Space And Time #2
Flaming Ed Burroughs After The Divorce
...you make my heart sing...
...you make every thing...
Somebody once said: The devil is in the details and so he is.
Too many times we fly right over significant facts without noticing their import, how they fit into the big picture.
Such is the case with the little Tarzan Jr. story that Burroughs wrote in 1937 in a limited edition of one. One copy? Yup! It was a special order. Today the copy is located at the Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry in the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle exhibit. Who is Colleen Moore and what did she have to do with ERB? That's what I asked. Turns out that she is not an insignificant person in the history of the twenties. No, no, she was a somebody, at least to the extent that she earned 12,500 dollars a week in the films.
Yes, she was an actress. She was the woman who invented the image of the twenties woman - the Flapper. The Flapper knocked Emma, the Gibson Girl, out of the box just as the Gibson Girl had knocked Tennyson's Elaine out. The Flapper knocked Emma right out of ERB's imagination. Seems that Colleen was selected for the lead in the movie Flaming Youth. This was a big one.
The movie was based on Samuel Hopkins Adams novel of the same name written under the pseudonym of Warner Fabian. Although apparently epochal no copy of the movie has survived. Those racy scenes have disappeared forever. Miss Moore may be compared to Brooke Shields of the 'The Blue Lagoon' of our day for impact. The tone of Flaming Youth may be learned from this quote from the novel: 'They're all desperadoes, these kids, all of them with any life in their veins; the girls as well as the boys; maybe more than the boys.' Alright man! That's pretty good pulp style.
Miss Moore said she chose to play the part as a comedienne. She bobbed her hair, shortened her skirts and wore unbuckled galoshes that flapped as she walked, hence the term 'flapper.' Careless, carefree and with the image of - easy. Flaming Youth eager for a roll and tumble. A thrill seeker at whatever cost. A role model dropped into the slot from eternity.
Perhaps Ed Burroughs sat through the 1923 movie two or three times muttering 'yeah, yeah, that's a what I want.' Emma wasn't quite that way, being a full figured woman with plenty of embonpoint, although reading inferences from pictures she may have tried a bob and weave in an effort to hold on to her man. There is a photo of Emma which caught my eye because she was so different. She is leaning over the garden fence of ERB's latest cottage, one of his umpteenth moves, with bobbed hair and a pleasantly flirtatious look on her face. 'Hm, bobbed hair.' I thought. 'That's different for Emma.'
By that time ERB had been flirting on the sly with Florence Gilbert, for a little while. I suspect Emma knew. She got her hair cut anyway.
ERB first met Florence in early 1927. Maybe he was still under the spell of Flaming youth but something obviously clicked. A clandestine relationship was begun which would culminate in ERB divorcing Emma in 1934. He married Florence Gilbert shortly thereafter. I would have waited a bit myself. I'm not so impetuous. More of the cautious type.
Then in 1937 he received a request from the Flaming Youth girl Colleen Moore herself. Must have made his blood race. Maybe he and Florence should have waited. Having jumped ship once the second time gets easier. ERB, whether he knew it or not, had now gone Hollywood. He'd even checked into the Garden Of Allah, a hotel roues favored down on Hollywood Blvd., gone now, in between Emma and Florence.
If ERB kept all his correspondence as he is said to have done Danton Burroughs should have a Colleen Moore file in the archives. It would be interesting to open it and see what was up.
Miss Moore had begun building a Fairy Castle miniature doll house back in the twenties. She now asked ERB for a miniature book for her miniature library in her miniature castle. (The castle as well as the book can be found at the Chicago Museum Of Science and Industry website if you want to check it out.)
ERB complied, composing a suggestive little story which contains enough off color references to make one think he was trying to seduce the exemplar of Flaming Youth. Born in 1902, Miss Moore was 35 at the time, a most delectable age.
A quick review of the pictures of the book can be found here on the ERBzine at erbzine.com/mag0/0042.html. I copy the text below.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Illustrated by J.C.B. & E.R.B.
The little princess was walking in the garden when a bad thought sneaked up behind her and whispered in her ear, 'Go into the forbidden forest.' 'Hi Lee! Hi Lo! Oh, No! Oh, No!' yodeled the little princess, my mamma said I mustn't go into the forbidden forest and papa said she ought to know.'
'But, but' butted the bad thought, 'Everything that you shouldn't do, everything you mustn't do, are in the forbidden forest, and they include about everything it's fun doing. Think what a good time you could have.'
So the little princess put a nutty hamburger in a shoe box for her lunch, vaulted over the garden wall and went into the forbidden forest.
The little princess had not gone far into the dark and gloomy wood when she met Histah the snake.
'Have an apple,' invited Histah. 'What for?' asked the little princess. 'It will keep the doctor away,' replied Histah, pulling on his long black mustache. 'But if I eat it, I may need a doctor' countered the little princess with her left. 'Ah, ha!' Foiled again.' hissed Histah. 'Not so fast,' cried the little princess. 'Gimme that apple,' for the bad thought had whispered in her ear.
The little princess was about to eat the apple when Tantor the elephant barged up and took it away from her. 'Beat it!' he trumpeted at Histah. Then he ate the apple himself. 'What have you in the shoe box?' he asked.
'A nutty hamburger,' replied the little princess. 'Mercy me!' swore Tantor. 'What's the matter with it? -Dementia praecox?' 'No, just plain nutty,' replied the little princess.
'Well, you never can tell when it might develop a homicidal mania,' said Tantor. 'Give it to me.' So he took the nutty hamburger and ate that too. Then he went away from there to the land of ptomaine.
The little princess was very hungry; so she went deeper into the dark, damp wood looking for another snake with an apple. But she didn't see Numa the lion stalking her. Numa, too, was very hungry; and as there are not many callories (sic) in stalks, he planned on eating the little princess. With a terrific roar he leaped for her. The little princess turned, horror stricken; when, to her amazement, she saw a bronzed giant, naked but for a G string, leap from an overhanging branch full upon the tawny back of the carnivore. It was Tarzan Jr.!
Once, twice, thrice his gleaming blade sunk deep into the side of the great cat; and as Numa sank lifeless to the mottled sward, the Lord of the Jungle placed a foot upon the carcass of his kill, raised his face to the heavens and voiced the victory cry of the bull ape.
The little princess was still hungry. 'Let's eat the Lion,' she said, unless you happen to have an apple in your pocket.'
'I haven't a pocket,' admitted Tarzan Jr.
'All right then' said the little princess, 'Let's skip it.'
So Tarzan Jr. uncoiled his rope and they skipped and skipped, and skipped, and skipped, and skipped; and then they got married and lived happily for-ever after- and that is what the little princess got for disobeying her mamma and going into the forbidden forest.
It's not hard to see what sly old ERB was angling at. The dark damp forest is, of course, the symbol for unbridled desires toward which the princess is prompted by a 'bad thought.' She was naughty but nice. The apple is a symbol for sexual intercourse while the snake with the apple was when Adam and Eve realized they were naked hence discovering la difference.
It will be remembered that the only exhibit at the Expo of '93 ERB ever mentioned in his stories was the Concourse of Beauty 40 Beautiful Girls 40. On his cross country auto trip of '16 one of the records the family wore out was 'Do What Your Mother Did.' An early day 'Work With Me Annie.' Here the song lyrics are rendered into: My mamma said I mustn't go into the forbidden forest and papa said she ought to know.'
Which leads to a denouement which comes as no surprise. 'Unless you've got an apple in your pocket.' The princess says obviously pointing to the bulge in Junior's G string. Reminds you of Mae West's quip: 'Is that a roll of nickels in your pocket or are you glad to see me?'
Junior was glad to see the princess so he reached under his loincloth and uncoiled his rope. Rope is a symbol for...well, he said coyly, it's a symbol. And then the two new sweethearts did a lot of skipping which is to say they conjugated that verb.
I would interpret the bit about the nutty hamburger to mean that ERB was sensitive about being considered a dumbkopf fantasy writer so he wanted to display a little learning, thus he jokes his way through >nutty>dementia praecox>homicidal mania. For those who insist that ERB was just a simple writer from the gut I again point out that time after time the Man shows an active interest in psychological matters. He just didn't boast about it. When you do you depreciate the entertainment value to nil.
The little story quite clearly is intended to convey the message: I'm ready if you're willing. Flamin' Ed Burroughs was ready to swing and he didn't mean from trees this time. Was marriage an issue? Well, Junior and the princess married and lived happily ever after.
Once again I say there should be correspondence in the archives that might throw some light on this issue which is probably much more complex than it looks at first glance.
As 1937 began the titillating star of Flaming Youth who had also starred in 'Naughty But Nice' and other woo-woo flapper epics was between marriages. Her last movie 'The Scarlet Letter' - A for adultery of 1934 had indeed been her last. Having no longer a career in Hollywood she had returned to Chicago.
Her Fairy Castle which had been nearly ten years in the making was finished in 1935. At that time she took it on the road to raise money for deprived children which she did successfully. She later would write a book on investing.
The Castle was complete with its own miniature library so the request to ERB was either an afterthought or the proverbial request for a cup of sugar. If so, ERB was ready with the sugar and he spread it on thick.
Perhaps the marriage of Florence and ERB might have ended right there as ERB ran after the even more attractive Flaming Girl of his dreams. It would be nice if Danton found that correspondence.
Whatever Colleen Moore's intent was or whether ERB ever consummated his burning desire may be forever obscured from our sight. In any event later in 1937 Miss Moore married a Chicago businessman thus closing the door she had left ajar. After panting up that long flight of steps on his hands ERB was blasted.
As the little book was intended only for the eyes of Colleen Moore the only two things we can be sure of is that she requested a little volume which she was willing to receive and that ERB was ready to provide a very seductive one.
In 1937 ERB had come a long way from the righteousness of 1922s 'The Girl From Hollywood'. Now he was Hollywood panting after them.
Space And Time #3
Love, Lust And Edgar Rice Burroughs
As they say in Hollywood, this is based on a true story. Only the facts have been changed to make a better story. Just as in Hollywood the tale is wholly fiction. Well, not wholly, there is one true fact included. I'll highlight it at the appropriate time. I have used real names and places so as to cast an aura of truthfulness about it but the story never happened. No matter, just as in the movies you won't be able to tell the difference. Fact and fiction blend. It's just like your memory.
Perhaps the time is March of 1934 when a now has been actress who had once, in the days when acting really counted in silent movies, been at the top of her craft earning 12,500 smackaroonies a week. Not small change.
Sound and the depression had changed all that, plus advancing maturity. She was no longer in demand. After her last, 'The Scarlet Letter' the studio head had nearly thrown her torn up contract back in her face. As unpleasant as that may be life contains such humiliating moments. Still, as the song says:
My hair is still curly,
My eyes are still blue,
Why don't you love me
Like you used to do.Hank Williams
Love is like that, it's fleeting. Box office. Demand. Transient things like that.
Angry at the treatment and now having no future in the film capitol and the hearts of the multitude, with a stamp of her pretty little foot she turned her back on Tinseltown, if not her fans, returning to Chicago.
There she was fondly remembered and even lionized. She had been the original flapper, Colleen Moore, who had created the type for her starring role in 1923's 'Flaming Youth.' Twenty-one at the time her success had been exhilarating but she was a tough minded and practical young woman; she hadn't let it go to her head unduly. she was tough; she had gotten to the top at an age when others were still gazing at the distant snowy crests; she was on the top and she would do what she had to do to stay there.
In creating the role of the Flapper in Flaming Youth she had created a new woman displacing the former ideal of the Gibson Girl. She had bobbed her hair, raised the hemlines of her skirts, given voice to a careless, carefree, thrill seeking easy party girl who liked to go skinny dipping. True she was following the script but she had been the archetype of a newer sleazier morality.
Quickly typecast in the new role her whole career had evolved into the naughty but nice type of girl. She was the image of the girl who would go all the way. It had been a burden to bear. She had quickly retreated into unreality. Using her new found wealth she had begun building a very expensive doll house which she called the Fairy Castle. Five hundred thousand dollars worth of Fairy Castle.
Colleen was not as carefree and careless as the image she had projected. She was a hardnosed investor who turned her own money green. The five hundred thousand dollar doll house hadn't actually been made by her but for her. She employed experts to design and construct it. Even as she was paying for it she was providing against an uncertain future. The house was modular with each room having its own separate container for easy transport. The Fairy Castle could be broken down and reassembled at ease.
And now as 1936 approached, just imagine '34 and '35 flipping off the calendar and across the screen, the reason became evident. No longer a star but still craving the limelight Miss Moore announced that she would take the Fairy Castle on the road to raise money for needy children. This was the Depression. There was a sure fire attention getter; she knew how to appear concerned for the young after having been responsible for corrupting flaming youth.
Over the next couple years she was very successful. The Castle would eventually raise well over six hundred thousand dollars which in today's equivalents would be several millions. How much of it actually got to underprivileged kids wasn't carefully recorded.
If she wasn't quite as in the spotlight as in Hollywood, which place she still preferred to Chicago but for personal reasons could not leave, she didn't go unnoticed.
On this occasion in mid-1936 she was gathered with the lights of Chicago for the reception of a rare book collection donated to the Newberry Library by one Mr. Frank Martin. In truth Mr. Martin would have given much more than a few old books to meet the Flaming Girl but this was unnecessary. As a reward for the books at his request he had been seated beside Colleen. He'd been a handsome rogue, you can accentuate the rogue, in his youth and now although almost seventy he still retained almost youthful features, full bodied but not stout, a head of glistening silver hair and no paunch; altogether a prepossessing figure of a man. Much better preserved than Edgar Rice Burroughs as he would comment to his mirror.
A dissipated life hadn't hurt him any. It was true that Miss Moore was half his age but I think I mentioned earlier that Miss Moore was a practical woman; Frank Martin was rich, while at seventy he couldn't live forever. After him there was room for one more.
On the other hand Colleen liked older men. She herself was Irish, knowing a great many Irish proverbs, which are the most amusing kind. Her favorite had always been: 'It is better to be an old man's darling than a young man's slave.' Alas, in her first two marriages she had erred in this dictum much to her regret. Life, being a little forgiving in this instance, was giving her another chance.
She waited for Mr. Martin to be seated and then made her grand entrance. Never truly beautiful, what nature had denied art had supplied. She passed for beautiful in any man's eye although the camera would have been less forgiving. As she approached Mr. Martin an electric spark worthy of a Tesla experiment flew between each as each realized their desires were to be met unless things went terribly wrong which, I assure you, they didn't.
Frank raised his imposing 6'3" frame from his chair with a grace that was warmly received by Colleen. They were nearly fast friends before their derrieres had touched their chairs.
'I can't tell you how much I admire your efforts for those poor children, Colleen. May I call you Colleen?' This was a few years back when manners were different.
'Only if I may call you Frank, Frank.' she replied sweetly in her most flirtatious manner.
'By all means, Colleen.' Frank smiled back realizing he was in like Flynn before Flynn got there the first time. 'Colleen, that's a grand old Irish name.'
'I am an Irish girl, but Frank, I've heard so much about you.' Colleen ventured, who had, indeed, wasted no time in catching up on the gossip of the last thirty years or so. As an old roue Frank had left more than a paper trail in the memories of many. But, that's gossip, on with the story.
'Thank you Colleen.' Already Martin who was also Irish had discovered a new love for the grand old name of Colleen. He put that emphasis on the pronunciation that Miss Moore blushed with pleasure. ' We've certainly heard here of your wonderful success in the cinema.' He used cinema here to raise the cultural value of Miss Moore's contribution to the developing world capitol of porn. The he compulsively blurted out: 'Did you know my old friend Ed Burroughs out there?'
'Do you mean Edgar Rice Burroughs? No, I never met him but I've heard his antics discussed a few times.'
Antics struck the right note with Martin.
'What antics are you talking about?' Martin followed up, eager for dirt.
'Well, you know he bought the Otis estate: Apparently he bit off more than he could chew because he no sooner bought it than he tried to turn it into a movie location for the studios. Said he wanted to be a businessman. He was raising pigs, cows, sheep whatever in what we thought was a madcap attempt to salvage the place. Then, of all things, he developed a golf course and something called the Caballero Country Club. I guess he thought we would all rush to join, and that after he defamed us all with that horrid book he wrote called 'The Girl From Hollywood.' What a time we had to get the publisher from continuing to print that. I was sure he was talking about me.
Next, this was really incomprehensible, he decided to start some Bohemian Free Love community. He sold lots and advertised for people who were like minded to him who minded their own business and lived and let live. You know what that's a code for and this after writing his terrible Hollywood story condemning the rest of us for practically the same thing.'
'Yes, Ed always was eccentric although he had charm for some people. Fell a little flat for me. You never could tell what he was going to do next. First he was here and then he was there then he was back again. Wouldn't stay away although we all wished he would.'
Martin's eyes set on a scene of the distant past as his brow lowered and lower lip quivered in bitter remembrance.
Colleen had heard many of the rumors and stories concerning Burroughs, Martin and Emma Hulbert from 1896 to 1910 and beyond, especially the famous murder attempt in Toronto. It appeared the gates were open in Martin's mind. Without trying to disturb his thought processes she gently insinuated: 'Yes. I understand you and he were rivals for the same woman.'
Martin wasn't that far gone. He looked at her sharply but then as he had already conceived in his mind the notion that he was going to marry this woman he thought it perhaps best to get the story of Emma out in the open. Thus, whereas he had been before truly speaking from the soul he now feigned the same expression crafting his evidence for his object.
'The man, it hurts me to call him a man, had no use for the woman but as an adornment for his ego. He had no intention of marrying her he just wanted the comfort of knowing that she was there waiting for him, she was true blue and loyal too. I was already nearly thirty, hadn't been married yet, and she, at my age then,' He wanted to leave a path open to Colleen. 'seemed an ideal choice. She was the perfection of the Gibson image, not like...' Here Frank was about to make a derogatory reference to the Flapper but caught himself in time. '...the pale bloodless Elaine of Tennyson. Quite a wonderful girl really. You must have heard that he divorced Emma for a tramp half his age. Disgusting.'
Colleen was half Frank's age but both seemed oblivious to the incongruity.
'Yes. There was a lot of merriment over that one in Hollywood, Dearholt brought home his mistress to live with he and Flo. Of course Flo would have nothing to do with it. She already had her net around Burroughs so I don't see why she ca...' Here Colleen had to catch herself from seeming too liberal in sexual matters. Chicago was no LA and while the same sexual misdoings might have gone on there they were spoken of in a different way. '...red whether he had a mistress or not. Naturally she wouldn't have wanted a menage a trois. But wasn't there something about Burroughs being almost killed in a bar room fight?'
'Oh, you mean Toronto. What a trip that was. The Colonel had business in New York so he was taking the car out of the yards for the trip so I asked Burroughs if he wanted to tag along.'
'I hadn't heard you were that close friends at the time. I mean, Emma...did he go along with a rival?' Of course Colleen knew the whole story but led Martin on to hear him tell it.
'Did he? He jumped at it. That's what I mean, what was Emma to him. He didn't even consider her feelings. And then he was disgustingly drunk from the moment he stepped in the car. Drank nonstop from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night. We almost threw him off in Cleveland.'
Characterization is the thing. It should be clear that Martin is exaggerating for effect while the truth was Burroughs himself drank only because everyone else did as was the order of the day. The booze was provided courtesy of the Martins and pushed on Burroughs.
'Then by the time we got to Toronto all the sot wanted to do was to go to their version of the Levee looking for whores. For a guy who seemed pretty well acquainted with the sleazy side of life he hadn't learned to keep his mouth shut. He antagonized a couple degenerate brutes and before Patchin and I could make a move one of them flashed a sap that would have crushed Ed's skull if he hadn't got his arm up. Had to run him down to the hospital to get him sewed up. Bloody mess, he was; served him right, too.'
'Who was Patchin?'
'Dick Patchin. He came along too.'
'Patchin. Patchin. the name doesn't ring a bell.'
'He wasn't anybody. Just a guy I knew so I let him come along.'
Martin considerably expurgated the story. In fact Patchin was a go between who knew a number of unsavory characters, being borderline himself. At Martin's request he had hired a couple Chicago thugs to travel up to Toronto to meet the party in the Yellow Dog Saloon. There while Martin and Patchin stood one on either side of Burroughs to identify him words were exchanged followed by the assault with the spring loaded blackjack.
Martin's intent had clearly been to murder Burroughs which the blow would have done if Burroughs hadn't been able to get his arm up in time.
'Ed wasn't anybody then. Just a bum not much better than the guy who hit him. You should have seen the excuse for a suit he wore. No one could have figured he'd become so famous.' Martin added in self-defense. 'Then we came back and before I knew it he and Emma are married. Cut me out, just like that.'
'And that was that.' Colleen smiled. The comment made Martin realize she knew more than he was letting out as why shouldn't she, the story had been all over Chicago for decades now.
'I'm not saying I'm not a sore loser.' Martin sulked. 'I gave him hell until he fled from Chicago to the wilds of Idaho where he belonged although he took her with him.'
A passion seemed to seize Martin at this time carrying him along a flood of reminiscences.
'And then he came back with her again. The son-of-a-bitch wouldn't stay away, like a bad penny he had to keep turning up. A kind of madness had me by then. I couldn't leave her alone. Damn, she was true to him. I couldn't control myself. They never had kids you know, so I thought I still had chance, like maybe she was waiting for me. They never had kids until after that night. She was visiting some old friends and I just happened by as she was on the way to the streetcar. I offered her a ride home and she accepted.' Here what Martin means is he got out of the car forcing her in which as Emma knew him well she allowed rather than embarrassing him by screaming for help. 'Then, I don't know, something took possession of me. Happens to everyone. Rather than driving her home as I intended I drove out into the country. I just wanted to talk to her. She told me to turn around but I hadn't said what I had to say yet. Then she started yelling at me and she hit me. I lost control of the car. It took the ditch but fortunately we were thrown clear landing in some new plowed furrows. Neither of us was hurt. Somebody came along and I got us a ride. I got her home all right.
I guess she must have convinced Ed but right after that after eight years of marriage they had two kids in a row, I mean right after each other. That took care of her figure. After that I didn't bother her anymore. I knew he wouldn't do right by her though. I'm just surprised it took so long. Patchin went out to see him after the divorce. The self-centered son-of-a-bitch was blithe about the whole thing. After thirty-five years of marriage and three kids he was glad he'd done it, like she had it coming. He asked Patchin with a sneer and laugh how I was doing. He was doing OK. Hah!
Colleen put her hand on his meaning to comfort him but coming across cynically: 'Hollywood is full of hundreds of the same kind of story. Life is like that a whole lot, isn't it?'
With the suspicion of a tear in his eye and deep wavering sigh Martin actually more than a little embarrassed by his outburst smiled bravely and said: "Well, enough about me. How about you? Where did you got to school in Chicago?'
'Oh Frank, I'm not from Chicago. I was born in Port Huron, Michigan, a grim little town I was glad to get out of. Dad and Mom moved to Florida which I liked a whole lot better.'
'But I thought you were from Chicago.'
'My uncle Walt Howley was the editor of the Examiner who used his influence to get me a screen test with D.W. Griffith when I was fifteen. The rest is history. Over the years I've come to consider Chicago my second home so when I left Hollywood I came here.'
And so the evening wore on very agreeably.
Frank who was a real candy and flowers man proved a most charming and romantic suitor. Just right for the woman whose ideas of romance were reflected by her Fairy Castle. In the back of his mind Martin obsessed on his old rival Edgar Rice Burroughs. He had written finished on that particular book but slowly an idea formed in his mind to finish the job he had begun in Toronto.
To succeed he would have to lure Colleen into using her charms to lure Burroughs back to Chicago. Prostitute herself after the fashion of a temple priestess. People always put different names and constructions on their heart's desires so one evening in September over a candlelit dinner Frank Martin put it to Colleen Moore like this: 'Honey...remember when we were kids and we used to set up a chump by having a message sent to him to meet some girl for a hot date then stood and laughed while he waited in vain.'
Uh huh, Colleen had heard of such things.
'Ed has married this young woman who isn't half what you are. When Patchin was in LA to talk to him he said that Ed just raved about the Colleen Moore of Flaming Youth and Naughty But Nice. I'd like to play a trick on him but I'll need your help.'
What kind of help, Frankie?'
'Well, if you were to send him a letter asking for him to make a miniature book for your miniature library of your miniature castle and make it sound like you were really interested, you know, hot for him, he might come back to Chicago to see you and then we could stand him up and have a real laugh at his expense.'
A little of the romance went flat as Colleen interpreted the request to mean that as Burroughs had once taken Martin's girl now Martin would take Burroughs' girl. Certainly this was part of Martin's plan but the years had passed since those golden years at the turn of the century. With the coming of prohibition the Capone Mob had virtually seized the streets of Chicago staging murder and mayhem on a daily basis. The recent Century Of Progress expo of 1933 had been practically controlled for the benefit of the Gang. The thugs of 1899 were real amateurs compared to the professional assassins of the incipient Outfit. It might cost a little bit but Martin thought a drive by shooting with typewriters might be a fitting end to his nemesis. He didn't mention that part to Colleen though.
Unwittingly Frank had thrown a chill on their relationship. Romance had flown. In truth Colleen had had enough of Chicago. Those mobsters were not pleasant to fend off and they were attracted to the Flaming Girl like moths . . . naw, that's too corny. She now longed to get back to Hollywood but wished to return as a conqueror rather than as a dog with its tail between its legs. It would never have occurred to her otherwise but now as she thought about it, yes, she believed she could take Burroughs away from Florence. Martin waiting with hope and expectancy didn't notice the change in Colleen's voice as she said: 'I think I see what you're after. I think I could do that, Frank Martin, yes.'
As Martin left Colleen's apartment he smiled to himself. 'Nearly forty years to get that bastard back but it will be worth it.'
Colleen composed a very nice letter asking Burroughs for a little Tarzan Jr. book for her miniature library. The letter breathed romance, terms like 'long term relationship' were mixed in such a way to imply more than just an enduring friendship. You didn't have to be born at the bottom of a wishing well to get your hopes up.
When Burroughs received the letter in the future Porn Capitol Of The World he was somewhat puzzled to receive a letter from Colleen Moore. 'That's the Flaming Girl herself.' He thought. A faint whiff of pleasing scent was emitted as he slit the envelope open which made him raise his eyebrows. When he read what he read his eyebrows went way up. To say that he was steamed would be an understatement. The man had had a smoldering crush on the image of Flaming Youth Colleen had projected in 1923. He had seen most if not all her pictures. Separating a movie image from the real person is not always as easy as it seems especially as Colleen had reinforced the image in picture after picture. 'Naughty But Nice' had all but sealed the image for Burroughs. He failed to note the romantic allusions as his sexual fantasies ran away with themselves.
He imagined himself as the legendary sixty minute man rolling and tumbling all night, night after night with the Flaming Girl. Who can blame him but that wasn't how it was.
He should have studied the Fairy Castle a little more closely. Instead he put together a fairly salacious little volume dedicated wholly to sexual fantasies without a hint of romance. I told you this piece of fiction was based on a true story; this is the true part. If you want to see a copy of the little book go to erbzine.com/mag0/0042.html. It's right there.
So Our Man wrote this up, he and his son John Coleman drew some fairly rasty pictures, and posted it back to Colleen.
Colleen received the little book which she perused thoughtfully. 'Why the old buzzard is just a dirty old man.' She thought deeply offended. She put a mental cross through the name of Edgar Rice Burroughs and tossed the little book into the fireplace. She stood looking after the little book for a few moments then went over to retrieve it. Romance was romance but the practical Colleen overrode the romantic Colleen.
When Martin got the news that Burroughs had taken the bait he was overjoyed. 'Verily, I shall smite my enemy hip and thigh.' He said to himself.
He left Colleen stepping blithely. Then he bethought himself to have some nice pasta at this little Italian restaurant not too far away. He didn't pay much attention to the gentleman who entered at the same time to also enjoy a nice pasta dinner. This gentleman was Jackie Inglese who had shown too much independence in intra-mob matters. Jackie was a marked man and this night was his night to be rubbed out.
Frank emerged from the restaurant just ahead of Jackie Inglese. He was standing there contentedly digesting his dinner with roseate thoughts about those typewriters. 'Rat-a-tat-tat.' He said lifting a finger in imitation of a Tommy gun.
He was so absorbed in his reveries he didn't hear the screech of the tires as a big touring car careened around the corner with a young Sam Giancana behind the wheel. Jackie Inglese did. Seizing Frank he pulled him in front of himself as a shield beginning the drop to the ground as a battery of Chicago typewriters poked through the open windows of the speeding auto opened up. It wasn't the St. Valentine's Day massacre to anyone but Frank as two slugs found their way to his heart and one to his brain. Rather amazing that three Tommy guns unleashing about a hundred rounds of ammunition could only get three into Frank but that's the way it was. The earthly career of Frank Martin was ended. Edgar Rice Burroughs would have to go unavenged. Tough luck.
Inglese with a deep sigh pushed himself up from the ground. Without even a look or a thank you to his savior, Frank Martin, he casually dusted himself off, sought a train to the coast and stayed there for a while until he cooled off.
Colleen read the news in the papers with a mixture of disgust and relief. She made no further effort to contact Edgar Rice Burroughs who had also disgusted her. Within a month she had married a local businessman named Homer Hargrave. She lived happily for a while until the old geezer topped off, she really did like mature men, then with the combined fortunes made her successful entry back into Hollywood taking a residence on Sunset Boulevard.
As for Ed Burroughs? He didn't go on to bigger and better things. Like Colleen's his day was past. It's possible he might have done something but the big WWII intervened which was probably more rewarding for him than any woman. He realized his desire to be a war correspondent. And then after the war was over disease and old age carried him away.
His dying thought though was of the fabulous Flaming Girl and what could have been. It is the kind of thought to hold on to when the lights go out.
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