I’ve got a new short story on the internets. Published by Forge, it’s called “The Old Monsters Bar“. A print edition of the magazine will be published shortly, but you can read it online now at Forge Journal.
An American expatriate hangs out in a Tokyo dive bar and shares a drink with a colossus of Japanese cinema. Monsters get lonely, too.
This story’s quite a departure from the Rolly Waters mystery series. I’ll be interested in what fans of my previous work think. If you read it and like it, please share on the social media of your choice. Or email me back and tell me how weird I am. Either choice works for me.
I don’t have a personal relationship with my cars. I don’t give them names. Except one. I had a 1979 Volkswagen van I called Zeke, which I purchased used in 1984. In my novel Desert City Diva, there’s a brief homage to Zeke, as Rolly and Moogus recover from an altercation at Desert View Tower.
You remember Old Zeke?” said Moogus.
“Yeah. I wrote a song about Zeke.”
One verse. That was all he could remember. And the melody. His voice cracked as he sang it.
“Old Zeke’s got a number, stashed in his glove box
A number he’s waiting to play
She gave him her number, the day that he met her
A wahine from Hanalei Bay”
“Oh man, that sucks,” said Moogus. “A wahine from Hanalei Bay? Really?”
“I was going for a surf-rock kind of thing.”
“Zeke deserved better than that.”
My wife and I took Zeke on a monthlong tour of the West shortly after we met. San Diego to Catalina to San Francisco to Ely to Jackson to Yellowstone to Cheyenne to Denver to Meeker to Durango to Santa Fe to Grand Canyon to Flagstaff and back to San Diego. (Note: if you survive a month together in a VW Van, it’s a good indication of future compatibility).
Zeke was my band van, as well. With the middle seats removed, there was just enough room for PA gear – woofer and tweeter cabinets, monitors, mixers, microphones, cables and stands plus my keyboard equipment. You could fit it all in there, with just enough room for my brother and me in the front seats.
Zeke wasn’t the most dependable car I ever owned. If the engine got hot and you stopped anywhere above sea level, you might not be able to get started again. Vapor lock would set in. The only solution was to sit and wait for the gasoline in the fuel lines to re-liquify.
Zeke didn’t have any air-conditioning either. The engine was always threatening to overheat and the only way you could cool down the engine was to turn on the heater. I will never forget crossing Utah’s San Rafael Swell in 100 degree heat with all of Zeke’s windows open and the heater set on full blast. Car and driver both survived the trek, if you don’t count the fits of maniacal laughter I was given to by the end of the day.
At the end of my band days, when I got out of grad school, I traded Zeke in and leased a brand new red Jeep Cherokee. The Jeep was my first new car and much more dependable, but no car I’ve owned since has had Zeke’s personality. There was a brief moment of mawkish farewell as I cleared out the glove compartment and then he was gone.
This is Coyote’s Flying Saucer Repair Shop, a place I discovered while doing some follow-up research for Desert City Diva. People ask me how I come up all the weird stuff in my books. It’s not hard to do. It’s all around us.
You can find more photos of this amusing roadside attraction on Google Maps
Rolly Waters is still around. He’s just gone underground for a while. He hasn’t retired. He hasn’t quit. I’ve got an 89,000 word manuscript featuring Rolly stored on my computer. It’s called Ballast Point Breakdown and I think it’s a darn fine mystery novel. But it probably won’t see publication anytime soon.
This all started when the option for Rolly Waters novel #4 was dropped by my publisher last year. I did some looking around, but found it’s tricky getting a new publisher to pick up a series partway through. And I wasn’t ready to take on self-publishing again.
So I took some time off, at least from the business end of the writing game. I had personal reasons, as well, for taking a little break, transitions both challenging and affirming.
But I’ve kept writing. Woodshedding, I’d call it. Practicing. Learning. In fact, I’ve been pretty darn busy on the creative side. I hope to send out some official announcements in the next few months, but here’s a few things I’ve been working on.
1. A short story entitled The Old Monsters Bar, which will be published in January.
2. The script for a podcast version of Desert City Diva. No dates on this yet, but I am working with an independent producer to make it happen.
3. A collaborative project with San Diego artists and writers which will have a gallery show in early 2019.
4. A historical mystery novel, set in San Diego in 1891, which I’m shopping to agents right now. The working title is The Stingaree Solution. I have high hopes for this one. I had a lot of fun doing the research and writing it.
So I apologize to anyone who’s been hoping to hear from Rolly Waters. He will be back. I’m just not sure when. Thanks to everyone who’s been a fan, and a friend.
I’m pleased to announce that Desert City Diva received a Bronze Award in the 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. The Indiefab awards are judged by a select group of librarians and booksellers from around the country and honor the very best of indie publishing each year.