Saturday, October 8, 2016

"Two Hoofers Named Helen"

Our dedicated staff are in the final stages of preparing Volume One of Arnold Schnabel's memoirs for publication in time for the holiday gift-giving season, and so, in lieu of any new episodes of Arnold's saga at this time, we present the first page of this sadly out-of-print novel by Arnold's good friend Horace P. Sternwall.

“I’m tellin’ ya, doll,” said Big Helen, “my gams are so sore, for two cents I’d chop ‘em off and start sellin’ cigars on the sidewalk.”

“You’re tellin’ me, babe,” said Little Helen. “I need me some liniment, and not the kind you rub on your skin, neither.”

“Boy, I could go for a snort or three, too, girl. Whaddaya say we stop off at Johnny Mac’s?”

“You got a date, sister. Maybe we’ll find a couple of live ones.”

“At Johnny Mac’s? I’ll tell ya, doll, we’ll be happy to find one in that place that ain’t two weeks dead.”

“Ha ha, you said it, babe. Them guys are so square they don’t know enough to fall off the damn barstool when they’re croaked.”

“Yeah, who gives a damn, anyway, girlfriend. The beers are a nickel a glass and our trap is right up the stairs.”

“Let’s collect our shekels and blow.”

“Big” Helen Jones and “Little” Helen Moscowitz collected their pay from Matty the house manager and headed out the stage door and up the alley to 42nd Street.

“Hey, dolls,” said a dude standing on the sidewalk. He wore a blue zoot suit and a snap-brim fedora, and he swung a chain with a gold coin on its end.

“Dig Ricardo Cortez,” said Big Helen.

“Hey, fella,” said Little Helen, “Didn’t you get the memorandum? It’s 1952, not 1942.”

“Very funny,” said the dude. He reached into his trousers pocket and brought out a pearl-handled switchblade and flicked it open. “Maybe you think this stiletto is out of style.”

“That’s not what that cop behind you thinks,” said Little Helen.

The dude turned his head, and as he did Little Helen drove the pointed toe of her pump into the man’s crotch. As he doubled over with a groan Big Helen struck him over the head with her purse, which she always made sure held a stout pint jar of cold cream for just such eventualities as this.

The man crumbled into the entrance of the alleyway.

“Quick,” said Little Helen, “let’s grab his wallet for our trouble.”

“Good idea, sister,” said Big Helen. “I’m grabbing the switchblade, too. It’s cute.”

Two Hoofers Named Helen, by “Hannah P. Sauvage” (Horace P. Sternwall); a Midwood paperback original; 1952.

(Scroll down the right-hand column of this page to find a listing of links to the opening passages of many other classic but nearly impossible-to-find novels by Horace P. Sternwall.)

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