Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Special K to Kill

by Karin Montin

The literary festival authors’ reception was buzzing. Henry J. Kerchief stood with a knot of admirers, regaling them with juicy anecdotes left out of his scathing review of Frank Dixon’s Horse Tranquillizer in that morning’s Mop and Pail.

The British-born Dixon, a one-time jockey now living in Toronto, had an impressive track record. His twenty-five mystery novels set in the high-stakes world of harness racing were all bestsellers when published every year or so. Horse Tranquillizer was his first book since the death of his wife, Philippa, three years earlier.

Kerchief’s review alleged that Philippa, always credited with the research, had actually written all Frank’s books. He told his avid listeners that personal papers in the hands of her unnamed lover—wink, wink—showed definitive stylistic commonalities with the Dixonian oeuvre.

Kerchief slipped out into an alley behind the hotel. The relentless pressure from this crowd to converse in litcritspeak was starting to take its toll and a solitary smoke would do him good. A sudden stab to his right buttock was followed by a burning stream of ketamine, street name special K. Finding himself flat on the ground, he looked up at a blurry but familiar face.

“Hank!” growled his murderous acquaintance. “You treacherous old hack! Bad enough that you mounted my wife. But trampling on my work and sullying my reputation now that she’s gone is really not sporting.”

The tiny killer pried open Kerchief’s mouth and poked a horse pill down his throat, wadding in a colourful blinker to make sure it would stay down. He then trotted back inside, smiling to think that Hank Kerchief’s mark on the literary landscape would not last long. Nay, no longer than the chalk outline soon to be drawn on the dirty pavement.

Now to return to his fans. Nothing like fans to give one a boost.

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