The conventionally attractive man is leaning back with his legs propped on his desk, pondering the late afternoon sunlight. After a few hours his phone rings. There is a great static on the other line, but with his superior powers of hearing he can just make out the words:

“Thank god you’re there–ssssssk–Lord Death Man–dzzzz–my sister–kkktsssss–the Cave of Sorrow! Help me–ssszzz–!”

“I AM ON THE CASE!” The conventionally attractive man always yells when he is on the phone.

He stands holding the phone to his ear a moment longer, as a cloud begins to dissolve in front of his window. He puts the phone back on the cradle, very slowly.

The door to his office is frosted glass and has his name spelled out in gold leaf. Sitting just outside it is his secretary, who jumps to attention as he strides through with his jacket already slung over his shoulder.

“Sir, you have a meeting with the–”

“NO TIME FOR YOUR SILLY RIDDLES NOW, THERESA! I AM ON THE CASE!” He slaps her on her behind because she has been naughty lately and deserves it.

Within seconds he is in the elevator, and a few seconds after that the elevator reaches the lobby, where he nearly stumbles into a woman wrapped in a lush fur coat. It is the ex-mayor’s widow.

“Hello, handsome” she purrs, “I was just on my way to your office for our–”

“ENOUGH OF YOUR SILLINESS! TROUBLE IS AFOOT!” It is the lobby, and his voice reverberates. All of the doormen turn to look. “SCOTTY, MY CAR!” he says to all of them.

His car is sleek and black and purrs like the ex-mayor’s widow. It is waiting for him by the time he reaches the garage entrance. “THANK YOU, SCOTTY,” he shouts as he opens the door. He catches a glimpse of himself in the rearview mirror and he pauses, troubled for a moment. “IT IS AS THOUGH A CROW HAS FLOWN ACROSS MY GRAVE,” he thinks. The moment passes, and soon he is speeding down the boulevard, his hands twisting on the steering wheel. He decides it is a good idea to take the highway. As he speeds away from the city center he overtakes a bus full of schoolgirls, their ponytails swaying in unison. Many of them look out at him approvingly as he passes by.


Soon he arrives at his apartment building. There is a parking space waiting for him. “I WILL JUST HAVE A QUICK SHOWER AND SHAVE, AND THEN WE WILL GET DOWN TO WORK!” he thinks, and his thoughts reverberate in his head for a moment.

There is no doorman to open the door, but he barely notices as the doorman is from another country whose people are notoriously unreliable. He opens the door himself, careful to touch it with only his sleeve. He knows that the doorman has a terrible cough.

Inside his lobby there is a bank of elevators. He presses the call button, and again notices his reflection in the shine of the marble: there is a quick movement behind him and with a flash his mind goes blank. On the floor his eyes flicker open just long enough to see a leering, freckled face and a too-wide chin. “CURSES!” he thinks, and then nothing.


Slowly the conventionally attractive man’s bright blue eyes begin to focus, and his thoughts to coalesce. He feels a wide band of rope or leather around his chest, wrists and ankles. The back of his head throbs and each pulse of blood seems to set loose a cluster of stars across his vision. He senses a presence around him, and turns to see the leering face again, half-hidden in the dark but instantly recognizable. “UGLY CREEP!” he manages to croak out.

The ugly creep leans forward, his eyes alight. “FFFFHHHHHHHH KK HHHHHHH FLLL” he says, but none of his words make sense because his face is so ugly.

With this the conventionally attractive man begins to thrash, but he can barely move within his bonds. “FIEND!” he says, “RELEASE ME AT ONCE!” But the ugly creep just cackles and smashes a vase against the end table. It is at this moment that the conventionally attractive man recognizes his own apartment around him, and the vase as a precious heirloom. He begins to thrash again.

The ugly creep has flecks of spittle in the corners of his mouth, and his eyes, which are too small and close together, glimmer murkily as he leans in close. His forehead is too heavy, and a thick orange lock of hair dangles and swings as he hovers.

“UGGGGGGHLG LHGG LLGG ULG” he whispers, and a waft of tobacco and whiskey (his own whiskey!) hits the conventionally attractive man–just before the fists do.

“YOU ARE AN UGLY MOTHERFUCKER, BUT YOU CAN THROW A PUNCH!” the conventionally attractive man slurs, letting loose a band of bloody drool. The ugly creep rises to his full height, which proves not to be very high–and also fairly asymmetrical–before letting loose one last wallop. “Enough!” the conventionally attractive man hears, before the world goes dark again…


Originally published in Man’s Weird Adventure,
December 1947.