New Literate Liquors & John’s Going Straight to Hell

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I’m going straight to hell, 

just like my mama said,

I’m going straight to hell

– Drivin’ n’ Cryin’

Anyone who was in college in the early 90s in the Carolinas probably had Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ and Hootie & the Blowfish playing the bars around their campus. It was a good time to be young, and an almost perfect time to be stupid. I was both, and I was really good at being stupid. I flash back a little to my college years in Straight to Hell, the new Quincy Harker novella that’s available for pre-order now.

And that’s what this week’s Literate Liquors is all about, the new Harker novella. I chat a little about upcoming events, but then I give you a free recording of Chapter 1. If you’re interested in checking it out, download the podcast here.

I’m also trying something new with this release. It’s a new social media service called Thunderclap. In an effort to harness the power of crowdsourcing and viral marketing to cut through the chatter on the interwebs, Thunderclap is a service by which people can effectively donate a tweet or a FaceBook post one time to a campaign. The idea is that getting 100 people with 1,000 followers to post something once will have greater results than one person with 3,000 followers posting something twenty times. So I’ve got a Thunderclap campaign running to promote Straight to Hell. If you’re willing to donate a piece of your social media presence for a one-time use, go here and check it out.

And if you’re interested in a sample of Straight to Hell, check it out below the cover image. And if you’d like to pre-order the e-book, you can click on the pic. Language is very NSFW.

Straight to Hell Cover

 

 

 

Chapter 1

“I don’t get why I’m stuck with the babysitting detail. I’m a fucking gold shield, for God’s sake, I don’t do babysitting!” The gold shield in question was Detective Rebecca Gail Flynn, currently sitting on my couch bitching about a new assignment from her boss, Agent John Smith of the Department of Homeland Security. Flynn had shown up on my doorstep unannounced about half an hour before bearing a twelve-pack of OMB Copper and a bad attitude. Since then she’d been sitting on my couch consuming one of those things and sharing the other pretty much nonstop.

“You understand that we’re not friends, right, Detective?” I asked from my chair. It’s not that I had anything going on, I just wanted to make sure any change in our relationship was approved by all the appropriate higher powers and that I was notified beforehand. Rebecca Flynn spent moth of the last three years trying to throw me under the Mecklenburg County jail, and I hadn’t quite gotten to the “forget” part of “forgive and forget.” Frankly, I wasn’t laying too heavy odds on forgiveness, either.

Flynn stopped mid-tirade and looked over at me. “Wait, what?”

“You come in here like we’re middle-school girlfriends and start pouring your heart out to me. I’m not interested in decorating our Trapper Keepers, I’m not letting you paint my toenails, and I’m sure as fuck not going to braid your hair. You’ve tried to throw me in jail at least a dozen times in the past dozen months, and now we’re supposed to be BFFs just because we work for the same anonymous dickhead? I don’t think so, Detective. But thanks for the beer. You can bring that by anytime.”

She stood up and stomped to the door. “Well, excuse the ever-loving fuck out of me, Harker. I just wanted to vent for a minute to one of the few people who I can talk to about this shit. I mean, I can’t even tell my boyfriend what I’m doing because it’s so goddamn classified.”

“Why not just tell him?” I asked.

“What?” Flynn looked confused by the question.

“Why no tell him anyway? Who gives a fuck about their security clearances? Jesus, Flynn, don’t you ever do anything you’re not supposed to do? You want to tell the guy you’re banging about our work, tell him about it. Especially if it means you don’t interrupt Monday Night RAW to bitch to me.”

She stomped back over to loom over my chair. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I tell him some classified shit and get him and me both fucking disappeared to Gitmo or Area 51 or some other place that doesn’t even officially exist. Then you wouldn’t have to deal with me anymore.”

“I don’t mind dealing with you.”

“You just said . . . “

“I said we aren’t friends. We’re not. Friends hang out. Friends check up one each other. Friends give a little more of a fuck than I’m really capable of giving, and certainly more than you give about me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like you. I just want you to know where we stand. You know, so when you eventually succumb to the inevitable sexual tension and decide to jump me.” I took a long pull off my beer and waited for the explosion.

I didn’t have to wait long. “What the actual fuck are you talking about? The inevitable sexual tension? Are you that fucking high on yourself?”

“I’m a pretty good-looking guy. You’re a very attractive woman. We face intense situations full of adrenaline and endorphins and emotion. That’s the kind of shit that gets all fraught and stuff. So, you know, if you ever just want to tear your clothes off and throw yourself at me, I want you to know that I’m here for you.” I finished off my beer and pulled another from the box on the coffee table.

Flynn stood there for a minute, just staring down at me. Her mouth opened, then closed, then opened, then closed. I was just about to make a remark about fish when she finally looked me straight in the eyes and fell onto the couch laughing. “Holy shit, Harker, I thought you were serious there for a minute.”

“I meant every word,” I said, deadpan.

Flynn froze in mid-guffaw, stared at me again, then collapsed into laughter again. “You asshole,” she said when she finally got her breath back. She sat up on the couch wiping tears from her eyes and took another beer. We clinked bottles together and she sat back. “Oh fuck I needed a good laugh.”

“And I needed you to quit bitching, so let’s call this a win-win. Now about that boyfriend?”

“What about him?” Flynn asked.

“Tell me about him. You never mentioned a boyfriend before.”

“I never mentioned anything before, Harker. I was always arresting you,” She reminded me.

“And doing a terrible job of it, by the way. What was your record, twenty arrests and nothing ever even made it to trial?” It helps when all the crimes you commit are against monsters that usually turn to ash or slime when they’re killed. And all those breaking and entering charges were really hard to prove when the perpetrator always wears gloves. Good thing for me they were in fashion when I was coming up.

“Fuck you.” But she grinned when she said it this time. Used to be she would draw a weapon when she told me to fuck off. I considered this an improvement.

“So?” I asked.

“So what?”

“So what about your boyfriend?”

“Why do you want to know?” Flynn grinned at me and I knew we’d moved from hanging out to flirting. I was okay with that. Flynn was a good-looking woman, and as long as she had someone to go home to, I could probably keep my baser instincts at bay.

“I want to know what kind of competition I’m facing.”  I gave her my best rakish grin. Since I learned about rakish grins when rakes were still a thing, my rakish grin is pretty good.

“He’s an EMT. His name is Roger. He’s tall, dark and handsome, and he’s absolutely crazy about me.”

“So he’s a good person, good-looking, and probably has a solid, working-class, pull himself up by his bootstraps attitude. I think I hate him already. Show me a picture.”

“Why? If you hate him, why should I show you a picture?”

“So I can see if he really is better looking than me, then I’ll know I hate him.”

She pulled out her phone and pressed a couple of places on the screen, then swiped at a couple of other things and handed it to me. He was a very good-looking man, milk chocolate skin, short-cropped hair, big smile full of perfect teeth, lots of muscles and his arm around Flynn in that relaxed manner that only the exceptionally handsome have, when they know they have nothing to fear from mere mortals.

“You’re right, he’s better looking than me. I definitely hate him.”

“Are we friends now, Harker? You hate my boyfriend, I brought you beer, and you listened to me bitch about work. I think that makes us friends.” Her dark eyes told me she was enjoying the game, but I knew better than to push my luck. That way lie madness.

“Nope, still just adversaries thrown together by the heat of battle. That makes the sexual tension better. That way, when we eventually succumb to the inevitable and screw each other’s brains out in a night of torrid passion, probably right after surviving some completely implausible terrorist attack or serial killer kidnapping, we can wake up not only to our personal recriminations but to millions of angry emails to our producers about how everyone in the universe feels cheated by our rushing through the bumping of uglies instead of falling slowly like that cheesy movie Once.

“I liked that movie!” Flynn protested.

“Proving, without any physical exploration whatsoever, that you do indeed, have a vagina.”

“You’re fucking incorrigible.”

“And you’re fucking Chocolate Superman.”

“I’m telling him you called him that. He’ll probably kick your ass.”

“He’ll probably love it and want to give me a half-assed bro hug when we finally meet. Then we can talk about the Panthers draft and how they always need another receiver or a better o-line, and I’ll pretend that I don’t hate him.”

“You don’t hate him.” She turned suddenly serious in that way women have when you know you’re tap-dancing drunk through a minefield. Fortunately for me, I ran out of fucks to give long before Detective Flynn was born. But I let her off easy this time.

“I don’t hate him, Becks. I don’t even fucking know the guy.”

“What did you call me?” She’d gone from casually flirting, to defending her man, to strangely concerned in a span of seconds.

“I called you Becks. I figured since we’re just one step away from sharing mani/pedis I could come off the formality a little and maybe not always refer to you as Detective Flynn.” I looked at her, and she just stared back for a long minute before she replied.

“No, it’s fine, it’s just…my father used to call me Becks. Nobody’s called me that since he died. It just…took me by surprise, I guess.”

Fuck. I knew that. Well, I guess my subconscious knew that. I knew Flynn’s father. Sergeant Paul Flynn, CMPD, the reason little Rebecca Gail put away her dolls at the age of eight and instead picked up a set of toy guns and a plastic nightstick and proceeded to beat the shit out of every boy in the neighborhood that dared play Cops & Robbers with her. Flynn the elder was shot and killed while pursuing a mugger. At least that was the official story.

In reality, Paul Flynn stumbled on a young vampire having a snack in one of the few alleys downtown Charlotte had to offer, and when he stepped into the alley to confront what he thought was a sexual assault in progress, the newborn turned on him. Baby vamps are dangerous — they haven’t yet developed much in the way of impulse control, and this one had been a crack addict before he was turned, so he wasn’t exactly of sound mind in the first place. He never should have been turned, and I’d been splitting my time between hunting down les enfant terrible and its maker, and I stumbled into the alley just a few seconds too late for Officer Flynn.

Killing the newborn vamp was child’s play for me, I took its head with a katana I carried everywhere at the time, due to a ridiculous fascination with the Highlander TV show and a desire to have hair like Adrian Paul. But Flynn was down, his chest torn open by the vamp. I didn’t have to worry about him coming back turned – there’s more to it than just being ripped apart by a vampire, but I felt responsible for his death. If I had focused on the fledgling first, then the maker, I probably could have saved him.

I sat by him in the alley as the life fled his eyes, and listened to him talk about his little girl, his pride and joy. He told me to tell his daughter he loved her, to tell “Becks” that he was proud of her, then he asked me to watch out for her. If I’d know what a pain in the ass she was going to grow up to be, I never would have agreed to it. But I did, and as her father bled out in my arms in an alley Rebecca Gail Flynn and I were tied together for the rest of her life. And all that led in a convoluted way to her sitting on my couch talking about her boyfriend and me pretending I had no interest in seducing a woman a century or more my junior.

I shook my head and tried to focus on the present. Her dad – go with that. “Oh yeah, and he died, right? Sorry, I won’t call you that again.”

“It’s fine, Harker. You can call me anything you want —“

“Don’t worry, doll face, over the course of our relationship, I have called you pretty much everything I’ve ever dreamed of.” It’s true, too. Detective Flynn had been a thorn in my side for several years until we were both recruited to work for Homeland Security, which reminded me —“ So what’s this babysitting detail Smith’s got you on?”

“Oh, that bullshit,” She replied, but with a lot less fire than before.

I supposed I was a good little girlfriend and let her get all her bad feelings out or some such shit. There weren’t a lot of sleepovers in my adolescence. When your parents were two of the people responsible for “killing” Dracula, your life starts off weird and goes downhill from there.

“I’m watching some Ethiopian prince or baby duke or something. He’s studying architecture, and there have been some threats,” Flynn continued.

“What’s so special about this kid?” I asked.

“Apparently somebody is convinced that he’s a true descendant of David and the Lion of Judah personified, so they want me to keep an eye on him.”

“The Lion of Judah that opens the sevens seals in Revelation?”

“Yeah, that’s the one?”

“And he’s here in Charlotte, with a security detail of one human detective?”

“I’d like to think I’m a pretty damned exceptional human detective, thank you very much!” Flynn sat up straighter, her dark eyes flashing under a careless lock of brown hair. I resisted the temptation to brush her hair back out of her face, which took a lot of restraint on my part.

“You are, Becks, you’re fucking spectacular, but you’re still not fuck-all against the kinds of things that will want to break those seals. We gotta go.” I stood up, going to the closet to get my jacket and my gun. And maybe a couple of amulets. This had the very high probability of getting extremely fucked up.

“Where are you going?” Flynn asked, still on my sofa.

“I’m not going anywhere. We’re going to architecture school.”

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