Saturday, September 8, 2018

Mandatory Training for Handgun Permits is Gay as F&%!

So, I found a reason to post something!

As those of you who are acquainted with me on the Book of Face know, I relocated to Tennessee earlier this year after accepting a promotion at work.

I love Tennessee, I really do. I love the climate, the mountains here in east Tennessee, the no state income tax, the cheap DL, the cheap vehicle registration (at least for me), etc etc.

But Alabama has Tennessee beat hands down in one area, and that is the ease with which one can obtain the permit necessary to carry a concealed firearm. Now, having to have a permit to carry in the first place is gay as fuck, but if you are going to do it you should make it as easy as possible to do so.

In the county where I lived in Alabama a five year concealed carry license cost me $37.50 and the only requirement was that I be at least 19 and be able to pass a NICS check. That's it.

In Tennessee, they're a little backward compared to Alabama. In Tennessee you must apply for your permit with the Tennessee Department of Public Safety, then attend a mandatory training class (mine was $65), then you must take your training certificate to the fucking driver's license office with your Birth Certificate, picture ID, proof of Social Security #, proof of citizenship, etc ad handjobium to get your picture taken and pay a $100 for the permit (it's good for 8 years), and then they give you a voucher to get finger printed so they can do a local, state, and federal background check. Then, supposedly, after about two weeks you'll get your permit.

That process in and of itself is retarded enough, but the most annoying part for me was the mandatory training.

I've had professional training. I've been a concealed carry license holder in the state of Alabama and have been carrying for 15 years. I've been through NRA First Steps Pistol (my cherry breaker), NRA Basic Pistol Instructor, Tom Givens handgun training, Defensive Handgun at Shootrite with Tiger McKee, and both Intro to Performance Pistol and Intro to Performance Rifle with Frank Proctor at Way of the Gun. I shot IDPA regularly for a year or so and was rated a Sharpshooter (ratings being Novice, Marksmen, Sharpshooter, Expert, and Master, in that order).

I realize that's a slow year for professional gun people, but for those of us who have to maintain a full time job outside of guns and actually enjoy things other than pulling triggers in every kind of shitty weather imaginable that's pretty good.

So I was annoyed as fuck to have to take a Tennessee approved handgun carry permit class before I could apply for my permit.

None of my previous training mattered because it hadn't taken place in the last six month. My knowledge and good sense in researching TN state laws regarding firearms and self defense meant fuck all. The fact that my ALABAMA CARRY LICENSE WAS RECOGNIZED AS VALID IN TN FOR MY FIRST SIX MONTHS OF RESIDENCY also meant fuck all.

So I applied for my permit, scheduled a class for September, and decided to suck it up and get through it. I even promised myself that if it was a good class with decent info that pertained to my personal situation and wasn't a derpfest I'd give it the benefit of the doubt and not shit all over it as soon as I had my certificate.

Unfortunately, it was, as I expected, a fucking joke.

I'm an "ok" shooter. I shot 100% on the shooting qualification.

I played on my smartphone and tried not to fall asleep through the over 150 slide powerpoint "class" and scored 100% on the written exam.

To be fair, I will say this:  if you are a new gun owner who knows the basics of how your gun functions and can go to the range and keep most of your rounds on a B29 target this will probably be a pretty good class for you.

If, on the other hand, you have even a modicum of clue it's nothing more than government bureaucracy fucking you in the ass at your expense. The total cost to me for my permit will be $165 (for an 8 year permit). In Alabama, assuming prices stay where they are, that same dollar amount would cover the cost of my Alabama Pistol License for over 20 years.

The actual TN handgun training material is decent, but it's nothing more than a copy pasta of an NRA Basic Pistol class with some TN specific legal shit thrown in (and not nearly enough to make it worth the $65, it's the same shit you can read on the website).

This portion of the class could easily be completed online, and significantly shorten the time you spend dying of boredom listening to someone go over shit you've probably known for years while occasionally interjecting their own personal derp. If you could go to a local certified range and have a TN certified instructor run you through the range portion you could have the whole thing wrapped up in about two hours total (if you're slow).

Instead, I got to spend from 9AM until after 5PM (including a 1 hour lunch break) with everything from other out of staters who did not fucking need this class, to people who really did, to Cletus and his waterhead son who were wearing matching sleeveless t-shirts and smelled about like you'd expect.

Then there was the DERP. Because of course there was derp....

Today I learned:

  • If center mass chest shots don't work, shoot the pelvis because that will put the threat on the ground 100% of the time and while they'll still be able to shoot at you, at least you can run away without them chasing you...while they continue to shoot at you.
  • You can't possibly hit someone in the head; in fact, it is the WORST target to aim for because heads bob and weave better than a NFL running back and you'll never be able to hit one.
  • If you go to any gunfight school all the guys there and all the elite ex-military guys are running Glock 19s with no rear sights, because in a real gunfight that's all you need!
  • Don't bother practicing to shoot at more than 7-10 yards because that's where all real world gunfights take place and anyway PEOPLE WHO SHOOT TINY GROUPS AT 20 YARDS WILL BE ALL OVER THE TARGET AT TWO YARDS because it is totally a different kind of shooting.

I almost could not keep myself for saying, "LOL WUT???" out loud.

So, in conclusion, mandatory handgun training for a concealed carry permit is gay as fuck, but if you are going to require it you could have a modicum of pity on your victims by making the classroom portion available online and allowing people to do any shooting required under the supervision of a certified trainer at their convenience.

But that would make sense. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

FREE short story collection on Kindle!

My short story collection Alabama Red Clay is free on Kindle today and tomorrow, March 16 and 17th!

Four stories featuring Roger Devereux, including:

"Bad Day": Prior to the events of Tragic City, Roger is working as a executive protection contractor in Mexico, a nation with one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world. 

"Barroom Blitz": After the events of Tragic City, Roger is bumming around Mexico slowly drinking himself to death. A chance encounter with a young prostitute in a Mexican bar proves to Roger that old habits die hard.

"Kiddie Pool": Roger is hired by a prominent Birmingham, Alabama attorney to protect his newest client, a young woman accused of murdering her baby daughter.

"The First Time": Well before the events of Tragic City and Red Light Run, Roger Devereux is fifteen years old and living in a public housing project with his mother. When he meets his newest neighbor, a beautiful twenty year old redhead, he is in for a lot of "first times," both tragic and wonderful.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Trying my hand at Science Fiction. Here's a free sample!

So, I've got to crime novels indie published and I plan on doing a lot more writing in that world. However, it's not for everyone. One of things that I new I'd be doing with the Roger Devereux books would be graphic sex and violence. I wanted to write something in the vein of the television series Strike Back and Bansee, or John Ringo's Paladin of Shadows books series (Oh, John Ringo, no!). And that's not for everyone. I get that, but that's the stuff I most enjoy when I need entertainment.

Anyway, a while back I had an idea for a science fiction-y detective story that seemed like it would be a lot of fun to write. The plan is for it to be a lot less graphic than the Roger Devereux books, and what I've written so far has been fun so I thought I share a little with anyone who still bothers to stop by here:


I had defaulted on my debt and was living in indentured quarters. Some claimed indenture was slavery, but it wasn’t. My debt holder didn’t own me. She couldn’t sell me, though she could sell my debt. That didn’t happen often though. Most people knew it was better to hold onto a long term indenture rather than sell it off for a fraction of it’s value.
Indenture meant I was paying every credit I earned above basic living expenses to the debt. At least there was not interest once you defaulted and became indent. That would have been virtual slavery, and why work hard to pay off your debt if you’d never be able to? No, it was much more profitable to have a motivated indent.
So, I lived in a tiny studio apartment in an indent tower in Dallas, Texas. If I looked out my one small window on the thirty-seventh floor of the south side of the tower I was looking into Houston. The two cities had grown until they might as well have been one city from the Gulf of Mexico to Arkansas. Most of what had been the United States, except for a few states in the Northwest, was one big city. It was a good thing someone had got around to inventing viable fusion power generators and orbital farms.
Indentured wages were banked for thirty days in the Quarters’ accounts. For your first thirty days in the Quarters the AI learned your power and water usage. Another calculation based on based on metabolism and average energy expenditure was run for food expenses. The AI transfered the cost of rent, power, and water from your balance into the Quarters’ account, transfered the expected cost of food and basic hygiene necessities to your personal account, and the rest went to the debt. All very civilized.
Smart indents lived like monks and consumed as little as possible that first thirty days. After that, your costs were fixed for a one year period. A smart indent would have a some extra personal cash and be able to make extra payments to the debt, or make the indent period a little more tolerable with better food and standard of living. After that first year costs were calculated based on average use for the prior year. It was a not so subtle hint to get your ass out of indent as soon as possible.
There were also off the books jobs, but these were not legally sanctioned, and usually dangerous. I had been a cop, though, so I was comfortable with a certain amount of danger.
There were those who refused to pay their debts and only worked off the books jobs. They didn’t usually live long and you would never make it to the top that way. I wanted back up. I wanted my debt paid and nice apartment. Maybe even a car. I wanted to be able to afford the android pleasure houses instead of haggling with off the books human whores with who knew what diseases that would put me further in debt to cure.
I was in hock for killing a man. It was an accident, and I shouldn’t have been found responsible for his death, but the wife had enough money to hire a good attorney and cried the right number of tears for the jury. Showing up to court drunk probably hadn’t helped my case, even if her idiot husband stepped right into my line of fire when I walked into a robbery.
So, I was responsible for paying his estimated lifetime income to the wife. This wasn’t the bad old days of qualified immunity where a cop was free and clear of wrong doing if his actions were in the course of the job, and a cop who fucked up wasn’t given any benefit of the doubt for acting in good faith.
A fuck up is a fuck up. Results mattered, intentions be damned.
And that’s the way it should be. My only real complaint was that an indent couldn’t be a cop. He couldn’t work as a Private Investigator either. Not on the books, anyway.

I spent the first two months of my indenture working as a Level One Electrical Tech. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work that involved a lot of time crawling around in access crawl ways that infested every building. It paid a decent wage, but I’d given up hard work when I’d become an investigator with Dallas Policing Industries. As soon as I had a little reserve built up I cut my hours down from sixty a week to thirty.
I hadn’t turned on a light or watched the vid once for the first thirty days in the Quarters, and I’d showered only when my own smell got the best of me. I’d built of a nice reserve in my personal account as a result and the thirty hours a week was more than enough to make some inroads on my debt and cover my living expenses. The debt was large enough I’d never be able to pay it off in a year, or ten years, so I needed the freedom to make some moves off the books. Debtors didn’t care where the credits you used to pay of your debt came from, as long as they couldn’t be proved to have been stolen, so if I paid off earlier than my current job would allow no one would ask any questions.
Now that I had some extra credits I was able to afford some real necessities, like real meat, cigars, booze, and a little synthweed. The cut in hours at the tech job would give me the time I needed to pick up some clients. I had no official standing as an investigator, so that meant clients who couldn’t go to the cops. They would have to be able to pay me, so that meant criminals or rich people with secrets to keep.
I wasn’t worried about dealing with criminals. I still had a gun. Everyone has a right to defend themselves and their property, even indents, and while all my other assets had been auctioned off to pay my debt I was allowed to keep a gun.
A gun.
I’d owned fifty-three.

Anyway, most criminals were selling bootleg software or making unlicensed recreational pharmaceuticals. A few pimped human whores that were cheaper to come by than androids, but not nearly as skilled or suited to refined tastes. Every once in a while a low rent pimp would get his hands on an android and run it until it broke down or started malfunctioning. That’s what brought Chris to my table in the back of the Mel’s bar on the ground floor of the Correia Mega Tower. 
Mel’s was the type of place you went to when you wanted a dark, smoky atmosphere where you wouldn’t be bothered. I sat at the table with a view of the entire bar and drank from a glass of bourbon. I had a cigar in my other hand and the picture of missing woman. She was an indent and had skipped out of the Quarters’ she’d been living in while working an overnight manufacturing job. It turned out the man who owned her debt had been promising to forgive it if she’d sleep with him. She’d done it, and when he refused to forgive the debt she’d skipped. Now he wanted to find her before she showed up on his door step with the the vid she’d made of their romp to his wife and kiddies.
The debt would be forgiven as soon as he had the vid and a signed contract she wouldn’t distribute it from any copies. He was also offering her a bonus, of course.
I was studying the picture and wondering were to start looking for the woman when Chris approached me. I smelled him before I saw, the harsh body odor he exuded hovering around him like a force field generated to push people out of his personal space. 
“Need something, Chris?” I asked.
“Yeaaaahhh,” he dragged the word out while bobbing his head in the affirmative, a stupid grin on his face.
“What?” I asked.
“I got a problem, Roland,” he said.
He sat at the table without invitation and I puffed hard on my cigar, hoping to generate enough smoke to mask his pungent aroma.
“Well?” I asked.
“I need you to find something for me,” he said, leaning forward.
I blew smoke into his face and he coughed.
“What?” I asked.
He waved the smoke away with a smile.
“An android,” he said. “Pleasure model.”
I sat back in surprise.
“When did you get enough scratch from your human whores to afford a pleasure droid?” I asked.
He shrugged.
“Got a good deal on a refurb,” he said.
I knew he was lying. Pleasure model androids were the playthings of the rich and famous, and most were owned by the higher end brothels. A street pimp dealing in human flesh would never make enough to afford one. Their synthetic flesh was indistinguishable from the real thing, except when in action. They would fulfill any sexual fantasy, perform any act, and convince you their were experiencing the wildest orgasms while doing it. It was all programming of course, but it was damned good programming. Want a husky sexpot? A weeping submissive? A growling dominate? There’s a program for it. Any fantasy, dark or light, there was a program for it. It was the reason pleasure models were so expensive, and so worth it.
“How much?” I asked.
“Ten thousand credits,” he said, going serious.
“Bullshit,” I laughed.
“I’m serious, man,” he said. “I’ll even give you a thousand earnest money.”
Ten thousand credits wouldn’t come close to paying off my debt, but it would make a nice little dent while giving me some additional space to work more cases. 
“I’m listening,” I said.
“She malfunctioned while we were doing an upgrade to the programming,” Chris said. “Took off before we could shut her down and disappeared. I think she might be trying to return to her old brothel, but the place has been shut down for years.”
I nodded.
“Does she have a deactivation code word or a remote?” I asked.
“Not that works, we tried,” he said. “You’ll have to shut her down manually.”
I nodded. Manual shutdown meant getting close to her and operating the pressure switch behind her right earlobe. I’d have to hold it down for five seconds. That was the standard time to avoid accidental shutdown.
“Why not find her yourself if you think you know where she’ll be?” I asked.
Chris smiled wide again.
“I’ve got no time,” he said. “I got to keep up with my human workers. It’s a full time job.”
“It’s really worth ten thousand credits to you?” I asked.
“Got your credit chit?” he asked.
I reached into my jacket and pulled it out. He took out another and touched it to mine. I checked the balance on the readout and found myself a thousand credits richer.
“Money talks, right?” he asked.
“Yes, it does,” I said. “One other question.”
“Sure, man,” he said.
“Are her safety features disabled?”
“Of course not, man,” he said. “I’m a crook, not crazy.”
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll get it down. Send her info to my comm with the address of her old brothel and I’ll see what I can do.”
“Yeaaaahh,” he said with another idiotic grin.
He stood and walked away. Unfortunately, his stink lingered.

I left Mel’s and went to photocopy place in the same tower to have copies made of the photo of the missing indent. I wasn’t about to drop one client just to jump on Chris’s matter even if he was paying well. I’d still have a long way to go paying off my indenture even if I found the missing android. 
I made a hundred copies at the copy booth with my comm code printed on the bottom, and held my credit chit up to the sensor to pay. It deducted the ten credit charge from my account and the slot opened for me to take the copies. I rolled them up and started making my way out of the labyrinthine building.
Outside I was surprised to find it was dark. I hadn’t realized I’d spent that much time in Mel’s, but time flies when you are having fun. I flagged an autocab over and stepped inside. I gave it the address to a dive bar near the indent towers on the edge of the city and sat back to enjoy the wait. 
I was going to hit as many bars and unlicensed brothels as I could tonight, leaving the photo with my comm code and the offer of a small reward to whoever put me in touch with the missing woman, then I’d head back to my tiny apartment to get a few hours of sleep. It was Thursday, and I worked the on the books job in ten hour shifts Monday through Wednesday. I’d have three days to look for the android and run down leads on the blackmailer.
My comm dinged and took it out of my jacket pocket and unlocked the display. It was a file from Chris, it contained a three hundred and sixty degree photo of the nude android and a serial number. It also had contained an address. I tapped the screen over the address and a map of the city appeared on the screen. 
“Huh,” I said to myself.
The address was on the third floor of a building that was close enough to on the way to my destination that I decided to make a detour.
“Detour,” I said to the autocab.
“Destination?” it asked in a computer generated voice.
I read the address off my screen.
“ETA is five minutes,” it said. “Will you be continuing on to the previous destination requested? The charge for standby service is five minutes for one credit.”
“Yes, that’ll work,” I said. “But you’re released from standby if I have not returned in thirty minutes.”

The area of the city the autocab took me to was an old section of one of the smaller cities between Dallas and Houston that had been absorbed into the Dallas city scape as it grew. Many of the building were abandoned, but a few of the newer towers appeared to be completely automated manufacturing facilities. There would be few humans in the area during the day, and next to none at night.
I stepped out of the autocab and looked up at the building from the deserted street. The building was old, built at least a hundred years ago and well before mega towers became the norm. It was less than fifty stories tall with wide concrete steps leading up the main entrance, and dwarfed by the other nearby buildings. It also appeared to be completely abandoned.
Out of long habit, I checked the gun holstered under my jacket. It was Glock 702, not the newest model but still very, very effective. It fired 6mm caseless smart pellets at hypervelocity. They would penetrate anything but military grade armor and would turn an unarmored human into so much hamburger meat. The magazine held ninety pellets.
I had a folding combat knife in my pants pocket, but if I had to use it I was already in serious trouble. Still, it was nice to have options.
I walked up the steps toward the entrance. The doors were locked, but had been made of glass held in steel frames. The glass had long been broken, and I paused before entering. It didn’t look like the building was being used by vagrants, and it still had power. The mounted wall packs lit up the interior so that I could see the tracks made through the dust and dirt on the marble floors. It looked like a group of people had entered recently, though I wasn’t enough of an expert to tell how recently.
I stepped inside and walked toward where the elevators should be. The address for the old brothel had been on the third floor. Given the age of the building and the general abandoned nature I realized the android must be much older than I had assumed by the photo Chris had sent. I hoped the elevators were functioning. I didn’t want to walk up three flights of stairs. 
I found the elevator banks and hit the call button. I was in luck, the button lit up and I could hear the whirring of the machinery in the elevator shaft. There was a loud ding when it arrived that made me jump and look around self consciously, and then the door slid open. I stepped inside and hit the button with a three on it. The doors slide closed and music fifty years out of date began to play.
The ride was quick, but I still found myself humming an old tune when I stepped out on the third floor. The man that came flying through the air hit me in the chest just as the elevator doors slid closed, providing the perfect surface for the man’s body to crush me against.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Now Available! Red Light Run (Roger Devereux Book 2)

Today is the release date for my second novel, Red Light Run. It is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.

The ebook is available for FREE if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

Monday, June 5, 2017


The sequel to my first novel Tragic City, titled Red Light Run, will be published on Amazon Kindle on July 4, 2017. The paperback will follow shortly thereafter. I currently have the rough outline for book 3 completed and will be releasing a short story collection within the next couple of months. If you are interested in either book, click on the above links to Amazon.

Tragic City is currently priced at $0.99 and FREE with Kindle Unlimited. Red Light Run is available for preorder with a list price of $2.99 and will also be FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

Red Light Run (Roger Devereux Book 2) by [McDonald, Robert]

And now, for your reading pleasure, here is my short story Bad Day. Chronologically this takes place a few years before the events of Tragic City while Roger Devereux was working as a security contractor in Mexico. This is an unedited version of the story, so please forgive me the grammar and/or spelling.

I half listened to the chatter on the radio and focused my eyes on the street vendors and traffic as we tooled along the Juarez roadways in our up armored Land Rover Defender. I glanced toward Terry, my team leader, and saw he was doing the same out his window on the opposite side of the second row seat from me. We were on a parallel path to the main convoy transporting the principal.
Terry idly scratched his thick red beard and glanced at me as he felt my gaze. He gave a slight nod of acknowledgment before glancing back out at the human debris cluttering the busy street. 
I’d been on Terry’s team for three month, and this was our third rotation as the Quick React Force, and my first time acting as the team’s assistant team leader. The former ATL had returned to the States upon receiving divorce papers. There were rumors that a tragic donkey show accident had something to do with the divorce, but I wasn’t sure if that was true or just another manifestation of Terry’s sick sense of humor. 
Ronnie, riding shotgun directly in front of me, had been pissed. He had more time on the teams and was an Army vet who had served in combat in Iraq. The truth was, he was a decent shooter, but he brought too much baggage from the Army with him. He never missed a chance to criticize the company and tell us how much better the Army would handle our assignments. Most of us wondered why he hadn’t reenlisted, and everyone wished that he had. 
His attitude caused a lot of friction, especially with the guys who had never served in the military, and it would probably cause Roland to not renew his contract when the current term was up. He was just barely tolerated on our team, and none of the others would have him.
Both Terry and I had no prior military experience, and Ronnie made sure to let us know that made us lesser men in his eyes. Ryan, our SAW gunner, who rode in the rear luggage compartment with his big gun, was former USAF Security Forces and given slightly more respect. Still, the big Cajun had to listen to endless jokes about his time in the “Chair Force,” and Ronnie had come close to pushing the coonass past his ability to tolerate the ribbing. Ernesto, our driver, had served in the Mexican Marine’s before taking a job with Roland, but Ronnie treated him with the same casual disdain he handed out to me and Terry. 
We all knew Ronnie thought he should have Terry’s job. We also knew that if that every happened we’d all quit. And so did Roland.
I had been Terry’s second choice to fill the ATL slot. Terry had made the offer to Ryan first, due to his seniority. Ryan had declined, saying he was just a shooter and preferred it that way. He’d suggested Terry try me.
I’d hesitated at first, but Terry made it simple.
“Look,” he’d said, “it’s a bump in pay with no real increase in responsibility. The only way you take over is if I get taken out, and I like breathing. Plus, it’ll chap Ronnie’s ass to see you get it over him.”
I’d agreed, more for the latter than any other reason.
The radio crackled and the Close Protection Detail’s Team Lead addressed Terry.
“Trouble Shooter One, this is Alpha One, over.”
“Copy, Alpha One,” Terry replied.
“We’re coming to a stop,” Jonathan, call sign Alpha One, said. “Looks like some kind of traffic accident, over.”
“Copy, Alpha One,” Terry said. “We’ll pull it to the curb until you’re rolling again.”
“Roger, Trouble Shooter One, out.”
Ernesto pulled to the curb and we waited with the engine running, thankful for the air conditioning that kept most of the heat out. A couple of minutes went by, and we watched for any sign of a threat. Mostly, we listened to the radio. 
Our job was to come in and hit anything and anyone that attacked the convoy so hard they’d be too tied up with us to keep the Close Protection Detail from extracting with the principal. A convenient traffic accident would make the perfect prelude to an ambush, and if this had been our first time out we would have been on high alert. Unfortunately, we’d experienced this one too many times to pay it much concern.
We felt and heard the first explosion at almost the same time. The radio lit up with Jonathan’s adrenaline spiked voice as a second explosion followed.
“Lead vehicle just took an RPG! Fuck, chaser too! Get us the fuck out of—”
Over the radio we heard a single gunshot, followed by three more, and then a loud crash before the radio cut out. In the distance, we heard the distinctive sound of AK rifles firing full automatic. 
Not waiting for Terry’s order, Ernesto had the Defender screeching away from the curb and shooting down the nearest ally toward the main convoy. Adrenaline was surging in my system, and I knew everyone must feel the same way as we sped toward our objective. We’d gotten complacent, and it had made our reaction time slow. We should have been rolling as soon as we heard the first explosion, but disbelief had temporarily paralyzed us.
Ernesto crashed through a fruit vendor’s stand at the opposite end of the alley and brought the Defender to a screeching halt just in front of the convoy.
The lead and chase vehicles, both armored Suburbans, were engulfed in flames. It looked like the attackers had hit them with Molotov cocktails after the RPGs. I felt a chill of terror go up my spine as thought about the men who had been inside. Not friends, but certainly close acquaintances. 
The principle’s transport, an armored Mercedes G Wagon, had been smashed into and pinned against a concrete road divider by a lifted Ford F-250 pickup truck. Four men were pointing AKs at the SUV, and a fifth was just finishing pouring a can of gasoline on the hood. The windshield was spider webbed from multiple rifle round hits, but so far it looked like it was living up to its manufacturer’s advertised capabilities. 
“Take those fuckers out!” Terry ordered as we spilled from the Defender.
The hijackers were just turning toward us as we started spraying hate and hot metal. We let them have it hard and fast, not having to worry about the principle and Close Protection Detail behind the thick armor of the G Wagon. I brought my AR up and put the red dot of the Aimpoint sight on the centerline of one of the AK men and pulled the trigger as fast as I could while still keeping the rifle on target.
He was dead before he hit the ground and I transition to the next armed attacker just as Ryan’s SAW lit off and chewed my new target to pieces. I looked over my Aimpoint for more targets, but finding none lowered the rifle to the ready. All of the hijackers in view were down. 
Ronnie started for the G Wagon and I followed, with Terry bringing up the rear. Ryan stayed on the SAW, aiming over the hood of the Defender while using the engine block as cover. Ernesto was still in the Land Rover, behind the wheel and ready to hightail as soon as we saddled back up.
As we reached the Mercedes, the rear passenger door popped open and Jonathan stepped out, his gray suit speckled with blood spray.
“Carl’s dead,” he said without preamble, his voice cracking. “Ricardo shot him in the head just before we got hit by the truck.  He must have been in on it. He went for me too, but the angle was wrong and I took it in the armor. Trashed my radio. I put two in the fucker’s skull. Fuck, man, Carl’s dead.”
Carl and Jonathan had been friends for over a decade, and had been working together most of that time. Jonathan was clearly fucked up mentally, but he was doing his best to hold it together.
“Jesus,” Terry said. “The principle?”
“Shitless,” Jonathan said, voice harsh as he tried to keep it steady. “But otherwise okay.”
“Let’s get you both into our vehicle and get the fuck out of here before anyone else shows up,” Terry said.
The street had gone eerily quiet and the normal crowds had vanished. Jonathan pulled the principle from the Mercedes and began to lead him toward the Defender just as the sound of a vehicle caught my ear. In the distance, I could here sirens but this vehicle was much closer and I felt something creepy crawly go up my spine.
“Time to scoot,” Terry said, motioning us toward the Defender.
Ronnie booked it after Jonathan and the principle, and then past them. He was in the shotgun seat and ducked down low with the door shut before I’d taken a step. I heard a vehicle break to a stop behind the corner of a building on the opposite side of the convoy vehicles from us and I turned in that direction.
“Get your ass moving, Devereux!” Terry shouted. 
I didn’t hesitate, I turned and sprinted for the the Defender. I heard Terry’s para FAL firing in rapid single shots and glanced over my shoulder in time to see five armed men attempting to get back around the corner of the building where I’d heard the vehicle. Two of them fell to the ground, but the others made it back behind cover. 
I checked my sprint, intending to turn and give Terry some covering fire on his way back to the Defender but he yelled again.
“Don’t stop, go!”
I looked back to the Defender and saw Ryan had repositioned at the back of the Defender to have a clear line of fire at the corner the men had come from. I reached the Defender and took up a position between Jonathan and the principle and any threat, just as Terry worked a reload on his FAL and started to sprint out way.
A hijacker with and AK popped around the corner and held his trigger down, firing wildly on full auto. Ryan shredded him with a burst from the SAW but not before one of his rounds felt Murphy’s touch and ripped through Terry’s leg below the knee. He stumbled and went down with a cry, and I started back toward him.
I felt a hand slap my shoulder and then Jonathan was rushing past me.
“I got him,” he shouted. “Stay with the principle.”
I checked my run and duck walked backwards until I felt the open rear passenger door of the Defender at my back. I positioned myself between the open door and any threat outside, covering Jonathan as he sprinted toward Terry. Ryan was firing short, controlled bursts towards the corner to keep anyone from getting to brave and making another kamikaze attack. 
Jonathan had just reached Terry and was kneeling down to get him up when a Toyota Tacoma came barreling around the corner. There was a man in the bed manning a fucking Ma Deuce fifty caliber heavy machine gun on a pintle mount. Before either I or Ryan could react he swung the heavy gun’s barrel toward Jonathan and Terry and fired. The booming DOOMDOOMDOOMDOOM drowned out my shout of rage and horror as I watched Jonathan and Terry’s bodies disintegrate under the heavy storm of metal.
I snapped my rifle up, too late to help, and dumped my magazine into the fifty gunner. He fell over the side of the truck and hit the pavement head first with a crack like a bursting egg. Ryan held down the trigger on the SAW and walked the line of fire back and fourth across the cab of the Tacoma until there was not way anything inside could survive.
I worked a mag change and yelled at Ryan.
“Saddle up, let’s get the fuck out of here.”
I crammed into the rear seat of the Defender and pulled the door shut, just as Ryan opened the rear and tossed the SAW inside before clambering his bulk in and pulling the hatch down. 
“Drive!” I shouted at Ernesto.
As we sped through the dusty Juarez streets I practiced my breathing, trying to slow my heart rate and keep my hands from shaking. I heard low muttering, and glanced at the principle. He was wide eyed and clearly terrified in his rumpled Brooks Brothers suit, but he was quiet. I glanced into the front seat and saw where the sound was coming from.
Ronnie has crammed himself down onto the floor board in front of the passenger seat. He had his chin tucked into his knees and his arms hugged his legs as he rocked back and forth, tears streaming down his face. I could see his entire body trembling, and I finally made out the muttering.
“Home. Home. I want to go home,” he said, over and over.
He didn’t stop until a doctor tranqed him back at Roland’s compound. They put him on a plane back to the states two days later, his contract terminated early and paid in full with a medical disability bonus. 
Roland offered me the Trouble Shooter Team Leader position, and I accepted. I kept it until my contract was up nine months later, and then I went home. Back to Birmingham, Alabama. Where it was safer. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

My book Tragic City is a free today on Amazon Kindle!

Tragic City is a hard boiled, neo-noirish crime novel set in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the most violent cities in America.

Get it here!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Paperback Now Available!

My first novel Tragic City is now available from as a paper back novel (see link below). 

Tragic City is a neo-noirish, hard-boiled crime novel set in Birmingham, Alabama. From the back of the book:

"Roger Devereux isn't a knight in shining armor. He drinks, gambles, is prone to violence, and hasn't met a woman he won't take to bed. But when a teenage girl disappears in the Magic City, he's the first person her mother calls. Before he knows it, Roger is thrust into a world of human traffickers, drug dealers, dirty cops, random thugs, and brutal violence."

Check out these five start reviews on Amazon:

"An awesome, gritty, non stop action filled story that will keep you engaged. If you are from Birmingham, or have ever been there you will instantly recognize the city, places, and people. The descriptions are on point, and make you feel as if you were along for the ride. I look forward to spending more time with Roger Devereux in the future."

"Best damn book I have read in a while. This guy is a writer to keep an eye out for. More please."

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Get my book Tragic City FREE today only on Amazon!

Merry Christmas!

As a gift to everyone I have made Tragic City FREE on Kindle!  Check it out!

And if you like what you read please review it on Amazon! Here's my first review:

5 Stars
"An awesome, gritty, non stop action filled story that will keep you engaged. If you are from Birmingham, or have ever been there you will instantly recognize the city, places, and people. The descriptions are on point, and make you feel as if you were along for the ride. I look forward to spending more time with Roger Devereux in the future."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tragic City, Chapter 5, Copyright Robert McDonald 2016 All Rights Reserved

I managed to get the bandage on Steve’s arm and the bleeding under control before the first of three Birmingham PD Ford Explorers screeched to a halt on the street. Two cops jumped out of each, guns drawn, and ordered us all to the ground. They searched us, disarmed me, cuffed us all, and then asked what had happened.
After about fifteens minutes they let the medics in to check out Raymond and Steve. Raymond was dead right there, but they loaded Steve onto a stretcher and put him into an ambulance that left for a nearby emergency room. One of the cops helped me up off the ground and escorted me over to one of the police Fords and put me in the back seat. I watched as they released the woman in the green dress from her handcuffs. They must have realized she was just a witness.
An unmarked police car pulled up and a detective with a stocky build and black hair in a crew cut stepped out. I recognized him from his visits to the cigar shop. He was an old friend of Walt’s, and a veteran homicide detective. He walked over to the two patrol cops who had first arrived on the scene and talked with them for a minute. Then he walked over to the woman in the green dress. He talked to her longer, asking a lot of questions and taking notes. I watched, wondering what was being said.
I tried to keep my imagination from going out of control with worry by focusing on the woman in the loud green dress. She was attractive enough to be a decent distraction from the growing sick feeling in my gut as I wondered what was going to happen to me, if I’d be arrested or charged with murder. Logically that would be nuts, but you hear horror stories if you’ve been in the self defense training community for any time.
Ms. Green Dress was about five-six, maybe one hundred thirty pounds. Long, athletic legs with some well defined curves in the bust and ass. She had that golden shade of skin the old timers called “high yaller,” shoulder length dark hair, and light green eyes. She was a gorgeous woman, I decided, with lips that a lazy novelist would describe as pouty. The dress she was wearing, on the other hand, was fucking hideous. I liked a woman in a sun dress and she clearly had the body for it, but that color did her no justice.
She crossed her arms over her chest as she talked to the detective and glanced my way. I noticed a glint of metal in one nostril and realized she had a hoop piercing there. It was cute and made me smile. She made eye contact with me and smiled back for an instant before dropping it and returning her gaze to the detective as he asked another question. It was the most uncanny thing, having a beautiful woman smile at me after seeing me turn some guy’s head into a canoe like I was Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Carrol.
That last though sent my mind spinning in a new direction. I had killed a man. Now I was sitting in the back of a cop car, maybe under arrest, maybe not, but definitely under a lot of scrutiny. I knew, without a doubt, that I had done what I had too. Had I not acted when I did Steve might be dead right now, and the thought of letting someone innocent die when I could stop it made me feel sick inside. I wasn’t ashamed of what I’d done. In fact I was starting to get a little pissed off. I’d done what any cop worth his badge would have done in a similar situation, but here I was sitting in the back of a patrol vehicle in cuffs.
The detective finished with Ms. Green Dress and gestured her over to the bench seats by one of the picnic tables. He looked over at me then and stared for a a while before narrowing his eyes and then quirking one eyebrow. He walked over to where I sat and opened the door so he could get a better look at me.
“Mr. Devereux?” he asked.
I nodded.
“I’m Detective Darren Wilson, Birmingham PD homicide,” he introduced himself. “I’ve seen you before somewhere, haven’t I?”
“Yes, Sir,” I answered. “At the cigar shop. Walt’s place.”
“That’s right,” he said, nodding. “So what happened here?”
“The man that was stabbed, Steve,” I said.
He nodded.
“I gave him a ride to meet the dead guy. He said his name was Raymond.” I looked him in the eyes as I spoke, holding his gaze and trying to keep my voice even. “Raymond was supposed to have a collectible Rolex that Steve was interested in buying. I came along as backup because it was going to be a cash transaction and Steve was worried it was a too good to be true situation. He didn’t want to be walking around out here with ten grand and have this guy try something. Steve’s not in the best physical health so he had me come along.
“So, this guy Raymond pulls up in that piece of shit Caddy he’s lying in front of and Steve goes over to talk to him. They talk for a minute or two but I could tell Steve wasn’t impressed with what Raymond had to show him. Raymond got mad, pulled out a screwdriver, and yells at Steve to give him the money. Steve throws his hands up and starts backing way and Raymond stabs him. By this time I realized what was going down and was drawing my gun. Steve tripped and fell back over the curb trying to get away and Raymond kept coming at him like he was going to stab him again. I shot Raymond a couple of times in the chest and he didn’t stop so I shot him in the head. He stopped then. I told the lady in green to call 911 to tell them what happened and get an ambulance for my friend.”
Detective Wilson ha been nodding his head as I talked and when I finished, spoke.
“Yeah, that’s what your friend told my partner at the hospital. The lady told me pretty much the same thing.”
He waved over one of the patrol officers.
“This officer will take those cuffs off of you.” The officer did so while Detective Wilson continued, “Hand tight for a little while longer. I’m going to go take a look at this surveillance video, but if it shows what I think it will you should be free to go tonight. We might have some more questions later, and it will ultimately be up to the DA whether to charge you or not.”
I sat in the back of the BPD Ford and rubbed my wrists where the cuffs had been. I was feeling a lot of relief, especially if there was video. All I had to do was keep my cool and wait to be released.
Detective Wilson returned a short time later and opened the door.
“Well, Mr. Devereux,” he said, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about. The video pretty clearly shows the deceased attacking your friend in a manner that to me appears to justify lethal force. I can’t speak for the DA, but I think you’ll be fine. I’d like to get a written statement from you if you feel up to it, or you can come downtown tomorrow for that.”
“Thanks, I can do that now,” I said, eager to get it out of the way.
“We’ll have to keep your gun as evidence, of course, but you’re free to take the rest of your personal items.”
“I understand,” I said.
Wilson waved over the officer who had removed my cuffs.
“Take his statement, please.”
He walked off toward where the crime scene techs where photographing Raymond’s body and the surrounding area and I heard him mutter almost under his breath, “Another day in the Tragic City.”
I followed the officer over to the picnic tables where Steve and I had eaten. Ms. Green Dress was there writing out her own statement. I sat and the officer handed me a paper form and a pen. I wrote what I had told Detective Wilson, and when I finished I signed and dated it then handed it to the officer. He took it away and came back a few minutes later with a plastic evidence bag containing the contents of my pockets. I took out my phone and saw I had a couple of missed calls, the most recent from Steve.
I called Steve back and he answered on the first ring.
“Hey, Man,” he said, “I just wanted to check up on you and let you know Bobbi just picked me up from the hospital.”
“That’s good to hear, Steve,” I said.
“Yeah, they cleaned me up, re-bandaged me, and gave me a prescription for antibiotics and another for good painkillers. They say I should heal up fine. We’re about to pick up the ‘scripts and then I’m going to pop one of the painkillers with a glass of Scotch. I think my ass hurts more from falling on it than the arm does. You okay? The cops cut you loose yet?”
“Just now,” I said. “They just took my statement and let me go. The detective says I shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”
“That’s awesome, Man,” Steve said. “I told them you saved my life. You really did. Me and Bobbi can’t thank you enough. Well, she’s a little disappointed she doesn’t get to collect the life insurance on my sorry ass, but other than that she’s thankful.”
I chuckled as I heard his wife scolding him in the background.
“I’m glad I could do it, and glad you’re okay. I was a little slow realizing what was going down. Sorry about that.”
“Nah, Man,” Steve said. “You did just fine. Got to go, Man. Later.”
“Later,” I said and hung up.
I stuck my phone in my pocket and looked up to see Ms. Green Dress staring at me.
“Thanks,” I said to her.
She crinkled her eyebrows. “For what?”
“For telling the cops what you saw,” I said.
“It was the truth,” she said with a shrug.
“I know, but most people would not have wanted to get involved even to tell what they saw,” I said. “I appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome,” she said.
Her voice was a nice contralto, and I liked hearing it.
“I need a drink,” I said, looking into her eyes. “Buy you one?”
“You going to introduce yourself first?”
I laughed. “Roger Devereux.”
She held out her hand, and I took it. “Laura Pike,” she said. “And yes, you can buy me a drink.”

Tragic City, Chapter 4, Copyright 2016 Robert McDonald All Rights Reserved

At a quarter to five Steve came into the poker room and asked what I thought about cutting out early and getting some food at Saw’s while we waited for the meet up. I was twenty-five dollars in the hole in a five dollar buy-in game so that seemed like a good idea. The Opus X I was smoking was down to the nub so I tossed it into an ash tray and cashed out the couple of dollars in chips I had left in front of me.
There was a little traffic on the way to Avondale but nothing major. When we hit 41st Street South I parked in the alley between Saw’s and Post Office Pies. We were lucky, there wasn’t much of a line at Saw’s and when we got our food we took it to one of the picnic tables on the alley side of the building and dug in. Steve had gone for a Saw’s classic, pork and greens over cheese grits. I had never developed a taste for greens and had opted for a pork sandwich and fries. The food was great and the only disappointing thing about the meal was that I was not washing it down with Vanillaphant Porter from the Brewery down the street.
We sat around shooting the shit while we waited for the meet up. This consisted of Steve giving me shit for driving the car from Bullitt, living in an Art Deco building, but wearing a piece of shit Timex watch instead of something like his Daytona.
“I just never saw the need to spend a lot of money on something I only want to tell the time,” I said. “I guess it would be nice to have something fancier, but why spend five grand on a watch when I can spend it on a gun?”
Steve just rolled his eyes.
I was sitting with my back to the entrance to the alley with Steve right across from me. Over his shoulder I watched an early eighties model Cadillac that had probably been candy apple red at some point in the past pull up to the curb and park just on the other side of Saw’s in front of a used car dealership. The thing looked like it was held together by rust and duct tape.
“Guy said he’d be in a red Caddy, right?” I asked.
Steve looked over his shoulder just as the driver’s door screeched open and a tall, slim black guy with a full beard stepped out with a small box in one hand. He kicked the door shut and walked around to stand in front of the car.
“Damn,” Steve said. “He does need money if he’s driving that piece of shit.”
The man saw us watching him and smiled.
“One of you Steve?” he called out.
“Yeah,” Steve called back. “You Raymond?”
“Yeah, man!” Raymond said, and sat the box he was holding on the hood of the wreck. “Come check out this sweet Rolex!”
“I’ll be right over,” Steve replied and turned back to me and rolled his eyes. “This guy seems okay. Hang out here but keep your eyes open.”
“Okay,” I said. “I can come over with you if you want.”
“Nah,” Steve said as he pried himself up from his seat. “This’ll be quick one way or the other.”
As Steve walked the twenty feet over to Raymond’s car I got up and moved around to the other side of the table so there was nothing to slow me down if I needed to get over there in a hurry. I kept my eyes on Raymond and his smile slipped when he glanced my way but it was back as his gaze returned to Steve.
Raymond didn’t seem like the type to own a house worth twenty thousand, let alone a watch. He was wearing a plain gray t-shirt and black jeans. On his feet were a pair of dirty sneakers that might have been white in a past life. If this guy had ever owned a watch he’d found it in a box of Cracker Jack.
Steve stepped off the curb into the street with Raymond, and they talked. Raymond seemed antsy as Steve gestured at the watch, but he finally reached out and opened the box, standing back to let Steve lean down to take a look.
Steve didn’t even attempt to pick it up. After a glance he straightened back up and shook his head. Raymond tensed up at this and I stood up and walked a couple of steps closer. Raymond was getting agitated and gesturing at the watch as he mumbled something to Steve, but Steve just kept shaking his head.
“It’s not even a Rolex, Man,” I heard Steve say as I got closer.
I could feel the adrenaline start to hit my system as things heated up between them.
“I’m not buying that,” Steve scoffed.
“Fuck you!” Raymond yelled and his hands went towards his waist. I was startled and hesitated for an instant but I started my draw as Raymond’s hand came up holding a screwdriver in a reverse grip. He pulled his arm back ready to stab down yelling, “Gimme the money, Motherfucker!”
Steve dropped his cane and threw his hands ups in front of him in a placating motion while backing away from the snarling Raymond. My left hand had my shirt pulled up and out of the way as my right hand found the grip and started drawing the Glock out of it’s holster.
Everything felt like it was going in slow motion as I watched Raymond stab down into Steve’s arm. Steve cried out in pain and shock as Raymond pulled the screw driver out of Steve’s arm and back to stab again. Steve backpedaled trying to get away but tripped over the curb and fell back on his ass.
My eyes were locked on Raymond as he stepped towards Steve ready to continue his attack and then my eyes shifted to the Trijicon HD front site on my Glock as my support hand wrapped around my strong on the grip and brought it into my field of view. I pressed the trigger twice just as I completed the press out and I saw the two rounds impact on Raymond’s chest. He continued forward not seeming to notice. My eyes and front site moved to his face and I pressed the trigger again. The shot impacted on the outside of Raymond’s left eye socket and there was a splatter of blood and brain matter from the exit wound on the other side of his head. Raymond collapsed to the ground like his switch had been flipped.
I took quick steps toward Steve while keeping my gun on Raymond. I was pretty sure he was done, but I wasn’t about to take any more chances than I already had. When I reached Steve I got a good look at the exit wound on the back side of Raymond’s skull and knew I didn’t have to worry about him any more. Bits of white skull and gray brain matter were sprayed with blood onto the hood of his piece of shit car. A large clump of hair and skull was hung up in the grill.
I looked around. There were a few people standing around looking frozen in place and as I made eye contact most of them looked away and followed that up with quickly walking out of the area. A few ran. One, a light skinned black woman just looked back while taking deep breaths. She was wearing a lime green sun dress and matching heels. Her hands were up at her sides in the surrender position. She was holding a cell one in one hand.
I holstered my pistol and yelled, “Call 911, my friend needs an ambulance.”
I pointed at Raymond’s body.
“Tell them that man was stabbing him and someone shot the guy doing the stabbing.”
She nodded and got on the phone. I could hear her tell the operator where she was and what I had told her as I knelt down next to Steve to see how badly he was hurt. He had a hand pressed to his forearm and I could see blood seeping out from around it. He was rocking back and forth muttering, “Fuck, fuck, motherfuck…” over and over.
I touched his shoulder so he would look at me.
“Just keep pressure on it,” I said. “Help is on the way. I’ll be right back.”
He nodded and I stood and ran over to my car. I pulled open the door and snatched my messenger bag from the back seat. I unzipped one of the front compartments and pulled an Israeli compression bandage and ran back to Steve. I could already hear sirens in the distance.

Tragic City, Chapter 3, Copyright 2016 Robert McDonald All Right Reserved

Blueline Cigar Company sits on Glade Avenue just off Highway 11 in Trussville. Out front was a concrete parking lot where decades ago there had probably been a well manicured lawn. I pulled in and parked behind Steve’s minivan. Walt Bryant, the owner, was sitting in one of the chairs on the front porch wearing a faded blue BPD t-shirt with a cigar in one hand and a steaming cup of coffee in the other. A couple of regulars were sitting in other chairs lining the porch in front of the store’s picture window.
“Gentlemen,” I said as I walked up the steps.
“Hey, Roger,” Walt said. “What are you up to this morning?”
“Oh, the usual,” I said with a smile.
“Not shit then,” Walt said with a grin.
“Chase, Fred,” I nodded to the other two men sitting on the porch.
“Morning,” said Chase.
“How’s it going, young man?” asked Fred.
“Not bad, not bad at all,” I answered.
Fred was in his 60s, short, pot bellied, with ice blue eyes and white hair combed over a balding spot. He had a white goatee to match the hair on his head. He came off as a jolly old Saint Nick type in his good moods, and in his bad moods he was like an angry dwarf looking for a skull to split with his battle ax. He’d spent most of his late teens and early twenties in Southeast Asia as the crew chief and door gunner on a helicopter gunship during the Vietnam War. Not many men are left today who can write that on their resumes.
Chase was in his 70s and had also spent some time in Vietnam as an army officer, though his experience was pre-1965 and strictly as an adviser and military observer. He was tall and thin with a full head of white hair and a thin white mustache. It was rare to find him dressed any more casually than khakis and a polo with a pair of cowboy boots that cost more than some of my nicer guns. Get enough Irish whiskey in him and he’d tell you how he looked forward to one day visiting LBJ’s grave and taking a long piss on it for turning Vietnam into the cluster fuck it was rather than doing what was necessary to end it early on.
I made my way inside and swung into the humidor to grab a stick. It was early so I picked a Drew Estate Nirvana with a Cameroon wrapper. I walked into the kitchen to grab a can of Coke, and then I went to find Steve.
He was sitting in his favorite chair watching highlights from the previous nights Stanley Cup play off game. I took a seat next to him.
“Roger,” he said as I cut and lit my cigar.
“Steve,” I said after rolling some smoke around in my mouth and blowing it away. “What’s up?”
Steve had salt and pepper hair, was overweight, and walked with a cane most days.
“So, you know I kind of collect watches, right?”
I nodded.
“So, this guy I know calls me and tells me he ran into a guy looking for someone who wants a Tiffany Rolex 1680 Submariner. It’s the first model with a date feature, really hard to come by. So I call this guy. He says it’s mint, he even has the original receipt from when his Dad bought it new at Bromberg’s downtown. He says he needs cash quick and he only wants ten K for it. One of these went for twenty-two thousand at auction not long back.” He gives me this look that says you gotta be kidding me. “It could be a total scam, but I have to check this out. I mean, the guy could be full of shit but I could also double my money.”
“So you want me to come along just in case things aren’t on the up and up?” I asked.
“Yeah, Man,” Steve said. “I think that would be a good idea. This whole thing just seems a little shady and I’ll have ten grand in cash on me. Plus he wants to meet in Avondale.”
Avondale was desperately trying to get itself gentrified, but it wasn’t there yet. It had some great attractions, like Avondale Brewery and Saw’s Soul Kitchen. Saw’s had some of the best barbecue in the South, but both it and the Brewery were in walking distance of a run down motel filled with crack heads and worn down old prostitutes. The whole area was surrounded by dilapidated housing, though a few streets were beginning to look up since the yuppies had begun to move in.
Just a week before a young woman was kidnapped getting into her car after leaving the Brewery and forced to make a bunch of ATM withdrawals before her kidnapper kicked her loose, though not before asking her out and making her give him her phone number. A real Casanova, that one.
“What do you charge for something like that?” Steve asked.
I thought for a minute. “Normally a hundred bucks an hour with a minimum of two hours, but for you?” I pursed my lips. “Buy me three or four Opus Xs and we’ll call it a deal.”
“That’ll work,” he said. “You free this evening?”
“I can be,” I said. “No plans except to sit around here and maybe play some cards.”
“Guy wants to meet in front of Saw’s at six. That work for you?”
“Sure,” I said. “I’ll pass on the booze until after.”
“One other thing,” Steve said. “Can we go in your car?”
I laughed. The only thing Steve liked better than expensive watches were fast cars.
“Sure,” I said.
Steve was nodding his head with a smile. “Cool. I’ll go get your sticks.” He struggled upright, using his cane to lever himself out of his seat and made his way toward the humidor.

Tragic City, Chapter 2, Copyright 2016 Robert McDonald All Right Reserved

I took the ramp that skirts the Expessway and then exited onto I-20E/I-59N.  On either side of the interstate I had a view of the urban sprawl of industrial sites mingled 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 of the Waffle House on the corner.
I ate at this particular Waffle House so often that the waitresses and short order cooks knew 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’,” said Allie, a wrinkle faced grandmother 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 of smoking inside. A family of four, Mom, Dad and two little girls, where devouring waffles in a booth off to my left. It was just before ten in the morning and the place was kind of dead.
“Here you are, Hon,” Allie said as she sat a glass of Coke down in front of me. “Food will be 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 still has 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 large order of hashbrowns and two eggs over medium with toast. A smaller plate held strips of bacon. I moved the toast over to the sausage plate and coated 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 its patrons call it, is the Blueline Cigar Company. The owner was a retired Birmingham cop and the place had become a sort of clubhouse for local cigar smokers. At least, it had for 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 some dip shit in an Atlanta city works truck T-boned me I had been making a good living in the telecom industry. 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 walk away.
After the accident and the city’s settlement I could support my lifestyle without the 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 traveling around the country to all the big gun and self defense schools and training with 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.
I even spent a little time in Mexico with an ex-Federale who taught counter kidnapping and other skills along the border. The Mexican government likes to pretend there are no guns in Mexico outside of official hands. I can attest to the fact that this is bullshit. I didn’t take any with me, and I didn’t bring any back, but I had plenty of guns in Mexico and so did damned near everyone else.
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 butt 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 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 were a lot more reasonable, but I tried to be just as selective about my clientele. A lot of my work was just riding along when someone was 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 were those where I made abusive ex’s realize they were not, after all, tough guys. I loved to come in and show a lady how to look out for herself and give her a little defensive training. I’d also sleep on the couch for a while if there is a strong chance of the ex showing up. The look of absolute fear on the faces of some of these cowards when I opened the ex’s door and reminded them that they were in violation of a restraining order while holding a shotgun under their noses almost made me want to do the work gratis.
I’ve never thought of myself as a gunfighter. Point in fact, I hate that term. It makes me think of pussies walking around with a grudge looking for some sucker to prove how tough they are. Besides Mexico I haven’t done much with guns except shoot them in competition and emphasize the occasional point.
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.

Tragic City, Chapter 1 by Robert McDonald Copyright 2016 by Robert McDonald, All Rights Reserved

In order to give my beta readers a couple of extra weeks to finish up I'm pushing back publishing Tragic City until at least mid-August, but I know a lot of people have been anxious to get there hands on it so I decided on a little compromise. I'll be publishing Chapters 1-5 here on my blog. The post will remain up until I publish the ebook on Amazon. Enjoy

Chapter 1
Compression fractures to three vertebrae will teach a person a whole new definition of morning stiffness. I managed to struggle into a sitting position and swung my legs off the edge of the bed. With a grimace I pushed myself up and onto my feet. I shuffled the short distance into the bathroom, opened the shower stall door, and turned the hot water tap to full. I adjusted the temperature to just under blistering and stepped into the steam and hot streams of water. I learned forward resting my head against the wall and let the hot water course over my back.
My back loosened enough that I could stand upright without flinching about the time the water started to cool. I soaped up and rinsed off before the water went cold, then stepped out of the stall and toweled off. I did a few stretches, mostly yoga poses to get things as loose as they were going to get. I ran a hand over my face and decided I could go another day without the razor, then walked back into my bedroom and over hardwood floors to the walk in closet.
I dressed in jeans, a linen Hawaiian shirt, and hiking shoes. Underneath the shirt I had a Glock 17 in an inside the waistband holster on my right and mag pouch holding a spare magazine on my left. On the centerline of my belt I had a small fixed blade last ditch knife, something for sticking in any motherfucker who decided to get too close for gun work.
I filled my pockets with my usual accoutrements, including a Zero Tolerance folding knife clipped into my right front pocket. I put on a pair of tan Oakley sunglasses with bronze polarized ballistic lenses, and headed toward the door.
I own a condo on the fifth floor of the Watts Building on the corner of 20th Street North and 3rd Avenue North in downtown Birmingham. The building is an Art Deco that went up in 1927. Not as ritzy and less well known than the City Federal Building on 2nd Avenue, Watts had a subtle class all its own. The downside was that it was prime hipster real estate. The scraggly bearded faux-hemians and their pasty pale girlfriends with colorful disks in their stretched earlobes infested the place like cockroaches in cheap motel. They at least made for good camouflage, and I kind of liked the hipster girls with their overabundance of piercings and ink.
I took the rattling elevator down to the ground floor and made my way outside to the gated parking lot. My car, a pristine 1968 Mustang GT that I had repainted Highland Green, was all original except for the modern sound system and A/C. The summers in Alabama are no joke, if less intense than those on the Yucatan Peninsula and good A/C was a must.
I lowered myself into the leather bucket seat, slid all the way back on its rails to fit my six foot frame, slipped the key into the ignition, and smiled as the engine rumbled to life. I synced the bluetooth in my smart phone to the sound system and started a playlist before pulling out onto 3rd Avenue North and heading toward the Red Mountain Express Way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Robert's Picks


Forge A New Blade (Book 2 of the Laredo War Trilogy) by Peter Grant (good)

Rimworld: Standed by JL Curtis (good)

The Adventures of Tom Stanger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Corriea (very good)

Echo Park by Michael Connelly (good)

The Overlook by Michael Connelly

The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke (very good)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

So, I wrote a book.

I mentioned before that I'd had an idea for a book and was running with it. Well, a year later I finished the first draft. It shouldn't have taken that long, but it did. I would go a month or longer without touching it at times, and that really kills your speed. But I finished it.

I was determined to get it done and for the last half I made sure I was devoting at least one day a week to writing, and this turned into me spending even more time working on it than I had scheduled.

I settled on the title Tragic City. Here's a look at the cover I think I'll be going with:

It's a crime novel set in present day Birmingham, Alabama. I had a lot of fun writing the first draft, and I'm about a third of the way into my first revision/rewrite. My plan is to have that done by early June, and then get it off to some Beta Readers by mid to late June.

If you'd be interested in being a Beta Reader, let me know. Bear in mind, I wrote this with the intention of writing the kind of book that I enjoy, so both the sex and the violence are graphic. If those two things bother you in a story, then don't waste your time or mine. While I am interested in honest, critical review, know what you're getting into. This is a story about bad things being done by bad people, and good people doing "bad" things for what they believe are the right reasons.

My hope is to have reports from my Beta Readers by mid to late July, and then to do my final revisions and rewrites. As of right now, the plan is to publish via Kindle Direct and I am thinking of offering it for free for 24 hours. Final price will probably be $1.99.

A big part of getting noticed when publishing this way is reviews. To help there, I am going to give any person who writes a verified purchase review on Amazon a free copy of my as yet untitled short story that will bridge the gap between Tragic City and Book 2.

Yes, there will be a Book 2. I had a lot of fun writing this, and I think I'll have just as much if not more writing a sequel.

Robert's Picks

Going back to the old format for Robert's Picks. I liked having the book covers in the post, but it just takes too much time and I've got less and less of that. 


Savage Season by Joe R. Lonsdale

The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler (good)

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (good)

Into the Storm by Larry Correia (very good)

Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein (good)

The Narrows by Michael Connelly (good)

Brimstone by Robert B. Parker (very good)

The Closers by Michael Connelly (good)

Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker (good)

Back Blast by Mark Greaney (good)

The Blue Ring by AJ Quinnell (good)

The Ones You Do by Daniel Woodrell (good)


Deadpool (good)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Robert's Picks



(very good)










(very good)



(very good)




(very good)