Ordinary Handsome: Driving in shadows

It’s still dark, and there’s still a dead body in the back of the pickup. We have to do something before sunup, and time’s running out. Time is greasy and melting like candle wax. The lines on the road are skewed, angled pell-mell. The sky is a thunderous canopy, blackened and bruised and moving like smoke. The wind smells sour and wet, and the road looks hand-drawn. Tree branches are too close and too low to the truck, and they scrape against the sides, sounding like scratched tinfoil. Continue reading Ordinary Handsome: Driving in shadows

Ordinary Handsome: Burial grounds

When he tripped over what appeared to be a ribcage, Ricky clutched his Nikon close to his chest. He saw the bones and wondered if a ground angle shot would work best. Maybe a shallow focus. The light was thin and the shadows were heavy, but….

And then he realized these were human bones. His first thought was that he had discovered a deer carcass. Up close and at ground level, he understood.

A few feet away, there were even more bones: a femur, a dissevered pelvis, a skull. The skull had been shattered, and the remaining bones were weathered and splintered, stained an ugly corrosive brown. They were scraped and punctured by teeth. The ground around him was a makeshift burial circle.


Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

Free downloadable Kindle app also available.


It took us about twenty minutes to find a decent place. The ground was flat and hard, but it yielded to a shovel without too much effort. There was a circle of old pines surrounding the spot. You can tell the strength of soil by the strength of the trees that have set their roots. Not even a heavy rain was going to wash away the dirt.

I pointed the flashlight at Kincaid’s shoes. Were you planning to dig a hole wearing wingtips, I asked. My temper was not soft, and it was firming up every minute I had to spend with him. Continue reading Digging

A Shooting

He hitched his pants. They were too big and baggy on his lean frame. Then he rubbed his hands on his knees. I couldn’t tell if he was trying to clean his hands or wipe off the flakes of dried blood from his pants. He moved slowly, like he was in a trance. All the crazy energy he had when I drove up was gone. Continue reading A Shooting

Ordinary Handsome: Preparation

Among all my other tools, I kept a fifty-pound bag of lime and an empty coffee can in the back of the Jeep. Nobody would pay any mind to it, since there were a lot of dirt basements in Handsome. After a rain like this, the dampness stunk up houses and clouded backyards with septic overflows.

I needed to keep Jackson as fresh as I could. I’d sprinkle it over him like pepper in a soup pot. It helped, but only a little. Continue reading Ordinary Handsome: Preparation

Dead Handsome

An excerpt from Ordinary Handsome – Reposted from Nov. 27/14

This is my largest excerpt available from my novel Ordinary Handsome. Available  from Amazon -http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0. Makes for a dark Valentine’s Day gift.


Dead Handsome

Fifty-seven years ago I killed a boy. Tonight, Euart Monroe walked into my room with a Mossberg 510 and a stained hobo mattress and fired a shot into my belly. It should have killed me right off, but he didn’t want that. He wanted me to know who pulled the trigger.

I could taste the backsplash in my mouth, dripping bile and bowel, and it tasted like bits of wet cabbage.

Calm yourself, Jimmy, she oftentimes said.

Arlene. I can still smell your hair, and it smells like black tea.

Calm yourself….

The clock says 2:45. One more morning added to the four dozen years since she passed.

Look here, I see the crepe myrtle in the backyard, tinted like cherry Popsicles, and the first blush on the garden tomatoes. I can smell the late-spring mint that grows wild beside the porch. I can hear Arlene humming something sweet in the kitchen, a lullaby for no one. I hold on to these things – smells, colors, sounds — for as long as I can, because none of it is real. Reality is the reek of greasy undershirts, the whorl of colored lights on a police car, the damp black gases seeping from my bowels.

The box fan in the window filters the slushy noises from the street, curling the sounds into voices, rhythms, cockeyed conversation. But there’s no one outside, not now, not in Handsome. It’s only white noise sluicing through the blades. There’s no one out there to hear the echoing rip shot from the 510. Continue reading Dead Handsome

Ordinary Handsome – Business as usual

An excerpt. Ordinary Handsome is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

There was much talk about the weather, the gully wash on Milk Street, who was cheating whom, and the weather. Nothing about a missing boy, or an accident on Little Route. It was business as usual.

It was a day of cleaning up. He washed and changed the bedding in Arlene’s room, swept the floors and tidied the living room. He drank much coffee and slept upright at the kitchen table. He listened to the ticking clock and felt the day gather up into a single cloud that passed over town. It would rain again, but without as much purpose. Just before six o’clock – his usual supper hour – he got back in the Bel Air and went for a drive.

He visited her before he left. She was lucid but pale. He kissed her forehead and she smiled. Calm yourself Jimmy, she said. Let me rest.

Getting into the car and during the drive, he wondered if he misheard her. She might have said, let him rest. But that might have been a transpositional memory. A warning. Let him rest.


Fifty-seven years ago I killed a boy. Tonight, Euart Monroe walked into my room with a Mossberg 510 and a stained hobo mattress and fired a shot into my belly. It should have killed me right off, but he didn’t want that. He wanted me to know who pulled the trigger.

You may think you know how it ends…

Ordinary Handsome available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

Ordinary Handsome: Ghosts

One early morning, I decided to drive past Vernon Kincaid’s old place. I knew he was gone, but I wanted to see if anyone else had taken over the homestead. I don’t really know why I went there. Half a quart of bourbon might have had something to do with it.

The place was empty, of course. It was about 2:30 in the morning, and all the house lights on Hamtree Street were off. But there’s a difference between an empty house and one whose occupants are in bed.

It looked disused and a little shabby. The grass had grown wild on the previously clipped-and-raked lawn. The windows, naked of curtains, looked grimy even in the darkness. The front porch still had a scattering of dead leaves. It looked more than deserted; it looked dead.

I got out of the Ford and stood on the sidewalk, staring at the house. I felt uneasy just standing there, as if something poisonous might leak out and rush towards me. Memories clambered through my head, and I felt a chill run through my bones. This was a bad place, still. Continue reading Ordinary Handsome: Ghosts