Drunk Post: Bottle of Moscato

This bottle he pre-opened it so he wouldn’t strain and puff out his cheeks trying to pop the cork when has girls over. Then he had some. Took it down the top of the label. But on an empty stomach he might as well be Amish at a frat party. He realizes that it’s almost September, which means it’s pretty much Christmas already. Which means it’s already 2016 which means he’s already dead.

Which puts things in perspective. It’s all stupid. He could write the greatest page of his life and post it and the glory would last as long as an orgasm. It’s all stupid. Especially his job where he says things to children who then actively work to forget them after class. And also the pursuit of skirt which goes well but only because he’s a 9 in Seoul. In Boston he’s a 4. Or maybe a negative 4. Anyway. Those successes also last as long as an orgasm. And then working out for hours with Kentucky Chubs and then with the Old Ginger Bastard. It all means nothing. The calories in eight ounces of melon moscato mean you actually haven’t even worked out. You have rewound the clock to right before the gym and entered an alternate universe where you didn’t go inside.

He has a book out. Convinced this superstar blogger to review it. This makes him feel like he’s laying his scrotum on a table and hoping it won’t get smacked with a mallet. It probably will. But you gotta take your knocks so you can get smart for the next time. The way out is through. He is white and middle-class anyway. So of course it’ll all work out in the end. He deserves a life where he gets paid to do what only what he wants to do at all times. Deserves it. Entitlement is a highly-combustible fuel. Makes up the difference for whatever he lacks in talent and hustle.

He needs inspiration. His characters have been too flat on the page lately so he sits outside of the corner mart with the bottle. Tries to go Sherlock and absorb details. Korean guys pop zits on their shoulders and then nervously check for observers. Ajeossis in starched white button-ups slump in Hyundai Avantes by the brothel waiting for the madam to beckon then in. He sees that the stray spotted dog is back over there by the trash pile. It’s racist. It doesn’t eat the bread he drops for it but it’ll dig around in Korean trash all night. This entitled motherfucking dog. Ignorant motherfucking canine. Just striding around thinking shit is all going to work out in the end.

Fred’s Other Blog

The Colony: Chapter One

And here’s the first chapter. Think of this as the lead single from the album. You can download the book right here. And that’s all the pimping I’ll do for now. Commence regularly scheduled programming.

Part I:

Grand Avenue Shooter

***

ONE

Harrison Rooke was the fifth richest man in the world. Pace Warner was going to kill him.

It was a cool November Tuesday in Chicago and Mr. Rooke was in a car traveling west on Grand Avenue. Pace was a mile and a half away in an apartment building, lying prone on the roof of a decommissioned elevator and peering through a broken vent slat.

Just waiting.

Pace was a touch over thirty. He had brown hair, blue eyes, and a fake face. He had no pictures of the face his mother had given him. Which had been a handsome one; sometimes he missed it. Now his visage was bland enough that your eyes would slide right over him. He wore a black T-shirt and running shorts. And latex gloves, to keep the gunshot residue off his skin.

A Barrett XM500 anti-materiel rifle rested in his hands. An antique, but he had to use it. Newer weapons had microchips that would set off the alarms in the firearms scanners placed around the city.

Eye to scope, he tracked Harrison Rooke’s three-car convoy as it rolled his way. A blue sedan led while two gray SUVs trailed. He knew Rooke was in the middle car, an SUV with dusty doors and mud spatters on the bumpers. The dirt was camouflage; VIPs didn’t drive around in dirty cars. The SUV’s windshield was in Pace’s sights, but he couldn’t take a shot right now. It was made of the same compound used to protect spacecraft from meteors. A straight .50 cal round would do as much damage as a drop of bird shit.

Gray SUVs. Gray was a smart choice of color, no doubt selected by Rooke’s security team—a mix of former mercenaries and Secret Service goons. Black cars usually carried powerful passengers, while a gray car could be carrying anyone. In the end, the color didn’t much matter. Whatever camouflaging effect the paintjob had was negated by the vehicles’ blacked-out windows.

Very Important People, like Rooke, usually traveled in convoys. Three or more cars. Convoys were helpful in Pace’s line of work—a convoy essentially advertised the presence of someone worth protecting.

He waited. He had a list in his head five names long and Harrison Rooke was at the top of it.

A traffic light changed. Rooke’s SUV moved a little closer.

***

The vehicle could ride through Hell if it had to. Inside it were tear gas cannons, pump-action shotguns, and vials of Rooke’s blood in case he was injured and needed an on-the-spot blood transfusion. The tires were Kevlar-reinforced and puncture resistant so Christoph, the driver, could gear up and speed away even if they were shot out. Self-driving cars had swarmed and overwhelmed the auto market over the past decade, and now a human driver was something you just didn’t really see anymore. But Harrison Rooke required a human presence behind the wheel. Autonomous vehicles were programmed to never speed or cross the double-yellow. Traffic laws weren’t laws, they were goddamn commandments. But obeying them could get Rooke killed if his vehicle was ambushed at a red light. Enter Christoph.

Another bodyguard sat in the back seat next to Rooke, who was draped in pinstripes, tapping his way through a memo on his Card. Citizen’s Automated Registry Devices were flexible, transparent computer tablets. Issued to every citizen. Your Card was your everything: your phone and your computer and your life.

Christoph was an Agency guy. Trained for defensive driving on federal courses in Virginia. He blinked maybe once a minute. And he’d be ready to scrap if they got stopped. He’d tucked twin Glocks into speed holsters on his shoulder and ankle.

The SUV kept rolling down Grand.

***

Harrison Rooke might have fancied himself an untouchable titan, but Pace had found a crack in the man’s daily routine that he could wiggle into and exploit. Rooke was vulnerable in Chicago because he always went to the same coffee shop.

At the end of each workday, Rooke departed the skyscraper that housed his empire, the Blackburn Center. It rose eighty-seven stories above the streets. Blackburn was his maternal grandfather’s surname. His vehicles would then take a slow left onto Grand Avenue to pick up coffee at a little place called Lulu’s. The cafe served a hearty Kenyan blend that had made it Rooke’s favorite place in the city. He liked to have fresh coffee on the drive home. A liberal dose of caffeine to amp him up for the dinner schmoozing hour and then the intercontinental conference calls. But to reach Lulu’s, the convoy had to drive west up Grand Avenue, which fed him into a direct line of fire from the apartment building Pace was in.

The almighty dollar had collapsed about two decades earlier. Rooke’s father had made some good money exchanging the replacement currency, the bancor. Harrison Rooke graduated around the same time from Yale School of Management and had taken the ten million bancors from his trust fund and spent the next twenty years doing all the right things with it. His eventual conglomerate, the Blackburn Group, had become a major player in the robotics, surveillance contracting, quantum computing markets. Those, and probably a few hundred other things. There wasn’t a full list in the public domain of all the pies Rooke had his fingers in. He was just forty-eight and already capitalism’s eternal poster boy. No one had bootstrapped up to the mountaintop quite like Harrison Rooke.

Pace had no objection to Rooke being rich. Pace himself was far from poor. One hit last year earned him six-figures. His point of contention with the Blackburn CEO stemmed from one of the man’s unscrupulous business models, from a classified operation Rooke had authorized.

The blue lead car was still over a mile away. Pace watched it slowly grow larger in his sights as it worked through traffic. When the lead car was a block away from Lulu’s Coffee, a black four-door rolled itself away from the curb, opening up a free spot for Rooke’s SUV.

Yep, Pace thought. He just got the call.

He knew Cristoph paid the manager of Lulu’s an even hundred bancors a day to move his car for a few minutes. The manager didn’t know who exactly Christoph worked for but was happy to make that much money off a few cups of coffee.

The lead car in the convoy crawled past Lulu’s. And the gray SUV, the one carrying Rooke, leaned into the open parking spot and stopped. Everything was unspooling as Pace needed it to.

The manager strode out of the shop with three red cups in a drink carrier.

Here we go, Pace thought.

Christoph unlocked his door by tapping his wrist against it. The American Federation, and a handful of other countries, tracked their citizens with a Radio Frequency Identification chip embedded in the right wrist. Keyless entry everywhere; just brush your wrist against a door for access. The tracking was mandatory. You had to get the tracking chip implanted your wrist, but they tossed in the Card to sweeten the pill.

Christoph left the vehicle. He came around the front of the SUV to meet the manager.

This is just perfect, Pace thought. Harrison Rooke, self-made man, captain of industry and master of the universe, was going to get shot in the face in front of a shop with a silly name like Lulu’s.

Pace had gone through his breathing cycles and was settled into a clean mix of focus and relaxation. He wasn’t thinking about Rooke or his reasons for killing the man. He had a mechanical, robotic job to do.  There was a .50 caliber round chambered in the Barrett. He needed to get it out of the barrel, across the gap, and into the target.

Easy, right?

The scope would help him get a hit without the aid of a spotter. It was newer than the rifle, a computerized little eye that would automatically adjust for the gusts and thermals heaving between the buildings of the Windy City.

It was here at Lulu’s every day where Rooke made his mistake. There was a bulletproof glass partition between the driver and rear compartment. Rooke always lowered the partition to allow Christoph to hand him his coffee—before Christoph closed his door.

Christoph tapped his wrist against the driver’s door and it opened itself.

Now came a very fast second where every star in the universe slid into alignment and the bullet had a clear path for it to travel. From the rifle barrel, out the broken vent slat, through just under a mile of city canyons, through the open SUV door and over the lowered partition, all the way to Harrison Rooke’s head. Pace couldn’t see his target’s face through his scope. Bullets drop as they travel so to make his shot from this far away he had to aim high.

Time tripped and dragged and then oozed to a halt, like God had just paused all life on Earth. Pace’s heart took a long intermission, freezing him still. His finger curled back on the trigger and he shot the round high into the wind.

***

Fred’s Book

Fred’s Other Blog

The Colony: Prologue

Hey folks. How are you? How’s your Wednesday? Well that’s good. I have something for you. Here’s the prologue of my first book, which just came out, which you can get right here. Just a bit more pimping and I’ll stop bothering you about this thing.

Without any further ado:

***

Earth’s moon is an alien place and it wants to kill you. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that in a world devoid of life, death is the default. Earth’s moon is a dead rock with no atmosphere and no air. But you are there, and you are breathing.

At least you will be for the next two minutes.

You’re running through a vast desert drained of color, dotted with craters and mountains, all covered in a slippery layer of dust. Your planet floats as a mirage out there in the black. It’s full of oxygen you can’t get to. But there’s some air up here that you can get to. A canister of it is nearby. And if your calculations are right you’re about to run right up on it.

The gravity on this dead rock is weak and lazy. About the same as being underwater on Earth. Your suit has a system of small thrusters spread over your joints to make your movements more natural. Even so, you still feel like you’re wading through gelatin.

Movement: forty feet to your right. A blur streaks between two rocks. You realize you’re no longer alone. Bad news. You know there’s only one canister ahead but now there’s two of you. And neither of you are going to feel much like sharing.

You check the red numbers on your wrist meter. One minute, forty seconds.

There’s another glimpse of your competition. Another runner, like you, in a dull gray suit, like yours. The newcomer is probably a guy; there aren’t very many people on the moon and most of them are men. You cut to the right to converge on his path and maybe get the drop on him. There’s no sound up here. It could work. You’re following his trail of scuffed boot prints down a boulder-strewn foothill and as you plant your glove on a rock to vault over it, something whips in from the left and you take a hard tackle.

Black space and gray moon blur together and you cover your face so your helmet won’t crack open on the rocks. The express-train force of the hit carries you ten, twelve, fifteen feet before gravity drags you down again. Your lungs are deflated. You watch the other guy jump away, eating up the rest of the distance to the canister.

Now you’re getting pissed.

You scramble forward, letting yourself slide down the foothill before pushing up and transitioning into a run. You give fast pursuit and get right up behind your prey. You catch the guy’s leg on the backswing and twist it hard. Trying to rip the limb out of its socket. Now you both go down, grappling and jabbing in a dust cloud.

You both get to your feet and he shoves you down the hill. You bounce off a tall rock and come down on your feet. Plant your cleated boots in the soil to reform your stance for round two.

The enemy is back on you. The loose gravity slows your footwork and reaction time. It’s harder to fake him out, so you stay close and use quick strikes from your knees and elbows. The scuffle is oddly detached from sound. You can only hear your own ragged breathing and the crunch of your suit as you move. The enemy pummels your ribs and stomach. Now you’re going into oxygen debt and your vision clouds as your carbon dioxide level spikes.

Disengage, you tell yourself, just fucking run for it.

The enemy grabs a rock and you duck as he shot-puts it at you. It splits apart on the boulder behind you and you come right back up with two fistfuls of dust and toss them underhand into his face. Instinct kicks in and he waves a hand to clear the air. You grab his wrist. Flip the enemy around and slam him down on your bent knee. Then you wind up and drive an elbow into the exposed solar plexus. His limbs spasm and it’s strange not to hear the gasp you expect.

Now go.

Twenty seconds. You’re off the blocks, hustling downhill again. The canister is small but you know it should have blinking lights on it. But you reach the target area there’s nothing there. No canister, no air.

Hot panic swells in your chest. No, this is wrong. It should be right here. You’re going to be the asshole who just stood around as his oxygen ran dry—

–Wait. Through the fog you see an odd discoloration over there, behind that clutch of rocks to your left. You see the colors red and blue instead of gray. They’re the beacon lights on the canister.

You lunge and dive. Slide though the soil and gather the canister against your chest. You swing it around to your back, pop the empty one out, and swap in the new one. Cool oxygen circulates in your suit again. You drop the dry canister and shiver as you inhale.

Fight, win, repeat. Your name is Tom Hackett, and that is all you really know how to do.

Now a voice comes into your helmet:

“And that’s a canister grab with ten seconds left on the clock. Congratulations, Lieutenant Hackett, you’re our winner.”

***

Fred’s Book

Fred’s Other Blog

Snapshot: Day of Rest

Oy motherfucking vey, what a week. Been running Fat Camp for my buddy here who just broke up and wants to drop the pudge. Tennis in the sun and then hill sprints and then stairs. Then icy beer on the streets afterward when we should be hydrating. Sitting there with the sun lasering cracks into our Scream-mask white guy faces. I feel shriveled and drained like I’m in Shelob’s web.

Sunday. Recovery time, as mandated by the Bible. At 2 p.m. I wake up sleep-drunk at the French one’s place. Get to the train station and I’m dodging Mormons. Barely-hatched all-American Ken dolls dressed like Jim Halpert. You see them lock onto you and you understand how girls in clubs feel. You are being hunted. Maybe you can get small and Bourne-slither into an emergency stairwell. Too bad this is real life and there’s never actually an emergency stairwell around. Though if I lived in a movie and there were just a bunch of emergency stairwells everywhere I think I’d always peek inside. And when I did I would find like a dozen breathless spies crammed in there all hiding from bad spies, or from Mormons.

I consider procuring a coffee but now that I have a book out I think of currency as Books. That coffee would cost me 1.5 Books in royalties. If you want to go insane you should publish something and then calculate how many Books every pack of gum or bag of almonds sucks up. All the Books that evaporate every time a friend says “he’ll get the next round” but then he leaves.

I get back to my little mountain town from Seoul. All the train people walking out with me are bowed over their phones. A position that makes them look like they’re about to be shot in the back of the head. Lots of yawns. North Korea is threatening annihilation but there are zero fucks given down here. I think everyone would actually welcome it. Vacation is over and tomorrow morning we all go back over the falls. Back to work. But now that I realize I get paid something like a thousand Books a month to teach these kids the color wheel it’s like, shit, why have I ever been wasting all my time writing.

Fred’s Book

Fred’s Other Blog

Six Clichés

image

We have clichés for a reason. Even that previous sentence (cliché #1) was a cliché. I usually avoid them but I’ve got to use a few right now. Because I’m trying to think of the last time I felt exactly like this and I think it was when I was a kid on Christmas morning (cliché #2). When I was maybe I was 11 or 12.

I just put my book out today and had prepared myself for it to just be a drop in the bucket (#3). I moped around all afternoon looking at my workout shirts marinating in summer sweat on the floor. Making peace with the prospect of forever being a no-name exile. Always scribbling in an Asian café and hoping for something good to happen.

But even if that’s my destiny, that’s OK. Because of days like today. The response so far from you all has been overwhelming. I’ve been getting blog comments and tweets and emails from you all about it and it means the world to me (#4) that you’re taking a chance on my book. I hope you like it. If you don’t then tell me how to improve, and I’ll make damn sure you like the next one.

For everyone who follows the stupid nonsense on my blog, thank you. You don’t know how much that means to me (#5).

It’s Friday night and I’m out in Seoul right now doing cliché Fred Colton shit. But I can’t focus on celebrating. I had to duck into a café to write this on my phone. Tonight is the end of an arduous, conceited, overcaffeinated journey I started four years ago. It wouldn’t mean anything without you all.

So, from the bottom of my clichéd heart (#6), thank you.

Fred

My First Book Is Out

All right. I made a bunch of stuff up and wrote it down and now it’s a book. And you can download it right here:

A huge shoutout goes to Mr. Vern Lovic—perhaps you can call him the Obi-Wan of ebooks—for his sharing his wisdom during this long march to publishing.

So, the book. I have to allow myself one jackoff post about this thing.

What it is:

The Colony. Action/futuristic thriller/a bit of mystery. An American lunar colony is bombed and an Air Force pilot is framed for it. He ends up stuck on the moon with less than an hour of oxygen in his suit and a platoon of Marines gunning for him. That, and much, much more. I had a lot of fun with it and I hope you will too.

Plot Blueprint:

Apollo 13 plus some Craig-era Bond transplanted onto a Die Hard framework. With one long lunar chase scene, of which I am especially fond, that I call the Mad Max scene.

Background:

-I didn’t have a TV when I was a kid but I had a library. It was right down the street. I was always there. And I always had a feeling I’d end up as a writer.

-But I never really wrote anything until I was vacationing in Thailand in early 2011. I picked up two John Grisham books to get me through a night bus ride. And I don’t know who the hell you all have been reading but the #1 New York Times bestselling John Grisham I read is the literary equivalent of blue balls. It’s like the man goes to answer the doorbell while he’s writing the third act and then forgets to finish the book.

This is climax of The Pelican Brief: the protagonists are in a newspaper office writing a story while an assassin waits for them outside. So, they just don’t go outside. The End.

This is the climax of The Brethren: Three incarcerated judges blackmail the U.S. government and demand payment and release from prison. The U.S. government pays them and releases them and The End.

-I thought: this guy is a stupid clown. But people love him. I’m also a stupid clown, so this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to write a thriller.

-Then I stole Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer from an island hostel and started learning how to do things right. Not that I’ve mastered it yet.

Publication:

-I wrote the book and a literary agency that I was working with wanted me to rewrite it as a young adult book because those sell more. Because this was 2013 and if you weren’t the Hunger Games then you were trying to be the Hunger Games. When I said no, our arrangement fell through.

-So Amazon it was.

-The thought of which would have made me jump out a window if I hadn’t already had that little shred of validation. Out of the 76 or whatever agencies I queried, one of them did not hate my book and wanted to do edits with me. That’s all you need, one shred of validation. I’ve kept that thing tucked close like the case with the nuclear launch codes.

Now:

-I am naked. That’s what you are when your book goes live. I woke up this morning and thought about it sitting there online and was too afraid to open my eyes. I thought: what have I done. I wanted to go back in time to Thailand and make my bus crash so I wouldn’t have to live to see this day. I am horrified. If I look at myself long enough in the mirror I can actually see the stress burning my hair white.

-Because what if people think a character’s last name is stupid. What if some trolls jizz out all the plot twists in a one-star review. What if everyone hates it.

-Well good. You want to be reviled. It’s better than being obscure.

-But what if it’s a failure. Well then let’s fail hard and get the failure out of the way. So I can rebuild and make my adjustments for when I go again. There’s more stuff to write. I mean, I live in Korea and teach fifth graders how to ask what time the birthday party starts. What the fuck else am I gonna do.

But really, though:

-My book, I think you’ll like it. Unlike John Grisham I can say that I respect your investment as a reader and know how to end a motherfucking book. OK, that’s it for now. Stop reading this and go download The Colony right here.

Love,

Fred

He Cheated

All right you beautiful people: here’s a new (very) short story I just posted over on the Crusade. Go on and dig it.

Conceited Crusade

but needed a long sit with some whiskey gingers to reduce the betrayal down to the why. He put down the fourth glass and thought: butterflies, that’s why. You get them when you’re standing in front of something of worth. He called Kate from the hotel and said that he did it because she didn’t make him feel butterflies anymore, but that this woman in Denver did. Reducing it down to “butterflies” was like wrapping the knife in pretty paper before he killed her. It sounded stupid when he said it but also knew she’d find it endearing. She liked his way with words.

“Butterflies, that’s a good way to say it,” said Kate. “That’s why I did it too.”

View original post

Sergeant

This short story is a collaboration with two fellow Crusaders: Underdaddy and G.Z. Kieft.

Fred Colton:

Now it was their turn for a riot. It kicked off as night fell. Gas from cop grenades curled and spots of fire lit up the cityscape to the north. Downtown looked like Tokyo after it got firebombed.

Keith was called in. Had to set up barricades. He burned around a corner fast with the squad car sirens on and blue lights pumping.

I’m coming through; move.

On his right he saw movement in a pawn shop. He braked hard against the curb and squawked his megaphone. Four figures evaporated out of the place. Two slithered out the back door and the other two gazelle-hopped through the hole where the storefront window had been. Wiry kids. Opportunists. Their sneakers skittered and slipped on the glass shards. Then they were gone.

Keith blinked. The surveillance cameras in the shop had been smashed. And there were no street cameras pointing at him right here. Blind spot. He knew he was in one without having to look. It was his job to know where the cameras were.

No cameras, but there would be money. Money equaled breathing room. Last time he’d had much of that he’d been eighteen. Then came other things. Traditional, expected, expensive things. He fiddled with his wedding ring.

A man provides. That’s what we do.

He checked both ends of the block. Clear of other boys in blue or any other interested parties. Keith looked at the sergeant’s insignia on his shoulder epaulets and gave an apologetic shrug.

You guys don’t pay me enough to not do this.

And I’m hardly the first opportunist in uniform.

He broke his duty shotgun out of its ceiling clamps. Radioed in his ETA and added a minute onto it. Then he levered the door open and rushed the storefront. Jacked back the slide and hit the shop’s entrance.

A man provides.

G.Z. Kieft:

“Come on…” The windows shook as the engine rumbled indecisively. Robert twisted the key again, and finally the engine struggled to a start. He adjusted his glasses over his nose and looked behind him as he reversed his old Buick into the dark street. He could still hear Gloria’s frail voice plead for him to stay, but that shop was his life. Without it he couldn’t provide for her. He checked the automated message he’d received on his pager again before he shifted to first and drove out into the city.

He passed rioters and peacekeepers all doing the same thing, and with his vision it was hard to tell them apart. He saw people crying on curbs and others cheering on rooftops. The city was a wreck. Robert turned the corner and saw his shop blown to pieces. The storefront window was busted and the door barely hung at the hinges. His heart sunk deep into his stomach. A squad car sat at the curb, lights still flashing. Good, Robert thought. Despite all of this, the good men of the law still had time for Robert’s small pawn shop. Robert turned into a parking spot, reversing and adjusting to make sure he was within the lines. When he exited, his rear passenger tire still crossed over to the adjacent spot. He zipped up his jacket to brace the cold and adjusted his glasses again as he neared his door.

He probably should’ve called out before he entered, but Robert forgot that officers often have their guns drawn.

Underdaddy:

The boy was hiding between a couple of bags of used golf clubs. He hadn’t wanted to leave his house tonight but his older brother wouldn’t leave him alone. His mother was stuck at work because the buses won’t run through the riots. Families in his neighborhood don’t have dads.

No providers. No protectors. Now there are riots.

What are these people even mad about? His brother thinks the riots are rebelling against a dirty system. Maybe he is right.

He warned, “You chill here Stevie. This shit ain’t for no youngbloods. You just get hurt.”

Thirteen doesn’t feel like young blood when you have been on your own since age eight. Stevie had meant to run away with his brother and the others when the cop rolled up but he had been distracted. Checking out a drum set. A little used but definitely still in good shape. His band teacher said he had rhythm and his cousin had gone to college on a band scholarship. The drums were a five piece ticket out of here. The thought to steal it crossed his mind but he knew it wasn’t right. That wouldn’t help anyone on either side of this riot.

Then the cop showed up. He heard the older boys scramble away through the shattered glass. Laughing and swearing at the police car, “Fuck you pig!” Then he heard the shotgun cock. Cops. Robbers. The middle of a riot.

Stevie hid among the golf clubs and watched the officer check everything out and make sure the coast was clear. He could hear the shuffle of broken things and figured the policeman was straightening up some of the mess and just trying to make sense of the madness. The kind of good things a policeman should do.

Stevie crept around the corner, “Excuse me sir…”

The cop whirled around with a shotgun in one hand and a handful of cash in the other. “Hands where I can see them!” Stevie immediately obliged.

“I’m not a looter. My brother left me here.”

The policeman looked confused and was slowly walking towards him when another man stepped through the shattered glass of the storefront window. The man was holding a set of keys and was adjusting his glasses. The owner stopped, staring at both men before him, and asked, “What is going here?”

Fred Colton:

Keith just did it.

Turn to the door, crunch back the trigger. With one hand padded full of cash it was sloppy shot. Terrible form. The pellets pulped the owner’s left leg and blew him back into the door frame.

Hard recoil. The money flew free from Keith’s grip and fluttered down. It was like standing in a Super Bowl parade.

Keith reformed his stance and regripped the rifle. He had to shoot the owner again.

His head had broken down the data and made the calculations for him. All in about a half-second. It was what made the most sense. He could have dropped the money and run right out. But he’d have to pass by the owner. And his last name was right there on his chest. Badge number too. Even though the store was dark he couldn’t take the chance that the guy would see that info, remember it and call it in.

Behind you.

He pivoted fast and lined up the barrel with the kid’s head.

“OK. Stay still. Stay right there.”

The kid nodded. Hands held up. He had to be eleven or twelve.

“Pick up the money,” Keith said. “Right now. Hurry up. Hurry the fuck up.”

The kid moved. Did this crazy fast crawl over the floor and gathered the bills into a stack. Took him under a minute. The money was all tens and twenties.

Keith just stood awkwardly in the smoke. Tracked the boy with the gun as he moved. Now the dread hit. It was sort of like acid. It pumped through his body from his chest outward.

The kid stood and presented the cash. Keith took it and threw three bills back at him. “Take those and go. I’ll be watching for you when I drive through here from now on. So I think it would make sense if you kept quiet about what just happened, all right? If I’m not a killer then you’re not a looter, OK?”

“OK,” said the boy. He hadn’t picked up the money. Just stood with his hands up and chewed his bottom lip. The boy was scared of him. Scared of a cop.

Not that he could call himself that any longer. It was a lie now. Keith drew his breath in like he’d just swum a lap underwater.

“Go, kid. Go. Get the fuck out of here.”

Keith took the gas can from the patrol car and a Zippo with Mao’s face on it from behind the shop’s counter.

The place burned in the rearview. Just another fire. Sirens wailed up at the next block but he didn’t hear them. Tonight the sins would go uncounted. As he drove he counted what was left. Four hundred and forty dollars. Or maybe a week and a half’s worth of rent.

A man provides.

*

Fred, Underdaddy and G.Z. post every week over here on the Crusade.

Writing Motivation

3:35 P.M. Nap, a goddamn dream. A prison yard. There’s a mistake, you say, I’m clever and I’m not supposed to be in here with the rest of the proles. The warden says OK, throw a rock over the top of this half-mile wall and you can leave. Everyone throws hard all day. Your rock clatters back off the wall and hits you in the eye. Well why did the dream have to be a fucking allegory. Why couldn’t it have just been more incongruent shit about hoverboards or that time in China. At least you didn’t get raped.

Drunk Post: Three Coronas

OK. Just taxied home from being a clown at a Mexican restaurant. My funniest friend wasn’t there so there was a power vacuum that I gladly filled. Stir-crazy on my little block with the laptop all week and so I came out swinging. Other people. They only exist to laugh at what I say. Go ahead, I told myself, be obnoxious; better than being boring. There was tequila lying around to top off the mood.

I had just finished the book so I got loose and splashed some Korean won around like it was Monopoly money. Done. A final six-week push. A long Hell of self-doubt mixed in with occasional god-like feelings. Like when you re-read something you nailed and it feels like you drained a half-court 3. Done. Smoothed and sanded all the rookie aberrations off it and cut the extra words out of the thing until it bled. I’m proud of it now. It’s not a masterpiece but I can say with supreme confidence that it’s sure as shit better than Brad Thor. It has scenes that could be in MAD MAX. It needs to be a movie. It was always supposed to be a movie. I wrote it as a script in college before I got into fiction. It’s a motherfucking movie.

And now it’s done. Now what. 96 hours since my last post. Uncommon for me. But I can barely write anymore. I should quit. I am 27 and possess perfect health. I should be on night busses out to these islands that pretty young people go camp on. Instead I just sit here blackening my teeth with coffee and getting ball cancer from the hot plastic I type into. Developing blood clots because I never move. Sixteen people that I have never met like my stuff. That makes me happy but I don’t know if I can sustain it. I’ve lived the same Groundhog Week over and over since I got to Korea. You know all my schemes and scandals. I can’t believe I was able to stretch it out for this long.

And I can’t write anymore because I’m too happy. Too happy to be incisive and hungry like an artist needs to be. Most of that is an ironic byproduct of being proud of what I’ve written. The rest of it is because I prayed. Not to God; I wasn’t specific. Just a cosmic shotgun blast. I had to pray. Because there are people who want to be me, but I didn’t want to be me. For years if anyone gave me a compliment or if my mother said she loved me I would think: stop lying to me. I started going to the bridge at night to look at the canal with the featureless Soviet blocks lined up on it. Not to jump in but to make a request. If anyone is listening, I need to be me again. I used to be the boy who liked himself a lot. I know I can be him again. I need him to come back.

That’s what I pray for and it’s working. It’s necessary. It’s also sucked the urgency out of my life. That’s OK. I’ll write when I can. When I want to.

Well that’s it for now; go fuck yourselves. And have a great weekend.

Fred’s Other Blog