Down For The Count

Started by Blair Blankenship at Apr 04, 2020 11:54 PM
March 15, 1924
2475 Views
127 Posts

Blair Blankenship

96
?Years Young
44 Posts

"If I'd known that this is the way it'd all turn out, I never would have kissed my father goodbye."


It was humid already.

Blair slipped thumb and finger behind his half-Windsor and unbuttoned his Arrow collar.  It was not his style to ever appear sweaty or, worse, flummoxed, and so he did what was necessary to maintain his upper crust image, that impersonal politeness so well managed by the over-privileged. 

Things were bad now.  In fact, things were horrible.  Popsie died owing a fortune,  and Blair, his mother, and the rest of the family scrambled to salvage some manner of the life they were used to.   Mother had to sell Monkton, their family home on the Hudson.   She cried into her handkerchief until it was drenched in tears.  They had to sell their vacation home on Cape Cod, and their yacht that had been moored there for years.

His college days at Florida State were in peril and he needed some backing or some funds in a hurry.  He'd applied for grants and scholarships but he hadn't heard anything yet.  It was money he needed and he needed it PDQ. 

The reason he was in the lobby of the Royal Palm Hotel was to meet his schoolmate, Morris Lundigan.  Perhaps he could get some summer employment in his chum's family business.  They operated a huge trucking firm that serviced all of the State as well as most of what made up the old Confederacy.

The fans that swirled overhead cooled the seating area and caused the potted palms to flutter.  It was a welcomed relief. 

To pass the time, Blair cracked open a bestseller, "The Dark Frigate" by Charles Hawes.  He often carried a book with him especially in situations where it would not look good for him to be wringing his hands.  So he read, eyed his wristwatch and waited.

 

 

 

 


Liked 1 Loved 1

Blair Blankenship

96
?Years Young
44 Posts

"If I'd known that this is the way it'd all turn out, I never would have kissed my father goodbye."


The hotel's settee area was unusually and, in Blair mind, gratefully vacant for a Tuesday.  He didn't like crowds or people for that matter. The doctor once told his Mother that he was an introvert and "needed time to reflect in".  That was certainly true and lately there was a lot for him to reflect about.  He sometimes wished he could be an extrovert and wondered if there was some way he could become one without looking phony.  Did psychiatrists do that sort of thing?

He glanced at his watch.  It was almost time for him to be joined by Morris.  Now THERE was a case study for a psychiatrist.  There was something dark, even sinister, about his college chum. 

It would be hard for Blair to approach "Morrie" about a job in his father's firm.  He didn't want to seem as though he was desperate or that he needed the money too badly.  That wouldn't do.  Instead he would concoct a story about having an argument with his mother and that she "temporarily" cut off his allowance and even threatened to pull the plug on his tuition. 

Yes. That was it.

As if on cue, the entrance was swept wide open by a doorman who touched his forelock as Morrie Lundigan entered.  The doorman was on older gentleman with white hair and pink face, and Blair thought it was embarrassing for him to have to kowtow to someone as young as Morrie.   He suddenly hoped to God that it wouldn't be him someday, a poor elder struggling to make ends meet yet having to be in a position that demanded he always smile and bow and scrape.

He set his book down and stood to meet his friend.

"Hello Morrie!  I'm glad you were able to make our appointment."

Morrie shook hands with Blair but his piercing, knowing eyes made Blair feel that the jig was up even before the fiddles were tuned. Maybe it was just his shame and guilt already working on him.

 


Cat's Meow! 1

Blair Blankenship

96
?Years Young
44 Posts

"If I'd known that this is the way it'd all turn out, I never would have kissed my father goodbye."


The two, sleek, young men graced the lobby.  The staff welcomed the sight of the well-heeled on their premises. They each smoked and their twin wreaths of smoke rose upwards and upwards, merged for a bit, then vanished when they met the invisible currents of the fans.

"Why are you reading junk like that?" Morrie asked when he saw Blair's book.  "The Dark Frigate. That's a step below Jack London. What you ought to be reading is "McTeague", by Frank Norris."

Blair shook his read with amusement.  Morrie always had a criticism.  It was expected.

"Frank Norris is a muckraker.  You know that."  Blair countered.

Morrie blew smoke toward Blair.  "Yeah, but it's good enough for Von Stroheim to be making a movie of it."

This banter was good in Blair's mind but then, suddenly, he changed coarse.

"My Mother and I've had a disagreement," he said.  "It happened when I was back home after the old man died.  She was pressing me to move back home and finish up at Cornell."

"Oh Christ!", Morrie hissed.  'You aren't, are you?"

"I told her I've got everything mapped out here.  My professor's are convinced my grades and credits will get me into law school.  I just don't want to piss it away by leaving."

Morrie reached across and crushed his cigarette an ashtray that looked like a half-coconut.  "So what's the problem.  Just stay here."

"Well it's not as simple as that."

"Sure it is," Morrie argued.  "Just stay here.  She'll get over it."

"She's holding the purse strings, Morrie, and she's saying she'll cut me off."

 

 


Liked 1

The Narrator

Storyteller
452
?Years Young
45 Posts

Warden J. Kress had just entered the lobby of the Royal Palm Hotel, wiping his brow with a handkerchief. It was already rather humid. Or maybe it was his hot temper. He had had quite the row with his wife, Maxine, over yet another of her unnecessary expenses. Yes, he was a successful enough businessman and they lived a very comfortable life style but at heart he was a frugal man. Perhaps because his childhood one had been impoverished and he had to work very hard to rise to where he currently was. She, on the other hand, had always been spoiled by her rich parents. She still did not know the value of money even though both were in their fifties and married for half those years.

His dark mood lightened a little though upon spotting two young men chatting in that same lobby. He did not know the one but he certainly knew Morrie Lundigan. That charming young fellow was the son of the owner of Lundigan Trucking, the company that shipped Warden's products throughout the country. He often played cards with Morrie's father and on occasion enjoyed a pleasant day at the race track too. Morrie was about at times, Warden found him smart as a tack and quite outgoing.

As he got within voice range, he called out, "I say there! Morrie Lundigan! Fancy seeing you here, young fellow!"

Warden was quite tall, sticking out one of his big hands, he offered a friendly handshake.


Liked 1

Steve Larimore

Steve Larimore
96
57 Posts

"Nobody forgets where they buried the hatchet"


It had taken Blair a lot of nerve to broach the subject of his sudden penury to Morrie.  What was worse,  Morrie didn't even know the half of his true predicament.  What Morrie got was a sugar coated version.

Morrie reached across and set a hand on Blair's kneecap.  "I am so sorry, Blair.  It's too bad that your father isn't here to steer you out of these rocky shoals."   Morrie loved sailing and never missed a chance to drop that sport's analogies.   "Maybe your mother will come around in time.  It's a ways off until the next semester.  Maybe that gives you enough time to batten things down."

Blair nodded and tried not to look too worry.  His bland, good looks spoke of an easy life, a light touch, a convivial spirit and money --- lot's of it.

"Thanks, Morrie, but if my mother's ah, ah, intractable, I was wondering if there might be a place for me at ..

"I say there! Morrie Lundigan! Fancy seeing you here, young fellow!"   The voice had a authoritative tone to it like that of a Headmaster catching a student slinking around in a gin joint.

Blair's snapped his head around and found an older man, apparently was not unknown to Morrie, because he snapped to his feet and gripped the man's hand.

"This is a surprise, sir!" Morrie said.   "Blair.  I want to introduce you to Mr. Warden Kress."   

Blair sprang to his feet as well. 

"Mr. Kress," Morrie continued.  "May I present Blair Blankenship.   Blair,.. Mr. Kress."

The two shook hands.

"This is a surprise," Morrie said enthusiastically.  "Did you come in to get out of the heat?"

 

 


The Narrator

Storyteller
452
?Years Young
45 Posts

Warden assessed the other young man even as they exchanged a vigorous handshake, well at least it was vigorous on his side. The other fellow seemed a bit out of sorts, nervous. Well, best not read too much into it, Warden decided. Besides this was one of Morrie's acquaintances and he himself was too old now to really understand these young men nowadays. Though Morrie had always seemed to him to be a good egg, like his father.

"Good day to you," he nodded to this Blankenship. The name was ....vaguely familiar. Eh, no matter.

This is a surprise," Morrie said enthusiastically.  "Did you come in to get out of the heat?"

"No, I came here to get away from Maxine," Warden replied rather gruffly, it was hard to combine a smile and anything to do with Maxine together.

"That is my wife," he quickly pointed out for the other young man's sake.

"She is a spendthrift and God knows I cannot abide with that sort of thing."

He then turned the spotlight back over to Morrie, "And how is it with you? Your father?"

 


Blair Blankenship

96
?Years Young
44 Posts

"If I'd known that this is the way it'd all turn out, I never would have kissed my father goodbye."


"Good day to you," he nodded to this Blankenship. The name was ....vaguely familiar. Eh, no matter.

The handsome, New England transplant smiled blandly.   "And good day to you too, Sir." Blair returned in his clear baritone.

This is a surprise," Morrie said enthusiastically.  "Did you come in to get out of the heat?"

"No, I came here to get away from Maxine," Warden replied rather gruffly, it was hard to combine a smile and anything to do with Maxine together.

"That is my wife," he quickly pointed out for the other young man's sake.

"She is a spendthrift and God knows I cannot abide with that sort of thing."

Blair nodded agreeably, as though he understood those types, but in truth he knew next to nothing about spendthrifts expect, apparently, his father who'd brought his family to the edge of ruin.  He had been thinking about his father a lot lately.  Even as his cigarette smoldered away in the ashtray he could hear his father's voice in his ear.  "You really oughtn't to be seen smoking in public, and have your tailor sew an extra button on your jacket sleeves.  Five is the correct number, Blair.  Never settle for just four buttons."

The older gentleman turned his attention to Morrie. "And how is it with you? Your father?"

"Oh my dad's as good a bread," he assured Mr. Warden, much as a stockbroker would assure a nervous client about a shaky investment.  "He's on The Lucky Lady this week.  I swear he must have a mania about catching a giant marlin.  He spends a lot of time on the boat with very little to show for it expect sunburns."

It was true.  The elder Mr. Lundigan was bitten by the fishing bug much the same as some men were bitten by the golf bug.  To Morris's mind, fishing was a lot of fussing and preparation and equipment and tedium.  Same with golf, he thought.

"I'm sure he'd like to take you out again," Morrie opined.

 


The Narrator

Storyteller
452
?Years Young
45 Posts

Ahh, yes, Morrie's father and his fishing. How that man loved to fish. Warden had gone out with him on occasion but had not particularly enjoyed it. Least the company had been good but he hadn't pulled in any fish.

"Yes indeed, I really should go out with him again. If nothiing else, Maxine won't be there," Warden waxed sarcastically.

"Speaking of the water and ships, I might well have something for you, my boy," the older man now reached into his suitcoat inside pocket and brought out a letter sized envelope.

"Here, Morrie, this is for you. You use it, take a girl along if you've got one currently, or take your friend Blair here. It'll be better used for vibrant young people like yourselves than me," he practically shoved the envelope into Lundigan's hand.

"It's two tickets for a weekend cruise on the Chatreuse to Cuba and back. Maxine bought it for us, using my money. Without asking if I even wanted to go. Which I most certainly do not," he huffed.

He added, "At least not with her. It's bad enough we live in the same house."


Morris Lundigan

96
?Years Young
3 Posts

Go ahead and snap the picture.  I don't have a bad side.


"Speaking of the water and ships, I might well have something for you, my boy," the older man now reached into his suitcoat inside pocket and brought out a letter sized envelope.

Morris had no idea what was up.  In fact, it stuck him as the kind of move a process server does:  Reach in coat, pull out an envelope and then slap it against your chest.  "You've been served."

"Here, Morrie, this is for you. You use it, take a girl along if you've got one currently, or take your friend Blair here. It'll be better used for vibrant young people like yourselves than me," he practically shoved the envelope into Lundigan's hand.

Lundigan could hear a faint whistle issue from Blair's lips. 

A girl? he thought.  Sure.  Although he had no steady girlfriend at the moment, he did have a bevy of gash who hung around him whenever he went to The Four Deuces.  He was too impressed with himself to believe they were only after his money.  No.  He was quite a catch and he knew it.

At the suggestion that he might take Blair along was a good idea.  If he went with another girl, he'd have to be on his best behavior or fights would erupt.   But with a handsome cohort, together they would attract the girls or bored married women.

"It's two tickets for a weekend cruise on the Chatreuse to Cuba and back. Maxine bought it for us, using my money. Without asking if I even wanted to go. Which I most certainly do not," he huffed.

He added, "At least not with her. It's bad enough we live in the same house."

The young men chuckled at the man's predicament as if fully understanding what neither of them really understood. 

Morrie jabbed Blair with his elbow.   "What do you say?"

Blair bypassed Morrie and spoke directly to Warden.  "Why thank you, sir.  I can't think of a nicer way to spend a weekend,"  and he reached across to again shake his hand. 

Morrie tucked the tickets in his own coat pocket.   "Why don't you join us?" he asked their benefactor.  "At least it's cool in here and maybe we can get the staff to bring us some Limeade?  Lemonade?  Iced Tea?"


Liked 1

The Narrator

Storyteller
452
?Years Young
45 Posts

It was as Warden hoped and expected, both young men seemed quite pleased with his sudden bit of charity. Either way the older man was out of his money but at least this way his wife wouldn't get to enjoy the fruits of her labor. Not like it had been any labor, she had merely took his hard earned money and plopped it down for tickets. So like her, no appreciation for the effort behind that money.

Morrie's friend even eagerly shook his hand.... again.

"Enjoy yourselves, gents," Warden smiled.

"Why don't you join us?" Morrie invited, "At least it's cool in here and maybe we can get the staff to bring us some Limeade?  Lemonade?  Iced Tea?"

"Iced tea would go down well, yes," the older man nodded and the trio now headed to secure a table.

"Before Prohibition, this place served proper drinks...you know what I mean. But when you are on that cruise liner, you should know that they serve alcohol once out on the ocean. That should make the whole voyage even more fun," Warden allowed himself a smile.