Elliot Freed is the owner of Comedy Tonight, New Jersey's only all-comedy movie theatre. When he gets to meet one of his comedy idols, Harry Lillis of the team Lillis and Townes, Elliot is thrilled--and more thrilled when both Lillis and Les Townes show up at his theatre for a screening of their classic, "Cracked Ice." But when Lillis informs Elliot that Townes murdered his wife 50 years ago, Elliot's reverie comes crashing to the ground, and he sets out to discover what REALLY happened.
Jeffrey gives an overview of the book:
"If you can do comedy, you must do comedy."
"Without heroes, we're all plain people and don't know how far we can go."
—Bernard Malamud, The Natural
Killin' Time (A Special Attraction)
"Is he dead?" Vic Testalone asked me.
"They're all dead," I said. "He didn't leave any of them alive."
"How can that be?" he asked. "Does this kid know what he's done?"
Vic, a sales rep from one of the film distribution companies I work with, was probably born smoking a cigar; he had one in his mouth now, but knew better than to light it in the lobby of my theatre. Comedy Tonight, like all New Jersey movie theatres, has a strict no-smoking policy, but I would have insisted on it even if the state didn't. I hadn't spent the last four months getting this place repaired just to have Vic impose the smell of a cheap stogie on my new carpet.
I shook my head. "Anthony just thinks it's cool," I answered him. "He's not considering the moral implications of his actions."
"I'm not concerned with moral implications," Vic answered, snarling. "He's killing the sequel possibilities."
That threw me for a loop. I'd only agreed to let Anthony Pagliarulo, the theatre's projectionist/ticket taker, show his first film—an ultra-violent pseudo-Western called Killin' Time—as a one-time-only break from our comedies-and-nothing-but-comedies policy because he'd caught me at a vulnerable time. Suffice it to say that four months earlier, when I agreed to show the film, my theatre had looked like one of the cowboys in Anthony's "Western" after the branding iron scene. I'd made good on my promise after the renovation because I couldn't think of a graceful way to pull the plug. But now Vic was treating this glorified (if relatively high-budget) student film like it was something real.
"What the hell do you mean by 'sequel possibilities'?" I asked him. "You think someone would to want to distribute that thing?"
"It's got blood," Vic held up a finger. "It's got cursing." Another finger. "Killing, sex, cruelty, characters nobody could possibly like." Finger, finger, finger, thumb on the other hand. "It can't miss."
Jeffrey Cohen is the nom de plume of Jeff Cohen, author of the Double Feature Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime and the Aaron Tucker series from Bancroft Press. He has also written two non-fiction books on raising a child with Asperger Syndrome, and has published...