Tuesday, January 29, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 94: "The Ballad of Holy Joe"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo* 

illustrations by danny delacroix and eddie el greco

*Associate Professor of American Studies, assistant checkers coach, Olney Community College; editor of Whiskey and Baked Beans: The Western Poems of Horace P. Sternwall, Vol. 1; Olney Community College Press. Made possible in part by a generous grant from Bob’s Bowery Bar on the corner of Bleecker and the Bowery: “No credit cards, no credit, and no whining!”




In Bob’s Bowery Bar, Landon “Rooster” Crow and Alice “Sniffy” Smith continued to wait for the return of the “two Bills” (Bill Grey and Bill Leighton) with the promised ounce of marijuana. 

Sniffy continued to jabber, she was going on and on about her days in the WACs again, her glory days in the war, London and Paris and all that crap, when suddenly a shabby unshaven man approached their table.

Oh, no. 

It was Studebaker, Howard Paul Studebaker, the poet. But, unlike Rooster, Studebaker published his poems widely and in fact was considered one of the chief voices of the hearty “Western School” of poets. But Studebaker was also a notorious drunk and a sponge, and he never failed to attempt to borrow money from Rooster every time they met, despite their only rudimentary acquaintance.

“Rooster,” said Studebaker, looming over the table unsteadily, “loan me a fin.”

“No,” said Rooster. “I must have lent you seventy-five dollars over the years and you’ve never paid me back a dime.”

“Just got another poem in the New Yorker, should get a check any day now. Pay ya next week.”

“Absolutely not,” said Rooster.

“Sniffy,” said Studebaker, “loan me a fin.”

“Screw,” said Sniffy. “Can’t you see we’re talking here?”

“Here,” said Studebaker. He pulled a folded sheet of paper from his jacket pocket and tossed it onto the table. “Brand new poem. Wrote it today. Sell it to ya for five bucks.”





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