Wednesday, October 2, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 126: "the discrimination of proper placement"

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

raoul, with a glance at the clock, came over to the seated jasper.

"excellent timing, sir. it is two minutes to closing time. what will you have?"

"two minutes, eh? i should have time for at least three doubles." jasper looked over at mortimer so see if he showed any appreciation for this amusing comment, but mortimer's attention seemed elsewhere.

"a double what, sir? scotch? i would be happy to serve you a double something but with my careful attention to detail i might not have time before closing to prepare a second one. also, here at the prince hal room, we don't like to have to perform first aid on choking patrons, though of course we make every effort to do so if it becomes absolutely necessary."

jasper hesitated. "that's quite a speech. i bet you were class valedictorian in your high school in harrisburg pennsylvania before you came to the big city to pursue your career in the dawwwnce."

"what would you like , sir? the clock is ticking. a double scotch?"

"no, rye. i guess you haven't been a bartender very long if you can't tell a rye man from a scotch man."

"certainly, sir. on the rocks?"

"good god, do i look like a man who would drink rye on the rocks? of course not. and make it old overholt, if you have it."

"i believe we do, sir, though it might take a few moments to find it."

"do what you must, do what do you must." jasper sighed, and slouched against the bar.

jasper was twenty-three years old, but had - and cultivated - the mannerisms of a drunkard two or three times his age.

raoul went down the bar in search of the old overholt and jasper looked over at mortimer.

"you know, in theodore dreiser's day, and ring lardner's day, bartenders were bartenders. they were workmen worthy of their hire, and took pride in their profession."

mortimer looked up from his glass of ginger ale. "that sounds about right."

"and it was a profession. a profession as honorable as being a surgeon or a lawyer. or even the publisher of a newspaper. if i may say so."

mortimer nodded.

"now they are all act-ors, or dawwncers in the balll-ay. or else one of these artists who sell paintings that look like a cow kicked a can of paint over on its way to the slaughterhouse."

"um - i don't know that raoul is any of those things," mortimer answered. "you'd have to ask him."

"raoul! what kind of name is that for a bartender? did h l mencken ever have a pint drawn by a bartender named raoul?"

"i think it's kind of a classy name."

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