Monday, February 15, 2016

The Last Drop - Part 2 - Never Drink Unlabeled Booze

For the last three pages, our main character Euclid O'Brian has been referred to as Euclid in the narration, but once the gangster Frankie Guanella calls him "O'Brian," O'Brian he becomes for the rest of the story.  Weird.  Did the author use the more formal name as a way to suggest an emotional distance between the barkeep and the guy extorting him, and just forget to switch back?  Did he suddenly decide that having a character named Euclid was kind of distracting, and hoped the reader wouldn't notice?  Is there any indication anyone looked over this story from the golden age of pulp fiction before sending it off to the printer?

Anyway, Guanella asks for his monthly tribute, and O'Brian, distracted as he is by the possibility of Mac becoming a Big Mac, claims not to have any money.  Guanella is surprised by this statement, and points out that his organization has been quite reasonable, and "The las' guy who wouldn't pay out of a policy got awful boint when his jernt boined down."  And I guess this is another episode of L. Ron Hubbard Presents: What the Hell is That Accent?  Guanella even keeps calling O'Brian O'Brien for whatever rea-

Wait, what?  The narration is using that spelling too, so it is O'Brien?  Huh.  Guess so, that's how it's spelled back at the story's start.  Huh. 

Well, Guanella wants to intimidate a bartender into paying his gang for some "insurance," and what better way to do that than to prove how nonchalant you are about the situation by downing a cocktail off the bar?  Naturally, Guanella drinks one of the potions the others had been using on flies.  The rest of the cast can only watch in "paralyzed horror" as Guanella's voice rises in pitch, he double-checks his too-large hat to make sure someone isn't playing a prank on him, and promptly falls.

With a squeal of alarm he tumbled off the stool. Whatever he intended to do, he was floundering around the floor in clothes twice too big for him. Shrill, mouselike squeaks issued from the pile of clothing. Chivvis and Larkin and Guckenheimer looked around bug-eyed. Presently the Panama detached itself from the pile of clothes and began to run around the room on a pair of small bare legs.

And then the bar door opens, another customer steps in, sees a hat scampering about on tiny feet, stares for a moment, then slowly tiptoes out.  It is very droll.  Also, mini-Guanella runs out the door too, while the protagonist et al. continue to stand around and stare.  Missed a good opportunity to stamp down on crime, fellas.

It's only when the newcomers are gone that O'Brien moans that Guanella "won't like that.  No, sir!  He's sensitive about his size anyway."  So not only do they have Mac to fret over, but now there's the possibility that Guanella's gang will come after them too.  Assuming they still take orders from a doll-sized thug and don't reflexively scream and step on him when he bursts back into their hideout.

While O'Brien puts together some more magic cocktails, Guckenheimer gets off the phone with some good news: Mac has been spotted hanging onto the side of the McGraw-Hill building so he doesn't break his legs under his own weight, which as the learned Chivvis explains as the result of the square-cube law.  Why Mac doesn't just lie down or whatever is beyond me, but I haven't had a formal education in making giants comfortable, so maybe that's impossible.

Hey, do you think Mac's name is a pun?  Like "macro?"  Or would that be giving the author too much credit?  'snot like Guanella's first name is Michael.

Alas, just before O'Brien can step out the door to save the day, it opens to admit three thugs, one of whom is carrying a foot-tall Frankie Guanella underarm.  Of course, Frankie is now much too small to wear his normal clothes, but he's made do with a handkerchief tied up around him "diaperwise."  Now me, I'd have compared such improvised clothing to a loincloth or something, not clothing babies wear because they can't control their bodily functions.  But then again, I'm not a legendary author from the golden age of pulp fiction.

The gangsters have pistols, tell everyone in the bar to take a seat, and demand that O'Brien fix whatever he did to their boss so - oh, excuse me, that would make sense.  No, they're here for a fight, a proper "dool."  Poor little Frankie is all torn up about being even smaller than he was before, so they demand that O'Brien fix up another shrinking potion and take it himself so he and Frankie can fight on equal terms.  Then Frankie can have his revenge, kill the only guy who might be able to restore him to his original size, and get rid of a potential source of riches by offing the inventor of this wondrous new potion.

Look, Hubbard didn't get any midget-on-midget (battle) action in the last story, but dammit he's going to scratch that itch here, okay?

Back to Part 1

No comments:

Post a Comment