A Black Spectre Adventure
SPRING was in the air. The time when men and women alike are consumed with thoughts of love and romance. The citizens of Terminal City all walked with an extra bounce in their step, a new twinkle in the eye. L’amour! Its spell was inescapable.
For everyone except Charlie Hecht.
Charlie threw back another swig of bourbon. He let it settle in the back of his throat for just a moment, then swallowed it down slowly to let the alcohol do its magic. It had been a rough day. One of the biggest stories of his career had just fallen apart on him (turned out his source had been lying through her false teeth). But that wasn’t what was really nagging at him. No, this one was a matter of personal pride that just cut him to the heart.
“Thought I’d find you here,” Ben Gelbert, fellow reporter at the Terminal City Standard, muttered through his chomped cigar as he meandered into O’Doule’s Bar, their usual hangout.
Charlie poured himself another drink from the bottle he’d purchased.
Gelbert bellied his squat girth up beside him. Against Charlie’s lean (if oily) good looks, they were the picture of opposites. “What’s eating you, Pal?” Gelbert asked.
“I’ve lost my touch, Benny Boy. Afraid I’m all washed up,” Charlie confessed. “Might as well send me out to pasture. I’m thinkin’ of joinin’ the priesthood.”
Gelbert shook his round head in disbelief. Not this again. Dames. And he knew just the one, too.
“I’ve tried everything — charm, flowers, jewelry, charm. Everything. But can’t seem to turn that doll’s head,” Charlie lamented. “Maybe I just don’t got it no more.”
“Vicky Rose,” Gelbert muttered under his breath. A rose by any other name. And that auburn-haired minx was their top rival over at the Crusader. Who’d have believed it?
“What does she even see in that bookworm she’s been tied to?” Charlie wondered aloud. “How could she turn me down for a guy like that?”
“Charlie, look. You been going about this all wrong.” Gelbert stopped and shook his head at the irony of the situation. “I can’t believe I’m giving advice on dames to a guy like you. You make Casanova look like a rank amateur. But you been going about this all wrong. The rules don’t apply with this doll.”
“Whatd’ya mean?” Charlie asked.