Friday, May 26, 2017

The Origin of Manny Vassey

Manny Vassey, my dying mobster from SMALL CRIMES, first appeared in one of my very early short stories TRIPLE CROSS, and instead of being from my fictional Bradley, Vermont, this version of Manny is from Chicago. Here's a short excerpt that shows Manny's first appearance in Triple Cross:

They tied me to the table, securing the wire through the steel rings. They then left me alone. Shortly after that, a wide heavyset man entered the room. He was wearing a purple running suit and about five pounds of gold chains, and had a broad smile stretched across his face. His complexion reminded me of chipped glass. The other two men joined him. One of them was carrying a large metal case. I heard the heavyset man addressed as Manny Vassey.
 
The idea of Junior's playroom from SMALL CRIMES also first surfaced in this story. For some reason I liked Manny enough to include him in two more of my early stories: NEXT TIME and NOTHING BUT JERKS. Years later when I wrote SMALL CRIMES, I brought Manny back--really two versions of him--a sick and dying version, and the way he was from these early stories, except I made this version his son, Junior. In a way, I now had two Manny's for the price of one!

And if you've seen the movie, and you're wondering what happens in Junior's playroom, here's an excerpt from the book that will give you an idea:



Dan stopped to push a hand through his hair and scratch the back of his head. When he looked back at me, he gave me a faint, almost apologetic smile.

“Let me tell you about this special room he built,” he continued. “This college kid up in Burlington was supposedly manufacturing and distributing crystal meth without Junior’s blessing. A few months ago this kid disappears without a trace, and then a rumor starts circulating about Junior’s special room and how Junior had this college kid brought there and tied to the butcher’s table. According to the rumor, Junior chopped the kid up with a meat cleaver and burned the body parts in the furnace. I had to investigate it. Even though I knew it could end up biting me in the ass with Manny, I had to look into it. So I got a search warrant and sure enough I found a soundproof room with nothing in it but a butcher’s table and a furnace. Forensics went over it with a fine tooth comb but Junior must have scrubbed it clean.”




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