Double Dragon Publishing
Brando Mahr lost his mind when an artillery shell exploded close by. Upon returning to some form of consciousness, he found himself aphasiac and epileptic. He escaped from the hospital and found menial work in the basement of the UCLA library, where he re-learned language, unfortunately by reading mostly 18th century English penny dreadnaughts. Since the language has shifted somewhat in 200 plus years, the author has channeled the spirit of one of Brando’s favorite writers from the 1700s to act as translator and sometimes commentator.
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Several years into his comeback finds Brando struggling on the lower rungs of Hollywood as a minor film producer and director. When his good friend Kieth Lagosi introduces him to football ex-great Ripper Brown, Brando sets out to develop Ripper’s life story into a bio-pic dramatizing the player’s glorious deeds. But Ripper has had a troubled past, and someone doesn’t want his story told…and Brando’s own difficulties begin to mount.
When Rippers gorgeous blond wife is murdered, Brando is blamed by Ripper’s friends and hauled in for a brutal interrogation by the Los Angeles police. It is clear that those Brando irritated in attempting to tell Ripper’s story have turned against him…not one, but two sets of accomplished and deadly killers. Can Brando clear himself of the charge of murder? And, if he does, can he find the true killers and uncover why why these foul and cold-blooded killers will go to any lengths to keep their secrets hidden?
Never mind my name; I promised the name- under-the-title (a vain and pompous little current day auteur) that I wouldn’t tell. But I’ll give you enough clues in passing that you’ll get it before we’re through. Let’s just say I was the rough and ready Hemingway of my time. Well, Odd’s Plut and her Nails, maybe not Hemingway, but at least something resembling a delicious combination of a higher-plane Nora Roberts and a Robert B. Parker with a better vocabulary…, that is, if they did cheap, two-penny novels. That said, will it ’freak you out’, as you say in your own quaint dialect, ’devil your pleasantries’ too much, if I reveal to you that I’ve been dead for over 200 years? Right. Your storyteller, your narrator, cold stone dead as a mackerel…bones ground and blown to dust, actually…but that’s another story, and one that’s never been told. Here’s the thing-I’m the only bumfiddle who can actually tell this tale, this delightful little penny dreadful called FOUL. That’s because our protagonist, one Brando Mahr, came back from the mental dead zone in 1980 by reading penny novels scribbled two centuries before-mostly by moi! Yea and verily, my friends. Yes, myself-the great, tattered bard! Allow me to take a bow, and that accomplished, I’ll retreat ass-over-teakettle (swiftly but not humbly) into the background as a sort of translator, here for you whenever the going gets a little patchy. You see, Brando’s returned to the 20th century, but he thinks like somebody just off the streets of London in the mid-1700s. So, with no further pleasantries, let us begin in the middle of his troubles.
As our story opens, it is August, 1984. Brando Mahr hadn’t actually ever intended to gather the acquaintanceship of the famous football hero Ripper Brown, as he might have said in that quaint, cobbled-together English of his. That he had met Ripper at all-or Mister Doomsday, as the great footballer had been dubbed in his glory days of yore-was the result of a bit of well-meaning dirty work on the part of Brando’s old studio pal Keith Lagosi.
It was a hot August in the summer of 1984. Lying with his back on the stained and dirty floor of an interrogation room next to Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Baker’s scuffed black work shoes, Brando found himself bearing Keith plenty of ill will.
Wish you were here, pal Lagosi, his overworked brain thought, that we might discuss the unpredictable mushroom manifestations of your foolish pipe dreams. As I’ve said, Brando talks like that because, after years in a coma, he re-taught himself English-unfortunately, by reading my fantastico 18th century picaresques.
Brando stayed down on one elbow on the floor and felt the painful fires flicker through every joint in his body. He swallowed the thin trickle of blood from the inside of his torn cheek.
"Oh, yeah. Quite a mess, you’re in," Baker commented, looking down at him while he took a laconic drag from one of those unfiltered Camels that he counted on as part of his drably anachronistic persona. Baker seemed to think he was Sergeant Friday of Dragnet. "How the hell did you think you were going to get away with it?" he asked in his quietly menacing way.
Brando knew Baker meant the murder of Ripper’s wife, and that it was time to answer.
"Considering that, in your mind, I am the guilty party," he said, "it is a fair but complex question, and I require a moment to cognize."
Mulling over the situation seemed to deaden his physical pain, and after a few moments Brando was able to drag his reluctant frame semi-erect. He tottered for a moment and then sagged into the nearest chair.
And there, while Lieutenant Baker smoked and watched him, he tried to sort out his thoughts and recollect the scattered fragments of his recent past.