Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Kilt Too Damned Many

I found this last night in a file folder full of old stuff–I’ve no idea when I wrote it, or why, or in what context, but I sure wish I did.

“A hero, pffft.” Keaner spat, “there’s them to call him that, and you say rascal which is something closer to the mark. A killer is the truth of it—a warlock, a demon, a he-witch and a defiler. He ages just a day for every 40 years and he can’t be kilt no matter what. He’s been cut, stuck, shot, smashed and burned—only the worst of it even scars him. Them injuns he cavorts with say he’s got tree sap for blood, that even if you cut him down at the ankles and cubed up his meat the bastard would grown right back from the stump like a locust and just as thorny. He’s a devil, that’s the bottom of it.”

“Why a devil, Mr. Keaner?” Arlene smiled in her mischief, “Why not an angel?”

“Aw, he’s kilt too damned many for that, little doll-girl.”

Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Excerpt: Novel in Progress

Someone asked me about the novel in progress…here’s some:

It took both of them to drag me up from the hole, and from their grunts and curses  it wasn’t easy for them.  I had stopped struggling weeks before, and was paid for it with harder currency than when I’d fought back, but there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d walk docile, like a cow, to whatever was next.  Passive resistance was the better option,  although that brought the gnawing pleasure of my bare feet and ankles thumped against each concrete stair riser as they dragged me up, one thug under each arm.  My boots had been taken with my uniform—government property

At the stop of the steps they paused, waiting for the sentry outside, calling after her with additional profanity.  She wasn’t one of them—just one of those who stood by idly, day after day, doing what she was told, avoiding eye contact, complicit in their silence.  I can’t say that I blame her—or any of them—and had spent countless hours fixated on the question: would I do it again?  A better man than I certainly would.  A lesser man would lie and tell you he would.  I can’t say that I could. I’m not proud to admit it, but what’s pride but something someone stronger than you can take?

Tumblers spun inside the door, a bolt was thrown, and the armored entry swiveled open.  The goons and sentry exchanged more curses, and I was dragged to the right.  A turn to the left would have meant another visit with the Colonel, and another beating wrapped in a skin of interrogation.  The passage to the right led down a long hallway, through another armored door, and outside.  I could be headed for the stocks again, or the mudpit, the colonel’s preferred discipline—a pool of sopping mud into which a prisoner was tied spread-eagle and face up into the incessant rain. The mudpit was kept sodden, but not full, so a prisoner could relax as long as the rains were brief and widespread.  Prolonged showers filled the pool with slick mud, forcing the punished to crane his neck up and forward  in order to breath, for as long as it took for the rains to stop and the liquid to sink down into the sodden ground.

I much preferred the stocks, or the beatings for that matter.  Beatings lasted for minutes, then they left you alone.  It could rain here for a week straight.

“Hey there, Mikey’s awake,” Corporal Charkviani rumbled. Igor Charkvani, a perfect goddamn Igor if ever such a beast roamed.

Raul Cloutier laughed his exaggerated, hyena laugh. “We’re in trouble now, Private Space Command gonna is to get us.”

Charkviani, a leering, menacing coil of muscle and tendons, rumbled his amusement.  I imagined Cloutier, younger and smaller and ever ready to please, jumping up and down, clapping in satisfaction.

They had put the usual black bag over my head, bound tightly at the neck, ostensibly for safety—lest some maniac like me discover their true identities.  Of course, they insisted on tormenting and teasing me, with a regular selection of violence, all the while keeping a running dialogue in their distinctive, heavily accented voices. I held faith that the time would come that I could repay their hospitality.  In fact, I lived for the moment.

They wore rain hoods and goggles

The bag came off my face.  I squinted into the deep gray skies as specks of rain fell upon my cheeks.  Though afraid to look up—the guards responded intensely to eye contact—I recognized our location immediately.  We stood at the threshold of the main gate, far from the hewn wood scaffold the Colonel had erected behind the administration building.  A pair of sentries stood on either side of the gate, stone-faced  in their narrow shelters—Clarke and Modobo, decent soldiers not known to be the Colonel’s lackeys, but not the sort to take a stand against him, either.  Like most of the unit, their sin was in pretending not to see, and staying silent when what they saw was unavoidable.  Still, I doubted they’d let their compatriots execute me, at least not in the middle of the fort.

They had no problem with one last thrashing, however.  Charkvani and Cloutier wasted no time…

Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Novella Excerpt: Sharp Del

   Sierra Exif JPEG

“Come on out of there, you motherless—.” Sharp Del’s voice died beneath a deeper, more malevolent rumble.

“My mother,” the hulking Brin stepped out from the shadows behind him, “was very young.”

Sharp Del whirled around with startled fury, swinging the heavy ball gun a bit further from his body than he ought to have, a matter of centimeters.  The Brin snatched it in one huge, four-fingered paw and twisted it away to the snap of human fingers.  Sharp Del wailed.

“My mother could not provide me with the privileges customary to a male of our line.  My acceptance to the Warrior’s Third Creche honors both her sacrifice and our shared blood.”

“Just—an—expression,” Sharp Del moaned, recoiling, clutching his broken hand close to his chest.  “Wasn’t even talking to—Gods!” He wailed, “—to you.”

“Ah,” Vanya glowered, jabbing the broken ball gun into Sharp Del’s chest.

“Sad for you that I heard.”  His left arm swung, catching the human in the jaw.  Bones snapped and gave way, teeth broke free from infection-ravaged gums, beneath the blow.  Sharp Del staggered backwards and nearly righted himself, then his knees gave and he crumpled to the ground in a heap.

Vanya stood there a moment, inspecting the seized weapon.  A human-scaled trigger guard rendered it unusable to him, and it’s generally poor condition made it worthless for trade.  He removed the cartridge, scooped up a handful of sand, and poured it into the loading channel, then worked the action several times, until it jammed.  He dropped the ruined weapon beside Sharp Del.

He turned back to the cabin and shouted.  “Get out here, you motherless serpent!” He bellowed.

Half a minute later the door swung open and Qualm emerged, dragging his damaged leg.  His left arm was tied close to his chest in a makeshift sling.  His right hand clutched a steel fireplace poker.

“Serpent?” He asked. “Warrior’s Third Creche?”

The Brin shrugged. “You people,” he sniffed, “you eat that shit up like pudding or raspberries.”

“Pudding?”

Categories
Short/Micro/Flash Fiction

An Hour From Boise (another excerpt from an abandoned story)

Motorcycle_CopThere’s this pit of the stomach feeling, I know you know it, when you blaze over the crest of a slope on the highway with the Pogues blaring Streams of Whiskey from a dozen speakers and that big block Chevy 454 thundering backup, and the unmistakable profile of a Ford Police Interceptor crouches on the median like a sullen lion. There’s no time to brake, no place to go, the speedo jiggling somewhere north of ninety.  You reel it in causally, will he buy it that the beast got away from you—and your normally grandmother-like driving—and what about those hippie-dippy girls in the backseat, stinking of patchouli and peanut butter.  The pretty one, the one with the freckles in her cleavage and the ice blue eyes, is snoring like a drunk.  It’s likely she is, in fact, still drunk—and god knows what else.  You don’t even want to know what she’s got in her purse, or if she’s got a prescription for that, and if so, what for?  Maybe it won’t even matter.

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Uncategorized

The Big Truck (excerpt)

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This picture respectfully stolen from http://www.reid.org/~dreid/89suburban/notes_on_truck/thoughts.htm

The Big Truck (excerpt from a short story, circa 1990)

A door slams and a key twists in the ignition of a big, new capable American machine. None of that third world bullshit, we’re talking Eight bedroom-sized cylinders displacing more than six liters in a gurgling rumble of power shouting of fundamental inconsistencies, hell, it’s goddamned hypocrisy to I digest so much carbon fuel in getting to the wild places I’m aiming to get to. And I don’t care.  To hell with consistency; it is the mask of the uninteresting soul, the warm, smothering blanket of the tamed mind: too much about being correct, responsible, intentional, when we should be flying full bore towards living for good, wild lives.
It may very well be that I am lacking hormonally something, needing three hundred-odd horses to power me, but those dainty little Asian fuel miser machines doesn’t cut it (I have had one, loved the zip but loathed the coffin-like fit my build demanded).  It could just be that I was raised on toy cars and trucks.  Whatever the case, there is something magic in the early morning growl of an idling big block V-8 engine.
I like that fact that it practically begs to be let loose to flatten the teeming knots of Hondi and other bullet shaped knatmobiles out there.  This machine, on the highway, is like walking the park with a vampiric Irish Wolfhound on the end of the leash.  Power to spare.
The assembled corps of Highway patrolmen wait ahead, their microwave beams slow-roasting innocents from over hills, behind bridge abutments, around blind curves.  We will tempt them presently, joining in the mass of sensible speeders bravely playing political out on the roads, defying the revenue fishers and legislators fat on insurance lobby kickbacks.  From here in Pittsburgh to the border it will be bad, Pennsylvania being a wonderful state except for its archaic clinging to the 55mph barrier.  Great yellow signs greet visitors: Pennsylvania Maximum Speed Limit is STILL 55mph!!  Might as well erect an afterward, a new slogan.  Pennsylvania, backwards-assed and proud of it….