by Jack Moskovitz



Bathos from the Fires of Hell

Introduction by Fender Tucker, Publisher

In late June of 2009 I received a letter (with SASE) from a Jack Moskovitz of Omaha NE asking me if I’d be interested in publishing his new hardboiled novel, HELL FIRE. It was typed on an old (I think) typewriter and as unusual as that was, the book itself was even more surprising. But first, here’s Jack’s description of himself.

"An elderly bachelor languishes in the Midwest. His name is Jack Moskovitz. He’s a retired civil servant who, in search of honest part-time employment, has washed dishes and bused tables in steakhouses, been a radio DJ, sold magazine subs over the phone. For the past sixty-five years he has authored soft core porn novels, poems, short stories, literary novels, hardboiled crime, stage plays for adults and children. Two audio plays are awaiting produc-tion by San Francisco’s Shoestring Audio Theater.
    "In the late sixties-early seventies he sold 45,000-worders to Corinth in San Diego, American Art in Los Angeles and Bee-line Books, NYC. A G-rated one act is available from Lazy Bee Scripts. Two works of narrative fiction may be viewed at Kingfisher Books on the web. During the eighties Moscovitz was active in the mail art movement. This is the first of his thrillers published by Ramble House."

Great! Here was one of those guys I read about in SIN-A-RAMA, a writer who risked going to jail for pressing a for-bidden sequence of keys.
    I was also intrigued by the typewriter, since it reminded me of the manuscripts of Harry Stephen Keeler’s that were loaned to me years back by Francis M. Nevins. Typewritten manuscripts are quaint, nostalgic and sincere, but most of all, they are extreme bitches to OCR and edit. But Jack said that even if I didn’t find the story publishable, I’d still have a hell of a read. He was right.
    My first thought as I read and edited the badly OCRed text was: Remember all those stories you read or see on TV and in the movies where they simply ignore the fact that human beings generally excrete a few times a day? Stories whose plots would be drastically different if the author had to explain how the two Hollywood hostages maintained their splendid coifs and pristine pants, even though they were tied back to back for three days? Talk about too much, too soon!
    Well, Jack makes up for those wimpy plots with a vengeance. He pulls no punches and he even throws in a bladder problem that had me cringing with every descriptive sentence. Yow! This is really scary! I’m sorry, but the most dreadful word in the English language has to be the word “catheter”.
    But what really impressed me about Jack’s writing was his all-out attack on pronouns. Obviously he’s not getting paid by the word because he leaves out practically every opening pronoun he can. Makes the action move real fast. Can’t put the book down. Gotta get to the next paragraph.
    I imagine if Jack had sent this to a major publisher they would have wanted him to beef it up to 400 pages and get into the details of that catheter thing, but I like this story just the way it is. It reminds me of the guitars in the early Beatle songs: raw, brash, a little bit arrogant. And most of all, authentic.
    I look forward to more of Jack Moskovitz’s novels. Read on and I think you’ll want more, too.








KRAGER, SMITH AND MILLER did not know they were being watched.
    Four blocks from their target they unloaded the van.
    Four A.M.
    The sharp November wind drove the mist against their flame-resistant body armor. A homeless man, too drunk to care, slumped against the first alley entrance they passed.
    Already the security guards checked the double locks on the Manvitz Jewelry Brokerage House double doors.
    Krager, Smith and Miller zipped their flame resistant suits, waited in alley shadows a half block away. At the other end of the alley a forty watt night light over a steel door, sheathed the door, top to bottom, but couldn’t illuminate the gaps in the adjoining bricks.
    The security guards drove off. The trio lugged their gear to the jewelry company’s front door.
    On the warehouse roof directly overhead Carl Dorn, the retired arson cop, watched.
    Krager stuck an oblong pouch midway across the front door. He uncoiled leader wires across the sidewalk, into the intersection where Smith and Miller waited.
    The traffic signal above them changed color. Behind their target a homeless man searched a dumpster.
    Krager punched the detonator button.
    Double paned doors and adjoining windows shattered. Splintered glass, twisting steel frames, the whoosh of flames advancing inside the building toward the rear office made high-pitched obscene noises.
    They put on their hoods.
    Ignoring the destroyed display cases and the exposed pieces, the trio ran the aisle to a smoldering oak door. Miller wielded a hammer. They climbed over the shards and into the office.
    A late model Stoolshoes Security wall safe, across the room, was next to a large oak desk. The safe door was six inches thick.
    Krager taped a small oblong pouch across the door.
    Outside, two security guards, unable to bridge the flames, fired their weapons from the curb. As he crossed the office Kramer pulled a rocket launcher from the sheath attached to his right shoulder.
    The concussion missile pierced floor to ceiling flame, hit-ting the guard nearest the entrance. He and his partner, weapons flying, flailed, exploded.
    Krager’s joyful scream was muffled by cracking plaster, wood support beams.
    An instant’s pause while he enjoyed the carnage he had created. Then he and the other two pulled the desk past the office entrance, into what remained of the showroom.
    They crouched. The desk was between them and the safe.
    Krager activated the detonator. The safe door flew off its hinges.
    The trio filled thirty gallon asbestos-lined bags with the contents.
    Krager placed the grapefruit-sized Hell Fire ruby in his hip pouch.
    They fled through the store, to the street, to the van’s rear doors.
    Four blocks away sirens screamed.
    Carl Dorn came up behind Miller and Smith, fired twice, then ducked. Steel jackets punctured skull tissue. Miller and Smith slammed against the van door. Brain matter slid to the handles.
    Before Miller and Smith slumped to the street, Dorn said to Krager:     “Buy you a beer?”