So it started as a very short short story. A woman saves a dog destined for terrible things, kills a man in the process.
You know. That old story.
Then, the short short story wanted to keep going. So I obeyed it and kept writing. It started turning into a revenge novel. Two more wild women characters made themselves known and ganged up together to pursue a mutual stalker.
Now, it seems there is a heist on the horizon. And half a dozen more characters. And a dog sanctuary in Mexico.
This thing will either be a total train wreck or a nifty book. Jury’s still out.
I posted a link to the opening of it when I first wrote it as a short story for the Akashic Booksblog back in January, but here it is again, at the bottom here, if you missed it then. It was called THE KILLING TYPE (yes, title is a vigorous nod to Amanda Palmer, who I ran into at yoga last week and who, I can report, has an exquisite handstand-into-wheel move in her repertoire.) I think the title still fits.
Amanda Palmer Not In Handstand
In other news, if you live in Seattle, I am reading there Monday, Labor Day, with cohort Amanda Stern, at the Bumbershoot Festival. Also, I’ll be reading Sept 14th in NYC for a LitCrawl event and then again October 13th in NYC for a Nuyorican Poets Reunion Thingamajigger (this will be REALLY COOL). I’ll post more details when I get back from Seattle. And if you want more info on the Seattle reading, drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This concludes this newsy blog post. Well, not quite. Here is
The Killing Type
The sun wasn’t thinking about rising yet. Neither was Lincoln, the guy I had come to Cancun with.
“I’d really like to take you to Cancun, baby,” he’d said two weeks earlier, on our third date.
“What’s funny about that?”
I pictured high-rise resort buildings choking coastline. Portly Americans choking resort buildings. Me choking Lincoln.
“Nothing,” I said.
Eighteen hours into our trip, after we’d had sex in the very large hotel bed and Lincoln had swigged half a bottle of tequila, he passed out. I got up and stood staring at him. He looked rugged, smart. He was neither.
I put my blue dress on, stuffed toothbrush, wallet, and passport into my handbag. I might come back in a few hours. Probably not.
* * *
I went to the reception area, asked the concierge for a cab. In butchered Spanish, I asked the driver to head away from the resorts and into the actual city of Cancun.
“Where?” he asked in English.
“Anywhere,” I said.
“My name is Jin,” he said. “Not Jim. Jin.”
“Okay,” I said.
We were stopped at a traffic light in a barrio of low, shambled buildings beneath a highway overpass. An old man crossed the street carrying a chicken in a cage. Two women, maybe hookers, wearing glitter and not much else, teetered after him. Just past the light, a pickup truck was parked and I watched a man in a straw hat hoist a dozen reluctant, emaciated dogs into the back of the truck.
The light turned green.
“Please pull over,” I told Jin.
“Pull over?” he turned back to look at me.
“Yes. Please,” I said.
* * *
As Jin edged in behind the pickup, the man in the straw hat hopped back in his truck and nosed into the street. I asked Jin to follow.
“Amo perros,” I said, in Spanish.
Jin thought a few things, but didn’t say any of them.
The pickup made its way to Carretera Federal 307. Maybe we would drive all the way down to Belize, chasing the truck of emaciated pit bulls.
* * *
After thirty minutes, the pickup made a left onto a road lined in scrub and swamp. Rising sun burned pink halos around the shrubs.
The road came to a village. The pick up made a sharp right and, after a few miles, turned right again onto a dirt path. Jin tried to follow, but there were too many dips and pits.
“Nothing down there anyway,” he said, in English. “Swamp and crocodiles.”
“If you wait for me, I’ll give you a thousand pesos,” I said.
“What are you going to do, Miss?” he asked.
“My name is Eloise. Please just wait, Jin,” I said, digging five hundred pesos out of my bag. “I’ll give you more if you wait. Please.”
I got out of the car.
It was already hot out, the air starting to shimmer. Mangrove swamps on either side of the dirt path. Stubby trees between swamp and path.
I heard a man’s voice, yelling.
I looked all around me, found a rock with a sharp edge.
A few more paces, and I came to a clearing. The man in the hat was pulling a brindled dog from the truck over to a tree, attaching him to a chain there. About ten dogs were still in the bed of the truck. Off to the side, the bodies of many dead dogs. Left to die some previous day. Picked open by vultures.
The man had his back to me. The dogs had all seen and smelled me, but none barked. Maybe they’d had their vocal cords cut—a popular operation among sub-humans who make dogs fight.
I walked forward, creeping along the sandy dirt surface. I got very close to the man in the hat before he finally felt me there and turned around.
He said something in fast, Mayan Spanish. He was several inches shorter than I. He pulled a gun from the pocket of his polyester trousers and pointed it at my heart.
I peed in fear. Felt the urine stream down my bare legs.
I ducked to the side, lifted my jagged rock, smashed it into the side of the man’s face.
He stumbled, put a hand to his head, but didn’t drop the gun. He fired at me. Missed. Went to fire again. Gun jammed.
One of the dogs, no more than a puppy, tan with a white chest and a bite wound on his leg, ran over, stood over the felled man, barking. The other dogs had been beaten down too long for an uprising.
The man tried to fire once more, aiming at the puppy this time.
I don’t kill spiders or even ants. I’m a vegetarian. I’m not the killing type.
As the man fumbled with his gun, I brought the rock down so hard, his entire face turned to pulp. The gun fell from his hand. I picked it up. I had only ever fired a shotgun. I braced myself and tried firing into the man’s chest. It worked fine. But scared the puppy.
“It’s okay, Perro,” I said, crouching down. The puppy came closer. Licked my hand.
I wiped the gun down on my dress then, using the fabric as a glove, put the gun back in the man’s pocket.
The puppy watched as I rolled the man’s body over to the edge of the swamp into the water.
I got the remaining dogs out of the pickup and tied them to trees so they’d be in shade until I could get help. The dogs had big heads and starved bodies, butchered ears and open wounds. But not one of them challenged me. The only one who would even meet my gaze was the puppy. His eyes were bright green.
* * *
Jin had waited. I climbed into the back of the cab, holding the puppy to my chest.
* * *
The sun was all the way up now.