Jas. R. Petrin introduced the tough, but aging Canadian loan shark Skig Skorzeny to the pages of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in “Juice” the March 2006 issue. I’ve been in love with him every since. Skig appears again in the April 2014 issue in “A Knock on the Door.” Jas. R. Petrin’s AHMM stories have been shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best short story presented by the Crime Writers of Canada.
Leo (Skig) Skorzeny. Where did this guy come from? It’s like asking where ideas come from, and the honest answer is—I don’t know. Besides, he seems like something more than an idea.
But the answer (if there is one) might prove interesting, so I’ll just root around in the clutter of my mind for clues. Start a file folder and toss in my findings.
Skig seemed to burst fully formed onto the page, but I believe he spent years stealing up on me. Decades, in fact, starting on the day I met old Nate. (Name changed to protect the curmudgeonly.) Nate was the chief—hell, the only—mechanic at the construction company where I worked as a kid. He was also a curmudgeon of the first order. One incident springs to mind. When I complained to him about the truck I was driving—a coughing beast ready for the crusher, so ancient the starter was a large button poking through the floor—he narrowed his eyes at me. I hurried to explain. Fumes from the rusted muffler, I told him, were filling the cab and making my head swim. “So open the window,” he barked. I pointed out that might be risky because the window glass, cracked in a dozen places, was held together with tape, (one of his previous repair jobs), and might disintegrate completely. With a wrench he knocked the wobbly glass out of the door. “Fixed,” he said. And he was right. No more fumes. But it was February, and thirty below, and as he must have known because he had “fixed” it as well, the heater barely worked. I froze for the next several weeks.
Good old Nate. Into the file folder.