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Yank Harold
and the Crazy Girl

by Don Taylor

As Yank Harold and I observed that summer
of 1949, the crazy girl across the street sure
could suck the candy canes. Christ!— one after
another until the juice slobbered and ran out
her mouth, over her lips and down her chin to
drop pink and thick on her t-shirt and skirts.

Yank had come to town in May to spend the
summer. He wrote short stories for the pulp
rag Amazing Stories at three cents a word,
and needed a place to stay. I had an extra bed-
room in my apartment on the second floor, up
over Brach's drug-store— across the street
from the Third Avenue Apartments, where the
crazy girl lived with her mother.

One July day Yank and I walked down the stairs
to sit on a bench under the drugstore awning. It
was late morning and already beastly, jungle hot
and humid. I shuffled through the morning paper;
Yank smoked and twirled a spoon in a glass of
iced tea.

Mr. Brach always brought out iced tea when we
came to loaf on his bench under the awning—
those many times we came down to watch the
crazy girl.

“She'll be out anytime now. It's almost 11:30.”
Brach said, standing in his doorway. He shook
his head and went back inside.

By what perversity will two men, one a pulp mag-
azine writer and the other an ex-GI still looking
for his place in the after-war world, wait across
a street to watch a crazy, eightteen-year old girl
come out her building, sit, or lean back against
a wall and suck candy canes?

“How do you know she's eighteen; she looks
younger?” Ambrose asked.

“Her mother told me. I've been over at their
place— several times."

She's goddamn good-looking. She ...”

“Not the girl?”

“No, the mother, the mother's good-looking.
A peach.” I said. “Haven't seen a man around
and I bet she's kinda lonely— her daughter be-
ing crazy and all ...”

The crazy girl didn't come out— at least while
we sat under the awning outside Brach's that
late morning. Ambrose said it was too hot to
sit and wait— he would go downtown to see a
movie.

He got up and headed for the bus stop. I fold-
ed my paper, put it under my arm, and cross-
ed the street, intending to go over to the pool
hall, a half-block down from the crazy girl's
front porch.

I reached the girl's side of the street and step-
ped over the curb when I heard a yell,

“Ennn-baagh ... ennn-baagh.” The crazy girl
came running out from behind a trash shed
standing to the side of her building.

“Ennn-baagh ....” The gibberish came out of
a gaping mouth that showed small, spaced
teeth and heavy gums. I saw thick candy red
and white syrup drooling down her lips. In
both her hands she held four red and white,
barberpole-striped candy canes, most of them
sucked down to slender spikes of hard sugar
pocked with tiny, wet holes.

She turned and pointed back toward the trash
shed. “Ennn-baagh.” When she turned I saw a
run of blood stream out from a two deep gash-
es on her neck and disappear inside her blouse,
then bleed through, pooling a dirty reddish brown
on the green fabric over her heaving right breast.

“Are you hurt?” My voice was louder than it need-
ed to have been— as people speaking to the handi-
capped always do. The girl was standing less than
a foot from me with one cane-holding hand on my
arm.

“Hurt ...?” I pointed to the fang-like wounds on her
neck. She pulled me toward the shed. Her breath
was confection and I saw for the first time a pair
of light green eyes, long lashes, and perfect skin--
take her mouth away and she was beautiful.

Right then her mother burst out the front door of
their building. “Dolly! Are you bothering Mr. Re-
naud?”

I knew the comment was apology to me more
than admonition to the girl, and I was something
less than astonished but more than greatly sur-
prised when the girl nodded her head and point-
ed to the bloody holes in neck. “Ennn-baagh.”

“She's been hurt, bleeding. She ran out to me
from the shed, there.” Now tears fell from the
crazy girl's light green eyes.

It was too hot in the movie theater. Yank found
a diner with a window cooling unit, ordered ice
cream with coffee, and loosed a six by eight
notebook out his pocket. “Might as well earn
a few bucks.” he muttered.

The great blonde, Gondolla, felt the
python's violent squeeze and smelled
the stink from out its purple, bloody
mouth. Bits of its earlier gorge, the
jungle pig, yet clung to its fangs and
back teeth. Gondolla ....

Yank took a warm-up when the waitress came
to the table with a Pyrex pot.

Gondolla screamed, “Ennn-baagh,”
and the serpent buried his fangs in the
great blonde's neck. A thick syrup of
blood and saliva drooled out of her
mouth and the animal constricted,
crushing the bones of Gondolla's back.

Forty-six words. Two dollars and nineteen cents.
Yank knew he would never get rich.

Yank came in around midnight. I was listening
to Midnight Ballroom and Frankie Laine was
singing, “That's My Desire.” I was half in a pint
of Scotch.

“She come out?” Yank asked and helped himself
to the bottle.

“Yeah, she came out, just like always— sat on the
steps and sucked her candy canes. I was headed
over to the pool hall when she started shouting
something that sounded like 'Ennnbaagh.' Her
mother came out, waved to me, and took her in."

"You wonder what goes on in a crazy girl's mind ... "



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