Wednesday, October 1, 2014

And all the ships at sea . . .

(Yesterday's excellent Charlie Pierce piece, coupled with today's Boston Herald and Politico embarrassments, inspired me to republish this short, first published here in 2010.)

America's number one talk show host was already in a foul mood that morning. He had noticed a small scrape on the door of his Hummer after the valet brought it around. Adding to his trauma, traffic to the studio was a real bitch.

Maybe that was why on this day (as opposed to any other) he was particularly sharp-tongued, inspiring some of his thirty million or so listeners to action.

During the first hour, he said he believed Muslims in America were a fifth-column bent on our destruction. When a caller suggested we try to befriend them, the host countered, “I have a different idea. You want to befriend them. I want to kill them.”

In a sweaty apartment outside Newark, listener Joe Sikes thought that was a splendid idea. There was a Muslim temple just down the street. It was almost time for afternoon prayers. The place would be crowded.

Returning from a break, the host warned it would soon be impossible to buy guns. “They're going to take our guns away, just like the Nazis did!” He went on to remind his listeners that German citizens who refused to surrender their guns were murdered in their homes by jack-booted thugs.

An unemployed laborer outside Philadelphia named Scott Foster wasn't going to let that happen. In fact, he'd seen a motorcycle cop just the other day whose boots were polished to a fine sheen. Would he be the one who tried to take his guns? From my cold dead hands, he thought.

Gathering his guns and ammunition, he overturned the dining room table and made himself a hidey-hole. He then put on his bulletproof vest and killed his mother before calling 911.

In the second hour, the subject of abortion came up. The host railed against “baby killers” and not for the first time mentioned one doctor by name and the place where he worked

That was all listener Phil Hastings needed to hear. The doctor was just a few towns away.

In the third hour, the host questioned the president's eligibility for office.

“He's not even a citizen! He has no right to be president!”

In a long hallway outside the kitchen of a D.C. ballroom, police officer James Casey was listening too. One of the cooks had the radio playing softly.

In between the applause and laughter and the din of clinking glasses, he caught himself nodding when the host said he no longer recognized the country that he loved.

“This country is being taken away from us! Right before our eyes! And this president is responsible!”

A roar of applause came from the ballroom. Even before it crested there was movement down the hallway. Men with earpieces and bulges prepared for the VIP to exit the ballroom.

As the talk show host continued assailing the president, the cop realized there was nothing he could do about him. But the woman he loved had just come out the door.

(All quotes are verbatim. All incidents but the last are true.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More from THE MOUND

(I'm pleased to report my fairy horror mystery romance novel THE MOUND will be available October 23, and is available for pre-order NOW. Details on how to reserve your copy below. Meanwhile, here's another taste. Enjoy!)

Oddly, Hogan saw one of those who stayed behind was the boy, Ian Sinclair. He stood alone in the middle of the gym, at about the same place he’d made such a splash earlier in the evening. Staring up at the stage in his (now that all the lights were up) almost silly looking lion tunic, tartan kilt, and green leggings, there was what appeared to be an amalgam of anger and determination on his face.

Hogan turned away when he heard the garage door at the rear of the stage open, through which earlier the car had made its grand entrance. Through the door this time came gurney-bearing Bixbie Fire EMTs along with a pipe smoking man who Campbell introduced as Doc Sullivan. Doc waited for Dunn to finish before taking possession of the bodies.

Meanwhile, Hogan’s eyes fell upon a distraught looking Miskovic standing apart from the scene. Seemingly in a daze, the young cop stared blankly out at the now garishly lit gymnasium. Walking over, Hogan put his arm around his shoulder and patted him on the back.

“I’m sorry,” he said. It was all he could think of.

Miskovic didn’t respond, keeping his gaze riveted toward the gym. Hogan turned that way too, seeing then that a man wearing a hood and a long brown robe in the nature of a monk’s habit approached Ian Sinclair from behind. As he moved closer, Miskovic and Hogan watched the hooded man reach inside his robe to remove a long and scary looking knife.

“Ian!” Miskovic yelled. The two watched the boy cock his head questioningly. Miskovic shouted again. “Behind you!”

Ian turned just as the unknown man charged. Hogan and Miskovic and no doubt everyone on that stage could only watch in mute horror as the man plunged the knife into Ian’s chest.

“No . . . no . . . no . . .” Miskovic uttered in a horrified whisper to witness for the third time that evening the gruesome ending of a young life.

In what seemed slow motion, Hogan winced to see Sinclair hang impaled on the knife a long while, his body bowed in the classic curved C he had seen the gut stab victim take so often. The stabbing man twisted the knife further before pulling it out. While Sinclair still hung awkwardly, the man backed away and looked at his hand, letting out a shriek to discover that at that moment, in his hand was a snake. A long, black, angry looking snake.

The man began bounding about almost comically, shaking and waving his hand trying to dislodge the creature, but the movement only assisted in coiling it further up his arm. Still jumping manically, he used his other hand to finally rid himself of the thing, flinging it to the floor, where it promptly disappeared. Still leaping and bounding, making unintelligible anguished croaks, the cloaked man then turned tail and ran for the nearest exit.

Sinclair stood in the curled C another few seconds before straightening his legs and drawing full height. He took a moment to inspect himself, making sure he was none the worse for wear, before turning his face toward the stage. Hogan saw then that what had earlier struck him as anger and determination had been replaced with . . . something else. It was hard to explain. There was a new certainty, to be sure, as if this incident had taught him something. There seemed also a new maturity, that he was no longer the gawky youth who had marched into the gym that evening to make a point of some kind. And yes, dammit, Hogan had to admit there was something . . . unearthly on his face. In his eyes. Those green orbs that were now his eyes, that had seemed to glow earlier in the evening, now pulsed with newborn energy. There was something beatific and angelic there too, as if he thought he might have been, but now knew that he was, immortal. From where Hogan was standing, he couldn’t argue.

With all that and more revealed on his face, Sinclair sent one last glance to the stage as if to snapshot a remembrance of what had been done there, before he smartly straightened his tunic, spun on his heels with the polished assurance of a military man, and strode toward the doorway.

Hogan and Miskovic stared a long while after he left. Eventually, Hogan turned to the other men on stage and saw them all gaping too. Doc Sullivan’s pipe had fallen from his mouth.

“What the . . .” was all Hogan managed to say.

Turning to Miskovic, he was surprised to see the officer already turned his way. The young cop was smiling, maybe even tearing up a little, letting out some of the pent-up emotion of this long night. That was okay with Hogan. It was a very human response. Eventually, Miskovic was able to speak.

“Told you he was special,” he choked. It earned him Hogan’s last smile of the evening.

(THE MOUND, coming October 23, 2014, and available for pre-order NOW from Amazon.Com and iTunes. Reserve your copy today! And as always, thanks for reading.)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Random Musings and Some Updates

Since last we spoke, I’ve finally come up with a title for the latest, my fairy tale horror mystery romance. Funny, I’ve never written a book without having at least some idea of the title halfway in. I'm not sure if it's connected, but this is also the longest book I've written. Or maybe, it's just because this one was so . . . weird, that I had already finished the thing and was halfway through the first edit before I settled on THE MOUND. Why THE MOUND you ask? Well, here’s the teaser blurb for it:

Levi Hogan, the new police chief in Bixbie, Massachusetts, is trying to stay off the booze and start a new life. Bixbie doesn't have much in the way of crime anyway, that is, until people start disappearing.

While investigating, Hogan learns Bixbie is also home to "New England's Stonehenge," a mysterious mound thousands of years old. Its purpose is unknown, but becomes clearer when Hogan's runaway daughter comes to town.

Because what Hogan doesn't know is Dani believes she is to become queen, and local teen Ian Sinclair is to become king, of a fairy kingdom populated by elves and pixies and helpful brownies. Before long, even Hogan starts to think that maybe, just maybe, the Scots-Irish founders of the town brought something along with them.

(If interested in a brief excerpt from it, see my previous post.)

Even I’m not sure what to make of it. But I think it might be the best thing I’ve written. Or the worst. I can never tell. I’m my own worst critic. Also, I’m doing something with this one I haven’t in a long time, that is sending it off to agents to see if there’s any interest. Part of me thinks if there’s none, I’ll just shelve it and move on. And part of me thinks I won’t. Time will tell.

On a parallel subject, a good friend who occasionally follows my scribblings on social media said that he detected sadness or frustration creeping into some of my recent ramblings. Hopefully, it’s only because he’s a good friend that he noticed. I don’t mean to be that way! But if I am sad or frustrated, I’m not surprised it sometimes bleeds through. I’ll work on it! Promise.

And don’t forget, I’ve made a couple of shorts permanently FREE! The first of my humorous hard-boiled P.I. series TELEGRAPH HILL and NEARLY DEAD, the St. Pete prequel to my New York zombie novel SINCERELY DEAD, are both FREE at Smashwords, BN, Kobo, and iTunes. Click the FIND MY BOOKS AT box on the right for the device of your choice.

I’m seeing more activity at Goodreads, which is awesome. Just today I saw a 4-star review for NEARLY DEAD, with the reader saying “I’d like to see more zombies of this type.” So grateful when people take the time. Makes all the difference. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that books without reviews don’t sell. Trust me.

Oops! There’s that “sadness and frustration” again! So I’ll stop now.

As always, thanks for putting up with me. But mostly, thanks for reading my work!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I See Goat People

(I'm pleased to report my very strange, very bizarre, fairy novel is now complete. Since I've been teasing my Facebook friends with references to it -- you do follow me there don't you? --  I figured I'd share a taste. Enjoy! )


A wall of rain swept across the reservoir, roiling the normally placid waters. Overhead, lightning flared and thunder boomed. Dani stood at the rear window of the cottage taking it all in, marveling in awed fascination at the power of nature. She wondered if even storms were living things, before realizing that of course, they were. She knew now that everything was alive. She also understood that this particular living thing was in a very bad mood indeed.

When there was a pause in the celestial light show, Dani sat on the love seat and again buried her nose in the werewolf romance. But as in those long hours on the bus, she couldn’t read more than a word or two before her mind wandered. She smiled inside to think that no book could ever come close to the real romance that had recently entered her life. She even teared up to think how blessed she was. What had she ever done to deserve Ian? She had no idea. But she wasn’t ever going to let him get away.

After a while, she heard banging from the front of the house, but imagined it was simply the screen door become unlatched. When it went on, a rush passed through her to realize someone was knocking. It was Ian. It had to be. Tossing the book aside, she leaped from the couch and ran to the kitchen.

Opening the door, she saw it wasn’t Ian at all. Her heart sank, but she tried not to let it show. It was the nice old lady from the police station she met the other day. Trudy was her name. She had a bulging brown shopping bag clutched to her chest.

“Hey there, little girl!” the woman said with a smile. “How about letting a poor stranger in out of the rain?”

Dani returned the smile and opened wide to let Trudy in. Oddly, she didn’t seem wet. Not a hair of her bun was out of place. Before closing the door, Dani saw no car in the driveway either. Who knows? she thought. Maybe she was dropped off.

“I do hate to barge in like this,” Trudy said contritely, “but I thought it long past time for just us girls to have a nice conversation.” Setting the bag on the table, she turned and asked, “I hope you don’t mind?”

“Not at all,” Dani said politely, though she did think it a bit strange. After the woman went quiet and simply stared, Dani asked, “Umm . . . can I get you anything?”

“You know what might be nice,” Trudy said, clapping her hands together and taking a seat. “A tall glass of milk for us both. It’ll go nice with the surprise I brought!”

Pasting on a smile, Dani went to the fridge and poured Trudy a tall glass and a smaller one for herself. Setting them on the table, she sat down opposite Trudy and watched her drink half the glass in one loud slurp.

When she set the glass down, Dani suppressed her smirk about the milk mustache now on the woman’s upper lip. In fact, she realized the milk mustache was augmented by the more than a wisp of real mustache already there.

When a flash of lightning lit the room that same moment, Dani saw the woman also had long hairs sprouting from the bottom of her chin. Between that and the mustache, the clear image of a goat came to her mind. Having been raised better, she set it aside.

“So,” Trudy began. “I want to hear all about you and the boy. I think Ian is his name? I must say you two made quite a couple the other night! I tell you, everyone in town is talking about it. But first . . .”

She paused and put a mischievous grin on her face before reaching into her bag. With a ta- da motion she pulled two plump apples from within. Bright red and juicy looking, she put one down in front of Dani and took the other for herself.

“I been meaning to drop these by for the chief,” she explained. “Fresh picked from Red Apple Farm. I tell you, they’re just about the best in all Massachusetts. Did you know their orchards are more than a thousand feet above sea level? I think that makes all the difference.”

With that, Trudy picked up her apple and took a big crunchy bite. Afterward, she closed her eyes to savor each chew. When she opened them again, she saw Dani hadn’t touched hers and motioned her head toward it.

“I’m telling you sweetheart, it’s the best apple you’ve ever had. Better than a man, you asked me.” She took another big chomp.

Not wanting to be rude, Dani picked hers up and took a bite. Trudy was right. It was delicious. Whether it was better than a man, she would leave to Trudy. It certainly wasn’t better than Ian. Of that she had no doubt.

“You’re thinking about him right now, aren’t you, little girl?” Trudy asked with a naughty smile before taking another gulp of milk.

Dani could only blush. She didn’t want to talk about Ian with this woman. It was too personal. Too private. When she glanced again at Trudy, she saw the woman had closed her eyes to relish another bite. Her sheer manner of chewing again summoned to Dani’s mind the image of a goat. What made it stranger still was she had no experience with goats. She wasn’t sure she’d even seen one in real life. But she knew one when she saw one.

“Did you know,” Trudy went on with a mouth full of apple, “there’s even a rumor going around that you believe yourself to be a queen? Is that the funniest thing you ever heard?”

Dani’s vision started fading in and out. She wasn’t certain she’d heard what she thought she did. Looking up, she saw Trudy now had bits of apple all over her goat face. She watched as the woman reached out an impossibly long tongue to snag a chunk that had somehow found its way to the end of her snout.

Feeling faint, Dani looked down to relieve her nausea and saw beneath Trudy’s skirt were a pair of goat legs with thick gray fur upon them.

“A queen,” Trudy said in a voice that could belong only to a goat. “Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?”

Dani felt darkness approaching. Reaching out her arms, she tried grabbing hold of the table but it was too late. When the blackness came, she fell to the floor with a heavy thud, bringing her untouched glass of milk along to shatter into a thousand pieces.

Meanwhile, Trudy grabbed another apple from the bag. With her eyes closed in almost depraved pleasure, she took a big bite.


Thanks for reading! And keep your eye out for THE MOUND, a mystery horror romance fairy tale. Meanwhile, don't forget to visit my Amazon Author Page to check out my other offerings! Thanks again.