Free! 3 Crime Fiction Short Stories

I’ve combined three of my previously published crime fiction stories into one eBook edition. Download them here or by clicking on the image above. The three stories include:

  • Geronimo’s Cornflakes – Two best friends combine forces in the scrubby arroyos of the Southwestern desert, with lethal results
  • Killer Motivation – A professional killer matches wits with a multi-level marketer
  • Le Bistro Fantastique – A traveling widower seeks redemption in a magical memory from his honeymoon.

New Music – Los Vangeles

My newest musical composition and an unusual one for me. It’s an instrumental with a movie-theme vibe, a touch of Philip Glass and a bit of Vangelis. Not sure where the title came from. Let me know what you think.

The Noble Rider vs the Creepy Mayor

Bob Filner was a U.S. Representative in California’s 51st district for almost twenty years and San Diego’s mayor from 2012-2013. San Diegans will mostly remember him for resigning the mayor’s office amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and later pleading guilty to state charges of false imprisonment and battery. In short, he was a real creep, and many of us who had voted for him were glad to see him go.

Which is why, some years later, when I visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN I was taken aback to find this photograph among the many that lined the exhibit about the Freedom Riders.

Yes, that’s right. The young Bob Filner was a freedom rider who spent two months in a Southern jail to protest the racial inequalities in our nation. It was a brave and principled act. So how does this idealistic young freedom rider become an odius middle-aged mayor, infringing on the personal rights of the women around him?

I have no idea, but it fascinates me. Not just in Mr. Filner’s case, but with human beings in general. It’s something I’m always thinking about when I’m writing my novels. How did a character get this way? Was it a bad habit that got worse and worse, leading to an inevitable reckoning? Or was it one bad decision, a fork in the road, steering them down the route to unavoidable consequences? Perhaps they’re just flip sides of the same coin.

This was all occupying my mind as one of the characters in my work-in-progress has some serious sexual harassment issues. I’ve had to think about how that manifests itself and how that fits in with the rest of the character’s identity. And how his behavior has affected the people around him.

The protagonist of my crime series, Rolly Waters, made some bad decisions in his youth. He developed some destructive habits, which only got worse. A mortal reckoning came due and he changed his life, but the residue of his failings still cling. But he’s lucky. He repented. He learned. As Rolly goes about his detective work, dealing with clients and criminals, he’s confronted with echoes of his own past. The criminals he encounters fall on both sides of the coin–some have habituated their criminal life while others are trapped by the consequences of a single bad decision. Either way, Rolly must pursue his case until he arrives at the truth. And he’s reminded of one thing that will always be true. If we don’t get better at life, we get worse.

A song inspired by Desert City Diva

A couple of months ago I started working with the San Diego Songwriter Book Club on a plan where various local songwriters would read Desert City Diva, write a song inspired by it and then perform the songs at a local coffeehouse/performance venue along with me doing some readings from the book.

For various reasons, we couldn’t quite make it happen but one of the songwriters, Omar Musisko wrote, performed and sang this DCD-inspired song, A Self-Saboteur’s Illusion. He also put together the video. Check it out and give him thumb’s up on You Tube if you enjoy it.

The End of Friendship?

Recent news reports have indicated that access to Friendship Park will soon be blocked when the primary and secondary border fences along the park are replaced with 30-foot walls. This is an unfortunate choice by the Biden Administration, who I had hoped would ease local border access instead of resorting to draconian, and unnecessary, measures of security.

The park is of significant interest to me as my first visit there many years ago became the inspiration for my second Rolly Waters novel, Border Field Blues. Much of the action in the book takes place in and around Border Field State Park, which includes Friendship Park within its boundaries. The climactic chapter in the book takes place in the public area in the park itself and the road leading up to it.

Friendship Park sits on Monument Mesa just across the border from Tijuana’s bullring by the sea
The road up to Friendship Park
Picnic area at Friendship Park

The park was established after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed in February 1848, officially ended the Mexican-American war. The US-Mexico Boundary Commission met at this location in 1849 to dedicate the stone monument that serves as the original boundary marker, half in Mexico, half in the United States.

When I first visited the park, there was a simple chain-link fence demarcating the border. It was a Sunday and families with members in both countries gathered at the fence to picnic, socialize and exchange money or gifts through the gaps in the fence. The closing of the park represents not only a recreational loss for Californians but a humanitarian one as well.

Me visiting with a park ranger, who was doing some landscape work. Bullring by the sea in back

It bears noting in these relentlessly paranoid times that in 1971, First Lady Pat Nixon visited the monument to celebrate the establishment of the surrounding area as California’s Border Field State Park. Mrs. Nixon declared “I hope there won’t be a fence too long here,” and asked her security detail to cut the barbed wire on the border so she could step into Mexico and greet the crowd gathered there. She announced that the U.S. and Mexico would soon create an “International Friendship Park,” modeled after similar parks on the US-Canada border.

In 2006, with post-9/11 fears in full bloom, the federal government used eminent domain to seize part of the park from California. Dozens of laws intended to protect public spaces were waived and an imposing set of walls was constructed across through Friendship Park. Times had certainly changed.

You can learn more about the park at Friends of Friendship Park. The organization is currently raising money for a campaign to Save Friendship Park.

View of Border Field Park and the Tijuana Slough from Friendship Park
Just across the border fence are some of the more affluent neighborhoods of Tijuana