Sunday, June 28, 2015

Being a writer and waiting for Lady Luck

So okay; the Smitty novella, A Killing Kiss (click on the cover in the right hand column to order) has been out for a little while now. Number Thirteen Press, the new English publisher who is offering it, is doing a marvelous job of coming out with really great crime-fest creations.  They are trying to come out with a novella on the 13th of every month.  One hell of a chore if you ask me.  But, for the most part, they've been cranking'em out on time.  

I feel honored, by the way, on being the sixth one of their new batch of offerings.  But I have to be careful here.  I've been writing for 55 years.  I could overload this new establishment with my 'stuff' in a blinking of the eye . . . so you know . . . slow down!

Now the real chore begins.  How in hell do you get the word out that Smitty is here in a damn good story, one which everyone who has read it has offered a 5-star review, and not go stark raving mad doing it.  How do you pump up its recognition factor on a limited budget?  (I'm the guy with the limited budget . . . as if you didn't know already)

It's true.  The number of writers who make a full time living off nothing but writing their own material can probably be counted on ten fingers.  Well . . . maybe add another couple of hands worth of fingers to it . . . but you get the picture.  The vast majority of writers have to keep their day jobs in order to remain solvent.

Add to the fact that, at last estimate, there were about a BAZILLION writers out there who think they are just as good as any of the Top Sellers in their subjective genres, and you add to the picture of abject poverty  It's kind interesting, really, to think about it;  there is a boat load of TALENT in this world.  There really is.  But LUCK?  A writer has to be more LUCKY than talented in order to succeed in his chosen profession.

But LUCK my friends, is a finicky bitch.  You never know who she is going to smile upon with approval and tap on their shoulder her ephemeral gifts.

So, as a writer, you've got to become creative in your recognition efforts.  Every writer I know is networking on the social sites to get the word out.  Networking everywhere.  Hoping that somewhere . . . somehow . . . things will click  and their LUCK will change for the better.

And/or they're at one bookstore or another physically huckstering their wares.  I've done that.  Don't mind doing it.  But where I live, fella, the bookstores I need to sell my wares are 90 or 120 miles away . . . one way . . . to get there. (yeah, when I tell you I live out out in the boondocks in a state that's just pretty well empty of people, I mean it)  So that costs money to get there and back.

So what the hell.  I think I'll just write for another 55 years and wait for LUCK to eventually meander down the trail and stumble across my dead carcass.  It's gotta happen sooner or later.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A new collection of Turner Hahn/Frank Morales stories coming soon

Turner Hahn
Came up with this brilliant, crazy, stupendous idea!  A collection of Turner Hahn/Frank Morales short stories, maybe about five or six of'em, rolled up and packaged with a set of black-and-white illustrations thrown in for an additional thrill.

If you've followed this blog . . . you've ran into Turner and Frank.  Homicide detectives the two of them.  Turner is one who looks like Clark Gable . . . but bigger, stronger, and a bit meaner.  And rich; don't forget rich.  Earned his money the American way---he inherited it from a grandfather he didn't know was still alive.

A long story.  You need to read the second novel of the series to get the background on this one.

Frank is Turner's long time partner.  Red headed, built like a Tiger tank (with no discernible neck connecting head to shoulders) and with an IQ of a couple of Einsteins combined, Frank is, shall we say, a physical presence worth noting by friend and foe alike.

Two unique, interesting, characters.  First created and explored in a series of on going novels I'm trying to find a publisher for . . . and alive in a number of short stories I've written over the years.  And am still writing.  So far there's about 25 or 30 short stories.  Kinda amazing, if you think about it.  Thirty some-odd different homicide cases solved and none of'em quite like the other.

So I've got five new short stories ready to go.  Well . . . almost ready to go.  Maybe six if I get the last one just started finished up in time.  Waiting right not for the cover art for the ebook collection to be done . . . plus finishing up a couple of stories.  But close: real close in getting the collection out there.


Frank Morales
The stories range from out-and-out spooky to the traditional 'whodunits.'What I like the most about the stories, and the books, is the chemistry the two have with each other.  Yes, they are mystery/detectives stories.  But they are also 'buddy' tales as well.  Two friends who know each other and like being around each other.  I like that---I find it rare to find in most genre fiction.

Some famous pundit once said (more or less); "If you can't find the story out there you want to read, then you must write it."

I agree.

I like a good crime story.  I like the plots laid out in such a way that they are both logical, AND, that they can be solved in a realistic fashion.  I like stories with a twist.  Not something so outrageous and unexpected it borders on the bizarre,  But something unexpected.

What's kinda fun is that, over the years, Turner and Frank has picked up a small following of sorts.  Fans who, like me, enjoy reading about their exploits.  Not a big fan base, mind you; nothing large enough to tickle the interest of a major publisher to pick'em and give'em a fair chance to build on.  But small.  And maybe, slowly growing.

The artwork, by the way, being done for the series is from the talented hands of a Spaniard by the name of Javier Carmona.  He, and his brother Jesus, have done most of the artwork for my books and stories.  Javier is doing both the cover and the black-and-whites for this collection as well.  Over the years we've developed an easy relationship that, I hope, has been beneficial for all of us.   It certainly has for me.

So expect the collection out soon.  And I leave you with one final image.  One of the black-and-white's.  

Enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Smitty's next novella

Smitty again. 

Following up on the success of 'A Killing Kiss' published by the new ebook/paperback publisher, Number Thirteen Press, I decided to upgrade a Smitty story I started sometime back and turn it into a novella.  The idea is to submit it to the above publisher again in the hopes they might be amenable to the idea of building up a fan following for my dark eyed killer.

I'm aiming for a goal of 120-125 pages this time.  And again, like all my stories, the twists and turns in the story I'm hoping will trip up the reader just enough to make them want to dig deeper into the puzzle.  I've never liked a story that simply began at A and followed along a straight and narrow road which ran straight and true all the way to B and beyond predictably.  I like my stories twisty and convoluted.  Not so much as the mundane standard straight alphabet run. Rather, a tipsey turvey roller coaster ride on a curving back county road in the hill country of Colorado or Arkansas.

All I'm saying further about the story is this;  It is amazing how absolute fear and absolute disgust seem to be so closely related to each other.

Enjoy the next two pages of 'Sometimes Nightmares Come True.'


One

            His hands were shaking.
            Shaking violently.
            He grinned . . . hysterically . . . lifting a hand up and watching it rattle and quake visibly in front of him.  Looking at it he realized he was also having a hard time breathing. Short, explosive bursts were coming out of his lungs.  Like someone who'd just seen a . . .  a . . . a . . . ghost.  Wiping sweat from his brow with the back of the shaking hand he turned and reached for the Zippo lighter and a pack of cigarettes lying on the green felt table top.  It took a moment of sustained concentration to make the yellowish blue flame of the lighter finally touch the tip of the cigarette.  Pulling in a deep drag he held it for a moment, turned, and exhaled slowly as he tossed the lighter back onto the table.
            Would he come?  Would he really come and hear what he had to say?
            Why would he come?  He was a nobody.  A schmuck.  A common grunt with little cash and no friends.  So why would a guy like this come and hear what he had to say?  Unless . . . unless . . .
            Panic gripped him.  He staggered back against the wall of the condemned building his dad used to own and work as a local saloon, a hand over his mouth and eyes as wide as sauce pans.  Glancing to his right and left with spasmodic jerks of the head, staring into the depths of the dark shadows filling the long, narrow, musky smelling old building, his imagination was seeing him . . . seeing him with a gun in his hand . . . coming out of the darkness.  Materializing out of nothing with gun in hand and the muzzle aimed straight for his head.
            My god!  My god!  My god . . . . !
            He leapt toward the old wooden chair slid back from the card table.  Leapt toward the webbing and holster and the gun riding in the cheap leather.  Reached for the handle of the Colt .357 Python . . . and froze in mid motion, hand outstretched, eyes bulging at the image on the floor directly opposite of the table.
            Shoes.
            Black loafers.  Brightly polished to a mirror image. With just the cuffs of a pair of dark slacks above them in the dim light of a street corner lamp cutting a shaft of light through the gloom of the old building.
            Someone was standing in the darkness just a few feet away!  Just standing there silently.  Making no noise.  Watching.  Silently observing.  As noiseless as a ghost.  He stared into the darkness in front of him and saw nothing.  Saw nothing!  Heard nothing! But he knew.  He was there.  Knew the guy was . . . was . . . was . . .
            Sweat rolling down his brow. His lips squirming and rolling around as if he was either about to scream or beg for mercy.  Bulging eyes, filled with madness, kept glancing down and at the wooden gripes of the .357 only inches away from his outstretched hand.  Frozen in this position unable to move.  He knew he was dead if he lunged for the gun.  Knew he probably was dead anyway.  Why would a guy like him help him out of a jam?  A big time killer like that?  Someone who usually worked only for guys like Paulie.  For big time money.  Why would a guy this good even consider taking on the job he had in mind for mere pennies?
            Unless, of course, Paulie had already hired this guy to find him and silence him.
            With a groan of resignation, eyes filling with tears, he dropped the outstretched hand to his side and stood up slowly.  Bowing his head, closing his eyes, he knew there was nothing he could do.  He wasn't as fast as him.  He couldn't run.  He sure as hell wasn't going to fight this guy. So he accepted it.  Accepted his death and waited for the bullet to drive through his head.
            Outside in the streets some guy was riding his horn angrily as some jerk who wouldn't move on the green of a traffic light fast enough.  In the distance was the sound of a siren, probably an ambulance, hurrying to some unknown tragedy.  There was also the momentarily loud engine whine, and then the metallic 'thunk' of an empty garbage can being slapped onto the sidewalk pavement.
            But there was no Boom! of a gun going off.  No bullet was ripping through his cranium, splattered the wall directly behind him with his blood and brain matter.  Inside the old building there was only semi-silence; with only his heart beat breaking the absolute silence of this mausoleum.  Stunned.  Amazed.  Hesitant . . . he opened one eyelid hesitantly, lifting his head up to stare into the dark shadows in front of him.  At the ghost known as Smitty.
            He was sitting at the table.  In the other old wooden chair.  An average sized man with dark, short cropped hair and a razor thin nose.  Nattily dressed in a pair of tailored dark brown slacks, with a black shirt and metallic silver tie underneath a dark chocolate brown sport coat.  One leg was thrown over the other.  Hands were folded together and lying neatly on his lap.  There was a thin half smile . . . a smirk . . . stretching across his lips.  Dark eyes, dark as midnight, stared up at him unblinking.
            The image of Death sitting quietly in a chair and waiting.  Patiently waiting for the inevitable to happen.
            "You . . . you got my message."
            The dark eyed man nodded silently and made no other motion.  Just sat in the chair, legs crossed, hands on his lap, and continued to stare at the standing man curiously.
            "Look . . . I . . . I don't know what to do.  I'm in big trouble.  Deep shit I can't shovel my way out and I need help.  Help only you know how to do."
            "I heard," the smartly dressed man answered with a voice slightly stronger than a whisper and infinitely, infinitely, nerve wracking.  "I came because you asked, Joey.  You've helped me in the past several times.  Helped me out of a couple of jams.  Just paying back a debt I owe.  That's all.  So sit down and tell me everything.  From the beginning."

            Joey stood up, ran a shaking hand across parched lips as he stared at the dark man with the dark eyes and wondered how the hell did he get in here and not make a sound.  But, dropping the hand to his waist, he giggled insanely.  Why ask a stupid question!  Smitty was here.  Everyone knew Smitty just showed up unannounced.  And left when he no one was looking.  This was Smittty fer chrissakes.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rebirth

You're a writer.  Your preference in writing is genre fiction.  That's almost a guarantee you're going to create a series.  A series featuring a specific character.  It's natural.  Like mayonnaise on a ham sandwich.  Not kosher if you have one and not the other.

So I created a character by the name of Roland.  Roland of the High Crags.  A warrior-monk-wizard, who has, upon occasion, anger management problems. The genre is Heroic Fantasy (Fantasy for sure; the Heroic Fantasy is a moniker I'm not sure has been invented yet).  

The idea was to create a heroic character who was . . . flawed.  Maybe more human than hero.  A hero who has doubts.  Has fears.  And definitely has a temper.  Mix in some wizardry magic, some swordplay, some impossible escapes . . . and give him a quest that he will find impossible not to accept . . . and as I thought, you would have the perfect novel.  One that anyone would want to read.

Well brother, I was wrong.

Every publisher I sent it to, sent it back with a form letter that said, in so many words, "Thanks for this idiotic story . . . and NO, we don't want the damn thing!"  

The only option left was to self publish.  I did.  About nine people have read.  And liked it immensely, if you believe their comments.  But that's it.  About nine people.  Okay.  But Roland doesn't want to go away.  He is, at least to me, a damn interesting character.  One that has story possibilities that are almost inexhaustible.  I want to keep writing the stories.  But more than anything, I want people to discover and READ them.

The idea hit me a couple of days ago.  Combine Books One and Two together . . . bridge the gap with some new writing . . . and write an Intro that'll captivate the potential buyer almost instantly.  And artwork . . . maybe re visualize the cover with something different but striking in nature.

Last night I wrote something which might turn out to be the Intro just mentioned.  I thought I would share it.  Maybe get some feedback.  Maybe not.  What do you think?


In my Own Hand, I write the History of the Great Struggle



            The sunlight streaming through the narrow slit for a window is strong today.  Its warmth fills my old soul with a deep sense of satisfaction.  And peace.  A breath of quiet, still, peace I have not felt for quite some time. I have been in this cell for oh, so long. Years.  Decades.  Perhaps centuries . . .I cannot say.
            But it's time, brother.
            Time for me to leave the confining space of this narrow dungeon cell.  Time to elude my captors and again take up the sword and shield. The fight will continue.  What was will be again.  There is no escaping the cycle.  Years of solitude ,of captivity, have only made me stronger. Aye, brother . . . my body is old and frail.  White is the color of my hair now.  The wrinkles of age on my face too numerous to count. My bones creak and groan every time I stir from my bed. But the soul. brother . . . the soul within this ancient casket of flesh and bone remains strong! And as long as my soul lives . . .
            How long have I been in this dungeon cell I cannot say.  I gave up counting the days and years long ago. Suffice to say it has been at least one life time.  Perhaps two.  This narrow slit deep in the bowels of some ancient fortress long forgotten, its walls made of stone streaked with a rare metal which limits my wizardry powers, has counted with me many summers and winters passing.  Patiently I have waited for this day.  I endured. I survived.  I fought back the pain of my captor's torments. I fought the long hours of unbelievable silence which pushed me close to the edge of the abyss called insanity.  For years I heard not the sound of a human voice. I endured in this cell of infinite solitude.
            Know you, pilgrim, I am a Bretan monk. A Bretan warrior-monk.  I wear still the yellow robes of that ancient order with deep humiliation and love.  Even though . . . even though in the eyes of my kind, both brothers and sisters of the order, I am an Apostate. A feared and loathed disbeliever who has taken up the sword against his faith.  Against the teachings of the Bretan.
            They will tell you, my Bretan brothers and sisters, that it was I who brought this Great Evil among us.  It was I who, when given the chance to destroy this Great Evil long before she became what she is today, I failed in my faith and allowed her live. To not only live, Pilgrim, but to thrive!  To grow in her strength and powers of the Netherworld through the training and technique of a Bretan wizard.
            For she is indeed a formidable power, brother.  Her command of the Netherworld magic is beyond comparison.  She lives in both worlds.  Both here in the Middle Kingdom all souls still wrapped in these caskets of flesh and blood reside in, and in the World of the Dead as well.  The Netherworld. Lives in both at the same time. Aware of both; interacts in both dimensions, all at the same time. No mortal wizard or witch before her has ever accomplished such a feat.
            How many have died because of Her?  How many empires have fallen?  How many loving families ripped asunder.  Millions.  Hundreds of millions. And she still reins over the many.  Because of her a great imbalance permeates throughout the Great Cycle which both the Neatherworld and the Middle Kingdom revolve around. An imbalance that must be corrected. Has to be corrected if this Universe as we know it is to remain intact and operating like the great mechanism it is.
            But she is, Pilgrim, not the She whom I raised. She is a different soul.  A She from some far distant Past who, when the opportunity was offered to her, stole the one whom I raised from childhood and imprisoned her as well.
            Aye brother . . . aye.  It is something beyond knowing, beyond belief, that which I scribble hurriedly on this parchment  A She from a different Past, you say?  How could this be?  What Dark Magic is being laid bare here? How could someone from the Past, someone long since dead, return to the Now and replace the living?  But it is so, Pilgrim.  It is so and it falls upon my shoulders to rectify this Great Schism and bring back the Laws of Order and Tranquility from the Rules of Chaos and Darkness.
            And it begins tonight, my brother.  Tonight . . .when the full moon hurls its first bright beams of pure light through the bars of this narrow dungeon cell. When the shaft of  soft golden/white light touches the stone floor I will step into its sweet embrace I will . . . I will . . .
            But before this happens.  Before the struggle begins anew, I will hurriedly scribble a few lines of what took place before.  I will write a short History of the Struggle with the forces of Chaos and those entities whom reside in the Netherworld.
            I am Bretan, brother.  Once known as an honorable warrior-monk and wizard.  I am Roland.  Known as Roland of the High Crags. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Demise of Cable/Network TV?

The other day I started binge-watching a new Netflix show entitled, Daredevil.  Yes, that Daredevil; the one based off the Marvel Comics hero.  And right off the bat, in the first few minutes of the first episode, I was sold on it.  Well written, well crafted, imaginative . . . with characters you could immediately love/hate, depending on your own personal tastes.

(And I haven't mentioned the action sequence/fight scenes.  Which are, frankly, amazing)

Another non-cable/network show came to mind as well.  Have you seen the series called Peaky Blinders?  A series about British crime families set in the early 1900's in England.  With not nearly the amount of thrilling fight scenes as found in Daredevil, nevertheless the stories here are deep, emotional, hard hitting, and filled with character.

And it got me to thinking.  How many shows are out there on Cable or Network TV which equal or rival the production qualities of Daredevil?

A couple come to mind.  The Blacklist could be thrown into this collection.  A NBC program, it's the main characters that make this series so interesting.  My favorite found on any network is Person of Interest.  A computer guru designing a computer that looks for terrorists, and crime victims or perpetrators, across the entire electrical/computer signature . . . along with the ex-CIA agent who is as tough as hardened steel hired to protect the innocent, is a natural for me,

The Scy/Fy channel has a new out called The 12 Monkeys.  Good one.  It has time travel, conspiracies, and End of Times story lines which, if one is into this kind of stuff, can get deeply wrapped up in rather instantly.

But there's a difference here between non-network/cable material and the new shows popping up on the likes of Netflix and now Amazon.  There are no commercials for one to interrupt you at a critical point in the story.   Disconcerting, to say the least.  And there are no censors to speak of for the shows found on the likes of Netflix and Amazon.  And that's good.  It make for . . . of can make for . . . a far more interesting story to be told.

We all know Network TV is rapidly losing viewership numbers.  There's a reason for that.  Several reasons, in fact. (like, just HOW MANY freaking commercials do you have to run in one time slot before finally getting back to the show?)  Frankly, I'm from the Old School.  I grew up watching Network TV.  So I'm hoping there can be some kind of resurgence . . . a real Renaissance if you will . . . for its return to glory days.

That's what I am wishing for.  I didn't say I was counting on it to happen. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Smitty's back in, A Killing Kiss.

A Smitty novella is coming out in April.  Called A Killing Kiss.  It's a short novella depicting Smitty as his murderous best.  The dark Avenging Angel, if you will.

Essentially it is a story about a mobster kingpin who knows he's about to die.  But before he does, he wants to make arrangements with Smitty that, in his untimely demise, his young wife and baby son are protected from those who have more, shall we say, maleficent intentions in mind.

A new publisher is bringing this one out.  Number Thirteen Press is a new English ebook publisher specializing in short stories and novellas.  On the 13th of every month they bring  a fresh voice and a hard noir little jewel out to share with everyone.  I'm like the sixth or seventh author coming out in their inaugural year.  I'm hoping we will have a long and lucrative relationship

One of the problems I have to be wary of is this; when it comes to my writing I can overload a potential publisher with sheer volume.  Stories, novels, novellas, are everywhere!  I've got computer memories groaning from the overload.  Books that have been waiting for years to get out into the open and be read.  Short stories . . . . sheez.  More short stories than I can write in a hundred years waiting to be written.

But that's a problem about being a writer.  Stories keep coming.  Whether you want them to or not.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Smitty, in something called, 'The Dark Holds No Secrets'

In the middle of writing a movie script (well . . . for that matter, I'm in the middle of writing MANY different things at the same time.  Sheez!)

It's a movie featuring Smitty, my dark, lovable (ah . . . huh?), implacable killer who somehow has a broad streak of humanity in him.  I find the writing of a script challenging.  I've done only one other before.  A long, long, long time ago.  It was an action-comedy set in Prohibition.  I still got the rough copy around here somewhere . . .

Anyway.

The Smitty script.  Mixing action, drama, and humor within the confines of roughly 120 pages.  And doing it for a visual audience.  Daunting to say the least.  But that's the challenge, isn't it?  A writer, I think, should be challenged.  Should explore new territories in the worlds of wordsmithing.  Success or failure doesn't come in to play.  It's the challenge . . . the journey . . . that should liven up a writer's dance routine.

So I thought I would offer up the opening seen of the movie.  Just getting a glimpse of it.  I'd be interested in hearing anything you might like to say.  Good or bad. (yes, I DO take ant-acid pills on a regular basis.  No . . . not really.  Just kidding)

Give it a look.


The Dark Holds No Secrets






FADE IN: Late afternoon with light rain.


EXT. SHOT--A busy city street filled with traffic shrouded in a fog-like downpour.
    
    
Cut To: Black CTS Cadillac moving over rain filled streets. The car is weaving expertly in and out of slow moving traffic.

    
Cut To: A second view, the Caddy's tail lights, lighting up the early evening light as it shows a right turn signal.
    

INT. SHOT: Car. Wind shield wipers sweeping back forth a windshield being pelted by a study rain.  Heavy city   traffic.  The sound of the wipers sweeping back and forth across the windshield is noticeable.

    
Cut To: Hands, wearing black leather gloves, gripping the     steering the leather steering wheel. One hand moves     from the wheel and punches the ON button on the car's radio. Softly over the radio we hear the music of      Depeche Mode's A Pain That I'm Used To.

    
Cut To: Interior of the car.  Just a slice of the driver's    dark eyes moving back and forth from side to side as he drives.  But his eyes keeps returning to the boxy   from of a yellow cab three or four car lengths in      front of his Caddy.


EXT. SHOT: Same rain filled heavy traffic. Black Caddy
     keeps following the yellow taxi four car lengths
     behind it through heavy traffic. In the back seat of
     the taxi we see the little girl (a 10 or 11 year
     old girl) turning her head back and forth to stare
     at the city's tall buildings.  She looks excited.
     Occasionally she points to something and leans toward
     her father to say something.

     Eventually the cabby's tail lights flash brightly
     in the rain as it stops in front of a line of
     parked cars sitting in front of a tall apartment
     building.

    
     Cut To: The dark eyes of the driver turns to his left     and sees a man holding an umbrella in one hand and the     hand of a small girl in the other.  The man is trying     to hold the umbrella over the small girl as they hurry through the rain down the deserted sidewalk to the      entrance apartment building.


     INT. SHOT: The dark eyed man sitting behind the
     steering wheel of the Caddy.  As he watches the cabby
     come to a halt and the father and daughter get out
     of the cab, dark eyes wrinkle up in a frown.


FLASHBACK:

    
FADE IN: Mid Day. Filled with sunshine. Somewhere    downtown.

    
INT. SHOT--An upscale bar:


Cut To: A booth sitting in front of a large plate glass   window.  Outside the pub the city sidewalk is filled   with rapidly moving pedestrians.  City traffic on the     streets is moving stop and go action.  Sitting at the table is a dressed in all black.  He looks nervous.       Agitated.  In front sitting on the booth's table are three empty glasses.  A fourth is sitting by his hands.  Hands that are fidgeting nervously.


Cut To: Same bar. Different angel. A man is sitting  
       alone
        in a booth. In front of him is a large piece of
      pie and cup of coffee. He's dressed casual sport
      coat, solid color shirt with no tie.  We see his
      hands, arms, upper torso, and the lower portion of            his jaw but nothing more.  His booth is beside a  
     large plate glass window that looks out onto the same                                                   busy street. He casually eats his pie slowly,
      occasionally turning his head to glance out at
      the passing pedestrians.

      As the fork with the last piece of pie rises up
      to his face, the arm's motion stops at the mid-
      way point when the form of a man in dark
      clothing slips past the window.  We SEE the
      lower portion of the man's head half turn to
      glance at the passing stranger.

      When the dark from of the passer-by disappears
      the unseen man finishes his last piece of pie.
      reaches in his sport coat and pulls out a wallet.
      He throws a twenty dollar bill onto the table
      beside his coffee cup and slips out of his booth.


Cut To:  The bar's entrance door opening and a compact,
     trim man dressed in a tailored suit enters the premises.  There is a suggestion of a predator, of      coiled and ready menace ready to explode, in the man's physical form.  He sees the agitated man sitting in a      booth and makes his way to him.

     Just as he turns to head toward the booth a figure,
     face UNSEEN, tries to step past the man standing
     in front of the entrance. The two accidentally
     collide. There's an awkward dance as each man tries
     not to the touch the other. We HEAR an "Excuse me,"
     coming from the man trying to depart just before
     the man slips out of the entrance and disappears
     into the pedestrian traffic.

     The man who just entered, still standing in front
     of the entrance, pauses for a moment and turns
     his head back to look at the figure disappearing
     behind him before looking back at the agitated
     figure sitting in the booth.
    


Danny
(noticing dark man approaching
grinning sheepishly. Still very agitated.)
             
     Smitty.  You got my note.    Good . . .good.
     I'm glad you came.  Really.
     I mean . . . really glad you came.


Smitty
(Sliding into the booth, eyes on Danny.)

     It sounded urgent.  What's on your mind,
     Danny?


The pub's noise is not loud but is noticeable.  People are moving about.  Voices, some angry. . . some laughing, punctuate above the usual drone occasionally. Danny visibly
jumps nervously whenever anyone near his booth stands up and walks away.  Or when someone suddenly shouts unexpectedly.


Danny
(hands rolling over and over nervously and
constantly jerking his head to look at
complete strangers suspiciously.)


     Smitty.  I got no other way to do this.  No one
     I know who'll help me.  All I got is you . . .
     and I don't know if you'll help or not.  But I
     gotta do something.  If I don't they're gonna
     kill'em. Both of'em. As sure as I sitting
     here talking to you, if I don't do something to
     stop it, both of'em are going to be dead by
     tonight.  So please...please . . .help me.









Smitty
(Calm, quiet; centered.  But observing
Danny closely.)


     Who is going to die?


Danny
(leaning over the table to hiss
out the reply)

     My brother, Smitty.  My brother and
     my niece!  God knows I've been a
     terrible brother. I'm the one that's
     the criminal in the family.  But Robert's
     not!  He and my niece are just ordinary
     people.  They've done nothing wrong. 
     But . . . but the word is out.  There's
     a contract out on their lives.  It's
     supposed to happen sometime tonight. 
     Smitty . . . Smitty!  I gotta do something.
     I can't sit back and let the only two
     people who care about me get snuffed
     out'cause of something I must'uv done to                  someone. Please . . . please help me
     Smitty.  Please!
             

Smitty's face is unreadable.  He turns his head to glance out the plate glass window.  Turns his head again and watches someone get up off a bar stool and head for the pub's exit.  He then looks at Danny sitting across from him and nods his head slightly.


Smitty

     Okay, Danny.  I'll see what I can do.
     But before I do anything, you've got
     to tell me everything.  How did you hear
     about this?  What does your brother do
     for a living?  Where does he live? 
     Everything, Danny.  Starting right now.


Danny nods eagerly, flashing a relieved grin across his lips. He glances at the crowd standing at the bar for a second and then turns back to Smitty.  He leans across the
booth's table and begins whispering eagerly.

FADE OUT.