Frankie and Johnny, and Nellie Bly
As Related by Susanna Entwhistle, Who Witnessed Every Minute,
Including the Stimulating Spellfight to the Death!
Arranged and Edited by Richard Wolkomir
I always ran down to the Depot at 3:37 p.m. to see if the Central Florida Express
brought persons of interest to Duster. Also, I liked to visualize myself boarding a
Pullman and steaming out into the world -- I would achieve éclat, then extricate
my mother from the Ascending Angel and provide her with fine dining and
Éclat, if you've never looked it up, means "brilliance of success or reputation." I
imagined crowds at newspaper kiosks clamoring to read the latest scintillating
dispatch from Budapest or Marrakech or Rangoon or Cincinnati, penned by the
lustrous Susanna Entwhistle, who is I.
So, that momentous afternoon, guess who disembarked! Nellie Bly! The most
famous reporter in the world!
She was precisely as attractive as in her pictures, with her hair pulled back at the
sides, but down over her forehead, and her eyes set wide apart and intensely
observant. Her plush blue dress had a white embroidered collar, like a many-rayed
star. She stood beside her two valises, deciding which way to go, so I ran right up
and told her I would be enthused to proffer my assistance.
She said: "Why do you dress like a boy?"
"It is my idiosyncrasy," I said. "I am eleven, but I know everything about Duster,
including an impending crisis involving a spellslinger-for-hire, so I can help you."
"Where did you learn a word like idiosyncrasy?" she asked.
"I read lots of books, in preparation for my future career, which will be of a literary
nature," I told her.
"Fewer words are better," she said. "I'm seeking a reputable hotel -- what do you
I told her Duster had four hotels, all owned by Phosphate Extraction Enterprises,
meaning Daryl "Sweetie" Hieronymus, and that the least disreputable, in terms of
bowie knifings and smashed glassware, also profane shouting, was the Ascending
Angel, in which I resided myself.
"Lead the way," she said.