Now that THE HOLE
is done -- or, at least, in a holding pattern while I get feedback on the first draft and prepare for the second -- I've launched my second serial novel, KARAOKE QUINTESSENCE
This one's a very different book from THE HOLE. It's not apocalyptic horror. Instead, it's something of an urban occult piece with a heavy crime fiction element. It's got a guy who can channel souls in order to sing pitch perfect karaoke. It's got a pair of preteen girls who hire a detective to track down something mysterious. The vibe I'm going for is, I suppose, Elmore Leonard by way of Tim Powers.
Here's the opening several paragraphs.
Jimmy Pete spent the summer breeding sinners. Eleven women, all of them pregnant, his seed rocketing along on juju he’d picked up from a fat Puerto Rican for a deck of playing cards, a bottle of whiskey, and a blue pigeon feather it’d taken him a week to track down.Chapter 1
“And you know what the shittiest part is?” Jimmy said to the blonde guy next to him at the bar. “It’s the way them chicks call you up, whining and moaning about how you ruined their life, like it’s not their fault they fucked you.”
The blonde guy nodded.
Jimmy continued, “So I said to ‘em, you just go get an abortion, you don’t want the kid. But the funny thing is– You know what the funny thing is? They can’t. That’s right. Those eleven babies will cling on and fight off any drugs you pump in there and if you go in after ‘em with a coat hanger, they’ll just grow back.”
The blonde guy laughed.
“It’s funny, huh?” Jimmy said. “Shit like that makes my goddamn day.”
He stood up, grabbed at the pile of quarters he had to cover drinks, dropped them in his pocket, and picked up his briefcase. He knocked the blonde guy on the shoulder. “You been real good company,” he said.
The blonde guy nodded. He shrugged. Jimmy dropped him a few quarters, smacked his back again, and walked back to the front of the room. He stepped up onto the little wooden stage and set his briefcase down on along the wall under the retractable screen. He put his hands up in the air. “My good, dear folks,” he said. “I’m back to please the hell out of you. Anyone got something in particular they’re just buzzing to hear?”
A table of Mexicans near the front started laughing. One took off his hat. He waved it at Jimmy and shouted a slur of words in spanish.
“Don’t know that one,” Jimmy said. “Sorry, mi amigo.”
The Mexican waved his hat again, a gesture of dismissal this time.
“Anyone else,” Jimmy said. No one was forthcoming. “Come on, folks. I got a repatuar, that machine back there’s got its own, and they overlap in a big sweet spot of musical bliss I’m sure one or two of you have a favorite in. So go ahead and choose.”
Someone near the front worked up courage–or worked through boredom–and shouted, “Led Zeppelin.”
Jimmy grinned. “Yup,” he said, “I think I can do that.” He turned and whispered to the dude running the karaoke machine, who fumbled buttons, digging through the play list.
Thirty seconds and he got a thumbs up: song found, get ready to sing. He looked around, over the heads of the small crowd. Maybe thirty people were sitting haphazardly at the twenty or so tables in the bar. It was a dive, Jimmy knew, but he had the feeling he’d get thirty bucks–if he was lucky, fifty. People always tipped. And his finger had been itching something mad.
Jimmy kicked into Robert Plant. He gave the room a whole lot of love and somewhere in the North African desert, the real Robert Plant stopped paying attention to the native music festival he was attending and hugged himself, feeling like he’d had too much to drink on an empty stomach.
People cheered. Some clapped. One or two coughed. Jimmy hit it harder, drawing the song in, channeling the falsetto. He gave it his all and, when he finished, a table full of ladies–nurses, some with fancy jackets pulled over their scrubs–begged for more. The drunks really liked this short, Italian looking dude who could sing like a Seventies rock icon on cue.
is up and chapter 2 will be soon.
I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.