Monday, July 21, 2014

RIP, James Garner

Had to rummage through some old files to find this, a "Rockford Files"-inspired excerpt from an old, unfinished story, "Ransom Harry." "The Rockford Files" remains one of my 1970s teenage touchstones, and Jim Rockford was as good a TV hero/role model for a dumbass kid from Buffalo as they come.

RIP, James Garner, thanks for the memories.

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Excerpt, "Ransom Harry"

"Aw, I don't know, Harry boy, it's sounds awful fishy to me. And I'm trying to get outta this business, have been for years."

Jim looked at Harry. Harry looked helpless, defeated.

"Aw jeez," said Jim. "You say that someone has kidnapped your happiness? How did they do that? Did you leave a window open or something? And how do you know it's your happiness? Did they send you an ear or anything? It might just be a big mix-up."

Harry showed him the ear.

"Oh jeez, that's awful, Harry, that's—get that thing away from me."

A slightly bewildered, elderly gray-haired gentleman hobbled up into the trailer.

"Oh! I'm sorry Jimmy-boy, I didn't know you had company. I'll just go out here and do something else."

"No, no, Dad, come on in. I was just talking to an old friend of mine. Dad, like you to meet Harry, Harry Jenkins, old army buddy. Harry, this is Rocky."

"Yes, I know," said Harry.

"You know?" said Jim. "You know my Dad?"

"I ain't ever seen him before in my life!" said Rocky.

"You must have," said Harry, "I've known you since I was a kid. And Angel, too. Is Angel coming over?"

"Angel!?' said Jim, jumping to his feet. "You know Angel? Oh jeez, now we're really in trouble."

"Trouble?' said Rocky, "What trouble? You're not getting my boy mixed up in any trouble! He's already had enough trouble for ten people!"

Harry looked grief stricken. "I didn't know who else to turn to, Jim" he said, "I'm desperate."

Jim let out a heavy sigh, gripped the back of his chair, grimaced, swiveled his eyes to Rocky.

"His happiness has been kidnapped, Dad," he said gravely.

"His happiness? Kidnapped? I ain't never heard'a such a thing!"

Rocky took off his cap and scratched his head.

"Well, I guess there ain't nothin to do 'cept get in the truck and the Firebird and go on down to a warehouse or somethin'. You ready, Jimmy-boy?"

"No Dad, you can't go. You stay here and I'll take care of this. Should just take a little while."

 "That's what you always say! And I always end up going anyhow! Just don't get me killed—I got two years left on this contract, then I got a made-for-TV with CBS!"

The gold Firebird spun its wheels, the old truck bounced and rattled, and soon…a warehouse. A long black limousine in the parking lot. A tall swarthy man with greasy black hair got out of the limousine.

"Okay Rockford, this is it. And your old man too," said the tall swarthy man in a swarthy voice. A barrage of gunfire, a hail of bullets, and a swarm of lead all broke out at once. Jim and Rocky lay in pools of blood on the pavement. Harry stood blinking in the sun, unhurt.

"You bastard, Garner," mumbled Rocky, still face down in a pool of blood.

The credits started to roll. Harry heard theme music. The tall swarthy man walked up to him.

"Who the hell are you?" asked the tall swarthy man.

"I'm Harry," he said. "The guy whose happiness you kidnapped! What have you done with her?!"

"Harry?" said the tall swarthy man. "Happiness? Kidnapped? Her? What the hell are you talking about? You can't kidnap happiness. It's not a thing. Whattaya stupid?"

The tall swarthy man slapped Harry in the face, got in the limousine, and the car drove off.

Harry heard a telephone. He turned around. Right behind him, in the middle of the parking lot, next to the warehouse, was Kate Jackson. She had a telephone in her hand.

"It's for you," she said to Harry, raising an eyebow and smiling a small, knowing smile.

Harry smiled, weirdly, at Kate Jackson, and took the phone.

"Hello?" said Harry.

"Good job, Harry-boy! Good show, too! I always did love 'The Rockford Files.' Too bad Angel didn't show up. He was always my favorite!"