An arsonist, a criminal, insane, no doubt, Bernie Magellan was a singer of top caliber. When the mayor and his wife visited the penitentiary, the police wheeled him out to sing Adeste Fideles a deux ad extremum ad fin. When he’d finished all thirty verses they wept and the mayor demanded that the warden set Bernie free.

The warden said that would be a very bad idea, and he said no, and when the mayor pressed him he said some other things that the mayor’s wife was shocked to hear. She was a lady.

And Bernie Magellan, the mayor swore, was a gentleman. It took some doing, but at last he managed to exonerate the man.

That week the mayor hosted a municipal dinner with Bernie as the guest of honor. He was slated to sing all the hits from past to future, for the guests, for the cameras, for the city, and America. It might have been the pressure, or it might have been that Bernie was a pyromaniac, but midway through “Start Spreading the News” Bernie ignited the big Christmas Tree that overlooked the banquet table, subsequently burning down City Hall.

The next week Bernie Magellan was back in prison singing torch songs. He was especially adept at those.

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