Monday, December 31, 2012

To Birdshot, With Love

I'm have to take a moment and brag. Just got off the phone with my broham Caleb Causey, of Lone Star Medics (that's right, you saw him in SWAT magazine. I'm friends with famous people). Had an excellent conversation listening to a story of how he managed to get a couple of oblivious people, neither with any knowledge, or training about guns, self defense, or personal safety to speak of, to open their eyes.

The story he told was not of bumper stickers and snark.
The story he told was not of taking the tough guy approach.
It was not of bluster, ego stroking, and wholly unwarranted chest beating.
It was a story of gentle guidance.
Of logic, and reason.
Of a firm, steady hand as they walked along what for so many people is a harsh road of self discovery. There is nothing on this earth as harrowing as a mother's recognition of the fact that she ill-prepared to save her children.

Hearing herself, in frustration, say the words,
 "Well, I guess then I'll just die."
 "And what about your son?"
 "I guess he'll just go to heaven with me."

The shock, the embarrassment, sheer horror of the price of her obliviousness.
The look on her husband's face, the great weight of his complete impotence crushing.

The cold realization that high ideals, sensitive natures, true hearts, and the very best of intentions are not enough to keep evil men from doing what they wish with your family.

That whatever platitudes people argue about picking up whatever household item their tactically ignorant, incompetent minds prefer, out of the irrational fear of a gun, is never anything but complete bullshit.

That whatever idiocy they draped over them about pacifism being a strong, or even noble virtue was never anything but a lie they told themselves. That the people who taught her this did her no favors.

The sober discussion after.
After they've gathered themselves.
After they've come to grips with who they are.
After they've glimpsed the path ahead.
The sober discussion of where to go, and how to get there.

To change, at a very fundamental level, who they are.

This is the story of a golden moment.
All too often we forget ourselves.
We withdraw into echo chambers and listen to people who think and act and view the world just like we do.
We stop viewing people as individuals.
We tell them the way it is, and when they disagree, we either berate them, or we shut off.

We forget that if someone asks us our opinion, it's because they want to hear it, and why.
If we can show them, instead of tell them. Help them along their path, instead of regaling them with tales of glory along our own. Use logic and reason instead of snark, shock, and dark humor.

And view them as individuals who are seeking knowledge, then I believe we make a difference.

Well done, Caleb.
 Much love, and great respect.

The Gnome would be proud.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fuck You, Fuck Grossman, Fuck Everyone Like You

Laid down, couldn't sleep. Got back up. Caught a bit of Grossman hawking his idiocy on Fox News. I can't fucking stand it. The world we wake up to this morning is the current pinnacle of human evolution. The time live in is the most peaceful time in the history of mankind. This is so, despite a bewildering array of violent media. Books, comics, cartoons, and his personal favorite, video games. The most peaceful time in the history of all humanity, yet we are constantly "desensitized" to violence. It's a goddamn cultural epidemic, right? The fact is, we're much safer in decadent First World countries with schoolhouses full of spoiled, snotty kids who play first person shooters 8 hours a goddamn day than probably anywhere you can find on a map where that is not common place. The cognitive dissonance here is a hunchback swinging from the rope of a church bell. Stop parroting this idiotic drivel. It does nothing but feed the hysteria and fuel the fire. It does not add to the discourse. It does not help. If you identify yourself as a sheepdog, you're probably a fucking sheep. Your shepard is Grossman. He's going to fleece you, and then maybe sell you to the butcher.

I wasn't going to say anything else on the subject today. In fact, as soon as my jeans get done on the dryer, I'm out the door on some quick errands. So, before I say what I'm about to say, which might possibly offend, alienate, or shock who knows how many people, you might want to check my earlier status and the lengthy discussion there. You know, the one about Grossman being a douche, video games not being a problem, and this being the least violent time in the history of the world? Yeah, go look at that, because if you argue a point that has already been covered I will ignore you. Just sayin'. Not, on to what I have to say at the moment.

Has it ever occurred to any of you mush brained anti-gun morons that if and when you get your way, if it were to actually happen, what that will mean? You fuckers who froth at the mouths like a bunch of jacked off, rabid dogs at the thought of government enforcing your will. You silly fucks couldn't even stomach the conversation of secession a few weeks ago. You wailed, and moaned, criticized and belittled, the mere discussion of it! Holy fuck, how I hate you sniveling little wretches. And here you are, after an event, that while tragic and horrifying, is still a pretty rare event. I do not call it a rare event to try to lesson the gravity of it. But to highlight the short sighted, narrow minded callousness of those who just can't "let this tragedy go to waste." Violent crime decreases. Violence world wide decreases. Violence in areas where people are disarmed increases, despite these general decrease. Noticeable uptick in school shootings since the Federal Law declaring schools Gun Free Zones. Just how fucking stubborn, useless, stupid, and narrow minded must you be? 

We ask government to tell us what we can and can't do with our bodies, with disastrous consequences. We ask government to tell us who we can and can't marry, with disastrous consequences. We follow these laws to the degree each of us can live with ourselves doing. We know it's wrong. We know it nurtures the worst of our nature, and stunts the best. 

But we do it anyway. We get along, to get along. Or whatever. As far as I'm concerned, this is over. As far as I'm concerned, any attempt to ban guns or disarm the American people should be considered what it is. An act of war. Fuck you. Fuck your bully state. Fuck your delicate sensibilities. Stop telling me to be reasonable, when you are anything but. Go fuck yourself.

 I'm going to say this again, for maybe the 900th time in the past three days. I don't want anyone to ever touch a gun that does not choose to do so for themselves. The simplest and best, most immediate way to effectively protect children in schools from a madman, is to do away with Gun Free Zones. Allow those teachers who have licenses to carry at work just like they do everywhere else. 

That's it. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some Quick Thoughts On Secession

I don't necessarily think secession is a good idea, but that it is a conversation that needs to happen. Do not make whiny, twatwafflingly snide remarks about this, that, or the other. I have honestly never before in my life seen such blatant, unhinged, narrow minded behavior by people who seem don't seem to fully understand the concept of a democratic republic, just the club of democracy, as I have in response to the proposition of a discussion. The Democrats move further to the left, and the Republicans keep moving to the center. The Republicans nominate someone who might as well be a Democrat, two elections in a row, and that's not enough. That, in essence, is the problem with the left. It's not so much that they're tolerant, because if they were, they wouldn't insist that the right keep moving to the left. I'm not even a Republican and I see this. Anyway, I'm passing this along for the following reasons -
1. Because it is a discussion that needs to be had. I think the reaction to it is telling.
2. I think it should always be a possibility. What I want out of the discussion, is that the Republican part resets itself more Libertarian, so much so that Libertarians come into the fold instead of sitting in dark corners masturbating to texts on Austrian economics. I want America to be more of the Republic is was intended to be. And I would love for the discussion to cause the Democratic party to reflect and reset. Except for some places in the south where there might be some hold out, old school Blue Dogs, I have less hope of this happening than I do the Republican party bringing more Libertarians in.
3. The left has this real hypocritical, "My Country Right or Wrong But Only When We're in Power" streak I find loathsome on many levels. Preach about coming together, still blame and hate Bush for everything. Fuck you.
4. Why shouldn't the people of a state be able to discuss, vote, and leave the union if they see fit. "It's not going to happen," is not an answer. Neither is, "You're racist." Or, "You'll be at the mercy of Mexico, Russian, China, whoever." Would that be any worse than being at the mercy of our own out of control government? Or those who would disarm a people? Maybe we can deal with them. Maybe they'll honor the arrangements better  than our current government.

If the government fails to hold up it's end of the bargain. If it becomes tyrannical, ruins our money, becomes so infested with corruption that it is taken for granted, wages war on it's own citizens, systematically disarms them and uses government agencies to set the stage for the vindication of doing so, and grows in size, scope, and power to the point that the very system of government morphs and mutates to the point that one cannot tell where the corporations end and the government begins, why not?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Where I'm at, where I'm looking to go

It won't be much longer now.
I was hoping to give my grandmother another Christmas in her home.
Two, if we were really lucky.
It's almost Thanksgiving, and it's obvious she needs more than I can give her.
If Christmas is even possible, it will take work and coordination that may be out of our grasps.
Truth be told, she should be somewhere now.
And I hate this.
Words alone will never be able to adequately describe just exactly how much I hate this.
She's lived here since 1959. My mother's family spent a year in Chicago and came running back.
She does better when one of her children, my mother, her sister or brother, are here.
Me, I'm just a punk kid at 33.
The family fuck up.
The nutty vet not right with the world.
I'm in a real strange place.
For those who care, yes, I'm still waiting on cover art for book 2. If I don't have something in the next few days, I'll figure something else out. So, there's that.
Anyway, other than writing, and in some ways in conjunction with writing, I have some opportunities and possibilities on the horizon.
I don't really want to give too much away right now.
I'm trying to figure out best how to synthesize and synergize, and maybe stream line.
I'm still waiting on Austin to get back to me with a class date to get licensed to teach CHL.
I still need to take the NRA instructor's courses. Mostly this is formality, and paying dues, and having a piece of paper to show people who don't know much about guns.
I also have a list of people I want to train to actually learn from. People I want to seek out for skills and knowledge and perspective. A lot of this shit, despite what people will tell you, isn't really that goddamn difficult. People have been cracking each other over the head with rocks since fire was considered magical. What interests me isn't just the pursuit of knowledge, but the ability to relate that information to others in the most economical way possible.
That's one of the things I despise the most about the training and self defense industry. It's filled with faux macho would be Alpha males who live to do little more than assuage their own personal egos.
I know what I want to offer as a teacher. What I feel comfortable in both skill and knowledge being able to charge for, and where I want to be able to grow as a teacher.

I should say something about figuring out my brand, but the truth is, I don't give any more of a fuck about that than I ever have.
I'm out there. I'm me. I'm as open as can be. For better or worse. Good or bad. Love me or hate me.
I am just exactly who I am
I know I'm ready.
I'm excited.
I'm ashamed of all the time I wasted being a sad sack drunk.
When I published my first book, and first entered the world of social media, I was in many ways a different person. I was certainly in a much different place.
Believe it or not, I have reservations about just how much I put out there.
Sometimes living without filters feels like reality tv, only it's not as lucrative, and somehow maybe more sad, pathetic, and melancholy.
I know a lot of the readers I first collected read my writing because of that. The depression, the addiction, the struggle. All that drama.
So, I don't know.
I don't know exactly what's next.
I don't know where I'll be in a year's time.
I do know, when I'm 35, I want to be exponentially further from here than I am from where I was at 30.
I'm tired of wasting time.
I'm tired of wasting life.
And potential.
Maybe watching my grandmother's decline has sharpened my focus.
I don't know.
I barely even drink anymore, and when I do, it's rarely very much. When I drink and stay up, I feel sluggish and wish I hadn't.
When I go days without drink, it is no longer cause for celebration.
It's notice is but an after thought.
It's strange.
To go so long feeling like you're on the precipice.
A few years ago, I had one of the top agents in the country.
I was meeting famous people.
I thought I was a contenda, as it were.
But my book didn't get picked up.
I didn't get famous, or rich, or even really make any money to speak of.
I'm sure, the place I was then, the hope of greatness probably meant more to me than greatness itself.
Coming out of that dark place. Still shy of the light.
I'll always write.
I don't have a choice in that matter.
But I can't any promises.
I'm trying to organize my life, and schedule, and to instill discipline to my work.
Please understand, I beg you, I despise ritualized discipline.
I knew too many people in the army who worshiped it.
Also, that I do real well not to hate myself.
Those who have never dealt with severe depression will never understand.
I am not inserting this to use as an excuse.
Simply stating a fact.
And that I deal with it everyday the best I can.
Some days are better than others.
And even at my worst now, is so much better than my best then.
The other night, I lay in bed. I was sober, and staring in the darkness, and just thinking.
Before the bottle, this had been my favorite time.
When I realized the moment, something hard to describe washed over me.
That I can enjoy it once again seems like a foreign idea.
I actually prefer being sober to drunk, and am no longer surprised by it.

You don't know that when you're there, in that dark place.
You can only see it looking back.
Tough love doesn't work.
And all the hope and possibility I can see forming on the horizon, I would trade for a few good months for my grandmother.
I would trade my soul, fester in mud spackled obscurity forever, to give her back her mind.
The ravages of dementia are no gentle thing.
The madness I enjoyed before was itself self obsessed, frivolous, and childish. 
It was trifling twatwafflery. 

I guess that's what I get for trying to end this on a positive note.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Update of sorts on book 2, and stuff. Part 1, maybe

.OK, so, I still suck at blogging. I'm not even sure what I want to blog about right now. I keep telling myself if I ever want to make it as a writer, I've got to up my output. I get lost in my head sometimes, and I can't find my way out.
Anyway, book 2, The Lines We Cross, is with the editor/ proofers. I'm waiting on them and on cover art. That's it. Don't worry, I'm fucking done. I promise. Sometimes I have a spark of genius, something I need to go back over and check, some piece of dialogue I need to add or take out, but I'm fucking done.
I can beg your forgiveness for my tardiness, or I can just do the fucking work, and putting the fucking thing out there.
Maybe it's true of all second books. I don't know. I do know, this one was much harder than the first. I touched on deeper subjects, some of them political, and I tried to do so without trivializing or completely disrespecting people whose opinions might differ from my own.

Not that the book is really all that political. I don't think it is really more political than it needs to be to be relevant and reveal a snap shot of the world in which we live right now.

I believe if you're going to enter into a political discourse, or use the issues of the day as touchstones, you have a responsibility to show the world the way it is, not what you think it is or want it to be. You do not have all the answers, shut the fuck up.

To do otherwise, I think that it is the definition of hubris. I'm a four star fuck up. What fucking answers do I have for anyone?

I read a lot. Well, OK, I used to read a lot. Mostly detective fiction. This may surprise you, might I never really got into Men's Action/ Adventure. Didn't like pulp until my mid to late twenties. The writers I liked were the ones who lifted the genre into the literary realm. Most of these writers were liberals.

They provided much joy, entertainment, and in some cases, heroes for me to look up to. I learned a lot of from them. I learned the power of words, what they can mean when woven together correctly. A well written novel will expand both your mind and knowledge base, give you information you didn't have, and show you different ways of looking at the world and the people in it. Food, single malt scotch, weaponry, philosophy, survival and preparedness, women, music, poetry. These are all passions of mine that were either celebrated, show cased, or utilized in ways that fermented in my young mind, and often led me down wonderful rabbits holes looking for knowledge.

They made me think!

But sometimes I go back and read the same stories, and I realize just how completely one sided many of them are. The complicated, multifaceted, often conflicted characters I'd thought of as heroes really aren't always that intelligent or insightful. Like their creators, their complexities are very often nothing more than shallow concessions, brightly colored vestments, draped over extremely narrow world views, often held by people who have never considered themselves wrong in anything. Their view of the issues largely romantic dogmatism, their treatment of opposing viewpoints rarely meaningful, honest, or deep.

Simply put, they love the smell of their own farts, and look down on you for not doing so as well.

Anyone that tells you they have all the answers, deserves to get punched in the fucking throat.

This is probably not the proper tact one should take as a struggling writer. If I really wanted to get out there, and make a name for myself, and make some money, the thing to do would be to choose a side, and defend it, right or wrong, come hell or high water. To tow a party line. To speak solely in idiotic bumper sticker slogans and bullshit euphemisms that do absolutely nothing but alienate people who don't agree with you, while galvanizing sycophantic followers into a rabid cult with literally nothing of substance to offer the world.

I don't say this because I'm a poor, pissed off, hack indie with a very narrow base. As much as I would really like for book 2 to be some sort of breakout work, to have steady, real money coming in, and the validation writers yearn for, my work on the shelf, I'm not going to do that. Despite the usual pretensions writers suffer, or indulge ourselves, I know my I'm not ever going to be a literary dynamo. I'll never be the cool kid, A list, whatever. I don't care. I don't care if New York likes me. I don't care if a bunch of tenured liberal college professors who write the same story over and over again, ever recognize my work. Men soft of hand, weak of heart, limp of dick. I don't give a fuck. I just don't care. I did for a long time. I wanted to be a part of that world. I thought, for a short while, I was on my way. To what? To associate with people who hate everything I believe in? Maybe be the token conservative, despite the fact that I'm obviously not a fucking conservative?

Fuck them.

My readers are veterans. Gun nuts. Welders and diesel mechanics. The occasional lost house wife. Alcoholics, and addicts and broken people. I have a strong suspicion a good portion of my reader base doesn't actually read all that much. Which kind of makes it even more of an honor that they read my work.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back cover synposis The Lines We Cross. Maybe.

Back from the wars, once again.

After long years of doing bad things to worse people, doing government work without the retirement package, all Jebediah Shaw wanted was to visit his family, and enjoy a nice, quiet high lonesome in a dark bar. He had heavy things to contemplate, while recharging his long drained batteries.

It was all going better than expected, until violence interrupted his minor binge, embroiling those around him in a conspiracy spread across lines of class, age, and race. One generations in the making.

He doesn't want any part of it.

He didn't come home for this.

These things aren't supposed to happen here.

Jeb Shaw is a violent man. He gets paid to do what he does in the dark corners of the world, far away from the people he cares about. The innocent life they lead is something he cherishes.
But he is a warrior.

A violent man with a code.

And when violent men without a code retaliate against those he loves, there is little doubt what he'll do.

In a city on the brink, with decades old cultural conflicts coming to a head, a drug cartel with aspirations of Reconquesta, false flags, scheming politicians, a police force bound by bureaucracy and corruption, and idealistic activists each playing their own game, Jeb will take matters into his own hands. In order to keep those he loves and the city they live in safe, unravel the conspiracy, and find those responsible, there is nothing he won't do.

No line he won't cross.

Friday, June 15, 2012

From the old blog, How I Let A Douchebag at Work Turn Me Into That Guy I Hate

The Following is about a year old, from my old blog.

 Today, was a bad day. It started out shit, and just rolled down hill. The two days before had pretty much been shit to, and today was just icing on the goddamn cake. There's a lot of shit to cover if I were to cover the lead up to today, just suffice to say, it was shit. 

I woke up this morning, all fucked up and racked in pain. So, after fumbling around for a few brief minutes, I ate a little breakfast, just so I had something to put a couple of hydrocodones on top of, and went back to bed. I haven't been taking the pain pills recreationally like I once did, and I try not to take them now unless I really need them.

Anyway, when I got to work, I was still pissed off. Pissed off at various family members for various things, mostly how almost everyone seems to be too busy with their own lives to spend much time with my 84 year old, Alzheimer’s riddled grandmother. Pissed at myself because I don't think I spend enough time with her. Pissed off because a friend sent me an email, letting me know he might have a line on some security work overseas, had I finally gotten my fat ass back in shape yet? Pissed off because I wasn't yet in shape, because I'd been too busy being a sad sack drunk the past few years to get my mind right and do what needed done. Pissed off because I'd spent money I'd had allotted for other things toward investing in a new laptop, and downloading the old hard drive onto it. Pissed because I'm even further behind in finishing the next book with this bullshit. Pissed because, I'm off my schedule, and I'm not working out as often as I need to. 2-3 times a week is not nearly enough, to push me further down my path. Pissed because I realize I'm gonna have to get a new gym, and I'm going to have to fight with Bally's about ending my membership. Because Bally's sucks. 

Mainly, I'm just pissed. And being in more pain than usual, I'm really fucking pissed.
 So, I'm at work. And I'm sitting in one of the chairs along the wall for customers to sit. It's fucking empty, there's maybe two customers,and they're both on lanes. My boss, the big boss, the manager, is eating fried chicken from a Church's box, and trying to tempt me. He's cool, funny, joking about it, and I laugh as best I can and turn him down.

And, as I said before, I'm already pissed off. And I'm trying to do the math in my head, if I were to live on nothing but low-carb protein shakes and tuna, and did PT twice a day, how fast could I drop some serious fucking weight and get back in some semblance of fighting shape? I'm thinking about that security job overseas, that my friend told me about. Also, while I'm thinking this, I'm judging the best shape I was ever in, my mean level of fitness, and how much progress I've made thus far, and wondering how far I can get by the time I can get a passport. I'm pissed, also, because I doubt, even if I were to pull off this megalithic hat-trick, that I'd still be a big ol no go, because I'll still have a fucked up back. Now, if I moved a couple hundred pounds off my fat ass, would my back be as fucked up as it is now? Obviously not. But, enough to once again be employed as a warrior? And if so, would I be able to go anyway, as I still have duties here? To my grandmother, most of all.

The thing is, no matter how often I remind myself that my warrior days are behind me, that I have to learn to like being a writer and  work a day gun monkey, my only real motivation to better myself, is the thought that one day, I might fight again. The thing is, for guys like me, guys that took the warrior-poet bullshit to heart, it's a helluva thing to not be a warrior. For those of us whose heart beat, is only that of war drums, the call to arms, to protect the weak, and smite the evil, it never fades. To have to live with that, the violence inherent to our being, knowing that there are battles to be fought and evil to be vanquished, and that we can no longer be a part of them, and not by choice, well, it's a helluva goddamn thing. Until we've had our fill of it, and leave the field of our own accord, there is only one Zen for us.

So, anyway. I'm sitting there, and I'm thinking about all this shit, and I'm pissed off about everything, because I figure God just hates me and I'm fucked. Proper fucked. And the whole while everyone is cracking the usual jokes. Then, my boss asks what my problem is, and I tell him, and that no, I don't want any fried chicken, because a friend told me about a security job he knew about, and had an 'in', with, and I obviously couldn't go, because I was still a fat piece of shit, and his fried chicken, though delicious and tempting, wasn't going to help me one goddamn bit.

And that, was when this guy, this one guy, who I already, shall we say, don't love, started yapping his fucking gums. I wrote about this dude in my last blog. He's the guy who'd nearly rolled his eyes when mentioning my book, and I felt the old me reach up from the depths, wanting to snap his bitch neck.  
This guy, he's not really a bad guy. He's just a condescending asshole.I actually kind of like him, when he's not being a prick and talking down to people. And nothing he said was really that bad, it's just that he's the kind of guy, he can say something someone else just said, that was ok when they said it, and when he says it there's a meanness to it. Part of that, I'm sure, is my own projection. I'm human, and frail.

 However, I'm also a real emphatic motherfucker, intuitive, if you will. I'm real goddamn sensitive to tonal shifts and body language. You know those really smart motherfuckers, that talk down and belittle everyone they meet, yet, somehow, always manage to avoid being in a real fight? Those are the worst kind of bullies. I ever told you how much I hate bullies?

Anyway, he yaps his gums a bit, and I try to ignore him. And then he pauses, and looks at me a bit, taking stock, and then I say something. I say something I shouldn't say. Something I regret the moment it comes out of my mouth.  

Something I've never said to someone who wasn't a friend. I relate a story from my time at war. I didn't kill a lot of people, I only fired my weapon a handful of times. But, let's say I probably have a decent average. 
And one time, well, one time is something that I'll hear about from my friends until I die. Circumstances are what they are. 

Anyway, saying what I said, I crossed a line, if only to myself. I became that guy. Some guy, other than who I want to be. I just wanted him to shut his bitch mouth, and wipe the condescending smirk from his face. But I opened my fat fucking mouth, and shared something that didn't need to be shared. Truth be told, saying something at all was pretty light, compared to everything else that ran through my mind. 
I hate me some fucking bullies.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Good Doctor

“Admit it, you just want to kill somebody with a garrote,” I asked. It had been a personal goal of his for at least two years. Ro just gave me the shit eating chin tuck and grin, winked, poured whatever booze was left in the plastic flask in his mouth, and made his way down the darkened sidewalk. The rest of the booze had been poured down the front of his shirt. In case he needed a cover story. I checked my watch, and turned to make my own way around the block.
The bag slung over my shoulder seemed heavier than it was. It didn’t contain much. Zip ties, rope, and duct tape to bind the wife and daughter, ski masks and gloves so we wouldn’t have to kill them, what little first aid we could gather, just in case, and a short handled five pound sledge in case we needed to break something. It was also serving as my primary weapon, because I didn’t trust the shitty little pocket knife clipped to the pocket of my cargo pants. It was a rush job, and we were going to have to acquire more meaningful armament as we went along.
There was a nice breeze coming off the ocean, a relief from the night’s ridiculous heat. It felt cool on my skin, and the salt air smelled fresh, pure, and from mother earth. When I turned down the narrow alley, the only thing I could feel was my skin, leaking like a sieve. The only thing I could smell was the baked in stench of piss and refuse. It hovered over the pavement at chest height.
I came to the brick and wrought iron fence that marked the target’s house, and the low hanging branch of the nara tree that hovered across the alley in the middle of it. I stopped for a minute, checked my watch, and tried to listen through the neighborhood rustle of late evening in a middle class neighborhood in the outskirts of Manila.
I scanned the house through the fence, no lights coming from the windows on this side of it. I looked over the house next door, but their fence was stucco, and taller. I checked my six, grabbed the overhanging limb with one hand and the fence with the other. I pulled myself up, and over, and let myself down gently on the other side. I squatted beside a large AC unit offset from the house, and pulled my mask and gloves out of the bag.
I heard the car park at the curb, the engine shut off, and two doors open and close. I pulled the hammer from the bag. The handle was coated in rubber, and between the tropical heat and my priming adrenal glands, it felt like it might melt through the gloves. I took as deep a breath as I dared, tried to slow down my heart rate, and waited.
I peeked over the AC unit, but I couldn’t see the street through the trees planted just inside fence. There was only a short driveway to the street, and the gate, though heavily constructed it, swung on automatic doors, but only the wife used it. It took them forever, until finally, I heard the sound of the iron gate swing open, and both men, a local police Captain and his driver, walked up the path toward the house. That was the ritual. Every night, whoever was standing guard for the Captain would come in with him, say his hello to the family, and the Captain’s wife would hand him his dinner in a Tupperware container, so that he could have a nice, hot meal while he kept watch from the car parked at the curb. Whatever genius thought that was security, I don’t know, but it’s always good news when the enemy’s perimeter is lax.
The door opened and closed without the sound of locks being turned, something I made a mental note of. The moments dragged. I begin to think my mind was going to boil inside the mask. A dull ache spread through my knees. The hammer in my hand got heavier and heavier. I had to piss in the worst way. I checked my watch. Only a few minutes had passed. I told myself to stop being a pussy, but it didn’t work all that well.
Eventually, the front door opened and closed, there were good-byes, and then the sound of steps away from the house. I risked a peak over the AC unit, and saw the driver’s back as he opened the gate and walked through, his dinner in his hand. I stood, and moved closer to edge of the house. If things got loud, and the target ran out, I’d have to take him by myself.
In my mind’s eyes, I could see the driver step outside the gate, the garrote sliding over his head and around his throat, Ro pulling it tight, cutting and choking at once. I could see Ro, turning back to back with the driver, and throwing the driver over his shoulder, snapping the man’s neck. I thought I could hear the dull thud of the body hit the ground.
Then, I heard a car turn at the corner, and saw headlights flicker through the trees, and I brought the hammer up and ready, like I could do a goddamn thing with it from my corner. The headlights passed without slowing down, and then the night returned to its relative silence. And then, I heard, for real, the trunk open and close, and a few moments later Ro slipped over the fence, grinning. He’d gotten his wish.
“Goddamn man, you already geared up? You’re lucky you haven’t boiled your brain with this shit on,” he asked, smiling at me. I handed him his mask, and he slipped it over his head. He handed me a set of keys. The driver would have a set to the house, in case of emergency. I pulled the carabineer from the bag, sets of zip ties premade and ready dangling from it, and hooked it over the bag's strap, for immediate use. Once inside we wouldn’t have time to fuck about.
“Got your hammer ready? Bam-Bam, Bam-Bam,” he said, grinning at me through the mask. Fucker had been calling me that since jump school.
We moved around to the front of the house. Ro was in the lead, the driver’s 9mm Beretta forward. We’d wanted to go through the back door, which was closer to where the family should be, but it was a large sliding glass door, well lit, and next to the kitchen. They’d see us coming before we had a chance to breech and overwhelm them. This was a laugh, in and of itself. We were going to overwhelm our target with a battered 9mm handgun and a hammer. Fucking super.
He stood guard while put I my hand on the knob. Somehow, it wasn’t locked, and I didn’t have to knock it out the other side with the hammer. I gave him the nod, he took his first step forward, and I threw open the door, stepping back out of the way just far enough to let him rush in.
I was right behind him, but he was so goddamn quick. He was through the little foyer, past a little sitting room and into the dining room where the family was seated at the table. At the head of the table, the Captain was rising out of his seat, his eyes darting to his pistol belt curled up on the coffee table in front of the tv. Ro hit him in the temple with the Beretta. Then the yelling started.
The wife darted from the dinner table to the living area, and her husband’s pistol lying on the table. I took two steps and tossed the hammer, underhanded, hitting her in the stomach and knocking her down, away from it. The daughter, about maybe 14, yelled a war cry, and ran at me with a steak knife.
I managed to grab the wrist holding the knife, and turn her around. I wrapped her up, and we fell, knocking over an end table beside the sofa. I put my hand over her mouth, and she bit it. I was afraid she was going to make me do something I’d regret, when I felt the serrations of the steak knife begin to rip open the flesh on my arm.
I latched on to the wrist with both hands, hoping I could keep her from doing any more damage without having to go to the next level. I didn’t want to do permanent damage to either her or her mother, but I had to get her to shut the fuck up, and I wasn’t going to sacrifice an arm to do it.
And then Ro leaned over us, the Beretta held by the barrel, and gave her a love tap right between the eyes. She went limp, the knife dropped out of her hand, and she rolled right off me. Ro helped me up, looked at the gash on my arm, and shook his head. The look in his eyes was almost comical, like he had to do everything.
The Captain’s wife was moaning from the floor, and Ro stood over her and told her in Tagalog to keep her mouth shut and do what she was told, or else. She was clutching her stomach where the hammer had hit her, but she wasn’t spitting blood so we didn’t worry about it.
We put the zip ties over their ankles and wrists, and duct taped their mouths shut. We zip tied the Captain’s hands behind his back, taped his mouth shut, and I took the pistol and spare magazines from his duty belt. With Ro in the lead, the three of us walked out to his car, put him in the trunk with his driver, and drove away.

Part 2
A light rain rattled off the tin roof of the tiny auto shop we were using. It helped muffle the cries coming from the wash closet and the electric zapping behind the door. I adjusted the dim desk lamp and tried to concentrate on sewing up my wound.
The shop was Ro’s cousin's. Or his uncle's. I never could remember which. That side of his family was big, and they all looked alike. It was just our good fortune to have the use of it. We had absolutely no idea how short our time table was.
We’d been in the region gearing up for another job that had fallen through. When it had, everyone else moved on, either to their respective homes of origin, and in some cases their families, while others took contracts elsewhere. We needed some R and R, and Ro hadn’t seen that part of his family in years, so we took the next month off to bum around, stay drunk, and see who could bang more chicks. Since he insisted prostitutes didn’t count, he was currently in the lead, but only slightly.
Then, the man from Champaign called. He knew we were still in the area. He knew everyone there was to know, and it seemed, everything. And he needed a favor. And in our business, when a man like that asks you a favor, it’s an honor. Since the job revolves around reputation and availability, it means you’re better than you ever thought you could be.
A friend of his, a well respected physician who spent half his time and considerable fortune in shit holes most people can’t find on a map, had been kidnapped. He’d been helping organize relief efforts for an earthquake that had shaken a couple of the smaller islands pretty bad, as well as donating his skill as a physician to the injured. He’d been taken prisoner, and was being held for ransom, by a local NPA cell.
He was supposed to be moved to a base in the mountains, but the army had gone all Apocalypse Now on it before he could be moved. The cell was small, closer to a street gang than a hardened and disciplined terrorist organization, and they’d stepped up their ransom demands. For proof of life, they streamed a video of someone chopping off the good doctor’s pinky.
At that moment, the man from Champaign was in a private jet with money, shooters, and medical gear. With him also was a deep, awful blade of fear that cut through his chakras; and it went against his spiritual practice not listen to it. So he called us, and gave us the Captain’s name. The Captain was also acting as the group’s negotiator, and his electronic security was actually worse than his physical security, so tracking and confirming him had been easier than eating ice cream on a hot day for the man from Champaign.
Ro walked out of the wash closet, letting the door slip closed behind him. He leaned over and inspected my dental floss stitches. He sat down, shaking his head.
“That’s going to be a nasty fucking scar,” he said. I shrugged.
“Captain fucking Save a Ho. You should’ve just knocked that bitch the fuck out. What if she’d cut you for real? What use would you be then?” He picked up the small bottle of vodka I’d used to disinfect the wound, and took a swig. He normally didn’t drink while working; and I knew he wouldn’t let himself get drunk, but nobody liked this part of the job. Not the part he’d been doing in the wash closet.
“Having to do the shit part alone, while you sew yourself up,” he said, his shit eating grin at full beam. Joking about it, so he could disengage a bit from what he’d been doing.
“It was your turn anyway,” I said. He flipped me off.
“Last time doesn’t count. You enjoyed that too much,” he said. I shrugged again.
The last time we’d had to do that, we’d been in one of those little Eastern European countries that seem to change hands every other day. It had been a Russian mobster, somebody who bought and sold girls into slavery. I’d be lying if I said some part of me hadn’t enjoyed it.
“He break?” I asked.
“Course he broke. Should be four guys, one in a chair right outside the door,” he said. We’d known they were holding him in a little compound with a square two story house, we just didn’t know how many there were, or which room he was in.
“Handle your business, bro, and I’ll tell you the floor plan on the way,” he said. I nodded, tied the last stitch, and left him at the table. It was only fair. He’d done the hard part while I was fixing myself, and that’s always a bitch to live with.
We’d debated leaving him alive, but decided against it. We didn’t like leaving enemies behind. We didn’t want to have to worry about him, should either one of us find ourselves back in Manila. More importantly, after that night, people he worked with would be looking for a snitch. If they knew he was dead, there was less of a risk of blow back on his family. At least, in theory. You never can be sure with psychotics.
His head was down, a thick, steady stream of blood dripping from his face to the plastic tarp below. He didn’t look at me, just cried softly and muttered something about a dead child.
“Your daughter is fine,” I told him, and cut his feet loose from the chair. “You’ll see her soon enough,” I lied. If we’d have thought his family would be safe from reprisal, we might’ve taken our chances leaving him alive
He didn’t believe me. He muttered something else about me being a monster, and killing his baby, and then he started to sing a lullaby.
I picked the hammer up off the sink, and felt the bones in my hand crack around the handle as I realized what he meant.

Part 3
I took position against the stucco wall, my hands formed in a cradle between my thighs. Ro placed his foot in my hands, and I lifted. At the top, he turned, and helped me up. We dropped over the side, and lay where we were, the battered Berettas in our hands.
We moved to the back of the building, and did it over, this time lifting Ro up to a second floor window. He stood on my shoulders while he slipped the lock, and then he lifted himself silently inside. When he reached back down, I was already holding the machete up for him.
When he took it, I followed the side of the house around to the front corner, where the guard sat in his chair. I took the hammer from my bag, and it in my right hand, gun in my left, began my approach. I could shoot better with my left hand than I could swing a hammer, and there would be no room for error.
I could see the guard’s legs, his feet propped up on a generator of some type. I could smell his body odor, and hear him snore. I had to force myself to think of the task at hand, instead of the Captains words, which I knew would haunt me. Goddamn it.
Finally, I heard Ro’s signal, a single bird whistle which I answered by taking three quick steps, and coming around the corner with the hammer like Casey Jones at the plate.
It made possibly the worst sound I ever heard, like a watermelon being struck by a bolt of God’s own lightning. I hit him so hard, not only did his head crack open in the front, it hit the wall behind him hard enough to crack a second time. There was blood and brain everywhere. Ignoring it, focusing on doing each thing as quickly and silently as possible, I dragged the body away from the door, and waited a ten count.
I slipped the Beretta back beneath my belt, checked the load in the ancient M-3A1 Grease Gun he’d been cradling in his sleep, flipped up the dust cover and retracted the bolt until it latched, readying it, and moved forward.
Beside the blood and brain painted wall, the door opened easily. Inside was a little room with a staircase leading up, and an opening that led to what looked like a kitchen, and beyond that, a room where someone was watching television. I could hear laughter, but the television was far too loud for me to make out how many different voices.
At the top of the stairs, Ro and the good doctor were staring down at me. The doc seemed to be in as good a shape as one could expect. Helluva way to be repaid for giving freely of your time, wealth, and skill, I thought.
I brought a thumb across my throat, and then held it up, indicating that I had killed one man. He brought a thumb across his own throat, and then held up his thumb and forefinger, indicating that he hadn’t killed anyone. He was pissed.
It wasn’t that we were serious about the box score, it was the simple fact that everyone we didn’t account for meant one more gun aimed at our backs. Just as they started down the stairs, we heard a car enter the little courtyard outside, and pull to a stop outside.
Ro froze, backing the doctor into a corner, covering him with his body, gun in one hand, machete in the other. I looked out the tiny window in the middle of the door, and saw two men step out of a police car. Inside the house I heard grumbling, and movement as the television was shut off.
Wanting to save our heaviest artillery, I pulled the Beretta, and opened the door. They were staring at the Pollack stain on the wall when I leaned out and double tapped each of them.
Ro was already bounding down the stairs with the doctor as I slipped back, dropping the Beretta’s hammer and pushing the door open for their escape. I jammed the Beretta in my back pocket, brought the M-3 up, and fired through the kitchen as they appeared.
They dropped in a pile as the gun ran dry, and I left it were it was. I ripped the pistol back out and charged out the door as Ro was slamming the door of the cruiser closed. I slipped in the back with the doctor and pushed his head down.
Ro put it in gear, and stomped on it, backing us out in a whirl of dust. Muzzle flashes barked from second floor windows. I returned fire as Ro stood on the accelerator and we rocketed off, the car’s rear fishtailing across the pavement as we turned out of the courtyard, and onto the road.
A minute later we were throttling down the highway without any sign that anyone had followed us out of the little compound, and Ro slowed to a more normal speed as he turned down the road that would take us to the drop car.
I checked the good doctor. Except for the missing digit, broken nose, and some nasty bruising, he was in pretty good goddamn spirits, and then it hit us that we’d made it, so far. Behind us were nightmares, and ahead lay a clean car, a safe house, and the promise of a private jet and the man from Champlain. The three of us laughed that weird, after adrenaline laugh, and Ro asked how he was doing.
“I’m great, thank you boys, so much,” the good doctor answered for himself, nearly in tears.
“That’s good,” Ro said, and held up a blood soaked hand. “Because you're gonna need to look at this shit when we switch cars.”
Goddamn it.

5 Things I've Come To Realize From Research and Life

  1. People who identify themselves as knife people are, in general, pound for pound, a more fucked up collection of weirdos, nut jobs, psychopaths, miscreants, loons, and douchefuck morons than those who identify themselves as gun people. As a weapons aficionado, this both scares and baffles me.
  2. From what I've observed, and discovered through conversation and research, commitment in “swinging”, or “open” relationships, requires a philosophical and mental rigor most people simply do not posses. This is not a moral judgment. Also relationships that are financially stable seem to be, even more so than normal, less at risk for meltdown. Another point, is that there is a very broad range of kink. From what I've picked up, couples for whom it is not a constant lifestyle, but some occasional fun seem to have healthier relationships then those who seem to be little more than really committed friends with benefits. Couples which spend a significant amount of time apart due to professional endeavors, and take the “What happens in wherever stays wherever” approach, seem to have about a 50/ 50 chance of success/ failure. This seems to work best for military couples, and others who can expect to be gone for long stretches at a time, with equally long stretches back home. Also, it seems to depend on the level of intimacy other than sex developed with non spousal partners. Sex is one thing, love is another. This was in no way a scientific survey, do not take it as such. This is what I've processed thus far. Yes, for various writing projects. And once again, no, I'm not judging. I don't do that.
  3. There are basically three kinds of people who are not in violent criminal gangs that identify themselves as Norse/ Pagan. 1. Those who are actually agnostic/ atheist, but want to respect their cultural/ family heritage. Also enjoy pissing off Bible Nazis. 2. Those who consider themselves spiritual more than anything, and just like cool stories and symbols. And pissing off Bible Nazis. 3. Fucking morons.
  4. Dallas is in a great many ways, a cultural Rubicon. It's L.A. without the movie stars, Savannah without the Gothic architecture, Manhattan without Wall Street, Chicago without the port. It's old money, and thirty thousand dollar millionaires. It's the last Southern city, and the first Middle America city. It is a great shame, that as often as Texas is a caricature in art and literature, Dallas is even more so. Dallas is the city of perpetually big ideas that are never quiet fulfilled. A dying arts district, infamously corrupt city government, and a love hate relationship with itself. King of the one horse towns. Dallas is in many ways the smallest big city in America, and the biggest small city in America, and it's always lost between the two.
  5. Otherwise honest people fuck themselves more than any other way with overzealous, carefully crafted, self promotion. Every so often I will think to myself I should more carefully cultivate my image, and what info I post out there. Let's be honest, I have no filter. I just don't give a fuck. And I'm afraid that might hurt me in the future. Like, say, after I drop some more weight, and start looking for work in law enforcement or security because this writing shit still isn't paying the bills? Yeah, I'm a little afraid some of the shit I've said will come back. Because people are idiots, and don't recognize satire. Also, it's a little garish, isn't it? Sharing as much as I do, being as open as I am? Basically, I kind of use Facebook as a low rent reality show. Only I don't get paid. And I rarely sell books. Which was kind of the whole point, originally. I'm not going to though. That's how that shit begins. Where it starts. Fuck that. I'm not going to self destruct in an orgy of self induced fame and glory. Sure, I could use the money, but if I turn into the people I hate, I'll just end up having to kill myself. So, yeah. About that. I'm just gonna keep on being me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Letters from BBJ#1 Stupid Gun People On Youtube

Dear 90% of the People Who Post Gun Videos on Youtube,

You're idiots, shut the fuck up. At best you make us look ridiculous, at worst you put bad information in people's heads. Just because you have a camera, a gun, a computer, and a goddamn internet connection, does not make you a guru. Racking the pump is not guaranteed to make them shit their pants and run away. If you mention racking the pump, and not audio/ visual deterrence along the continuum of force, you're all fucked up. What's that you say, you never heard of the continuum of force? Well, that's because you're a moron. Hence, the shutting the fuck up.

Don't tell me about your favorite gun, which you just bought, because some actor used it in a movie or some rapper mentioned in a song, or because it “looked” like a bad motherfucker, which you have fired twice .

Don't tell me about this new, totally super awesome technique you've developed that entails twisting the magazine, causing the gun to twist in your hand, causing your thumb to hit the mag release. I'm not going to advertently cause an inadvertent mag release. That's fucking stupid, and takes more time for me to actually try to wrap my head around than it does to just change mags the proper way. You're a fucking moron for thinking it up in the first place. Shut the fuck up.

I do not care how much fun you're having bump firing anything. Bump firing is fucking stupid. It exists solely so morons can get away with jacking off in front of people in public. Point blank.

Do not tell me wheel guns never jam, and semi-autos are not reliable. It's 20-fucking-12, you retard. Shut the fuck up. Revolvers can indeed jam, and when they do, it is often catastrophrophic.The vast majority of modern, reasonably well made semi-autos are going to be more accurate and reliable than most people, especially novice shooters.

Do not tell me wheel guns are stupid and have no place.

Wheel guns do still have some very valid points going for them. A j-frame .38 may still be the perfect BUG.I still believe revolvers are excellent choices for people who want a gun for protection, but are honest enough with themselves to admit they're simply not going put the time and effort into developing their martial skill beyond the most absolute basic level.

I know, I know. That's the wrong goddamn answer, and they need to get up off their fat asses and train, right? People need to do a lot of things. I need to lose two hundred pounds, it's not going to happen tomorrow.

The fact of the matter is, self defense is the most basic of human rights. Unless someone is a violent criminal scumbag and/ or terrorist, then they have the right to defend themselves.

If they're old.

If they're fat.

If they're poor.

If they don't particularly like guns.


And the fact of the matter is, whether you like it or not, whether you train constantly for it or not, a lot of this shit isn't really that complex. You can have all the training and skills known to man, but if you don't have the mindset, you're fucked.

And a single mother who has only ever shot the .38 in the drawer beside her bed that does have the mindset is in better stead than the he man Alpha asshole with all the training courses under his belt, without.

Each gun is a tool. If you don't understand the proper, specific use of each tool, please shut the fuck up. You're not helping anyone, and you're making me want to skull fuck your soul.

Do you really want to see Big Baby Jesus on an angry, soul-skull fucking rampage?

Always be mindful of with whom you are speaking.

In comedy circles, this is known as “know your audience”.

The synthesis of knowing the specific function of each tool, and your audience, along with common sense, allows you to give proper advice to those who might look to your for answers.

If you cannot wrap your head around this, that different people have different needs, limitations, and skill sets, and give sound advice being mindful of all these things, then you need to shut the fuck up.

Right now.

No, stop.

I know. I know you want everyone to know you're a big, tough, capable man.

You're not.

And unless you shut the fuck up, and learn, you never will be.


Big Baby Jesus

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dairy Queen and Starbucks

My father went to Dairy Queen.
He drank coffee with the men he coached with, and the old men who'd watched every season since they'd come home from the war.
Everday before work, and often in the evenings, and sometimes for lunch.
Everyone dressed the same. Polyster shorts for the coaches, denim and Dickies for the old farmers and the working men, slacks and pressed jeans for the business owners.
They drank coffee flavored coffee, and talked about the weather, and whatever sports the local team was playing. Hunting season and politics. Fishing and guns. Who was going to college, and who to the military. Hay and cattle prices, taxes and women. The oil field, the cotten field, and the vegetable garden.
They talked about things that were Right, and things that were Wrong. And how a man had to be first and foremost
A Man.
The things in life that mattered.
I go to Starbucks, before and after work.
I drink coffee that's both harsh and bland, which I have to pour chocolate syrup and cancer from a pink pack in just to make it digestable.
I say nothing to anyone around me. I don't know them, and don't want to.
I catch snippets of their conversations. And when I listen closely, or not at all, I swear the language in which they speak is of a foreign tongue.
The smart ones think their professors are brilliant and can do no wrong, the dumb ones form their opinions based on what their favorite celebrities tell them.
None of them think for themselves.
When they speak of politics, it is in sound bites and slogans. When they doubt the sincerity of those in office, it is stylishly. They speak solipistically about community and social justice.
There is no Right or Wrong, except in terms relative to the pleasure centers of their brain.
Sustainability is their current favorite buzzword, but they've never worked a hoe.
Masculinity is an obscure, outdated concept, and the root of all evil.
Outside the Dairy Queen, half the trucks carried guns, during deer season, a third more.
Everyone carried a pocket knife.
They talked of the difference between Police Actions and Wars, and how government should never send young men off to die without the same will to win as those in uniform. How we dropped the Big One on Japan, and those goddamn little nips were doing pretty ok now.
In this Starbucks, I have a Glock 9mm on my hip, and a Smith .380 in my pocket, along with a spare mag for the real gun. I have a big Benchmade Skirmish in my rear pocket. In the corner there's another veteran. We noticed each other while each doing our own periodic perimeter scan. We saw the same things in each others eyes, the bracelets on our wrists inscribed with our buddies names. Constant reminders of the price other men paid.
We exchange only a nod.
And twenty-five sheep sat around us, oblivious to all but the gentle limbic synapses kept on a constant drip.
I look at them, and wonder how I got here.
I did not plan to come here.
Did they?
Is this what they wanted?
But this is not about them.
Or even myself.
Each of us, is in a sense,
Pavlov's dog.
We become who we train ourselves to be.
The difference between us and the mutts,
that we
Choose what bells we answer to.
I look at the people around me
And I miss the
Dairy Queen

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Lawyer's Daughter

The house was empty. The furniture was gone, the walls were freshly painted, and the carpets were steam cleaned. The soles of my sneakers left noticeable prints that irked me. Even the fridge was clean and defrosted. On the kitchen counter sat an ancient rotary phone. I put it to my ear and listened to the old buzz of an open line. I put it back in the cradle, and wondered when the last time I’d put a rotary phone to my ear had been.

I slid my pistol back in the holster above my appendix, and walked back outside into the sweltering heat of August in Dallas, heat that made a Sunday in hell look Christmas in Aspen.
Walking across the yard I pulled out my phone and called the boss’ direct line. Toni, his daughter, the company vice president, my sort of partner and immediate boss, answered.

“It’s empty,” I said.
“How empty,” she asked.
“Like it’s about to go on the market,” I told her.

The woman and her daughter had been taken in a home invasion in Highland Park the night before. The client, their husband and father, had returned home to find a man sitting in his recliner watching television and drinking his booze. He was wearing black clothes, a mask, and gloves. He’d rolled the bottom of his mask up over his lip so he could drink. His smile twinkled with diamonds and gold.

He made the client open the safe in his office, and then roughed him up some, to get the point across that he shouldn’t do a fucking thing until he called later with his ransom demands. The call had been made to the husband from the phone in the kitchen a few hours later. He had until close of business hours to assemble two million dollars in cash. The next call would be made later that evening.

“Ok, Jeb,” she said, a slight hint of indecision in her voice. “We have a lead. At 3:32 this am, someone used the wife’s quick pay tab to buy gas at a Mobil at Westmoreland and Camp Wisdom.”

“That’s not far from here. I can swing by there and see if they have a security tape,” I asked. If she didn't give me the go ahead, my first order of business would’ve been to start going door to door, canvassing the neighborhood. Scoring a security tape with faces or a vehicle and plates seemed like a better trade off for time.
“Good. But don’t be too rough, babe. If they won’t volunteer it, it’ll take a search warrant or a court order.”
“Didn’t you hire me because you needed muscle?”
“Don’t worry sugar-tits, I got plenty of charm,” I told her. She switched off without a goodbye.

I stood in the little worn yard with its thin, scraggly grass, and looked up and down both sides of the street. I didn’t see anyone peering out at me from behind curtains, or gang soldiers on guard duty, and the little hairs on the back of my neck didn’t stand up, signaling a warning.

Disappointed, I walked back to my truck setting at the curb, a short bed step side F150 4x4 extended cab, black, and slid in behind the wheel. I fired it up, took a drink from a bottle of cold water from the little cooler in the shotgun seat, and felt the delightful blast of cold air rush from the AC to me. My father had been a Ford man, and I’d buy Fords until I died or they took a bailout. Thinking about my father, and the one I was trying to help, I drove the two blocks to the gas station.

The attendant behind the register was an overweight woman somewhere between a rough 60 and a tragic 40, and reminded me of too many mothers of kids I’d knowing growing up in East Texas. I wondered if working in a predominantly black neighborhood made her racism act up.

“What do ya need?” She asked through what few teeth she had. If her voice had been the twang of the pines, instead of the flat prairie of West Texas, I’d have played up the regional angle. I showed her my identification.
“Yes ma’am, I’m a private investigator. Your regional director hired my firm to perform a security audit of each property in this area.”
“I ain’t heard nothing ‘bout that.”
“Yeah, well, you wouldn’t. I’d really appreciate it if you’d let me see the surveillance feed from last night.”
“Horseshit,” she said, her ash laden cigarette nearly falling from her lips. “We’ve been getting robbed once every couple of months for fifteen years. It’s like a sport to the motherfuckers around here. Corporate don’t suddenly care about security.”
“Ok, then, how about this. The truth is a woman and her daughter were abducted last night. Her gas card was used at 3:32 this morning to pay for gas at this location. I’m trying to locate them. I don’t have much time. I’ll pay you a thousand bucks cash if you’ll let me look at the tape.”
“Shouldn’t the po-lice be involved in this?”
“I wish. The husband has reasons not to involve them. Please, it won’t take but a minute.”
“Two thousand, upfront,” she said. I just stared at her.
“Five up front, the rest after I see what I need to see,” I told her. She finally stubbed her cigarette out, and leaned over the counter.
“Let’s see it, hot shit.”
I took my fold and peeled off five c-notes. I’d stocked up on grease money at the office. I held it out, and when she reached for it, snatched it away.
“Video first,” I told her. She got huffy, but stared at the money, then rolled her head past her shoulder, toward the door offset from the counter. I walked around the around a cooler filled with soggy ice and discounted sports drinks, and followed her into the little office.
On a metal shelf cramped beside a tiny battered desk, sat two screens. Below them sat the recording stations.
“Is the disk from last night in still in?” I asked.
“How about that five hundred bucks?” She asked. I stared at her a moment, wondering what the consequences of ripping her throat out might be, and then handed her the money. Maybe I was getting soft.
“You need anything, yell, I’m gonna step outside for a smoke,” she said, folding the money and stuffing it in the pocket of her jeans. I nodded, hoping I could get out of there before she died of cancer.

I took a moment to look at the setup. It wasn’t sophisticated or up to date. Just two cameras with feeds to two different recorders. I didn’t know if the cameras were motion sensitive or just ran continually. The station sat on a busy street corner, so I didn’t really think motion activated would do a whole lot for them. Given the age of the equipment, it might even be too much for it to handle. I found the control panel, stopped the recording where it was, and then played it back.

It took a few minutes of playing with it to get where I needed to be. At 3:28, a 80’s model Cutlass, painted a strange glittering burnt orange color pulled into the lot. A black man got out and held the fast pay tag to the little pad on the pump, and filled up his tank. Then he got back in his car and drove off. I wrote the make, model, and plate number down on a post it note I stole off the desk. For five hundred bucks, they could spare a post it note. Then I pulled the disk from the player, wrapped it in my bandana, and dropped it under the light blue newsboy hat I wore over my shaved head.

I heard the front door open, and too many footsteps, the certain click of a lock, and stood from the desk, ready to leave. I stepped out of the office to see Miss Menthol, 1968 standing just inside the door, as two men straight from the trailer park who looked too stupid to be anything but her blood walked toward me with the narrow vision of predators.

Goddamn it. It should’ve clicked inside my thick skull. She had no reason to go outside to smoke, except be out of ear shot.
I pulled the big fold out again, hoping they’d be happy with the two grand I’d promised her. That’s what expense accounts are for anyway.

“I owe you fifteen hundred, right?” I asked, going over the fold. “I sure hope you’ll sign a receipt. My boss will take it out of my check if you don’t.”
“How about you just hand over everything?” The first one asked. He was a good foot and a half taller than I was, with long curly hair that needed to see some soap and water like nobody’s business. The other one was short, stockier than his friend, with a burr haircut. What passed for their clothing would’ve been thrown in the dumpster at most second hand stores.

“Oh, is that how it is,” I asked, slipping the money back in my pocket. The tall one leaned against the wall and looked down at me. I snaked my hand beneath my tropical shirt to the keychain at my waist, and slipped a finger into the single knuckle top popper attached to it.

“Yep, that’s exactly how it is, friend,” he said. He lifted his stained t shirt to reveal the butt of a revolver. I looked up at his wide, stupid grin, shifted my feet, and took a quick step, closing the short distance, delivering a decent uppercut to his chin. His head snapped back, his lights went out, and he fell back.

I stepped past him as his brother, or cousin, or retarded friend tried to figure out what move to make. He had one hand behind his back, but if he had a gun, he didn’t pull it out. I put the toe of my right sneaker between his legs, right in his taint, and watched him gasp and fall, heaving.

By this time the old woman had turned, and was trying to work the latch on the door. I grabbed a handful of hair on the top of her head, yanked her back away from the door, spun her around to face me, and pushed her face into my punch. Between all the extra upper body strength, and the top popper, well, her face was kind of a mess when she fell to the floor. The second punch had been for meanness, the third for fun.

I turned away from her, pulled the guns from her two darling sons, pulled the second disk from the recorder in the office, grabbed a Dr Pepper and some beef jerky on my way out, leaving the three idiots to their slumber. I dropped the guns, and disks in the shotgun seat, drove a few blocks away, and parked in the parking lot of what used to be known as Redbird Mall, but was now something else.
I pulled out my laptop, found a wireless network, and ate a beef stick with cheese while I waited for it to connect. In the desert, the first time I’d gone over, when all I could think of was the girl back home and the life I’d left behind, a beef and cheese stick combo, washed down by a Dr Pepper, had been one of my touchstones. The perfect snack from my redneck youth. This one tasted like it’d been on the shelf since jr high, and the Dr Pepper was flat as I washed it down.

The connection caught, and I navigated to one of the many databases the agency paid a stipend to use on a regular basis, and plugged in the plate number. A generation before, a P.I. would’ve had to wave money or sports tickets in front of their cop poker buddy to run the plate, now there’s so much personal info available at our fingers I think the culture is numbed to our impending doom.

The car was registered to one El Ron Lavay, whose last known address was less than two miles away. I pulled out my cell and started to call Toni, but stopped. Technically, she was my supervisor, and my next move should’ve been to call her. If I did, I knew she’d wait for the next call, giving the kidnappers, the enemy, more time to cultivate whatever plan they could. It meant more time for the tension to build between the kidnappers and the hostages. If the kidnappers were professional, I’d have been less worried, but these people didn’t strike me as professional. Before I’d gotten laid up in Dallas, I’d done some recovery work in the K&R field, and knew that when dealing with amateurs, quick reaction was even more important than usual. Amateurs are usually lazy, and make stupid, sloppy mistakes. Kidnapping is sloppy enough work as it is. Pro’s will be too busy planning and prepping, to molest, rape, or torture someone in the first few hours, if at all. Unless that’s what it’s about, and they plan on killing them anyway. Amateurs, on the other hand, might do those things for revenge, or to relieve boredom, or they might feed them something they’re allergic to, or put them in a box without enough oxygen.

The client was a defense attorney, big time, with a rather distinct personality, a minor celebrity. Before that he’d been a prosecutor. Before that, he’d been Navy Ace in Vietnam. An outspoken libertarian, he had a reputation for defending any and all non-violent drug offenders with a righteous zeal. I liked him more than a little bit. Enough to look over the sports personalities he’d gotten off rape charges. Of course, if you’re a cocktail waitress who goes to a millionaire athlete’s penthouse suite overlooking downtown, in the very late hours of the night, and don’t know what you’re doing, you’re probably either a liar, or too stupid to breath.

He also sat on the boards of several different corporations, had assorted interests in real estate, wanted to legalize gambling, flood the Trinity, and put a casino downtown on the river. He had five children, all girls, and six or seven ex wives. There was no telling how many people in his case history or personal life would be willing or capable of kidnapping his wife and daughter. If I called Toni, she’d tell me to sit on the house and pull surveillance. She’d tried to convince the client to bring in the cops, which would mean bringing in the Feds, if for no other reason than manpower, but he wasn’t having it. It would take too long, and he didn’t want his family turning into a media circus for by the book bureaucrats and careerists, only to wind up one more sad story on the evening news.

If I didn’t call with the information, Toni wouldn’t like it whatever move I made, and her father, a former army CID man and retired FBI agent, would like it even less. He didn’t much care for me anyway. Toni had not convinced him to bring me on because I had a bachelor’s degree in bullshit, was a people person, or even the best team player, for that matter. I was only a couple steps away from the contractor I’d been when I’d gone back to war. Since Dallas isn’t the type of city that has a heavy flow of work for journeymen protective agents, I helped out on their more traditional investigations because it meant learning skills I wanted to cultivate, skills that would be helpful in my other line of part time work.

I slid the phone into its holster clipped to my visor, and drove to the house, trying to decide what to do.

The burnt orange Cutlass was setting alone in the driveway. I rolled past it, and then made the block. I drove down the alley behind the house, and the parallel streets, before making my way back to the house. I parked down the street, and sat for a few minutes, watching. My phone rang, and I held it in my hand and looked at the Toni’s name on the screen, and debated answering it.

If the kidnappers had been pro’s, I wouldn't have thought twice. At the client's house I’d seen the struggle they'd put up. In the master bedroom, the bed had been torn apart, covered with sweat stains, and used condoms had been left there. The man who met the client hadn't let him see that, until after he'd left. He’d wanted him to see it after he'd taken the money from the safe. After he'd let him know he'd better not go call the cops. So, he had the kind of vicious, savante like intuitive intelligence criminals often do, but he wasn't a pro. A pro wouldn't have bought gas with the victim’s card. A pro wouldn't have left DNA evidence at the scene of the crime. A pro wouldn’t have been there when the client arrived home.

From behind the seat I pulled a metal clipboard, the square box kind traffic cops have to keep papers in, and took my back up gun, a snub-nosed Ruger .357, with the hammer chopped, and slid it atop the magnet I’d put inside the box. My carry gun was a pimped out Glock 19, with a nickel boron slide and barrel, Big Dot sights, and Lasermax guide rod, grip adapter, and melted and stippled grip.

Normally I carried a custom 1911, but it was August in Dallas. So, yeah. About that.

I was wearing some light cargo pants from Old Navy that I’d had for years, with all sorts of pockets most people never use. I turned the volume function off on my phone, and slid a pocket at my waist, beside my spare mag. I got out of the truck and walked across the yard to the door, writing a script in my head.

The door was answered by a scared looking black girl in sleep plants and blouse, who couldn't have been very far out of high school.
“What you want?”
“Census, it won't take but a few minutes.”
“I’m just staying here right now. I don’t live here.”
“Well, is Mr. Lavay in? Can I talk to him?”
“Oh, he’s busy,” she said, shaking her head. She wouldn't look me in the eyes. She also looked like she’d been crying.
“Really, well, can I ask you your name?”
“La-Rhonda, my name is La-Rhonda,” she said.
“That’s a real pretty name, La-Rhonda,” I said, writing on a piece of paper.
“Thanks,” she said, hiding a sniffle. I got the impression she probably wasn’t a party to it by choice. Keeping my hand in place, I shifted slightly, forcing her to turn with me, and showed her the clipboard.
“It’d sure be a real big help if you could take a minute and answer some questions for me,” I said, handing her my pen.
I watched her lower lip quiver as she read what I’d written.
“It’s for you, help us, help you,” I told her. If it wasn’t a government talking point for the census, it damn sure could’ve been. She looked at me, her eyes wide and wet. “Trust me, it’s for the best.”
She shook her head, and wrote, tears rolling silently down her face. She handed the clipboard back to me.
“How’s that?” She asked. I looked at her answers to my questions.
Are the mother and her daughter here?
Girl is in the back room. Her momma died a couple hours ago.
Where in the house in are they?
In da front bedroom.
How many people besides yourself, are here with them?
Where are they?
Front room, kitchen, bedroom with da girl.
I looked at the list. The mother was already dead. Fuck. I wrote one more thing down, Ask me if I want some water.
“I just need one more signature, right here,” I said. She read what I wrote. “Man, it sure is hot out here.”
“Yeah, that’s da truth. You want a glass of water or something?”
“That would make my day,” I told her, and then a man stepped into the doorway and snarled.
“Oh, hell no. She gave you what you want. Get the fuck out of here.” His mouth twinkled with diamonds and gold. I raised the clipboard and shot him in the face.

La-Rhonda screamed, and I pushed her hard away as I stepped fast and low through the doorway, and over El Ron’s body, chucking the clipboard away from the gun. To my left was a doorway at the hallway, in front of me was the entrance to the kitchen, and to my right was the back of the couch in front of the entertainment system against the wall. A man came out of the doorway swinging a sawed off pump toward me, and I turned, emptying the little .357 into his torso.

An arm reached around the corner of the kitchen, firing some obscure Mac on full auto, and I rolled over the side of the couch trying to get out of the way. I landed on my back wondering why I hadn’t been hit, when I heard them curse, and begin changing magazines. In the movies they have endless mag’s, but in real life full auto eats that shit up pretty quick.

I dropped the Ruger, tore the Glock from its holster, and listened to them slam a fresh mag home. Shit, that was quick, I thought. I looked up to see the doorway into the kitchen in the reflection off the glass in the entertainment system. I stayed flat on my back, stared at the reflection in the glass, aimed the Glock at the entrance, pressed the button on the frame activating the laser, and waited for them to move first.

First I saw the stubby barrel of the Mac, and then his face right next to it, lean around the corner. I watched the red dot find the center of his face, and I fired. I put three bullets into his face before he fell, and then recovered, first rolling onto my side, then taking a knee, then standing. I moved my support hand to the gun, and turned off the laser, scanning, more with my ears in the confines of the house than anything.

If I’d been on a range, I would’ve heard nothing but ringing. Here, in combat, the adrenaline took care of that.

I moved through the kitchen, clearing it before hand as best I could given the constraints. From the kitchen, I moved shortly forward, and stood near the doorway, listening for movement. All I could hear was crying and shuffling in the front bedroom. I needed to make sure the two left were in the same room before I moved. Otherwise, no matter what I did, one would be behind me.
“Hey, fuck heads,” I yelled. “How’s the girl?”
“Fuck you!” One of them shouted back.
“That’s not very helpful.”
“Man, you were supposed to play ball!”
“Yeah, well, you weren’t supposed to grow up to be kidnappers, now were you?” I said. He shouted some more curses, and I heard some more shuffling, and cries.
“Say, I’ll make you a deal. You let her come to me, we walk out of her, and you guys get a head start on the cops."
“Man, fuck you. We want our money!”
“Yeah, well, you fucked that up. We can work something out. Best case scenario is you give me the girl, and I tell the cops I don’t know what you look like. It’s true. I haven’t seen your faces yet.”
“You serious,” another voice asked, from inside the room. Confirmation. I side stepped away from the doorway, slicing the pie, and caught the eye of the first man, and shot him twice in the head. I followed him in as he fell.

He was against the wall, an ancient Taurus 92 against her head. He wore nothing by loose jeans, and his face, chest, and arms, were covered with deep, bloody scabs. What clothing she had ne was torn to the point of nothing. Her nails were broken and bloody. They both stared at me.

“Drop the gun, let her go.”
“You still gonna give me that head start?” He asked, a false smile creeping across his face.
“Sure,” I lied. They both knew it. He didn’t have another chance. He dropped the gun atop the bed and let her go. She took one slow step, and then stopped, staring at the gun on the bed.
Believe it or not, there are actually people in this world that think victims should not fight back. They say it’s safer not to, and some even go so far as to say more moral not to. All this ever does is instill in those who’ve been victimized a sense that they deserved what happened to them, and that animals who made them suffer were more worthy than themselves. What a bunch of idiotic, twatwaffling bullshit.

I took the gun from the bed, and when she looked at me like she didn’t believe what I’d done, I handed her my own.

“Use this. It’ll look like I did it. You won’t need the hassle, Katherine,” I said, using her name. She took the gun from me, turned, and fired until the slide locked back.

I walked her through the house. She was in a daze. I tried to find something to drape over her, but she wouldn’t wear anything from the house. I pulled off my tropical shirt, which I always buy way too large anyway, and slipped it over her head. It swallowed her. I thought she might pass out, and I might have to carry her, but she walked under her own power out to the truck, where we sat under the arctic blast of AC, and waited.