Michael Haskins

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dixon Rice's "The Assassins Club"

My fellow write Dixon Rice’s first book has been published and, believe me, you want to get in on the bottom floor of this guy’s books. There’s more to come and you’ll be able to say, “I read him when . . .”
Here’s a taste of why I believe that.

The thriller THE ASSASSINS CLUB follows two serial killers in 1970, nearly a decade before the term ‘serial killer’ was invented by FBI profilers. This 1,000 word excerpt includes the end of chapter one, where Tyler (in Montana) ‘accidentally’ becomes a killer, and chapter two, where a second killer (in Baja, Mexico) discovers his identity:
Driving the black Barracuda past stands of lodgepole pines straight as soldiers on review, Tyler Goode noticed the gas gauge needle hovering near E. He pulled into the Express Chest, a dingy beer-and-gas shack squeezed between an acre of peeled logs stacked to the north and a defunct heavy equipment dealership to the south. He usually gassed up in Kalispell to save on a fill-up, but forty-eight cents a gallon would have to do. Ty parked, climbed out and glanced at the attendant approaching him through the mucky snow.

Oh, shit!

Brute carried a two-by-four in one massive hand. Just like last night, he never said a word. He swung the board at Ty’s head with both hands.

Ty managed to duck under it. Meeting no resistance, Brute’s powerful swing took the big man off-balance and he spun half around.

Ty put his left hand on the slushy asphalt and swung his outstretched right leg, sweeping Brute’s feet from beneath him. It would’ve meant a red card in soccer, but Ty didn’t hear a ref’s whistle. He watched the expression on the big man’s face as he fell, and realized Brute was trying to decide whether to let go of the two-by-four and cushion his fall, or keep it so he could kill his prey quicker.

Brute clung to the board, landing hard on shoulder and cheek. He groggily rose to his feet.
Ty stood waiting for him. “Put it down, Brute, and let’s work this out.”

The bully lifted the two-by-four over his head like an axe.

Ty stepped backwards just as he had practiced a thousand times in various martial arts dojos. This time he stumbled on some loose gravel. The club grazed his head as he slipped to the ground. He landed flat on his back, dazed, watching the board arcing up for a final blow. It started its descent toward his skull. Ty rolled awkwardly away through half-melted snow until he bumped into the curb around the pumps.

The stud came down hard on the damp pavement next to Ty’s head and bounced out of Brute’s hands.

Ty grabbed the two-by-four as it bounded past. He jumped up with it firmly in his grip, and clobbered Brute on the temple.

The big man toppled like a redwood in the forest, striking his head on the curb.
He didn’t move.

Still dazed, Ty got down on one knee and felt up and down the groove on the side of Brute’s neck. Then he checked both wrists.
No pulse.

He stood up. No people in sight, no cars.

Was it possible nobody saw? Ty didn’t remember hearing any vehicles pass by during the fight. How long had it lasted – thirty seconds? A minute?

He threw the bloody stud into the trunk of the Barracuda, then splashed through slush into the shack and cleared all the cash from the register. He kicked over a stool and knocked over a display case of candy bars and gum, making it look like a robbery. He pumped a few

gallons of gas into his car, wiped off the pump handle and drove away. He turned onto the deserted street and headed toward the Ruff Rider.

The meanest sonuvabitch in the valley, and Ty had killed him.

“Guess I’ve done my good deed for the year,” he said to himself.
* * *
Twelve hundred miles southwest, a bearded man fights his way through the surf. A giant wave crashes over his back and knocks the air from his lungs. He struggles to stand upright, his arms and legs heavy as lead. He vaguely recalls thrashing around in the cold water and turning around in time to see the stern of a sailing ship as it glides toward the horizon, jaunty carnival tunes in its wake. Other than that, he doesn’t remember much.

Did I fall from that? Or get pushed?

The water tugs at his legs like a needy lover. He finally falls to his knees on hot, white sand. He has a pounding headache and blood on one hand from when he touches the throbbing knot on the back of his scalp.

Where the hell am I?

Who am I?

The voices in his head provide no answers.

A hazy figure appears far up the beach and so he walks in that direction. The sun feels good on his back. Seagulls circle overhead and chatter in their private language. After a few minutes he can make out some details of the approaching person – a tall thirty-something woman with sunflower-gold hair, wearing a flowing white gown. She walks with her head down as if overwhelmed by a great sadness. Or maybe looking for pretty shells.
A terrible fear jolts his heart.

She’s in mortal danger. Something awful is about to befall her.

Close now, she finally looks up and notices him. She laughs. “Jesus, you’re naked!”

So that’s who I am.

A thunderstorm roars in his ears. Lightning flashes behind his eyes. The ground shakes so, Jesus fears it will open up and swallow them both. The woman becomes a blur of color and motion and desire and spite.

When the earth stops shaking, Jesus crouches over her naked, still body. He wonders if she is uncomfortable with her neck bent at such a strange angle.

“I’ve never known a man like you,” she says in a voice that sounds much like his own. 

“You are a magnificent lover.”

“Thank you,” he says. Her praise makes him feel awkward.

“The white cloak was meant for you. Please accept it as a love offering.”

“Bless you, my child.”

Jesus washes his hands in the surf and then pulls on the robe. A bit snug under the armpits but otherwise a good fit. He kisses the woman goodbye and then walks in the direction she’d come from. Another premonition strikes him as he climbs a low dune.
This direction is north. This is where my destiny awaits.

The amazon.com link to the $2.99 e-book is http://www.amazon.com/The-Assassins-Club-ebook/dp/B006PTIO1C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325011420&sr=8-1

No comments:

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Map