|“||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 Wilmens, 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.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
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 and attire are similar.
Personality[edit | edit source]
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 would be nothing more humiliating to him than to take a risk and become a victim, which would make news for others). No, all that matters to Lester is himself.
Chronology[edit | edit source]
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 and four other men arrive at Paula's apartment and ring her doorbell – an action which gives her time to hide her son Mark Wilmens in the closet. They escort her out of the apartment and to an undisclosed location, where they forcibly sit her down and demand that she give them the incomplete elixir she is holding for Barnes. She refuses.
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 stabs her multiple times with the hot ice-pick in a vain attempt to torture her into confessing the formula's whereabouts. The torturous execution fails to produce the information he seeks, and he and his cohorts either dump her corpse into the Hudson River or leave it on the banks of it.
Lester is colleagues with Carl Dignis at a major newspaper company up until a few years before 1932. During that time, he idolizes Carl and strives to be like him. However, the longer Lester works, the more he comes to see the clear difference in ability between himself and Carl, a difference that cannot be overcome by experience. Eventually his respect morphs into jealousy, and he desperately struggles with his work in a futile attempt to prove that he can live up to Carl.
His attempt ends in disaster. Carl gives him a stern warning about his outlook, at which point Lester's jealousy boils over. The two men never come to a reconciliation.
In August 1932, lunchtime, Lester is surrounded by his fellow reporters on the third floor of a building on Wall Street, New York. The room is a messy one, filled with 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 seems to be spaced out. The editor-in-chief sends the reporters scrambling, and asks Lester what the matter is and why he isn't out working on his story. The editor-in-chief points out that this story is perfect for someone as cautious as Lester.
Lester replies that he's so cautious he's not able to keep up with all the cases going on. Shaking his head, he mutters that the culprit is probably some "poor bastard" who lost it because of the bad economy. All the news agency knows is that the weapon is probably an ice pick and that the culprit is not 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, not when America is currently raking in the gold at the Olympics.
His boss figures that they will probably sell more copies if they just focus on the Olympics for now, and run a simple series on the murders later. If the culprit has been caught by then, the reporters can all go to the 'shoe store' (a speakeasy) without having to watch their backs Lester notes to himself 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, something that had surprised him since it is not the kind of story Lester usually takes. The chief offers to switch Lester out if he is not feeling up to it, and Lester refuses, admitting he would like to keep at it and that he was just getting impatient with the lack of progress. He promises he will not complain anymore. The chief editor shrugs off Lester's apology, and asks if Lester wouldn't mind taking on one more story since he isn't having much fun with the serial killer story as it is, and besides - Carl is always one step ahead of him.
Lester frowns, and asks that the chief not talk about a failure like Carl. The chief comments that Carl was the man who invented the moniker "Ice Pick Thompson" after all, and recalls that Carl moved to the Daily Days so he could care for his ill daughter rather than for an embarrassing professional reason. 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.
The chief runs through the story concept: a story about the young delinquents of New York's back alleys, that seeks to understand what such young ruffians are thinking about now that the future is unclear. The story's theme is in line with one of their newspaper's 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, quipping that this will be a cakewalk compared to the serial killer story.
Some hours later, Lester walks the streets of New York, 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 as well as his own thought patterns - how he never takes risks, how the only thing that matters to him is himself. He believes that everyone lives for themselves, but cannot help but wonder if was Carl different. He had heard that Carl had done "something stupid" so he could earn money to save his daughter, but cannot see why Carl would do such a thing.
(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. 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 lifeless complexion and baggy eyes. Lester guesses that she must still be on drugs, but she says he is wrong - half a year ago, the man affiliated with Gustavo Bagetta who used to sell Lisha drugs 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 dismisses her resolve and turns to leave, but Lisha grabs him by the arm. His disparaging comment is immediately cut off when he spots the ice pick in her hand, and he flinches and steps back. Lisha cackles and asks if he thought she was Ice Pick Thompson; ice picks, she says, are selling like hotcakes amongst children.
Lester snaps that this is one sick joke, but Lisha bets that Lester knows all about why those people got killed – and that he is probably scared of being 'offed' next. Lester roars and snatches the ice pick from her. Grinning, she says that it is 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. Lisha says that 'everyone' talked about how Lester had tortured and killed Paula by stabbing her with a fire-hot ice pick.
He screeches at her to stop talking, but she is ill-inclined to do as he says and remarks that it is funny how scared he is of a kid, whom she refers to as "Mark." 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. Lester finally remembers Mark Wilmens at the name, and Lisha confirms that she is referring to Paula's son.
She explains that she had been friends with Paula and occasionally cooked for Mark once upon a time, and Mark occasionally lent her some of Paula's money on the promise of good behavior. He had stopped once Lisha started buying drugs with the money lent to her, at which point she told him she would reveal who killed Paula if he gave her money in exchange.
By this point, all the blood has drained from Lester's face. Lisha asks him to give her money too, so that she can go to a doctor to wean herself off drugs and become a better person.
Lester drives the ice pick into Lisha's neck, a blow that Lisha is numb to thanks to the drug abuse, and stabs her again and again. He had initially swung the pick at her out of rage, but her moan triggered the sense of pleasure he had received from killing in the past. Finally he 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 for someone to help her, and lets out an artificial scream once she stops breathing.
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, which includes a list of Ice Pick Thompson's physical characteristics, proves popular with his shocked and easily swayed readers. Lester is questioned by the police due to his unique position as the first person to ever witness one of Ice Pick Thompson's murders. and when he finally steps into the editorial office of the newspaper he works at, all his coworkers immediately start teasing him.
Lester manages to escape from his colleagues and sits at his desk, fatigue creasing his face. The editor-in-chief approaches him, and, after a bit of joking, 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 Dignis of the Daily Days. He wants to arrange a meeting with Lester.
At sunset, Lester heads to The Alveare, a honey shop-cum-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 bit 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. He jokes that now his wife and daughter have both passed on, he is free to hang back at speakeasies as late as he wants. Lester thinks that Carl is 'talking big', and though he can't say that Carl is justified in his actions, he knows in his heart that he probably would not have shown up to the funeral had he been invited.
Lester 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, sipping from his glass, and Carl snickers at Lester's reaction to the taste. Lester prompts him to get to the point, and Carl tells him that he read Lester's article, which he found "truly amazing." He is 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. 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 asks if Lester really thought he would not look into the connection between the five victims?"
Lester makes an innocent face, but he averts his eyes all the same. Carl says that perhaps it would not be quite correct to say that five people shared a connection. Including Lester, there are six people. He continues that Lester must have thought or wanted to think that the first and second murders were just coincidence, but that he must have put two and two together by the third and fourth murders and realized they were not random kills.
Lester continues to play innocent, but his face has become very pale. 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, Lester will be the one in the most trouble once the murderer is caught if the murderer is whom Carl suspects. Despite the danger, Carl says that Lester can just let the killer run loose.
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, stands, 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, running 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, who inform him about a self-proclaimed assassin called Laz Smith. 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 where Lester greets him, apologizing for calling him out to a place like this. He is very thankful that Smith has come, and after a few words Smith asks who his target is. Lester replies that he would like Smith 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. Sitting around him are various members of the Gandor Family. He thinks disparagingly on Paula and Lisha, calling them idiots. All he'd wanted was a way to avoid death, and all Paula had to do was give him the incomplete elixir. He does not understand why Paula did not drink a drop of it herself, considering that neither she nor Lisha owed anything to Szilard or Barnes.
A back door opens, and in enters Gandor capo Nicola Casetti. He apologizes for making Lester wait, and Lester says that it wasn't a problem. He'd have liked to come sooner, but had to first shake the police off his tail. Nicola takes a moment to appreciate how Lester always gives the Gandors the best information\] in town, and he hopes that their business relationship will be a lasting one. When Lester calls him "Mr. Casetti," 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 (Lisha) might have been killed someone besides Ice Pick Thompson, reciting that 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 Laz 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, brushes off the question by saying that he cannot read minds. Though Lester had initially just wanted this discussion to buy 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 is wrong with the capo. The man asks that Lester keep this to himself and explains 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 would never see her again if she did not stop taking drugs. She had probably been attempting to stop before she died.
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, and wants to know if there is anywhere else they are likely to be. Lester narrows his eyes and reconsiders his plan, wondering if this is stroke of good or bad fortune. He claims that he doesn't know where they are, internally thinking that he'd better rid himself 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 would never even dream of leaking the Gandors' information to Smith. The mafioso frowns and gestures for him to continue. Lester says that he thought something was wrong 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 call out a greeting to someone just arrived.
Lester spins around to stare at Tick in the corner. Tick is looking at something above Lester, and Lester turns around again to look, thinking that maybe the woman had briefly 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, and 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 stairs. The boy stares at Lester with 'a fiendish look,' hissing that he has finally found him. In his hand is a bloody, rusted ice pick. The boy adds that since Lester wasn't at his office or at the boy's apartment, he 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, telling him that it is 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.
Mark 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 asks if he is all right even as blood dribbles from his lips and spews out from the gash his back. What is more, the man 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 did not hurt. Elmer corrects him - 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 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 are reminded of their bosses and whisper to each other before retrieving their gun from the still-frozen Lester. Forgetting the pain in his shoulder, Lester 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 of pain, and Elmer spares him a few concerned words before turning to inform Mark that everything makes sense. He understands fully now why Mark had stabbed him (Elmer) the other day, explaining that not only do he and Lester look similar, he was wearing the same clothing brand as Lester was on the rainy day that Mark stabbed him. Mark must have mistaken him for Lester.
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 he was stabbed around 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 knees in front of Elmer, pleading that he will do anything in exchange for 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 realizes it must be the incomplete immortality elixir.
Mark reveals that back when his mother was still alive, she and Mark had buried this bottle at his father's grave. He had always wondered why, but now he knows the reason. Lester had been looking for it 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 them equally.
Mark repeats himself. "....You killed my mom over this liquor?"
Lester denies this - he blames Paula, accusing her death of being her fault. He beseeches the boy, saying that he and Mark can become like Elmer - free from death.
Mark coldly asks if Lester really killed his mother or something as 'stupid' as that, and raises the bottle upwards.Lester cries out for him to stop, insisting that he will give Mark whatever he wants for the elixir. Mark ignores him, asking if Lester knows why Mark brought the bottle to the Coraggioso. He says that it was not so that he would drink it, and it was not so that he could give the bottle to Lester either.
Mark swings the bottle over his head, and declares that he brought it to the Coraggioso so he could destroy it right before Lester's very eyes.
Lester screams 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, but his protest that it is not a good idea for Lester to drink it is cut short. 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 nor 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. Once he learns that Lester is just like his three bosses, he 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 might as well "let off some stress."
Elmer sighs and crouches down by Lester's side, whispering that he might have an idea that will 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 Lester has changed his mind, and that by then they might have found a way to ease Lester's suffering. That, and maybe by then the hearts of those Lester has hurt will have been mended.
With that, he walks away.
In 1935-C: The Grateful Bet, it is mentioned that Lester is currently buried under the floorboards of 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.