Jack is out to pasture now, but I may bring him back if the right story comes along. My novelette "Aftershock" received the Bram Stoker Award for short fiction. I'm listed in the 50th anniversary edition of Who's Who in America. My original teleplay "Glim-Glim" first aired on Monsters. An adaptation of my short story "Menage a Trois" was part of the pilot for The Hunger series that debuted on Showtime in July And then there's the epic saga of the Repairman Jack film. After 20 years in development hell with half a dozen writers and at least a dozen scripts, Beacon Films has decided that "Repairman Jack" might be better suited for TV than theatrical films.
We'll see how that works out. Back in the s, Matthew J. It's officially vaporware now. Augustine, Florida, in March, I'm tired of talking about myself, so I'll close by saying that I live and work at the Jersey Shore where I'm usually pounding away on a new novel and haunting eBay for strange clocks and Daddy Warbucks memorabilia. No, we don't have a cat. Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Gia, Repairman Jack doesn't deal with electronic appliances.
He fixes situations for people, often putting himself in deadly danger His tormentor has warned Munir not to report the kidnapping of his family, or they will pay a terrible price This one-of-a-kind anthology pulls together the most -eloved characters from the best and most popular thriller series today. Worlds collide! I didn't realize you wrote that to me, sorry. Mine's one of the jurai royal guardians from an anime series called Tenchi!. I believe this one's named Kamadaki, and yes, the exclamation point is part of the name. I liked them alot, Kenji. And, don't forget about translator.
All of Repairman Jack series is translated by Keisuke Otaki. If he doesn't translate, I can't read RJ novels. I still waiting for translated The Hosts. Yes,those artists does nice work. I know only that name, but I don't read recent comics Then,do you know "Cyborg " and "Galaxy Express "? I really enjoyed "Galaxy Express Terry, I would suggest you read crisscross before starting the cycle over again. Vicky came running in from the kitchen as Jack reached the bottom step. She held an orange section in her outstretched hand.
Do the orange mouth! Then he gave Vicky a big orange grin.
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She clapped and laughed. He winked at her. You coming back soon, Jack? Jack can do anything. Never did. Not really. There were all sorts of pat answers to give, answers that were satisfying when the father was still around for birthdays and holidays and weekends. But what to say to a child whose father had not only skipped town, but left the continent before she was five? Maybe Vicky knew. You just have to get to know him. Carl acted like any man unfamiliar with children.
Bright, witty, sophisticated. A civilized man. Not like Jack. Not at all like Jack. Phone calls, flowers, dinners had followed. Something was developing. Certainly not love yet, but a nice relationship. Both Richard and Jack, the only two men in the last ten years of her life, had deeply disappointed her. With Richard out of touch for over a year now, money was a constant problem. Richard had sent a few checks after running back to England—drawn in British pounds just to make things more difficult for her.
Not that he had any financial problems—he controlled one-third of the Westphalen fortune. And so Gia did the best she could. Good freelance work for a commercial artist was hard to find on a steady basis, but she managed. Carl was seeing to it that she got assignments from his accounts, and she appreciated that, though it worried her. But she needed those jobs.
Freelance work was the only way she could be a breadwinner and a mother and father to Vicky—and do it right. She wanted to be home when Vicky got in from school. She wanted Vicky to know that even if her father had deserted her, her mother would always be there. It always came down to money. She simply wanted enough so she could stop worrying about it all the time. Her day-to-day life would be enormously simplified by hitting the state lottery or having some rich uncle pass on and leave her fifty thousand or so.
She was going to have to make it on her own. She was not so naive as to think that every problem could be solved by money—look at Nellie, lonely and miserable now, unable to buy back her sister despite all her riches—but a windfall would certainly let Gia sleep better at night. All of which reminded Gia that her rent was due. Staying here and keeping Nellie company was a pleasant change of scenery; it was posh, cool, comfortable. But it was keeping her from her work. Two assignments had deadlines coming up, and she needed those checks.
Paying the rent now was going to drop her account to the danger level, but it had to be done. Might as well find the checkbook and get it over with. Got to take care of some business first. You can be Mr. Jelliroll doll? Gia watched her race toward the rear of the house. No one her age around here; all her friends were back at the apartment house. She went upstairs to the guest bedroom on the third floor where she and Vicky had spent the last two nights. Maybe she could get some work done.
The company had been regional in the south but was preparing to go national in a big way. They had the usual assortment of burgers, including their own answer to the Big Mac: the vaguely fascist-sounding Meister Burger. But what set them apart were their desserts. They put a lot of effort into offering a wide array of pastries—eclairs, napoleons, cream puffs, and the like. The copywriter had decided the sheet should extol and catalog all the quick and wonderful services Burger-Meister offered. The art director had blocked it out: Around the edges would be scenes of children laughing, running, swinging and sliding in the mini-playground, cars full of happy people threading the drive-thru, children celebrating birthdays in the special party room, all revolving around that jolly, official-looking fellow, Mr.
Something about this approach struck Gia as wrong. There were missed opportunities here. This was a place mat. That meant the person looking at it was already in the Burger-Meister and had already ordered a meal. She saw no further need for a come-on. Why not tempt them with some of the goodies on the dessert list? Show them pictures of sundaes and cookies and eclairs and cream puffs.
Get the kids howling for dessert. It was a good idea, and it excited her. Ten years ago this never would have crossed your mind. But she was not that same girl from Ottumwa who had arrived in the Big City fresh out of art school and looking for work. She began sketching desserts. After an hour of work, she took a break. She pulled the checkbook out of her purse but could not find the bill. It had been on the dresser this morning and now it was gone.
Gia went to the top of the stairs and called down. Did you see an envelope on my dresser this morning? That left only one possibility. Here it comes, she thought, knowing that Gia would explode when she learned what Nellie had done with the rent bill. A lovely girl, that Gia, but so hot-tempered. And so proud, unwilling to accept any financial aid, no matter how often it was offered. A most impractical attitude.
Preparing herself for the storm, Nellie stepped out onto the landing below Gia. I simply went in to make sure that Eunice was taking proper care of you, and I saw it sitting on the bureau. I was paying a few of my own bills this morning and so I just paid yours, too. I can spend my money any way I please. But I so love having you and Victoria here. I would surely go mad with grief and worry. The man was a lout, a blot on the Westphalen name. By the way, I never told you, but last year I had my will changed to leave Victoria most of my holdings when I go.
She leaned against Nellie. I have so much money and so few pleasures left in life. You and Victoria are two of them. And as your aunt by marriage I claim the right to help out once in a while. But as soon as the door closed behind her, she felt her brave front crack.
She stumbled across the room and sank onto the bed. But when she had no one around to play-act for, she fell apart. Oh, Grace, Grace, Grace. Where can you be? And how long can I live without you? Her purse-lipped smile, her tittering laugh, the pleasure she took in their daily sherry before dinner, even her infuriating obsession with the regularity of her bowels; Nellie missed them all.
The thought of living on without Grace suddenly overwhelmed Nellie and she began to cry, quiet sobs that no one else would hear. The dark-skinned driver made a couple of heavily accented tries at small talk about the Mets but the terse, grunted replies from the back seat soon shut him up. Some of that grime seemed to have filtered through the glass and onto the grocery display items behind it. Faded dummy boxes of Tide, Cheerios, Gaines Burgers, and such had been there for years and probably would remain there for many more.
Both Nick and his store needed a good scrubbing. His prices would shame an Exxon executive, but the Nook was handy, and baked goods were delivered fresh daily—at least he said they were. He had three chins, one little one supported by two big ones, all in need of a shave. In fact, Abe was one of the reasons Jack had moved into this neighborhood. Abe was the ultimate pessimist. He could make a drowning man feel lucky. Jack glanced through the window.
A balding, overweight man in his late fifties was alone inside, sitting on a stool behind the cash register, reading a paperback. The store was too small for its stock. Bicycles hung from the ceiling; fishing rods, tennis racquets, and basketball hoops littered the walls while narrow aisles wound between pressing benches, hockey nets, scuba masks, soccer balls, and countless other weekend-making items hidden under or behind each other. Inventory was an annual nightmare. Abe peered over the half moons of his reading glasses.
I come with goodies in hand and money in pocket. He carried way too much weight for a frame that fell short of five-eight. His graying hair had receded to the top of his head. His clothes never varied: black pants, short-sleeve white shirt, shiny black tie. As Jack neared the counter he spotted scrambled egg, mustard, and what could be either ketchup or spaghetti sauce. Just then the door dinged as a big burly fellow in a dirty sleeveless undershirt came through.
I need three, quick like. What kinda sports store is that? Jack pointed at a softball-laden shelf to his right. I noticed. Crumb cake always made him manic. Abe stopped in mid-chew. Really over. Is there something wrong in my head for wanting to live this way? He succeeded only in smearing the sugar specks on his tie into large white blotches. Sometimes it takes an outsider to make you see yourself as you really are.
But what does she know? Does she know about Mr. Does she know about your mother? Does she know how you came to where you are? You see?
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I know all about you. Am I afraid? A guy with a straight razor slashed eight people in Times Square last night and then disappears into a subway! A headless, handless torso is found in a West Side hotel room! As a hit-and-run victim lies bleeding in the street, people run up to him, rob him, and then leave him there. None of this would bring Gia back; it was what he was that had driven her away.
He decided he wanted to do his business here and go home. Lead and leather. He passed Jack and led him toward the back where they stepped into a closet and closed the door after them. A push swung the rear wall of the closet away from them. Abe hit a light switch and they started down a worn stone stairway. You know that. Not much time left before civilization collapses completely.
Meshugge Islamics are just the tip of the iceberg. These people who think their savings are insured by the FDIC? Then runaway inflation just like Weimar Germany. He knew the routine by heart. Economic ruin has been around the corner for a decade now. Where is it? I shudder at the thought that a child or a grandchild of mine should be growing up in the coming time.
The only man I know who lights up a room when he leaves. The basement was as crowded as the upstairs, only there was no sporting equipment down here. The walls and floors were covered with every one-man weapon imaginable: switchblades, clubs, swords, brass knuckles, and a full array of firearms from derringers to bazookas. Abe went over to a cardboard box and rummaged through it. Jack removed it and hefted it in his hand. The sap, sometimes called a blackjack, was made of thin strips of leather woven around a lead weight; the weave tightened and tapered down to a firm handle that ended in a looped thong for the wrist.
Jack fitted it on and tried a few short swings. The flexibility allowed him to get his wrist into the motion, a feature that might come in handy at close quarters. He stood looking at the sap. This was the sort of thing that had frightened Gia off. He swung it once more, harder, striking the edge of a wooden shipping crate: a loud crack; splinters flew.
How much? A lifetime one of these should last. You look like you need some talk. So talk it out. With all the shades pulled, the dark front room matched his mood. He had checked in with his office; no calls of any importance waiting for him. The answering machine here had no messages waiting. He leaned the cart in a corner, then stripped down and got into a T-shirt and shorts. Time for his workout. His life depended on it. He locked his apartment and jogged up the stairs.
The sun had done its worst and was on its way down the sky, but the roof remained an inferno.
Jack looked west into the haze that reddened the lowering sun. On a clear day you could see New Jersey over there. If you wanted to. Abe had once told him that if you died in sin your soul went to New Jersey. The roof was crowded. Not with people, with things. Harry Bok had a huge CB antenna in the northeast corner. Centrally located was the diesel generator everybody had pitched in to buy after the blackout; clustered along its north side like suckling piglets against their mama were a dozen two-gallon cans of number-one oil.
He did his push-ups and sit-ups, jumped rope, practiced his tae kwon do kicks and chops, always moving, never stopping, until his body was slick with sweat and his hair hung in limp wet strands about his face and neck. He spun at footsteps behind him. Must be about that time. He folded it neatly, tucked it under his arm, and headed for the steps, waving as he went.
Jack leaned against the generator and shook his head. Odd for a man who despised all rules to be so punctual, yet you could set your watch by the comings and goings of Neil the Anarchist. Back in the apartment, Jack stuck six frozen egg rolls in the microwave while he took a quick shower. With his hair still wet, he opened a jar of duck sauce and a can of Diet Pepsi, then sat down in the kitchen.
The apartment felt empty. He moved everything into the TV room. The big screen lit up in the middle of a comfy domestic scene with a husband, a wife, two kids and a dog. It reminded him of Sunday afternoons when Gia would bring Vicky over and he would hook up the Play-Station and teach the little girl how to shoot monsters or hunt for treasure. He found that immensely appealing. He quickly flipped around the dial and across the cable, finding everything from news to reruns to a bunch of couples two-stepping around hip-to-hip like a parade of Changs and Engs dancing to a country fiddler.
Perhaps I am. But listen, Henry Frankenstein. Praetorius—the greatest performance of his career—was lecturing his former student. The movie was only half over, but it was time to go. Too bad. He loved this movie. Some people never get the recognition they deserve. He pulled on a D12 T-shirt; next came the shoulder holster with the little Semmerling under his left arm; a loose short-sleeved shirt went over that, followed by a pair of cut-off jeans, and sneakers—no socks.
By the time he had everything loaded in his mini-shopping cart and was ready to go, darkness had taken over the city. First he took off his outer shirt. Then he reached into the bag and pulled out the dress—good quality but out of fashion and in need of ironing. That went over the T-shirt and shoulder holster, followed by a gray wig, then black shoes with no heels.
He wanted a look of faded dignity. New Yorkers see women like this all the time, in their late sixties on up toward eighty. They trudge along, humped over not so much from a softening of the vertebrae as from the weight of life itself, their center of gravity thrust way forward, usually looking down, or if the head is raised, never looking anyone in the eye. The key word with them is alone. They make irresistible targets. And Jack was going to be one of them tonight. As an added inducement, he slipped a good quality paste diamond ring onto the fourth finger of his left hand.
And as a back-up attraction: a fat roll of bills, mostly singles, tight against his skin under one of the straps of his shoulder holster. Jack put his sneakers and the sap into the paper bag in the upper basket of the little shopping cart. Then he began a slow course along the sidewalk, dragging the cart behind him. Time to go to work. She sat across a tiny dinner table from Carl, a handsome, urbane, witty, intelligent man who professed to be quite taken with her.
They were in an expensive little restaurant below street level on the Upper East Side. The decor was spare and clean, the wine white, dry, cold, the cuisine nouvelle. Jack should have been miles from her thoughts, and yet he was here, slouched across the table between them. Out, damned Jack! Out, I say! She had to start answering Carl in something more than monosyllables.
She told him her idea about changing the thrust of the Burger-Meister place mats from services to desserts. He was effusive in his praise, saying she should be a copywriter as well as an artist. There was work in it for Gia and perhaps even a modeling gig for Vicky. As usual, he failed miserably.
Some people never learn how to talk to kids. They turn up the volume and enunciate with extra care, as if talking to a partially deaf immigrant. Kids sense that and turn off. Jack knew how to talk to her. When he spoke it was to Vicky and to no one else. There was instant rapport between those two. Perhaps because there was a lot of little boy in Jack, a part of him that had never grown up. But if Jack was a little boy, he was a dangerous little boy. He— Why did he keep creeping back into her thoughts?
Jack is the past. Carl is the future. Concentrate on Carl! She drained her wine and stared at Carl. Good old Carl. Gia held her glass out for more wine. She wanted lots of wine tonight. He sat hunched in the dark recess of the doorway, glowering at the street. The waiting was the worst part, man. The waiting and the hiding. Word was probably out to be on the lookout for a guy with a scratched eye.
So he had to sit here and wait for something to come to him. He fingered the gauze patch taped over his left eye and winced at the shock of pain from even the gentlest touch. Damn near gouged his eye out last night. But he showed her. Fucking-ay right. Bounced her around good after that.vclean.life/iron-man-1968-1996-76.php
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He knew he was. Should never have come east, man. Easier to get lost here than someplace like, say, Saginaw. He leaned back and watched the street with his good eye. Some weird-looking old lady was hobbling by on shoes that looked too small for her, pulling a shopping basket behind her. Not much there. Jack thought. His back was killing him from walking hunched over. If the mugger had stayed in the neighborhood, Jack would have passed him by now. Damn the heat and damn the dress and most of all damn the goddamn wig. The afternoon had hit him hard. Jack prided himself on being a man of few illusions.
Sometimes the reaction had to be helped along. That was where Jack came into the picture. He was in the business of making some of those reactions happen. He liked to think of himself as a sort of catalyst. Jack knew he was a violent man. He made no excuses for that. She wanted no part of him. He frightened her. That was the hardest part to accept. He had scared her off. One of them was wrong. Until this afternoon it had been easy to believe that it was Gia. Not so easy tonight. He believed in Gia, believed in her sensitivity, her perceptiveness. And she found him repugnant.
A soul-numbing lethargy seeped through him. Jack shook himself. Self-doubt was a stranger to him. And he had to fight it. It clattered to the sidewalk. As he bent to pick it up, he glanced back at the doorway. The guy was young with short blond hair—and had a white gauze patch over his left eye. Jack felt his heart notch up its tempo. This was almost too good to be true. Yet there he was, keeping back in the shadows, undoubtedly aware that his patch marked him.
If not, it was one hell of a coincidence. Jack needed to be sure. He picked up the cart and stood still for a moment, deciding his next move. Patch had noticed him, but seemed indifferent. Jack would have to change that. With a cry of delight, he bent and pretended to pick something out from under the wheel of the cart. As he straightened, he turned his back to the street—but remained in full view of Patch, whom he pretended not to see—and dug inside the top of his dress. He removed the roll of bills, made sure Patch got a good look at its thickness, then pretended to wrap a new bill around it.
He stuffed it back in his ersatz bra, and continued on his way. About a hundred feet on, he stopped to adjust a shoe and took advantage of the moment to sneak a look behind: Patch was out of the shadows and following him down the street. Now to arrange a rendezvous. He removed the sap from the paper bag and slipped his wrist through the thong, then went on until he came to an alley. Without an apparent care in the world, he turned into it and let the darkness swallow him.
Jack had moved maybe two dozen feet down the littered path when he heard the sound he knew would come: quick, stealthy footsteps approaching from the rear. When the sound was almost upon him, he lurched to the left and flattened his back against the wall.
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A dark form hurtled by and fell sprawling over the cart. Amid the clatter of metal and muttered curses, the figure scrambled to its feet and faced him. Jack felt truly alive now, reveling in the pulses of excitement crackling like bolts of lightning through his nervous system, anticipating one of the fringe benefits of his work—giving a dirtbag a taste of his own medicine. Patch seemed hesitant.
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Unless he was very stupid, he must have realized that his prey had moved a bit too fast for an old lady. Jack did not want to spook him, so he made no move. Patch jumped and glanced up and down the alley. Shut up! As Patch loomed over him with raised fists, Jack straightened to his full height, bringing his left hand up from the floor. He caught Patch across the face with a hard, stinging, open-palmed slap that rocked him back on his heels.
Sure enough, as soon as Patch regained his balance, he started for the street. His momentum carried him head first into the far wall. He settled to the floor of the alley with a sigh. Jack shucked off the wig and dress and got back into his sneakers, then he went over and nudged Patch with his foot. The creep groaned and rolled over. He appeared dazed, so Jack reached out with his free hand and shook him by the shoulder.
Patch grunted with pain. As Jack applied more and more pressure, he began flopping around like a fish on a hook. Finally he dropped the knife. As Jack relaxed his hold, Patch made a leap to retrieve the knife. Jack had half expected this.
Related The Tomb (The Adversary Cycle, Book 2; Repairman Jack, Book 1)
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