Wednesday, February 9, 2022

"Was He in Some Squirrel Cage of Fate?"

"Doubled and Redoubled."
By Malcolm Jameson (1891-1945).
Illustration by Kramer (1905-93; HERE).
First appearance: Unknown Fantasy Fiction, February 1941.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story.
Online at Fadedpage (HERE; 12 pages) and (HERE; original text: 13 pages).

     "I perceive you are the victim of a blessing that misfired."

At this point in his life, if you were to ask him, Jimmy honestly couldn't tell you the difference between a blessing and a curse . . . .

Principal characters:
~ Jimmy Childers:
  "That night he threw the alarm clock out the window."
~ Genevieve:
  "Why, Jimmy, you seem to be perfectly at home here."
~ The cigar store clerk:
  "I gotta hot one for you today—Swiss Rhapsody in the first at Aqueduct. She’s sure fire, even if she’s a long shot."
~ Minnie the Malicious:
  "The young men of this generation have no manners whatever!"
~ The Old Man:
  "Childers, we’ve watched you for some time and we like your style."
~ The bank robber:
  "Shell out—everything in the cage but the silver!"
~ Kelly:
  "Optimistic, ain’t you?"
~ The doctor:
  "Take this before you go to bed. It is simply something to make you sleep better. Then come back tomorrow at this same hour."
~ The necromancer:
  "Sorry, but I only deal with the dead. That is my specialty. Now if you want a corpse raised, or anything like that—"
~ Master Charlatan:
  "That, my friend, is a mystery I’d advise you not to look into."

References and resources:
- "at Aqueduct": And they're off!:
  "Aqueduct Racetrack is a thoroughbred horse racing facility and casino in the South Ozone Park and Jamaica neighborhoods of Queens, New York City, United States. Aqueduct is the only racetrack located within New York City limits" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "He had read it all before—June 14th, PARIS FALLS": A reference to the war in Europe before the United States entered the fray; note how this dates the time of the story precisely:
  "June 14, 1940, in the early hours of the morning: One lone German soldier entered Paris from the east and crossed Place Voltaire. Not a single shot was fired. Paris fell into enemy hands during WWII without a single bit of resistance" (Judy HERE; for the bigger historical picture see Wikipedia HERE).
- Jimmy's situation at times reminds us of what happened to Tantalus in Greek mythology:
  "The Greeks of classical times claimed to be horrified by Tantalus's doings; cannibal-ism and filicide were atrocities and taboo. Tantalus's punishment for his act, now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction (the source of the English word tantalize), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any" (Wikipedia HERE).
- The notion of repeating the same day over and over seems to have had a strong allure for Hollywood; see Wikipedia (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE), TV Tropes (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE), and (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE).
- Our latest contact with Malcolm Jameson was his SFFnal thriller "Out of the Iron Womb!" (HERE).

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