Don’t Shoot

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Don’t Shoot


Illustrated by ASHMAN

[Transcriber’s Note: This etext was produced from
Galaxy Science Fiction April 1955.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

A man has to have a place to confess a horrible
sin … and this is as good as any other!

I can no longer keep my terrible secret, although the thought of what will happen to me, when I tell my story, gives me a trembling from head to toe. Without doubt, word will flash to the proper authorities and stern-faced men with sympathetic eyes will bring straitjacket and sedatives, and hunt me down to tear me from Mary’s clinging arms. A padded cell will be made ready for another unfortunate.

Nevertheless what we have just read in the newspapers has made us fearfully agree that I must tell all, regardless of my own fate. So let me say this:

If it is true that an expedition is being organized in London to go to the cold and rocky wastes of the Himalayas for the purpose of investigating that astonishing primeval creature called ‘The Abominable Snowman,’ then I am forced to tell you immediately … the Abominable Snowman is none other than Mr. Eammer, the famous movie magnate.

And I am the one responsible for this amazing situation. I and my invention which Mr. Eammer had hired me to develop, an invention which would put 3-D and Cinemascope and the new Largoscope process so far behind in the fierce Hollywood battle for supremacy that Mr. Eammer would at last have complete control of the industry, and, for that matter, television also.

You will say this is impossible because one or two glimpses of the Abominable Snowman have shown it to be an apelike creature?

And the animal’s body is covered with thick, coarse hair?

Well, did you ever see Mr. Eammer lounging beside his elaborate Beverly Hills swimming pool? He looks as if he’s just climbed down from a tree. The last young movie lovely an agent had brought around to talk contracts took one look, screamed and fainted. It is said she was hysterical for two days.

But let me tell how it all started. Remember those awful days when television, like a monster with a wild pituitary gland, grew until it took the word ‘colossal’ away from filmdom? What a battle! Like two giant bears rearing up face to face, roaring, screaming, swapping terrible blows of mighty paws, the two industries fought, with the film industry reeling bloodily, at first, then rallying with 3-D, then Cinemascope, and television pressing home the fierce attack with color TV.

And who was caught in the middle of all this, without any protection? Mr. Eammer. Why? Well, let me give you some background on that character. When talkies killed the era of silent films, Mr. Eammer nearly got shaken loose in the change. He’d scornfully dismissed the new development.

“Ha,” he’d said. “People come to my movies for one of two things. To fall asleep, or to look at the pretty girlies.”

When the movie industry began to look for good stories and material that stimulated the mind as well as the emotion, Mr. Eammer had jeered. “Ha. People are stupid, people are sheep. They don’t want to think, they just want to see the pretty girlies.”

Six months later, Mr. Eammer had sent emissaries to England to try to hire this guy Billy Shakespeare. “Offer him anything,” ordered Mr. Eammer grimly. “Tell him we’ll fill the water cooler in his office with gin, he can pick any secretary he likes from among our starlets, and … and …” he swallowed, then recklessly added, “we’ll even give him screen credit.”

Of course the men he’d sent out searching knew Billy Shakespeare had kicked off, though they weren’t sure whether it was last year or ten years ago. But it was a fine trip on the expense account and after a few weeks of riotous searching in London’s gayer areas, they wired that Shakespeare had caught a bad cold, the penicillin had run out and he’d not lasted the night.

But Mr. Eammer pulled out of his situation. He bought up just the right to use the titles of great classic novels, ignored the contents, and had entirely different stories written.

“Not enough girlies in their versions,” he explained, frowning. “Them hack writers don’t have stuff with real interest to it.”

By the time the customers were in the packed movie houses, they were so stunned with the spectacle of unclad femininity that they’d completely forgotten what they’d come to see. Half of them had never read the classics anyway.

So the dough rolled in and Mr. Eammer’s estate was photographed in color and published in “Beautiful Homes” magazines, and high school newspapers sent nervous young reporters to ask advice for graduates yearning to get into the movie business. How, they asked humbly, could they carve a place for themselves?

Mr. Eammer beamed and said, “Girlies. Use plenty of girlies. It gets them every time.”

The printed interview, as approved and edited by high school faculty advisors, did not contain this advice.

But the girlies weren’t enough to save Mr. Eammer when television hit the movies on its glass jaw. He didn’t believe what was happening, until it was too late. When his studio started hitting the skids, he hastily withdrew funds and liquidated assets and rented a number of safe-deposit boxes. Then he sat back and let his creditors scream a symphony of threats.

It was at that time that Mr. Eammer heard that I, a young physicist interested in optics, had stumbled across an oddity which might revolutionize the movie industry. He’d heard of this through Mary, whom I love with all my heart, and who will sometimes embarrass me by proudly telling people how intelligent I am.

As Mr. Eammer’s secretary, she let him know all about me, just as she let me know all I have just told you about him. Mary is not a reticent person; she is too loving of her fellow man to withhold even the slightest information and perhaps I should have kept my astonishing discovery to myself.

In any case the phone rang in my very small laboratory one day and Mary’s excited voice said, “Joe, darling. It’s me. I told him about your invention. Come down right away.”

“Who?” I said. “Where? What are you talking about?”

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