When Anthony Neil Smith announced he was going round to spread the word about Yellow Medicine I figured he wouldn't head out this way. But then he grabbed Patti, Dusty and that crazy fucker in Maine.
But still. He wouldn't come out here. There are laws against that kind of shit. I thought I was safe.
I was wrong.
Last stop: William Boyle's The Narrow Margin Blog
We'll soon need toothpicks to prop our eyelids open. But here we are again, West Coast, Los Angeles, sun and sparkle hiding a seedy underbelly (obviously), looking for noir pulpster Stephen Blackmoore. How do we find him? Easy: we follow the sound of the guitar.
Well, not his guitar, but Eddie Van Halen's, as I remember the great title of his story that won him a free signed copy of The Drummer: "Like That Japanese Chick What Broke Up Van Halen". It's been taken off the web now, but you can find plenty of stories just as or more than solid flung out far and wide. Like Sumo, or A Fire in Her Eyes, or (my fave of course) Come to Jesus. The first line: "Heather does a lot of cocaine." That's a keeper. And he keeps it real. His blog is not just a place for us to wallow in the glorious muck of crime fiction, but also to feel the pang of real crime having an impact on real people. You get that connection in his work, too. Fun, wild, but with an emotional core that makes you nod and say, "Yeah, I understand. Sure as fuck do."
We pull up to the curb to find him with his two enormous dogs, both straining at the leash, snapping, growling, as we try to exit the vehicle. Stephen's got a Cheshire Cat grin as he watches us cower before their might--that was the idea all along. "They can come too, right?"
You don't need a dog to be a Crimedog, but it doesn't hurt. And you don't need to be from Minnesota or Mississippi to appreciate the conflicted anti-hero Billy Lafitte, either. We've all been cold in our lives, but Billy's been colder. We've all been in over our heads, but Billy's been in...um...more over. Did I mention the fact that he also intimidates a drunk doctor who claims to have slept with Billy's ex-wife? Yeah, you don't do that to a guy with a gun, a badge, and no sense of decency. Yellow Medicine. *Psychobilly Monday, May 12. All up to you.
Stephen and the dogs climb aboard this outlaw party barge of ours and on we go. By sunrise tomorrow, we'll be at the next stop, deep in the East Texas woods, where the legendary Bill Crider is waiting.
Driving Time: A New York Minute
Tune for the leg: "87 Southbound" by Hank III
"You know they're gonna catch ya?" I say, taking a swig from the nearly empty bottle of Wild Turkey. I've hidden all the scotch in the house. No way these bastard's are getting into my Macallan. One of the dogs farts. Or maybe it's Gischler.
Smith laughs. Kind of laugh makes your blood run cold. Pulls the Hummer-sine away from the curb.
"Us," he says. "Catch 'us'. Best you get to used to the word."
I thought I was safe.