May 6 1939
One night I am sitting in Mindy’s restaurant on Broadway reading the sports news in an early edition of a morning blat when I am surprised more than somewhat to see where an unknown prize fighter by the name of the Louisiana Leopard wins a ten-round decision in the city of Philadelphia, Pa., over Chester Nubbs, the leading contender for the heavyweight championship of the whole world.
What is more, I see that the manager of the Louisiana Leopard is nobody but Spider McCoy, who is a personal friend of mine, and this also surprises me no little because the last time I see Spider he is getting ready to go to Philadelphia, Pa., with a prize fighter who is called Pigsfoot Groody to fight Chester Nubbs, although of course nobody expects Pigsfoot to fight Chester very long or very much, and especially very much, not even Spider McCoy.
In fact, Spider does not expect Pigsfoot to fight Chester Nubbs past Chester clearing his throat, because the idea is Chester is up there in sight of a million-dollar match with the champion of the whole world for the heavyweight title, and in the matches his manager, Jack Keegan, is taking in between, all he requires is large guys to just make believe to fight Chester, for naturally Jack Keegan is too smart to be taking chances on Chester getting outfumbled by some sausage and losing the title shot.
So for the Philadelphia match, Jack Keegan orders such a guy from Spider McCoy who generally has a stock of large guys on hand for emergencies of this nature and Spider selects Pigsfoot for the assignment because Pigsfoot is not only very sure-footed in these matters but moreover he appears with Chester Nubbs before in other spots under other names and they are very good friends and understand each other.
Spider is getting one thousand boffoes and two round-trip tickets for Pigsfoot for the fight in Philadelphia, Pa., and counting his cut and what Pigsfoot owes him in dollar touches this will be about seven-fifty net for Spider, which is considered a very good depression score, especially as all Spider and Pigsfoot have to do to earn the money is to look serious.
Well, I continue reading what the blat says and it seems that the Louisiana Leopard is a substitute for Pigsfoot because it seems that Pigsfoot is taken down sick some days before the fight and that Spider brings the Leopard on very hastily to take Pigsfoot’s place and there the Leopard is with a decision over the leading contender for the heavyweight championship of the whole world, although the blat says it is without doubt the dullest fight in all history and that the customers are complaining no little and quite some before it is over.
In fact, it says that instead of trying to fight the Louisiana Leopard, the contender acts as if he wishes only to avoid him and this is considered very strange conduct, indeed, for a guy such as Chester Nubbs, who is supposed to hit so hard that it requires a medical operation to wake them up after he nails them.
However, there is a long statement by Spider McCoy to the scribes at the ringside immediately after the fight in which Spider says Chester Nubbs undoubtedly receives private information before entering the ring that the Louisiana Leopard is already a fugitive from nine states for crippling opponents with his terrible blows and that the contender is afraid to take a chance with him. Furthermore, Spider challenges the champion of the whole world on behalf of the Louisiana Leopard to a contest for the title and Spider says all he wants for the Leopard’s end is a hundred thou.
Naturally I am delighted at this news as I can see where Spider is in the money again because a guy who can bob up overnight taking a decision from Chester Nubbs is just the same as wheat in the bin and I can scarcely wait until Spider gets back to congratulate him and also to get a peek at the Louisiana Leopard.
But it is several weeks later before Spider comes into Mindy’s again and then he seems quite despondent and looks white and peaked and, what is more, he has fresh scars on his nose and around his eyes that I can see may be the leavings of a pasting and when I start to tell him how glad I am he finally connects, he shakes his head very sadly and says to me like this:
“Wait,” Spider says. “Wait until you hear the story. But first I will order a salami sandwich on pumpernickel with a glass of domestic beer to come along. And listen, insipid,” he says to Charley the waiter, “get a shuffle on those big flat dogs of yours, too.”
“Why, Spider,” I say, “you are speaking very crossly to an old pal such as Charley. What is the trouble?” I say.
“I despise waiters,” Spider says. “If you do not despise them too by the time I get through, you are no friend of mine. I despise nurses, also. In fact,” he says, “I despise everybody.”
Well, I can see that Spider is in an unreasonable mood at this time so I wait until he knocks off his sandwich and his beer and then becomes much calmer and finally he gets around to telling me the story, though he stops in the telling every few minutes to give Charley the waiter a mean look until after a while he has Charley in such nervous condition that he spills an order of cold borsch down a customer’s neck and causes Mindy to use language that you will scarcely believe.
Now then (Spider says) no sooner do I arrive in Philadelphia, Pa., with this Pigsfoot than what happens but he says he is sick and he begins carrying on in a most exasperating manner. I get him to a hotel and call in the house croaker and he takes one look at Pigsfoot and says that what ails him is his appendix and unless I get him to a hospital and have same extracted I will have a dead prize fighter on my hands.
Well, personally I will rather have a dead one than one with something the matter with his appendix but Pigsfoot seems in such great pain and yells so loud that he finally touches my heart so I take him to a hospital and the last I see of him they are making him unconscious with ether and when I tell them they can save all this bother by just waggling a boxing glove under Pigsfoot’s beezer they think I am making light of a serious situation and request me to go away.
So there I am with a sick fighter on my hands and a fight ten days off and this is a most deplorable predicament to be sure, especially as I can see that I am morally bound to pay Pigsfoot’s hospital bill. I return to my hotel and send for Jack Keegan to break the bad news to him that Pigsfoot will be unable to fight Chester Nubbs, and this Keegan acts as if it is his own appendix that needs something done to it and as if I am personally responsible for the matter.
But of course Jack Keegan is an old head in the fight game and he knows that things can happen to a fighter that can never happen to anybody else, so he finally says to me like this:
“Well, Spide,” he says, “the only thing to do is to send for another ostrich at once and then we will get hold of Ike Clonsky the promoter and have him announce the substitution. This show is a sellout and,” Keegan says, “we do not want to postpone it. Get anybody you can.” he says, “only be sure he is as big as Pigsfoot and knows his job as well.”
“Nobody knows his job as well as Pigsfoot, Jack,” I say.
“I guess you are right there,” Jack Keegan says. “I never see a better hand than old Pigsfoot, but,” he says, “let us make this a quick one. My guy is always very nervous when he is in there with strangers. He will be all upset when he hears about Pigsfoot as they are such good friends. In fact,” Jack says, “the chances are he will commence imagining there is something wrong with his own appendix. Chester is always imagining there is something wrong with him.”
“Well, Jack,” I say, “as long as he only imagines it, what difference does it make?”
“Why,” Jack Keegan says, “it makes the difference that he keeps us broke half the time paying for doctors to look him over. Who will you get to take Pigsfoot’s place, Spider?”
Well, I tell Jack Keegan I wish to think this over a while before I decide and that I will telephone him a little later and tell him the name so he can give it to Ike Clonsky, for the truth of the matter is I do not have another such a guy as Jack Keegan desires available at the moment and I want time to figure out where I can get one.
In the meantime, I go back to the hospital to see Pigsfoot because I get to thinking that maybe after a few days rest from the operation he may be able to go in there with Chester Nubbs after all and save us the expense of bringing in another guy and anyhow the way I look at it, Pigsfoot may just as well be lying down in the ring as in the hospital.
But it seems that Pigsfoot is just out from under the ether when I get to the hospital and he is very weak and what is more he is very fretful because he is in a public ward and he says if I do not get him a private room and a special nurse he will send for a scribe from one of the blats and tell him all about how he was brought to Philadelphia, Pa., by me for the purpose of defrauding the public by going in the tank for Chester Nubbs.
Naturally I am somewhat horrified at this ingratitude on Pigsfoot’s part but I can see where a beef from him just at this time may disarrange the plans for the show and perhaps damage my professional reputation, so I order a room and a nurse for him without ever bothering to request him to appear against Chester Nubbs even for a few minutes.
They have Pigsfoot removed to the private room and get in the special nurse for him before I depart and I wish to say I never see a prettier little cupcake than this nurse and in fact she is so cute that I have half a notion to tell Pigsfoot to move over and let me in the kip beside him. She is maybe twenty years old and has black hair and black eyes and is as lively as a pup and the minute Pigsfoot sees her he starts to improve rapidly.
I leave the nurse smoothing Pigsfoot’s pillow and go out and stand in front of the hospital a while and give a little earnest thought to this situation and I am very much depressed about it, indeed, because the way I size it up after I pay Pigsfoot’s hospital bill and then pay another guy to take his place with Chester Nubbs, I am going to finish away in the red.
In fact, nobody can blame me much if I abandon everything and go on back home but it is well known to one and all that I am all times a loyal character and I cannot bear to leave Pigsfoot in hock to a hospital in spite of his ingratitude, especially as I have many orders on hand for his services in the future.
Well, while I am standing there I notice a young guy leaning against a tree across the street from the hospital and what makes me notice him more than anything else is his size. He is maybe twenty-one or -two years old and stands at least six-three and weighs up around two hundred pounds and naturally I am always bound to notice a young guy this size no matter how many troubles I may have, because any young six-three and weighing two hundred may be the next heavyweight champion of the whole world.
I cross the street and take a closer swivel at the young guy and I can see that he is by no means a city character as he is wearing a checkered cap and a pinch-back coat and has a trusting expression in his eyes. He is watching the door of the hospital and after I case him a while and observe that he looks even bigger and better close up than he does from a distance, I speak to him:
“Son,” I say, “what might you be doing here?”
“Why,” the young guy says, “I am waiting for my sugar plum, Miss Babs Koogle, to get off work. She is a nurse in this hospital,” he says.
“She has a nice name,” I say.
“She is nice in every respect,” he says. “She is beautiful and good. She comes from my home town of Pottsville, Pa., and we are sweethearts since childhood and,” he says, “we are going to be married as soon as I can save up two hundred dollars.”
“Son,” I say, “that is a wonderful idea. When two parties, male and female, are in love, marriage is the only thing. Son,” I say, “what is your name and what is your occupation?”
“My name is Caswell Fish,” he says. “I am a lunch-counter waiter by trade when I am employed, but,” he says, “I aim to have a diner car of my own in Pottsville, Pa., someday. I will call it Caswell’s Eats. I am very ambitious,” he says.
“Son,” I say, “you are no longer a waiter. You are now a prize fighter and,” I say, “your name is the Louisiana Leopard. You are so called because of the animal in you.”
Well, at this Caswell becomes greatly alarmed and starts off up the street but I keep right at his hip and explain that all he has to do to make the two hundred clams for himself that will enable him to get married is to let Chester Nubbs wave at him a couple of times and to then remain quite still for ten seconds, although of course I do not explain that Chester may bop him on the button to make sure he remains still.
At first Caswell is greatly opposed to the idea because he says he not only never has a fight but that he considers prize fighting brutal and degrading but finally I tell him that maybe he can get two-fifty for his bit and then he becomes more interested. He says that such a sum will undoubtedly be most convenient to him in every manner but next he gets to worrying that maybe his sweet pea may not like the idea.
However, I explain very carefully to him that there is really no law that requires him to tell her of the matter and that in fact it may be a nice thing to surprise her with the money afterward and Caswell says he can see that I am a very smart fellow to be sure and the upshot of it all is he agrees to become the Louisiana Leopard.
Then I telephone Jack Keegan and explain I have the right party as a substitute for Pigsfoot and that it will be necessary for me to hide him out for a while to coach him in his duties and that I will also require a couple of C’s over and above the contract price to pay all this unexpected expense and Jack Keegan says this is fair enough and that he will take care of the matter out of Chester Nubbs’ end.
So Caswell calls up the hospital and tells Miss Babs Koogle that he suddenly lands himself a temporary waiter job with a swell hunting party that is leaving for the Pocono Mountains right away and that she may not hear from him for a while and he gives her so many kisses over the phone that the operator charges him an extra dime for overtime and I can see that this is indeed love and that Caswell also has a little natural cunning in being able to think up such a story.
Then I take him to a little country hotel a few miles out of Philadelphia, Pa., and begin schooling him on how to act in the dressing room and in the ring and what to say if any scribes get hold of him and ask him questions and on how to fall properly and I wish to say that Caswell turns out to be a very apt pupil in every respect, particularly in learning how to fall properly.
What is more, he turns out to be a right nice young character and I can see that he will make an excellent husband for Miss Babs Koogle or anybody else for that matter and I am pleased to be able to give him this start in life, especially when he agrees to accept two-twenty-five for his bit instead of two-fifty. He says that with such a sum he can not only get married at once but can make the first down payment on a diner car in Pottsville and he is very happy, indeed, over his prospects.
About the sixth day we are there, Jack Keegan comes out and says he wishes to take a peek at the Louisiana Leopard and when I show him Caswell he looks him over very carefully and nods his head and says that Caswell seems all right.
“Why, Jack,” I say, “you are not worrying about someone I personally guarantee, are you?”
“Well, Spide,” Jack Keegan says, “I am not worrying, but you know yourself that in this game you cannot afford to take any chances. This one has to be all right because I am unable to get Chester to train a minute for it. He is in love and wishes to get married, and,” Jack says, “it is all your fault.”
“What do you mean it is my fault?” I say.
“Why,” Jack says, “it is your fault for bringing Pigsfoot here with an appendix. Chester goes to the hospital every day and sits with him by the hour and he meets a pancake by the name of Miss Babs Koogle who is nursing Pigsfoot and this is the party he is in love with and wishes to marry.”
“Koogle?” I say to Jack Keegan. “Sh-h-h,” I say, “not so loud. Why, she is undoubtedly the Louisiana Leopard’s nasturtium. Sh-h-h,” I say. “If the Leopard finds out about this we will have no Leopard. Does Miss Koogle love Chester?” I say.
“Why, I suppose so,” Jack says. “What dame can resist a big swell-looking guy like him and the next heavyweight champion of the whole world to boot? Well, I hope Chester does not find out he is fighting a rival in love or he will try to kill the Leopard and,” Jack says, “I do not care to be a party to the murder of a harmless guy like him. This is indeed a situation,” he says.
In fact, it is such a situation that I go in to Philadelphia, Pa., and over to the hospital to see Pigsfoot Groody and find out what is going on and by this time he is able to be up and sitting out in the hospital yard and I discover him talking to a nurse who is by no means Miss Babs Koogle but almost as pretty.
“This is Miss Kitty Kronin,” Pigsfoot says. “She is a friend of Miss Koogle’s and very nice.”
Naturally I can see this for myself without Pigsfoot telling me but I request Miss Kronin to move away a few paces while I talk to Pigsfoot and then I ask him what about this business of Chester Nubbs and Miss Babs Koogle.
“Well, Spide,” Pigsfoot says, “you cannot blame Chester. Miss Koogle is nice. She is not my type but she is nice. By the way. Spide.” he says, “who is this Louisiana Leopard the blats say you get to take my place with Chester? Is he someone I know?”
“Does Miss Babs Koogle love Chester?” I ask, paying no attention to his question.
“Well,” Pigsfoot says, “who can tell about such things? Chester has glamor, especially when he lets that left hook go. Miss Babs Koogle is going to the fight as his guest, and,” Pigsfoot says, “I guess any broad is bound to admire his left hook. Personally I am only glad I am not the Louisiana Leopard because,” he says, “Chester will be putting everything he has got on that left hook to impress Miss Babs Koogle. By the way Spide,” he says, “have you noticed how nice Miss Kronin really is?”
Well, to tell the truth I noticed it so much that when a guy in white clothes comes out and says Pigsfoot has got to go in and take a rest I make a date for dinner with Miss Kronin and I find her so nice that I almost forget to return to Caswell.
Naturally, it is most disquieting news to me that Miss Babs Koogle is going to be a spectator at the fight as I can see where it may lead to complications, but I figure the best way to do is to meet complications as they arise, so I continue working with Caswell.
What worries me about him more than anything else is the way he looks when he gets his clothes off. He looks like an athlete with them on but when he strips his skin is as soft as a baby’s and whiter than a tombstone and right away you say to yourself that if this guy is a fighter I am a plumber. In fact, he has the softest, whitest skin I ever see in my life, male or female, and when Ike Clonsky the promoter comes out to see what the Louisiana Leopard looks like, he lets out a terrible squawk about Caswell being so white.
Ike says we will all be arrested for putting an invalid in the ring with the leading contender for the heavyweight championship of the whole world and he tells me to get one of those sun lamps and tan Caswell up and make him look athletic so the customers will not think he is a fugitive from a graveyard.
Well, I inquire around and find that sun lamps cost money and I feel that my nut is already big enough as it is for this occasion, so finally I get a bottle of iodine and a brush and paint two coats of it on Caswell’s body and he comes out looking just like a bronzed statue and very beautiful.
But it seems that I put too much of the iodine on in spots and after a while Caswell begins to suffer from the sting no little and quite some and in fact he suffers so that he is screaming at the top of his voice and calling me names that I never suspect they even know in Pottsville, Pa., and nothing will do but I must get some soap and water and try to scrub some of the iodine off.
But no matter how much I scrub I cannot erase all the iodine and in fact the scrubbing only leaves Caswell with brown splotches all over him. However, the scrubbing eases the pain no little and Caswell says that is all he is interested in and that he does not care a whoop if he looks athletic or not.
Well, the next night is the night of the fight and by the time Caswell and I arrive at the arena the place is jammed to the doors and thousands of customers are being turned away, for Chester Nubbs is without doubt a wonderful drawing card. Of course all the customers know very well that Chester is only fighting some parasol, for in Philadelphia, Pa., the customers are smartened up to the prize-fight game and they know they are not going to get to see a world war for three dollars tops. In fact, all they care about is seeing Chester Nubbs with his clothes off.
As soon as I plant Caswell in a dressing room in charge of a friend of mine by the name of Kid Slussman who is going to assist me in the corner, I go out into the arena looking for Miss Babs Koogle and sure enough there she is in an aisle seat in the third row and prettier than ever, which makes her very pretty, indeed. I squat down on my haunches beside her and ask her if she remembers me and after gazing at me a while, Miss Babs Koogle says:
“Oh, yes, I remember you,” she says. “You are the hardhearted skinflint manager of that poor fellow Mr. Groody that I am attending in the hospital. He tells me all about you,” she says. “He tells me you are a terrible person, to be sure.”
“Oh,” I say, “he does, does he? Well, I will take that up later with him. I have more important business right now. Listen, little miss,” I say, “kindly do not be surprised when you see who Chester Nubbs’ opponent is and do not create any scenes because he is nobody but a friend of yours by the name of Caswell Fish.”
“Caswell Fish is up in the Pocono Mountains,” Miss Babs Koogle says.
“Caswell Fish is back here in a dressing room,” I say. “You will presently see him in the ring as the Louisiana Leopard, but,” I say, “do not be alarmed at his appearance. He has slight discolorations on his person where the iodine fails to come off, but he is all right and in good health and no harm will befall him.”
“What iodine?” Miss Babs Koogle asks.
Then I quickly explain to her how I try to tan Caswell up to make him look athletic and how he is to get two-twenty-five cash money for a brief appearance in the ring with Chester Nubbs and how she and Caswell can then get married and embark in business in a diner car in Pottsville, Pa., and what is more I add my blessing, but all the time I am explaining Miss Babs Koogle seems greatly agitated and finally she says to me like this:
“But Chester will kill Caswell,” she says. “Chester tells me only this afternoon that he is going to murder his opponent tonight just to show me how good he is, but of course I have no idea Caswell is the opponent. I do not want Caswell murdered,” she says. “I will find Chester and tell him not to commit this crime.”
“Look, little miss,” I say, “that is the surest way I know to get Caswell really murdered. When Chester says he is going to murder somebody it is just a way of saying and does not mean that he is really going to commit homicide, but,” I say, “if Chester thinks you have a kindly interest in Caswell he will most certainly become felonious, because I hear he loves you and Chester is not such a guy as will brook a rival in the land of the living.”
Well, by this time Miss Babs Koogle is crying bitterly, so I pat her on the back and say to her in a kindly tone of voice like this:
“Little miss,” I say, “if you just let nature take its course Caswell will not get a scratch, unless,” I say, “Chester can punch faster than Caswell can fall and the best anybody has ever been able to do on a guy schooled by Spider McCoy is just a glancing blow. Anyway,” I say, “promise me no embarrassing scenes.”
She looks at me through her tears and nods her head and I return to the dressing room saying to myself that Miss Babs Koogle displays a fine character in not wishing Chester Nubbs to be a murderer and then I escort Caswell into the ring with a bathrobe around him and sit down on a stool in a corner and I am really quite surprised at the way he sits there very composed, looking around at the crowd.
I am wondering what he will say when he sees Miss Babs Koogle there at the ringside but he does not seem to notice her and I am trying to decide if it will be a good idea to call his attention to her when Chester Nubbs comes down the aisle on which she is sitting and the cheering and the confusion generally makes me forget all about her.
“Now, son,” I say to Caswell, as I am putting the gloves on his dukes there in the corner, “in a couple of minutes you will be on your own. Just walk out there with your hands up like I show you, and,” I say, “when you see or smell something coming your way the thing to do is to fall down and lie perfectly still until you feel me picking you up.”
“Mr. McCoy,” Caswell says, “I am determined to endeavor to give Chester Nubbs a terrific thrashing. I may go down,” he says, “but it will be only after a spirited defense. I refuse to show the white feather in front of a little two-timer like Miss Babs Koogle in the manner you suggest.”
“Oh,” I say, “you see her, do you?”
“Mr. McCoy,” Caswell says, “I first commence to wonder slightly about Miss Babs Koogle the night I overhear Mr. Keegan telling you Chester Nubbs loves her and wishes to marry her. Well,” Caswell says, “I figure that even if this is true it is entirely one-sided. I figure that Miss Babs Koogle’s love for me will never die but I can scarcely blame another man for loving her, too.
“But,” Caswell says, “I just observe something that proves to me that Miss Babs Koogle reciprocates his love. I just observe my former honeysuckle hand him a note as he passes her coming down the aisle,” Caswell says. “It must be a love note, because,” he says, “you do not notice her handing me any notes, do you? He has it in his glove at this moment. I will endeavor to knock it down his throat. I mean the glove,” Caswell says.
“Look, Caswell,” I say, “when you get to be as old as I am you will learn that all broads are two-timers. In fact,” I say, “some are three-timers, but none of them are worth getting killed for.”
But Caswell only shakes his head and looks determined. But I do not have any more time to argue because the referee is calling Chester and Caswell together in the center of the ring for instructions, so I lead Caswell out there.
Well, when I remove Caswell’s robe and he stands out under the lights the spots on his body are plain to be seen and in fact he looks as if he has on a brown polka-dot dressing gown and the crowd probably figures that these spots are why he is called the Louisiana Leopard and there is some laughter here and there.
However, I wish to state that I cannot help feeling proud of Caswell, he conducts himself so nobly while listening to instructions and, in fact, you will think he is an old-timer at the business. Then I notice that Chester does not come near the group in the center of the ring but hangs on the outskirts and while I figure this is because Chester is not much interested in these preliminaries I feel that it will make things look better if he does not appear so nonchalant.
But when the bell rings and Caswell walks out of his corner as bold as a lion, I am greatly astonished to see Chester Nubbs go sliding along the ropes away from Caswell instead of stepping forward and hitting Caswell on the pimple per expectations of one and all. The next thing I know there is Caswell running after Chester and Chester is circling the ring like a scared wolf and once when they pass my corner Caswell stops and says to me like this:
“Mr. McCoy,” he says, “head him off the next time he comes your way, will you?”
Well, Chester never lets Caswell get near enough to him in the first round to hand him a ripe peach and personally I consider it a most surprising spectacle but the crowd thinks Chester is giving it a run for its money by displaying his skill in keeping away from an opponent and applauds him heartily.
I am wondering myself if this is the idea and then I notice Jack Keegan in Chester’s corner and Jack is making signals at me when nobody is looking and I figure he is trying to remind me in sign language of what Caswell is supposed to do and I try to tell him back in sign language that I remember all right but what is the idea of Chester Nubbs running all over town?
But I can see that Jack Keegan is trying to figure this out himself when Chester keeps running away from Caswell all through the second round, too. In fact, six rounds go by before anybody has time to think and Caswell is getting pretty well tuckered out from running and swinging and missing, for not a punch is landed by either Chester or Caswell in these rounds.
By now I can see that there is something radically wrong with Chester and I am wondering if he breaks both hands before coming into the ring or what, and Jack Keegan is being threatened with the air by the boxing inspectors for the language he is using to Chester Nubbs, though afterward I hear Chester never answers a word back and Caswell is unable to say more than yes or no to me because he is puffing so hard from his running.
Well, all of a sudden I realize that there I am with a guy on the verge of going the limit with the leading contender for the heavyweight championship of the whole world and maybe winning the decision, so naturally I begin giving Caswell a little judicious advice, hoping all the time there is really something the matter with Chester Nubbs and that he is not just laying back to the last round to kiss Caswell with his left hook.
I notice Jack Keegan trying to show me a big-bladed pocket knife but by this time I am too excited to pay any attention to sign language and in fact everybody else is somewhat excited although many spectators are speaking most unkindly of Chester Nubbs. As the final bell rings, Chester runs right out of the ring and up the aisle to his dressing room without waiting to hear the decision and the crowd makes such a racket that I scarcely hear it myself but I know it goes to Caswell.
Well, I have a terrible struggle getting Caswell through the throng and back to our dressing room and the first one in there is nobody but Miss Babs Koogle and she throws her arms around Caswell’s neck and says to him like this:
“Oh, Caswell,” she says, “you are wonderful, and I love you so.”
“Miss Koogle,” I say, “you are too late. Caswell’s eyes are opened at last to your two-timing of him with Chester Nubbs when you pass that love note to Chester tonight.”
Well, at this Miss Babs Koogle starts to laugh and she says:
“So it is a love note, is it?” she says. “Mr. McCoy,” she says, “don’t you know Chester Nubbs is a confirmed hypochondriac?”
“Is that so?” I say. “Well, fighters go up against anything. They get all kinds of habits if you don’t watch them,” I say.
“It is not a habit,” Miss Babs Koogle says. “Chester Nubbs is always worrying about his health and always worrying about catching some disease. The note I hand him tonight,” she says, “warns him to observe his opponent’s body closely and he will note copper-colored spots all over him. The note suggests that spots of this nature are sometimes characteristic of leprosy and that it may be a good idea for Chester to avoid personal contact with his opponent, and,” she says, “you see what happens.”
“I see,” I say. “But,” I say, “I hear that Chester Nubbs wishes to marry you.”
“Chester wishes to marry me,” Miss Babs Koogle says, “but he does not love me. At least not the way Caswell does. Chester figures it will be mighty convenient for him if he has a trained nurse around all the time to look after him when he does not feel well, and,” Miss Babs Koogle says, “Chester never feels well. Anyway, I will never marry a prize fighter.”
“Sweetheart,” Caswell says, “that is one thing you know I will never be.”
At this moment there is some confusion outside the room and in comes Jack Keegan and Chester Nubbs and Jack says to me like this:
“Oh, there you are, you double-crossing old pelican,” he says, “take this.”
“And this,” Chester Nubbs says.
Then they biff me one after the other and although I am somewhat dazed by the force of their blows I always remember that Keegan punches harder than Chester and that when Chester starts his left hook he drops it low and if ever I get a guy with a good right I will show him how to lick this bum with a right-hand shot inside the hook.
But of course the guy will not be Caswell Fish because the last I see of him and Miss Babs Koogle after I pay him off they are headed for Pottsville, Pa., and they never even invite me to come to their wedding. So that is all there is to the story (Spider McCoy says).
“Well, Spider,” I say, “I can see it is all a most unhappy experience for you and you have my sympathy, especially,” I say, “because of those injuries that leave you so wan and pale.”
“Oh,” Spider says, “that is something else again. It seems that Miss Kitty Kronin works in the contagious ward of that hospital and Pigs-foot and I are both laid up with the measles for three weeks from associating with her.”