As the H.M.S. Queen Mary, having sailed at noon from Pier 44 North River, at the foot of Forty-second Street (in the wake of such exuberant and strenuous festivities as characterized embarkations in those last years of transatlantic passenger traffic), had continued her stately progress downriver through the Narrows and out into the North Atlantic, Ralph, Alice, and the remaining Secret Seven had headed over to Fortieth Street and Seventh Avenue to the Burger Ranch to compose themselves, only to be met with news of the startling events under way just then down the block and around the corner on Broadway, where, stacked under the marquee up against the closed front doors of the Metropolitan Opera House’s main marquee entrance, cord-bound reams of some sort of publication were being scissored open, under no apparent supervision, by local office workers on their lunch hours. Right then and there, from under the counter, the stalwart waitress Rhoe, mainstay of backstage information gathering and supervision, handed the newcomers on the scene copies of the document in question, something called MNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. They had all experienced the self-same reaction: none.
“Irving is climbing up the stairs of the BMT at seven as usual to come open the place up and notices these two kids, maybe sixteen or seventeen, but they would not, says he, get served at Bill’s, unloading bundles from the rumble seat of he thinks about a ten-year-old or so jalopy. ‘You know,’ says he, ‘like the one in the Archie comics.’ End of story, apparently, only not exactly.”
“Complications, Rhoe?” The O’Maurigan asked.
“You could say that – here, go sit down and read this.”
THERE WAS A TIME TIME OUT OF MIND IN THE SEMPITERNAL PROGRESS OF ITAL DIVADIENST AT THAT SUSPENSORY PAUSE JUST PRIOR TO THE ADVENT OF WHAT CAME TO BE KNOWN AS MNOPQR- DOLATRY OR IN CERTAIN QUARTERS ITAL STUVWXYZCHINA WHEN THE CULT OF NIRVANA MORI FLOURISHED IN THE HOTHOUSE AMBIENCE OF THE CROSSROADS CAFE ON 42ND STREET ACROSS BROADWAY FROM THE VERY HOTEL WHERE IN THE GREAT DAYS CARUSO HAD IN SOMETHING LIKE THE SACRAMENTAL SENSE RECEIVED DESTINN WHOSE PALMY LOBBY ONCE ORMULO MARBLE AND VELVET HAD BEEN TRANSFORMED INTO A VAST DRUGSTORE AND WHERE LATELY IN CARUSOS SUITE A PODIATRIST INSTALLED STOP THERE AT THE CROSSROADS CAFE IN THE SHADOW OF THE TIMES BUILDING NOVEMBER TO NOVEMBER FOR MORI WAS DEAD CENTER SCORPIO THE GREAT WORLDS RAW CONCERNS WERE FLATLY IGNORED
In next to no time, while the others continued silently scrutinizing the brazen text, The O’Maurigan had risen without a word and, as Rhoe later remarked, seemingly floated out the door, bound for the Western Union office a block away on Broadway to order its entire contents telegraphed shore-to-ship to the outbound vessel. This, whatever it was or might turn out to be, must Mawrdew Czgowchwz and Jacob Beltane be made aware of before the Mary had cleared the channel between the islands of Nantucket and Manitoy, passing over the grave of the Andrea Doria, for having read only pages one and two he had gone into the state it is said editors share with fishermen and lovers, one in this instance, however, more than just tinged with that particular sense of the uncanny he had only ever experienced at home, at Poulaphouca, in the Barony of Tirawly, on the north Mayo coast, when out walking he would ever as instructed give decent berth to the whitethorn trees – the scriabh – and to the many ancient and mysterious mounds called fairy forts no farmer in his senses would disturb for tillage or sheep or cattle either for idle grazing, for the beasts had sense as well as their keepers, for the Other Crowd, the Good People had their ways of taunting mortals: the wild sounds of their piping and their singing and the ghostly lights seen time and again in the dead of night by walkers along the boreens, but never so far as ever he’d heard by leaving haunted scripture on the doorstop to be read of an early morning.
THERE WAS A TIME TIME OUT OF MIND IN THE SEMPITERNAL PROGRESS OF ITAL DIVADIENST AT THAT SUSPENSORY PAUSE JUST PRIOR TO THE ADVENT OF WHAT CAME TO BE KNOWN AS MNOPQRDOLATRY OR IN CERTAIN QUARTERS ITAL STUVWXYZCHINA WHEN THE CULT OF NIRVANA MORI FLOURISHED INT THE HOTHOUSE AMBIENCE OF THE CROSSROADS CAFE ON 42ND STREET ACROSS BROADWAY FROM THE VERY HOTEL WHERE IN THE GREAT DAYS CARUSO HAD IN SOMETHING LIKE THE SACRAMENTAL SENSE RECEIVED DESTINN WHOSE PALMY LOBBY ONCE ORMOLU MARBLE AND VELVET HAD BEEN TRANSFORMED INTO A VAST DRUGSTORE AND WHERE LATELY IN CARUSOS SUITE A PODIATRIST INSTALLED STOP THERE AT THE CROSSROADS CAFE IN THE SHADOW OF THE TIMES BUILDING NOVEMBER TO NOVEMBER FOR MORI WAS A DEAD CENTER SCORPIO THE GREAT WORLDS RAW CONCERNS WERE FLATLY IGNORED
As the strange dispatch from shore came up word by word and line by line on the ship’s teletype, its plot thickened like toiling muscle in corded loops, rendering more and more vivid the characters of the real-life melodrama asleep above deck. (The ship’s operator thought, yes, it, too, has the look of epic poetry, appearing as it emerges to be writing itself – giving rise in his mind [just then distracted from his absorbing game of solitaire, his long night’s reading of The Search for Bridey Murphy, and his work in progress, a new translation of Aeneid the into Morse code and cast, as it were, on the high seas alongside the H.M.S. Queen Mary] to the old word marconigram, and the romance it – )
The Watchman would read it though the night (the first night out) and only in the morning – or whenever they awakened – see it delivered to Mawrdew Czgowchwz and her consort, Jacob Beltane, the matter of whose unfolding legend it discoursed upon (a legend that – owing not merely to the quality of its chief protagonists’ vocal endowment and musical art, but quite as much, the radio operator opined, to their genius for relating to the press, for being photographed beyond exceptionally well, and for embodying something very dear to the hearts of Americans, residence in a great hotel: the dream emblem of a rich, carefree high bohemian life – becomes the stuff of tabloid journalism in New York on a scale fairly eclipsing the bewildering saga of the courtship and wedding of the millionaire Philadelphia brick-layer’s beautiful blond Oscar-winning daughter by the runty crowned-head croupier from the French Riviera, the detonation by the triumphalist archons of the imperial American republic of the first hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific, the Egyptian seizure of the Suez Canal, and the sinking by collision with the Stockholm of the Andrea Doria in that notorious corridor – a graveyard of lost ships – between the islands of Manitoy and Nantucket).
Sempiternal progress of Divadienst. The radio operator found the phrase evocative and deserving of a commitment to memory.
Turtle Point Press – ISBN978 1 933527 08 6