Strange Footnote to a Sad Footnote

Recently, while reposing in the Las Vegas home of The Great Tomsoni, Poland's entry into the world of sophisticated sorcery and the star of the Folies-Bergère revue at the Tropica-na Hotel, I happened upon a copy of Irving Wallace's The Fan Club.

I read the back cover blurb:

"The Plan: to capture her and teach her the realities of love.

The Act: a bold kidnaping of the world's Number One sex symbol.

The Climax: the American dream of perfect love turns into a shattering nightmare of lust and terror."

("Possibly the best thing he's done yet"— New York Times Syndicate)*

"This seems rather severe criticism.

The Great Tomsoni

My mood was such that I devoured the book greedily, drooling over the abduction and subsequent ill-use of the sultry movie star. I could not help thinking that if the lovely damsel had only a deck of cards and had read this book how easily she could have delivered herself from the hands of her savage captors by using the "Lethal Four-Card Fist" described on page 72.

But such was not the case. The heroine was incarcerated by the cruel coterie and there seemed to be no way out. To quote Mr. Wallace:

"Yes, she was caged, trapped, with as much chance of escape as a prisoner locked in solitary confinement inside San Quentin.

"San Quentin? What had made her think of that one-time high security California penitentiary?"

What? What indeed!

Quickly we find out:

"She had total recall, and recall had brought it back to her."

We can presume that total recall is a common enough attribute of sex-symbol movie stars.

And now, with the ease of Marlin Perkins sliding from the protection a mother sloth gives her young to the protection you can receive from Mutual of Omaha, Wallace segues to the suicide of a San Quentin inmate with a deck of cards.

And so it is here, in this Irving Wallace classic, that I find the missing pieces of the puzzle and the end to my strange tale.

The man's name is William Kogut. He is a lumberjack. Sentenced to death for murdering a woman, he vows that he will never be put to death by the state.

As his final day draws near he conceives his devious plan. He scrapes and soaks the red pips of the cards and stuffs them into the leg of his cot with a broom handle; the broom handle is left in the tubing to make it airtight. He holds the makeshift bomb over the flame of the oil lamp all night and finally, as morning arrives and the gas pressure builds up sufficiently, Kogut's efforts are rewarded with translation to a more tolerable plane of existence.

Facts, names, motives—all clearly before me in cold print; and then, one final gem.

Mr. Wallace mentions—and I applaud his restraint and subtlety—Mr. Wallace mentions, in no uncertain terms, that this man who blew himself to bits with the ultimate pasteboard pyrotechnic, was Polish.

_ -

Fastest Gun In The West

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