Monday, July 11, 2011

HOW I CAME TO WRITE THIS STORY: Alec Cizak


"How I Came to Write This Story: Katy Too"

by Alec Cizak

When I was young and dumber, I often hung out with a (now deceased) gangster named ____. He asked me, the first time we talked, if I knew anybody who needed some heroin. I actually knew a lot of junkies back then, all but one of whom are now dead. I wasn’t interested in dealing hard drugs. I thought about it and told him no. He said that was a good answer and from then on he was almost like a bodyguard. If somebody pissed me off, stole money from me, or hit on my girlfriend, he’d ask if I wanted that person ‘dealt with.’ The only time I considered it was when a sleazy, wanna-be movie producer from Chicago tried to run off with one of my scripts and call it his own. _____ made it clear that the producer could be found and “really, really dealt with.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but _____ was dying of cancer. He told me a number of stories about wild, crazy, and very illegal things he had done over the years. He knew I was a writer and I understood, once I heard that he had died, that he told me those stories to put them down on paper. One of the more amusing episodes involved a girl whose boyfriend cheated on her. She wanted him ‘dealt with’ and also wanted to watch the actual ‘dealing with.’ She screamed when one of ______’s associates shattered the guy’s arm, so ______ took off the boy’s blindfold and forced the girl to break the other arm. If you’ve read “Katy Too,” you know that’s almost verbatim in the story. I cranked up the end a bit, making it more dramatic than it actually was. As far as I know, the couple who endured this is still alive.

Late last year, I was listening to an old Johnny Cash CD I bought for about two dollars in a bargain bin. When the song “Katy Too” came on, I realized that it would be a fitting title for the tale _____ told me all those years ago. As I got into the story, I decided to make the Katy character extremely unaware of anything relevant in the real world. Her existence was based entirely on American materialism—shopping and the thing that tells you where to shop, television. By making her clueless, it seemed to me, it would be easier to accept how foolish she acts (i.e., hiring a gangster to punish her boyfriend for getting a hand job from another girl). The very end suggests, at least, to me, that Katy is so oblivious to the gravity of her situation that she will probably be ‘thinking’ about shopping or television right up until the moment she gets snuffed. In that respect, it’s a mercy killing, don’t you think?

Formerly the proprietor of ALL DUE RESPECT, Alec now heads PULP MODERN. You can find his stories in all the usual places including BEAT TO A PULP and A TWIST OF NOIR.

10 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I never knew anyone quite so 'interesting.' Comes from leading a sheltered life, I guess.

Chris Rhatigan said...

I second Charles's comment. That's a fascinating story behind the story.

Jodi MacArthur said...

You've run in curious circles, AC. The back story is just as entertaining as the fiction tale. I hope there is more on the way.

AC said...

I've met a lot of "interesting" people over the years. Most of them are dead now, which leads me to wonder just how grand it is to be "interesting"...

Garnett Elliott said...

'Interesting' friends and/or associates is a good pedigree for writing noir.

AC said...

I failed to write about the research I did into arms, bones and hammers. I spoke with three different doctors and they all gave me conflicting information, so I used the most interesting ideas in describing the sounds of the hammer cracking the bone.

courtmerrigan said...

A backstory nearly as good as I imagine the story to be - which I'm off to read now.

Jimmy Callaway said...

What's really weird is how much Alec looks like an old roommate of mine.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think he looks like Vincent Van Gogh.

AC said...

What? I don't hear so good these days...