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-nine. Here are days forty-five (May 5) and forty-six (May 6). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.
Day Forty Five – 2020 Stay at Home
“WHAT is this?”
I looked back at Nero Wolfe as I went to my desk. “Your beer. What does it look like?” I had just put the tray on his desk.
“This most certainly is not my beer, Archie. What is this flummery?”
“Well, sir, it is Cinco de Mayo.”
“And I’m sure you know that it is a national holiday in Mexico, commemorating that nation’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, in 1861.”
“It was 1862.”
He could never pass up the opportunity to correct me. He pushed the button under his desk, summoning Fritz. “This is preposterous!”
“I don’t think so at all. In honor of that accomplishment, I have brought you two bottles of fine Mexican beer, Dos Equis. I’m even having one myself.”
Fritz had come to the door and stopped. “Yes sir?”
“Take this undrinkable foreign water back into the kitchen, dump it down the drain, and bring me two beers. I trust you know which kind!” he thundered.
“Hey now,” I cut in. “There’s no call to yell at Fritz, just because you can’t take a little joke. My joke, by the way.”
Fritz had moved to Wolfe’s desk and taken the tray with the two untouched beers, and now he went back to the kitchen, giving me a very stern, disapproving glance on the way.
Wolfe called after him, “And clean the sink thoroughly after.” That was just petty.0
I leaned back in my chair, said “Cheers” to Wolfe, and took a long swallow. “It’s good beer. You really should try one.”
He just stared at me, making small circles with his finger on the arm of his chair, and waited for Fritz to bring his beers.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Fritz and I watched Bogart’s Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It’s a brilliant morality tale about greed, wonderfully directed by John Huston. One of my favorite stories is about this movie. Huston’s father, Walter, is one of the movie’s stars – and he’s wonderful as an old prospector. The movie was filmed in Mexico and on one hot day, Huston had his father re-shoot a scene over, and over, and over, until he almost collapsed. The scene was fine. John was just enjoying messing around with his father.
It’s never said exactly this way, but “Batchees? We don’t need no esteenkin’ batchees” came from this movie. It’s a true classic, with excellent acting, terrific scenery, wonderful camera work and direction, and some uncredited appearances by John Huston himself, Robert ‘Baretta’ Blake as a boy, and Jay ‘Tonto’ Silverheels. This is a tense drama right to the end, with a valuable lesson to be learned. Bogart should have won an Oscar. Fritz liked this classic.
Day Forty Six – 2020 Stay at Home
I didn’t do anything to disrupt Wolfe’s morning beers today. Yesterday worked well enough.
I did go shopping with Fritz this morning. I certainly got my fill of humanity for the day. And tomorrow. And the day after that… It’s hard to imagine so many people are shopping for households of ten or more. Which they must be, looking at their carts full of far too much stuff.
Fortunately, milk is still available. Pork is hard to find. Beef a little less so. I think the Brownstone is going to see an increase in pasta dishes very soon. Which is fine with me. Though Wolfe certainly has other ideas about that development.
I helped out in the plant rooms after lunch, rather than going for a walk. The colors and the teeming life on the tables lightened my mood, after shopping. Fritz and Theodore were more than tolerable, and a good time was had by all.
The dinner conversation was apparently prompted by actions in my home state of Ohio. The members in the House of Representatives there were not happy with how the Health Department Director, reporting to the governor, was doing things. Meaning, without their approval.
So, they stuck an amendment on a bill to require her to go through them, more or less. Sounded like a case of whiny sour grapes, to me.
But Wolfe explained that when they drafted the Constitution, a big part of the debate was on how the legislature would be elected. They finally decided on a lower House, elected by us common folk, based on population; and an upper house, selected by state legislatures, with equal numbers for each state. The 17th Amendment later changed that chamber’s selection process to a popular vote.
As usual, I made sounds around my food now and again. Wolfe didn’t need a conversation partner at meals. But I have to admit, I do learn some things when I eat with him.
“It is a forgotten custom, but at the time, hot tea, or coffee would be poured into a saucer.” He stopped. I looked up from my lamb chop. “And?”
“There is a story that Thomas Jefferson, returned from France, was visiting George Washington. And he was criticizing Washington for agreeing to a second, unnecessary, legislative body. He favored a unicameral branch, representing the populace.” Wolfe shook his head a quarter of an inch in disapproval.
|Washington is rumored to have asked Jefferson, why the man had just poured his hot coffee into the saucer. Jefferson told him, ‘To cool it.’”
“Is that so?”
“Indeed. And James Madison viewed the Senate as a body to cool the passions of the House. The Senate was to be a check on the masses.” He sighed. “Now, both chambers are filled with pompous witlings and self-absorbed jack-asses.”
“Can’t argue with you there,” I said around a mouthful of Fritz’s home made mashed potatoes, with parsley, butter, and a hint of garlic.
“Under the circumstances, the delegates crafted a document capable of serving as the foundation of an emerging nation. But no form of government can me be proof against human mendacity, rapacity, and stupidity.”
He said that Washington had some sage advice on political parties. I’m sure I’ll be hearing about that at a future meal.
It was another online poker night. Lon wanted to know why he didn’t get an exclusive on the shooting out at Lewis Hewitt’s place. I told him such stellar work by Saul and myself deserved first rate coverage, not some inferior piece from a rag like his own. I could picture Saul’s grin at that one.
Our fourth was a guy named Vic Davalilo, who worked in the medical examiner’s office. When I told him I was surprised he had time off to play, he forced a laugh. “You guys have no idea what it’s like out there. It’s not just hospitals. They’re finding bodies in apartments and boarding houses every day. This is the first day in two weeks I’ve worked less than fourteen hours. It’s insane.”
I filled him in on the Hewitt affair. He had only seen a little about it. It was good to see him, well, hear him, unwind a little. He was clearly exhausted, and stressed. Unfortunately, the evening did not improve his finances.
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: Stay at Home – Days 34 and 35
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 36
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 37
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 38
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Day 39
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 40 & 41
Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone: Stay at Home – Days 42 & 43
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 its 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.