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.
. . .