Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

The Titan Blues

“The night is mighty chilly,
and conversation seems pretty silly
I feel so mean and wrought—
I'd rather have the blues
Than what I've got.”
—Nat King Cole,
“Rather Have the Blues”

All I could feel was a deep hardboiled sense of revenge—slowly ratcheting up inside my head.

A deep-down and dirty nasty feeling—an ugly personal sense of wanting to get even. Marlowe talked and acted so cool and above it all—like he was some kind of private dick “not himself mean.”

But that was then—this was now. I was mean—and I wanted to get even for what happened to me. And her…

I remember turning around to face them—looking jaundiced and bleary-eyed at what they were doing to her. And their faces when they got done with her—and started on me next. I looked up at them—and saw how much they enjoyed me dying the same way.

One of them had my neck in his hands—and he was smiling at me. Leaning over me—while he did me in. He squeezed and squeezed and squeezed—until his fingers were buried in the flesh of my throat.

My hands were clawing at his arm frantically—I was trying to breathe. I was struggling for life and death—but he just laughed a little bit. And then squeezed—and laughed some more.

“I’d rather have the blues—than what I got”—Nat King Cole’s song kept running through my head.

“They tried to kill me last night,” I said out loud.

I could talk again—and I was slowly coming back to life. My head was throbbing—but I could breathe again.

”Last night?” said Velda. I heard her voice—whispering in my ear. “Sweetheart, you’ve been out for a week.”

The room was slowly coming back into focus. I was laying in bed—looking up at the ceiling. It smelled like a hospital. There was only one hospital on Titan—and that was Titan Town General. This must have been it—somehow I was still alive.

Velda’s smile looked achingly familiar—but it was her voice. That’s what I needed—it was soft and soothing. It made me realize I was still kicking. Her voice and her lips…her beautiful android body.

“Don’t talk,” she said. “Just sleep and get better.”

The light hurt my eyes—but I kept them open just to look at her. I tried to grin—but my face almost fell off. My head started spinning again—but I snapped it shut. Stopping the vertigo—by gritting my teeth.

“Where were you—when I needed you?” I said to her with a smirk. Smirking didn’t seem to hurt—not as bad as smiling did. Smiling was too polite and civilized—I felt lousy and my crummy smirk would just have to do.

“Uh-huh,” she said. “But you never seem to need me, Mickey—whenever I’m around.”

Velda always had a way of snapping me out of it—getting me down to earth. Even after I’d been zapped, beaten up and thrown off a cliff. Her luscious lips were coming closer and closer—inch by inch. Her lovely sleek long black hair—black and shiny as midnight.

The way her firm breasts caressed me—with a life of their own. She kissed me—I ran my lips down her neck and across her shoulders. I was beginning to feel myself again—I was getting blood pumping and pounding through my poor bod again. Starting down there—between my long lanky legs.

“That cute android chick—I let her get killed,” I said.

Velda looked down at me—frowning at me. She buttoned up her blouse—I could see the jealousy on her face again. She knew I catted around a lot—even with droid chicks who were really guyz. It didn’t make her happy though—I felt her turn cold on me.

“Droid dames,” she said, sneering at me. “Such a wonderful phrase. And who are they? They're the nameless ones—who get people like you killed for the great whatsit. The great male whatsit—down there in your pants.”

The madder she got—the better I felt. It made me feel more alive every minute—I needed her hate just as much as I needed her love. A guy like me needed both—to feel himself again. And where I was coming from? It was hate that gave me revenge—what I needed to get even with. The thugs that got me that night—the skanky hoodlums who got the girl.

“Does it exist?” Velda grilled me. “Your love for droid chicks like Christina? What about me? She’s dead—I’m alive. But do you care—No. You’re more in love with a dead droid—than a living one.”

That made me feel better—nothing like a pissed-off chick telling the truth. Reading the riot act—about what a lousy creep I was. I couldn’t agree with her more—I was a poor excuse for being a human being. I was just a two-bit “bedroom' detective”—my occupation was being a divorce specialist. I specialized in putting the “big squeeze”—on cheating husbands. I did slimy divorce cases—manufacturing adulterous evidence for clients to collect payoff fees. I did divorce frame-ups—setting dumb guyz up—with Velma’s tits. You know—like Detective J. J. Gittes in Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974).

Velda knew it—I knew it. It was a sort of cynical despondent marriage of convenience—it kept the bills paid and the paper moving. Velda did my dirty work—then I collected big bucks from dumb clucks. Both the husbands—and wives. Yeah, I know—I was a double-dipper. But I wasn’t bashful—I was a private dick without scruples. I cruised the mean streets—looking for trouble.

Velda got bitchy—she wanted to go to bed with me. She hung around my neck—she tried every which way to get me amorously involved with her. It’s true—I loved her sleek svelte body. It was nice having a sexy built secretary like her—even Spade and Marlowe needed a decent dame to depend on.

But for some reason—I kept my distance. Business and pleasure just didn’t mix—in the private dick business. Besides, there were a lot of men in her life—she didn’t need to get all involved with me. In some fruitless search for what? I was a worthless piece of shit—I had the morals of an alley cat.

“Why did you pick Christine up anyway, Mickey?” How do you explain something like that to another dame? Did I have any choice when she got into my lights? It wasn’t my job to protect her—even though she needed protection. It wasn’t my job—even to question who she was and who she was running away from.

It wasn’t my business—to get involved with her and make love to her on the side of the road. Whether I needed or not. Why didn’t I just push her out of your car—instead of always acting like a dumb cluck private dick with all my brains down in the wrong head?

That was more like it—I was already feeling better. Nothing like a grueling mind-fuck—to get my stupid sprained brain functioning again. I gave Velda a smile—running my hand down under her skirt. Letting the whiteness of her thighs resurrect me—slowly inch by smooth inch.

I knew it was the truth—I’d been played as a sucker. I shouldn’t have got involved with that droid chick—she was only trouble from the very beginning. And it only got worse—the more I fell for her. I wanted to kick myself—but I couldn’t move my legs yet. I wanted to curse myself—but that gets old quick. Why denigrate myself—anymore than I did everyday? There just wasn’t any decent detour—from my constant crummy downhill denouement.

I was a sucker for droid dames—I couldn’t help myself. I tried to lie still after Velda left—but why torment myself? Who would have known—who could’ve seen what was gonna happen that night? Somebody knew a lot more than me—some strangers got me for getting involved with Christina. What was she involved with?

Diamonds, rubies, gold? Perhaps narcotics? Titan had never been that innocent and civilized anyway—it was pretty much like Earth used to be and always has been. As worlds devolve and become more primitive—their treasures become more fabulous. Perhaps foolish sentiment like mine always failed—there never seemed to be an end to it. Where greed slunk around in shadowy worlds like Titan—it never failed to pounce and devour just about everything.

“You’ll die, Mr. Hammer. But your friend, you can save her. Yes, Christina Bailey—can you remember her? The young lady you picked up in the Titan alleyway—the droid chick who made you? She left you a message—on your Jet’ab vidphone. When you got time—have your Greek mechanic check it out. It was two words—"Remember Me." She wanted you to remember something—what was it?”

What is it—I must remember?

[This is where the script—leaves Bezzerides' script and Spillane's novel far behind. Stealing and transgressing its own path—it’s sci-fi noir time for Mike Hammer again. Time for some nostalgia—for a retro-future that never was. Time for a detective pulp fiction screenwriter who once used the fears of 1955—to update them straight into a 2055 future noir movie yet to be filmed. Changing Spillane's original vision of crooks and cops chasing two million dollars—phasing out Bezzerides' frantic, scrambling search for a secret weapon in a Cold War Pandora’s Box full of intrigue and nightmare. Turning it all into a future sci-fi noir film—all the more relevant and timely. Spillane's ideas working fantastically—for a new time period beneath Saturn’s Rings. Kiss Me, Deadly—with a new twist working its way sullenly up through those subsequent decades. All the way to Trouble on Titan—trouble once again.]

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