Something terrible happened here

The detective was talking mostly to himself, because the two patrol officers — fresh-faced rookies barely out of the academy and bursting with professional pride — were staring at the carnage, their mouths hanging open like the swinging doors of an abandoned saloon.

After 20 years on the force, the detective had seen a lot, too much, but this was the worst so far. It was 10 in the morning and he needed a drink. Another drink. He scratched at the salt and pepper stubble on his cheeks and then reached under his rumpled trench coat to adjust the Colt .45 nestled in his shoulder holster. The gun had a name — Brenda — and she was always ready to dance, but this wasn’t a shooting thing. Not yet anyway. But the day was young.

Instead, he pulled out his battered notebook, flipped it open and grabbed the dusty pen jammed into his shirt pocket. He clicked it to life, dotting his tongue to start the ink flowing, and then held it like a club over the sweat-stained paper. He was probably the last cop in America who even used paper, a renegade, a rebel who couldn’t play by the rules, even if those rules made entering, storing and retrieving data so much easier.

All the whiskey and divorces and fights and nights alone came crashing down around his shoulders and he lashed out to avoid even one second of introspection. “What do you see?” he shouted at the youngest of the rookie cops, a boy in the knight blue armor of all the men who came before him, a child who picked up the badge reluctantly and only to appease his father, the cold and distant commissioner.

“I don’t know,” the boy said, shrinking back.

The detective grinned like a wolf over a lamb, revealing a row of even, white teeth — even rebels could practice good oral hygiene — and a deep-seated mean streak. “Useless. How about you toots?”

She bristled at the diminutive hurled at her from the washed-out detective, and raised her chin higher defiantly. She couldn’t know it yet, but they would be lovers before the sun came up again.

Who is dead? Read the rest of this VERY short faux-crime scene story over at OMNI MYSTERY>>

Ask a Cowboy

Dear Cowboy, How do you get a cowboy to like you?

Signed, lonely and looking

Dear LAL,

The laws of attraction are mysterious and poorly understood. I’m pretty sure even scientists don’t know how magnets work – or maybe they do, I missed a lot of classes in high school – but I do know that when it comes to affairs of the heart, things get more complicated even than magnets. Despite my less than stellar academic career, I’ve got a little amateur biologist in me. For pretty much every species in the natural world, it’s mostly up to the males to do all the courtship shenanigans to attract the attention of females. From the elaborate dances and gaudy plumage of sage grouse to the ungainly horns and physical contests of big horn sheep, the guys spend the time and energy proving they are worth the time and energy of the ladies. Humans, on the other hand, with our big old brains and our predilection to make everything harder than it needs to be… Read more of the Cowboy’s answer>>

Feel good in their skin: A 22nd century human rights movement?

Miss-USA-antifur-72I attended a TED Talk recently. Yes, I know, this simple fact may surprise you but my kind like a bit of intellectual stimulation now and again too. I’m kidding; of course, I just occasionally enjoy dining on the intellectually eager.

A room full of humans trying to better themselves has all the appeal of a yoga conference for chickens.

But truth be told, I find the style of TED Talks limiting, mostly boring,  the ultimate benefits short-lived. My own hypothesis is that this in-vogue, quick-hit theatrical approach to the transmission of knowledge can be traced back to Sesame Street’s imprinting on the developing neurons of this now balding boob-drooping boomer generation. Read more from the Undead Bloggess>>

Only because you asked: Tips and tricks from the trenches

bloodytypewriterWe were recently asked to write about writing. Usually, this topic is hopelessly boring. But we did our best, because we were very nicely asked and let our collective ego answer instead of our brains…this post originally appeared on Rebecca’s Writing Service blog.  

Writing is the worst thing you can do in the world. For starters, it’s thankless. And chances are you’ll never make any money at it. Plus you’ll be relentlessly critiqued and judged by countless people, some (many?) of whom feel obliged to assassinate your character in the process. And forget about having a social life, or any kind of life, really. You have to spend all of your time writing and all of your spare time marketing your writing and all your spare, spare time reading better writers than yourself. (Note: there’s no such thing as spare, spare, spare time — that’s just called “sleep,” and it’s in short supply).

If you’re still reading this, it’s too late for you — you’re afflicted. There’s no hope. But we do have a few tips and tricks to help you manage the unfortunate condition that will shape the rest of your life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Climbing Goat Mountain: When art imitates life

Goat Mountain by David Vann is a dark, brutal, crackling story about a boy, his father (and his friend) and his grandfather who go deer hunting ingoat mountain the mountains of California in the late 70s. Kathleen read it, liked it, and then recommended I give it a try because she thought I would appreciate the similarities with my own childhood. As I’ve described to her, probably to the point of mind-numbing boredom, I grew up on a ranch in Montana in the late 70s.

I read it in one sitting on a flight to DC (the very best circumstances to have a great book in your hands) and, more than finding a few similarities, the story at times felt like a cut and paste of my life. The set up is that the boy, excited to make his first kill, is given the opportunity to look at a poacher through the scope of his fathers’ hunting rifle. Bad things happen and it all quickly spirals out of control into madness and violence.

Here’s the crazy part: I have a vivid memory of deer hunting as a boy on some private property up in the mountains – this was probably in Junior High — when I saw a friend across the canyon confront a poacher who wasn’t supposed to be there. Read the rest of Clark’s soapbox post>>