books, creative writing, Ogden, women, writing

Beta Readers Wanted – Horror/Crime Novella

Hi,

I have revised the Ogden Chronicle series into a novella.

I am looking for beta readers who can give feedback within six to eight weeks.

If you are interested, please leave a comment below or contact me via here.

The intention is to self publish this then have a similar process with Sir 2.0.

I am less prolific and more precise these days. 2019 is going to reflect the process as I look into getting my work out there.

I am also available for copywriting, writing and story consultancy work.

https://www.fiverr.com/mattblissett858

I hope everyone had a lovely season and is looking forwards to a year filled with possibilities.

Sure, I could flail around, saying we are doomed, but we are not.

In Cunning Talks, Warren Ellis talks about how we look at our technology through the lens of the future, which is always found wanting when we would be smarter to look at it through the lens of the past.

I apply a similar idea to myself. I am better than the man I was, yesterday. He’s my only competition in a great many respects. The responsibilities of such a thing make you stronger and more able to bear the tough times. My writing has been a healthy obsession for a while, and although progress is slow, I think about the things I’ve learned along the way.

The life its allowed me to create.

Whatever happens, we are in this together, walking one another home. The world will continue and we must strive to catch up or stand in place depending on our situation.

Advertisements
Standard
creative writing, flash fiction, Ogden, Uncategorized, writing

A Visit From The Creatures of Necessity

Dear Sheriff,

My brother and I called to discuss a recent business matter. No one was home, but we thought it rude to not let you know that we were here. 

The alarm system is pretty good. The lock on the back door could do with a touch of oil. 

You have a lovely home and your wife photographs beautifully, doesn’t she? We were dismayed to see that there were no signs of children in the home, and we trust that this is simply a matter of free will rather than any other factor. Men can father children into their eighties, and she’s certainly young enough to bring glory to your bloodline, isn’t she? 

Please contact us. Your home is so inviting, it robs a man of his inhibitions. 

My brother’s more than mine, Sheriff. 

He folded the note and put it into his pocket. He drew his gun, kept it close to his side as he peered through the windows. He stepped away from the door and reached for his phone. She was number one on his speed dial, due to his profound enjoyment of playing the doting husband and how she would call him if she heard a noise.

‘Hey, baby, where are you?’

She chuckled and she heard the clink of glasses.

‘I’m at Robyn’s, it’s her baby shower, remember, I did say.’

He struggled to keep his voice even but he squeezed his eyes shut and willed himself calm.

‘Yes, yes you did. OK, just like it when you’re home.’

She giggled and cooed.

‘My big brave sheriff.’

There was a point, roughly between two and three glasses of wine where Turner would enjoy the virtues of a younger wife, some measure of damp, percussive pleasure to offset the tantrums and the dark moods. At that point, he was simply relieved that she was not in the house.

‘I’ll fix my own dinner. Call a cab, okay?’

She giggled and his lips went back on his teeth with distaste.

‘Honey, I can walk from -‘

He told her no. That she was to get a cab and his tone was the one that he used when describing how they were going to raid a meth lab. She knew better than to disagree with him when he was like this. An officer had been killed, and John had always fostered a closeness with his men that she envied sometimes. He ended the call and unlocked the front door.

He brought the gun up, smoothly arcing from corner to corner, muscle memory took over and he examined the house with a brusque economy. When he was sure that he was alone, he put his gun back in the holster and sagged against the marble kitchen counter. He put his hands over his face, breathed in to calm himself down.

Which was when his phone rang.

‘Sheriff?’

Garret’s cracked, ugly voice made the fillings in his teeth vibrate.

‘You stay away from my home, you fuck.’

Garret gave a reedy laugh.

‘Well, we had things to discuss and my brother and I are creatures of necessity.’

Creatures was the right word. John shut his eyes against the tight band of pain that had dug into his temples, each breath Garret took was another twist of the knife.

‘Yes, you are. I’ll meet with you. Usual place and time.’

Garret chuckled again. Disconnected the call.

The doorbell rang and John looked up. His phone rang again.

‘Let me in, Sheriff.’

John’s drew the gun as he walked to the door.

He opened the door and looked down at Garret, his broken dental work was rusted fish-hooks threatening to fall from infected meat.

‘Well, that’s no way to greet an associate, now is it?’

John had not raised the gun but he wanted to. He could taste the adrenaline in his saliva, muscles cramping with the need to react but he kept his demeanour neutral.

‘We don’t meet here, you know that.’

Garret cocked his head to one side and put his hands out, grinning like a child with a secret.

‘I know, but then I don’t be able to give you the information that you’re really going to be interested in.’

‘What’s that?’

Garret giggled and John recoiled from the sound.

‘Where my brother is, and who his fare is for the evening.’

(For previous episodes, visit https://mbblissett.com/ogden-review/. Please leave comments, reviews and missives below.

Standard
creative writing, flash fiction, Ogden, Uncategorized, writing

The Irascible Nature of Scorpions (Ogden)

They combed the area in the dark, a generator  was found and set up, it’s guttural purr and the thick, greasy stink of diesel adding to the choir of anxieties that afflicted the lawmen of Ogden.

One of their own, found in the front seat of his patrol vehicle, throat slit and uniform dark and wet with his own blood. The unconscious local man who was laid out like an apostrophe a few feet away, the back of his head bruised and his eyes twitching with disorientation as the responding deputy stood over him, his throat closed with shock.
Later, Gregory repeated that he called it all in before touching anything at the scene. Sat in front of the detective who had been called into play like a feint in a game of chess.
Willing away the weight of the letter that he had retrieved with tweezers from inside Eddie’s jacket. The weight that seethed like a secret until he was home.

The snap of the lighter as he burned it. The struggle to make the phone call from a burner phone before racking up a fat line, trading his guilt and shame for one larger problem. Turner spoke in terse, calcified grunts like he was forcing up something from the pit of his stomach. The spaces between words, and in those silences, the whine of how fucked up this had gotten. Gregory was brought and paid for, sure but it didn’t mean that he was a cold gun. He got off the phone as soon as he could, took out the battery and the SIM card, put them in separate locations in his one room apartment.

That first cold hard snort, a wave crashing against, crashing over the pilings of his anxieties for a moment. Chemical clarity that made every nerve dance like a believer on Judgement Day. He walked around his apartment, clapping his hands and strutting to the music of his blood, talking himself up into something approaching courage.

Gregory was not stupid but he was weak. Between those two polarities, he had managed to keep his own corruption in check. He was conscientious in his work, arrogant and heavy handed but that seemed to get him into the panties of any number of women. That appeal lasted long enough to ensure that they would spit at the mention of his name afterwards but he had once read about a scorpion and a frog, a story that he didn’t understand until one evening, at a town fayre, jittery and excitable, he had cornered Harlan and asked him to explain it.

Harlan had given him a soft smile and lifted his eyes up in recollection.

“It is certain that no animal in the creation seems endued with such an irascible nature…I have seen them attempt to sting a stick when put near them; and attack a mouse or a frog, when those animals were far from offering any injury.”

Gregory had sniffed, enjoying the burn at the back of his throat and asked him what he meant.  Harlan had patted him on the shoulder, which made Gregory flinch like he had been scalded.

‘The scorpion cannot help it’s nature. Even though it knows that it would drown if it stung the frog, it couldn’t help itself.  That reference comes from a book by Oliver Goldsmith, published in the eighteenth century, but there are variations of it right back to Persian mythology.’

Gregory nodded like he understood and had a wealth of insights ready to break through until Harlan pointed out that his nose was bleeding and Gregory ran to grab a napkin from the catering table.

Pacing his apartment, Gregory kept returning to that quotation, trying to make sense of it, and the fable in turn. Morning, was a long time in coming, and he had time to think. Nothing but time to think.

When he stopped to look into the smeared mirror that was rested against the kitchen worktop, he saw that he had been crying. That his nose was bleeding and if he had been wearing his sidearm, he would have pulled a gun in reflex.

It had stopped being fun a long time ago, but any number of things had stopped being fun. When he could not bear the wounded look in the eyes of the women he seduced, the kids who alternately mocked and feared him.

When Gregory could not figure out if he was the frog or the scorpion and how he feared the answer.

How he feared the answer.

(https://mbblissett.com/ogden-review/ for previous entries. Please leave comments, speculations, threats and love letters so I feel like people are actually reading this)

Standard
flash fiction, Ogden, Uncategorized, writing

My Brother, My Keeper (Ogden)

Harlan was equal parts amused and curious at the circumstances with which his brother had managed to secure him legal representation. It was a distraction from his grief, and yet as he sat there, staring at the vending machine coffee with contempt, he fought against the small spark of hope that arose in him.

Avery would never let him down.

Since school, Harlan had counted on his brother to defend him. Although initially a lot of the situations had been redress for the cutting insights that Harlan developed as a defence mechanism, mostly they had been actions by the ignorant and the afraid. Shoved into lockers, books snatched and torn apart in front of him, physical assaults that would leave him bleeding and nauseous afterwards. His assailants enjoyed a brief pocket of notoriety, which coincidentally was about the time it took Avery to find out before he gave them cause to regret ever starting on his younger brother.

Jeff Yates lost two teeth and had his pinkie finger broken for giving Harlan a swirlie.

After around five or six beatings, including one at a sweet sixteenth where they found the kid tied up in a broom closet, unable to speak for at least a week, people got the message and Harlan found the disdain was restricted to harsh words and stares, which he could live with.

The summer of his sixteenth birthday, when he had run away from home, getting a ride from a band who were heading north had been his vision of a Kerouac style life made manifest. Harlan found that the pace of the drinking and the drugs had left him vulnerable. When his brother found him, naked and studded with cigarette burns, unable to speak about what happened, Harlan had simply been happy to see him and had allowed him to lead him home under a blanket across the fields so that no one would see him. Cleaning up the burn marks in the bathroom as he wept and told Avery in shards of bitter memory, what had been done to him.

Harlan never found out what happened to The Angry Rocket Collective until he was at a book fair, talking to an aggressively hipster journalist who had put together a book of mysterious rock deaths outside of the 27 Club.  Apparently the van had been found, doors torn off and coated with blood and tissue, no trace of the upcoming four piece punk rock pederasts to be found. He never asked his brother what his involvement was, afraid that his brother would tell him the truth.

So in the greater scheme of things, a lawyer turning up was the best possible outcome if not the most satisfying. She came into the room, chignon tight and make up perfect as she extended a slim, perfectly manicured hand.  She sat down and when the deputy did not immediately leave, she instructed him to go back a pot of coffee and then asked Harlan if he took cream and sugar with a lilting voice that probably put more men in jail than an unsolicited confession.

She took details, writing longhand in a moleskin notebook and asking him to clarify a few points that he thought irrelevant but she insisted on getting certain details inviolate.

‘Who do you think did it?’ he said.

She looked up from her notebook and narrowed her eyes.

‘Honestly that is not my remit. My job is to make sure that it’s not you in the frame for it.’

He nearly choked on his coffee at that.

‘I think it’s a little too late for that, Ms Ellis.’

She shook her head and pointed to his hands.

‘There are too many questions to indicate that this was a spat between two lovers.’

His eyes welled up with tears as he shook his head in disbelief.

‘I’d never have hurt him.’

She put her hand on top of his.

‘Mr Foster, that’s actually irrelevant to me. I’m your lawyer, your guilt or innocence is academic, only what the state can prove. And honestly, either you’re a straight to netflix evil genius or stupid on a quantum level if you did do this and somehow knocked yourself unconscious. So Mr Foster, you shouldn’t lie to me but that doesn’t mean that I need to know everything to do my work.’

Harlan smirked and picked up his coffee, inhaling the rich aroma as he tipped his cup to her.

‘I think you and I are going to get along just fine.’

Avery, he thought, you’ve come through again.

 

 

Standard
blogging, flash fiction, Ogden, short fiction, short stories, Uncategorized

Truth Versus Conviction

 

 

She got out from the car. Her hair was a tight, high chignon that gave an elegant length to her neck. Make up as war paint,  eleven o’clock at night and ready for a fight. The suit was a single breasted black blazer and tailored trousers, a Vera Wang shirt. Small towns seldom appreciated the effort of good fashion and beauty but Gloria Ellis understood that image was everything.

‘You’re Mr Foster?’

He put out his hand. She gave him a warm, dry grasp and gestured towards the station.

Lee rolled his eyes at the sight of Avery but when he saw  the thin smile of the lawyer, he sighed and shook his head.

‘He’s not asked for a -‘

‘Deputy, I would like you to inform Mr Foster that his brother is here and that he has secured my services, can you do that?’

Lee looked at her, blank and frightened.

Two years ago, he had been called upon to give evidence in a possession beef. A brick of mexican weed in a trunk and Lee, realising that his station in the world was being cut to pieces by the sing song questions of the woman stood before him. Charges dropped and a civil suit that meant the order for the new rifles had to go into another budget. She took his balls from him, smiling as she did it and his face tightened into a knot of confusion and recrimination.

He went to inform Mr Foster, slouching like a whipped dog.

Avery’s eyes narrowed and Gloria Ellis laughed.

‘We have some history, Mr Foster, but that works in our favour.’

He rubbed his chin as he looked at her.

‘Mind telling me how?’

She smiled and Avery was reminded of how some of the special forces guys would get when they were being briefed. A cold blade across the throat, barrel up and trigger pulled, steel always on target. He made a mental note to thank Madeline later.

‘Because they know not to fuck with me, and by proxy, your brother.’

Even through his grief, Harlan knew that he was not going to turn down a lawyer.

The police do not want the truth, they want a conviction. Cases closed are not always cases solved. In their defence, when the lie is the default mode of communication, when the evidence chains are oftentimes made of daisies rather than links of cold steel, some do the best they can but an innocent man does not have the luxury of believing that the truth will out. Harlan did not feel his palms grow damp whenever a policeman walked by, but he also knew that law enforcement was a career, a job, an opportunity. There were those who believed, those who followed the rules and those who saw it as a means to get even or get over. That jock in high school, when you find him weeping with coke dusted nostrils and a college girl having a seizure in his hotel room, a lot of entries get crossed off the ledger. Weakness was not a danger to a man in a lot of areas, but a weak and angry policeman was a terrible thing to behold.

Harlan held that thought like a matchflame against the wind, it burned him when he asked himself if he was referring to Eddie or Sheriff Turner.

Then the lawyer came in and he felt something dangerous.

Hope.

Standard
books, Ogden, Uncategorized

Sometimes The Mother, Sometimes The Wolf

John felt the floor adhere to the soles of his boots with each step into the bar. It was far enough away that no one would know him from town. It had been their suggestion, they knew the value of a friendly cop and he knew their value.

There was little to connect them to anything solid. It was one of the ongoing conversations when he met up with brother officers that nothing had been made to stick to the Culpepper Boys. Rumours, stories, urban myths orbited them like dead planets but they were spoken of in disgusted whispers.

Garrett sat at a corner booth, sipping at a bottle of domestic beer as he picked at a bowl of salted peanuts with his finger nails grown into yellowing talons, rimmed with a line of compacted black dirt. He offered one to John who shook his head and asked where his brother had gone to.

He was at home. Momma was sick again.

John had an envelope in his jacket pocket but it would stay there until he was sure. He would not admit that he was glad to see that it was Garrett, with his bruised fruit features and the perpetual air of dirt and rot that he exuded.

‘So, this fruity fucker gonna give his butt buddy up?’

John looked at the paperback on the table. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Garrett smiled, a broken graveyard between his lips as he followed John’s look.

‘I do read. So does my brother. Did you assume we’re, what, vicious white trash?’

John looked down and Garrett gave a dry chuckle.

‘When the lambs is lost in the mountain, he said. They is cry. Sometime come the mother. Sometime the wolf.”

John shrugged, suddenly keen to get out of here with things in motion and as little to do with these men as possible.

‘Whatever you say, Garrett.’

‘I didn’t. Cormac McCarthy did. So tell me what you want?’

John outlined his plan. A vaudeville show. A little humiliation and then Harlan would know how things went in Ogden. Nothing direct, a no rough stuff affair but handled by people who would know to keep their mouths shut. It seemed so simple, so direct in his head but looking into Garrett’s eyes made him wonder if he had misjudged this.

John handed over the money in the lot, Garrett assured him that it would all be fine. He shook John’s hand a little too long and smiled when he saw that John tried to wipe his fingers on the thigh of his jeans without being seen.

‘Thass the kind of thing my ex wife did.’ Garrett said.

John got in his car, taking deep breaths as he watched Garrett drive out of the lot. He thought about that quote as he drove on, wondering what was meant by that. He knew enough that a lamb who thought it was a wolf opened itself up to all kinds of trouble.

Especially if it cried out for help and did not care who answered.

Standard