Sam Spade Never Kissed His Horse
How can crime fiction writers survive when real-life crimes and criminals are more bizarre and wacky than the goings-on in the far and deep corners of the minds of Stephen King and Dean Koontz? Writers certainly have enough worries these days without having the added stress that comes with pushing their imaginations to the outer limits of what’s humanly possible, just to entertain their fans.
Remember when readers enjoyed the simple things, like mummies, werewolves, a good whodunit, a heartbeat resounding from beneath the floorboards, and even a good vampire tale? A couple of neck nibbles were about as gory and racy as it got, back in the day.
Today…not so much. Now readers seem to fancy their mummies and vampires as love interests who drive expensive cars, live lavish lifestyles, and are red hot sex gods and goddesses, and, well, the more blood and entrails spilled the better. Good guys are transformers, shapeshifters, and zombie-like creatures who can turn a furry lady’s head with a simple flick of a froth-covered, forked tongue.
Why is it that writers are having to dream up such odd and unusual characters and their bizarre behaviors? Well, let’s just take a quick look at today’s crime headlines. For starters…
1. Major Nadal Hasan, the Fort Hood Army psychiatrist who murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded several more, is now set to defend himself in court. His defense…he attacked and killed American soldiers in defense of the Taliban. He did what he did because the soldiers he killed were soon to deploy overseas where they’d engage in battle with Taliban fighters. He wanted to save the lives of the enemy. Our leaders say this was not an act of terrorism. Instead, they say this was merely a simple case of workplace violence. You know, like when two people argue over a parking spot, or who grabbed the wrong lunch bag from the company refrigerator.
2. A Michigan special education teacher is accused of kissing one of his students and then asking for sex. He wrote love letters to the girl and planned to take her virginity as soon as she graduated from high school.
3. A man in New York City sexually assaulted a female hospital patient. The victim attempted to get out of the hospital bed to get away when the attacker then urinated on her.
4. A Chicago man was on a group tour of a local animal shelter when he sneaked away from the group. Employees discovered the man a few minutes later engaged in sex with a female pit bull. I guess as the group passed by her cage the dog gave him her best “come hither” look, and he couldn’t refuse. Witnesses say they heard the man tell police, “Hey, it wasn’t my fault, the bitch came on to me.”
5. A British man was arrested for attempting to take a photo under a woman’s skirt. He said the police had it all wrong. It wasn’t a picture he was after. Instead, he merely wanted to light/ignite…um…the gases she expelled.
6. Indiana police forced their way inside a home where they’d heard a girl screaming. They found a father straddling his six-year-old daughter, stabbing her repeatedly. Officers shot and killed the attacker. The child died as a result of the multiple stab wounds inflicted by her dad.
7. An entire family—father, mother, and 20-year-old daughter holding her baby, were caught walking the streets of Charlotte, N.C…while totally nude. They told officers that God had instructed them to take the naked stroll.
8. A North Carolina man was in the process of committing suicide when he accidentally shot himself in the foot, so he called 911 for help.
9. A woman in New Mexico repeatedly stabbed her boyfriend because she thought he’d cheated during a game of Monopoly.
10. A Texas man was in the middle of raping a 77-year-old woman at knife-point when he suddenly dropped dead.
11. A Washington man was pulled over by a police officer, who discovered a dead woman stuffed inside a sleeping bag on the passenger seat of the suspect’s vehicle. The man told the officer he’d taken possession of the body to spare her family the expense of a costly funeral. He also admitted to having sex with the dead body many, many times.
12. A Nebraska man was arrested for attempting to calm down his cat, Shadow, by placing it inside a homemade bong along with some marijuana, and smoking it. Shadow was rescued by police; however, the cat appeared paranoid and immediately went to its food dish for a quick snack.
So, what happens if you write this sort of thing—the truth. Your editor will most certainly send it back, suggesting you write something more realistic, like a vampirish zombie-mummy who eats the city of Nashville and burps out country music hits while the hero, a two-headed BradPitt/Johnny Depp rises from the depths of the ocean carrying an RPG in each hand. The world is saved when Pitt-Depp blasts Nashville-eater with a toe-fired death ray. Now that’s believable make-believe if ever I saw it.
Sigh…whatever happened to the good old days when the cowboy story ended when the hero kissed his horse… Oh, I forgot about the man in Washington who was caught having sex with a horse. Actually, there’s a “resort” there where people go to have sex with a variety of animals.
Then there’s the guy who tried to get his horse pregnant, and the man who went to jail for having sex with a neighbor’s horse, who was caught again with the same horse the day after he was released from jail.
And let’s not forget the guy who had a threesome with two donkeys. I understand he felt like a real ass when the officers nabbed him…
The trick is, sometimes you can write about the weird and horrific real things without making them seem absurd or unrealistic, but only if part of the standpoint of the piece is: what the hell could possibly cause someone to do that, and exploring it. Like Equus, for example.
I’m right there with you, GunDiva. ROFL
I’m cracking up right now.
Truth is stranger than fiction – all you have to do is look around.