Murder, My Sweet

Kiss Me, Deadly Again

“Then she left and the
room got a little darker.”
—Mickey Spillane,
Kiss Me, Deadly

The Kiss Me, Deadly Again remake isn’t that bad—even though I think some of those neo-noir Titan scenes are kinda cheesy. You know what I mean? But, well, then—they’ll just have to do.

Like there’s some things—a precog writer just can’t do no matter what. There’ll never be another Mickey Spillane—he’s dead. And there’s only one real Kiss Me, Deadly. That’s just the way is.

Oh, sure—there’ll always be those same skuzzy pulp fiction elements. What do you expect from retro sci-fi noir? But the real authorial thing will always be Spillane’s bad attitude—that’s something that can’t be copied.

Spillane already has—the ending in his head for a long time. A long time—before sitting down and finally typing his socks off for a couple of weeks. Getting down the storyline—punching out the dirty dialog. Working his way through the action—playing footsy with Velda and the other chicks. All of it—leading up to the punch line.

Isn’t that what people are waiting for? Isn’t that why people still read pulp fiction? They’re bored, they wanna be entertained—they wanna laugh, they wanna get off. They’ve spent all that time—patiently following the plot twists and dangerous spills and chills. With Spillane—there’s always a surprise ending. Making all that grueling reading—worthwhile.

You know, “nostalgia for the present” is a funny thing. Especially when it’s coming at you—from some kind of dippy dystopian future. Some people like to think there’s gonna be a happy ending. But I hate to tell you this—happy endings are for suckers.

Getting to the payoff—getting off on the ending. Getting there with some sort of style and male bravado. It takes a certain kind of class—a special impromptu noir style. Yeah, and a special kind of nostalgia for the future—it’s called sci-fi noir.

That’s something only a Mickey Spillane can do—not some cheesy channeler like me. I’m just a two-bit crummy chanteuse. A cheesy two-bit clairvoyante—like what’s her name. Madame Sosostris? Isn’t that the name of the game?

Anyway, I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m the mock-heroic type. I’m vain, callous, brutal—I’m a selfish egomaniac. Just ask Velda. I’m not the Marlowe type—I don’t cruise mean streets. They cruise me. Trouble comes my way—Trouble on Titan is my business.

Crime breeds crime—from one end of the galaxy to the other. Lowlife no-good skuzzy types like me—we schmooze our way from one end of the system to the other. Aldrich, Lazlo and Bezzerides—they were right. LA is pretty down and dirty—but Titan is ten times worse.

So what? I didn’t promise you a rose garden. I’m not a Chandler closet-case. I never was much of a Marlowe fan—I’m too mock-heroic for that. The underworld from here to Pluto—it’s a world of crime and corruption. It’s always been that way—it always will be.

Things happen—and it’s not pretty. Deception is the name of the game. Deception—not detection. Titan has mean streets too—so what? Detective work is a skuzzy profession—but somebody’s got to do it.

I’m just a bedroom dick—I make a living on divorce frame-ups. And the usual shady deals. Velma is my trump card—she does all my leg work. She’s a beautiful android chick—she sulks and pouts a lot. She’s smarter than—any Earthside dame. That’s why I use her—like my right hand. You know what I mean?

Anyway my story opened up this way—this android chick floating down out of nowhere in front of me in mid-air. Her long wrap-around beautiful legs—dangling suddenly right there in the bright headlights of my Jet’ab. And me barely missing—running her down.

I swerved around her in a smooth elegant curve—to avoid hitting the sudden exquisite apparition. She was the ghostly kind of android chick—that makes Saturn’s rings spin faster.

She had her eyes closed—expecting the worst. Like knowing she was killing herself—setting herself up for some kind of gruesome crucifixion of screaming metal and cruel quick death in the lonely Titan night…

Applying my screeching brakes—I used my quick reflexes without even thinking. My only thought was—how beautiful she was. How I couldn’t destroy anything with that much otherworldly class—and svelte smooth sullenness. That’s how she came into my life—out of nowhere. And that’s where she went—back into that aching void where she came from.

All I did was postpone it a little bit—her brief slide into Titan space-time. I held her for a little bit—then she slid out of my hands. But that was later on—down the line. I was able to catch her in time—just for a little bit anyway. The rest was inevitable—like it usually is.

My sports car squealed in a giant curve—as I pulled it sharply around her. Scraping the edge of the tall deco Titan San Bernardino Tower—a landmark there in downtown Trouble Town. It’s where all the fat-cat Corporation exec’s lived their elegant lives—way up there above the rest of us pathetic peons.

Sparks were flying—blinding me in the darkness. The titanium edges of the aerodynamic fins—left a nice deep grove along the sides of the palatial skyscraper. I was doing things by the seat of my pants—purely animal instinctive precog.

I was barreling fast—down I went curving into the big city dark alley. It won’t be the first time—my sleek fast two-seater Jaguar Jet’ab sports car convertible saved my ass.

I was driving fast—trying to think about this missing person case I was working on. As I sailed by her in the alley—I caught a glance of her as a distraught android chick. My car lights blinded her—stabbing past her with all the force of a desperate searchlight. I was used to clicking them on and off a lot—in my business high-beam headlights are my eyes. What was it I’d just seen—flying by her in slow-mo?

I looked behind me—as my Jet’ab came down slowly. It came down slowly—aiming its rear-lights up at her. Finally I came to a stop—way down below. The girl had strategically positioned herself—right in the middle of my path. Only a fool would do such a thing—or somebody who didn’t care anymore. Or somebody desperate enough—to risk everything for a desperate ride.

She was still up there—floating with her eyes closed and holding her arms out. My earphones could pick it up—her highly-amplified heavy-breathing in the background. She was helplessly drifting—as if she were still waiting for something to happen. All the other fast-moving traffic—she’d given up on. All they did—was keep flashing fast by her in the night.

She was desperate—desperate to get herself killed. That kind of living on the edge—it was familiar to me. I’d been there too—I knew where she was coming from. Been there—done that.

It’s a wonder I was still even around—down the line though there always seemed to be somebody like me who did what I did. Stopping in the nick of time—to save me one more time. I owed it to them—and to Saturn’s Rings up there above me.

So anyway I stopped—and picked this android chick up. She floated down out of the aether—slid into the passenger seat like a smooth svelte sardine into my can of bolts and heavy metal. She was still—nearly-hysterical, panting heavy.

She was beautiful that way—like droids rarely get. She had lots of feeling—I could feel it there sitting next to me. A barely-clothed young woman—about twenty or so. With damp closely-cropped hair—plastered to her narrow forehead. Wearing only a tan trench coat—rasping and breathing so heavily it shook my sports car.

We drove away that way into the night—that was the striking pre-credits sequence. A cute droid chick—a young dame in distress. Spreading her lovely pair of naked legs—just for me. Floating there in the middle of nowhere—waiting for me in that lonely dark alley at night. Like some sullen angel—slipping out of a time synch just for me…

My Jet’ab engine—sputters and whines. My driver's ignition grinds repeatedly—attempting to get all the engines restarted for some speed. It knows I like to fly fast—it knows me better than I know myself.

That’s one of the things about the sci-fi noir future—it knows things that you don’t know. It gets moody on you—like a droid dame bored with your chimp stupid ways. Waiting for you—to catch on. And get the drift—of the future game. Even if it’s noir—and probably useless. Guyz like me—we’re clueless. We struggle with it—the darkness. The kiss me deadly darkness…

So I’ve got this classy chick sitting next to me—I’m manhandling this Jet’ab somewhere I don’t know. I’m trying to restart the after-burners—with a jazzy piano selection by Nat King Cole. “Rather Have the Blues.” It’s calm and relaxing—playing away in the background darkness. It’s a smart-drive driver's car radio—it uses the blues song to introduce the woman who has appeared out of nowhere.

“You almost wrecked my car, baby. Well? Here we go.”

Naturally I felt a little begrudgingly puzzled—like I’d been had. But I was used to it. Nothing much angered or pissed off anymore. I felt like a junkyard dog—too burned out to snarl or be mean anymore. Some droid chicks get off on that—danger, getting roughed up, living in the fast lane. I shrugged…

I looked over at her—and she coldly felt me up. All the way up—and all the way down. That changed everything—my mood swings have always troubled me. For about a second…

Melancholy words—the words of Nat King Cole on the radio. They crooned and caressed the cool night—amplifying my crotch and the night’s dark, noir mood. I closed my eyes—and put it on auto…

Her breathing was labored and she sobbed a lot. But I let her fingers to the walking—looking up my number in the phonebook. I kept on driving along—without speaking. It’s amazing how much a lousy ten inches—can tell a long story. All about a guy—and where he’s going. And where he’s coming from…

Toward the bottom of the screen—the credits were sliding past us. Slowly scrolling downwards from the top of the screen—down behind us into the darkness. The slanted credits kept cryptically moving along—following the highway's white line marker far down below passing quickly by.

It added to the disorienting, skewed—upside-down effects of the night. The noir Obliquity of it all—the sci-fi noir Obliq I called it. That’s how the future oozed into the present for me—nostalgically Oblique.

Funny how it works—all those weird slanting Oblique angles. They’re so very haunting and disconcerting—when you stop and think about it.

The sci-fi noir camera eye—has a life of its own.

Positioning itself behind me and her—as we’re zipping alone in the Titan night. Saturn’s rings doing their ancient Merry-Go-Round dance—way up there in the primal praeternatural night. My eyes are like the eyes of the neo-noir camera—pointing forward into time through the fast-moving windshield.

Oblique noir filmography—sliding by me. The Titan night—sharp and clear sliced by a noir knife. Jagged trapezoidals—vertical slits of darkness. Obtuse triangles—what are they hiding? Dingy rooms—film noir scripts? Oblique lines—sliding screens.

Obliquity—modern Berlin expressionism. Darkness—shades pulled down dark. Shadowy lighting—chiaroscuros cutting corners. Realistic tableaus—magical fatalism. Rainy dark streets—a droid chick in an alleyway. Floating down—into my Jet’ab just for me.

Titan temps perdu—the irretrievable past. All my pathetic pleasures—all my doomed futures. Convoluted plots—splintering segues. Disoriented—stylized underworlds.

Black Masks—born-again killers. Pulp fiction doppelgangers—paranoid dystopias. Small time gangsters—thoroughgoing seediness. Mike Hammer—a midget among dwarfs.

Perversely erotic—Kiss Me Deadly Again. The end of the line—The Big Combo. Film noir’s epitaph—Touch of Evil. Pulp Fiction Planet—beneath it I drive to my doom. Kiss me deadly—for a little while more.

Nat King Cole keeps on singing—a quiet low-key melancholic version of “Rather Have the Blues” in the background. The story of my life—the noir future reaching out to me again tonight…

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