By Steve Weddle
Our own Dave White has a short story collection out in February, coming to you from Needle Publishing. Deets here
The Do Some Damage book group over at GoodReads starts up a discussion of Lynn Kostoff's LATE RAIN (Tyrus Books) this month. Deets here
Novel writing is a pain in the ass, and not just from the sitting at the kitchen table all day.
You get an idea, you work on it. You work on it some more. You work on other stuff. You come back to it. All the time it's in the back of your head, like that chip the NSA implants in you at birth so they can control your thoughts.
You see something on the news. Damn, that's gotta go in the novel. Your wife tells you about something that happened to her at work. Bam. In the novel. You get into an argument with the auto repair guy because you know how much a friggin water pump costs and you woulda put it in your own damn self but this stupid little engine in this stupid little foreign car is in the way and you have to take half of the damn thing apart just so you can get to the friggin water pump and so you take it down to the guy who has done good work for you before and you tell him what you need done and you bring him the damn water pump that you've already bought and now he wants to hassle you over some crap you know is complete bullshit. And you want to tell him how he's sure as hell going in the novel. Assface.
So you're always working on it.
I finished it.
The second novel with Alex Jackson. Only, here's the weird part -- this novel also has Oscar Martello in it. I know, right? Two of my characters from different sides of the aisle meeting. It's weird. Like if Han Solo and Riker would meet.
Weird, wild stuff, as Johnny Carson would have said. (Kids, ask your grandparents.) The tone has to bridge between the two worlds, right? You see Oscar Martello through the eyes of Alex Jackson.
So, um, yeah. The post I was going to write discussing the hermeneutics of phenomenology in the post-modern era had to go on hold while I worked some revisions.
Instead, I thought you might like a little fiction excerpt from the new novel.
Why, the part where Oscar and Alex have a little trouble.
I walked in to Hardwick's and saw Jay serving drinks to three men. The lights were up, giving the place the feel of a restaurant. Two of the guys I didn’t recognize. One was Asian, shaped like an upside-down pyramid. Black t-shirt, khakis. One was, I’m not sure what he was. Eastern European, maybe. Like Dolph Lundgren, only a little bigger. Cowboys’ jersey. Jeans. Snake-skin boots. The third was dressed in a dark suit, white shirt. No tie. He stood, walked towards me as I came in.
“Wasn’t sure I was going to see you again,” he said.
“What can I say, Mr. Martello? I’m a trouble-maker.”
He didn’t smile. “You should probably move along.”
“I just wanted to see Mr. Hardwick.”
“I believe he’s busy considering his options,” Martello said. “Contemplating his future.”
“I can wait.” I sat down at a table next to theirs.
The Asian guy moved towards me, but Martello waved him off, sat down next to me.
“Alex Jackson,” he said, catching me off-guard by using my first and last names. “Listen closely.” He waited until I looked at him. “I had my own plan for dealing with this situation. Clean. Final.” He was looking right into my eyes. His eyes. No color inside the white. Just a sphere of darkness. I couldn’t swallow. I wanted to swallow. The fluid building up in the back of my mouth. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t breathe. “I don’t like for there to be any loose ends.” He moved his hands slowly to his jacket, twisted his hand and suddenly was holding a blade, a curve of bright steel in front of him. “I appreciate having troublesome matters completely severed. Cautery is a skill, you understand. Acquired over years of practice. A steady hand. The power to burn. But it isn’t precise. You cauterize the wound, burn it closed, but you leave blisters, scars. You seal the wound, sure, but at what cost? The wound is still there, a scar perhaps as much trouble as the original problem. Much better to make a clean slice of it. Do you understand what I’m telling you?” I nodded as quietly as I could, and he continued. “But Lou said you were Jackson’s kid. Said you were a reasonable guy. I believe what he tells me. And I trust Lou, do you understand?” I nodded again, then he leaned against my ear and whispered, “Don’t make Lou Malone look like an asshole.”
Any of your favorite characters (writing or reading) ever meet up? Not to get all "that's what she said" but was it as weird for you as it was for me?