Magic out of a Hat by L. Ron Hubbard

HEN ARTHUR J. BURKS TOLD ME TO put a wastebasket upon my head, I knew that one of us – probably both – was crazy. But Burks has a winning way about him, and so I followed his orders and thereby hangs a story. And what a story!

     You know of course how all this pleasant lunacy started. Burks bragged openly in Writer’s Digest that he could give six writers a story apiece if they would just name an article in a hotel room. So six of us took him up on it and trooped in.

     The six were Fred “Par” Painton, George “Sizzling Air” Bruce, Norvell “Spider” Page, Walter “Curly-top” Marquiss, Paul “Haunted House” Ernst, and myself. An idiotic crew, if I do say it, wholly in keeping with such a scheme to mulch editors with alleged stories. I spied a wastebasket in Burks’ room and told him to plot me a story around it.

     He ordered me to put a wastebasket on my head, told me that it reminded me of a kubanka (Ruski lid, if you aren’t a Communist) and ordered me to write the story. I won’t repeat here the story he told me to write. It was clean, that’s about all you can say for it – (although that says a great deal coming from an ex-Marine).

     This wastebasket didn’t even look faintly like a kubanka. A kubanka is covered with fur, looks like an ice-cream cone minus its point, and is very nice if you’re a Ruski. I wrote the story up that same night. Don’t go wrong and find Art’s article to see how he would do it. I’ll show you the right way.

     Burks told me to write about a Russian lad who wants his title back and so an American starts the wheels rolling, which wheels turn to gun wheels or some such drivel, and there’s a lot of flying in the suggestion, too. Now I saw right there that Art had headed me for a cheap action story not worth writing at all. He wanted to do some real fighting in it and kill off a lot of guys.

Magic out of a Hat continued...

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