Mike Mazurki

" Vocabulary," corrects Jack Ellis. His head has been squeezed at the temples by titanic tweezers. A withered balloon. Jack played the telegrapher in the train depot scene behind Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in The Vernon and Irene Castle Story . These days he is allowed to tell two jokes at the end of every club luncheon--the height of Jack's week, the pinnacle of his career. "Vocabulary shmocabulary. You steal your jokes from Reader's Digest," snitches the endangered silent star. There are crimson pools the shape of cresent moons floating in his eyelids.

Mike stands to give Lillian a little better smell of the Old Spice and cigars. She could sit on his shoulder and be the size of his head. Waving a leaf of lettuce like a forked luna moth the professor of pain looks up through twisted eyebrows and says, "How's Mae these days, Gorilla?" "The Lady is fine," Gorilla answers. Wrinkles lifts his flaccid hairpiece. There is a lot of gossip about Mae West and Gorilla Jones. Mazurki will only volunteer that Mae has a soft spot in her heart for Gorilla, and Gorilla is mum on the subject. Never even mentions The Lady's name. Long ago he quit being publicly familiar about her, ever since the night a stranger made remarks Gorilla didn't like. The normally cool fighter challenged the man, but The Lady called him off. "Let 'em talk. It's good for business."