Thursday, December 15, 2016

games, part 24

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

“you got a smoke?” rosie asked hal.

uh, sure,” hal answered. he exhaled, apparently recovered from his shock at seeing rosie.

“you two know each other?” brenda asked, “not that it’s any of my business.”

“oh, yeah, we know each other,” rosie answered. “we go way back. well, maybe not so far back as all that.”

hal had taken a crumpled pack of old golds out of his pocket and was looking inside it. “it looks like i only got two left,” he told rosie.

“that’s good, that means i won’t be taking your last one. not that i wouldn’t take your last one, “ rosie laughed.

“you know, missus,” sal addressed brenda as hal was lighting his next to last cigarette in rosie’s lips, “we really appreciate your letting us come up here like this, don’t we, rosie?”

“for sure,” rosie agreed, blowing a smoke ring.

“you got a heart of gold, missus,” sal continued. “just like your daughter here. i always tell her, she has the heart of all the nine golden virgins rolled up in one, and the saints in heaven too.”

“you don’t say so,” brenda laughed. “and look at her, she’s not even blushing.”

“that’s because i’ve told her before,” said sal.

“don’t get me wrong, i appreciate being up here,” rosie said to brenda. “but did somebody say something about making ourselves useful?”

“maybe later,” brenda told her. “i’ll let you know. for now, just sit down and relax.” she pulled a chair away from the kitchen table and nodded to rosie to sit down in it.

“yes, you two just sit down for now and i’ll get you some pie,” jenny told rosie and sal.

“well, i was just going to bed, so i’ll see you all later,” said hal.

“what!” rosie cried. “you don’t want to talk about old times? come on, cowboy, have a seat, tell me what you’ve been up to.”

hal hesitated. if he left, who knew what rosie would tell them about him? he didn’t care about the girl, or rosie’s friend, but the landlady…

“sure,” hal agreed. “why not?” he pulled a chair up across from rosie. “i’d like some pie, too, miss,’ he told jenny. “if you don’t mind.”


the professor woke up.

he didn’t know where he was or who he was.

as this happened to him often, he was not unduly perturbed.

he was lying on a strange bed - a huge old four-poster bed. he was wearing clothes several sizes too large for him.

he sat up and looked around. he was in what was obviously a woman’s bedroom. but there was no sign of a woman or any other living creature.

what there was a sign of was a raging storm, battering at the windows of the bedroom.

he got up and headed for the door of the bedroom. he almost tripped over the rolled up cuffs of the pants he was wearing.

there was a railing on a landing outside the bedroom, looking down over a large room with a big dark fireplace.

the professor saw tracks of mud on the landing and on the stairs and in front of a large oak door on the ground floor.

things started to come back to him.

money. millions of dollars… buried in the basement…

suddenly the house started to shake.


julie looked up at the house.

so brightly lit, and yet so quiet. and with nobody visible through the brightly lit windows. shouldn’tt there be somebody walking around in there?

“come on,” bob said, “what are you waiting for?’ he was halfway up the walk to the front door.

“i don’t know,” said julie. “it’s… kind of scary.”

“what can happen?” bob asked. “i’ll protect you,” he added gallantly. “and besides, at least it will be dry.”

julie still hesitated. then she heard a car coming down the street.

mister garver!

julie hurried up the walk and joined bob.

bob looked for a bell but could not find one. there was a heavy knocker on the door and he lifted it .


brenda had gone back to her room, after leaving the blankets, flashlights and candles in the pantry.

jenny stayed in the kitchen with rosie, sal, and hal, after giving them all pie, and sal and rosie some coffee. she wanted to keep an eye on them even though she was pretty sure - well, she hoped - rosie and sal wouldn’t steal anything.

“so, cowboy,” rosie asked hal. “how have you been? still looking for that big score? always looking for that big score, that’s what i remember about you.”

“are you really a cowboy?” sal asked hal.

“naw, that’s just her little joke. i was a football player back then - for florida state.”

“oh.” sal did not look impressed.

“yeah, in tallahassee,” rosie said. “the dump of dumps. the only place in america where you can get eaten by an alligator. like you were in the jungle or mars or someplace uncivilized.”

“so what were you doing in tallahassee?” jenny asked rosie.

“looking for ways to get out of it before i got eaten by an alligator. like we all were, right, sport?”

“nobody stays in one place forever,” hal replied. brenda was gone, and he had had enough of rosie, so when he finished his pie he was going to head for his room.

“but you were the guy who was going places, if i remember rightly,” rosie persisted. “always with the big plans. hey, remember old mrs wadcaller?”

“who?” hal asked.

“old mrs wadcaller! at the old wadcaller place about ten miles outside town, in the middle of the swamp. you of all people got to remember.” rosie turned to sal and jenny. “there was this big old house out in the swamp, and this crazy old lady lived there alone and there was talk she had millions buried there. ha, ha! and there were always some fools thinking up ways to find it. ain’t that right, cowboy?”

“i never really believed it,” said hal. “if we went out there it was just for a gag.”

“that’s not how i remember it,” said rosie. “that’s not how i remember it at all, ha, ha!”

“there’s a place like that outside every town in the u s a ,” said sal, as she grabbed another forkful of pie.

“that’s right,” said jenny. “we got one right here. the old morris place. they say people have been talking about old mrs morris and her millions for thirty years but nothing ever comes of it.”

“ exactly,” rosie agreed. suddenly her mouth flew open like a country well and she stared at hal -

“hey, you don’t suppose - ha ha ha !…..”

part 25

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