:: Article

If In Doubt Produce A Gun

By Rik Haslam.

My agent said I need a gun.

“You don’t have to shoot anyone,” she said, “You could just kind of have him sock someone over the head with it or something. What’s it called?”

“Pistol-whipping,” I said.

“That’s right, pistol-whipping. You could have him pistol-whip someone. He could do that couldn’t he?”

We were in some downtown family-run place. I twirled spaghetti around my fork. I’d an awful feeling this was just the beginning. “Look,” I started to explain, “I don’t want it to be that sort of book. I’m not interested in action. He’s not that kind of character.”

Agnes looked puzzled. She has this way of nodding her head when she obviously has no idea what I’m talking about.

“Okay,” I began, pouring myself another red. Agnes stuck her manicured hand out and let it hover above her glass covering it. “He’s a passive detective. He uses his mind, his intelligence to solve crimes. Everything takes place in his head. Like a Paul Auster novel. He sells.”

“Ah,” Agnes said, smiling now like she’d caught me out, “but he has plenty of way out stuff happening. He has that floating boy, and the gambler — there were guns in that one weren’t there?”

I took a really big gulp of wine before replying. “I’m not talking about those books. I’m talking about his other ones. The metaphysical ones.”

“Oh, sorry,” said Agnes, hesitant for a second as if I’ve boxed her into a corner, then suddenly decisive, “You mean superheroes and stuff, science fiction. That could work. You could give him a ray gun.”

Rik Haslam is 39 and a short story and fiction writer. He runs Anything But Hackneyed — a London based writer-reading event featuring a mix of well-known published novelists and new talent. He is currently completing the final year of an MA in creative writing and wokring on the final draft of his first novel. During the day he is a creative director for an ad agency, writing for the man.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, February 18th, 2007.