Once upon a time in the West

Several months ago, I promised to tell you an interesting story about my next book, tentatively titled, “An Eye  for an Eye.” The story about this book has two interesting segments, the first of which dates back more than half a century. 

When I was a boy of 9 or 10, my best friend, Rich Kallan, and I loved to go to the movies. His older cousin, Steve, was our companion during several matinees. One of the movies we saw was a western with a particularly fascinating ending . . . one I will not share with you at this time. Years passed, Rich moved to California, and we lost touch for more than two decades. During that time, I often thought about Rich and that western with the amazing ending. The problem was I couldn’t remember its name, nor any of the actors who starred in it. During my mid twenties, I worked in my family’s bookstore in New Haven CT. One of the other clerks in the store was a brilliant, curly haired Yale film student named Max K. One day, I was discussing western films with Max, who, as it turned out, was something of an expert  in the genre. I explained what I knew about my western and Max stood there scratching his head. He promised to research the movie and get back to me. Unfortunately, Max turned up nothing. Years later, I sought out the film librarian at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, in Los Angeles. I posed the same question to him; he, too, came up empty. However, he told me of a collector of western movies who lived in North Carolina. I contacted this expert and he immediately told me the name of the film. Better still, he had a copy on VHS which he offered to sell to me for ten dollars. Of course, I accepted. To my chagrin, it was not the correct film. However, after a long time apart from my friend Rich, we resumed our friendship, in 1990. These days, Rich, his significant other Darla, Marla, and I try to meet once a year. Several years ago, Rich and Darla joined us in Puerto Rico. One night, I reminded Rich about how his cousin Steve used to take us to the movies. Of course, we shared a number of fond memories about that. My spirits soaring, I told Rich about the plot and ending to my western. When I finished, Rich stared at me for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he said with great confidence, “Mark, I’ve never seen a movie like that in my life.” 

So, here I was, back to square one. Two years ago, I was working on my sixth book, “No Vacancy.”  My field work took me to Flagstaff, AZ, where the local CVB was kind enough to arrange for lodging in a motel, per my request. While in Flagstaff, I asked about the presence of a railroad hotel that I could use as backdrop for a western I was now determined to write. They were more than happy to accommodate me at The Weatherford, an 1890s era hotel. I was grateful for the offer and parked behind the hotel for the evening. You can imagine my shock when I walked around to the front of The Weatherford . . . it was the hotel in my western! So, as I begin to write “An Eye for an Eye,” I have no doubt that this story was meant to be told. Stay tuned.

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3 Comments on “Once upon a time in the West

  1. RE: the first part of your story: Such a coincidence: I grew up in Hamden; went to NH almost every Saturday on the bus with my mom. Shartenbergs, Malley’s, etc. Graduated from Hamden HS. So, this elusive Western story you “saw” in the movies maybe was a book being born when you were a young kid? Happy for you that its finally being told. And who knows? Maybe it will be a movie someday! 🙂

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