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Free Food and Bean Bags

Big Ron’s is a ghost town and Junior and I are in a booth at the back.  I ask him to put his phone away.  To just turn the fucking thing off.  Not a day goes by I don’t wish to have that piece of time back.

Junior looks up, his face as angular as ever, as angular as mine.  He takes a swig of beer and then smiles the smile which tells me all the things I’d failed to teach.  “Sure, Pops.  The floor is yours.”  Smart-ass.  Him and the whole generation he came from.  Couldn’t care less what the trophy they received for coming in last has done to hard work and what it has ever been about.   I wished he understood this; that my words would break through.  As ever, it was not to be.  Not how I hoped.

Determined, I do as only a parent can do: I go on, delve deeper, and over-explain how men shot in the head can in fact come back from the dead.

***

Bob Moses was the man I failed to kill.  Shot him point blank in the back of the head only to have him resurface years later and take out the man who’d ordered the hit.  The bullet I released managing to ride the shape of Moses’s skull in an attempt at taking in the sights, I’m told.  Agree or disagree, it’s the only scenario which made any type of sense.  It jived with the scar tissue too, the majority of fence-work stretching from Bob’s right temple to what remained of his ear.

“As would I, Bob came back centered and with a plan.  It involved a glass case, a man’s son, and a python big enough to take a man down whole.  You might think this impossible, men being the size we are.  You go and break the shoulders, though.  Bingo: all men slide.”  I hoped this would do it—this by far the most fucked up thing I’d ever heard done.  “It means mistakes can be made.  But we have to limit and learn from them.  Especially when it comes to men like us and what we are paid to do.”  True.  Junior’s target a man by the name of Mapone.  Dents in his forehead, Mapone was the type of garbage whose voice ran counter to what you thought it should be.  Top to fucking bottom, an all-around nasty piece of meat.  “And I know you think you know it all, but you don’t.  Not as you should.  But if you take anything from what I’ve been saying here, have it be this: two bullets will always prove better than one.”

Did he listen?  Fuck no.  That’ve been too easy.  Mistake number one.  Mistake number two derives directly from mistake number one and the reason Junior comes to hang by his entrails in front of Big Ron’s like a goddamn wind chime.

Kids, they never fucking learn.

***

Me, I’m a different breed.  Old school.  Take my lessons to heart and pride myself on never having made the same mistake twice.  It’s why I end up at Mapone’s with a launcher strapped to my back and an aim which has failed to miss since I allowed a man to crawl from the grave.

As I tried to tell my boy: it’s the little things.

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In Memory of William E. Wallace

This last Saturday (February 25, 2017) we lost a member of the Shotgun Honey family. The incomparable William E. Wallace, who after a lifetime of crime reporting turned his experience towards crime fiction. Not only as a writer, but as a consumer and reviewer. My first experiences with William were from reviews he had written about Shotgun Honey books and stories, and naturally when he began to submit his own work. We were priviledge to publish three of his short stories and what we hoped would be the first in a series of Eddie Pax novellas, Face Value.

William, or Bill as his friends called him, was the kind of guy who played the cards he was dealt, face up regardless. We knew he had terminal cancer, and he fought it, endured it with more courage and grace than most, but prepared or not we weren't ready.

The crime writing community, the small press community, have lost a treasure with the passing of William E. Wallace who acted as an advocate, a contributor, and a friend. I don't know what stories he may have finished in those last days, but I hope to read them one day.

Our condolences to William's family, friends, and fans.

Ron Earl Phillips
Publisher and Friend