Thursday, November 01, 2012
Guess the Plot
1. Most places in the world it takes two to Tango, but here in Texas -- it takes three.
2. The year: 1870. The city: Death Gulch, Texas, home of the infamous dance duel. Alphonse the Kid has shot 24 men across the Wild West. But is he tough enough to survive the . . . Texas Tango?
3. Released after five years in a Texas prison, Joe Fane just wants to get on with his life. But first he needs transportation, so he car-jacks an SUV, which happens to contain an Uzi and two dozen gold bars. He probably should fence the gold and live like a king, but instead he uses it to frame his hated father-in-law for theft. It's a "priorities" thing.
4. When sultry Latina dancer Muriel Fuego is accused of murdering her manager, crack homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: the Texas Two-Step is for squares, and he’s got to get some of those jazzy dance shoes with the pointy toes and built-up heels.
5. It's Brokeback Mountain meets Strictly Ballroom when two gunslingers meet their destinies, not to the sound of blazing six-guns on the streets of Laredo, but to the strains of an Argentine tango in the Longbranch Saloon. Also, a transvestite ivory-tickler.
6. There are so many Texans on death row they have to execute them two at a time, which is how the long walk to the execution chamber has come to be called the Texas tango. But when ballroom instructor Melina Kerchenko and her student/lover Bob Lucas are sentenced for murdering Bob's wife, they literally tango to their deaths.
After five years in state prison, Joe Fane returns to Houston to serve a six-month parole. Divorced, broke, and jobless, he moves into a halfway house--hardly the lifestyle he enjoyed as son-in-law to rogue banker Charley Shyler. [Change his name to Charley Shyster.] All Joe wants is to do his time and move on.
Charley himself avoided prison only because Joe took a fall. Now, paranoid that his former protege knows too much, Charley takes Joe on a midnight ride, presenting him with a choice: reaffirm his loyalty by making a contract hit, or else. [Spending five years in prison without talking doesn't show he's loyal, but killing some stranger does?] But Joe is no killer; seizing an unguarded moment, he breaks free, [Breaks free of what?] carjacks an SUV, [Where is this midnight ride, downtown Houston?] and escapes. When he abandons the vehicle, he discovers a loaded Uzi and two dozen gold bars. [Most people abandoning a vehicle they car-jacked wouldn't hang around searching it on the off chance that there are gold bars in the trunk or under the passenger seat.]
Joe is elated, then dubious. Is the gold stolen?--probably. Can he fence it?--not quickly. Without certificates of assay, complications would arise. [My admittedly limited research reveals that certificates of assay are rarely provided or expected, especially not with bars big enough to be worth two million dollars per two dozen.] Word would leak out, Charley would hear. And what about the guy Joe car-jacked? [Maybe he was just delivering the gold bars to someone who ordered them online.] [Possible subplot: a guy's boss tells him to hire an armored truck to transport two dozen gold bars across town. But the guy thinks, Hey, I'll drive them over myself, after work, and pocket the armored truck fee. So he's driving across town in his SUV at midnight with the gold bars in a grocery bag, and as he's eating a Taco Bell Volcano Burrito at a red light, suddenly a guy jumps out of the car next to him and pulls him out of his SUV and takes off. So now he's standing there with beans and sauce all over his shirt, wondering how he's gonna explain to his boss that he lost the gold bars.] [It suddenly occurs to me that this guy's story is far more interesting than Joe's story. Can we make Joe the subplot?]
Instead of peddling the gold, Joe plays on Charley's greed. He enlists Molly Teague--an old flame--to pitch a phony land deal, conning Charley into holding the gold as collateral for a two-million-dollar loan. [If you'll lend me two million dollars to buy a plot of land, I'll let you hold onto these gold bars for which I have no proof of ownership and which I don't want to use to buy the land.] Once the money is wired to an offshore account, Joe and Molly will go their separate ways--
--and Joe will tip the FBI to the illicit treasure sitting in Charley's bank. [If I'm Molly, I'm not going my separate way unless that was my offshore account the money went to.] So long, Charley. [If Charley accepts the gold as collateral on a loan, wouldn't the FBI be more interested in the borrower than the lender?]
It almost works.
TEXAS TANGO is an 82,000-word crime novel. Thank you for your time.
Is the person Joe is supposed to kill in the car with him and Charley? If not, why does he need to escape? He could just say, Okay, I'll kill whoever, and then disappear.
Does Joe have a gun when he steals the SUV? Because it seems to me the guy driving around with stolen gold bars is more likely to be armed than the guy on parole.
Many of my annoying questions undoubtedly are easily answered. You don't need to answer them in the query, but if you can answer a couple and eliminate whatever inspired a couple, it will seem less preposterous.