After many months of hard work I’ve finally self-published my first novella, The Pixie’s Paramour. It can be purchased online as a paperback or e-book. For the paperback look here:
And for the e-book, here:
I’m hoping to exceed a hundred sales before putting serious work into the sequel, so if you like the story, please share this post on social media! And of course, here’s a snippet from The Pixie’s Paramour to get you started…
I’d never been in a real street fight – at least not since the seventh grade. At a certain point around age fourteen the consequences of combat changed. The idea of being seen by society as a violent criminal for the rest of my life terrified me much more than the concept of taking a beating, or being called a pussy. I channeled my energy into martial arts and combat sports and gradually the bloodlust waned.
Ten years later the red mist returned to lick at the corners of my eyes. A gauntlet of unfortunate events filed my rough edges back into points. Weapons with only one purpose. And so I trudged the streets of Murderville, trying my best to disguise a limp.
The small city had a prettier name once. Before the Farmer’s Market dried up and the local businesses skipped town, leaving only the lowest cost franchises and warehouses amidst boarded up buildings. The population waned, but only slightly. A different breed of citizen occupied the haphazard assortment of smoky apartments and ramshackle houses. Those who slipped through the cracks in our capitalist society.
My refusal to vacate the barren town was one of the reasons she gave for not loving me anymore. I’d worried when communication became more about buzzword text messages than the long conversations we used to share. But I’d given her the benefit of the doubt… and when at last we saw each other again she force-marched herself through a complete breakup without involving me. She wept in my arms and then dried her eyes and left. She knew me too well, and inflicted as much pain as she could in parting.
I couldn’t sleep or stick to my diet. In a daze of insomnia and spiked cortisol I threw myself into training. The increase in vigor matched with minimal focus brought me a badly sprained ankle that refused to heal right. I couldn’t lift, couldn’t run, couldn’t jump, couldn’t train. It took less than three weeks laid up in my one-bedroom apartment for the red mist to boil over.
And then I blinked and found myself downtown, navigating the cracked cobblestone of old Market Square. The cold of the pavement seeped through my thin green crocs. There was a time when I never went walking without wearing sturdy shoes. In case I had to kick someone or run, or both. But kicking and running were out of the question with my wet noodle of a right ankle. I leaned against one of a long line of wooden supports holding up a wall-less roof that had once sheltered vendors on market days.
A low riding sedan nosed to the curb, fresh white paint reflecting overcast afternoon skies. I realized with mild surprise it was the same Honda Civic I’d seen circling the block in the opposite direction. My slow, deliberate pace had looped me through to where the civic pulled up to park.
Three of four doors opened and six feet hit the street. Inane conversation cut off as three skinheads in baggy T-shirts and jeans slid out of the vehicle. The passengers looked to the driver, who was looking at me. He was taller and broader in all dimensions than his buddies – fatter, more muscular, and his skin and scalp was several shades paler. The kind of pseudo-tan prison inmates get during their daily hour of outdoor recreation.
A thick marbled steak, fresh from the meatlocker.
Stories about inmates freshly released from maximum-security facilities just down the freeway circulated in Murderville like the flu. Men with appetites for blood and pain, picked up from prison by fellow bangers and dropped in the one place they could slake their thirst without consequence. Murderville attracted its own breed of tourist.
“The fuck you lookin’ at, bitch?” The driver spat. He took a half step forward and hesitated, waiting for his buddies to fill in beside him. The question hung in the air. There was no good answer. Even if he wasn’t fresh from the joint and they weren’t gangbangers, I’d allowed my eyes to linger to long.
In prison and in Murderville, six seconds of eye contact constitutes aggression.
I smiled. Not the kind of cocky self-assured smile you see on TV before the hero opens a can of whupass. My face split in half, cheeks stretched to the point of tearing, teeth bared and eyes wide. Like an addict’s grin before the overdose kicks in. I got what I wanted, and it didn’t hurt yet.
“Nothing,” I said, fighting off maniacal laughter, “I’m looking at a fat sack of nothing.”
The leader’s eyes bulged and his jaw dropped. The goons glanced at each other behind his back, uncertain.
One intriguing principal of self defence states that three aggressors can be easier to deal with than two. With three they tend to get in each others’ way, and there’s usually a leader and taking him down early can make the other two concede. A clever fighter can survive a three-on-one assault with careful angling and measured aggression.
I ignored all of this.
The opportunity shone like sun through a breach in cloudcover. The three of them arranged in a tight triangle of flat-footed stupefaction. The leader’s jaw loose and lolling at my audacity. A dip of the shoulder and a strong uppercut could have severed his tongue, knocked out half his teeth and spilled him to the pavement between his fleeing friends. Adrenaline surged as I saw the opening and forced myself to wait. The images in my head were projections of my survival instinct – an instinct I wanted turned off.
I spat in the leader’s face and then charged the lackey to his left. Caught the lackey’s windpipe in a tiger’s claw and snarled a handful of his sweat-stained collar. The white T-shirt stretched to unveil a spiderweb tattoo that reached the top of his shoulder as I propelled him across the square. My ankle screamed from strain despite a surge of adrenaline. Green crocs slapped the ground in rapid staccato that cut through the slipshod backpedal of poorly tied skate shoes. The goon’s heels caught a crack and he pitched backward. I fell with him, adding my weight to our momentum. He opened his mouth to cry out in shock but all I heard was the wet thud of bone yielding to pavement.
I rolled over the corpse with the caved in skull and hauled myself upright against a thick wooden support. I gulped air and fought the urge to vomit. It faded as the remaining two bangers raced toward me, one behind the other. The remaining beta’s focus split between me and his fallen friend, slowing his steps. The leader’s eyes never left me, and shone with a familiar fervor.
I laughed like a madman and leapt to meet him, injured ankle forgotten. His haymaker glanced off my forearm as I reached out and laced both hands behind his head in a tight Thai clinch. As my bad foot hit the ground I staggered sideways, dragging the enraged inmate away from his remaining ally. He drove soft, scarred knuckles into my ribs repeatedly. The blows forced more manic laughter from my lungs.
“Not yet,” I gasped, struggling to spit out the words, “I’m saving you for last bitch.” I dropped my chin and drove my forehead into his nose, hearing cartilage crack and feeling hot blood moisten my hair. I swept the bastard’s leg and dumped him on his ass with a final forward surge.
Strong arms locked around my midriff from behind and dragged me away from the bleeder. The second lackey finally found his place. I let him bear most of my weight for a few paces, wriggling to make space and lace both my arms around one of his in a figure-four lock. I lifted my legs and arched into the hold, breaking the bastard’s grip. He tried to keep his feet as I forced the ensnared arm behind his back, and we fell as one body.
The goon screamed as our combined weight wrenched his shoulder from its socket.
My knee came up to trap his good arm and I spun through ninety degrees to isolate it between my legs. I pressed the blade of his hand to my chest and bridged powerfully. His elbow inverted against the fulcrum of my hips. His second scream should have shattered my eardrums. I hauled the broken man upright by the ears and slammed him against a sturdy support.
His eyes and nose leaked fluid faster than his friend’s ruined skull. His left arm hung slack and useless. His right stuck out at a sickening angle. Eyes wide with fear dilated further as I gripped his throat.
“Wait,” he choked. His gaze flickered over my shoulder.
A shoe scraped the ground behind me and a heavy man exhaled.
Whatever remained of my survival instinct sprang up. I ducked and pivoted on impulse.
The weeping man’s head exploded as the tire iron from the Civic’s trunk struck him square in the mouth. The leader of the bangers had swung with both hands and all of his considerable strength. Blood and mucus washed the pavement and spatter-painted my face and shirt. Shattered teeth fell like hailstones. The tire iron left its mark in matted hair on the wooden support as the dead man crumpled to the ground.
The remaining banger barely missed a beat. He drew back from the kill as casually as a batter missing the first pitch and made a second, more measured cut at my leg.
The tire iron glanced off my shin just above the injured ankle, and the bloody ground met me before the pain could register. I made no effort to move as the inmate towered over me, weighing his weapon in both hands. I laughed until I choked and then twisted and spat and laughed some more. My saliva shone crimson as the sun’s rays came through a breach in the clouds. I must have bitten my lip at some point in the struggle. What a thing to notice with my final thoughts.
The leader of the dismantled trio was beyond words as he lifted the tire iron overhead. Spittle sprayed from the corners of his mouth and veins throbbed through the pale skin at his temples.
A thick marbled steak, fresh from the meatlocker.
He sucked air and lifted the heavy length of metal high. And then he wavered.
For an insane moment I wondered if he was waiting for the cops. Somewhere in Murderville sirens were screaming, and they drew closer with every second. And then he wavered again, and I heard the muted pat of a punch striking fatty tissue.
With a roar the big man turned and swung at the assailant behind him. Without bothering to look I rolled onto my stomach and crawled to the nearest post. My mind was a chaotic muddle of confusion, gore, and death. In that moment I couldn’t say whether I wanted to live or die… but I sure as hell wasn’t spending a single night in lockup. I hauled myself upright and limped across the street to lean on the wall of the dilapidated arena. The cool brick comforted my back as I turned to see who had saved me.
She moved like a gossamer winged butterfly on a summer breeze. Swift footwork propelled her slender frame around the roaring inmate. She swayed in and out and side to side with a cobra’s rhythm and venom. Her tasseled purple mask fluttered as she ducked a lethal swing of the bloody tire iron and jabbed the offender’s solar plexus. Her pink fingerless four-ounce gloves did little to lessen the impact, for the big man reeled away. She pursued him like a sparrow chasing a raven, flitting past his sluggish attacks to sting with crisp combinations that would have turned Freddy Roach’s head.
And then she swung onto his back, the tire iron trapped between his throat and both of her elbows. The inmate dropped to his knees and then fell on his face, slapping uselessly at the little warrior. She held the choke long after his shakes subsided.
Grey clouds swallowed the sun as the Pixie stood up straight and dusted her hands. She planted tiny pink fists on her hips and looked about the square, prominent nose beneath her feathered mask drawing a triangle between the three dead men. She reached up to school a loose lock of short dark hair behind a slightly pointed ear and straightened the royal blue cloak about her shoulders. Then she strode toward me, unhurried despite the sirens sounding mere blocks away. Any cop in the city would have loved to bring her in, to be the one to unveil the face behind the mask that made the front page of local papers on a daily basis.
Slender legs in purple tights swished to a stop in front of me. As I examined the Pixie’s modified pink climbing shoes I realized I had sunk to a seated position at some point. The cold of the city seeping through my clothing was a comforting embrace I longed to linger in. My ribs and lower leg throbbed distantly. A problem to deal with another time, perhaps never. The Pixie was not known for lenience with those who brought violence to her streets.
She shifted her weight from one leg to the other like a ballerina on demi-pointe, pink fists resting on slender hips. A meager breeze fluttered the rainbow skirt about her waist. The wail of sirens increased exponentially – the closest copper had rounded the corner. A strange half-smile quirked the Pixie’s painted lips, and she extended an open hand to me, palm toward the sky.
“This is certainly unusual,” she quipped, casual as a store clerk observing an over-stocked shelf, “you can explain it to me, or to the police. Two seconds to decide love.”
The leather of her glove was smooth and slick, the skin of her fingertips warm and callused. She pulled me to my feet and led me down a dark alley between the arena and the boarded-up pizza place next door.
Flashing lights of blue and red filled the old market square.