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The Alcoholics
     

The Alcoholics

by Jim Thompson, Doug Dorst
 

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Dr. Peter S. Murphy needs fifteen thousand dollars by the end of the day, or the city of Los Angeles can say goodbye to the El Healtho clinic. A recovery center for the most severe cases of alcoholism in the state--even if no one ever does quite seem to get dry there--El Healtho has been the bane of Dr. Murphy's existence ever since he started running it. But now that

Overview

Dr. Peter S. Murphy needs fifteen thousand dollars by the end of the day, or the city of Los Angeles can say goodbye to the El Healtho clinic. A recovery center for the most severe cases of alcoholism in the state--even if no one ever does quite seem to get dry there--El Healtho has been the bane of Dr. Murphy's existence ever since he started running it. But now that its doors are about to close forever, Dr. Murphy finds he'll do anything to keep it open.

Up to and including admitting Humphrey Van Twyne III, a patient with an extremely violent past whose wealthy family has the means to keep El Healtho open for business. Sure, the man isn't exactly an alcoholic. And yes, what he really needs is to be under the care of the surgeons who performed the lobotomy that's rendered Van Twyne all but a vegetable. But the money's good--until the rag-tag group of ne'er-do-wells at El Healtho begin to wreak havoc with Dr. Murphy's plans, and suddenly no one day has ever seemed so long.

A literary precursor to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, THE ALCOHOLICS is Thompson like you've never read him before, a pitch-black, mad-cap portrait of deviant behavior that is at once darkly comic, humane and harrowing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316195881
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
05/01/2012
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,265,874
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

1

His real name was Pasteur Semelweiss Murphy; so naturally he called himself Dr. Peter S. Murphy: rather, his patients and colleagues knew him by that name. In his own mind, he called himself names as hideous and hopeless as the agony of which they were born. You!--he would snarl savagely. You goofy-looking beanpole! You lanky, long-drawn son-of-a-bitch! You scrawny red-haired imbecile!

Doctor Murphy had always spoken to Doctor Murphy with disparagement and invective. But never with such frequence and intensity as since he had become the proprietor of El Healtho--Modern Treatment For Alcoholics. Not until then had he called himself dishonest; never before, in the endless annals of Murphy vs. Murphy, had the defendant been charged with gross incompetence. And yet--and this was odd--the knowledge that he was about to be divorced from El Healtho, no later, barring miracles, than the close of business today, did nothing to modify or mollify the prosecution. On the contrary, tonight he would shut down the sanitarium, and along with everything else, he would stand accused of failure, of bollixing a job, of screwing up the works. By God, out good!

El Healtho perches on a cliff overlooking the Pacific in the southerly limits of the city of Los Angeles. It is a rambling stucco and tile structure, styled in that school of architecture known as Spanish Mediterranean to its adherents and "California Gothic" to its detractors; originally the home of a silent motion-picture actor whose taste, whatever else may be said about it, proved considerably better than his voice.

As a matter of fact, it was not particularly unpleasing tothe eye--unless that eye were Doctor Murphy's.

His long scrawny shanks clad in a pair of faded-red swim trunks, the good doctor squatted on the beach and stared blindly at the Pacific; April sunlight in his eyes, Arctic ice in his heart. He had been swimming for three hours when a great breaker had caught him up in its arms and hurled him rolling and spinning and half-drowned onto the sand. It had cast him up and out--and it should have, by God; he was enough even to make the ocean puke!--simultaneously burying him beneath a hundred-odd pounds of slithery seaweed.

Lying there, breathless, in the dank tentacled mess, he had remembered those searing lines from--from Wells? Yes, the Outline of History: "To this stage has civilization progressed from the slime of the tidal beaches..." And there had been a masochistic satisfaction in remembering, in associating the words with his own sorry state.

A hundred million years of life ... and in what had it resulted? Well, it was obvious, wasn't it? A pile of crap. A will-less thing, floating on the tide, lacking the elementary grace to sink out of sight.

Meet the Author

James Meyers Thompson was born in Anadarko, Oklahoma. He began writing fiction at a very young age, selling his first story to True Detective when he was only fourteen. Thompson eventually wrote twenty-nine novels, all but three of which were published as paperback originals. Thompson also wrote two screenplays (for the Stanley Kubrick films "The Killing" and "Paths of Glory"). An outstanding crime writer, the world of his fiction is rife with violence and corruption. In examining the underbelly of human experience and American society in particular, Thompson's work at its best is both philosophical and experimental. Several of his novels have been filmed by American and French directors, resulting in classic noir including The Killer Inside Me (1952), After Dark My Sweet (1955), and The Grifters (1963).

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