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2/23/09

Mickey Spillane and Political Correctness

I wrote this opening to a pulp detective story and would have used it in a novel had I been Mickey Spillane in the 1940s:

There in the dimly lit garage she leaned against the doorway, her eyes saying come hither. But the gun in her hand told me to stay away. Her lips wanted to be kissed. But her mouth said, "You lied to me."

"Hello, doll," I said. "Fancy meeting you here." I nodded at the gat. "Now, that's not very friendly." I smiled.

Her finger wrapped around the trigger. "Put up your hands. Way up." She poked the .32 in the air at me.

"Mind if I smoke first?" I smiled again.

"It'll be your last." She tossed me a pack and I caught it with the hand that wasn't in my pocket. "Thanks," I said. I lit up and took a puff, blowing the smoke toward her face.

She waited while I took a few puffs, but she became fidgety, and I didn't like how she was holding the gun. She got tired of waiting.

"Enough. Now raise them. All the way." She tilted her automatic toward the ceiling.

My right hand said goodbye to the Smith & Wesson snuggled in my coat pocket. I reached for the clouds. She was nervous. Her hand was shaking. "Careful, sweetheart," I said. "That thing might go off and I'm standing right in front of it."

"No maybe about it. It will. But first I want to hear you tell the truth. Tell me you didn't love me."

"First, can I take this fag from my mouth?," I mumbled. "Kind of hard to talk otherwise."

"Go ahead, but do it slow. Real slow." She smiled for the first time.

"You got it." I gently dropped the cigarette onto the floor. It glowed red in the dark. "I ought to tell you there's a flatfoot standing behind you, ready to book you for murder one. Nice girls don't pull triggers. I'm just a private dick. It don't pay to shoot me."

"Don't think you can pull that trick on me, Mike. It's the oldest con in the world."

"No trick, baby." I lunged at her. The gun blasted the darkness. Sweet dreams began to tuck me in as I fell to the floor, glimpsing Nicholson grab her with hand cuffs in one hand. This was the end of something; I didn't know what.
_____
But I am not Mickey Spillane and this is not the 1940s and Mickey Spillane by modern standards is quaint. It's 2009, so I am told, and if you believe in calendars. Mickey Spillane offered a different kind of belief, one where men were men and women were, well, lollipops. Today, if you believe in the sit-coms, men are numskulls while women are intelligent and competent. The times have demanded historical revision. It's only a nicer, more just lie; that's all. Call it a white lie if that term is okay. It's part of our era's political correctness.

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