The Hell You Say

by Bruce Golden

“I don’t want excuses, Dweezil, I want perversion, I want hostilities—I want conflict and I want plenty of it!” Nick ran his long, perfectly-manicured fingers through his hair as if his head hurt. The thinning gray strands didn’t provide much resistance. “Milksops and dainty Marys—that’s what you’ve been scheduling.”

Dressed in his favorite black suit, shirt, and red tie, Nick was camera-ready and in full-speed mode when his producer caught up with him backstage. The shorter Dweezil had trouble keeping pace. Every few steps he/she had to perform a sort of hop, skip, and jump to stay in range.

“When was the last time you got me a contentious psychopath or a hardcore religious fanatic? Huh? Or even a habitual peeping Tom? I can’t remember the last time I was able to goad so much as a sincere obsessive-compulsive shopaholic.  Let’s face it, Dweezil, you’ve been shooting blanks.”

Looking chagrined, the producer replied, his/her East Indian British accent cracking defensively.

“I am aware there has been a rather insipid stench related to our most recent programming. However, I have several non compos mentis candidates queued for next week.”

“Next week!” Nick threw his hands above his head. “This show’s running on a wing and curse as it is! We’re near critical mass. We could go down in flames before next week’s even on the calendar—and you know I mean flames.”

Nick snapped his fingers and pointed his bony index at Dweezil. “We need depravity. We need pugnacious, spiky-haired deviants. We need the cream of the corruptible and incorrigible. We need some flaming head-cases and we need them now, Dweezil. This is no time for one of your fastidious surgical strikes. It’s time for you to bite the bullet and bring out the big guns.”



Novelist, journalist, satirist, Bruce Golden’s short stories have been published more than a hundred times across a score of countries and 30 anthologies.  Asimov’s Science Fiction described his second novel, “If Mickey Spillane had collaborated with both Frederik Pohl and Philip K. Dick, he might have produced Bruce Golden’s Better Than Chocolate”—and about his novel Evergreen, “If you can imagine Ursula Le Guin channeling H. Rider Haggard, you’ll have the barest conception of this stirring book, which centers around a mysterious artifact and the people in its thrall.” His latest book, Monster Town, is a satirical send-up of old hard-boiled detective stories featuring movie monsters of the black & white era.



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