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The Adventures of Fatty Lewis by Arthur Killick


By Arthur Killick

Copyright, 1915, by A. F. Killick and W. P. Harvey


     "They never have as many open cages in the parade as they show on the billboards," Fatty Lewis declared.

     "Somebody cheated you again?" Hurrah Smith inquired.

     "Just cheated myself," Lewis admitted.  "I'd been billing myself as Simon Legree and the entire pack of bloodhounds and discovered that I was too meek and mild to even make a good Little Eva.

     "What I wasn't going to do if I could ever pry Mrs. Lewis away from the old fireside long enough for me to put on a show wasn't going to be worth telling.  I my opinion I was to be a cross between a new comet, a 3-ring circus and Barney Oldfield.  All I needed was a special dispensation with no time limit attached.  Mrs. Lewis insisted on making 11 p. m. the dead line and went stone deaf any time I tried to convince her that regular guys didn't develop a thirst at that early hour.

     " 'Why, that's just the shank of the evening,' I'd argue.

     " 'All right,' she'd say, 'don't go.'

     "Finally I gets a chance.  She wanted to go out of the city to visit her sister for a week.  I protested vigorously (with my fingers crossed), knowing that if I appeared anxious she'd probably change her mind and not go at all.

     "The big night finally came.  After seeing her safely on the train and waiting until it got beyond the yard limit, I started about 8 o'clock to cabaret a bit.  It wasn't a question of what I was going to do.  I'd been planning all that for two years.  It was merely a question of rounding up the Indians, putting on the war paint and hitting the trail.

     " 'I'll throw a little surprise into the boys by dropping into the Apex,' I said to myself.  'They'll sure be some glad to see the old professor back on the lot.

     "Things at the Apex wasn't exactly like I imagined they were going to be.  Instead of the waiters knocking over chairs and tables trying to say hello to me they gave me the once over and kept on talking among themselves.  A new hat boy took my bonnet.  A strange head waiter motioned me to a table and had to holler three times to get anyone in the notion of taking my order.

     " 'Where's Joe?' I asked, feeling that when the waiters saw what a reception I got from the proprietor they'd sit up and take notice.

     " 'Over there,' he replied, pointing to a man across the room.  I went over.

     " 'Hello Joe, old top,' I said, extending my hand and putting on my best smile.

     "Instead of Joseph grabbing the extended flipper he immediately went into a crouch.  He looked as though he was trying to figure out whether it was a touch or a request to cash a personal check.    

     " 'This guy's losing his mind,' I thought, feeling sorry for him.  'Lewis is my name,' I declared, wondering how long he'd been in his present condition.

     " 'Oh, yes,' he remarked in a far-away tone.  'Lewis.  I remember you now.'

     "He ought to remember me," Lewis added.  "I paid the rent on his cafe before I was married.  I tried to buy him a drink, thinking maybe that would thaw him out a little.

     " 'It's too early,' he said.  'I never take a drink before 11.'

     " 'Where's all the old gang?' I inquired.

     " 'Oh, they'll come around after the show, when the crowd gets here.'

     "With that he excuses himself and walks away.

     " 'That guy is getting to be a human crab,' I thought and I made it over to a thirst parlor, where I knew I'd be welcome.  Oh, yes; I was as welcome as an English spy in Berlin.  The bar was crowded and nobody moved over to let me get close to buy myself a little present.  After the bartender -- one of my old personal friends -- finished telling a story, he took my order.  He rang up my nickel.  I finally attracted his attention again and placed another order.

     " 'How are you?' he inquired.  'I didn't recognize you at first,' and with that he goes back to his story telling.  I tried to talk to the guys on either side of me, but they acted like I was selling accident insurance.  I might as well have been a collector for the installment house.

     "Fine bunch of sports," I decided, "I'll telephone some regular fellows.

     "But the regular fellows all gave me the busy signal.  They were either on the wagon or their wives wouldn't let 'em get away.

     "That might have discouraged an ordinary joy-rider, but not the good Lewis.  Speed was my middle name.  The hobbles were off, and I was going to whoop things up a bit.  I felt sure that out of a population of one-quarter million I'd surely bump into one guy whose wife was out of town, or at least somebody who was willing to join an expedition that was already financed.

     "I exploded the theory of how much the human stomach would hold.  I marched up one street and down another and never once squawked for a 'small one,' but I failed to locate any kindred spirits.  Bartenders that I did not know would talk to me as long as no one else was in the place, but the minute a friend came in the drink dispensers excused themselves and left me out on a limb.

     "What I thought must be about 2 o'clock in the morning was really 10:30 o'clock at night.  The streets were deserted.  A cannon load of birdshot wouldn't have struck three people on two of the main streets.

     "Back to the Apex I went.  The crowd was there, all right, but no one I knew.  The head waiter took me so far back in the room that I couldn't even hear the 9-piece orchestra.  Everybody was laughing and talking and having a good time, but there wasn't any place where I could butt in.  I was  wiling to be chairman of the entertainment committee, but I couldn't get a quorum.  I began to believe that 'nobody loves a fat man'  was on the square, and I found myself wondering when Mrs. Lewis was coming back.

     " 'Well,' I decided, 'I'll go out on the street and pick a fuss with some drunk.  Maybe I can get pinched and take a ride in the patrol wagon.'

     "Every stew I bumped into had nothing but joy and gladness in his heart.  I couldn't even start an argument.  I told one guy that Walter Johnson couldn't pitch, another that Caruso couldn't sing and a literary looking nut with a soiled collar and long hair that Shakespeare was a boob and couldn't write fast enough to work for a patent medicine company.

     " 'You're right,' they all admitted.  There wasn't an argument in the world so far as I could learn.  Finally I saw a chance for a Breezer.  Three youths with men's sized buns were holding up a trolley pole and trying to harmonize.  All three of 'em were insisting on singing tenor in 'My Old Kentucky Home.'

     " 'Here's some birds of my own kind,' I decided.  'I'll just complete the quartet.'

     " 'I can sing the bass or lead to that song,' I cheerfully announced.  'Let's put her on.'

     " 'Who's your fat friend?' one of them asked the others.

     " 'Mr. Horns, I guess,' another suggested.

     " 'I didn't ring,' the third fresh bird put in.

     " 'You're a fresh lot of stiffs,' I told 'em.  'Singing is just a side line with me.  Fighting is my regular business'

     " 'You ought to join the army then,' one of 'em replied.  I was just going to soak him when the 1 o'clock owl came along, and they all climbed on and gave me the laugh.

     " 'This is a fine crow town,' I decided.  'When you can't join in on a street corner song, it's time to go home.'

     "And even going home wasn't exciting.  I didn't have to sneak in like a burglar, and there wasn't a chance to try to keep from waking the missus when I got inside the house."

     "Write Mrs. Lewis a letter," Fatty replied, "and see if she won't cut her visit short and hurry on home."

The Adventures of Fatty Lewis ~ A Serial ~ by Arthur F. Killick



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