**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Fool-Killer
by [?]

Kerner’s father was worth a couple of millions He was willing to stand for art, but he drew the line at the factory girl. So Kerner disinherited his father and walked out to a cheap studio and lived on sausages for breakfast and on Farroni for dinner. Farroni had the artistic soul and a line of credit for painters and poets, nicely adjusted. Sometimes Kerner sold a picture and bought some new tapestry, a ring and a dozen silk cravats, and paid Farroni two dollars on account.

One evening Kerner had me to dinner with himself and the factory girl. They were to be married as soon as Kerner could slosh paint profitably. As for the ex-father’s two millions–pouf!

She was a wonder. Small and half-way pretty, and as much at her ease in that cheap cafe as though she were only in the Palmer House, Chicago, with a souvenir spoon already safely hidden in her shirt waist. She was natural. Two things I noticed about her especially. Her belt buckle was exactly in the middle of her back, and she didn’t tell us that a large man with a ruby stick-pin had followed her up all the way from Fourteenth Street. Was Kerner such a fool? I wondered. And then I thought of the quantity of striped cuffs and blue glass beads that $2,000,000 can buy for the heathen, and I said to myself that he was. And then Elise–certainly that was her name– told us, merrily, that the brown spot on her waist was caused by her landlady knocking at the door while she (the girl–confound the English language) was heating an iron over the gas jet, and she hid the iron under the bedclothes until the coast was clear, and there was the piece of chewing gum stuck to it when she began to iron the waist, and–well, I wondered how in the world the chewing gum came to be there–don’t they ever stop chewing it?

A while after that–don’t be impatient, the absinthe drip is coming now–Kerner and I were dining at Farroni’s. A mandolin and a guitar were being attacked; the room was full of smoke in nice, long crinkly layers just like the artists draw the steam from a plum pudding on Christmas posters, and a lady in a blue silk and gasolined gauntlets was beginning to hum an air from the Catskills.

“Kerner,” said I, “you are a fool.”

“Of course,” said Kerner, “I wouldn’t let her go on working. Not my wife. What’s the use to wait? She’s willing. I sold that water color of the Palisades yesterday. We could cook on a two-burner gas stove. You know the ragouts I can throw together? Yes, I think we will marry next week.”

“Kerner,” said I, “you are a fool.”

“Have an absinthe drip?” said Kerner, grandly. “To-night you are the guest of Art in paying quantities. I think we will get a flat with a bath.”

“I never tried one–I mean an absinthe drip,” said I.

The waiter brought it and poured the water slowly over the ice in the dripper.

“It looks exactly like the Mississippi River water in the big bend below Natchez,” said I, fascinated, gazing at the be-muddled drip.

“There are such flats for eight dollars a week,” said Kerner.

“You are a fool,” said I, and began to sip the filtration. “What you need,” I continued, “is the official attention of one Jesse Holmes.”

Kerner, not being a Southerner, did not comprehend, so he sat, sentimental, figuring on his flat in his sordid, artistic way, while I gazed into the green eyes of the sophisticated Spirit of Wormwood.

Presently I noticed casually that a procession of bacchantes limned on the wall immediately below the ceiling had begun to move, traversing the room from right to left in a gay and spectacular pilgrimage. I did not confide my discovery to Kerner. The artistic temperament is too high-strung to view such deviations from the natural laws of the art of kalsomining. I sipped my absinthe drip and sawed wormwood.