is a dynamic narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Many
elements contribute to successful story including characterization
(William Faulkner,) lively dialogue (George V. Higgins,) an exciting
concept (Michael Crichton,) mood (Shirley Jackson,) or a wild plot
(Randy Wayne White.) You construct them all with words. How many
words? However many you need to achieve the effect. Can you use too
many words? You sure can, but words are the building blocks of story.
Whenever I see that asinine challenge, what’s the scariest story you
can tell in six words, I want to shake the challenger by the collar.
You can’t build a house with six bricks.
authors are drunk on words. Anthony Burgess, Michael Chabon, and
Marlon James come to mind. Some authors parcel their words like
Ebeneezer Scrooge. Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway. However you
do it, the goal is the same: to grab the reader by the throat and
drag him into the narrative to the exclusion of all else. You want to
write a book that makes the reader resent anything that interrupts
The Badger novel is
about ninety per cent finished, but other projects have taken my
attention. What could possibly be more important that the Badger
novel? Bringing home the bacon! And yes, I’ve seen the video with the
coyote and the badger! Everybody and my sister sent it to me.
“Take this job
and shove it!”
Mavis leveled a
finger. “He born for better things than shoveling shit!”
“See here, old
chap! If you don’t want to shovel shit, why didn’t you just say
so? I have plenty of other work for you. We need to repair that old
storage shed. And when we’re done with that, I’d like you to
plant mint in the garden. I hear it deters rabbits.”
Mavis wagged that
“Badger work for
you long enough. Where his IRA? Where his pension plan?”
Ham spread his
hands. “I pay him a hundred thousand dollars a year, same as you. I
provide room and board. Surely you have the wherewithal to fund your
“Not point! This
man great martial artist! We open school.”
“See here, old
chap! You’ve been with me since the beginning! Do you want more
money? What if I were to give you a fancy title? Director of
Security! I’ll give you an office.”
“Boss, I just
feel my potential is wasted shoveling shit. I haven’t fought a
demon in years. I wouldn’t know how to fight one now. The demons
never come around anymore. I’ve always dreamed of opening my own
Badger raised his
hands. “Go. Go with my blessing. But before you go, would you be so
kind as to recommend a replacement? Someone who can do what you do.”
Badger thought long
and hard. “Wombat.”
berserker from Australia? Is that a good idea?”
Mavis seized Badger
by the arm. “Is best idea.”
“Do you have
Canberra,” Mavis said.
Facebook,” Badger said.
“I’ll try that.
Very well. Will you be in touch?”
Badger said. “I just want to try something new. If any demons show
up, give me a holler.”
Ham collapsed in
his chair, which squeaked and groaned. “Fine.”
“I’m a little
disappointed. I should have been more attentive. I thought you liked
Mavis seized the
Vietnamese vase from its plinth.
“Wait a minute,”
“This is my vase.
I only let you borrow because you wanted to study, remember? You no
Ham turned to
Badger exasperated. “She speaks perfect English when she wants,
“You want demon,
I crack vase over skull! Then you see demon!”
“I was hoping to
see the demon without violence.”
Mavis snorted in
disgust. “We also taking dogs.”
“Dog missing. Did
Ham looked up,
startled. “What? What dog? No! I don’t eat dogs!”
“Then why you
name him Waffles?”
Ham stood and waved
his arms. “Go! Go with my blessing, curse you!”
Badger’s hand and yanked him out of the office. “I already pack.
I get car. You get dogs.”
Badger sat on the
flagstone floor of the entryway and sucked his thumb. Mavis knelt
before him and took his head in her hands. “Norbert. Norbert. I’m
sorry I mentioned Waffles. You have to be a man now, for the sake of
Badger looked at
her with fearful eyes, then looked away.
Mavis cupped her
hands and howled like a wolf. Badger sprang into a fighting stance,
like Travis Bickle.
“Where are the
broadly. “They’re out there. But right now, I need you to get all
the dogs together. We’re leaving.”
As a result of
severe childhood abuse at the hands of his stepfather, Norbert Sykes
had issues. The American Psychiatric Association, which flitted from
trend to trend like a butterfly, had recently decided that multiple
personality disorder did not exist. They now characterized what used
to be known as MPD into four types.
identity disorder, depersonalization disorder, derealization
disorder, and dissociative amnesia disorder. Badger’s therapist,
Daisy Fields, who also served as Ham’s secretary, tried to keep up.
But it was impossible to keep up. She had diagnosed Badger with five
separate personalities: Gastineau Grover DePaul, a tough inner-city
black, Emily, a six year old girl, Max Swell, a gay architect, Leroy,
a dog, and Pierre, a mass murderer. Daisy had done her best, but
until Badger met Mavis, he was all over the place.
Since Mavis had
come into his life, he was calmer and more focused. She possessed an
intuitive understanding of psychosis from dealing with animals all
her life. She was born in Vietnam. They met at a martial arts
said, stepping out the main entrance onto the broad front stoop.
Inserting two fingers, he whistled. Barks and howls emanated from
every corner. Five dogs lined up in a row, wagging their tails.
Synchronized. Bob was a black border collie/golden retriever mix.
Mack was a female pug/Boston terrier mix. Freddy was a collie/dingo
mix. Ermagerd was a female snickerdoodle. Otis was some kind of
wondering why I called you here. We’re moving to a new home. No dog
left behind. The food will be the same. Has anyone seen Leroy?”
They all started
barking at once.
Mavis pulled up in
a 1990 GMC Suburban pulling a trailer. They stuck their suitcases in
the trailer. The dogs piled in. Badger got the shotgun seat.
“No. We come
“Where we going?”
“I rent farmhouse
from Old MacDonald. I save foal last winter. He like me.”
Badger remembered a
cold, windy night, staying up with Mavis in the drafty barn, Mavis’
arms up to her elbows inside the mare, gently easing the foal into
its new life. Old MacDonald had called it a miracle. There were two
houses on his property, the modest ranch style in which he and his
wife of fifty years lived, and the old double decker that had
belonged to his parents. The senior MacDonalds had lived there until
they passed, several years ago. They were buried on the property, as
were their parents.
Before they could
leave, Daisy Fields ran out the front door. A shapely blond in her
mid-thirties, she wore creased tan Banana Republic slacks, a vintage
flapper blouse, and glasses.
Where are you going?”
Mavis stood on the
driver’s seat through the sun roof, pointing down the road. “We
move to 221 Baker Street, five miles that way. You join us for dinner
tonight, Hoity Toity. Pick you up at s.x”
Badger stood on the
shotgun seat. “I want to open my own kung fu school.”
Mavis put her arm
around his shoulders. “He tired of shoveling shit!”
“Oh no! Oh no!
You can’t go! You’re the reason I’m here.”
Mavis said. “Ham relies on you. You do real work! Accounting.
Administrative. He needs you more than Badger.”
Daisy looked like
she was about to cry. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
about it!” Badger said. “We’ll pick you up at six!”
“Can you at least
leave me a dog?”
himself and turned to face the dogs. “Boys, who wants to stay here
with Daisy? I need a volunteer.”
Otis leaped out the
window, ran up the stairs, and licked Daisy as she crouched to hug
“Miss Fields, I
need you!” Ham called through the open window.
Mavis started the
engine. “Back later, pick you up at six.”
Daisy watched them
drive down the perfect black asphalt and exit through the stone gate
onto Brotherhood Lane.
late, she called out, “Wait! Wait! That can’t be your address!
Sherlock Holmes lives there!”
and I set out to see Batman at the Carmike, which lies across
the railroad tracks behind Karate West. The city’s revising Mason
Street with new rails and a commercial bus line and the whole city
has been a clusterfuck since May when they started the Repairs.
Every year, the same streets, the same repairs, and the construction
crews don’t communicate with one another so it sometimes seems as if
the city has become a giant rat maze, at least for drivers.
were on foot. We crossed the tracks and saw that the City has
blocked off the pedestrian bridge over the ditch. “Come on,”
Kim said, leading the way by climbing between the plastic yellow
ribbons strung across each end. Plastic yellow ribbons that said, DO
NOT CROSS. It was about 96 out, which caused the black ink on the
yellow plastic ribbons to turn into crankcase engine oil. Mere
seconds after climbing through the final strand I noticed the heavy
gray sludge on my arm and legs. Likewise Kim.
spent some time in the men’s room cleaning up.
movie was good.
the way back we steered around the fateful bridge and as we neared
the sidewalk a well upholstered city employee with a yellow hard hat
and coveralls on approached us with a twinkle in her eyes.
I saw you boys go across that bridge. Now you know why we put those
don’t choose my stories, my stories choose me. I knew “Trail of
the Loathesome Swine” was a great title, but it took me thirty
years to find the story. It’s about a feral hog that eats a boy’s
sister, and his pursuit of vengeance. It’s a funny story. The
writer’s first duty is to entertain.
after day my feed was filled with Florida Man stories. There’s a
compilation site: floridaman.com. Thousands of stories. After being
socked in the face with my thousandth, I realized that the Muse was
asking me to put them into a hysterical narrative. Thus was born
Florida Man. It instantly became my best selling title under my own
name. The Western I wrote, Killer’s Train, is the best selling. Go
figure. There’s a huge audience for Westerns, so I’m doing another
under the same pen name, A.W. Hart.
publisher asked me for a Florida Man sequel. At first I thought there
was nothing more to say. Then I went to that website. Man, was I
wrong. There’s enough Florida Man material to fill a dozen books. So
here I am toiling away on Florida Man 2, and the problem isn’t enough
material, but too much! The latest stories involve frozen iguanas
dropping from trees and bonking people in the head. And then this
Man Fills Car with Frozen Iguanas, They Warm Up, Come Back to Life,
under the headline: Sorry,
this post has been removed by the moderators of r/news. Moderators
remove posts from feeds for a variety of reasons, including keeping
communities safe, civil, and true to their purpose.
God bless our
moderators, ever vigilant lest we harm ourselves!
My latest Florida
Man review was posted yesterday:
out of 5 stars.
Baron captured the essence of Florida in this book. So many blunders
in pursuit of doing the right thing sometimes befall even the best of
men. The references to. Small town Florida life are perfectly
portrayed without becoming overdone and the antics of the wildlife is
also dead on. A great escape.
I’m about to start a story, whether on my own or at the request of
others, I work up an outline that covers most of the plot. But it’s
not just a road map, it’s an advertisement for the story. I make that
outline fun to read. When you outline your story, always do so with
the intention of showing it to others, even if you never do. The goal
of the outline is to excite interest. Once someone finishes the
outline, they should say, “Holy moly! Now I want to read the
book!” I am currently writing a Western called The Curse of The
Black Rose. It’s about ninja nuns. No kidding. It’s not my idea. Here
is the outline:
Cobb Hansen brings in Chaco, a wounded, dehydrated Indian boy to the
mission at Santo Tomas where the nuns nurse him. Chaco escaped from
General Alcala Nebres, a rogue Castilian forced to flee Spain due to
his participation in a plot to overthrow King Alfonso. Nebres sailed
to Mexico where he claimed an ancient land grant in Hidalgo Province,
while rebel forces seek to depose President Diaz, who gave him a land
grant in exchange for his support. Before rebels forced him north,
Nebres plundered an ancient Mayan temple, claiming it belonged to
has moved north into Chihuahua, but even there, the revolution nips
at his heels. He travels with is own priest and gives confession
daily. Determined to carve out his own kingdom, Nebres looks across
the Rio Grande at Texas. Chaco says Nebres enslaves and tortures
Indians and Mexicans alike.
Mercy dispatches Catalina, Sister Sofia, and Sister Caroline Harp to
check it out, and if what Chaco says is true, to kill Nebres and free
the slaves. Cobb Hendricks’ ranch is in flames, Hendricks barely
alive to describe the attack. Nebres stole his cattle and drove them
across the river.
Mexico, a rebel patrol “escorts” them to Pancho Villa, who
recently escaped prison and is deeply troubled by his actions. He
seeks absolution but nuns can’t hear confession. Catalina questions
him on Nebres, with whom Villa has been feuding. Nebres claims a
mandate from God and from Mayan deity
to create his own land. Villa is determined to drive him out of
Mexico. He chews coca leaves constantly, and plans to cultivate the
nuns accompany Villa on his raid against Nebres’ men, who have taken
over the tiny town of Sagrado Corazon, killing the men, abusing the
women, and taking their prized Miura fighting
The nuns join the fight, astonishing both sides who have never seen
fighting nuns. A captured lieutenant reveals that Nebres has staked
out a vast territory in New Mexico and declared himself an
independent nation. Itzama has made Nebres invincible, attracting
embittered Spanish/American war veterans. Rough Riders.
learned strategy and history from Aguiles and his sons. Disguised as
Apache, Catalina, Sofia, and Caroline head north, onto Apache land.
Surrounded, they reveal themselves and demand unarmed combat. The
Apache are astonished. Catalina, Sofia, and Caroline kick butt,
astonishing the Apache who adopt the three nuns into the tribe and
agree to help the Sisters. Nebres’ men raped and murdered an Apache
woman and killed her child. The Apaches catch up with the raiders.
Catalina recognizes one from Elan’s description. Surrounded by
Apache, the braggart challenges one of them to fight him hand to
hand. Wearing warpaint, Catalina mutilates him, puts him on a horse
and sends him back to Nebres with a message. Vengeance is coming.
the Guadalupe Mountains, the sisters view Nebres’ through telescopes.
He has taken over the San Cristobal Mission and put his troops to
work building corrals and robbing trains. The mortally wounded priest
curses Nebres. “God will send an angel disguised as a devil. She
will take your soul.”
Mexico is barely four months a state when a platoon from Fort Diggs
arrives to ascertain whether the rumors are true. Nebres’ men
slaughter the soldiers and send the captain away beaten and naked,
tied backwards on his horse.
has heard about the mysterious convent and its warrior nuns. His man
barely made it back before dying, but not before he delivered Lina’s
message. Father Armando assures him that he is a good man and that
those who resist him are evil. The mission has its own well and four
hundred men. Ring Lardner interviews the general for the New York
Herald, sees Nebres fight a bull.
sees no need to fight an army. All they need do is cut off the head.
A night attack at the east gate allows Catalina, Sofia, and Caroline
to enter the compound, disguised as Apache from the west. Sofia and
Caroline run off with two hundred horses, leading Nebres’ men
straight into an Apache ambush. But the Apache are outnumbered and
melt into the landscape after killing a dozen of Nebres’ warriors.
The troops return to the mission where Nebres celebrates his “great
victory,” posing for Lardner’s camera, dictating his legend.
promises Lardner the most exciting bull fight he has ever seen on the
morrow, his men bringing in prostitutes from nearby Bennett. Sofia
and Caroline Harp return in the dark.
noon, Nebres prepares for his “moment of destiny,” prays to
the Holy Virgin, puts on his matador gear and walks into the arena
before hundreds of his men and grandees from surrounding ranches. But
when the chute is opened, it is not the bull that emerges, but Sister
Catalina in her fighting gear, her face painted.
is a double-edged sword. The internet giveth, and the internet taketh
away. I have been a devotee of newsstands ever since visiting a
fully-stocked magazine store in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I love
magazines. I have subscribed to countless over the years including
I moved to Colorado, there were two outstanding magazine outlets. The
News Cafe in Loveland, and Al’s News in Fort Collins. They had
hundreds, if not thousands of magazines on display and copious
paperbacks. I could spend hours in them just looking through the
various magazines. The music sections alone were stuffed with
There were two or three different model car magazines.
are undergoing a paradigm shift that is killing the printed
periodical. Most of it is the internet. Why shlep downtown when you
can dial up whatever your heart fancies on your phone? Well here’s
one reason. In a magazine, you can flip past the ads by turning the
page. Also, the ads were more thoughtful, designed to engage, and
contained exciting graphics. On the internet, the ads are shrieking
monsters that appear
designed to piss people off. They cover content, often for long
minutes with no way to get rid of them. Finally, reluctantly, a tiny,
nay, an INFINITESIMAL ‘X’ appears in the far northwest corner of the
screen, as far from the ad as possible. When you move your cursor
over the X, it runs to another part of the screen. I make a point of
not noticing who the advertiser is because I’m not interested. Or if
I do take note, it’s to avoid their product or service.
understand advertisers need to monetize the internet, but there has
to be a better way.
I think we have a generation that doesn’t read. Raised on video games
and electronic media, they have no interest in books. Certainly not
in books without pictures.
News closed down a couple years ago. Al’s News closed down last year.
The only place you can find magazines is Barnes & Noble, which is
hanging on by its fingernails, or the supermarket which grudgingly
shows a few popular titles.
also have a risk-adverse population. Motorcycle sales are down. There
used to be five or six monthly general interest motorcycle magazines.
All that remains are Cycle
both of whom have gone quarterly. They are waving the white flag.
There aren’t enough new models to cover, so they feature artsy-fartsy
photo spreads of cracked asphalt or dirt bikes in the distance. They
feature articles about “Titanium–the Miracle Metal!”
is still monthly, but instead of three or four complete road tests
each issue, we’re likely to get one, plus endless artsty-fartsy photo
spreads of ancient tires, racetracks at dusk, and ruminations on the
future of the electric car. Road&Track’s
last issue got woke and started railing against the internal
combustion engine. They never discuss the source of the electricity
powering their Teslas and Leafs, which is, of course, coal-burning
all love horror entertainment. But we don’t all love the same type of
horror. For me, true horror is an evocation of the unknown, a cold
finger on the spine that suggests malignant forces just out of range
that can be revealed via
ritual or stupidity,
devastating all that
good and safe. The
is among the greatest horror movies because it does this so
effectively, using traditions and superstitions that have been around
as long as mankind. It
has the weight of the church behind it, whether or not we’re
It doesn’t have a good reputation. But Exorcist
written and directed by William Peter Blatty, is on a par with the
first. Don’t believe me just watch. The Japanese excel at cinematic
horror. Even the American version of The
raise hackles, not for any danger to the protagonist (George C.
Scott,) but in its ability to evoke supernatural fear.
love such entertainment because it satisfies an atavistic yearning to
believe in something greater than ourselves, even if it’s terrible.
the lights go up
finish the book, you’re back safe and warm in your familiar world.
Lovecraft resonates because he so effectively delineated another
world lurking beyond the veil. Lovecraft’s descriptions are
necessarily vague. We can’t really understand the worlds he
describes, it’s enough that we believe. Stephen King has touched the
spine many times, no better than in The
Michael McDowell does it in The
William Hope Hodgson’s The House
on the Borderland.
And of course Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. This
yearning to believe is as old as man, as old as ancient cave drawings
most effective horror is supernatural. Torture porn has its fans, but
precious few horror movies that don’t rely on the supernatural truly
of the Lambs
comes to mind. Movies like Don’t
are not supernatural horror, they are
animal movies have been a staple since King
Monstrous animal movies come in many flavors, from atomic mutants
to natural but terrifying creatures (Night
of the Grizzly.)
put a Saturn booster beneath the terrifying animal genre, begetting
dozens of shark movies, many of which are drivel, such as the Jaws
sequels, but also including small pleasures such as The
can forget Samuel L. Jackson’s rousing speech, followed immediately
by his demise?
deadly animal has its masterpiece. For snakes, it’s Anaconda.
Don’t believe the reviews. See it for yourselves. It’s a movie
you can watch over and over again. For bears, it’s The
which is not purely a dangerous animal movie, but contains the best
human versus grizzly battles. Piranha
speaks for itself. If it’s wolves you crave, watch The
stands above all others. This small masterpiece is mesmerizing from
the first frame and compares favorably with Alien.
Set in Australia’s Northwest territories, it concerns a monstrous
salt water crocodile which traps a group of tourists on a sand bar as
the tide rises. Starring Michael Vartan as an American journalist,
and Rahda Mitchell as a tour boat operator, Rogue
grabs you by the throat and never lets go. The character actor who
puts a fly in Vartan’s coffee when he arrives at his remote
personifies the unctuous but treacherous toady.
don’t see the whole croc until the harrowing ending. I don’t know
if this is CGI or what, but it’s brilliantly done, and the croc is
the size of a moving van. If you love Jaws
and want to see a movie of its caliber, watch Rogue.
CHAPTER FROM UNFORTUNATE SON, THE NEW BIKER NOVEL
CHAPTER ONE “Surprise!”
looked at his father Duane, sitting on his sofa with Josh’s dog Fig
in his lap. The same Duane who’d abandoned Josh at a truck stop
when Josh was fifteen, from whom he had not heard in two decades.
you doing here, Duane?”
looked up with a con man’s grin, deep parenthesis framing his
mouth, several day’s stubble clinging to his chin, lank gray hair
unkempt. “Is that any way to greet your own father?”
eased Fig off his lap, stood, and walked to Josh with his arms open.
“C’mere, boy. How the hell you doin’?”
endured the awkward embrace until Duane stepped back. Duane smelled
of graphite, body odor, cigarettes. He’d found an old ashtray in
the kitchen, set it on the coffee table in the living room and smoked
several butts. He wore dirty blue jeans and a Dolphin’s T with the
sleeves cut off to show his ropy, muscular, tatted arms.
are you doing here, Duane?”
went into the kitchen, Fig at his heels, opened the refrigerator,
took out two cans of Capital Lager and tossed one to Josh, who caught
hearing a lot about you. I’m proud of you, boy. Proud the way you
turned out. You’re a man now. Solvin’ crimes, killin’ bad
had nothing to do with it. You’re as sentimental as a catfish. What
do you want?”
popped the can and guzzled, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down.
“Why would you think that? Maybe I just wanted to see how you’re
snapped his fingers. Fig trotted over and sat next to him, looking
up. “Because you’re a con man. You haven’t worked a real job in
your life. The whole time I was with you, all you did was scam
people. The old dropped wallet trick. Shoplifting. All those women
you took advantage of.”
looked pained. “Maybe I’ve changed, you ever think of that? You
changed. You were a rake hell. They called you Chainsaw because of
that one thing, and now you’re a born-again Christian, ain’t that
right? You’re on a mission from God.”
do you want, Duane?”
flopped onto the sofa and put his feet on the coffee table. “I just
want to stay here for a few days. I love your dog. I won’t be any
you get in?”
the fence and used the doggy door.”
anxiety Josh had experienced when he saw the Camaro in his front yard
blossomed into a full-bore suck hole in the middle of his chest,
summoning unwanted childhood memories. Walking in on Duane fucking
some girl. Watching Duane dip into her purse while she slept. Fleeing
in the middle of the night because Duane had committed some felony.
The road rage. Duane waving his gun and trying to run another car off
night in November he did run another car off the road. It was a
station wagon full of kids who’d dared to pass while flipping them
the bird. Duane floored his 350 cubic inch Camaro and gave chase. The
car’s body was shot anyway. He couldn’t afford a shiny new car,
or even a shiny car, but he always found a way to get that Camaro
with the big engine. Josh remembered the car was pale yellow with
rust spots, the hood was brown, and the driver’s door was primer
MOTHERFUCKER!” Duane bellowed into the wind, which whipped his
words away. Those kids couldn’t hear shit, the way they were
blasting Beastie Boys. They never saw Duane coming. He cut the
lights, zoomed up on their left, slammed the wheel to the right and
stuck with it, big, fifteen-inch wheels and tires, ramming the wagon
into the ditch where it rolled over once before coming to a stop.
watched the whole thing through his window, mouth open, hanging on to
the grip with both hands. Heart in mouth. What the fuck. He was ten
teach ‘em,” Duane said, heading on down the highway.
crashed in seedy apartments, trailers and tract houses with Duane’s
friends, all the same creepy crowd, grifters, drifters, penny ante
thieves, prostitutes, drug dealers, too smart to work. Everyone had
an angle and a rap. Everyone had a way to beat the system. Most had
food stamps and disability. Some had pit bulls. Josh always wondered,
why the pit bulls?
slept on a lumpy sofa in the living room, or in a closet if Duane and
his buddies got too loud snorting coke and drinking Fleischmann’s
vodka. They’d toss back valium to ease the descent.
remembered waiting in a ‘69 Camaro with the engine running while
Duane ran into a pharmacy “to get some cold medicine.” Minutes
later, Duane erupted from the front door clutching a paper bag, slid
behind the wheel and floored it. They fishtailed out of town. Josh
saw the butt of a pistol protruding from Duane’s pants.
popped his beer and sat in a chair facing Duane. “Who’s after
drained his can and belched, putting his whole torso into it. Duane
was proud of his belch. “What makes you say that?”
I know you, Duane. You’re only in it for number one. You never
cared about anything in your life except getting yourself over. I
still don’t know who my mother is.”
think her name was Karen Pratt. Haven’t seen her since she dumped
your little bundle of joy on my doorstep.”
surprised you didn’t put me up for adoption. Or dump me in the
woods like you did that dog. Remember McKeesport? I wanted to go to
school but you couldn’t get your shit together? So I went down and
registered myself and they asked me for my birthday. I didn’t know
what my birthday was. It was April first, so that’s my birthday
that pained look. “Son, you gotta give me a chance. I’m not the
same person I was.”
stared. Duane looked away. He leaned forward to scratch Fig’s ears.
“Your dog likes me. They say dogs are excellent judges of
I could eat a baby’s butt through a park bench. Whatcha got to eat
seethed. He didn’t want this. He’d trained himself not to think
about his father.
on. We’ll go get a burger.”
clapped. “Now you’re talkin’.”
Josh eyed the ‘97 Camaro. It was faded dark blue with rust spots
and twin tailpipes.
there’s an SS
with the 330 HP LT4
block engine from the Corvette.
That there’s special.”
lookin’ for you?”
let’s get some grub and I’ll tell you about that.”
me a favor. Lose the pistol.”
drew the pistol, looked at it, leaned into the Camaro and stuck it
deep in the seat cushions.
got in Josh’s 300 and headed east toward Madison. Duane pulled a
pack of Marlboros from his pants. “Mind if I smoke?” Josh
lowered all the windows. What was the point? Duane was going to do
what Duane was going to do. He’d always been that way. They drove
to the Laurel Tavern on Monroe Street, a family-friendly pub that had
been there for forty years. The interior was dark and boisterous with
families catching an early dinner before heading home to Netflix and
video games, or couples just starting the night. They took a booth.
The twenty-something waitress had long purple hair on one side of her
skull, nothing on the other, and a unicorn tat on her arm. Duane
stared like a hungry dog. They ordered burgers. Josh got a beer,
Duane went for two shots of Canadian Club and a Miller chaser.
should try some of the local brews,” Josh said looking around. “You
don’t have to drink Miller.”
the time I get to that beer, I won’t give a shit. Ja see that
cooze? You got a girlfriend?”
one, but she died.”
shit. That happened to me. A couple times.” He pulled out a cig and
lit it one-handed with a kitchen match. A stout man with wife and two
kids at an adjacent table looked over.
smoking in here.”
did a double-take, stabbed the cig out on the bottom of his shoe and
dropped the butt.
after you, Duane?”
looked around. Con-wise, just like his son. Josh, a licensed private
investigator, had never looked at Duane’s record. He didn’t want
who Ryan Gehrke is?”
The Miami wide receiver who took a knee.”
stabbed a nicotine-stained finger at Josh. “You know why he took a
or some shit.”
showed yellow teeth. “He was protesting systemic racism in the
justice, and in the cops. I gotta tell ya, I think he’s right on
the money with the cops. They’re all rotten. Some of ‘em are
killers. That cop in Cinci. They were in a Wal-Mart when that
seventeen-year-old kid picked up an air rifle in the gun department.
Two cops run in screaming and shot ‘em. They didn’t tell him to
drop the gun or put up his hands. None of that shit. Bang bang. Very
sorry. They both walked. Pigs said they had reasonable concern for
Ryan shoot them?”
shook his head like he was talking to a dummy. “Noooo, it’s just
one of the issues we discussed.”
waitress came, plopping down drinks and burgers. Josh put ketchup on
his burger. Duane tossed down the shot. He tossed down the next shot
and looked around for the waitress.
gripped his burger. “Whoa there, pardner. You don’t want to go
blotto just yet.”
finished his burger in six bites. He had coyote jaws. He chugged the
Miller. He belched long and loud, causing heads to turn. Distaste.
where were you talking to Ryan?” Josh said.
pushed the dishes aside and leaned on his elbows. “At his crib in
Miami. Man, you should see it. He’s got this fuckin’ estate in
the same neighborhood as Desmond Pow, right on the beach. Pool,
cabana, hot and cold running babes, the best champagne, all the
cocaine you can snort, celebrities, you know who I saw?”
the fuck were you doing there?”
spread his hands, nonplussed. “Where do you think he got his
I first met Serial
Killer Man at Rocky Mountain Comic Con several years ago. An
unprepossessing fellow, he approached my table with a portfolio which
he laid out. Hideous, childish, pencil and crayon scrawls of skulls,
demonic figures and symbols.
sent me this.”
Everybody has a
hobby. Serial Killer Man’s hobby was corresponding with serial
killers, exchanging artwork, sometimes visiting them and getting
photographs. He had a clown drawn by John Wayne Gacy. I think he had
pictures of himself posing with Gacy. It was a while ago and I can’t
remember. I, too, was obsessed with serial killers. Many writers are.
We seek to understand the nature of evil so we can write about it. I
read and I read until I could read no more. I read Ann Rule and Jack
Olsen. I read Aphrodite Jones and Stephen G. Michaud. Serial killers
captured the public imagination and are everywhere. Countless
television programs and movies. Luther, Mind Hunter, Dexter, The
Fall, Hannibal, Alienest, The Prodigal Son. The serial killer is the
perfect modern day bogeyman, embodying our darkest fears. An evil
force who chooses strangers.
only natural for normal people to muse about the nature of evil, and
wonder what would compel someone to systematically track down and
murder strangers. As long as you don’t dwell on it. As Nietzsche
if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
about all the ladies who have corresponded with infamous killers,
visited them in prison, and even married them.
saw Serial Killer Man again last week at the Rocky Mountain Con. He’s
a regular. This time he had pictures of himself posing with one of
the so-called Tool Box Killers in a California prison. SKM is
unprepossessing and harmless. He also loves comics. He has an
extensive collection of original art. Only it’s not from comics.
I’ll probably see him again next year.