Friday, April 28, 2006

And They Say We Don't Read In L.A.

Westwood, CA

Yes people, it's that time of year again.

This weekend is the 11th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held on the UCLA campus. It goes from Saturday, April 29 10am-6pm to Sunday, April 30 10am-5pm.

All sorts of authors, books, panel discussions, books, overpriced lemonade, books, t-shirts, books, lit mags, books and really nasty hot dogs. Oh, and books.

Of particular note, The Mystery Bookstore will have a booth, as will the always wonderful Mysterious Galaxy up from San Diego. Authors tend to cluster on these two places for signings, so who knows who you'll run into.

Speaking of which, the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters In Crime, which I am proud to be a member of, is having a whole slew of writers signing at their booth Saturday and Sunday. Here's the schedule.

And if Saturday and Sunday aren't enough for you, the Mystery Bookstore will be holding a pre-festival party.

We kick off the weekend’s main event at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 28, with our annual Pre-Festival of Books signing party! Authors are coming from all around the world, and Clair’s even coming in from Maine. In addition to the formal signings, we expect to see Cara Black, Peter Blauner, Richard Brewer, Gary J. Cook, Kjell Eriksson, Jim Fusilli, Susan Kandel, Rita Lakin, Kelly Lange, Martin Limón, Dennis McMillan, Jim Nisbet, Ben Rehder, Christopher Rice, Walter Satterthwait, Patricia Smiley, Eric Stone, Pari Noskin Taichert, and Edward Wright. We’ll have food, drink and good times – don’t miss it!

And because the guy is really cool and an amazing writer I have to plug this. If you can, check out the panel "Mystery: Straight Shooters" at 10:00 Saturday morning with Rob Roberge. He's a blast on any panel and he's going to be with Leslie Klinger, Barbara Seranella, and John Morgan Wilson. Ought to be a fun time.

God knows there's a lot more going on than I can go into here, so check out the website, or better yet, check out the festival.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another Argument For Rounding The Fuckers Up And Shooting Them

Los Angeles, CA

A 13 year old boy was shot several times and killed this morning around 1 a.m. outside an apartment complex at Avalon Boulevard and East 84th Place.

The shooting is suspected to be gang related, though the boy had no known gang affiliations.

Did I mention that he was 13? Had his voice even started changing yet?

And people wonder why I think vigilantism is a good idea.

This Is What I Get For Not Following Football

Los Angeles, CA

USC's backup quarterback, Mark Sanchez, was arrested Tuesday for sexual assault and is now free on $200,000.00 bail.

Now, he's just a backup, right? So is that bad for USC? Seriously, I don't know football. From what I can tell felonious quarterbacks just seem to be part and parcel of the game.

Quick, Before They Change It!

Hemet, CA

Okay, this is actually funny if you catch this story before they change the headline.
Hemet Woman Dies After Her Cat Hits Brick Wall

Those damn cats.

Statewide, Somebody's Doing Something Wrong

Sacramento, CA

The numbers are out! And they're not pretty.

In 2005 the violent crime rate throughout all of California increased by 3.2%. That might not sound like much, but it's the first time crime has increased since 2001 when there was an increase of 1.7%. Rates have been falling steadily since then.

The report comes from 81 law enforcement agencies statewide that support populations of larger than 100,000. That means all the rapes, murders, assaults and domestic violence cases in the small trailer trash areas dotted throughout California didn't report in.

Which makes me wonder two things. First, what do the numbers look like when we factor in all those dinky little border towns? Second, how does this stack up against prisoner release rates for felony offenders? I can't be sure, but something tells me there's a connection.

Something I find funny is that I'll be attending a discussion tonight hosted by the LA Times and the LA Public Library on "Is This the End of Crime as We Know it?" The premise is this:
Since the late 1970s, urban police departments have watched crime rates fall drastically. But not everyone agrees on why it happened. George Kelling one of the country's foremost experts on crime policy and the co-author of the "broken windows" theory, and Mark A.R. Kleiman, professor of public policy at UCLA, joins Times columnist Erin Aubry Kaplan and editorial writer Robert Greene to explore the competing theories on why crime has dropped as well as to discuss what this means for developing new crime prevention strategies for the 21st century.

I wonder if anyone's going to bring up this tidbit tonight.

Gunfire? In Los Angeles?

Torrance, CA

Police in Torrance responded to a shots fired call last night, finding a man suffering from a gunshot wound. He later died in the hospital.

And over in South L.A. someone was injured in an officer involved shooting.

It's not that someone died or was injured that bothers me. Well, yeah, it bothers me, but this is a different kind of bother... I mean... I'm not... Okay, maybe I am, but...

Look, this shit happens all the fucking time out here. Why are these particular situations any different from the dozens of kids hauled into County every night with bullets in their asses? Is it just a slow news day?

Quick! Somebody go cut off somebody's head, or something.

Nailed By The Fashion Police

Redlands, CA

Joseph Azter just got out of Chino. Too bad he took his bright orange "CDC Prisoner" windbreaker, though. Now he's likely going right back in.

Dude, next time wear it inside out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It All Comes Down To Money, Doesn't It?

Los Angeles, CA

Last night, Taja Jones was found dead in her car, shot. Recently she and her brother, Woodrow Hart, had inherited about a million bucks from their mother, who died in September.

Last Thursday, after discovering that some of that money was missing from her bank account, Taja left work to go to the bank, and then to pick up her 14 year old son. She never made it.

Something tells me this one won't be tough to piece together.

Don't Fugitives Usually Run To Peru?

Moorpark, CA

I suppose when a government lynch mob from a South American country is after you, it's prudent to leave the country. Of course, choosing a place with lots of extradition laws might not have been the best choice.

Giancarlo Bresani Mier y Teran, recently of Peru, was arrested in his Moorpark home by U.S. Marshals.
Bresani is accused of being part of a criminal organization in Lima, Peru with links to Vladimiro Montesinos Torres, a former advisor of the Peruvian Intelligence Service.

Personally, I think it's the name. The men are jealous and the women want him back. Come on, with a name like that I bet he seduces all the amabasadorial wives down there, with his smooth talking, razor thin mustache and fine, European cigarettes.

Well, that's what I'd do if I had a name like that.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Breast Cancer Sucks

Breaking my silence to interrupt your regularly scheduled snark for a PSA (hey, it has to do with noir because cancer of any kind sucks and it has to do with writing because Michele is a fellow writer, so deal).

A friend of mine, Michele, has breast cancer. A bunch of her writerly friends have put together an eBay auction to help her out - her hubby's self-employed and their insurance isn't amazing (like $800/prescription for meds right now... yes, Eight Hundred Dollars American for ONE 30-day prescription). A bunch of writers have donated signed novels, critiques, I'm donating a bunch of my handmade jewelry, others are tossing in some other crafty stuff... very grassroots. Please help spread the word any way you can.

The main site giving information about Michele and some of the writers who have so generously donated autographed copies of their novels and manuscript critiques is located at The Michele Fund.

You can go directly to the eBay auction by clicking here, or doing a search on eBay for "CherriesTMF", which all of the auction items are tagged with.

My attempt at hard-sell (at which I blow monkey chunks, admittedly, oh where are my scurvy minions?) is that even if none of the books or critiques appeal to your genre preferences, there will be shiny gift items up there too over the next few weeks and ongoing and Mother's Day is coming and Michele's a mother and everybody has a mother so don't be a selfish bastard, go bid on something that somebody's mother would like to receive in remembrance of her May 14th Hallmark moment.

Okay, so maybe there's some snark in there. Just a wee tad. But it's sincere snark.

Breast cancer sucks.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Steak - Tasty, Filling, And Lucrative, Too

Pasadena, CA

There's been a rash (if you can call three a rash) of hold-ups at Pasadena steak houses. First the Houston's on Arroyo Parkway got tagged by the same guy twice last week, and then Wednesday night the Sizzler just down the street got nailed.

Cops think it might be the same guy. Ya think?

I wonder what they'll call him. The Steakhouse Bandit? The Carnivore Creeper? I'm all for giving criminals stupid names to get them riled up so they freak out and make a stupid mistake. I think Twinkie would be good.

Whatta ya say, Twinkie? I hear there's a Beni Hana just waiting for you. Don't mind the knives, though. Those guys don't know what they're doing with them. Really.

Works Well Under Pressure, Shows Strong Initiative

Hawthorne, CA

Two armed men attempted to rob a Hawthorne liquor store on Prairie last night, but got a little more than they were expecting.

The armed store clerk opened fire before the thieves could get a shot off, killing one of them but accidentally wounding a 15 year old girl. The second man bailed.

I see a raise in this guy's future.

LAT FOB TIX SUN

Los Angeles, CA

Tickets for The L.A. Times Festival of Books go on sale Sunday at all Ticketmaster locations in the city.

Tickets are free with a limit of 4 per event and 8 per person.

Here's the schedule for Saturday and Sunday.

Get 'em while they're hot.

Author Events This Weekend

Mysteries To Die For

Thousand Oaks, CA

Saturday, April 22, 12:00 p.m.

Denise Hamilton Signs - Prisoner of Memory

Los Angeles Times reporter, Eve Diamond, is investigating the murder of the son of a Russian émigré found in Griffith Park. Eve is sidetracked into her own history when a supposed long-lost cousin claiming to be on the run from the Russian mafia ends up staying on her couch overnight. His disappearance the next day leads Eve to meet a Russian mafia kingpin who tells her to forget about her cousin and quit investigating the Griffith Park murder. The question is… will Eve get her story and live to tell it? If you love L.A. and love a great mystery, this is the book for you

---


Book 'Em Mysteries

Pasadena, CA

Sunday, April 23, 3:30 p.m.

Yet More Denise Hamilton

In case you didn't catch her the first time around.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

$50K To Rat Out Some Asshats In Manhattan Beach

See, this is what I love about American law enforcement. They understand that if you can't get your suspect to give up his buddies, somebody a few bucks short will.

Libia Cabrera was found raped and murdered inside a burning a house in Manhattan Beach last April after firefighters responded put the blaze out. She was a cleaning lady who, it would appear, was at the wrong place at the wrong time when somebody decided to burglarize it.

One of those somebody's looks to be Herbert Gonzales, 26, who was arrested in January and charged with her murder.

But he didn't do it alone, and he's not giving up his buddies.

So if anyone who knows who the fucking jackals were who defiled and killed this woman wants to make a few bucks, call the Manhattan Beach Police Department at (310) 802-5100.

Good hunting.

When They Say Unidentified, They Really Mean It

A young, or maybe old, man, or possibly a woman, was found this morning in an alley on the 900 block of West 85th Street at 5:40am.

Well at least we know it was a person. I think.

Wasted Youth

Covina, CA

Richard Gastelum, 29, alleged to be the leader of a gang with Mexican Mafia ties, was picked up along with 30 other San Gabriel and Long beach gang members in a drug sting at his house yesterday.

I see stories like this and I think, wow I really wasted my twenties. If this guy's a leader at 29 of a Mexican Mafia gang selling meth on the streets he's gotta be rolling in cash. I bet he's got an Escalade, a harem of hot, young ladies, and more Tec-9's than you can shake a stick at.

At 29, I had a piece of shit Saturn and the kind of credit card debt that makes angels weep. I was lucky to have a crappy apartment in West L.A. with a couple of lesbian neighbors who never, never invited me over to watch them pillow fight. NEVER.

On the other side of the coin, at least I'm not getting my ass widened in Soledad.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

All That And Only One Grenade?

San Bernardino, CA

In a raid on the home of Robert Ferro of San Bernardino BATF agents found 200 assault weapons, 100 machine guns, 200 silencers, several hundred handguns and one grenade.

Just one. How do you collect over 800 illegal weapons in one spot and get only one grenade? They come in, like, twelve packs or something, don't they? What, did he just pull it off the plastic holder and say, "Just one. You know, for the road."

Or was it a special? Buy 200 HK G-93's, get a free grenade for the kids? High explosives! Fun for the whole family!

I wonder how he's gonna argue this one in court. "Yeah, I had a lot of guns, but I only had one grenade." Yeah, not so much.

The Life Or Death Struggles of Waste Management

San Fernando, CA

Sometimes a man needs to take a stand to defend what he knows is right and just. Sometimes he needs to take matters into his own hands and make the world a safer place. And sometimes he just needs to get some fucking perspective.

Two neighbors in San Fernando near the 118 and 210 freeways were arguing over the placement of trash cans in the street when one of them shot and killed the other.

Criminal Tip 1123: Locking Yourself In A House Is Like Locking Yourself In Prison

Los Angeles, CA

Look, if you're trying to get away from the police, make a concerted effort, will ya? Run. Keep running. Run like Mexican water through a first time tourist. And when you can't run, run some more.

Don't barricade yourself in a house with a handgun for 6 hours and then give yourself up to the police. At least do us all the favor of removing yourself from the gene pool before they rush you.

Catch A Killer, Get $25K

Industry, CA

Yep, more reward money. This time for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killers of Robert Whitehead on March 9th, who was shot in the back while confronting taggers in the 13400 block of Moccasin Street near Industry.

Apparently he saw two men tagging his neighbor's wall, went out to confront them and a third man came up behind him and shot him.

At least three men were involved in the killing. They fled in two vehicles. Detectives believe the third man who fired the shots was wearing a dark sweatshirt with a hood covering his head, dark shorts, and knee high white socks.

Two vehicles were seen leaving eastbound on Moccasin Street toward Puente Avenue. The vehicles are described as a dark, four-door sedan with tinted windows and a light-colored domestic pickup truck.

Sorry, folks, no phone number. But it's being announced by the Sheriff's department, so that's as good a place to start as any.

Monday, April 17, 2006

What, Skipping Town Wasn't An Option?

Okay, I'm going out on a limb here, but when a guy shoots a pregnant woman in the head multiple times it's a pretty good bet that he's the dad and doesn't want to be.

There are better ways to handle situations like this. Growing a pair and sticking around to raise your child, for example. Failing that, leaving. Bus tickets are cheap and the cops don't blow your head off.

Or you can save everyone a lot of trouble and just shoot yourself without taking anyone else out. Asshole.

Sure, "Rollerball" Was Bad, But Was It Go-To-Jail Bad?

The Pellicano fun just keeps getting better. John McTiernan, director of "Die Hard" films, was arraigned for his role in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping case. He is being charged with lying to the FBI about his knowledge of Mr. Pellicano's activities.

Apparently the Feds think he hired the enterprising private investigator to listen in on Charles Roven's phone conversations. Roven is a producer who worked with him on that remake of "Rollerball" that nobody remembers. I'm sure Mr. McTiernan is so happy that it's finally generating some buzz.

Riding In Cars With Corpses

The body of an unidentified woman was found in the backseat of a car in Hawthorne Sunday morning.

According to neighbor Marjorie Riley:
"I know my kids are always playing out here, and nobody ever noticed a body in the back seat," she said.
Kids these days. You'd think they'd at least notice a three day old bloater in the back of a sedan.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Like My Childhood, But With Less Jail

Antelope Valley, CA

Ya know, Columbine really fucked things up for everybody.

A 17-year-old boy is being charged as an adult with conspiracy to commit murder and possession of ingredients to make a destructive device. Apparently, he and a buddy were planning on carrying out a "Columbine-style" attack at his high school.

They were arrested in December after sheriff's deputies said they found knives, ammunition, a gas mask and bomb-making instructions at their homes.

Sounds like my closet when I was 17. Hell, it sounds like my closet now. Glad I wasn't planning on killing anybody. So far as anyone knows.

The Thin Margins Of Embezzlement

Los Angeles, CA

Leslie Patricia Bell was sentenced to an 18 month term, 3 years of probation and ordered to pay back $160K of the $180K she embezzled from Local 1184 of the Laborers International Union of North America, which her husband was heading up at the time.

Somehow I think she was hoping for more than a 20K profit.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What Is It About Politics That Brings The Dicks Out?

Los Angeles, CA

John Stolpe, a Long Beach police officer running for mayor was arrested by a Griffith Park ranger Thursday for allegedly exposing himself.

Stolpe told the Press-Telegram the park ranger "put handcuffs on me, pepper sprayed me and shoved me down three hills ... Now I know what Rodney King felt like."

Well, yeah. It's a little known fact that before half a dozen cops beat the shit out of Mr. King for driving faster in a Hyundai than it is physically possible to do, he was seen waving his junk around at the monkeys at the L.A. Zoo.

But there are indications that Mr. Stolpe's story doesn't quite ring true.

Jane Kolb of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks said, "There is no indication there was any kind of battery," she said. "He had scrapes on his knees and elbows because he fell when he was running away from the ranger," she said.

So head on out to the polls Tuesday, Long Beach. The city's future awaits.

And On The Unidentified Body Front

Los Angeles, CA

Times has a story about an unidentified body found at the top of a parking garage near Chinatown on Sunday. Says there are signs that his death might be related to a fire.

Funny thing. Story doesn't mention anything about there being a fire at the parking garage.

What Is It With The Korean Kid Killings?

Los Angeles, CA

Last week it was a Korean father who roasted his kids alive after setting fire to his SUV. This week it's a murder suicide where a Korean father shot his wife and two children before turning the gun on himself.

The daughter survived and is in critical condition at County-USC Medical.

The Murder-Suicides Keep Racking Up

Fontana, CA

Bong Joo Lee was found dead in his Fontana home after shooting his 5 year old daughter and then himself.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Why Firing Squads Aren't In A Circle

Los Angeles, CA

Three gang members, Carlos Cortez, 18, Marcus King, 16, and an unnamed 16-year-old boy were trying to ambush an SUV as it drove down the street. King and the other juvenile got on one side of the street, and Cortez got on the other.

You can see where this is headed, can't you?

Cortez's shots nailed King in the stomach. He died later at the hospital. Cortez and the juvenile have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

The SUV got away.

Ellroy Tonight At The American Cinematheque

Hollywood, CA

Don't know how I forgot to post this one. I'm on their goddamn mailing list.

The American Cinematheque is holding their 8th Annual Film Noir Series at the Egyptian and Aero Theatres.

Tonight kicks things off with a double feature of "Crime Wave" and "Between Midnight And Dawn", two classics from the 50's.

And a special treat, James Ellroy will be talking to the audience between the two films. So if you like Ellroy and Film Noir (and if you don't what are you doing here?) go check it out tonight. The show starts at 7:30.

Thanks to LAist for the reminder.

Another Tool In The War On Crime or "Alonzo, Hand Me The Shotgun"

Los Angeles, CA

The LASD has started using UAVs. They look like cheap model gliders, but run about $30K a pop. I can't wait for the time they buzz somebody's backyard barbecue in Compton and the last thing on the camera is some guy racking the slide on his 12 gauge.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fiction - HIGHER POWER

(Originally posted at Paul Guyot's blog, which, sadly, has shut down for good.)

---


The phone rings three times before she picks up, answering even though she can see it's me. "I told you not to call me, Nick," she says, more exasperation in her voice than anger. I take that as a good sign.

"Hey, Carol," I say, voice cheerful as I can make it. Thank god she can't see me. Sweating, shaking. I've got cramps in my gut. I feel like I’m being shit through a dog. "I'm in Toluca Lake, heading over to Warner Brothers."

There's a pause on the other end, a silent weighing to see if I'm telling the truth. "I thought they weren't letting you back there," she says. She's right, of course. Got kicked off the lot a couple months ago. No one returns my calls, emails go unanswered. I'm as blackballed as they get. Fucking hypocrites."

"Old news," I say. "Sid called me. Needs a producer with some chops. Thinks he's got a project right up my alley." The lies flow like water. But then, they always did. "Wondering if maybe you'd like to get together for lunch after."

"You never give up, do you?"

"It's been over a month, Carol." The facade's cracking along with my voice. Like a train wreck in slow motion.

"You're high again," she says. "Aren't you?"

"No," I say, and this time it's the truth. Sober three days now. Nothing in my system besides a couple aspirin I found wedged in the backseat cushions of my Jag. Not much of a heroin substitute, but what is?

"Don't lie to me, Nick," she says. "Start with that."

"I told you I'm not using, goddammit," I say. Voice louder than I mean it to be. "I just need to see you." But it's too late. "Please," I say to the silence on the other end of the line.

The best lies are the ones with a little truth to prop them up. I am in Toluca Lake near the Warner Brothers lot, but I'm out here to meet Alonzo, my dealer. I owe him three K, and he's not buying that I'm good for it anymore. Cut me off a week ago. The last of my stash ran out on Tuesday.

Called me last night. Told me if I wanted to get back in his good graces, get a little something for my trouble, that I'd come down here and give him a hand with a project he's got. Perfect timing. Like he’s got a goddamn stopwatch.

When everything else goes away, at least you have your fantasies. Carol was mine. Think about calling her back. Know she won’t answer.

Instead I punch Alonzo on my speed dial.

***

I meet him in the parking lot of Bob's Big Boy on Riverside Drive. It’s a diner opened in the 'Fifties. Car hop service on weekends, classic car show Friday nights. Thursday morning at ten, though, the lunch crowd hasn't even trickled in. The Starbucks down the street has more traffic.

Alonzo's sitting in the white, Econoline van he uses to drop off his poisons in person. Like fucking Pizza Man. He won't tell me who he sells to, but I have a pretty good idea. Some of the fuckers who won't return my calls.

Alonzo’s got to be in his mid-twenties. Feral eyes, white capped teeth. He fits in perfectly out here. Knows he’s got what I want. Knows I’ll do anything for it. Feels weird being on this side of the fence.

I park. Pull myself out of the Jag. Not sure how much longer I'll have it. Can't keep it gassed with no cash, and I'm already getting nasty-grams from the bank. Same with the Condo in North Hollywood. They already killed the power and the phone. Mobile's only working because it's paid to the end of the month. Soon enough they'll shut that off, too.

"Man, you look like shit," he says.

“Flu,” I say.

“Right,” he says. "Get in. We're taking a drive." I get into the passenger seat and he pulls the van out into traffic.

"What are we doing?"

"Making money," he says. We head down Hollywood Way, pull into a strip mall on Verdugo. Albertsons grocery store, laundromat, couple random storefronts.

He parks in a slot close to the driveway, leaves the engine idling. "Get in the back," he says and follows me. The back of the van is empty. No seats. Too low to stand up straight. No windows besides the front.

"You want to get square with me?" he says.

Stupid question. Right now I'd sell my left nut for a fix. Just to make my point for me, my guts twist and I double over. Alonzo laughs.

"All right," he says. "This is what's gonna happen." He reaches into the deep pocket of his jacket and pulls out a gun. "You're gonna take this and you're gonna wait in front of the grocery store. In a few minutes an armored truck's gonna show up. When the driver gets out you're gonna stick this in his face, grab the bag and run back here."

"You're out of your mind," I say.

He swings the gun up, and it glances off my skull. I grab my face and shriek like a girl. "Never fucking say that again," he says. He hands me the gun, and I take it, head throbbing, hands shaking like I got Parkinson's.

Takes me a second to realize that he's just handed me a weapon.

I point it at him. "I'll kill you," I say. My breathing's fast and shallow, adrenaline filling some of the holes the heroin left behind. "This is your fault."

Alonzo laughs. "You're not gonna shoot me,” he says. “Who's gonna give you your fix?" He empties his pockets. Keys, money, cell phone. Nothing I need.

He presses his forehead against the muzzle of the gun. Eyes on mine. "Go for it," he says.

My hand tightens, but my finger won't pull the trigger. I let it lower, its weight dragging me down.

"That's what I thought," Alonzo says.

"After this we're good?" I say.

"We're good when I tell you we're good," he says. "You don't get it, Nick. I could bend you over and fuck you in the ass and you'll let me. Know why? Because I own your fucking soul." He pulls the sliding door open. "Now get out there and make me some money, whore."

***

From where I'm standing I can see Alonzo in the driver's seat. He's watching me pace back and forth, hand on the gun deep in my jacket pocket. I'm getting strange looks from passing mothers and their children.

Go ahead and stare. Fuckers. I used to piss on people like these. Goddamn yoga moms and their screaming brats. I fight the urge to pull the gun and wave it in their smug faces. Show these judging bitches what I can do.

Instead, I lean against the glass front of a kid’s clothing store, nose running, sweat making me look like I've just run a five minute mile.

What the hell happened? I used to be the go-to guy. Multi-million dollar deals. More blowjobs from wannabe starlets than I could count.

I catch a look at Alonzo watching me, waiting to see if I freak out or not. Him. He’s what happened to me. I could handle the heroin. I couldn't handle Alonzo.

I'm debating walking over and putting a bullet in his head when the armored truck pulls up. Alonzo and I exchange looks. I shake my head at him. I'm not doing this.

He reaches over to the van's glove box, pulls out a fat, full, plastic bag and waves it so there’s no chance I can miss it.

I'm going to kill him. But it won't be today.

Guard steps down from the back of the truck, hand tight on the butt of his pistol, heavy, canvas bag over one shoulder. Full from the look of it.

Gun's out, waving in his face before he can pull his.

He doesn't move. Just freezes like a statue and looks at me with eyes like diamond drills. "You don't want to do this," he says.

He's right. I don't. But that bag in Alonzo's van is screaming for me to go rescue it. Take the cash and everything will be just fine.

"Just give me the money," I say.

He shakes his head. "Tell you what," he says. "Turn around. Walk away. No cops. I don't shoot you. Best offer you'll get."

Alonzo wants to ass fuck me, Carol’s given up on me. My whole fucking career’s gone up my nose.

But a complete stranger, man with a gun in his face, wants to hand me a get-out-of-jail-free card.

My head clears, like a bubble’s popped. I can just walk away from this. "Thank you," I say and lower the gun.

And that's when it goes off.

Everything goes to shit too fast for me to track. Gunshots, screaming. Another guard and broken glass. Alonzo peels out of the parking lot, leaves me to the goddamn wolves. By the end of it there's two dead men and I've got a hole in my gut you could drive a fucking bus through. I try to run, but the best I can manage is a slow hobble into the clothing store, fire shooting through me with every step.

The place is loaded with baby strollers, cribs. Shrieking mothers scooping up their children and scattering. I've got blood soaking through my shirt and into my pants, a thick trail of the stuff behind me.

Cops will be in the front any second. Only way out is through the back. Hit the street, hijack a car.

Happens every day. How hard could it be? The trick is to stay positive.

I make my way toward an unmarked door in the back, shoulder my way through. Hoping for an exit I get an office instead. Maybe ten by ten. Desk, chair, phone. No windows. No other doors.

My legs give out, sliding me to the floor. I can’t move the left one at all. So much for staying positive.

I'm weighing options when my phone rings. I don’t even look at who it is. It can only be Alonzo.

“The fuck do you want?” I say through gritted teeth.

A pause on the other end. “I— I was wondering if you still wanted to do lunch,” says a quiet voice.

“Carol,” I say. Think fast, rabbit. “I was expecting somebody else.”

“I would hope so,” she says. “Are you okay? How’d the meeting go?”

I look at the spreading puddle of blood I’m sitting in, the gun in my hand. “Not great,” I say.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I was thinking. About what you said. It being more than a month. I thought maybe we could get together. Talk about some things.”

In the distance, I can hear sirens. I laugh.

“What’s so funny?” she says.

“Don’t you get it?” I say. “It’s a joke. God’s joke. Banana peels, pratfalls. Not enough for the fucking Almighty.”

She doesn’t understand. How could she? I think about prison, Carol, my already destroyed career.

I went to a NarcAnon meeting out in Silver Lake, once. Kept going on about surrendering to a higher power. It was all bullshit. If I hadn’t gotten some networking in it would have been a complete waste of time.

But one thing that people kept talking about was that they had to hit absolute bottom before they even realized what the right thing to do was.

I figure this qualifies.

I close my eyes, take a deep breath. “Don’t call me back,” I say and hang up the phone.

Boots outside. The door kicks open. They see me. Phone in one hand. Gun in the other.

“Wait, I-”

And they shoot.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Because The Whole Sheriff's Department After Your Ass Isn't Enough

Los Angeles, CA

Last Tuesday morning, Sheriff's Deputy Maria Cecilia Rosa was shot and killed during what Long Beach homicide detectives believe was a robbery attempt while packing her trunk in the driveway of Sheriff's Detective Jenny Martin. Two twenty-something suspects on bicycles were seen on surveillance tapes near the area prior to the shooting.

There is now an $85,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer. So if you know anything, and want to make some extra dough, give Long Beach homicide detectives Bryan McMahon or Patrick O'Dowd a call at (562) 570-7244.

Or better, let a Sheriff's Deputy know. I'm sure they've got a thing or two they'd just love to dicsuss with her murderer.

My Excuse For Not Posting More

Los Angeles, CA

Crime is down 12.6% from this time last year. Of course, that sounds better than saying we had 31,644 reported crimes in the last three months. It's all about the way you spin it, I suppose.

Because A Shallow Grave Is Too Much Work

Beaumont, CA

The body of 18 year old Melquiades Jose Rojas was found dumped off Oak Valley Parkway yesterday morning with injuries to his face. No shallow grave, not stuffed into a dumpster. They didn't even take the time to roll him into a ditch.

Whatever Happened To "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane"?

Los Angeles, CA

CBS reports today that Henry Farrell, author of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", and other lurid thrillers died March 29th in his home in the Pacific Palisades. The author was 85.

And The Strangler's Name Is...

Van Nuys, CA

Jonathan Arthur Hendler, 36. He's the guy who strangled his girlfriend then confessed to his Rabbi, who called the police. Apparently Rabbis don't have that same tortured priest mentality about confession that you see in all those Catholic gangster movies.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Here We Go Again

British crime mag Shots Magazine has just published my short story A Fire In Her Eyes. Enjoy.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Just Like Home, Gunshots And All

Torrance, CA

Amenities include free internet, cable, full kitchen and gun toting gangbangers.

Police arrested two men, Jeremy Howard, 19, and Gregory Wooten, 18, in connection to a gang related shooting at the Residence Inn on Torrance Boulevard.

Guess they didn't like the room.

I Thought Confession Was Only For Catholics

Van Nuys, CA

It starts kind of like a joke. This kid goes to his Rabbi, see, pulls him aside and says, "Rabbi, I need to confess to a horrible crime," and the Rabbi says, "Oy! Tell me what is this horrible crime?" and the kid says, "Rabbi, I killed my girlfriend in Van Nuys and left her corpse on Sherman Way."

Yeah, I know. Punchline needs work.

Playing With Matches

Los Angeles, CA

When firefighters responded to a call yesterday afternoon in the 1200 block of Stanford near Staples Center they found an SUV engulfed in flames and a man outside the car with severe burns to his face, hands and legs.

They found his two charbroiled kids inside.

The man was taken to County-USC in critical condition. No word yet on his identity.