Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Her sandals. They had been a big mistake in an evening full of them. Perhaps not as big a mistake as ducking into an alley to escape pursuit, or running down the battery of her cell by yapping all the way in on the long drive to the city, but big enough. The sandals had paper thin soles of leather, held to her foot only by a flimsy braided thong. They were absolutely fabulous for showcasing her tanned, pedicured, magenta polished, toe-ring bedecked feet. But, for running, they weren’t worth a shit. 
If she kicked them off she’d cut her feet to shreds on the hundreds of shards of glass twinkling, in the jaundiced glow of a solitary sentinel streetlight, like evil little stars on the alley’s broken concrete. Still, cut feet were preferable to a cut throat. Not slowing her pace she risked another glance over her shoulder. Yes, he was still there. There, and stepping up his own pace considerably. Closing the distance between them, fast. Worst of all, the flash in his hand she’d spotted a minute ago was definitely the blade of a knife.
Forget about the glass. It was time to kick off her worthless footwear and run for her fucking life.
No sooner had her decision been made, than the option of flight was denied her. Backlit from the ally’s other end, was another man. Not walking, not jogging, but sprinting, full tilt, toward her, this second predator would be on her in seconds.
Her desperate eyes locked on the looming shadow of a dumpster, evoking no thought process, she moved. Squeezing and scraping her near anorexic frame into the narrow space between the concrete wall and the oversized trash receptacle, she made her way to the center point behind the dumpster. Tears forced their way past tightly clamped eyelids as she bit her lip, breathing through her nose, trying to control her panicked gasps. 
Sneakered feet, two pairs, slapped to a sudden stop in front of her haven. Panting, some coughing, then,   “Hey! Fuck did she go?”
A deeper calmer voice,   “What? You shittin me?”
“No. I mean she was right here.”
“The dumpster, genius.”
She almost screamed when the heavy steel lid of the dumpster slammed, thundering against the wall, sending shockwaves reverberating through her spine. Although thoroughly drenched in sweat, she felt the hot gush as terror forced her bladder into a violent purge that soaked the crotch of her Capri’s. Softly, she began to whimper.
The lid slammed shut.  “She ain’t in there.”
“Not in there, moron. Behind it.”
“Shit. Not enough room, she ain’t back there.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“Quiet. Just listen. Now . . . hear that?”
She choked back her mewls. Silence. Then, there was light. She turned her head, saw a hand extended in her direction. Flickering from the closed fist was a butane lighter. At the other end of the arm was a face that had seen the wrong end of too many steel-toed boots. The bizarre lighting served to magnify the effect the gruesome visage had on her. She screamed. And screamed. And . . . screamed!
When she stopped screaming, they were still laughing. Finally, they stopped. Deep voice said,   “Enough of this shit, let’s get her.”
She heard thumps as their hands found purchase on the sides of the dumpster. There was a screech as the huge receptacle reluctantly moved an infinitesimal distance.
“There’s no wheels on this motherfucker.”
“Damn. You’re right. What’re we gonna do?”
“Maybe if we both grab the same end.”
More thumps and grunts. Blessedly the dumpster didn’t budge. Then, a voice. No light, just the voice. The deeper voice,   “Listen up there, honey. I’m gonna lay it on the line for you. It’s gonna take a little work here for us to get to you. I don’t like to work, if I did, I’d be punching a clock, doing the thing, stead of being  a natural-born thug. Now, here’s the deal. You save me some work, come on out of there on your own, we’ll just take your purse, fuck you a little, and be on our way. You’ll get over it, go on to live out your life, have some grandkids.”
Somehow she dredged up the will to speak. Coughing, clearing her throat she said,  “If I don’t?”
“Don’t what?”
“Come out voluntarily.”
“Well, sweetheart, we’ll still get your purse, still fuck the shit out of you, plus; you’ll die right here in this alley. Slow and painful. You got my word on that, darlin.’”
“Can I have a minute to think about it?”
The higher, scratchy, voice,   “Ain’t a damn thing to think about, bitch. Get the fuck out here, now.”
Deep voice,   “Cool it. Now, you want a minute, hon? That’s what you got, one minute. Clock’s ticking.”
She had made the change a dozen times. Supervised experiments. Eight of those times had been with the assistance of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals. Four had been through sheer force of will. Of course, she had made those four changes under conditions highly favorable to the intense concentration required for the process. She had none of those conditions here. What she did have was motivation. She had roughly a minute  to make the transformation. Her life depended on it.
Heart pounding, nostrils dilating, filling with the acrid stench of the hormone saturated fear-sweat and urine that permeated her clothing, she held her hands in front of her eyes and willed the change to come. As soon as she felt the excruciating ache in both her upper and lower jaws, she knew she had won. As her canines began to lengthen, pushing down on her lip, she watched closely as her hands became gnarled, fine hair sprouted on their backs, and her nails thickened, elongating into claws.
The sound of her blood roared through her ears so violently that she barely heard one of the men warn,   “That’s it, bitch. Showtime.”
Her assailants pulled and tugged on the end of the dumpster in a frenzy. The prospect of bloodletting enhancing their sexual anticipation, adding superhuman strength to their effort. The massive receptacle slowly began to move.
She watched them, heads down, struggling, bent with effort. Stretching to her full height, she took a deep breath, and with a low growl, pushed the back of the dumpster as hard as she could. The huge steel container tipped over like a weightless cardboard box, crashing to the concrete. Caught unawares, her assailants went down as well.
Perplexed, looking down at them, she contemplated her earlier fear, and her present lack of it. Looking up at her, they found a brand of horror far more devastating than that which they were capable of dispensing themselves.
One fought, or tried to. Even with the knife, he never had a chance. The other ran. He was fast. She was faster. Much faster.
Before she left the alley, she stood in the shadows, unwinding, licking the blood from her lips. She made the change again. Back. Began walking. Now she knew. She had developed the power. The power to make the change, at will. Once a diminutive, timid, hummingbird of a woman, prey for any and all, she had completed the metamorphosis, prey to predator. Never again would she play the victim. She gloried in her transformation, and all it promised for the future.
Copyright© 2007 by Blackie Noir

Saturday, May 19, 2012

OK, now . . . what?

OK, now . . . what?
Yeah, I know, I’ve been remiss in setting up a blog. Probably the only novelist in the Western hemisphere (maybe the entire world) who hasn’t done so years ago. Well, now I have, and . . . ?
Years ago, I was an avid reader of big city newspaper columnists: Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamil, Mike Royko, Jim Murray. I loved their stuff, thought they were great (they were!). But, I also thought, ‘what a way to make a living.’ I mean, crank out six-eight hundred words of copy, close up the typewriter, go out and get shitfaced with all the other boozing journalists. Deadlines? C’mon, we’re talking eight hundred words here. Nothing to it.
Of course those dudes turned out quality prose. For the most part, GREAT prose! Every fucking day. Day in, day out. Year after year, after year, ad-infinitum.  
Now, here I sit, looking to fill some blank page space, try out my brand new blog, and I realize just how talented and imaginative those guys really were. Me, I really have nothing to say, and am struggling to say it (nothing?) in a semi-coherent fashion.
I should stick to fiction. There, my characters perform, I simply record their actions . . . BAM!  Two thousand words!
One saving grace, I doubt I’ve embarrassed myself. How could I? There’s probably no one going to read this piece anyway. ;-)
Hmmm, let’s do a word count . . . 237.
Two hundred and thirty-seven!?!
Shit, that’s not even half a column!
AND . . . what will I write about tomorrow?
My apologies to Breslin, Hamil, et al.
You guys worked . . . hard!
But then, deep in my heart, I always knew that.
Decades ago Raymond Chandler taught me the only French word I know . . . ‘noir.’
Ever since, I’ve been jonesing for dark, hard-boiled, pulp style, crime fiction. From the genre’s original innovators: Chandler, Hammett , Cain . . . to today’s neo-noir stalwarts: J. L. Burke, Connelly, Pelecanos, Leonard, Teran, Lehane, et al.
Call me voracious. I devoured their work. Inhaled the dark smoke permeated ambiance where it all played out.
I read, and continue to read, them all.
It was while reading the newcomers, the young turks, that I decided . . . reading  was no longer enough. I had my own tales to tell. Characters that kept nagging at me, urging me, beseeching me, demanding that I bring them to the page. Those who have met them through my work know . . . these are not gentle folk. Their petitions aren’t meant to be taken lightly. So, in an attempt to appease those raucous demons, I sat down in 2000 and began my first novel . . .  “Freeway Pigeons.” It was completed in 2001.
That was the opening of a mysterious and magical door. Just what was behind that door? Lady, or tiger? Funny, I’m still not certain. Still, I wouldn’t change things. I’d cross that threshold again in a heartbeat . . . undaunted. And why not, I’ve been blessed with a cornucopia of encouragement. 
Who encouraged me?
Every writer, genius or plodder . . . visionary or hack, who ever made me laugh or cry, rage or sigh, become more aware or escape the doldrums. Every scribe, word-weaver or poet who had my heart trying to bang its way out of my chest or sing with the angels.
All of them. Man or woman, fresh or ancient, who moved me emotionally. Entertained and educated me. Kept long and sometimes lonely vigils with me. Gave me the unmitigated joy of a good read. THEY encouraged me . . . every last one.
I owe them.
I believe the best way I can repay that debt is through you, you the readers.
If I can deliver the joy, the escape, the spiritual catharsis of the coveted ‘good read’ to you, then at least a part of my debt has been paid.
*     *     *
Standard bio stuff: Started life on the cold coast (N.Y.C.) wended my way west to the land of sunshine, surf, and strange (L.A.).
Interests: Books. Books! Books!! Books!!!  BOOKS !!!!!
Other interests: Music (as played / sung by others). Movies. Physical activities (running, free-weights, hiking). BIKES! (Harleys & old-Triumphs).
Bottom line:  Family. (what it’s all about)