Thursday, August 4, 2016

games, part 8

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

the boarding house was quiet.

brenda had taken cindy up to her room on the third floor. cindy had not asked any questions, or spoken at all, which was good.

brenda switched the light on and cindy sat down on the big double bed which took up most of the room and took out her cigarettes.

there was an ashtray on a table beside the bed and brenda pointed to it. “there’s an ashtray there. you can smoke but try not to set the place on fire.”

“yes, ma’am.” the table had a drawer in it and cindy reached over and pulled it open.

it was empty.

“you got a bible?” cindy asked brenda.

“a bible? you want a bible?”

“yeah, sometimes there’s bibles in places like this. it’s something to read, that’s all.”

“you just want something to read?”

“if you got anything.” cindy lit her cigarette, placed the match carefully in the ashtray and leaned back on the bed.

“i got a few books. i got anthony adverse, if you want that. and a couple of mystery books, the case of the this and that.”

cindy yawned. “that sounds good. i don’t mean to put you to any trouble.”

“no trouble. i’ll have jenny bring you the books. you want anything else?”

“no, thank you.”

brenda started to leave and cindy asked, “this place filled up?”

“pretty much, why?”

“it just seems quiet.”

“it’s late. and my regular guests are hard working folks who need a good night’s sleep.”

“yeah. just asking, that’s all.”

brenda went out and closed the door softly behind her.

then she went into her own room, next door. one reason she had personally escorted cindy up to the room was that she wanted to duck into her own room and stash away the two five dollar bills hal had given her.

she put one of the fives between the pages of the telephone book beside her bed. she unscrewed the knob on one of the posts on her bed and slipped the other five inside the bed post.

she did not really expect any trouble from hal and duke or anybody else but she stashed the money like this out of long habit.

she went over to the window and lifted it up a little to get a breath of air.

the night was completely still. but she knew that did not mean a storm wasn’t coming.

she went back downstairs. she found hal seated at the kitchen table by himself.

“where’s your pal?” brenda asked him.

“he’s sacked out. he needs his beauty sleep.”

“it’s late.”

“it ain’t as late as all that. i think i’ll go out for a little walk. if that’s all right with you.”

“suit yourself. but that storm could hit any minute.”

“i been wet before. you going to be up for awhile, to let me in?’

“a little while.” brenda knew there was no point in telling hal he had to be back at a certain time or he would be locked out. she could see he was the type who would just bang and bang and bang and scream and holler until somebody let him in.

“you could stay up and listen to the radio,” said hal. “hear if the storm is really coming.”

brenda shrugged. “it’s either coming or it isn’t.”

hal made no move to get up. “say, it’s awful quiet in this place.”

“it’s late. maybe not for you but for the honest working folks who have to get up in the morning.”

hal laughed. “hey, i’m honest too. it’s not my fault i’m just between jobs right now.”

“right. maybe you better shake your leg if you want to get your exercise before the storm hits.”


jenny rapped on cindy’s door.

“come in.”

jenny went in. cindy was lying on the bed. her little suitcase was at the foot of the bed but looked like it had not been opened.

“here’s those books you wanted.” jenny showed cindy the copies of anthony adverse and the case of the howling dog and the case of the stuttering bishop by erle stanley gardner.

“thanks. just leave them there.”

jenny was a little disappointed that cindy did not seem more talkative. she put the books down. there was a pack of old golds on the little table.

“can i have a cigarette?” she asked cindy.

“they will stunt your growth.”

“i am already big enough.”

cindy laughed. “oh well, in that case help yourself.”

jenny slipped a cigarette out of the pack. “you got a match?”

there was a book of matches on the bed beside cindy and she tossed them to jenny.

“there isn't much to do in this town,” said jenny.

“no, i don’t expect there is.”

part 9

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