Notes On “The Ungriftable Howard Zez”

First off, sorry for having been away for so long. The usual excuses apply.

Anyway, I’m afraid I don’t have a ton of notes to give for this story. It started when I asked myself how Howard Zez would try to finance Dope Dealers From Outer Space, and it occurred to me that since Howard was the perfect combination of arrogance and ineptitude, he was a man ripe to be conned. It also occurred to me to have his wife Peggy rescue him from the con, and in doing so reveal more of her own backstory. I also love using scams in stories. They provide a useful structure for the plot.

The con is a variation of one that a guy tried to work on me. The idea was to hire me as a tutor and convince me to take a cashier’s check to the bank for an amount far over what I was ostensibly to be paid for the tutoring job, cash it, then bring the money back to the operator to give him his “share”. The check would prove a forgery, of course, and since only my signature was on the check and I was alone on the bank’s cameras, I’d be the one stuck explaining things to the FBI while the con artist ran off with the loot. I decided to combine this fraud with a variation on the Spanish Prisoner con, using the smaller sting–the advance fee for the SP scam–as a way to rope the mark, Howard Zez into the bigger game, involving a forged check written on a genuine account.

My thanks to Page & Spine for publishing “The Ungriftable Howard Zez”. We’ll be talking about another story, “Your Time On Earth Is Finished”, in this space soon.

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