This morning, I woke up and peeked out from beneath a hangover. It had stayed the night, and now it was time for it to go. I gave the hangover two aspirins and a kiss goodbye.

Normally, the first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue. But evidently I forgot to do so this morning—sharpen my tongue, that is—because I was nearly speechless when Ernie MacGuffin, that poor excuse for an artist, came and sat down next to me after lunch.

A quick word about lunch: Every day, I meet a group of writers, editors and critics around a round table in the dining room of the Algonquin Hotel. Manhattan’s brilliant newspapermen have dubbed our group The Algonquin Round Table. Those same newspapermen reprint our witty repartee and caustic comments—but our goal is merely to share a laugh and a bite to eat. It’s the Roaring 20s, and there’s a Prohibition on, so you have to take your fun where you can get it.

(I once found the dead body of a rival drama critic under our famous Round Table. But that, as they say, is another story…)

Where was I? Oh yes. Today Ernie MacGuffin sat himself down and dropped me a note—a suicide note, in fact. I didn’t take him seriously. No one ever does. Of course, I wasn’t in a hurry to get back to my desk job as a writer for Vanity Fair, but all the same I wasn’t much for Ernie’s tomfoolery either. So I shoved the note back at him and suggested he busy himself with his paints and his canvases, and leave the high drama to the actors on Broadway.

Well, the joke’s on me (ha ha!), because that nincompoop MacGuffin went ahead with it! Or at least it seems that’s he did…

Now it’s midnight, and I’m standing by the railing of the Brooklyn Bridge with his suicide note in my hand. And here are his shoes and his unfinished canvas, and the dark East River is silently rippling by a hundred feet below. And a deep, unsettling thought occurs to me…

What in heaven’s name am I doing on a chilly bridge at midnight, when by all rights I should be snug in my favorite speakeasy with a drink in my hand?

And that is my day in a nutshell (which is exactly where it belongs).


Read more about Dorothy Parker (and Ernie MacGuffin) in YOU MIGHT AS WELL DIE, the recently released second book in the Algonquin Round Table Mystery series. The first book in the series is MURDER YOUR DARLINGS.

J.J. Murphy is an award-winning health-care writer in Pennsylvania, and also a lifelong Dorothy Parker fan. After the birth of twin daughters, J.J. started writing the Algonquin Round Table Mysteries as an escape from toddler television. Visit J.J. at http://roundtablemysteries.com and Facebook. Also, go to the contest page to vote on which famous figure should “guest star” in an upcoming book—and enter to win a $25 gift card.

** Thanks to the author, I have one (1) copy of YOU MIGHT AS WELL DIE to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends December 23rd. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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