Thursday, July 21, 2016

games, part 6

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

jenny was restless, as she usually was when she didn’t have enough to do.

of course if she had anything to do, she would be complaining about it.

on the whole, mrs baxter preferred jenny complaining to jenny with nothing to do but sit around and sulk.

and think.

think about the stuff dreams are made of.

like $90,000.

the $90,000 buried in the cellar of the boarding house.

the $90,000 mrs baxter’s late husband jeff miller had robbed from the thomasville bank on “bloody tuesday” four long years ago, with his partner ray “frogman” williamson.

the f b i and the police of six states were still looking for jeff and the frogman, and their unlovely visages could be seen on “wanted” posters throughout the u s a, canada, and mexico.

what the lawmen did not know was that jeff and frogman had had a falling out after the robbery, with jeff calling the frogman a hot headed fool and blaming him for the gunfire at the bank.

frogman had drawn on jeff and shot him dead.

but then brenda - jeff’s wife - had shot the frogman in the back.

brenda and her stepdaughter jenny - jeff’s daughter by his first wife - had buried the two defunct desperadoes in the woods behind an abandoned mill a few miles outside harrisville.

and made off with the $90,000.

they hitched a ride to the next town and caught a bus to bainville, two states over.

brenda had never even heard of bainville, did not know anybody there, and nobody knew her.

at the time jenny was only thirteen years old, a not very bright but docile child who did not seem at all broken up by jeff’s death and was content to go along and get along with brenda.

brenda knew enough not to call attention to themselves by spending the money in an ostentatious manner.

she had a little money of her own saved up and she peeled off some of the older looking bills from the robbery and bought a house in bainville and set it up as a boarding house.

she decided to call herself the widow “mrs baxter”. jenny kept the name “jenny miller”. it was a common enough name and brenda was afraid she might forget to use a new one.

brenda thought some of the money from the bank might be “hot” and traceable and a story she read in the st louis post-dispatch seemed to confirm her fears.

so brenda and jenny wrapped the money up in several layers of burlap and buried it in the cellar of the boarding house.

the boarding house prospered.

it became known for two things.

one, its respectability. brenda did not want any riffraff or hoodlums who might recognize her coming around so she tried to cut down on the possibility of such an occurrence by making it known that “respectable” was not just a word with her but something she took seriously.

and the other thing the boarding house became known for was “mrs baxter”’s pies, especially her apple and blueberry pies.

the pies became a profitable sideline. however, brenda had to make them herself, as jenny was useless at baking them or cooking or baking much of anything.

brenda wore her hair in a tight bun, did not use lipstick or makeup, and put on thirty pounds eating her own famous pies. she grew confident that no one would recognize her as the notorious gunman jeff miller’s “moll”.

jenny was a sullen but not rebellious teenager. she attended the local schools but did not make any friends. she was lazy and never did the simplest things without being told.

it was her job to make the beds but she had to be told every day, “jenny, make the beds”.

brenda gave jenny a small allowance and she spent it mostly on nail polish and eye liner.

jenny had no use for boys. her only real vice was occasionally swiping and smoking brenda’s cigarettes.

she smoked the cigarettes in the basement, down with the buried loot.

there was a little cot down there, to be brought upstairs if a guest with children showed up, and jenny would lie on it and puff brenda’s herbert tareytons and daydream.

she did not dream about boys or men, but she did dream about having nice things.

like having a bed for herself big enough for five people, and a closet the size of the state of missouri filled with nice dresses and shoes…

and right beside her as she dreamed was the stuff to get these things…

90 grand…

the stuff dreams were made of….

and that was how things stood at mrs baxter’s respectable boarding house when hal and duke and cindy showed up.

part 7

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