« Poe's Night at the Smithsonian | Main | Cadet Poe »
Sunday
May242009

Hogdoggin' Virtual Motorcycle Rally 

The Ed & Edgar blog has some seriously crazy shit going on today.  As part of the Hogdoggin' Virtual Motorcycle Rally, the Ed & Edgar blog has a guest post from Anthony Neil Smith, author of some seriously cool crime fiction, Yellow Medicine, Psychosomatic, The Drummer and the forthcoming Hogdoggin'. He's also the editor of the excellent Plots with Guns, an online journal for "noir and transgressive fiction," which has a new issue out right now that propels noir into a bleak, bleak future: Plots with Ray Guns. But today we're here to get psyched for his next novel, Hogdoggin', which I am very pumped to read.

As the HVM Rally has progressed, other writers have been building a story that features Smith's character, Billy Lafitte, from his novel Yellow Medicine and the new Hogdoggin'. Smith posts these stories at his blog, Crimedog One, the Virtual Dive Bar,and then he writes a continuation to be posted on the participants' blogs. Each guest blog is like a bar or store in a little shithole town. A motorcycle gang rides into town and the fun begins.  You can read the kick off post, and all the rest at Crimedog One. Today is day ten of the Rally. You can read my contribution there and Smith's continuation below, along with some very kind words about me from Smith.  Enjoy!

In the Last Episode, Lafitte got some guidance from the mysterious Patricia Abbott…and then we took a siesta.

Hours after leaving the Bibliothecary, Lafitte still felt…well, the word was “haunted” but he hated the very idea. He’d watched some Ghost Hunters in cheap hotel rooms on the run before hooking up with Steel God’s crew, but he only saw a couple of things that moved him beyond eye-rolling. And those things were too blurry, too quick, too easy to explain away.

So he sat in the Dive Bar eating a terrible Philly Cheesesteak (Smith told him it was fresh made in the kitchen, but the center was still icy) with goosebumps and a need to keep looking over his shoulder. Outside, a black cat stood at the edge of the door and kept peeking in, mewling.

“Billy.” 

Startled him, coming from his blindside. He nearly choked but recognized the voice, got it back together. Kristal, his main squeeze in the club. Not that she was necessarily his type, or the most loyal, or the best at giving head. But she genuinely seemed to like being with him even in his foulest moods, and he liked to hear her talk. 

She had that Serious Relationship look going now. “You can’t keep walling me off from you for the whole rally. I mean, shit, baby.”

He put the sandwich on the plate. Waited for more. 

“Guys start seeing you treating me that way, they’ll be on me like flies on sweet pussy, goddamn it.” 

He thought he could hear her heart beating, an awful rhythm that filled him with dread. It hadn’t before, but it seemed like even the slightest thing sent him reeling with melancholy after visiting that weird store. 

He said, “Not now.” 

She laughed loud. Some of the other still-drowsy bikers started looking, hoping for a show. Lafitte didn’t need the attention. He was under enough scrutiny as it was. 

“If not now, when? Tonight when you want in my pants? Next week when all this has gone away? When?” 

He reached for her shoulder, pulled her in much rougher than he had anticipated. Seethed, “Don’t you have a date?” 

Chilled her, you could tell. What, like she really thought he didn’t know? 

He remembered his ex-wife, Ginny, once reading to the kids, and this line stuck in his head: “And this maiden she lived with no other thought/Than to love and be loved by me.” 

Sure as hell didn’t describe Kristal. Unless fucking other bikers was a “cry for attention” or some shit. 

He sipped warm beer. Never took his eyes off her.

She crossed her arms. “You son of a bitch. You piece of--” 

“Look, chick, you’re the one came onto me, remember. You’re the one climbing the rungs. How about that? If you want to ride with me, do it. Ride with me. But here’s what not to do.” He inched in closer. “I’m not your clay. I’m not soft. I’m not a show-off. And if you really want to be as high and mighty as I think you do, I’ll bet you could learn a few things from me. Understand?” 

She acted like she wasn’t listening. Looking off, sulking. But he knew she wasn’t that stupid. Just an act.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” 

She said, “You can take that and shove it up--” 

Lafitte shoved his plate away. It clacked into the pint glass. He pushed himself off the barstool. “We’ll do this later after you’ve thought it over. I’ve got to roll now.” 

And he was out the door.

Like a dark cloud hanging over him that afternoon. Like a black bird on his shoulder trying to get into his head, but he couldn’t figure out why. 

Gently rapping… 

Steel God sent him to bust a couple of heads in the Skull Patrol crew, two guys who kept hanging around the funeral home. One broke in and was caught having sex with a dead woman prepped for a funeral tomorrow. That wasn’t anyway to keep the lawhounds quiet. This one needed “internal policing.” 

But Lafitte wasn’t into it. He thought, you know, a beating might keep them down for a couple of days, but would it put the fear of god into them? Would it be a bellweather beating for them? He thought not. And the idea of that filled him…with….gloom. Goddamn, what was he, a 19th Century poet all the sudden? 

“Having a bad day?” 

Right beside him, wasn’t there before. Made Lafitte yelp and leap a foot in the air. The weird fellow from the Bibliothecary, Ed Something. He was smoking a pipe, sporting a wiry old-timey beard, and a costume like Lafitte had seen in those British goth flicks from the 60’s. The ones that all had Christopher Lee in them.

“Motherfucker can get killed pulling shit like that to me, man. What the fuck?” 

Ed smiled. “I’m not really that scared of death. It’s a temporary failure. I’m more afraid of oblivion.” 

“Say what now?” 

“Mind if I walk with you?” 

Lafitte thought about saying no, but then, if this guy was as hardcore goth as he looked, maybe this wouldn’t bother him so much. 

“If you don’t mind watching some guys get the blood beat out of him, no problem.” 

“Eh,” Ed said. “Is that all you’ve got?” 

Like he was reading Lafitte’s mind. He thought about the small slithering dark thing that left the Bibliothecary at the same time he had. “I know, it’s not very original, but it’ll have to do. I’m just not feeling…inventive today.” 

“Tell me, what did these offenders do to deserve their fate?” 

Sure, why not? See if it’s all an act. 

“They fuck the dead. I mean stone-cold dead, embalmed, sticking their cocks in there. I don’t think they care if it’s man or woman, neither. They just like that cold, dead flesh clutching their peckers.” 

Ed laughed. Puffed. Then said, “Lucky you ran into me today then. Come on, I’ve got something that might be right up your alley.” 

Several hours later, after Ed and Lafitte removed the last of the dirt from the second coffin in the patch behind the Bibliothecary, they opened the box and helped the obviously terrified necrophiliac out of the grave. 

His fingernails were ripped, bloody. His teeth chattered. He smelled like piss and fear. On the ground nearby, his friend sat on the ground, arms tight around his knees, rocking back and forth.

When he first saw the get-up, Lafitte had said, “So, this is how you spend your weekends?” 

Ed winked and said, “I had nothing to do with it. Believe it or not, it was all you.” 

The necrophiliac held his shattered fingers to his chest. 

Lafitte got in his face. “Didn’t like that, did you?” 

Got a head shake.

“Didn’t think I was coming back, did you?” 

Another head shake. 

“You keep out of the funeral home, cemetery, old folks’ home, and hospital until the rally is over. We catch you, then, well, there’s plan B.” 

Lafitte whistled, and around the corner of the building came a six-foot tall hirsute tranny in a schoolgirl’s outfit. 

“You guys been to the massage parlor in town yet? Wilma here works there. And she said she wouldn’t mind a couple of cold ones, just not as cold as you two like it.” 

The guys didn’t hear the full joke as they were already on their feet, halfway across the cornfield behind the bookstore. 

Lafitte shook Wilma’s hand, said. “Thanks. I think that worked.” 

Wilma said, “If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll go chase em. I’m bound to catch one.” 

Lafitte waved him onward. He and Ed stood watching Wilma chase down his latest victims. 

Ed said, “See? Melancholy can be fun.”

Lafitte shrugged. “Whatever. I feel like a margarita and some Jimmy Buffett tunes. You in?” 

Ed puffed his pipe. “Sure. Sounds like…” (*sniff*) “…fun.” 

*

Ed Pettit knows Poe. The Poe of Philadelphia, mind you. That’s the real enchilada. Baltimore? Yeah, right. Poe Light, suckers. 

Honestly, I’m not clear on the difference much, but Edward is, and you can find about out that and plenty of other Poe related facts and events at his blog, The Ed & Edgar Blog at the Bibliothecary.

 In addition to all things Poe, Ed’s reviews can turn the lightbulb on over your head, and get you excited about a book at the same time. For instance, his review of Once Were Copsby Bruen, in which he makes this comparison:

Noir master Jim Thompson worked this scenario in a couple of his greatest novels, The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1280, in which small-town sheriffs use their guile to mask dark, murderous hearts. Bruen plows the same terrain, but Thompson’s sheriffs are mere farm boys compared to Shea. His killing fury is buried so deep inside him that, when unleashed, it erupts like a cold storm and he loses consciousness of his actions… 

Or in discussing a possible theme of Guthrie’s Savage Night

…Guthrie explores a noir sensibility of Family. The ever tightening bonds of union, whether genetic or by marriage, that normally threaten to crush, must here remain close so the family can stop from being crushed by others. The family that kills together stays together. Or at least stays in as many pieces as possible. 

How can you not want to read these two books now? I’ve read Savage Night, but now I want to read it again with Ed’s thoughts in mind. 

There are serious chops at work here. And Ed doesn’t pull punches. In describing the “novel on verse” of Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth, he writes: 

I wasn’t very impressed with the verse, but I’ll admit I’m not a lover of contemporary free verse. It’s a very tricky game to play. There’s another Robert Frost line about how writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down. I’m not as disdainful as that, but I do think it’s hard to recognize the difference between free verse and just a bunch of unfinished sentences. The key is the internal rhythm. 

Abso-fucking-lutely. 

So thanks for coming along on the rally, sir. I’d be curious to know what you think about my books, including Hogdoggin’. Since you like to get under a book’s skin (bad metaphor? Sorry), I wonder what you would make of the troubled mind of Billy Lafitte. And then I wonder if I could ever dare to be happy again once I found out. 

See for yourselves. Hogdoggin’ Monday, June 1st, is just over a week away. Let’s do Poe, one of the fathers of crime fiction, proud by telling the publishing world, “Unsympathetic characters and noir? Hell yes, we’ll buy that!” 

Tomorrow, Jedidiah Ayres serves up a mighty greasy lunch for us at his diner, Hardboiled Wonderland

Tonight on the Main Stage: The Horrorpops, “What’s Under My Bed?” 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>