Not all that educated
Johnny Handsome – Handie for short – is an elementary school dropout. No point in beating around the bush about it: He was a petty thief at age 12, had robbed his first gas station at age 13, and to this day “hands up!” remains one of his most eloquent sentences on record. Matter of fact, his preferred manner of expression is showing off his tattoos, which are indiscriminately plastered across his chest and arms. “Pretty cool, huh?” he’ll say while smoking an unfiltered cigarette or chewing some tobacco.
Admittedly, he’s had lots of free time at his disposal recently. Now 39, he’s doing some solid, rather serious time in Dade County, Florida, for a string of robberies mostly aimed at jewelry stores and such. His cellmate Bubba, a big and corpulent man, is scared of him and doesn’t speak much except in sleep, where he tends to call home for mommy. “Gimme some of that apple pie with whipped cream and strawberries on top, will ‘ya, ma!” he moans, and some other night he’ll go “waffles” or “pancakes” instead. That’s about the extent of Bubba’s imagination.
With such a quiet cell mate, Handie should be perfectly positioned to mull
things over and maybe come up with an idea or two. Indeed he has, orchestrating
several crime sprees to be carried out by his minions, the thugs that roam
around the streets freely, some of them on bail, some on parole, and others
hidden behind fake identities. All of them are willing to serve Johnny, who
merely needs to send out a few text messages via his hidden cell phone or to
pass on a note to one of the friendly guards.
When time is of essence, Johnny Handsome is the Man
The life-altering event was when Garry McRow, a.k.a “The Lonely Strangler,” asked Johnny to help him write a bestseller. Garry was scheduled for execution merely six weeks down the road, and had pretty much given up hope, which in turn had made him preoccupied with improving upon his “legacy.”
“Dunno,” Handie had replied to McRow’s intermediary in the work shop. “Killin’ them littl’ girls not nice! Dyin’ ain’t wrong fuh Garry!”
“Look at it this way,” said the intermediary, who used to work for a publishing company. “Everyone has the freedom of expression, and McRow’s story deserves to be heard. A cut-throat endeavor one might call it!” The man laughed at his own joke.
Handie rocked his head back and forth, thinking hard. “I can’t even write five words, man!” he said, looking seriously puzzled. “I know them body parts, I guess I could write about that?”
“No, no,” the educated inmate said reassuringly. “You don’t have to write anything, that’s already being taken care of. All you need is to be sure that it becomes a bestseller.”
“Okey-dokey!” Handie said, nodding and coming about as close to smiling as anyone had ever seen. “I’ll pass it onto the street level, pickin’ up some purty good vibes there. And eh…, let’s see if any of them low-lifes has any good ideas for passing on a few of them books.”
“Not a few!” the intermediary whispered. “It’s gotta be at least 10 thousand copies before the execution!”
“Humph?” Johnny exclaimed nasally. “That’s a load of books. They’re any good?”
“There’s plenty of sex and violence. I’ll have one of the guards drop off a copy tonight. That’ll give you something to get your rocks off.”
“All right my man,” Handsome said as he turned around and started walking
down the hall back towards his cell, his long hair swaying from side to
It really worked!
Now, three weeks later, about 16,000 copies of Garry McRow’s book – “Messing With A Silver Blade” – have been sold around Dade County alone, many of them at gun point. Another 23,000 have been sold through Ebay – usually as part of a package including free stolen jewelry or vintage wines. Over a thousand copies are each day being sold by prostitutes, who offer a “free quickie” to anyone buying at least two signed copies, hardback edition.
McRow, while not looking forward to the execution, is a lot happier now that his legacy has been preserved. “Spring me outta’ here and I’ll go on a book tour with ‘ya,” he says to the intermediary, whom he has hired as a literary agent. “That’ll really blow their minds.”
Johnny, who merely had to send out a bunch of text messages to orchestrate this marketing campaign, has started writing a book of his own. “Cool is Better than School” is the working title, and he already has a solid sales strategy for that one too.