The Compleat Kepler: Demon’s Eye

cover-smallerDemon’s Eye

The fifth song from the Deep Purple catalog picked for short story fodder came off the British version of their 1971 album Fireball. There were a lot of song titles I could mine for creative gold: “The Mule,” “Fools,” “Anyone’s Daughter” (That one could have been a lot of fun.), and “Strange Kind of Woman” (originally a single and the song that replaced “Demon’s Eye” on the American version of the album.) But “Demon’s Eye” suggested, possibly, a jewel of some sort. I immediately had a flash of a woman clad in black lingerie holding up a necklace with this evil-looking red diamond in the middle of it while her lover whispers in surprise “Demon’s Eye!” The woman, breaking the fourth wall of this scene, winks at the reader/viewer and says, “So, Paris? Or Rio?”

The scene looked to me like a cheesey eighties remake of a classic film noir movie, one where a director couldn’t get the rights to the original, so he commissioned a couple of screenwriters to steal from it, changing details to suit his “eighties sensibilities.” God, did I ever get sick of the word “sensibilities” in the 1980’s. It was a word designed to basically say, “It’s not crap! It’s modern!” Rolling Stone used it a lot, but they were talking about music and why certain artists sounded the way they did. I got it when Rolling Stone‘s reviewers said it. When Hollywood latched on, the word in that context turned to garbage.

Anyway, I now had the origin of the titular item. It was the very expensive prop to an eighties rip-off of The Maltese Falcon. And that is how Nick Kepler introduces it. It’s his latest case, one assigned to him by his insurance company benefactors. It belongs to the lingerie-clad actress in the movie, an engagement present from her first husband. So where is it?

She married a former Cleveland Browns running back with a thriving car business and a raging gambling problem. He’s looking to Nick’s insurance company client to help him balance the books.

This was a lot of fun to write, and it’s a favorite of people who’ve read these stories. I wrote a condensed version of it to read for Toastmasters meetings a few years ago, and it went over quite nicely.