Ok, I figured since I’m a little over halfway with my novel I’d share the first two chapters. The first chapter was picked up by The Flash Fiction Offensive.
I know the title is awful, but I am hopeful that the end will give me something to work with. Comments and suggestions welcome.
I’ll be at http://www.wildacreswriters.com/ this July and am going to share a few others. Maybe by the time I start shopping it, someone will be interested. Heh.
Derby Ballard Gets Creative
“I tell you what,” he intoned in his nasally accent acquired from too many broken noses, “there is no way, I mean, I like those fellas just fine. Just fine. Both of ‘em stand up guys as far as I’m concerned, but I tell you, they don’t have a cup of sense to sip on. Neither one of ‘em. You hearing me?”
I heard him, but I was trying to enjoy my food and didn’t want to spoil it with talk about lawyers I didn’t even know.
“Look, look, I’m telling you they’re like cats who wander into a kennel of Rots and have no damn idea they’re about to get their heads ripped off even when the dogs are slobbering mad with fangs and muscle and whatnot.”
I don’t know where he picked up that word, whatnot, but he used it so often I was about crazy. I told him if he ever said it in my company again I’d bust his lip. Of course, he quickly figured out to say it only at times I couldn’t respond, like right now while eating my Swedish meatballs at my favorite restaurant. Reece was an ass that way.
It was about that moment I saw his right eye explode out of his head, spattering my meatballs with a tsunami of blood and gray matter. Reece’s mouth hung open, like a man in some soliloquy and suddenly forgot what he was going to say. (I learned that word, soliloquy, from my ex, Rosa, who used it just to remind me what a messed up idea I had thinking I could ever be with a girl like her.) And I suppose Reece did forget what he was going to say since a bullet ripping through a person’s skull-bone would generally have that affect. But I swear he was going to finish his thought before falling forward into his plate, snapping his nose into two places once more.
I imagine the coroner opening him up, recreating the timeline, the 44 bullet traveling at this angle telling the cops the shooter was ‘yeh’ tall and how the bullet ricocheted off his skull just enough to save his friend’s life.
But I couldn’t imagine anything at the moment. I was too busy thinking, ‘what the hell?’
I sat there like a cat in front of a Rot watching everyone dive under tables, pulling their beautiful pasta dishes on top of their heads. I watched the bartender disappear behind the oak bar. I saw people scurrying into the back hall and I saw the boy holding the too big gun in his shaking hand. He looked oddly familiar but I couldn’t place where. Sweat fell from his forehead. His brown eyes had a look that reminded me of something very serious, but everyone laughed anyway. His red flannel shirt hung loosely off his slight frame. He sported a thick head of brown hair, jeans, and the way he was shaking, I bet this was the first time he ever took a human life.
What the hell did Reece do to make this kid want to make him a pirate in the afterlife?
So I sat there looking at the kid, and the kid stared at me, and then he turned and ran out. I was pissed. Reece always left me in these kinds of situations. Now I’d have to talk to the cops. I’d have to deal with their questions and sidelong glances. I’d have to hope it was McClain first on the scene and not that hardass, Nevin.
I’d have to order some more damn meatballs and whatnot.
That night a storm came through which seemed fitting considering my mood. The rain pockmarked my windows, hitting the glass like fingers on a table. I hunkered into my couch sipping on some scotch, the half full bottle on the floor next to me and I thought of Rosa. She was, after all, where my aimless thoughts usually led me.
Rosa taught me things. She taught me how to use big words like soliloquy and cornucopia that impressed other thugs like me, she taught me how to dance and like it, and she taught me how use my hands for something other than beating the crappola out of someone.
Rosa moved on, Reece moved on, and I suppose it’s only a matter of time until the cosmic charge of karma busts my chops again. I only needed to look around my scant apartment to know all of that was true: walls painted gray years ago and now just looked putrid, floors scuffed and dirty, a ratty couch and stained Lazy Boy my father gave me before he died and enough memories hanging so heavy in the air I could barely breathe. I had enough in my bank account for more than this, much more, but I was saving up to get my ass out of the city. Though every time I thought I was just about there, I decided I would need a larger pool at the villa, or another car to park in my car garage. I’ve always been waist deep in fantasies and I’ve quickly realized once you get them, the reality sucks ass compared to the fantasy itself.
The knock at my door was soft, almost dainty. I glanced at my clock. 1 am. I took another drink and thought they had the wrong place. Then a stronger rapping reverberated through the room. Guess they had the right place.
“Who is it?” I called from the couch. I wasn’t getting up without a reason.
“It’s me. Open up.”
That was reason enough. I opened the door and the small man pushed past me.
“You have another one of those?” he asked knowing I did.
I went and got a glass, and returned to the living room where he stood looking out into the street.
“Jesus,” he said, “it’s cats and dogs out there. Cats and dogs.”
I filled up both glasses and he slugged his down.
“That’s tough about Reece. Not tough as in ‘tough shit’ but you know,” Sam said.
Reece and I grew up together in Toledo’s West Side. Train tracks, a liquor store around the corner, and Catholic school a few blocks away (which is now locked up and spray painted by the local kids). I got Reece into this business and I often wondered what he would’ve done with his life if I hadn’t. A salesman, probably.
Sam was a funny guy for this life though. Too sensitive. How he ever made it this long or this far is beyond me. Sam’s only skill seemed to be make other people feel that if he could make it in this business, anyone could. This made him more dangerous than any of the thugs out there as far as I was concerned.
I know you were close. Not close like that. Just close,” he stammered.
I gave Sam a look that told him he could shut up anytime. “What do you need, Sam?”
“Bopa. He wants a meeting.”
Of course he did. I nodded and sat back down on my couch and looked out the window.
Sam was Bopa’s little carrier pigeon. Once on a run to a dealer’s place with a simple cease and desist order from Bopa, he ended up in the bathtub with the dealer’s daughter. The way Sam tells it, she seduced him with German chocolate cake and a cup of coffee. When the dealer walked in and saw them there washing their tongues in each other’s mouths while scrubbing bubbles ran down their backs, he grabbed the closest thing he could find which just so happened to be the toilet plunger. The plunger stung Sam in the back and, Sam assumes, didn’t have the punch he wanted because the dealer dropped it in the water and ran into the other room as the wet couple scrambled out of the tub.
It was a twist of skin and water, the tile slick with puddles, and Sam just made it out of the bath when the dealer came back with his 9mm. In a passionate wail, the daughter screamed and dove for Sam knocking him off his feet and stumbling into the dealer like a drunk on roller skates. A shot rang out as the dealer raised his hands to catch Sam but ended up flailing backwards himself. The sink caught the dealer behind the head. When Sam lifted himself off the dead man, he glanced over to the quiet daughter. The water puddles on the tile already turning pink with blood. Sam called me and I called Jersey our cleanup kid. What a mess.
Sam kind of shuffled from foot to foot, ran a hand through his hair, then looked outside. “Guess I’d better brave that. I’ll show myself out.” And he did.