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Kirkus Book Review: Somethin’ for Nothin’

July 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Recovering a decades-old crashed plane promises a fortune for a small group in Alaska, provided everyone can avoid double-crosses and murderous drug dealers, in Bass’ (In the Black, 2015, etc.) thriller.

Sure that they’ll flunk out of Ohio State University, pals Albert Stiles and Wesley “Waxy” Biederby leave school and head west. Or northwest, with Albert believing the two can amass wealth working on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Unfortunately, those jobs require a one-year state residency, and opportunity slips further away once Albert’s dad cuts off his credit card. The friends wind up with dishwashing and bartending gigs at the bar Beantown Bob’s Fenway Park West. Albert, still aiming for a pipeline job (and testing his luck by initiating a sexual relationship with Beantown Bob’s girlfriend, CiCi), hopes to acquire a union card for sale. Waxy, meanwhile, may have another way of striking it rich. According to co-worker Moe the Eskimo, a cargo plane transporting government payroll (presumably millions) crashed 30-odd years ago near his village. Jimmi the Pilot proves essential in searching the mountain, but when his latest drug deal with Mexican smugglers goes bad, he wants to find the loot as quickly as possible. Digging through a glacier is dangerous enough, but as others, including Albert, join the hunt, some may readily deceive to ensure the split goes fewer ways. Readers should recognize the story of a ragtag crew scouring for cash or gold, so betrayals are almost inevitable. Bass’ tale, however, exudes freshness, courtesy of a memorable snowy backdrop and indelible characters. The plane’s potential location, for one, makes a search unmistakably arduous, and there’s inherent risk for Waxy using a chainsaw in an ice tunnel. The narrative, too, offers no definite good or bad guys. Jimmi is part of a shady smuggling operation but also clearly fond of Waxy, while Albert does something that would make the average villain cringe. The only notable female players, CiCi and waitress Emma, don’t do much beyond forming romantic pairings with Albert and Waxy. But thankfully, neither woman takes guff from anyone—in her first scene, Emma’s thoroughly unimpressed by Albert and Waxy’s joke-laden dinner order.

A familiar plot fortified by delightful characters in a glacial setting.

~Kirkus Reviews

/MTB150710a - Somethin' for Nothin' Cover - Paperback

Available at Amazon.com

Somethin’ for Nothin’ Cover

December 4, 2015 Leave a comment
Categories: Somthin' for Nothin'

Finished: Somethin’ for Nothin’

October 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Just finished my next novel, Somethin’ for Nothin’…Soon to be off to the editor.

 

MTB150710a - Somethin' for Nothin' Cover - Paperback

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Categories: Somthin' for Nothin'

Novel Preview: Somethin’ for Nothin’

June 26, 2015 Leave a comment

 Prologue

 

“ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGG! Excedrin headache number sixty-nine!” Waxy moaned in genuine anguish.

The blizzard had ended. High pressure was building over the Yukon. To the south, daylight glowed about the horizon turning the landscape into a black-and-white film noir scene. The hull of the airplane was, miraculously, still in tact and provided shelter from the whirling Arctic dervishes that swept down across the broad plains of permafrost north of the Brooks Mountain Range, which, like unseen Medusas, could turn men to stone with a mere touch of their wind chill factors.

“Jimmi, this is not funny. Cut it out,” Waxy groaned. But Jimmi the Pilot, was dead, skewered by the control yoke in the crash. “Albert, make Jimmi cut it out.”

Albert was not dead, but he was still unconscious in a crumpled heap behind Waxy. Waxy did not know that, because he had yet to open his eyes. He felt dizzy enough without having blurry perceptions of reality to cope with, too. He had never before had a concussion, so Waxy wasn’t quite sure what was happening to him.

“ALLLLLLL-BERRRRRRRRT!” Waxy bayed. He coughed and spat blood. “Oh, Albert, this just isn’t our day. I want to go home now, Albert. I want to go back to Ohio.”

Albert did not answer.

“Albert, tell Jimmi to cut it out. PLLLEEEEEEEAAASSSSSEE! This isn’t fun any more.”

But Jimmi the Pilot was dead.

***~~~***

 

High Street

 

The blue bus is calling us…

Albert and Waxy woke one Thursday morning to the guttural gurgling of diesel engines. Albert’s blue Ford panel truck was parked between a North American moving van and a Monsanto chemical tanker — a portentous sign, they both later concurred — at an Indiana rest stop just across the border from Ohio on Interstate 70. Waxy and Albert emerged from the van with a vacuity of will and comprehension so common to those suffering a hangover.”Where the hell are we?” asked Albert.

Waxy squinted his eyes and sniffed the air. “Indiana? Maybe?”

“Oh God, I knew it. We’ve died and gone straight to hell.”

“It could be worse.”

“How in the hell is that?” Albert scowled and stared hard at Waxy.

“I don’t know.” Waxy shook his head. “I miss it.”

“Miss what?”

“Home.”

“AAAAIIIIRRRRRGGGGHHHH! GO DIRECTLY TO CLEVELAND! DO NOT PASS GO! DO NOT COLLECT $200!”

“You know what I mean.”

“For Christ’s sake, we’re not even two hundred miles from Columbus. We haven’t even been gone twelve hours, yet,” Albert exclaimed in disbelief. “Besides, it’s Ohio. O-Hi-O, Waxy. Remember? That four letter word with three syllables.”

“Huh?”

“Ohio, boy, Ohio. The Buckeye State, where that veritable Imperial Wizard of the Big Ten, Woody Hayes, reigns supreme. Home of the Rubber capital of the world and the Pro Football Hall of Fame — the one hundred forty-seventh and two hundred sixty-third wonders of the world, respectively. Give me a break already, will you? Don’t tell me you want to go back-back-back there! Don’t tell me that you really, really want to be known as one of the only two human beings on the planet to legitimately flunk out of The Ohio State University. Have you forgotten about garfing that God damned mid term in Kragies’ Torment of the Soul 101 yesterday? She’ll crucify us, Waxy — nail our asses to the God damned cross. We won’t be able to get jobs pumping gas at a pissant Sohio station by the time she’s finished her Inquisition with us. As Immanuel Kant would say, ’get real already’. Face it, we’re screwed.”

“Well, yeah, but-but I sure don’t want to stay in Indiana.”

“Go west, young man, go west,” Albert whispered seductively.

“Is Alaska west? Or North? Or northwest?”

“Details, Waxy, don’t bother me with details. Get a focus on The Big Picture.”

“Oh, yeah. I keep forgetting.”

Waxy wasn’t very good at all at focusing in on The Big Picture. Albert was the idea man and that suited Waxy — and Albert, too — just fine.

The Big Picture came to be defined in ever broader, ever more artistically abstract strokes as Albert and Waxy made their way down High Street hitting every bar across from the OSU campus that was open at 10:30 in the morning from the North Berg to the South Berg immediately after “garfing” their Introduction to Philosophy mid term examination. The Big Picture had its genesis in shots of Yukon Jack bourbon, which Albert and Waxy washed down liberally with Moosehead Lager beers.

“Look at that label! Look at that God damned label, Waxy! Have you ever in your life ever seen anything as ugly as that moose?!” Albert pointed to the label of his beer bottle. His voice had the timbre and decibel rating of a Pratt and Whitney jet engine roaring at take-off power in Waxy’s ear. “They’ve got to have Paul Bunyan-sized balls to put something that hideous on a beer bottle and still expect people to drink it! Yup! Genuine Paul Bunyan-sized testicles with sperm cells as big as rainbow trout! Waxy, my man, that’s where we belong! In the land of the ug-ug-ugliest member of the deer family and brew masters with the biggest balls in this quadrant of the Milky Way! It’s gotta be! It’s Jack London’s call of the fucking wild! It’s just gotta be! Look at that son-of-a-bitching Bullwinkle bastard! Look at him and tell me we don’t belong! We’ll be sucking down caribou milk and snarfing eagle eggs over easy with a side of reindeer back bacon for breakfast! Put hair on a hairless ass! Look at this! Look! When have you ever seen an uglier hunk of shag carpeting? Look at him. Am I right or am I right or am I right?”

“No man of reason can dispute this,” Waxy slurred as he squinted hard at his own bottle of Moosehead Beer.

The main ingredients of The Big Picture included collecting obscenely excessive amounts of money, Arctic springs welling up with honey-sweetened sour mash whiskey straight from the center of the earth, and clutches of Scandinavian-looking Eskimo women named Annika, Inge, Karena and Rika clawing at Albert and Waxy’s naked bodies. The more he drank, the more animated and enthusiastic Albert became, albeit the more Salvador Dali-like his vision of getting rich working on the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline became.

Waxy, being of like mind and intoxication, measured Albert’s skewed vision of reality, riches and adventure against his own mundane high school existence in Delaware, Ohio; the abrasion of a liberal arts course of study at Ohio State University on his pragmatic, agrarian sensibilities; and the prospects of going to work on the second shift in the local luggage factory back home when his utter failure to comprehend the Humanities was verified in his hastily scribbled blue book by Professor Kragies. He came to the one and only conclusion a man who had sucked boiler makers for six hours straight possibly could: “Who cares if the mule is blind, let’s load up the wagon.”

“Huh?” asked a perplexed Albert.

“Why the hell not!”

“Now you’re talking.”

Their Manifest Destiny came to be symbolized in the soft, almost whispered a capella chant, “The blue bus is calling us” — a line from Albert’s favorite song off of his favorite album by his favorite rock band, “The End” by The Doors.

On the way to the bank to close out their accounts:

The blue bus is calling us…

On the way to the package store to buy provisions for their long, cross-continental pilgrimage:

The blue bus is calling us…

Back to the apartment to gather only their most essential belongings, including swim suits, Cheryl Tiegs and Farrah Fawcett posters, as well as cassette tapes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rolling Stones and, of course, The Doors:

The blue bus is calling us…

Watching their text books, piled along the banks of the Olentangy River, doused with gasoline and burning brightly:

The blue bus is calling us…

All the way to Indiana:

The blue bus is calling us…

Thursday morning at the rest stop, after squinting silently into the sun for what seemed like hours, Albert began chanting their mantra:

The blue bus is calling us…

Calm immediately crossed their troubled countenances. Peace reclaimed their souls. Their thoughts became focused on The Big Picture and the mission they shared. Their lives came to have purpose and meaning again.

Albert and Waxy got back into Albert’s blue Ford panel truck and merged onto Interstate 70, westbound.

***~~~***

 

 Coming Spring, 2016

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 MTB150601 - Lodging Cover - 180x288

Available at Amazon.com

Categories: Somthin' for Nothin'
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