Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of
the intelligence.–Edgar Allan Poe
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER NINE: PART SEVENTEEN: THE MAYOR OF HELL
Red Mary’s uneasy sleep only lasted until the early evening.
“I’m a bad girl” said Red Mary, as she sat upright upon her bed by the
light of a single flickering taper in her dimly lit room and she
looked at me all squinty-eyed. “I’m a bad girl,” said she, and blew a
curl from off her forehead. Her face had grown thin–almost
gaunt–which made her eyes look even bigger than they already were.
“Smash Conklin is out to get me,” said Red Mary.
“Hush,” said Doc Ketman, “it was for nothing you’d done to him. I
won’t let him. You’re under my protection.”
“No! You let me go! You don’t understand! I’m a bad girl, I’ve been
bad,” said Red Mary–and she flared her nostrils.
“I’m bad,” she said, almost shouting, and pressed her lips together.
They were painted red, though some of the red had worn off and you
could see some of the pale almost whiteness of her lips beneath.
“I’m bad,” she said, in a whisper, and she squeezed her eyes shut and
showed her white teeth. You could see faint wrinkles beneath her eyes
where the powder had worn off.
“I’m bad,” she said, and gave Doc Ketman a sort of doubting frown.
“What makes you say you’re bad, Mary?” said he and she looked at
Ketman only she kept her eyes closed as she faced them and she said
in a pouty whisper, “You’ll see. I’m bad.” And although I was only all
of twelve years old, even I could see where this was heading and so
could Ketman–so he gave her some valerian and tried to make her drink
some hop tea though she balked at the bitter taste.
“Why do you say you’re bad Mary?” said Ketman and she fluffed her hair
which was up in a kind of bun and gave him a long and serious look and
she said “The Devil’s got hold of me.”
“Why do you say it’s the Devil,” said Ketman, and she sucked in her
cheeks and looked at him with wide eyes and said, “I see the Devil
“Tell me more,” said Ketman, “there are charms I can use to repel even
Lucifer his own self if need be, but you have to tell me where you see
Red Mary adjusted her hair which was actually a blonde wig which was
poorly balanced on her head and when she took it off to scratch
underneath you could see that she or some other person had cut off
nearly all the hair on her scalp until she was almost bald–she must
have done the job herself because the procedure had been done badly,
and clumsy tufts of light brown hair still stood over portions of her
head her scissors had missed.
“When I was a good girl,” said she, “I used to see God.”
“See him where?”
“In the flowers and birds and trees.” She held her chin up and gave
us both an ernest look. “But the devil’s got me now,” she said, and
she batted her eyelashes.
“Drink your tea,” said Ketman, and she said, “No, it’s bitter. Bitter
like the Devil himself. God is sweet and sour. The devil is salty and
“Why do you say this?” said Ketman, and I have to say that the
red-bearded fox-faced rascal looked slightly appalled and frightened
his own self as he asked her, as though she had hit upon a series of
uncomfortable truths that it wasn’t fitten to discuss in public.
Red Mary put her ill-fitting wig back on and gave us both a strained
look with her eyes and a deep frown which indicated that she was
profoundly unhappy with the question.
“I know it. Don’t ask me how, only I do. My mouth tastes like dead pennies. O,
there’s a devil in this very room. A spirit or an imp who’s causing
mischief,” and she tilted her head and and rolled her eyes upward
until the pupils were almost hidden and she looked for a moment as
though she were about to swoon away.
“You have to be real careful when you say the Devil,” said Ketman, and
he stroked his patchy red chin whiskers and I thought that the
shadow of the sole candle which was lighting the room made him look
somewhat devilish his own self.
Red Mary tilted her head up at both of us and exposed her white throat
as though she were waiting for the Devil Himself to come along and cut
it for her.
“But I know the Devil,” said she, and she sucked in her cheeks as
though she were eating a lemon. A tuft of hair from her wig stood
straight out from over her right ear as she said it, and the room seem
charged with a peculiar electricity. “Because I’m a bad girl.” She
squinted her eyes again, and you could see she was gritting her teeth
as she struggled to express herself.
She smiled and squinted and her nose grew bright red and she blushed.
“I know the Devil, she said, “and I would never use that name in
vain.” She winked and squinted and gave a sad smile in which she
exposed the top row of her white teeth, which made her look vaguely
like a horse.
“I’m no hothouse flower,” said Red Mary. “And…I’ve been around. I
know the secret of the Devil.” She opened her eyes wide but she
didn’t smile, which gave her face a lost and lonely expression.
She bowed her head as though she were a penitent in a church and spoke
the following words in a whisper. “The devil is everywhere that God is
When she finished this short speech she gave us both an frank and
knowing and some would say an insolent look and she put on a slight
sneer to her upturned lip as if to say, “And what are you going to do
Anyone else would have taken her for mad but Doc Ketman looked at me
and whispered from the side of his mouth, “Step carefully Yob–all
will be well–but we dasn’t leave this room until we’ve heard more
about what ails her. “
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING A VINYL COLLECTION
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PEOPLE WITH HIGH IQS SEE THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
THE KING OF QUEENS
Quite possibly the most enjoyable sitcom ever made, mostly because of
its faithfulness to all the modern-day tropes of the successful
comedy. Fat guys who marry hotties, inane sitcom dialogue, painfully
vulgar sexual innuendos, stupidity set up on a throne for baffled
proles to worship… what’s not to love? Now, if only they would adopt
a lovable pet monkey, I think we’d have all the bases covered for some
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
748. FLANNERY O’CONNOR ON AYN RAND
749. MOVIE IDEA: SUPERWOLF
The aliens take a werewolf to the moon where he becomes a super werewolf and destroys them all. Exposition: 10 minutes. Slaughter: 80 minutes. Roll credits.