Hammersmith: Epilogue (part one)

Posted by ractrose on 12 Mar 2022 in Fiction, Novels

Pastel drawing of 1800s farmhouse


(part one)







Hogben felt his odds of escape must be improved by company. The company was not choice. He strongly entertained severing ties with his old partner. Wistful thoughts of roosting had lately crossed Hogben’s mind, and a settled man needs an honest profession.

“Hogben, I will share with you a trade secret, one I learned from the Man of a Thousand Voices, a.k.a. Yesac the Mystifying. Because, you see, his given name was Casey.”

The Professor had picked up a German character to his speech, Hogben noted. He would adopt Casey’s trick, go to bed Fontainebleau, wake up Feinblau.

“It takes a partner, hidden in the wings, who, just before you are to say, may we suppose, yoo hoo…”

“For the sake of argument. What’s wrong with you, chum?”

The Professor took this inquiry deafly. “Rings a bell, or knocks two blocks of wood together. This fixes in the minds of the audience that the voice is coming from there. Yesac was not more than ordinarily talented.”

“So, it looks like the Professor…with somebody’s help, but we’ll never know whose…got away from the detective. I heard Medlow sacked him.”

Hogben’s phrasing of matters pleased his comrade, whose lips formed a gentle arc. The men approached the little bridge. This too, reflected by the stream below, shaped an impish sort of moue, as it waited, harboring its enchantments. For its favored victim to just try crossing.

And waylaying them came a stranger, determined in his pace, dressed in a hobo’s mishmash of bunched trousers and overlong coat, but clean-shaved. A youthful fellow, full-maned, if not effeminate…

“Are you leaving us, Mr. Hogben? Professor!” He gave the professor a chiding eye. “I hope you’re ashamed of yourself. But, between you, me, and the fencepost, you’ve done Shaw a favor. Don’t let it swell your head!”

Merrily, the light-voiced stranger passed, daring to smack Hogben on the arm.

Hogben scratched his nose. “I would almost swear that was Mrs. Bard.”


Shaw, having got to the comfortable, floating sensation of stepping over a cliff, and finding all values equal…

Nothing capable of being lost, unthought of things potentially gained…

Had found in himself wings of courage. He had even found a moment to think this a good title for a song, if a musical lady of his acquaintance could put a tune to it—

He had told his late boss, pouches be damned, “No sir, your new go-getter’ll do that work for you. You can have this right now.”

And stuffed his agent’s badge in Medlow’s pocket. Since Medlow stood slackhanded, he stuffed in a handful of fountain pens. “All the notes I took while you were paying me, I’ll write up neat for you, and send them along by registered mail. All my case files you got anyhow.”

Spurning a stint in Baltimore to help his replacement get up to snuff, Shaw made for Hammersmith. As he climbed the hill, he considered the odds (liking them), as to whether Minnie really had meant it, when she’d said: “What you need to do, Bladon, is marry me.”






Virtual book cover for novella HammersmithSee more on Hammersmith page















(2019, Stephanie Foster)




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