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Friday, June 19, 2020

Aladdin I. Shadow

A young man stood against the wall in front of a night club. It was after eleven o’clock at night.

Aladdin I. Shadow had platinum blonde hair and a chiseled face, which made him look like a young Greek god of sorts. He wore elephant flares that would have made him trip all over himself had it not been for the three inch platforms that he wore. The platform shoes were a dark gold with brass heels and soles and went Click Clack, Click Clack. When he walked he made a sound like a broken clock.

Tonight he wore a red and silver lurex shirt which he would open as far down as his mood permitted him. If his he felt alright the shirt would be buttoned midway down his chest, if he was down it could be buttoned up to the throat, and if he was really happy it would be buttoned down to the navel. This kept the boys happy and the girls even happier.

His mood was just so-so, hence the shirt open midway down his chest. He was a funny sort, not an actor but more of a reactor. This meant that he hung out a lot but didn't really instigate anything, making him instantly likeable to everyone. He went with the flow as long as someone else started it.

Mood was a very important component in his life. When he was up he was called Lad and when he was down he was simply called Shadow. Things were complicated in his mind but to others they probably looked simple. That’s the way things always look when you’re eighteen years old.

A tall girl with brown hair cut in a shag hooked her arm around his and without slowing down her walk pulled him into the club.
“What gives?” Lad asked her.
“You looked all glum and mopey just standing outside on the sidewalk all by yourself”, she said, topping it off with a sweet kiss to his face.
“You take me too seriously, Raggedy Jane”.
“No, you do!”

Raggedy Jane dressed like a big glam doll with huge red spots on her cheeks and large distended false eyelashes sticking out of a pale baby face looking like a doll gone berserk. Her clothes were a jumble of thrift shop left-behinds with some sharp glam fashions, so she’d tie a lumberjack shirt like a halter above a pair of glittery hot pants.

“Gimme a stick of gum!” she barked, going through the pockets of Lad’s tight pants.
“Gimme a second to give you one!” he barked back. He reached into his jacket and pulled out two sticks.
“Here, take two. That ought to keep your mouth full for a change”.
“Danke schoen!” she slugged, jamming the two sticks in her heavily lipsticked maw.

The club stank heavily of stale beer with the walls wrapped in cheap pine. Posters of Mick Jagger and Marc Bolan greeted them as they walked in. There were several lipsticked kiss marks around Mick Jagger’s crotch. Marc only had one. Further down the bar was a mirrored dance floor.

The DJ in the booth was playing “Dynamite” by Mud. The Chinn-Chapman style drums beat a deep, thick tattoo that penetrated every corner of the club.

“She comes in looking like dynamite”, the band wailed over the powerful drumbeat.

“I ALWAYS COME IN LOOKING LIKE DYNAMITE!” Jane yelled in Lad’s ear as they entered the fray. Kids were dancing and showing off with glitter on their cheeks and tops of metallic colors with high-rocketed shoes and boots intended to upstage each other with height.

They went into a hip-swinging dance until Raggedy Jane leaned over and saw a girl in the crowd and began waving her arms broadly like a lunatic.

“LITTLE DOT! LITTLE DOT! OVER HERE, WHORE!” Jane yelled, making Lad’s ears ring even louder. He turned slightly and saw their friend Little Dot somehow dancing and pivoting closer and closer towards them on the dance floor.

Little Dot earned her name because like the comic character wore nothing but polka dots, the louder the better. Her dresses, shoes and handbags were always in polka dots. Once she tried to bleach her hair to have polka dots but it nearly fell out completely, so she settled for a blonde Veronica Lake waterfall instead.

“Raggedy Jane! Aladdin!” Little Dot smiled, not missing a step to the Mud song as it faded and Showaddywaddy started up with their one good tune. Aladdin smiled quietly.

“Dot, I love your Garbo look tonight, how fantabulash!” Jane screamed, hugging Little Dot as showingly as possible.
“No, bitch, I’m Dietrich tonight, not Garbo!” Little Dot yelled back as they traded invisible kisses on each other’s cheeks.

“I’ll be right back”, Aladdin said as he walked off the floor towards the bar.

A tall boy with a fuzzy Afro and bright red overalls waved Lad over. “Hey, brother, long time no see!”
“Hey, Gunk! What are you drinking?”

The kid called Gunk made a bitter face and grumbled, “Ginger beer”.
Lad laughed and Gunk then smirked, “Want a sip?”

“No, I’ll wait until I’m old enough to drink real beer”.
“Hey, is your dad home?”
“No, he’s out with some broad in Murrieta Hot Springs or some shit like that”.
“Cool, man. We can raid his liquor cabinet while he’s out screwing Anita Bryant”.

Aladdin frowned. “Nah, he’s getting wise to me. I see pencil marks on the label now, so he suspects I’m jacking his sauce”. They both laughed. He looked at a round metallic disk on Gunk’s overall.
“Hey, you didn’t say anything about my Slade pin”, Gunk said. ” I made it myself”.
“It’s okay, I guess”, Aladdin said begrudgingly. It was a homemade creation in magic marker.

“What do you mean ‘it’s okay’? What’s wrong with it?”
“Well, you spelled everything right. If it’s Slade you’re supposed to misspell everything, like you’re trying to piss off your English teacher. ‘We’re all crazy’ is supposed to be spelled ‘WEER ALL CRAZEEE’”.
“Oh shit”, Gunk frowned.

“I’m going back on the floor”, Aladdin tapped his feet loudly. “Come on and join us!”
Gunk gaped at the girls on the dance floor.
“I want to bang Little Dot so bad”, Gunk gushed. “Put in a good word for me”.

“Little Dot doesn’t like sex. She’s so loaded all the time she doesn’t even remember what fucking means”.
“Don’t tell me that!”
“Bye”, Aladdin smiled as he danced through the crowd. The DJ moved into “Personality Crisis” by the New York Dolls and the kids all screamed at the beginning like David Johansen.

He reached Raggedy Jane and Little Dot’s little circle and joined them.
“Where have you been?” Raggedy Jane wailed. “We’ve been just so severely traumatized without you!”
“I was talking to Gunk. He’s madly in love with Little Dot”.

Little Dot made a sour German face. “Nein to nerds! Nein to nerds! Ich nicht lieben du nerds!”
“Oh, she really thinks she’s Dietrich tonight!”
“That’s okay, he made a correctly spelled Slade button tonight”, Aladdin announced.
“SIE! SCHEISS DAS NERDEN!”

As Aladdin danced he scanned the room to see if he recognized his other friends, what few he had. Every once in a while he’s catch some old guy, old enough to be his father scamming up to some girl his age. It made him angry, and some even closely resembled his father in a weird way. It never was the same after his mother died three years ago.

Dancing to silly songs like Tiger Feet and My Coo-Ca-Choo was a narcotic that numbed him from the tragedy of losing his forty-year old mother to cancer. The loud colors of his clothes and the explosive music served as a benign shellshock from the grief he really felt. It didn’t hurt that he befriended his rich female classmates who accepted him like a brother, so he accepted as many female friends as he could.

With the surrogate brother role he was handed he kept his drinking at home while his surrogate sisters got as drunk and stoned as they wished. His dad had good taste in liquor so it didn’t bother him to stay sober. Besides, Hollywood cops scared him. They always seemed desperate to prove that they were tougher than the rest of the Los Angeles police force.

Cops hated the glam clubs and would occasionally raid the place with a few firemen to create the justification that attendance was unsafe, when in fact the occupancy level was not over exceeded at all. When the police and fire chiefs made their big production it always culminated at the cash register by the bar with the register ringing and some money would flash in and out of unknown hands.

Little Dot and Raggedy Jane lustfully posed with Virginia Slims hanging off their lipstick lips and air kissed to Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain” and stopped everything to scream out, “BABY JANE’S IN ACAPULCO WE ARE FLYING DOWN TO RIO!!!”
Smoke drifted out their skulls when they screamed.

****************

After the club closed they went down to the coffee shop down the block with the other kids. It was always a good idea for all the kids to go the same coffee shop to prevent the lowriders from picking on them. The car club kids always came in to Hollywood from their neighborhood to mess with the glam set.

The waitresses hated all the glam kids and always took their time handing out menus and taking their orders, their way of letting them now they weren’t welcome.

Jane, Dot and Aladdin took a table of their own.
“Oh look”, Jane frowned at the waitress. “We’re getting our menus fifty years later”. The waitress practically threw the garishly colored oversize plastic menus at them.

Little Dot spun every page of the menu like a speed freak. “Trash, trash, trash, trash, trashtrashtrash and more trash. Yuck!”
Aladdin smiled. “Why don’t you say it in German, Miss Dietrich?”
“It’s past midnight, sweetie I’m doing Carole Lombard now. Marlene was SO last night!”

Raggedy Jane stared at the menu with intensity. “Thousand Island or Ranch? The night has a thousand eyes!”
Little Dot lit up another Virginia Slim. “Miss Dot will have an iced tea and your salad crackers, dahlink”.
Raggedy Jane looked at Lad. “What’ll it be?”

“Grilled cheese sandwich with French fries”, Aladdin said.
Little Dot cackled. “That’s drunk food! You’re not even loaded!”
“I didn’t have dinner tonight. I’m pretty hungry”.

They waited another fifteen minutes for the waitress to make a cameo appearance. The other kids were getting pretty impatient with their service, too.

“Jesus, my stepdad comes around more often than this fucking waitress does”, Raggedy Jane grumbled. “Oh, here she comes”.

Their taciturn waitress took their order but didn’t bother to take their menus from them. The three teenagers simply took the menus and threw them into the booth next to them. The coffee shop hostess glared at them from across the lounge.

“Now, check your food before you eat it”, Jane advised her friends. “Someone may leave a special souvenir in there just to show you how pleased they are to serve us”.
“You betcha”, Little Dot puffed away.

CUT THAT’S A WRAP

EPILOGUE: The waitress took so long with their order that Little Dot got bored and sat on top of their table and sang "Falling In Love Again" looking bored and smoking languidly until the coffee shop hostess charged their booth and threw our friends out. They ended up going through a Jack In The Box, and that's the way it was.

Friday, June 5, 2020

RED COFFEE Suspense Novel OUT NOW!

Red Coffee is my latest novel, and it's about young model Lois Angelus, grabbing any modeling job she can, whether it's posing for sculptors, posing for high-end department stores, or even providing eye candy for a tenth-rate slapstick comedy short feature. Everything seems to be moving steadily for Lois until she’s witness to a murder of a prominent banker. That's when her troubles begin, and they never slow down in this hard-boiled horror tale.

It's the story of a woman caught in the crossfire of a class war in Thirties Los Angeles. My novel blends elements of urban horror and roman noir with a feminine viewpoint through it all. I originally serialized this novel on my blog about ten years ago, and now it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

The prototype for Lois is based on my favorite actresses of the post-silent and pre-code era like Ann Dvorak, Aline McMahon, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell, and Leila Hyams, to name just a few. The way they combined feminine grace with a tough inner core inspired me to create a character in tribute to them.

I put this project on delay for all these years because it was such a radical departure from anything else I've written I didn't really know what to do with it, but now I feel confident enough to release it on its own merits.

Red Coffee is a hard-boiled amalgam of the pre-code cinema of William Wellman and the moody horror films of Val Lewton, creator of Cat People and The Seventh Victim. Prepare to enter a world of deadly scarecrows, murderous folksingers, academics tripping on LSD, slanderous séances, white supremacist terrorists, and birds, birds, birds!

Red Coffee is available as an eBook for only $3.99, and can be purchased through these eTailers:

Amazon Kindle: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B0892PPSSC&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_ooPZEbD3QRBJT

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/red-coffee/id1514799647

Barnes & Noble Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-coffee-andy-seven/1137067297;jsessionid=E86FAA41AB4A3B7B80B38689E1390E9D.prodny_store01-atgap09?ean=9781098315139&st=AFF&2sid=Goodreads,%20Inc_2227948_NA&sourceId=AFFGoodreads,%20Inc

Kobo (Canada): https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/red-coffee

My new novel can probably be found at other sites besides the ones mentioned above, so check it our wherever it is. I hope you enjoy it, and as usual, I guarantee outrage on every page!