Monday, December 10, 2018

"A Person He Would Least Suspect of Wanting to Kill Him"

HERE WE HAVE a narrative that began life as a television episode, was converted into a magazine story, and then adapted again for TV.

"The Assassin."
(a.k.a. "Business Trip").
By Elliot West (1924-2003).

First appearance: "An earlier version of this story was presented in dramatic form on the [live] television program Danger."
Second appearance: Collier's, May 2, 1953.
Reprinted in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (EQMM), May 1956; EQMM (U.K.), May 1956; and EQMM (Australia), July 1956.
Filmed for the TV series Studio One in 1958 (HERE).
Short short story (7 pages).
Online at UNZ (HERE).

     "Never once had Bellingham accepted payment for doing something he was ashamed of."

One business trip too many . . .

Major characters:
~ Bellingham (no first name):

  "At fifty-six, in a state of semi-retirement, he had managed to provide a solid, well-appointed house in the English Midlands for his wife Edith and their daughter Dorothy, and appeared to lead a most enviable kind of late middle life; one without strife or unrest."
~ Edith Bellingham:
  ". . . would take exception to rain or dankness, since he was not too robust and since she was, perhaps, a bit overprotective. This was especially so when he would prepare to embark on one of his not-too-frequent business trips."
~ Hakete:
  "In the back of a restaurant, oppressively dim and partitioned off by two beaded curtains, sat a man wearing a fez. He was dark, heavy-set and unsmiling."
~ Mr. Garrett:
  "'You see, they didn't tell me what you were like,' he said. 'I would have expected someone quite different for this sort of thing. You seem to be so — gentle.'"
~ Arnold Devry:
  "It was hard to say whether he was very silly or very smug. In any case, he was friendly, perhaps a little too much so . . ."
~ Inspector Wickes:
  "It might make things easier for you if you told us a few things now."

- FictionMags lists only two more stories by Elliot West: "I'm Getting Out," Manhunt, July 1953 and "The Meeting in Paris," Cosmopolitan, April 1957 (TV version HERE). This is the same Elliot West who enjoyed a long career in Hollywood, writing "more than 100 television scripts for such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (IMDb HERE and HERE).


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