"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honour."
So wrote one of my heroes, Raymond Chandler. Trouble is every time I start to write a script or novel and try to find this guy - I fail. The streets stay mean - but the heroes resolutely flawed.
Slippery PR man, Mark Miles, is unaware he’s being manipulated and dangled as bait by an investigative reporter until he’s swallowed by a sadistic mind-expanding cultish course from America.
Best-selling American writer, Maxwell Grist, ruthlessly uses real people as fodder for his crime novels before finding himself living up to his name and becoming grist for his own murder.
Mega American star, unhappy with the movie he’s currently filming, refuses to leave his five-star hotel for the studios, while in the corridor outside his luxury suite mayhem and murder take over.
Summer is Hell here.
Winter is the only time to be in this place. On a wet night preferably.
The dark sea, flattened by rain, laps against the long curving beach. White painted iron railings and ill-lit weather shelters recede into the mist. An amusement arcade, boarded up, sits like a blind man watching nothing. The Grand Atlantic Hotel, a vast corroding edifice, looms over the deserted esplanade. A torn canvas banner flaps over its darkened entrance announcing the presence of the Brotherhood of Magicians Conference. Bedroom windows stacked up to the murky sky are but black patches.
The magicians are long in bed.
They’ll need steady hands in the morning.
The clock tower strikes on the hour.
An approaching motorbike cuts through the sound of rain water smacking the tarmac. The red Yamaha rounds a corner slowly, ominously, powerful as a shark. A metallic titanium flip-front helmet glints under the street lamps. Moulded gloves with visor wipes, grinder boots, cowhide jeans and a leather jacket embossed with a bloody knife embedded in the occupant’s back. The occupant steers his machine along the esplanade before circling a traffic island housing the public urinals, all the while constantly scanning the empty street.
A municipal shelter with a notice board advertising local events for wet winter nights stands beside the amusement arcade. It’s here the bike comes to rest. The rider leaves the engine running as he nervously pulls posters from a saddle bag.
He works fast, skilfully.
Soon the forthcoming amateur operatic production of Annie Get Your Gun is no longer forthcoming. But The Personal Improvement Institute: A Course in Leadership Dynamics is. The etched face of some wild-eyed mountaineer intending to give a slide lecture the very next evening is replaced by the well-fed features of Dr Hermann P Temple who will show you the QUICK way to the TOP! during his impending weekend course on SUCCESS-POWER GETTING!
A similar fate is accorded Pinkie and Barrie, the Comedy Duo; Diana Barnham playing Bach on the Clavichord; and the providers of Merrie England Banquets. Book now to avoid disappointment. All disappear within seconds to be replaced by five identical images of Dr Temple. A quintet of pointing forefingers, quiffs and eyes that would make a cobra back off.
These people are helping to fund Bait, Grist and Security.