And listen to me: It’s an offer yous can’t refuse … Dana King has a special deal for all yous fans of quality crime fiction. He’s making all four of his books available for free on Kindle from June 25 – 29. That’s Wild Bill, Worst Enemies, Grind Joint and A Small Sacrifice. I haven’t gotten to A Small Sacrifice yet myself, but I will be taking advantage of this dynamite offer and getting to it June 25. Just to note: A Small Sacrifice is a Shamus Nominated Nick Forte Mystery.
Dana is one of the very best around. This is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED deal. Don’t miss out.
Start checking out his books here:
And read his blog, One Bite at a Time, here:
My granddaughter has her driver’s license …
SNHU MFA 2014 (Popeye voice) GRADUMACATS ...
SNHU MFA 2014 Graduations … we’re waiting for the details, but the graduation took place last week … very cool. Check out the best sellers up above giving testimonials (at least 3) … not to mention they’re mentors in the program. Some wonderful people in that program, amici.
First brother and sister pair ever to get their MFA at SNHU. Adam Zobel got his MFA in Fiction last year, and Krista followed in his footsteps. Not bad, amici … two very excellent writers!
Sporting the Thug Lit Logo T-shirt … that’s me holding up a draft of Chapter 4 from The Dogfella …
Chapter 4 – The Gotti Years and Prison (1985 - 1995)
“If you're going through hell, keep going.”
― Winston Churchill
Not much else to report on these days. I’m busy working with James on his book and there’s no hockey for me until Callahan re-signs with Tampa Bay or moves to another franchise. I’ve already booked my Super Bowl tickets to watch my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills win it all this year and I continue to drop some tonnage.
My next crime novel, Tommy Red, awaits the free time necessary to get it in good enough shape for my agent ... and ... here’s a draft/taste of the start to this thing.
“I says to him, I says, ‘I wouldn’t send a knight out on a dog like this,’” Tommy Dalton said. He looked at his daughter, gave it a moment, and smiled. “Get it?”
Alysha Dalton didn’t smile. “Mom said you’re a killer,” she said. “A contract killer.”
Someone playing a nearby slot machine hit the progressive jackpot. The bells and whistles were loud until the screaming started. Tommy and his daughter were having drinks at a bar in the center of the casino. It had been noisy without the slot machine clanging, but the winner was less than ten feet from their table on the other side of a railing.
Tommy turned toward the noise.
“Dad?” Alysha said.
“What?” Tommy said. “How’m I supposed to answer something like that? Your mother said. You gonna believe me, what I say?”
“Are you or not?”
A large crowd was gathering around the winning slot machine. “Holy shit!” somebody yelled.
“You went to prison,” Alysha said. “I know that much.”
“For a bank job,” Tommy said. “For which I did six of an eight year bid. I was the driver, by the way. I wasn’t waving a gun in anybody’s face, and I didn’t have one on me when I was arrested. Once I was out the joint, I worked hauling soda skids the warehouse six blocks from where I lived. I didn’t live where you lived because two years before I come out, your mother shows up the prison there, she says to me, she says, she don’t love me no more, she met somebody. I didn’t ask who, when, what or why. Shit like that, it happens. A guy is away, it’s the price he pays. I says to her, I says, you want out, I won’t get in the way. You bring the guy home, make sure he don’t get stupid with my girls or I’ll kill him. Maybe that’s what she was talking about, your mother.”
Alysha frowned. “Mom said there was something that happened in Annapolis [READ ODE TO THE O’S IN BALTIMORE NOIR FOR THE BACKGROUND, AMICI]. You and some older mobster.”
“What she says to you, I don’t know. What happened was I almost got in trouble for something down Annapolis, but I was lucky. I was in a car when somebody was killed, but I didn’t kill him. I got no reason lie to you about that. I was never charged, so neither did the police believe I killed the guy.”
The chaos in the casino grew louder. Somebody rushed into the bar and yelled out the jackpot, twelve million. Gasps filled the room. Some of the people seated at the bar and the surrounding tables gathered near the railing to better view the commotion. Tommy waived the waitress over, paid the tab, and guided his daughter out of the bar. They walked the length of the casino floor to the Boardwalk exit and stepped outside. The August sun was intense. Both father and daughter shielded their eyes.
“So, how are you surviving?” Alysha said. “How do you live?”
Tommy removed his hand and squinted from the sun’s glare. He turned his head and felt a much needed ocean breeze. He made his way to the boardwalk railing, turned and leaned against it so the beach was behind him.
“I saw you playing cards last night, Dad,” Alysha said. “Twenty-five dollars a hand, seventy-five dollars a pop on that Let It Ride game you were playing.”
Tommy slid a hand across the iron railing. It was hot to the touch. He quickly removed it. “This fuckin’ heat,” he said. “Let’s find some shade.”
They walked along the beach side of the boardwalk toward the Ocean One mall. Tommy used the back of his right wrist to wipe the sweat from his forehead. Alysha kept a hand up to shade her eyes.
“What’s it about, these questions?” Tommy said. “I was gonna tell you another joke, a real one, happened last night. A story.”
“Another Honeymooner joke? Please Dad.”
“No, listen, it’s funny. I’m out to dinner with some broad last night, she’s not too bright. She’s not sure what to order off the menu this fancy place we’re at. She says to me, she says, ‘Can you order my appetizer?’ ‘Sure,’ I says. What do you like? Before she answers the waiter comes over to read the specials. He starts with something French, Fromage Frais he says, whatever the fuck that is. This broad, she looks at me like the guy just upchucked his oatmeal on the table. She says to me, she says, do they have pictures?”
“What? It’s not funny?”
“Broad, Dad? Some broad?”
“Alright, she was an escort.”
“God, you’re impossible.”
“What, you didn’t think it was funny?”
“Not at all. Not the story or that you pay for sex.”
“I paid for an escort. There wasn’t any sex.”
Alysha held both hands up, shook her head and said, “Fine. Whatever. Can we get back to—”
“You grilling me? Sure, that’s how you want to spend our time, go ’head.”
“Go ’head,” Tommy said.
“I always wondered,” Alysha said. “I’d heard stories growing up, but nothing about you being a killer.”
“Jesus Christ, Alysha, because I wasn’t.”
“Mom told me this a few weeks ago, when she said you were a killer.”
“She spewing this shit to your sisters?”
“No. Not that I know of. I don’t think so.”
Tommy stopped to catch a breeze. He turned to face the ocean. “That feels better,” he said.
“Maybe we should go back inside,” Alysha said. “Maybe up to your room. Or mine.”
Tommy looked into his daughter’s eyes. “What happened a few weeks ago?”
Alysha shook her head.
“Well?” Tommy said.
“She got dumped.”
Tommy smiled. “The lawyer?”
“She blames you.”
“Of course, but why?”
“He found out about your past. He’s planning to run for something. Some local political office or something, said he couldn’t because of your past. Some newspaper learned about it.”
“She never told him, that’d be her fault.”
“That’s her, Dad. I want to know from you.”
“No. Okay? The answer is no.”
Alysha wasn’t ready to let it go. “How do you live? How do you earn money?”
Tommy wiped his forehead again. “I’m a consultant, Alysha. You know that.”
“I know that’s a bullshit job you don’t really do. And even if you did, how could you afford this place, Atlantic City? Coming here, I mean. Gambling the way I saw you last night, the hookers, escorts, whatever you call them. You’re doing that as a consultant?”
“I could ask the same thing of you,” Tommy said. “What’re you doing here, Atlantic City? And she was an escort, but I didn’t take her back to my room.”
“I told you why I’m here. A bachelorette party. I’ve been here twice in my life. I don’t even like it here. And I wasn’t gambling. I don’t gamble. It’s stupid.”
Tommy smiled. “Well, you’re a lot smarter’n me, except how did you see me playing cards, you weren’t inna’ casino?”
“We were walking through the casino to get to the nightclub.”
Tommy was still smiling. She’d become the beautiful woman her mother was at the same age, twenty-two—tall and lean with blonde hair and blue eyes. She’d only disappointed him twice he could remember. The first time when she quit college after two years, then again when she told him she was engaged. She’d since returned to school and had dumped the fiancé. Now she wanted to be a veterinarian, something that couldn’t make him more proud. He’d already put aside the cost for veterinarian school, but he couldn’t tell her. Not yet.
And here she was asking the questions he’d dreaded from the time her mother asked him to leave.
He guided her toward the mall again, taking slow steps as they walked. “You’re asking me am I still dirty?” he said. “Yeah, a little, but I used to be a bartender and I have managed bars, so I’m not exactly running a scam with the consultant business. It’s complicated, my life. I don’t blame nobody for that. It’s my mess and I’ll deal with it, but you’re asking me I’m a killer. I said no, end of story. I won’t say it again, so don’t ask it again.”
“I was hoping you’d be honest with me, Dad.”
Tommy put a hand on his daughter’s arm, felt the smooth skin, leaned in close and kissed her shoulder. “Those freckles,” he said. “You’re beautiful, kid.”
Alysha didn’t flinch. “Dad?”
“Look,” Tommy said, “this is a world I don’t fit. I can’t explain it better’n that. I have issues, no doubt. We all do. Mine are more complicated. I don’t believe in a world where workers have to take it up the ass to earn a paycheck. I don’t believe in being somebody’s piss boy. This world isn’t fair, kiddo. That’s nothing new or profound, but it’s something I’m not willing to accept. I have one obligation, to make sure you and your sisters have enough to become independent. I’ll protect you in whatever way is necessary, including providing in whatever way is necessary. After that, you’re all three on your own. Me, too, but that’s my business. Okay?”
Alysha frowned. “Mom said you had a weird sense of right and wrong.”
“Distorted is what she said. Distorted sense of right and wrong, and she’s not the only one says it, but that too is my business. Now, what’s going on with school? You accepted to a vet school yet or no?”
“I have another year,” Alysha said. “But I’m pretty sure I’ll get accepted. My grades are good enough.”
“And when it’s time I’ll have the money,” Tommy said. “You’ll apply for the loans and I’ll feed you the cash to pay them, so no flags are raised. Not you or your mother have anything to say about that, how or where I get the money. That’s my business. She says it’s my fault she didn’t mention the details to the latest love of her life? She ever tell the first guy? The one she married, that jerkoff?”
“When he got abusive, yeah, she did.”
Tommy stopped walking. “Abusive?”
Alysha shrugged. “He was an asshole,” she said. “We hated him from the day she brought him home. He liked to call us his stepchildren, but we never referred to him like that. He was Joe, that’s it. Just Joe.”
“Well, she never told me about that either, her husband was abusive. He ever touch one of you, you or your sisters?”
Alysha looked away as she shook her head. “No, never.”
“No, Dad, he didn’t. I swear it.”
He could tell she was holding back, probably because she still believed what her mother had told her.
“Alright, then let’s just drop all this shit for now,” Tommy said. “I was surprised to see you here last night, especially in that dress you painted on. I know it’s been a few months.”
“Seven. So, what say we go in the mall there, I buy you something to wear back to that yuppie school in New York doesn’t look like you’re hooking to pay the tuition, okay? Maybe some perfume, too. So’s it keeps the assholes away. That smell you’re wearing now, that natural summer smell? Irresistible.”
Alysha smiled. “That’s what you used to say about Mom, that you loved her summer smell.”
“Yeah,” Tommy said, “I used to say that.”
Stevie Ray not included? Are they kidding us?
My favorite … Texas Flood …