Part Four - 14 February 1951, 9:00 AM
When I reached the office the next morning, after
sleepless hours, Emerald was already at work.
"I told you I
would be first, didn't I?" she smiled, teasing me. I hardly
had time to answer and ask her how she felt when the intercom
called me to the publisher's office across the hall. A
conference of editors had been hastily summoned. There was
news of a general printers' strike.
I was suddenly reminded of the friend with whom I had
been supposed to dine the evening before; his being called to
Chicago, also by a strike. Was all this fated, or worse
still, prearranged? I felt dizzy. Probably lack of sleep, I
thought. And I had no chance to think further of the weird
events of only a few hours before.
Everything that can upset an editor's job happened that
morning. I had planned to take Emerald to lunch as a surprise
and give her the Valentine I had brought for her, but an
emergency luncheon called me uptown. Our West Coast
representative had arrived unexpectedly, was on his way to
Boston. Urgent business. I just had time to rush through the
office at noon. Emerald was putting on her coat to go out.
She seemed upset, Ron's desk had apparently not been
"Ron didn't come in?" I asked, suddenly worried.
"No," replied Emerald.
"He left me to go to the Greenwich Square Hotel last
night. He stays there often, you know, when it's too late to
go back to Long Island."
"Yes, I did remember. I phone there, a moment ago. He
left very early, the clerk told me."
"Maybe he had an appointment . . . perhaps he had to get
something from his apartment. You might phone there."
She hesitated a moment, then said slowly, "I did. The
number was on your list. There was no answer,"
I searched her eyes, she avoided mine. She was uneasy.
Evidently Ron was foremost in her mind. I was going to ask
her to wait for me, if I should be detained uptown after
five. But the publisher opened the door and shouted, "We'll
be late. Come on!"
I waved to her. "Don't worry. Ron's all right." Could he
have gone to Ramar? I wondered.
The afternoon was a constant rush.
We had to go to the
American News office, discuss figures. Everything tangled up.
The boss insisted on cocktails. We had to see our
representatives off to Grand Central. It was almost five when
I returned to the office, worn out and in a mood to snap at
No one was in the office. What happened? I wondered.
Reaching my desk I saw a package of sheets and proofs, on top
of it a note scrabbled by Ron. It read — "Forgive me. I
asked Emerald to come with me and have a drink. She looked as
if she needed one badly. Here are the final proofs, ready to
shoot. Please understand . . . Ron."
Then there was an almost illegible P.S., probably
written as an afterthought, standing up. "Sorry I was late. I
had to be alone. Rode the ferry back and forth to Staten
Island. It was wonderful."
"Well, I like the nerve!" I muttered. I was angry. . .
Riding the ferry. Taking away my girl. Where did they go? He
could at least have asked me to join them!
I opened my desk drawer to put away the pile of proofs.
"Nice of him to finish that, anyway," I mumbled sarcastically
to myself. Then I slumped back in the chair. I had seen, at
the back of the drawer, a small package . . . My Valentine
present to Emerald! I had forgotten, in the mad chase of the
afternoon, that this was the day. I stared at the calendar on
the desk, still reading February 13. Slowly, mechanically, I
turned the knob. February 13 went off into the past; so did
February 14, Valentine's Day. Very slowly February 15
appeared. For a moment, everything around me seemed cloudy,
indistinct. I was so tired! I closed my eyes, tried to think.
Fragmentary images of the night before passed before me.
Emerald's face as she had seen Ron after . . . whatever it was
that had happened. Oh, that look!
How tired can one feel and still remember faces so
Ramar's seemed to come before me, his vast luminous
eyes gazing at me, into me. I shook myself. The clock on the
wall read 5:15. I must have dozed.
I put on my coat and left the office. I remember the sun
setting brilliantly as I crossed 14th Street. People were
rushing, swallowed greedily by the monstrous jaws of subway
entrances, piling into suffocating buses. The whole New York
City frenzy functioned as ever. And I . . . I wondered where
Emerald and Ron could be, I, alone. And the ruthless, greedy
city — its wealth, its poverty, its turmoil, its endless
escapes — pressing around me, pressing. I wanted to go away,
somewhere. I did not know where.
A strange impulse made me call a taxi. Hardly thinking,
I told the driver, "Morningside Drive."
"What number?" asked the driver.
I didn't know. Just go to the Drive. I'll show you the
building." Why did I do that? I kept thinking that it made no
sense . . . He probably won't be home . . . I didn't even
have his phone number to let him know I was coming.
The driver, for some unknown reason, did not take the
speedway along the Hudson. Up Eighth Avenue, a traffic jam
stopped us at 34th Street. As we paused for a moment, I was
startled out of my wits when I saw Mr. Ramar walking among
cars to the door of my taxi. I leaned forward excitedly, and
opened the door. "You here! Did you know I was coming to see
He smiled in his strange, faintly amused way. "May I
join you?" he asked.
"Of course," I answered, completely stunned.
"Just another coincidence . . . Does that explanation
I didn't know what to answer. The driver turned,
obviously curiously to see his new passenger. "Same address?"
"Would you be kind enough to drop me at Grand Central
first?' Ramar asked me.
"Yes, of course . . . Driver, Grand Central!"
My nerves were on edge. This really was too much for
twenty-four hours! Ramar turned so he could face me directly.
"My friend," he said, "you have outstanding qualities
and these could be of greatest value. . . to you and to
others. One thing you lack — a rare thing these days, of
course — "
"What do I lack?" I snorted.
"I was going to say faith." Ramar went on, "but I should
add also, humility. You have much pride; the pride of your
insecurity. It is not so?"
I did not answer. I was not actually thinking; I was
merely being subjected to something over which I had no
control. Ramar's voice was deliberate, it beat upon my mind
over and through the street's hellish noises. Confusion in me
answered to chaos outside. I don't remember all he said. When
he had almost reached the station, I recall well the words he
said, "You are hurt too easily, my friend. Try not to be hurt
so hard. Try to let go. Take it easy. Being bitter does not
"Bitter? About what?" I felt suddenly very empty and
lonely. He did not answer.
As the car stopped, Ramar looked at me with a gentleness
that nearly brought tears to my eyes. His large almost golden
eyes shone in the semi-dark. "I am going away — very soon,"
he said softly.
"You are? Where?"
"You will probably know — in due time. The important
thing is, try not to be hurt. Remember, things are not always
what the seem to be!"
He got out and walked away rapidly, disappearing into
The driver was staring at me with a peculiar look.
"No, thank you. Drive down to Washington Square."
15 February 1951, 9:00 AM
I must have slept heavily that night,
because I didn't wake up at my usual time. When I reached the office, Emerald
was filing letters and manuscripts. She greeted me with a
"Hello!" that seemed both distant and somewhat strained. I
wondered what had happened to her and Ron last evening.
"How are you this morning?" I enquired. "You seem
"Oh, it's nothing . . . I'll be all right," she answered,
keeping on with her work.
I insisted. "I'm sorry I got back after you had gone
yesterday. I had a hectic afternoon. How was Ron?"
She came to my desk with a pile of letters. "Ron? Oh,
fine. I see he's late again."
"Did you have dinner with him?" The words came out
almost compulsively, I was sorry I asked. After all, this was
none of my business. I looked intently at Emerald. Her face
was pale and drawn — perhaps from lack of sleep . . .
perhaps . . .?
She seemed to hesitate a moment, then replied, "Yes, we
had dinner together. We talked . . . There was much to try to
"You mean, what happened at Mr. Ramar's?"
She looked at me uneasily, wondering perhaps. What I had
felt, what I had seen — what I thought now of the whole
adventure. She nodded. I got up impulsively, took her hands as
she placed some letters in front of me. Her hands were
feverish. She withdrew slightly — her eyes staring through
me, very far. She appeared to be trembling. Was she really
ill? Had the whole thing been too much for her?
"Emerald, you're ill! You have a fever. You must go
home, take a rest."
She smiled. "Perhaps I caught a cold on my way back from
I laughed, rather self-consciously. At least, she had
not lost her sense of humor.
"You really think you went to Venus?" Perhaps I should
not have asked. Her eyes darkened. Her hand played, for a
moment, with a ruler lying on my desk.
"You don't believe it, apparently."
I was about to protest mildly, when the phone rang.
It was Ron. "Dick, it's you? How are you? Listen Dick,
would you mind if I didn't come in today and tomorrow?"
"Are you sick, too?" Perhaps my voice did sound a bit
sarcastic. I didn't want it to.
"What do you mean, 'sick too'?" he asked in a worried tone.
"Who is sick? You?"
"Oh, no. Emerald seems feverish and I'm sending her
home. Rest will do her good."
Emerald looked at me, shaking her head. I went on, "She
doesn't appear to want to go. But I think she should. Are you
He seemed to hesitate. "No, not really. Tired. But the
main thing is . . I want to write something. I have to. . .
You will see it — next week."
I nearly bit my tongue trying not to ask, "About your
trip to Mars?" But Emerald undoubtedly had heard what Ron
said. She stood, starting at me. I felt she was protecting
him, anxiously. I avoided her eyes, nervously played with a
letter covered with unfamiliar stamps. "O.K. Stay home. Write
all you want. I guess there's not much to do here. I am
mailing the copy to Chicago — and God knows when, or if, it
will go to print. The strike looks bad. I must see the boss
now. Good luck. See you Monday, then?"
Emerald was sitting at her desk. "Look here," I said,
"why don't you go home, and to bed? You have a fever, I'm
sure. There is no sense being heroic. If I have urgent
letters, Jacqueline can take them." Jacqueline was one of the
girls at the switchboard who helped us whenever we were
rushed. Very blonde, very "cover girl" and ready to live up
to her looks . . . or so I had been told by the editor of our
"Sports" magazine. "Come back Monday, and call up before if
you feel worse, or need help. Promise?"
After Emerald had gone,
I sat heavily, my head in my
hands. I stared blankly at the letters on the desk. "What was
going on?" I asked myself. I had meant to tell Ron about my
encounter with Ramar. But what was the use? Perhaps he had
seen Ramar. What had happened between Ron and Emerald last
night? I couldn't stop thinking. It was too crazy, the whole
thing! Why did it have to happen? Just when I felt happy,
warm again towards a woman, a wonderful woman! Was there no
happiness for me, ever?
I had to shake myself. Self-pity mixed with anger. "Who
is this Ramar, anyway?" But as I thought of him, a strange
stillness settled in me. From my brain, words seemed to rise.
. . remembered words, no doubt. "Things are not always what
they seem . . . Try to let go . . . Try not to be hurt . . ."
It was the last I saw of Emerald. When I phoned her the
next day she said she was feeling much better and might go to
visit a friend in Connecticut for the weekend, if the weather
kept nice. It was much warmer on Saturday, and I expected she
had gone. Her phone did not answer Sunday afternoon, when I
tried to reach her.
When I came to the office Monday morning, I saw at once
a special delivery letter on my desk. Her writing. My hand
trembled as I opened it. I had a hollow feeling . . . Bad
news? What could have happened.
I stood still for a moment — it seemed endless.
What could I say that would make sense now? I don't know
how to explain — because there is no explanation that would
seem rational, sensible . . . I am just leaving town. I don't
know when I shall be back. You must find somebody for my job.
It shouldn't be hard.
Please, forgive me. You been quite wonderful — as a
friend, too. I so wish I could explain. But perhaps you will
understand. You will not misjudge me. . . us. I am going with
Ron. He will mail you a long letter. Perhaps he can explain.
Perhaps he can make you believe . . . that we are not little
fools on a love-adventure — a banal affair.
You may refuse to believe that what you saw the other
night was real. You may think of Mr. Ramar as a charlatan, or
worse. I don't know what you will believe. I hope, oh, I hope
you won't feel hurt. Please think of us kindly, warmly. We
are going into the totally unknown. It is mad, perhaps. I
don't know . . . I only know that there is no other road we
can take. And have faith — I have faith.
Please, have faith with us. This is not goodbye! We will
meet again. We must . . . Oh, try to understand, Dick. If only
you could feel what I have felt!
Always your friend,
I had no thought, no feeling. I was stunned, it was fantastic,
incredible. Both of them . . . suddenly . . . like kids
eloping! It made no sense.
Why, but why? — I kept asking myself, as I regained
some sort of normal consciousness. Why this way? No one would
have stopped them if they wanted to have a love affair, get
married . . . even take a vacation together! But just like
that . . . disappearing. No notice. They had jobs, after all!
What kind of a fix did they leave me in? They knew I was
having printing trouble. They knew I depended on them. But
no, they went. Ron will mail me "a long letter." How
considerate of him, the little fool! Did I count for nothing?
I tried to stop my angry thoughts. I re-read the letter.
"We are going into the totally unknown . . . I only know that
there is no other road we can take . . . have faith in us . . ."
what was she trying to say? What did it mean? I could
mean only one thing — Ramar! Ramar had taken them with him.
He was about to go away, he had told me so.
Ramar knew, of course. That's what he was trying to tell
me. "Don't get hurt. Don't get bitter!" He knew. He must have
planned it all from the beginning. But why? What did he want
to do with them? It sounded mad . . . I shivered, suddenly.
All sorts of horrible ideas rushed to my mind. Science
fiction story, all right! That was one to add to the list.
But it was real. And I was the dupe, the goat — on top of it
all! Or was it all a nightmare, some hypnotic spell from
which I would wake . . . they would wake — and return?
Ramar's last words came back to me with a strange
intensity. "Things are not always what they seem to be." I
seemed to hear his voice again. A hallucination? Was I losing
I walked up and down the office, wondering what I should
do next. Yes, I did think of calling the police. But that was
childish, obviously. They would think I was crazy. I had only
the letter to show. Besides, Ron and Emerald were not
teenagers. They should know what they were doing.
There was obviously nothing I could do — only wait for
Ron's "long letter," if it came. In the meantime, work
harder, take care of the magazine, get someone to take
Emerald's place. Jacqueline could do for a while, anyway. I
would have to talk to the boss. My god, what would I tell
But why not phone Ramar? Perhaps he was still at his
apartment. Maybe I was wrong.
I never had even taken down his phone number. The name
wasn't listed. I didn't even know the exact number of the
building. I rushed downstairs, hurried into a taxi. We sped
along the parkway, up Morningside Drive. I recognized the
building; asked the superintendent, "Is Mr. Ramar home? Or
has he already left on a trip?"
"No," the super replied. "He's not here. Moved out on
Saturday. Can't say about a trip."
"But where has he gone?"
"I don't know. Didn't leave an address. Sorry, mister."
I rode back to the office. My thoughts whirled around in
a hectic, bitter hurt. So, they had all gone — leaving me! I
had stuck to Scotch — excellent Scotch! I had clung to what
I knew — the familiar, the intellectually obvious. . .
perhaps I should say, the safe! I was safe. Sure! Dear old
Scotch . . . very safe, very normal.
Or was it? Too much Scotch may not be safe. I found out,
soon enough . . .