The Killers of My Time…

The ending of “The Killers,” by Ernest Hemingway, was very anti-climactic! When I read a story titled as such, I expect some killing! This probably sounds extremely violent on my part, but let me explain. Sloppy gangsters who hangout in a diner for a couple of hours, only manage to tie up two innocent men, curse, and make sarcastic insults and then just leave without any more information about their target are boring. What makes it worse is that Nick Adams goes to warn their target, Ole Andreson, and finds him in a hopeless state, expecting to be killed and too depressed to even care. What?! A more appropriate title to Hemingway’s work is, “The Quitters.” In order to make the story jive with its title, I decided to change Nick Adams’ character into an undercover hit-man, who was also hired to kill Ole Andreson, but actually gets the job done. This alternative ending is in response to a writing assignment that states:

Write an alternative ending to a novel, movie, short story, poem, etc. What else can I say but make it damn good! Want some examples? Here are 13 alternative endings for various popualr films: http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/films/alternate-movie-endings-better-than-the-real-ones

In order to effectively change the development of the plot, I re-read the story, while concentrating specifically on Nick’s character. He was the only character given a first and last name by Hemingway, which distinguished him from the other characters, and would work perfectly with the new ending I had in mind. Looking back through the story, I noticed that Nick had been talking to George at the onset and basically observed the actions of Al and Max, while asking only a few questions about their plans. It was pointed out that Nick had never had a towel in his mouth before, which would also work because a hired killer should not have ever had the experience of being a victim of a crime. All of Nick’s previous actions in the story would be indicative of an undercover hit-man trying to locate his target. The fact that George asked Nick to go visit Ole Andreson at the end of the original story would give my new and improved character the information he was after, the target’s address. Perfect!

As far composition of my new ending goes, I aimed to stay true to Hemingway’s writing style and the time period. For example, I continued the use of dialogue with the appropriate language for the times and researched specific weapons that were used by criminals in the 1920’s. In addition, I reiterated the noir elements used by the author, such as darkness, a murder plot, desperation, and the desire to leave town to escape.

Please re-read the original story and when you get to page 231, add my ending after the woman who leads Nick Adams to Ole Andreson’s door says, “It’s somebody to see you, Mr. Andreson.” I think you will still feel the desperation of the times in Ole Andreson, but the evilness of the times will be more apparent when Nick’s true character is revealed.

 

Alternative Ending:

“It’s somebody to see you, Mr. Andreson,” the woman said…   (p 231)

At that very moment, the woman heard a lot of racket behind the door and Mr. Adams became very tense. He pulled a .38 caliber revolver from under his coat and kicked the door down. The woman screamed and took off down the hall, as Ole Andreson dropped to the floor and begged for mercy.

Mr. Adams yelled, “You better have what you owe! If not, you’re gonna get it, see!”

“I have some. It’s in my shoe. Let that cover me for today, okay?”

It seemed ironic that such a large, muscular man, with obvious scars and distortions on his face from fighting, was acting so helpless. Nick, however, put the gun right to Ole Andreson’s temple, forced him to take off his shoe, hand over the little money he had, and then put a bullet straight through his head.

Mr. Andreson had been doing lots of gambling since his days as a heavyweight prizefighter and owed lots of money to lots of really bad people. Adams had been tracking him for weeks. He had posed as a simple country boy, gone into Henry’s for a bite to eat and was trying to find an inconspicuous way to learn where Ole Andreson was rooming.

After the hired hit was complete, Nick casually concealed the revolver. He walked back up the dark side street under the arc-light and back up the street beside the car-tracks toward Henry’s. As he turned to enter, a police car was going by the lunch-room toward Hirsch’s rooming-house.

George said, “Nick! The police looking for them two gangsters, I suppose! Did you get to tell Ole Andreson what it was about?”

“Yes, I warned him of the trouble he was in, and he seemed a little shaken, but then he went silent.”

George shook his head from side to side, looked at the clock, and said, “I hope Old Andreson doesn’t come for dinner at six o’clock anymore!”

“I’m sure he won’t, George! Guess he double-crossed someone in Chicago. I’m getting out of this town as fast as possible!”

“Yes,” said George, “That’s a good thing to do.”