admiral morwyn was not the only witness to muggleton's bursting through the hedge -for needless to say it was indeed poor muggleton who burst through the hedge - for who else could it have been? - i put it to you - reader, if perchance you exist, we are not here to play tricks on you but to tell a plain tale as plainly as possible - the good old fashioned way, around the hearth, around the campfire, at the old roadside inn as the landlord prods the embers with his blackened poker - blackened by centuries of low smoke and weary travelers tales - all hastening to the same end - oblivion - but to proceed - we will tell our tale - because every tale must be told - no matter how dreary or boring - yes, every tale must be told - and will be told - every song must be sung - down to the last repeated chorus - every dog will have his day - every cat will have his nip - though at night they all are gray - every nip will have his tuck - every tuck will have his friar - every friar will have his fat jolly nun - every fat jolly nun will have her flask of ale at the bar of the old roadside inn where the travelers tell their timeworn tales - their tales that must be told.
yes, tales that must be told.
but not by muggleton. no, not by muggleton.
muggleton was given his chance, his chance to tell his own tale - and a sad enough tale it was, to be sure - and he made - i will not say a complete hash of it, no, not a complete hash, but by god, we have to get on with it, don't we?
so we will nor hear from muggleton again - we will hear of him to be sure, for he is part of this sorry tale - that must be told regardless - as all tales must be told - but not from him.
on with it, man, on with it.
admiral morwyn was not the only witness to muggleton's bursting through the hedge - beckwith, the butler who ruled castle morwyn with an iron hand - or with a rod of steel, or perhaps with a rod of steel in his iron hand - or in his iron fist, i believe that is the correct term - a tale should be told in correct terms - what, i ask you, is the point of telling it otherwise? - beckwith happened to be looking out the window -
i should say, a window, as there was more than one window in castle morwyn - it could hardy be called a castle, could it now, if it only had one window - beckwith happened to be looking out of the window of the red room - called the red room for what the saints only knew what reason, as there was nothing particularly red about it though there may well have been in the mists of time -
by the time mortimer had helped miss wilde up to her suite, gone back downstairs to the employee's room to get his coat and cap, and filled jackson and chester the bellhop in on what had happened at the automat, the police cars had all left and everything outside seemed back to normal.
he stopped in at the automat. it was now after five o'clock and it was filling up a little.
everyone who had been there at the time of the arrests was gone. jake and cosette had gone home.
betty, who had been shouting louder than anybody - mostly about the reward money - had gone somewhere. maybe she went with the police, to try to collect.
polly, the pretty and polite though not overwhelmingly friendly change girl who worked the graveyard shift was gone too, replaced by louise, the grumpy middle-aged woman who worked the morning shift.
mortimer, of course, talked to everybody and knew everybody's name, even the kind of people whom most of their fellow humans would regard as somewhat less than friendly. but louise looked like she was in an especially foul mood so he just nodded to her.
besides, it was not likely that she would know anything that he didn't.
he would pick up a paper on his way home, at maxie fleischman's newstand on bleecker street, either the gazette or the federal-democrat or both. maybe one of them already had an extra out.
you didn't see as many newsboys out on the street shouting "extra! extra! " as you used to, like you did before the war.
times were changing. mortimer didn't like it much, but what could you do?
he didn't really want a cup of coffee or anything else - his mother would make him a nice cup of chase and sanborn when he got home. but he didn't like to stop in at a place without buying something - it just seemed rude - so he got a cup of coffee and took a seat beside the window.
what a night! not that he hadn't seen plenty of even crazier nights in his twenty-six years at the st crispian. especially when the stock market crashed. and during the war.
dawn was just beginning to break over the saw mill river when michael eased the mud-pattered studebaker into the driveway of his elmsford home.
his home. all his.
because he knew carol wasn't coming back.
he didn't know where she had gone, but he knew she wasn't coming back.
he would have to listen to questions from his parents and people in the neighborhood, and maybe put up with some razzing or snide remarks at the firm, but basically he felt relieved.
he would never have to listen to carol again.
he could be michael again, and never again have to answer to the name of henry.
he got out of the car and locked it.
he went to the front door and unlocked it.
what a bore life was, forever locking and unlocking things.
suddenly he wondered if he would ever have another girl friend, or another wife.
gee, why think about that now, when he was newly freed? he pushed the thought out of his head.
it was replaced by another thought - would he have to go through the rigmarole of actually divorcing carol? she was not coming back. not even for some of his money. somehow he knew this. so why bother?
unless he wanted to marry someone else.
that was the least of his worries right now.
he hung his hat up on the coatrack inside the front door and sat down on the couch in the living room .
did he want a drink?
not really. not enough to bother making one.
strangely, he was not tired. and he didn't have to go to work.
he looked up and saw his most precious possession.
his television set.
he looked at his watch. almost five thirty. the news would come on in another hour.
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."
when sniffy returned from the ladies room to her booth in bob's bowery bar her new poet friend was still there. it looked like he hadn't touched his beer.
"thanks," she told him, as she slid into her seat.
"not a problem," he replied. "i guess the seat must be very important to you, " he added with a straight face.
was that some kind of smart crack? but sniffy just said, "i'm waiting for somebody."
"of course." he stared at her.
"so you're a poet, huh?" she asked him, just to break the silence.
"yes, of sorts."
"aren't all poets of sorts?"
"ha ha. yes, well, i dabble in poetry but it is not my primary avocation."
"no, my primary avocation is science. i am a scientist."
"bully for you."
"yes, i am engaged in a groundbreaking study which i believe will cause a revolution in human understanding in our time."
"double bully for you."
the poet - scientist stared intently at sniffy. "tell me, have you heard of doctor alfred kinsey?"
sniffy stared back. "heard of him? yeah, i've heard of him. and talked to him, too. me and my friend rooster were some of the first people he talked to when he started coming around." she laughed. "so, if you're trying to pass yourself off as kinsey, pal - "
"oh, no no! ha ha, what a thought! no, my name is morgenthaler - percival morgenthaler, and i assure you i am my own man. very much my own man, ha ha!"
"so what's kinsey got to with it?"
"i was just going to say that, like kinsey, i aim to explore a vast area of human experience too long neglected by respectable science. something far, far more fundamental than sex."
shirley was flying. it wasn't the best dope she ever smoked, not by any means, but the price was right. like absolutely free, no questions asked.
these two guys from duquesne, iowa - or was it dubuque, iowa? - wherever - were a hoot. they acted liked total squares from squaresville in some ways, but they weren't cheesegrinders, giving their dope away like that, and if you asked them anything they gave you a big smile and an answer.
"so what did you guys say your names were again?"
"mister burgoyne," mister burgoyne responded with a big smile, "and mister o'toole."
"i got that part, i meant what are your first names? besides mister? i mean, now that we're the best friends in the whole wide world, we ought to know each other's first names, right?"
mister burgoyne and mister o'toole looked at each other.
harold p sternhagen, who had inhaled a little less than the others, felt a little resentful that shirley - the light of his life - was paying so much attention to the two strangers. he knew it was stupid - it was their dope, after all - but he couldn't help it.
at first he had been euphoric just to be in the same room with her. now he wished she would look his way just once.
"johnny, " said harold. "all burgoynes must be named johnny, right?"
"ha, ha," burgoyne laughed happily. "that's me - johnny."
"and o'toole - let me think," harold continued. "what's a good name for an o'toole? how about - pete? pete o'toole. no, that's a little too thuggish. how about peter o'toole! that's got a nice ring to it. a nice manly ring."
"yes, peter o'toole," mister o'toole agreed, and they all laughed.