The Animated Pinup, p.1Lewis Parker
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The Animated Pinup
By Lewis Parker
[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Imagination Stories ofScience and Fantasy July 1953. Extensive research did not uncover anyevidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]
[Sidenote: You're not expected to believe this story since it's the kindof thing that science calls impossible. But anyway, she happened. Who?Why--]
To make it clear how normal everything was when the evening started out,I'll let you in at the time Willy phoned me. I was in my apartment witha lady from down the hall....
I had asked her what she liked and she'd purred, "You." I had asked herwith soda or gingerale and she'd said, "Straight," so I'd obliged andpoured myself a triple too and sank into the sofa beside her.
The phone rang.
"Oh damn," she said.
"Your earlobes--" I began.
"The phone, James."
"James? Don't you think you'd better answer it?"
So I sighed and handed her the glass and told her not to hold it till Igot back or she'd melt the ice. I crossed the room to the telephone.
"City morgue," I said.
"Hullo Willy," I said, recognizing the stammer.
While he gulped and stuttered a couple more times I threw a kiss to thelady. She failed to throw it back because she was placing a bet withherself that Willy was short for Wilhelmina.
Willy straightened his tongue out. "Jim, I've got to see you."
Now Willy was a nervous little guy from faulty thyroid but neurotic in abearable way. He sounded even more upset than he usually did. I didn'tparticularly like him, but he was a topflight illustrator and I likedthe way he drew women, and besides I'd been trying for a year to tag himfor our agency. All the slicker art agencies were after him, that's howgood he was. We'd made the highest bid for him but he still had this bugin his noodle for free-lancing, which showed he had more business sensethan the rest of his ilk but which wasn't doing my position at theagency any good. I'd been joed to bag him.
Which was why I hesitated and reconsidered the impulse to brush him off.This was the first time he had definitely asked to see me. Sundaymidnight is one hell of a time to suddenly decide to see a doggingagent, but like I said Willy was neurotic. So I just tested the impulse.
"Well, Willy," I said, "I'm pretty busy at the moment looking after theinterests of the agency artists. They always come first, you know. Couldit wait--"
"Jim, I've got to see you. It's--It's driving me nuts trying to figureout what to do."
"Tax trouble? Or maybe one of your models?"
"No, nothing like that. Listen. Will you come over tonight?"
I let my instincts juggle the stress between pleasure and business. Bothwere practical, well-balanced personal interests. The thunderous nightwas young and the lady had nice earlobes and my apartment had thatfeeling about it. On the other hand the little fair-haired artist was ina jam and if I played fairy godmom bigger and better apartments andearlobes were in the offing from the agency.
So I made the mistake of my life.
I said, "I'll be there in half an hour," and hung up.
"_Jim_-mee," the lady said. She was pouting, so I pinched her earlobeand patted her shoulders and bemoaned the tyranny of the business worldand helped her into her coat. She went back to her own apartment. Itidied up the place, stacked the etchings in their corner, and took acab outside.
* * * * *
I tossed that part of it in to make it clear that on the face and theunderneath of it I could be readily classed as a normal, practical sortof a guy.
I am. I shun unnatural, illogical things, like mysteries, or falsies, orcounterfeit bills. Or fourth dimensions. I like an item right on thetable where I can eye it and touch it and say, "That's a spade," or,"That's a buck." If there's water on Mars I'll believe it when I drinkit, but until then I'll say, "So what's with Mars? It's one hell of along way off."
You see what I'm driving at? With me, James Gilbert Crisp, things areeither down to earth or they're nowhere. I'd never admit messing aroundwith something I couldn't put my hands on. If I touch it, I accept it,and if it's willing I'm able.
"Jim!" said Willy, grabbing my hat. "Come in, come in!"
I grinned at the little guy assuringly and shook the rain from my coatand tossed it on an easel. He shunted a chair at me and seated himselfnervously, rubbing his neck, on the other side of a monster coffee tableloaded with paints, bottles and oil-stained cartons. I was familiar withthis studio, the working half of Willy's ranch-style chalet. The studioitself was as big as a barn and had more windows than walls; rain peckedat the glass in the northerly-exposed roof.
Willy was tidy for an artist. Most of the boys on the agency's hook havela Boheme delusions that class them apart from us hucksters; theirstudios, which we see in spite of ourselves, _look_ like barns. ButWilly's neuroses, although conventional, were bearable because in a lotof ways he was practical. He kept things where he could put his hands onthem. Like the cigarettes he now fished from a box on the coffee tablelabeled 'caseins'.
I shifted uncomfortably; these new-fangled chairs they twist out of wirewill never replace the Morris. Willy drew furiously on the fag he hadforgotten to offer me. It was taking him longer than usual to warm up tohis subject. I shifted again.
"What's the problem, Willy?" I asked.
He jumped, then looked at me with his scared-spaniel eyes, butted hissmoke and reached for another. Just watching him was giving me theheebies, but I flashed my old fairy godmom smile.
"Jim," he said finally, "I called you because, well, you're a practicalguy and can face things in a practical way. I've got to tell _somebody_about it. I'm--it's driving me crazy, Jim."
I stifled a yawn and fixed my smile and found my mind wandering back tothe lady's earlobes. Now I'm not against a guy letting down his hair,but I was sure that with Willy it couldn't possibly amount to anymorethan another fruitless crush on a model. He had them frequently, butthey always fizzled out before the girl got around to compromising him.He was always a foot short of them, but he had money; the usual solutionwas little more than another illo assignment which required a horseymodel of another color. I'd begun to suspect that the cause of neurosesin little artists like Willy was too many here-now gone-tomorrowbeautiful babes. Transference, or something like that. It makes them sodizzy they forget which is the real entity--the canvas reproduction orthe model. This and other things like a pithless pituitary loosens thescrews, and then they make from Bohemia. I don't pretend to be apsychologist, but that's the way it adds up.
* * * * *
So I was half-thinking of getting the lady at the apartment to giveWilly a real down-to-earth tumble when he started his spiel. I must havemissed a few paragraphs of his monologue, because when I caught up tothe subject I was away off base.
"... so I've got to give it up, Jim. If I don't there's no telling whatit would lead to. You could--help me, with your drag at the agency yourepresent. I could do account execking, or maybe be a consultant artdirector-without-portfolio, anything--"
"Whoa down, Willy," I said, startled. "Give up illustrating? Justbecause of a dame--"
Willy shook his head sadly. "She's got nothing to do with anything_else_ I draw. She isn't at all like the models. Oh, I know what a goopI've been about them, but Red has cured me." He paused and looked at mequizzically, shaking his head. "I knew you had a level head, Jim--that'sexactly why I've told you this. But even so, your reaction--" He
I cursed myself inwardly for not having paid more attention to him, buthis voice was the kind that would put a sympathetic Father Confessor tosleep if he concentrated too hard on it. I'd been prepared to let himget it off his skinny chest, pat him on the back and tell him to leaveeverything to old Jim Fixit. But the quitting business was a looper. Hewas too canvas-happy to give it up without a fight.
"Look," I said to cover up the fact that my ears had been closed, "whatyou told me may seem unusual to you, but to me it's just one of thosethings
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