ONE LAST STRIKE BEFORE DARK

You are a forty-something single male at the top of your game.

You’re successful, virile, well-liked, and happy enough with the good things life has given you when you’re told by your doctor that a part of your brain will erupt and kill you dead in a month or so.

There is an option—an untried surgery which, if it is successful, will let you pass go and live a fine and full life.  If the operation isn’t successful, you’ll die on the operating table or suffer a massive stroke that will leave you a hulk for the rest of your life.

Would you take that gamble—the untried surgery that could result in life, death, or a fate worse than death? Or gamble that the doctors are wrong in their diagnosis and that fate will be good to you? The knife? Or fate?

Which would it be?

Jordan Aimes must choose. He is the man with the ticking timebomb.

This is a story about all that.

It is scheduled to be released in January. The working title is One Last Strike Before Dark.

I do not know how the story ends. I know how the story begins, though. It begins like this….

     PREFACE

Sunday, September 18

He’s just made the turn onto the narrow country road that runs along the creek and will take him to the cottage.

A little after midnight.

No moon.

The stars obscured by scudding clouds.

He has the driver-side window down, feels the moisture in the air. Thinks rain coming. Thinks… I’m gonna die.

OK. Alright. No surprise. We all are.

But … me?

A month?

He rolls up the window, twists on the wiper, slows down. He’s had a little more to drink than he should have, doesn’t want to end the night in a ditch. The rain has come, a light misty rain.

He reaches for the radio to find music to match his mood. Something melancholic, something wistful and dreamy. Something sad.

Feeling sorry for the yourself, ole buddy?

Damn right.

All alone on a tenebrous night and the Grim Reaper is out there in the shadows.

Tenebrous?

Grim Reaper?

Aw, come on. Find something up-tempo. A little Elton. Some Madonna maybe. Hell, even Ariana. You’re on home ground. Friends at beck and call. Snap out of it.

The misty rain has turned into a steady downpour.

Johnny Cash is bragging about what he’s gonna do when he gets to Jackson.

Damn, damn, and double-dog damn. 

 

 

MY NAME IS DEATH. I HAVE A PROPOSITION FOR YOU.

“MY NAME IS DEATH. I HAVE A PROPOSITION FOR YOU”—the story-line of the new novel now underway. Interesting enough to keep a reader reading, do you suppose? If I can pull this off, should have the finished manuscript in hand by early November and be in print shortly after the first of the year. The opening scene follows. Comments and/or suggestions are  most welcome.

Jordan Aimes is dying.

 He’s not angry about it. Or feeling sorry for himself. Or frightened.

At least he has convinced himself so.

He’s floating in the mellow embrace of the most accommodating opioids big pharm can provide. He is in his familiar bed in the safety of his own bedroom and not perturbed at the prospect of his eminent demise.

The lyrics of an old song slip into his mind.

“All I want is a lavender coffin and white gardenias all around. A swing band playing a funeral march as they lower me into the cold, cold ground.”

He remembers the tune. Catchy. Hums it in his mind. O death, where is thy sting?First Corinthians 15:55. He smiles. Preacher would be proud of him. And smiles again.

“Mr. Aimes.”

The voice startles him.

Jordan doesn’t remember anyone being in the room.

He’s aware, but woozy. He starts to look up, but the buzz is still there, so he chooses to ignore the voice and snuggle back down into that cozy blanket of euphoria.

“Mr. Aimes.”

The voice again. Polite, but insistent.

And annoying.

Damn, can’t a man die peace?

Jordan decides to deal with it, shrugs himself into a reclining position on the pillows against the headboard, makes out a figure at the foot of the bed, slowly brings it into focus through his haze.

A young man.

Neatly dressed. Jacket and tie. Clean shaven. Not one of those scruffy, scraggly bearded specimens that seem to be everywhere these days, thank god.

The figure nods pleasantly.

Jordan pushes through the narcotic fog, struggles to place the young man but can’t recall having seen him before.

Where’s Mary Jane?

Jordan looks around, searching.  The light from the late afternoon sun is soft. The little drug bottles with their magic nostrums are reassuringly there on the bed-side table.  His reading chair is in place in reach of the bookshelves. The little straight-back chair that sits beside the bed is there but Mary Jane isn’t in it. All is quiet and serene.

There is only himself.

And the young man standing at the foot of the bed.

Jordan stares at him.

The young man, seeing that Jordan is awake, smiles and, in a pleasant and encouraging voice, announces:

“Mr. Aimes, my name is Death. I have a proposition for you.”

more to come

 

DECISIONS

“Our Own Little Fictions” is history. Released November first and now making its way among the abundance of stories out there looking for readers.

Start another?

But which?

Death gives Jordan Aimes a do-over? Lots to play with.

Or the mystery of Honest Dick Tate’s disappearance? Never solved. Nor that enormous hoard of money found.

Or the one about the visitors at Romance, and the return of the King, and my time in the big black tower at the foot of Nob Hill, alone and afoot in the land of the god-like creatures who run corporate America?

Which?

Once, long ago when I was a young reporter sitting at my typewriter racking my brain for the lede to an important story needed for next morning’s newspaper and deadline fast approaching and the editor walks up to me and asks what I’m doing and I say I’m trying to find a lede for this important story and he looks up at the clock, looks back down at me sitting there nervous and says impatiently, you’re on deadline, dammit. There must fifty good ledes for that story. Now pick one and write it.

I need to pick one.

Stay tuned.

.

UPCOMING

OUR OWN LITTLE FICTIONS
Stories from the Road
By Ron Rhody

“A slice of time. A place. A cluster of people worth remembering.

Ron Rhody’s new book is about all that.

You remember him – the Theo stories, the King of Craw.

It begins in little-Frankfort-nestled-among-the-hills … and concerns itself with beginnings and becomings … with how home places shape us .. and who you can count on, and where untaken roads lead.

“I’ve never written anything this personal for print before,” he says, “but I wanted to get this slice of time, and this town in that slice of time, and these people in that slice of time on the record in the way only a book can do.”

He says it’s not a memoir, says it’s a “story.”  Well, maybe.

It’s called “Our Own Little Fictions.” The formal release date is November 1.

Watch for it!”

OUTER BANKS PUBLISHING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IF WE DON’T TELL EACH OTHER OUR STORIES, HOW WILL WE KNOW WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT?

 I’ve a new book coming.

I’m uneasy with it.

I’ve never before written anything this personal knowing it will be public.

But I wanted to get the slice of time this book is about, and the place at its center, and the people who figure in it, on the record in the way only a book can do.

So, I have done it.

It’s an unconventional book,

There is no obvious story line. There is one, but the reader will have to pay attention to uncover it.

And the story jumps around in time — the way memories do. Again, the reader will have to pay attention.

And the people who figure in it are presented mostly in cameo, but with enough portrayal to allow the reader to imagine them.

And I’m asking the reader to pretend she’s listening.

Not reading.

Listening.

Hopefully the writing will make that easy.

This is asking a lot of the reader.

But the book is novella size and won’t take a lot of time to get through. There is that.

Watch for it.

Our Own Little Fictions.

Available November 1.

In print or as an EBook. On-line or from your favorite book store.

Let me know what you think of it.

 

 

 

THE KING GOES AUDIBLE

 

The story of one of Kentucky’s baddest bad men (Concerning The Matter Of The King Of Craw) turned out to be among the most popular reads at the Kentucky Book Fair and is on its way now to becoming an audio book.

The Kentucky Book Fair is one of the largest in the Southeast. One hundred seventy authors were on hand and over 3,000 book lovers came, drawn by authors such as Craig Johnson, who brought Walt Longmire with him. Wendell Barry was there. And Barney Frank and Bobby Ann Mason, and J.D. Vance with his Hillbilly Elegy, along with a host of other first rate story tellers from all over.

Copies of The King were all gone before noon. It ranked in the top ten in sales.

This was my fourth trip to the Fair. I’d been before with Theo (the Theo Trilogy.) Enjoyed them all. This one was the best – thanks to the notorious John Fallis, the King of Craw, and the power of his story. He was the hero of the poor and downtrodden, the nemesis of the powers that be. Craw was the notorious red-light district in Kentucky’s capital city that flourished during the Roaring Twenties and was famous all the way down to New Orleans. Fallis is a folk icon now, his feats are the stuff of legend.

We’ll start recording the audio-book version this coming Monday, (February 20.) I’ll do the reading. There is a certain risk in the author reading his own work. I tried to voice the written version as if I was telling it to you, as if we were talking together. I’ll read it that way.

The finished product, ready for download on all digital devices and available on audio CDs, is scheduled for release in early May.

 

 

 

THE KING IS BACK

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One of Kentucky’s baddest bad men got resurrected last Saturday (November 5) just a few yards from the corner where he met his end—baddest of the bad if you believed the press of the day, but a hero to the downtrodden if you listened to the poor and the powerless.

His name is John Fallis, the King Of Craw.

Craw was the notorious red-light district in Kentucky’s capital city that flourished during the Roaring Twenties and was famous all the way down to New Orleans.

A story brought him back – the new novel, Concerning The Matter Of The King Of Craw, making its debut at the Kentucky Book Fair. The book sold out before noon and was one of the best sellers at the event.

This was my fourth trip to the Fair. I’d been before with Theo (the Theo Trilogy.) Enjoyed them all. This one was the best – thanks to John Fallis and the power of his story.

JF’s rise and fall is the stuff of which legends are made, which Concerning The Matter Of The King Of Craw attempts, for the first time, to draw out and illuminate. The story begins with the night of the Big Shoot-Out when he takes on the entire city police force and ends with his death eight years later in saloon across the street from where the Frankfort Convention Center, the site of the Book Fair, now rises.

The Kentucky Book Fair is one of the largest  in the Southeast. One hundred seventy authors were on hand this year and over 3,000 book lovers came, drawn by authors such as Craig Johnson, who brought Walt Longmire with him. Wendell Barry was there. And Barney Frank and Bobby Ann Mason, and J.D. Vance with his Hillbilly Elegy, along with a host of other first rate story tellers from all over.

Now resurrected, the King and his story can be found at Poor Richard’s Books, Frankfort’s premiere  book store,  on Broadway just across from the Old Capitol where the the event that triggered the Big Shoot-Out took place (that’s me with Lizz Taylor of Poor Richard’s in the shot above,)  or at your local bookstore, or on-line at Amazon, or from the publisher, Outer Banks Publishing of Raleigh, N.C.