Tag Archives: writers

Toilet Gator – Chapter 19

At sixty-three years young, Maude Fleming was Cole’s trusty right hand. She typed, dispatched, took messages, cooked, cleaned, sewed – she did it all. She was never without her old, tattered gray sweatshirt. She wore that mess for so long that no one was able to remember her wearing anything else. Meanwhile, she’d given up the battle with her hair a long time ago, opting to wear a blue baseball cap instead.

Maude was live streaming Network News One’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Countess Cucamonga murder and crocheting a mitten at the same time. Knitting mittens was one of her favorite pastimes. In theory, it made her happy. In reality, the mittens were useless. She had hundreds of pairs at home. Occasionally, she’d give them out as gifts but seeing as how she lived in Florida, no one really had any use for them.

A cigarette dangled out of Maude’s mouth. Pieces of ash fell into her yarn but she didn’t pay them any mind. She just kept working her needles.

Around dawn, an exhausted Cole stumbled through the door of the rundown Sitwell Police Department building.

“Long night, Chief?” Maude asked with her raspy smoker’s voice without taking her eyes off of her mitten.

“Ergh,” Cole grunted.

“That bad, huh?” Maude asked.

“Harumph,” Cole replied.

Cole walked on over to the coffee machine and fumbled with the filter. Maude jumped out of her chair, put down her mitten, and gently guided her boss away from the machine.

“I’ll get that,” Maude said. “You take a load off.”

Cole rubbed his bloodshot eyes and headed for his office. “Thanks.”

Walking into the Chief’s office was like stepping into a rustic hunting lodge. High up on the wall behind the desk were three mounts, the heads of a grizzly bear, a large antlered buck, and a lion that he bagged while he was on a safari vacation.

Cole put both legs up on his desk, then turned on his radio. The dial had been set on one and one station alone for twenty years – WRDNK aka, “The Redneck – Grover County’s Number One Country Western Station.”

As luck would have it, Cole’s favorite song was playing again:

“Will I drink myself to death?
Because without her, I got nothin’ left.
Will I ever rev my life up to full throttle?
I doubt it, cuz without her, all I got is the bottle…”

Cole opened up an old cigar box on his desk. He pulled out a good stogie, chomped off the end, then spit it into the trash barrel. He lit up and puffed away.

The Chief relaxed in his chair, allowing his personal sense of ennui to flush through his body. He’d learned long ago it was easier to embrace the sadness and let it run its course rather than try to pretend its not there like the rest of the world usually does.

Minutes later, Maude bursted through the Chief’s door. Her appearance startled Cole, because for the first time ever, there was a plastic tube up her nose. It was attached to a small, portable oxygen tank that the old lady carried by a handle held by her left hand. In her right hand, she carried a cardboard box with a notebook balanced on top.

“What the hell?” Cole asked.

“What the hell, what?” Maude asked.

Cole pointed to the tube in Maude’s nose. “What the hell, that!”

“Oh,” Maude said as she set her tank and cardboard box down on the Chief’s desk. “My doctor says my lungs are no good. I’m not getting enough oxygen, on account of all the smoking.”

Cole puffed on his cigar, then pulled it out of his mouth. “Then what the hell are you smoking for?”

Maude shrugged her shoulders. “What? I’m going to quit down? Screw that. The time to quit was twenty years ago. Now I might as well enjoy it until I die.”

Cole coughed and choked at the same time when he heard that news. “You’re dying?”

“We’re all dying, hon,” Maude said. “I can’t imagine I’ll be around a whole helluvalot longer with this condition but no one’s put an expiration date on me yet.”

Cole breathed a little easier. “Thank God.”

“Why?” Maude asked. “You’d miss me or something?”

Cole flashed a rare smile. “Nah. It’s just, who would get my coffee?”

“What I wouldn’t give to have a time machine so that I could go tell my younger self to give up smoking for good,” Maude said. The old lady and the young man then had a stare off, until Cole gave in and stumped out his cigar into an ashtray.

“Anyway,” Maude said as she flipped open her notebook. “Enough sentimentality. The phone’s been ringing off the hook. You’ve gotten so many calls that I have half a mind to ask for a raise.”

“That sounds like a good idea, Maude,” Cole said. “See if the town will give me one while, you’re at it.”

“Apparently everyone has flipped their lids over this Countess Cooky-Booky, Wooky-Nooky, whatever the hell her name is. The famous girl with the fat ass,” Maude said.

“Right,” Cole said.

“I’ve got a call from the Mayor asking for a status report on the investigation,” Maude said.

“Tell him to look for it up the deepest, darkest regions of his cavernous asshole,” Cole replied.

Maude jotted repeated a more diplomatic response as she jotted it down in her notebook with a pencil. “The Chief is working diligently on the matter and there are no new developments at this time.”

The old lady read another message. “The Sheriff would also like an update.”

“It’s also up his ass,” Cole said.

“The Chief is always happy to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies and will gladly update you when he has new information,” Maude said as she jotted the reply down.

“Come on, Maude,” Cole said. “Time’s a wastin’.”

“Tell me about it,” Maude said. “It seems like it was just yesterday I was able to shit without three different medications.”

“TMI,” Cole said.

“I’ve got a bunch of messages from wackos claiming to have tips on the killer,” Maude said. “One guy insists the killer is a space alien, but he sounded like he was calling from a bar. One guy says Elvis is alive and well and murdering people on the toilet. One woman who sounded like she was abusing one substance or another is sure that this is the handiwork of the government and that they’re trying to scare people into not using toilets. Something about a vast conspiracy against the toilet industry.

Maude tore out several pages of her notebook and plopped them on the Chief’s desk. “I don’t know. I’ll let you sort through all that B.S. I just take the messages.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Cole said.

“Thirty calls from various federal officials,” Maude said. “Lab technicians, forensics analysts, investigators and so on. They’re all calling to let you know that they’ll be setting up shop here.”

“Yeah,” Cole said. “The FBI’s taking over. Just give them whatever they want.”
Maude closed her notebook. “Umm…”
“What?” Cole asked.

“I couldn’t help but notice they all said that if you have any questions, you should refer them to Agent Sharon Walker,” Maude said.

“Yup,” Cole said.

Maude shook her head. “God. That’s not good.”

Cole clasped his hands together behind his head and leaned back. “Eh, it’s no big deal.”

“No big deal?” Maude asked. “You nearly drank yourself to death when she left. Why, if I see that dirty, no-good skank I have half a mind to…”

“Just pay her no mind,” Cole said.

“Pay her no mind?” Maude asked.

“Ignore her,” Cole said. “I already saw her tonight.”

Maude gasped. “You did?”

“Yeah,” Cole said.

“I hope she got old and fat,” Maude said.

“Nope,” Cole said. “Looks better than ever.”

“Damn it,” Maude said.

“It was hard seeing her again,” Cole said. “But I got through it. I was a professional. I listened politely to her FBI bullshit. I’ll soldier through her being her until this thing is over and that’s all there is to it.”

“If it were me I’d tell her to go to hell,” Maude said. “What with everything she put you through.”

“Nope,” Cole said. “I didn’t mean anything to her. I’m not about to let her know she means anything to me.”

Maude sighed – loudly and discernibly, almost as if she were asking Cole to ask her about her sigh.

“What?” Cole asked.

“It’s none of my business,” Maude said.
“You’re right,” Cole said. “It isn’t.”

“But women always know,” Maude said. “Men try to hide things, but women always know, and sometimes a woman will use that to a man’s disadvantage.”

Cole smiled again. Most of his smiles were reserved for Maude these days. “I will try not to let that shatter my faith in the female of the species, Maude.”

“Good,” Maude said as she opened up the cardboard box. Inside, there was a homemade cake. It appeared to be the product of several hours’ worth of work. The white icing had been meticulously applied, with blue trim around the sign. Written in red icing on the top were the words, “Happy 40th, Chief.”

“Oh shit,” Cole said as he glared at the cake. “I was hoping no one would remember.”

“Why the hell would you hope for that?” Maude asked.

“Because I don’t want to remember,” Cole said. “Jesus Christ, Maude, I can remember being a young buck like it was yesterday. Thought I’d be on the top of the world by now but here I am, babysitting my ex-wife while she investigates the murder of some girl with a fat ass.”

Maude laughed. “Well, you know they say life isn’t about the destination. It’s about the journey.”

“Yeah,” Cole said. “Find the guy who put that in a fortune cookie and tell him to…”

“Shove it up his ass?” Maude said. “Got it.”

Cole looked at the cake again. “It’s very nice, Maude. Thank you.”

Maude headed for the door. “Yeah, well. Taking care of you is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. I’ll get your coffee.”

Cole took another peek at the cake. As he looked closer, he noticed little pieces of cigarette ash in the frosting. He chuckled, then closed the box. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to eat it anyway. The fewer reminders of his forty years on the planet, the better.

Along the right hand side of the wall, there was a tall metal gun cabinet. Cole found the key for it on his ring and opened it. Shotguns. Rifles. Handguns. He was well stocked.

He reached into the bottom of the cabinet and pulled out a bright orange box. He set it on his desk and unlocked it as well. He then opened it up to reveal one of the biggest revolvers on the planet, the Angry Barracuda .500 Caliber. Better known as, “the Hunter’s Helper,’ it was heavy, but the weight felt good in Cole’s hand. The barrel was long. The bullets were enormous.

The piece had been designed as a backup sidearm for hunters whose rifles had jammed. No one wants to be staring down an angry beast with a bum rifle and not another gun to reach for. The force it brought was so powerful that it knocked Cole on his ass the first time he used it at the local gun range years earlier.

“Oh boy,” Maude said as she returned with her oxygen tank in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other. “You’re playing with your big gun. This can’t be good.”

“Everything’s fine,” Cole said. “It’s just at times like these, I feel like shooting something.”

“Well,” Maude said. “As long as you’re not drinking anything, it’s fine by me.”

Maude left the office. Cole put the gun back in its box, then locked it up in the cabinet. He returned to his chair and rolled up the right leg of his pants to reveal a prosthetic leg. The flesh of his real leg ended just below the knee. The stub was secured in a metal socket. The prosthetic itself was metal connected to a hard plastic foot inside his shoe.

Cole removed his stub from the socket and propped the prosthetic up against his desk. He then rubbed his aching knee.

The Chief was exhausted after a long night. He closed his eyes and was about to drift off to sleep when his cell phone rang. He pulled his old flip phone out of his pocket.


“Cole!” came the surly voice of Mayor Dufresne. “Why in tarnation is my town all over the news? You think anyone’s gonna wanna do business in a town where people are getting killed while they’re sitting on the shitter?”

“Wrong number,” Cole said.

“Don’t you wrong number me, you son of a bitch,” the Mayor said. “Now I wanna have a big pow wow with Floyd and see if we can’t nip this thing in the bud. I been calling you at the station all night and I demand to know why you haven’t been returning my phone calls. I own your ass, Mister, and I will…”

“No hablo Ingles, Senor,” Cole replied. Flip. In that moment, Cole decided that he would never upgrade to a smart phone. Not only did he not need all of that Internet mumbo jumbo clouding his mind, but it was much more satisfying to hang up on an unwanted call with a flip than a swipe.

The land line on Cole’s desk rang this time. It was Maude.

“Chief? Got the Mayor on the line. Should I put him threw?”

“No,” Cole said. “Tell him he’s an asshole, then slam the phone down hard.”

“You’re not in because you’re working diligently on important law enforcement matters. Got it. ” Maude and Cole hanged up.

Ring! Another call on Cole’s desk phone. “Hello?”

“Chief?” Maude said. “Got a reporter on the line from Network News One. She identifies herself as quote, ‘A Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,’ unquote. She wants to know if you’ll be interviewed on air.”

“Tell her that her titties look lopsided,” Cole said.

“You’re not available at this time,” Maude said. “Got it.”


Cole leaned back in his chair. He cranked his radio loud. A new song was on. It wasn’t his favorite, but it was about a man who turned to drinking after his wife ran out on him so it worked in a pinch.

“Drownin the pain away,
Cuz I didn’t get to see my baby today.
Yeah, I’m drownin’ the pain away.
Oh, there’s gotta be a better way…”



“Chief,” Maude said. “It’s Rusty. He’d like a word. He sounds mad.”

“Tell him to blow it out his ass,” Cole said.

“The Chief is indisposed,” Maude replied. “Got it.”


Cole closed his eyes again.


“Damn it!” Cole shouted out as he picked up his phone. “What?!”

“Well, hello to you to, Mr. Snooty Britches,” Maude said.

Cole rubbed his face. “Sorry Maude. Who is it now?”

“Bitchface McGee,” Maude said.

“Who?” Cole asked.

“Sharon,” Maude said.

“Oh,” Cole said.

“She wants to know if she can recruit some of your officers to canvass the college campus for clues,” Maude said.

“Sure,” Cole said. “As many as she needs.”

There was a brief pause.

“What?” Maude asked. “No snappy comeback?”

“No,” Cole said.

“You don’t want to tell her to blow anything out of her ass?” Maude asked.

“Nope,” Cole said.

Another pause.

“I’m worried about you,” Maude said.

“Don’t be,” Cole said.

“Your pushing all your emotions about her down and that’s going to get you started drinking again,” Maude said.

“Not gonna happen,” Cole said.

“So why the kid glove treatment with Miss Prissy Pants?”

Cole sighed. “Because it accomplishes nothing and I’ve wasted as much sorrow as I can on her. She’s a grown woman. She wanted out. She got out. End of story. I’ll treat her like any other suit the Feds want to jam down my throat.”

“Hmm,” Maude said. “OK then.”


Cole was frazzled. In the lower left hand drawer of his desk sat a flask, half-full with a perfectly aged scotch. It had been sitting there untouched for eight years. For a long time, Cole thought about throwing it away, but after awhile, he grew so proud of his ability to have it around without drinking it, that he just kept it.

But now, he figured he was cured of alcoholism. Surely, one little sip to calm his nerves wouldn’t hurt. He opened the drawer and unscrewed the top of the flask. Slowly, he raised it up to his mouth and then…


Cole lowered his hand. He took a deep breath, then answered the phone. “Hello?”

“The Mayor again,” Maude said.

Cole’s face turned bright red as he shouted, “Tell him to blow it out his ass!”

Slam! Cole bashed the phone down on his desk. He looked at the flask in his hand and strongly considered guzzling the whole thing. Instead, he opened up the cardboard box and poured the booze all over the grim reminder that he’d been around for forty years. He then threw the flask and the cake into his trash can.

He needed a jolt. A took a big swig of the coffee Maude had brought him, only to choke and sputter. He coughed and coughed until one of Maude’s cigarette butts popped out of his mouth.

“Son of a bitch,” Cole said.

It was clear there was no peace to be had in his office. Cole reattached his leg and rolled down his pants leg. He returned to his gun cabinet and retrieved his orange gun box. He opened up the door and stormed past Maude.

“Where are you off to?” Maude asked as she worked on her mitten.

“I need to shoot something,” Cole said. “Hold my calls.”

“Will do, Chief,” Maude said.


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Toilet Gator – Chapter 18


As Sharon entered the lobby of the sorority house, Cole’s heart did backflips. Sharon was walking normally, but it had been so long since Cole had seen his ex-wife that he felt as though he was staring at her while she was walking in slow motion. Every hair flip took forever, every step seemed like it was a thousand years. It was almost as if his mind was slowing the image of his long lost love down on the premise that he better drink in a good view of her now before he never sees her again.

“Hello Cole,” Sharon said as she gave her ex-husband a brief, polite hug. Cole didn’t return it. He was so surprised to see Sharon that he just stood there in a daze. Oddly enough, he could even hear his favorite romantic cowboy song. He thought that was strange, and wondered whether or not he was losing his mind.

“Oh my old lady…done got up and walked out on me.
And now I’m so lonely, I can hardly even see,
What’s the point of not drinkin’ from now until infinity?
Oh drink, yes I’ll drink, till she’s gone right out my mind.
Toss back that whiskey, till the barkeep calls quittin’ time.
But no matter how much damage I do to my liver,
I’ll try my best to forgive her,
But Lord knows I’ll never forget her.”

Rusty’s voice broke Cole out of the trance. “Sorry,” Rusty said as he poked a button on his phone. “I bumped into the wall and my ass turned on my radio app.”

“Rusty,” Sharon said as she gave the red headed a lawman an equally quick hug.

He threw Cole a confused look. “Sharon.”

“How are you?” Sharon asked Cole.

Cole found a little spot on the floor to poke with the toe of his boot, a tactic that he used to stall for time. “Oh, fine, fine.”

Gordon had been standing off to the side for awhile. He coughed to remind his partner he was still there.

“Where are my manners?” Sharon said. “Cole, meet my partner, Gordon Bishop.”

Gordon and Cole locked eyes and traded angry glares. Neither of them knew why, but they instantly did not like one another. Their hands launched out like two angry sharks, consuming one another in a handshake. Gordon squeezed Cole’s hand tightly. Cole returned the gesture with a hard squeeze of their own. The faces of both men turned red. They gritted their teeth, waiting to see who would bow out first until finally they both caved at the exact same time.

“Gordon,” Sharon said. “This is Officer Rusty Yates.”

Before Rusty even knew it, his hand was being crushed by Gordon’s giant hand.

“A pleasure,” Gordon said.

As soon as Rusty’s hand was released, he shook it to and fro until the feeling returned. “Oh shit…likewise, big fella. Likewise.”

Cole scratched the back of his head. “What brings you big time city folk to our little old neck of the woods?”

“Take a wild guess,” Sharon said.

Cole was too busy sniffing the air. It smelled of Eau de Price Town, the cheap perfume that Sharon had always worn. How he missed it. It was as if each nostril full brought him nourishment.

“Countess Cucamonga,” Rusty said.

Sharon tapped the side of her nose with her finger. “You got it.”

“You got any leads?” Rusty asked.

“Just an idiot who’s cooling his heels in lockup,” Sharon said. “But other than that, not a one. Frankly, we were hoping you’d have some.”

Cole kept staring at Sharon. Suddenly, he realized he’d been staring for too long, so he looked around the room, anywhere he could to avoid eye contact.

“Cole?” Sharon asked.

“Huh?” Cole asked as he stared at the ceiling.

“You got anything?” Sharon asked.

“Oh,” Cole said. He half-looked at Sharon. He couldn’t bring himself to look her in the eye, so he focused on the wall just to the right of her. “Not much. Bunch of college kids in the bathroom. The male’s dead. The four females were knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital.”

“Well,” Sharon said. “We’ll have to talk to them as soon as they wake up.”

Cole nodded.

“What about that old timer in the nursing home?” Rusty asked. “Saw one of the Hot Ass Blonde Chicks with Big Titties talking about it on NN1.”

“Yeah,” Sharon said. “And frankly, I was surprised the media found out about that so quickly. Pretty much the same situation. Man sits on the toilet, ends up all over the walls. No one knows how. No one knows a damn thing.”
Rusty cracked his knuckles. “Sounds like we got the case of the century here.”

“Sure does,” Sharon replied.

“Well, as soon as the state crime lab boys grace us with their presence, we might know more,” Rusty said. “We’ve been cooling our heels waiting on them awhile.”

“Oh,” Sharon said. “I probably should have called ahead and filled you two in. I called the state crime lab off.”

Cole was useless. Still looking around the room. Still smelling the perfumed air.

Gordon chimed in. “Because we can’t trust a crime scene of this magnitude to a bunch of backwater hayseeds, Opie.”

Rusty stepped up to Gordon. “Opie? Who are you calling Opie?”

Gordon was at least five inches taller than Rusty and had fifty pounds of extra muscle. He looked down at his challenger. “You, Opie.”

Rusty’s angry face disappeared. A fake smile emerged. “Oh! Because of my red hair! I get it. Hilarious, man.”

Sharon turned to Cole. “Thank you for everything. We’ll take it from here.”

Cole nodded.

Rusty was irate. “What?”

“The FBI will be running with the ball on this investigation,” Sharon said.

“The hell you are!” Rusty said.

“You got a problem with that, Opie?” Gordon asked.

Rusty gulped a big helping of fear down his throat, then looked up at Gordon. “As a matter of fact, I do, Gigantor. Cole and I have been patrolling this town for going on twenty years now and the one time something happens worth investigating and you two hot shots with your fancy suits think you’re going to waltz right in here and take it away from us?”

“Damn right, Ritchie Cunningham,” Gordon said.

“Ah, hell,” Rusty said. “That doesn’t even count.”

“It counts,” Gordon said.

“No it doesn’t,” Rusty said. “Because Ritchie Cunningham and Opie were played by the same person, so it’s not like you thought of a new insult.”

“You know I did, Ron Howard,” Gordon said.

Rusty pointed a finger at Gordon. “Now, see! That doesn’t count either!”

Sharon inserted herself between Gordon and Rusty, largely because she saw Gordon was getting a crazy look in his eye, a look she’d seen before her partner had gone off on people larger than Rusty and crushed them with his pinky finger.

“Boys!” Sharon said. “That’s enough. Rusty, this case is bigger than all of us. We’re not going to shut Sitwell PD out of this. You and Cole will be a very important part of the task force.”

“Task force?” Rusty said.

“I’ve got a team on the way to set up shop in your department HQ,” Sharon said.

Rusty couldn’t believe it. It was like every word out of Sharon’s mouth was worst than the last one.

“You’re taking over our department?” Rusty asked.

“Don’t be silly,” Sharon said. “Just the building. Miami’s become a madhouse with all the media coverage, so we need somewhere quiet to work. But don’t worry, Cole will still run Sitwell PD.”

“Oh,” Rusty said as he folded his arms. “That’s very kind of you, Your Highness.”

“I don’t like your attitude, Rusty,” Sharon said as she looked to Cole. “Are you going to say something to your boy here?”

Rusty also looked to his longtime partner. “Yeah, Cole. Say something to these carpetbagging bottom feeders. Kick their asses outta here.”

It took a few seconds for Cole to realize he was being spoken to. When he saw Sharon and Rusty staring at him and waiting for a response, he started to walk away.

“Sounds good, Sharon,” Cole said as he pushed the lobby door open. “Let me know if you need anything.”

As soon as Cole was out the door, Sharon stuck her tongue out at Rusty.

“Succubus!” Rusty shouted.

“See you later, Ron Howard,” Gordon said.

Rusty flipped out. “I’m not Ron Howard! Ron Howard is bald! I have a thick, luscious mane of hair!”

The redhead stormed out onto the campus and caught up to Cole.
“What are you doing?” Rusty asked.

Cole walked faster than his feet had ever taken him before, putting as much distance between himself and the crime scene as possible.

“Aww, who gives a shit, Rusty?” Cole said. “They want it? Let ‘em have it. I got more important things to do. I don’t need to be marching all over God’s green earth looking for the fat ass pop star killer.”

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Female writers are mad as hell and they’re not taking it anymore, 3.5 readers.

They’ve taken to Twitter to share some of the nasty, rude, unkind, insensitive things that they hear as women writers.

Hmm.  You know, I’m nothing if not a friend to all female kind, so there was a part of me that just said, “Eh, don’t even write a post about it.  Let the ladies complain.”

And honestly, as I scroll through the tweets, much of it is valid.  Women get told they can’t write from a male perspective, that complex topics might be too hard for them, that they’re selfish for writing when they should be taking care of their kids and husbands and so forth.

I guess what irks me is the “only” part of the hashtag.

Look, ladies, I hear you.  You got problems.  That vagina and all the things that come with it is not a cakewalk.

However, do keep in mind that there’s something that no male writer has ever heard before:

“Here’s a million dollar book deal because you have a penis!”

It’s never happened.

This sort of reminds me how sometimes I’ll be watching TV and a woman will complain that men can be all fat and ugly while women are expected to be hot and attractive.

Umm…sure I’ll agree that it sucks when a woman is discriminated on based on their looks, but honestly, men that don’t look good get shit upon regularly too.  It’s not a male/female thing, it’s a looks thing.  The better you look, the farther you’ll go in life, whether you have a penis or a vagina.

Back to the hashtag.  Do male writers get shit on?  Yes.  Ever since I was a little BQB boy, everyone has shit on my dream of becoming a writer.  Men have shit on it.  Women have shit on it.

I work and then I try to carve out a little time at night and on the weekends to write.  Often, several weeks will go by where I don’t work on my novel projects at all because various people in my life need help.  So I help them.

In the past, I’d try saying something like, “Hey, I’m trying to write a novel here” but they, men and women, would look at me like I just said, “Hey, I’m trying to time travel to ancient times and bring back a dinosaur to be my pet.”

In other words, the average person who is not interested in writing think that attempting to write a novel is frivolous and silly.  If you tell people you’re writing a novel, some people will be polite and say, “Oh, isn’t that nice?”  or they’ll be supportive and say, “That’s awesome!” but many, if not most, will think you’re being a wide-eyed dreamer with your head in the clouds, too busy day dreaming to pay attention to everything going on around you.

Yes, it sucks when female writers get shit on and told they are bad mothers and bad wives if they dare to carve out some time to write.

But, men get shit too.  Men are expected to be manly.  Men are expected to make a lot of money and be good providers.  Men are expected to fix shit around the house when it breaks.  When men take time to write, they’re often called pussies and wimps engaging in a frivolous daydream rather than being manly and making more money or fixing a car engine or something.

Men get shit.  Women get shit.  We all get shit.  And we should be all be able to complain about the shit we get.

And before you give me shit, I feel like in the numerous project irons I’ve got in the fire, I’ve written some very strong, positive, female characters and I’ve had plots and subplots that point out some of the shit that women have to go through.

I just feel like we’re headed down a bad path in this country where the debate always turns on, “Well, I have this kind of genitalia so my life sucks and your life is great.”

No.  No.  No.  Life sucks.  It sucks in different ways for different people and sometimes the suck is even similar.  But it sucks.  It really sucks and you don’t get a pass on the suckyness of life just because you have one kind of body part or another.

OK, everyone let the point fly over their heads and proceed to bash your humble resident nerd in 3..2…1…

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 16

The tapioca pudding wiggled and jiggled as Dolores Nelson’s boney old hand slowly moved the spoon up to her mouth. Agents Walker and Bishop sat with the old lady in the nursing home’s cafeteria. It was late and they were the only three people in the entire room.

“I’m surprised you’re able to eat after what happened,” Sharon said.

“Oh honey,” Dolores said as she dropped a dollop of pudding on her lip. She didn’t notice and just left it there while she continued to eat. “When you get to be my age, you lose the ability to give a shit. For all I know I could die tomorrow and if that’s the case then I’m not going to miss out on what could very well be my last pudding cup ever.”

“Touche,” Sharon replied.

Gordon stared the old gal down. The old gal stared back.

Wham! Gordon pounded his fist on the table. “Let’s cut to the chase, ya’ old bag. Did you do it?”

Dolores appeared confused. “Do what?”

“Calm on!” Gordon shouted. “Don’t play coy with me.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, young man,” Dolores said.

“You killed Herbert Hogan, didn’t you?” Gordon asked. “You eighty-sixed him! Put him under for the deep sleep, the long nap, the eternal siesta!”

Dolores clutched her pearls. “You…you think I had something to do with this?”

“I’ve been working murder cases for years and nine times out of ten the perp is always someone the victim was bumping uglies with,” Gordon said. “So what happened? Old Herb found an ugly to bump that was better than yours?”

The old lady’s eyes looked up and to the right. She took her time thinking about the question. “Not that I know of. I’m pretty much the hottest piece of ass in this joint, copper, but then again, that slut Estelle has been known to parade around in her adult diapers like some kind of common streetwalker.”

Gordon wagged his finger at Dolores. “That’s the ticket. Herb got himself way to deep in Estelle’s disposable underpants and you couldn’t take it, could you? It drove you wild with rage! It left you beside yourself with anger! You lost control and you grabbed a big blunt object and beat old Herb into oblivion!”

“No!” Dolores said. “Never!”

Wham! Gordon slammed the table again. “Admit it!”

“I admit nothing!” Dolores said. “Oink, oink, piggy!”

“And then,” Gordon said. “When you saw what you had done, you went berserk and you smashed the toilet and destroyed the water pipe. Just come clean you decrepit old hag. You’ll feel a lot better.”

Dolores set down the spoon and the pudding cup and held out her shaky hands. “Sonny, it just took me a half hour to get one spoonful of pudding out of a cup and into my face. You think I have the kind of strength it would take to beat a man to death?”

Gordon seethed with rage. Sharon patted her partner on the back, a sign that she was tagging herself in.

“Let’s try a different approach,” Sharon said.

A pile of napkins sat on the table. Sharon picked one up and dabbed the pudding off of the old lady’s chin. “I’m sorry, but that was bothering me.”

“Oh, thank you dear,” Dolores said.

Sharon picked up the cup, spooned up some pudding and brought it towards Dolores’ mouth. The old gal hesitated at first, but then she opened her mouth and ate the gooey goodness.

“Dolores,” Sharon said. “Did you have a job when you were younger?”

“Sure did,” Dolores said proudly. “I was a hooker!”

Gordon threw his hands up in the air. “That explains everything. Come on, we can’t trust a word this old bitty says.”

“A meat hooker,” Dolores said. “Worked at a meat packing plant in Wisconsin for thirty years. The slabs of beef would come in off the truck and I’d put them on hooks and send them on down the assembly line.”

Sharon smiled at Gordon. “You probably had to do some things you didn’t agree with on the job, right?”

“Oh sure,” Dolores said. “Sometimes I’d run out of hooks and I’d tell the boss, ‘If you want me to be a good hooker then you need to give me the supplies I need to the be the best damn hooker in this entire place.’”

Gordon placed his elbow on the table and leaned his chin on his hand, taking in the story as a spectator.

“We have to do things like that too,” Sharon said. “We don’t think you killed Herbert but we need to ask you if you did because eventually our boss will want to know if we asked you.”

“Oh,” Dolores said. “That makes more sense.”
Sharon spooned another glob of pudding into the old gal’s yap.

“I like you better than that shit for brains that was just here a minute ago, dear,” Dolores said.

“He’s still here,” Sharon said.

Dolores looked at Gordon. “Oh right. I knew that.”

“Let’s just get this out of the way,” Sharon said. “Did you kill Herb, Dolores?”

“And relieve my hey-nanner-nanner of his beautiful tongue tsunamis?” Dolores asked. “Not on your life, sweetheart.”

“Do you know who killed him?” Dolores asked. “Was there anyone who didn’t like him?”

“I can’t think of anyone,” Dolores said. “He kept to himself, mostly. He never bothered anyone.”

Sharon stirred the pudding. “Dolores, while you and Herb were…”

“Tripping the light fantastic?” Dolores asked.

“Sure,” Sharon said. “Did you see anyone come in your room.”

“Oh,” Dolores said. “I was the only one cumming in that room, honey.”

Gordon put the top of his fist up to his mouth to quell a dry heave.

“My love biscuit may have seen better days but it’s not ready to quit just yet,” Dolores said.

“Let me try asking this another way,” Sharon said. “No one else entered your room?”

“Nope,” Dolores said. “The only thing that entered was Herbert’s tongue…into my quivering puddle of lady jelly.”

Gordon looked away. On the cafeteria wall, there was a poster of a cat hanging onto a tree branch by its paws with the slogan, “Hang in there” printed underneath. Gordon tried his best to do just that.

“How are your eyes?” Sharon asked. “Do you see well?”

Dolores adjusted her glasses. “These seem to work but sometimes I have a hard time making things out.”

Sharon held up two fingers. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

Dolores squinted at Sharon’s fingers. She hemmed and hawed until she finally blurted out, “Four?”

“Useless,” Gordon said.

“Aww, shut up, shit for brains!” Dolores said.

“Stop jerking us around!” Gordon shouted.

Dolores performed a King Kong style fist thump on her chest. “You wanna go, piggy?”

“Oh,” Gordon said. “You think I won’t throw down with you just because you were born during the Woodrow Wilson administration?”

“Screw you and screw that spindly prick and his League of Nations!”

Sharon patted her partner on the shoulder, then spooned more pudding into Dolores’ pie hole, calming both adversaries down quickly.

“Let’s focus here,” Sharon said. “So OK, Dolores. You don’t see very well but, let’s say that a man with a woodchipper or a chainsaw or some big weapon were to walk into your room. You think you’d be able to see him?”

“What the hell kind of question is that?” Dolores asked.

“Just a theory I’m working on,” Sharon said.

“Of course,” Dolores said. “Sometimes, everything’s a bit blurry, but I can see you…”

Dolores pointed to Gordon. “…and I can see that giant gorilla you stuffed into a suit to make him like mildly presentable.”

Dolores looked around the room. “I can see tables and chairs and vending machines…”

“Right,” Sharon said. “So if a man with a big knife or something were in your room, you’d be able to realize he’s there?”

“I’d probably shit my pants,” Dolores said. “More so than usual.”

Sharon looked to her partner. Gordon nodded.

“I think we’re done here,” Sharon said.

Ted the orderly had been waiting in the back of the room the entire time. He helped Dolores up.

“Say, coppers?” Dolores said.

“Yes?” Sharon said.
“When you find that lousy, no-good son of a bitch that did in my Herbert, kick him in the balls for me, will you?”

“Sounds like you really loved him,” Sharon said.

“Well,” Dolores said. “Love is a complicated concept at my age, dear. Sure, I was fond of Herb, but what I really loved was straddling his sweet face like it was a wild, bucking bronco and holding on for dear life until completion.”

Gordon looked to Ted and pointed at the door. “Get her out of here.”

As soon as the parters were alone, they stood up.

“What a waste of time,” Gordon said.

“Not necessarily,” Sharon said. “We’ve got confirmation that in both cases, the suspect managed to sneak in and completely obliterate the victim without being seen.”

“You have an odd way of finding the bright side,” Gordon said.

“Beats being stuck in the dark side,” Sharon replied.

Gordon headed for the door. Sharon followed.

“Off to Sitwell,” Gordon said.

“Yeah,” Sharon said. “About that. There’s something about Sitwell I have to tell you about.”

“Oh?” Gordon asked.

“Actually,” Sharon said. “Make that more like someone.”

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 14


Cole and Rusty were relieved by a few of Sitwell’s finest. The duo stood in the lobby of the sorority house and looked out through the window. A sea of Looky Lous had formed and since most of them were in college, they were all holding red plastic cups filled with all manner of alcoholic beverages.

“Countess Cuca-who-ga?” Cole asked.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Rusty said. “I’d say you must be living under a rock if I didn’t spend most of my time with you.”

“She famous?” Cole asked with true sincerity.

Rusty stared at Cole as though he had snakes popping out of his ears. “Is she famous?”

“Well who the hell is she?” Cole asked.

“Only the first recording artist to ever have a record go octuple platinum,” Rusty said. “That’s eight times the platinum.”

“She one of those rappers?” Cole asked.

“Pop diva,” Rusty replied. “Sang about her big ole badonka donk.”

“Badonka what?” Cole asked.

“Jesus,” Rusty said. “It’s what the kids call a big ass these days, Cole. Please get out more. Really, I’m worried about you.”

“She can’t be that good if I’ve never heard of her,” Cole said.

“Oh hell,” Rusty said. “If it isn’t on the Country Western station then you’ve never heard of it.”

“A fat ass is nothing to sing about, Rusty,” Cole said. “Pickup trucks. Horses. Long lost loves that will never come back again. That’s the stuff good songs are made of.”

“You’re forever trapped in the 90s,” Rusty said.

“Last time period that ever made sense to me,” Cole said.

The easily offended protesters were back and they began pounding on the glass.

“We want answers!” one protestor shouted.

“Cops are worse than Hitler!” another protester cried.

Cole rested his hands on his belt. “Goddamn hippies.”
“They call ‘em hipsters now,” Rusty noted.

“Same difference, different century,” Cole said.

“Yeah, well, Mr. Trapped in 1999,” Rusty said as he watched the angry college students bang their fists all over the glass door. “You’d better join us in 2017 right quick because this shit is gonna be big. I’m talking O.J. Simpson big.”

Cole blew a contemptuous raspberry at his partner. “No way that famous big butt girl was in the same league as O.J. Simpson.”

Rusty held up his phone. He pressed the NN1 app and Kurt Manley appeared on the tiny screen. “This just in…our NN1 celebrity murder analyst is here to talk about why the Countess Cucamonga case blows the ever loving shit out of the O.J. Simpson case…”

“I rest my case,” Rusty said.

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 9


Sitwell, Florida

11:00 p.m.

Chief Cole Walker sat behind the wheel of his broken down, bucket of bolts cruiser, stationed in a well-known yet effective speed trap behind a billboard off of Route 199.  Up on the billboard, there was an image of a grimy looking slime ball with a white cowboy hat and matching white suit.  He was surrounded by cars and held up two fist filled with cash.

The message on the sign?  “Beaumont Dufresne’s Used Car Emporium – Prices so low he’s practically handing you cash!”

Seated in the passenger seat was Walker’s trusty right hand man, Russell “Rusty” Yates. Both men were roughly the same age.  Cole looked like he might have been a handsome ladies’ man in his youth but time had since had its way with him.  While his body remained in good shape, his face was weathered.  His black hair had patches of gray around the temples.  In short, he always looked like he needed a nap.

Rusty, on the other hand, had a boyish face, so much so that he had the appearance of a giant kid.  He had two bucky front teeth.  They didn’t protrude so much out of his mouth that he was able to open up a beer bottle with his choppers, but they did poke out ever so slightly, even when his lips were closed.  His hair was red.  Shockingly, blindingly red.  His locks had withstood the test of time, as a single gray hair had yet to infect his scalp.

The duo had been working together for two decades and in that time, they had their rituals.  Well, Rusty had his rituals.  Cole usually just grunted and nodded.  Occasionally he’d offer a thoughtful response if he was in a good mood, which wasn’t often.

Reading the newspaper out loud was one of Rusty’s rituals.  “President Stugotz Mulls Whether or Not to Send U.S. Troops into “NoOneCanPronounceThisCountry’sShittyName-istan.”

Rusty took a sip of his coffee.  “Good golly, it’s about time, don’t you think, Cole?”

Cole sat and blankly stared at the highway.  He offered no response.

“I say, Cole, what do you think?”

“Huh?”  Cole asked.

“Stugotz might be sending the Army into NoOneCanPronounceThisCountry’sShittyName-istan,”  Rusty said.  “It’s a good idea, don’t you think?”

Cole rolled his eyes and emitted a thirty second long sigh, the kind that Rusty had grown used to over the years.  It was clearly meant as a warning that Cole was angry that he was had already expelled the minimum mental energy required to recognize Rusty’s existence and now he was downright irate that he was being pressed to engage in an actual conversation.

“I don’t know,” Cole said.

“All these people dying,” Rusty said.  “Getting machetes up their taints and rocket propelled grenades up their butts.  It’s all a crime against humanity if you ask me.”

A few moments passed before Cole finally offered.  “Did anyone ask you?”

“No,”  Rusty said.  “But innocent people are dying and America can’t proclaim itself as a beacon for justice if we all sit back and do nothing.”

Cole popped a cigarette into his mouth and let it dangle from his lips as he mustered up a response.  “Who says we have to do anything?”

Rusty shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know.  Nobody.”

“Then why get involved?”  Cole asked.

“Because it’s the right thing to do,”  Rusty replied.

“And who says that?” Cole asked.

“I don’t know,” Rusty said.  “President Stugotz.  Senators and Congressmen.”

Cole flicked his cigarette light, lit up, and puffed away.  Within seconds, the car was filled with a smokey stench.

“Right,” Cole said.  “All the people who aren’t going to pick up a gun and travel thousands of miles to some place they’ve never been to before, a place they know nothing about, just to shoot at people who want to shove a machete up their taints or an RPG up their asses.”

Rusty coughed dramatically and waved the smoke away from his face with his hand.  “Will you put that out?”

“Oh, shut up, Russ,” Cole said.  “Don’t give me your sanctimonious health kick bullshit.  That coffee you’re sucking down is just as bad for as you as this cigarette is for me.”

“Yeah,” Rusty said.  “But at least I’m not forcing you down and pouring my coffee down your gullet, whereas you’re making me smoke that thing with you every time you blow your second hand smoke around my airspace.”

Cole shook his head and rolled his window down.  He took another puff, then blew his smoke out the window.  He then held his hand outside, leaving the cigarette to chug smoke into the night air.

“There,” Cole said.  “That better, you crybaby?”

“Much,” Rusty said.  “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Cole replied in a sarcastic tone, denoting that he felt Rusty’s request was, in fact, very much a problem.

“It’s just about being considerate is all,” Rusty said.

“I’m not considerate?”  Cole asked.

Rusty had seen Cole’s temper flare up before and didn’t want to cause it to do again.  He chose his words carefully.  “You seem to be lost in your head most of the time.  I’m sure you don’t do it on purpose.”

“Whatever,” Cole said.

“You got to care about other people, Cole,” Rusty said.  “Whether it’s your partner in a police cruiser or innocent civilians on the other side of the world getting machetes in their taints and RPGs up their butts.”

Cole looked at Rusty incredulously.  “Maybe I do care about people.  Maybe I’m just caring about the people that you aren’t caring about.  Did that possibility ever make its way into your soul-less ginger skull?”

Rusty turned the page of his paper.  “You know, if you’re going to start name calling, let’s just forget it.”

“No,” Cole said.  “You started it, so let’s finish it.  Maybe I do care about those innocent people who are getting taints and RPGs up their butts.  But maybe I also care some dipshit kid from Podunk, Kentucky who signed up for the Army because he couldn’t find a job anywhere and he’s going to shipped off to some hellhole to fight for people who will resent the shit out of him for being there.  If he doesn’t get his taint hacked with a machete or his ass blown up by an RPG within the first three days of his tour of duty, then he’ll have to come to grips with the fact that his mission there is destined to fail for, as we all know, all the limelight sucking politicians will blow each other with compliments and praise for as long as the war is going well, but they’ll finger point and play the blame game the second shit goes south.  The war will always go south, because that’s what happens in war, and when that kid needs a new flak jacket, or a new gun, or God forbid, more soldiers to back him up, the same assholes who sent him there in the first place will deny him all the assistance he needs to win in a desperate effort to save their political careers as well as their ability to suckle off of the government teet for the rest of their lives, so don’t give me that shit about me not caring about all the innocent civilians in NoOneCanPronounceThisShittyCountry’sName-istan.  That’s a shitty place.  It’s always been a shitty place.  It will always be a shitty place.  There’s never been a time when people haven’t been dying there and there will never be a time when people won’t be dying there.  Sending Americans to die there will not solve the problem one iota.”

Rusty studied his newspaper.  “Sorry Cole, I’ve already moved on to the funny pages.  Oh Garfield, I’m with you about Mondays.  They sure do suck.  Preach on, my furry orange brother.”

“Yeah,” Cole said as he stuck his head out the window to puff on his cigarette.  “The moral of the story, whether its war or a heated political discussion, is don’t start it if you don’t want to finish it.”

The minutes passed.  Cole smoked.  Rusty read and drank his coffee.

Zoom!  A cherry red Ferrari blasted down the highway at warp speed, veering back and forth over the center line.  Cole squinted just in time to spot a tell-tale white cowboy hat poking up over the driver’s seat.

“Son of a bitch,” Cole said as he flicked his butt out the window and pulled out into traffic.  He turned on his lights and siren and began a pursuit.

“You think its smart to start something with our illustrious mayor, Cole?” Rusty asked.

“Why not?” Cole asked.

Rusty flashed his partner a wry grin.  “Because you and I know both know you won’t finish it.


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Toilet Gator – Chapter 8


Natalie sat in the passenger seat as Walt drove down the highway. The bravado laden voice of America’s favorite anchorman blustered through her ear.

“Natalie Brock. A helluva job you did on the Countess Cucamonga murder story. Helluva job.”

Natalie’s heart fluttered. She’d always dreamed of talking to the man behind the most coveted desk in cable news and now she was. “Thank you. I’m so glad you called, Mr. Manley.”

“Oh, please,” Kurt said. “Mr. Manley was my father. Call me Kurt.”

“OK Kurt,” Natalie replied.

“To be the first on the scene when the world’s most beloved pop star is snuffed out like a spent candle,” Kurt said. “You must have drunk a second glass of lucky juice today, my friend.”

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Natalie said. “Not that I’m happy the Countess is gone, of course.”

“Of course,” Kurt said. “Blah, blah, blah, we all have to be human and say we’re sorry that we were around when bad shit went down but you know as well as I do that bad shit is always going to go down and its better for our careers if we’re there when it does.”

“I can’t deny that,” Natalie said.

“I hope you broke your foot off in that incompetent cameraman’s ass though,” Kurt said.

Natalie looked at her driver. His attention was on the road. “He was, um, severely reprimanded.”

“Excellent,” Kurt said. “Well anyway, I just wanted to congratulate you on the bang up job you did and let you know that you can take it easy because a Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties is being dispatched to Florida as we speak.”

Natalie closed her eyes. She covered her phone’s receiver with her hand, then blurted out multiple obscenities.

“Natalie?” Kurt asked as the reporter raised the phone back to her ear. “You there?”

“Sorry,” Natalie said. “Bad connection. You were saying?”

“You’re off the story,” Kurt said. “The bigwigs and I were impressed by your bravery. I mean, appearing on TV with your looks? That takes huevos, chica. Huevos grandes.”

Natalie took a deep breathe. “Kurt, with all due respect, I believe I’m the most qualified to report on this story. I’ve already broken it. I’ve already spoken to witnesses and authorities on the scene. I’ve even interviewed Countess Cucamonga’s manager on a number of occasions and he will no doubt prove to be a vital contact as the case progresses.”

“Let me stop you right there,” Kurt said. “You’re talking about qualifications and I’m talking about something else.”

“What are you talking about?” Natalie asked.

“Blonde hair and big titties,” Kurt said. “You don’t have ‘em and we need ‘em.”

“That’s disgusting,” Natalie said.

“Maybe it is,” Kurt said. “But we’re Network News One and you know our motto: The Hottest Blonde Chicks. The Biggest Titties and…”

“Oh yeah, and occasionally we report the news and shit,” Natalie said. “I know it well.”

“Then you understand the bind we’re in,” Kurt said.

“I understand you’re a bunch of sexist pigs,” Natalie said.

Kurt sighed. “Natalie, it’s easy to write the type of reporter that we here at NN1 prefer as a product of sexism, but if you do that, I think you’re missing the bigger picture.”

“Which is?” Natalie asked.

“The world is a terrible place,” Kurt said. “Umpteen zillion years ago, God granted us the gift of life and we’ve been repaying him for the favor by killing ourselves and each other at a rapid clip ever since. We’ve yet to put our minds to curing that which ails us, like cancer and heart disease, but everyday a new fangled method of killing the masses is invented. It’s sickening when you really think about it.”

“What does that have to do with…”

“Hot ass blonde chicks with big titties?” Kurt asked.

“Right,” Natalie asked.

“The people must be educated about what’s going on in the world,” Kurt said. “But with all the death and depravity going on, would anyone really bother turning on the news unless a hot ass blond chick with big titties was there to report on it?”

“I like to think that people don’t care about what the reporter looks like so much as the quality of the news report,” Natalie said.

Kurt chuckled. “And I think a leprechaun ought to swoop down on a magic unicorn and give me a pot of gold and a Vietnamese hooker loaded up with enough ping pong balls to choke a horse but we’re talking about reality here, kiddo, not fantasy.”

“This isn’t fair,” Natalie said.

“Oh boo hoo,” Kurt said. “Guess what? Life is unfair. Do you think some janitor making minimum wage to snake out shitty toilets only to come home and write out an alimony check for three-quarters of his pathetic salary to his no-good, two-timing ex-wife even though she hasn’t allowed him to see his kids for six months would ever, EVER want to turn on the news and learn about how many people were blown to smithereens today unless that information was pouring out of the supple red lips of a hot ass blonde chick with big titties?”

Natalie struggled for a response but couldn’t find one.

“Do you know how much joy our hot ass blonde chicks with big kitties bring to the average male news viewer?” Kurt asked. “Do you know that the average porn website costs over fifty dollars for a three month subscription? Do you know that in our recent viewer survey, a whopping eighty-nine percent of respondents said that they watch our channel for ‘fapping material?’ We’ve got people masterbating to our reporters and learning about war, destruction, chaos and the latest monkey produced virus to be found in their microwave TV dinners. It’s a beautiful thing.”

“I guess I never thought about it that way,” Natalie said.

“Most women don’t,” Kurt said. “Most women don’t understand what it’s like to have a penis. That little guy demands action 24/7, the type of action that our overburdened, overpopulated world is ill-equipped to offer anyone. The closes the average man will ever come to a hot ass blonde chick with big titties is to watch our channel.”

“Even so,” Natalie said. “I still…”

“Plus,” Kurt said. “Did you know that we are the nation’s number one employer of hot ass blonde chicks with big titties? Without our network, hot ass blonde chicks would be forced to resort to one of the other despicable professions they’re known to work in. We’re talking stripping, pornography, or even worse, appearing in network dramas for scale. Scale, Natalie! Are you trying to starve our hot ass blonde chicks with big titties?”

“No,” Natalie said. “I would never want to hurt the hot ass blonde chicks with big titties.”

“Good,” Kurt said.

Natalie searched within herself for strength. After mustering some up, she gave it one last try.

“Kurt,” Natalie said. “I’ve been trapped at the same local station for ten years. I don’t want to be here for my entire career. If I lose this story, I doubt I’ll ever find another one like it. Please. Don’t take me off it.”

There was dead silence on Kurt’s end of the phone for a moment. Finally, the anchorman sighed and started talking again. “You got guts, lady. You know, you remind me of a young me. Hard to believe, I know, but I wasn’t born the stud muffin I am today, the same stud muffin that gets women to tune in by the millions. We here at NN1 aren’t just about brining the news to men while they get off. Every night, the nation’s supply of females tune in just to flick the old bean around to yours truly.”

Natalie made a face of pure disgust. She was glad Kurt wasn’t able to see it. “OK then.”

“With a little hair dye a whole lot of plastic surgery, you too can be a hot ass blonde chick with big titties,” Kurt said.

“But I don’t want to be a hot ass blonde chick with big titties,” Natalie said.

“Yeah, well,” Kurt said. “Maybe I didn’t want to have ten trillion hairs ripped out of my anus and surgically implanted on my head in order to fight my male pattern baldness. Maybe I didn’t want my teeth replaced with shiny porcelain chiclets. Maybe I didn’t want silicone gel implanted in my pecs or off brand, illegally imported, discount Guatemalan botox shot into my face by a nursing school drop out every morning but damn it, I wanted to be the best damn anchorman around so I did what I had to do. Was I wrong when I said you had huevos grandes?”

“No,” Natalie said.

“Then get out there and get yourself some blonde hair and big titties!” Kurt said.

“But,” Natalie said. “There’s not enough time for me to get blonde hair and big titties.”

“Well,” Kurt said. “You better think of something because your boldness just bought you another round of airtime, kid.”

“Thank God,” Natalie said.

“No,” Kurt said. “Thank me.”

“Thank you, Kurt,” Natalie said.

“And the next time I see you on air, you better look like you just walked off the set of Jumbo Jigglers Part Seventeen.”

Click. Kurt hanged up. Natalie did as well.

“Network News One?” Walt asked.

“Kurt Manley himself,” Natalie answered.

“Wow,” Walt said. “Someone’s moving up in the world.”

Natalie rested her head against the cool glass of the passenger’s side window and watched the bright lights of Miami pass her by. “Where the hell am I going to get blonde hair and big titties at this hour?”

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Where Will Self Publishing Be in Five Years?

What advances will happen?  Will it still be thriving?  Will new sites and forms of technology arise to make the work of a self publisher easier?  Will things get harder?  Will the traditional publishing industry, much like the Empire, find a way to strike back?

More importantly, will I ever have more than 3.5 readers?

Discuss, 3.5 readers.

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 7


Walt sat between the open doors in the back of the news van, his legs dangling over the bumper as a he held an ice pack on his crotch. As he struggled to cope with the pain, he overheard Natalie on the phone, speaking to his union representative.

“Eighty-three forms?” Natalie asked. “But…but…uh…I understand but listen…no..listen to me. I’m going to try to explain this as clearly as possible. I require the services of a cameraman and this imbecile has no idea how to operate a video camera…uh huh…right but…how many hearings? Oh…fine…fine. You win.”

Natalie swiped the hang up button on her phone and patted Walt on the shoulder. “I’m sorry I kicked you, Walt. I don’t know what came over me. I’ve never lost control before.”
“I understand,” Walt said as he adjusted the ice pack. “You did warn me.”

“I hope you’ll still be able to father children,” Natalie said.

“Eh,” Walt said. “Who’d want a kid that looks like me anyway?”

Natalie leaned up against the van. “Walk me through this, will you?”

“I’ll try,” Walt said.

“You’re a fully trained camera man,” Natalie said.

“I am,” Walt replied.

“You’ve recorded footage in Iraq, Afghanistan, war zones all over the world as well as at home,” Natalie said.

“Yes,” Walt said.

“For twenty years,” Natalie said. “Long, long before they stuck me with you.”

“Right,” Walt said.

“But now, all of a sudden…what?” Natalie asked. “You can’t work a camera anymore?”

“I can,” Walt said.

Natalie slapped her forehead. “Then why won’t you?”

Walt coughed into his fist. “I’m tired.”

Natalie shook her head. “Excuse me?”

“I’m exhausted,” Walt said. “I’m getting old. I’m worn out. I’ve been to every hellhole in the world, holding the camera as one hot ass blonde chick with big titties after another berates me. When they assigned me to you, I thought it would be a cushy gig, that they wouldn’t give you much work to do on account of the fact that…”

“I’m not a hot ass blonde chick with big titties?” Natalie asked.

“Correct,” Walt said. “I thought like maybe they’d let you cover the county fair or something once in a blue moon you know, just to keep the feminists happy so they can be all like, ‘Hey, we’re not always just about the hot ass blonde chicks with big titties! We let brunettes with small titties on air too!’ But then you turned out to be a go getter.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Natalie inquired.

“You work hard, kid,” Walt said. “You’ve got Moxie. One day you’re covering a gang shootout. The next you’re chasing down corrupt politicians. And the whole time you expect me to keep up with you. I can’t do it.”

“Maybe we can get you transferred to a less ambitious reporter,” Natalie said.

“Nah,” Walt replied. “There isn’t one. Everyone in the news game thinks they’re the next big sensation. All reporters, even the ones who aren’t hot and don’t have blonde hair or big titties are hoping to make it big. I realize that now. If I transfer to another reporter, she’ll just make me run around behind too.”

“But that’s your job!” Natalie said.

“I know,” Walt replied. “But I don’t want it to be anymore. I want to be forced into early retirement so…”

Natalie stepped back. “You fail on purpose?”

Walt nodded. “Yes.”

“But why?” Natalie asked.

“Because I want to be forced into early retirement,” Walt said. “A hot ass blonde chick reporter gets put out to pasture by thirty and gets to write books about her time as a hot ass blonde chick reporter for the rest of her life. Me? They’ll work me until the morning of my funeral. I thought if I screwed up enough on purpose I’d get an HR rep demanding that I take an early retirement package but I’m union so…”

“It’s impossible for you to be let go,” Natalie said. “Your union rep told me I’d have to file eighty-three separate forms just in order to convene a hearing to discuss the issue.”

“Yeah,” Walt said. “Gotta love the bureaucracy. All that red tape protects the competent.”

Natalie took a seat next to her cameraman. “You cost me my footage. I had the inside scoop on a celebrity murder and you blew it for me.”

Walt looked down at his shoes. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“Look Walt,” Natalie said. “I can see you’ve been through a lot in your life, but I need you to pull it together.”

“I don’t know if I can,” Walt said. “The more screw-ups I rack up, the more likely it is I’ll get a retirement package. It’ll take at least ten thousand screw-ups before that happens, so I need to start getting a documented history of failure now.”

Natalie stood up and slapped Walt across the face.

“Ow!” Walt shouted. He dropped his ice bag, then immediately felt pain surge through his groin, which he quickly grabbed. “Ow!”

“Now, you listen to me,” Natalie said. “We are covering the biggest story of the year, here. Maybe of the decade, nay, the century! War? Schmore. Famine? Schmamine. Sure, everyone pretends to care when a bunch of kids in some far off country don’t have enough fresh water to drink but what really causes people to pay attention is the death of a celebrity! And we don’t just have a celebrity death on our hands. We have a murder! We were the first ones on the scene and if we keep working this story, there’s no telling how far we could go.”

“You mean, how far you could go,” Walt said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Natalie asked.

“Everyone always remembers the reporter who broke a big story,” Walt said. “No one ever remembers the cameraman.”

“That’s not true,” Natalie said.

“Really?” Walt asked. “Name a famous cameraman.”

Natalie tapped a finger against her cheek as she thought about the question. “There was that guy…umm…and the…you’re right. I’ve got nothing.”

“No, you don’t,” Walt said. “And thus, there’s no incentive for me to try to help you. There is, however, plenty of incentive for me to keep screwing up because when my ten thousandth screw-up is logged, there will be a hearing to discuss sending me on my merry way and maybe, just maybe, that’ll end up with me with a nice pension check and a delicious fruity drink with an umbrella in it in my hand as I sunbathe on a beach in the Caribbean.”

Natalie closed her eyes, counted to ten, then opened them. “I can’t believe I’m offering this but…”

“I’m listening,” Walt said.

“I can’t get you on camera,” Natalie said.

“I don’t want to be on camera,” Walt replied. “I’m too old. Too fat. That’s a young person’s game.”

“I can promise you that if I ever write a book about this, I’ll give you a co-author credit,” Natalie said.

Walt looked up. “Huh. Now you’re talking. Wait…do I have to write anything?”

“Nope,” Natalie replied. “I’ll write it all and we’ll split the profits sixty-forty.”

“Fifty-fifty,” Walt said.

“Do you want another kick to the balls?” Natalie asked.

“Not especially,” Walt said. “Fine. Sixty-forty it is. But I want to be interviewed by a hot ass blonde chick with big titties.”

“I thought you just said you don’t want to be on camera,” Natalie said.

“I don’t,” Walt replied. “But I’ve always wanted to stare at one of the hot ass blonde chick reporter’s big titties. I’ve never had a chance to really enjoy looking at them because I’m always working on the camera.”

Natalie sighed. “Well, if I ever get that kind of pull, I will arrange for you to be interviewed by the hottest blonde chick with the biggest titties I can find. Deal?”

“Deal,” Walt said.

“Will you do your job now?” Natalie asked.

“Yes,” Walt said as he hopped out of the van. He examined his camera. “This piece of junk will never do, though. I’m going to have to get my hands on an XYS Panastatic Pro, preferably with a Nantuzasaki refracting lens and an infrared flare.”

“I knew there was a cameraman in you somewhere, Walt,” Natalie said. “Especially because you look like you’ve eaten three of them.”

Walt headed to the driver’s side of the van. “Let’s roll, woman. There’s a celebrity murderer on the loose.”

“Thank God your head is finally in the game,” Natalie said. She was about to jump into the passenger’s seat when her phone buzzed. She looked at the screen. The name she saw made her heart jump: “Manley, Kurt.”

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