Tuesday, March 5, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 99: "Dee-lish"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo* 

illustrations by danny delacroix and eddie el greco

*Assistant Professor of American Popular Culture, assistant Bowling Club coach, Olney Community College; editor of Tramp Steamer Bound for Borneo: 37 Previously Uncollected Tales of the South Seas, by Horace P. Sternwall; Olney Community College Press. Order online now and get a free copy of Up the Long Ladder and Down the Short Rope: 365 Inspirational Sonnets by Horace P. Sternwall (Olney Community College Press; paperback; edited by Dan Leo, original illustrations by Eddie El Greco; foreword by Charlie Rose).



Harold P. Sternhagen (author of A Fine Day For a Lynch Party,  Down Death’s Dark Streets, and Bayou Boy) cleared his throat and then said, or rather almost shouted, as the band was playing very loud, “Excuse me, um, Miss De La Salle?”

Shirley De La Salle looked at him. She’d seen worse, she’d seen lots better. This guy looked like he hadn’t seen daylight in a year. He was thin and his suit was old. A musician? No, he didn’t look hip enough to be a musician.

“You’re excused,” she said, or rather almost shouted, just as Harold had done.

“Um, I, uh —” said the pale thin man. 

But then Shirley noticed his eyes. She knew those eyes. Gage eyes, maryjane eyes. Reefer eyes. What the hell, maybe he was holding — and something better than that skunkweed Tony and the rest of the band smoked.

“Just kidding, fella,” she said. “What’s shakin’, daddy?”

“I, uh, was just wondering if I could, um, buy you a drink. Or —”

“Or what?” said Shirley.

“Or —” Harold realized he was sweating. Like a pig. Did pigs sweat? At any rate, he was sweating, profusely. But wait, was there any other kind of sweating than the profuse kind?

“Yes?” said Shirley. 

“I mean, if you would like another drink,” said Harold. “I wouldn’t want to presume, uh —” “That I would have more than one drink?” said Shirley.

“Um, well,” said Harold, “it’s just that, you know, I know you probably have to sing again tonight, and —”

“Hey, Raoul!” called Shirley, to the barman, who came over at once. “Raoul, you know this guy?”

“Why, yes, Miss De la Salle, ” said Raoul. “This is Mr. Sternhagen. He’s one of our resident guests, and has been for some several years now.”

“He on the up and up?” asked Shirley.

“I have never known Mr. Sternhagen to behave in an obstreperous fashion,” said Raoul.

“No kidding,” said Shirley. “So I’m not going to regret it if I let him buy me a drink?”

“That’s not for me to say, Miss De La Salle. I can only say that I have never had to remove him from the bar, nor have I ever heard any complaints about him.”

“He’s the quiet type, huh?”

“Mr. Sternhagen is an author, Miss.”






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