The Lunatic Fringe: A Novel Wherein Theodore Roosevelt Meets the Pink Angel

The Lunatic Fringe: A Novel Wherein Theodore Roosevelt Meets the Pink Angel

by William L. DeAndrea

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781453290262
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 12/18/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 282
File size: 949 KB

About the Author

William L. DeAndrea (1952–1996) was born in Port Chester, New York. While working at the Murder Ink bookstore in New York City, he met mystery writer Jane Haddam, who became his wife. His first book, Killed in the Ratings (1978), won an Edgar Award in the best first mystery novel category. That debut launched a series centered on Matt Cobb, an executive problem-solver for a TV network who unravels murders alongside corporate foul play. DeAndrea’s other series included the Nero Wolfe–inspired Niccolo Benedetti novels, the Clifford Driscoll espionage series, and the Lobo Blacke/Quinn Booker Old West mysteries. A devoted student of the mystery genre, he also wrote a popular column for the Armchair Detective newsletter. One of his last works, the Edgar Award–winning Encyclopedia Mysteriosa (1994), is a thorough reference guide to sleuthing in books, film, radio, and TV. 
William L. DeAndrea (1952–1996) was born in Port Chester, New York. While working at the Murder Ink bookstore in New York City, he met mystery writer Jane Haddam, who became his wife. His first book, Killed in the Ratings (1978), won an Edgar Award in the best first mystery novel category. That debut launched a series centered on Matt Cobb, an executive problem-solver for a TV network who unravels murders alongside corporate foul play. DeAndrea’s other series included the Nero Wolfe–inspired Niccolo Benedetti novels, the Clifford Driscoll espionage series, and the Lobo Blacke/Quinn Booker Old West mysteries. A devoted student of the mystery genre, he also wrote a popular column for the Armchair Detective newsletter. One of his last works, the Edgar Award–winning Encyclopedia Mysteriosa (1994), is a thorough reference guide to sleuthing in books, film, radio, and TV.     

Read an Excerpt

The Lunatic Fringe

A Novel Wherein Theodore Roosevelt Meets the Pink Angel


By William L. DeAndrea

MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media

Copyright © 1980 William L. DeAndrea
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-9026-2



CHAPTER 1

FRIDAY

the twenty-first of August, 1896


I.

They had discussed the matter before; the publisher had thought it settled, and was perturbed at having to go over it again.

Still, despite the provocation to anger, the conversation was civil. William Randolph Hearst was always civil; even his Publisher's edicts tended to begin, "If you don't mind ..." One was not, however, to get the idea one was at liberty to decline.

Hearst regarded the man on the other side of his desk. "Won't you reconsider, Mr. Crandall?" he asked. Despite his position, Hearst was by at least a decade the younger man. He was thirty-three but seemed younger still. He was tall and fair, with large, blue eyes that showed a lot of white, and he had a very high voice.

Evan Crandall had always been irritated by that voice, and it pleased him to know this was the last time he would have to hear it. "I have considered the matter quite thoroughly. I have done considering it, Mr. Hearst." Crandall called his employer "Mr. Hearst," but he thought of him as "Willie" and coldly loathed him. Loathed him not over anything to do with the newspaper business, but over Art.

Hearst bought Art, but not the work of anyone still alive. And Evan Crandall was an artist. He wore his goatee and pointed moustache as a badge of his European training. It made him look like an inkstained Napoleon III.

Hearst knew how Crandall felt about him—that was why he dealt with the man personally instead of passing him along to an underling. Crandall's vanity needed careful handling, and Hearst needed Crandall, especially now.

Hearst had no intention of letting the man thwart him. Few people had ever been able to stand between William Randolph Hearst and something he wanted.

Hearst's father had been unlettered and crude, but he'd found enough gold in the rush of '49 to make him attractive to a cultured, but poor, beauty half his age.

Willie was an only child, and his mother had used her husband's money to spoil the boy from scalp to sole. On his first trip to Paris, he asked her to buy him the Louvre. It was one of the few things he ever wanted that he didn't get, but by now, he had begun a collection that would one day rival it, in size if not in quality.

He had always done as he pleased. Before he was invited to leave Harvard, he had kept both a mistress and a pet alligator. He still had the mistress. His current desire was to make his New York Journal the most powerful newspaper in America, and himself the most powerful man.

"I'm very sorry, Crandall," he said, "but you have signed a legal contract, and the Journal intends to hold you to it."

Crandall snorted; Hearst begged his pardon. "That is my final word. I will appreciate it if you will inform Pulitzer of that."

Crandall snorted again, more loudly. He knew he was being rude, and he enjoyed it immensely. "Pulitzer has nothing to do with this. I no longer require this position, it is as simple as that."

Hearst wasn't the kind to snort in return, but he would have felt justified in doing so. There was a newspaper circulation war in progress, the like of which New York (or any other city) had never seen. Outside in Printing House Square, around the feet of the statue of Ben Franklin, flowed a torrent of money for anyone who could help make the public part with its daily penny. Crandall acted as if Hearst weren't aware of that. As though he hadn't, in fact, been the one who'd started that very flood.

Young Mr. Hearst had come to New York a year ago, and immediately declared war on Pulitzer and his New York World. Hearst prepared for the battle by changing the San Francisco Examiner from a wheezing voice for his father's political ambitions to the best known and best selling newspaper in the West.

He'd done it by using Pulitzer's own formula—low price, mass appeal, and crusades for popular causes. It was generally conceded there was nothing a Hearst reporter wouldn't do to get a story.

And Hearst would have the best reporters. Cost didn't matter. To Hearst, money was as accessible as air. If Pulitzer had the best people when Hearst came to New York, he wouldn't have them long.

There were constant bidding skirmishes that might see a reporter's salary soar to twice or three times what it had been just a few hours before. Until now, Hearst had won most of these skirmishes. But Pulitzer had arrived in this country a penniless immigrant from his native Hungary, and each dollar had a meaning for him it could never have for Hearst. Still, he could spend if it meant keeping some upstart from ruining his business. He was nearing fifty and losing his eyesight (some said he was already totally blind), but he wasn't so blind that people could rob him and expect to get away with it.

So reporters and editors lined their pockets with gold notes just by marching back and forth across the Square.

Cartoonists were getting their share, too. Richard Outcault, the creator of the sarcastic little imp known as the Yellow Kid, had enabled Pulitzer to sell copies of the Sunday World to people whom only the most generous could describe as literate. Hearst had gone after Outcault (and the Kid) and had gotten them.

In retaliation, Pulitzer had snatched E. Noon from the editorial page of the Journal.

Evan Crandall was E. Noon. It was his particular hell to be an artist forced to earn his bread with pen and ink rather than brush and oils. It only made things worse that he had to work for a man who spent thousands of dollars annually on works by dead Italians and Frenchmen. As a protest against the injustice of it all, he adopted as his signature the words "no one" spelled backward.

E. Noon was the most effective editorial cartoonist since Thomas Nast. He might have been fully as great as Nast, but he had no convictions and no opinions other than a love of Beauty for its own sake and a deep contempt for everything else. It was the contempt that powered his pen; some said he compounded his ink of one part vitriol, one part venom, and one part blood from his previous victims. He could make a newborn babe look depraved, and he had a genius for grafting the heads of public figures on the bodies of the more loathsome of the lower animals. And since he hated everyone equally, he gladly followed the policy of whatever paper he was working for at the moment. It was his opinion that anyone he might attack undoubtedly deserved it.

He was, all in all, a powerful tool in the shaping of public opinion, and Hearst wasn't about to lose control of him. He'd called Crandall to his office, and offered to double Pulitzer's offer, without even asking how much it had been. The money didn't matter. To avoid future inconvenience to the Journal, though, Hearst had had Crandall sign a contract binding E. Noon to the paper until 1950—a date so far into the future as to be synonymous with Eternity.

And that had been that. Or so Hearst had thought. Apparently, Pulitzer didn't agree.

"How much has he offered you now?" Hearst demanded. Politely, of course.

Crandall's beard wiggled with impatience, something he'd never allowed to happen in Hearst's presence before. He'd had to subdue pride in the interest of his wallet. Never again.

"As I have already told you, I have neither seen nor spoken to anyone from the World in weeks."

Hearst wondered if this might be a practical joke. For all his reserve, Hearst was inordinately fond of practical jokes. Crandall, though, struck him as the last man in New York who would play one. The tall young publisher leaned over his desk and narrowed his eyes, examining the cartoonist for signs of drunkenness. It was standard policy at both Hearst's newspapers that a drunken man might be forgiven anything.

But Crandall wasn't drunk. Hearst was intrigued. "Who is it, then? Who is trying to take you away from me? May I ask? Reid at the Tribune? Dana? Ochs?"

Crandall sniffed. "You have my resignation. I bid you good day."

"It was Hanna, wasn't it? Hanna and the Republicans."

Crandall gave him the ghost of a smile, as though he laughed at a private joke.

So that's it, Hearst thought. He felt positively elated. He had them worried, and the campaign wasn't half over yet.

The Presidential race of 1896 was scarcely two months old, but there had been enough acrimony in those two months to make even Horatio Alger give up on human nature. It was Mr. William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska and Free Silver versus Governor William McKinley of Ohio and Sound Money. There were no other issues, and there was no middle ground.

Every paper in the East, including Pulitzer's traditionally Democratic World, backed the Republican McKinley. Every paper, that is, but the Journal. Hearst was four-square behind the "Boy Orator of the Platte."

Not that Hearst had any great love for Bryan or his program. Hearst felt the free coinage of silver to be a foolish, Utopian cure-all that could accomplish nothing but the erosion of the American dollar. He had worked against Bryan's nomination at the Chicago convention, but after the thirty-six-year-old Bryan had mesmerized the convention with the thunder of his already famous "Cross of Gold" speech, there was to be no stopping him.

So be it, Hearst decided. If he couldn't stop him, he would help him. If Bryan were to be elected (an end the Journal was striving mightily to bring about), Hearst alone would have the new President's gratitude. Hearst alone, of all the powerful Democratic publishers in the East, would have kept faith. Pulitzer and all the others would have their influence drastically reduced, and it would be hard to think of a more powerful man in the United States of America than William Randolph Hearst.

But McKinley's backers were playing to win, too. It was no secret that it was Marcus Alonzo Hanna who had raised the million-dollar "war chest" and that he called all the moves in the McKinley campaign.

That very Friday afternoon, "E. Noon" had done a wicked drawing of Hanna as a puppeteer working McKinley's strings; the editorial writers continued to make much of the fact that the first use to which the "war chest" had been put was to pay off a large debt McKinley had assumed.

And now, Hearst was convinced, he had them worried, in spite of Bryan's poor showing last week at Madison Square Garden.

This was the time to hit them again, and harder. "I'm afraid I can't accept your resignation, Crandall." He tried to sound deferential, but he knew one thing for certain: E. Noon had a lot of cartooning to do before the election was past.

Crandall sneered. "You have no choice. I'm leaving."

"Not if you plan to eat," the publisher told him. "I'm sorry to have to say this, but if you leave this building without submitting tomorrow's panel, you'll never work in the newspaper business again."

Crandall lifted his pointed beard and spoke with supreme haughtiness. "At this particular moment, you could have said nothing more agreeable. I have no intention of ever debasing myself and my God-given talent by working for this or any other newspaper. Thank God I shall not have to. Newspapers. Bah!"

"And what, pray tell, do you plan to do?"

"What Nature intended me to do, Mr. Hearst. Now I must go; I'm wasting daylight."

He spun on his heel and left.

Hearst watched him go. He had been defeated. By a cartoonist. It was disconcerting. He drummed his fingers on his desk top while he decided what he intended to do about it.


II.

Franklyn and Libstein left New York on the 5:45 train for Philadelphia. A contingent of policemen (sprinkled with a few Pinkertons) was there to see them off.

In any city, the departure of Franklyn and Libstein was an Event. Franklyn and Libstein were Anarchists. No one knew their first names, few ever even learned which was which. No one bothered, any more than anyone would bother to draw distinctions between Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego. For the record, Franklyn was the squat, bushily bearded one who looked like everyone's conception of what an anarchist should be, and Libstein was the one who looked like a prosperous family doctor.

"Wave to our friends," Franklyn urged his companion.

"They aren't our friends," Libstein replied. Franklyn often complained that Libstein had no sense of humor. "Besides," Libstein went on, "there's no need to antagonize them."

Franklyn laughed and waved anyway. He had no fear of the police. He and his friend had been arrested a few times, but never in this country.

The reason was simple: they broke no laws. They came to town, spoke to rallies about Universal Brotherhood and the Rise of the Working Man, but only in the most general terms. And the police knew it.

But the police also knew that Franklyn and Libstein had left Belgrade three weeks before a bomb went off in the town square; Paris three days before the assassination of the juge d'instruction; and Boston eleven days before the attempt on the life of the Governor, to name but a few of what Franklyn referred to as "unfortunate co-incidences."

Libstein wiggled in his seat. "I hope the operation goes well."

Franklyn raked his bush of a beard with stubby fingers. "We've planned as well as we could. Baxter will do the job."

"He failed in Boston."

"Inadequate preparation. We should have used a loyal worker from Boston instead of interrupting Baxter's work here in New York."

Libstein was still skeptical. "Mmm," he said. "How long before the plan goes into effect?"

"Little more than a week. Relax. Look who's come to see us off." He pointed out the window.

The train had started to move, so Libstein had to crane his neck around to see. "Ah," he said. "The President of the Police Commission himself."

Franklyn grinned. "Are you sure you don't want to wave to Mr. Roosevelt?"

"No thank you." He turned his attention to a book of essays by Engels as the train gathered speed.

And out on the platform, dreading what might be in store, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt was almost sorry to see them go.

CHAPTER 2

SATURDAY

the twenty-second of August, 1896


I.

Young officer Muldoon nearly had to carry the old tippler the last block and a half, but he got him safely to his building.

"You're a nice boy, Dennis," Mr. Harvey said dreamily, with a puff of breath that could curdle milk.

"So that's why you've been molestin' the lamplighter, eh?" Muldoon said. He was a strapping lad, over six feet tall and handsome with it, with sandy hair curling out from under his helmet, and a robust handlebar moustache—made two shades darker from the wax. "Tryin' to get his job are you? Fixin' to light the lamps just by breathin' on the jet. What are you goin' to do when the electricity comes to the neighborhood the way they have it on Broadway?"

Muldoon drew his billy, for emphasis. He knew from experience that shaking a finger at the old man wasn't enough—he couldn't focus well enough to see it.

"Now mind this, Mr. Harvey," the officer warned. "Until the electricity does get around to this beat, I want you lettin' the lamplighters be." He put the billy away and smiled. "This isn't the blasted Dark Ages, you know."

Mr. Harvey wobbled and laughed; at least he said, "Ha, ha." But Harvey's face was never happy. He was a little, lonely old widower who drank because he missed his wife. Muldoon felt sorry for the poor soul. Lord knew there were better reasons to drink.

Not that Harvey couldn't have used a wife, if only to choose his clothes for him. This evening, he was wearing a jacket of a large houndstooth check in colors that were almost yellow and almost brown. It made Muldoon wonder if the hound shouldn't have gone to see a dentist.

The old man started to collapse. He was just a little bit of a man, but when he got all loose like that, he was harder to carry than two hogsheads of pilsner. Muldoon had to call the landlady for help.

"Ahh," she said, looking wistfully at the patient. "It's a pity he let his wife's death get him down so. Not that I'm saying he shouldn't miss her, but—"

Mrs. Sturdevant was a respectable widow lady, a blonde woman with an ample, motherly form and a kind word for everyone. Usually more than one kind word. It was Muldoon's opinion that she had the single most tireless jaws between the Hudson and East rivers.

The only way to get a word in was to interrupt. "You'll be gettin' him upstairs, then?"

"What? Oh, of course, Dennis. Now where was I? Oh, yes. When Mr. Sturdevant was alive, he told me, 'Esther, if I die first'—of course I never thought he would, Dennis—"

"I'd appreciate it," Muldoon said, "if you wouldn't be callin' me Dennis while I'm wearin' me uniform."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Lunatic Fringe by William L. DeAndrea. Copyright © 1980 William L. DeAndrea. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Author's Note,
Friday, the twenty-first of August, 1896,
Saturday, the twenty-second of August, 1896,
Sunday, the twenty-third of August, 1896,
Monday, the twenty-fourth of August, 1896,
Tuesday, the twenty-fifth of August, 1896,
Wednesday, the twenty-sixth of August, 1896,
Thursday, the twenty-seventh of August, 1896,
Friday, the twenty-eight of August, 1896,
Saturday, the twenty-ninth of August, 1896,
Sunday, the thirtieth of August, 1896, and beyond,

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