I recently caught 3:10 to Yuma, the 2007 remake of Elmore Leonard's short story, featuring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale (the first version came out in 1957 and starred Glenn Ford and Van Heflin). In the opening scene of the new version, a family hears noises outside at night, and the wife says, “Maybe it’s the wind.” I'm pretty sure it's the first line in the film.
That rang a bell and sent me flipping through Leonard's 1990 novel Get Shorty. Sure enough, in that book, an actress named Karen Flores is famous for saying almost the identical line in a cheesy horror movie called Grotesque, Part Two. [From Chapter 2 of Get Shorty: The maniac's up on the roof ripping out shingles with his bare hands; inside the house the male lead with all the curly hair stares grimly at the ceiling as Karen, playing the girl, says to him, "Maybe it's only the wind."]
A-ha, I thought. Is this an Elmore Leonard inside joke, or am I just seeing patterns that aren’t there, like those people who see the Virgin in grilled cheese sandwiches? I was the flack on several of Leonard's novels, starting way back with Glitz in 1984, so I decided to drop him a line to see if I was right.
Nope. Apparently I am like those people who see the Virgin in grilled cheese sandwiches. No inside joke, though Leonard did say, "I'm wondering if Maybe It's the Wind is a title. It hints at menace, since you know it isn't the wind." That'll have to wait, however, because at the moment he's at work on his next novel. "I'm now on page 217 and wondering what happens next," he said. "It's No. 44. And I have a TV series coming out next spring on FX, based on a short story, Fire in the Hole. But that isn't the show's title. We're still working on that." Maybe they could call that Maybe It's the Wind.
I told him I'd probably quote him on this blog, a medium he remains suspicious of. "I have a feeling emailers and bloggers are young," he said, presumably excluding me from that characterization. "They often make reckless remarks about things they know nothing about. I'm seeing if I can get through this life without ever touching a computer keyboard." His note was typed on his beloved manual typewriter.