Thursday, January 11, 2024

"Reed Turned Slowly, Staring Down the Barrel of a Thirty-two"

"The Story Escapes Me."
By Leroy Yerxa (1915-46; ISFDb HERE; SFE HERE).
Illustrated by Rod Ruth (1912-87; ISFDb HERE).
First appearance: Fantastic Adventures, December 1945.
Reprints page (ISFDb HERE).
Novelette (17 pages).
Online at Roy Glashan's Library (HTML HERE).
(Parental caution: Strong language.)

   "What would have happened if Curt Reed had met Curt Reed?"

Dreaming up and committing a story to paper is often hard enough, but when it comes to actually living through it without getting killed — that's something else . . .

Main characters:
- Curt Reed:
  ". . . knew that his editor couldn't use a gangster yarn. This had been a strictly-plotted love story. Now it wanted to make a gang war out of itself, and he couldn't stop it."
- Joan Freemont:
  "She's a stubborn wench. I ought to kill her and start all over again."
- Howard Dean:
  "'. . . is mixed up in some manner with a gang of jewel thieves,' she said. 'His name is never linked with any of the robberies, but there has never been one robbery by this gang that took place outside of his clubs. My paper, for one, won't even touch him'."
- Smug Farley:
  "An ugly smile lighted his pimply face as he recognized Reed. He kept coming, his right hand in his pocket, eyes frozen, an ugly grin on his face."
- Marie Weems:
  ". . . you know her, the old society hellion. She had fifty thousand dollars' worth of diamonds taken from her at the 'Romantic Adventure'."
- Grant Owen:
  ". . . owned the Journal. He didn't like to have his employees tell him how to run it. His face turned an off shade pink."
- Dizzy Darrow:
  ". . . was an invaluable partner. He looked his part perfectly. Dizzy had that gaunt, my-God-how-I-suffer look on his face most of the time. He lived on a diet of mixed drinks, managed to keep his ears open and his mouth shut. Dizzy did the foot-work for her, and she kept him in money that allowed him to drink himself into one stupor after another. Dizzy wanted it that way . . ."
- Mrs. VanWry:
  "Joan had lost her appetite. She was thinking very hard. Thinking that whenever Mrs. VanWry threw a party there would be a lot of expensive gems wrapped around fat necks and thick wrists. There hadn't been a jewel robbery for six weeks. A private room at the 'Romantic Adventure.' A perfect setup."
- Droop-Lip:
  "You wouldn't know nothing about that safe would you, Bud?"

References and resources:
- "Female Winchell":
  At the time of our story any reference to "Winchell" would be universally understood:
  "Walter Winchell (1897–1972) was a syndicated American newspaper gossip columnist and radio news commentator. Originally a vaudeville performer, Winchell began his newspaper career as a Broadway reporter, critic and columnist for New York tabloids. He rose to national celebrity in the 1930s with Hearst newspaper chain syndication and a popular radio program. He was known for an innovative style of gossipy staccato news briefs, jokes, and Jazz Age slang. Biographer Neal Gabler claimed that his popularity and influence 'turned journalism into a form of entertainment'." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "Reed passed the night-club":
  As the Wikipedia article (HERE) shows, nightclubs have evolved over time.
- "watching the orchestra practice swing music":
  "Swing music is a style of jazz that developed in the United States during the late 1920s and early '30s. It became nationally popular from the mid-1930s. The name derived from its emphasis on the off-beat, or nominally weaker beat. Swing bands usually featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement. The danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, known as the swing era . . ." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- A movie with a similar premise to "The Story Escapes Me" is Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), made forty years later; see Wikipedia (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE).
- Like our latest Leroy Yerxa story "Sentimental Monster" (ONTOS HERE), you can find a fine collection of Yerxa's fiction at Roy Glashan's superb library (HERE).

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

No comments:

Post a Comment