Beaumont(h) – Post 4/9

beaumont-04

Beaumont(h) – Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]


 

[127] THE INFERNAL BOUILLABAISSE (1957)

Best of Beaumont; The Hunger

4 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Mr. Frenchaboy, president of the Gourmet’s club, will do anything to get Mr. Peskin’s Boillabaisse recipe.

[128] What is a Bouillabaisse?

A traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille.

[129]

The meal, if it mattered, which it didn’t, was a masterpiece.

(p.180)

[130] Vocabulary:

He placed the animals in a Mexican pot of hard wattle.

(p.181)

noun – (1) a number of rods or stakes interwoven with twigs or tree branches for making fences, walls, etc.

(2) wattles, a number of poles laid on a roof to hold thatch.

(3) various acacias whose branches were used for wattles.

(4) a fleshy lobe or appendage hanging down from the throat or chin of certain birds.

[131] Reference:

Overwhelming as a late Goya, exotic as Gauguin, humbling as Tintoretto.

(p.181)

Tintoretto, born Jacopo Comin (1518 – 1594) was an Italian painter and a notable exponent of the Renaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. His work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures, and bold use of perspective in the Mannerist style.

[132]

Of course, it had occurred instantly to Mr. Frenchaboy that Peskin had resorted to some sort of jiggery-pockery with human flesh; and so – at considerable risk, and with little real hope – he had tried fillets of deceased chauffeur; but it was patently not the answer.

(p.182)

Bless you, Beaumont, for not going the obvious route on this one (but knowing exactly what we were thinking).

[133]

“Well,” Mr. Frenchaboy said, rubbing his thin hands together, “my understanding of the law is – and you have verified it – that a man is entitled to the meal of his choice before he is executed. I have made my request but it has not been granted. Therefore,” he smiled, “you can’t hang me.”

The man looked a trifle panicky for a moment. Then he said, “I’ll have to find out about this.”

“By all means,” Mr. Frenchaboy said. “But I think you’ll find that I’m correct.”

He listened to the disappearing footsteps and chuckled.

Unfortunately, they did not find that Mr. Frenchaboy was correct.

(p.185 – 186)

[134] INSOMNIA VOBISCUM (unpublished before 1982 collection)

Best of Beaumont

4 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

A group of men at a club exchange supernatural stories. Finally, the quiet one tells a story of his own.

The set-up to this is very similar to “The Devil, You Say?” (Post 2, note [41]) though this piece is extremely short (only two pages). It’s effective and fun; could fit right into Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

[135] What does “Vobiscum” mean?

Latin: with you

A common phrase with the word is “pax vobiscum” (peace be with you).

[136] THE JUNEMOON SPOON (unpublished until 2000 collection)

A Touch of the Creature 

2.5 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Traveling salesmen Bernie and Harry cross paths in a bar. Harry tells a story of a supposedly magical spoon in a small Alabama town.

Another one that begins with a man in a bar being told a story by another in his line of work. See also “The Devil, You Say?” (Post 2, note [41]) and “Insomnia Vobiscum” (note [134]).

The twist of this one is satisfying (playing on expectations of Southern small town “magic”) but it ambles quite a while to get there.

[137]

It’s like winning twenty hands of poker and then losing fifteen. I don’t know why, but you’re never happy about the twenty you won. Instead you cry about losing, even if you’re dough ahead. That’s life, if you know what I mean.

(p.95)

[138] Reference:

Eddie went over to the juke and put on Hearts and Flowers, but nobody laughed this time.

(p.95)

“Hearts and Flowers” (subtitle: “A New Flower Song”) is a song composed by Theodore Moses-Tobani (with words by Mary D. Brine) and published in 1893 by Carl Fischer Music. The term “hearts-and-flowers” has entered the English language with the sense “extreme sentimentality, cloying sweetness.”

[139] Reference:

[He] once sold a carton of Bibles to Joe Dominic’s gang.

(p.95 – 96)

I think Joe Dominic has been invented for the story.

[140] Reference:

He just walked in, quiet-like, and ordered a drink. It could have been Cardinal Spellman.

(p.96)

Francis Joseph Spellman (1889 – 1967) was named a cardinal in 1946.

And, as author of The Foundling, we looked him up for  The Dark Country (note [59]).

[141] The story almost subliminally changes narrators without using a section break or quotations.

Well, (Harry went on) I throw the slop in the trailer and in a few days I’m breezing along points Soof.

(p.98)

After this, it remains in Harry’s first-person. Our original narrator never returns.

[142] References:

The first [town] – believe it or not – was called Vinegar Bend (…) This other fleatrap was called Sneadville.

(p.99)

Vinegar Bend is an unincorporated census-designated place in Washington County, Alabama, United States. It is 15 miles south-southwest of Chatom. As of the 2010 census, its population was 192. It received its name when a container holding vinegar burst at the freight station near the river’s bend. A famous baseball pitcher, Wilmer Mizell, was nicknamed “Vinegar Bend” because he grew up near the community.

I think Sneadville was invented for this story.

[143] This is teetering on the edge of style-without-substance (see “Adam’s Off Ox” (Post 1, note [1]), “Black Country” (Post 1, note [9]) “The Monster Show” (Post 5, note [194]). Examples:

Oh, they were friendly – don’t get me wrong. Just not my type, if you get me.

(p.100)

and a Reference:

Just as I feeling good and ready to interview the hairy job who kept ankling around, the door opens and in steps a dame who – Bernie, trust my word – a babe who is stacked, but stacked, like nothing Harry Jackson had ever seen before. She looked like a cross between Daisy Mae and Hedy Lamarr.

(p.101)

Daisy Mae Yokum was a blonde, busty character in the comic strip Li’l Abner, which ran from 1934 to 1977.

[144]

It gives you a creepy feeling to hear people you don’t know calling you by your name.

(p.100)

[145] Reference:

The big guy was larger than the Swedish Angel.

(p.103)

Tore Johansson (1903 – 1971), better known by the stage name Tor Johnson, was a Swedish professional wrestler (billed as The Super Swedish Angel) and actor. He appeared in many B-movies including some Ed Wood films (including Plan 9 from Outer Space).

[146] Reference:

I hoofed it on from there till I came to an old shack out of Tobacco Road.

(p.105)

Tobacco Road is a 1932 novel by Erskine Caldwell about Georgia sharecroppers. It was dramatized for Broadway by Jack Kirkland in 1933, and ran for eight years. A 1941 film version, deliberately played for laughs, was directed by John Ford.

[147]

I went back and he was waiting. A crazy looking galoot, with his filthy shirt and long white beard, but he’s the greatest salesman who ever lived. I hate his guts but you got to respect him.

(p.108)

[148] THE JUNGLE (1954)

Best of Beaumont; Perchance to Dream; Twilight Zone Original Stories

2 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

City men build in Kenyan jungle; natives fight back with voodoo.

I’ve never liked the voodoo trope in speculative fiction but it seems like everyone has at least one go of it (Richard Matheson’s “From Shadowed Places” is equally cringe-worthy).

[149]

The color had gone completely. From the burning splotchy scarlet of last week to this stiff white mask, lifeless, brittle as drying paste. And covered over with perspiration that glistened above her mouth in cold wet buttons and over her face like oil on white stone. The bedding under and around her was drenched gray.

(p.12)

[150] Reference:

The primary cause of [malaria] itself – the Anopheles mosquitoe [sic].

(p.12)

A genus of mosquito first described and named by J.W. Meigen in 1818. About 460 species are recognized; while over 100 can transmit human malaria, only 30 – 40 commonly transmit parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which cause malaria in humans in endemic areas. The name comes from Greek words meaning “not profit” and translates to “useless.”

[151]

Panic was by now so forgotten by most that it had become a new emotion, to be learned all over again.

(p.13)

[152] This story shows Beaumont’s talent for restrained but effective grotesquerie:

Someone had nicknamed it “Jungle Rot” – cruel, but apt. The victims were rotting alive, the flesh falling from them like rain-soaked rags; and they did not die wholly, ever, until they had been transformed into almost unrecognizable mounts of putrescence…

He put out a hand and laid it gently against his wife’s cheek. The perspiration was chill and greasy to his touch, like the stagnant water of slew banks. Instinctively his fingers recoiled and balled back into fists. He forced them open again and stared at the tiny dottles of flesh that clung to them.

“Mag!” It had started already.

(p.13-14)

[153]

Austin lit a cigarette and sucked the calming smoke into his lungs. He remained motionless until the cigarette was down to the cork.

Then he walked back into the bedroom, opened a cabinet and took a heavy silver pistol.

(p.14)

[154] Reference:

Like green balloons on yellow sticks, the cultured Grant Wood trees slipped by.

(p.16)

Grant Wood (1891 – 1942) was an American painter best known for his paintings depicting the rural American Midwest, particularly American Gothic.

[155] Reference:

He thought of the shaman, the half-naked, toothless Bantu medicine man who had spoken for most of the tribes.

(p.17)

Bantu peoples is used as a general label for the 300 – 600 ethnic groups in Africa who speak Bantu languages. They inhabit a geographical area stretching east and southward from Central Africa across the African Great Lakes region down to Southern Africa.

[156] Translate:

It sounded to Austin like Swahili, yet it was indistinct. He could recognize none of the words, except gonga and bagana.

(p.24)

Gonga means “hit” in Swahili.

Bagana is an active volcano in Papua, New Guinea (I can’t find a meaning for the word).

[157] Vocabulary:

A dolichocephalic head, evenly spaced, the head of a twenty-second century civilized…

(p.28)

adjective – (anatomy) – having a relatively long skull (typically with the breadth less than 80 [or 75] percent of the length).

[158] LACHRYMOSA (unpublished until 2000 collection)

A Touch of the Creature

4.5 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

Mrs. Humphries – three-time widow – meets the widower Mr. Smythe in the graveyard.

Clever. Brisk. Fun. Never comes out and says the two leads murdered their previous spouses and never gives a hint of either of them suspecting it of the other.

[159] So – the title has something to do with crying, right?

Lacrimosa is Latin for “weeping.” Sometimes incorrectly written as “Lacrymosa.”

I have no idea where Beaumont got his spelling.

[160] LAST NIGHT THE RAIN (1956)

The Hunger 

5 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Crazy old Beckman lives by the river, building stone towers representing the town’s “Sin” and “Good.” Amy, a young outsider, wants to run away with him but he rejects her; while she rejects the boy who loves but cannot understand her.

[161] Is the title a reference?

Yes. It’s the opening line to the poem “Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me” by Mary Oliver (full text here), which could very well have been the thoughts of Amy in this story.

Mary Oliver (b.1935) is an American poet who has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer prize. Her first collection of poems, No Voyage and Other Poems, was published in 1963. Oliver’s work turns toward nature for its inspiration and describes the sense of wonder it instills in her.

[162]

Beckman always had made me a little afraid. Like the way you’d be afraid of a wild animal that’s behind bars and can’t get at you only sometimes its eyes turn your way.

(p.112)

[163]

What Amy said then made me catch fire inside. She said, “I had to. No one else understands.” She said, “Just you, Beckman. We’re the same. They don’t have any use for us, and they laugh, but – I know. When the wind sings you hear it. I know you do.”

(p.117)

[164]

“Who killed Amy?” I yelled at Beckman. “You goddamn old fool, you filthy old crazy fool!”

The rocks did, was what came into my mind. And the town did. And I did. I was to blame, by God. I was: She’d been running away from me, hadn’t she?

I got dizzy and I knew I was going to be sick. I wanted to stop Beckman and hit him, but instead I kept thinking about the tower. About how if it had been smaller, and the other one bigger, than Amy would be alive.

“Did I do it?” I cried.

(p.119)

[165]

My Uncle Rand says it was a simple case of two crazy people coming together, he says that whenever that happens there’s bound to be trouble, or worse, and that nobody is to blame. And I guess that’s right, too.

(p.120)


Post 5/9

 

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