|“||In the end, all that matters to me is myself.||”|
–Lester, 1932 ~ Summer: Man in the Killer
In the early 1930s, he works as a reporter for a major New York newspaper company, and is assigned to investigate the serial killings by Ice Pick Thompson in August 1932.
He is eventually confronted by Mark Wilmans, who possesses the bottle of the incomplete elixir that his mother Paula had hidden. Lester charges Mark - and though stabbed several times over by Mark's ice pick he manages to grab hold of the elixir and drink it.
Lester has wavy blond hair, and is in his mid-twenties.
Elmer C. Albatross states that he and Lester "resemble one another quite a bit" and that their builds are similar.
Lester fears death to an extreme level, and is willing to resort to murder if it means his survival. He is almost deranged in his fear - charging towards Mark like an animal in his desire for the elixir. A superior of his had even told him once: "For a reporter, you value your life way too much." While a reporter should certainly make his own safety a concern, Lester is the type of person to "shy away from danger at all costs, even if it means losing a potential scoop."
This cautiousness does not merely apply to his career - in all aspects of life, Lester applies the same pattern of thought. There'd be nothing more humiliating than to take a risk and become a victim (making news for others). No, all that matters to Lester is himself.
Prior to November 1930, Lester becomes Szilard's subordinate. It can be inferred that he became Szilard's subordinate because of Szilard's immortality.
At some point in November 1930, Lester (fearing death) confronts Paula Wilmans. He forcibly sits her down, and demands that she give him the incomplete elixir she is holding for Barnes. Paula refuses. Smiling, Lester shakes his head, and thrusts his ice pick into a small heap of burning-hot stones. Once the ice pick is red-hot, he picks it up (ignoring the fact that it is burning his own hand) and mutters to himself "I'm not the one you should be blaming, Paula." He adds, "I just don't wanna die. Nobody does. So why-re you trying to keep it for yourself? Where did you hide the incomplete Elixir?"
He does not even give her time to respond as he thrusts the ice pick into her body. He ends up kllling her, orphaning her son Mark Wilmans.
Lester was colleagues with Carl Digness at a major newspaper company up until a few years before 1932. During that time, he idolized Carl and srived to be like him. However, the longer Lester had worked, the more he came to see the clear difference between himself and Carl - a difference that could not be overcome by experience. Eventually his respect turned into jealousy, and he had desperately struggled along with his work in a futile attempt to prove that he could live up to Carl. Things ended disastrously.
At any rate, Carl had eventually given him a stern warning about his outlook. Lester's jealousy "exploded at that point," and the two men have had yet to come to a reconciliation.
In August 1932, Lester is surrounded by his fellow reporters on the third floor of a building on Wall Street, New York. It is lunchtime. The room is a messy one, filled wth mountains of files, photographs, and manuscripts. His coworkers are discussing Ice Pick Thompson, the serial killer terrorizing the streets of New York. One of the men derisively asks who coined the sobriquet in the first place, and another answers that he thinks it was the Daily Days newspaper. According to one of the men, Ice Pick Thompson claimed his fourth victim the previous week.
The editor-in-chief raises his voice and prompts them back to work. One of the men points out that Lester is the one in charge of the story, but he's "just out of it." The editor-in-chief sends the reporters scrambling, and approaches Lester. He asks what the matter is - Lester should be out working on his story, shouldn't he? After all, the editor-in-chief thinks this story is perfect for someone as cautious as Lester.
Lester sighs, and asks the editor-in-chief not to scare him like that. He says that he's so cautious he's not able to keep up with all the cases goings on. Shaking his head, he mutters that the culprit is probably some "poor bastard" who lost it because of the bad economy. Literally all the news agency knows is that the weapon is probably an ice pick and that the culprit isn't after money since the victims' wallets weren't touched. How is he supposed to write an article on that? Lester has even interviewed the victims' families, but it still isn't much to work with. His employer muses that they can't keep writing gloomy stories forever - after all, America's raking in the gold right now in the Olympics.
His boss figures that they'll probably sell more copies if they just focus on the Olympics for now, and run a simple series on the murders later. And if the culprit's been caught by then, the reporters can all go to the 'shoe store' without having to watch their backs. Lester knows that his superior means a "speakeasy" when he means a "shoe store," and he also knows that all of the victims had been attacked in an empty alleyway on their way to or from a speakeasy.
The editor-in-chief points out that Lester was the one who asked to be assigned the story in the first place. Frankly, the chief editor had been surprised, since this isn't the kind of story Lester usually takes. The chief offers to switch Lester out if he's not feeling up to it, and Lester refuses, admitting he'd like to keep at it and that he was just getting impatient with the lack of progress. He swears he won't complain anymore. The chief editor shrugs off Lester's apology, and he asks if Lester wouldn't mind taking on one more story - he isn't having much fun with the serial killer story as it is, and besides - Carl Digness is always one step ahead of him.
Lester frowns, and asks that the chief not talk about Carl. After all, Carl is a failure - he left their big company to go to some tiny organization like the Daily Days. The chief comments that Carl was the man who invented the moniker "Ice Pick Thompson" after all, and who knows? Maybe he'll be in the history books one day. And as for his move to the Daily Days - the chief heard that he did that so he could care for his ill daughter. There really isn't a good reason to call a man like that a failure. Lester opens his mouth to complain, angry that his boss is defending Carl, but the chief continues on to say that none of this is about winning or losing. It's not as if Lester is planning to become a failure, right? After all, he was the one who volunteered for the story.
The chief proceeds to give Lester the lowdown on the new story: it's about the young people in New York's back alleys. Not gangs per se, but delinquents. What do the young people in "the seams of our society think about? What is on their minds? These young people are our future. What are they thinking now, when the future is so unclear?" It will be the theme of one of their planned columns. The chief pats Lester on his shoulder and hands him a paper containing the addresses of the hangouts of the young people in question. The chief quips that this will be a cakewalk compared to the serial killer story.
Some hours later (at sunset), Lester walks the streets of New York in displeasure, still disgruntled at the chief's mention of Carl, who up until a few years ago had been five years Lester's senior in the company. Lester considers his history with Carl (detailed above) as well as his own thought patterns - how he never takes risks, how the only thing that matters to him is himself. And he's not the only one - everyone lives for themselves. Or...was Carl different? He had heard that Carl had done "something stupid" so he could earn money to save his daughter, but in the end, "he's just sharing that life of his with a sick family member."
(Lester has no trouble writing good articles, but he is never really able to reach the truth of the incidents he reports on. His inability to take that one necessary step further has led to his coworkers calling him a coward).
Lester continues to reflect bitterly on his past with Carl, and considers the list of addresses his superior had handed him. The list includes the locations of closed-down factories, speakeasies, abandoned churches, and ruined hotels. There is only one name in the note - "Graham Specter" - and it is marked with the phrase "take special note." Lester hasn't heard of the fellow, and dismissively thinks that he must not be someone worth remembering. He grouses about the new story, and vows to get the killer scoop before Carl and prove to his colleagues that he is not a coward.
It starts raining, and Lester is quickly drenched. He muses that maybe Ice Pick Thompson will show up, since the killer's victims always turn up after a rainshower. One of the killer's calling cards is the particularly gruesome corpse left behind in his wake - as the rain washes off the corpse's blood, leaving the wounds clear and distinctly visible. Lester shudders at the thought that he might be a victim if he continues walking alone. Soaking wet, he jogs down the darkened back alleys; turning a corner, he encounters a figure standing in the rain. The narrative refers to this figure as a "serial killer."
(The true events of this encounter are only revealed later in the novel): Lester recognizes the figure as Lisha Darken. He mutters her name as she gives him a vacant stare and an ineffectual smile. She recognizes him by name in turn, and he silently judges the incongruity between her actual age and her appearance. Though she's actually in her late twenties, she looks ten to twenty years older than her age based on her...appearance. Baggy eyes, pale skin, lifeless complexion...Lester says "still can't kick that habit, huh?" and she says he's got it wrong - half a year ago, the Runorata men stopped coming. One of Gustavo Bagetta's men (possibly Begg Garott?) specifically - he used to sell Lisha "all those nice drugs" but then disappeared.
She had started using 'something else' at that point - but it didn't work so well, and now her body is a mess. She wants to quit. Lester cruelly replies "all right. Either way you're screwed. Bye." Lisha grabs him by the arm, and his disparaging comment is immediately cut off when he spots the ice pick in her hand. He flinches, and steps away from her. Lisha cackles and asks if he thought she was Ice Pick Thompson; ice picks, Lisha says, are selling like hotcakes amongst children.
Lester says that this is one sick joke, and Lisha teases him by asking if she should play dumb. She bets that Lester knows all about why those people got killed, and that he's probably scared of being offed next. Lester roars "I told you to stop!" and snatches the ice pick from her. She grins and says that it's so funny that Lester is scared of a silly little ice pick when (according to a 'little bird') he had looked right at home when he used one the last time.
Lester breaks out into a cold sweat ("...stop it.") She says that everyone talked about how Lester had tortured and killed poor Paula. He'd put the ice pick in a fire and when it was red-hot he "stabbed it into her like [he] was having a ball!"
He screeches at her to stop, every muscle in his body tensing. She assures him that nobody's going to hear her talk - not many people are going to walk in the back alleys during the rain, especially when Ice Pick Thompson is on the loose. It's funny, she says, that he's so scared of "a cute kid like that." Lester can practically feel his spine disjointing. She mentions the name Mark, and Lester rolls the name around on his tongue. He remembers a boy called Mark Wilmans, and he mumbles "...can't be...Paula's kid?"
Lisha confirms his suspicions, and says that she'd been friends with Paula, sometimes cooked Mark food and all that. Lester says that he'd been unaware, and Lisha snickers that he wouldn't have liked it had he known. Lisha talks about how Mark has lots of Paula's money, and how he gives her money if she's good. She bought several drugs with Mark's money. When he stopped giving her money, she had said that she'd tell him who killed his mother if he'd give her drug money.
By this point, all the blood has drained from Lester's face. Lisha asks Lester to give her money too - she can pay him in bed - no, not this time - no drugs either. She needs money for a doctor, she says. She wants to stop, and become a better person that she was. Maybe even go to heaven. Lester slowly replies "...you wanna get high? I'll show you one hell of a trip. I'll send you up all the way to Heaven."
He raises the ice pick up and drives it deep into Lisha's neck (thanks to the drug abuse, she is numb to the pain). He withdraws it, and drives it into her body again and again and again -- and so on. There is a twisted smile on Lester's face. Though he had initially swung the pick out of rage, Lisha's moan has triggered the sense of pleasure he'd felt from killing in the past.
Lester finally drops the ice pick into a puddle, wipes the blood and fingerprints off it with his clothes, and leaves the ally to toss the pick into the back of a passing truck. He returns to cradle Lisha's body. Stone-hearted, he cries out "help! Someone come quick! Call a doctor! Anyone!" As soon as he makes sure that she has stopped breathing, he screams at the top of his lungs in an act both unnatural and dramatic.
The next day, he publishes an exclusive article in his newspaper detailing a new case involving Ice Pick Thompson - specifically, about how he witnessed Ice Pick Thompson murdering someone else. (The article includes a list of Ice Pick Thompson's physical characteristics). The article proves popular with the shocked readers, who are easily influenced by its vivid writing. Lester is questioned by the police, and when he finally steps into the editorial office of the newspaper he works at, all his coworkers immediately start teasing him - now the center of attention since he is the first person to ever witness one of Ice Pick Thompson's murders.
Lester sits at his desk, fatigue creasing his face. The editor-in-chief approaches him and asks if he is alright and how was the police questioning, joking that normally Lester is the one who does the listening. Lester snorts, and says it wasn't pleasant since it was clear the police suspected him. His superior chastises him for publishing the article without even giving the cops a chance to question the reporters - even the editor-in-chief's boss was given a severe warning. Lester apologizes, and the chief editor laughs bitterly and says that sales for their morning edition were up thirty percent thanks to the article.
The chief editor goes on to say that the officers were hounding the reporters for Lester's alibi for each incident, and even went so far as to accuse the chief editor of lying so he could sell more papers. He chuckles and says that the police are clearly desperate for accurate information, considering all of the unsigned 'tips' the office has been getting. Some of them even swore that the murders are the work of the Rail Tracer. Lester smiles and agrees that all the misinformation had been giving him a headache.
The two chat about the vague and odd descriptors of the killer that Lester included in his frontpage article, and Lester admits that he deliberately made them vague so that he cannot be accused of falsehoods. Their conversation is interrupted when a colleague informs them that Lester has a phone call - from Carl Digness of the Daily Days. He wants to arrange a meeting with Lester.
At sunset, Lester heads to The Alveare, a honey shop and speakeasy owned by the Martillo Family. Before, Lester had always thought of the Martillos as small fry - but judging by the opulent interior of the speakeasy, he had been mistaken. He notes that there is a stage in the back of the room, upon which a Chinese woman dances with a large sword. Lester looks around, and spots Carl waving at him from a nearby table.
Swallowing, Lester takes a seat, offering Carl a perfunctory greeting. Carl pours him a glass of liquor, and after a few lines of small talk Lester asks Carl how his daughter is doing. He thinks it is a relatively harmless discussion topic, remembering how Carl had transferred to the Daily Days to look after his ill daughter. Even though Lester had been aware that a smaller company would allow Carl more leeway with work hours, he still can only think of Carl's departure as a "miserable flight from responsibility."
Carl responds that his daughter passed away "the year before last," and says that he is glad that at least she did not have to suffer too long. Lester does not know what to say, and Carl says that that is fine - it is his fault for not contacting him for the funeral anyway. He'd wanted it to be quiet, so he'd just called his relatives and his current boss. At any rate - now that his wife and daughter have both passed on, he's "free to hang back at speakeasies as late as I want." Lester thinks that Carl is 'talking big,' and though he can't say that Carl is justified in his actions ... well, Lester probably wouldn't have shown up to the funeral had he been contacted.
Lester gets to the point, and asks Carl why he contacted him. Carl is amused that Lester is his typically straightforward self, and recalls that he'd taught him that the best way to get info is by "stirring up a nice cocktail of words and liquor for your source." Lester points out that the tactic obviously won't work on Carl, and he awkwardly puts his glass to his lips. He is surprised by the sweetness of the liquor, and Carl snickers at Lester's face. He reveals that the liquor is honey liquor, and says that Lester will get used to the taste eventually. Lester prompts him to get to the point, and Carl tells him that he read Lester's article -- truly amazing, he says. He's sure the editorial department is thinking even better of Lester now.
Lester wonders what Carl is thinking - he was never the sort of man who used to complain or bully others. For a moment, he wonders if the change in workplace and the loss of his daughter had affected Carl to the point of a behavioral change. Carl quotes the part of the article that had described the killer, and he snickers. The laughter quickly vanishes from his face, and he glares straight into Lester's eyes and accuses him of having lied.
Silence falls over the table. Lester wrestles his emotions into check and counters that Carl must be jealous of him. Sure, Carl can take credit for the 'Ice Pick Thompson' moniker, but anyone has the right to pick up a scoop. Carl agrees - but only if the story is true. Lester asks him to stop, adding that he doesn't want to hate Carl any more. Carl cuts him off, and says "you thought I wouldn't know?" (Lester: "Pardon?") "...You thought I wouldn't look into the connection between the five victims?"
Lester makes an innocent face, but he averts his eyes all the same. Carl continues: perhaps it would not be quite correct to say that five people shared a connection. After all...including Lester, there are six people. Lester snaps his mouth shut. Carl remarks that Lester knew - yes, when the first man was killed Lester must have thought (or wanted to think) that it was just a coincidence. After the second murder, too. But by the third and fourth deaths, Lester must have put two and two together. These were not random murders.
Lester continues to play innocent, but his face has become very pale by now. Carl comments that Lester must know about the connection better than anyone, and says that although he doesn't know if Lester 'really did' see the killer...if the murderer is who Carl thinks it is, Lester will be the one in the most trouble once the murderer is caught. But that doesn't mean Lester can just let the killer run loose. After all...
Lester apologizes, and says that he has no idea what Carl is talking about. He excuses himself on the pretense of needing to finish his article for tomorrow's newspaper. He forcefully gets to his feet and runs off, ignoring Carl calling out to him from behind. He tells the shopkeeper to put his drink on Carl's tab before he goes. He continues to run and run with no direction in mind - all he wants is to put more distance between himself and Carl.
He finally reaches his limit in one of the alleys, and proceeds to throw up the little liquor he had managed to drink at the Alveare. He internally swears, and remembers the things that only he knows. Trembling, he says "damn it...damn it... if he's really Ice Pick Thompson...Then...I'm...I'm the next target! Damn it! Cause... I'm the only one left...!"
Lester (at some point) contacts the Runorata Family, which informs him about a man called Raz Smith (a self-proclaimed assassin). Lester contacts Smith, and asks him to come to a certain building (scheduled for demolishment) on a street near Grand Central Station. Smith arrives at the building and Lester greets him, apologizing for calling him out to a place like this. He's very thankful that Smith has come, and after a few words Smith asks who his target is. Lester sighs and says that he'd like Smith to kill the person that made him (Lester) an overnight celebrity -- he'd like him to kill Ice Pick Thompson, and to please 'take care' of him before the police get to him.
Several hours later, Lester sits in the basement of Coraggioso, expecting that the work he'd commissioned to Smith might be finished just about now. Sitting around him are various members of the Gandor Family. He thinks about Paula and Lisha, and how they were "both idiots." All he'd wanted was a way to avoid death. If Paula had just given him the incomplete elixir...he sighs, still not understanding why Paula had not drunk a drop of it herself. It wasn't like the two of them owed anything to Szilard or Barnes, so why did she decide not to become immortal?
A back door opens, and in enters Nicola Cassetti (a Gandor capo). He apologizes for making Lester wait, and Lester says that it wasn't a problem. He'd have liked to come sooner, but it was a bit of work getting the police off his tail. Nicola takes a moment to appreciate how Lester always gives the Gandors the best info in town, and he hopes that their business relationship will be a lasting one. When Lester calls him "Mr. Cassetti," Nicola suggests that he just call him Nico.
Nicola informs Lester that the Gandors have been monitoring the police, but they've heard that the fifth victim (aka Lisha) might have been killed by a different person (not Ice Pick Thompson) - the first four victims were stabbed from underneath, but the woman was stabbed downwards in the neck. Lester pretends not to notice the "great invisible weight" pressing down on him, and says that that is not surprising, given that there is more than one culprit. He smirks at Nicola's reaction, and presents to him the scenario he had written based on the last few days' information.
Lester announces that the culprit is assassin-for-hire Raz Smith, who he claims hired street delinquents to murder people connected to the Gandor Family. He describes Smith, and when Nicola begins to ask what an assassin like Smith would have against them, Lester brushes off the question by saying that he can't read minds. Though Lester had initially just wanted this discussion to by him some time, he is presented with a surprising bit of good fortune when a woman exclaims that she knows Smith - Berga Gandor had once punched Smith in the face and sent him to the hospital.
Nicola gets to his feet. One of the Gandor men asks him if he's going somewhere, and Nicola replies that he isn't going to make trouble while the bosses are out - he and Smith are just going to have a talk. The woman wants to join in, and Nicola climbs the stairs with the woman and several men in tow. Just before he leaves, he turns to torture specialist Tick Jefferson, who is sitting in the corner. He suggests that Tick doesn't bother cleaning his scissors - he feels like hearing a lot of screaming today.
After Nicola and company leave, Lester asks someone what's wrong with the capo. The man (after asking that Lester keep this to himself) says that Nicola had had his eye on newest victim Lisha Darken for a while. Tick thinks they really liked each other, but Nicola had told her he'd never see her again if she didn't stop taking drugs. She had probably been trying to stop, but "who'd have thought her heart was going to go first?"
Lester looks up at the stairs and smiles to himself, internally laughing.
Some time later, a mafioso receives a phone call from Nicola. Holding the receiver out to Lester, the mafioso says that Nico has called to say that there isn't anyone in the old factory "those brats" usually hang out in. Does Lester know of anywhere else they might be? Lester narrows his eyes and reconsiders his plan - is this good luck or bad luck? He claims that he doesn't know where they are, internally thinking that he'd better "get rid" of the assassin first.
Out loud, Lester says that he started suspecting Smith because he contacted Smith a few times recently for information. The mafioso asks Lester why he hadn't told them this earlier, and Lester replies that he never had the chance. He assures the man that he'd never even dream of leaking the Gandors' info to Smith. The mafioso frowns and gestures for him to continue. Lester says that he "thought something was up" when he was talking to the delinquents - looking into it, it looks like the group had been going through some internal problems, and "one of their boys who always does the dirty work might not be long for this world." At any rate, it seems that Smith was in contact with several other reporters too, He informs the mafioso that they always met up at a condemned building by Grand Central Station.
The men wait for a while in the basement. Lester stands, apologizes, and says that he has to return to his news desk. He and the men exchange pleasantries - as Lester laughs out loud, he thinks about the possibility of the assassin spilling the beans about him. He resolves to head to Mark's place as soon as possible to look for the incomplete elixir. He begins climbing the stairs when he hears Tick say "oh? You're back! Did you forget something?"
Lester spins around to stare at Tick in the corner. Tick is looking at something above Lester, and Lester turns around again to look - maybe the woman has returned? Without warning, a 'tiny shadow' charges down the stairs, ice pick in hand. The figure barrels into Lester, who tumbles down the stairs in a heap. There is an agonizing pain in his shoulder, and he squirms on the floor.
The Gandor men break out into shocked exclamations (Tick pipes up that Lester won't die immediately with a stab wound like that). Lester blinks back the tears in his eyes and looks over to see a boy descending the stares. The boy stares at Lester with 'a fiendish look,' hissing "I finally found you..." In his hand is a bloody and rusted ice pick. The boy adds that since Lester wasn't at his office or at the boy's apartment, he (the boy) thought he would find Lester here.
The boy introduces himself as Mark, Paula's son, and recounts his meeting with Smith, the man Lester hired to kill him. Lester splutters at the revelation that the boy is Paula's son, but can do little more than writhe on the floor from pain. Although the injury is not lethal, it is the first time that he has experienced such pain - and it is enough to make him think that he is going to die. Lester screams out profanities, urging the Gandors to shoot Mark dead.
The men glare at Lester, but slowly reach into their jackets to stare at Mark. The boy is carrying the ice pick in his right hand and a strange paper bag in his left - but there are no other visible weapons in his possession. Tick asks Mark what is wrong - it's pretty dangerous to play around with ice picks. Mark smiles faintly and apologizes. One of the men tentatively draws his gun and points it at Mark, ordering him to show them what is in the bag.
Gripped with the hallucinatory fear of death, Lester believes that the men are acting too lackadaisically and manages to stagger to his feet and charge at the man holding the gun. The man is taken aback, and Lester manages to snatch away the loaded gun. And before anyone can think or react - before Lester even realizes what he is doing - he points the gun at Mark and pulls the trigger.
But the bullet does not reach Mark. He is saved in the nick of time by a newcomer who had jumped from the upper floor in front of the boy as if to shield him. The newcomer takes the bullet for him - and says... "Hey there. Are you all right? That was a close one" as blood dribbles from his lips and spews out his back. What's more, he is smiling.
Unbeknownst to Lester, the newcomer is one Elmer C. Albatross, and someone that Mark has met before. Mark stutters in recognition, and asks if the bullet didn't hurt. Elmer corrects him - it definitely hurts. It is absolutely painful. He asks Mark to take a look at his right hand; Mark looks down and realizes his ice pick has been accidentally jammed into Elmer's thigh. Elmer dismisses Mark's apology (claiming that it is 'his fault' instead) and pulls out the ice pick before getting to his feet with a smile.
Lester and the mafiosi collectively swallow at the sight. They are further shocked when the blood flowing from Elmer's back and leg trickle flow back into his wounds, defying both gravity and time. The Gandor men whisper to each other (reminded of their bosses) and take away their gun from the still-frozen Lester. Forgetting the pain in his shoulder, he gasps "an...immortal...?!"
Elmer talks to Mark, who doesn't understand why Elmer wants to save him (someone 'not worth saving'). Mark points out that the man he'd stabbed earlier had nothing to do with the whole situation -- at which Elmer claps his hands and looks over in Lester's direction. He confirms that Lester must be Lester, and says that everything all makes sense now. Lester looks up at his name; Elmer beams as he descends the stairs and looks at Lester's form.
Pleased, Elmer points out that Lester is "even wearing the same brand." Startled, Lester's exclamation ends in a cry as he remembers the pain in the shoulder. Elmer spares him a few concerned words before turning to inform Mark that everything really is clear. No wonder Mark had stabbed him (Elmer) the other day! Mark is stupefied. Elmer recalls that it had really been a downpour at the time, and that he and Lester resemble each other both in looks and build. And wouldn't you know it, the outfit Elmer is currently wearing is the one he wore that they! Mark must have mistaken Elmer for "Mister Lester" and stabbed him.
Elmer gives those in the room an explanation of what he'd been doing the past few days - how he was looking for Szilard Quates, and how he'd learned that "Mister Lester" was possibly connected to him. He'd gone to Lester's newspaper company to look for him, when suddenly out of nowhere someone stabbed him (Elmer) at the back of the building. He had thought he was going to die of shock, but the perpetrator had run off terrified, babbling "it's not him."
All of the men stare at him in shock as he recounts his story. Tick is the only one nodding along to the monologue. Elmer adds that he went off to look for the boy and found him standing on the edge of the Brooklyn Bridge. In the next moment, he wipes the smile off his face and whispers something into Mark's ear.
Mark crumples to his knees in fatigue. Lester has barely been paying attention to the proceedings in his single-mindedness, and asks if Elmer is an immortal like Szilard. Elmer acknowledges this to be true, and muses that Lester really does know old Szilard.
Lester falls to his kneels in front of Elmer. "P-please. I'll do anything you say! A-anything! So please... The elixir...!" Mark is filled with outrage, and he asks if Lester would really go so far for "this thing" - and he pulls out a small bottle from his paper bag. At first, Lester has no idea what it is, but as soon as he sees the liquid inside it -- he cries "no! It can't be!"
Mark reveals that back when his mother was still alive, she and Mark had buried this bottle at his father's grave. He'd always wondered why, but now he knows the reason. Lester had been looking for this all along. Lester is overwhelmed at the realization that the incomplete elixir is still around, and begs Mark to give the elixir to him. He insists that the liquor should have "belonged to all of us equally."
Mark repeats himself. "....You killed my mom over this liquor?"
Lester denies this - he blames Paula, accusing it of being her fault. He beseeches the boy, saying that he and Mark can become like "that man" (Elmer) - free from death, yes, the "essence of all humanity's dreams! That's not something anyone should keep for themselves!"
Mark coldly whispers Lester's words. "Humanity's...dreams? That's it...? You killed my mom over something that stupid?!" He raises the bottle upwards, and Lester cries out for him to stop, insisting that he will give Mark whatever he wants. Mark ignores him. He asks Lester if he knows why Mark brought the bottle hear. It wasn't so that he would drink it, and it wasn't so that he could give the bottle to Lester either.
Mark swings the bottle over his head. "I brought this here so I could destroy it right before your eyes."
Lester screams at him ("Stop, you son of a bitch!") and charges towards Mark. The boy stabs Lester through the neck with the ice pick, but Lester clings to Mark's clothes and reaches for the boy's arm 'like a man possessed.' Mark stabs Lester again and again - in his chest, his stomach, and his leg. Lester is unstoppable, and he snatches the bottle from Mark's grasp and kicks the boy aside. His neck wound is spewing out blood, but Lester is completely unaware of his own state - he doesn't matter - all that matters is the incomplete immortality elixir in his hands.
He tears at the cork "with a monstrous expression." Elmer gravely asks if the liquid is the Grand Panacea as he watches Lester writhe on the floor. "It's not such a good idea to drink-" Lester shakes him off with a "outta my way" and downs the contents of the bottle in one gulp.
Lester internally crows in victory over his success, intending to shout the words out loud. Instead - air leaks from his throat, and he is unable to speak. As his sanity returns to him, he realizes that the searing agony across his body has not ceased. He screams - though his neck is no longer bleeding, his wounds are not healing, and the blood that he has spilled has not returned to his body. As he thrashes on the floor in confusion, Elmer looks down at him and sighs that this is why he tried to stop him. The Grand Panacea does not heal one's previous injuries. Same with illnesses.
Elmer continues that he has been told that the elixir has "a bit of a mind of its own and naturally improves things over time," but with injuries like Lester's it might take a very long time. In fact, it might be faster to hope that Lester's mind breaks first so he ceases feeling pain. Lester can only scream in deathly pain as Elmer talks. Elmer and Mark exchange words, and the Gandor men circle the two; they intend to hold Mark here until their bosses come back.
The scene is interrupted when Nicola and the woman from before (Maria) return to the scene. Nicola first catches sight of Mark, but then sees Lester groaning on the floor. He talks to Mark, and then walks to the middle of the room to listen to a mafioso explain the situation. Nicola looks down at Lester (having learned that he's just like the bosses) and crushes Lester's left hand with his foot. Lester screams, and his fingers rapidly regain their original shape.
Nicola tells Tick that he can take the rest of the day off - Lester is going to have to deal with him. At Tick's query, Nicola adds that while he's not a torture specialist like Tick - Lester isn't going to die no matter what he does to him so he (Nico) might as well have a ball. Let off some stress.
Elmer sighs and crouches down by Lester's side. He whispers to Lester that he might have an idea that'll make Lester happy: "If you think you'll be happier dying this very instant, and if you can go out with a smile...I could devour you now with my right hand. ...But only if you promise me you'll be smiling."
Lester has almost certainly understood what Nicola plans to do with him, but he shakes his head "as though in denial." A soundless scream escapes from the hole in his throat. Elmer quietly says that's a shame, but a smile soon returns to his face. He gently says that he'll be back in a few years... "once you've changed your mind." By then, perhaps they'll have found a way to ease Lester's suffering - and maybe by then the hearts of those Lester has hurt will have been mended.
With that, he walks away, raising a hand as he goes.
In 1935-C: The Grateful Bet, it is mentioned that Lester is currently buried under the floorboards of the Coraggioso. One of the Gandor men mentions that Tick said that when he thinks of a new torture he'll try it out on Lester.