I remember all the important things about Myrtle Beach. First, it comes as no surprise that it was named after a gal named Myrtle (which is probably not true, but fitting nonethless.) Big fat Myrtle, who was known to haul herself around the clamshell tracks between the stilted beachfront shanties in a cart led by an irascible 650 lb. crocodile named Big Carl, who would go on to found "Croc Corner" in Myrtle Beach, a popular tourist attraction to this day. And although my family was there for vacation - kadima on the beach, frolicking in the waves, miniature golf multiple times daily - it was all strictly business for me. I was going to meet my literary agent, Melanie Mills, at her beach house, sip chardonnay and talk books. What was selling, were the Knights of the Templar just a flash in the pan?
So one afternoon I extracted myself from the family and drove north of town where the sea channels divide the houses like steets and I imagined Melanie's beachfront estate just sticking out like a sore thumb in the ghetto of canaste-playing seniors in falling down sea shacks. Then just as I was about to pop the Land Rover into four wheel drive there she was, hunched over the deck railing of her own falling down sea shank, without so much as a peek of the ocean, scraping old paint off the deck railing, a cig dangling from her lips and a blonde wig that might have been stolen off a tired floor mop, then teased and blown into a platinum rat's nest. It didn't take long to realize that she wasn't hunched over at all - she really was a "spuff" (Short Person Under Five Feet") though the cute moniker was hardly appropriate as I would learn . She had this little biafran potatoe sack torso unsteadily balanced atop two gnarled, grisly turkey legs with arms to match. And I knew right then I was going to have a hard time believing anything coming out of this purported woman's mouth.
But then she went on to show me the handful of rejection letters she had received from real publishers, over an endless stream of Dorals and Dr. Peppers, while interjecting that the fact that she had such great legs (she stood up to show me and I wasn't quite sure what to do though I was tempted to baste them with some Rockin Roger's bbq sauce) was due to endless beach walks - six miles a day, which in retrospect was not surprising as it was an effective way to avoid being served, as she was at that particular time wanted for real estate fraud and the attempted murder of her own mother. But I didn't know that yet. There were a lot of things about Melanie that I didn't know, but I did learn that she was hosting a writer's conference/Harley convention in Myrtle Beach the following month and had some fun stories of past Harley invasions of Myrtle beach. She also told me of her lover in Arkansas who lived in a castle, and that is where she would go when she tired of the beach, no doubt to pick up several pounds of crank: her teeth were rotting right out of her mouth. She also spoke of a writer's conference she was holding in the fall in Banff Lake Louise, and it was this writer's conference which ultimately led to her demise. But we're not there yet, patient reader. One or two installments and the story will be told completely, I promise. The last picture I saw of her featured the wig but also an attractive orange jumpsuit, so the next chapter will tell of how she got from Myrtle Beach to prison in Vancouver, even dying along the way.