CRITICAL PREFACE TO "STAGG PARTY: HOLLOW TRUTH"

My story presents a hardboiled detective fiction genre tale that,

looks at the eternal triangle situation between two old boyhood friends,

and one woman. The setting is the forgotten, dilapidated Chicago high,

school football stadium where the men once played as teammates, fought as,

suitors to the beautiful but dark siren named Alicia and are now involved,

in a deadly game of hunter versus hunted. As with most Femme Fatale,s, Alicia,

was written as a very flat characterization. However, there was left some room,

for the reader to see her in alternative ways and explore her motives and,

circumstance. Was she ever a nice girl who got turned out? This could be,

expanded in a larger piece.,

This was the main character Guy's story. It was told in first,

person point of view. But, it could easily also be the setting's story or,

BB's, the chief antagonist. Regardless of outcome, Guy wants to succeed at,

being an independent businessman who serves as a bounty hunter tracking,

down bail jumpers like BB. He is strongly motivated by pride and his desire,

to escape the traps of ghetto existence epitomized by Stagg field's,

surrounding neighborhood.,

It was a murderous area that cost his mother her life in a,

criminal act that was rumored to involve BB. Hence, Guy also wants the,

truth and vengeance. But, his need for revenge was over-layered by the,

romantic triangle that all who were present at the stadium shared. He,

wanted payback for his broken marriage too. Alas, Alicia, his ex-wife who,

was held at knife/gunpoint by BB, now depends on Guy to save her life; even,

if, it costs his own.,

Being a tale of two friends in mortal combat over a woman and the,

law, I used the common detective genre convention of italics to display,

Guy's internal conflict through the monologue (of his mind's eye); a plot,

device. That device allowed me to reveal important background information,

regarding the two men's military and sports history's, while,

foreshadowing the betrayal suspicions and eventual climactic plot twist.,

The imagery of the piece was given to convey mood, atmosphere and,

tonality of the dark, driven and noir-like private detective pieces of the,

'Black Mask Writers' like Mickey Spillane and Dashiell Hammett. But there,

was strong slice of black-life quality not unlike my contemporary icons or,

Chester Himes Walter Moseley. Still, the mood of prey versus hunter in a death,

match analogous of ancient Roman Coliseum days was precipitated by the,

imbedded metaphor of the thunderstorm, pounding rain and lightening. they,

represented the men's struggle with each the, their stormy relationship,

as old friends and current enemies, their marital history with Alicia and,

their bitter feelings with the city's streets where they grew up.,

I used language that sounded bitter, hostile, resentful and hard.,

Yet, I also wanted to convey a sense of the men becoming forlorn and,

foreshadowed by an ominous anticipation of rising action and behavior that,

would lead to bloodshed. There was a sense of lamentation for their,

squandered past as well.,

But, the internal conflict of Guy hampered his efforts to win over,

the obstacles in his way. Obstacles like BB, his feelings of being indebted,

to him for saving his life during the war, fear of dying and having Alicia,

harmed, fear of the actual nature of the truth he sought and his age old,

fear that his lack of skill and naivet'e9 in all battles against BB ( and,

life itself) would doom him to deadly failure.,

The climax and resolution results in Guy getting more than he,

bargained for as he has succeeded in getting his man. But the final,

victory may have come at too high a price; the death of innocence and loss,

of illusion.,

STAGG PARTY: HOLLOW TRUTH,

By Jeffery Massey, Sr.,

Bustin, a cap in ya ass is gonna make me real happy,, said the hulking 6,3,,

black-hooded figure who stood before me with eyes burning. Seething eyes that,

pierced my soul as though they fueled the pits of hell.,

I drew dead aim with my .9mm Glock on that imaginary bullseye I painted in,

between those glowing orbs which reflected his hatred of me. ,Look B.B.,, I,

screamed, ,it,s between me and you. Let the lady go and we,ll settle the score,

once and for all.,,

,Baby, don,t let ,em kill me. Please Guy, help me,, cried Alicia with soft,,

broken pleas. She was held firmly seated in an old stadium chair by a shining,

blade that flickered as B.B. held it to her neck. I could almost feel her,

pulse thumping through her carotid artery. A pulse that made the blade throb.,

A cold razor-sharp steel stiletto which B.B. wielded like a mad butcher,

preparing to slice a side of Chicago beef.,

Her moans for mercy were cut short by a viscious pistol whipping upside her,

head. The force tossed her thick, raven-black hair onto her face. She slumped,

down in her seat, unconscious as trickles of crimson splattered onto her satin,

blue cocktail dress. The kind of dress that revealed the best bust-line in,

Chi-Town with its plunging neckline and that kind of fabric which hugged her,

coffee-complexioned, heavily jeweled fine-ass body.,

She,s over 30 and still looks like a sex-starved debutante. Damn, she looks,

even better than the day I married her. I can,t believe I,m getting a boner in,

the middle of a gunfight.,

,You jumped bail, man. I,ve been hounding you for weeks all over town. You,

can,t run away from murder bro,. Dead or alive, dude. You make the call.,,

,Eat shit and die, punk. The Cook County D.A. struck a deal with me so the,

murder beef won,t hold up. But, I,m not ,rattin out, on nobody. And you,re not,

blowin a hole through your ex-wife. You know, I,ll do her right now if you,

don,t drop the piece. Even if she was once my woman too.,,

I cocked the trigger as my hands shook. The rain pounded down on my head,

like Zulu war drums in a dark Congo jungle. Lightning flashes lit up the,

all-but-forgotten Alonzo S. Stagg football stadium. It was the dead of night.,


The time for bloodletting crept near like a slithering viper. We were locked,

in a game of death and there was only one way out. One or all of us had to,

die. ,This is a hell of a way to start my first contract,, I hollered. Here I,

stood, a lousy bounty hunter risking the life of my kids, mother. I had to,

take the chance of killing the man who stole her from me.,

Damn, he saved my life during the Iraqi War. Of course, I could always just,

let him kill me instead. B,.B., you ass-wipe, I hate your guts., The foul,

taste of last night,s tequilla lingered on my tongue, smothered with the,

stench of one cigarette too many.,

,So what,, he answered ,you hated me when we used to play high school ball,

here back in the ole, Lindblom Tech days. Ya, couldn,t stand it when I,d,

flatten your ass on kick-off returns.,,

,Kiss my black ass you stinkin, crook.,,

,When I broke your leg like a twig, you had to quit the team. That,s when you,

had the time to steal Alicia from me.,,

,Listen up you psycho, You started seein, her knowing that we were thinking,

about getting, married after graduation.,,

,

For an instant, we both paused and looked at the rain-soaked, neglected field.,

It sat there like a battered monument to some loser,s attempt at exhuming the,

glorious past. B.B. grinned, flashing a bright gold tooth that replaced the,

original one I,d knocked out of his mouth during our fight years ago. We tried,

to kill each other when I had found out Alicia was leaving me for him.,

,So did she make you happy B.B.? You knew she was way too ambitious for me.,

She was too greedy to stay with a goin, nowhere, security guard like me.,,

He laughed and sneered. ,Yeah, she used to giggle at all those pipe dreams,

you had about owning your own business. No wonder she started hanging out with,

the slick boys livin, the fast life like me. What a square-assed idiot you,

were; always trying to play life on the straight and narrow.,,

Flames of resentment arose and consumed me with an angry fever. My eyes began,

to burn as I glanced down at her slumped body. ,I just wasn,t fast enough to,

keep her. Not ever quick enough to beat ole, B.B., huh?,,

That bastard pulled my ass from that burnt-out tank. I can still see him,

sitting there on the hot desert sands, cackling at me and yellin, ,Boy, I,ll,

always be quicker than you. One day punk, that tale of two kinds of soldiers,

is gonna, tell. I,ll be quick and you,ll be dead. But, not now cause I,m,

havin, too much fun gloatin,.,,

,C-l-i-i-c-k, C-l-I-I-c-k-, went my gun,s hammer as the staccato of ,Pop,,

Pop, Pop, declared all around us another typical Saturday night of sporadic,

gunfire. It was strange the way it blended in with the orchestra of home-boy,s,

shouting ,Five-O, and the screams of sirens and women.,

Does it ever stop---these damn echoes of nightly terror---my town-a town,

without pity---I,m suffocating from the smell of death in this city. She makes,

me wear her smell of violence like a pair of too-tight long johns that I can,t,

get off in the middle of a hot-ass, sauna. I can,t let that chokin, feelin,,

take over, like the way it,s tryin, to now while I,m standin, here at,

gunpoint. Is he the one? I took this case to find the truth. Am I strong,

enough to face it? Who really killed Ma? Son-of-a-bitch probably did have,

somethin, to do with mama,s murder.,

,Well here,s more fuel for the fire,, I hollered over the crackle of thunder.,

,You and those drug-dealin, thugs killed my ma, for trickin, on ya,, didn,t,

ya,? Ya, turned my ole, lady out with that drug shit and stole her. Now,,

it,s payback time.,,

,Still stuck on stupid aren,t you,, B.B. hissed.,

,I was gonna, take you in, but now I,ll just burn your ass up right here you,

faggot-ass mother-fu,.,,

Alicia had awakened and screamed as B.B.,s blade drew blood from her neck. I,

jerked, for an instant, my gun away from its target and looked into her,

twisted face.,

,P-i-y-o-o-w, went the blast of his gun. The shot hit me in the shoulder. I,

could feel my collarbone shattering as the cold concrete floor in between the,

wet grandstand seats collided with my collapsed body. The clang of my gun,

tumbling down and away sickened me.,

,Only two kinds of soldiers, the quick and the dead,, he scowled.,

Hell, I can hear them. They,re all around us; ghosts with their,

cheers,spectres and spooks from ballgames long since dead,I can hear,

,em,echoes of blood-thirsty fans screamin, for victory,Only two kinds of,

soldiers,.,

My hands slid in the slick red muck oozing from the hole in me. The whole,

world turned upside down. I felt like a newborn baby, held high by its feet in,

mid-air as some gigantic hand slapped the hell out of my ass. It was as though,

life,s reality was slapping me around and ordering me to ,Wake Up,.,

I looked up as B.B. removed the stainless-steel stiletto from my ex-wife,s,

neck and walked over towards me. The smoke from his gun barrel rose and,

drifted off as if demanding a new truth be written. A truth I could not,

avoid.,

,

,Shit B.B., you didn,t have to cut me for real,, purred my ex-kitten. ,He was,

falling for the set-up.,,

,Look, I don,t give a rats ass right now. I don,t like this,it stinks,its,

foul tastin,. Can,t we just leave here and take off for Mexico like you,

promised?,,

,What? And let his stupid ass figure out that we were the ones behind his,

mother,s killing? I may have pulled the trigger on the old bag, but you stood,

by and didn,t stop me.,,

,Yeah but,,,

,I know him. He,d never stop tracking me down.,,

,Tracking you down? Hell, he,s been on my butt for weeks now.,,

,But, I,ve got more to lose than you. I,ve got a real fine-ass man now. He,s,

rich and clean as the driven snow. If he knew anything about all this past,

shit, I,d lose everything and be back in the hood,trapped like a rat. No way,

baby; I need you to finish him off.,,

BB,s eyes stared at me with a look of confusion I,d never seen before. It was,

my only chance as he put the gun barrel to my head. My eyes blinked violently,

as the trigger cocked and sang ,C-l-i-i-c-k.,,

,Hell BB,, I begged ,you fell for her shit the same as I did years ago.,,

,What do ya, mean?,,

She needs for you to kill me. You,re the only witness to her drug-dealing and,

my ma,s murder. Once you,ve, bumped me off, how long do you think she,ll let,

you live?,,

He didn,t stop pushing the barrel into my temple. Then, his eyes, which had,

glowed with vengeful fire now turned sullen and grey. He turned like a beaten,

down junkyard dog. He walked towards Alicia, his outstretched hands begging as,

if for a morsel of mercy for a broken heart.,

,No baby,, she crooned ,he,s playing you like a piano. Go on and blast his,

ass.,,

But BB didn,t stop advancing towards her. I watched with morbid fascination,

as Alicia grabbed under her satin gown and snatched out a pearl-handled .32,

automatic. For an instant, BB turned his head and looked me straight in the,

eyes like a fear-frozen running back . Then he tossed his gun to me.,

I caught BB,s .38 special just as Alicia fired a bullet into his throat.,

Blood shot out and splattered into her eyes. I rolled behind an empty ash can,

and emptied the pistol into the mother of my two kids.,

I lay there for a long time as the rain kept pouring down onto Stagg Field.,

Streams of crimson water ran past my shaking hands. Hands that still clutched,

the deadly instrument which destroyed my dreams.,

You loved me once,I wish you had never left me for BB,Damn BB, now you,ve,

saved my life twice.,

My assignment was complete and I,d succeeded in a business of my own. I found,

truth in my hollow victory.,

Somehow, as I glanced at the rain-soaked field that symbolized BB's and my own,

boyhood dreams of valor and honor, the lie was better than the truth.,