In 1967, inspired by the success of the James Bond novels, the secretive team of French explorers known as Les Scaphandriers seized upon the notion of introducing their adventures in literary form.
They unexpectedly commissioned an obscure American pulp fiction writer and exotic dancer, Emmitt “Lacy” LeBouf. His mission was to craft a series of men’s adventure stories using the actual exploits of the team as a rough template.
The fevered imagination of LeBouf, inflamed by a growing addiction to paint fumes, crafted a bizarre series of “Astonishing Aquanauts” pulp novels that are now quite rare, as most copies went unsold and were sent to Jordan by the Red Cross in 1978 as part of a Bedouin outreach program.
The Bedouins, unimpressed, used the books as kindling for communal fires or to startle children. Several of the works were recently discovered in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba as part of a Western Memorabilia collection compiled by a fisherman named ShuShu. These books are sadly not for sale, although Mr. ShuShu will describe them in some detail for a nominal fee or a vigorous scalp massage.
As luck would have it though, number 27 in the series, “Kill, Mermaid, Kill, Kill, Kill!” was recently discovered at a Novelty Shop in Palatka, Florida.
The badly worn copy had found new life as the pedestal for a disturbing sculpture of two body-builders riding a manatee, but the interior pages were intact.
Reading the book in one sitting is not recommended and has been described by one appalled bibliophile as akin to swallowing a gallon of warm tapioca pudding laced with peach schnapps.
With that in mind, the estate of Les Scaphandriers now makes it available for the first time as a serialized novel.
Chapter One, “Mommy, Make it Gurgle,” will be presented free of charge on this space in the near future.
As the legendary leader of Les Scaphandriers, Jules Valiance, once said, “make of it what you will.”