So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty. Here are days thirty four (April 24) and thirty five (April 25). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.
DAY THIRTY FOUR – 2020 Stay At Home
Don’t worry – I’m not going to start mixing bleach into my milk.
Felix called Wolfe last night. Rusterman’s gets its beef from a small group of cattle farmers upstate. So does Wolfe. The meat packing plant they all use got walloped with a virus outbreak, and it has closed down indefinitely. I’d hears some big pork plants out west were running into this problem, too. Felix was scrambling to line up a new supplier.
“Of course, there may be a slight decrease in quality, in the short term.”
“Nonsense!” Wolfe bristled at the mere thought.
“But Mister Wolfe. We will do our best, of course. But we need meat. If we tell everyone ‘No’ until we find a replacement of equal quality, we will have no meat to serve!”
“Then quit calling me and find someone. And keep me informed.”
He hung up on a protesting Felix and I followed suit.
“That wasn’t very nice.” That earned me a glare.
“Preposterous. Where shall we get our beef from? Our veal?”
Cattle ranchers were scrambling to find a new plant. Plant workers were sick, and scared – some of them could be dying. Rustermans, and other restaurants, had to immediately find new suppliers. And of course, Wolfe focused on how it inconvenienced him. He really was full of the milk of human kindness.
Rather than put up with his growing crankiness, I went to tell Fritz the news.
Wolfe insisted that I play pool with him before lunch. My game was okay; which is better than Wolfe’s. For that matter, so is Julie Jacquette’s. A couple times while running off a string of balls, I waited until he was comfortably settled into the big chair he has down there, and then I missed a shot on purpose. I don’t think that he caught on, but he wasn’t happy about it. Or about losing. He walked upstairs in the middle of a game. He gets my vote for the physically largest petulant child in the whole world.
I spent an hour or two helping Wolfe and Theodore in the plant rooms today. I’ve learned how to do various things up there over the years. It can be nice to be surrounded by the orchids. Some bloom at different times than others, but it’s never barren.
I moved some supplies around, did a little spraying and re-potting and generally kept to myself. Once in a while, I don’t mind doing it. My mind can roam free, and there are some very pretty flowers.
The NFL draft started last night. Sports-starved fans probably tuned in in record numbers. The Giants took a tackle with the fourth pick. Two years ago, they surprised everyone by taking Daniel Jones at number six. And the year before it was Eli Apple at ten. When a teammate calls you a cancer, that’s usually not a sign of success. And it’s not like rooting for the Jets is a happy alternative. Have I mentioned that I really miss baseball? I’d like to see if Alonso beats the sophomore slump. And if DeGrom can win more than eleven games and the Cy Young in the same season.
With the Spaudling and the N95 masks cases finished up, it seems a little dull around here.
DAY THIRTY FIVE – 2020 Stay at Home (SaH)
“Tell Swann’s that they used an egregious amount of starch a few weeks go. That is unacceptable.”
We were enjoying after-dinner coffee in the office, and I looked up from cleaning one of my guns to see him staring at me. My face gave nothing away. “Oh, I meant to tell you that Swann’s was closed one day when I went there. So I took your laundry to Lee’s. You remember, we used to use them.”
Based on the look which I got, he definitely remembered. “Indeed I do.” I waited. “You could not have gone back the next day? Or found another location to use?”
“The next day?” I queried. “No, sir. You made it very clear that your laundry couldn’t wait. It had to go out that same day. I believe that we even had a discussion about that very fact. You’re the boss and I your mere factotum, so off to Lee’s the laundry went.”
He sighed. “Archie…”
“Archie.” A little more firmly that time.
“And then I remembered good old Mister Lee. I know you think he uses too much starch, but I was certain he ran a clean shop. So, I took it to his place. .”
He eyed me levelly. “You know very well that you took that laundry to Lee’s as an infantile response to my insistence that the laundry go out that day. I highly doubt that Swann’s was closed.”
I was nonplussed. He continued. “No doubt, you instructed Mister Lee to put extra starch in my collars. And you added the cuffs out of spite.”
I gave him hurt expression number three. “I did no such thing.” I stared at the wall, thoughtfully. “Although, I did practice my Chinese with him. I might have said, ‘extra’ when I meant ‘less.’ My Chinese is a little rusty.”
He snorted. “Ridiculous. You don’t even speak Chinese.”
“Can’t get more rusty than that.”
“You have made your point.” A smaller sigh. “You often do.” There was no humor in his eyes. “Do not use Mister Lee again.” He tugged on a cuff.
I gave my most agreeable smile. “You’re the boss.”
Lily and I met at the park, sat on nearby benches, and chatted today. She remains busy with various charitable efforts. There’s more than ever to do these days. She has even bought some meals from Rusterman’s for front-line workers. She’s also helping out Timberburg, the town near her Montana ranch. Although, things are pretty good out there, relatively speaking. Fritz made a picnic basket as a surprise for her and we ate, socially distanced, together.
She pouted that when I finally am not spending my time working, we’re quarantined. I assured her that we’d be out at the Glade yet. And with no stolen necklaces involved this time.
That media arts major from NYU called again, asking if Wolfe wanted to do an interview. That’s a bit less ambitious than his initial proposal of embedding himself with us. He must be running out of things to cover. I declined again. (Stay at Home Day 2)
It was an uneventful Saturday at the brownstone. For dinner, Fritz made his corn cakes, with breaded pork tenderloin. That’s something I’ll miss if we end up with a pork shortage because of the lock down. They’re wonderful.
And Fritz followed up the corn cakes with corn fritters as a movie night treat. What that man can do with corn – and not just fresh sweet corn. He wanted to watch something funny. So, I picked Road to Rio, one of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby movies. He had seen one of those, many years ago. He enjoyed it. Maybe we’ll try Road to Bali, which has a clip of Bogart from The African Queen. He should get a chuckle out of that.
Stay at Home
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 1 and 2
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home- Days 3 and 4
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home- Days 5, 6, and 7
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home- Days 8, 9, and 10
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home- Days 11, 12, and 13
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home Days 14 and 15
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home Days 16 and 17
Nero Wolfe’s Browsnstone: Stay at Home – Days 18 and 19
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 20 and 21
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 22 and 23
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 24 and 25
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 26
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 27
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 28 and 29
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 30
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 31
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 32 and 33
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone
3 Good Reasons
The Greenstreet Chronicles (Pastiches based on the Radio Show)
Bob Byrne’s ‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ made it’s Black Gate debut in the summer of 2018 and will be back yet again in 2022.
His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017. And he irregularly posts on Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective in ‘Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone.’ He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded www.SolarPons.com (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.
He organized Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series, as well as the award-winning ‘Hither Came Conan’ series.
He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI and XXI.
He has written introductions for Steeger Books, and appeared in several magazines, including Black Mask, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and Sherlock Magazine.