Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Two Tongues of Flame Spat Forth in Quick Succession, but Only One Contained a Messenger of Death"

OUR author, "Raymond Lester," was, in fact, a lady, Dahlia Trenchant, whose writing career ran from 1919 to 1930—and that's basically all we know about her. "Raymond Lester's" main markets were All-Story Weekly, Argosy, a couple of reprints in The Underworld, and even one in Detective Story Magazine (all data from FictionMags). In both of the following diverting yarns nothing but trouble results from what later proves to be a simple misunderstanding.

"The Fatal Test."
By Raymond Lester (Dahlia Trenchant, 1902-65).
First appearance: All-Story Weekly, October 25, 1919.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at Pulpgen HERE.
"Neither you nor I are cut out for love in a cottage."
Dear rich, kind-hearted Olivia: She has let things go too far between her stepsister and her unfaithful husband, to the point where murder—and suicide—seem the only way out . . .

Typos: "Juliette will find she did not gage my temperament exactly"; "gaged the full significance of his words."
~ ~ ~
"Oh Fanny!"
By Raymond Lester (Dahlia Trenchant, 1902-65).
First appearance: All-Story Weekly, November 15, 1919.
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at Pulpgen HERE.
"I am not superstitious, but when the same sleuth-like fellow trails two nice-appearing girls through three stores it is time to think of going home."
Not your typical department store customers, Fanny and Ruth:
"It is my job to watch and yours to pinch," retorted Fanny as they approached the exit. "I’m the eyes and you are the hands . . ."
Yes, they're shoplifters—and near panic because they're certain they've been "made" by a dick with a face like chopped beef:
"He doesn’t care where we live. All he wants to do is to get us on the job and with the goods on us. We might of course get away with it for a day or even a week, but sooner or later he would land us. He’s big and ugly and slow on his feet, but those pig eyes of his are gimlets that bore holes right through my pluck and give me the creeps. I got the smell of the police court and a nasty three by seven cell directly I saw him, I tell you—"
All of a sudden their comfortable existence, the result of their efficiency as thieves, seems to be in jeopardy. Fanny, for one, isn't just going to take it:
 "It is time I got busy. I’m not going without anything to eat to-night, so shut up and let me think. We’ve been up against it before, and when the old game has petered out I’ve generally managed to pull off something or other."
And pull off something they do, momentarily forgetting "the gentleman of the features described by Fanny as genus hamburgian"—but he hasn't forgotten them . . .

Typo: "the gentlemen with the hamburger countenance"

The bottom line: "A Pennsylvania woman convicted for shoplifting was sentenced to wear a badge that reads Convicted Shoplifter. However, her lawyers hope to plea bargain down to a bumper sticker reading I'd Rather Be Stealing."
Jimmy Fallon

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