BOOK NERD :: Stories for Men / Tales for Males – Contents

I’ve posted these books before, but wanted to make an entry for the tables of contents for each, in case there’s someone who is searching for works by one of the authors. I’m posting photos of the contents now, but will transcribe them later so search engines can find the text. Also, as mentioned before, I’ve seen an ad for “Tales for Males” in one of my old men’s magazines, so I’ll scan that and put it here as well.

 

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Romance lingers, adventure lives / John Collier
Courtship through the ages / James Thurber
The girl in the storm / James M. Cain
Love, or, How to woo and win a woman / Jack Goodman and Alan Green
There are smiles / Ring Lardner
What goes on in ladies rest rooms / C.A. Hamilton
Helen, thy beauty is to me / John Fante
Better be an old woman’s darling / Benjamin Franklin
The love kick / William Saroyan
Claustrophobia, or, What every young wife should know / E.B. White
Muzio / Konrad Bercovici
I learn something about sex / Corey Ford
He was so good to her / Frank Sullivan
Fashions in love / Clarence Day, Jr.
Getting on in the world / Morley Callaghan
Bundling, an old Yankee custom / George S. Chappell
A mediaeval romance / Mark Twain
Which is the vainer sex? / Fred C. Kelly
The love letters of Smith / H.C. Bunner
Polly Baker’s lack of virtue is its own reward / Benjamin Franklin
A letter from the Bronx / Arthur Kober
My views on marriage / W.C. Fields
Dusk before fireworks / Dorothy Parker
Leg-pulling / Bernard Sobel
Extracts from Adam’s diary / Mark Twain
Etiquette of courtship / Donald Ogden Stewart
Strip tease / George Weller
The girls of Tongatabu / John Langdon
The triumph of the nut, or, Too many marriages / Christopher Ward

 

 

Book Nerd :: New and Used, Eugenics, Paganism, Death, The Devil, etc.

Books acquired over the past week. New on the left, used on the right.

“The Book of Satanic Quotations” edited by Matt G. Paradise (finally got the new edition)
“Jewish Eugenics” by John Glad (still need to read his other book on eugenics)
“Tales for Males” (I’ll have to scan and post the ad for this from the back of old men’s magazines that I’ve seen)
“Male Fantasies, Vol. 2” Klaus Thewleit (this appears to be feminist/Marxist garbage, but probably funny)
“Hold Back This Day” by Ward Kendall
“Summoning the Gods”  by Collin Cleary
“Playboy Book of Humor and Satire”
“The Meaning of Death” edited by Herman Feifel

Book Nerd :: Birthday spoils… (updated)

The first batch of books for my birthday arrived:

I’ve got a few more on the way, but a few of these I’ve been wanting to pic up for a while:

Real Education” Charles Murray
Where Dead Voices Gather” Nick Tosches
You Can’t Say That: The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws” by David E. Bernstein
Preaching Eugenics:Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement” by Christine Rosen
The Skeptic: A Life of HL Mencken” by Terry Teachout

Will update when more booty has been seized…
and UPDATED:

Put these in the light box, but I just noticed a goddamn cat hair. I ain’t photoshopping or retaking it at this point.

Are Cops Racist?” by Heather Mac Donald
A Century of Eugenics In America: From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era“, ed. by Paul A. Lombardo

Satanism as Weltanschauung, a lecture in 9 parts (plus Q&A bonus)

I’m pleased to release the video of a lecture given on March 1st of this year when I was invited to speak on the topic of Satanism for a class at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Filmed in HD and edited to include quite a few graphics not presented in the original lecture, I’m pleased with the outcome and hope that for those already familiar with Satanism there is enough to still keep you interested and possibly entertained.

Embedded below is a playlist of all 9 videos, to play without interruption.

Below are two parts of the Q&A session that followed:

If you enjoyed the lecture and would like to make a voluntary monetary donation, please do so below:

Satanism as Weltanschauung

Ch. 1 “Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself…”

Rev. Kevin I. Slaughter introduces himself and gives a short biographical background to establish his long-held interest in Satanism explicitly, but also the occult or hidden aspects of culture.

Ch. 2 “A Brief Overview of Satanism”

Rev. Slaughter gives a very brief overview of Satanism, what a Satanist is, and how it is viewed by society.

Ch. 3 “The Satanic Bible”

Rev. Slaughter discusses the first High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Bible”. He reads “The Nine Satanic Statements” and other pertinent selections from it.

Ch. 4 “The Satanic Scriptures”

Rev. Slaughter discusses the current High Priest of the Church of Satan’s book “The Satanic Scriptures”. He reads pertinent selections from it.

Ch. 5 “Egalité vs. Hierarchy”

The natural world is stratified, the weak, slow and stupid tend to be worse for wear. The smart, quick and strong tend to have a better time of it. In the animal kingdom, the world that we exist in, it is eat or be eaten.

Rev. Slaughter makes reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, and reads an excerpt from Theodore Dalrymple’s book “Life at the Bottom”.

Ch. 6 “Lex Satanicus”

Satanism takes few overtly political positions, and there is absolutely no affiliation between the Church any political party. The Satanic philosophy positions itself as a third side, rejecting the simplistic dichotomies of good vs. evil, republican vs. democrat, liberal and conservative. The one position most clearly associated with politics is Lex Talionis.

Ch. 7 “Magic”

Magic, in the Satanic sense, is not about shooting fireballs or riding on broomsticks, we do not have “spells” that guarantee sex or death – the two things people always seem to want a spell for. When the Satanist performs greater magic, it is an emotional psychodrama, intended to charge the participant with a specific feeling or to put him in a specific emotional state. It’s made clear in the writings that Greater Magic is an emotional working as opposed to intellectual. Like the power of a masterfully written book or piece of music has, this productive fiction is useful and possibly necessary to the human animal.

Ch. 8 “A Few Unkind Words…”

In this part of the lecture Kevin discusses Christian Child Abuse, a blog that collects stories about pedophile priests. He discusses religiously motivated atrocities committed by Islam and Judaism in the name of their religion and accepted by their communities.

The website is found at http://christianchildabuse.blogspot.com

Ch. 9 “Love”

Satanism isn’t merely a reactionary stance, it is about knowing ones self and building real relationships with worthy people. Rev. Slaughter recites a poem titled “Love” that was written by freethinker Robert Greene Ingersoll, to illustrate this and other points in the Satanic worldview.

Kevin has participated in two oratory contests where contestants read their choice of Ingersoll’s work, and won first place in 2010. The video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8UPNFcnYIM

Rev. Slaughter is an official representative of the Church of Satan. More information can be found on the website http://www.churchofsatan.com

Filmed and edited by Kevin I. Slaughter for Underworld Amusements: http://www.underworldamusements.com

Music composed and performed by Michaelanthony Mitchell

LADIES OF THE MOB by Ernest Booth

LADIES OF THE MOB

by Ernest Booth

scanned from
The American Mercury, Volume XII, No. 48, December 1927
ONCE when I was very young I saw a newspaper picture of a lady. “Beautiful Accomplice”, it was captioned. My interest was aroused. In various books I had met beautiful heroines, but that was my first knowledge that a woman who associated herself with a thief could be—and authentically was—beautiful! Clipping the picture, I sought for a secure place to hide and preserve it. Opening the large dusty family Bible, I inserted it between two pages containing the Canticles! But my sudden and intense interest in Biblical lore provoked an investigation. The picture was discovered, I was told I had committed fifty-seven varieties of desecration, and, after being paddled, was consigned to punishment in a clothes-closet.
I carried the memory of that picture with me through all the years I was steal­ing for a living. An accomplice, beautiful, fascinating, and loyal ! For a decade it was the paramount desire of my life to find her. During my quest I met many ladies of the mob who actually seemed to possess some of her high qualities. Beauty—often! Fascination—until I knew them! Loyalty —Ah, yes! But there were others, alas, vastly different. They were the girls who made their livelihoods “off” thieves: never definitely entering into crime, but helping to spend a major portion of the money stolen. Their usual prey was the more egotistical sort of thief; with a skill rivaling Lorelei Lee’s they devoured him. Others stole from thieves. Yet others prac­ticed a polite form of blackmail: they would possess themselves of all possible information concerning the activities of a thief, and draw dividends from it in the form of clothes and jewelry. Theirs were not crude, open threats, but veiled insinua­tions. How often have I heard the com­plaint, “Sure, I’d like to ditch her—but what the hell can I do? She knows every­thing!
One girl that I recall was typical of this class. Not beautiful, she yet possessed a fascination which brought her the plunder of several thieves. One after another they were drawn to her, abode their destined hours, and then vanished into prisons, to live for years in memory of the time when Florence was their divinity. The daughter of a small Pacific Coast town, she had been adopted in infancy by a Baptist preacher. Some indefinable, inherent quality had enabled her to weather his imprecations, and she emerged with a personality all the finer for the heat of the flames that had tested it. Although I knew her when she lived with one thief or another, at different times, she ever preserved her separate entity. She was only with them—not of them.
Our acquaintance began when she was about twenty years old; we intuitively sensed sympathetic traits in each other. There was a brief period of antagonistic probing, and then a truce was agreed upon, and we respected it for ten years. Thus, after ceasing to be “possibilities— to each other, we became fast friends.
During a lull in the trial of her latest devotee, we were in her apartment one evening. Although she had by then passed the Rubicon beyond which women no longer count birthdays, she still preserved the air and appearance of unconquerable
youth. Reclining upon a sofa, her slender body relaxed in a careless and ingratiating attitude of repose, she was floating tiny wreaths of cigarette smoke to the ceiling. The impression she would have made upon fresh eyes was that of an ingenuous crea­ture who must be protected against the devastating assaults of reality. Her short, attractively-bobbed hair showed faint glints of red-gold. She released each word slowly, hesitantly, as though it were too fragile, too precious to send unprotected into the air.
“I hope,” she said, and her eyes avoided mine. “I hope Johnnie gets another dis­agreement from that jury. . . .” Her voice trailed off.
I glanced meaningly at the vanity-case atop a nearby stand. The key to a safe-deposit compartment lay concealed within that case. A fair portion of the unset gems from Johnnie’s last raid upon a jewelry store was cached in the vault.
“Yes,” she continued, “I hope he is freed.” Our eyes met, “Oh! but I’ve given over half of them to the attorneys. I can’t do more—what would happen to me if he goes to prison?”
After Johnnie was convicted, Florence introduced me to another chap who was guarding her from the cruel world. She assured me that she had done rightly by her own interests when Johnnie went to jail.
II
Another—Marie—was the antithesis of Florence. Action was the word emblazoned upon her face. Marie possessed vast ag­gressiveness. Her presence in a group—at an apartment, a “scatter,” or a roadhouse —set up a liveliness which even the var­nish-removing beverages could not rival. She was ambitious to engineer a bank raid. She spent several weeks “casing,” that is, becoming familiar with the habits and locations of the employes, the hours that money arrived, and so on. Then she at­tempted to enlist three experienced men to
rob the bank with her. We enjoyed Marie, she was so refreshing, and we respected her ability to keep her mouth closed, should she be arrested, but we laughed at her efforts to blossom out as a leader of bandits. Exasperated, she sought out some foppish drugstore cow-boys, drove them to the bank, and filled them with the no­tion that they could rob it. She almost had to shout to get them through the door­way. Then the force of her dynamic per­sonality died, and they bungled the affair disgustingly. Two of them were killed; the third, wounded, gained the machine. Marie pulled him across the side door, and held him there with one hand as she piloted the car through the traffic. She ministered to him, and borrowed money from us to pay the doctor. Later he recovered, and, visiting his old haunts, was arrested.
Marie reaped her reward for stepping out of her class by being brought to trial with him on the stand against her, as a State’s witness. It came near breaking the rest of the outfit, “squaring her” out of that “rap.” Now she is content to help her man count his money after he returns from “working.”
III
Another, Madge, was young, pretty, and of Iowa stock. She caught Red’s fancy when he and I arrived in Los Angeles after a forced trip from Denver. She was a waitress, and covered a dearth of brains with a recently-acquired line of snappy chatter and a white uniform pleasantly charm-revealing.
Red’s regular lady, the volatile Vera, was spending a month at Hot Springs. In the role of a wealthy oil-land owner, he soon convinced Madge that as a profes­sion, “dealing ’em off the arm” was not so much. Two weeks later, when I called at their bungalow, she naïvely informed me that they were married. I extended hearty congratulations.
Red was rough, abrupt, and reputed to be vicious. That reputation was merited
when he was “working.” Madge, believ­ing implicitly his tale of oily wealth, never questioned the truth of his explana­tions for his absences. I think it was that blind, trustful belief in him which divested Red of his usual hard exterior.
“My God! I’m hooked for that little broad,” he confided to me one day. “But what the hell am I going to do when Vera shows up? She’s due any day next week.”
“Can’t you give Madge carfare back to Iowa?”
“Sure,” and Red offered a curiously sheepish grin. “Sure I could, but I don’t want to. I’m telling you she’s the kind of broad every thief ought to have. She likes to cook, and she’s crazy about that flop of ours—even had a guy come out and make pictures of it, garden, car, everything. Wanted to send ’em to her folks. Say! I’m going to root for some real big dough—marry her—and get off this racket!”
“Steady! steady!” I cautioned. “You’ve been drunk before—and got sober.” I had visions of an efficient partner gone to seed.
Madge was crying next afternoon when she admitted me. She was crying as a child cries—from its heart.
“S-s-some policeman took Reddy away.”
Snatching up a coat, I wrapped it about her, and quickly bundled her into the car. Red’s arrest might be only a routine one, and it might be—any one of several un­pleasantly definite things. There was no time for consolation when policemen were about.
She accompanied me without question as we drove to a beach town. She sobbed less frequently as the rush of air struck her face. Gone was all her snappy chatter: she was an eighteen-year-old baby knowing great grief for the first time.
Salvation Nell Murray’s home was a four-roomed apartment on the second floor of a building she owned. She had be­friended thieves and their girls for a score of years. Her place was an exchange for news and messages. A large, overripe woman, with a sparkle in her eye and a rough and ready humor, she had simpli‑
fled the problems of life into eating, drink­ing and loving.
“This is Madge,” I told her. “Her hus­band has had some difficulty. You know how these officers are.” Nell nodded. “I don’t want to see Madge arrested. Can she stay with you for a few days?”
Nell opened her arms to the girl and en­folded her to an ample breast. I watched the scene with pleasure, for in her move­ment was the gesture of one who welcomes with the soul. It was like the embrace of some great divinity. She could welcome and embrace Madge in particular, and yet seem to include scores of others at the same time.
Vera read of Red’s arrest, and the news of his “wife.” She rushed to Los Angeles, visited him at the jail, and then, unable to get a satisfactory explanation, she sought me. Of course I knew of no girl in connection with Red! Vera was uncon­vinced. Information she held, if revealed to the police, would have resulted in send­ing Red to prison for a longer time than he could hope to live. She never once inti­mated that she contemplated such a course —she knew of other girls’ “suicides,” and so I did not believe she entertained the idea.
But Red was held for investigation. The police, aware of his prison record, believed that he had been at work in the State, and continued to show him up to bank em­ployes, messengers, and payroll carriers in the hope that one would recognize him. Before I could return to tell Madge that she had best remain quietly with Nell, she had returned to the bungalow, and there Vera met her.
The indignant Vera disillusioned her quickly concerning Red. The discussion brought on a fight, and Vera lost. She rushed to Nell’s to get a gun. There I en­countered her. Madge was packing when we returned. A newspaper, folded open at the want-ad column, lay atop her ward­robe trunk.
“I don’t care,” she said with some re­turn of her former bantering attitude. “Redheads was always fickle.”
IV
There comes now the memory of Dale’s girl, Yvonne. She was French and she had come to this country as the wife of a patriot who had fought to make the world safe for democracy. Shortly afterward, he relinquished the charms of Yvonne for the more substantial ones of a Kansas corn-fed.
Though unable to speak American as it is gargled in a Kansas City dance-hall, Yvonne was yet able to get a job as a hostess. I danced with her one night, waiting to meet Dale. When he came in they danced. After that she danced no more with me, or anyone else—except Dale. From that moment there ceased to be a Dale or an Yvonne; they were insepa­rable and almost indivisible.
An attractive pair. Wrapped in their peculiar interests, they would be absent from the city for days, and offer no excuse to anyone when they returned. Dale was teaching her English, and acquiring some French for himself. Their jumbled conver­sations, particularly during dinner at some restaurant with the rest of us, were filled with a happy carelessness. Yvonne laughed often, but she had eyes for none but Dale. So evident was her devotion that when he suggested bringing her with us when we “went went against” a large down-town bank there was but a momentary dissension. She could already handle a shotgun or a pistol with a skill bespeaking volumes for his training.
I was the last man out of the bank. The others were in the car. Yvonne, behind the wheel, snatched us away from the curb with a rush almost breath-taking. I caught a glimpse of her eyes in the rear-view-mirror, and they were dark and intent. There was nothing of fear or terror in them. Rather they held calm determina­tion and cold resolve. The infrequent seconds during which she was not busy with the car were used to snatch melting glances at Dale by her side.
That night the house was surrounded by police and sheriffs. We had remained too long in one neighborhood. The officer on the beat had developed certain sus­picions, and having unusual intelligence for a cop, had kept his ideas to himself in­stead of coming to the house to make in­quiries. Finally, calling in help, he sent a street urchin to the door with a note telling us we were under arrest. Their message named several thieves whom the cops believed were with us in the house. Anticipating a battle, they had warned us with the note, and when we did not reply they opened fire. Yvonne displayed the same countenance she had worn during the afternoon’s drive.
“This is it—of which you told me?” she whispered to Dale as he and I stood irresolute.
“Yes,” he replied. “It’s a case of sell out—we can’t surrender.”
“Sell out?” Yvonne wrinkled her brow. “How is that?”
“You wouldn’t understand.” Dale jerked out. Already the police had fired a few shots into the house.
“I do!” she exclaimed, quickly taking a place behind a trunk, and preparing to reload guns for us.
“I can send you out. They won’t shoot a girl—I don’t believe they will shoot a girl,’ he amended.
“Give her a white handkerchief to wave and let her go before they start pouring slugs into the house,” I suggested.
“White kerchief—wave—out?” She looked quickly from Dale to me, her eyes wide and accusing. ‘Leave you ?’9
“Better if you stay you’ll get killed and—”
“No!” She stood erect, and swept past me as though I had ceased to exist. “Mon chérie! My little cabbage!” and a lot more. Dale gathered her to him. The pose might have been directed by a movie director, but it was really instinctive, unaffected. Faced with the fear of separation, they clung tenaciously to each other. I had the impression of two people trying to fore­stall the inevitable by the strength of their arms.
But it was not a moment for drawing fanciful conjectures. We needed an “out” and needed it immediately. The firing was desultory—only the pistols and rifles had been used. The machine guns and tear-gas bombs were held in reserve. Leaving Dale and Yvonne for a moment, I scanned the shrubs alongside the house. Auto­mobile lights and a couple of searchlights were being employed to illuminate the premises, but there was a dark strip where two lights failed to overlap. Returning to the kids, I brought them to the window and showed them the only possible chance of escape. In a few minutes it would be covered. But at the moment the siege had not been thoroughly organized.
Yvonne wore a light dress, and Dale forced her into a drab duster. He contented himself with turning up his coat-collar to conceal the white of his shirt. Swiftly he dropped to the grass. I lowered Yvonne. They crouched and scampered through the shrubbery. I saw them emerge at the farth­est end. A man accosted them. In the bright light there I discerned them, with­out coats or hats : they had discarded them to attempt a desperate ruse. They clung to each other as though frightened. Yvonne was speaking to the man, who, incident­ally, held a rifle in one hand. I crawled up on the grass close enough to hear the con­versation. She pleaded that they be al­lowed to go home. They had been for a walk, she said, and they lived but a few blocks further. The officer accepted their explanation, because he could not reconcile the two apparently scared youngsters with the bad men he had been sent to apprehend. He ordered that the lights be thrown on the garden. In the confusion of the adjust­ment I gained the sidewalk and a moment later mingled with the crowd.
Yvonne and Dale left the city that night. The house was riddled, two officers were killed in the cross-fire, and when it was found empty about noon the next day, the police were baffled to explain the escape of six bandits! But from the laundry marks on napkins in the house, the police estab lished past residence and soon had our pictures identified. Yvonne was linked to Dale by some of the loose-mouthed gentry of the dance-hall. Her picture was un­earthed in some manner, and with its pub­lication, Dale and Yvonne were unable to remain in the State. They headed toward the Pacific Coast. At Colorado Springs they were stopped for questioning. An officer attempted to arrest them. Yvonne shot him through the head.
Westward they drove until they reached. Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles—Tris­tram and Isolde seeking a haven of safety for their love. Faced with the ocean, they drove back a few miles and rented a fur­nished home. From there they seldom ventured. Dale had a great sum of money from the Kansas City robbery, and there was no reason for further stealing just then.
There were frequent rumors that they were in Southern California, but the police could get no definite report. Eager to re­join some of the outfit, Dale risked a visit to Salvation Nell’s. He had no other means of establishing communication, and he wanted someone to go with him on a reck­less robbery that would result in making him independently rich, and enable him to return to France with Yvonne. This much he told Nell before a chance visit from a detective forced him to leave. In the ex­change of shots Dale was struck in the arm. With his identity established, and his presence positively located in that part of the State, the police posted bills like circus plasters for his arrest. It was impossible for him to undertake a lengthy drive in his condition, but Yvonne insisted that she could hold the wheel for the five hun­dred miles necessary to bring them into San Francisco. First they alternated in making trips from the house to different gasoline stations. At each they would fill the car tank and a five-gallon can with gasoline. With thirty gallons in reserve they could make the dash without stop­ping. They were set to go one evening about dark, and in an expensive, closed car they drove to the outskirts of Glendale. Stopping long enough to fill the tank again was a fatal mistake.
Dale had been at that station two days before. The clerk had recognized him and reported to the police. Four detectives were waiting, concealed in the shadows. Into the light Dale drove. While he was instructing the attendant an officer stepped into view, and, leveling a gun at him, he called for surrender. Dale leaped from the car and shot the man. Another opened fire from one side. Yvonne shot at him as he pumped the contents of an automatic into Dale. In the light, Dale whirled about, fired at the officer, and then collapsed. Yvonne lifted a rifle and fired at the third officer again. The fourth raised a shotgun and blasted away half her head.
V
Mae had married Art within a week after he had got seventeen thousand dollars for his end of a robbery. She was past forty, and had served several terms in the county jails, yet she had preserved some of the charm that gave Ninon de Lenclos the power to attract homage until the day of her death. Mae had a passion for marrying young thieves. Art was aware that she had not been divorced from the others, who were all in prison; one of them he knew. But when she insisted that he observe the legal rituals before being granted her debatable favors, he acquiesced.
Mae had a code, and followed it. She handled Art as a veteran trainer handles a fighter. She instructed him in what parts of town to avoid. She labeled for him the questionable characters among the thieves in her extensive acquaintance. And when he was arrested she used her peculiar knowledge to get him a disagreement in the first two juries. At the third trial she bribed the bailiff and secured an acquittal. Together they _knew a few hysterically happy weeks. Art swore that she was the finest and most loyal of all women. What was a. difference of twenty years in age?
When he was again arrested following a robbery in a different part of the State, Mae arranged a quick straw-bond for him. The investigation that followed his failure to appear for trial caused the State to be­come too small to contain him. So he went into an adjoining State and “worked” with a group on a night raid. He was arrested on a chance recognition, and Mae arranged a fight against extradition for him. When that seemed likely to fail, she climbed to the top of the jail, sawed several bars from a skylight and lowered hacksaws into the corridor. After Art had sawed his way out of his cell, she lowered a rope and he climbed safely up beside her.
When they had escaped to another part of the country, Mae drove a car while Art held up and secured from two employes a large payroll. When he was subsequently arrested for that robbery, and Mae was held as a suspect-accomplice, Art confessed and exonerated her.
“No, I never visit Art,” she told me. “It would be cruel. I can’t help him now. But you can’t hold that against me—I stuck to him as long—and did as much for him—as anyone could.”
She had a code—and she followed it.
VI
But to return to Vera—Red’s girl—Vera the curious mixture.
We were casing a large bank, and needed a house to work from. Red was well known to the police of that city, so the prelim­inary work devolved upon me. Certain ex­periences of the past had instilled in me a distrust of women as partners. If I could get a girl like Vera fine! But I preferred at that time to have only the passing con­tacts with women that I had known before serving my first prison term. Vera was against this.
“What you need,” she said, “is a square girl. I think I know one for you. You don’t have to get married. Not right at first—but you will after a while. It’s the only right way to live. I’ve been a thousand times happier since Red and I were married.”
We were seated about the dinner table, and she leaned over to touch Red’s freckled. hand. He grinned. I mused on the incon­gruity of her logic. Happier since they had yielded to a legal requirement? Happier in his profession of robber because he had stood before a justice of the peace and mumbled a formula? .. .
Vera was against Red’s continued steal­ing. She wanted him to make enough money in one raid to buy an apartment-house and then live within the law. She had found the germ of that idea, perhaps, in her belated observance of the marriage vows. Red was not exactly against the idea, but he had a great many friends who were constantly needing help. Frequently he had to pay attorney’s fees for thieves who had been caught broke. Once he had posted fifteen thousand dollars for an appeal bond. When the case was decided adversely by the Appellate Court he urged the chap to run away, and forfeited the bond with a smile. But Vera became in­sistent that his constant risks were too great. He treated her pleas lightly, and it was that fact which first gave her the idea that she was not completely understood by her husband.
Thus Vera grew in the belief that Red did not appreciate her. She nagged him constantly. She wanted him to quit, and leave the city with her. Her intuition told her there was something wrong. . . . I was in the house often in the days that fol­lowed. Vera threatened to kill herself if Red did not leave with her. He offered to send her halfway across the continent to visit some friends while he and I com­pleted our business. But she insisted that she would remain rather than go away and be prey to her imagination. She wanted to know precisely what chances he was taking. She had to have something to worry about—and Red supplied it.
She and I were waiting for Red. It was about eight o’clock and he had not yet come home for dinner. She became as nearly hysterical as a woman can go with­out screaming. She pulled at a pillow on the lounge until she tore it to shreds. Then, in odd contrast to her appearance, she spoke quietly. “He just has to come before another hour or I’ll go crazy—I can’t stand this!” There was nothing dramatic in her voice. She made the statement so calmly and judiciously that the words seemed to send a chill about the room. There was an ominous note of finality in them. She had mounted to the heights of anxiety and there concluded that she must have relief from the constant strain. Though she had stolen often herself, and taken her chances many times with Red, she yet retained some saving quality which would not allow her to enter completely into the life. Whether the marriage cere­mony had released that quality, I can only guess; but I know that after it she more than ever desired to have her man with her—that she was made frantic by the fear of receiving a ‘phone call from an attorney, to tell her that Red was in jail. I thought her rather selfish at that moment. As I saw it, Red was taking chances for her daily. He was risking long years in prison to gain for her the home she had so often pictured to him.
Again she grew restless. Her calm de­termination now deserted her. She plucked the shredded pillow case with increasing nervousness. As her eyes encountered mine I saw they were wide, and she blinked rapidly. Ever acutely conscious of others’ moods, I tried to calm her, despite the fact that I was fighting a battle to retain my own composure. I succeeded only in add­ing fuel to the flame rising within her.
“It’s not worth it!” she exclaimed. -All the money in the world isn’t worth this worry.
“It’ll be all right,” I offered. “He’ll be home soon. Probably he’s only busy, and—”
“Oh! you don’t understand!” She stood erect and crossed to the window. “It isn’t only now—it’s always! Can you imagine what it means to have the one you love
better than life constantly away from your side?” I thought I could, and again I assured her that he would come soon.
“Yes,” she said with an odd catch of her breath, “yes, I believe he will. But in the morning he’ll be gone again—for the whole day, maybe half the night. And then this awful worry! When he’s here, everything is all right—but when I’m alone—oh, I can’t explain it ! Please, please! Make him stop! won’t you, please? Ask him to stop and let’s all go away! You don’t know how much it would mean to me, away from here. Please make him stop, won’t you?”
She was rapidly losing every vestige of control.
“Of course I will,” I assured her. “There’s no reason why you and he can’t take a train out tonight. I’ll talk with him, Vera—but sit down and don’t be worrying so. It’ll be all right.”
“If it only would be all right.” She returned to the lounge, and grabbing the torn pillow she shook it as though to re­lieve her excitement in physical exertion. “I’ve heard that so often: ‘It’ll be all right.’ It’s a thieves’ phrase that gets on my nerves. I can’t stand it! I can’t stand this—I’ve got to do something!” At the ringing of the telephone she uttered a sharp cry. “Oh, what has happened? I know that’s him.”
Racing into another room I answered the call. It was Red. He told me to take a certain suitcase containing a new Thomp­son automatic from the closet, and put it in a “plant” in the cellar. He believed that he was being followed and had decided not to chance a raid if he could not shake off ”the tail.”
Hastily I hid the suitcase.
Returning to the room, I told Vera that Red was all right. I found her lying with her face buried in a pillow, her toes beat­ing a tattoo on the end of the lounge. Her body quivered as though in the toils of some tremendous convulsion. I touched her shoulder and she turned a face so dis­torted with weeping that I was startled.
“I can’t s-s-stand this any longer,” she sobbed. “You don’t know! Oh, he doesn’t love me or he wouldn’t treat me this way!”
Again she pounded the pillow. I tried to reason with her. She repulsed me. “Oh, leave me alo-o-one—” and she was hys­terical again.
She had extinguished the light in the room. A shaft from the adjacent hallway cut sharply into the darkness and illumi­nated her form. I stood so that the glare of it would not strike her eyes as she twisted and wiggled about. An anguish so deep, so profound, seemed to possess her that she ceased to be herself. She became the symbol of all thieves’ girls—of all the women who have lived, loved, and worried with thieves. Always theirs has been the role of sustaining a silent grief transcending in its horrors the most ignominious horror ever suffered by the martyrs.
A Eurydice in Hell, awaiting the music of her Orpheus. Yes—a thousand Eury­dices! And in a Hell such as Dante never imagined.
VII
Her frantic struggling mounted until it approached the point where it must break —either in great comedy or great tragedy. I was holding her in a futile attempt to in­duce a return of sanity. Then Red entered. He had opened the door so quietly that I was unaware of his presence until his form shut out a portion of the hall light.
“What the hell’s the matter?” He ap­proached and I caught the odor of whiskey.
“She’s worried,” I explained. “She wants you to quit the racket and—”
Vera sat erect. Red dropped down be­side her. They faced the light. Her lips were distorted and her hair hung before her eyes. Encircling her with one arm, Red brushed back the locks from her forehead.
“What’s it you want?” he asked, thickly.
“O-o-o-o!” She tried to free herself from him. Together they stood up. Red’s eyes were hostile, uncomprehending.
Disengaging herself she faced him. “I can’t stand this! I can’t stand this !  I can’t stand this! You’ve got to quit now—or—” she strove desperately for some control of her mounting voice and failed—”or I’ll kill myself!”
“Say!” Red spoke sharply. “Cut that out! What do you think this is? Think I’m going to duck because you have a fit?”
“Don’t! don’t!” She shrank from him as though he had struck her. “Don’t talk like that, Red. You don’t love me—oh! I’m better dead!”
“Aw, Vera—you know I can’t quit now. C’m on—be a regular fellow. Have a drink and you’ll feel better.” Red was less angry then, but his irritation was evident. He bent over her and attempted to kiss her. She interposed her hand so suddenly it seemed like a slap on his face.
“Oh, I’m better dead! I can’t go on!” She almost shouted it.
Stung by the unexpected slap, Red jerked himself from her “Stop talking like that! Stop saying you’re better dead. What in the name of God is the matter with you? Ain’t I giving you all I can?”
“Ple-e-ease promise me you’ll stop stealing.”
“Sure—when there ain’t anything more to steal,” Red snorted.
“Oh-h-h, if I had a gun I’d kill myself!”
Angrily, Red snatched a revolver from his pocket, and held it before her.
“Here’s a rod. Blow your brains out if you want to—or else shut up and have a drink.”
With a movement so quick I could scarce believe it had occurred, she caught the revolver from his hand, put the muzzle into her mouth and pulled the trigger. Glass from a shattered picture on the wall behind her tinkled on to the floor as she collapsed on the lounge.

“It is a beautiful night, Lord, upon which to die…” – an excerpt from Jungle Justice by Jim Tully

Excerpt from Jungle Justice by Jim Tully. To be included in the first published collection (heretofore untitled) of short stories and essays by Jim Tully, released by Underworld Amusements early 2011. The scene is a hobo camp, or “jungle”, and the ‘bos have seized a railroad security guard (known as a “bull”) to try him by kangaroo court and execute him. One of the gathered gives a prayer:

“It is a beautiful night, Lord, upon which to die. The stars and the moon and the beautiful river shall sing his threnody. And Lord, if one of us should be shuffled off the gallows to dance with broken arches before Thy throne, it would not be amid such beauty. Rather would the knot be tied behind our left ears, Lord, and as we fell through the trap, dear Lord, the knot would jerk our heads forward and break our immortal necks, dear Lord. We would hang like a cracked scarecrow, All-merciful Lord, while a doctor listened to our hearts pounding their way on the road to Your blessed arms, dear Lord.

“But, Blessed Lord, we are not as those men who do such deeds. We profess no creed, dear Lord. We are but humble servants in Thy name. Ours is a gentler method, Lord. It comes suddenly, Lord. The soul of the departed flies suddenly before You from a hole which a bullet makes. It is more lenient, Lord. There is dignity in death by a bullet. . .”

“Shut up!” snapped Dugan. “Do you think you’re the only one He’s got to listen to?”

Frisco Eddie resumed: “For they who taketh up the Smith and Wesson must die by a Colt, for so it is written, ever and anon, before dinner and after, from now on, Amen.”

Book Scanning…

I’ve scanned a LOT of books. Page by page by page on a flatbed scanner. Occasionally, over the past few years I’ve used digital cameras to photograph sections or a short number of pages.
At some point I ran across various websites for folks building digital camera based book scanners. This is an amazing collision of things I love – building shit, culling great shit from old books and magazines. Anyway, if you’re remotely interested at all, I’m starting this post to collect some URLs on the topic…

http://bookliberator.org

http://diybookscanner.org

http://bkrpr.org

Over the next year I’m going to start on a build.

Jailbirds by Jim Tully – The American Mercury, 1928

Scanned and OCRed on Sept.8th, 2010 by Kevin I. Slaugther. Read “Thieves and Vagabonds” by Tully as well.

JAILBIRDS

BY JIM TULLY

THE jail room was thirty-five feet long, twenty-five feet wide, and seven feet high. In this large cage were fifty prisoners. Some had been sentenced and were serving jail terms; others awaited trial, or removal to the penitentiary.

The floor was of thick sheet-metal. Around the walls and ceilings were heavy iron bars, painted a ghastly yellow. On each side of the cage was a row of cells, a dozen in all. Each cell was about five by six feet. There were four hammocks in each, one above the other, two on each side. Each hammock contained a filthy blanket.

The oldest inmates had the choice of blankets and hammocks. The prisoner in jail the longest was the court of last appeal in all disputes.

In case of his release, to go to the penitentiary—or freedom—, the next in order of seniority took his place.

Between the rows of cells was a long pine table. A bench was on each side of it. There was room for only sixteen men on the benches.

Cards were not allowed in the jail, but somehow there was always a game in progress. Cigarettes, cigars, and plugs of chewing tobacco were the stakes.

Each prisoner, upon his arrival, had been deprived of all his possessions, with the exception of tobacco and handkerchiefs.

The daily routine began at five o’clock in the morning.

A guard awoke the inmates by pounding on the steel bars with an iron weight.

There arose from hammock, benches, table and floor as disheveled and terrible a group as ever pleaded for justice before merciless judges.

Swollen from sleep and grim from life, each face was a study for a philosophical misanthrope.

The odor of unwashed bodies was accentuated by the complete lack of ventilation.

There was but one faucet, and at it fifty men washed their faces. They pushed each other out of line like free citizens boarding street-cars.

The senior prisoner was allowed to keep a safety razor. He would shave any of his brothers in misery for the equivalent of fifty cents in cigarettes or tobacco. He plied his trade with the grimness of an executioner.

The blade was duller than a sergeant of police. The water was cold. The only soap available was a cake of coarse yellow naptha. The operation was violent and bloody.

At five-thirty they were called to break-fast. Half the men had not had a chance to wash.

They now stood, two by two, at a steel door which opened into another tank, in which was a long pine table.

Steaming hot chicory in a tin cup, two slices of hard bread, a spoonful of hash and a raw onion made all un-happy for the day.

Ten minutes were allowed in which to eat. It was impossible to gulp the boiling chicory in that time.

While the prisoners breakfasted, trus-ties swabbed the cells. They returned to wet floors and the same odors.

Any cigarettes or trinkets accidentally left in the cells were gone–stolen by the trusties.

Old magazines and daily newspapers strayed into the jail. Every line was read.

If a prisoner had arrived since the preceding morning, he was tried immediately after breakfast by a kangaroo court.

The charge was that of breaking into the jail without the consent of the in-mates. As in the outside world, judge, lawyers and jury took their places in the curriculum of injustice.

The blindfolded prisoner was led before the assembly. The senior prisoner, who was the judge, subjected him to a series of questions.

What was his age? What was he in for? Would he have an auburn or a brunette maiden to ease the loneliness of prison? Did he have dandruff—or any of the nameless diseases? Would he desire his breakfast brought to him by the chosen maiden as he lolled in bed? Would he have his chosen maiden bow-legged or pigeon-toed, or both? Or did he prefer a youthful virgin with a darker skin?

When the poor devil tried to name his preference, he was told to shut up. A roar of mocking laughter followed.

He was then given his instructions and told the rules of the prison. The violation of those rules would mean the infliction of so many lashes with a leather belt from the hand of the senior prisoner.

He was placed upon a blanket in the centre of the room. Suddenly the blanket was jerked from under his feet . He sprawled, still blindfolded, upon the floor.

Never was more moronic entertainment offered in American lodges. After he had nursed his bruises, the bandage was re-moved from the new arrival’s eyes. He was then made one of the bunch.

If a prisoner offered resistance to the kangaroo court, he was given the silence. No one talked to him during the day.

The following morning he was called before the court again. If he still offered resistance he was given the silence again, until at last he bowed to the majesty of prison law.

Few held out more than one day.

II

Guards brought in and took out different prisoners from early morning until late at night.

Some would leave to face juries of their uncaught peers amid the ironical good wishes and ribald sneers of the other prisoners.

The clanking of the iron doors and the calling of convict names by guards and trusties were the oases in the steel desert of monotony.

The next meal was at two o’clock. Chicory, bread, stew or beans. It was the last meal of the day.

A huge, gorilla-like Negro was the comedian of the tank. His crooked black arms hung to his knees. His lips were the size of doughnuts cut in half.

He had been released from the penitentiary four months before. After serving ten years as a two-time loser, he was now sentenced again for burglary. He laughed from morning until night.

“I’s a bad niggah, I is! Tain’t no use lettin’ dis niggah free no moah, nohow. I jist go percolatin’ ’round wit’ a gat an’ gits in trouble agin. I’se too bad a niggah to be loose exceptin’ on a chain.”

His eyes glistening with mirthful tears, he would laugh at his monstrous joke like a film comedian.

“I jis’ do a little burglin,’ an’ hot damn, de cops git me! An’ now dey takes dis heah niggah back home to de Big House agin.”

He would laugh again, louder than be-fore, his great lips shaking.

A pyromaniac was in the jail.

A tall, thin ghost of a man touching the shores of fifty, his eyes were blank, his mouth open. He faced a twenty-year sentence for arson. His gray hair straggled over a scar on his forehead. One shoulder drooped. One leg was shorter than the other.

He shuffled like a man paralyzed.

The ends of his fingers were blistered from holding burning matches. His eyes followed every match that lit a cigarette or pipe, in the hands of other prisoners. He did not smoke. He borrowed matches whenever possible. He would hold the burning piece of wood beneath his fingers. The blaze was lost in the blistered flesh. Prisoners would give him matches just to watch him sit in the corner and strike them on the floor.

Each hour was livened by a song from the Negro:

Standin’ on Fouth street,
Lookin’ up Main,
Cop come along
An’ ask me mah name.

I tol’ him mah name,
It was Dennis McGee,
I got seben wild wimmen
Aworkin’ foh me!

Ashes to ashes
An dus’ to dus’,
Was dey eber a woman
A burglah could trust?

A group would soon gather around him. To the stamping of feet and clapping of hands, the Negro would sing:

He took her to de tailah shop
To have her mouf made small,
She swallowed up de tailah,
De tailah-shop an’ all. . . .

Massa had no hooks an’ nails,
Nor anything like dat,
So on dis darky’s nose he used
To hang his coat an’ hat.

Ashes to ashes
An dus’ to dus’,
Was dey eber a woman
A burglah could trust?

III

A conglomerate gathering of frayed ras-cals, they were completely detached from the outside world. Regardless of color, innocence or guilt, they fraternized one with the other. Some tried to keep hearts from breaking; others tried only to kill the monotony of the hours. Thrown to-gether by the steel bars of circumstance, they snarled, quarreled, and cursed. Many seemed to bear all their burdens easier than propinquity.

One man among them held himself aloof.

Accused of forgery, with the certainty of conviction and a long term, he walked nervously up and down the tank. Even in misery he made no comradeship with more illiterate and braver rascals. His body was taut, his eyes swollen and strained at a door that did not open—for him.

Slowly the madness came upon him. Each night he sobbed and groaned. He may as well have thrown particles of ice at the sun.

Each time the iron door clanged he would suddenly rush forward and ex-claim, “Yes, sir! I’m ready!”

All but the pyromaniac laughed.

The door would let another prisoner out or in—and clang shut.

The forger would stand transfixed for a moment, and gaze at the iron-grey door. At last it opened for him.

One trusty took his head, another his feet. He was hurried out one morning with a leather strap around a swollen purple throat—a suicide.

The Negro laughed as he told his decrepit mates: “He’ll git up to Heaven and de good Lawd, He’ll say, `What foh you done fohged ma name foh? Ahse goin’ to put you to writin’ down de names of de preachehs an’ judges who keeps comin’ to Hell forebeh and ebeh.’ . . .”

A trusty brought in a paper which con-tained the picture of the forger’s wife and daughter. The young girl was posed by the photographer so as to show her beauti-ful legs. Her picture was fastened to the wall.

Otherwise life went on in the prison as though the forger had not lived among the men who knew of neither dawn nor dusk.

All day the electric lights burned. At night, all of them save a dim bulb over the door were switched out.

The pyromaniac would sit on his cot and bum a last match before going to sleep.

At intervals in the night, the main lights were switched on and off. The door clanged open and shut. A new face appeared in the morning.

A dope fiend, eaten with disease, was always well supplied with “snow.” The guards either knew or feigned ignorance for money. The prisoners knew. A stool-pigeon told a guard. No action was taken.

A friend regularly brought him clean handkerchiefs. The hem contained cocaine. Sometimes a spot soaked in morphine would be marked with a lead pencil. The saturated cloth would be soaked in a spoon of water. A match under the spoon, a safety pin jabbed into the arm, … dreams again!

Tobacco smoke circled, heavy as fog, about the steel room.

Men paced up and down, up and down, like automatons on a wire stretched across the empty chasm of life. It was night al-ways—with never a ray of day in the jail. . . or in their hearts. The Negro burglar alone was happy.

After many days the monotonous hum of voices would tell on their nerves.

They ached for solitude away from iron bars and caged men.

Each night a trusty came with a large can of Epsom salts. Coarse food, no exer-cise, bad air and overwrought nerves made indigestion king.

Ignorance and false pride sustained the inmates. Pride and hope. Alone, they might have given way to tears.

The Negro hoped for chicken again—in fifteen years.

Minds dulled with too much revery, with too much smoking, too many incessant tunes, often took on the illusion that they had always been behind the bars.

Among the two or three-time losers there was always much talk. Notes were com-pared. Denver Shorty, Texas Gyp, and Gimp the Red, each with a coterie of friends about him, talked of robbed banks and bullets in the night.

Young first offenders, actuated by the ego that makes the Pope and the yegg twin brothers, listened with awe.

“I blazed it out with the rube marshal and heard him fall in the alley. Another yap threw a bullet against the wall in back o’ me. . . . We got away with twenty grand—but Sailor Pete fell. A rube dis-trict attorney took three thousand an’ got him off with a little rap of a year. We sprung him in ten months.”

And Denver Shorty called, “Ain’t that so, Gimp?”

Gimp answered, “Yeah—what is it?”

In this world of iron bars and dim lights, ego paraded with braggadocio. Many lies were told.

“My kid brother’s only twelve years old, but he’s the best thief you ever saw,” was Texas Gyp’s contribution.

Young lads never before in jail told tales of long incarcerations for desperate crimes. Like snobs the world over, they wished to edge into the society which they admired.

Two brothers were in for automobile stealing. The younger, not over eighteen, was taken out of the jail one morning at nine o’clock.

The older brother walked the jail, mum-bling: “If those cops are givin’ the kid the third degree, I’ll kill ‘em.”

A guard brought the boy into the jail that afternoon. His face was black and blue. He staggered from exhaustion.

Ferocious hulks of life gathered about guard and boy. Among them was the brother. The guard, to whom the beaten boy had been delivered by the police, now met a heavy fist with his jaw.

A riot started. Other guards dragged their comrade out of the jail. The young criminal’s brother was knocked unconscious with a blackjack, and dragged out of the door. He died next day in a hospital.

The younger brother, bleeding and groaning all night, was taken away in an ambulance.

Added to the charge of stealing against him was the new one of resisting an officer.

The trusties were really the rulers of the little world. Their unpaid services added to the graft of the jailer. Like others of their kind, they assumed a great dignity with their little authority.

Prisoners serving jail sentences, they had privileges. They could run errands.

They had ample time to eat their meals. They were given as much food as they liked. Nonentities in the outer world, they were despots in a shutaway wilderness of iron.

Many of them were reluctant to leave when their terms expired. One had been a trusty at alternating periods for twenty years. Old, hopeless, broken, derelict, he would purposely commit small crimes in order to reenter the jail and become a trusty again.

He had never been in the Big House, or penitentiary. He scorned all those who had. Like most criminals, petty and great, he was really a moralist at heart.

Nearing seventy, bent double, with an awful leer on his face, he was known as Old Babyface in mockery. Intensely a Christian, he pored over his Bible with fanatical eyes. As bitter as St. Paul, and meaner in heart than Calvin, life had put glue on his fingers.

They stuck to everything.

He told everything to the guards . . . stole every-thing from the men.

Youths facing the State penitentiary the first time eagerly asked him questions about the Big House. He told them be-tween sneers of the hard way of crime.

IV

A newcomer slept in a heroin stupor.

There was blood on his hands and clothes. The morning paper came. A man was dead.

He was the murderer. The prisoners stared at his neck in silence.

He slept peacefully in the last moments of untroubled oblivion he was ever to have.

His hat was on the floor beside him. His shirt was torn to the belt. His collar was gone. His four-in-hand scarf was in a hard knot, as though a hand had pulled it tight.

He did not remember the quarrel.

A clean-shaven fellow had been brought into the jail with the murderer. His eyes were furtive and rheumy. His manner was a conciliatory apology. He told with weak gusto of being caught in the at-tempt to rob with a deadly weapon. He established himself on terms of familiarity with everybody in the jail. But the two-time losers, with an air of suspicion, with-drew from him.

“They got ‘im in here to pump the guy that bumped the fellow off. Then they’ll use it agin him at the trial,” was Gimp the Red’s comment.

It went around the jail, like gossip at a woman’s club. The new arrival was a stool-pigeon.

Gimp the Red and Denver Shorty were in the wash-room with a dozen other prisoners.

The loquacious fellow with the furtive eyes was among them.

There was a sudden groan. A fist crashed at the base of his brain. His eyes went tight shut with pain. Blows whistling with sudden speed smashed his face and body. A foot caught him in the groin. Bleeding, twisted, groaning, he writhed on the slippery floor.

The prisoners regained composure and washed themselves in the nonchalant manner of men at a hunt club.

A guard came, asked many questions, made many threats.

No one seemed to know who hit the stool-pigeon.

The bleeding mongrel was taken away. The prisoners went without breakfast that morning.

The old plan of the police to have one criminal win another’s confidence and be-tray him had been frustrated.

A few weeks later the murderer returned from the court-room. In his ears still rang, “To be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and may God have mercy on your soul!”

His hands, in steel bracelets, were before him. His eyes stared unseeing.

The handcuffs were removed. His cell door was closed. The guard left.

He fell wearily to his cot. His head sagged low. As if unable to hold it up, he placed his elbows on his knees and rested his jaw in the palms of his hands, in the manner of Rodin’s “Thinker.”

Only the pyromaniac noticed him.

He looked at the bent-over figure for several minutes. Walking to his cell door, he asked, “Have you got a match?”

The man lifted his furrowed face.

“Yes.”

He rose unsteadily and handed the pyro-maniac a small box of matches.

The incendiary’s eyes glowed. “Thanks—thanks!” And then, “Is it all over?”

“Yeap —I drew the rope. They’re stretchin’ it now, I suppose.”

The pyromaniac lit a match. It burned into his fingers as he watched.

“Well, it don’t make much difference,” he finally said. “Everybody kicks the bucket sooner or later.”

The condemned man rolled a cigarette. The pyromaniac held a match for him.

He watched the blaze while the murderer smoked feverishly.

“You know,” he said, lighting another match, “I wouldn’t be afraid to die. I’d rather like it. I wish this place’d burn up now.”

“But I’d want the judge in it,” snapped the murderer, “and that damn pie-faced jury. I raved in my sleep last night at the hangman—he painted my neck white where it was swollen an’ purple. . . an’ he put me in an iron coffin an’ gave me a hammer, sayin’, ‘Here, pal, you kin pound your way out.’ They dropped me through the trap—and I laughed and wriggled my way outta the rope.” He felt his throat. “I wish to God it was over.”

“It don’t take long,” said the pyromaniac. “Not over a minute.”

“No, it’s the waitin’ that kills. I gave the guy I bumped a better deal. He only died once.”

“O’ course you’ll have a preacher at the last,” suggested the pyromaniac.

“If they send me a preacher they’ll hang me twice,” was the answer.

Over his face passed clouds of reality.

“But, Bralen,” continued the pyromaniac, “it wouldn’t do no good to have the judge and jury die. . . they’d just get others.”

The murderer looked at the incendiary between puffs of smoke.

“Besides, you shouldn’t feel that way about ‘em. They hain’t no worse’n us—just different.”

He struck another match.

“If you die feelin’ happy towards every-body, you’ll wake up in tother world with your soul clean like fire.”

“Maybe you’re right,” answered the man about to die.

The incendiary walked to a group of prisoners.

“Bralen got the rope,” he said.

V

It was evening.

The Negro was starting for the peni-tentiary. He sang like one going on a glori-ous adventure:

Hang up de fiddle and de bow,

Lay down de shovel and de hoe,

Deys no moah stealin foh pooh ol’ Ned,

He’s goin wheah de bad niggah’s go.

He walked about getting ready, an antediluvian monster with the gift of laughter, his doughnut-lipped mouth open from ear to ear.

With crooked short legs, gigantic chest and baggy green-striped pants, the frayed bottoms of which dragged on the floor, and with a collarless shirt that was grimy and tom, he faced the meaningless futil-ity of his chaotic life with the laughter of a fool.

The fat guard waited, his hard lower lip and undershot jaw twisted in a smile at the Negro.

“Come on here, Rastus—time to go. They cain’t wait your Pullman all night, you know.”

“Dat’s all right, Mistah Guand. Tell ‘em foh me dat Geohge Washington Jones’ll be comin’ right along, an’ tell none o’ dem boys to come to de train to meet me, ’cause I’se been deah befoah.”

His eyes turned to the murderer’s cell.

“Ah’ll be waitin’ foh you, boy.”

“Go on, you black devil—an’ chew on a bone like an ape!”

The Negro laughed louder than ever.

“jis’ heah dat white boy talk! You bettah jist say all you kin, ’cause dey’s goin to buhn youh neck till it pops, an’ make it all red!”

The murderer stood up, his hands grip-ping the cell door until his fingers were white.

His heavy lantern-jaw was hard set. He scowled at the Negro. The Negro went on: “Bettah grin a little, white boy . . . ’cause you’se goin’ to dance till youh knees cave in—an’ you bettah pray hand too, Mistah Man, ’cause deys gonna hang you so fast it’ll be three days befoah de Lawd knows you’se daid.”

“Come on, Rastus,” laughed the guard.

The Negro put a shapeless hat on a bul-let head and shouted, “So long, eberybody! See you all in jail! Why dey allus takes you away at night so’s you cain’t see no purty country is moah’n I know.”

Guard and convict moved toward the door. It opened. Another guard entered. “Bring Bralen,” he said.

The murderer’s cell was opened. He was handcuffed to the Negro.

One smiled. The other frowned.

They marched away.