|The Last Interview
More than a thousand miles from Lake Michigan to the
borderlands — this hellhole of red dust and terra-cotta tile
The Las Cruces sun tumbles down legless drunk behind Picacho
Mountain, making the reporter squint. Jug-eared LBJ is yammering
on through the radio’s static: more lies about Vietnam.
The last three hundred miles are a shock-absorber punishing,
pothole-peppered agony. The ’65 Ford Galaxy’s been making new
noises since somewhere south of Santa Fe. Expensive-sounding
The rolled-down windows and strategically angled wings do
little but push around the fidgeting journalist’s beads of
But the struggling Ford delivers the interviewer to his
destination: A posh hacienda in La Mesillia — two stories of
stucco with a wrap-around second floor porch, hard by the Rio
The author’s English wife greets the journalist … leads him
to a first-floor guest room. "Sleep," she says. "Tomorrow you
Hector Lassiter: burly, unshaven, brindle hair askew, lays in
his deathbed, contemplating the stinging stump of his truncated
right leg. The leg was lost last month to gangrene borne of
diabetes … diabetes borne of alcoholism … alcoholism borne of
living the life that feeds the books that pay for the life, and
the liquor, that cost him the leg.
The doctor has lately eyed Hector’s tingling left leg with
Or so the dying novelist believes.
Hector’s also taken to sleeping with a loaded antique Colt
’73 Peacemaker hidden under his pillow, preparing to take
himself out — do it before they can amputate his throbbing hands
… take those critical, increasingly-tingling trigger fingers.
The doomed author listens to his caretaker, or fifth "wife,"
as she regards herself, reading this likely
last-journalist-come-to-interview-him the riot act: no smuggling
in liquor … no loaning of cigarettes.
A promise she’ll be back in three hours’ time. She tells the
reporter she means to take advantage of her husband’s company to
venture out with Carmelita, their long-suffering Tarahumara-born
servant for some goddamned misbegotten, budget-busting shopping
Now the door opens, and the reporter — gaunt, straw-haired
and bespectacled … perhaps vaguely tubercular — shoulders in,
lugging a big black leather bag. Can’t be more than 22. He’s
sporting thick-lensed glasses that probably spared the poor
bastard the draft.
Lassiter spreads his arms, smiles … those famous dimples,
nearly buried under his hoary beard. "Holy Jesus," the last of
the first-wave Black Mask writers says out of the side of
his mouth, in full Texas drawl, "a thousand fucking miles to
record the last ruminations of a fitfully lucid, one-legged hack
writer. How empty must your life be, eh lad? Fuck on a bicycle:
Hope I live down to expectations. Who’s this one for?"
The reporter smiles crookedly, revealing crooked teeth. "Esquire."
He plugs his reel-to-reel recorder in and lays the microphone on
the pillow by Hector Lassiter’s head. He presses the "record"
button with a nicotine-stained thumb.
"If you don’t mind, thought we’d start with some impressions
regarding your peers," the reporter says, extra loud for the
"Peers? Yeah … shoot," Lassiter says, already
"Right: Dashiell Hammett?"
"Overtly queer." Lassiter winks. "But I feel a gimpy affinity
with old Corny … he’s a fellow cripple now … same circumstances.
Or so I hear."
The writer’s brows knit. "Faker. Fucking mystery
The reporter scratches his head. "You’re a mystery writer."
"I’m a crime writer. She’s a ‘mystery’ writer. It’s
"You sound resentful."
Hector smiles, shakes his head. "I out earn her. And her
stuff is shit … stupid puzzles solved by a daffy old bitch or an
effete fucking Belgian. Fuck that. Ever meet a loveable old
bitch or effete fucking Belgian who could do more than rub you
the wrong way? They’ll still be reading me long after the worms
have done with Dame Christie. Her audience is nearly as old as
Hector Lassiter gestures at his side table with a hairy,
shaking hand, pointing to a haphazard stack of hardcovers and
softbound galleys in danger of falling. "Look at those damned
things. Pretty high pile, eh? Cocksuckers all still crave jacket
comments from me. Crap, most all of it. Fucking book about a
detective cat in there somewhere. No shit, an actual fucking
pussy detective. Holy pleading bleeding Jesus. It’ll probably
win the Edgar. If I’m not dead when it happens, some dipshit
will come after me to write an introduction for the reprint for
the Limited Editions Club. Mark my words."
The reporter smiles; crosses one leg over the other. Hector
thinks: Six weeks ago, I could do that, too.
The reporter tugs at his shirt’s sleeves … Hector thinks he
sees needle scars, just peeking under the cuffs. He frowns.
Hector thinks: Another fucking junkie.
The reporter says, "How about Rex Stout?"
"Fucking mystery hack of the first water. Bad as
Christie. Hell, worse — her stupid ‘locked room mysteries.’"
Lassiter waves a hand. "Ever hear of anyone really getting
whacked in a locked room?"
The reporter shrugs … he’s got those telltale nervous hands
and feet. And he’s sweating out of proportion to the undeniable
heat. Hector knows the signs. He thinks, certain now: Junkie.
Lassiter snorts. "Exactly. No damned way. People die over a
$10 drug deal. They kill over a dumpy woman in some
peanut-shell-strewn, cigarette smoke-laden cantina. They cuff
their wife ’cause she won’t shut up during Carson’s monologue.
Her head hits the bedpost, and she falls to the floor, her neck
at some impossible angle. I’ve written those scenes. Scenes I’ve
lived or witnessed. Fucking Dame Quartermain dismisses me for
those scenes. Says I only write about whores, drunkards and
bottom-feeders. Of course, she doesn’t use those terms. But I
know what she means. Says I’m sordid. Says I’m seedy. All
because I don’t have some humpbacked dowager with some shaking,
beloved Chihuahua solving murder cases in vicarages … murders
involving exotic poisons. All that dainty dialogue and ‘action’
in service to some fretted-over puzzle plot. Know what, scribe
of mine? When you have to run to the reference books, you’re not
writing. Use that windy passage as a pull-quote, eh lad?"
Bouncing one leg, the wired reporter says, "I interviewed
Estelle Quartermain a couple of months ago. She’s a nice lady."
Lassiter grunts and says, "And that should matter to me — her
being ‘nice’ — that should matter to me as a reader? Why should
that be, exactly? There’s a letter on the nightstand over there
from her somewhere. Arrived last week. She’s still nursing a
grudge over something I said to her at a party 10 years ago.
Writes religiously, about once a month, stubbornly pushing for
an apology to her husband. I said something in my cups, or so
she says … I don’t remember what. Her husband left early. Do
remember that. Ruined her night, or so the purple-haired bitch
says … stewing under that fucking beehive. Estelle says I hurt
her man’s pride … in a ‘lingering’ way." The writer waves it
away with a thick-fingered hand. "She says I ‘don’t have the
brains’ to write the kinds of books she writes. The point is, I
have the brains not to write the kinds of shitty books she
The old writer’s big bed is bracketed by double-doors. The
doors open onto the upper porch. There is heatlightning on the
horizon now. Black clouds roil either side of Hector Lassiter’s
head. The old writer smiles crookedly, says, "My witchy warden’s
words of warning aside, got some smokes?"
The reporter smiles and roots around in his jacket pocket;
passes Hector a virgin pack of Pall Malls. The crime writer
slits the pack with a long, yellow thumbnail and the reporter
fires him up with a battered silver Zippo. Hector’s cheeks
hollow once, twice. He blows some smoke rings, says, "Who do you
read, son? When you read for yourself, I mean."
"Some Hesse. Burroughs."
"Skinny Billy. Junkie. Fucker shot and killed his wife
playing William Tell, ya know. And Hesse? He’s a fuckin’ kraut.
What about crime fiction — who do you read?"
"Uh, been reading some Kenneth Robeson."
"Kenneth Robeson? Ain’t no such beast, boy. You reading those
fuckin’ Doc Savage paperback reprints?"
The reporter squirms. "A few here and there … good camp. And
Robeson’s stuff is — "
Hector Lassiter draws deep and blows smoke out both nostrils,
like some paunchy, mutilated dragon. "‘Robeson’ was a house pen
name, invented by Street & Smith so they could fire the real
hard-working pulp writer on a whim if need be. Same shitty joint
that published Black Mask. ‘Maxwell Grant,’ who wrote the
bulk of The Shadow novels, he was really a guy named Walt
Gibson. Buddy of Houdini’s. Wrote two novels a month for more
than a decade for old S&S. Had a battery of typewriters;
the keys all stained with blood. No shit: Old Walt typed his
fingers bloody. All the time. Let’s see your affable Mrs.
Quartermain match that."
Hector turns his mouth down. "Anyway, nine times out of ten,
your ‘Ken Robeson’ was a fella name of Lester Dent. Great guy.
Born out west, like me. Lonely childhood to stoke that
imagination. Just like me. Used to hang with him in Florida.
Good as Hammett and funny to boot — when he wrote his own stuff.
Look for the books under his own name, sonny … look for a short
story — ‘Sailfish.’ Good as anything the best of us have done."
The reporter nods and smiles. "Will do. Florida: You lived
there for a few years, in the Keys. Knew Hemingway. You two had
a falling out."
"Old news, boy. Put it this way, my Florida P.I. novel,
Wandering Eye, was ten times the novel To Have and Have
Not was … and published the same year. Outsold Papa, in
those early Depression days. Hemingway dismissed me as a
‘mystery’ writer. Still, he knew his shit in the 1920s … those
great short stories. His notion of ‘one true sentence.’ Too bad
he forgot all he knew, down there on Bone Key."
Lassiter chews his lip, considering the junkie journalist. He
weighs angles. Decides to play with a notion, just a bit …
probably never go the whole course … just flirt with it a bit.
Keep himself interested.
Hector reaches over to the sidetable for a legal pad and pen.
He hands them to the reporter. "Game I used to play with
Hemingway. We’d challenge each other to top one another’s one
true sentence. Write this down, eh?" Hector recites:
"I killed him because…."
He says, "Okay kiddo, finish it. Make it the truest sentence
you can, but keep it fucking short."
Smiling crookedly, the reporter nervously bounces the point
of the pen on the paper. He weighs the words: "I killed him
"… he was bitter and used up"?
No. Might piss the old man off.
"… of what he said to me"?
No. Too weak.
The reporter searches, sensing the old man’s eyes on him … on
his wrists, sending him off, tugging down his sleeves. He thinks
of what Hector Lassiter has said about Estelle Quartermain. He
remembers what Estelle told him about the used-up old one-legged
man laying before him now. With his left hand, the reporter
"I killed him because of
what he did to her."
Hector Lassiter takes the notebook back, reads. He beams.
Still has a pretty solid set of teeth. "Good, son. Perfect,
really. Short, simple, evocative. And it’s gotta all come down
to a woman in the end, eh? Always does. Even for Woolrich … at
least in his books. Cherchez la femme." He hands the
notepad back to the reporter. He says, "I feel like a proud
teacher. Sign your work for the old man, huh?"
The reporter smiles crookedly again. Under his "one true
sentence" he scrawls "Andrew Nagel." He passes the legal pad
back to the old writer. Hector looks at it again and smiles,
shaking his head approvingly. "Good fucking start, Andrew. You
get back to Chicago you write what comes after, yeah? Send it to
"Sure, Mr. Lassiter."
"Hector. We’re fellow writers now Andy."
The old author is seized by a thought. He abruptly asks:
"Andy, what have you read of mine, huh, kid?"
"Read Rooster of Heaven. And I
really loved the film."
"That was a novelization, sonny, not a novel. I wrote a
straight-to-paperback treatment just to put back the parts of my
story that that one-eyed fucker Sam Ford tore out for his
fucking waste of a film. In the land of the blind, the one eyed
man might be king, but in the land of the two, or, even the
three-eyed? Well, he’s just another myopic dumbass. What else of
mine have you read? Anything? Tell the truth."
The reporter shrugs. "Inside Job."
"Famously — some would say infamously —
done for money. I had a daughter born with a hole in her heart.
Needed the cash for a surgery that killed her. My baby girl was
named Dolores. She hung in until the age of three. Her first —
and last — word, was ‘Daddy.’ Quote that, Andrew."
The reporter searches the old man’s filmy blue eyes. Hector’s
cataracts look like some inept impressionist painter’s notion of
drunkenly dispersing clouds.
Well, it’s a line Andy is toying with … maybe needs work.
Lassiter grunts and points a shaking finger at the reporter.
"You drew this assignment, didn’t you boy? You didn’t come all
this way because Rhapsody in Black rocked your world?
Never read The Shortest Story, and so experienced no
The reporter straightens his shoulders; feels his sweaty
shirt peel loose in a few places from his acne-dappled back. He
says softly, "I drew the assignment, sir … like you said."
Hector credits the reporter’s candor. At least the scrawny
fucker has that going for him. "Hell … doesn’t matter," Hector
says, resigned now … sadly settling on his scheme. "What do you
want from me, Andy?"
"There was a hotel in El Paso. It was May 13, 1956."
The old writer tips his head on side. And so it comes. As it
The eternal question.
The one he has never answered.
Hector Lassiter says, "Now that’s a locked room, boy. That’s
my private mystery. The pain too private to trot out."
"You might never get another chance to go on record, Mr.
Hector bites his lip, sighs. "‘There was a ship.’"
The reporter catches that one on the first bounce. "Coleridge
"Just so. So you do read more than just bad pulp fiction and
"It’s a classic."
"Sure it is Andrew." The bearded writer puffs his cigarette
and gestures at his missing leg. "‘It was that accursed white
whale that razed me; made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever
and a day.’"
"Ahab," the reporter smiles.
"Like old Melville, do you?"
The reporter shrugs again. With two fingers, Andy stabs his
slipping glasses back up the bridge of his damp nose. "So long
as you don’t start regarding me as your Moby Dick … sure, why
Hector winks and shakes his head. He reaches to the sidetable
for a box. "Only ‘Moby Dick’ I regard lately is the one between
my one-and-a-half legs, and he’s not breaking surface much these
days." The old writer roots through the box, pulls out a
hypodermic and a little vial of liquid. "Insulin," Hector
explains. "You’d think three years of heroin addiction back in
the late 1950s," — a damnable lie — "would have given me some
facility with this damned rig." He looks for a reaction from the
reporter and doesn’t get much … the kid licks his lips and
averts his eyes. "Don’t suppose you’d be able to help me out
with this, huh Andrew?"
The reporter says, with little conviction, "Wouldn’t know
how." He shoots his sleeves again.
Lassiter snorts and spikes his remaining leg and grimaces. He
sits back and retrieves his Pall Mall. He feels himself leaning
harder into his dark notion. "Don’t suppose," Hector says, "you
smuggled in anything to drink?"
"Couldn’t be good for you, Hector."
"Think I’m going to bounce back from this? Naw. We enjoy the
moments left us. Solid advice, Andrew."
The reporter grins and reaches in his bag. He holds up the
Jim Beam bottle. Andy Nagel smiles wider — meaner — at the dying
writer’s hungry smile and cracks the seal. Lassiter points to a
sideboard across the room. Five glasses sit on a serving tray
there, gathering dust. The reporter rubs clean two glasses on
the untucked tails of his shirt and pours two generous doses. He
passes one to the dying novelist.
Hector savors the delicious bite and burn. He sighs: That
warmth infusing his chest … fucking sublime. He settles back
into his pillows.
"Now," the reporter says. "It’s 1956. Your wife dies … some
say suspiciously. You’re a fleeting suspect before it’s
reluctantly ruled a heroin overdose. The case remains …
inconclusive. What really happened, Hector?"
The old writer stubs out the butt of his cigarette. He snags
the soft pack and shakes out another; leans in for the reporter
to light him up again. "No. Not like that Andy. You want the
story? The story nobody has ever had? Well, a couple of favors,
Andy my boy. ’Cause, ya know, I have to go on living this shitty
excuse for a life after you’ve gone on to your next
There’s a languishing writing desk in the northwest corner of
the room. Hector gestures at a straight-back wooden chair. "For
starters, tuck that sucker up under the doorknob," he says "—
can’t have the she-bitch and her taco-bending sidekick finding
us with the booze and coffin nails, can we?"
The reporter winks and rises. He wedges the chair’s back up
under the brass knob and nudges it tight with his toe.
The old man gestures at the windows next. It’s raining now,
and the rain is blowing in. "Best close and lock the windows,
too," Hector says. "Won’t be able to do much about the scent of
the cigarette smoke … but wet walls and floors — trés
more suspicious. And the heat? Well, it’s a dry heat, right?"
The sweating reporter closes and secures the doors on either
side of the author’s bed. He sheds his jacket and is about to
sit down when the old man says, "Last favor. Grab another glass
over there, eh? Might need to go two-fisted for this … dark
waters my boy, dark fucking waters."
The reporter sets the spare glass down on the nightstand and
then holds up a finger. "Hold on a minute — need to flip the
tape." The reporter plays with the spools; tightens them. He
hits "record" again. "Okay. It’s 1956. It’s your wife’s last day
How do you tell a man why you murdered a woman you loved?
How to start?
How do you give it context? Not to alibi yourself or excuse
what you did. How do you show why you were driven to do that
bad evil thing to her?
Your baby’s Mexican mother’s secret drug addiction … that’s
at the dark heart of it all.
Your woman’s heroin Jones: It weakened your unborn daughter’s
frail body, condemning her to death before she was even born.
It was an addiction that was well hidden by Maria. She
injected through the soles of her callused feet. She kept it
hidden through your courtship … a year of marriage … and through
nine months of pregnancy.
She hid it well, through three years of your daughter’s short
Then it comes: These perplexed words from a doctor, chewing
his lip over your daughter’s death bed … hints of congenital
birth defects perhaps goosed by … well … perhaps some narcotic
influence. For there were other things wrong with your little
girl … things only just being discovered … or suspected. A
welter of birth defects.
Dolores dies in your arms, whispering "Daddy."
Unable to face your house, or your daughter’s empty bedroom,
her absent voice and laugh, you booked yourselves into a hotel
room — paid up two weeks in advance.
You feel sorry for Maria for a time, until when, confronted,
she confesses her addiction a week after your daughter’s
funeral. Drunk, scaring yourself with your thoughts about
killing this woman who bore/murdered your child, you reluctantly
let her shoot you up.
It’s shitty strategy on Maria’s part … drug monkey logic. She
stares at you with the addled echo of your dead daughter’s dark
eyes, lips parted, watching for signs of your capitulation to
But the drug that mellows her makes you go dark and cold.
You let the resentment fester — let the poison stoke your
darkest impulses. Let it build on the hate you feel for Maria
for letting her worthless devotion to this wired short ride cost
you your black-haired, black-eyed baby girl.
Maria condemned your little girl to a slow death that dragged
on for three years — three years to let you grow to achingly
love the poor little girl born with no future. Three years of
hollow hoping that age will grant her frail body the strength to
swamp her damaged heart — render that fierce fucking hole
But your love and hope, your fame and talent, can’t fill the
hole in your baby girl’s heart.
Little Dolores dies whispering "Daddy."
You ride that one and only heroin high — free-associating.
You scope the room … assess angles.
In the end, you go the easy route.
As Maria lays naked on the bed, black hair spread on the
pillow, luxuriating in her high, begging you to fuck her — to
make a new baby — you instead berate her … leave her alone to
her tingling trip. Soon enough, she’s asleep. You grab the hotel
ice bucket … 25 trips … and the tub is sufficiently full of cold
Holding it through a handkerchief, you pick up her
hypodermic, surveying the bottoms of her feet. Their soles are
covered with scabbed-over punctures, like the scars of a
thousand scorpions’ stings.
Fuck it — go for her arm. Three shots … of air. Give
the junkie bitch an embolism of epic proportions. You follow
that with a massive injection of heroin.
You carry her naked body into the bathroom and drop her in
the ice, spreading it over her. You lay the needle on the closed
toilet lid by the bathtub, next to the empty vial.
You write an angry note to her … all the expected words. You
lay out in the letter your disgusted discovery of her drug
addiction … what it did to your dead daughter. Now you’re
leaving her… and you wish your wife in hell. You date it
yesterday. You stick the note in her dead hand, flung out
strategically over the side of the tub.
You pack your stuff, and, still using a handkerchief, drop
the Do-Not-Disturb sign on the doorknob. The air conditioner is
full up: May take twelve, fifteen hours for the ice to melt.
You’ll be buying drinks and slapping backs — conspicuously
— in Ciudad Juárez in less than two.
Tell this junkie reporter the truth?
You do. Baldly.
Andrew Nagel stares out at the storm raging on the horizon,
says, "Jesus, this could make me."
It could indeed. Lassiter says, "That’s your last one true
Then Hector Lassiter reaches under his pillow, grasps the
well-worn butt of the Peacemaker, and, cocking, reaches over and
presses the barrel to the reporter’s left temple. He tugs the
Alone again … as he always seems to be.
Alone at the typewriter.
Alone in his own head.
Only time Hector didn’t feel alone — those scant moments
spent with his baby girl.
Two more shots — fired through each spool of tape … reduced
to magnetized confetti. The ruined recorder kicks twice.
Andrew Nagel was a southpaw — Hector was careful to note that
when Andrew wrote his first true sentence. Using the edge of the
bedsheet, Hector grabs the legal pad from the bedside table and
tears off the top sheet of paper with its signed, unwitting
confession. He slips the note into Andrew’s dead right hand. He
gingerly raises the reporter’s sleeve — a welter of needle scars
… several of them look fresh. Worthless junkie.
The old one-legged writer grabs a pen and Estelle
Quartermain’s languishing letter. Hector annotates it with lies.
He scrawls vile notes in the margins — a punched up version of
that night of the supposed big slight he can’t recall. At the
top of her letter, Hector Lassiter writes, "Estelle, you clapped
up cunt, I’m so fucking grateful I slept with you that
night. Fond fucking memories … so to speak."
The crime writer — the last of the first wave Black Mask
writers — surveys the room. It’s a plausible enough
murder-suicide scene for these backwater environs.
But now for the vexing nuance — drive that old mystery
writing bitch up a wall.
Fox those cops.
Reaching to the other side of the bed, Hector Lassiter picks
up a tube of his wife’s lipstick. He applies it to his dry lips,
careful to avoid the stray hairs of his moustache and beard. He
picks up the derelict bottle of whiskey and the virgin glass,
pours four fingers and downs it, leaving a glass rimmed with
lipstick. Then he smokes two cigarettes, stubbing out the
lipstick-smeared butts in the empty tumbler.
Enter the mystery woman.
He rubs the lipstick from his mouth with his fingers and
licks those clean, washing away the taste with swigs of whiskey
straight from the bottle.
Now, reaching again to the sidetable on his wife’s side of
the bed, Hector Lassiter grabs a bottle of perfume. He breaks it
on the edge of the table and slathers perfume on his gun hand
and arm — voiding any possibility of a paraffin test that could
reveal Hector fired a weapon. He tosses his arm across his
wife’s sidetable — feigning the spastically flung arm of a dying
man. Glass breaks … costly cosmetics fly.
Satisfied with the effect, Hector wedges the Peacemaker in
Andrew Nagel’s dead left hand, finger on the hair trigger …
barrel pointed at a one-legged pulp novelist. Hector reaches for
the never-used cane that his fifth "wife" has hopefully placed
by the headboard. He positions Andrew’s dead hand … scoots
himself in place. With the rubber stopper of the cane, he pushes
the dead reporter’s dead index finger back against the hair
Jesus fucking Christ.
Like a thousand shots of whiskey, received at once.
The Peacemaker tumbles to the tile floor.
Groaning, Hector returns the cane to its former position.
A bad way to go.
Call it half-assed penitence.
And his remaining leg … there’s no feeling left. Must have
nicked his spinal chord. Maybe severed it.
So: Paralysis to boot.
Dipping his finger in his own wound, light-headed now, Hector
grimaces and twists, reaching up over his headboard. He writes
above his bed, wincing with the pain:
For a moment, he frets, thinking of pillow-biting Cornell
Woolrich … fearing the "EQ" might be misconstrued — suspected of
standing for "Ellery Queen" … hinting of sodomistic shenanigans.
Then he remembers Estelle’s newly annotated letter.
Hector gingerly rubs a little blood from his gut on Andrew’s
dead trigger finger.
Lassiter sucks his blood from his own finger. Then the dying
crime writer lays back for a last time on his pillow.
Hector lets that old whore death settle in with him, warm and
Death with imagery: Scenes from his books in montage … a
melodramatic mélange the punchy pulp writer confuses for his own
His lonely office.
Guttering light from a neon sign pulses through slanted
A slow-turning ceiling fan stirs old dust.
Enter the woman: at first, just a busty silhouette through
stenciled pebbled glass. Then, she’s standing before him in silk
stockings with seams up the back. Raven hair and ruby lips.
He’ll learn she likes to bite his shoulder while peaking.
Betrayed, tricked, played for a fool, he’ll shoot her during a
last shared orgasm….
Mean streets: It’s Chicago. It’s 1936. He’s sent to settle a
union strike. He settles that strike. But there are casualties.
Talk about a killing floor….
A sibilant homosexual lackey (Street & Smith will balk at
that … so call him "a Nancy boy") comes calling. Nancy boy is in
thrall to an endomorphic European of indeterminate origin
(adapted for film, the part will be played by Sydney Greenstreet).
The pair slays his partner, seeking some elusive bronze statue
of a wolf with a treasure map stowed inside. A man owes his
partner … even if he is banging his dead partner’s dipsomaniacal
wife. So he sets off again down those mean streets….
From his far off place, Hector can dimly hear screams now …
screams from somewhere. Fists pounding on a door.
The screams grow closer and he thinks he hears breaking glass
in the distance … someone shouting for him. But it’s too late …
and now drowned out by music … some march maybe, played on a
hammer dulcimer … drums, tiple and accordion … "Tramps &
Hector reaches out his hand and the little girl takes it and
smiles. He towers above Dolores, beaming, standing there on his
two solid legs.
They march up the side of the hill somewhere near Creel,
half-walking half-running through prickly pear, maguey … sage
There’s a dark-haired woman at the top of that hill, astride
a strawberry roan, silhouetted against some bloody sunset.
Craig McDonald is an award-winning journalist and
editor. He is a contributor to the 2004 New York Times
nonfiction bestseller Secrets of the Code. One of his
short stories will appear in the anthology Dublin Noir,
edited by Ken Bruen. Art in The Blood, a collection of
interviews conducted by McDonald with 20 crime writers, is
forthcoming from PointBlank Press.