Cutting time between different short stories before I get back to finishing my novella and full-length novel. These will probably be the last of 2017’s short fiction, as I expect the longer manuscripts to eat up the rest of the year. For kicks, I thought I’d post a few excerpts.
This bit is from a short story, “Capistrano Boulevard,” about a thief who’s a kind of contemporary Zorro, nicknamed Little Fox:
You got to know motherfuckers to move stolen jewelry. That’s, like, top-shelf robbery, city shit. Palmdale is my turf and it’s a good hour from the city. I don’t know those kinds of motherfuckers north of Angeles Forest, so you can keep your fucking jewelry. Damn near impossible to know if the crap is real or not, anyway. Even if you think it’s real, there’s a high percentage that shit is fake as fuck. In a perfect world, I’d have gone into the jewelry business. All that shit’s a hustle.
Ain’t no perfect world though, right? That’s why I’m in your house, taking your shit. Sometimes, and this is if you’re real lucky, you rob somebody that doesn’t even realize it. Got so much stuff you don’t even miss what’s missing.
Mom used to say that you don’t know what you’ll miss till it’s gone. I cased people that don’t know what to miss, because they don’t even know what they had in the first place. That means you got too much fucking crap.
To be fair, mom was talking about people’s lives, not your copy of Daddy Day Care, or whatever horrible piece of shit movie you own but don’t watch. Life, that’s what she was talking about. I’d taken a lot of shit over the years, but never one of those.
“Capistrano Boulevard” is a fun, pulpy story and it’ll be appearing in an anthology (fittingly, a Zorro-themed anthology) sometime in the near future.
This next excerpt is from a short story called “That Trick With The Salt,” which I hope to finish this week, so that I can start shopping it around. It’s a pretty massive re-write of a rough draft I cooked up some years ago. The story is about two sisters that find themselves watching over the body of their deceased aunt, who may or may not have been a practitioner of black magic. The short definitely falls into the “weird” category, though the tale is as much about the sister’s relationship as it is about their deceased aunt.
Jill entered the home. There were no lights on inside, but there were enough windows to cast light over most things. The smell of black coffee filled her nose. Grease, too. And something else smelled, weaker than the other odors, like stale earth, like the cracked and foul shore of a receding lake during a hot summer. When her eyes adjusted to the dim light, she braced herself against the shape that lay ahead of her. She felt a shiver. Goosebumps raised up both her arms.
The body of Aunt Alice was face down on the hallway floor, halfway between the living room and the kitchen. She was dressed in a nightgown. A slipper on the right foot and the other slipper lay several feet away. She had soiled herself. Jill was surprised that it didn’t smell worse, and then she realized how cold it was. Her breath was visible.
The following excerpt is from a piece that I’d mentioned in a previous article. Since I’ve already touched on this story in some detail, I’ll go ahead and keep this brief. The title is “After The Flesh” and it is a body-horror story in the vein of early Cronenberg.
Generous flesh in heavy white makeup, as if she’d been cast in plaster. David barely registered the dress. He turned the camera on without looking and raised it to his eye in a gesture that seemed as instinctual as any animal on the hunt. It was her movement that kept him from taking the shot. She staggered. He kept the lens trained on her and waited for something special.
The model stumbled and fell. Cameras continued to flash, but David waited. Idle chatter in the audience peppered with titters and gasps that begged sincerity. The model stood.
Alabaster skin had spiderwebbed like fine china and chunks of her brittle flesh fell to the runway and shattered. This generous flesh hadn’t been painted white, but had become as porcelain, and the rest of her fell away until veined musculature was all that remained. She reached out to the onlookers.
Blood poured from her arms.
Blood ran down her slight frame and pooled at her feet.
Her insides glistened.
Titters turned to screams. Gasps had found an honest tenor. Camera flashes ceased. Photographers fell ill, averted their gaze, or ran away from the vision. So many ran away. David drew closer to the stage.
David felt beauty was deeper than skin. He took his shot. The model’s eyes rolled back. She collapsed in the pool of blood and shattered skin.
Generous flesh no more, he thought.
During the weekend, a brief interview was posted online to help promote Now That We’re Alone. In it, I talk about my general dislike of “How-to” creative writing books, my interest in comedy and how improv helped shape the way I approach writing, and I get to give a little shout out to one of my favorite cult-classic TV series, Snuff Box.
Speaking of Now That We’re Alone, sales for the book seem to be pretty consistent. Not as strong, of course, as they were when it first came out, but that’s to be expected. I plan on keeping it pretty visible through the end of this year. Several reviewers have spoken highly of the book, and I imagine I’ll be seeing some reviews popping up over the next couple of months. And I am still submitting it to reviewers, as well.
I’m also looking at doing a marketing push through Kirkus, who have already given the collection a very favorable review.
Hustle, hustle, hustle…