Tuesday, March 26, 2019

“The Redhead and the Red Convertible”

I guess I should have known Maggie Houlihan was trouble. For one thing she was always busy whenever I called her up. She had just painted her fingernails. Or she had one of her migraines. Or her Aunt Rita was visiting. And the only time she ever called me up was when she wanted me to drive her somewhere. Up to Harlem, down to the Battery, out to Coney Island. One time I even drove her all the way up to Schenectady, and I had to wait parked behind a pool hall with the headlights off and the motor running while she went in and “took care of some business”. Five minutes later she came out the back of the pool hall, got in the car and said, “Drive.” And I drove, and she never did tell me what it was all about. I guess I was a sap. I know I was a sap. And yet every time she called me to ask me to drive her somewhere I said yes.

Yeah, she was trouble, but I didn’t care. What else did I have going on in my life? Nothing. But Maggie had blue eyes like the sky over the East River on a nice day. And red hair that reminded me of the sun going down over the Hudson River on an even nicer day. And skin that was white and smooth like that statue of the Blessed Mother with the dead Jesus in St. Pat’s, and, believe me, that was the only thing she had in common with the Blessed Mother. I was a sap for her, but I had that red convertible my dad had left me when he died, and I always kept a full tank of gas in it, just in case Maggie should call.

– The Redhead and the Red Convertible, by Horace P. Sternwall; serialized in Automotive Crime Stories, January-March, 1946. Published in paperback by Hi-Tone Books as The Chauffeur, by “Harry P. St. Alban”, 1948; out of print.

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