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Contents
Mannichon solution by Irwin ShawDark music by Charles Beaumont
Somewhere not far from here by Gerald Kersh
Investor by Bruce Jay Friedman
Ripples by Ray Russell
Dispatcher by Gerald Green
Wise child by John Wyndham
Welcome to the monkey house by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Room 312 by H. L. Tassone
Golden frog by Ken W. Purdy
Annex by John D. MacDonald.
Year:
1969
Language:
english
File:
PDF, 24.32 MB
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PLAYBOY'S

stories of the

SINISTER & STRANGE

*;

«iS3»-

PLAYBOY'S stories of the S N ISTER & STRANGE
SELECTED BY THE EDITORS OF PLAYBOY
I

4VP
PLAYBOY PRESS

Cover

Illustration:

Copyright
reserved.

©

Gilbert Stone

HMH

1969 by

Publishing Co. Inc. All rights

From playboy® magazine: Copyright

1963, 1965, 1967, 1968 by

HMH

©

1956, 1962,

Publishing Co. Inc.

Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada by

Playboy Press, Chicago,
of

America.

Library

o£

77-78510. First edition.

Illinois.

Printed in the United States

Congress

Catalog

Card Number:

contents

PREFACE

iv

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

1

irwin shaw

THE DARK MUSIC

41

heaumont
SOiMEWHERE NOT FAR FROM HERE

57

charles

gerald kersh

THE INVESTOR
hriice jay

78

friedman
90

RIPPLES
ray russell

THE DISPATCHER

93

gerald green

WISE CHILD
John

120

wyndham

WELCOxME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE
kurt vonnegut,

ROOM
g.

137

jr.

312

160

h tassone

THE GOLDEN FROG

177

ken w. furdy

THE ANNEX
John d. mac donald

200

preface

Spine-tinglers,

tales of inexplicable torment,

kept audiences from Homer, and before,

bound

as they

unleashed for

teller

and

deep-seated, primitive fears

and

have
spell-

listener alike

fantasies.

The

simple

and other mysteries has gradually
growTi more complex, more provocatively innovative
and varied and, in this centur)% has resulted in the
full flowering of the science-fiction story and the tale
narrative of ghosts

of psychological terror.

Gathered together in

this

spine-tinglers— contemporar}^
credible events, inhabited

by some

of the world's

volume
masterly

by bizarre

most gifted

fantasy, horror, science fiction
as

many

they are

that cannot easily
all

undeniably

are

11

stories

modem
of

in-

characters, told

wnriters.

Stories of

and suspense,

as well

be cataloged or labeled,

sinister

and most disquietingly

strange.

Take,

Annex.

for
It

is

example,

John D.

not a ghost story,

MacDonald's The
it

cannot be called

fantasy or horror in the u; sual genre senses, neither

is

science fiction or a tale of the supernatural; but

it

it

is sinister

and strange— and superb.

Similarly

unclassifiable

are

Gerald

Green's

Ken W. Purdy's The Golden
Somewhere Not Far from Here.

Dispatcher,
Kersh's

On

the other hand,

some

stories are

The

Frog, Gerald

pure fantasies:

Bruce Jay Friedman's The Investor, Charles Beaumont's The Dark Music, G. L. Tassone's Room 312.
Others are definitely science

fiction,

various schools of that broad field:

Welcome

to

the

representing

Kurt Vonnegut's

Monkey House, John Wvndham's

Wise Child, Ray Russell's
novella, The Mannichon

Solution,

Shaw

facet of

reveals a bright

new

Ripples,

and the dramatic
in which Invin
his famous talent.

Ranging over the whole wide spectrum of outre
fiction, differing sharply in method and mood, these
stories yet are united by common bonds— all were
written for playboy magazine, and all reflect Man's
ambivalent love-hate
tive siren,

affair

udth that fascinating, seduc-

The Unknown.
—the

editors of

playboy

Digitized by the Internet Archive
in

2010

http://www.archive.org/details/playboysstoriesoOOchic

The Mannichon

One

light

shone

Solution/ irwin

late in

shaw

the dark bulk of the

\'ogel-Paulson Research Laboratories.

all colors

Monkeys

and genetic backgrounds

Mice

of

slept in their cages.

dozed, dogs dreamed, classified albino rats

waited predictably for the morning's scalpels and injec-

Computers hummed quiedy, preparing gigantic
responses on shadowed floors for the morrow. Cultures
tions.

spread like geometric flowers in shrouded
city-states of bacteria

by

test tubes;

vanished in aseptic dishes washed

scientific night; surprising

serums precipitated ob-

scurely to dash or reward the hopes of daylight.
cals

secretly traded molecules

Chemi-

behind pulled blinds,

atoms whirled unobserved, cures and poisons formed
in locked rooms. Electromagnetic tumblers

guarded

a

million formulas in safes that reflected a gleam of steel
in stray rays of moonlight.

In the one brightly

lit,

white moved from table
a

shallow

powder

glass

to the

scrubbed room, a figure in

to table,

receptacle,

pouring a liquid into

adding

contents of a beaker,

a

puce-colored

making notes on

a

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION
baby-blue work pad. This was Collier Mannichon.

He

was medium-sized, plump, his face was melon-round,
melon-smooth (he had to shave only twice a week),
his high forehead, melon-bulged. Looking at him, it
was impossible not to be reminded of a smooth-skinned
cantaloupe, quite ripe, but not particularly tasty, and
equipped with thick

glasses.

He had

teapot-blue eyes,

with the expectant expression of an infant whose

dia-

some time. There was a blondthe melony forehead and a small

pers have been wet for

on top of

ish fuzz

watermelon of a paunch. Collier Mannichon did not
look like a Nobel Prize winner. He was not a Nobel
29 years and 3 months old. He
showed that the majority of great
scientific discoveries had been made by men before they
reached their 32nd birthday. He had two years and
nine months to go.
His chances of making a great scientific discovery in
the Vogel-Paulson Laboratories were remote. He was
in the Detergents and Solvents department. He was
Prize winner.

knew

He was

that statistics

assigned to the task of searching for a detergent that

would eventually break down
been several unpleasant
recently about

in water, as there

articles in national

frothing sewers and running brooks

co\ered with layers of suds in which trout died.

nichon knew that nobody had ever
Prize for inventing a

did not

kill trout.

and 4 months

had

magazines

new

won

the

ManNobel

detergent, even one that

In one week, he would be 29 years

old.

Other men in the laboratory, younger men, were
working on leukemia and cancer of the cervix and
compounds that showed promise in the treatment of
schizophrenia. There was even a 20-year-old prodig)^

who was

assigned to do something absolutely secret

with free hvdrogen. All possible roads to Stockholm.

IRWIN SHAW

3

They were

called in to high-level staff meetings, and
Mr. Paulson invited them to the country club and to
his home and they drove around in sports cars with
pretty, lascivious girls, almost like movie actors. Mr.
Paulson never came into the detergent department,
and when he passed Mannichon in the corridors, he

him Jones. Somehow, six years ago, Mr. Paulson
had got the idea that Mannichon's name was Jones.

called

Mannichon was married

to a

woman who

looked

melon and he had two children, a boy and
a girl, who looked like what you might expect them
to look like, and he drove a 1959 Plymouth. His wife
made no objections to his working at night. Quite the
like a casaba

opposite.

was

Still, it

better than teaching chemistry in a high

school.

He

was working

at

night because he had been con-

fronted by a puzzling reaction that afternoon.

He

had

taken the company's standard detergent, Floxo, and

added, more or

less at

random, some of the puce-colored

powder, a comparatively simple mixture
iarly as

known

known

famil-

dioxotetramercphenoferrogene 14, which was

combine

to

freely

with certain

stearates. It

was

an expensive chemical and he had had some unpleasant

moments with

the

auditing

department about his

budget, so he had used only one gram to a

pound

of

Floxo,

which

at all

your better supermarkets for 47 cents the con-

cost $1.80 a ton to

produce and was sold

venient household economy-size giant package, with

Green Stamps.

He had
with

put in a piece of white cotton waste, stained

his luncheon lettuce-and-tomato
had been disappointed to see that
control solution of pure Floxo had completely

catsup

from

sandwich, and

while his

removed the

stain

from

a similarly prepared piece of

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

4

cotton waste, the solution with dioxotetramercpheno-

14 had left a
which looked just

ferrogene
cloth,

He had

tried

clearly defined ring
like

what

on the

was, catsup.

with one miUigram of

solution

a

it

14, but the result had
had been working on the
project for 16 months and he was understandably a
little discouraged and was about to throw both samples
out when he saw that while the pure Floxo was suds-

dioxotetramercphenoferrogene

been exactly the same.

ing

away

in

He

usual national-magazine-disapproved

its

manner, the treated mixture now looked

like the

most

limpid mountain spring water.

When

he realized the enormit)^ of

his discover)^

he

down, his knees too weak to carry him. Before his eyes danced a vision of sewers that looked just
like sewers in 1890 and trout leaping at the very
mouths of conduits leading from thickly setded housing developments. Mr. Paulson would no longer call
him Jones. He would buy a Triumph. He would get
had

to sit

a divorce

and

promoted

to

get fitted for contact lenses.

All that remained to be done

proportion

He would

be

Cancer.

was

to find the right

14

dioxotetramercphenoferrogene

of

to

would not produce postthe same time not leave rings,

Floxo, the exact ratio that

and at
would be

operational suds

and

his future

assured.

Trained researcher as he was, he

set

about methodi-

though with quick-beating heart, making one
mixture after another. He was lavish with the dioxocally,

This was no moment

for

ran out of catsup and used

to-

tetramercphenoferrogene

pennv pinching.
bacco

tar

afternoon,

(he had

He

14.

But

from

his pipe instead.

all

through the lonely

called his wdfe

and

all

through the

vigils of the

night

told her not to wait for

dinner), the results were always the same.

The

telltale

IRWIN SHAW
ring remained.

linoleum.

It

remained on cotton.

remained on

plastic. It

remained on the back of

erette. It

He

It

It

b

remained on

remained on

leath-

his hand.

did not despair. Erlich had tried 605 combina-

tions before the

magic 606th. Science was long, time

nothing.

He

ran out of inanimate testing materials.

He

took

out two white mice from a batch that had been given

him because they

obstinately refused to grow tumors.
was running a campaign to induce
dog owners to wash their animals' coats with Floxo,
because Floxo was lagging in the household field
behind its greatest competitor, Wondro, and new
avenues of exploitation were being called for. The results on the mice were the same as on everything else.
One mouse came out as white as the day it was bom
and the solution it had been washed in frothed normally. The other mouse looked as though it had been
branded, but the solution Mannichon had used on it
to

Vogel-Paulson

clarified

He
man.

within five minutes.

killed

He

the two mice.

He

was

a conscientious

didn't use second-run mice. In killing the

second mouse, he had the impression of being bitten.

He

prepared a

new

solution, this time

with a millionth

gram of dioxotetramercphenoferrogene 14, and
went to the cages and reached in for two more mice.
He had a mixed lot in the cages. Since he got the mice
of a

that

were considered

else

in

scientifically useless

everywhere

the laboratories, he had mice that suffered

from gigantism, blind mice, black mice, piebald mice,

mice that ate their young, freakish yellow mice, gray
mice with magenta spots and mice that dashed themselves to death against the bars of their cages

upon

hearing the note A-flat on a tuning fork.

Gingerly avoiding their fangs, he extracted two mice

6

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

from

their cages.

The room

in

which the cages were

kept was in darkness, in deference to the auditing
department's views on the extravagant use of electric
current in

Detergents and Solvents, so Mannichon

didn't see the color of the

most

mice until he brought them

They were

into his laboratory.

yellowish in tone,

al-

an off-breed golden Labrador or an unwell

like

Chinese laundryman.

He

stained the mice carefully

He

had been smoking furiously to
produce enough tobacco tar and his tongue was raw,
but this was no time to balk at sacrifice.
He put one mouse in an inch of Floxo and distilled
water and washed it carefully, after running alcohol
over his hands. The mouse splashed brightly, seeming
to enjoy its bath, as the stain vanished and the suds
with tobacco

fizzed.

He

tar.

put the other mouse into a similar mixture

and added a millionth of a gram of dioxotetramercphenoferrogene 14. He washed his hands again in
alcohol. When he turned back to the second mouse,
he saw that
solution.

He

it

had

fallen over

on

its

side into the

bent over and peered at the mouse.

It

was not breathing. It was dead. He had seen enough
dead mice to know a dead mouse when he saw one.
He felt a wave of irritation with the organization of
the laboratorv. How did they expect him to get any
serious

work done when they gave him mice that colfirst touch of the human hand?
disposed of the dead mouse and went into the

lapsed at the

He

next room for a fresh one. This time, he turned on

The hell with those bastards in Audit.
Moved bv one of those flashes of inspiration that
reason cannot explain but which have made for such
the light.

leaps forward in the sciences, he picked out another

vellowish mouse, a
Defiantly,

he

left

sister

of the

one that had died.

the light on in the

mouse room,

IRWIN SHAW

which began to tweak at about eight decibels.
Back in the laboratory, he carefully anointed the
new mouse with tobacco tar, noticing meanwhile that
the first mouse was still happily frisking in its invigorating suds. He put the mouse he was carr^'ing down
in

an empty glass dish,

jumping.

its

sides just a little too

Then he poured some

dioxotetramercphenoferrogene 14 in

it

over the

mouse. For a moment, nothing happened.
closely,

his face six inches

high for

of the mixture with

from the

He

new

watched

glass pan.

The

mouse sighed and lay down quietly and died.
Mannichon sat up. He stood up. He lit a new pipe.
He went to the window. He looked out the window.
The moon was sinking behind a chimney. He puffed
on his pipe. Somewhere here, he sensed with his
scientist's trained intuition, there was a cause and there
was an effect. The effect was fairly evident. Two dead
mice. But the first mouse, the white mouse, that he
had put into practically the same solution, had not
died, even though the stain had remained in its fur.

White mouse, vellow mouse, vellow mouse, white
mouse. Alannichon's head began to ache. The moon
disappeared behind the chimney.

Mannichon went back to the table. The dead yellow
mouse in one pan was already stiffening, looking peaceful in the clear, clean-looking liquid. In the other pan,

mouse was surfing on the pure Floxo
Mannichon removed the dead mouse and put it

the other yellow
suds.

into the refrigerator for future reference.

He went
at

11

back into the mouse room,

decibels.

He

now tweaking

brought back with him a gray

mouse, a black mouse and a piebald mouse. Without
bothering to stain them, he put them one by one into

which the two yellow mice had died.
seemed to relish the immersion and the pie-

the solution in

Tliey

all

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION
bald mouse was so frisky after it that it attempted to
mate with the black mouse, even though they were

both males.

Mannichon put

the

yellow

all

and then

into portable cages

mouse,

still

three control mice back

stared hard

basking

in

and long

its

at

miniature

Mediterranean of foamy, never-failing Floxo.

Mannichon
the suds.

He

gently lifted the yellow
dried

it

mouse out

of

thoroughly, which seemed to

Somehow, Mannichon got the imhad been bitten again. Then he carefully let the yellow mouse down into the pan in which
his two yellow brethren had died and in which the
three varicolored control mice had sported.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then, in his
turn, the yellow mouse in the middle of the pan
sighed and lay down and died.
Mannichon's headache made him close his eyes for
60 seconds. When he opened them, the yellow mouse
was still dead, lying as it had fallen in the crystal-clear
the beast.

irritate

pression that he

liquid.

Mannichon was
ing like this had

assailed

e\'er

by a great weariness. Noth-

occurred

to

him

in all the years

He was too
what had been happening,
whether it was for the better or for the worse, whether
it advanced detergents or put them back 100 years,
whether it moved him, Mannichon, closer to Cancer
he had been serving the cause of science.
tired to try to figure out

or

back

to

Floor

Wax

and Glues,

or

even to severance

pay. His brain refused to cope with the

problem any

longer that night and he mechanically put the dead

mouse next

to its

mate in the

gray mouse, the black

cleaned up, wrote his
started for

He

refrigerator,

tabbed the

mouse and the piebald mouse,
notes, put out the lights and

home.

didn't have the

Plymouth

tonight, because his

IRWIN SHAW
wife had needed

to go to play bridge,

it

and

all

y
the

buses had long since stopped running and he couldn't
afford a taxi, even

if

he could have found one at that
On his way, he passed the

hour, so he walked home.

Plymouth, parked in front of a darkened house on
Sennett Street, more than a mile away from his home.
Mannichon's wife had not told him whose home she
was playing bridge in and he didn't recognize the
house and he was surprised that people would still
be plaving bridge at two o'clock in the morning and
with the curtains so tightly drawn that no beam of
light shone through. But he didn't go in. His presence

when

she was playing bridge, his wife said, upset her

bidding.
•

•

•

Samuel Crockett was saying,
and lock it. And lock
There were now 18 dead yellow mice

"Collect your notes,"

"and put them

in vour briefcase

the refrigerator."

in the refrigerator. "I think we'd better talk about this

someplace where

we

won't be disturbed."

was the next afternoon. Mannichon had called in
Crockett, who worked in the laboratory next door, at
11 A.M. Mannichon had arrived at the lab at 6:30 a.m.,
unable to sleep, and had spent the morning dipping
everything yellow he could find into the solution,
which Crockett had begun calling the Mannichon
solution at 2: 17 p.m. It was the first time anything had
been called after Mannichon (his two children were
It

named after his father-in-law and his mother-in-law)
and Mannichon was beginning, dimly, to see himself
as a Figure in the W^orld of Science.

decided to get himself
fore thev

came

to

fitted

for

He had

already

contact lenses be-

photograph him for the national

magazines.
Crockett, or "Crock," as he was called,

was one

of

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

10

young men who drove around in an open sports
girls. It was only a Lancia, but it
was open. He had been top man in his class at MIT
and was only 25 years and 3 months old and he was
working on voluntary crystals and complex protein
molecules, which was, in the Vogel-Paulson hierarchy,
like being a marshal on Napoleon's stafiF. He was a
lean, wiry Yankee who knew which side his experimental bread was buttered on. After the long morning
the

car with lascivious

of dipping bits of yellow ever)^thing (yellow

silk, yel-

low cotton, yellow blotting paper) into the solution,
with no reaction whatsoever, and executing more than
a dozen yellow mice, Mannichon had felt the need
for

mind and had gone next

another

where

door,

Crockett had been sitting with his feet up on a stainlesssteel

chewing on

laboratory table,

soaked in

LSD

and

a cube

listening to Thelonious

of sugar

Monk

on

a portable phonograph.

There had been an

initial

burst of irritation.

the hell do you want, Flox?" Crockett

had

"What
Some

said.

younger men called Mannichon 'Tlox" as a
form of professional banter. But then Crockett had

of the

consented

to

come

along,

sketched out the nature of his

after

Mannichon

had

Enlisting Crockett's

visit.

help had already paid off handsomely.

He

had had

the dazzling idea at 1:57 p.m. of introducing drops of

the solution orally to various colored mice, ending

with a yellow mouse, nearly the

Mannichon's

cages.

The

last of

up

the batch in

white mice, the gray mice,

had reacted with
becoming gay
The yellow mouse had quietly died

the black mice, the piebald mice
vigor after a

and

few drops of the

belligerent.

its drink.
So now they knew the
worked internally as well as externally. HowCrockett had not yet come up with any ideas on

28 minutes after
solution
ever,

solution,

mWIN SHAW
how

to erase the telltale ring that

was used

solution
to

to take

remained

out stains.

He

11

after the

didn't

seem

be too interested in that aspect of the problem. But

he had been impressed by the way even the smallest
proportion

dioxotetramercphenoferrogene

of

had

14

reduced the stubborn Floxo suds and had complimented Mannichon in his terse Yankee way. "You've

LSD

got something there," he had said, sucking on an

sugar cube.

"Why

can't we talk here?" Mannichon said as
made preliminary moves to get out of the
laboratory. Mannichon punched in and punched out

Crockett

and he didn't want the personnel department coming
him why he had taken half a Thursday after-

asking

noon

off.

"Don't be naive, Flox," was
of explanation.

all

Crockett said by

So Mannichon put

all

way

his notes in his

on shelves all the apparatus and
had been using, locked the refrigerator

briefcase, arranged

supplies they

and followed Crockett out into the corridor.
They met Mr. Paulson near the front gate. "Crock,
old Crock," Mr. Paulson said, putting his arm fondly
around Crockett's shoulder. "Aly boy. Hello, Jones.

Where
"I

the hell are you going?"
"

Mannichon began, knowing he was going

to stutter.

"Appointment

at

an

optician's," Crockett said crisply.

"I'm driving him."

"Aha," said Mr. Paulson. "Science has a million

Good old Crock."
Thev went out the front

eves.

gate.

"Aren't you taking your car, Mr. Jones?" the parking-

attendant asked Mannichon. Four years before, he
had heard Mr. Paulson call Mannichon "Jones."
lot

"Here," Crockett cut

in.

He

gave the parking-lot

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

12

LSD

attendant a cube of

sugar as a

The

"Thanks, Mr. Crockett."

tip.

"Suck

it.'*

parking-lot attendant

popped the cube into his mouth and began to suck it.
The Lancia swooped out of the lot onto the highway,
Via Veneto, national magazines, the Afflu-

Italian, the

ent Society, open to the sun,

Mannichon thought,

•

"Now,"

wind and

way

this is the
•

Ah, God,

rain.

to live.

•

said Crockett, "let's

add up the pluses and

the minuses."

They were

sitting in a

dark bar, decorated like an

English coaching inn, curled brass horns, whips, hunting prints. At carefully spaced inter\-als along the ma-

hogany

bar,

three

married ladies

waiting for gentlemen

who were

sat

in

miniskirts,

not their husbands.

Crockett was drinking Jack Daniel's and water.

nichon sipped

Man-

an alexander, the only alcoholic drink

at

he could get down, because

reminded him of a

it

milk shake.
"Plus one," Crockett said.
vantage.

The

"No

suds.

Enormous

polluted rivers of the world.

You

will

ad-

be

hailed as a Cultural Hero."

Mannichon began to sweat
"Minus one," Crockett went

He

Jack Daniel's.
rings.

Not an

drank

pleasurably.

waving for another
"Minus one— residual

on,

fast.

insuperable obstacle, perhaps."

"Question of time," Mannichon murmured. 'With
difiFerent catalysts,

we might

"

"Perhaps," Crockett said. "Plus two. Distinct

affinity,

as vet unclear, to vellow living organisms, so far essentially

confined

to

mice.

indicated along this
specific

chemical

line.

affinities

organisms eagerly sought
through.

You

will

Further experiment clearly
Still,

a

breakthrough. All

with diverse particularized
after.

be praised."

Definitely

a

break-

mWIN SHAW
'Well, Mr.

Mannichon

Crockett,"

13

sweating

said,

with even more pleasure, hearing language like that

man who had been

from a
"it

is

me

"Call

MIT,

in his year at

first

"

certainly

Crock,"

Crockett

"We're in

said.

this

together."

Mannichon

"Crock,"

said gratefully, thinking of the

Lancia.

"Minus two," Crockett

accepting the fresh

said,

Jack Daniel's from the waiter. "Solution seems to be

organisms for which

fatal to

tion is— is
"It's

.

it
.

well

.

.

it

shows

Ques-

affinity.

minus?"

really a
.

.

unsettling,"

Mannichon

said,

thinking of the 18 rigid mice in the locked refrigerator.

"Negative reactions sometimes positive reactions in
disguise.

Depends upon point

of view," Crockett said.

"Natural cycle one of repair ayid destruction. Each
at its

own

time in

its

own

place.

Mustn't

lose sight."

"No," said Mannichon humbly, determined not

to

lose sight.

"Commercially,"

Myxomatosis.

Crockett

Invaluable

in

Australia.

rabbits. I didn't like that goldfish,

They had borrowed
receptionist

and

at

a

"Look

said.

though."

12:56 p.m. had put

be said that the goldfish had seemed
its

head

DDT.

goldfish off the desk of a
it first

Floxo and then in the Mannichon solution.
—it had stood on

at

Overrun by

at the

to

It

in pure

couldn't

enjoy the Floxo

bottom on the pan and

shuddered every 36 seconds— but it had lived. After
20 seconds in the Mannichon solution, it had expired.
It was in the refrigerator now, with the 18 mice.
"No," Crockett repeated,

Not at all."
They sat

"I didn't like the goldfish.

in silence, regretting the goldfish.

"Recapitulation," Crockett said.

'We

are in posses-

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

14

sion of formula with unusual qualities. Breaks

down

tensile balance of otherwise cohesive liquid molecules
at

normal temperatures. Laughably cheap

to

manufac-

Mineral traces in minute quantities almost im-

ture.

possible to identify.

Highly

toxic to certain, specific

organisms, benevolent to others.

I

know how-

don't

yet— but somewhere here, there's a dollar to be made.
I have a hunch ... a hunch. There may be a place we
can.

.

.

He

."

stopped, almost as

if

he couldn't

trust

Mannichon with

his thoughts. 'Tellow, yellow, yellow.

What

vellow that

the hell

is

rabbits in Australia?

We

we

are overrun with, like

answer that question, we can

clean up."

Mannichon, "I suppose we would be in
end of the year from Mr. Paulson. At

"W^ell," said

for a raise at the
least a

bonus

at Christmas."

"A bonusr" Crockett's voice
"A raiser Are you mad, man?"
"Well,
is

my

rose for the

contract says that everything

first

I

time.

develop

the property of \^ogel-Paulson. In exchange for

Doesn't your contract read the same?"

"What are you, man?" Crockett asked
"A Presbyterian?"
"Baptist," Mannichon said.

"Now you

see

why we had

tory to talk?" Crockett
"W^ell," said

and

is

out of the labora-

demanded.

Mannichon, looking around

at the three

atmosphere

to get

disgustedly.

wives in miniskirts,

cozier than

"Cozier!" Crockett said.

"I

at the bar

suppose

this

"

Then he used

a

rude word.

"Don't you have a company, man?"

"A company?" Mannichon said, puzzled. "What
would I do with a company? I make seventy-eight
hundred dollars a year and what with withholding

IRWIN SHAW

15

Do

and child psychiatrists and insurance. ...
a company?"

taxes

you have

Maybe seven," Crockett said. "Who
One in Liechtenstein, two in the Bahamas, one in the name of a divorced nymphomaniac
aunt in Ischia. Do I have a company!"
"Four,

five.

keeps track?

"At your age," Mannichon said admiringly. "But

what

are they for}"

"Oh,

I

Crockett

throw Paulson a bone from time
said.

crystallization

process

esters,

a

amino

acids, bagatelles like that.

gratitude.
I

But

for

go trotting up

like a bird

anything

dog with

company's name
alone.

big,

for

storing

for poly-

unstable

Paulson slobbers in

man, you don't think
wagging my tail
its jaws. Christ, man,

to the front office,

a quail in

where've you been? Man,

Germany

to time,"

"A low-temperature treatment

for the

And

I

have four patents in

hardening of

a

glass fibers in

as for low-grade bauxite.

."
.

.

"You don't have to go into detail," Mannichon said,
to seem inquisitive. He was beginning to
understand where the Lancias and Corvettes and Mercedes in the laboratory parking lot came from.
"We'll set up a company in Guernsey," Crockett
said. "You and I, and whoever else we need. I'm well
placed in Guernsey and the bastards speak English.
And for any subcompanies that come along, we can use
not wishing

my

aunt in Ischia."

"Do you think

we'll

need anybody

else?"

Manni-

chon asked anxiously. In the space of ten minutes, he
had acquired the first healthy instinct of a capitalist,
not to share wealth unnecessarily.
"I'm afraid so," said Crockett, brooding. "We'll need
a first-rate pathologist to tell us just

chon solution

links

how

up with the nuclear

the

Manni-

material of

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

16

whatever

cells

it

And

ist.

how

has an affinity for and

trates the cell wall.

an expert fieldworker

to

examine how the

product behaves in a free environment. This

No

man.

pene-

it

We'll need a crackerjack biochem-

use wasting time on bums.

big,

is

And

then, of

Up

to then,

course, the angel."

"The angelr" Mannichon was
seemed

religion hadn't

to

at sea.

be an integral part of the

operation.

"The moneybags," Crockett
this

going

is

for a lot of things,

but

said impatiently.

"All

We can use the laboratory

to cost a packet.

finally,

we have

up on our

to set

own."

"Of

Mannichon

course,"

said, his vocabular}^ as well

as his vision enlarged.

the pathologist,"

"First,

man

in the country

is

Crockett

"The

said.

right in the shop.

best

Good

old

Tageka Kyh."
top man
man at Berkeley.
He drove a Jaguar XK-E. Tageka Kyh had spoken to
him. Once. In a movie. Tageka Kyh had said, "Is this

Mannichon nodded. Tageka Kyh had been
Kyoto and then top

in his year at

seat taken?"

Mannichon had

said,

He remem-

"No."

bered the exchange.

"OK," Crockett
goes home.
dollar bill

No

said. "Let's

go catch

sense in wasting time."

Kyh

before he

He

left a ten-

on the table and Mannichon followed him

toward the door, feeling the attractiveness of wealth.

He

passed the three wives at the bar.

he thought, a
at a bar.

On

He

the

woman

like that will

One day

be waiting

me

shivered deliciously.

way

to the laborator)',

they bought a goldfish

for the receptionist. They had promised
fish back.

soon,

for

She was attached

to

it,

she

to

said.

bring her

IRWIN SHAW

Tageka Kyh was

"Interesting, interesting,"

He

had

17

saying.

riffled

quickly through Mannichon's notes and

flat,

Oriental glance at the 18 mice in the

taken a

They were

in Mannichon's lab. Crockett
was sure that his room and Tageka Kyh's were bugged
and that Paulson ran the tapes every night. They all
agreed that nobody would bother bugging Detergents
and Sohents, so they could speak freely, although in
refrigerator.

lowered

\'oices.

"Interesting,"
fect English,

Tageka Kyh

plays in San Francisco

mosaic.

"The

He spoke perHe had put on "no"

repeated.

with a Texas accent.
cut

and was an authority on tobacco

as follows. If there ever is a cut.

is

and I have exclusive
Guatemala and Costa Rica."

All partners share equally
to

rights

"Kyh," Crockett protested.
"I

have certain connections in the Caribbean

to consider,"

Tageka Kvh

"Take

said.

it

I

have

or leave

it,

pardner."

"OK," Crockett said. Tageka was a lot closer to the
Nobel Prize than Crockett and had companies in
Panama, Nigeria and Zurich.
Tageka Kyh offhandedly slipped the tray of dead
mice out of the refrigerator and the single goldfish on
a flat aluminum shovel.
"Excuse me," JMannichon said. A thought had just
occurred

to him. "I don't like to interfere, but they're
" He was sweating now,
yellow— the mice, I mean
and not pleasurably. "What I'm trying to say is that
."
up to now, at least, the
uh
the solution.
.

Later, he

without blushing,

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Mannichon solution
but he wasn't up to that yet. "That

would be able

to sav the

he went on, stuttering, "the solution so far has
been toxic only to
uh
organisms whose domiis,"

.

nant, as

it

.

.

.

.

.

were, pigment, in a

manner

of speaking,

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

18

might be described
''W^hat are
said,

the

you

as

.

.

tmng

well

.

.

.

yellowish."

.

pardner?" Tageka

to say,

Kyh

wintry-Texas and pre-Perry samurai at one and

same

"It's

time.

IMannichon stammered, sorry

just that, well,"

he had started this, 'well, there might be certain
dangers. Rubber gloves, at the ver\' least. Complete
asepsis, if I

might presume

in the world to dwell
tics,
if

but

on
as

Kyh

ing the tray and the

.

.

.

.

.

.

well,

last

man

characteris-

you know,

were. ..."

it

"Don't you worry about vour
pardner," Tageka

uh

.

.

.

anything

I'd feel guilty if

anything ha'ppened,

I'm the

to advise.

racial

little

said evenly.

aluminum

yellow brother,

He went

out

carr)^-

shovel debonairly, like

an old judo trophy.
"Grasping bastard," Crockett said bitterly
closed

behind the pathologist.

as the

door

"Exclusive rights

to

Guatemala and Costa Rica. The Rising Sun. March
into Manchuria. Just like the last time."
As he drove home, Mannichon had the impression
that Crockett and Tageka Kyh, though confronted
with the same data as himself, somehow were leaping
to conclusions still ver\' much hidden from him. That's
whv they drive Lancias and Jaguars, he thought.
•

•

•

The telephone rang at three in the morning. Mrs.
Mannichon groaned as Mannichon reached blearily
over her to pick it up. She didn't like him to touch
her without warning.
"Crockett here,
at Tageka's.

"

said the voice

Get over

here.

"

He

on the phone. "I'm

barked out the address.

Fronto.

Mannichon hung up and
started to dress.

He had

staggered out of bed and

heartburn from the alexander.

IRWIN SHAW

"Where going?" Mrs. Mannichon
melony

said

in

a

19

non-

voice.

"Conference."

"At three in the morning?" She didn't open her

mouth

eyes, but her

Not

thinking,

"Good
eyes

moved.

certainly

haven't looked at the time,"

"I

Mannichon

said,

for long, oh, Lord, not for long.

Romeo," Mrs. Mannichon

night,

her

said,

closed.

still

Samuel

was

"That

fumbling with

Crockett,"

Mannichon

"Fag," Mrs.

Mannichon

"Now, Lulu.

.

.

."

After

said.

"I

always

knew

it."

Crockett was his partner.

all,

home some LSD," Mrs. Mannichon

"Bring

said,

his pants.

said,

falling asleep.

Now,

that

was

a

funny thing

for her to say,

Manni-

chon thought as he softly closed the door of the splitlevel behind him so as not to awaken the children.
Both of the children had a deeply rooted fear of sudden
noises, the child psychiatrist had told him.
•

•

•

Tageka Kyh lived downtown in the penthouse apartment of a 13-story building. His Jaguar was parked in
front, and Crockett's Lancia. Mannichon parked the
Plymouth behind his partners' cars, thinking. Maybe a
Ferrari.

Mannichon had
surprised

Negro butler
white

to

admit

when he was

let

to

himself that he was

by a
and immaculate
gold cuff links. Manni-

into the apartment

in a yellow striped vest

shirt sleeves with large
chon had expected a severe

modem

decor, perhaps

with a Japanese touch— bamboo mats, ebony headrests,

washy prints of rainy bridges on the walls. But it was
all done in pure Cape Cod— chintz, cobbler's benches.

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

20

lamps made out
man, Mannichon thought, he

captain's chairs, scrubbed pine tables,

of ships' binnacles. Poor
is

tr)dng to assimilate.

Crockett was waiting in the living room, drinking
beer and standing looking at a full-rigged clipper ship
in a bottle

on the mantel.

"Hi," Crockett saij.

"Well,"

behind

Mannichon

"Have

a nice trip?"

rubbing

said,

at his red eyes

must confess I'm not completely
"
on the qui vive. I'm used to eight hours' sleep and
"Got to learn to cut it down," Crockett said. "I do on
two." He drank some beer. "Good old Tageka'll be
ready for us any minute. He's in his lab."
A door opened and a lascivious girl in tight silk ofFmauve pants came in with some more beer and a plate
of chocolate marshmallow cookies. She smiled lascivihis glasses, "I

ously at

Mannichon

as she offered

him the

tray.

He

took a beer and two cookies for her sake.
"His," Crockett said.

"You
Oh,

bet," said the girl.
to

be

a

Japanese

pathologist,

Mannichon

thought.

A

buzzer rang dimly. "Captain Ahab," said the

"He's ready for you.

You know

"This way, Flox," Crockett

the way,

said, starting

girl.

Sammy."
out of the

room.

"Got some, Sammy?" the

girl asked.

Crockett tossed her a sugar cube. She was lying

down, with her off-mauve legs high over the back of
a ten-foot-long chintz couch and nibbling on the sugar
with small white teeth before they were out of the
room.

Tageka Kyh's laboratory was bigger and more elaboequipped than any at Vogel-Paulson. There was
large operating table that could be rotated to any

rately

a

IRWIN SHAW
position, powerful

21

lamps on pulleys and swivels, banks

of instrument cases, sterilizers, refrigerators with glass
doors, a gigantic X-ray machine,

and

and

tables

"Wow!" Mannichon
taking

said,

sinks

stainless-steel

basins, strobomicroscopes, the

standing

lot.

the

at

door,

in.

it

Tageka

"Ford,"

He was

said.

dressed in a surgeon's

apron and he was pulling off a surgeon's mask and
cap.

Under

his apron,

Mannichon could

see the rolled-

up ends of blue jeans and high-heeled, silver-worked
cowboy boots. "Well," Tageka said, "I've been teasing
away at our problem." He poured himself a tumbler
of California sherr)^ from a gallon jug in a corner and
drank

thirstily.

He

Yellow."

"I've

dissected

samurai teeth. "I've looked
to say
is

anything definite

eighteen

the

Mannichon with

smiled at

yet,

mice.

gleam of

a

at the slides. It's too early

Mannichon;

an educated guess, but you've

hit

all I

can offer

on something

brand-new."

"Have I?" Mannichon said eagerly. "What is it?"
Tageka Kyh and Crockett exchanged significant
glances, the born big-leaguers noting with pity and
understanding the entrance of the born bush leaguer
into the locker room. "I'm not quite sure yet, pardner,"

Tageka Kyh
ever

it

being

is,

new

said gently. "All I'm sure of

it's

is

And we

new.

live in

is

that what-

an age in which

Remember Man Tan, remember
remember No-Cal, remember the stereo-

enough.

the hula hoop,

scope glasses for three-dimensional films. Fortunes were

made. In the space of months." Mannichon began

Tageka shed
Hawaiian shirt.

pant.
a

said briskly.

his apron.

"My

Under

it

preliminary conclusions," he

"A nontoxic

substance, to be designated,

for the sake of convenience, as Floxo,

another

known

to

he was wearing

nontoxic

substance,

combined with
dioxotetramerc-

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

22

14, shows a demonstrable swift affinity
pigment material of eighteen yellowish mice

phenoferrogene
for the

and one

"

goldfish

"Nineteen,"

Mannichon

remembering the

said,

first

yellow mouse he had thrown into the incinerator.
"Eighteen," Tageka said. "I don't work on hearsay."

"I'm sorry," said Mannichon.

"Examination of

cells,"

Tageka went on, "and other

organs leads to the observation that in a manner as yet
undiscovered, the solution unites with the pigmental

matter in the

cells,

moment

at this

whose chemical formula

I

shall

trouble you with, to produce a

not

new

compound, formula to be ascertained, that attacks, with
great speed and violence, the sympathetic nervous system, leading to almost immediate nonfunctioning of

system and subsequent stoppage of breathing,

that

movement and
tumbler

of

He poured himself
"Why are your eyes

heartbeat."

sherry.

another
so

red,

pardner?"

"Well, I'm used to eight hours of sleep a night
"

and

Mannichon

"Learn
"Yes,

to cut

sir,"

"What

Mannichon

"I

do on one."

can be made of this interesting
between our solution and certain organic
not within my province," Tageka said.

is

"I'm merely a pathologist. But

man

said.

said.

practical use

relationship

pigments

said.

down," Tageka

I

am

sure a bright

can come up with a suggestion. Nothing

less in

the halls of science. After

all,

young
is

covered the properties of radium because a key
overnight in a darkened room with a

pitchblende allowed
all,

nobody

is

much

its

photograph

to

lump

left

of refined

be taken. After

interested in taking photographs

of keys, are they, pardner?"

He

giggled unexpectedly.

Japanese are funnv, Mannichon thought.
not like us.

use-

the Curies dis-

They

are

IRWIN SHAW

Tageka grew
lighten

Experiments with

us.

at

perhaps en-

will

controlled,

carefully

investigation,

exhaustive

"Further

again.

serious

five

least

23

hundred

other yellow mice, to begin with, with five hundred

A

controls.

thousand

procedure.

similar

goldfish,

Naturallv yellow organisms, such as daffodils, parrots,
squash, corn,

similar

etc.,

found in the rain

procedure.

Higher

forests of

New

Guinea, unfortu"

nately rare, two horses, roans will do

"How

can

we have

ciallv if

two horses into Detergents and

get

I

Mannichon

Solvents?"

verte-

yellow-bottomed baboon, to be

brates, dogs, a certain

asked, his

keep

to

head

reeling. "Espe-

this quiet?"

"This laboratorv"— Tageka made a courteous

wind gesture
at the

"is

hand

of his

service of

east-

them—
And we

at the gleam around

my

honorable friends.

must show a certain amount of initiative in conducting
some of our experiments in other localities. All I need
is

a

few

correctly prepared tissue slides, stained as I

direct."

"But

I

"I

baboons and

can't put in request forms for

Mannichon

horses,"

had thought

said,

sweating again.

understood that

it

take this privately,"

Tageka

said

we would

under-

looking at

frostily,

Crockett.

"That's right," Crockett said.

"But where's the money going

bottomed baboons,
"I

am

for

to

come from? Yellow-

God's sake," Mannichon cried.

merely a pathologist," Tageka

some more

said.

He

drank

sherry.

"I'm in," Crockett said.

'Tou can be
Ischia.

...

dollars a

I

Mannichon

in,"

have companies

all

over

the

said,

near

world.

make seven thousand

tears.

*Tou

Liechtenstein,
eight

hundred

"

"We know what

you make, pardner," Tageka

said.

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

24

"I will absorb

your share of the preliminary expenses

my

along with

own."

Mannichon breathed

heavily with gratitude. There
was no doubt about it, he was finally in with Class.
." he began.
"I hardly know what to say.
"There is no need to say anything," said Tageka.
.

"As

reimbursement

partial

.

funds laid out,

for

take the exclusive rights of your share of

ern Europe for the

from London
"Yes,

sir,"

first

all

I shall

of north-

ten years, on a line

drawn

to Berlin."

said

Mannichon. He would have liked to
what came out was, *Tes, sir."

say something else, but
"I

reckon

that's

about

it

for the night,

pardners,"

Tageka said. "I don't like to rush you, but I have some
work to do before I go to sleep."
He escorted Crockett and Mannichon politely to the
door of the laboratory.

They heard

it

"The Oriental mind," Crockett

lock behind them.

"Always

said.

so

suspicious."

The

girl in

the couch.
to see

the off-mauve pants

Her

still

lying on

anything.

There's no doubt of
a last

was

eyes were open, but she didn't seem

it,

Mannichon thought, taking

devouring look at the

girl,

this

is

the age of

specialization.
•

The

•

•

next weeks were frantic.

Mannichon spent his
up reports on

davs in Detergents and Solvents writing
nonexistent experiments

to

indicate

on the weekly

reviews that he was earning his salary and loyally ad-

vancing the interests of \^ogel-Paulson.

were spent

in

Tageka Kyh's

The

nights

Mannichon
The tests went

laborator^^

had got his sleep down to three hours.
on methodically. The 500 yellow mice duly succumbed. A yellow Afghan with an illustrious pedigree,

IRWIN SHAW
bought

at great

25

expense, lasted less than an hour after

lapping up several drops of Mannichon's solution in
a

bowl of milk, while

ated from the

pound

a black-and-white
for three dollars

mongrel

liber-

barked happily

two days after sharing the same meal. Dead goldby the hundreds in Tageka's refrigerators and
the yellow-bottomed baboon, after showing deep affection for Tageka, tolerance for Crockett and a desire to
for

fish lay

murder Alannichon, was laid to rest only ten minutes
after its relexant parts had been laved in a purposely
weakened variant of the solution.
During this period, Mannichon's domestic situation
was not all that it might have been. His nightly absences had begun to annoy Mrs. Mannichon. He could
not tell her what he was doing, except that he was
working with Crockett and Tageka. Because of the
community-property laws, he was planning
her before the

company showed any

to divorce

profit.

"What have you fellows got going up there every
Mrs. Mannichon demanded. "A rainbow-

night?"

colored daisy chain?"

One more

cross

bear,

to

Mannichon

thought.

Temporarily.
•

•

•

Flowers and vegetables had not been affected by the

and they had not yet
some ingenious manipulations

solution

ett

(he had managed

to

tried horses.

And

of the solution

subtract

despite

by Crock-

two hydrocarbon

molecules from Floxo and had bombarded dioxotetra-

mercphenoferrogene 14 with a large variety of radioactive isotopes), the residual ring always

whatever materials they
scrubbing.

While

serenely, checking

the
all

tried,

even

remained on

after exhaustive

two other men worked on
leads meticulously night after

night and producing dazzling results for Vogel-Paulson

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

26

Mannichon, vertiginous from lack of
to despair of ever finding any
practical use for the Mannichon solution. He would
write a little paper that might or might not get published, two or three biochemists throughout the country'
might thumb through the pages offhandedly and another curious little dead end of research would be
closed out and forgotten. He would drive the 1959
Plvmouth for the rest of his life and he would never

day

after day,

sleep,

was beginning

see the inside of a divorce court.

He

communicate his fears to Crockett and
It was hard to communicate anything to
them. In the beginning, they rarely listened w^hen he
talked, and after a couple of weeks, they didn't listen
at all. He did his w^ork in silence. His work finally consisted of washing up, taking dictation and filing slides.
He was having his troubles at Vogel-Paulson, too. His
didn't

Tageka Kyh.

running digests of nonexistent experiments
were not being received with enthusiasm and an omi-

w^eekly

nous

memo had come

to

him

in a baby-blue envelope

from Mr. Paulson himself. "Well?" Mr. Paulson had
scrawled on a large piece of paper. Just that. It was not
promising.

He
at

had decided to quit.
least one night's sleep.

to his partners,

but

it

He
He

had

He needed
announce it

to quit.

w^anted to

w^as difficult to find the appropri-

He knew

he couldn't say it in front of Tageka
Kyh, who was a remote man, but there was a chance
that if he got Crockett alone for a minute or two, he

ate time.

could get

it

out. After

So he took

to

all,

Crockett was white.

tagging after Crockett and lying in

him whenever he could. But it took nearly
another week before his opportunity presented itself.

wait for

He was

waiting in

front

of

the

restaurant

where

Crockett often lunched, usually with a lascivious

girl

mwiN SHAW

The restaurant was called
and a meal there never cost less
That is, if you didn't order wine.

lascivious girls.

or several

La

27

Belle Provenqale

than ten dollars.

Mannichon had never eaten
lunch

his

there, of course.

eat there for 85 cents.

He

took

You could

the Vogel-Paulson commissary.

at

That was one good thing about

Vogel-Paulson.
It

was

a hot

his vertigo,

day and there was no shade. Because of

Mannichon rocked from

side to side as

he

waited, as though he were on the deck of a heaving
ship.

Then he saw

Crockett was alone.

the Lancia drive up. For once,

He

the motor running as he

left

stepped out and turned the car over to the attendant
to

park.

He

didn't

Mannichon

notice

as

he strode

toward the door of La Belle Provencale, although he
passed within three feet of him.

"Crock,"

Mannichon

said.

A

look of dis-

Yankee angles

of his face.

Crockett stopped and looked around.
pleasure angled across the

"What

the hell are you doing here?" he said.

Mannichon

"Crock,"

you

said,

"I

have

talk

to

to

"

"What

the hell're you rocking for?" Crockett asked.

"Are you drunk?"
"

wanted to
A funny expression, intense and cold, came over
Crockett's face. He was staring past Mannichon, over
Mannichon's shoulder. "Look!" he said.
"You fellers've been great and all that," Mannichon
"
said, lurching closer to Crockett, "but I have to
Crockett grabbed him by the shoulders and swung
him around. "I said lookl"
Mannichon sighed and looked. There was nothing
"That's one of the things

much

to

there

was

look
a

at.

I

Across the

street, in

broken-down old wagon

front of a bar,
full

of

empty

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

28

and an old

ginger-ale bottles

horse,

head drooping

its

in the heat.

"Look

now

what, Crock?" Mannichon

at

seeing double, but he didn't

He

said.

want

was

burden

to

Crockett with his troubles.

"The

man, the

horse,

horse."

"What about the horse, Crock?"
"What color is it, man?"
"They're yellow.

I

mean,

said, correcting for his

"Ever)'thing comes
said.

He

it's

yellow,"

to

him who

waits,"

took out a small bottle of the

He

solution.

Mannichon

double vision.

He

was

one of those timesen^ers

who

never went anyplace without

a dedicated scientist, not

Crockett

Mannichon
it.

minds when they lock their office doors.
poured some of the solution on his

lock their

Swiftly, Crockett
right hand.

He

gave Mannichon the bottle

to hold,

any questions. Then he
sauntered across the street toward the old yellow horse
and the wagon full of empt)^ ginger-ale bottles. It was
in case the police ever asked

the

first

time

Mannichon had seen Crockett

saunter

anywhere.
Crockett went up to the horse.

where

in sight.

A

The

driver

Buick passed with a colored

was no-

man

at

the wheel, but aside from that, the street was empty.

"Good

old dobbin," Crockett said.

He

patted the

horse kindly on the muzzle with his wet hand.

Then

he sauntered back toward Mannichon. "Put that goddamn bottle in your pocket, man," he whispered. He
took Mannichon's arm, wiping the last drops of the
liquid off

on Mannichon's

but the fingers

sleeve. It looked friendly,

felt like steel

hooks.

Mannichon put

the bottle of the solution in his pocket and, side by
side,

he and Crockett went into the restaurant.

The

bar of La Belle Provencale was parallel to the

mwiN SHAW
window and

front

up

shelves

29

the bottles were arranged on glass

window. With the

against the

light

from

the street coming in from behind them, the botdes

looked like jewelry.

It

was an

artistic effect.

There were

quite a few people eating ten-dollar lunches in the

dark interior of the restaurant, in a hush of expensive

French food, but there was nobody else at the bar.
air conditioned and Mannichon shiv-

The room was

ered uncontrollably as he sat on the bar stool, looking

He

out at the street through the bottles.

could see the

yellow horse between a bottle of Chartreuse and a

The

bottle of Noilly-Prat.

He was

still

"What'll

yellow horse hadn't moved.

there in the heat with his head

it

be,

down.

Mr. Crockett?" the bartender

said.

"The usual?" Everybody always knew Crockett's name.
'The usual, Benny," Crockett said. "And an alexander for

my

friend." Crockett never forgot anything.

They watched the horse through the bottles while
Benny prepared the Jack Daniel's and the alexander.
The horse didn't do anything.
The bartender served the drinks and Crockett drank
half of his in one gulp. Mannichon sipped at his
alexander. "Crock," he said, "I really do have to talk
to you.

This whole thing

"Sssh," Crockett said.

coming out of the bar

is

The

"

me

getting

driver of the

wagon was

He

climbed up

across the street.

onto the seat of the wagon and picked up the reins.

The

down on
way down betu^een the
move anymore.

horse slowly went
the

all

didn't

"Send

two

Crockett

said.

more

Crockett ordered

and

a bottle of

typical

drinks

"Come

a

cider.

Yankee. As soon

as

la

knees and then

traces.

the

The

table,

horse

Benny,"

buy you lunch."
mode de Caen for lunch

on, Flox,

tri'pes

hard

to

its

I'll

Crockett certainly wasn't a

Mannichon saw and smelled

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

30

knew

the dish, he

his

stomach was going

peculiar claims on his attention

never did quite manage to

to

make some

He

that afternoon.

Crockett that he wanted

tell

to quit.
•

"Now

•

•

next step," Tageka Kyh was saying.
them were in his laboratory in the penthouse. It was comparatively early, only 2:30 a.m.
Tageka had taken the news about the horse without
surprise, although he did say that it was too bad they
hadn't gotten any slides. "We've gone just about as far
as necessary with the lower vertebrates," Tageka Kyh
said. "The next experiment suggests itself inevitably."
It didn't suggest itself inevitably to Mannichon.
for the

All three of

"What's that?" he said.
For once, Tageka Kyh answered one of Mannichon's
questions.

"Man," he

said simply.

Mannichon opened
didn't close

it

for

mouth and kept

his

some

it

open.

He

time.

Crockett had his face squeezed up into lines of concentration. "I foresee certain complications,"

"Nothing
is

serious,"

Tageka Kyh

he

said.

needs

said. "All it

access to a hospital with a decent selection of pig-

mented

subjects."

"Well,

know everybody

I

downtown,

at

Lakeview General

of course," Crockett said, "but I don't think

we'd find the proper range. After

Midwest.

I

doubt

if

we're in the

all,

you'd even find more than two or

three Indians in a year."

Mannichon

still

had

mouth open.

his

"I don't trust those fellows at General,"
said.

"They're sloppy.

we'll

have

I

don't like

to

And

bring in as a

anyone down

a fortune in his lap."

whatever

Tageka Kyh

man we

full partner, of course,

at

General enough

to

pick

and

dump

IRWIN SHAW

Mannichon would have

31

liked to interrupt at this

Tageka Kyh's use of the word fortune seemed
careless, to say the least. Everything they had done up
to now, as far as Mannichon was concerned, had been
rigorously devoid of all possibility of profit. But Tageka
Kyh was caught up in his planning, speaking smoothly, articulating well, pronouncing every syllable.
point.

"I

think

all

West Coast. San
Kyh said. "A sizable

indications point to the

Francisco comes to mind," Tageka

nonwhite population, well-run hospitals with large
nonsegregated charity wards.

."
.

.

He had been there
had had shark's-fin soup. You
only get married once, he had said to Lulu.
"I have a friend on the stafiF of Mercy and Cancer,"
Tageka Kyh said. "Ludwig Qvelch."
"Of course," Crockett nodded. "Qvelch. Prostate.
"Chinatown," Mannichon

on

his

honeymoon.

said.

He

Top-notch." Crockett had heard of everybody.

"He was
before me,"

He

tinkle."

first

in his class at Berkeley three years

Tageka Kyh

said. "I

think

I'll

give

him

a

reached for the phone.

Mr. Tageka," Mannichon
to say you are going to
experiment on living human beings? Maybe kill them?"
"Crock," Tageka Kyh said, "you brought this fellow
in on this. You handle him."

"Wait

a minute, please,

said hoarsely.

"Do you mean

"Flox," Crockett said with evident irritation,

down

to

this— are

you a

scientist

or

aren't

"it boils

you a

scientist?"

Tageka Kyh was already dialing San
•

•

Francisco.

•

"Let me see, now," Ludwig Qvelch was saying,
"what have we got on hand? Lm thinking of the

Blumstein wing. That would seem
begin, don't you agree, Tageka?"

to

be the place

to

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

32

Tageka Kyh nodded. "The Blumstein wing.
he

Ideal,"

said.

Qvelch had arrived only 14 hours after the call to
San Francisco. He had closeted himself with Tageka
Kyh and Crockett all afternoon and evening. It was
midnight now and Mannichon had been admitted to
the conference, which was taking place in the Cape
Cod living room. Ludwig Qvelch was a huge, tall man,
with wonderful white teeth and a hearty Western
manner. He wore $300 suits with light ties and he was
a man you would instinctively trust anywhere. He had
made some marvelously eloquent speeches on national
television against Medicare.

Qvelch took out a small black alligator notebook and
it. "At the moment," he said, "we
have thirty-three Caucasians, twelve Negroes, three
indeterminate, one Hindu, one Berber and seven Orientals, six presumably of Chinese extraction, one definitely Japanese. All male, of course." He laughed

thumbed through

heartily at this allusion to his specialty, the prostate

gland.

"I

would

call

that a

fair

enough sampling,

wouldn't you?"
"It'll

do,"

Tageka Kyh

said.

"All terminal?" Crockett asked.

would say roughly eighty percent," Qvelch said.
do you ask?"
"For his sake." Crockett gestured toward Mannichon. "He was worried."
"I

"Why

"I'm glad to see that the rarefied air of research hasn't

wiped out your admirable youthful scruples," Qvelch
said, putting a large Western hand on Mannichon's
shoulder. "Have no fear. No life will be shortened—
appreciably."

"Thanks, doctor," Mannichon mumbled.
Qvelch looked at his watch. "Well, I've got

to

be

mwiN SHAW
tootling back,"

he

keep in touch."

said. 'Til

He

33

put a

Hter bottle, usually reserved for carrying volatile acids

and encased in lead, into his valise. "You'll be hearing
from me." He started briskly toward the door, Tageka
Kyh accompanying him. Qvelch stopped before he

"What

reached the door.
proceeds

all

to

Rica exclusive to

em

Europe

"It's all

noon,

"

it

again?

One

Kyh and Mannichon's

quarter of

in the

.

.

.

memorandum

Tageka Kyh

"Yes, of course,"

up any

share of north-

?"

for ten years

able to clear

is

each partner, with Guatemala and Costa

I

gave you

this after-

said.

Qvelch
little

the incorporation papers

you fellers." He waved
and was gone.

said. "I just

wanted

to

my

lawyers

when

points with

be

come through. Nice meeting
and Mannichon

to Crockett

it up early tonight,
Tageka Kyh said. "I have some work to do."
Mannichon went right home, looking forward to his
first good night's sleep in months. His wife was out
playing bridge, so he should have been able to sleep
like a baby; but for some reason, he couldn't close his
eyes until dawn.

"I'm afraid we'll have to break

pardners,"

•

"Qvelch called

"He

•

•

this afternoon,"

Tageka Kyh

said.

reports results."

Mannichon's eyelids began to twitch in little spasms
and he found that his lungs had suddenly begun to
reject air. "Do you mind if I sit down?" he said. He
had just rung the bell of Tageka's apartment and
Tageka himself had come to the door. Supporting himself with his hands against the wall, he made his way
into the living room and sat unsteadily in a captain's
chair. Crockett was sprawled on the couch, a glass of
whiskey on his breastbone. Mannichon couldn't tell

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

34

from the expression on Crockett's face whether he was
sad or happy or drunk.

I

Taoeka
followed Mannichon into the room. "Can
o
you anything"?" Tageka asked, being a host. "A

get

beerr

A

juiced"

"Nothing, thank you," Mannichon
the

said.

This was

time since they had met that Tageka had been

first

polite to him.

He was

he was

horrible,

being prepared for something

"What

sure.

did Dr. Qvelch have to

say?

"He
sitting

asked to be remembered to you," Tageka said,
between Crockett and Mannichon on a cobbler's

bench and taking

in a hole

on the chased-silver buckle

of the belt of his jeans.

"What
"The

elser^"

first

Mannichon

asked.

experiment has been concluded. Qvelch

himself administered the solution epidermally to eight
subjects, five white,

two black and one yellow. Seven
no reaction. The au-

of the subjects have registered

topsy on the eighth

"

"Autopsy!" Mannichon's lungs were rejecting
jets.

"We've

killed a

"Oh, be reasonable, Flox."

It

wearily, the whiskey glass going

on

his

chest.

"It

air in

man!"

happened

in

was Crockett talking,
up and down evenly
San Francisco. Two

thousand miles away from here."
"But

it's

my

solution. I

"

"Our solution, Mannichon," Tageka
"With Qvelch, we number four."

said

evenly.

"Mine, ours, what's the difference? There's a poor

dead Chinaman lying on

"

Mannichon," Tageka
don't understand how you happened to go into

"With
said, "I

a slab in

your

temperament,

research instead of psychiatry. If you're going to do

business with us, you'll have to restrain yourself."

IRWIN SHAW
"Business!"

Mannichon

kind of business do you

staggered to his

35

"What
Chinamen

feet.

call this? Killing off

with cancer in San Francisco! Boy," he said with un-

accustomed irony,
this

is

"Do you want
oration?"

ever

heard of a money-maker,

I

can't waste

do you want to make an
have many interesting and

to listen or

Tageka

said.

valuable things to
I

"if

it."

my

tell

"I

you. But

I

have work

do and

to

down."

time. That's better. Sit

Mannichon sat down.
"And stay down/' Crockett said.
"The autopsy, as I was saying," Tageka went

on,

"indicated that the subject died a natural death.

No

traces of any unusual matter in any of the organs.
Death occurred quiedy, due, by inference, to a second-

ary flash reaction to cancerous material in the region

We know better, of course."
Mannichon said, putting his head

of the prostate gland.

"I'm a murderer,"

between

his hands.

really

"I

can't

language

tolerate

like

house. Crock," Tageka said. "Perhaps

him

let

my

that in

we had

better

disassociate."

you want

to

Detergents and Solvents,

Flox," Crockett said without

moving from the couch,

"If

"you

to

know where

"That's exactly

He

stood

up and

go back

the door

what

I

is."

want

started

to do,"

Mannichon

said.

toward the door.

'Tou're walking out on the best part of a million
dollars,

man," Crockett

said calmly.

Mannichon stopped walking toward
turned.

He went

back

the door.

to the captain's chair.

He

He
sat

down. "I might as well hear the worst," he said.
"I was down in Washington three days ago," Crockett said. "I dropped in on an old friend, Simon Bunswanger. I went to school with him at Boston Latin.

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

36

You

haven't heard of him. Nobody's heard of him. He's

CIA. Big man

in the

him

CIA.

in the

rundown on our

a httle

man. I gave
was titillated.

Big, hig

project.

He

He

promised

his

shop for briefing and proposals." Crockett looked

to call a

meeting of some of the boys in

watch. "He's due here any minute."
"The CIA?" Mannichon now felt completely

at his

"W^hat'd you do that for? They'll put us

"Quite the opposite,"
opposite.

I'll

with a nice,

Crockett

all

said.

adrift.

in jail."

"Quite

the

bet you two alexanders he comes in here
fat proposition.

."
.

.

Now he was sure
and all that lack of sleep had
made irreparable inroads on Crockett's reason. 'What
would they want with the Mannichon solution?"
Mannichon

"For what?"

that

asked.

those companies

all

"Remember

the

Crockett got

to

he padded over

we answer one

day you came

first

his

feet.

He was

to the bar to

question,

we

in

to

me, FIox?"
socks

his

pour a fresh drink.
clean up.

and

"I said,

Remember

that?"

"More or less," Mannichon said.
"Do you remember what that one question was?"
Crockett

your

said, drinking,

little

old

memory

sounding
cells,

liquid.

refresh

"I'll

reactivate the old nerve

The question was. What the
we are overrun with, like rabbits
Remember that?"
"Yes," Mannichon said. "But what

yellow

patterns.

hell

that

in Australia?'

got to

is

is

has the

CIA

?"
.

.

.

"The CIA, man,"

said Crockett,

yellow and what

we

dropped a piece of
his finger.

The

ice into his

He

paused,

drink and stirred with

"Chinamen, man."
rang. "That must be Bunswanger,"

doorbell

Crockett

"This

"knows exactly what

are overrun with."

said. "I'll go."
is

the

last

time

I'll

do any work with anybody

mwiN SHAW
like

you,

Mannichon," Tageka

said

icily.

37

'Tou're

psychically unstable."

man who

Crockett came back into the room with a
looked as though he could have

made

good living

a

as

a female impersonator in the old days of vaudeville.

He

was willowy and had

bow mouth and
Crockett

"Si,"

ners."

He

fine

blond hair and a small

blushing complexion.

said,

"I

want you

introduced Tageka,

who

nichon,

a

to

meet

my

part-

who bowed, and Man-

couldn't look into Bunswanger's eyes as

they shook hands. Bunswanger's grip was not that of
a

female impersonator.

have a Jack Daniel's, Crock," Bunswanger said.
must have been the campus drink at old Boston
Latin. Bunswanger had a voice that reminded Mannichon of Carborundum.
Glass in hand, Bunswanger sat on one of the
"I'll

It

scrubbed pine

tables,

his

legs crossed

in a

fetching

manner. "Well, the boys in the shop think you fellows
have done a dandy little piece of creative research,"

Bunswanger began.

"We had

some

tests

run and they

bear your papers out one hundred percent. Did you

hear from Qvelch?"

"This afternoon," Tageka

said.

"Results positive."

Bunswanger nodded. "The boys in the shop said
they would be. Well, no use beating around the bush.
We want it. The solution. We've already set up preliminar)^ target zones.

The

or four lakes in the north,

Yellow River, places
have a

map

of

source of the Yangtze, three

two of the

like that.

You

tributaries of the

don't

happen

to

China handy, do you?"

"Sorry," said Tageka.

Bunswanger said. "It would clear up the picyou fellows." He looked around. "Nice place
you have here. You'd be surprised what they ask for a
"Pity,"

ture for

THE MANNICHON SOLUTION

38

decent place

Washington. Of course, the
We've sounded them out almore comfy, reduces the risks. That

ready.

Makes

in

live

to

Russians will help
it

us.

long border with Siberia and

those delegations.

all

No

course, that's the beautv of the stuff.

been searching

Nothing

satisfactorv's

fellows test
papers.

something without a bang

for

all

was

I

the

come up,

way downr

in a hurry, of course,

"Test what down?"

for years.

Did you

until this.

didn't see

I

Mannichon

but

Of

We've

bang.

it

in your

wondered."

I

asked.

'Tlox," Crockett said wearily.

"Mannichon,

"Down

Tageka

"

centage of solution in

'We
'\\^e

wamingly.

said

to effective reaction at

H Two

push to the
only worked nights."
didn't

"Amazing

efficiencv,"

of

a

part in

He

said.

ran a few
water.

He

remembering something.

panv, pharmaceutical only,
that.

Si,"

fresh

side effect. It cures jaundice.

have

said.

"We

billionth of a part in salt water."
girlish,

said.

Crockett

limit,

Bunswanger

delicate sip of his whiskey.

two-billionth

lowest possible per-

O," Bunswanger

took a

trials.

One

One

three-

laughed, sounding

''There's

a

curious

You could set up a comand make a wad just on

Only on a doctor's prescription, of course. Youd
to make sure nobodv used it on Orientals or

there'd be hell to pay. Well, just a detail.

Now"— he

uncrossed his legs— "practical matters. We'll pay you

two million cold
you don't have
record.

business

for

Nothing
for.

No

it.

Out

of

unvouchered funds. So

pay the tax boys anything on

to

in

writing.

It's

a great

No

niggling."

^Unnichon was panting again.
"Are you all right, sir?" Bunswanger

asked, real con-

cern in his voice.
"Fine,"

it.

shop to do

Mannichon

said,

continuing

to pant.

rawiN SHAW

"Of course," Bunswanger

will

still

looking con-

we ever use it, it swings
on a royalty basis. But we can't guarantee that it
ever go operational. Though the way things look

cernedly at Mannichon,
over

said,

39

right

now.

."

.

.

He

"if

the sentence unfinished.

left

Mannichon thought

of Ferrari after Ferrari, dozens

of girls in off-mauve pants.

"One more
Hear
in

thing and I'm

little

have a

said. "I

visit to

this," his voice

make

was

dered."

He

off,"

One

Bunswanger

Venezuela tomorrow.

as precise as a

twenty percent.

for

in

fifth.

gun

sight. "I'm

For services ren-

looked around.

Crockett nodded.

Tageka nodded.

Mannichon nodded,

slowly.

"I'm off to Caracas," Bunswanger said gaily.

They shook hands

ished his drink.

be

a fellow here in the

"with the

loot.

all

He

morning," Bunswanger

In cash, naturally.

fin-

round. "There'll

What

said,

time will be

convenient?"
"Six A.M.," Tageka said.
"Done and done," Bunswanger

said,

making

a quick

entry in a small alligator-bound notebook. "Glad you

dropped in the other day, Crock. Don't bother seeing

me

to the door."

There was
going

to

And

little

he was gone.

more

to

compensation Tageka was
rights

be done. Since they were

be paid in cash, they had to figure out what

and

to

get for his Caribbean

his ten-year share of

Mannichon 's

portion

of the rights for northern Europe. It didn't take long.

Tageka Kyh was

just as

good a mathematician

as a

pathologist.

and Mannichon left the apartment tohad a date at a bar nearby with Mr.
Paulson's third and present wife and he was in a hurry
Crockett

gether. Crockett

be

to

ofiF.

"So long, Flox," he said as he got into his

Lancia. "Not a bad day's work."

he spurted

He

was humming

as

off.

Mannichon

got into the Plymouth.

He

sat there for

what to do first. He finally
decided that first things came first. He drove home at
60 miles an hour to tell Mrs. Mannichon he was going
a while, trying to decide

to get a divorce.
•

Up

•

•

Tageka was sitting on the
making neat ideograms with a brush
and ink on a scratch pad. After a while, he pressed a
buzzer. The Negro butler came in, dressed in his yellow striped vest and white shirt sleeves with heavy
in the apartment,

cobbler's bench,

gold cuff links.
"James," Tageka

Kyh

said to the butler, "tomorrow
hundred grams each of dioxotetramercphenoferrogene 14, 15 and 17. And five hundred pink mice. No— on second thought, better make
I

it

want you

to order five

a thousand."

'Tes,

sir,"

said James.

"Oh, and James"—Tageka Kyh waved the brush
negligently at the butler— "will you be good enough to
put in a
I'll

call to

the Japanese embassy in Washington.

speak to the ambassador personally."

*Tes,

sir,"

James

said

and picked up the phone.

The Dark Music/ charles beaumont

was not a path at all but a dry white river
Itshells,
washed clean by the hot summer rain and

of

swept by the winds that came across the gulf— a million
crushed white

Alabama

spread

shells,

quietly

earth, for the feet of

over the cold

Miss Lydia Maple.

She'd never seen the place before. She'd never been
told of

It

it.

couldn't have been purposeful, her stop-

ping the bus
inching

down

at

unmarked turn, pausing, then
and stopping again at

the

the narrow path

the tree-formed arch; on the other hand, it certainly
was not impulse. She had years ago recognized impulse
for what it was: an animal thing. And, as she was
proud to say. Miss Maple did not choose to think of
herself as an animal.

Perhaps
promised

it

was

much

this:

in the

By its virginal nature, the area
way of specimens. Frogs would

be here, and insects, and

if

garden snakes for the bolder
In any case. Miss

one could judge from

they were lucky, a few
lads.

Maple was well
their excited

satisfied.

And

if

murmurings, which

THE DARK MUSIC

42

filtered

through the thickness of

so

trees,

were the

students.

She smiled. Leaning against the elm, now, with all
and the clean
gulf breeze cooling her, she was suddenly very glad
indeed that she had selected today for the field trip.
Otherwise, she would be at this moment seated in the
the forest fragrance rising to her nostrils

And she would be
whole nasty business, made

chalky heat of the classroom.

minded again

of the

defend her stand against the clucking tongues, or
suppose there was nothing to defend.

were not

difficult to ignore,

but

it

it.

She looked

to
to

The newspapers

was impossible

shut away the attitude of her colleagues;

must not dwell on

re-

at the

to

and— no, one
shredded lace

of sunlight.

was

It

a lovely spot.

Not

a single beer can, not a

wrapper nor even a cigarette
suggest that human beings had ever been here be-

bottle nor a cellophane
to

fore.

It

was— p«re.

In a way. Miss
similar terms.

Maple

liked to think of herself in

in purity, and had her own
Of course she realized— how
nowr— she might be an outmoded

She believed

definition of the word.

could she doubt

and

it

this day and age,
She took pride in the distinction.
xAnd to Mr. Owen Tracy's remark that hers was the
only biology class in the world where one would hear

incongruous figure in

slightly

but that was

nothing

to discourage the idea of the stork, she

responded
could

all right.

as

testify,

though
it

to a great

compliment.

hadn't been easy!

wondered, would have fought

How

had

The Lord
many, she

as valiantly as she to

protect the town's children from the most pernicious

and evil encroachment of them
Sex education, indeed!

all?

CHARLES BEAUMONT

By

all

means,

let

us

kill

every

last lovely

dream;

43

let

us destroy the only trace of goodness and innocence
in this wretched, guilty world!

Miss Maple twitched,

The word sex
\nmty pulled her

vaguely aware that she was dozing.
jarred her toward wakefulness, but

back again.

A

sound brushed her

ear,

something apart from the

shrillings of the forest's in\isible creatures.

her eyes, watched a
settled to the half

fat

wren on

She opened
and

a pipestem twig,

sleep— deciding

to

now
They had been
Miss Maple knew.
think awhile

about Mr. Hennig and Sally Barnes.

meeting secredy

after three o'clock,

She'd waited, though, and taken her time, and then
struck.

And

she'd caught them, in the basement, doing

those unspeakable things. Mr.

Hennig would not be

teaching school for a while now.

She

The

stretched, almost invisible against the leafy floor.

mouse-colored dress covered her like an embar-

rassed

hand,

rounded

concealing,

hills of

not

too

successfully,

the

her breasts, keeping the secret of her

slender waist and full hips, trailing

white and shapely

legs,

down

down below

to the plain

the

black leather

Her face was pale and naked, but the lips were
and moist and the cheekbones high. Miss Maple
did her best: She fought her body and her face every
morning, but she was not victorious. In spite of it all,
she was an attractive woman.
The sound came again and woke her.
It was not the fat bird and it was not the children.
shoes.

large

It was— music. Like the music of flutes, high-pitched
and mellow, sharp yet somehow— dark; and though
there was a melody, she did not recognize it.
Miss Maple arose, slowly, and brushed the leaves
and needles awav.

THE DARK MUSIC

44

Why

should there be music in a

lost

place like this?

She turned and, without having the slightest notion
why, except that the sounds were beautiful, she began
to walk into the thickness. The foliage was wet, glistening dark green, and it was not long before her thin
dress was soaked in many places, but she went on.
Presently she was standing in a grove. Slender saplings, spotted browTi,

surrounded her

necks of

like the

and beneath her feet there was soft
golden grass, high and wild. But the music— which had
pulsed clearly in the summer air, drawing her— was
restless giraffes,

gone.

She looked

in every direction, deciding to feel fool-

ish,

but somehow she could only

Her

heart

was beating

feel

disappointed.

She saw nothing across the grove, just the surrounding dark and
shadowed woods, the grass and trees and sunlight.
There was the sound of the brook, of the wind, of her
entirely too fast.

heart.

She sank

to

the ground and lay

still,

curiously ex-

Then

she became conscious of it, one thing
which her vision might deny, and her senses, but
which she felt nonetheless to be.
She was not alone.
"Yes?" The word rushed and died before it could
hausted.

ever leave her throat.

A

rustle of leaves: small

"Who

A

hands applauding.

is it?"

drum

in her chest.

"Who is it— who's
And silence.

here?"

Miss Maple put unsteady fingers

to

her

lips

and

stopped breathing. I'm not alone, she thought, I'm not
alone.

No.

CHARLES BEAUMONT

45

Did someone say that? She lay on the grass tremand a new sensation— neither fear nor terrorwashed over her, catching her up in tides.
She stiffened when she felt this, and when she
bling,

heard the laughter, the deep-throated

was

it

And saw
She
air.

A

laughter-

nothing.

rose to her feet.

There was

new

a

smell in the

coarse animal smell like wet fur, hot

thick, heavy-, rolling

When

and

fetid,

toward her, covering her.

She cried something
run.

far-off

far offr— her eves arced over the grove.

inarticulate

and attempted

to

she reached the shaded dell at the end of

consumed with heat, to the
and breathed the animal air.
Something touched her. A hand?
She threw her arms over her face. "Please!"

the grove, she dropped,
softness

"Miss Maple!"

She

felt

her hands reaching toward the top button

of her dress.

"Miss Maple! What's the matter?"

An

moment; then, ever^'thing sliding, meltdream vou \\ill not remember. Miss
Maple shook her head from side to side and stared up
at a bov with straw hair and wide eyes.
She pulled reality about her.
'Tou all right. Miss Maple?"
"Of course, W^illiam," she said. The smell was gone.
The music was gone. It was a dream. "I was following
a snake, you see— a chicken snake, to be exact— and I
almost had it, you see, when I twisted mv ankle on one
eternal

ing, like a vivid

of the stones in the brook. That's

The bov

said,

why

I

called."

"Wow."

"Unfortunately," Miss Maple continued, getting to
her

feet, "it

escaped.

vou, William?"

You

didn't

happen

to see

it,

did

46

THE DARK MUSIC

William

When

and Miss Maple pretended

no,

said

hobble back

to

to the field.

she inquired of the students

if

they'd heard

anything peculiar, like music, like a radio playing
music, or something, they told her they hadn't, and

she looked closely at them.

But they were

telling the truth.
•

At 4:19,

after

•

•

grading three groups of

Miss

tests,

Lydia Maple put on her gray cotton coat and flat black
hat and started for home. She was not exactly thinking
about the incident in the

forest,

but

Owen

Tracy had

He

had been waiting.
"Miss Maple. Over here!"
She stopped, turned, and approached the blue car.
The principal of Overton High was smiling. He was
too handsome for his job, too tall and too young, and

to speak twice.

Miss Maple resented

his eyes.

They

walking.

'Tes,

traveled.

Mr. Tracy?"
"Thought maybe you'd like a lift home.'*
"That is very nice of you," she said, "but

I

enjoy

It isn't far."

"Well, then,

how

about

my

walking along with

you?"
"

Miss Maple flushed. "I
"Like to talk with you, off the record." The
got out of his car, locked

"Not,

I

tall

man

it.

hope, about the same subject."

'Tes."
I have nothing further to add."
Tracy fell into step. His face was still pleasant, and it was obvious that he intended to retain his
good humor, his charm. "I suppose you read Ben
Sugrue's piece in The Sun-Mirror yesterday?"
Miss Maple said, "No," perfunctorily. Sugrue was

"I'm sorry,

Owen

CHARLES BEAUMONT
a monster, a libertine;

was he who had

it

47

started the

campaign, whose gross Hbidinous whispers had

first

swept the town.

Overton High

"It refers to

so."

She smiled

val

fortress

medieval

as a

"Indeed? Well," Miss Maple

said,

fortress."

"perhaps that's

delicately. "It was, I believe, a

hundreds of

that saved

lives

medie-

during the

time of the Black Plague."

Tracy stopped a moment
he conceded.

good,"

to light a cigarette.

'Tou're

"Very

an intelligent person,

Lydia. Intelligent and sharp."

"Thank vou."
"And that's what puzzles me. This mess over the
program isn't intelligent and it isn't
As a biology teacher, you ought to

sex-education
sharp.

It's foolish.

know

that."

Miss Maple was
"If

we were

maybe your
think

so,

idea

but

silent.

an elementary school," Tracy

would make

you'd have a case. In a high

at least

school, though,

it's

stock out of us. If

I

said, "well,

sense. I personally don't

silly,

know

and

it's

Sugrue,

making
he'll

a laughing-

keep hammer-

ing until one of the national magazines picks

And

it

up.

that will be bad."

Miss Maple did not change her expression. "My
by now,

stand," she said, "ought to be perfectly clear

Mr. Tracy. In the event it isn't, let me tell you again.
There will be no sex-education program at Overton so
long as

I

consider

am
the

in charge of the biolog}^ department. I

suggestion

quite impractical— and

I

vile

am

and unspeakable— and

not to be persuaded other-

by yourself, nor by that journalist, nor by
combined efforts of the faculty. Because, Mr.

wise, neither

the

Tracy,
only to

I feel
fill

a responsibility toward
their

minds with

my

students.

Not

biological data, but to

THE DARK MUSIC

48

protect them, also."

Her

voice was even. "If you wish
"
you are at liberty to do so
do that," Owen Tracy said. He

to take action, of course,

"I

wouldn't want to

seemed
"I

to

be struggling with his calm.

think that's wise," Miss

Maple

said.

She paused

and stared at the principal.
"And what is that supposed to mean>"
"Simply that any measures to interrupt

my

or

impede

work, or force changes upon the present curricu-

lum, will prove embarrassing, Mr. Tracy, both to yourself and to Overton." She noticed his fingers and how
they were curling.
Lro on.

hardly think that's necessary."

"I

Go

"I do.
"I

not

on, please."

." she said, "but I am
may be
old-fashioned
stupid. Nor am I unobservant. I happen to have
.

.

.

.

.

learned some of the facts concerning yourself and

Miss Bond.

Owen

."
.

.

charm fled like a released animal.
Anger twitched along his temples. "I see."
Tracy's

They looked

one another for a while; then the
and started back in the opposite direction. The fire had gone out of his eyes. After a few
steps, he turned again and said, "It may interest you
to know that Miss Bond and I are going to be married
at the end of the term."
"I wonder why," Miss Maple said and left the tall
at

principal turned

man

standing in the twilight.

She

felt a

stairs of

surge of exultation as she went

her apartment.

Of

course she'd

about them, only guessed; but

when you

think the

worst of people, you're seldom disappointed.

been

true, after

all.

lutelv unassailable.

And now

up the

known nothing
It

had

her position was abso-

CHARLES BEAUMONT
She opened cans and

bottles

pared her usual supper. Then,

and packages and

when

49
pre-

the dishes were

done, she read Richards' Practical Criticism until 9 00.
:

At 9:30 she

tested the doors to see that they

were

drew the curtains, fastened the windows and removed her clothes, hanging them carefully
securely locked,

one small

in the

The gown

and ankle-low,

She

with tiny

fleur-de-lis.

her naked body was exposed; then,

covered up again, wrapped, encased, sealed.

lay

down, quite prepared

to sink gracefully into

For some reason, she could not. Sleep refused

sleep.

to

faintly figured

moment

For a brief
at once,

closet.

she chose was white cotton, chin-high

warmed and drank
was wakeful.

come. After a time she got up,

some milk;

curiously, she

still,

Then she heard the music.
The pipes, the high-pitched, dancing pipes of the
afternoon, so distant now that she felt perhaps she was
imagining them, so real she knew she couldn't be.
Perhaps the radio? She checked
else's radio?

it; it

was

off.

Someone

No.

Miss Maple decided
strange feeling that

to ignore the sounds and the
was creeping upon her alone in

her bed. She pressed the pillow tight against her ears
and held it there.
The music grew, indescribably beautiful, melancholy, yearning.

.

.

.

She threw off the covers and began to pace the room,
hands clenched. The sounds came through the locked
windows. Through the locked doors. Calling.
She remembered things, without remembering them.
She fought another minute, very hard, then sur-

Without knowing why—except to tell herwas terribly stuffy in the room and that a
the cool night air would help her sinuses— she

rendered.
self that

ride in

it

THE DARK MUSIC

50

to the closet and removed her gray coat. She
on over her nightgown. Then she opened a
bureau drawer and pocketed a ring of keys, walked out
the front door, down the hall, her naked feet silent
upon the thick-piled carpet, and into the garage where

walked
put

it

was dark. The music played fast, her heart beat fast,
and she moaned softly when the seldom-used automobile sat cold and unresponding to her touch.
At last it came to life, and in moments she was out
of town, dri\ing faster than she had ever driven,
it

pointed toward the wine-dark waters of the Gulf.

The

highwav turned beneath her in a blur and sometimes,
on the curves, she heard the shocked and painful cry
of the tires, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered
except the music.

Though

her eves were blind, her instinct found the
and soon she was walking across the moonwhite path of shells, unmindful of the thousand-razor
turnoff,

sharpness that cut into her

Now

across the path

and

feet.

She was drawn
and across the field

the piping was inside her.

and

into the field

into the trees, not feeling the cold, sharp fingers

of brush tearing at her

and the high wet

her and the stones daggering her

pumping

of

grass soaking

flesh, feeling

only the

her heart and the music, calling and

calling.

There!

The

brook was cold, but she was past

past the wall of foliage.
silvered

And

it,

and

there— the grove, moon-

and waiting.

Miss Maple

tried to

pause and

rest,

but the music

Heat enveloped her. She

would not let her do this.
removed the coat, tore off the tiny pearl buttons of her
gown and pulled the gown over her head and threw it
to

the ground.
It

did no good. Proper Miss Lydia

Maple

stood there,

CHARLES BEAUMONT
while the wind Hfted her hair and sent
like shreds of

amber

and

silk,

felt

it

51

billowing

the burning and

listened to the pipes.

They were

frenzied now. In front of her, in back,

growing louder, growing faster, and
She heard them deep in her blood and when
her body began to sway, rhythmically, she closed her
eyes and fought and found she could do nothing.
Dance! they seemed to say. Dance tonight, Miss
Maple— now. It's easy. You remember. Dance!
She swayed and her legs moved, and soon she was taking steps over the tall grass, whirling and pirouetting.
She danced until she could dance no more; then
she stopped by the first tree at the end of the grove
and waited for the music to cease as she knew it would.
The forest became silent.
Miss Maple smelled the goaty animal smell and felt
it coming closer; she lay against the tree and squinted
her eyes, but there was nothing to see, only shadows.
She waited.
There was a laugh— a wild shriek of amusement;
bull-like and heavily masculine it was, but wild as no
to the sides of her,
faster.

man's laugh ever could be.

And

then the sweaty fur

odor was upon her, and she experienced a strength

about her, and there was breath against her face, hot
as steam, panting, chuckling.

"Yes," she whispered,

and hands touched

her, hurt-

ing with fierce pain.

that

and she felt glistening muscles beneath her
and a weight upon her, a shaggy, tawny weight
was neither ghost nor human nor animal, but

with

much

"Yes!"
fingers,

heat, hot as the fires that blazed inside her.

"Yes," said Miss Maple, parting her
•

•

lips.

"Yes! Yes!"

•

In the days that followed. Miss

Maple walked with

THE DARK MUSIC

52
a

new

step,

and there was

a

new

light in her eyes,

only a few noticed the change. She hid

Tracy would

stare at her sometimes,

other teachers

would wonder

should be looking so tired so

to

it

well.

but

Owen

and sometimes the

why

she

of the time.

But

themselves

much

since she did not say or do anything specifically differ-

was left
When some

ent,

it

a small mystery.

of the older boys said that they

Maple
highway

seen Miss
the gulf

driving like a bat out of hell
at

two

in the

had

down

morning, they were

very quickly silenced, for such a thing was too absurd
for consideration.

But

all

were agreed that Miss Maple certainly looked
it was attributed

happier than she had ever been, and
to

her victory over the press and the principal's wishes

on the matter of sex education.
To Owen Tracy, it was a distasteful subject for conversation all the way around. He was in full agreement
with the members of the school board that progress

at

Overton would begin only when Miss Maple was

re-

moved, but he could not say this openly. "She's a firstclass teacher, gentlemen, and first-class teachers are
hard to find. ..." And furthermore, she could break
Lorraine Bond's heart by spreading her vicious gossip.

Which
As

she wouldn't hesitate to do.

.

.

.

Miss Maple, she adjusted magnificently to a
complicated situation. She would hear the music of
for

would never believe
was all fantastic, and fantasy had no place
in her life. She would awaken each morning satisfied
that she had had another dream; then— wondering
vaguely about the spattered mud on her leg, about the
grass stains and bits of leaves and fresh twigs in her
hair— she would forget it and go about her business.
She did so fiercely, almost with abandon. She had
the pipes and go to them; yet she
in them. It

CHARLES BEAUMONT

power now. Power

to scrape the

53

scandalous barnacles

away, with whatever instrument she chose.
It was on a Monday— the night of the day that she
had assembled positive proof that Willie Hammacher
and Rosalia Forbes were cutting classes together and
stealing away to Dauphin Park, and submitted this
proof and had Willie and Rosalia threatened with
expulsion from school— that Miss Maple scented her
body with perfumes, lay down and waited, again, for

the music.

She waited, tremulous

as usual,

aching beneath the

temporary sheets.

But the
He's

air

late,

was

still.

a part of her thought,

Often she would

sleep.

sit

and she

tried to

up, though, certain that she

had heard the sound, and once she got halfway across
the room toward the closet; and sleep was impossible.
She stared at the ceiling until three a.m., listening.
Then she rose and dressed and got into her car.
She went to the grove.
She stood under the crescent moon, under the
bruised sky.

And

heard the wind, her heart, owls high

in the trees, the shifting currents of the

stream— and

heard the forest quiet.

"Where

are you?" she whispered.

Silence.

"I'm here," she whispered.

Then, she heard the chuckling.

It

was cruel and

hearty, without mirth.

She ran

The
ran to

to the

middle of the grove.

came from the trees to the right. She
disappeared. It came again, from the trees

laughter
it.

It

to the left.

Miss Maple put her hands
fear.

"Don't," she said.

to her breasts

"Please, don't."

and knew

The

aching

THE DARK MUSIC

54

and awful heat were in
?
You want

"Come

her.

me.

to

I

*'*

want

'Tes!"

What

is it that you want, Miss Mafle?
She looked up, feeling the hot salt tears streaming
down her face, hearing the mocking voice inside her

heart.

'Tou!" she whispered.

There was

then,

pause;

a

slowly,

the effluvium

drifted toward her, the thick smell of wild things, lost

and dead things, things that could not exist.
Do you know what you're saying, Miss Magpie?
She reached out and fancied she could touch the
I know!

strong-thewed back. "I know, of course— yes,

Don't torture

The
around

"

me

chuckle rose from the invisible space before and
her.

Do you

think

it's

nice for a lady to siiggest such

things?
"I don't care.

must have

I

need

I

it.

it,

don't you

understand?"
7

understand

"perfectly,

Miss Maple.

"Then, please!" She sank

to the

shadowed

grass floor

in the familiar dell. "Please."

You never

do you. Miss Maple? You come

learn,

to

me

with your scented flesh and your cries of yes and
you accept me without a qualm
then you go hack
.

and deny

my

existence

and

.

.

frustrate

and impede

my

spirit.

Breath seemed

to

compress in her lungs; she

felt

she

could not live another moment.

Very

well. I

more. But there

may
is

give

you what you ask

just

once

a price. Are you willing to pay this

price?
"Yes. Anything!"

CHARLES BEAUMONT
Z

warn

yoti,

you may

regret

it

afterward.

.

.

55

.

"I don't care."

The heavy animal

the rich fur smell

odor,

came

closer to her. Ymi're quite sure?

'Tes!"

And

was upon her, and she felt its power
one contemptuous, brutal, blinding
instant and it was over.
Then she was alone, and it was still but for the

and

then

its

it

strength;

.

.

.

beating of her heart.

There was one more sound.
ful

A

deep, sardonic, venge-

laugh that pierced her heart like a knife.

And

Then

it

was suddenly very quiet.
Miss Maple looked down and became aware that
she was Miss Maple, 32, teacher of biologv at Overton
faded.

ever\'thing

High.

"Where are you?" she cried.
The wind was cold upon her. Her feet were cold
among the grasses.
There was no one in the wood now but herself.
Miss Maple put her face against the
for the first time in

many
•

She went

to the

tree

•

•

grove the following night, and the

night after that and the next night. But

been

just

and wept

years.

once more.

What

it

was, or

who

it
it

had

truly

was, that

played the pipes so sweetly in the wooded place would
play no more.

much

pain for

The music was gone. And it gave her
many hours, and sleep was difficult,

but there was nothing

to

be done.

Her body considered seeking out someone in the
town, but her mind rejected the notion. What good
was

a

man when

she had been loved by a god?

In her dreams, she realized

The

this.

music, the dancing, the

fire,

the feel of strong

arms about her, and the animal smell ... a god.
Then she forgot, and even the dreams vanished.

She went

to

her work with renewed vigor, applaud-

ing purity, casting out the impure, holding the Beast

World] iness outside the gates of Overton. In her
quiet way, she had put together certain information on the conduct of principal Owen Tracy and the
Lit. I teacher, Lorraine Bond, and drafted a fine plan
of

own

for the dismissal of both.

And

she most certainly would have carried

it

through

had not happened.
It happened slowly and in small w^ays.
Miss Maple began to put on considerable weight.
Then, although she had never cared for any form of
alcoholic beverage, she desperately wanted a glass of
if

a strange thing

wine.

And

a plate of grass, nice green grass,

wonderful.

She went
sav,

.

.

would

taste

.

what he had to
and came home. She rememthe grove— There is a ^^nce— and she

to a phvsician, listened to

swore him

to secrecy,

bered the voice in
tried to scream,

but she could not scream.

She could only feel the silent terror wdthin her.
Growing.
No one ever did find out why Miss Maple moved
away from Sand Hill in such a hurr^^ or where she
went, or what happened to her afterward.
But, then, nobodv cared.

Somewhere Not Far from Here/gerald kersh

When

say that

I

where

here nor there,
family's place

winds. As the
there

is

I

I

come from

mean

dust and ashes.

is

Dumb Ox

everywhere.

You

once

is

neither

exactly that, for

said,

And

my

there are 32

"Neither here nor

are a citizen of the world,

young Martin. Cheer up!"
I have nothing but my name, Martin, and I do not
rate. I never had a woman. My ambition was to grow
a mustache. I never shall. In another month I should
be 15 years old, but that month is not for me. Tomorrow or the day after even my name will be lost. Why
should anybody remember me^
Perhaps one of my friends will manage to live until
there is peace and quiet. I have never known such a
time. But it may come, and somebody might say,
"Those, children, were the days

throw a bomb

as

Martin was there

you learn

at that time,

."
among us men.
It may be. I hope so. You
.

to

when we

learned to

The boy
and he played the man
throw

a ball.

.

are, actually,

only as you

SOMEWHERE NOT FAR FROM HERE

58

are

remembered.

I

did

my

best

and

now where most

I

fought with the

my

friends must
But who will recognize poor Martin in the dark?
That night I was with the guerrillas— I was one of
the free men— and Mike was leading us, a good man.
There were 30 of us with him that night. We had to
raid an enemy dump for dynamite, fuses, detonators.
When we went through the woods, the rain beat on
the leaves so that nobody could hear us. It was late
when we got out of the trees and crawled up the slope.
Mike cut the wire and stabbed a sentry in the throat
with a broad-bladed butcher's knife. Do this right and
a man's lungs fill up with blood. He dies with nothing
rest. I

have

to

go

of

be.

more than

The

Ox
You

killed
tie

a cough.

number two came by, and the Dumb
him with a handkerchief. It is an old trick.

sentry's

something heavy into the corner of your piece

and swing it backhand about your man's neck;
swung end and get your knuckles into the
base of his skull. I have done it myself. The principle
is that if you use a noose, even of thin wire, it must
go over the other man's head and he, being on the
alert, will see that wire pass his eyes, and turn or duck.
The Ox weighed 300 pounds. The sentry died in
silence. So we crept through the gap.
Mike had figured that with any kind of luck, 15 of
the 30 of us might get away. "It could be a lot worse,"
he said. So it could. But now the enemy seemed to be
fast asleep. We were quiet, God knows; we knew how
to be quiet because we had been living like worms
underground. But uathin only a little distance of the
dump, somebody sensed us. He could not have seen
us. He could not have heard us. Whatever it was, he
let loose a burst of machine-gun fire in our general
of cloth

catch the

direction.

GERALD KERSH

59

At a sign we lay still. Nobody knew where we were,
whether we were ten or a thousand strong, until
they fired a flare, a white flare, which went off in the
skv with a shakv light. Under that light we must have
or

been

man

A

as easy to see as cutout silhouettes.

me— it

went up then and— believe

with a half a dozen shadows,

threw out

Then we

hand

his

was
all

a

violet flare

dream, every

dancing, as

Mike

means Forward.

in the sign that

charged, muddy-bellied as wild pigs, ever)'

one of us with his machine pistol and his grenades.
You would have thought that all the guns in the
world had gone off at once. As the white flare died,
another went up; only some fool of an
green one. Shooting
they

filled

all

him.

was

said

it

like a

not to end.

We

And

if

way

Mike

was the first behind
dream. But it was not a bad
quick and bright, you wanted

the time

dream. Everything was so
it

fired a

the air with lead in a double enfilade.

went forward
I

enemy

shadows? So they were, only

at

and

I

this is child's talk, let

it

be.

dump. Mike threw me a
case of dynamite. The Ox took it from me and put it
under his arm. He was as calm as if all this had been
cut our

arranged in an

into the

office.

Pulling the pins with his teeth,

he threw four grenades.
denly and

I

heard a

Mike gave me
nators

which

I

man

A

machine gun stopped sud-

screaming, ''Mother! Mother!"

four tins of fuses and two of deto-

could get inside

my

jacket.

Then he

caught hold of another box of those round bombs you
can crack a tank with, and
I

was

at his

we

ran.

down

elbow. All of a sudden he went

on one knee. When I saw him fall, I stood over him.
He was wounded, horribly wounded, split open; a terrible sight to see.

What

put into a manr Torn
on?

The

rain

kind of strength

to pieces,

was a kind of

how

curtain.

is

it

does he

The

that
still

next

is

go

flare

SOMEWHERE NOT FAR FROM HERE

60

made

Mike

a double rainbow. "Back to the bridge!"

was bound to obey, but it was my
duty to die with him. Then he ran— not back to where
we had come from, but straight into the enemy dump.
He was hit a dozen times. My head was cut by a
bullet, which knocked me down but brought me to my
senses. I remembered that I was carr)dng detonators
and fuses.
So I caught up with the few who were left of us at
said. I hesitated; I

the foot of the slope.

You may

say without lying that

young Martin was the last out.
I was blind with blood. A green flare and a white
one went off, and it was just as if the night had turned

Then something

lead.

to

cracked.

I

recognized the

thundery noise of dynamite and the snapping of Mike's

box of bombs.

He

had got

because after that the
flash.

A

some

to

dump

of the

heavy

stuff,

and white
seemed), there was a

burst in a red

long time later (as

it

burning wind which sucked the breath out of our
bodies,

and

a

shower of branches, leaves and

metal; and the rain

This

is

the

was

way Mike

mud and

bits of

blood.

di