This is a continuation from Tuesday's short. Stay tuned for more!
Can't say "Dirty Jap" anymore. Politically incorrect they say. I didn't blow up the Harbor. They did.
I let my hand fall to my side and remembered I had a watch strapped to it. 11:30am. Time to meet Roy down at the malt shop. Or was it a dinner next to the malt shop? Jesus Christ! Who does he think he is? Who does he think I am? I'm not ten anymore.
When I open the doors I see him there in the back seat of what looks to be a 1940 Ford Deluxe V-8. Who ever owned this place was on to something.
"Hey Rick," he says, still fixed to his paper, "How are the kids?" When I say I don't have any, he takes a long breath, probably wondering if he's at the right meeting, and takes a sip of his black coffee. "Oh, right..."
He came to tell me he wanted to make a deal. I had no future and he had no writers. Our mutually beneficial relationship was something that I hoped to profit from. I had it all very worked out in my head you see. Roy had this reputation of being very shrewd when it came to hiring people. He was a numbers guy. He wasn't concerned with the writing quality at all, you see. If you could move the product, entrance the little boys and girls and make them pay hand-over-fist for the next issue, you were golden. That's how it worked. He was probably reading the stock exchange. Poor bastard bought up Ford like it was cheap taffy back in the mid-20s I have it on good account that he's still recovering from his losses.
"I hear you can write Ricky-boy." He folds the news paper, with a face that's bored to tears. "Tell me what you have for me?"
"I got a story about radioactive monsters." It's the first thing that comes to mind. When I see his eyebrow twitch I scramble to elaborate. "The bomb, you know? Ever since the thing blew and the people hear about the sickness and all the radiation, why not spin it to give you super powers? Then you get all the guys in tights to fight them. It would be brilliant."
"Already got guys in Japan doing that, Ricky-boy. Gotta change it up."
Pausing he takes a long look at me. I wonder if he's regretting meeting me. Did my pitch really grab his goat? Or is he just being nice now. The slow trickle of nervous sweat begins to run down my spine. This is my livelihood and I put all my bones on the horse with polio.
"How about this? The Commies right? what if we make them evil you know? We could be ahead of the game. They are all mysterious over there, probably plotting against us, just waiting for a slip up. Issue #1, a splash panel with Master Rich sneaking into a meeting. There he overhears a mercenary being inducted into Stalin's inner circle. His name is Red Tide, and he's a sea merc."
Roy waves his hand to stop me right there. That still, muted face hasn't changed a bit. Suddenly his lip curls into a cool grin and leans back into his chair. It's not a good grin, at least I don't think it is. It's the same Kraut Terror gave to Modern Marvel in the double cross from issue 36, when he pulls out his combat knife and comes at him from behind.
"Evil Commies, that's your plan?"
I nod. What else can I do?
"Make them here. No more more super-capers. You're detective fiction now."
Noir? Really? I hate Noir. Now what am I gonna do...
To be Continued