CA Flashback II – “Dial ‘M’ for Murray”

Back in 1985, in the days of working at Hughes Aircraft Company in Los Angeles, I received a curious note from Rob Horton on the B-2 radar program’s mainframe.  It turned out to be the first paragraph of a “chain story”, and led to five chapters of entertainment for the nine of us who participated in “Dial ‘M’ for Murray“, an explosive bestseller of espionage and silliness in the 20th century, book one of the “Murray Schlemovich vs. the World” collection (of which there were 1½ books written).

The concept was good, but the story from one moment to the next took on the feel of Sam Spade, James Bond, Monty Python, Buckaroo Banzai, Airplane!, and everything in between.  It was a 14-page rollercoaster, but somehow Rob managed to tie up loose ends and bring it to a satisfying close.

The writing entailed some heavy grammar and spelling corrections at times.  The challenge became to reign in some contributor’s craziness and pull in the plot line to something more, well, serious.  More than once something mentioned casually in one paragraph became something literal in another, only to become a code word in a subsequent paragraph.  Mayhem.  But it was a blast.

Here is my first contribution to the story, paragraph two of the first chapter:

Dial “M” for Murray

Chapter 1: “…a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood…” – Proverbs 6:17

. . .

“Where the hell is Tarpo and The Wailer?”, he asked the small rat in the corner, who looked up from his meal of sausage skins Murray had thrown at him.  The sausage skins were quickly joined by an emptied V8 with a banana peal stuffed into it.

The rat didn’t answer, though, not knowing that at that very moment Tarpo was floating among the rotted wood and fish-heads in the fetid water between the support posts of the market’s loading dock, and The Wailer was lying face-down not six feet from the market’s back door, a wicked claw hammer protruding from the back of his rib cage.  Nor was the rat able to quell Murray’s anxious thoughts of Jenny, whom it had not met, but whom Murray knew very well.

. . .


4 responses to “CA Flashback II – “Dial ‘M’ for Murray”

  1. By my reckoning, Dave Y still gets the award for “Best Thwarting of the Previous Author’s Intentions.” This occured when a previous writer, apparently developing a very visceral dislike for one of the characters, kills him off via some sharp-bladed monstrosity or other – with an audible TZING… SPLAT!!! Moments later, the character is alive and well, having narrowly escaped death – thanks to his ally, the laconic martial artist Tzing Splat.

    Sadly, the breakup of Hughes Aircraft interfered with Games Systems Group’s plans to unveil the Murray interactive game series where Murray and Jenny meet Nord and Bert.

  2. When I have something to write about that someone might actually have an interest in reading, i.e., possibly never.

  3. I think you needed to put e-mail in quotes, IIRC. Where did you find a copy of that laying around; I imagine I have one stored in a box someplace in the garage. I vaguely recall that while book 2 was still in progress, a book 3 was started with maybe a few paragraphs written. The last time I saw paper copies, it seem to be missing the last few adds to book 2. Ah well. Rob and I still use the bit about sausages that were good yesterday still being good today as a metaphor for certain situations that crop up.

    • Yeah, good catch. I had Murray stashed in a file that I just happened to be searching through, and thought it was time to resurrect it temporarily for a quick laugh. I probably have Murray II somewhere, too; not sure about Murray III.

      So, when do YOU start blogging??

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