Today is Mickey Spillane's birthday. If I counted right (never a sure thing), he would have been 92 years old this year. I discovered Mickey's work - specifically I, The Jury - when I was in high school, and I've never been the same since.
I had the great good fortune to work tangentially with Mickey back in the 90s, when I edited the monthly comic book Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger, co-created and written by Max Allan Collins, for Tekno*Comix. I spoke with Mickey several times over the phone, he graciously signed my few Mike Hammer hardcovers, and we met in person just once, when he visited the Tekno offices in Boca Raton.
Ironically - or at least interestingly - that was on his birthday, too. We all went out to lunch, and when the waitress brought him his complimentary birthday dessert, he thanked her and sent her on her way with a charming smile. He then turned to me and slid the dish across the table. "This isn't on my diet," he said. "Here. You have it."
Conscious of my steadily expanding girth, I declined. That's when he fixed me with his gunsight eyes and said, in a gravely semi-whisper: "Eat it."
I flashed on the scene in the movie The Girl Hunters, where Spillane, playing Mike Hammer, popped a bullet out of the clip of his .45 and rolled it across a bar to a greasy sleazebag with an icepick. "Eat it," he growled. The punk did.
I was no braver - and that cheesecake was much more palatable than a .45 bullet. I ate the damned dessert.
I miss you, Mick. For that story and all the others you gave me - and millions of other grateful readers.