Weehawken author Gary Cahill brings 1920s hoodlum debauchery to Weehawken’s quiet streets in his new short story, “That Kind of Guy,” published in the January 2009 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
Written in the American literary genre “crime noir,” Cahill’s protagonist is a hard-nosed money collector, telling the reader he’s not “that kind of guy,” while bludgeoning naysayers with wrenches, two-by-fours, and anything else he can get his calloused hands on.
Born and raised in Weehawken, Cahill used Dyke’s Lumber Yard and Liberty Place in the township as the backdrops for two murderous beatings.
“The story is much more of a slice of life,” Cahill said, “than of what is clear-cut good and evil.”
True to the genre, the protagonist’s efforts to save a girl blur the boundaries between good and evil.
“There is rarely any traditional resolution in a noir story,” said Cahill, “everybody is guilty and everybody pays the price.”
Cahill has been organizing readings of noir-style stories at the Weehawken library for many years. With the encouragement of friend and music critic for the Wall Street Journal Jim Fusilli, Cahill wrote “That Kind of Guy,” which was the first story he ever submitted to a literary magazine.
“I was honored to be selected by the magazine and a bit surprised,” Cahill said.
On the advice of S.J. Rozan, he submitted “That Kind of Guy” to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
“I just submitted the right kind of work at the right time,” Cahill said.
Growing up in Weehawken, Cahill’s roots extend deep in the Hudson County community. Cahill’s father was the Weehawken Fire Chief in the ’60s and ’70s. And after attending public school in Weehawken, Cahill received a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Peter’s College in Jersey City.
“I went to school right down the street from the library,” Cahill said. “I was there all the time growing up.”
But, in addition to a love of the written word, Cahill found passion in music. He played woodwinds throughout his life – clarinet and oboe – before moving to brass, playing the sax, and eventually singing and songwriting.
He worked in the music copying industry at a firm called the Associated Music Copy Service in Manhattan for many years. With ease, Cahill discusses jazz impressionists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
But talking with Cahill, it is obvious that no one was above suspicion in the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan, where he lived and worked in the ’70s and ’80s, at least by association.
Surrounded by crime organizations like the Irish Westies, Cahill developed a thick skin around his refined appreciation for the arts.
“It was a part of town where you really had to keep your head up,” Cahill said.
His unique understanding of all walks of life, creates realistic characters in “That Kind of Guy” that are both believable and relatable.
A made man
Now a card-carrying member of the Mystery Writers of America, Cahill is pleased with his success.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Cahill said. “I’m able to run around in the company of really fine people and excellent writers.”
Cahill has begun work on a new short story featuring the two main characters from “That Kind of Guy,” entitled, “Corner of River and Rain.”
Once finished, Cahill will again submit his work to literary magazines and hope to again be pleasantly surprised.
For more information on Gary Cahill please call the library at (201) 863-7823. Magazines are now available at most major newsstands.