Monday, October 31, 2005

Dingo Chapter 7

Happy Halloween all.


The clouds looked made of spider silk. Thin, white, wisps tendrilled out from underneath the bulbous extrusions in their slow parade across the sky. And there were stars, shimmering by the thousands. The sun was bright, the sky the bluest I’d ever seen, but there were stars.

The trees in front of me leaned back and forth in the wind, their leaves singing an autumnal hymn that sent the clouds to dancing. The bushes and tall grass waved like the waters of a great green ocean, breaking against the clearing in which I sat. I caught a scent of jasmine. And something else.

I wasn’t alone.

There was movement in the grass. Something swam toward me through the reeds and out from under the shadowy canopy of the forest. There were glimpses of color, all unnatural and foreign in this paradise.

The wind picked up, blowing my hair into my eyes. I couldn’t see. I brushed it aside and tried to focus on the movement that crept toward me. Again, my hair fell into my eyes. But it was odd. My hair wasn’t long enough to get into my eyes. Still, there it was, annoying and obtrusive. I brushed it away again.

The thing was closer. More wind. More hair. I had to clear my vision, see what was coming, but as I moved to brush my hair away again, my hand froze, unable to move. I struggled against whatever invisible force held my hand fast, but it was no use. It wouldn’t move. I couldn’t see and the thing in the grass moved closer. I could feel it near, watching me, stalking me.

“Mr. Asher.”

It called to me. The beast in the rushes knew my name and called to me. I pulled at my invisible bonds but they would not break. I screamed, thrashing to get away from the thing that held me.

“Mr. Asher!”

The wind disappeared, taking with it the sound of rustling leaves and flowing reeds. Now I could hear only the high hum of fluorescent lights. And people breathing heavily.

“Mr. Asher, you have to settle down.”

I tried to sit up, but a hand pushed me back down. I couldn’t see. There was light but I couldn’t see. Something was over my face.

“Get this off me!” My voice came out thick and heavy.

“Mr. Asher, please. Only two more stitches left.”

Stitches? Then I remembered.

“Let me up. Let me UP!”

I could feel three sets of hands on me, all pushing me down. “Sedate him.”

“Wait, stop! Just wait.” I eased back onto the bed and relaxed. I couldn’t afford to be knocked out again. “No more. Just finish this so I can get the hell out of here.”

The nurses and orderlies kept their hands on me while the person pulling at the hole over my left eye finished his work. I couldn’t have been out that long if they were just now finishing stitching my head.

I did a quick assessment of the rest of my body, first my toes and then slowly worked my way up. As I tensed the areas where my captors held me, they squeezed and leaned into me, obviously afraid I’d try to get up again. But when the tension passed, they relaxed their grip. Everything seemed to be in working order. A little sore and stiff, but nothing felt broken or torn beyond what a day or two of bed rest couldn’t fix.

When the gauze over my face was lifted, I squinted at the sharp light overhead. “All done.”

I sat up and turned to the man who had been sewing my face together with all the grace of an epileptic working a jackhammer. He looked 12. “Good. Now where’s my dog?”

“Mr. Asher, we’re going to be taking you back to a room. So—”

I kicked my legs over the side of the bed and brushed him aside. The nurses all rushed to restrain me but the kid doctor waved them off. “No. If he wants to go so badly, let him.”

I sneered at him. “Smart kid.” The boy in man’s clothing just smiled at me. I stood up, took a step and felt the world turn upside down. It seemed as if all the blood in my head had drained away to pool at my feet. I looked at the kid and said, “You smart-ass son of a…” then collapsed to the ground.

My head started to pound as blood flowed upward. I took a deep breath, sat against the wall and said, “…ow.”

“Would you like us to take you to your room now?”

If I wasn’t a quart low of A Pos, I’d bounce this brat off the walls. “No, I think I’ll stay here and bleed a little more.” I turned to the nurse on my right. “I can see up your skirt, you know.” She blushed and moved to unfold a wheelchair. “How soon can I get out of here?”

“Dr. Epstein will be able to answer your questions.”

I didn’t have the energy to press the kid, so I let the nurses ease me into the wheelchair and take me to my room where Dr. Epstein met me shortly after.

“Mr. Asher, how do you feel?”

“Like I’ve been skull fucked with a Volkswagen. But I’ve been worse.” The local anesthetic was starting to wear off and I could feel the length of the wound in my head.

“Yes, I know.”

“What?” I looked up and noticed that Dr. Epstein had a file a half inch thick resting on his clipboard.

“Cedar Sinai faxed these over. Makes for some interesting reading.”

“Yeah, well it made for some interesting living.”

The doctor chuckled. “I imagine. How’s your vision?”

Great. It was time for the game show portion of my hospitalization. Every time I’ve had blunt head trauma, the docs all asked the same questions: How’s your vision? What’s your name? Who’s the President of the United States? Answering the questions right got me a prescription to some heavy-duty pain-killers. Not a bad parting gift for the most part. However, answering the questions wrong usually meant being awarded with a cocktail of Demerol and myriad anti-seizure medications to be followed by the grandest prize of them all: a diamond-tipped drill-bit to the side of the head.

Dr. Epstein asked his questions and I gave him my answers. I’ve been banged on the head enough times to know whether or not it was serious and this little boo boo may have hurt like hell, but it was all superficial. My brain was still intact.

Twelve stitches and a headache. Not too high a price to pay for getting rolled in a car.

When he was done, the doctor scribbled on his notepad and said, “I’ll have a nurse come get you and take you down for some routine tests. In the meantime, the police have some questions for you.”

Wonderful. The lightening round. I wondered what prize THIS was going to get me.

Two uniformed officers came into the room and stood on either side of my bed. One pulled out a tiny notepad while the other rested her hand on her hip. The one with the notepad started asking questions: Did you see the kind of car that hit you? Do you remember seeing anyone follow you? Were you drinking?

No. No. No. It became a mantra. After about the eighth question, I’d had enough. “Look. I was stopped when something hit me. I didn’t see who or what it was. Now can you tell me, do you know what happened to my dog?”

The female officer said, “It was sent to the pound. Miracle the thing wasn’t killed.”

There was a polite knock at the door. A young blonde in a candy striper outfit poked her head inside and said, “I’m sorry, I’m looking for Mr. Asher.”

One of the cops gave the little girl a smile and nodded in my direction. The candy striper walked over to me and handed me an envelope. She stood next to me, shuffling from foot to foot as the cops and I all watched her. “There’s a little speech,” she said, “but I can skip it.” We all smiled and she left the room.

One cop said, “Mr. Asher, we believe this might not have been an accident. Do you know anyone who might have been angry with you? Someone who might want to hurt you?”

“Grab a phone book.” I knew exactly who did it and the second I got out of that damn hospital I was going to pay Mr. Benoit another visit. “Officer, I have a lot of people angry with me. But none of them live in Vegas.” My head began to throb. “What happened to my Jeep?” I asked as I started opening the envelope.


“Where? I need to get…I need to get some clothes out of there.” It was believable since my t-shirt was practically crusted over with dried blood.

The female officer smiled and said, “Don’t worry. The hospital will take care of—”

“No!” A spike of pain shot through my temples. “Look, I don’t like having my belongings just lying around.”

“Your stuff will be fine, Mr. Asher.”

“No, it won’t,” I mumbled.

“Is there something you’re not telling us, sir?”

I wanted to blurt out ‘Yes, you stupid cow!’ but I knew that I would never get out of Vegas if I did. So I tried to breathe through my nose, out of my mouth, and rid myself of this growing headache. “No. It’s just that I had some valuables in the Jeep and I don’t want them stolen.”

“Like I said, your stuff is fine. Your wife came in and picked up your things about an hour ago.”

The skin on the back of my skull went numb. “What did you say?”

“Your wife. You are married to a…” she flipped through her notepad. “…Darby Asher, yes?”

The numbness spread until the only thing I could feel was a tiny pinprick of pain over my left eye. Both of the cops stared at me, stone faced and unblinking. Then I noticed the get well card in my hands.

On the front of the card was a black and white photo of a young boy handing a colored rose to a young girl. But on the inside of the card there was no type, no charming or goofy pictures, no saccharin message lamenting the wonders of my existence. There was nothing except four tiny words scrawled across the inside in black ink:

Get well soon, motherfucker.’

More bang for your non-buck

Another free self-contained story from ZOMBIE TALES: OBLIVION #1 for your reading pleasure. This one's by super-talented industry legend, writer Mark Waid, and illustrated by super-talented industry legend Mark Badger.

In case you missed it, we've run two other full stories from this anthology here:
MEMENTO MORI written by John Rogers and drawn by Tom Fowler
THE BAKEMONO AND THE CRANES written by Johanna Stokes and drawn by Keith Giffen

If you'd like to pick up a copy and don't have a comic shop nearby (or a shop that stocks Boom! Studios books), you can buy a copy online here. Or, you can just leave a tip in John's tip jar on the right.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween!

This one's more just to disturb John when he gets home.

Girl in the Clubhouse

While John's away...

Johanna here. For the month of October, I did a weekly column over at Comic Book Resources taking a look at women and comics.

Check them out if you get a chance.

How to Get Your Girl to Read Comics:

So you've gone and got yourself a girlfriend. Congratulations. And she's the real deal. She's seen the toys (even if she hasn't touched them cause you told her you don't like that) and she's seen the video games (and has come to accept that playing "Halo" on the X-box is the closest you're going to get to any real exercise.) She's darn near perfect. There's just one thing. Your new love doesn't get along with your first love-- Comics.

How to Get Girls into Your Comic Shops:

Dating a comics geek has given me ample opportunity to see my fair share of comic shops. Oft was the time he would drag me in, kicking and screaming. Once there, I would clutch at his hand and growl "Do not leave me!" 45 minutes later, when blood was leaking from my eyes and ears, he would promise (read: Lie) "Just 5 more minutes!" (Later I would seek my revenge in the shoe store. He would be crying and crawling for the exit, a broken man, and I would step on his neck with a shiny new pair of stilettos, bend down and whisper in his ear "Just five more minutes, baby. Five. More. Minutes.")

How to Get Girls to Buy Your Comics:

I doubt I'll ever understand comic collecting. Or comic collectors, for that matter. There is a loyalty in comics that you don't find in many other places. Did you go see "Pitch Black" and hate it with the heat of a thousand suns, but when "Chronicles of Riddick" came out felt like you had to go because Riddick was in it? If your favorite television show runs off the rails, do you hang on season after season waiting for some new writer to come along and reinvigorate the characters? Do you have any brand loyalty to the individual networks?

"Dude… It's 'According to Jim."

"I know, ya'll, but it's ABC… you have to watch."

What Girls Can Do for Comics:

Loving comics like I do and knowing that there are lots of women out there who feel the same way, I asked the professionals what we could do for the industry. Keith Giffen said lower necklines and shorter hemlines, but let's call that Plan B, 'kay?

For more info go to

Dingo Chapter 6


The nice thing about a city like Vegas was that when a man walked into a drug store covered in blood and reeking of sweaty dog, it was business as usual. I stepped up to the counter and threw down the bandages, handi-wipes, some sports drinks, and three pounds of beef jerky. Some girl with green hair and a pierced head was behind me chatting on her cell phone about flying out to Amsterdam to catch a P show at the end of the month. It took all I had not to turn around and strangle the life out of the waifish little nit.

“—means Power. Fargo18 said it’s a reference to Damon’s first girlfriend, but he’s full of shit. Paula was his sister, not his girlfriend. Hey, did you know their guitar player is related to a serial killer? That’s so hot. I hear—”

I leaned in close toward the cashier. “Can you ring this shit up a little faster?”

As I walked out to the Jeep with my booty in hand, Cerberus sat in the passenger seat and casually watched me approach. In the few hours I’ve been with the dog, it never once threatened me. But its mindless stare made my skin crawl. And I was going to have to put the top up soon. This dog was far from predictable and the last thing I needed was him jumping out and running off with someone’s kid. I would probably have to put the chain back on him.

I threw the beef jerky at Cerberus’ feet then spent the next fifteen minutes doctoring myself. I was going to have a nasty scar over my left eye to match the one on my right temple.

After I put on a clean t-shirt I threw back the sports drink and waited a few minutes for the electrolytes to kick in. While I waited, I punched Mr. Benoit’s address into my GPS system. A little dot began to flash on the screen.

I looked over to see that Cerberus had eaten all three pounds of jerky, including the plastic packaging. “Have I mentioned that you are just wrong, dog?” He stared at me for a moment before giving a noncommittal lick of his chops. “Just remember, I’m your friend. And we don’t eat friends.”

Still, he just stared.

“And why do you smell like creosote?”

I parked a few hundred feet from Mr. Benoit’s house. It was a stylish ranch house in a cookie-cutter subdivision sitting at the end of the road. The black Mercedes that Benoit rode away on was parked in the driveway at an odd angle. Mounds of dirt and sod from some recent landscaping project were piled in front of the large bay window, but not high enough that I couldn’t see directly into the house.

Using a pair of binoculars that I fished out of the glove box, I watched Mr. Benoit as he talked on the phone, pacing through his living room and throwing his hands around like he was swatting at flies. The driver was sitting back on a couch, pale and barely clinging to consciousness. But there were three other men in the house with them. All big, all well dressed, and all standing around the coffee table on which sat my box.

“I hope you’re still hungry, dog.” I buckled up, started the Jeep, and hammered the pedal. There was no need to turn on my headlights. The street lamps gave me enough visibility to tell where I was going. Besides, I didn’t want the bastards to see me until I was sitting in their laps.

It took about two and-a-half seconds to cover the distance to the house. The Jeep hit the mounds of dirt and launched over the little cobblestone porch. When the grille hit the bay window, there was enough resistance to throw me against my seatbelt. Cerberus bounced and hit the dash, but didn’t seem terribly bothered by it. Just. Wrong.

Shit flew in every direction. Glass and splinters rained down on the marble tile, singing out like a thousand wind chimes. An ottoman went airborne across the house and slammed into the far wall. Lamps, tables, sofas, all erupted in a storm of broken house-bits.

I hit the brakes and skidded to a halt in the middle of the living room. I unbuckled my seat belt, reached back and grabbed the crowbar, then hopped out.

Mr. Benoit was sprawled on the ground, his mouth hanging open as he tried to form words. The driver was still on the couch, covered in shards of glass and a thousand new cuts. Cerberus must have messed him up pretty badly because the guy didn’t seem to be reacting to the Jeep that just crashed through the window.

The others were picking themselves up off the floor, all cut and bleeding from flying debris. One was only a few feet away when he started to reach into his jacket.

“What the fu—,” was as far as he got before I opened his face with the crowbar. The other two sprang forward. The first to reach me got a knee in his face. As he was falling away, I brought the crowbar up and fish-hooked the second guy, ripping his cheek open and sending small streaks of his blood across the cream colored walls. That just left Benoit.

Cerberus was already out of the car and on top of him. The dog had the man’s throat in his massive jaws. Benoit wasn’t moving. His eyes were the size of baseballs as the dog slowly squeezed.

“…call him off…can’t…breathe…,” he said, like I gave a rat’s ass.

I saw the box on the floor next to the driver who was now completely unconscious. I picked it up and tossed it in the back of the Jeep.

“Julius Benoit, how you doin’ there? Is the dog playing too rough with you?”

“…fuck…yoauugghh—.” Cerberus started his twelve-cylinder growl as he tightened his grip.

“You might want to be careful about what you say there, Mr. Benoit. I think he can understand you.”

The guy who got fish-hooked was cursing and stumbling toward the gaping hole in the front of the house. Blood pooled between his fingers and dripped to the ground with sickening plops. “…oooo…stupig moder fuugghhrrr…” He got around the Jeep, but when he tried to step over the debris and out onto the porch, he lost his balance and fell out of sight. He didn’t get up.

Wood and glass crunched underfoot as I walked over to the only upright chair in the room. I swept away chunks of window frame and took a seat. “Nice place you got here.”

He didn’t move. Cerberus had his meaty jaws wrapped around the man’s neck so thoroughly that if he closed his mouth, Mr. Benoit’s head would come clean off. A small trace of blood started to line away from the man’s nose.

“…what…do you…want…”

Down by my feet were the contents of a spilled humidor. I found a cigar cutter and a book of matches amidst the rubble at my feet. “What everyone wants. Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. But today I’ll settle for some answers.” I took a big draw and blew a cloud of smoke into the air. “Hmm. Not bad. Now, Julius. How’d you know about the box?”

He made some sort of gurgly noise mixed with some broken vowel sounds when my cell phone rang. I checked the caller i.d. Julie.

“Hold on a second. Yeah?”

Hey, baby. Watcha doin’?

“Helping a friend redecorate. You?”

A steady buzz came through the receiver for a moment, then she said, “Thinking of you.

“Oh. That’s…sweet.” Benoit’s eyes were getting even larger now and Cerberus’ growl was getting deeper. “Look, I’d love to play but I’m in the middle of something at the moment.”

You still looking for your box?

“Already found it. I should be on my way home any minute now.”

Okay, baby. I’ll be waiting.

“Don’t have too much fun while I’m gone.” I put the phone back in my pocket. The man with the open and bleeding face started groaning as he faded back into consciousness. I stood up and walked over to Benoit. “Look, Julius. I’ve got places I’d rather be. So answer my questions so I can get out of here. How’d you know about the box?”

Benoit breathed heavily through his nose for a moment then said, “Darby.”

I figured as much. “How do you know her. Ease up a bit, Cerberus.” The dog relaxed his grip and Benoit sucked in a deep draught of air. I swore the dog actually did understand what we were saying.

He coughed. Carson.”

“You do some work for him?”

Benoit made a croaking noise that sounded vaguely like a “yes.”

I took another draw from the cigar. “When did Darby tell you about the box?”

“…this afternoon…five, six hours ago.” Right about the time short-bus from Buffalo opened it. Damn, Darby worked fast.

“Well, make sure to tell Darby that I’m viewing this little visitation from you no-necks as a violation of her restraining order. Next time I’ll have her ass hauled off to jail.”

“You…better…better kill me…”

I knelt down next to Cerberus, staring into Benoit’s eyes as I scratched the dog behind his ears. “Julius, I may be a lot of things, but a murderer isn’t one of them.” I stood up. “Don’t know if I can say the same about the dog, though.”

I tossed the cigar onto the chair, whistled, and then the animal and I got into the Jeep. As I backed out of Benoit’s living room, I could see him rubbing his throat as the chair caught fire.

Cerberus shoved his head in the back seat and started sniffing at the box.

“Hey, get away from that. Hey!” I pulled at his head but it wouldn’t budge. When I pulled a little harder, the dog growled and sneered at me. “Whoa, okay. Smell all you want. Jeesh.”

The dog went back to running his nose over the box, sucking in air through his giant nostrils. But after a few seconds, Cerberus gave a snort and then faced the front of the Jeep.

When I got back out onto the road, I dialed Rick. It took three tries before he finally answered. What..uuuhh…the fibbik…say him where?

“Rick, you babbling idiot, wake up!”

I’m up I’m up. What? Dingo? Rick sounded like he had been gargling rocks. What’s up?

“You owe me a new Jeep.”

I heard him take a swig of something then light a cigarette. Rick gave out a belch and said, “So why do I owe you a new Jeep? There something wrong with yours? I could hear a woman’s voice mumbling in the background.

“Yeah, I just remodeled a home with it.” Rick started laughing. Cerberus nudged over from the passenger seat and sniffed the phone against my ear. His breath smelled of blood and rotten eggs. I gently pushed the dog back, half expecting to lose my arm in the process, but the dog acquiesced.

What the hell did you do that for?

“The guy you sold the Z to decided to have a peek.”

Rick’s laughing stopped. It was a few seconds before he spoke. What happened?

“What do you think? Darby sent a local goon squad after it.”

Damn, she could sense it all the way out there?

I pulled onto the Strip and came to a stop, letting the throngs of people shuffle from one temple of flashing lights to the next. “It doesn’t matter where it’s at. If the box is open, she can sense it.”

How’d she get muscle out there so fast?


You’re shitting me?

“Nope. Guess they’re a thing now.”

Rick laughed again, but it was more from nerves than humor. Well, did you get it back?

“Yeah, lucky for you.” I was only able to make it two more blocks before I had to stop for another herd of people. “All right, bro,” I said. “I’m on my way back home. Break a leg.”

Yeah, thanks. And Dingo. I really am sorry, man.

“It’s cool. Just don’t expect a Christmas card this year.”

I put the phone in my pocket and waited for the lines of people crossing the road to clear. I was tired, torn, and dying to take a hot shower. I entertained the notion of grabbing a hotel, but I didn’t want to spend any more time in this city than I had to.

I gave Cerberus a scratch on his head but then stopped when I saw the people in front of me running away in a panic. It didn’t make any sense until something hit the Jeep like two tons of angry gorilla.

My head hit the side window, spiderwebbing the glass as the back end of the Jeep swung around in a violent arc. I could hear people screaming, their voices wavering from the Doppler Effect created by my spinning Jeep. The front left tire hit the curb and then the Jeep lurched up onto two wheels, balancing for what seemed minutes. Cerberus slid off of the passenger seat and landed on the other side of my head. Gravity disappeared. The flashing lights of the strip danced in awkward ways, but then stopped when the Jeep finally fell on its side in a loud, anguishing screech of metal and concrete.

Outside I could hear more people talking, a few of them shouting. I crawled out of the top of the Jeep and slowly pulled my way onto the sidewalk. Even though the sun had set hours earlier, the pavement was still hot to the touch. But the freshly opened wound over my left eye was distracting me from the pain of burning asphalt. A few people moved closer, chattering away and pointing, but no one moved to help me. They all gawked at me for a moment, some even taking quick little snapshots before continuing on toward the pretty, pretty lights. Lights which for me were quickly fading.

Yep. Business as usual.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Dingo Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Sharp Dressed Man

I ducked, Cerberus pounced, and Mr. Waciejowski screamed like a dying ferret—a soothing and pleasant sound under most other circumstances, but now only distracting.

I felt the rush of air against my face as the crowbar skimmed my head. The man wielding it was in a black three-piece suit and built like a Texas linebacker. His mass seemed to bend space-time in the parking lot as he barreled down on me. All I could see was nearly seven feet of Armani silk.

I stood upright and brought my knee into his groin and gave him a swift elbow in the small of his back and a fist to the base of his skull. Now, I wasn’t the biggest guy in the world, but I certainly wasn’t the smallest either. And I was also acutely aware of how much damage I could do to another human being. But this hulking mass in Italian finery didn’t even seem phased. The blows I sent this guy should have dropped him like a bag of wet cement, but he just turned and hamstringed me with that damn crowbar.

I fell so hard that one of my teeth chipped. The box flew out of my grip and landed just a few feet away. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Pete on the ground, fumbling with his cell phone while Cerberus mauled another suit trying to sneak up behind me. If the fall hadn’t knocked the wind out of me, seeing Cerberus tear into this guy certainly would have.

The dog was all fangs and fur, making sounds like construction machinery. Thick and heavy. The guy was screaming all kinds of nonsense as he kept his shredded arms in front of his face and neck. Blood and fabric flew about as the animal tossed its head in violent arcs.

I reached for the box but the linebacker gave me a quick swipe over the head with his crowbar, then bent and grabbed it himself. I could feel a gash on my forehead as blood began to trickle down the side of my face and along my neck. I tried to stand, but I was too woozy and I still couldn’t breathe.

The linebacker brought the crowbar down on Cerberus’ head with all of his substantial weight behind it. It landed with a deep thud, but the dog’s head didn’t move from the blow. Cerberus just stopped and slowly turned to the man in the Armani while the other guy used the distraction to crawl out from underneath the dog.

I had a visceral dislike toward Mr. Armani and would do just about anything to see him broken in half. But watching Cerberus stare him down, his growl thundering at 80 hertz, almost made me feel sorry for the guy. Almost.

The dog went at him, hitting him hard enough that he moved back three steps. Cerberus was latched onto the arm that held the box while the guy tried to pound him with the crowbar. I wanted to get in there and help the dog tear him to pieces, but one: there was no way in hell I was getting anywhere near that animal and two: I felt like I was going to throw up.

Blood started getting into my left eye making it difficult for me to see, but I could tell that Mr. Armani was faring better against the dog than his partner had. I was finally able to take a breath and get up on one elbow when I heard tires squeal as a black Mercedes came to a screeching halt just a few feet away.

Mr. Armani dropped the crowbar, then took the box and tossed it to his bloody partner waiting inside the car with the window down. The driver was pale and parts of him seemed to be missing. He caught the box then screamed, “Let’s go! Come on!”

The linebacker tried to pry himself from Cerberus but the dog had too firm a grip on him. The guy was able to weasel out of his jacket, leaving the Italian silk hanging from Cerberus’ mouth like a weather worn Jolly Roger. Instead of making a break to get in the car, Mr. Armani jumped onto the roof, the car’s shocks squeaking and shifting with his weight. He started pounding on the car. “Drive! Drive!”

The car barked and started to speed away while Cerberus chased after it, snapping at its tires. After seeing that dog fight, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it actually stopped the damn thing. But when the car hit the road, it was gone.

Pete ran over. “Oh my god, oh my god. Are you okay?” He knelt down next to me, oblivious of the pool of my blood he was kneeling in. “I thought that dog of yours was going to kill me. And then I thought that guy was going to kill you. And then I thought your dog was going to kill him. And then I thought…seriously, are you okay?”

I sat up and pressed the palm of my hand against my leaking head. The surrounding area of concrete was spotted with patches of blood. Sadly, a lot of it was mine. “Right now you should be thinking that I’m going to kill you. You had to open the box, didn’t you. You had to look inside.”

Pete stood up and took a step back. “I don’t want any trouble, Mr. Dingo. I just thought you might have drugs or something in there and I didn’t want to get mixed up with that kind of thing. That’s all. I told you, I don’t want—”

“Shut up, Pete. There are no drugs.” I forced myself to stand. I was dizzy and wanted more than anything to puke all over this guy, but to my mild disappointment, the nausea had passed.

“But I don’t understand what they would want with a—”

“You know, Pete. Right now I should be chaining my girlfriend to an old cast-iron furnace. But no. Instead, I’m here, bleeding in a Denny’s parking lot listening to you ask me questions about things that don’t concern you. This is a problem, Pete. And like I told you before, it’s my job to solve problems. But how I solve this particular problem is entirely up to you.”

I wiped a fistful of blood out of my eye. “Now, I can solve this problem my way, orrrrr…you can get in you car and just…go…home.”

For a moment, he looked as if he wanted to continue asking questions, but then reason finally entered his tiny brain and he hopped into my brother’s old Z and sped off. As I watched him leave, Cerberus approached me at a playful gallop. My fight or flight instinct was telling me to get the fuck out of Dodge before this thing could get within eating distance of me, but I was too fazed to move. Fortunately the bleeding seemed to have stopped, or at the very least slowed. But if Cerberus had a mind to eat human flesh, there wasn’t going to be much I could do to stop him.

But when he got to me, he just licked my bloody hand and then nudged me until I scratched him behind his ears. I gently felt the area where the linebacker cracked him over the head with the crowbar but the dog didn’t flinch. And there was no swelling. Damn, this dog was wrong.

I walked over to where the Armani jacket lay in a tattered heap on the ground. I picked it up and fished through the pockets, trying to ignore the disgusting feel of fine Italian silk covered with blood and dog saliva. In the inside breast pocket I found his wallet. There were numerous credit cards, roughly six hundred dollars in cash, and this joker’s driver’s license. Mr. Armani had a name.

And an address.

I pocketed the cash and the license, wiped the wallet down with the filthy jacket, and then tossed it. Cerberus pressed against my leg and licked my hand again. I gave him a pat on his furry head. “Come on, boy. Mr. Julius Benoit was in such a rush that he left some of his things behind. So we’re going to do the responsible, neighborly thing…” I bent over and picked up the crowbar.

“…and return them.”

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dingo Chapter 4

For those of you who haven't skipped ahead...


Cerberus just stared at me. The dog didn’t blink, he didn’t pant, he didn’t move. He just sat in the passenger seat as I drove, relaxed, mouth hanging slightly open, looking at me the way someone examines a menu but can’t decide on the chicken or the veal.

The desert sky was on fire when the city came into view. Cerberus turned away from me and stuck his head out from the side of the jeep, his giant tongue flapping in the eighty mile an hour wind while I dialed Luna’s number. The dog pulled his head back in, then rested his chin on top of the overhead roll-bar, his fur blowing back along his head like the spines of a porcupine.


“Hey, Luna.”

Dingo! Are you there yet?

“No, not yet. I’m just outside the city.” Vegas flashed and blinked under the starless sky. “You get in touch with Mr. Waciejowski?”

Sure did. He’s at the Denny’s near the Excalibur. He’s trying to stay away from the blackjack tables.

“Yeah, good for him. He has the box?”

I could hear Luna stuffing something disgustingly healthy in her mouth. Mmm hmm.

“He hasn’t opened it, has he?”

She swallowed. Nah. I told him it was filled with old photos.

Cerberus shifted in the seat and scratched behind his neck with such force that the whole Jeep shook; a rather unsettling motion at 80 miles an hour. “Hey Luna, I’ve got a question for you.”

I looked over to see the dog’s nostrils flared out in the wind while his lips blew back and revealed his frightening set of teeth.

“This, uh, this animal spirit guide you had me try to find. Do they ever show up, you know, in person?”

What are you talking about?”

I switched hands and tried to speak a little more softly into the phone, but the dog’s eyes rolled toward me, fixing me with a black stare. “Do they ever show up for real? Like in corporeal form?”

Corporeal form? Dingo, are you stoned?

“No, no. It’s just that someone abandoned a dog at some nowhere gas station. I kinda adopted him.”

Oooh, a puppy!” Her squeal got Cerberus’ attention. He pulled his head down and stared at me. His fur stood out in wild directions.

“Puppy. Yeah, um...nevermind. Look, I’ll call you when I have the box. In the meantime, if you talk with Rick, tell him he owes me big.”

Luna gave me the man’s cell number and then hung up. Cerberus started to wag his thick tail at the throngs of people milling the streets as we entered the city. By the time I pulled into the Denny’s parking lot, the dog was halfway out of the Jeep. I stopped and the dog jumped out and pissed on the side of a Thunderbird parked next to me. It looked like a damn good idea.

I got the dog back into the Jeep then called Mr. Waciejowski. When he answered, his voice sounded like it had been abused from years of tobacco use. This is Pete.

“Mr. Waciejowski, my name’s Dingo. My friend Luna called and told you I was coming. I’m in the parking lot. Yellow Jeep.” I paused. “And a big dog. Can’t miss me.”

A few seconds later, an older man with that classy touch of grey in his hair stepped out of the restaurant, scanned the lot, saw me, then waved. He was about my height, but had a slight stoop in his posture that made him seem smaller. He shirt was all palm trees and sail boats. “You’re Dingo?”

“That’s me. Sorry about all of this but my brother can be a bit absent minded.”

“Got a couple myself. They’re nothing but trouble,” he said. “I’m parked over here.”

I turned to Cerberus and said, “Stay.” The dog ignored me and turned its attention to sniffing the steering wheel. I was going to have to get a leash before this thing started to get hungry and eat one of the passersby. Eh, as long as he didn’t eat me, I guess.

As we walked to Pete’s car, I saw a man skirt us about five cars away, slowly walking parallel to us. “You got a saddle for that thing?” Pete asked.

“The dog? No.” I took a glance back at the Jeep. “Just the ferret.”

“How’s that?”

I could see Rick’s old Z about thirty feet away. I stopped, bent down and pretended to tie my shoe. Underneath the cars I could see through to the Z but couldn’t tell if anyone was standing near it or not.

“So what do you do, Dingo?”

I stood up and gave a quick scan of the parking lot. The man who had been skirting us was gone. “I solve problems for people.”

Pete’s face crinkled. “You mean like tech support or something? I got a cousin who used to work for a small software company. Did theirs until they shipped his job off to India.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Yeah, well he was a bum anyway.”

We reached the Z and Pete started fumbling for the keys. It was strange seeing this familiar car belonging to someone else. Kind of like watching a stranger fondle your ex-wife in that secretive and intimate way that only lovers do. He popped the hatchback, pulled back a black cloth to reveal the box.

It was made of walnut, roughly the size of a bread loaf, and polished to a smooth shine. Oak leaves and acorns were carved along its edges while five names were etched onto the top in rich, flowing script:

Rick Asher, Sr.

Adie Asher

Rick Asher, Jr.

Daniel Asher

Michael Asher

“It’s beautiful,” Pete said.

I’ve never been one for overt emotion, especially in front of strangers while standing in a Denny’s parking lot in Vegas, but sometimes these things hit you when you least expect it. I wanted to say something, take the box and leave, but I couldn’t move. I was lost in those names, the way the script flowed along the lines of the carved leaves, the way the wood grain usually hid the crease of the hinges where the box ope—

“Did you open this?”

Pete gave me another crinkled look. “Well…hey look, friend. When that Luna girl called and said that your brother left something in the car, I thought it was drugs or something. I don’t want to get mixed up in any of that. So yeah, I had to see if—“

I grabbed his shirt and pulled him close. I could smell the cheap coffee and cheaper cigarettes on his breath. “She told you not to open it! How long ago?”

“Hey man, back off.” He struggled to get away but I held him fast.

“How long ago, Pete?”

“Get your hands off me!”

Whenever a person feels threatened, it’s a natural reaction to turn and run or stand and fight. Fight or flight response. The way this joker was pulling at me, I could tell he was more of a flight kind of guy. It was disappointing. “I’m going to ask you one more time. How long ago?”

“I don’t know. Two, three hours ago.” I let go of him. He straightened his tiki shirt over his round belly. “You know, technically that box belongs to me,” he said. “I don’t have to let you have it.”

I reached in, snapped the lid completely shut, then wrapped the box in the cloth and pulled it out. “Pete, get in your new car and go home. You have no idea what you’ve done.”

“What I’ve done? I sat around here for five hours waiting to give you that thing. I think you should…”

Pete’s voice trailed off. I stopped and looked at him. He was pale and slowly creeping around the side of his car. I turned to see what he was looking at. Cerberus was there, standing like a small horse, a deep growl rumbling between his bared fangs.

“Oh, puke.” But then I noticed that the dog wasn’t growling at me. Or Pete. I turned to see what it was that had the dog on edge.

That’s when I saw the crowbar coming at me.

Make it stop

In honor of those times that John has scalded my eyes, this is Ross Richie popping in with a Sick And Wrong Update, courtesy MIKE STERLING from Progressive Ruin.

Ulli's Roy Orbison In Clingfilm Website

It always starts the same way. I am in the garden airing my terrapin Jetta when he walks past my gate, that mysterious man in black.

'Hello Roy,' I say. 'What are you doing in Dusseldorf?'

'Attending to certain matters,' he replies.

'Ah,' I say.

'Perhaps you would like to come inside?'

'Very well.' He says.

Presently I say, 'Perhaps you would like to see my cling-film?'

'By all means.' I cannot see his eyes through his trademark dark glasses and I have no idea if he is merely being polite or if he genuinely has an interest in cling-film.

I bring it from the kitchen, all the rolls of it. 'I have a surprising amount of clingfilm,' I say with a nervous laugh. Roy merely nods.


I start at the ankles and work up. I am like a spider binding him in my gossamer web.


I sit and admire my handiwork for a long time. So as not to make the ordeal unpleasant for him we make small talk on topical subjects, Roy somewhat muffled.

He never calls me. He sends no tickets. The police come and reprimand me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


During his absence, John is...

...bah. Y'all know what's up. Enjoy.


I was lost.

As I sat parked at the old service station, I pulled out the maps and tried to do a little backtracking. It didn’t take me long to figure out where I had made the wrong turn. I had tried following my memory instead of Luna’s directions and wound up about eighty miles off course. My gas tank was pushing ‘E’ but fortunately the service station was open.

When I stepped out of my Jeep, I could feel the soles of my boots melt on the asphalt. The heat coming off the cracked and pitted cement peeled off in waves that rolled out in every endless direction. The barren mountains in the distance looked unstable, like I was looking at them through a window pane slicked with olive oil.

I slogged my way over to the gas pump and wrapped my shirt around the handle to keep my skin from burning against the desert-baked metal. The heat was so great I worried the fumes would ignite.

A dirty round man stood in the shadowy doorway of the ramshackle service station and stared at me while he rubbed his hands inside an oily red rag. The oval name-patch stitched to his coveralls was loose at one end and curled like a leaf in the heat. His name was Jack.

I topped off the tank and then walked over to him. “You work here?” I knew it was a stupid question the second it left my mouth. He and I were the only living things for fifty miles in any direction. Who the hell else would be working here?

“Who the hell else would be working here?” he said.

I shrugged my shoulders and pulled out my wallet. Jack wobbled inside behind a glass counter filled with everything from belt buckles to oil funnels. “That your momma’s car?” he asked.

It’s impossible to tell what kind of psychological impact this heat would have on a man who lived out here alone, but I was sure it wasn’t positive.

Jack clocked in at about two-fifty and had hands perfectly suited to crushing the skulls of small children. Unfortunately, I was in the mood to see how I would stack up to Jack Skull Crusher. So I played along.

“My mom’s dead. Doesn’t have much use for a car these days.” I handed him a twenty.

Skull Crusher smirked as he snatched the bill in his meaty hand. “Good thing, I suppose. Not havin’ to see her son drivin’ around in that girly thing.”

“What’s girly about a Jeep?”

“The Jeep? Oh, nothing,’” he laughed. “Just that it’s such a pretty color is all.”

“You don’t like yellow?” I asked.

“Yellow’s a pretty color for a flower.”

I slowly began to turn the cheap plastic carousel of aluminum key chains by the cash register. “Yellow’s also the color of infection oozing from a man’s open skull after he’s been beaten and left for dead in the middle of the desert.” I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. “But hey, if yellow makes you think of pretty flowers, well, to each their own I guess.”

Jack Skull Crusher gave me a wad of change and a scowl.

“You got an air pump?” I asked.

He smiled, his tiny tobacco-stained teeth arrayed in his mouth like rows of misaligned baked beans. “Out back. But good luck.”

“It doesn’t work?”

“Wouldn’t know. Haven’t been able to get to it for three days.” Obviously delighted by my confusion, he waved and said, “This way.”

We rounded the building and he pointed to a small pump about fifty feet off. Just a lone slab the size of a mailbox sticking out of the ground. But there was something next to it. A dark shape lay next to the pump in an amorphous heap. “What is that?”

“A dog.” Jack Skull Crusher’s voice was no longer playful or malicious. He now sounded like a man desperately trying to keep his warped sense of reality from slowly caving in around him.

“What the hell is your dog doing out there?”

“It’s not mine. Don’t know whose it is. Been chained up there for three days.”

I could see little bits of fur disturbed by the minimal breeze moving over the desert sands. “What kind of asshole would leave their dog chained up in this heat with no shade? Poor thing’s probably dead.”

The dog looked up at us for a moment then rested its head back down on its paws.

“Sweet God, the thing is huge!”

Jack nodded his head.

“Any idea who left it?”

“You’re my first customer in a week,” Jack said. “I don’t know how that dog got here.”

“Well, did you try to unchain it? Give it some water or something?”

“Damn thing won’t let me near it. Just growls whenever I get close.” Jack turned to me, his pale forehead turning pink in the heat. “There’s something wrong with that animal. And I don’t mean like it being sick or anything. Can’t tell what it is, but there’s just something…wrong. You get close enough to look, you’ll see what I’m talking about. You can feel it.” He pulled his rag out from a pocket and swiped the sweat from his face. “The switch is on the side. If that thing’ll let you get close enough.” He started walking back to the station. “But if it mauls you, don’t think you’ll get a chance to sue me.” He turned and smiled. “Because I think yellow’s my favorite color now.”

I pulled the Jeep up to the pump and hopped out. The dog still lay on its side, not paying me any attention. It sat directly underneath the switch on the side of the pump. Its black fur was still the only thing moving in the slight breeze.

I reached over to the switch and flipped it. The pump sputtered to life with a god-awful racket and began to vibrate. That’s when the dog moved.

The dog stretched, then stood up and faced me. It faced me. The damn thing didn’t have to look up. Its shoulders came close to the height of my chest and its head was twice the size of a Virginia ham. Its mane of black hair stood out in thin jagged lines that intersected at the nexus of its bared finger-length fangs. And I could hear its growling over the thrum of the air pump.

But it didn’t move toward me. I slowly pulled the hose and filled my tires, taking time out every thirty seconds or so to cool my face with a blast of air. The dog followed me with its black eyes as I went from tire to tire, but it never moved from that spot. When the pump shut off, I put the hose back, careful not to get too close to the dog.

But Jack was right. Something was not right about it. Something was just wrong, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell what it was.

It stopped growling and now was just sitting there in the blazing heat, staring at me, its thick tail slowly kicking away the dust on the concrete. For three days it had been baking under the desert sun with no shade, no food, no water. Hell, even Shane the wolf was able to chew himself free. But this poor thing had no way to get loose. It was simply chained up and left here to die. I couldn’t let that stand.

I pulled a bottle of water out from a cooler in the back and went to the animal. I reached forward with the top of my wrist held out in front of me. The dog snorted at me, took a step forward and sniffed.

I poured the water into my hands and let it drink. It smelled the water before lapping it up with a tongue as wide as my splayed hand from pinky tip to thumb. It didn’t take long for it to finish the entire bottle. When it was done, it took another step forward and gave me a wet, foul-smelling lick on the face. I couldn’t help but laugh.

As I scratched the dog behind the ears, I noticed an old, tattered leather collar buried in its fur. I followed it around its neck until I came to a rusty iron plate the size of a cigarette pack dangling from a metal loop. I moved the fur aside and wiped some dust from the giant tag to see if there was an address, phone number, or something else that showed who might own this thing. But the only thing it had was a name:


“Well, your owners aren’t very original, are they?” The dog wagged its tail once and then barked. It was a deep, bowel shaking burst of sound that made me second guess my proximity to the thing. But it continued to just stare at me. “Okay, Cerberus. You hungry? Let’s get you into some shade with some water and some food. How does that sound?”

Again, Cerberus licked me then sat back on its haunches, motionless and staring. I followed the collar around its broad neck until I found where the chain was connected. The chain that held it to the pump scraped against the concrete when I pulled on it. It was rusty, made with the kind of thick and heavy links found in a shipyard. It was a wonder the dog could breathe at all with this thing weighting it down.

I went cold. Even though I was in one of the hottest parts of the country on one of the hottest days of the year, a chill ran down my scalp and along my spine. I realized what it was that made the dog seem so wrong.

It wasn’t panting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Our Camp Has Been Attacked... By Naked People.

Ross Richie here, publisher, mayor, police chief, town crier, and janitor at BOOM! Studios. Time to interrupt this Michael Alan Nelson DINGO rampage with a little bit of John Rogers Goodness.

The following is the complete 8 page story for John's entry in ZOMBIE TALES: OBLIVION #1:



Pick up the one-shot at your local comic shop. In the event that they're punks and they don't have it, or there's no shop nearby, in the USA and CANADA you can order from MIDTOWN COMICS (you can pick up the original one shot featuring John's first story, ZOMBIE TALES #1, there as well -- and I wouldn't protest if you bought Boom!'s GIANT MONSTER #1 which came out last week and JENNY FINN MESSIAH out this week with Mike Mignola art while you're at it).

Z Tales Oblivion thumb

If you don't want to pick up the anthology, put a tip in the tip jar for John's time, and he'll double it and donate it to the Kashmir earthquake victims.

Over at COMIC BOOK RESOURCES, they're running the entire 8 pages of THE BOKEMONO AND THE CRANES, from Zombie Tales: Oblivion #1 as well, featuring a story written by Johanna Stokes and artwork by the legendary creator of LOBO and AMBUSH BUG, Keith Giffen. Check it out.

Daily Dingo #2

During his absence, John is generously allowing me to re-post my novel DINGO here at Kung Fu Monkey. I will be putting up a chapter a day until he returns. Enjoy.

- m a n


The drive up to Rick’s place in the hills always made me sick. Just after he bought the house with his ill gotten gains from his band’s over-hyped, over-marketed, and over-bought sophomore Disc, he drove me out to see it in his beautiful but nauseating ’70 Datsun 240 Z. All the smog combined with the pinball effects of winding up the hill at teeth-numbing speeds had me puking for an hour after we got there.

I took the last turn at the top of the hill and watched the rising sun crest over the black blocks of the city, her angel wings soiled and cheapened with the soot of 12 million get-away drivers. Rick’s house came into view out of the fog, its large glass panes sparkling like the last clean surface of an oversized ashtray.

I parked between a blue hatchback and Rick’s favorite toy: a 350 horsepower Impreza he had smuggled here from Japan. All his more expensive rides were in the garage, collecting dust and gaining vintage resale value.

I rang the bell. I waited and watched a couple of squirrels fight over a small treasure in the bushes. The door opened.


“Hey, Luna.”

Her job as Rick’s assistant was to take care of his place while he was out being a rock star. She made sure all his bills were paid, his animals were fed, and that the subsequent fallout from any parties she might have in his absence didn’t leave any lasting damage.

She was pretty by most standards, gorgeous by others. Short with a tight schoolgirl body and raven hair that teased her avian shoulders. But by whatever standard, her beauty was like a rare and exotic bird she kept caged behind the bars of her perfect teeth. As soon as she opened her mouth it flew away.

“Want something to drink, Dingo? I just made a rutabaga and avocado smoothie with egg substitute. It’s great brain food.”

“No, thanks. My brain isn’t hungry.” I walked into the living room and cringed at the painting clinging to the wall above the grand piano. Rick simply had too much money and too little taste. He would buy “art” based on the gossip of some self-important intern fetching coffee at a museum who always knew of some Vincent van Gogh-ingNowhere destined to be the next big thing. Common sense should have told him that a life-sized acrylic of Winston Churchill giving birth to a Madonna figure beneath the Golden Arches would never be considered art in this or any other universe, but Rick was never one for exercising common sense. If he was, I wouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Luna must have seen my reaction. “You need to relax, Dingo. It’s all that garbage you eat.”

“Yeah. Wanna tell me exactly what’s going on?”

“Sure. Here, taste this.” She held out a glass filled with a thick, mucous colored concoction. I took it from her and lifted it to my mouth. Anything to take my mind off the unsettling painting on the wall. After I took a swallow, I stared as hard as I could at mother Winston, bloated and suffering with labor pains. Anything to take my mind off the taste in my mouth.

“Well? How is it? How’s it taste?”

“Like a diaper.”

“There’s no need to be mean. Come on.”

She lead me to the den where a reality show was droning away on a larger-than-life plasma screen. “More ‘brain food?’” I asked nodding at the television.

“Just something I TeraTellied last night. Here. I think that’s what you’re looking for.” She pointed to a stack of papers on the coffee table. I sat down on the couch, the leather creaking and whining like Julie’s pants from the night before. I shook my head trying to get the pleasant-yet-horrifying memories out of my head. I took a long gulp of green goo. Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill.

“This the guy he sold it to?”

“Yep. Peter Waciejowski. He was in town with a couple of days to burn, so he decided to do a little car shopping. Rick didn’t really want to sell it, but he needed to make room for his Enzo.”

“Why didn’t he just build a new garage?”

“He’s thinking about moving.”

“What, this place not big enough for him?” I watched a couple argue on the screen in high definition. Nothing like HDTV to see the veins and spittle fly when two people go at it in earnest.

“I called Peter’s wife to get his cell phone number, but he’s turned it off. She thinks he’s planning on stopping in Vegas to do a little gambling and doesn’t want her checking up on him. She was a really sweet lady. A very old soul. She told me she knew the guy who--”

“You didn’t tell her what was in the box, did you?”

“Do I look stupid?”

I took a sip of sludge.

“Peter probably got to Vegas this morning. I’ll keep trying his cell, find out exactly where he is. Rick said you could take any of his cars you’d like. Except the Enzo. He’s still breaking that in.”

“I’ll stick with my Jeep, thanks.”

“Suit yourself. I MapQuested directions.” Luna displayed a couple of print-outs, then started tracing several lines on a foldout map, explaining the astrological implications of each one. Then she devolved into a rambling diatribe about the choices we all have to make in life and that I was somehow ‘chosen’ to make this journey. A journey through the desert in the middle of August. Yeah, I was chosen all right. Because God hates me.

“Yeah, thanks, Luna. I’m sure I can find Vegas, no problem.”

“You know what you need, Dingo?” she asked.

“A sane girlfriend? A life? Hope?”

“An animal spirit guide,” she said.

“You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

“No, come on. It’ll be fun!”

She muted the television then grabbed my hands and pulled me off the couch. Luna then sat me down on the floor in front of her, her legs crossed, knees touching mine. “All right. Now, each person has a different animal spirit guide. An animal unique to them. Some people have lions, dolphins, monkeys--”

“Luna, really.”

“Hush. If you don’t learn to relax, you’ll be dead before you’re forty.”

“All right, fine. But if my spirit guide is a ferret, I’m going to kill you.”


“Never mind, let’s just go.”

“Okay, close your eyes.”

As I did, I became acutely aware of her hands, how soft they were and the way they were nearly engulfed inside mine. I could hear her breathing slow, then become steady and rhythmic. My own fell in time with hers and I could feel our combined exhales stirring the hair on my arms.

“Now, Dingo, I want you to think of a place. A place deep in the forest. The sun is shining overhead, the soft breeze rustling the leaves. You can smell flowers and honeysuckle. You are at peace.”

I was surprised when the image came to my mind rather quickly. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, though it usually involved bikini clad playmates stranded on a desert island and me with the only bottle of Evian. But never about forest breezes, rustling leaves, or honeysuckle for chrissakes. Must have been something in that damn drink.

The first thing that came was the sky. That soft, pale blue that you can only get with Photoshop. There were a few clouds, rather just the idea of clouds floating by. But the trees were the most vivid. Massive oaks towered over me like angry parents, their rustling leaves harping at me with serpentine curses.

“Across from you is a small stand of bushes. They begin to rustle as your animal spirit guide moves behind them. Relax, let your breathing summon your guide into the clearing. Call her forth.”

We sat there, holding each other’s hands for what seemed like half an hour while I watched a stand of bushes with my mind’s eye sway in some imaginary wind. But nothing came out. No monkey, no lion, not even a ferret. Nothing.

When she let go of my hands she asked, “So? Did you communicate with it? What kind of guide do you have?”

“None. Nothing came out, Luna. Is this your way of telling me that your Earth Goddess hates me too?”

“Nothing? That’s strange. Well, sometimes it takes a few times before your guide shows up.”

“Well, I’ve got GPS.”

“That’s not a spirit guide, Dingo. But don’t worry, yours will show up.”

“I’m sure it will.”

I stood up and let the blood flow back into my legs. The giant lithograph of Rick’s band’s logo hung over the plasma screen like some lackluster hieroglyph. A giant letter ‘P,’ yellow and blocked in black on a white background with an oversized period next to it. P·

“Why on earth would they name their band P-dot?” I asked myself.

“You know their label is having a contest to see who can figure out what it means.”

It was one of those mysterious things that fans argued over endlessly on blogs, in chatrooms, on fansites. They all seemed to know what it meant or where it came from. None of them did. Not even close. But all that mystery and speculation still didn’t change the fact that it was a stupid fucking name for a band.

“All right, Luna, I’m going to get on the road.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’ll call you as soon as I get a hold of him.”

I stared at the printout for a moment. “Are we sure this guy’s going to Vegas?”

“That’s what his wife thinks. Why?”

The longer this guy had the box, the greater the chance he’d open it. And if he didn’t go to Vegas, that meant I’d have to track him down cross country. There wouldn’t be time for any detours.

I pointed to the maps splayed out on the coffee table. “Well if he doesn’t stop in Vegas, he’ll probably head straight home. Which means he’ll most likely take this route instead.”

She watched as I ran my finger along a red line that wound across the map. And then stopped. “Oh. That sucks,” she said.

“Yeah. Little bit. Little bit.”

We both stared in silence at my finger as it rested where the red line stopped at the Indiana border. Fucking Indiana.

Winston Churchill, Winston Churchill.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Daily Dingo

During his absence, John is generously allowing me to re-post my novel DINGO here at Kung Fu Monkey. I will be putting up a chapter a day until he returns. Enjoy.

p.s. Zombie Tales: Oblivion #1 hits bookshelves on Wednesday.

- m a n


This was the first time that sex with Julie really scared me. Her macabre desires had always been a little unnerving, like some dark and uncomfortable thing she kept in a mason jar that she would never open, just twist the lid enough to get a smell of the thing inside as it tried to get its tentacles through. It was her thing. Hell, I didn’t mind. We all have our things. But this time… Christ.

This time the lid came off.

“Leave your socks on,” she said.

I stopped pulling then started to unbutton my jeans. “Socks? That’s new.”

“Just wait.”

Julie disappeared into the bathroom, came out ten minutes later wearing black vinyl pants and a thick, riveted, wire-only bra. Her pants were on the verge of dripping off and her breasts looked like a tie-on Halloween gag gift.

“I’ve seen this before,” I said.

She just smiled and hummed as she tied my hands and feet to the bedposts with silk scarves so orange they made my teeth ache.

“Nothin’ new here either.”

“Patience, Dingo,” she said. “Patience.”

When she was satisfied that I wasn’t going anywhere, she took a fistful of my chest hair and twisted, varying pressure and speed that made my grunts and groans jump and jerk.

“It’s like playing the piano. You’re like my own little instrument, Dingo. My very own Dingo-phone. Didn’t know I had any musical talent, did you?”

“I’ve been too distracted by your other talents to notice.”
She bent forward and bit my lower lip. “My, how you underestimate me. Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back.”

This time she left the room. I heard her walk through the kitchen, followed by the sound of the garage door opening and things being moved and pushed around. A little later I heard something heavy hit the floor just outside the bedroom door. Julie walked in the bedroom with a small plastic bag cupped in her hand. She gave me a wink as she put three fingers inside the bag and then started to sprinkle tiny green flakes over my socks.

“I think you’re a little south, baby,” I said.

“Oh, Dingo. You’re not man enough for that yet. But we’ll work on it.”

“What is that? Is that weed? You gonna smoke my socks or something.”

“No, no, Dingo.” She laughed. “You’re so silly.”

“Uh huh. Silly. Yeah. What is it?”

Julie gave me a crooked smile. “It’s catnip.”

“You buy a cat?”

“No, Dingo.” She reached into the bag and pulled out another pinch.

“Then what? My feet smell?”

“It has nothing to do with how your feet smell.”

“So they do smell.”

“Hush.” She put the bag down and stepped outside the door.

When she came back in, I almost ripped my arms from their sockets trying to sit up. I could hear my tendons popping over the straining bed frame. “Julie, what the hell!”

She just smiled as she placed three items on the bed between my legs, one by one:

1) a saddle

2) a melon baller

3) and a fucking ferret.

She bounced her finger between the wire bars of the animal’s cage while she gave it baby cooing sounds. The rat-dog just hissed and spat while it spun after its tail like a furry pile of shit caught in a blender.

Cold air from the garage moved into the room, slid up my legs and across my scrotum, short circuiting every synapse in my body. I gave an involuntary shiver and asked the only question I could think of.

“Jesus Christ, Julie. What’s the saddle for?”

When I was twelve I saw a National Geographic Special on a pack of wolves living in the wilds of Montana. One of the local farmers had actually set traps in the hopes of snaring the more adventurous animals that tried to wander onto his land to hunt his sheep. One unfortunate wolf, a mangy animal the documentary host called Shane, got its hind leg caught in the wire mouth of one of the farmer’s traps.

As Julie centered the ferret cage between my legs I couldn’t help but think about Shane, that scrawny animal, chewing its way to freedom, leaving behind a bloody and twisted “fuck you, Farmer Joe” lying in the dirty pink snow. The lucky bastard.

While I was trying to figure out which arm I could most likely live without, the phone rang. Julie grabbed the cordless and held it to her ear as she taunted the ferret with her free hand.

“He‘s busy,” she said. After a moment, she rolled her eyes then jumped on the bed, straddled my chest and put the phone to the side of my head.

“H…hello?” I said.

“Danny, what the hell you still doin’ with that Rebound Rita?”

“What? Rick? It’s 2 o’clock in the morning.”

“I don’t have a watch.”

Julie started to bounce on my chest. Her lips twisted into a sneer then formed the words ‘hurry up.’

“What do you need Rick?”

“Um, we’ve got a bit of a problem.”

The exhilaration of being rescued by a phone call in the dead of night suddenly vanished. “Don’t you mean you have a bit of a problem?”

I could hear Rick light a cigarette and breathe smoke onto the receiver. “Danny…”

“You know what, Rick? I don’t want to know about it. You figure it out.”

“Danny, come on…”

“Stop calling me Danny, Ricky. And no, I will not come on.”

I pulled my feet up as much as I could, trying to keep them as far from the ferret cage as possible, but I could feel its movements disturbing the air around my ankles. Julie grabbed my chest hair with her other hand.

“Okay, fine,” Rick said. “I have a problem. Can you help me out?”


“What do you mean ‘no’? I’m your own flesh and blood, man. Christ, we shared the same womb. Doesn’t that count for something, Dingo?”

“Indiana, Rick!” It came out a mix of growls and gasps as Julie’s minimal weight squeezed my lungs and her hand twisted my chest hair. “Indiana! I’m not talking about a bar or a country club. I was banned from a whole fucking state for helping you with one of your problems! Do you know how hard it is to get banned from a state?”

“Dude, what’s in Indiana anyway?”

“That’s not the fucking point, Rick!”

Julie sighed. She fidgeted for a moment, shaking her breasts as she reached behind her back and pulled out a small knife. She reached forward and cut the scarf tied to my right wrist. She jumped off the bed and tossed the phone to me. I caught it just in time to hear Rick’s tinny bleating of Indiana’s ills.

“Rick, Rick, stop, look. I’m busy right now. Can I call you back, say during daylight?”

“Come on little brother, this is important.”

“Fine. What’s the problem?” I took a quick swing with the phone at Julie when she started to tickle my feet with her Jack Rabbit.

“I sold my Z on Wednesday.”

“Yeah, you told me. You also told me you got ripped off.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s beside the point. Look, I was in a hurry and I forgot to clean out the trunk.”

“I’m sure the guy’ll hit a car wash¬--”

“No man, you don’t understand. I left something in there and he‘s driving the car out to Buffalo.” I could hear Rick hot-boxing his cigarette.

“Well, just call the guy and have him Fed Ex it to you.”

“Yeah. I, uh, don’t think that would be a good idea, Dingo.”

I stretched and tried to lean on my elbow. “Why not, Rick?” I could feel the skin on the back of my skull start to tingle. “What exactly did you leave in the trunk of that car? And Rick, it better be drugs or a dead body.”

“It was the box, Dingo.” Well, my brother was right. ‘We’ had a problem. “Dingo? Dingo?”

“I am going to kill you dead.” My knuckles were white around the phone.

“Okay, I know you’re pissed, but just calm down.”

“Dead, you hear me? Kill. You. Dead. Oh, and by the way, your band sucks!”

“Jesus, I’m sorry, man.”

“Sorry?” The bed frame squeaked as I pulled on the scarves. “I gave it to you to put in your vault. To keep it safe. What the hell was it doing in the trunk of your car?”

I heard Rick pound his cigarette into an ashtray. “We were recording at Damon’s. We needed a short mic stand for the PZM and the box was the perfect size and—”

“Stop, just…stop. Let me tell you what you’re going to do, Rick. You’re going to get into whatever fancy ride of yours moves the fastest, and then you’re going to go get that box back.”

“I can’t, man. That’s the problem. I’m leaving for Europe in the morning. We’ve got seventy shows in ninety days and I’m booked solid. I’m sorry, Dingo. I would if I could.”

Julie was poking her knife into the cage and rattling it against the bars. She didn’t seem to be scaring the animal, just pissing it off.

“Ah, puke. All right,” I said. “Where is this guy?”

“I’ll leave all the info with Luna. Just swing by here tomorrow and she can give you all the details. I’m sorry, little brother. I’ll make it up to you, promise.” The phone clicked and Rick was gone.

I dropped my head against the pillow and tossed the phone against the wall.
“What’s your brother doing calling this late?”

I rested my forearm over my eyes and said, “I’ve got to leave town for a couple of days, baby.”

Her vinyl pants creaked and pouted as she tilted her hips. “Well, you’re not going anywhere until I say you are.” I peeked out from under my arm when her voice dropped an octave. “Now, where were we?”

When the latch on the ferret cage fell open, I remembered that Shane the wolf didn’t hobble off into the blissful western sunset. No. Farmer Joe followed his bloody trail through the gray sludge of the forest floor and shot that three legged mutt dead.

The lucky bastard.