No, Really, I’m Writing a Novel

Posted on May 17, 2017

5



Now that Forest God is dead and gone, I’m dusting off Boa, New Mexico. I was much inspired by having a beer with my friend Matt Ruff who writes what can only be over-simplified as “whacky” stuff only minutes after HBO picked up his latest book Lovecraft Country to turn into a series. That helped give me permission to tell this whacky story. Here is the first chapter.

1

I was leaving the Pastime and ran smack into Jim, the police chief, standing there with his thumbs in his wide batman doodah belt and grinning like a goosed jack o’lantern. “Damn Shame, Jack.”

“’Bout what?”

“Them towing your truck.”

He nodded towards Route 2 where a tow truck is pulling out with a beat-up red Dodge pickup.

“Well, it would be.” I said, ignoring him and watching the tow truck lumber through the light and get up to speed on the highway.

“’Cept what?” Says Jimbo, still smirking away. Suddenly, the truck exploded, sending the wrecker shooting across the road, its windows blown out, coasting under its own momentum. Royce, the driver, opened the door, staggered out of the still moving vehicle and collapsed on the road, right in the middle of the highway.

“’Cept that’s not my truck.” I shouted out already three steps ahead of him on my way to check out Royce and get him out of the danger zone. Explosions are weird things. We all saw him get up and walk away, but that doesn’t mean his organs weren’t turned to Jello and he wouldn’t die twelve hours later of blood poisoning because his kidneys or liver had been all pulped up like a juiced orange. I grabbed him by the back of his Carhartt jacket and dragged him unceremoniously over to the driveway of the minimart, just as another explosion knocked Jimbo on his fat ass. He could call 911 if he wanted any help, far as I was concerned. I turned to Royce, he was out cold, but breathing and his pulse was strong. I suspected he probably couldn’t hear too good, but he didn’t look burned, and I couldn’t remember if I was supposed to elevate his head or his feet. Fortunately, we were only two blocks from the fire department and guys were already arriving on foot while the engines and ambulances got packed and rolling.

My meager efforts were thankfully replaced and Royce started to come around. He saw me and shouted “SORRY ABOUT YOUR TRUCK, JACK.” Yup, the ears were blown. I told him not to worry about it and noticed they had Jimbo sitting up in the road, looking more embarrassed than hurt. I walked over to where my truck was parked, my rottie Goblin sitting up in the seat and his head cocked at an inquisitive angle at all of the goings on. My friend Mikey separated himself from the crowd and wandered over.

“Shit, at first I thought that was your truck.”

“Seems to be a lot of that going around,” I said. I stroked Goblin through the open window. “Hey, do you mind if I stay at your place tonight?”

“Why don’t you just bunk at the shop?” He said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder.

“You know, I got a feeling this is going to take a while to clear up, and I’m not really up to driving with a town full of cops, so I thought your house might be better.”

He looked at me funny, but he knew a bullshit excuse really just meant, “none of your business” so he shrugged and said, “Sure.”

Mikey lives a little bit off the highway in the old flood plain district by the school. I was right about one thing. We stuck around for a while, until they took Royce away and patched up Jimbo’s pride. They put the fire out, and enough staties showed up so that you could’ve had one for each and every state. But it turned out that in the end, nobody could do nothing because the explosion “appeared suspicious” and that made it some ATF-NSA-FBI thing and people weren’t sure whom to call but they knew if they called the wrong people or touched the wrong thing, their asses would be in a sling. So once the drama was gone, most of them went back wherever they came from, leaving the firemen to direct traffic like they always do.

Mikey and I walked over to his house. Came in quiet like so as not to wake the woman, but he grabbed a bottle of JD and a couple of glasses on the way to the living room.

“Helluva thing you did there, running out like that.”

“Nothing at all heroic. Just automatic. But once I got to thinking about it I realized, cars don’t ‘just blow up.’ I figured there was something hinky and the gas tank would go again. If Royce survived, the first one, no sense in leaving him for the second.”

He poured and we sipped.

“Too bad Jimbo wasn’t just a little bit quicker on the draw.”

“There is no justice in this world.”

We clinked glasses to that one and drank again.

“Who did own that truck?” I asked.

“Local kid, on a date at Ixtapa. Parked at the bar because there is no reverse in the thing. Was no reverse.”

“Local kid, he might’ve pissed somebody off, doesn’t seem like he would have an enemy sophisticated to make a motion-sensitive bomb.”

“Maybe, maybe not. You can probably find a video on how to do it on YouTube. Some kid who is book smart but emotionally fucked up, like those school shootings could’ve done it.”

I ran my hair through my hair and motioned for a refill. “Right here in Sultan? Jesus, I hope there is a better explanation than that.”

“Got one?”

“I’m working on one, but I don’t like it much neither.”

“Which is why you’re here, in Switzerland.”

“When you lay it out, I’m beginning to like the whacko teenager idea better.” I had a thought “Why were they towing him?”

“He was twenty-nine feet and three inches from the fire hydrant on the corner.” He smiled.

“That explains Jimbo’s glee. Thought he was burning my ass.”

We killed our shots. “Okay, you got the couch.” He looked at Goblin curled up at my feet. “You stay there, or the old lady will kill all of us and won’t need no truck bomb to do it.”

Mikey talks trash about his wife Sandy, but it’s all show. She is a wonderful woman, and puts up with us like we were productive members of society, which I can assure you we are not. I woke up to the smell of coffee.

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