Friday, July 5, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 116: "The Ballad of You and Me and Us"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo* 

illustrations by konrad kraus and eddie el greco

*Assistant Professor of Fantastic Literature, Associate Rugby Coach, Olney Community College; editor of Return to Harrowgate and 37 Other Tales of the Working Class by Horace P. Sternwall, with an Afterword by Johnny Carson; Olney Community College Press.

Lying on his filthy bed in his wretched single room the doomed romantic poet Hector Phillips Stone considered his options.

One good plan would be just to walk out to the middle of the Williamsburg Bridge and take a flying leap.

Or, and this would call for considerably less effort on his part, he could go downstairs, walk to the nearby corner of Bleecker and the Bowery, wait for a large truck or bus to come rumbling up and simply step in front of it.

For that matter, and requiring even less physical effort, he could just get out of bed, go to the window and throw himself out; after all, six floors down to the hard pavement should do the job well enough. 

Hector had smoked his last cigarette and he had no more, as well as no more money and no more whiskey, and so with a resigned sigh he dragged his emaciated body off of his bed and went to the window, his only window, which overlooked the Bowery. He pulled the sash up, not without difficulty, but eventually he got it up, and the fetid air of the slums below wafted in to merge with the even more vile atmosphere of his room.

Hector looked down, everything was so much less ugly now that it was nighttime: the elevated train tracks and the street below, the passing cars and trucks and their headlights, the wretched drunks stumbling along the sidewalks.

Then he remembered that he was afraid of heights.

No, he didn’t have the guts, not to do it this way.

He wouldn’t be able to jump off the Williamsburg Bridge, either, who was he kidding.

No, his only reasonable choice was to step in front of a fast-moving truck. 

And would he even have the courage to do that?

Well, he would see.

He considered shaving first, just to leave a reasonable last impression on the world, but he remembered that the only blade he had left was horribly dull and rusty, so he passed on that

He put on his suit jacket, his only suit jacket, a tweed, as befitted his calling.

He even put on a necktie, the only one he had left, his old school tie from St. Joseph’s Prep.

He put on his genuine Basque beret, and, the final touch of the poet’s uniform, his burgundy scarf, which was in fact the official scarf of the St. Joe’s Prep Aesthetics Club, of which he had been president in his senior year, at least until he was finally expelled for drunkenly vomiting in Father Flaherty’s confessional booth one wet Saturday afternoon in March.

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