Monday, March 25, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 102: "in the arena"

by horace p sternwall and manfred skyline

illustrated by roy dismas, rhoda penmarq and konrad kraus

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for complete episode, click here

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

the awakening of a silly girl - 3. franz

by victorine de valois

illustrated by danny delacroix and eddie el greco

dora was filled with an overwhelming foreboding as she walked up the steps of the administration building with adelaide, and they approached the massive doors.

"have you ever been here before?" she asked adelaide.

"yes, i came here to get my servant's papers when i first started to work." dora pushed at the right hand door, and it swung open easily and noiselessly.

they stepped into a surprisingly small foyer. there were no signs or signs of life in it, just another set of doors, made mostly of impenetrably dark glass.

the front door swung closed smoothy behind them , shutting out the morning light and leaving them in shadow, with only a little dust-moted light coming through the glass doors, which adelaide now pushed open. they did not open quite as smoothly as the first set of doors had.

a narrow staircase loomed in front of them. corridors on either side of the staircase faded away into long rows of closed doors with small glass panes and smaller brass name plates. there were no people in sight.

"i seem to remember, " said adelaide, "that it was a little more lively when i was here before. at least there was someone you could ask directions of."

they heard a voice behind them. "looking for directions, missus? i would be happy to assist you."

dora and adelaide turned. a ragged little person with a bat-like face looked up at them, with his thumbs hooked aggressively in his vest. it was not clear to them whether he was a small boy or a midget.

adelaide stared down at him. "are you here in an official capacity? your dress would indicate to me that you are not."

"no, missus, i am not. i am an independent operator."

adelaide looked around and down one of the corridors. "are there no officials here to guide us? when i was last here there seemed to be an abundance of such personages."

for complete episode, click here

Sunday, March 17, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 101: "Mack is back"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo* 

illustrations by danny delacroix and eddie el greco

*Assistant Professor of Cyber-Culture, Associate Checkers Club Coach, Olney Community College; editor of Highway to Eternity: 7 Previously Uncollected Short Novels of Speculative Fiction, by Horace P. Sternwall, with a Foreword by Fred Flynn; Olney Community College Press.

Mack Treacher woke up in a dark alleyway, in a large trashcan. It had to be a large trashcan, because Mack Treacher was a large man. He struggled to climb out of it, the can fell over, and Mack crawled out, onto the slimy cobblestones.

If the Professor had calculated right, Mack should be in New York City, sometime in late September of 1950.

Mack felt shaky, and, as usual after one of these trips, a little sick to his stomach.

He always felt this way after a trip through the Professor’s Temp-O-Rizor™. The last time he had made a trip he had to go all the way back to late-Victorian London, to straighten out that Jack the Ripper case. Time before that it was Berlin, April 1945, a mission to keep that bastard Hitler from setting off a giant “biological” bomb that would have wiped out all of humanity from the face of the earth, which would have meant that he, Mack Treacher, would never have been born. Of course that also would have meant that his bitch ex-wife would never have been born either, not to mention Mack’s ungrateful slattern of a teenage daughter.

Sometimes you had to take the bad with the good.

That last job was supposed to have been his last one ever. 

The President had been grateful, very grateful. The tall slim politician had made some phone calls to his old Ivy League buddies, and had gotten Mack’s viper-tongued trollop of a daughter into Harvard, full scholarship.

Then the President handed Mack a certified check for one million dollars, tax free.


“Thanks, Mr. President,” Mack said, and he slipped the check into the back pocket of his acid-washed 501s.

“Now that business is out of the way, may I offer you a beer, Mack? I’ve got the good stuff: Heineken.”

“Sorry, Mr. President, I guess you didn’t know, but I’m a recovering alcoholic. Too many bad memories I guess. Too many people I’ve seen die. Too many people I’ve had to kill.”

“Maybe a nice single malt scotch then? People give me this stuff all the time. You like Glenlivet?”

for complete episode, click here

Saturday, March 16, 2013

pals, part 5: no escape

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by eddie el greco and konrad kraus

click here for previous chapter

click here to begin at the beginning

in the pitiless whirlwind of the everyday
where we never know what to say
and time shreds our dreams
and throws them in the universe's disappearing streams

sometimes a moment comes
when we hear the sound of pounding drums
cutting through the constant buzz
like a message that ever was

as henry resumed his spiel
explaining what was and was not real
my eyes apparently became so glazed
that even henry was fazed

he stared at me and then
said, " i hope i'm not boring you, ben"
i tried to laugh it off
and with a mendacious cough

i said, "of course not, henry
your conversation always fascinates me"
he gazed at me in silent contemplation
and then resumed his dissertation

on the secret causes of world war one
or maybe the exact moment the universe had begun
in his even voice, as always before
nothing less, but maybe something more

my mind and eyes kept wandering to the door
as they had never done before
henry, who was actually somewhat perspicacious
eyed me in a manner not quite gracious

suddenly he stopped
his face took on the look of a good cop
"i am boring you," he exclaimed.
"no doubt i have only myself to blame"

although i did not get down on my knees
i was full of apologies
"i am sorry, henry," i mumbled
on my secret had he stumbled?

but what was my great secret?
what did i have cause to regret?
my feelings were no nebulous
even i would be incredulous

if i tried to in words to explain
what i felt about jane
who still had not come through the door
as i glanced at it once more

now henry, following my glance
looked at me askance
"expecting a visitor?"
his eyes into me did bore

"ah, just as i thought all along
the same old sorry song
you are certainly not the first
it happens to the best and the worst -"

"please," i heard myself say
"i have had a long day
and your wisdom, though rigorously distilled
is still a bitter pill

i think i need some fresh air"
and under henry's incredulous stare
i slowly rose from my chair
looked at the door - still no jane there

and departed the premises of ray's
oh how many nights and days
had passed, since once immured
in my seat, i had so stirred

before closing time was announced
in my step there was no bounce
as i stepped out into the night
had my old life taken flight?

or was this only a blip
in the steady downward course of life's trip
from nothingness to nowhere
into the darkness i did stare

my feet i began to move
as i felt it did behoove
me to leave ray's behind
was i losing my mind?

nobody called my name
the street looked just the same
the yawning emptiness of the night
somehow felt just right

a few hours alone in my room
would not be a sentence of doom
and so without remorse
i set forth on my new old course

my paychecks i would save
to booze i would no longer be enslaved
and so i had made up my mind
but fate could not be so kind

and to my doom i was lured
for a voice behind me i heard
my head i could not restrain
from turning - and there was jane

part 6

Monday, March 11, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 100: "endless night"

by horace p sternwall and manfred skyline

illustrated by konrad kraus, danny delacroix and eddie el greco

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

williams the butler looks out the window of the collinson residence on w 86th street.

is it his imagination or is there something or someone in the shadows?

inside the apartment cosima collinson wonders whether it was really worth it to hire the detective fortescue

to protect the upcoming exhibition by the celebrated pete palomine

as fortescue heads back downtown accompanied by the restless suburbanite carol chandler

who after a stimulating adventure earlier that evening,

and after a fight at the apartment of her friends peter and estelle,

has left her husband michael aka henry to his own devices,

which have led him to the prince hal room of the venerable hotel st crispian,

where he has encountered the pulp writer harold p sternhagen

who in turn has abandoned him in order to approach the celebrated chanteuse shirley de la salle

the singer for the st crispian house band , tony winston and his winstonians,

leaving michael to the company of some of the hotels long term residents,

notably the former flapper miss caroline collinson

and her crony lord wolverington

as well as remittance man "farmer brown"

and pulp science fiction writer fred flynn,

who wishes he were accompanying harold and shirley, who have just left the bar

with the mysterious mr burgoyne and mr o'toole,

whom he would never suspect of not only being aliens who have just arrived on earth

but of being aliens who have been introduced to some of the planet's more esoteric pleasures

by the hipsters landon "rooster" crow and alice "sniffy" smith

who are doing some waiting of their own at bob's bowery bar for the "two bills"

who might be having problems of their own after leaving the automat

under the indifferent gazes of change attendant and aspiring novelist polly powell

and crusading reporter flossie flanagan,

who has not had much luck getting information from

the celebrated actress hyacinth wilde

about her involvement with the international jewel thief stanley slade,

who has just escaped from prison,

and who, if flossie only knew, is hiding in room 603 of the hotel st crispian,

aided and abetted now by his new friend the chambermaid cosette,

and is waiting with growing impatience for his cohort jake the bellhop

who is returning from an errand at a drugstore on seventh avenue,

accompanied by lullaby lewinsky, whom he met at an all night diner

where he stopped to introduce himself to the legendary miss gayle warning.

lullaby is trying to interest jake in the story of

his old army acquaintance corporal gray, who is also the subject of

the suddenly awakened memories of williams,

the butler at the collinson residence,

where young conrad collinson

and frisco johnny ramirez continue their discussion

of conrad's new career as a boxer, the prospect of which

has arisen from their altercation earlier that evening

inspired by johnny's choice of words about

the mysterious angie, who has disappeared

after causing conrad the embarrassment

of being arrested on charges of drug smuggling and white slavery

and whose whereabouts are being sought by the private detectives vic vance and lou gracchus

who have been hired on conrad's behalf by the lawyer will wiley

all of whom would be surprised to know that angie is back in town

where, after enlisting the services of cabdriver philip pirrip aka mac

she has been placed in the blue suite of the hotel st crispian

by the night clerk roland

and where she has secured the tentative loyalties of olaf the doorman

and chester the bellhop

before heading out to the poker game at red's west side diner

where after finding her old friend the radical agitator ambrose

behind the wheel of yet another cab,

she encounters another old acquaintance

the independent entrepreneur tommy sullivan,

who is also curious as to the current whereabouts of stan slade,

as is mister nolan, the house detective at the hotel st crispian.

but stan's secret is safe with mortimer the elevator operator,

who dozes in his chair beside the elevator,

dreaming in the endless night

in the city that never sleeps

for complete illustrated episode, click here

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 99: "Dee-lish"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo* 

illustrations by danny delacroix and eddie el greco

*Assistant Professor of American Popular Culture, assistant Bowling Club coach, Olney Community College; editor of Tramp Steamer Bound for Borneo: 37 Previously Uncollected Tales of the South Seas, by Horace P. Sternwall; Olney Community College Press. Order online now and get a free copy of Up the Long Ladder and Down the Short Rope: 365 Inspirational Sonnets by Horace P. Sternwall (Olney Community College Press; paperback; edited by Dan Leo, original illustrations by Eddie El Greco; foreword by Charlie Rose).

Harold P. Sternhagen (author of A Fine Day For a Lynch Party,  Down Death’s Dark Streets, and Bayou Boy) cleared his throat and then said, or rather almost shouted, as the band was playing very loud, “Excuse me, um, Miss De La Salle?”

Shirley De La Salle looked at him. She’d seen worse, she’d seen lots better. This guy looked like he hadn’t seen daylight in a year. He was thin and his suit was old. A musician? No, he didn’t look hip enough to be a musician.

“You’re excused,” she said, or rather almost shouted, just as Harold had done.

“Um, I, uh —” said the pale thin man. 

But then Shirley noticed his eyes. She knew those eyes. Gage eyes, maryjane eyes. Reefer eyes. What the hell, maybe he was holding — and something better than that skunkweed Tony and the rest of the band smoked.

“Just kidding, fella,” she said. “What’s shakin’, daddy?”

“I, uh, was just wondering if I could, um, buy you a drink. Or —”

“Or what?” said Shirley.

“Or —” Harold realized he was sweating. Like a pig. Did pigs sweat? At any rate, he was sweating, profusely. But wait, was there any other kind of sweating than the profuse kind?

“Yes?” said Shirley. 

“I mean, if you would like another drink,” said Harold. “I wouldn’t want to presume, uh —” “That I would have more than one drink?” said Shirley.

“Um, well,” said Harold, “it’s just that, you know, I know you probably have to sing again tonight, and —”

“Hey, Raoul!” called Shirley, to the barman, who came over at once. “Raoul, you know this guy?”

“Why, yes, Miss De la Salle, ” said Raoul. “This is Mr. Sternhagen. He’s one of our resident guests, and has been for some several years now.”

“He on the up and up?” asked Shirley.

“I have never known Mr. Sternhagen to behave in an obstreperous fashion,” said Raoul.

“No kidding,” said Shirley. “So I’m not going to regret it if I let him buy me a drink?”

“That’s not for me to say, Miss De La Salle. I can only say that I have never had to remove him from the bar, nor have I ever heard any complaints about him.”

“He’s the quiet type, huh?”

“Mr. Sternhagen is an author, Miss.”

for complete episode, click here

poets sit on a lotus flower and get comfortable to watch the world... - 5


poetry is a small secret sign
in a regulated standardized world
silently overthrowing 
the hackneyed hampering conventions
ruling our souls
hundreds... thousands
perhaps millions
get lost each day
no roads
no policemen
no prayer
can help them find their way home


Monday, March 4, 2013

pals, part 4: reenter henry

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by danny delacroix and konrad kraus

click here for previous chapter

click here to begin at the beginning

we walk through this world alone
with secret dreams and silent moans
in impenetrable dark
with only an occasional spark

what was jane to me
but the same old mystery
that envelops the trillion separate earths
of a trillion separate births

the whimperings and curses
of a trillion universes
abandoned and forlorn
never asking to be born

what had jane seen that night
that had caused her to take flight
was it any business of mine?
a casual observer might well opine

here i must confess
i am beginning to digress
i return to my narrative line
next night i was right on time

at the end of another day
in "my" seat at rays cafe
jane was not there, to my chagrin
and then - henry walked in

after greetings all around
the bar he found
and lovingly caressing his drink
into "his" chair he did sink

my world had been turned upside down
but henry didn't laugh or frown
in fact he hardly glanced at me
but looked around quite placidly

at the assembled denizens of rays
who did not seem to be changing their ways
they were staring at their suds
as if all eternity was in their blood

nothing seemed worth a mention
then henry turned his attention
to me - his features rearranged
and he said "you've changed"

i had the wherewithal to say
"everything changes every day"
he replied quick as a cat
"you don't get off as easy as that -

i think you will agree
that nothing gets past me"
"no," i replied, slightly nettled
"i didn't know such a thing had been settled."

henrys eyes grew slightly wide
and he casually replied
"no reason to get testy, old boy
i didn't mean to annoy

it has been a while since we met
and i must confess i forget
where we ended our last converse -
did we leave the world better or worse?"

a fool could plainly see
that henry was trying to placate me
in his usual easy way
so why did i hear myself say -

"i don't know how i lasted so long
without your dance and song
your infinite knowledge of all events
your deep wisdom and profound sense

of all that has been and will be "
henry just stared at me
as if i had grown a second head
and then he said -

"my, aren't we in a lather
i thought you enjoyed my blather
or if not actively enjoyed
at least were never annoyed -"

henry's eyes narrowed and then
he opened them wide again -
"ah" he exclaimed with a trace of glee
"i think i begin to see -

you are showing all the signs
most of them not benign
of a guy who has had his brain
hammered by a dame

yes, i see it now only too well
one of them has cast her spell
maybe on purpose, maybe not
i never would have thought -"

i felt i'd been punched in the gut
"never would have thought what?"
"oh, i didn't mean to upset you"
henry took a sip of his brew

"we can talk about politics instead"
a whirlwind roared in my head
henry nodded and winked
i didn't know what to think

and where was jane tonight?
nothing seemed right
i really didn't know what to say
about this game i didn't know how to play

part 5. no escape