[First published in Rebel Yells, Vol. 2, #2, Guy Lillian's version of the SFC newsletter, 1984.]
Not too long ago, I was visited by a member of the committee of the world's most prestigious literary awards. "It seems," he said, "that you've created one of the most notable fictional works of the century, and we're forced--reluctantly--to consider you for next year's award."
I was frankly puzzled. "If you're referring to my 'Worldsong' cycle," I said, "the first stories have only just been written and my agent has just started submitting them. Isn't it unusual to offer your particular award before the work has been published? I mean, Steinbeck had been- "
"Of course, of course, but that isn't the work we're interested in."
"Then you have to mean my fantasy, my horror fiction. 'Thirst,' I suppose. But that's odd, too, since your award has so scrupulously overlooked the minor genres, whatever the contribution of the writers in--"
"'Thirst'!" he said, managing some revulsion. "A grotesque story. I was repulsed by it. We'd never consider a story about a garage mechanic for our prize, unless he threw molotov cocktails. No--"
"My science fiction? 'The Happy Man'? 'Spacemen Live Forever'?"
The distinguished gentleman blinked. "You know, I did read those stories. I must confess that 'Spacemen Live Forever' rather appealed to me. I recently read another work along those same lines. Have you ever read a book called Jonathan Livingston Seagull? I read 'The Happy Man,' too, but I didn't quite understand it. That was all made up, wasn't it?"
"Parts were," I confessed.
"Oh," he said. He blinked again. "Well, no matter. It isn't your science fiction we're interested in anyway. It's this group of fantastic character studies you've written about this altogether brutish chap--"
"Oh," I said. "You mean 'My Friend, Hank Reinhardt.'"
"That was the group of stories that started it. I understand. A remarkable series of works. A profound contribution to imaginative literature and by far your most astounding creation. Just last week, in Stockholm, we were discussing it. I must confess we're impressed. We've not quite made up our minds, but it does seem that if you're available to travel you have the edge over your only competition, a Russian chap who won't be able to attend. That's very important, the delivery of the address and all that, you know. And besides, when compared to his Stalin, your Reinhardt is much more grotesque."
"Yes," I admitted. "That's true." But then I explained to him very carefully why I didn't think I could win an award for my writings on Hank Reinhardt, despite their undeniable contribution to 20th Century mythology. Besides, I was rather pulling for the Russian chap who got it instead.
Yes, Virginia--and you too, Forrest J--I created Hank Reinhardt. There are times when I ask myself why I did that. I look back over my writing career which has included a rather spotty output ranging from things like "Thirst" and "The Happy Man" down to snap-ending fillers in the lesser science fantasy mags. Only recently have I been consistently turning out material I'm really proud of. Even there, on occasion, I find Hank intrudes. I see bits and pieces of the boy in certain of my characters, as I see bits and pieces of many, many people. But the others come and go. Hank stays on. Oh, admittedly the elements I draw from Hank these days are not the same elements I used to draw from him. There is a side of Hank that only two or three of us really know. There is a secret Hank Reinhardt who is not very bloodthirsty, does not consider edged weaponry all that interesting and who does needlepoint. But I don't expect you to believe that. Why should you? What do you know? You think I did it all by writing a bunch of anecdotes to fill up the pages of my SFPA fanzine SFPAge. Anecdotes entitled "My Friend Hank Reinhardt" and dealing with the familiar blood and guts fan we all know and revere. HA, fat lot you know, buddy.
It began before that.
You see...I really did create the Hank Reinhardt legend.
When I first met Hank Reinhardt he was much shorter and only weighed 94 pounds--not even enough to qualify as a 96-pound weakling. This was in the late '50s. Jerry Burge introduced us. Jerry and Hank, along with Walter Guthrie, Henry Burwell, Ian Macauley and Dewey Scarborough had been founds of the old Atlanta Science Fiction Organization back in the early 1950s. It had started when Burge had run an ad in Ray Palmer's Other Worlds, the idea being to sell off all his SF magazines. Hank and Ian and the others responded and instead of Jerry selling off his collection, a fan group was born. Ian and Henry were the prime movers. Jerry was the workhorse. Carson Jacks, one of the nicest gentlemen ever to involve himself with fandom, was the brains behind the group. When Burwell dropped out before the completion of the project to form ASFO Press and publish Sam Moskowitz's The Immortal Storm, Carson and Jerry rescued it.
Hank, meanwhile, dreamed of fame and glory. All this, remember, was before I got into fandom. Hank dropped out of fandom and got married before I finally joined ASFO, which was December, 1954. December 10, almost 30 years ago. It is to shudder.
This is why we didn't meet. Hank was so determined to be thought of as a magnificent heroic specimen that he was going to do something about it. He had worked out with weights and exercises, but with indifferent results. He realized that wasn't the answer and that indeed, the answer did not lie in this country. But the answer might lie in mass hypnosis. If Hank could not become the sort of person he wished to become, he might still be able to convince others that he was. If he could leave the country, travel someplace where he might learn the Oriental secret of clouding men's minds (and women's too, let us not forget; hell, especially clouding women's minds...). Well, the thing was to be known as a masterful, heroic figure, not to be one. So he departed for foreign shores to learn the secret. Unfortunately, he miscalculated. He traveled to Germany.
He spent a number of years in Germany then, disillusioned and distraught, he returned to America and Atlanta. Thus, sometime at the close of the '50s, I finally met Hank Reinhardt...introduced to me by Jerry Burge. It was a staggering event.
Jerry had tried to prepare me for the thing, but words were inadequate for what I actually saw. Imagine a beach. Imagine Truman Capote. Imagine, if you will, Capote strolling across the bach this afternoon, singing "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." Imagine Capote spotting a man with an attractive blonde on the beach blanket next to him. Still singing, Capote walks over to the couple. He kicks sand in the man's face and goes off, the blonde eagerly clinging to his arm. The other guy, sputtering and spitting sand--and that's pretty much what Hank was really like in those days.
His glasses were incredibly thick, not just the bottoms of Coke bottles, but the entire bottle melted down. His feet dangled over the edge of his chair, not touching the floor. His voice was higher pitched than the Vienna Boys Choir. His hands fidgeted nervously in his lap. I dare not describe how he was dressed. Who'd believe a grown man in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, especially in 1959? (But then, who would believe a grown man in mail in 1984?) I think we probably met in the Atlanta Public Library because I remember walking into the Fine Arts Department and seeing Hank and Jerry arm wrestling at one of the tables. Again and again Jerry won.
Well, even in those days, when I wasn't that much of a winner myself, I had a soft spot in my heart for cases like Hank. He used to come to me with stories and tales of his dreams and woes. It was sad. Here was a wretched, pathetic person who dreamed of being a hero. I remember telling him about Conan, letting him read "Queen of the Black Coast" and "A Witch Shall be Born." I remember Hank's face as he read the latter...he turned pale, and between bites of his nails, said, "Oh merthiful thakes, they're really cruthifying him! Oh merthy!"
He read copies of Planet Stories I leant him, and Planet Comics. Hank was impressed. "Oh thank you," he said, getting my shoes wet in his clumsy attempts to show gratitude. "You've opened up new vithtaths to my eager mind. You've thown me the thort of life I've alwayth athpired to!" Hank had this thpeech problem....
"Oh, how I long to be like Conan the Barbarian and ring forth with a thearing Thimmerian Curth! Or to be Eric John Thtark and roam the lonely wathteth of Marth! Even to be Hunt Bowman defying alien conquerorth! Oh, that ith how to live, to be, the true glory of being fulfilled."
I listened sympathetically, grateful that I hadn't introduced him to Startling Stories, Astonishing, Super Science. One day, while listening to Reinhardt's forlorn ramblings, an idea came to me. "Hank, " I said, "what you need is some P.R."
This was in the middle '60s. I'd been discharged from the Army and my writing career was off to its somewhat rocky beginning. Hank just stared at me after I'd made the pronouncement, then said, "Huh?"
"Look," I said, "forget all that stuff about Oriental secrets and clouding men's minds. There's a good ol' American secret that clouds 'em better. Just look around you."
He did so. I cuffed his ear.
"I mean figuratively. You really think those singers could make it with their alleged voices? Hell no. They use P.R. Someone writes a story about how great they are. People read the stories and think they really are great. Another story says no girl can resist 'em and nexst thing you know, no girl can resist them. Not if she's read the right story."
"Yeth," he said slowly, "I've theen thuch things. But will it work in fandom. Don't fanth have cothmic minds?"
"They believe they do, " I said. "Because they've been told they do. That's how it works. You really think Harry Warner's a nice guy? I'll tell you the truth. He beats up on old women. But almost every fanzine says he's a nice guy and now everyone believes it. Look at Isaac Asimov. All the book jackets tell what a great writer he is, how he knows everything. Every month in F&SF the editor carefully leads his column off with a blurb about how intelligent he is. But have you ever carefully checked out the facts in any of his articles? Of course you haven't.
"P.R. is great. Fandom and prodom both make extensive use of it. You ever really see a copy of FAPA? You probably believe in the oldest fannish apa, but the truth is that for the past 8 years all FAPA has had to do is publish an official organ with a waitlist."
"Thith is tho incredible!"
"You don't know the half of it, kid. Lee Hoffman was really a boy."
Hank's hands flew up in consternation. "But...do you think it could work with me? And who--"
"Listen," I said, eager now that the potential was growing in my mind. "Listen, it's worth a try. It's a chance for both of us. You want to be a legend and I want to see just how good a writer I really am. What I'll do is this. I'll just write up some things--make them up, see. I won't even make a big thing out of them. I'll just use them as filler, in my mailing comments zine in SFPA. I'll make up a title--something slight, like 'My Friend, Hank Reinhardt.'"
"Your friend? Oh, thith is thuch an honor!"
"It's a test, Hank. And the real test is the effect this will have on you. I'll do my part, but the real part'll be up to you. You'll have to pretend to be whatever I say you are."
"Pleath! Let me be like Conan and Eric John Thtark!"
"Sure, that's it. You'll collect swords and armor, see. And you'll know about them. You'll be an expert. What do you do for a living anyway?"
"I dethign butterflyth for windchimeth."
"Not strong enough, Hank! From now on, you're a skip-tracer!"
"Oh, merthy! I think I may faint--"
"You can't faint, Hank. Not the Hank Reinhardt who picks his teeth with a Randall fighting knife. Not the Reinhardt who knits his own chainmail and hurls javelins and shoots arrow from bows and bolts from crossbows. Not him. He can't faint!"
"I don't know if I can--"
"Yes, you can!" I said. "Because you are that Hank Reinhardt! All you have to do is realize it!" We talked into the night. And by God, when I finally left him and rushed home to write the first installment of "My Friend, Hank Reinhardt," he really believed it.
And that's about it, I guess. Ironic, isn't it?
Financially, my writing career hasn't as yet been very remarkable. I've turned out some short stories I feel really proud of, including a collaboration with my good friend Michael Bishop. A couple of my fantasies ended up collected in Year's Best Horror Stories, an anthology I later edited for some years. Along with the subject of this piece, I produced Heroic Fantasy for DAW Books. But overall I'm not one of the field's current major stars.
Yet I did turn out one really remarkable body of works. It consisted of two or three short items barely half page long in a fanzine of less than 50 circulation, some brief references in fan fiction and essays, but it really had impact. Sometimes I wonder why.
The answer, of course, lies in the character. Certain characters speak for their times, capture the imagination. People want to believe in them. Once it was Prester John--people believed he really ruled a kingdom in the Middle East. Later on it was Robin Hood. In the Old West days people really swallowed the legend of Buffalo Bill, and a questionable neurotic like Wild Bill Hickock or a murderous gambler like Wyatt Earp was more prone to capture the public eye when portrayed as a heroic lawman. Later there were Sherlock Holmes--Tarzan--Doc Savage--the Shadow. Into recent times with James Bond.
That's the secret. The fictitious Hank Reinhardt touches a chord we all respond to. Sure, he's violent and vicious and nasty and has bad breath. But he's more than that. He's well-rounded, not just a cardboard hero. He has his weaknesses (principally his Hearts-playing skills) and, just the right touch, I kept those glasses of his--though I made the glass a lot thinner than reality.
Recently Atlanta artist Bob Maurus was describing his initial reaction to meeting Hank and why he liked him. "He just inspires warm feelings," was all Bob could say. I'm proud of that. You see, the Hank Reinhardt who walks into conventions hasn't changed that much since I met him. He's a lot more confident and has his role-playing down pat, but he's pretty much the same. But do you see that?
No, you don't. You see the legend. The swaggering, weapons-carrying expert on swords and armor that men respect and women swoon over. It's something else. Even Hank's impressed by it. And maybe a bit scared.
And how do I feel, knowing that I started it all? I'm just as impressed...and a lot more scared. But I know what I did and how I did it. I can do it again.
That's right. I can do it again. I've been sending out letters to just the right people, explaining the situation, and they've been writing back, making offers. I've taken one of the offers.
Boy, just wait until you see who the next President's going to be.
Being the Unvarnished and True Account of the First Meeting of Gerald Page (AKA Jerry Page) and Hank Reinhardt. This First Meeting occurred in the early years of the Second Atlanta Science Fiction Organization, and herein is faithfully retold. This Telling also Contains Certain Truths and Confessions admitted for the First Time. These Confessions are made in the True Spirit of Aging Fellowship.
Recently the lovely Toni Weisskopf, H.D.S.O., brought to my attention an article written by Jerry Page [see above--TKFW]. The article was delightful and rather amusing. Jerry confessed to having "created" the "Hank Reinhardt" of song and story. It was witty, amusing and just fun to read. I will admit that right at first I was a little concerned, as it did contain many strong elements of truth, but truth artfully disguised by Jerry.
Toni asked if I would consider a reply [actually, I said "rebuttal."--TKFW], but I begged off. After all, why should I write something that might harm a very dear friend? A friend who has given me much. (Not as much as Lon Atkins, Ned Brooks, Stven Carlberg or Don Markstein, but it was still a vast amount.)
But as I was chuckling and declining, a Voice suddenly roared in my head!
"GIVE IT UP!!! TELL THE TRUTH! BE THE MAN YOU ALWAYS CLAIMED AND PRETENDED TO BE....QUIT LIVING A LIE--ADMIT THE TRUTH OF HANK REINHARDT!"
I resisted manfully. I tried to ignore the Voice, but my conscience kept on and on and it roared and roared and roared. At last I gave in.
Fandom has been good to me, and it has given me a lot of Joy and Money. Time for me to pay back the rich life it has furnished me. Alas, I can't return the money. Not being stupid, I spent all of that on weapons and women. But I can Tell the Truth, and once and for all dispel the myths that have gathered around Hank Reinhardt and Jerry Page.
I do this, of course, with a great deal of trepidation. Confession may be good for the soul, but it is damned dangerous to freedom. It can lead to trials and fines and even nasty objects designed to separate body and soul. But I have checked with my attorneys. And none of what I am about to relate is illegal...only immoral.
God, but it hurts! So much of what Jerry said is True!
In 1959 I was 25 years old, and my wife and I had just returned from two years in Germany. I was eager to get back to the land of the Round Door Knobs. I wanted to read science fiction and fantasy, to get active in Fandom, and to lift weights, practice my hand-to-hand combat techniques, my swordplay and pistol shooting. All of these were very important, as I tried to mold myself into something like my heroes.
Alas, such was not to be! I was of medium height, and somewhat slight of physique. No matter how hard I worked, I simply could not gain any weight or muscle. Yet I was somewhat aggressive in my early years. This was soon beat out of me. By the time I met Jerry, I was easily intimidated.
There were compensations. I was blessed with an extremely high IQ, but better, a rapier-like wit that allowed me to puncture egos with ease. It also got me beat up several times, so I learned to be somewhat circumspect in its use. Of course even at this time I was acknowledged as the True Hearts Champion. (Unfortunately, that meant no one who knew me would play money games with me any more.)
But truthfully, none of this mattered. I wanted to be a hero, like the ones I read about.
I was introduced to Jerry by a scoundrel (to whom I owed $5.00--but who keeps track?). He knew I would never pay him while I was sober, so in order to get even with me, he introduced me to Jerry Page. He expected Jerry to rip me to shreds after one of my cutting remarks. But Jerry Burge, the scoundrel, was to be very sadly disappointed.
The meeting was electric. I was stunned and totally awed. Here, in the flesh, were all my Heroes come to life. Here was Conan, Tarzan, John Carter and Kull. All combined into one magnificent animal.
Strikingly handsome, with a rugged, rock hard face that spoke of far lands and strange adventures. Dark, thick, wavy hair, brown eyes that could blaze with fury, but were also strangely gentle--and what a physique!
None of your steroid massiveness, but lean and rangy. A body that spoke not only of great strength, but of enduring toughness. And he moved with the easy, feral grace of some great cat!
Watching Jerry play a game was scary. The complete and total concentration. His hand speed was unbelievable. He could catch a fly with either hand. (Of course his popping them right into his mouth made people ignore how quick he was.) The little girls that played Jacks with him never had a chance! He was also very strong, able to tear a telephone book in half with almost no effort. I never had any luck playing cards with him, as he would get angry and tear the deck in half.
All my life I had dreamed of being a dashing and handsome hero, and here, standing before me, was my Ideal. I knew that I could never hope to be like him, but I could be his friend, and I could help him.
You see, there was one small problem.
To say that Jerry was really stupid would be cruel. Highly accurate, but really cruel. In today's soft and PC world, let us say that he was Intellectually Challenged.
Conversations with Jerry were "interesting."
"Gee Hank, that was really sumpin'!" "Golly Hank, how'd you know how to open that door? You just twisted the knob and wow! I wish I could do that!" "Gee Hank, you think you can really teach me to tie my shoes....Golly Hank!"
Jerry had a way with words, and he surely loved to talk. (He still does, alas.) He also didn't know the meaning of the word Fear. He had trouble with walk, run, cat, and dog, too, and polysyllabic words were simply out of the question. But he did enjoy simple wordplay. "Hey, Hank, lookit! God is dog spelled backwards!" "Yeah, Jerry, that's why life's such a bitch." And several times he would understand my simple puns without me having to explain them.
And so we became, and stayed, fast friends. It was fun teaching Jerry. After several years he learned to tie his shoes, and not long after, I taught him to read, and yes, to write.
Jerry dearly loved science fiction. Particularly Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. The colors were so bright and happy. He was so grateful when I would read them to him. That was what started me to teach him to read.
He would put his finger on the word, to say it, but then it would be covered up by his finger, so that he would move the finger, but forget which word he was at, and put it on another word. He used this same technique in his early writing, which is why many believe that he is the author of The Clones.
Jerry was, at times, "Trying." He would try to make jokes, and try to be clever and try to act normal. Alas, he never quite succeeded. When he failed at this, he would get physical, biting nails in half (not fingernails, ten penny nails), picking up cars, jumping and hiding, and do other silly things, and just play around.
But I really didn't mind. He kept the evildoers away, and no one threatened me with Jerry around. Jerry and I made a great team. I so admired his physical presence, and he was in awe of my vast mental abilities. I did wish that we might be equals, but he had no more chance of being my intellectual equal than I had of equaling his awesome physical abilities.
How dearly Fate loves a Jest. As Puck said, "What fools these mortals be!" For I discovered that I was wrong about all of that.
It was a lovely spring day when Jerry and I went exploring in the
North Georgia mountains. The air sparkled and tasted of a rare
wine. There was an almost electric feeling in the air, a
tingling, as of some great,
, event was about to occur, like when
Georgia Tech would beat up on Georgia, or Auburn would stomp
once in a
As we wandered the woods, I spied what looked like a cave on the side of a hill. I pushed some bushes aside and Jerry brushed a few boulders away, and by God, it was a cave! From the looks of it, no one had been in for many, many years.
I entered the cave, and a great feeling of apprehension came over me. I wasn't afraid--after all, I had Jerry with me--but there was this feeling Something like meeting a beautiful young girl... You know your life is not going to be the same!
The cave was quite large, and I could see many passages that led off. From one of these side tunnels I could hear, very faint, a low moaning sound. I had Jerry put down his pack and we took out a couple of flashlights. The pack only weighed about 250 pounds, certainly not a lot for him, but I decided that we would leave it, and see how far we could go with just the hand lights.
As we went deeper and deeper, the sound increased. The tunnel was filled with many beautiful rock formations, some pointing upward, and some pointing down (I can't spell stalagmites or stalactites.) [Actually, he can--it's Capitalizations that're his Problem.--TKFW] The sound grew louder, and more intense! A low sound, filled with all the pain and agony of the World. I had heard a sound like this only once before, when Georgia Tech had stopped Alabama on the goal line, and won the game, 7-6. (I cackled, I was a Tech fan.) But even I could appreciate the agony, the suffering, that the sound portrayed!
It was at this time that one of Jerry's silly moods stuck. He began to dance and caper, hiding behind some rock formations, leaping out, then making shadows on the wall with the flashlight.
"Jerry, for God's sake, will you be still!"
"Golly, Hank, I'm just trying to have a little fun," he whimpered.
"Okay, Jerry. When we get back you can catch some flies, pull their legs off, and watch them try to land."
"Gee, Hank, wow, that'll be nifty!"
Suddenly we rounded a slight bend, and my flashlight revealed a figure! An old man, chained to a rock. His hair and beard were quite long and unkempt, and he was clad in a long blue robe, with all sorts of strange signs and figures worked in gold.
The chains that bound him to the rock were thick as a man's arm, and glowed with a sickly pale green light. Every few seconds a pulse of light would race along the chain, and the old man would writhe and twist in agony, and a low moan would escape his lips.
As he writhed, he suddenly saw us. His face lit up with joy. "Free at last, praise God, Free at Last. For I sense Great Innocence here!"
He made a slight gesture with his hands, and the cavern was filled with light.
"Who are you, Old Man?" I whispered. For truth be told I was frightened.
"Names do not matter, Little One. Know ye that I have been imprisoned and tortured for a thousand years. The Arch Demon, Lonkins, with the aid of a beautiful nymph, Inot, trapped me here. He tortured me to reveal the Secret of Chess and the Secret of Hearts. Chess I gave him, for 'tis a silly game, whose end is predestined. But he could not break my will, and I never gave him the Secret of Hearts. So I am cursed to stay here and suffer until someone who is pure of Heart frees me. Even these mighty chains will fall to him that is pure of Heart. Free me. Free me, Little One, and I will give you the Secret of Hearts."
I looked at him with pity. "I have no need of your secret, Old Man. Know that I am The Reinhardt, who was fed the Secret of Hearts with his mother's milk. Only once every two thousand years is a true Hearts Champion born, and I am that one.
"Still, I would free you Old Man, but I am not pure of heart." I blushed, and continued, "I have read Mystery Stories, I have read the pulp Blue Book, and I have read mainstream fiction."
The words came hard to me, and my face flamed a deeper crimson as I saw the sneer of disgust flit across his face.
Suddenly, like a thunderbolt, the idea hit me!
"Wait! Old Man, I can free you. What will you give to be free?"
A terrible fire grew behind his eyes, and he spoke, in a voice like thunder. "Your fondest wish will be yours."
I turned to Jerry. Jerry was, after all, just too dumb to be anything but Pure of Heart.
"Jerry, take those chains and tear them like a phone book."
Jerry leaped forward. The muscles of his great shoulders bulged as he gripped the chains, and almost effortlessly he tore them asunder!
The Old Man stood tall and strong, and his eyes continued to blaze. "Now I will see if Arthur still reigns, now I will see if Inot is still as beautiful as she once was. Now let Lonkins shudder, for Justice shall be mine!
"But first, My Children, I will fulfill my promise." He paused, then continued. "But I must also warn you. You are The Reinhardt, and many, many lies will be told about you. But I can calm your greatest fear, for I see the fish will continue to swim to the net, and much loot shall be yours. Now, My Children, I will give you the Word."
And he gave us the Word.
I looked at Jerry with great fondness. Now, at last, we could be Equals, and go through life as Partners, and I was happy.
I stood as tall as my undernourished body would let me, and I shouted the Word and my voice filled the cavern, "SHAZAM!"
Jerry looked at me, and in a great voice shouted, "MAZAHS!"
The rest is history, and now you know the truth.
I got Jerry's body, and kept my brain and intellect. Jerry, well, he got my body, and kept his own brain and intellect.
Oh yes, I do feel guilty. It is my fault. I knew that Jerry was in one of his playful moods. I should have been prepared for something like this. I goofed and I am deeply sorry.
The truth is bitter on my lips. I haven't always been this handsome, godlike warrior, and Jerry hasn't always been as alluring as Guy Lillian.
This is the truth, and I am deeply shamed at my failure to protect the innocent Jerry. I comfort myself with the thought that he really doesn't know it. I realize that beneath Jerry's vapid exterior there is a magnificent lack of character, but even deeper, there beats the heart of a true friend.
As for me, the Old Man's prophecies all came true, for many lies have been told about me, but many fish came swimming.
Many feel that they are indebted to me, and they are. Both Lon and Ned, for enormous sums, but who keeps records? (In the last two hundred hearts games, played with Bob Maurus, Pat Gibbs, Rich Howell and Ward Batty, I won 75%, placed second in 19% and third in the remainder. Okay, so I lied, I actually lost two games--but like I said, who keeps track?)