tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 135: "all nights are long"
by manfred skyline
illustrated by roy dismas and konrad kraus
editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo
pete palomine turned the key in the front door of his modest three story walkup (with loft) on spring street.
"hey, pete!" came a voice from the shadows.
pete was used to being braced at all hours by all sorts of people. for years he had encouraged it, made it his stock in trade.
now he was starting to get a little sick of it. he turned. two figures came toward him.
"bunchy. how it's going, old timer?"
"good, pete, good. hey, you don't seem so excited to see me."
"i've had a long night."
"all nights are long, pete. you don't mind if we come in, do you?"
"no, that's all right, come on in."
"this is my friend rooster. i don't know if you two have met."
pete took in the skinny red-haired young man with his black turtleneck. " i don't think so. you an artist?"
"rooster is a poet."
"that's even worse. but come in, come in." he opened the door and started up the dark stairs. bunchy and rooster followed him.
"there's not much light here, pete."
"you should learn to see in the dark."
when they got to the top of the stairs pete pulled the chain on an overhanging bulb. it shone a yellow light on the door of the loft and he opened the door with a large old-fashioned key.
inside the loft, there was a standing lamp beside the door and pete turned it on, then flopped down on a big stuffed couch.
"you two can make yourselves at home." pete looked up at bunchy. "but i'm not in the mood for much. i'm tired. " he took his jacket off and tossed it on the end of the couch. "were you looking to do some work for me?"
rooster looked over at bunchy. "work?" he asked him.
"you know," pete went on, "i got nothing against other artists - or even poets. but what i'm really looking for is just ordinary folks, you know? winos, junkies, bums - people who are innocent of artifice. the salt of the earth. maybe even people who work for a living."
bunchy laughed. "no, no. pete - you got it all wrong. we're not here about that at all."
"then what are you here for?"
"well, we thought you might have some dope we could buy."