Gestalt Political Science and the High Touch Zeitgeist — or: Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie in One Lesson…

A Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie story

When I walked in, Murcheson from 4-B was holding a gun to the head of old Mr. Fournetelle, the landlord.

Then Murphy the ward heeler came in. He put his gun to Murcheson’s head.

Then Skiffington from the Chronicle strode in, suitably armed. He pointed his gun at Murphy.

Skiffington was followed by Morczyk, the spy. The reporter trembled visibly when Morczyk pressed the machine pistol to his temple.

But the spy was himself shaken by Morrison, the blackmailer. The gun was puny enough, by comparison to others in view. But it was enough to make Morczyk’s forehead bead with sweat.

When Bramley the mugger came in, I almost laughed out loud: Actions do have consequences…

“Hey!” said sweet old Mr. Fournetelle. “For what are we doing all this?” He broke away from Murcheson and shuffled to his roll-top desk. From a drawer he pulled his own revolver. “Let me save us all a lot of trouble.” He put the barrel in his mouth.

Skiffington looked embarrassed. He rubbed his eyebrows, then said, “Uh… Maybe you didn’t understand…”

Morrison snorted. “I told you he was too old to play this game!”

“Yeah, sure,” said Bramley. “But what do we do about him now…?”

“Shoot him!” Murcheson seethed.

“Naw,” Murphy sneered. “Just throw him out of the game. That’ll fix him!”

“No,” said Morczyk. “This will fixing him better. Make him stay in the game. But take away his gun.”

Poor old Mr. Fournetelle shrugged in humility. He handed his gun to Murcheson and resumed the position…

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  • Willie O’Connell

    This is one of the oldest Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie stories, written more than 25 years ago. I’m reprising it now, because it’s starting to look like my current situation — boxed into an interrogation room ever-more-crowded with cops. I’ll probably write something about that soon.

    Meanwhile, this story provides a nice lens for understanding art. A work of narrative art is a comedy if the people, events and circumstances move from worse to better. If they move from better to worse, the work is a tragedy. This story is at least mildly comical in its style, but it is a tragedy in the end. Many of my stories are unrelentingly brutal in the events and dialogue, but they’re almost always comedies in resolution. If you look at art this way — which way does the story move on the number line, to the left (tragedy) or to the right (comedy) — you’ll get a lot more out of it.

    And meanwhile yet again, while I don’t think I have anything to worry about, as I while away my life in the klink, I’d be deeply grateful if you would buy my book of Christmas stories. I promise the stories all have happy endings — even if I put you through the ringer getting there.

  • Teri Lussier

    Merry Christmas, Willie!