Howdy, y’all. Once more into the breach. Wendig has asked as politely as he could, swinging a live badger, to write 1000 words on the following:
What I want is for you to choose a famous person from history — be it Mark Twain, Babe Ruth, Nikola Tesla, Hannibal, whoever — and use that character as the protagonist in your short fiction. Bonus points for spinning it in a cool way: Shakespeare-as-detective, Nero-as-witch-hunter, Tesla-as-secret-alien, etc.
What follows is my bullshit.
“He went this way!” The perky blonde sprints down an alleyway. Debris closes in around her, the smell of human sweat, feces, and disappointment is more appalling than the sight of rotting garbage, endlessly birthing throbbing maggots and the animal in man.
“Hold on girl, these bones aren’t as quick as they used to be.” A weathered old man with wild hair wheezes and lurches down the dark alley. He clutches in one hand a German Luger, in the other the frayed and yellowed notebook that was illegible to all but him. The old Austrian leans against one of the buildings gesturing a silent, dismissive, “feh” after the girl’s bobbing ponytail.
So much haste that one had, always jumping out of the squad car and jumping to conclusions. No, to catch the fugitive, one must be methodical, cautious. Weigh the evidence against the gut. It was why he was asked to come out of retirement and advise the Major Crimes Task Force. Certain criminals could only be caught with precision, not brawn. The girl was one of the best in her Academy class, quick, strong, yet so determined to use the muscles in her arms rather than the one in her pretty blonde head.
“Always running, always running.” The old man chuckles as he reaches behind his ear and starts encrypting his notebook in his lead pidgin calculations, all the while muttering to himself the variables.
“If he was running at top speed…”
“Alley ends in a dead end…but this road actually curves…”
He scribbles faster and faster, his body starts rocking forward and back like a Chasidic rabbi making new headway in the Rashi. Suddenly he snaps to attention. His tired body straightens like a greyhound spotting a hare in the field; a wild maniacal grin splits his face.
“A Ha! Albert, you’ve done it again!” He spins in a small circle, dancing madly, briefly. Absent of eyes witnessing his fumbled attempts at aping Zev Tevye, the dance you do when you’ve impressed yourself yet again and no one is around to accuse you of self flagellation.
The old man, dances with his arms flailing in the air making individual circles. “One, two, three, four, five, six…”
When the old man hits seven he stops dancing and sticks his foot out slightly into a blind curve in the alley. A man running for his life from a perky blonde slams into the leg and sails into a far wall with a sick wet thud, sliding downward unconscious.
The blonde arrived seconds later, finding the old man slapping bracelets on the sleeping, disfigured man. Her eyes searches for an answer in the crazy world that not only was she outran but she was out copped by this grandfather.
“I don’t get it, Albert, why…how?”
“We’ve done it again little Lisa. We have apprehended the Brother Killer.”
“But I was chasing him… and we doubled back!”
“Ah, my dear, sometimes when trying to catch a man accused of killing his brother…it’s a relative. At least that is my theory.”
“So do we have any leads on this crew?” The chief was looking stressed. The bank heist was nearly a week old and the only concrete evidence was five bodies getting colder in the morgue.
“Nothing firm. The one we got outside the bank with the female hostage had a letter on him.”
“No, just written to a ‘Mom,’ the asshole didn’t have it in an envelope. Most we got is some background information.”
“Scotty, for fuck’s sake, my patience is wearing thin. What particulars?”
“Like most guys in this town, he was an actor.”
“Christ save us all let me see the letter.”
I hope all is well with you guys. I miss you all terribly. How’s Sis. Any boys I need to come home and beat up for Pops?
How is Dad? He won’t answer my calls. I know he still is mad that I left the Corps to come out here, but I think he’d be surprised by how nice it is out here. I know, I know once a Marine always a Marine, but I think I’m making headway.
My agent seems to think that I’m real close to making a breakthrough. I’ve done a commercial and hell even last week I was the “Killer of the Week” on Einstein: CSI. You love that show don’t you Mom?
I think I found my calling and even though Dad might be a hard ass about it, it warms my heart to know that you support me.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you.
Well, I’m off to go do a job (haven’t made enough acting to quit my day job). It’s real exciting and I think I should be able to send some money back to you to help with Dad’s treatments.
PS Give Dad a kiss for me.
“So does this give us an idea? Says he was on that bullshit Einstein cop show.”
“We are looking into it but the character had a prosthetic face or something. We have a call out to their casting agency but honestly they have every fresh face in this town, it’ll take some time.”
“This is about the only lead we have. When we get an 8×10 we should be able to get some info.”
“ID might be an issue too, remember he took about have a magazine to the face.”