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The International Writers Magazine: Femme Fatale

Manbag Bagman
• Karl MacDermott
I’m six foot four. I look like Lou Ferrigno’s brother. By day I write film screenplays. By night I collect money for the mob. I am Manbag Bagman.

And right now I’m going to be killed.

All because of a dame.



Polish for Maria. I call her Mire. As in quagmire. As in the Battle of the Somme. I wish she’d been a no - man’s land.

I first met her a week ago. My boss, Ivor the Terrible sends me to Mountville Crescent, over on the Southside, to pick up a debt from Smalltime Limey. Smalltime Limey is a smalltime limey. Nicknames ain’t what they used to be. No imagination or flair anymore. I blame the internet and social media myself.

When I get there, there’s no sign of Smalltime- but she’s there.  A goddess behind a plume of smoke. Well not that much smoke. Those ecigarettes don’t cut it as far as I’m concerned. She tells me Smalltime has taken a powder. Blown town. But something about it doesn’t ring true. Like Smalltime’s hairpiece sticking out from that half-closed wardrobe door.

“I don’t care what’s going on sister, Smalltime owes Terrible. Now hand over the dough.”

Suddenly she lunges forward. E-cigarettes on human flesh? Child’s play. I push her back but with her left hand she’s already navigating towards my genital quarter. Major Tom is aroused. Before I know it we’re lost in a vortex of animal passion. I hoist her on my cement bag thighs, up against that half-closed wardrobe door. I thrust. She shrieks. Major Tom to Ground Control.  Commencing countdown engines on.

I withdraw after climax. She offers me an ecigarette and Smalltime’s hairpiece falls on my still erect member.

I start thinking. A man could do a lot with that dough. Like give him the time and space to develop as an artist.  I’m tired of being an ‘emerging’ screenwriter. I want to exist in a post-emerged landscape.

“Where’s the money?”

“In my handbag.”

”All 60G. Must be a pretty big handbag.”

“It’s designer. Tote. Why? You want to share it out? Put some in your manbag?”

We divvy up the green and go on the run. Not very far. Neither of us can drive. What are the chances? For me public transport is excellent in the Greater Metroplitan area and more than caters for my nocturnal work needs. She tells me she never had the temperament to go behind a wheel after that unfortunate dodgem car massacre back in ’98. We decide to hitch.

An hour later we are dropped off outside Tyrelldale.  We find a small place where we hole up for a day or two. This is what happiness is. I’m writing. She’s supplying the booze. And there is non-stop commencement of countdown engines.

One night in bed she thinks she hears something.

“Maybe we should get out of here.”

“No need.”

“But what about Ivor the Terrible? Surely his men will be after us.”

“No. He’s called Ivor the Terrible, because he is a terrible crime boss. He can’t organize anything. He probably doesn’t even know the money’s gone. You let me do all the worrying, baby.”

I’m in love. And love does strange things to guys. Sometimes it hits you like a tornado. Other times it sneaks up on you like a tarantula. Marja is like a cross between a tornado and a tarantula. She is a force of nature with a rather small chest size.

She looks over at me one evening.

 “What are you writing?”

“A screenplay.”

“What’s it called?”

“Fate Wears a Blindfold.”

“Oh. Let me guess. About some guy’s inability to control his destiny. That whole determinism versus free will stuff. Like some film noir. Sounds like old hat to me.”

This doll surprises me. A philosopher, huh? And she knows about film noir. Not many people do anymore. A guy I know, once told me his favourite film noir was ‘Shaft’. There is so much idiocy in the world, nowadays. I blame the internet and social media myself.

“So what’s the film about?”

I don’t answer. I suddenly feel inferior in her company. I don’t want her to think I lack depth as a writer. The screenplay is actually about a young girl called Fate who works in a circus and wears a blindfold during the knife-throwing act of her legendary father. The Great Daggero! Gee, maybe I’m wasting my time with this writing lark.

Next night. Same thing happens.

“What are you working on?”

“Another screenplay idea.”

“What’s it called?”

“Senior Rita.”

“How sweet. Let me see. She’s a pensioner called Rita, she goes to salsa dance classes, she falls for her sexy dance instructor Raul, and despite all the obstacles, ‘Senior Rita’ becomes his senorita. Give me a break.”

I never thought of that. All I have is an old woman called Rita in an old folks home. Maybe she’s the one who should be writing. This broad isn’t doing my confidence any good in the scribbling department.  I re-examine my approach to my work. Maybe I should take something from my real life. Write what you know they say. Maybe about looking like Lou Ferrigno.

Next morning I’m on a roll. In my cocoon of creativity. That happens when you write. Don’t notice anything going on around you. Like when someone has a mauser 7.65 in your face. I look up. It’s Ivor the Terrible.

“Your gal was in touch. She got bored with you. Did a runner. Took the dough with her. We’re going to have to kill you.”

I look over at Ivor’s brother. Terry. The Terrible.

“Wait a minute!” I say.

But it’s too late. He shoots me in the head.

I still think of Marja. She’s the reason I quit writing. Dumped my manbag the day after I left hospital. Ivor didn’t really shoot me in the head. More like the corner of the ear. Like I said, terrible at everything. I lead a normal life now. Well, sort of normal. I dress up as ‘The Incredible Hulk” in a TV nostalgia Park outside Russellport. I’m embarrassed, but we get huge crowds. I blame the internet and social media myself.

© Karl MacDermott August 2014

Karl recently published in Pure Slush, Literary Orphans and Every Day Fiction and written many articles for The Irish Times and has written two novels, 'The Creative Lower Being' in 2007 and a new one 'Ireland's Favourite Failure' available on Amazon Kindle. 

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