THE FILLY AND THE FIGHT DOWNSTAIRS

BERT CAMPBELL

Dear Miss Tucker,

I've just read your libellous account of my visit to the Philadelphia Convention and I can tell you quite plainly that my solicitors will hear from you pretty damned quick. How could you lie about me so? After it was my ten dollars that got you out of the pen when you chased that stripper through the curtains! (Thank Ghod I had twenty, or I'd have had to stay there alone.)

To begin with, your description of my entrance is inaccurate and lacking in many particulars. When I walked into the bar of the hotel, Pat Mahaffey was in no condition to speak to anyone, let alone you---to whom she wouldn't speak to save her life, unless that were the only reason. She was staring at me and was oblivious to all else around her--except perhaps to the roll of drums that accompanied my entrance, and which you, in mean spite and jealousy, neglected to mention. Pat stared because she'd never seen anything like this before, so she told me afterwards. She couldn't believe it was true. She still doesn't, I think.

And then you didn't mention the purple helmet with orange ostrich feathers I was wearing. I must say I thought it was rather fetching, and several of the fans eyed me in a way that was faintly disturbing. You eyed me, too. Difference with you was that when I moved, your eyes stayed where they were. Bloch told me you'd been like that for six hours. They couldn't do a thing with you---and come to think of it, you did look a bit like hair that had just been washed. In gin.

So I sat down at your table, and what happened? You offered me TEA! Thank Ghod Forry Ackerman was there to let me have a sip of his rum and beer or I'd have taken the next plane home.

And you lie, barefacedly (something I could never do) when you say I stood up and shouted "To the Queen!" Dash it all, old chap, that's not the way it's done. Think back and you may remember that I said "Gentlemen, The Queen!" You see, for a moment I forgot I was in America. Must have been the sweet and gentle behaviour of Randy Garrett that caused me to forget, eh?

And Victoria, for your information, is a railroad terminus in London. Men of perception toast it because it's the first step in getting out of this damned country. Anyway, I was born there, so what? Wanna fight me over it, like you did Isaac Asimov when he said that THE LONG LOUD SILENCE could never be mistaken for an autobiography? He licked you, didn't he? Yah!

I know you can't count above ten unless you take your shoes off, but there was no need to say that there were only ten people in my room when I sold you that piece of classic literature. You know darned well there were two hundred and ten, because you stopped each one of them at the door and made them pay a nickel before you'd let them in. Remember? I made 'em pay a nickel before I let them out, and you and I split the divvy.

Wasm't that a wonderful party, Bob? Wasn't it, eh? Remember when Evelyn Gold took off---oh, no, you wouldn't remember that; you were trying topull lizards off the wall at the time. Anyway, Evelyn took off Winston Churchill--and a wonderful imitation it was. At least, I suppose it was an imitation.

Another dirty lie is when you say I was out cold on the floor. It was you who was out. But you weren't cold. Oh, brother how the steam rose from you! And you weren't on the floor either. You were leaning at a precarious angle so that you could see through the slats of the venetian blinds and watch the girls undress across the way. You just went to sleep like that and we left you until the sun came up. Then you opened your eyes and went into a coma.

Your account of our visit to the big wheel's place is more or less correct. What you didn't mention was how you poured a can ofbeer on the carpet and then got me to sit in it by placing Pat Mahaffey lusciously nearby. Nor did you say how much fun you all had as we walked back to the hotel---pointing out my wet pants to every passer-by and yelling "He's an Englishman; can't hold his liquor!" Queer sense of humour you fellows have. You laughed at that, yet when I put mustard in your coffee at dinner, you actually cried. Funny lot, yanks.

At this dinner the waiter certainly was confused, as you say. But his dilemma was not due to my accent but because I asked him for bread and he kept bringing me cake. I think he got his classics mixed or thought I was a Frenchman. Anyway, I don't think I looked starved. And you got it wrong about me pinching the stuff. True, the silverware, the rolls and napkin were in my pocket, but the sprig of parsley was in my beard---placed there by a fan who kept bobbing up and down all the time so's I couldn't recognise him. And Pat didn't put the steak in her purse for later. She put it there for me. She loves me, so what the hell?

So! You rifled my things while I was sleeping off the effects of somebody or other's speech (you know who, huh?). I knew somebody stole my sword! Right from the minute I saw that it was missing from my suit of armour, I knew some dirty fan had claimed it as a souvenir. And it was you! You who don't stand inch high to a millimeter; you who keeps telling everybody there are only three best-known personalities in sf, when everybody knows there are four; you who wrung my blood out of the carpet and drank it after I'd cut myself on my razor. YOU stole my sword! Lot of good it'll do you; it's as blunt as the things the hotel manager said to you when he saw what you did in the elevator.

The burlesque show. Aeeei-yeei! That was good, huh, Bob? Wasn't it, huh? The way you got up there on that stage and started to drop your clobber nearly killed me. And the dagger that girl drew out of her panties nearly killed you, didn't it? Laugh, I nearly died. Still, you shouldn't have done to her what you did. She only does it for a living; she doesn't get any fun out of it like you do. Boy, was your face red where her fingernails ripped the skin off. Dave Kyle, sitting next to me, was shocked into silence. He didn't know you had any blood. I told him it wasn't yours. It was mine; sucked up out of the carpet when I cut myself on my razor. I'm gonna keep on telling people how you sucked that blood. Everyone I meet, I'm gonna tell 'em about the way Bob Tucker gets his protein. I'm gonna make you look SMALL.

But I think you overstepped the bounds of good taste--even American good taste, for which you don't have to step too high---when you made one of the girls sit on Larry Shaw's lap and feed him bourbon while you sold him a story for IF that you hadn't even written yet. Wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been the same story I sold the same way to Jeff Cogg of METEOR STORIES.

Whatdya mean, there ain't no such man or mag? Somebody been kidding me? Who was that feller, said he was Cogg? Just thought, maybe it was Ellison--said he was Ghod. Could be.


He is the first bull to carry his own china shop with him.


And that coffin. Bob, you should have told then you weren't kidding about that. And you should have told them what it was like. You should have mentioned that it was in gleaming gold bronze, covered with carvings; that it was lined with lush red velvet, padded and pinned; that it had a fat cylindrical pillow, covered with red velvet and with a long tassel hanging from one end; that the lid was on elaborate golden hinges and was lined with upholstered velvet in the same way. You should have told them that it cost $3000.

And maybe you should have told them what you told me as we stood in Philadelphia's neon light and stared at this decadent example of American plenty/ You said "All I'm waiting for is a neon cross---with the eyes of Jesus flashing." I'll remember that, Bob. You put it in a nutshell.

Still, let's not be sad. Lat's be gay, as we were when we walked back to the hotel and found the fellow asleep on your bed. Remember? He woke up and said "Have they started the Con yet?" You told him it was all over. Then we looked at you. For three days and nights, you hadn't noticed this fellow in your bed. We looked at you hard, and began to doubt some of the stories you'd been telling us about those three nights. We knew there must be some other reason for the hollow cheeks, the drooping eyelids, the sagging jaw, the bent knees. Now we knew that you hadn't, as you told us, been sitting up all night writing stories.

This could go on forever, couldn't it, Bob. It was a wonderful time I had there. And I'm thanking you now for the part you played in making the magic for me. Not just you, but all the many people like you. And I found quite a few. You gave me a stock of memories that will last a long time. Not all of them are pleasant, but most of them are. I only wish I could be with you every year. I only hope that I'll be with you again---soon. You're a grand bunch of guys.


Data entered by Judy Bemis

Updated June 15, 2015. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.