Saturday, September 1, 2012

after the blue salamander

inspired by a painting by rafael de soto

special thanks to patricia ingold for alerting penmarq studios to this masterwork

script by "the chuckler" *

original picture by rafael de soto

other artwork by penmarq studios

* shameless ripoff of the radio show "the whistler"

1. out the wndow

it's getting late - after midnight. maybe even close on two o'clock. outside the hotel window, the moon is shining on the strangely calm caribbean.

just a few hours ago, you thought you had it made, didn't you, molly? you - and in your heart you knew it was you, not that jackass herb crawley that you had to work with - had just pulled off the blue salamander caper, the biggest jewel heist in ten years in the western hemisphere.

but hank crawley couldn't let well enough alone, could he? no. he had big plans to double or triple the take - in a poker game!

the poker game going on right now in the room behind you - the living room of the suite in the hotel continental that hank took as "harold carpenter", a cement tycoon from indianapolis. and you have to admit, hank didn't do a half bad job ingratiating himself with the local moguls and mahatmas.

but when you pointed out, as reasonably as you could, that he couldn't trust these jokers and that they would probably cheat him and not even try to hide it, what did he answer?

"they wouldn't have the nerve to cheat a white man."

go ahead, molly. take another look through the bedroom door - if you dare! ha, ha!
hank's stack of chips is down to almost nothing now. he's sweating like a block of ice on the hottest beach in brazil and his fingers are clutching the empty glass beside him like it was the side of a lifeboat in a typhoon. ha, ha! pretty soon, if he wants more chips, he is going to have to show his new pals some collateral - and what could that be, i wonder? what but the blue salamander and the other priceless jewels you worked so hard to get?

it's not fair, is it? yes, you're always known that life isn't fair, but isn't this stretching it a bit?

but there's the swag itself, cleverly "hidden in plain sight" in a battered briefcase on the bedroom bureau.

and sprawled on the bed beside it, sleeping peacefully - insofar as such a brute does anything "peacefully" - lies grogro, hank's factotum, almost as disgusting a slob as hank himself. hank "trusts" you enough to leave you in the room with the jewels because grogro is there - but even more because of the twenty-two story drop to the water below - water that is calm now but could kick up choppy or stormy in an instant.

twenty-two stories - is that really so many to climb down? come on, molly, haven't you been in tighter spots before? how did you get to be who you are - molly muldoon, international jewel thief, wanted by the police of six continents? currently number twenty-three (and the fourth highest woman) on interpol's most wanted list. you've come a long way, haven't you, molly, from the little shack beside the delaware river where your widowed mother sold crab cakes and potato pancakes to the dockworkers to support her nine children?

twenty-two stories. what's the problem? and the water is calm. this is your chance! you can easily swim to shore. what, are you afraid of getting your hair wet?

so you do it. stepping past grogro is no problem. now the briefcase is in your hand. quick as a cat you are halfway out the window. my, the ledge is narrow, isn't it? and now that you are outside, that water looks a lot farther down, doesn't it?

"boss! quick, quick!" grogro's curiously high-pitched voice sounds like the crack of doom in your ears. you look down - there's nothing else for it now. you take one last look into the bedroom - and hank is coming through the door and grabbing his .357 from its hiding place beside the bed. the faces of a couple of the gamblers look on curiously from the bedroom door.

now! now!

and then you hear a voice from above you.

"need a hand?"

2. game over

don guzman didn't trust gringos. not that that was saying much. he didn't really trust anybody. most of his associates were contemptuous of the americans and other gringos, considering them babes in the woods who knew nothing - hardly better than women. don guzman did not share their easy attitude. what difference did it make if a man was smart or stupid? if he tried to rob or cheat you he still had to be taken care of. no? so he had never taken mister "harold carpenter" at face value, any more than he took anything else at face value. now this nonsense about a woman going out a window. please.

there was no denying that mr "carpenter" was agitated. he tried to send his servant "after the woman". don guzman stood in the servant's way.

"i think we should frisk him," he told gomez, the chief of police. "he might be trying to get away with something."

"this is ridiculous!" carpenter shouted. "if i wanted to send him away with something i could have just done it."

don guzman stared at him placidly.

"the woman is getting away! we have to stop her!"

"ah, yes, the woman. the woman out the window." don guzman laughed.

"she has my - my money - the money i need to pay you if necessary. we are wasting time here."

"very convenient, this woman. strange that you did not introduce her to us."

"she - she did not want to be introduced. you know what women can be like sometimes."

"oh, of course. of course. " don guzman almost smiled.

carpenter sputtered and looked down at the .357 he had shoved in his belt. "look here - if you won't let me go after her now, maybe we can just settle up now. i think we can consider the game over, yes?"

"oh," answered don guzman, " i think we can most definitely consider the game over. so why don't we sit down and - settle up."

carpenter took a deep breath. his eyes were still wild. " you will accept my personal check of course. from a united states bank."

"oh, from an american bank. signed by president roosevelt himself no doubt. let us repair to comfortable chairs, mr carpenter, and discuss this matter like civilized men. but, please, no more nonsense about women in windows, eh?"

"but don guzman," cried gomez, " i saw the woman! in a red dress. she was definitely there."


"and i too saw her," added don renaldo, the commissioner of shipping and tourism. "she was most definitely there. quite a beauty, too, though a bit icy looking for my taste."

don guzman rushed to the window and looked down.

to be continued?

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