“A New Pair of Pants” by Jas. R. Petrin, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. September 2011.
The last time I talked about a series character it was James Powell’s Inspector Bozo, and that piece led Jim to write this excellent piece on how story series develop, so don’t say I never do any good for the world.
Have you noticed that some of the series character who are the most enjoyable to read about (or watch) are people you would NOT want to spend time with in real life? Seriously, how long do you think you could tolerate the presence of Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Columbo, Rumpole, or Dr. House?
Part of their attraction is they don’t obey the rules of society, getting away with stuff our superegos would never permit. One of the reasons Shanks is my favorite among the characters I have created is because he does things I am far too well-behaved to try.
Which brings us to Jas. R. Petrin’s Leo “Skig” Skorzeny. Skig is an aging Halifax loan shark, a quintessential tough guy with a heart of – well, granite mostly, but there is a thin streak of gold running through it somewhere. Skig also has an “imp” in his gut (I think it was defined as stomach cancer in an earlier story) which keeps him popping pills and even crankier than he would other be.
And he has reasons to be cranky. Two of his clients – a cop and a school administrator – can’t pay their debts, and when one of them is suspected of murder it looks like Skig may have to write off the debt. Meanwhile one of the few people he likes, an old woman, is in danger of making a bad business deal, and Skig won’t allow that. And while tough guys can be scary, it’s good to have one on your side.