So. The book’s on Draft 4 and counting, which is actually a nice thing. I continue to find that I enjoy the editing process… which is its own thing, most likely.
For those who notice, there’s a Kickstart campaign in progress. We’re eight days out and ahead of schedule… once again, its own thing. A very good thing, too, as it’ll keep this from being more scratching in the basement and once I get this dead and in the ground I’ll be able to start in on one of the other novels bumping around my skull.
Below is the first scene I wrote for the book, something like eight years before I decided to write the thing at all. The rhythm worked and I decided to let it swing. I’m lucky sometimes.
King Shit Hoodoo Man
When being rousted by the police in the middle of the night, one expects a certain order of things.
The first hits are tentative, almost playful, as the cops take the prisoner’s measure and see if he’ll be any trouble. By the time they reach the car, the cops are putting the boot in with authority.
They barely touched him, which was surprising. It’d been too long for reputation to be on his side, so he figured that the cops didn’t want to raise a sweat over one ex-con. That or they knew they had him.
He played the part, cringed and squinted and kept his head down as he was walked past the holding cells. The cell, full nearly to bursting, went quiet.
Not just an ex-con, then. This was something else.
He was placed, gingerly, in a brightly-lit, spare interview room. The walls twitched and jerked with the remnants of half-aware ghosts.
The detectives came in, unaware of the eyes dropping to the floor, hands and mouths pulling away as they sat. They were standard issue, one young and angry and the other old and tired. Desamours could see that Angry had been on the scene, saw whatever it was. Tired was here to hold him back.
“Narcisse Desamours,” Tired said, opening a battered folder. “Naturalized, so we can’t punt your ass back to Haiti. They wouldn’t take you back anyway. Racketeering, assault, possession with intent, kidnapping, pandering, conspiracy to commit. Hell of a rap sheet, back in the day.”
Desamours decided to play the old ex-con card and hope for the best. “I was a bad boy, boss,” he said, adding thirty years of subjugation to his bearing, head swaying like an old boxer. “That ain’t me no more.”
“Never charged, though,” Tired said to Angry, ignoring the act. “Never stuck. Know what stuck?”
“Taxes?” Angry stared at him, waiting.
“Taxes and…” Tired looked at the file. “Animal cruelty. Last man standing, Esperanza Morales, Sok Rithisak and you beat the hell out each other, fill the streets with bodies, pop pop pop.”
“Bodies?” Angry closed his eyes. This was a bad one, then. Bodies wouldn’t bother this one, but civilians would.
“Not real people,” Tired said. “Morales dies in a house fire, Sok up and fucks off back to the killing fields and you’re still there. King of the anthill.”
“King Shit Hoodoo Man,” Angry said, standing up. This was where the first hit would come, then. Desamours braced for it, but it never came.
“Numbers, prostitution and smack king, more like,” Tired said. “And we put you away for beating a dog. Fucking a goat. Something. What a world.”
“I did my time, boss,” Desamours said, adding a vacant half-smile to his wobble and sway. “What I do?”
“Dante Moore,” Angry said. “You know Dante. Little punk, had a corner where some littler punks slung for him.”
Angry fanned a set of crime scene photos, laid them out like a bad poker hand in front of Desamours. He saw blood and parts laid out like a jigsaw puzzle, remembered this body from his dream.
“Dante got jointed last night,” Angry said. “Kind of thing your boys used to do.”
“Allegedly,” Tired said, looking at Desamours through half-open eyes.
“Of course, Dante’s bits didn’t get sent home to the islands because he’s a native born piece of shit,” Angry said.
“Saved you postage, so that’s good,” Tired said. “Start up fees can be a bitch and a half, right?”
“Lawyer,” Desamours said, keeping the bob and losing the smile. “Nothing else to say to you without a lawyer.”
“We’re just talking,” Angry said. “Talking about the girl. See, you put Dante in the ground, it’s the price of doing business. His girl, though. Good girl, from what I can tell.”
He tossed another picture on the table. This one, a class photo of a young girl, pale blue eyes a little too wise and smile a little too broad not to be in the know. Desamours could feel the sanctity off of this one. She’d been spoken for.
“Valentine Belno,” Angry said, his voice flat. “Age sixteen.”
“Valen-TEEN,” Tired said, looking slightly more interested. “You know how they pronounce it. Nicknamed ‘Teenie.’ Cute kid.”
“Was Teenie part of the plan,” Angry said, growing animated, “or did your boys just get their blood up? This new crew a little less disciplined than your boys back in the day?”
“Not me, boss,” Desamours said, staring Tired in the eye. “I don’t do that sort of thing.”
“Sure looks like you,” Tired said with a slight frown. “Did ‘em the way your guys used to do.”
“Right, allegedly.” Angry tossed down the last few pictures. Desamours glanced and looked away. “Left one of those bebop flags on her after they finished.”
“Zobop flag,” Desamours said, letting the act drop.
“Right,” Tired said. “Zobop flag. Allegedly. Maybe you can cool down here for a while, see if you remember anyone you might want to let hang on this. Otherwise, it’s all you.”
Angry and Tired left, the photos scattered on the table in front of Desamours painting a picture of old, familiar mayhem.
It didn’t look good.