THE IMPOSSIBLE & THE UNFORESEEN
Nothing is more imminent than the impossible . . . what we must always foresee is the unforeseen.― Victor Hugo
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER EIGHT: PART FIVE: THE FALL
I would strongly suggest that whenever you feel like hell warmed over,
you take a salutary lesson from Mr. Shanghai Jack, Yob—you seen him around—
he was an ex-pug as lost his right hand in a fearful affray
with the dossing sports in Chinatown. He had a bad habit—liked to
gamble—got mixed up with the Tongs—wouldn’t pay—they sent a gang after
him. He gave a good account of himself, they say—took ten of them down
before they got to him. Sure—life is cheap in the Orient, they
say—what they never tell you is that life is dear nearly no place else
in any event.
Anyway, Shanghai Jack, he didn’t spend no time being all mopey over
the loss of his duke; naw—he took one more big
gamble—blackjack—wagered everything he had on the turn of a
card—dealer had twenty, but Jack took the plunge with two tens—drew an
ace—twenty-one–won a big pay day—scooped up his dosh and practically
ran out the door–never touched the cards again—then he got himself a
nice shiny stainless steel hook as made him look more menacin’ than
ever before—he even started sporting a black patch over his left glim
even though that lamp was perfectly good—sometimes for fun he would
switch the patch around to the right eye to see if anyone would
notice—few did—more fool they—Shanghai Jack noticed everything—even
the look on a dealer’s face as to whether he was cheating or no. And
he could scent a mark from across a crowded gin mill full of stiffs and swells.
My point bein’, Mr. Jack lost no time in playing Pity Me—no, he set
right back to his old occupation of kidnapping, and with a vengeance.
Almost like a man on the first day of a new job with something to
Now, here’s where it gets interestin’. There was a Farmer Boy who
had lost the year’s crop in a bunko wallet switch—the old “found
money” game—about the oldest swindle there is—from a team of
bunko artists as worked the stem—terectly in front of the train
station over t’ Central Depot.
What happened was that Farmer Boy wasn’t going to take it lying down.
Farmer Boy—you could still smell the stink of pigshit on his bib
overalls—why, he raised an everlasting row, threatened to go to the
D.A. and the Mayor, and like that.
Well, the D.A. had his own hustle going with the shake-down mob in
Central Depot and he wasn’t about to queer his own pitch and kept
right on putting him off.
His Honor The Mayor, as you might expect, was counting on big
donations from the same crew. Also, he was busy trying to beat a
reform candidate who was as stupid as the day is long but had the
backing of all the Goo-Goos—mostly fat crippled up old ladies,
dried up temperance biddies, jackleg preachers, old duffers with
too much time on their hands, and small businessmen–honest
goofs as were sick as paying bribes to health and safety inspectors and
shake-down money to thugs.
His Honor The Mayor told Cap’n Aston to square the beef, because if
he was on the outs because of the Goo-goos, then Aston would
be out as well. “Can’t fix this one,” said His Honor the Mayor. “He’s
from a good family—they’ve got too much juice with some boys in the
State House. Can’t bump him off—it would draw too much heat on the
Boys. Maybe we can make him vanish, though, until after the
election—he’s known to like a drink or too—I’m sure you can handle it,
Indeed he could. So Captain Aston called in Shanghai Jack. What Mr.
Jack did was this. One afternoon he found out the Farmer Boy was
coming back into town for the umpteenth time–ready to raise yet
another unholy stink–this time with the newspapers—a wise reporter
gave him the tip-off. So he boarded the train about three stops before
it got into town—sidled up to the Farm Boy–made gentle conversation
with the Yob –said he himself had been deceived by robbers,
which was no lie—showed him his hook—shared his hip flask—
played the sympathy angle—then, as they arrived at the train station,
Jack suggested they proceed to a snuggery and have a farewell drink together.
Farmer Boy was wary. Jack played the pity card—‘spose you’re too good to
be seen havin’ a drink with a crippled up old veteran—Farmer Boy mulled
it over—said I Guess One Drink Won’t Hurt–Jack then lured the Farmer
Boy to a low dive–The Seven Stars. He said Never Mind the Looks of the
Place, I Know the Owner—He’ll Treat Us Right.
He threw Tipsy Smith the wink to dose the Farmer Boy with
chloral—knock out drops—enough to fell an elephant—and then he coshed
the sucker on the noggin with a belayin’ pin, just for good measure.
Not enough to kill him, mind you—just enough to raise a lump the size
of a goose egg.
It probably goes without sayin’ that you should never, never flash your
money, in a saloon, or anywheres.
Ner ever accept a drink from a man named “Shanghai Jack.”
Also–you never trust a blowhard who says he knows the owner.
Everybody “knows the owner.”
Anyway, Mr. Jack was paid well for this job–by Aston–who took his cut
from the Fixer–who was paid by the con man who had hired him to
square the beef in the first place.
What’s that? What became of the Farmer Boy?
Who the hell cares?
Listen, Yob–there ain’t no percentage in worrying about a sucker.
But, if you must know, the way I heerd the story, they shipped him out
on a slow freighter heading north of Frisco, where the obliging
ship’s Captain made him a swabbie and put the big goof to work mending nets
and cutting bait and every dirty job to be had on a fishing boat–out
on a three-month long expedition to the frozen north, and the land of
the ice worms. When he finally got back, he was a sadder and wiser
man. He stopped coming to Noxtown—went back to the farm–and was never
heard from again.
I’ll tell ye one thing Yob—don’t never eat no fish caught in Northern
waters some of them, they got worms as long as your arm. Better off
you don’t never eat no fish, period. They say it’s brain food, but a
fish is the stupidest thing there is. And one looks pert near just like another.
Where was I?
Yaas. Police Captain Tom Aston. Yess, he was a wicked man and a wretched
piece of work, though—at my venerable age–I hesitate to say as much
about any of God’s children.
THE ZAKARY THAKS
RICHARD AND THE YOUNG LIONS
YOU CAN MAKE IT
THE GALAXIE IV
DON’T LOSE YOUR MIND
EARLY CRACKED MAGAZINE
CRAZY DIY POSTERS FROM NYC
BRILLIANT HACKING OF SUBWAY ADS
WHAT’S IN BOB’S PIPE?
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
Worker Wages: Wendy’s vs. Wal-Mart vs. Costco
6* DAILY UTILITY
TIME MAGAZINE #1
SEX IN COMICS:
THE 6 STUPIDEST WAYS HEROES PROTECTED SECRET IDENTITIES
CONSPIRACISTS VS. CONVENTIONALISTS
SUMMER VACATION IS EVIL
ACHINGLY BEAUTIFL CEMETERY SCULPTURES
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
Is it really for us–members of a dominant majority culture–to say
what terms minorities SHOULD find offensive? Not to get all
philosophical. I’m just sayin’. Wittgenstein would no doubt agree. By
the way, racial slurs are so 20th century. They were thoroughly
acceptable in the early part of the century; far less so by about
1960, and of course, we all know what happened in the 1990s when the
defendant in a celebrated trial was accused of having used to “N” word
while, at around the same time, Clarence Thomas at his Supreme Court
confirmation hearing accused his inquisitors of conducting—
get this–“A high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.”
Which point of view is correct? I say the default position is
to let the allegedly aggrieved parties decide the terms which are
offensive to them. When they object, we are perfectly free to say
“Duly noted.” There’s no need to get on our high horse about “freedom
of speech” and the like. That puts us in the position of whiners–as
though WE are the ones being victimized simply because we can no
longer freely use ugly racial and slurs without getting called out on
Tony Hendra says it was P.J. O’Rourke who made the racial joke
acceptable when he took the helm of National Lampoon circa 1977
Indeed, ethnic jokes were the profanity of the 1970s and 1980s and
ethnic joke books popular during that era were as American Samizdat,
much like the sex jokes and Tijuana Bibles which circulated semi-clandestinely
since at least the late 1920s.
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. 700.
I HATE NEW THINGS. I’m afraid of new things. I only listen to Old
Order, Old Edition, and the Old Kids on the Block. I only read the Old
Republic, the Old Yorker, and Oldweek. I only visit Old York, Old
Jersey, and Oldnavut. And I only want the good old products like Old
Finesse Hydrating Silk Conditioner, Oldman’s Own, and Oldtella. I’m
tired; give me the tried and true; the old and worsened is good enough
for me. NO–WAIT. I’M BORED WITH OLD THINGS. I WANT NEW THINGS. I must
have all new things. I need New Navy, New Spice, New Milwaukee. Give
me New Crow. New Grand Dad. New Bushmill’s. New Overholt. I want New
El Paso, New Mr. Boston, New Bay Seasoning. Show me the New Farmer’s
Almanac, The Top of New Smokey, and Bad New Charlie Brown.