Quick Fixes: Tales of Repairman Jack

 

Quick Fixes

 

Repairman Jack Short Fiction

 

© 2011 by F. Paul Wilson

First Edition

Kindle edition 2011

 

Contents

 

1 - A Day in the Life

2 - The Last Rakosh

3 - Home Repairs

4 - The Long Way Home

5 - The Wringer

6 - Interlude at Duane’s

7 - Do-Gooder

8 - Piney Power

Publishing History

The Secret History of the World

Bibliography

 

 

Foreword

I compiled this collection at the insistence of Repairman Jack fans, especially the completists. A number of small presses have approached me to do a signed, limited first edition, but I'm not comfortable with charging a premium price for recycled material. Through the years a number of these stories have been incorporated into Repairman Jack novels:

 


Home Repairs ” into
Conspiracies


The Last Rakosh” into
All the Rage


The Wringer” into
Fatal Error

 

If you’ve read those three novels, you have, in effect, read versions of those three stories. For those who are newcomers to the character…

 

 

Who is Repairman Jack?

 

He’s an urban mercenary in Manhattan, a self-made outcast who lives in the interstices of modern society. A ghost in our machine: no official identity, no social security number, pays no taxes. He has a violent streak he sometimes finds hard to control. He hires out for cash to "fix" situations that have no legal remedy.

 

The name Repairman Jack comes from his gunrunner pal, Abe. Jack’s not crazy about it, but he lives with it. He’s not a vigilante, not a do-gooder. He’s not out to right wrongs. Nor is he out to change the world or fight crime. (He’s a career criminal, after all, as are many of his friends.) He’s not Batman. He’s just a guy with a devious mind who likes his work best when he can see to it that what goes around come around. If you follow him carefully you’ll see he gets a real jolt out of running a scam or setting up someone to be hoisted on his own petard.

 

He came from a dream. The scene on the roof in
The Tomb
was that dream. I worked backward and forward from there to create a character who could survive that situation. I decided on an anti-Jason Bourne – with no black-ops, SEAL, or Special Forces training, no CIA or police background, no connection to officialdom. In other words, no safety net. No one in officialdom he could call on. He has to rely on his own wits and his own network.

 

I’ve been a libertarian forever, so I figured I’d act out my libertarian dreams, you know, make this guy an anarchist with no identity. But as I’ve continued his adventures, I’ve learned that it takes a lot of effort to live below the radar, especially since 9/11.

 

I intended Jack as a one-shot, which is kind of obvious at the end of
The Tomb
. As I finished that novel, I thought, “Well, this character is definitely series material, so I gotta make it look like the guy is dead or they’ll want more.” I had books planned out and didn’t want to get locked into a series.

 

Then, later on, Jack became a way out of a trap I’d got myself into with a medical thriller contract. I’d become bored with writing them after doing three and I was contracted to do a fourth… but I had this idea for a techy thriller and thought, why don’t I rework this and use Jack again? It’d be great for him. I named it
Legacies
and made his client a doctor so I could call it a medical thriller. The publisher was happy I was bringing back a character my fans wanted to see again, and I was happy to revisit Jack. A win-win.

 

Legacies
was fun and sold well, so I had to do another, and then another, and before I knew it, Jack had taken over my writing career.

 

But before
Legacies
, I brought him back in shorter works.

 

 

introduction to “A Day in the Life”

 

Sometime in 1988, one of my phone friends, Ed Gorman (with whom I’ve spent countless hours in conversation but have never met) mentioned that he and Marty Greenberg were co editing an anthology called
Stalkers
for Dark Harvest / NAL. Would I care to contribute? I said I'd been itching to revive Repairman Jack, the lead character from
The Tomb
– not in a novel (I still didn’t want a series at that time), just a short piece. How about a Jack story? Ed, a Repairman Jack fan since the git-go, told me I
had
to do it.

 

The Tomb
had been published four years earlier. It hit the bestseller lists, won the Porgie Award from
The West Coast Review of Books
, and the mail began pouring in. I’d known right then he was a series character but I didn’t want to do a series. I’d closed the novel with Jack’s life hanging by a thread, and readers wanted to know: What happened to Repairman Jack? When are you going to do another Repairman Jack novel? Never, I thought. But the book kept selling, and the letters kept coming in.

 

Hollywood entered the picture.
The Tomb
has been optioned numerous times. Everyone loves the idea of Repairman Jack as a franchise character; but the rakoshi, the Bengali temple demons who provide the horror, have sunk all attempts to adapt it to film. How do you make them look real? The line between horror and hilarity is a couple of nanometers thick. A rakosh is scary; a guy in a rubber suit is dumb.

 

In the late 80s, Roger Corman’s New World Pictures had the novel under option. A combination of low-rent antics by Fred Olen Ray with the title, and a lousy screenplay (they moved the action to Pasadena!), had the project dead in the water. I dashed off a spec script in an eleventh-hour attempt to save it, but too late.

 

The Hollywood connection provided extra incentive to write a new Repairman Jack story. I had created a number of original action sequences for the screenplay I’d sent New World, and I wanted to protect them. The best way to do that was to copyright them in a story. They’re all in “A Day in the Life.”

 

Stalkers
turned out to be a hugely successful anthology, reprinted in book clubs and multiple foreign editions. The result: “A Day in the Life” gained Jack even more fans.

 

For those who care, Levinson never appeared again. He was replaced by Ernie to ID guru when I started writing the novels. Tram previously appeared in “Dat-Tay-Vao.” As for Hollywood, as I write this, the novel had been in development hell for over 15 years at Beacon Films.

 

A Day in the Life

 

When the cockroach made a right turn up the wall, Jack flipped another
shuriken
across the room. The steel points of the throwing star drove into the wallboard just above the bug’s long antennae. It backed up and found itself hemmed in on all sides now by four of the stars.


Did it!” Jack said from where he lay across the still made hotel bed.

He counted the shuriken protruding from the wall. A dozen of them traveled upward in a gentle arc above and behind the barely functioning TV, ending in a tiny square where the roach was trapped.

Check that. It was free again. Crawled over one of the shuriken and was now continuing on its journey to wherever. Jack let it go and rolled onto his back on the bedspread.

Bored
.

And hot. He was dressed in jeans and a loose, heavy sweater under an oversized lightweight jacket, both dark blue; a black-and-orange knitted cap was jammed on the top of his head. He’d turned the thermostat all the way down but the room remained an oven. He didn’t want to risk taking anything off because, when the buzzer sounded, he had to hit the ground running.

He glanced over at the dusty end table where the little Walkman sized box with the antenna sat in silence.


Come on, already,” he mumbled to it. “Let’s do it.”

Reilly and his sleazos were due to make their move tonight. What was taking them so long to get started? Almost one a.m. already – three hours here in this fleabag. He was starting to itch. He could handle only so much TV without getting drowsy. Even without the lulling drone of some host interviewing some actor he’d never heard of, the heat was draining him.

Fresh air. Maybe that would help.

Jack got up, stretched, and stepped to the window. A clear almost Halloween night out there, with a big moon rising over the city. He gripped the handles and pulled. Nothing. The damn thing wouldn’t budge. He was checking the edges of the sash when he heard the faint crack of a rifle. The bullet came through the glass two inches to the left of his head, peppering his face with tiny sharp fragments as it whistled past his ear.

Jack collapsed his legs and dropped to the floor. He waited. No more shots. Keeping his head below the level of the windowsill, he rose to a crouch, then leapt for the lamp on the end table at the far side of the bed, grabbed it, and rolled to the floor with it. Another shot spat through the glass and whistled through the room as his back thudded against the floor. He turned off the lamp.

The other lamp, the one next to the TV, was still on – sixty watts of help for the shooter. And whoever was shooting had to know Jack would be going for it next. He’d be ready.

On his belly, Jack slid along the industrial grade carpet toward the end of the bed until he had an angle where the bulb was visible under the shade. He pulled out his next to last
shuriken
and spun it toward the bulb. With an electric pop it flared blue white and left the room dark except for the flickering glow from the TV.

Immediately Jack popped his head above the bed and looked out the window. Through the spider webbed glass he caught sight of a bundled figure turning and darting away across the neighboring rooftop. Moonlight glinted off the long barrel of a high powered rifle, flashed off the lens of a telescopic sight, then he was gone.

A high pitched beep made him jump. The red light on the signal box was blinking like mad. Kuropolis wanted help. Which meant Reilly had struck.


Swell.”

*

Not a bad night
,” George Kuropolis thought, wiping down the counter in front of the slim young brunette as she seated herself. Not a great night, but still to have half a dozen customers at this hour was good. And better yet, Reilly and his creeps hadn’t shown up.

Maybe they’d bother somebody else tonight.


What’ll it be?” he asked the brunette.


Tea, please,” she said with a smile. A nice smile. She was dressed nice and had decent jewelry on. Not exactly overdressed for the neighborhood, but better than the usual.

George wished he had more customers of her caliber. And he
should
have them. Why the hell not? Didn’t the chrome inside and out sparkle? Couldn’t you eat off the floor? Wasn’t everything he served made right here on the premises?


Sure. Want some pie?”


No, thank you.”


It’s good. Blueberry. Made it myself.”

The smile again. “No, thanks. I’m on a diet.”


Sure,” he mumbled as he turned away to get her some hot water. “Everyone’s on a goddamn diet. Diets are gettin’ hazardous to my health.”

Just then the front door burst open and a white haired man in his mid twenties leaped in with a sawed off shotgun in his hands. He pointed it at the ceiling and let loose a round at the fixture over the cash register. The
boom
of the blast was deafening as glass showered everything.

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