Thursday, December 27, 2012

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 89: "the best theater"

by manfred skyline

illustrated by roy dismas, rhoda penmarq and konrad kraus

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for complete episode, click here

Monday, December 24, 2012

An Atheist Boy at Christmas

by Prof. Dan Leo

illustrated by konrad kraus

artistic supervisor: rhoda penmarq

I’m an atheist boy at Christmas
but nobody seems to care;

everyone else is having fun
while I’m left alone to stare

into the void of nothingness
that awaits me after death; yes,

I’m just a lonely atheist boy;
to Nature I am just a toy,

a plaything to Eternity,
a trifle to be tossed away
after the world is through with me.

So sing your carols and ride in your sleighs
you happy Christians, whilst I

an atheist boy at Christmastime,
sit alone and drink and cry.

the last woman - 3. companions on the road

by ameline d'ambois

illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq

as a member of the highest aristocracy, the marquise annette de normand had been trained from birth in the twin arts of diplomacy and duplicity.

so it was with no visible trepidation that she accompanied her captors to the carriage they had brought for her arrest. the younger, and apparently better bred of the two men in gray, opened the door of the carriage for her, waited until she was seated, and then, to her mild but unexpressed surprise, followed her in and seated himself across from her. one of the two blue-uniformed guards put his pistol in his belt and jumped up beside the coachman.

the other guard joined the coachman on top of the second carriage. the door of the second carriage opened from within and the older man in gray entered it unassisted.

the guard on top of the first carriage glanced back and signaled to the second coachman. he tapped the coachman beside him on the arm and in seconds they were off down the hill.

annette could not forbear looking out the window at the castle. but the carriage gained speed so quickly that she had no opportunity to see if anyone was at the front window, or to wave to them even if she had.

she leaned back. the carriage was surprisingly comfortable. she looked around the interior. it was also surprisingly clean. suddenly she lurched forward, as the carriage raced around a bend in the road, but she quickly recovered without falling all the way forward into the young man's arms.

leaning back again, she favored her companion with her most dazzling smile. "are we in a hurry?"

"i am afraid so, mademoiselle. the revolution is in a great hurry." he smiled at her. "i, myself, not so much. but i am only a servant of the revolution."

"yes, you mentioned that before. if it is not too impolite, might i inquire your name?"

"manfred. citizen manfred."

"manfred! rather a romantic name, for a humble servant of the revolution."

for complete episode, click here

Friday, December 21, 2012

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 88: "it had come to this"

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

And so it had come to this. 

Landon (unfortunately nicknamed “Rooster”) Crow waited with Alice “Sniffy” Smith in a booth at the back of Bob’s Bowery Bar, waiting for “the two Bills” (Grey and Leighton) to return from God knows where with an ounce of marijuana, an ounce which Rooster and Sniffy hoped to parlay into a twenty-five thousand dollar profit.

Rooster sipped his tepid flat Rheingold beer, then he stubbed out his Philip Morris, and quickly lit another one, not so much because he wanted a cigarette, but because this bar smelled like the interior of the most vile men’s room in the world. If it smelled like this in the barroom, what could it possibly smell like in the bar’s actual men’s room?

Sniffy didn’t seem to mind at all. As soon as they had sat down she had taken the cap off a Benzedrine inhaler, pulled out the cloth strip, wadded it into a little ball, popped it into her mouth and begun to chew it with relish, chattering away about how rich they were going to be, smoking Rooster’s cigarettes, and occasionally taking a sip from her own glass of tepid Rheingold.

It had come to this, as the drunks in the bar screamed and shouted and cackled in dubious hacking laughter, and as Gene Krupa pounded his traps on the jukebox, yes, it had come to this...

Rooster had been something of a celebrity at the University of Oklahoma, the president of the Poetry Club and the editor of the campus literary magazine, The Covered Wagon Review. At the commencement ceremony for his class, in May of 1942, he recited one of his own poems, “Lest Fascism Triumph”, and then the next day, along with several of his fellow young littérateurs, he had gone down to the army recruiting office and enlisted. Rooster happened to be a physical coward who was also completely devoid of patriotic feeling, but he knew he would probably be drafted anyway; it was his plan to use his education to get a safe clerical posting far from battle, but he need not have worried, because his first day of basic training at Fort Dix he woke up screaming, cawing, crowing uncontrollably.

for complete episode, click here

Sunday, December 16, 2012

pals, part 3: dangerous

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by roy dismas and konrad kraus

click here for previous chapter

click here to begin at the beginning

night turned to dawn
the world moved on
on the details i will not dwell
but evening finally fell

i told my brain, don't start
but with a palpitating heart
i made my way back to ray's cafe
wondering what i would say

for i was trembling with fear
that jane would not be there
but if the truth i could tell
i was also afraid of the strange spell

she had cast on my fevered brain
that i could not explain
and i told myself i believed
i would actually be relieved

if she did not even show
and then i could safely go
back to the warm embrace
of the life i had learned to face

life just goes on and on
another night, another dawn
what is wrong with that anyway?
that would be hard to say

now jane had entered the mixture
and changed the whole picture
could i ever go back again
to the way i had always been?

in my brain i heard a roar
my steps brought me closer to the door
i pushed it open with a force of will
and then everything grew still

that is, in my own perception
to everyone else, without exception
nothing in the room, or the world, had changed
everything was still the same

again, henry was not there
but seated in "his" chair
as if she had every right to be
was my woman of mystery

she was looking down at the table
as though she were not able
to unravel some mysterious rune
or hear some forgotten tune

i approached with some hesitation
and fearful trepidation
she suddenly raised her head
"oh, there you are," she said

as if it were the most natural thing
my presence to her to bring
i steadied myself on the table
and responded as well as i was able

"i will only be a minute"
i brought back a glass with liquor in it
what could be more civilized?
a hurricane whirled behind my eyes

"as i was saying", she resumed
and started in on what i would soon
recognize as her obsessions
which branched off in many directions

like henry she was a fund of knowledge
perhaps not learned in any college
of wide repute - but rather
the strange fancies the wind would gather

and scatter to the desperate brains
of those who walk in wind and rain
and seek to look behind the curtain
of this world so flickering and uncertain

she expounded on the "new hope"
but scorned the masons and the pope
einstein and darwin, freud and marx
were only fit to feed the sharks

it all made perfect, and no sense
i was her perfect audience
her flow of words fell down on me
like raindrops on a calm blue sea

then suddenly - she stopped
i thought perhaps she wanted to cop
a cigarette - and offered my pack
but she was staring out the window behind my back

i turned and looked -
nothing - she shook
her head - "for a minute i thought
i saw - wait - i forgot - "

and with this and other mumbles
she jumped to her feet and stumbled
out the door - leaving me
in a cloud of wavering mystery

perhaps at this juncture
i should take the time to puncture
any thought you might entertain
that jane was a "dangerous dame"

and in view of what i will relate
as to my and her ultimate fate
that she was some kind of "femme fatale"
and not just an unfortunate gal

another speck of human dust
wandering blind , as we all must
who fell in with the wrong crowd -
the roaring in my brain is getting loud -

4. reenter henry

Thursday, December 13, 2012

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 87: "instinctive player"

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for complete episode, click here

Sunday, December 9, 2012

toquette - 2. truffles

by jolene de joinville

illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq

like many of his fellow humans in this distressed and distressing modern age, georges groy, second clerk at m hobart's fine foods wholesale business, suffered most terribly from ennui.

on this particular morning his unfortunate condition was more pronounced than usual, and is often the case, for no particular reason. had there been a particular reason his anguish might have been eased, with the prospect of the particular reason being overcome or dealt with. but as the brotherhood and sisterhood of this dreadful malady know only too well, its very nebulousness is its most pitiless attribute.

under the circumstances the comtesse d'a...............'s bill, which m hobart had thrust upon him when he entered, was something of a blessing to him, as it would occupy at least a small portion of his mind.

it would also provide him with an excuse - not that he needed one - to ignore the murmurings and soft complaints of little paradin, the third and lowest ranking clerk in m hobart's establishment. that is, when paradin arrived, for he had not yet done so.

groy took his place upon his high stool and placed the comtesse's bill on the wide wooden counter before him. groy was somewhat above the average height, and forced to stoop uncomfortably over the counter, said counter being unfortunately too high to allow of his working standing up, as he had done in some of his previous clerkly employments.

the long counter he shared with the not yet arrived paradin was surmounted by two shelves divided into compartments of varying sizes, and from one of the centermost compartments he extracted a sheaf of papers on which were recorded the most recent entries to the accounts of the regular customers. after a period of two or three months, if these entries had been paid up and not challenged, they would be entered into the formidable main account book by m due, the chief clerk.

for complete episode, click here