Potboiler: "Deadly Snow"
I’ve always wanted to write a gritty, lurid potboiler, but have never found the potboiler inside me. I’ve heard that great writers knock these off in about a week if given sufficient quantities of cigarettes and booze, so I’m planning to head to the local “packy” to snag a carton of smokes and some local moonshine in order to knock off a potboiler and make tons of money.
My potboiler involves Jake, the narrator, a hard-drinking, old-school newspaper man, who does a profile of Janet, the highly-paid president of a college you’ve never heard of in flood-prone, coastal Massachusetts. Despite her position of leadership and respect, Janet is saddled with Richie, a total schlub who’d latched onto her when she was just a fledgling postdoc in some esoteric something-or-other humanities discipline, and somehow tricked her into marrying his lazy ass. Sure, he was once a hot-shot taxi driver who knew all secret routes to get you around the hellish traffic in Salem, but of late he has fallen from that lofty perch to settle in as a layabout who doesn’t lift a finger to produce income or manage the house.
Janet keeps her cards close to the vest in the two-hour interview with the Jake, but clearly sends out chemical vibes to the gruff reporter. Jake has met total babes like Janet before, and senses that she’s probably an emotional disaster. The day after the interview, Janet calls Jake back, claiming that she had left out some important information during the interview, and how’s about getting together for drinks? Their subsequent gin-infused rendezvous causes the sparks to fly between them, and they end up heading back to Jake’s for a steamy encounter of the sensational and kinky variety. Jake acts like, hey, awesome!, let’s see each other every now and again, but Janet is ready to dump her husband immediately in favor of Jake. Janet is a zillionaire from a having published a couple books and doing speaking tours and all that, and tells Jake that she’d be forced to pay Richie about half of her ample fortune if she were to file for divorce. But what are the options? She can’t stand to be with such an emotionally abusive jerk any longer!
Layered under the story are reports of an impending storm, and as the potboiler progresses, Janet becomes convinced she can murder her husband during this wicked snowstorm, and ropes Jake into her wicked game plan. Jake knows he should call the cops, but he’s fallen for Janet and agrees to the following evil plot she concocts as it becomes clear the storm is going to be a blizzard of epic proportions accompanied by a nasty tidal surge: they’ll spike Richie’s lunchtime tankard of ale with a drug sure to cause a heart attack, and then call 9-1-1 during the height of the storm, when it will be impossible for emergency vehicles to get there. The whole plan seems to work great, as Richie collapses from his chair, grabbing his chest whilst chunks of chewed-up tuna sandwich fall from his mouth. His gaze locks onto Janet as he reaches out for her hand, but instead of helping she kicks him in the gut, and then he expires. The plan seems to have gone exactly as planned, except the emergency crews arrive at her house in a flat-bottomed boat in minutes, and – wait a minute! – Richie isn’t dead yet!
The expert emergency personnel revive Richie’s stupid ass, and tests at the hospital reveal: he’s been drugged! Janet is eventually arrested, implicates Jake, and Richie becomes destined to live off the estate for his remaining years of life.