OLD BLUE EYES
So, I've been struggling with the fourth scene yet again... Though ink is finding its way onto paper, the continuity and the actual, just, flow of the scene is all wrong. To recenter myself and recall what these characters are supposed to be capable of, what their lives are meant to express, and to remind myself where these Reefermen come from, I pulled out the scene that started it all.
What follows is an excerpt from the ten or so pages that created the universe for me. To set the scene: it is 1924 in an undisclosed flat in Anycity, USA. A man dressed in green has just purchased all the jive(weed) at this particular tea shop(dealer), much to the chagrin of another patron who has just left the three men. With all their business taken care of they are sitting around the table, smoking a gauge(joint) and talking. The Stranger changes the subject...
"Speaking of killed, have you guys seen the paper?"
"No, what?" Johnny's voice sifted through the cloud of smoke in front of his face.
"Someone is killing people and setting the places on fire. It's crazy how people are in the city." The stranger took the gauge from Johnny. "I've never heard about such a crime."
"Well they got another thing coming once we find them," Johnny grinned, "we're going to break every bone in their bodies."
"Their?" The Stranger took a drag and passed the gauge back to Albert.
"We aren't sure how many people are in on it," Albert began. He pulled slow on the gauge, thinking. "Our best guess is that it is some kind of hit squad. I knew some of the victims personally, and there is no way one guy killed them all."
"You two should be careful."
"We are," Johnny giggled. "I got a forty-five and Albert there has a shotgun under the sink."
"Never can be too safe," Albert smiled as he handed Johnny the gauge.
"No, you can't." The stranger pushed his chair from the table and leaned back. "Albert, are you a betting man?"
"That depends on the bet."
"Let's say a thousand dollars," the stranger pulled another wad of cash from his jacket pocket and laid it on the table.
"That's the stakes, what are we betting on?" The gauge made it back to the stranger before Albert continued. "If it is some kind of rigged game, I ain't playing."
"No no no," the stranger took a hit and passed to Albert again. "It is a simple bet."
"I'm listening," Albert leaned forward with the gauge in his lips.
"I bet that I can get the smoke of Johnny's lungs without him opening his mouth." The two men broke into laughter as the stranger sat in silence.
"This is a sure thing Al," Johnny grabbed at the gauge.
"Yeah alright," Albert laid out one thousand dollars. "Now, let's see you lose a thousand." Johnny took a large pull on the gauge, holding in the hit as he returned the joint to the stranger.
"You holding it?" Johnny nodded at the stranger's question. He looked over at Albert, sitting with a smug look on his face. A loud pop drew his attention to the stranger once more, pistol in hand aimed at his chest.
"What the fuck?!" Albert was in shock.
"Just watch..." The stranger pointed to Johnny's chest as smoke slowly began to drift from the bullet wound. "I told you."
"Oh my..." Albert was cut short, a bullet passing between his eyes. Johnny watched as Albert's body fell backward to the floor.
"Wrong profession kid. Sorry for your luck." One last pull of the trigger scent Johnny on his way.
I always liked that part. Whatever the case, the stranger did not have a name... He wasn't even called the Reeferman at that point. But, his vendetta is the same one shared by the characters I write now. Stopping the bad stuff... The stranger, now known as Ashley Balacort, was a character created out of hate. A singular purpose to wipe out the people who sell heroin. Not much more went into him...
Meanwhile, Overholt, being the second Reeferman to be motivated by vengeance, is much more complex. The Texan has relationships that he needs to maintain, memories he's trying to repress, and a drug lord to take down. The action scenes are easy for me. It's the damn cool down sections that really throw me for a loop.