Author Speak

                                                   

Alfred Hitchcock - Master of Creepy

Alfred was such an inspiration to my creepy writing. For fans of Alfred, I have decided to release this unpublished short story for your enjoyment (Copyright applies)

The Misplaced Manuscript of Alfred Hitchcock

A small box lay in a corner. It was one of the last items off-loaded from the last delivery truck for the day which needed to be gone through.

A staff member picked up the box and moved it to a waist-high work surface.

Throughout the day, the table of polished steel and its cold, hard surface had processed countless unwanted items. Serviceable or marketable items were tossed into a series of blue plastic containers on the other side of the table. Delicate items were carried to shelves lined along the walls, later to be taken to the sales floor. The balance of materials destined for the trash compactor.

The box, sealed with a single strip of cellophane packing tape, contained the word 'books' marked on top. It was heavy, but not too heavy considering its potential content.

The operator easily peeled the tape from the cardboard and opened the flaps confirming books indeed had been placed inside. Two stacks of books arranged by size, filled the space. The largest ones sitting on the bottom.

Grabbing the first six books, the operator fanned them noting they all were titles of children's books. They were in fair condition, so she threw them into one of the blue containers on the other side of the table.

On her next grab, the book sizes grew larger and thicker. She only picked up three.

Nestled between the books Oliver Twist and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a one-inch binder slipped and fell onto the table.

The attendant added the books in her hand to the growing pile in the tub, then picked up the binder.

The cover was made of a black leather-looking material. Two oversized brass binder post and screws secured the papers inside.

Uncertain what to do with the binder, she opened the cover and examined the content. Approximately ninety yellowed pieces of paper held typed pages. The first page only contained a title reading, Criminal Mind.

"Sara, I found this," she called out, holding up the binder to a co-worker. "It was in this box of books. I'm not sure what to do with it."

The girl approached and took it from her.

She flipped through the pages, turned it over, and then handed it back. "I'd toss it in the trash."

"But it looks to be a story someone wrote. The cover is in good shape. Surely, someone will pay a few bucks for it."

"I'd still throw it away. The title is creepy, and it doesn't even have the author's name on it. But, you decide."

The girl returned to her own pile of donated material.

The attendant shrugged and pitched it into the blue bin. All the other books in the box followed, almost filling the container.

"Is this ready to go out onto the floor?" a young man asked, placing his hands on the edges of the container.

"Yes," she casually replied.

He slid the bin onto a wheeled cart and pushed it through the swinging doors out onto the sales floor.

Two weeks later, a middle-aged man walked through the doors of the Salvation Army store. He wandered his way along the knickknack and glass aisles where he picked up a few pieces and studied them.

Then he moved to the display of books, posters, and pictures. He examined an eight by ten-inch framed picture before moving over to the bookshelf.

He ran his hand along the top row of published material consisting mostly of paperback books. The second row contained larger, hard-backed books. One in particular caught his eye.

He twisted his head to read the spine. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll escaped his lips.

Sliding the book out, he opened it to the copyright page. He noted it was illustrated by Charles Robinson and printed in the year 1907 by Cassell & Company, London.

Tucking the book under an arm, he then bent over to view the contents of a lower shelf.

In the corner, a leather-looking binder was jammed against the side of the shelf. The front cover and a few pages of yellowed paper were folded back by a thick book pushed up against it.

He reached in and tugged on the exposed edge and managed to wedge it out.

While straightening the folds on the first part of the binder, a young woman pushing a wheeled cart stacked with books moved next to him. Glancing at the folder in his hand, she said, "I was hoping someone would be interested in that."

Unsure what she referred to, he held out the binder asking, "You mean this?"

"Yes. It came into the facility a few days ago along with that book under your arm. I almost threw it in the trash, but I had a feeling someone might find it useful."

He flipped to the first page. "Criminal Mind," he read aloud.

After turning the next few pages, he added, "This looks to be a manuscript."

"That's what I thought," she replied. "There's no reference to whom the author is though, or when it was written."

He grabbed the children's book from under his arm and put the two together. "You said these came in together. Do you know from where?"

She began to place the latest cache of books from her cart onto the shelves. "I believe they were collected from somewhere in West Hollywood. I know the driver who makes the pickups in that location. They were in a box that was one of the last items taken off his truck. The box held only books, mostly children's books. That binder was the only odd piece. But like I said, I thought someone would find it useful."

He took note of the prices on his find. An orange, round sticker on Alice's book showed six, ninety-nine and the leather folder displayed five dollars.

"My daughter will like this one," he said, tapping a finger on the hardcover kid's book.

"The other," he shrugged, "well, it has a neat cover. Maybe I can use it for something else."

Emptying her cart, she replied. "I'm glad you're interested. It would be a shame to discard it."

Then, moving in the direction of the sorting room, she said over her shoulder, "Have a nice day."

Upon returning home, the man presented Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to his daughter. Being an avid reader, she was thrilled to receive it and immediately made herself scarce.

Her father turned his attention to his own prize and opened the leather file. Thankfully, none of the numbered pages were missing.

He turned to the first page, his lips moving as he re-read the title, "Criminal Mind." Quietly, he read the next two pages:

It was not an accident I found myself sitting in this room. Yet, I found it surreal I was here at all ... waiting. When I think about the circumstances that brought me here, I am both amazed and shocked. Me, of all people, sitting here...waiting-waiting to go through the inevitable process that always follows these events. Events that were in my control to prevent but I had not wanted to prevent them. Now, I question my frame of mind at the time of the first incident. What could I have done differently? I can't think of anything to do now. If I close my eyes, I can see it all again.

...her eyes darted about, taking in the positions of everyone around her and what they were doing.

I was sitting in my easy-chair, idly turning the pages of a magazine, when I began to see what she saw. For a moment I didn't respond, I simply let the image play before me. It took some time for the full significance to sink in. After I'd comprehended, it seemed odd I hadn't noticed it right away.

My reference was clearly of a criminal act. Vague chills assailed me. I tried to analyze the action of her eyes. Did they dart to consider the consequence? The result indicated not. Instead, they seemed to challenge anyone to stop her. The rest was quick, easy, almost without remorse. Rather rapidly, it all occurred. Then, I saw his body lying there, writhing.

Moments later, the significance of it all became clear through her eyes. They moved from person to person standing nearby, all with stunned looks on their faces.

There it was in a nutshell. Her eyes clearly detailing the entire incident. My heart pounded and my breath choked in my windpipe. I had experienced something that was unbelievable, something remarkable. Yet, to anyone else without my background they would have found it impossible to comprehend, sickening. For me, it was perfectly natural-which suggested I should be held accountable as well.

... slowly, calmly her eyes fell on her next victim. The knife-edge was a blur before it found its mark.

I suddenly became part of the scene, cheering her on. Do it! I silently commanded. Do it!

As a criminologist, I should have at least felt indignant at my own words. Instead, I lay back in my chair watching the new horror unfold before me, gratified that I could participate.

Days later, another incident followed. I was in the garage, hammering the last board to a doghouse. It happened as I drove in the last nail. Initially I trembled, then my hand tightened around the hammer's handle.

... he put his arm around his friend. The friend forcefully removed his arm and stepped away. Noticeably upset he yelled-his face contorted with contempt.

"Do it!" I said under my breath. "Take the bat and bash his head in."

He immediately did so. I did not see what he did with the body. I didn't care.

The full meaning now exposed and staring me right in the face-I had the ability to control other people's minds. To make them do criminal things without any after-effect to myself. My suspicion was later confirmed after reading about the two separate incidences in the newspaper. I had really stumbled onto something here. My mind reeled as I imagined what my colleagues would say.

"... I'm afraid there's no doubt about it. Poor Bill has lost his mind."

Which would be followed by, "Bill just couldn't take the stresses of his job."

It was I who would have the last laugh.

The man thumbed through the other eighty or so pages. They looked to have been typed on a manual typewriter. The alignment of the c's and t's printed slightly below the type line a giveaway. The yellowed paper indicated an age which could not be determined. However, the man had seen enough old books and such to know the pages were old. Nothing else about the binder and its content gave any indication of its history. It was just another story someone wrote. From what the man read, it wasn't even an interesting story.

The man's daughter interrupted his study of the binder.

"Dad, who is Pat?"

"I don't know, sweetie. Where did you hear the name?"

She pointed to the last page in Alice's book. There, a passage was written that read: To my daughter, Patricia, on her tenth birthday. May every day find you in wonderland. Daddy

It's a used book, honey. I guess the book's first owner was named Patricia.

Satisfied with his answer, she wandered away.

But, the man himself was not satisfied. The girl at the Salvation Army store had told him both books came from the same box. And, the box came from the West Hollywood area. He began to think that perhaps the book had belonged to someone important, someone of prominence.

The next day, he returned to the store seeking out the girl who engaged him about the books. He found her placing items on the knickknack shelves.

"Remember me?" he asked.

"You're the guy who bought the leather folder," she said. "How did your daughter like Alice's book?"

"Loved it! She called my attention to a notation in the back of the book written to a 10-year-old girl named Patricia. You indicated the book may have come from West Hollywood on one of your delivery trucks. I wondered if this Patricia was someone who could be, uh, from a prominent family. I was hoping you might be able to help me pin down a specific area in West Hollywood where it was picked up. You said the box was one of the last off the truck."

"That's right, I remember the driver passing it down to me. I read the word books scribbled on the top of it. I placed it on a cart, and another employee pushed it into the store."

"Well, if it was the last off the truck, it had to have been picked up at one of the driver's first stops. Do you think you could ask him where his route began?"

"You must have been born lucky, mister, because they're unloading his truck now. I can't let you go through the sorting room, but if you go around back I'll meet you there and introduce you."

I wasted no time in driving to the rear drop-off area where she met me accompanied by a bearded young man.

"This is Ned. He usually drives the West Hollywood route. I briefed him on what information you're looking for."

We shook hands. He offered his comments before I asked.

"I usually pick up in that area once a week," he said. "I was sick last week, so we're probably talking about two weeks ago?"

"Yes," agreed the girl. "That's when you brought the box to us."

"I make three stops over that way. Two are in Santa Monica off I-10. The other is off I-405 near a VA hospital located on Wilshire Boulevard. I don't remember in what order I picked up from those locations that day. Sometimes, I vary my route depending on traffic. Sorry I can't be of more help to you. We pick up a lot of discarded items. One box or bag looks like another to me."

Thanking the young man, he turned toward the girl.

"Appreciate the information. If I learn anymore, I'll get back to you," he said.

Having returned home, he thought about the reasons people get rid of things and how they dispose of them. The box wasn't thrown in the trash, so, whoever dropped it off thought the contents still could serve a purpose. The container held mostly children's books which could have been given to friends, but instead were donated. And while there could be value in some of the books, they weren't sold on eBay suggesting whoever dumped them didn't need the money. Then there is the personal note in the back of Alice's book. That, suggests the books may have been treasured property at one time. The remaining question being, why get rid of them? Perhaps the owner died, or simply outgrew them and wanted to give them a good home. Was this the result of a general housecleaning? Another thought struck him.

He sat at his computer and began a search of recent celebrity home sales in the Santa Monica and West Hollywood areas. Three possibilities appeared on his screen. One came up in Santa Monica. Jennifer Lawrence sold her property there, but that was a year ago. Two came up in Bel Air. One was once owned by the famous film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock. The other was a property owned by Jackie Collins.

Books, he thought. Jackie was an author of books.

He quickly performed a search on her biography looking for clues to family members. No one named Patricia was found.

Picking up the manuscript, he thumbed through it. Jackie was a romance novelist. This is more suspenseful, almost macabre.

A light turned on.

Searching the biography of Sir Alfred Hitchcock, he discovered that his only child is named Patricia.

Could it be? he wondered, poking the keys. How do I get in touch with her? It's not easy to contact celebrities.

Further research yielded information on Patricia's children. She had three daughters, two of which have recently been active in the film industry. The second eldest daughter appeared to be involved with project 78/52, an upcoming documentary about the iconic shower scene in the 1960 movie, Psycho.

"H-m-m-m," he sounded, jabbing at the keypad.

Weeks later, his cell phone rang.

"Mr. Stinson?"

"Yes, this is Mr. Stinson."

"I am responding to the ad you took out in the Los Angeles Times referencing a manuscript entitled Criminal Mind," a woman's voice said.

His heart began to beat faster. "Yes?"

"Are you free to meet with me this afternoon? I prefer a neutral location. I can meet you at the central public library on west 5th Street about two o'clock if you agree."

His mind raced summoning all sorts of possibilities. He swallowed hard and attempted to regain his composure before replying. "Yes, that would be fine." Then, as an afterthought, "How will I know you?"

"I won't be far from the entrance and will be wearing a lavender scarf. Oh, and bring your manuscript," she added, before disconnecting the call.

Mildly shocked, he returned the phone to the inner pocket of his sports coat.

The man arrived at the library fifteen minutes early, hoping to be there before the mysterious woman entered the building. He was too late. Off in a nearby corner, he spotted a middle-aged woman sitting at a desk and wearing a lavender scarf.

Approaching, he nervously announced himself. "I'm Mr. Stinson."

She looked up as if startled by him, then smiled. "Have a seat, Mr. Stinson."

He sat across from the woman. She was attractive, but beginning to show her age. He tried to remember as many of the internet's images of the Hitchcock girls as he could. None seemed to fit the face of the woman sitting across from him.

She returned his gaze, letting him fully examine her. "I'm not any of them," she finally said.

Gathering his composure. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to stare." Then added, "One of whom?"

She replied, "Anyone connected to your manuscript. May I see it?"

He reached into a shoulder-bag he had placed on the floor when he sat, extracted his leather-looking binder, and handed it to her. It was then he noticed a replica of his folder sitting on the table in front her.

She thumbed through his document, nodding her head as she turned the pages.

Holding his binder, she slid the other folder in front of her toward him.

He looked down.

"Open it," she invited.

He tentatively opened the cover. The first page read, Criminal Mind.

He turned to the next page and read the first few sentences:

It was not an accident I found myself sitting in this room. Yet, I found it surreal I was here at all ... waiting. When I think about the circumstances that brought me here, I am both amazed and shocked. Me, of all people, sitting here...waiting-waiting to go through the inevitable process that always follows these events.

She noticed his eyebrows raise along with the widening of his eyes.

"It's a carbon copy of your manuscript, Mr. Stinson. Literally, a carbon copy. Made on the same typewriter using a piece of carbon paper between sheets of paper. Notice the alignment of the c's and t's match the ones on yours. Also, the e's and s's aren't as clear as they could be because of ink buildup in those types."

"I never noticed that," he said.

Looking up from the pages, he asked, "Are you the author?"

"Heavens no," she exclaimed with a soft giggle. "Those pages were typed in the 1940s. I hope I don't look that old, Mr. Stinson."

He flushed red.

"My name is Alma. I am the personal secretary to Mary Stone. You know who she is, don't you?"

He nodded.

"She saw your ad in the newspaper. It clearly intrigued her. She wondered if your Criminal Mind was the same as her copy. So, she sent me to inspect it. As you can tell, they're identical, except yours is the original. She has many of her grandfather's original scripts, but not this one."

"But, how..."

"Can this be?" she finished for him.

He nodded again.

"The manuscript was presented to her grandfather by an author who wrote several of Mr. Hitchcock's television scripts. Mr. Hitchcock considered making it into a film, but decided against it. Not wanting the story to get into other hands, he bought the original and the copy. Somewhere along the way the two documents became separated. Miss Stone would like to know what amount you would consider to sell it to her."

A dazed look manifested on his face. His hands signaled what his mouth couldn't say as they fluttered in the air.

"I know this is a lot to accept, Mr. Stinson, but you have a piece of history. History at least to the Hitchcock family. What do you say?"

"I-I don't know what to say," he replied, considering his options.

She sat quietly waiting for him to regain his control.

He slid her manuscript back across the table.

"Please tell Miss Stone I'm sorry, but I can't consider only one offer. This manuscript is probably worth a fortune on the open market. She can tender her bid when it goes up for auction."

The woman smiled, saying, "I saw the greed in your eyes, Mr. Stinson. You force me into the only other option I have."

She pulled a gun from her purse and shot him dead.

The single sound reverberated throughout the library as startled patrons watched the man's body fall to the floor.

The woman calmly placed both manuscripts, along with the murder weapon, into a briefcase and departed.

END



Next Economic Battleground

What led me to write my latest book, Halfway to MMXX The Year 2020: It Begins?

I'm always looking for that story that needs telling. I began reading articles about Russian Arctic expansion which seldom receives the news coverage it deserves. I believe the Russians are, and have been, positioning themselves to take a dominant role from the effects of global warming in the Arctic. It is my belief that this region of the world will become the next great economic battleground.

For centuries, the Arctic has kept its secrets hidden under vast sheets of ice and snow. Today, those layers of solid freeze are yielding to the influences of man. Global temperatures continue to rise from overuse of fossil fuels and burning forests changing the landscape forever. The peeling of those layers now exposes the surface underneath making easy the plunder of Arctic riches.

Read the articles:

https://www.intpolicydigest.org/2016/01/24/5-ways-russia-is-positioning-to-dominate-the-arctic/

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/russia-makes-move-antarctica-513-220000402.html

Extract: "As the ice continues to melt, countries are licking their chops at what lies underneath the surface. According to estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Arctic holds approximately 22 percent of the world's undiscovered energy resources including 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil (90 billion barrels) and 30 percent of its undiscovered gas (50 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids). The vast majority of these resources, roughly 84 percent, are believed to lie offshore under the Arctic Ocean."

My book of fiction is meant to stir our conscience in the direction of exploration gone bad and its potential environmental impact. This work is fortunate to have been accorded the LiFE (Literature for Environment) Award. bobswriting.com/life.html


Waiting for Coronavirus Self-quarantine to Pass?

I can help.

Why not begin to read a book. Did you know about one-quarter of American adults haven't read even part of a book within the past year.

I'll also bet you didn't know reading fiction can help you become more open-minded and stir your creative juices.

It's also believed that people who read books live longer. Perhaps that's because you're happier. And, successful people generally tend to be readers.

I purposely wrote my books to be read in five to six hours, with chapters that tend to be short ... beach books if you will.

I write fiction, mostly in the thriller genre. Although fiction gives an author license to lie with a flair, I do extensive research ensuring my stories are peppered with real foundations. So, I invite you to take a look. More importantly, meet me halfway by beginning the journey and enjoy.

Write or Wrong

Once, I was asked the following question at an author meeting: "Why don't you write serial books?" My answer was that I prefer to write books about different subjects and that stand alone with a beginning, middle, and end. That way I am able to explore using a variety of characters. I very much dislike reading a book when the ending is incomplete and leads into the next book. What if it never came?

The group's consensus was that most successful authors write serials because people want to follow the same character which generally affects their purchasing decisions. Mind you, I'm not opposed to writing serials but, so far, have been resistant to it. I would feel as though I wasted my time if the characters and settings of a serial were not well received. I researched the history of other successful authors and most have done some experimentation with books other than serials. So, I don't feel my resistance is totally without precedence.

I think at this point of my writing career, I'm still in the testing stage. More to the point, although I feel most comfortable writing thriller/suspense stories, I'm still exploring authoring other genres. Regardless, I hope at least one of my endeavors pleases readers.