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 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.

Monday, April 6, 2015

On The Range #100: Shooting the FN SCAR 5.56 and the Smith&Wessson M&P15 300AAC Blackout

I was given the opportunity to take a trip to one of the local shooting ranges and put some rounds down range through a couple of rifles I had no prior experience with, but which I had wanted to shoot for a while.

First up was the FN SCAR chambered in 5.56x45.  This is a rifle that was created as an alternative to the popular AR type rifles.  The goal was to create a more reliable, more ergonomic rifle to the replace the venerable M16/M4 rifles commonly found in US and NATO armories.

I'm cross eye dominate, meaning that I am right handed but left eye dominate.  I shoot pistols right handed but long guns I shoot left handed.  The SCAR is perfect for someone like me because of the ambidextrous controls.  The charging handle can be be set up on either the right or the left, and you've got ambidextrous safety and magazine release.

If you can shoot an AR type rifle, you can shoot a SCAR.  The biggest thing to be mindful of is to keep your hand out of the way of the charging handle while shooting as it's a moving part you don't have on the AR.

The SCAR I shot had an aftermarket Eotech red dot sight installed.  This was my first time with the Eotech sight (I am an Aimpoint fan boy) but I had not issues or complaints.

My ammo options were limited because I had to use range ammo as this was a rental gun, so I ended up using cheap steel cased Tula ammunition.  I put 60 rounds through the rifle without any hiccups, so this gun will eat even the dirty stuff (a benefit of the SCAR's piston system vs. the standard AR's direct impingement).


Bear in mind I was shooting cheap ammo so grouping was looser than I would like (and I'm not the best shot anyway).  The indoor range I was shooting at had a 50 yard rifle range with a minimum of 25 yards.  My first 3 shots are on the lower left pelvic area taken at 25 yards.  I was holding on the white dot and the sight was zeroed at 50 yards.  Not a great group, but not bad for first time shooting that rifle, offhand, with cheap ammo.

Most of my shooting was done at 25 yards but I did some at 50 as well.  I was able to keep all of my shots on the scoring area and most in the vital hit zones.  The trigger had a noticeable reset and I found double and triple taps were no problem.  Trigger was about the same as you'd get on any milspec AR type rifle or carbine.

The SCAR was a fun gun to shoot, and if I had the disposable income I would pick one up in heartbeat.  In the market for a SCAR?  Check out GRAB A GUN.  They've got a HUGE online inventory and can ship to your local FFL.  Oh, and one of the best parts?  They finance.  So maybe that SCAR isn't so far out of my reach....

But it will have to get behind the Smith&Wesson M&P15 in 300 AAC Blackout!  Wow, did I love shooting 300 Blackout!  I've already bookmarked the M&P15 upper on GRAB A GUN.

 The 300 AAC Blackout was created by Advanced Armament Corporation to be a dedicated suppressor round.  Now, that doesn't mean you can't shoot it unsuppressed because that is all I did today.  But if you're interested in adding a suppressor to your long gun at some point in the future, this is a round designed to excel from the ground up in that role.

Wicked looking round!

Shooting an AR in 300 Blackout is a pure treat.  The recoil is similar to a pistol caliber carbine and accuracy is excellent.  My only regret about shooting the 300 Blackout is that I couldn't afford to take it home with me.  

 Looking at the target above that one large hole is the first group I shot at 25 yards from the bench.  Sure, someone out there can easily do that at 100, but for me that is great.  The rest of the shots are from off hand shooting.

Two groups shot at 50 yards.

So, this gun is going on my "BUY SOON" list.  It was fun to shoot, and I shoot it better than I would have thought.  I think 300 Blackout has the potential to be a great all purpose round.  I have friends that swear buy it for hog hunting and I have no doubt it would put a white tail in the bed of your truck.  And lets face it, if it'll do that it'll work great as a self defense tool.  Not too mention it's great a round to be shooting if you're running a suppressor which is something I am seriously going to be looking into in the future especially since Alabama, like a lot of states, allows suppressor hunting.

If 300 AAC Blackout is a something you've been considering I say go for it.  Check out GRAB A GUN.  Not only do they have the gun I shot today in stock, but they've a ton of other rifles and uppers chambered in 300 AAC Blackout.

As you may have guessed by now this post was sponsored by GRAB A GUN.  They gave me the opportunity to shoot some guns I have not touched before and all they asked from me was to blog about it and mention them as a source to fill your firearms needs.  Go check out their website.  They've a huge selection of firearms, both handguns and long guns, and they even offer financing for your next purchase.


Monday, March 30, 2015

A contrast in quotes.

"The blade itself incites to deeds of violence." -Homer, Poet

"I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend." -J.R.R. Tolkien, Author and veteran of the Battle of the Somme

Humans need no weapon to act violently, but a weapon certainly helps to defend against violent attack better than bare hands, feet, and teeth.