Please welcome electrifying guest blogger Anthony Neil Smith, as he brings his Virtual Motorcycle Rally to the BCM blog (currently titled “On Broken Radios”). Neil’s new book, HOGDOGGIN’ is a savage slice of neo-noir, recently reviewed by yours truly for Jon and Ruth Jordan’s essential Crimespree Magazine. Neil’s entry rides hand-in-hand with my own typically fractured take on the past filtered through the never, which can be found here at Neil’s virtual dive bar: Crimedog One.
And now, I give you Mr. Anthony Neil Smith, riding hard with the Steel God:
In the Last Episode, Bagley’s Unholy Bastards had to deal with an “internal affair”.
The outskirts of town, in a newer development, a cul de sac. A house with the yellow glow of lights like one of those cottages painted by Kinkade–you see those everywhere, like time stopped in that fucker’s head. So kind of like that, but a McMansion with nicer cars and at least Priuses on the curb.
It was where Steel God had decided he was sleeping that night. He had no problem with the hard ground or a cot or even a hard jail pallet. But whenever he could find a nice king-sized extra plush, well goddamn it, he was going to give it his attention.
So in they went, crashing some sort of party, if you could call it that. The quietest party most of these guys had ever seen–middle class types, all khakied and Gapped. Women who had the soccer mom thing down pat, knowing how to turn their heat down to a simmer in order to let the scent of the cooking make all the men around even crazier.
These were the people who owned the businesses back in town. Paid their employees next to nothing, but still somehow made them feel like “family”. Of course, none of those employees had been invited to the party, unless they were caterers or dating some of the divorcee cougars.
So a bunch of dirty, violent, methhead bikers show up unannounced, and what happens? These people, they don’t say a word. Fry, he’d been riding with Steel God a long time, and he’s never had a woman who looked like she taught kindergarten come onto him before like this one was doing, inching closer, trying to get a look at his eyes through his shades.
First thing to go was the music. Too hip, too refined. Too fucking cerebral, Lafitte had said. Fry didn’t know what that meant.
The kindergarten teacher said her name was Janice, then said she had a tattoo on her thigh. Said her dad had a motorcycle, and so did his friends. Said she really loved bikes.
Fry swallowed. Told her his dad was killed in a farming accident when he was six. That his mom had been married five times and never got a dime out of any of the bastards.
And that only caused her eyes to light up even more.
Fry watched as Steel God quietly asked for the man of the house. After a couple of people ignored him, stuttered, or just plain got the hell out of there, he was finally pointed in the right direction. He had to hunch over in order to not tower over the two, paler by the moment, as he told them, “The hotels are full, so we’d appreciate you allowing us to use your house, just for a few days.”
The husband was snooty, but justified, saying, “Who the hell do you think you are?”
The wife, more like, “You’ll take your boots off, right? Don’t want to scuff the hardwood.”
Husband: “–worked hard for this place, and I’ll be damned–”
Wife: “Our son, you know. He’d have to…maybe I can take him to my mother’s for the week.”
Husband: “–bet you think it’s funny, just taking what you want, when you want it.”
Steel God said, “No sir, not funny. Necessary. You want to play nice or you want to get fucked up?”
The wife backed behind her husband. He whispered to her, “Take Blake, stay at your mother’s.”
Steel God shook his head. “Take him on over, sure, but you–” Pointed a finger in the wife’s face. Looked like it made her catch her breath a bit. “You come on back. We expect you to be a good hostess, after all.”
The way he said hostess, you’d think that’s all it would take to get him arrested.
Fry turned his attention back to Janice, who was now tossing sharp whispers back at a guy who was trying to take her by the arm, kept saying Need to go now. She said, “Just ten more minutes.”
The boyfriend got some angry eyes going and then said, “Now!” and pulled harder.
Fry stepped up to him, wrenched his hand off her arm and gave it a mighty twist. You could hear all sorts of cracks and pops. Guy wheezed out all his air.
Fry said, “She’s still got some party left in her, asshole. Go on home, now. She’ll give you sloppy seconds in the morning.”
A couple of more knees to the stomach, and the boyfriend saw it Fry’s way.
The music got louder as the morning crept in. Fry and Janice had spent the last few hours in the basement bathroom shower, steaming up the mirror and going long past when all the hot water ran out, fucking like they were a ten strong orgy, just the both of them.
When they finally turned the chilly water off, kissed and groped more as they reached for towels, someone knocked on the door.
Didn’t even give them time to cover themselves. It was Richie Rich, a greenhorn riding with Steel God. Janice yelped, tried to hide her breasts with her towel. Rich took her in, top to bottom, then said to Fry, “They’re setting up in the backyard. Gonna be epic.”
“What are we talking? Dogs? Hogs?”
Janice’s jaw was on her chest. Finally squeaked out, “You’re talking about dog fights?”
Richie said, “Ten minutes” and then closed the door. Fry heard him say to a friend, “Dude’s got a stone cold hottie in there!”
Janice had angry lines all around her eyes and mouth. Fry ran his thumb across her bottom lip. “Sweetie, it’s just something we do.”
“The dogs are trained for it. I mean, it’s not like we’re stabbing kittens here or anything.”
She bit at his thumb. Played with it. “What about the hog, then? Is she trained for it?”
Fry shrugged. He didn’t want to fuck this up over some PETA crap. Probably a vegetarian, too, this one.
He said, “You want to see what they do to the hog with your own eyes?”
The look on her face was the one you see on your date’s at a horror movie just before she curled into you a little deeper, hoping you’d protect her form the boogeyman onscreen, even though she knew it wasn’t really going to get her. It just meant you were going to get some.
If Janice survived a round of hogdoggin’, then maybe Fry’d found someone to ride bitch with him.
In the fenceless back yard, while terrified neighbors peeked through blinds, the fighting ring had been set up–chicken wire and two-by-fours and plastic sheeting. Usually, they did this sort of thing in abandoned warehouses or empty swimming pools, but this would do in a pinch.
Fry and Janice walked hand in hand along with the rest of the spectators, streaming from all sides, it seemed. The generator was rumbling, spotlights making the early dawn seem like three in the afternoon already. Lot of shouting and barking.
Guess they were late, since it looked like a round of pit bull on pit bull had begun, the smaller of the two turning out to be faster, more bloodthirsty. The crowd on the chicken-wire fence were shaking it back and forth, in and out, all the way around. In the end, the older dog, one-eyed and scarred, had more experience. He waited until the small dog took a leap, reached up and grabbed his throat midair, and brought him down hard. Game over.
Fry had kept Janice back, not wanting her too close to the action, his hand around her waist. But somehow they’d inched closer and closer until they both gripped the wire, had to fight to keep from falling into the ring.
About that time, someone added a few more dogs to the mix, some bays and some “catch dogs”–some corner the hog, and some bring him down–right before a guy with a Buddha potbelly opened a cage and released a wild boar.
The cheer sent forth from the crowd was as if they were Romans watching gladiators.
Even Fry had to turn his head. Squeals, grunts, charging, jumping, goring. The hog hit every square inch of the ring. Got so close to them that Janice actually reached out to touch the hog before Fry pulled her back. The hog shook itself, and blood went flying, splashing across Fry and Janice both. Shit, that would do it. Surprised she didn’t run away right then. Seemed she gripped the wire tighter and pushed against him. Panicking, maybe. But she stayed put, and the bay dogs cornered the boar, who made one last attempt and goring his way out, but then Old Faithful, the one-eyed Zen Master who had just kicked ass in the previous round, found his opening and turned the boar into a screeching mess.
Janice turned from the wire into Fry’s arms, gripped his shirt so hard, he thought she was going to rip it clean off.
She said, “Let’s get out of here.”
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Big hug. “I didn’t want this to freak you out or anything.”
“I’m not freaked,” she said. “I’m fucking horny. Come on.”
She grabbed his hand and pulled him back to the house. He could barely keep up, and he felt a little queasy. But, shit, if the blood-spattered kindergarten teacher got juiced on blood and gore, god only knew if he’d be able to walk by noon.
As soon as Jon Jordan told me there was such a thing as a comic called Hawaiian Dick, and that it was pretty much a 50’s P.I. novel with some serious weirdo leanings and a lot of Tiki art, I had to have it. This is the shit–the pastel, highly-stylized, funny and off-kilter shit I can’t get enough of. It’s bloody and spooky. Byrd can’t stay out of trouble, but it’s not your typical Magnum P.I. trouble. I’d say it’s more like, oh, Lost. Yeah, I can dig that. Someone get B. Clay Moore a TV deal! (To be fair, let me applaud Steven Griffin for the art side of the equation. It’s Clay’s story, but Steven nails the mood and color like nobody’s business.)
Well, he’s already blowing up big in Hollywood, with Matthew Fox signed up to play Billy Smoke, which is another Moore creation coming soon to comic book stores and cineplexes near you. Billy’s an assassin who goes after other assassins. Cool, huh?
And then there’s ‘76, featuring Moore and Ed Tadem’s “Jackie Karma” (teamed up with Peck and Walker’s “Cool”), another retro throwback, this time to the Seventies and the exploitation flicks. Badass chop-sockey and funkadelic vibes, you know?
But Moore is all about finding the coolest way to tell the story. He’s never going to write it like a straight arrow when he can twist it up and throw some wrenches in to break the machine. Let’s try something creepy, ghostly, weird, or let’s dive into the characters rather than let them do the expected genre stuff. In other words, once Moore’s created a world, he’s in no hurry to waste it just to get to the end. Instead, sit back, enjoy the ride, like one of those J. J. Abrams shows I was talking about. Get your ass involved, you know? I’m serious. I don’t race through Moore’s comics in twelve minutes flat, just to get on with it. No, these are worth savoring. A strong cup of coffee. A good breakfast burrito, a slow-and-low smoked brisket. Served with a side of attitude.
Kudos, Mr. Moore. Looking forward to what’s next from you. And judging from the stylish Rally Post you did at Crimedog One, I can very well see that being a novel.
And, to be fair, the guy raved about Hogdoggin’ in the new issue of Crimespree. I don’t think he would’ve taken on the assignment–all the time and effort to craft a review that good–if he didn’t truly like the thing. I appreciated his thoughts. He said that although the book is a sequel, it reads like a breakout book all its own. And you won’t need Yellow Medicine first to catch on. But, you know, if you have some extra cash…
Find out for yourself. Order Hogdoggin’ on Monday, June 1st, or follow the path of destruction I leave behind on my tour to drop by the fine indie bookstores who have agreed to host me this summer (dates and stores are on Crimedog One).
Tomorrow, Indie Crime vigilante Nathan Cain joins the Rally, followed by Needle Scratch Static scribe and critic Gordon Harries, who has had enough, and isn’t going to take it anymore.
Tonight on the Main Stage: Murder by Death, “Comin’ Home”