Monday, January 02, 2006

Why did I waste my time reading my own stuff?

I've been skimming through my old crime stories that I found in a box at my mom's place. Today I read (or tried to read) two stories I had good memories of. I remembered that there was mood and some exciting characters.

You shouldn't really tamper with memories.

The story called "Only for a Statue" had an interesting set-up, though: the hero, Joe Stone, is an aspiring screenwriter-actor, who gets mixed up in some intrigue about a statue someone has smuggled into the US (shades of The Maltese Falcon, which is - again - acknowledged). Stone moves about in the B-movie business, which shows that I've been fascinated by it for over twenty years. (Keep in mind that my unpublished novel about Joe Novak is about the late fifties B-movie business. I've written about it here earlier, but can't seem to find the post.)

The picture of the business isn't very accurate in the story. It's actually more on the unintentionally humorous side. The story begins with Stone typing away his latest manuscript. He finishes the story, rolls out the last page, puts it in the envelope and takes it to his agent! Talk about rewriting! And listen to this: the guy says he hasn't had a decent job for a long time, yet he's had two scripts produced! (His script, by the way, is about "a man whom the police and criminals mistake for a big time operator and try to catch him"... Sounds great, doesn't it?) I couldn't finish the story. And it was long as hell, almost something like 10 000 words!

The other one was called "I, Gumshoe" (how did I come up with these titles?). The hero was called Philip Hunter - you guessed it, a P.I. The guy falls in love with his client (with a great name, Zeena Cassavetes) immediately. (In one scene he says: "Hi, pretty ass!" What the f..?)

All the girls in these stories look like disco chicks from the late seventies, even though there's a certain eighties charm when they use over-sized sweaters. (Mixed with silver PVC trousers and high heels, they certainly add a charm to a lady.) Zeena Cassavetes's sister is being blackmailed, but Zeena has one advantage over the blackmailer: she knows his name. Of course, everyone else does it, because he told it to the sister! I can't believe this.

And both of my heroes listen to garage rock or blues all the time. Even when Philip Hunter has to race over to the Cassavetes house, he puts on an Ann Barton tape.

There were also of course some baddies. You could recognize them from their names: Lamont Bangwhistle and Thomas Lightbody. (Later in the story, Philip Hunter talks with another P.I. who knows the Cassavetes family: "Why would a blackmailer give away his name, if it wasn't a fake one?" "Wanna guess if that makes me wonder? But what if it's really Lamont Bangwhistle? With that name you can easily be led astray." "Nah, I don't think so. Drop the case." "Like shit I will. Wanna know if I need the money or not?"*)

By the way, it seems that the end of 1985 was very productive for me. Both of these were written in March and December of the said year.

* Dialogue much improved from the original.

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