Saturday, August 1, 2015

Fatherly Anecdotes.

My grandfather raised me. To this day I still think of, and call him, "Dad." He was in the US Navy, he was a convicted felon, and he was at one point a drug trafficker (though the most he was ever busted with more than a few ounces of weed, just enough to get the felony in California in the 1990s).

Any time I was being a pissy teenager he would look at me and say, "You need some pussy," or "You wouldn't be so pissed off all the time if you got some pussy."

Thirty year old me thinks back on that and says, "That mean old bastard was on to something."

This was a man who claimed .22LR was a perfectly acceptable deer hunting cartridge, and that anything bigger was just a waste.  When I asked him how you humanely kill deer with a .22 he told me, "We just got close and shot them in the eye."

Some people might think he was full of shit for claiming to take deer with head shots, but I watched him put three rapid fire rounds into a coyote at least 100 yards away braced against a tractor wheel using a beat up old semi-auto .22 rifle and iron sights. I don't remember what model the rifle was, only that it had a tubular magazine.

I also saw him shoot rabbits on the run with a Ruger 10/22 using iron sights. This was after drinking a case of Old Milwaukee's Best Light.

The first time I ever tasted moonshine I was in elementary school. It was fresh from the still he'd built behind the camper we had on 20 acres he owned in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We spent most of our summers in those mountains if we weren't visiting his side of the family in Alabama.

He's been dead for years now, but I still dream about him from time to time. There were a lot of bad times, and my childhood wasn't easy, but I try to put things in the context of his life when I think about him. There were plenty of good times too, and plenty who had a worse time growing up than me.

Considering where I'm at in my life, the old drunk didn't do half bad as a substitute father. I mean, I could blame all my failures on him and say I'm only where I am in spite of him rather than because of him, but if he taught me anything it was how to be self reliant. So there's that.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday is my favorite day of the week.

Not for the usual reasons, but because it's my ONLY DAMN DAY OFF, and it's hotter than the surface of the sun in the Heart O' Dixie.

Image result for heatwave

I've been working six days a week for what seems like for-fucking-ever.  A couple of months now, anyway. And it also happens to be one of the hottest summers I can remember. Frankly, I'm tired of it and while the money IS good I can't help but think of how much better it would have been without the 22% pay cut that happened early this year. That, and it's all being dumped into the hole I dug myself into while we were slow.

Such is life.

Believe it or not I've found some time for shooting, though I'm damn near tapped out on ammo. I need more of this, of course. You can always benefit from more time on the range, and I would like to get in some more training before the year is out, hopefully teach some more classes too.

Still working on the novel.  It's coming along, though I've hit the fits and starts stage. I know where I want to go with, but getting there is becoming a bit of a pain. I just need to get the main plot hammered out and then fill in the rest. I have the habit of wanting to edit constantly, but I firmly believe that editing in the middle of the first draft is a time wasting trap.

Image result for it's a trap

I've had to cut down on some of my extracurricular activities both to cut costs and because of a lack of time, so my poker playing, cigar smoking, and boozing have taken a hit. It's rather a small tragedy.

But to hell with it, I'm going to keep on keeping on. Things will get better or they will get worse, and I'll handle it either way.

Image result for the beatings will continue until morale improves


Robert's Picks

Books:


Dead Eye (A Gray Man Novel) by Mark Greaney (very good)


Killing Floor (Jack Reacher)by Lee Child (good)

Scattered Suns (The Saga of Seven Suns)by Kevin J. Anderson (very good)


The Perfect Killby A.J. Quinnell (good)


Of Fire and Night (The Saga of Seven Suns)by Kevin J. Anderson (very good)







Thursday, July 9, 2015

22,000 words and counting.

I've always dabbled in writing. Recently, I got an idea that I couldn't shake. It's turned into an itch that won't go away.  There will be graphic sex, violence, and just all around fun. Some parts are going to piss people off. That almost caused me to put the breaks on. Then I thought about all the authors I enjoy reading and thought, "Fuck it."

It's first person PI/Men'sAdventure/Thriller/etc. influenced by Mickey Spillane, Mark Greaney, John Ringo, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly...you get the idea.

I don't know when the rough will be finished, but I am having a lot of fun writing it. Here is a sample (tentatively rough Chapter 2) of Tragic City:

I took the ramp that skirts the Expessway and then exited onto I-20E/I-59N.  On either side of the interstate is the urban sprawl of industrial sites mixed with rundown residential neighborhoods and the ever present green of Birmingham’s trees. Birmingham calls itself Tree City USA as well as the Magic City. A satellite view of the city will show you why the former came about, as Birmingham seems to always be on the verge of being swallowed up by looming foliage outside of downtown.
I continued up the combined interstates until they split just past the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, continuing north on I-59 towards Trussville and Clay as I-20 curved away towards the east and Atlanta.  Another few miles and I exited the interstate and turned right onto North Chalkville Road headed toward downtown Trussville. I took the very next right and pulled into the parking lot Waffle House on the corner.
I eat at this particular Waffle House so often that the waitresses and short order cooks know me by name. I locked up the Mustang and walked inside. I pushed my sunglasses up on my head as I walked through the door and headed for my usual seat at the far end of the counter where I could keep an eye on the entrance and most of the diner.
“Hi, Darlin’,” greets Allie, a wrinkle faced grandmotherly woman with Coke bottle bottom glasses. “The usual?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I said. I looked around the diner as Allie called my order out to the cook. There was another man at the opposite end of the counter nursing a cup of coffee while perusing a newspaper and chewing on the end of a straw like he missed the days when one could smoke inside. A family of four, Mom, Dad and two little girls, where devouring waffles in a booth off to my left. It was a Tuesday and the place was kind of dead just before ten in the morning.
“Here you are, Hon,” Allie said as she sat a glass of Coke down in front of me. “Food will up in a minute.”
“Thanks, Allie,” I said and took a sip. My phone vibrated in my pocket and pulled it out and glanced at the caller ID. It was a guy I knew, not exactly a friend, but more than an acquaintance.
“Hello,” I answered.
“Hey, Man, it’s Steve,” the caller said. Steve had lived in the South forever, but he’s still got a trace of New York in the accent.
“What’s up, Steve?”
“Not much,” he said, making small talk. Steve was never quick to get the point. “What’s up with you?”
“About to eat some breakfast,” I said as Allie sat two plates in front of me, one holding a larger order of hashbrowns and two eggs over medium with toast. A smaller plate held two sausage patties. I moved the toast over to the sausage plate and liberally coat the hashbrowns and eggs with salt, pepper, and ketchup.
“Well, I won’t keep you from your breakfast,” Steve drawled. “I just wanted to see if you’d be in the shop today?”
The “shop” as everyone calls it is the Blueline Cigar Company. The owner was a medically retired Birmingham cop and the place had become a sort of clubhouse for local cigar smokers. At least the ones with any taste. The shop was in an old house converted to retail space with one room converted into a walk in humidor, two large rooms with wall mounted tvs and an assortment of leather chairs, a full kitchen, and a dining room converted into a card room. On any given day there was a group of salty old men at the card table playing ten cent a chip Limit Hold’em. Bigger games could be had, and these were the men to help you find them, but this was a fun and profitable little game for the skilled player looking for a low stress game.
“Yeah, I’ll be in a little later,” I told Steve.
“Cool,” Steve said. “I got a little work you might be interested in. We’ll talk about it when you get here.”
“Sounds good,” I said.
“Later, Man.”
I ended the call and returned the phone to my pocket, then I dug into my food as I wondered what Steve might need. My stock in trade was usually damsels in distress and elderly folks wanting the meth labs and crack dealers out of their decaying neighborhoods.
Before that dip shit in Atlanta T-boned me I had been making a good living as a cable guy. Yeah, sounds like a weak sauce job which is why it is so high paying if you’re willing to travel a bit and put in some real effort. In truth it was hard work and I fucking hated it but the money was so damn good that you couldn’t just walk away.
After the accident and the city’s settlement I could support my lifestyle without that fucking job so I told the boss I was hanging it up. I was all set to settle down to a life of good cigars and good bourbon while pissing away the hours at the poker table when my Doc reminded me that I should probably stay active if I wanted to stay out of a wheel chair. I decided to fulfill a life long dream and spent two years on the road going to all the big gun and self defense schools around the country and training with all the big name trainers. Gunsite, Thunder Rance, Massad Ayoob Group, SouthNarc, Larry Vickers, Ken Hackathorn, Michael Janich.  If they had a name in the gun or self defense world, I was there. Between training courses I started shooting a lot of pistol competition, mostly IDPA, and a little two and three gun.
When I came home I found that there wasn’t much to do but go to the range or sit at the shop. I shot a couple of matches every month but mostly sat on my but for the first couple of months. After a while word got around among friends and acquaintances that I knew some stuff and I started getting asked for favors. I rode shotgun for a few friends repossessing cars and did some escort work for some business owners who carried a lot of cash but didn’t feel up to defending themselves.
This morphed into a kind of Have Gun, Will Travel kind of career. I registered an LLC and got some insurance and put myself out there as a consultant and trouble shooter for average people. Unlike Paladin, my prices are a lot more reasonable, but I am just as selective about my clientele. I don’t work for criminals or non-criminal scumbags. A lot of what I do is just riding along when someone is going to buy or sell something for a lot of cash. People get set up all the time for robberies through online classifieds, so a concerned person can spend a few bucks and have someone with them to look out for a potential set up.
My favorite jobs are those where I make abusive ex’s realize the error of their ways. I’m only for hire in that situation when a court issued restraining order is in place, but when it is I love to come in and show a lady how to look out for herself and give her a little defensive training. I’ll also sleep on the couch for a while if there is a strong chance of the ex showing up early on. The look of absolute fear on the faces of some of these cowards when I open the girlfriend or ex-wife’s door and remind them that they are in violation of a restraining order while holding a shotgun under their noses almost makes me want to do the work gratis. Almost.
That said, I don’t consider myself a gunfighter or anything like that. After all, I’ve never been in a gunfight. I pepper sprayed a young lady’s ex once outside her work when he thought he’d show her that I was no protection from some MMA wanna-be. She did more damage when she kicked him in the balls while he rolled on the ground trying to rub the burning from his eyes, and he was crying like a little bitch when the cops picked him up.
I finished my breakfast and paid with a twenty, telling Allie to keep the change. She beamed and told me to come back soon. I smiled and waved as I made my way out the door, and a couple of minutes later I was rumbling down North Chalkville Road toward Highway 11.

Friday, July 3, 2015