My pulp novel The Geek is out and people really seem to be enjoying it which is nice. If you’re an ebook person there’s free samples available on iTunes, amazon and goodreads. However, I’ve been getting a lot of people who tell me they just prefer paperback, which I certainly respect.
So, because of all those requests I’m reposting a free excerpt of The Geek here and on Reluctant Joy.
Give it a read and if you find that a hardboiled, pulp novel is just what you’ve been looking for then head on over to amazon and pick up a paperback, or basically go to amazon and everywhere else for an ebook.
Gary had been staring at the old French farmhouse for two hours and seventeen minutes. Every nerve ending in his body was poised to move but, he made himself stay completely still. He wanted to run in there and do what he was being paid to do. He also promised himself he’d wait to see if anyone else showed up before he did. He gave himself the arbitrary waiting period of three hours before going in and the clock was ticking down.
As far as he knew, the only person inside the farmhouse was his target. He’d followed him from the city center, taking the metro out to the end of the line. The last stop was in a sort of no man’s land that divided Paris from the countryside. From there he’d followed the man south to the outskirts of the Loire Valley.
He knew he should go in and put one in the man’s head, but Gary wasn’t in the mood to kill someone today. Today he was in the mood to kill many someones. It was days like today, and targets like this one that made him love his job. At least it helped him remember why he used to love his job.
Killing a person wasn’t so much about training, though Gary had plenty of that. In the end, killing was about will. Either a person had the will to pull the trigger or plunge the knife, or they didn’t.
Murder was different. Anyone could be capable of murder in the right (or wrong) circumstance. Killing took a special kind of person. Gary had been given the tools, but in the end it had all come down to his capacity to kill. His will to kill, separated him from the other 99 percent of the people walking around on the planet.
If no one else showed up at the three-hour mark, he would go in and take care of business. He was hoping for at least three or four more people. Anybody who showed up here today was involved with the target. If they were involved with the target, they were involved with the job, and deserved to die. Gary did not like killing in the name of his country to protect corporate interests. However, what this asshole had done made Gary’s blood boil.
Sidney Tarhanian was a private sector saboteur. Like Gary he had a very specific skill set. Unlike Gary, he had no morals and no remorse for crossing the line. Sidney had worked for many corporations from many different countries. He had no loyalty, no sense of country or duty. If this latest job (and his last, Gary assured himself) was any indication, he had no soul as well.
Sidney had recently been down in Nigeria. American and Chinese companies were fighting it out in a private sector war, vying for all the resources the naïve and underdeveloped country had to offer. Oil, ore, gas, precious stones, Nigeria was the latest in a long line of candy stores up for looting. Sidney had been hired by a Chinese corporation, to sabotage one of Exxon’s drilling and distribution centers. They wanted it leveled, and they wanted it to look like the company had cut corners on safety and design. The goal of the Chinese was to push the Americans out and take over completely.
Sidney was more than happy to oblige. He set about his job with the usual enthusiasm he had for destruction. He completely leveled the drilling site and distribution center, killing 143 workers in the process. Unfortunately for Sidney, because of Nigerian labor laws, 73 of the dead had been children. Their ages ranged from nine to sixteen years old.
Sidney couldn’t give two shits, but Gary was pissed off beyond all reason. He’d been sent to France by the CIA at the behest of Exxon. They wanted to send a message to the Chinese. Gary was technically being used as an attack dog, in the name of corporate supremacy. He knew the suits in Langley didn’t really care about the dead kids. Gary did care, and that’s why he agreed to do the job.
There were a lot of reasons for Gary to hate Sidney Tarhanian. Like Gary, Sidney was a native Californian. Unlike Gary, Sidney had been born into a very wealthy family in San Diego. He’d been a top athlete in high school and received a full ride to USC.
The contacts he made at USC had been used to start his career in sabotage for hire. What most people didn’t know about Sidney, but what his file laid bare, was that the man was a complete sadist. The type of kid who tortured and murdered neighborhood pets well into his teens. Eventually moving on to brutally beating boys he didn’t like, and raping the girls he did. Sidney’s father was wealthy enough and powerful enough to cover up his son’s many sins.
Sidney was the type of person who had picked on Gary all through his childhood. He was the type of person who only cared about himself. In short, the type of person Gary really enjoyed killing.
Gary watched the small cloud of dust. The car enveloped within it sped along the dirt road getting closer by the second. He put the binoculars down and chugged a bottle of water. He watched the car come to a slow stop in front of the farmhouse. Two men got out and headed inside, making the eventual body count three instead of one. It wasn’t as many people as Gary was hoping for but it would have to do.
He put the empty water bottle into his backpack and retrieved his gear. The custom shoulder rig, holding his Beretta and thick bladed skinning knife, slipped easily through his arms, resting comfortably on his shoulders. The Beretta was one of his favorite weapons. He’d had the .9 millimeter pistol since the Army. It was an older model, but it had never let him down. He pulled the pistol from the holster and chambered a round. He slid the safety to hot and re-holstered it. The hint of gun oil and leather mixed with the smell of the countryside blossoms. It brought a small smile to Gary’s face. Better than any incense, it was a lovely aroma.
Gary did not remove the large knife resting comfortably under his right armpit. He patted and stroked the cool acrylic handle reassuringly. The custom knife had been a gift from his handler. It was by far his favorite blade to kill with, though he didn’t expect to use it today.
Gary’s hand snaked down to his belt. His index finger slowly traced the round, green and white buckle. His other hand moved upward and absentmindedly caressed the small yellow, plastic, sword pendant that hung low around his chest. This was a completely automatic and subconscious act. The simple act caused his heartbeat to slow down, and he began to breathe from his stomach.
His worn 501s were comfortable, as was the t-shirt he’d chosen for today. He’d gone with the grey cotton one, with the large Captain America shield on it. He had a large variety of t-shirts he wore when killing. This one seemed more than appropriate for today’s job. He flexed his toes, inside one of the many pair of custom Converse Chuck Taylors he owned, and concentrated on his breathing.
He watched one of the men who’d arrived a few minutes before exit the house. The man took up position just outside the low, brick wall that surrounded the property. He leaned against the rusty iron gate, peeling and eating an orange, with a long thin dagger.
Most people who passed, or drove by would not give the scene a second look. Gary knew the moment he saw it, that the long thin knife was made for killing, not peeling fruit. He also noticed the small bulge against the man’s hip, hiding under his long, short-sleeved bowling shirt. Probably a forty-five, thought Gary. Assholes love forty-fives.
Gary scooted back into the shadows of the copse of trees, from where he’d been observing the farm. He removed a thin, custom-made cotton jacket. It was tailored to hide the bulge of his weapons and he zipped it up to his chest. He then slung his backpack over his shoulder, headed down the hill, and away from the farmhouse. He hit the small hiking trail halfway down the hill. He followed the trail for a half-mile, until it dumped him back up on the dirt road fronting the farmhouse.
Gary observed the man, still leaning against the gate. He pulled a map from his back pocket, unfolded it and headed toward the farmhouse.
Norman Fletcher neither loved nor hated his job. In fact, Norman Fletcher didn’t love or hate anything. For as long as he could remember nothing ever made him feel happy or sad, angry or hurt. The world for Norman was a grey, dull thing and the people in it were grey dull things. The only thing that ever came close to giving Norman Fletcher joy, was the sight of blood escaping a person’s body. The faster it spilled, the better he felt. Spurting took the grey away faster than spilling. The red, pinkish mist that exploded out of a body after a gunshot was, to him, the fluffiest of clouds.
The red was the only time color entered his world. Better than filet mignon or the finest wine. It was even better than the feel of a woman trying to fight him off as he pushed into her with brute force. The tears of those women came close to taking the grey away. Licking the tears off his victim’s faces, while he raped them, increased the color. Using words like “slut” and “cunt” as he did so helped even more. He would climax deep inside them, and it was over. The color faded and the grey overtook him once again.
Soon he found it wasn’t enough. He began cutting into them too, killing them slowly. The red would mix with the tears and mix with his cum. The world would explode in a technicolor rainbow of pleasure. Always culminating in that last desperate gasp for life, before the slut or the cunt would die. The world would fade to grey again, and he’d be left hollow and empty.
Nigeria had been a rare explosion of color for Norman. A bountiful orchard at harvest time, and Norman picked fruit until his basket was full. He found his job working for Sidney, as close to a joyful feeling as he was capable of mustering. The pay was good, he got to travel the world, and of course, the red was often there. Sidney’s world was full of the red. The countries they tended to work in were full of ripe cunt fruit, he could pick to his heart’s content. Nigeria had been his favorite so far. The government was both corrupt and inept. The brutality in the streets was a daily parade of promise.
Now, leaning against the rusted gate, finishing the orange he’d peeled with his knife, all he could taste was grey. Even the juices, running down his chin tasted like bland nothing. He licked the sharp, double-edged blade, of his thin stiletto dagger. The knife had been used on many sluts and cunts. It was covered in microscopic layers of pain and anguish but still, he could not taste the red.
He was already bored with France. Compared to Nigeria it was a real letdown. He’d been given strict orders by Sidney not to do anything that Norman considered fun. That meant no tears, no red, only grey dull Paris.
He sat in the bar last night drinking expensive scotch that tasted of nothing. He watched all the French whores, laughing with their faggot boyfriends. He had to fight the urge to make the world explode in color. It had been horrible.
In the end, Norman had to rush back to the hotel and lock himself away from the grey dull world. He spent the night, stroking his cock, to pictures of his Nigerian sluts. High definition photos of lovely black skin. The red lines and flowing juice of the sweet fruit, from that wonderful orchard, was the only thing that stopped him. Had it not been for his photo collection, he would have gone out into the night, found some dumb French slut, and added her to it.
He came in his hand and the world sparked in color. Dull color, but still, it took the grey away for a moment. Now it seemed they’d be spending a week at this safe house, in the middle of nowhere. He felt stifled, the grey smothering him like an itchy blanket.
He slipped the dagger into its sheath and thought about taking videos next time. Maybe that would take the grey away better than photos? If he could hear them cry and scream and beg, that would be far better. He cursed himself for not thinking of this idea sooner, but it was never too late to start.
Norman looked down the road, at a grey man stumbling along, attempting to read a map. He’d been warned that the CIA might be sending someone after them, in retaliation for Nigeria. He felt the weight of the .45 at his side resting comfortably, whispering promises of pink mist. The knife too was talking to him, begging to be let out of its prison.
Sidney had warned him not to overreact. The possibility of someone catching up to them, and finding this safe house was very slim. Besides, the grey man walking down the road looked far too pathetic. There was no joy, no color, in killing a pathetic man, only women. But then again, to Norman, all women were pathetic. They deserved to be treated like the cunts and sluts they were.
Norman had hawk-like vision and could tell, even at this distance, that the man coming toward him was definitely not a threat. He was wearing a faggoty white, cotton jacket. The t-shirt underneath had some sort of logo on it, most of which was covered by the zippered coat. His jeans looked baggy and a little too big. The shoes were the worst: Converse Chuck Taylors. The shoe of children, wimps, and of course, faggots.
The grey man was already annoying Norman. He was incredibly average. Not too tall, not too short but perhaps too skinny. Norman envisioned spindly arms under the coat and matching, stick-like legs under the baggy jeans. He was also clumsy. Norman watched the grey man trip over his own feet twice. He was stumbling down the road. He would look at the map, then spin his head around in all directions to check the area. Then he would turn back to the map, tottering all the while.
The only thing that stood out about him was the scar that ran the entire length of the grey man’s face. It was faded; the discoloration from the rest of the man’s skin was nominal. The scar ran from the edge of the man’s left eye, near the ear and then almost perfectly along his jaw line to the chin. On Norman it would look menacing, but on the grey man it just looked pathetic.
He felt sure the story that went along with the scar was equally boring. Likely the grey man had gotten mugged or slipped and fell in the shower. Maybe he tumbled, or was pushed down a flight of stairs. Whatever the case, he knew the scar story was as pathetic and weak as the man who bore it.
Norman was feeling disappointed. He’d never gone up against a professional. To be able to draw the red out of someone like that? That would almost be as good as a woman. This guy, however, clearly wasn’t worth the trouble. He watched the man get closer and closer.
The faggot man with his faggoty shoes looked up from his map. He smiled at Norman, waved and came up to him. The little grey man asked Norman a question in French.
“Fuck off, Frenchy,” Norman sneered. He motioned with his thumb for the grey man to keep walking.
“Oh, hey, you’re American!” said the grey man. “That’s great! Listen do you live around here or something? Because I’m, like, totally lost.” When he switched to English, his tone became far too friendly for Norman’s liking.
Norman now knew exactly who, and what this grey man was. He was the type of person Norman hated above all others. This man, obviously incapable of asserting himself physically, compensated with friendliness. Norman equated this with weakness.
Norman looked him up and down. The sun glinted off of his silly looking belt buckle. It was another reason for Norman to dislike him. “No, I don’t. Seriously, fuck off.” Norman’s hands instinctively glided toward his weapons.
The faggot man appeared to be studying Norman’s face. “Don’t I know you?” He asked in that annoyingly cheery tone, inching ever closer toward Norman.
“No,” Norman snorted, fantasizing about slicing the grey man’s throat.
“Sure I do. You’re the dead guy,” replied the grey man in a far deeper voice. His tone had gone from friendly and goofy to cold and calm.
Norman had barely enough time to process the meaning of this change. Then everything began to move in slow motion. Norman watched the map drop from the grey man’s hands. His own hands moved under his shirt to his knife and gun, but he was too slow.
The grey man’s hand flashed outward, striking Norman just to the side of the solar plexus. He couldn’t understand it, but he was paralyzed, unable to move. The world exploded in color, and pain shot through his body. For the first time in his life Norman felt something without the red. Norman felt fear.
A millisecond later, the man’s left hand rocketed outward; his index and middle finger crushing Norman’s larynx. The power of the blow brought more color into his world. Norman fell backwards, his breathing strangled and desperate. The grey man, who was now an explosion of color, caught him and dragged him behind the wall.
Norman looked up at the man now kneeling beside him. The man, once grey but now a rainbow of brilliant hues, was whispering something. Norman had to concentrate to hear what he was saying, but only caught the last of it.
“… well I hope your two friends are more of a challenge than you were. You’re dying in case you were wondering.” The man dug into his jacket pocket and removed a small, enamel, American flag pin. “I’m going to go ahead and pin this on you. A bit of a calling card to your boss’s clients so they know who killed you.”
The man attached the pin to Norman’s shirt. Norman could feel the life force leaving his body. The world seemed to get brighter for a moment before going dull and grey. The once grey man, who was now a parade of color, was the only light in Norman’s world.
His bowels emptied and filled his pants up with shit. Norman Fletcher felt as if he was floating just above the ground. He stared up, into the eyes of the man who had just killed him. Norman wondered if anyone would ever know about the beautiful things he’d done. The love affair he’d had with the red, and if so, would they understand how amazing his accomplishments had been.
“You can go ahead and die now,” said the rainbow man. He stood up and surveyed the farmhouse. Norman took his final, ragged breath.
Walking toward the farmhouse, Gary could smell the dead man’s shit. He didn’t know who he’d just killed, but he knew what he was. The stiletto dagger had given that away; a killing knife. He was American, so probably worked directly for Sidney. This led Gary to believe the dead man was most likely as sadistic as the man he worked for. He hoped that was the case; but the man had no fighting skills, the kill had been too easy.
There were a few different types of predator Gary had come across, in his time as an unofficial assassin for his country. Some only hunted the weak and defenseless; Gary wouldn’t be surprised if the man he’d just killed fell into that category.
Then there were those like Sidney. Men who didn’t set out to kill, but certainly didn’t care if people died because of what they did.
Gary was not one of these. He was an apex predator, a great white shark who liked to eat other great white sharks. Unfortunately, there just weren’t that many great whites left. It had been a long time since Gary had tangled with one. Today would be no different. Sidney was a brutal bastard, but he wasn’t apex.
Gary slinked up to the house and walked around it. Sneaking peeks in windows, then crouching low as he passed beneath them. He didn’t see anyone inside.
He approached the back of the house. He could hear two men having what sounded like a heated argument. He stopped at the back corner of the farmhouse and listened carefully. The two men continued arguing on the back patio. Their voices were clear, making eavesdropping easy.
Sidney’s voice was unmistakable. The other man had a refined, New England accent, and a distinctive habit of occasionally dropping his “T’s”. Gary did not know who he was.
“…I think you’re over reacting,” Sidney stated, now in a relaxed tone.
“I’m not in the slightes’. You can ask Norman. Our Chinese contac’ said the Americans know who you are and they’re sending someone to kill you. Us if we’re caught togethah,” the New Englander insisted.
“Dude, this house is as safe as they come,” protested Sidney. “We’ve been coming here for ten years and no one but us has ever been here.”
“Yes, ” the New Englander said with hard accusation “but you killed children this time. You killed seven’y-three children!”
“Hey man!” Sidney replied defensively, “I did my job. We knew there’d be kids working there. If anyone’s to blame it’s Exxon. Fuck them. I did the work and the Chinese transferred the final payment to my account this morning. So they don’t really give a shit if I killed seventy-three kids.”
“No, they don’t, but the Chinese don’ want you being killed – or worse captured and interrogated.” The New Englander paused. “That’s why you can’t stay here. The CIA is sending someone after you.”
“I’m not afraid of a CIA spy,” spat Sidney.
“Good, because they’re not sending a spy, they’re sending an assassin, a trained killah.” The New Englander paused for a moment. “God…what did Lee say his code name was? It was something silly. The Nerd or the Dork or…”
There was a roar of laughter from Sidney. “Seriously?! I’m supposed to be afraid of someone called the Nerd or the Dork?”
“It was something like that. Shit wha’ was it? I should have written it down,” the New Englander said absently.
Gary slipped off his jacket and laid it on the ground. He wanted Sidney to see his t-shirt. He may or may not know what it was, but he definitely wanted Sidney to see it. He pulled the Berretta and stood up straight. He then rounded the corner to interrupt the conversation with extreme prejudice.
“Oh no, oh no, The Nerd is coming to get me…ha-ha-ha! Oh god, don’t hurt me, The Dork!” Sidney was choking on his own laughter when the gunshot rang out and the New Englander’s head exploded all over the small glass coffee table.
Sidney did not freeze when he saw Gary walking toward him, pointing the pistol that had just killed his associate. The t-shirt indeed caught his attention. It was a grey shirt with a round, red, white and blue shield – a single star in the middle of it. He recognized the shield from the movies as Captain America’s.
“You must be The Spaz,” Sidney mocked. He waved his hands over his head, feigning surrender.
“It’s not Nerd or Dork or Spaz, its Geek…The Geek,” said Gary calmly. He pointed the gun at Sidney’s forehead.
“That’s a terrible codename. You should ask for another,” Sidney said calmly. He reached out and picked up a blood-splattered champagne flute. “And you’ve ruined my mimosa, there’s brain floating in it.” He dipped his finger in the cocktail and scooped out the small piece of grey matter. He held it up, showing it to Gary, then flicked it off his finger and onto the lawn.
Gary would have been impressed if he hadn’t noticed Sidney’s legs shaking violently under the glass table.
“You’re not going to kill me. I’m far too valuable and I have a lot of information I can trade,” said Sidney with a confident smile.
“Nah, we’re good.” The gun barrel was now inches from his forehead.
“Wait!” Sidney replied in a panic, his calm shell completely shattered. “I can pay you!”
“Nope.” Gary pulled the hammer back.
“Fuck! The CIA isn’t even supposed to have assassins!” Sidney screamed.
There was a flash of fire, followed by the sensation of being struck by lightning. Sidney’s skull exploded and he died in his chair, on the back patio of the French farmhouse.