STEVE FISHER “You’ll Always Remember Me.” Short story. First published in Black Mask, March 1938. Reprinted in The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, edited by Otto Penzler (Vintage Crime, softcover, November 2007).

   You can add Steve Fisher to a list of several dozen pulp writers who went on to long productive careers in other story-telling media once the pulps themselves died. He wrote a few mystery novels over the years, but what’s a lot more notable are his film and TV credits — IMDb lists over a hundred of them, starting with The Nurse from Brooklyn (1938) and concluding with an episode of Fantasy Island in 1979.

   But while they lasted, he wrote a ton of stories for the pulp magazines as well, from aviation stories to love pulp romances, but mostly for the detective pulps, including the most remembered of them all, Black Mask. I don’t know if it’s the reason it was chosen to be included in Otto Penzler’s recent anthology of pulp fiction, but his story “You’ll Always Remember Me” in the March 1938 issue of that magazine, but it’s definitely a lot edgier than most of that magazine’s usual fare, which was the ultimate in hardboiled fiction to begin with.

   It would not be, in fact, totally out of place in a magazine such as Manhunt, which came along quite a bit later, nor under the byline of someone like Jim Thompson, who also came along later. It’s told, we discover, by young 14 year old boy named Martin who currently resides in a military academy paid for by his father.

   We also discover that he has a crush on, Marie, a 15 year old girl whose brother Tommy is soon to be executed for the murder of their father, and our young narrator is convinced that he didn’t do it. A detective named Duff Ryan, who is sweet on Marie’s sister Ruth and is equally sure that Tommy didn’t do it.

   Who did do it? You may very well guess, and I’ll wager that you are right. Ryan is thinking along the same lines, and to help prove it [WARNING: Cat Lover’s Alert] he takes a cat that has been hit by a car and is dying and smashes it against the wall, trying to see what rise he can get out of Martin.

   [PLOT ALERT #2] As a juvenile, Martin is deemed not responsible for his actions. He’ll be out when he’s 21, hence the title, stated as a Warning. I’m only guessing, of course, but I think that anyone would read this story back in 1938 remembered it for a long long time.