Old Dude's Ticker, The|
In the two years after I was married (1971-1972), I sold nearly two dozen stories to various men's magazines.. Most were purchased by Nye Willden, the fiction editor at Cavalier. These stories were important supplements to the meager income I was earning in my two day jobs, one as a high school English teacher and the other as an employee of The New Franklin Laundry, where I washed motel sheets. These were not good times for short horror fiction...but I sold an almost uninterrupted run of mine--no mean feat for an unknown, unagented scribbler from Maine...
Two of them, however, did not sell. Both were pastiches. The first was a modern day revision of Nikolai Gogol's story, "The Ring" (my version was called "The Spear", I think). That one is lost. The second was the one that follows, a crazed revisionist telling of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart". I thought the idea was a natural: crazed Vietnam vet kills elderly benefactor as a result of post-traumatic stress syndrome. I'm not sure what Nye's problem with it might have been; I loved it, but he shot it back at me with a terse "not for us" note. I gave it a final sad look, then put it in a desk drawer and went on to something else. It stayed in said drawer until rescued by Marsha DeFilippo, who found it in a pile of old manuscripts consigned to a collection of my stuff in the Raymond H. Fogler Library at the University of Maine.
I was tempted to tinker with it--the seventies slang is pretty out of date--but resisted the impulse, deciding to let it be what it was then: partly satire and partly affectionate homage.