I took one of the lists back to Crumley.

“How come you didn’t use my typewriter?” said Crumley.

“Yours isn’t used to me yet, and would only get in the way. Mine is way ahead of me, and I run to catch up. Read that.”

Crumley read my list of possible victims.

“Christ,” he murmured, “you got half the Venice Chamber of Commerce, the Lion’s Club, the flea circus, and the Pier Carnival Owners of America on here.”

He folded it and put it in his pocket.

“Why don’t you throw in some friends from where you once lived in downtown L.A.?”

An ice-frog jumped in my chest.

I thought of the tenement and the dark halls and nice Mrs. Gutierrez and lovely Fannie.

The frog jumped again.

“Don’t say that,” I said.

“Where’s the other list, of murderers? You got the Chamber of Commerce on that, too?”

I shook my head.

“Afraid to show it to me because I’m in the lineup with the rest of them?” asked Crumley.

I took that list out of my pocket, glanced at it, and tore it up.

“Where’s your wastebasket?” I said.

Even as I had been talking, the fog had arrived across the street from Crumley’s. It hesitated, as if searching for me, and then, to verify my paranoid suspicions, sneaked across and blanketed his garden, dousing the Christmas lights in his oranges and lemons and drowning the flowers so they shut their mouths.

“How dare it come here?” I said.

“Everything does,” said Crumley.

“Que? Is this the Crazy?”

“Si, Mrs. Gutierrez!”

“Do I call the office?”

“Si, Mrs. Gutierrez.”

“Fannie is calling outside on her porch!”

“I hear her, Mrs. Gutierrez…”

Far away in the sun inland where there was no fog or mist or rain, and no surf to bring strange visitors in, was the tenement, and Fannie’s soprano calling like the Sirens.

“Tell him,” I heard her sing, “I have a new recording of Mozart’s The Magic Flute!”

“She says…”

“Her voice carries, Mrs. Gutierrez. Tell her, thank God, that’s a happy one.”

“She wants you to come see, she misses you and hopes you forgive her, she says.”

For what? I tried to remember.

“She says…”

Fannie’s voice floated on the warm clear air.

“Tell him to come but don’t bring anyone with!”

That knocked the air out of me. The ghosts of old ice creams rose in my blood. When had I ever done that? I wondered. Who did she think I might bring along, uninvited?

And then I remembered.

The bathrobe hanging on the door late nights. Leave it there. Canaries for sale. Don’t fetch the empty cages. The lion cage. Don’t roll it through the streets. Lon Chancy. Don’t peel him off the silver screen and hide him in your pocket. Don’t.

My God, Fannie, I thought, is the fog rolling inland toward you? Will the mist reach your tenement? Will the rain touch on your door?

I shouted so loudly over the phone, Fannie could have heard it, downstairs.

“Tell her, Mrs. Gutierrez, I come alone. Alone. But tell her only maybe I come. I have no money, not even for train fare. Maybe I come tomorrow…”

“Fannie say, if you come, she give you money.”

“Swell, but meantime, my pockets, empty.”

Just then I saw the postman cross the street and stick an envelope in my mailbox.

“Hold on,” I yelled, and ran.

The letter was from New York with a check for thirty dollars in it for a story I had just sold to Bizarre Tales, about a man who feared the wind that had followed him around the world from the Himalayas and now shook his house late at night, hungry for his soul.

I ran back to the telephone and shouted, “If I make it to the bank, tonight I will come!”

Fannie got the translation and sang three notes from the “Bell Song” from Lakme before her translator hung up.

I ran for the bank.

Graveyard fog, I thought, don’t get on the train ahead of me, headed for Fannie.

If the pier was a great Titanic on its way to meet an iceberg in the night, with people busy rearranging the deck chairs, and someone singing “Nearer My God to Thee” as he rammed the plunger on the TNT detonator . . .

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray