Mike Murphy -author

A New Era For Manny Youngman

Sample text : First page

He would be attacked first, Manny calculated, by the handsome woman in the left aisle six rows back. From his chair on the stage, his eyes had been drawn to her among the two or three hundred people, predominantly women, shuffling into positions on thinly padded seats. A blustering wind was hurling unseasonable rain at the outside of the town hall, which would have made the size of the audience flattering if he thought they were there to listen.

Experience had shown they were mainly there to attack. At one of his first speaking engagements he confessed that he was only partly convinced by what he was saying, still trying to light his way down a dark path. He opened his heart and the audience turned on him, tasting blood. He learned to treat them as adversaries and make his words a barrier behind which his uncertainties could shelter.

Sizing up the opposition helped to take his mind off his dry throat, tensed neck muscles and the dozen or so butterflies in his stomach. He began with a scan of the faces around the handsome woman, deciding none of them appeared too threatening.

No. There was something. He reversed the scan. Katie Frank. For a few months in his twenties they had a lot of vigorous sex and passionate arguments. She had left him. The wound of it still itched after a decade and a half.

Her hair was shorter, cut below her ears instead of cascading to her shoulders. The face was as he remembered, more interesting than pretty, full of character, nose engagingly crooked between well-defined cheeks above a full mouth and a firm chin. It could change from an angry frown to a mischief-loving smile. Not chalk and cheese compared with the handsome woman, a different cheese with a more subtle flavour. What was she doing here?