Saturday, April 24, 2021

"Pity I'm Not Dead, Eh?"

WITH HIS CHECKERED PAST and despite his great wealth, Jay Gatsby honestly yearned for a better life with Daisy; the protagonist in today's story is searching for the same release and imagines he can find it in things that he's seen hundreds of times . . .

By Rice Gaither (?-?).
First appearance: Ainslee's Magazine, October 1922.
Short story (11 pages).
Online at (HERE).

     ". . . I will say in the beginning that this is not the story of a suicide."

When the truth finally becomes clear it isn't always pleasant; however, there are ways of dealing with it: "But, man, you're a fugitive!"

Main characters:
~ Walters:
  "No, I haven’t found a way. But I just remembered this insurance—this life insurance you took out in favor of the company. We can borrow something on it."
~ Jimmie:
  "Then the plan came to him full blown."
~ Madge:
  "I couldn't love any man unless—"
~ Freddy:
  ". . . a pleasant parasite, living by invitation only."
~ Beacham:
  ". . . Beacham’s face across from him, a polite poker face."
~ Elsa:
  "She would persist in kneeling on the seat behind him and looking over his shoulder."
~ Julie:
  ". . . whose slim hand rested on the sleeve of Jimmie’s blue yachting coat, sang a phrase in which the pronunciation of 'Alabama' was modified to the requirements of syncopation. Then she ran down to play it on the phonograph."
~ The captain:
  "And that island just beyond the light, that’s Dauphin Island."

Typo: "They wind blew".

References and resources:
- "that little island anchored there between the rivers": Referring, of course, to Manhattan: "The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers; as well as several small adjacent islands"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "a slim, white fruiter": Commonly referred to as a "reefer ship": "A reefer ship is a refrigerated cargo ship, typically used to transport perishable commodities which require temperature-controlled transportation, such as fruit, meat, fish, vegetables, dairy products and other items"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "a liner from Southampton": "An ocean liner is a passenger ship primarily used as a form of transportation across seas or oceans. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes (such as for pleasure cruises or as hospital ships)"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "an old brig": "A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. During the Age of Sail, brigs were seen as fast and maneuverable and were used as both naval warships and merchant vessels. They were especially popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Brigs fell out of use with the arrival of the steam ship because they required a relatively large crew for their small size and were difficult to sail into the wind"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "merry syncopations": "Syncopation is used in many musical styles, especially dance music. According to music producer Rick Snoman, 'All dance music makes use of syncopation, and it's often a vital element that helps tie the whole track together.' In the form of a back beat, syncopation is used in virtually all contemporary popular music"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "away from bridge and jazz": This was, after all, well into the Jazz Age: "The Jazz Age was a period in the 1920s and 1930s in which jazz music and dance styles rapidly gained nationwide popularity in the United States. The Jazz Age's cultural repercussions were primarily felt in the United States, the birthplace of jazz. Originating in New Orleans as mainly sourced from culture of the diaspora. Jazz played a significant part in wider cultural changes in this period, and its influence on popular culture continued long afterward. The Jazz Age is often referred to in conjunction with the Roaring Twenties . . ."; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "a long jade holder": Some famous people have used one: "A cigarette holder is a fashion accessory, a slender tube in which a cigarette is held for smoking. Most frequently made of silver, jade or bakelite (popular in the past but now wholly replaced by modern plastics), cigarette holders were considered an essential part of ladies' fashion from the early 1910s through early to the mid 1970s"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "do you Chicago?": Possibly a reference to a dance inspired by a tune: "'Chicago' is a popular song written by Fred Fisher and published in 1922. The original sheet music variously spelled the title 'Todd'ling' or 'Toddling.' The song has been recorded by many artists, but the best-known version is by Frank Sinatra"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "We're going to Dauphin Island": "The island is one of the Mississippi–Alabama barrier islands, with the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and the Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay to the north. The island's eastern end helps define the mouth of Mobile Bay. The eastern, wider portion of the island is shaded by thick stands of pine trees and saw palmettos, but the narrow, western part of the island features scrub growth and few trees"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "How far is it to Cuba?": Until the communists took over, Cuba benefitted economically but not politically by being so close to the United States: "Before Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, Cuba was one of the most advanced and successful countries in Latin America. Cuba's capital, Havana, was a 'glittering and dynamic city' . . . According to Cuba historian Louis Perez of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 'Havana was then what Las Vegas has become'"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "the blue of a Maxfield Parrish color tube": "Maxfield Parrish (1870–1966) was an American painter and illustrator active in the first half of the 20th century. He is known for his distinctive saturated hues and idealized neo-classical imagery"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "Treasure Island": One of the most popular and frequently filmed novels: "'Treasure Island' (originally 'The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys') is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of 'buccaneers and buried gold.' Its influence is enormous on popular perceptions of pirates, including such elements as treasure maps marked with an 'X', schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "his Q.E.D.": "Q.E.D. or QED is an initialism of the Latin phrase 'quod erat demonstrandum', literally meaning 'what was to be shown'. Traditionally, the abbreviation is placed at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument in print publications to indicate that the proof or the argument is complete, and hence is used with the meaning 'thus it has been demonstrated'"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "the Battery": "The Battery, formerly known as Battery Park, is a 25-acre (10 ha) public park located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in New York City facing New York Harbor"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "standing on her gunwale": It's pronounced "gunnel": "The gunwale is the top edge of the hull of a ship or boat"; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- Nothing about Rice Gaither jumps out at us; it's even possible Gaither could have been a woman. FictionMags (HERE) lists 20 stories for our author (1921-26 and 1932).

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