Friday, December 30, 2011

Digging it

Sick of talking about myself so I'll let someone else do it for a while.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another favorite

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We got deals!

Two things you should know about: Pulp Ink is on sale and D*cked is on sale! Even the print version of D*cked is on the cheap (and it looks GREAT!) These deals won't last forever so get on it.

In bigger and better news, Jake Hinkson's Hell on Church Street is out earlier than expected! I have waxed poetic on this amazing novel in several places around the web. Even picked it as a best of the year. Well, it's out now and you NEED to go get it. Thank me later. Better yet, thank Jake for writing such a great book.

Grimm Tales

"What? More?" You say, exhausted. Yes, more. Grimm Tales is here. This collection has been a long time coming and now it is finally live. The brainchild of John Kenyon, he of The Grift online zine, these tales are all inspired by the Brothers Grimm. Each author was told to pick a story and do a riff on it in the crime genre. The results are inspired. 

From the publisher: Grimm Tales is a collection of stories by some of the top names in online crime fiction, all based on classic fairy tales. As novelist Ken Bruen writes in his introduction, "Ever imagined what would have come down the dark pike if The Brothers Grimm were more Brothers Coen and wrote mystery?" The collection is edited by John Kenyon, editor of Grift magazine, and contains 17 stories by Patricia Abbott, Absolutely*Kate, Jack Bates, Eric Beetner, Nigel Bird, Loren Eaton, Kaye George, Blu Gilliand, Seana Graham, Eirik Gumeny, R.L. Kelstrom, John Kenyon, BV Lawson, Evan Lewis, B. Nagel, Sean Patrick Reardon and Sandra Seamans. 

And hey, look at the cover. Who's that there? Yep. Me. Now, while it is obvious this is an alphabetical list that only had space for three names I will take it as a badge of honor and delude myself into thinking that someone, somewhere thought my name could sell a few books.

You should know this - the publisher, Untreed reads is also the publisher behind Discount Noir. Several of the authors are featured in both collections and they have offered up a special: if you order both books from the Untreed reads website, you'll get 50% of Discount Noir! It's a great collection so get it now and get it cheap. 

And my story? It is inspired by a very familiar story, especially if you have young daughters like I do. My take on it is decidedly un-Disney however. What story did I choose? You'll have to read and find out.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Split Decision

And Split Decision is out! Don't know what it is about this December that has so many books of mine coming out but I'm not complaining. Well, I'm sure I'll think of something to complain about.

Split Decision is book #3 in the Fight Card series and I am so proud to be involved in this series. Each book is written by a different author and unified under the pseudonym of Jack Tunney. Books #1 and #2 are great reads, but there is no need to read them in order. Each is a throwback to the pulp fight novels of the 1930s and 40s. I know Felony Fists and The Cutman got it right and I only hope I did too. So far the response has been great.

Good news too is that in addition to the ebook there will be print versions with alternate covers featuring each author's own name, which is cool.

Dig Two Graves continues on with three 5-star reviews now on Amazon and an appearance on a best of 2011 list! British author Nick Quantrill (Broken Dreams and the upcoming The Late Greats) had some very nice things to say abut the book. Nick's work is one you should seek out. Get in on the start of his series because I'm sure it will be a long running one.

I was also thrilled to see One Too Many Blows To The Head still lives on and made Nigel Bird's Best of 2011 list. Sure the book is older but all that matters is that it is new to you and I'm glad Nigel enjoyed it so much.

I noticed that on the Dig Two Graves amazon page under the 'customer's also bought' (which I always love to see) that Borrowed Trouble and One Too Many were both in the mix. Hey, this is working the way it's supposed to. Someone reads a book, they like it, they seek out your other work. I'm thrilled to see the older books get a chance. I'm still so fond of them. And I know I'm speaking of them like they're in a retirement home but sometimes in the book world two years might as well be retirement age for a book.

Anyway, I'll be trying to blog around in guest spots and I'm enjoying my end of December not writing a thing (other than publicity stuff). I definitely like writing books better than sales pitches. Back to it soon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dig Two Graves trailer

So I made a little trailer for Dig Two Graves. I know book trailers don't do squat for sales, but I had fun and it keeps my filmmaking muscles flexed, even when I only have a half hour to make something like with this. It makes me laugh anyway. Pass it around if you like it, put it on your own site, send it to your grandma. The point is, get it out there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Start digging

Today my novella Dig Two Graves hit the digital world courtesy of Snubnose Press. I'm proud and honored to have them on my side as this book makes its way in the world. We didn't do a special thanks page but if I had it would have thanked:

 Jennifer Busskohl for early reading and not being shocked.
Brian Lindenmuth for taking it on and giving great notes. Yes, I even changed the ending for him.
To Sean Doolittle and Scott Phillips for giving great blurbs that humble me.
And to Sean Doolittle again for giving some 11th hour notes that made the book that much better. Thanks for not holding your tongue.

Thanks also to everyone who helped spread the word today. I'll try not to be too obnoxious with the self-promo but if anyone is going to know about this book I need to start the ball rolling. Hopefully others keep it moving downhill from there.

And Off The Record continues out there with every sale providing money to children's reading charities. Don't be a tightwad. What, you don't want kids to read? If they don't start now, who is going to buy my books about prison blowjobs when they grow up? Come on! (the new 5-star Amazon review singles out my story, California Dreamin' as "fabulous")

As a bonus, Keith Rawson has foolishly offered to give away a copy of him amazing short story collection, The Chaos We Know (also from Snubnose) with proof of purchase for Dig Two Graves. Take the fool for all he's worth! And damn, that collection is worth it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cavalcade of covers!

With so much work coming out in the next month (not sure how that happened) I have been seeing and also creating covers for the books and now they are almost all done.

First up is my own design for Dig Two Graves, my novella with Snubnose Press that be will out very, very shortly. See the post below for that one.
The cover for my entry into the Fight Card series is in. Check this baby out! and then check out the first two books in the series, Felony Fists and Cutman. (yes they are all written by "Jack Tunney", but using that pen name are some fantastic writers like Paul Bishop, Mel Odom and soon Gary Phillips and more!)

Next up are two antholgies that are going to be great. First is Grimm Tales out from Untreed Reads (who also put out Discount Noir) Then there is Off The Record, a collection of song-themed short stories to benefit charity. It's a great collection of authors and I can't wait to read all the stories.
I need to get approval to post those covers but they both look great.

Of course I'll let you know when they are all available for purchase. In time for Christmas, that much I know!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Final Drafts and more Final Drafts

Whew! I know I have been absent from any short story sites, or much of anything lately. I do have work to show for my head-down work ethic. Just handed in my second final draft in a week. Two different project each coming out by the end of the year.
Now to turn back to the novel I finished but need to clean up/rewrite/polish.
For a little fun break I have the Men of Mystery one day conference this weekend. Should be a fun time. Lawrence Block is the keynote speaker so I am looking forward to that for sure.

One of the drafts I handed in is for my entry in the Fight Card series that has just launched with two great novellas by Paul Bishop and Mel Odam, writing as Jack Tunney, as I will be soon. These are short, fast throwbacks to 40s and 50s boxing pulps and I have been lucky enough to read both books in advance and they are great. So up my alley I am incredibly pleased to have been invited along for the ride. I really hope my entry, Split Decision, holds up the standard. I will say that Paul Bishop (who invited me to play) said in his feedback on my first draft gave me the best compliment I bet I'll ever get when he said, "Made me feel like I was reading a vintage Gold Medal original." Yeah, so I'm happy with it.

The other project is my Novella for Snubnose press, Dig Two Graves. Below is a sneak peek at the cover. I'm 3 for 3 in designing my own covers after designing but not painting One Too Many Blows To The Head and doing all of Borrowed Trouble. (Split Decision will be someone else). Once it comes out I'll post my other design ideas and you can tell me if we chose the right one. Maybe time to hang out my shingle for cover design work. Like I need another job to do at night...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On a hot streak

I'll dispense with the usual apology for not posting more and get right to the reasons.
Finishing drafts of a number of projects. The novella Dig Two Graves comes out soon on Snubnose Press. By the end of November if all proceeds as planned.
My other novella, Split Decision is set for December. More on that later.
Almost done with this novel that I love. Jennifer and I have finished our new collaboration and are waiting to hear the response.
But really, I've been reading. Damn, have I been reading. Flush from Bouchercon with a stack of new books I dug in and got lucky enough to get a few advances thrown my way. I'm here to tell you, some hot stuff coming your way soon.
First off, one that is out now is Already Gone by John Rector. I completely adored Rector's last book The Cold Kiss and Already Gone did not disappoint as a follow up. A white knuckle ride, all the cliches. Anyone who knows me knows that the quality I most admire in a book is not knowing what is coming next and Already Gone spun out of control so fast I could not keep up let alone try to predict what was coming next. Fantastic.

The there is Abide With Me from Ian Ayris. Ian is British and I've been a fan of his shorts for a while now. Ian stood out to me as having a very distinct voice. Very British and one I could always hear in my head as I read, you know? I was thrilled to hear he had a novel coming out and I was so keen to have one I ended up slipping through the Amazon cracks and ended up accidentally with a copy of the book a full five months (I think) before it comes out. Since I told Ian I got one in the mail they have stopped the presses and no more will be let loose in the wild until the actual release date.

Well, keep your eyes out for that because Abide With Me is one you will want to add to your list. I guess technically it is a novella. It's short anyway, but it reads very deeply. It is a crime story of sorts, but really it is quite a bit more and the crime tag will do it a disservice. It is a finely drawn character study of two young men in a working class British neighborhood growing up in the turbulent 70s and 80s.

John, our narrator, is a fully realized character with flesh on his bones and blood in his veins. The details and finely drawn characters let me immerse myself in a world I don't know at all but completely understood through the writing.
And then that voice! Ayris creates a world of language that transported me. And isn't that what fiction is all about? John's simple street language isn't fancy but it fits the character. Whenever I would dig into Abide With Me, I left Southern California and was dropped into a rain-soaked neighborhood of row houses and school yards, prisons and football pitches. I didn't always know what John was saying, though the slang became more clear as I went along and I feel like I could hold my own if I was dropped in a London suburb tomorrow. Sure, there's too much soccer...I mean football. But that is the world of Abide With Me and I wouldn't change a thing.
It really isn't until the last third that it becomes a true crime novel and by that point you have such an investment in the characters that what they go through in the finale is that much more heartbreaking.
It's literary, it's crime, it uses the word 'fuck' more than anything I've ever seen in my life. It is so much more than what the 150 page count will make you expect. Expect to be moved and taken to a whole different world that is as real as your own.

Then is Hell On Church Street by Jake Hinkson. I won't spoil my upcoming review in Criminal Element but suffice to say this book was one I'd been looking forward to and that is usually a set up for a big fall. Hell On Church Street was not a disappointment by any stretch. It may well be my favorite book of the year. This one is a keeper for a long time. I'll re-read it for sure and this one is going to be getting a lot of copies given out as gifts by me. It deserves to be a blockbuster and next time anyone asks what is a book that is exactly what I love about crime fiction, this is the one I'll tell them about. I could go on, and I will at Criminal Element. It comes out in December. Get it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Yikes. Been a while.

The trouble with having multiple places on the web to say things, share things and write things is that my own site gets neglected. Its hard enough for me to talk about myself at all so I tend not to do it in more than one place at a time.
But I do have more and more stuff out there.

First, I'm blogging officially for Criminal Element.

So all the lost posts that would go here have gone there where way more people will see them. I've done pieces on Breaking Bad, Mickey Spillane, Tom Waits and even my Boucheron recap. Swing by and leave a comment. I love comments.
I have a new story up at The Flash Fiction Offensive. It's been a while since I've had a short story out there so I'm grateful to David for accepting this one. I quite like the way it turned out.
I just turned in another story for a new anthology. That will be out later this year. Grimm Tales is still coming soon and until then John Kenyon can tide you over with his all-new Grift magazine.

D*cked is out, Pulp Ink is still going strong. Dig Two Graves is coming soon. Sheesh. Sick of me yet?
The Crime Factory:  The First Shift anthology is stellar. And hey, I'm not in it. Read without risk of overexposure. Seriously though, some great, great stuff inside.

And this coming Sunday October 9th is the second Noir at the Bar L.A. featuring Pamila Payne, Jimmy Callaway, Matthew C. Funk, Lisa Brackmann and Christ Faust! What a lineup.
So come one, come all and bring a friend.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sign here

It was only a matter of time before someone figure it out, and thankfully the guy who did decided to put it out there for free. I signed up for Kindlegraph so if anyone out there wants a digital "signature" of a Kindle edition of anything I've written, just look me up. I apologize for my sloppy digital signature but my mouse skills are not the greatest, then again if anyone has my real signature, you might not be able to tell the difference. Legibility is not my strong suit.

Shockingly to me, as soon as I signed in I had a request waiting. It may be the only Kindlegraph I ever sign but it was nice to get one so quickly.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More stuff to sell

That's right, on the heels of the amazing Pulp Ink collection comes D*CKED, the most twisted idea for an anthology I have ever heard of, let alone been a part of.


Can you believe that? I'm in the midst of all that talent.  Mssrs. Bardsley, Ayres and Shea are the masterminds behind it and I am grateful to them for inviting me to the table. It was a difficult assignment. I started three different stories. I quite like the one I ended up with. A very unexpected narrator. A first for me, that's for sure.

D*CKED is out as a real book and now has both Kindle and Nook versions. As with Pulp Ink, this is a collection well worth your time and a few dollars. Just when you think you've recovered from the scorching Pulp Ink gave you, get some seriously dark fiction and a few laughs from D*CKED. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pulp Ink is here!

The anthology Pulp Ink has arrived. I'm very excited to be included in this collection of short stories inspired by the names of music tracks off the soundtrack from the film Pulp Fiction. Everyone has such a unique take on their inspiration title. And who are those everyones? Just look at this lineup:
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

Yeah, that's my name in there with so many great writers. Everyone is at the top of their game too. Anthology masterminds Nigel Bird and Chris Rhatigan have really collected one of the strongest lineups I've ever seen. Hope you like my story, but really I had an unfair advantage. Of all the titles on the soundtrack, I was handed "Zed's Dead Baby" How could I not be inspired?

This starts the late sumer of anthologies for me. Soon will see the release of D*cked and then Grimm Tales drops in Sept. All three of these are collections I am so proud and flattered to be a part of.

In other news I should have written about sooner but acts as excuse for why I didn't: I'm blogging now for Criminal Element. I've had a few pieces up already and I'm working on more.  It's great to be a part of that community and a really great site for all things crime and mystery fiction. I'll do better to post links like HERE , HERE and HERE .

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


When you're a small time author, like me, you take what you can get. Usually what you can get is a bent nose from all the doors slamming in your face, but once in a while you get reminded why you do this. Sure, each night you write something you actually like is a thrill and really is the gas on which the engine runs, but the jolt of Nitro we all need every now and then is knowing that someone is actually reading the stuff.

Enter Nigel Bird – writer, teacher, British person. He and I have exchanged pleasantries over each others short stores for a while now. He even beat me out in a contest and still I like the chap, in a cyber never-met-him way.

He likes our book. He read it on vacation (marking our first official entry into the summer vacation reads category) and he wrote about how he liked it. Reading an unsolicited opinion, where he has nothing to gain at all from writing about our work, is a real thrill. Of course any time someone uses the words "Masterpiece" and "Sublime" in talking about your writing, you're bound to think it's the best book review you've ever read.

Anyway, thanks Nigel. You've given me a real boost.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Noir at the Bar in the books

And it was a success! We had a great turnout for the inaugural Noir at the Bar L.A. and many requests to do it again so it looks like we're a hit. It was a ton of fun with some great readings including a brand new piece of Noir from our headliner Duane Swierczynski.

Check out the pictures below.

The story I read was a sneak peek of Safety which was published today over at Shotgun Honey. Proud to have another one up there. People seemed to dig it. They laughed in the right spots and were horrified at the other right spots. Check it out.

I also need to shout out to my pal Greg Bardsley for the sale of his book CASH OUT. He's a hell of a writer and has been slugging it out in the trenches for plenty of time. You'll be hearing more about him, mark my words.

My favorite shot I got of Duane. Love the Crime Wave title in the BG. I brought my DVD of old Film Noir trailers and we let that run on the projector all night. It made a great backdrop for the readings.

 I introduce the night's events.
Holly O'Neil West graced us with a reading from her unpublished manuscript. 
So cool to have a mix of styles. 

Josh Stallings gave us a taste of Moses McGuire from his newly published Out There Bad.

Josh read some seriously dark noir. The crowd loved it.

Full house!

Duane reads from Breakneck, an all new in-the-works project.

My co-conspirator Stephen Blackmoore reads his short story from Uncage Me 
against a hell of a backdrop.

We are so NOT badasses. (Me, Blackmoore and the Mystery Dawg!)

Holly gets a little help from Ida Lupino.

It was a great night. Onward to the next!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Packing heat

My goal all along in this writing thing is to have a body of work. More than just one novelty item in the bargain bins. (something I barely escaped in my music career.) And while I have said body lurking in files on my computer, the whole point is to get it out there.
I had plans to let loose a novella that I wrote a while back by doing it myself to Kindle like all the cool kids are doing these days. Then a new imprint popped up called Snubnose Press . It was started by the fine folks at Spinetingler , so immediately I knew it would be quality and I knew the style would suit my own. They called for submissions so I threw this 24,000 word piece at 'em and guess what? They liked it.

So I am proud to announce that Snubnose Press will publish the ebook of Dig Two Graves, a nasty revenge tale with a main character some people will hate, some will love and some with love to hate. I'm really proud to be in the rookie season of Snubnose along with some of my favorite writers and cyber pals like Keith Rawson and Patti Abbott who both have short story collections coming out.

More to come as the sumer progresses. Right now I need to get to work on revisions and add all the spit and polish to make this thing as good as it can be. But dang I'm proud and happy to be part of the Snubnose family.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Solstice update

Well, 2011 is half over. Is that pessimistic? Does it work with anything beyond glasses of water? Either way there is both nothing new under the sun and lots of tiny things to report.

First off I am proud to be co-hosting the launch of Noir at the Bar in Los Angeles. It's high time we brought this gathering of crime writers and readers to our fair city. We scrambled and snagged a bar that was willing to host us on Sunday the 17th of July so we could get everyone's favorite writer of pulse pounding thrills and off-the-wall speedball-laced prose, Duane Swierczynski to be our featured guest. Whether through guilt or just a lack of anything else to do in L.A. over the pending Carpocolypse weekend, Duane agreed to grace us with his holiness.

Also reading short bits of fiction will be my co-host Stephen Blackmoore, the up-and-comer Josh Stallings (who Elizabeth White is about to anoint with oils) and the as-yet-unpublished-but-give-it-time Holly O'Neill West and your truly.

So come on out and bring a friend. It's free!

I got a pair of rejections over the recent holiday weekend. I really don't mind them. I don't get depressed. It bothers me much more when things are out there and pending.

Of course it did help that mixed in with those No thank you's was an acceptance letter I am really psyched about. It's too early to talk about yet but contracts have been sent and revisions are underway based on the editor/publisher's notes. Watch this space for more.

My reading is keeping up for a record year of books under the old belt. I'm on Fun & Games right now and loving it, as I knew I would. I recently set aside a book I plan to come back to but it just wasn't holding me, surprisingly for this author. And with Duane's latest calling me from the top of the TBR pile I had to put that other book on pause.

Getting close to the big dump of all my anthologies this summer. More on that too as it comes in. All good stuff. 

I've long complained that the pace of publishing is glacial. Those big ass ice shelves might move slowly, but they move constantly. As long as I keep up a slow push seaward, I'm happy. Meanwhile, I tap tap tap away at night building the body of work. The next thing is always the best. And I always wish the days were longer. Words - words - more words!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

We're number 2! We're number 2!

I am honored, humbled and shocked to have taken 2nd place in The Drowning Machine blog's third annual Watery Grave Invitational with my story Fingerprints.

Naomi Johnson holds this annual event with an eye to giving writers just enough fence to keep it interesting but still allow us to run free. This year's challenge was to use a horse somewhere in the story. How and in what form was up to us. Some people were literal, others more obtuse. The first thing that came to my mind was the phrase, "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on." Sorry, just how my brain works I guess.

From that nugget I imagined two guys after a bad job, one with a missing (or very nearly missing) finger. It spiraled out of control from there. I quite like the way this one turned out. I'm sure I'd rewrite certain sections again but I'm proud of it regardless.

Taking first place was the excellent Chris La Tray and in third was the always fantastic Chad Eagleton. Fourth was the wonderful British writer Ian Ayris and in a tie for fifth was Nigel Bird and Patti Abbott. Can you beat that group? Like I said - honored, humbled and shocked.

Hope you like the story and do take time to read all the winning entries.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer is here - challenge time

Steve Weddle, one of my favorite short fiction writers and online raconteurs, has thrown out a challenge on the fantastic Do Some Damage blog. A Noir-ish story about summer. Well, how could I resist?
I threw this down, no doubt inspired by the hours of time I've spent reading interview transcripts for work.
Steve requested to keep it short, but I can't seem to do that too well these days so mine clock in a little longer - 2,900 words. Sorry. I think it's a quick read regardless, about one Dad's very, very bad day at the beach.
Enjoy and visit Do Some Damage on the 20th for links to all the stories in this challenge. There are sure to be some greats.
QUICK NOTE: the .99 Kindle sale of both of our books - One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble continues until the 21st so if you're reading this on the 20th for the challenge day you still have time to grab two great crime novels for dirt cheap on the Kindle. Check out what people had to say about them on the column to the right.

by Eric Beetner
Homicide detective D’Amica handed Max a styrofoam cup of ice water and sat across from him at the interrogation table.
“Thanks,” Max said, lifting the cup to his lips and slurping at the drink, hunched over since the restraints pinning him to the chair gave very little slack. The handcuffs and chains argued noisily every time he moved his arms.
D’Amica set a pen on top of a yellow legal pad on the table between them and then ignored it. The recorders would get it all and someone else would transcribe it later. “Why don’t you start at the beginning and go from there. That’s usually how this works.”
“Okay. Well, it was so damn hot today.” Max tried tilting the cup for another drop of water, but the angle wasn’t right.
“Yeah, funny things happen when the heat rises.”
“You ever see anything like this, detective?”
“Can’t say I have. But I’d still like to have you tell it.”
“Okay. From the start, huh?”
Aug. 16 – 5:06 p.m.
Det. D’Amica:
Okay, we’re on record here. Mr. Ellsworth, please tell us what happened today in your own words.
Mr. Ellsworth:
Well, we were at the beach.
Det. D’Amica:
Who’s we?
Mr. Ellsworth:
Me and my son, Izzy. He loves the beach. He’s autistic so it’s hard to find good places to take him, but he loves the ocean. I think the sound soothes him. And when he’s swimming the motion really helps calm him down.
Anyway, He wanted an ice cream. It’s so damn hot out there today. It’s gotta be over a hundred. Is it over a hundred, do you know?
Det. D’Amica:
I believe it is.
Mr. Ellsworth:
Right, so I go to buy Izzy an ice cream from a guy with a cart. The guy is rolling around on the bike path ringing his bell and there’s a few people gathered around. I order a rocket pop, the red, white and blue kind, y’know? I guess that’s more of an icee, not an ice cream, but you get the idea.
The guy with the cart is Mexican or Guatemalan or something so when he says, “One fifty” I can’t understand him at first. I ask him to say it like three times and there’s this other guy, this big douche bag guy who’s getting all impatient. Then Izzy starts in because he wants his rocket pop. He doesn’t even know the meaning of the word patience. The ice cream guy won’t give it up until he gets paid, which I totally understand, so I start digging in my pocket for two quarters to go with the dollar bill already in my hand.
Well, the douche bag guy says something like, “I wanted one of those too. Here you go. Keep the change.” And he gives the guy two bucks and takes the rocket pop and starts walking away.
Izzy starts freaking out. Now, mind you, these freak outs can last up to an hour, which I don’t really want at the end of a long day when it’s a hundred degrees out, right?
Normally I would have just let it go.
Det. D’Amica:
Uh-huh. Instead you chased him down.
Mr. Ellsworth:
Well, I yelled after him, “Hey, dickhead, that was my kid’s ice cream.” The guy with the cart got out another one right away, but to Izzy that’s not the point, okay? In terms of his freak outs we’re at, like, Defcon two. I really didn’t want it to get any worse.
Initially I was going to go give the guy my dollar fifty and take the ice cream back and give it to Izzy. I mean, the guy could see the kid was starting to lose it. I mean, a few people around were starting to stare. An older couple on the sand started packing up their umbrella and chairs and giving me these looks like I’m disturbing them. I guess I was being kinda loud.
But the dude, the guy gives me the finger over his shoulder as he walks away! All I’m trying to do is get my kid the ice cream I promised him and this guy’s got to go and get all dickish about it.
Maybe it was the heat, I don’t know. I went after him. He was all of maybe ten paces away, not even. I didn’t even say anything, I was too pissed off. All I have is Izzy in my ears starting that high pitched noise he makes.
So I get to the guy and I try grabbing him to spin him around, y’know, face me like a man. Only he’s got no shirt on and when I grab his shoulder, right on top of that stupid tribal tattoo, my hand slipped off because of all the sunscreen so I end up more like punching him forward. But anyone there will tell you I didn’t hit him. I was trying to grab him and spin him around.
Det. D’Amica:
We’ve spoken to witnesses.
Mr. Ellsworth:
And they told you, right?
Det. D’Amica:
Please continue.
Mr. Ellsworth:
Well . . . that’s when he . . . I mean, I kinda pushed him forward – by accident! – and he fell. I think he must have tripped up in some of the old couple’s junk. A beach towel or something. Anyway he fell and . . . and then . . . 
Det. D’Amica:
Please Mr. Ellsworth. Tell us in your own words.
Mr. Ellsworth:
That old bastard, pardon my language, but that old guy had that umbrella out in front of him like a spike, y’know? And this guy, the jerk guy who should have just . . . should have let my kid have an ice cream . . .  (Suspect begins crying) He fell forward and the tip of the umbrella went, y’know . . . into his eye I guess.
(Suspect breaks down. Cries.)
And then the old guy, the fat old guy he kinda falls forward because now his umbrella is stuck in the eye socket of some stranger, and he falls forward and he’s so damn big that when he comes down . . . Jesus, I’ll never get it out of my mind . . . that umbrella comes poking out the other side of the guy’s head.
(Suspect crying)
I mean, all I wanted . . . all I wanted was [UNINTELLIGIBLE]
Det. D’Amica:
Better now? Let’s continue.
Mr. Ellsworth:
So people start screaming and running all around. I mean, I don’t blame them. I didn’t know what the fuck, excuse me, what the hell to do.
First thing is I look back at Izzy. He’s gone silent. In a lot of ways that’s worse than the fits. His silent phases can last days. He just shuts down like he’s in a trance or something. I forget what the doctor’s clinical name for it is. 
I guess I kinda blanked out too. I knew how it looked. Everyone was pointing at me and yelling like I’d spiked the guy’s head with the umbrella myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the old guy. It was an accident. A freak accident.
What can I say? I panicked. I saw the number eighteen bus and I just had that impulse to get the hell out of there. To get my son to safety. I honest to God thought there was going to be an angry mob any second and they would have torn me apart. Really, I did.
So I grabbed Izzy’s hand and we ran.
Det. D’Amica:
That’s when the incident at the bus happened?
Mr. Ellsworth:
Yeah. Do you think I could get another one of those ice waters? It’s just so friggin’ hot.
Det. D’Amica:
We can do that. Keep going, please.
Mr. Ellsworth:
Well, we made it to the bus, but like I said people were starting to get pissed and think I did it on purpose. So I guess this guy, this surfer dude, thought I’d just murdered someone or something. He didn’t even see what happened. All he saw was people screaming and me running away with my kid. Oh, man, I wonder if he thought I was kidnapping Izzy? Do you think that’s what he thought?
Det. D’Amica:
I wouldn’t know.
Mr. Ellsworth:
Anyway, so Izzy is catatonic, the bus is about to leave, this guy is coming up fast behind me. I didn’t know what the hell to do. I got Izzy inside the back door just in time. The bus driver must have been clueless, like they all are. 
The doors close and this guy has got his hands around my waist trying to tackle me. I’m thinking, great, the damn bus is gonna leave without me, but this guy is posing a more immediate problem, right?
So I shake him off. I kinda flip him over my hip. I just wanted to get to Izzy and think of something to do. I didn’t have time for some vigilante surfer, y’know?
So he flips over and lands with his butt on the curb and his head in the gutter. And the bus takes off. I mean, this driver ought to be held responsible because he was obviously not paying attention at all. I mean, how could that possibly be my fault?
Det. D’Amica:
Just tell us what happened, please.
Mr. Ellsworth:
The damn bus rolled right over his head, that’s what happened. God, I’ll never get that out of my mind either.
[Suspect is brought water. NON-INTERVIEW]
Det. D’Amica:
And we’re back on record. Mr. Ellsworth, you’ve told us there are now two bodies and you didn’t think to stop and wait for the police?
Mr. Ellsworth:
Look, I know there were two bodies but you gotta understand, now my kid is on a bus that’s driving away from me. Izzy isn’t the kind of kid who can fend for himself. Especially when he’s in shutdown mode like he was. Or if he broke out of that and started a tantrum on the bus – people would have called the cops on him and he could have hurt himself.
I know you probably don’t believe any of this, but I was doing this for my son. I’m all he’s got, detective. I’m supposed to be the one who takes care of him, keeps him safe. 
(Suspect crying)
God, I fucked up, didn’t I?
Det. D’Amica:
Tell me about the cab driver.
Mr. Ellsworth:
So I gotta catch the bus, right? I hop in a cab that’s right there. I mean, he’s right friggin’ there. I say, “Follow that bus.”
This guy, he won’t budge. He sees the crowd outside, the people screaming and looking down at the guy who just lost his head under a bus wheel. He says he won’t take me anywhere and I should get out of his cab.
I could have said a lot of things, y’know? I mean they were on the tip of my tongue. The guy was an Arab. Second guy in a row with an accent I couldn’t understand. And he’s telling me what to do?
My autistic son is speeding away to who knows where and this guy won’t give me a ride to follow him?
So I start yelling. I wasn’t thinking straight right then. I told him, forcefully I guess, that I needed to follow that bus. I didn’t say anything racial or stereotyping or anything, even though I could have. I honest to God did my level best to be respectful but forceful, y’know?
So what does he do? Pulls a gun on me.
Fine, he needs a gun for robbers and stuff. All I am is a Dad who’s freaked the fuck out and needs to find my son. Sorry about that. I’ll try to watch the language.
But, okay he wants me out of his cab that bad, I get out. Only then I let slip one of the racial things in my head. I shouldn’t have said it, I know. I don’t even remember what it was, but it was stupid and I shouldn’t have said it.
I guess he was pissed at me or maybe he thought he had a citizen’s arrest on his hands or something, but he follows me out and that’s when I hear the cop cars.
Surely you guys got a hundred calls about what’s going on and so this cruiser pulls up and I think, “Great, I’m fucked.” Excuse my language again.
I put my hands up. Ask anyone, I did. And then these cops start shooting like crazy. Only not at me, at the cab driver. It was insane. I felt like I was in Baghdad or something.
Det. D’Amica:
I think the officers on the scene were thinking terrorist situation at the moment.
Mr. Ellsworth:
I’m sure they were. And I don’t blame them. A guy with a beard and that accent waving a gun and then all those people screaming and a headless body in the gutter and another one on the beach with an umbrella through his skull? I don’t blame them one bit. But you can see how I don’t think I should be blamed either, right?
Det. D’Amica:
Let’s just stick to the facts of the story, Mr. Ellsworth. Is that when you took the cab?
Mr. Ellsworth:
Yeah. All that shooting, people were ducking and diving everywhere. The closest place for me to go was inside the cab. I saw an opportunity to get to Izzy before the bus got too far away, and I took it.
I’m telling you, that’s all I was thinking about.
Det. D’Amica:
So you stole the taxi?
Mr. Ellsworth:
I got away from a shootout in the street, although I sure as hell don’t think that driver got off any shots. I mean, I’m sure those cops thought they were foiling a major terrorist plot or something.
 But, yeah, I took the cab and went after the bus.
I knew where the number eighteen was going so I went east away from the beach. Like, three blocks later I saw the bus. Every other time I’m behind a bus while I’m driving I’m cursing them like crazy for being so slow. This time, I was really glad about it.
So that’s when this guy, I don’t even know what his deal was, this guy tries to hail me down thinking I’m a cab driver.
Det. D’Amica:
Wonder why he’d think that?
Mr. Ellsworth:
I know, but . . . sorry. Anyway. He tries to flag me down, steps half way into the street like I don’t see him. He starts cursing me out when he can tell I’m not stopping. I don’t know what was up this guy’s ass. Must be the heat again.
Anyway, I zip past him and he steps out and slaps the back of the cab. I heard it bang on there, loud. He’s calling me names and saying he’s gonna write down my license. I looked in the rearview just because the guy was making such a fuss, y’know? Otherwise I wouldn’t have seen it.
Det. D’Amica:
Mr. Ellsworth:
He stepped out fully into the lane to bitch me out and I guess the guy behind me wasn’t paying attention or got distracted by all the commotion. What I saw was the guy get creamed. He flew up and over the hood and was all flopping arms and legs. I have no idea what happened to him but–
Det. D’Amica:
He’s dead.
Mr. Ellsworth:
Well, again, not really something that could be considered my fault, is it?
Det. D’Amica:
That’s for a jury to decide. Continue.
Mr. Ellsworth:
Oh, Jesus.
[Suspect goes silent for several minutes]
Det. D’Amica:
Mr. Ellsworth, are you ready to continue?
Mr. Ellsworth:
That’s all there is. I caught up to the bus, got out at a stop light and went inside and found Izzy. He was just sitting there like he was watching TV or something. The bus driver started yelling at me about not paying. Guess he finally started paying attention.
I just sat there and held onto my son. I didn’t know what the hell was going to happen. 
Then you guys arrested me on the bus. And now I’m here.
Det. D’Amica:
Okay, Mr. Ellsworth. I want to thank you for being honest with me today. And we’re going off record.
D’Amica glanced at his watch, noting the time. No dinner with the wife tonight. The paperwork on this thing would take all night. He waved in an officer through the two-way mirror.
Max rattled his chains as he drained the last from his cup of ice water. A patrolman in blue unshackled Max from the chair and pulled him to standing.
“We’ll get you back to holding now, Mr. Ellsworth,” Detective D’Amica said.
“And Izzy?”
D’Amica held the door open as Ellsworth shuffled into the hall rattling like Marley’s ghost.
D’Amica nodded a head to a bench where Izzy sat next to his Mom. She held a worried look on her face that deepened when she saw Max in handcuffs. Izzy held a double scooped ice cream cone that consumed all of his focus.
Max smiled, turned to D’Amica with wet eyes. “Thanks for that.”
“No problem.” D’Amica held Max by the arm and walked him down the hall without stopping. 
Izzy didn’t notice his father going by.