Thursday 18 August 2011

Pulp Ink: Openings

Pulp Ink edited by Nigel Bird and Chris Rhatigan

PULP INK is the bizarre, chaotic side of crime fiction. From an ass-kicking surfer on acid to an idiot savant hitboy, these tales are dark, funny, action-packed and told with all the gleeful insanity of a Tarantino flick.

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll roll into the fetal position and beg for mercy.

So sit back. Pour yourself a cup of joe, crack a beer, tie off – whatever you need to get comfortable – and get ready for a dose after dose of pulp action.

With stories by:
Allan Guthrie, Reed Farrel Coleman, Gary Phillips, Hilary Davidson, Matthew C. Funk, Paul D. Brazill, AJ Hayes, Michael J. Solender, Richard Godwin, Naomi Johnson, Jimmy Callaway, Sandra Seamans, Patti Abbott, Jodi MacArthur, David Cranmer, Chris F. Holm, Jason Duke, Eric Beetner, Ian Ayris, Kate Horsley, Matt Lavin, Jim Harrington, Nigel Bird, Chris Rhatigan

Requiem for Spider by Reed Farrel Coleman
Her heart was lonelier than Sergeant Pepper’s and the whole fucking band. I could see that from across the bar, not that across the bar was like seeing across space and time. It was more like twenty feet and, at that time of night, the view was relatively unobstructed. She had last call girl written all over her. Don’t misunderstand, she wasn’t a call girl. She wasn’t even much of a girl anymore. Thirty, at least, she hadn’t fit that description for quite some time. What I mean to say is that she was the kind of woman who probably had more than her share of men, but only because she understood that desperation was her ally. She was that pair of shoes on the discount rack you bought because you needed shoes and you only had so much money and the store was closing. When the bartender screamed “Last call for alcohol,” it was her mating song. She was a last call girl.

Jack Rabbit Slim’s Cellar
The $5 Mil Hak by Jodi MacArthur
Elvis sang. High heeled shoes and flats drummed in harmony across a high waxed floor. My head ached. My balls ached more. A bullet dug into my ass, making my sitting experience an uncomfortable one. I kept a special utensil in my sleeve for occasions like this. Lesson learned from ’89, the Red Iron Waffle. Unfortunately, Hank Rinks remembered the Red Iron, too. His goons checked my sleeves first thing.

Padre by AJ Hayes
It’s midnight when the cell phone rings. I scramble awake to answer. Only one person got that number. Hello Padre I say. How you doing? He talks a while. I say okay and hang up. Jimmy looks at me.
    Padre needs us I say. Jimmy’s already out the door.

The Creation of Ice by Sandra Seamans
Madelyn Cooper awoke to find herself duct taped to a straight back chair. An elderly woman, who looked like a bag of cotton balls had exploded on her head, stood with her arms crossed over her sagging breasts clutching a cast iron frying pan in her hand. Madelyn moaned, the frying pan certainly explained the pounding headache.

Zed’s Dead, Baby by Eric Beetner
“Zed? Oh Zed’s dead, baby.”
    “Yeah, so I’ve heard.”
    “Well, then why are you asking me?”
    “I’ve heard a lotta guys called dead who walked through the door the very next day.”
    “I don’t know what to tell you. Zed’s dead.”
    “Yeah, you said that already.”

Your Mother Should Know by Allan Guthrie
God took Pa when I was six. An automobile accident. Some folks’ religious fervor would have waned. Not my mom’s. Pa’s early ascent to heaven made Mom even more passionate about her faith. She prayed on her knees every night for hours at a time, skin like squashed spiders when she stood up.

You Never Can Tell by Matthew C. Funk
Junior was studying Atticus’ hands to figure if they were the right ones and Nina wondered how he might tell they were the ones that killed his father.
    Would it be something in the crease of the knuckles? In the notches? In their weight? She just knew they weren’t the hands Junior had been seeking for these past nine months.

A Whole Lotta Rosie by Nigel Bird
Fifty years to the day Rose has been walking on the planet. Not that she’s walked on much of it. Sheep farms in the summer. Back home the rest of the time.
    Hasn’t been far.
    Not that she’s needed to.
    A huge fish in a small pond, you might say. Six foot four and eighteen inches round the biceps. The blokes on the station all kid on she’d crush any man who lay between her thighs, but they’ve all taken their turn at one time or another and all gone back for more.

The Lady & The Gimp: A Peter Ord Investigation by Paul D. Brazill
They say that it never rains but it pours and that troubles are like buses – they all turn up at once. They say a lot of things, though. And most of what they say is about as much use as a condom in a convent.
    For example, they also say that lightning never strikes twice. Which is a pretty clear indication, to my mind, that “they” never encountered Lightning Jones.

A Night at the Royale by Chris F. Holm
The man in the black gabardine suit gritted his teeth and tried in vain to ignore the idiot Americans who sat behind him in the otherwise empty theater. They’d stumbled in five minutes prior – a good twenty minutes after the feature had begun – giggling like schoolgirls and reeking of patchouli and marijuana. In the man’s youth, such tardiness was not permitted; when he was a boy, if you wanted to catch a film in Amsterdam, you were to be seated before the lights dimmed or you were not to be seated at all. But then, these were different times, as the dull glow of the No Smoking signs peppered throughout the theater reminded him – and these imbeciles were as unfamiliar with Dutch culture as with the inside of a shower.

Clouds in a Bunker by David Cranmer
“Hold on a moment. The teakettle is whistling.” The line went silent for a beat and then, “I’ll be right back.”
    On the other side of the six-inch thick door, Chief Willis sat close, listening in, while the beady-eyed police negotiator Meeker tilted the phone for both officers to hear.
    “Damn, the old man is gone again. I thought we had him this time,” Meeker said.

The Wife of Gregory Bell by Patricia Abbott
I didn’t start out to be a criminal. Does anyone? But in my case, it made no sense. I was raised by upper middle-class people in a nice suburb of Philadelphia. There was no gang or disreputable friends to lure me into a life of crime. No incidents to jade me. My parents did all the right things and my two sisters are virtuous if slightly dull women.
    It seems likely I was a genetic mishap because something inside me was restless and twisted from the start. Even as a child, if I could find a way to avoid work, I did. If I could discern an easy way out, I took it. If an opportunity to acquire something I wanted presented itself, I seized it. Yes, I wanted things and was particularly susceptible to things of beauty, seldom resisting a cashmere sports coat, a prom queen, a sports car. I took all of them out for a spin.

If Love is a Red Dress – Hang Me in Rags by Michael J. Solender
Perhaps you should rest now Del. Wearied bones make for weighty ascent.
    Rest? I don’t think I’m up for any rest just now. What difference would it make? My mind won’t stop racing. Her vision will never escape my memory. So at peace, so much at ease. Her pallor shone bright against the ruby redness of her dress.

A Corpse by Any Other Name by Naomi Johnson
Lucian put his El Dorado in park. Holding onto the wheel with the hook at the end of his left arm, he turned to face Mackie in the passenger seat and gave him a “you best not be fucking with me” look. It made Mackie glad he wasn’t fucking with Lucian.
    “He’s really dead.”

Surf Rider by Ian Ayris
The Surf Rider’s mind blew in April ’73. The Surf Rider, he didn’t feel a thing – five Strawberry Fields and a staple diet of Mandrax and Lebanese Gold does that to a man.
    The doctors called it a “drug-induced psychosis.”
    Nearly forty years on, the Surf Rider stands at a bar in Huntington Beach, what remains of his dignity covered by an Afghan coat and knee-length Bermuda shorts. His voluminous gut pushes out a faded Grateful Dead t-shirt, his sun-brown hands clutch a bright yellow Lightning Bolt surfboard closer to him than the dreams of a shattered childhood. His silver-grey hair hangs past his shoulders, and his eyes stare wide, wide to a world beyond words.

The Slicers’ Serenade of Steel by Gary Phillips
Rudy Canary wasn’t much for jogging. His knees hurt and it seemed as if invisible pins were pricking his lower legs as he ran down the street. It was going on eleven o’clock on a moonless night. In this part of town, only the working girls and potential johns cruising by getting an eye and earful were out.
    “Come on, stud muffin, forty for a date,” a big-boned gal spilling out of a too-small outfit blared at a mortgage slave rolling slow on the street in a sedan. She made a fist near her mouth, working it back and forth as she rhythmically poked her tongue inside her cheek.

The October 17 Economic Development Committee Meeting by Chris Rhatigan
I need fire running through my veins for this. Instead I’ve got a combo of caffeine, nicotine and dexedrine.
    I’m parked behind Parson Government Center. Probably ten minutes left and I’m rattling like the muffler on a banger’s Civic.

Threshold Woman by Richard Godwin
Late June, fireflies bomb the window of my Buick as I drive slowly to Sultry.
    Her brother Carlos calls her Anna, he doesn’t know her secret name, the one I use as I hold her shivering in my arms.
    She is clear as diamonds, soft as petals.
    She shimmers in her own perfume.

Redlining by Jim Harrington
Walter rested his forehead against the steering wheel while he waited for Malcolm to return. He’d warned the fool about drinking so much water. At the sound of a voice, Walter looked up as Malcolm emerged from the woods talking on his cell phone.
    “What the…?” Walter pounded his fist on the dash and exited the truck. He adjusted his cap against the sun, stomped to his partner, grabbed the phone, and hurled it into the mix of budding trees and rotted trunks.

Jungle Boogie by Kate Horsely
Raoul stood on the corner, leaning against the plaster wall of Bar El Diablo, telling himself to walk away. It was seven in the evening and the sky was a ripening bruise behind the cathedral. The August heat licked his face and a knot of girls skipped arm in arm across the zócalo. One burst into song. He told himself to go back to the museum, to lock the statue in its glass case, and if his boss asked any questions to make up some amusing story. But he’d crossed an unseen line on Barrio El Cerrillo and now he couldn’t move. So he dragged on the stub of his cigarette and stared at the blonde woman on the cathedral steps.

This Little Piggy by Hilary Davidson
Lysandra hated her clients, and she didn’t try to hide it. Freakshows, she called them, though she had special nicknames for the real weirdos. There was her regular four o’clock Tuesday appointment, who liked her to wear pink marabou stilettos. Such a stereotype, that guy, so she called him Frederick’s of Hollywood. Her Wednesday nooner had a thing for thigh-high black boots, and Lysandra called him Pretty Woman – not to his face – since she suspected he’d never gotten over Julia Roberts as a hooker. Pretty Woman’s Thursday counterpart craved pointy-toed Jimmy Choo kitten heels in beige, of all colors; Lysandra suspected that one was a politician and dubbed him El Presidente. But her ongoing Friday five o’clock date was the worst: Stanky Mr. Keds had an unhealthy fixation on sweaty sneakers. Lysandra barely managed to suppress her gag reflex in their sessions. She charged him three times her usual fee before decamping to the shower and scrubbing every inch of herself – not only her feet – with a scented scrub that reminded her of sugar cookies in her grandmother’s kitchen.

Comanche by Jason Duke
Willie Jones looked around the empty bedroom at the back of Devilwood Springs. The room was as Kara had described it, no windows, the walls and ceiling covered in mirrored panels positioned at different odd angles. The mirrors reflected myriad fractured copies of him through the bleak emptiness of the room. His lean build, tucked black Under Armour shirt, dark blue jeans, unnervingly stared back on him everywhere he looked.

Misirlou by Jimmy Callaway
1. Cheeseburger, Hold the Relish
    Mal walked in the front door, said, “Cheeseburger’s dead.”
    Bronson looked up from the TV, said, “What?”
    Stillwell looked up from the TV, said, “Who?”
    Mal said, “Guy that runs that Greek place down the street. I stopped in for a gyro, joint’s closed for a week. Death in the family notice in the window.”

The Only One Who Could Ever Reach Me by Matt Lavin
You wish Freddy would shove his goddamned fist in his mouth and choke on it. Instead, he wipes his nose on the sleeve of his gray hoody and flashes you a nasty, tobacco-toothed grin.
    “Glad you’re here, Greg,” he says. “I need some sleep.”

Pulp Ink edited by Nigel Bird and Chris Rhatigan
Amazon UK, Amazon US


  1. Pulp action on a crime spree indeed! Gotta heist me a copy, scratch out a rousin' review. Nice samplin' tease Mr Guthrie for the groovy greats gathered. (Those editor blokes ain't too shabby either)

    ~ Absolutely*Kate, authoring & promoting 'round WebTowne and AT THE BIJOU

  2. Thanks for the boost Allan. It's much appreciated.

  3. Very cool and the little pieces of each storyre really cool. Great way to present the collection. Congrats and best of luck to all involved!

  4. I'm halfway through and it's a beaut!

  5. it's like a place to get educated. class acts, indeed.