edited by professor dan leo
illustrated by rhoda penmarq and konrad kraus
executive producer: kathleen maher
part ten of fifteen
to begin at the beginning, click here
I kept my left hand on Clarissa, to hold her up, but also, and primarily, to attempt to reassure her. Even I could tell that things weren’t going well between her and Elektra. I had never before been caught like this in the middle of the field of battle between two warring women, but I had read about such situations many times in my trashy paperbacks, and seen as such dramatized often on television programs such as Johnny Staccato, M Squad, and The Kraft Cheese Dramatic Showcase.
I tried to remember what courses of action or inaction the male protagonists took in these fictional contests, and I realized that no matter what the man did it seemed that someone nearly always wound up dead, sometimes more than one person, and quite often the man.
The end of the world song had faded away some little time ago and been replaced by a loud instrumental rock and roll song, and now -- seeming to roll up out of the crowd on a drum solo -- Jesus appeared by our table, smiling, and casually lighting one of his ever-present Pall Malls.
Instead of his robes he wore raffish seashore attire, an un-ironed and faded pinstriped Oxford shirt rolled up at the sleeves, and wrinkled khakis.
“Arnold, buddy! How’s it going?”
He gave me a little tap on the shoulder
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friends?” he asked. “This must be the famous Elektra! How are you, babe? Arnold has told me all about you?”
“He has?” said Elektra.
She nudged me with her elbow.
“Nothing bad, believe me,” said Jesus.
I knew this was the place where I was supposed to make the introductions, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Even my madness has its bounds.
Fortunately, he took over.
“I’m Josh, by the way,” he said to Elektra.
“Hello, Josh,” said Elektra.
Okay. Josh. That made it easier, certainly easier than Jesus, the Son of God. My politeness forced me to continue the farce.
“Josh,” I said, I think with a certain emphasis, to Jesus, “this is Miss Rathbone.”
She offered her hand and Jesus took it and brushed her knuckles with his lips.
“Oh my,” she said, smiling. “Do call me Charlotte, Josh.”
“I’m Steve,” said Steve, offering his hand.
“How are ya, Steve,” said Jesus, giving Steve’s pale hand a manly shake with his own tanned and strong carpenter’s hand.
“I’m Charlotte’s fiancé, by the way,” asserted Steve.
“Oh you,” said Steve, withdrawing his hand and waving it at Jesus.
“Larry Winchester, Josh,” said Larry, rising up slightly and reaching out his hand.
"Not Larry Winchester the film director?” said Josh, taking Larry’s hand.
“I think it be no other than e’en so,” said Larry.
“Two For Tortuga? Ask Not The Hangman? White Slave Ship? Assignment in Bangalore? The Mystery of Old York Road?”
“At your service, sir.”
Larry disengaged his hand.
“I love your movies, Mr. Winchester,” said Jesus.
“Call me Larry and sit your ass down, friend, you’re drinking on me tonight.”
“Oh, I don’t want to intrude.”
“I said sit the hell down.”
Charlotte moved in closer to Steve, and Jesus sat down across from me. He looked at Clarissa, whose head was just above the level of the table. I could see she was staring right at him.
“And who’s your little friend there, Arnold?” asked Jesus.
Once again I felt her pinch my thigh, but much harder now. It would definitely leave a mark.
“Clarissa,” I said.
“Hello, Clarissa,” said Jesus. “I’m Josh.”
She continued to pinch my thigh.
Gritting my teeth in pain, I said, “She’s very pleased to meet you -- Josh.”
Everyone at the table laughed, and Clarissa finally stopped pinching my thigh.