Trouble with a Capital T: North Country Hard-Boiled Fiction on the Fly

Last week, the New York Times City Room blog announced a writing contest open to the public. The challenge? Come up with an original  150-word introduction to a pulp fiction novel based solely on the cover below.  Here’s the link to the announcement.


By the time the deadline had come and gone, over a thousand  people  responded, with some pretty damn good writing in evidence.  Among the submissions was one by Gretchen Mahnkopf, a woman from Rosendale, New York.   One thing Gretchen and I have in common is that back in the day, we both attended a  hipster alternative school in the Adirondacks. Neither of us remember meeting each other there, although we must have, because it was a little school in the boondocks.   But we’ve since connected–yes, through facebook–and I’ve come to admire her wit, her politics, and her artistic talent, because she’s a great painter and writer.   Click here to visit Gretchen’s blog.

And here’s the entry she submitted to the Times’ contest, just before midnight on Friday, November 21, 2014, which for me, only confirmed her writing skills.  (And I’m a big fan of short, short fiction.)

“Trouble with a capital T. That was Trixie. She had the big guns. She had the ammo, too. And if none of that worked, she also had a pink 38 special tucked into her garter belt. “Give me a whiskey and some fire,” she said, putting a cigarette between two scarlet lips. She knew how to bring on the heat, alright. “For the gentleman?”, I asked nodding toward the goon she had brought as muscle. “Some raw meat if you have it.”  She slipped off her jacket revealing a tiny yellow halter top, too tiny for its heavy burden. Yeah, that dame knew how to bring it on. So did I . She wasn’t the only one in the joint packing heat. You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I had a garter myself. And right then, it was chafing the Hell out of me.”

Go, Gretchen!

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