In the era before he created moody private investigator Matthew Scudder, burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, sleepless spy Evan Tanner, and the amiable hit man Keller—and years before his first Edgar Award—a young writer named Lawrence Block submitted a story titled "You Can't Lose" to Manhunt magazine. It was published, and the rest is history.
One Night Stands and Lost Weekends is a sterling collection of short crime fiction and suspense novelettes penned between 1958 and 1962 by a budding young master and soon-to-be Grand Master—an essential slice of genre history, and more fun than a high-speed police chase following a bank job gone bad.
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About the Author
Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association—only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler.
Read an Excerpt
One Night Stands and Lost Weekends
The Bad Night
The shorter of the two boys had wiry black hair and a twisted smile. He also had a knife, and the tip of the blade was pressed against Dan's faded gabardine jacket. "Why'd you have to get in the way?" he asked, softly. "Every bull from here to Memphis is after us, and Pops here has to . . ."
"Shut up." The older boy was taller, with blond hair that tumbled over his forehead. He, too, had a knife.
"Why? He ain't going to tell anybody . . ."
"Shut up, Benny." He turned to Dan, smiling. "We need money, maybe some food. We better make it over to your shack."
"No shack," Dan said. He gestured toward an opening in the wall of rock that edged the valley. "I live in the cave over there."
Benny started to laugh, and the blade of his knife pierced Dan's skin and drew blood. "A cave!" he exploded. "Dig, Zeke...he's a hermit!"
Zeke didn't laugh. "C'mon," he said. "To the cave."
They walked slowly across the field toward the mouth of the cave. Dan felt the sweat forming on his forehead, felt the old familiar sensation that he hadn't felt since Korea. He was afraid, as afraid as he'd ever been in his life.
"Faster," Benny said, and again Dan felt the knife prick skin. It didn't make sense. He'd lived through a world war and a police action, and now two kids from Memphis were going to kill him. Two kids who called him "Pops."
The veins stood out on his temples, and he could feel the sweat running down his face to the stubble of beard on his chin. "Why did he get in the way?" the kid had asked. Hell, he didn't mean to get in anyone's way. Just wanted togo off by himself, fool around with a little prospecting, and relax for a while.
They were almost at the entrance of the cave. Now they would take his money, eat his food, and put a switchblade knife between his ribs. He was finished, unless he managed to get to his gun in time. There was a shiny black .45 waiting on his shelf, if only he could get to it before Benny got to him with the knife.
"Here it is," he said. He stepped inside the cave, the two boys right behind him. It was a large cave, wide and roomy and branching out much wider in the rear. On one side was his mattress, on the other his trunk and four orange-crate shelves.
"Let's go," said Zeke. "Bring out the dough and some food. We ain't got all night."
"Yeah," Benny echoed. "We gotta roll, man. Make it fast or I stick you, dig?" He prodded Dan with a knife for emphasis.
"Wait a minute." Dan's eyes darted desperately to the crates and lighted on the kerosene lantern. "Let me light the lamp over there. It's getting kind of dark in here."
Benny looked at Zeke, who shrugged. "Okay," he said. "But don't try anything." Dan walked across to the side of the cave, and Benny followed with the knife.
Fumbling in his pocket for a match, Dan glanced down to the middle shelf of the crate where the gun nestled cozily amidst a packet of letters and a pair of socks. If only he could get it, and if only it were loaded. Was it loaded? He couldn't remember.
"Hurry it up," Zeke said. It was now or never, Dan thought. He lifted the pack of matches from his pocket, tensed his body, and fell forward.
At the same time he lashed out viciously with his foot and heard a dull grunt of pain as he connected solidly with Benny's belly. His right hand snaked out for the gun and closed around it, his fingers caressing the smooth metal of the butt. All in one motion he took it and whirled around, his finger tight against the trigger. The boys scampered for the rear of the cave. Then, before he could get a shot off, his right ankle buckled and he fell to the floor. For a moment everything went black as the pain shot up and down his leg. He gritted his teeth until the floor stopped spinning.
Dan glanced around the cave, and the two boys seemed to have disappeared. He tried to stand, but the stab of pain in his ankle told him it was useless. The ankle was broken.
He could hear Zeke, cursing dully from the back of the cave. They hadn't left, then. He had them trapped.
After a time the cursing stopped. "Hey, Pops!" Zeke called. "That was pretty sharp, you know?"
Dan didn't answer.
"Sharp," the boy repeated. "You faked us good, but what'll it get you? You can't move, Pops."
Dan started. He scrutinized the rear walls of the cave but could see nothing.
"Peek-a-boo," Zeke called. "I can see you real good, Pops. There's a cool little crack in the rock, you know? I can see you clear as anything. You still got your gun, but you can't go anywhere."
"Neither can you," Dan answered, in spite of himself. "You can't come out without getting shot. You two little bastards can stay there until I get some help."
The boy's laugh rang hollowly in the cave. "Help? You expecting company, Pops? Bet there's a whole mess of -people in a real rush to come here. This cave's a big attraction, huh?"
Dan ran a hand over his forehead. The boy was right...the world didn't exactly beat a path to his door. Daley would drop by in the morning with the mail, but he couldn't figure on anyone showing before then. It was a stalemate; he couldn't get the boys, and they couldn't get him.
"I can wait," he called. "My friend comes up at eleven every morning, and we can just sit it out until then. Have a nice wait, kids. Enjoy yourselves. When the cops get hold of you it won't be much fun."One Night Stands and Lost Weekends. Copyright © by Lawrence Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.