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The Mind Digger   By: (1915-1979)

The Mind Digger by Winston K. Marks

First Page:

The Mind Digger

By Winston Marks

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy April 1958. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: There was a reason why his scripts were smash hits they had realism. And why not? He was reliving every scene and emotion in them!]

It was really a pretty fair script, and it caught me at a moment when every playwright worth his salt was playing in France, prostituting in Hollywood or sulking in a slump. I needed a play badly, so I told Ellie to get this unknown up to my office and have a contract ready.

When she announced him on the inter com, my door banged open and a youngster in blue jeans, sweatshirt and a stubbly crew cut popped in like a carelessly aimed champagne cork.

I said, "I'm sorry, son, but I have an interview right now. Besides we aren't casting yet. Come back in a couple of weeks."

His grin never faltered, being of the more durable kind that you find on farms and west of the Rockies. His ragged sneakers padded across my Persian, and I thought he was going to spring over my desk like a losing tennis player.

"I'm your interview," he announced. "At least I'm Hillary Hardy, and your girl just told me you'd see me."

"You are Hillary Hardy?"

"In the morbid flesh," he said jamming out five enthusiastic fingers that gulped my hand and jack hammered until I broke his grip with a Red Cross life saving hold.

"Spare the meat," I groaned. "I have to sign the contract, too."

"I did it! I did it! They said I was crazy, but I did it the first time."

"Did what?"

"Sold the first play I wrote."

"This is your first work?"

"My very first," he said, splitting his freckles with a double row of white teeth a yard wide. "They said I'd have to go to college, and then I'd have to write a million words before I'd produce anything worthwhile."

If he hadn't owned such an honest, open face I'd have thrown him out as an imposter right then. The ream of neatly typed pages on my desk would have fooled any agent, editor or producer like myself, on Broadway. The format was professional, the plot carefully constructed, the dialogue breezy as a May afternoon in Chicago and the motivation solidly adult.

"How old are you?" I asked.


"And you'll sign an affidavit that you wrote this play, and it's an original work?"

"Certainly!" The smile faded a little. "Look, Mr. Crocker, you're not just kidding about this contract, are you? Is the play really okay?"

"That," I said trying to restrain my own enthusiasm, "is only determined on the boards. But I'm willing to risk a thousand dollar advance on your signature to this." I shoved the papers at him with my fountain pen on top.

He didn't uncap the pen until he had read the whole thing, and while he pored over the fine print I had time to catch my breath.

His play competed rather well with the high average output of most professionals I knew not exactly terrific, but a relatively safe gamble, as gambles go on the street of bright lights. Well, I made a mental note to pass the script around a bit before I signed the contract myself. After all, he might have cribbed the whole thing somewhere.

He finished reading, signed the contract and handed it back to me with an air of expectancy. I stalled, "I, uh, will have the check for you in a few days. Meanwhile, you'd better get yourself an agent and an attorney and fix up that affidavit of authorship. Normally, I don't deal with free lance playwrights, you see."

"But I don't need any agent," he protested. "You be my agent, Mr. Crocker " He was studying my reaction, and after a moment he said, "You still don't quite believe that I wrote Updraft , do you, sir? Now that you've met me you want more time to check up, don't you?"

I said, "Frankly, yes, Hardy. Updraft is a mature piece of writing, and unless you are a genius well, it's just business son... Continue reading book >>

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