To be a preacher requires two apparently contradictory qualities: confidence and humility.–Timothy Radcliffe
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART THIRTY: KINGDOM COME
Tipsy Smith the barkeep was being kept busy taking care of the two drabs who were his newly-arrived customers, so Count Victor Justin turned his attention to Pappy O’Day. He barely noticed me, if at all. He was in a peculiar mood; liquor had dulled and slurred his speech, but at times his eyes would shine and he would speak lively, albeit in a continuous staccato monotone.
“We got up to some pretty sweet rackets back in those days, I will say that much. Back when God was a Pup. The molls were boosters, and could strip clean a high-toned department store quicker than a school of piranha, although it wasn’t long until the store dicks got wise. That’s why we went from city to city, usually on the train. The crooked conductor would always accept a half-fare from a travelling party of wise gees. The twists wore booster shorts and skirts with big pockets sewn on the inside at just the right height to facilitate a hand-off, and they could stroll into a butcher shop and practically make off with a whole side of beef. Needless to say, we allus ate very well. I was quite a ladies’ man in my day, you know. I could talk a twist into doing practically anything at all. Many’s the bastard born in the month of May I’ve left behind me. I can go to any city and see my map if I had a mind to. Do I bother with any of ’em now? Nit! Where’s the percentage in it?
“Not for me the life of looking after a puling bairn. Adventure–that was my meat. Did I ever tell you of the week I spent ‘training’ at the seminary up in Canada? I believe it was on account of I was hiding out from a beef made by a particularly aggrieved citizen I’d rooked in a short con game down in Albany–the gold brick, it must have been. I did dearly love the gold brick back in those days. News of the Klondike gold rush up in the Yukon was still fresh. I had been there; so naturally, I had the vantage. I could talk to a sucker all day about sled dogs, and spit freezing before it hits the ground, and Eskimo gals, and the types of entertainments and ‘novelty performances’ on offer in the dance halls. Depraved! That’s hardly the word for it. Depraved implies something mildly titillating next to what those gals were up to. I’ve been to Paris and to Mexico City, too, and I ain’t never seen the like of what those gals could do. Vulgar! That doesn’t even scratch the surface! Perverted? You bet! But I’ll leave it to your imagination; no need to discuss such matters when there’s ‘ladies’ present. But I’ll tell you this much–it made a donkey show look tame.
“I wouldn’t have been surprised if I saw the Reverend John Cross there. At the Seminary, I mean. Sure, and there was already many a Limey blackleg preacher at the Seminary. Some of them might have been on the run from the law themselves, for all I knew. So. I spent a week there soaking up the hokum and learning all their hocus-pocus work and suchlike and I could probably still do a fair representation of a preacher if I put my mind to it. And I allus was a dab hand as a body of divinity bound in black calf. What they call a “parson”.
“I will tell you one thing about those boys–they surely do like their meat and drink. Sure, there were one or two Holy Joes who took the whole thing too damn seriously, as believed in mortifying their flesh and other such bilge and tommyrot, but most of them friars was prosperous-looking. And why not? It was an easy bounty. I never ate so good as I did in that establishment. It was like a school and church combined, only it had a long hallway that led to the dining hall. I still dream about that place. The smells! Fresh bread, each and every morning. T’was no hardship; they were all up by 4:30 anyway. Me, that’s the time I usually went to bed, so it was quite an accommodation on my part. But it was only for a week. Someone smelt a rat. I behaved queer, even for an American seminarian. Forgot that even to say ‘oh gosh’ and ‘oh gee’ and ‘son of a gun’ was frowned on in those exalted precincts. Anyway, I wasn’t exactly given my papers and sent packing, but things were trending in that general direction, so I vamoosed and made my way up to Newfoundland, where I ended up working on a fishing boat for a week.
“Fishermen are some of the most evil gees you can ever spend time with–and they drink the most, but that’s incidental. Comes from wearing rubber boots and netting up some pretty ugly customers. With their eyes open wide and their mouths gaping–and the fish are even worse. Fishermen are ruthless. They cuss a blue streak. Even my ears turned red. And they don’t care for nobody at all, unless it be a fellow fisherman. I lasted about one week on the boat. I was a real boggle-de-botch. They mostly kept me busy dumping chum. I didn’t have the muscles for the heavy work. It’s an interesting story how I ended up on that boat. Guess the frost heads were on the lookout for a man fitting my description for some sort of homicide in Q. City so I hid out among the fisher folk. Lied and told ’em I had worked out of Portland. They knew those weren’t the bottom facts, but they humored me. I’ll tell you something about working on a fishing boat–it smells something awful. Seeps into your clothes–seeps into your life. Into your dreams, too–endless waves–and the smell of garbage. All this, and bobbing up and down in the freezing rain. There’s got to be about fifty softer ways to make a living, including coal miner and stoker for a furnace. It was worse than being in jail and getting the old strappado. Which I hear they still do, up in the frozen north. Unless I was misinformed.
“Anyway, having a bit of seaman’s lore came in handy for cozening up to a ship’s Captain when on an ocean cruise. To a ship’s Captain I was a man of the world with a somewhat undetermined past, and that made me a man of mystery and intrigue, and not some commonplace duffer. From the way I tossed the lingo around he knew I warn’t no lundlubber, and he liked the cut of my jib. I never referred to his tub as a boat, and he never treated me like a swabbie. Man, those ocean liners were some sweet pickings! But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.
30 KNOCKOFF PRODUCTS
AL CAPP VS. CHARLES SCHULTZ
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
6* DAILY UTILITY
HOW TO LIVE WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING
THE GHOST TOWN
HOW ROOT CANAL SURGERY WORKS
P.J. O’Rourke: How I Killed ‘National Lampoon’
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
The 50 States Of America If They Were Actually People In A Bar.
11A BOOKS READ AND REVIEWED
44 IRISH SHORT STORIES. GARRITY. ****1/2
50 YEARS OF THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY PART ONE. ABRAHAMS. ****1/2
ANT-MAN PRELUDE. ***
AQUAMAN 4: DEATH OF A KING. JOHNS. ***1/2
AVENGERS 1. HICKMAN. ***1/2
AVENGERS: RAGE OF ULTRON. ***
AVENGERS VS. ULTRON. ***
THE BARBARY COAST. ASBURY. ****
BATGIRL 1: BATGIRL OF BURNSIDE. ***
BATGIRL 5: DEADLINE. ***
BATMAN: EARTH ONE. 2. ***1/2
BATMAN ETERNAL 2. ***1/2
BATMAN 6. GRAVEYARD SHIFT. ***1/2
BATMAN & ROBIN 5. THE BIG BURN. ***
BATMAN & ROBIN 6. THE HUNT FOR ROBIN. ***1/2
BATMAN DETECTIVE COMICS 5. GOTHTOPIA. ***1/2
BATMAN DETECTIVE COMICS 6. ICARUS. ***1/2
BATMAN/SUPERMAN 3: SECOND CHANCE. ***1/2
THE BIG CON. MAURER. ****
A COP’S LIFE, SUTTON. ***1/2
EARTH ONE. VOL. 1. JOHNS & FRANK. ***1/2
ECONOMIX. GOODWIN & BURR. ****
FLASH 2: ROGUES REVOLUTION. ***
FLASH 6. OUT OF TIME. ***
FLASHPOINT. JOHNS, KUBERT, HOPE. ***1/2
FKASHPOINT: THE WORLD OF FLASHPOINT FEATURING THE FLASH. ***1/2
GANDHI: MY LIFE IS MY MESSAGE. QUINN. ****
GRAYSON 1. AGENTS OF SPYRAL. ***
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 1. ABNETT & LANNING. ***1/2
HARLEY QUINN 1. HOT IN THE CITY. ***
INFINITY. HICKMAN, ET AL. ***1/2
INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US YEAR 2 VOLUME 1. ****
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK 4: REBIRTH OF EVIL. ***
MILES MORALES THE ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN 2. ***1/2
THE NEW FRONTIER. COOKE & STEWART. ***1/2
POWERS BUREAU 2. ICONS. BENDIS & OEMING. ***
ROCKET RACCOON: A CHASING TALE. ***
SWAMP THING 1: RAISE THEM BONES. ***1/2
SWAMP THING 2: FAMILY TREE. ***1/2
UNCANNY AVENGERS 3: RAGNAROK NOW. ***
THE YEARS OF LYNDON JOHNSON: THE PASSAGE OF POWER. CARO. ****1/2
YOUNG AVENGERS 2: ALTERNATIVE CULTURE. ***
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
807. TERENCE MCKENNA