I took a bus all the way from Ann Arbor to Detroit to meet up with the Hummer-sine but get there just in time to see it speed away , leaving me in the dust. Part of me wants to stand in the road and scream bitter curses at them. Another part wants to lob grenades at them.
Part of me needs to pee.
But I’m not letting them get away that easy so I run like hell and almost catch up to them. All I have to do is jump just a little…
Heading back to Michigan, I notice Ray Banks (still outside on the running board) kicking viciously at something that’s attached itself to our rear bumper. I pull off and get out to find it’s not a something but a someone, hanging on for dear life by his fingernails. Bryon Quertermous lifts his scraped face as Ray continues to kick at his bloodied, pulpy knuckles, and says, “I brought some beef jerky.” Apparently, he chased after us in Detroit and has been holding on Terminator-style ever since. Well, welcome to the Hummer-sine.
Bryon’s the head cheese over at Demolition, one of the hot gathering places on the web for noir fiction. Before tackling that, he’d already started hitting the word processor hard, pounding out a variety of short stories that found homes all across the crime fiction zines–but not at Plots with Guns. Not at first. Don’t ask me to explain. But look at Bryon’s year: getting a reprint in the Thuglit anthology Hardcore Hardboiled, and a spot of honor in The Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. That’s serious street cred. And then, finally, his story “The Hemingway Stripper” arrived in the PWG submission stack, and it got to me. What a strong, weird, and beautiful piece of work with an ending image that’s unforgettable, and you’ll get to read it later this month when we post the next issue. There’s this heartbreaking revelation from our protagonist: “The thing with fire began innocently enough with fireflies. Elske was six and her dad spent one glorious summer day with her chasing fireflies. A few years later he tried to recreate the magic. Drunk from a full night of drinking during her birthday party and shot down by all of her friends’ moms, he came into her room and played with her and touched her and gently put a small, lit, birthday candle inside her so she could be a fun firefly.” Makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?
Now the man wants to write novels. He’s done it once with Lunchbox Hero, but the next one’s eluded him so far. It’ll come, though. It’ll come. In the meantime, he’s blogging about this whole bloody writing gig, also chronicling his new life as a husband and soon-to-be father (congrats on that. Enjoy those sleepless nights ahead).
I remember those days. Short stories? Easy. Had that figured out. A novel? Shit, that was like going from “making out” to doggystyle without some porn to help you figure out what to do. But like so many other things, I learned by doing. My first novel attempt was a disaster. I had most of it written longhand in a notebook. I tore that notebook to shreds in a fit of frustration once. Then came another book, a better attempt–half crime novel, half “coming of age” story. Not bad, but no one wanted it. After that, Psychosomatic. I’d learned some rhythm along the way, and it was coming more smoothly. Also, the seeds for Psy were in several short stories I published first, then built the rest around them. Then Drummer, published in 2006. Learning the paces, the highs, the lows, check. Then a sex-crazed P.I. novel that was an amazing failure (I love the book, but we just couldn’t find anyone brave enough to take it. Almost, but not quite…). And now, Yellow Medicine. That’s where you come in. Psychobilly Monday, May 12. You know what to do.
They get Bryon’s cuts cleaned up and his skint knees bandaged, and he’s got a Schlitz in each hand, legs bouncy. “So where to, huh? Where’s the party?” The party is here, sir. It’s a mobile party. And we’ve got plenty of other stops. Next up is author William Boyle, currently residing at The Narrow Margin, and quite possibly (as the title of his recent PWG story attests) “Far From God“.
Driving time: As long as we get there before happy hour.
Tune for the leg: “Waddlin’ Around” by The King Khan & BBQ Show