Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"The Burglar and the Babe"

Another one from the Horace P. Sternwall archives...

Willie “The Bat” Jones slipped through the window and came down silently onto the floor in a crouch. He wore tight black leather gloves, and in his left hand he carried the leather case containing his tools and the carefully-folded nylon loot sack. His right hand he held straight out before him in the darkness, fingers outspread and slightly quivering, like antennae. The house would most likely be completely unoccupied for at least two more hours, but nevertheless (and as was his usual modus operandi) Willie did not risk using even a penlight. Instead he closed his eyes, breathing slowly and regularly, and waited patiently for one full minute. When he opened his eyes again his vision had adjusted to the darkness, and now he continued the doing of his business, his trade, his art.

After cleaning out the safe in the study and then collecting the two antique Purdey shotguns from the library along with several rare first editions of Pope, Swift, and Smollett, but before going into the master bedroom, he went into the daughter’s room and headed immediately for the Harry Winston jewelry box he knew to be on the dresser in there.

The light next to the bed switched on, revealing a very pretty young woman sitting up in the bed.  She wore a nightgown that revealed more of her breasts than it concealed.

“Have you come here to kill me?” she asked.

“No,” said Willy. “I came here to rob you.”

She reached over to the night table and took a cigarette from an engraved silver case which Willy's practiced eye identified as Bailey, Banks & Biddle, worth a grand if it was worth a dime. She lighted the cigarette (with a Tiffany lighter, 18-karat yellow gold) and slowly exhaled smoke in Willy's direction.

"How would you like to make some real money?" she asked.

The Burglar and the Babe, by Horace P. Sternwall; an Ajax paperback original, 1954; republished as The Burgled and the Damned, by “Harrison P. Shockley”, in paperback, by The Faber Workman’s Library (UK), 1956.

(Scroll down the right-hand column of this page to find a listing of links to the opening passages of some other fine but sadly out-of-print novels by Horace P. Sternwall.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"St. Valentine's Day, 1963"

In honor of the holiday, we unearth this classic sonnet written by Arnold Schnabel during his three-month stay at the Philadelphia State Mental Hospital at Byberry.

Published initially (and until now, solely) in the sadly defunct Olney Times for February 15, 1963, and rebroadcast now thanks to the kind permission of the Arnold Schnabel Society of Philadelphia, PA.

Nihil Obstat, Bishop John J. (“Mighty Jack”) Graham, SJ.

St. Valentine’s Day, 1963

It’s St. Valentine’s Day, a day for those
who love someone special, and who hope that
person loves them as well, or at least knows
they exist; but what of him who looks at
life not even from the sidelines but from
up in the bleachers? Who has none but Mom
to exchange cards with, to buy flowers for,
what of the lonely, confirmed bachelor?
he and his sister the old maid will grin
stiffly, and stay home and watch the TV,
and try to keep their tears and their brains in
a place that no one can possibly see;
but if they don’t have a day, why worry,
they have, at last, a home, called Byberry.

(Kindly look to the right hand column of this page to find links to many other fine poems by Arnold Schnabel.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"Trouble on Exxon-B"

Another one from the Horace P Sternwall archives...

Flight Captain Throckmorton shifted his space-fighter into overdrive with one hand and with the other lit up the last of his stock of Centaurian Churchill cigars, famed throughout the western reaches of the galaxy not only for their rich flavor and aroma but for the outlandish dreams they engendered; by the time his stogie was finished he would be approaching Exxon-B, also known as The Pleasure Planet, where Throckmorton had a hot date with a sultry robot by the name of Angstra.

Trouble on Exxon-B, by Horace P. Sternwall; an Acme paperback original, 1951.

(Scroll down the right-hand column of this page to find a listing of links to the opening passages of some other fine but sadly out-of-print novels by Horace P. Sternwall.)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Talk to the Six-Gun!

(This one happened six years ago on this date...)

“Any last words, pardner, ‘fore we whup this horse you stole out from under ya and send ya down to the fiery pits o’ hell?”

“Last words? Why, no,” I said. “Not really. I admit it, I stole this handsome palomino, and I know that’s a hanging offense here in the fine territory of New Mexico.”

“Okay,” said the big man, and he raised his riding crop.

“However,” I said.

“Yes?” said the man, keeping the crop raised.

“However, you might be interested in knowing why I stole this fine animal.”

“Not in the least,” said the man, and he raised the crop higher.

“What if I told you that I was trying to make my getaway from robbing the Yuma train out in Arizona.”

“Ain’t no business of ourn what you done in Arizona.”

“Very true. However, what if I told you that after my horse broke his leg up in the San Andreas mountains here in New Mexico that I buried the loot under a rock up there, up in the mountains, in a very secluded spot. What if I told you that after stealing this palomino I was on my way back to that hidden loot when you good fellows captured me. What if I told you I was willing to share this loot with you fine gentlemen of this posse. Provided of course you don’t hang me.”

The big man lowered his riding crop.

“How much loot we talkin’ about here?” he asked.

“Forty-two thousand,” I said. “Forty-two thousand two hundred and fifty-three to be exact. US dollars. In gold coin.”

“Forty-two thousand?” said the man.

“Forty-two thousand,” I repeated. “In gold.”

What a bunch of greedy saps. I left them behind that very same night, and this time I took an even better horse, a pretty roan mare I named Polly.

Talk to the Six-Gun! by Horace P. Sternwall; an E-Z Original, paperback, 1955; serialized in abridged form in Savage Adventures for Men, Oct. to Dec. 1957, as I’ll Let My Six-Gun Do the Talking! by “Howard P. Stone”.

(Scroll down the right-hand column of this page to find a listing of links to the opening passages of some other fine but sadly out-of-print novels by Horace P. Sternwall.)