidewalk.

the purse contained two diamond rings. she took the purse and the rings home and never told her mother or anybody else about them.

julie did not know anything about jewelry, but she felt sure that the rings were worth at least $5,000 each, and that in an emergency she could take one or both to a pawnshop and get that much for them.

sometimes she thought about taking the rings to a pawnshop and making sure they were worth that much…

but she never did. suppose the owner was looking for the rings and the police had told the pawnshops to be on the lookout for them!

no, better to wait until she was far away, where the rings would not be recognized by anybody.

nor did she take any books about jewelry out of the library that she might use to verify the worth of the rings, as she sometimes thought of doing.

with $10,000 she figured she could live at least 15 years, even if she never got a job or made any money any other way.

she worked it out with a pencil and paper, one day when her mother was at work.

she figured she could get a room for $5 a week - maybe even at a boarding house where they would feed her! although she had heard her mother and other people say that old fashioned boarding houses were going out of style. but even if she could not get meals at the boarding house, she should be able to eat on $1 a day, easy. that was $12 a week.

12 times 52 weeks in a year came to $624. she checked and rechecked her arithmetic several times.

the hard part was dividing $10,000 by 624 - it came to 16 years with a little left over.

but she might have to buy clothes once in a while, and stuff like toothpaste and soap and lipstick - so call it 15 years.

julie was proud of herself for figuring things out so exactly.

all she had to do was get far away and find a pawnshop and she would be all set.

15 years was an eternity, for sure. but julie had plans even beyond that.

she was going to use the 15 years to write a best-selling novel, which would make her so rich that she would have money forever even if she lived to be 90 or 100 years old.

or maybe she would write a hit broadway play. she had read or heard somewhere that a hit broadway play could make even more than a best selling novel. especially if it got made into a movie!

anyway, she had all the time in the world.

the important thing right now was to decide how long she should wait for mister garver.

ten o’clock? eleven o’clock?

julie was not at all nervous. she now felt completely sure that mister garver, for whatever reason, or whoever or whatever he was, was not going to show up.

as sure as she was that the rings were worth $10,000, and that she could live off them for fifteen years.

ten o’clock came. julie decided to wait until ten thirty.

she wondered if she should order something else, if she was going to keep sitting there.

she did not want another cup of tea. what she really wanted was a glass of milk, but she had felt self-conscious about ordering one. her mother had always teased her a little about drinking milk “like a little girl’”.

julie noticed that a new waitress had come on - tall, skinny, kind of mean looking. she exchanged a few words with the waitress who had been there since julie arrived, and then the original waitress came over to julie.

“can i get you something, honey, before i go?”

“can i get a glass of milk?” julie asked.

“sure. it’s ten cents.” some people thought milk was free, like water.

“i’ll take it.”

edna brought julie the glass of milk. it wasn’t as big as julie would have liked but she didn’t say anything.

“still waiting for that husband of yours?”

“yes, i am.”

“is he late a lot?” edna asked.

“i don’t know.”

“you don’t know? why, haven’t you ever had to wait for him before? you must be just married.” edna smiled.

“no, i’ve never met him.”

“never met him!”


there was something about edna’s friendly gaze that made julie tell her her whole story - leaving out the $10,000 diamond rings.

while she was telling the story, one other customer came in - an ordinary looking man who ordered a cup of coffee.

the rest of the time the new waitress was leaning on the counter a few feet away listening, and julie heard her snicker a couple of times but ignored her.

edna was horrified. she had heard a lot of sad stories, but julie’s was one of the worst.

“you know, honey, it’s not for me to say, but i kind of don’t think this fellow is going to show up.”

“no,” julie answered matter of factly, “ i don’t think he is either.”

“so, what are you going to do?”

“i thought i would start hitchhiking. um - do you have a car? maybe you could give me a lift to where i could start?”

“hitchhike! and at this time of night? and to where?”

“oh, i don’t know. new york, chicago, philadelphia.”

“honey, you don’t want to hitchhike anywhere. i tell you what, why don’t you come home with me. you can sleep on my couch and in the morning you can decide what to do - go back to your mother or whatever.”

julie had no intention of going back to her mother, but the idea of a night’s sleep indoors sounded pretty good, so she said, “all right.”

edna was soft-hearted and was always taking strays in. cats, dogs, women and girls - sometimes even boys or men. very young boys or very old men, but boys and men. her friends told her she was crazy, and she would get herself killed, but she mostly enjoyed it - she liked listening to people’s stories better than the radio. and it broke the monotony of her existence.

now she took out a jacket she had folded up under the counter, and a hat, and put them on.

“you want to finish that milk?” she asked julie.

julie had a moment of panic that mister garver would suddenly show up. she drained the milk off in one gulp.

over edna’s shoulder she could see a smirk on the other waitress’s nasty face,

julie wiped her mouth on her sleeve. “all right, let’s go.”

part 4

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