July 31, 1958

“What does Bing Crosby have to do with anything?”

I couldn’t even answer her. Liz had to come fetch me from a local emergency room after midnight, and despite a big ugly bandage where I gashed my head on Kniesler’s saloon floor, she wasn’t the kindest of morning nurses.

“I don’t know about you, Snap. If I left you in a church you’d fall out of the choir balcony.”

The Peanut Killer’s morning dispatch had been another incomprehensible limerick, and Liz had to get to County Stadium early for the matinee finale. I chose to stay at the hotel, tend to my scalp with ice and watch the game on television.

It was a good idea. They had Blatz Beer on the room service menu. The TV reception wasn’t great, but I smacked the rabbit ears around until Don Drysdale didn’t look like the creature from the black lagoon.

Unfortunately, he was pitching like him. Torre doubled and Mathews homered in the 4th, and the Braves put six straight people on base off him and Ed Roebuck in the 6th to put the easy win away. Meanwhile, after whacking away on Burdette and Jay for two nights, Carl Willey had the Dodgers’ number. Fairly and Snider homered late, but L.A. ran out of outs. At least I wouldn’t be getting any after-dinner invite this time from the Duke.

Liz would be heading to Cincy later and after the Giants finished their last game there (they were getting hammered again, 8-1 the last time I checked), they’d be on their way to Wisconsin for the weekend. So I definitely had some time to kill at the old Pfister. I had three Blatzes in me, and didn’t even feel my gash anymore.

Coming back from the bathroom I happened to walk past the room’s writing desk, where I noticed a nondescript cardboard box sitting there. I had an idea what was inside, and pried off the top.

It was the manuscript for Liz’s novel, the one she was working on at that women’s writing camp in Iowa that I rescued her from. It was called Wool Over Their Eyes, “a novel of suspense by Liz Dumás”, and there were at least 400 typewritten pages so far.

I read the first line:

Clara was angry enough to skin a dog alive.

And was instantly hooked. I was also pretty Blatzed, so sat on the bed and got into the rhythm of the thing pretty quick.

It also began to disturb me. The lead character was a female killer whose father abandoned her. Let’s just say she had many axes to grind against many men, and used an axe on most of them. She toured the country collecting bodies, getting away with every murder through her looks and charm and the fact that no one would suspect someone like her.

There was an even a stooge of a steady boyfriend named Melvin, who happened to be an usher at a movie theater.

I ordered one more beer from room service and began to think. What was I doing sharing a room with this woman? What if SHE was the Peanut Killer, racking up victims like the girl in her book? Maybe the guy I encountered a few times on the phone and in shadows was her accomplice!

All I know is that I read all 400 pages in one sitting. Got so wrapped up in it that the ballgame ended and a polka show called Dairyland Jubilee was on the next time I looked at the TV.

And then Liz rushed in, out-of-breath, and started packing.

“Got your stuff ready? Press bus leaves for the airport in twenty minutes.”

She looked over and saw her manuscript pages, turned over and strewn on the bed.

“Oh…You read it.”
“Damn right I did.”
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Like what? A little paranoid? Maybe, yeah.”

She walked over, started collecting the pages.

“You should have told me you were going to do this.”
“And maybe you should have told me you were going to write your murderous life story.”

She walked the pages over to the desk. Turned and just glared at me.

“Ever heard of the word ‘fiction’, Snap?”
“Sure. And do you know any ushers named Melvin?”
“No, but I know one named Milton who’s being a first class jerk.”

I wobbled to my feet. She stuffed her manuscript back in the box. Dropped it into her open suitcase. Picking up speed as she went.

“Maybe this was a bad idea. Counting on you to watch over me…”
“How do you think I feel? Sleeping in the same bed with someone who fantasizes about collecting man-corpses!”
“ARE YOU CRAZY? It’s a book! A novel! How do I know the killer isn’t YOU? You’re the one who’s always stumbling over the dumb bodies, right? ‘Blacking out’ every chance you can get—”
“Take that back, Liz.”
“No way. And guess what? I’m taking my life back.”
“Which is what? Traveling around with a bunch of press box creeps?”
“It’s a gig, whether I like it or not. And creeps come in all sizes and shapes, Snappy.”

She clamped her suitcase shut and carted it to the door. I tried to go after her but tripped on the carpet and fell like a fool. All I could think about while I lay there and she slammed the door after herself was how good it would feel just to be warming up Johnny Antonelli again. Which said a lot.

THE SKINNYS

L.A. 000 000 121 – 4 7 0
MIL 000 205 00x – 7 9 0
W-Willey L-Drysdale HRS: Fairly, Snider, Mathews GWRBI-Mathews

S.F. 010 001 020 – 4 11 3
CIN 203 030 10x – 9 12 1
W-Schmidt L-Gomez HRS: Mays, Lynch, Crowe, Bailey GWRBI-Lynch
There were three separate telegrams waiting for me at the front desk from Giants players. They wanted their “good luck charm” back in a bad way. This time it was Gomez’s turn to stink, Lynch and Robinson driving in six of the nine Reds runs. Rigney’s gang should be here by early morning, and our four games with the Braves could be the biggest of the year.

CHI 000 000 002 2 – 4 10 1
PIT 100 001 000 0 – 2 8 2
W-Elston L-Face HRS: Moryn, Thomson, Clemente GWRBI-Thomson
Bob Friend takes a 4-hit shutout into the 9th. One game-tying Walt Moryn homer and game-winning Bobby Thomson homer later, the Bucs have blown another one.

STL 000 020 000 – 2 11 0
PHI 000 000 000 – 0 6 0
W-Mizell L-Sanford SV-Muffett GWRBI-Musial
Vinegar Bend notches his 14th win and in shocking fashion, with Phil Paine unavailable gets his win saved by the human mine field called Billy Muffett.

NYY 200 000 100 001 1 – 5 11 0
K.C. 100 000 020 001 0 – 4 8 0
W-Duren L-Tomanek HR: Skowron GWRBI-SKowron
After getting steamrolled the day before, the A’s battle valiantly, tying it in the 8th on a Bob Cerv double and tying it back up again after the Yanks pull ahead in the 12th. Then Moose Skowron says enough of this and takes Dick Tomanek over the wall in the fateful 13th.

BOS 000 000 000 – 0 4 0
DET 000 100 00x – 1 5 0
W-Bunning L-Brewer HR: Kaline GWRBI-Kaline
The Red Sox getting shut out is rarer than horns on a dog. Not so rare is Jim Bunning doing the shut-outting. Kaline’s 4th inning solo blast is all the Tigers need.

WAS 010 100 000 – 2 12 1
CHX 300 110 00x – 5 10 0
W-Donovan L-Kemmerer SV-Moore HRS: Throneberry, Phillips, Callison GWRBI-Phillips
The pesky Nats outhit the Sox but it doesn’t get them anywhere. Washington’s tragic elimination number is down to 15.

BAL 100 000 006 0 – 7 11 1
CLE 000 000 223 2 – 9 12 1
W-Martin L-Wilhelm HRS: Nieman, Jackson, Doby GWRBI-Doby
A nice little midweek tea party for six and a half innings, followed by a Killer Kowalski vs. Dick the Bruiser deathmatch the rest of the way. Tribe takes a late 4-1 lead on O’Dell but Birds explode for six in the 9th off McLish and Mudcat, capped by a Bob Nieman grand slam. A Woodling 2-base error helps the Tribe plate three to tie it back up in the last of the 9th, and Larry Doby belts one off Wilhelm to win it in the 10th. Phew!

National League through Thursday, July 31

Milwaukee 54 45 .545
San Francisco 55 46 .545
Chicago 53 49 .520 2.5
Philadelphia 50 48 .510 3.5
St. Louis 47 50 .485 6
Los Angeles 48 52 .480 6.5
Pittsburgh 48 52 .480 6.5
Cincinnati 44 57 .436 11

American League through Thursday, July 31

New York 68 35 .660
Boston 56 44 .560 10.5
Baltimore 56 46 .549 11.5
Chicago 55 48 .534 13
Detroit 51 50 .505 15
Cleveland 52 51 .505 15
Kansas City 39 62 .386 28
Washington 31 72 .301 37
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