5 Questions with
Nick Kolakowski

This week Nick Kolakowski‘s third and final release of the Love & Bullets trilogy hits with Main Bad Guy. Nick has not only contributed this wonderful series to the Shotgun Honey Book line, but he’s also one of the three gauntlet members who review fiction submissions for the site, as well an unsung book editor for our imprint. He helps out a lot.

In fact, usually, Nick is interviewer for the 5 Questions interviews, but today we flip the script. Nick is the subject, and Travis Richardson, who was Nick’s last victim is the interviewer. So lets see what transpired.

Q. MAIN BAD GUY is the third and final book in the “Love & Bullets” trilogy. When you started the first book, A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps, did you know it was going to be a trilogy? If so, did you know what each of the stories would be about early on and the ends of the major characters? And if not, do you regret any choices made in the first book that you might not have made if knew it was a three part series?

When I wrote “A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps,” I had no idea it would become a trilogy—and I regret killing one of the main characters, who was funny and unhinged and in retrospect would have been a valuable player throughout the subsequent two books. I also regret killing him in a way that gave me absolutely zero wiggle room for bringing him back; at least authors like Arthur Conan Doyle were smart enough to subject their heroes to highly ambiguous demises, like throwing them into a large body of water.

All that aside, after I finished writing “Brutal Bunch,” the characters of Bill and Fiona kept speaking to me, and I felt compelled to begin writing another book about them. Plot-wise, I didn’t know exactly where I wanted them to end up, but character-wise I had very firm ideas: Fiona, who starts out as pretty ruthless and bloodthirsty, was going to get increasingly pacifistic, and Bill, who is a great hustler but pretty much useless when it comes to violence, was going to get more competent at survival.

Q. In MAIN BAD GUY you have a good bad guys (former assassins, thieves, etc.) vs. bad bad guys (evil crime bosses, paranoid drug kings, mercenaries, etc.) Which do you prefer to write and why?

Bad bad guys are hard to sustain over an entire book—that’s why Hannibal Lecter always seems to work better as a supporting character, or at least a second lead, than as a main character. With good bad guys, though, you have a lot of internal friction—there are fine character beats you can mine out of someone whose intentions are good, but whose circumstances lead them to do highly anti-social things like kill people. So I like writing about the good bad guys; they seem more capable of driving a narrative that’s hundreds of pages long.

Q. In the final book, Bill and Fiona spend the entire time in New York. (Seriously they can’t move.) It seems the other two books have multiple locations beyond the Empire State. As a New Yorker, did you want to end the series in the Big Apple as a sort of messed up love letter and what does New York mean to you in terms of crime fiction?

The first book begins in New York (chronologically, at least; it appears in flashbacks) and so I always wanted it to end there. New York has been a prime location for crime fiction for many decades, but the character of the city has changed considerably in the last quarter-century; when you read the early books of someone like Lawrence Block, where Midtown is a seedy wreck, it now seems like an alien world. I wanted “Main Bad Guy” to address New York’s gentrifying environment, and suggest that, no matter how clean or shiny a place might become, at least some of its people will always remain warped or cracked or seedy.

Plus, I’m sick of how gentrification has transformed portions of my neighborhood into a bunch of soulless, tasteless buildings; taking one of those buildings and making it the center of a lot of fiery mayhem gave me a vicarious and vicious thrill.

Visit NickKolakowski.com

Q. The “Love & Bullets” collection has a lot of gonzo action that is hilarious and thrilling. I love it. Were there any scenes that you wrote through the series that you had to retract or tone down to keep it within the realms of reality? Or did you create an impossible situation that Fiona and Bill couldn’t escape?   

I didn’t tone anything down—in fact, at certain key moments, I asked myself how I could maximize the weirdness. The tone of the books is madcap enough that I felt I could really stretch the reality; when you have a character prancing through a gunfight in an Elvis suit (“A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps”), decapitating another character in a self-driving Tesla (“Slaughterhouse Blues”), or trying to hide in a weed grow-house on top of a skyscraper (“Main Bad Guy”), pretty much anything goes.

With “Main Bad Guy,” my goal was ultimately to confine Bill and Fiona into as small a space as possible. I’ve always loved siege movies like John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13,” and I wanted to design something that paid homage to that—put your characters in a box, give them zero resources, surround them with villains, and let them try to figure out how to survive.

Q. You open MAIN BAD GUY with a scene from Fiona’s past. It was a fun and informative scene to know who she is and her relationship with her father. Did you always have that as her bio or did it evolve from the previous novels?

That scene was originally a flashback from the first book! I cut it out because of pacing, but I always wanted to use it; “Main Bad Guy” gave me an opportunity to do so, because it also introduces her father, who plays a major role in the book. If you want insight into Fiona’s character, you just need to realize she’s spent her life emulating her daddy.  


5 Questions with
Travis Richardson

Travis Richardson

Travis Richardson is a regular contributor to Shotgun Honey starting with his first story “The Day We Shot Jesus on Main Street” originally published in 2012. Since then he’s contributed his short fiction to a number of fiction sites and anthologies, becoming an award nominated and well respected writer of short fiction. His work recently appeared in the award winning The Obama Inheritance edited by Gary Phillips.

Today editor and contributor Nick Kolakowski talks with Travis Richardson about his latest release Bloodshot and Bruised: Crime Stories from the South and West, which kicks off with the very story we published six years ago.

Bloodshot and Bruised: Crime Stories from the South and West

Q. Bloodshot and Bruised offers a whole range of crime stories. You touch on everything from the 1992 LA riots to neo-Nazism to good old-fashioned revenge. Is there a common theme that connects most (if not all) of these tales?

While my stories vary in location, structure, and voice, a theme that I often have is the choices that characters make often pivot the stories.  Whether in the present or the past, those choices have consequences. My personal definition of noir is people making bad decisions.

Q. What draws you to writing short stories?

The short answer is completeness and brevity. I can’t say that I’ve ever written a perfect story, but I feel I get closer to perfection the shorter a work is. While editing, I like reading an entire story in one sitting and make changes to the flow and the rhythm that I wouldn’t be able to do with a novel.  A wonderful thing about tight word counts, like flash fiction, is that every unnecessary word gets the hatchet.  

Q. I know this is sort of like asking to choose between favorite children or pets… but what’s your favorite story from this collection?

It’s a little tough, but “The Day We Shot Jesus on Main Street” has to be the one. It was one of my first published short stories, and Shotgun Honey put it out into the world. I received a lot of positive feedback about the story and knew I was on the right path.    

Visit TSRichardson.com

Q. Do you find it easier to write long, or short? What advice do you have for writers who want to craft a perfect short story, but wrestle with keeping the narrative under a certain word-count?

I like the short story because I can complete it. I have several unfinished (and finished) longer works that never feel ready. Typically, my first draft for Shotgun Honey or other flash fiction sites is around 1500 words to get the idea and flow, and then I chip away until only the essentials are left.

I’m not big on descriptions. If there is something unique, I mention it, but outside a of a line or two about a person or place, dialogue and the way a person carries themselves and the way others react to a person or a place is often enough for a reader to visualize all of the elements in a story. 

On longer stories that need to be 5,000 or 10,000 words and I’m over by a few thousand, I’ll try to cut out nonessential scenes by either skipping them or paraphrasing the action. I’ll also go through the MS and focus on paragraphs over 4 lines long and see if I can compress enough words to eliminate a line and move on to the next.

I haven’t been able to do this on a bigger scale for novels. But sometimes bulk is important to the market. I’ve had an agent tell me that while they liked a work, in order to sell a book, I’d need to increase word count to 70k.

Q. What’s next for you?   

Not sure. I finished a short story for an anthology over the weekend. I’ve been writing a quartet of crime novellas set in a West Texas town called Tarwater over the years. The first three are done and edited, I just need to finish writing the finale. I also started a western at the beginning of the year, but left it after 80 pages. I hope to get back to that.

Thank you for the interview, Nick!   


Safer Campuses

The state legislature suffered billions of dollars of debt from general mismanagement and a basic fiscal misunderstanding of revenue streams (i.e. that when they cut taxes there would be much less money in the coffers). The politicians decided to pursue a radical social agenda in hopes it would hide their absolute incompetence and keep them in office. They passed a slew of notorious bills that were signed into law by an equally incompetent governor. Abortions were allowed only after a 25-page application was completed, followed by a mandatory nine-month waiting period. Every class, concert, and sporting event required a public prayer before they began. And all students at state colleges and universities were required to purchase guns upon enrollment.

Regarding the last law, students would be cited for not bearing a firearm at all times. Athletes in certain events like swimming and football were exempted from carrying weapons while in competition as long as they stashed their firearm on the sidelines. Other events like theater were not afforded this exclusion. So Romeo and Juliet spoke their seventeenth-century lines with pistols holstered on their hips regardless of the setting.

Several misfires happened on several campuses. Foot and leg injuries were the most common. Drunken students firing into the air on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights received citations. There had been so many accidental discharges that many students and faculty wore full body armor to classes. Although many students thought the law was absurd, they kept their opinions to themselves. Speaking out against the law would garner the label unpatriotic un-American liberal Muslim-lover, resulting in a double citation.

When Texarkahoma University accidentally sent out an active shooter alert through their emergency notification system, several hundred armed students were ready to respond. The errant message stated that an active shooter was inside the Engineering Building. Dozens of students rushed from their classrooms, firearms raised, safeties off. When the Engineering building doors flew open with students streaming out, “heroic” students running to the building mistook the escapees as the shooters and opened fire. Trapped, the engineering students returned fire. Stray bullets hit law students in a nearby building. They shot back, accidently wounding chemistry students. This action earned a reprisal of bullets, of course, and their stray volleys nailed random humanities and education students. They returned fire on those who they correctly identified as active shooters.

The campus and town police forces, both radically depleted in size due to budget cuts, arrived late to the scene stuffed like clowns in a couple of cruisers since most of their vehicles had been auctioned off to pay off the state deficit. While they did not know what was happening, they knew they had to get the situation under control. So they opened fire randomly on any and all students figuring one must be the shooter.

“At worst most of these students are liberals anyway, which constitutes the gravest threat to our nation,” the town’s police chief assured his officers.

His sentiments aligned perfectly with the talk show hosts he and most of his officers listened to and watched daily. Unfortunately for the officers, they did not fare well in the ensuing battle. Even with training, the twelve officers faced an overwhelming student body of 17,000.

Months later, after the bodies were buried, survivors were patched up or sent to rehabilitation, and investigations were stymied by politicians as directed by the gun lobby, a select legislative commission determined that the entire massacre could have been avoided if the students had had proper gun training at an earlier age. So house bill 5150 swept through both the House and Senate and received the Governor’s signature requiring elementary school students to learn, use, and wear guns. It was the only responsible thing to do since no place could afford to be gun free any longer.


Tim’s Mommy Lied

Hello, my name is Tim. Even though I’m short, I am almost seven years old. I used to live in a small house not too long ago. Then the lights stopped working. I couldn’t watch TV and that made me sad. That made Mommy sad too, but probably more angry than sad. She yelled at Daddy, wanting to know what he was gonna do about it.

Daddy yelled back at Mommy. So I went to my room to hide under the bed. Sometimes they throw things. Sometimes they hit each other. I didn’t want to get hit.

Then I heard Daddy slam the door and drive the car away. I crawled out from under the bed. I saw Mommy crying. She picked up a glass straw and lighted a small fire under it to make herself feel better. Mommy breathed the stinky smoke in the straw.


Here’s To Bad Decisions: Red’s Longneck Hooch

Here’s to bad decisions that come with rotten times. If things are going from bad to worse, going to hell in a hand basket at Mach speed like downhill semi without brakes, and it doesn’t look like there’s a damn thing you can do about it, you always got one option. Just open crack open a bottle of ice cold Red’s Longneck Hooch and pour it down the hatch. This refreshing, mind-numbing concoction is just what you need.

Listening to your wife go on and on about the bills and your lack of steady income? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Putting up with the boss man chewing you out for showing up late to work and looking like death warmed over? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Noticing a dude with the mullet and muscle shirt who is mad-dogging you from across the bar like you might’ve pissed on his lawn or knocked up his sister? (Could be both.) It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Begging your wife for forgiveness after you slapped her for having the gall to say that you you’ve been drinking too much? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Restraining your anger with all your might when that pencil neck boss man gives you his final warning for showing up late? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Seeing that cocky mullet wearing dogface jackass mad-dogging you again at the bar and knowing you got to do something about it soon? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Getting pulled over by that son-of-a-bitch highway patrol whose salary you pay with your hard-earned tax dollars, and that mustached fucker has the nerve to give you your second DUI and suspend your damn license? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Finding yourself locked out of your doublewide by your wife ‘cause you screwed up again, and you’re not sure if it’s just the DUI or maybe something else. It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Going over to Darlene’s trailer (your honey on the side) only to find that mullet-wearing fool smoking outside her door? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Sleeping in your wife’s car because your truck has been impounded and that bitch still won’t let you inside your own damn house? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Punching out the boss man after he fires you for being late and not showering for the hundredth time? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Cracking a bottle over the mullet man’s head and taking a few good swings before he kicks the living shit out of you? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Breaking into your brother-in-law’s house so you can steal a couple of the guns he keeps under his bed? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Blasting buckshot into the belly of Mullet Man after he answers Darlene’s door? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Not being able to pull the trigger on Darlene as she pleads for her life and that of your unborn child? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Taking cover behind a pecan tree after your wife starts shooting at you from the kitchen widow with your own Winchester deer rifle? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Speeding down the road after taking a couple of worthless shots at your trailer you bought with your own hard-earned money only to have the sheriff and highway patrol on your ass? (And you wish like hell you were driving your Ram truck, instead of your wife’s puny Hyundai Accent.) It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Shooting your brother-in-law’s Ruger P90 at the law while taking sips of Red’s Longneck Hooch and missing the spikes spread across the highway causing your wife’s Hyundai to careen off the road and tumble down an embankment? It’s time for some Red’s Longneck Hooch.

Broken in so many places with pain so intense nothing makes sense as flames engulf your wife’s car? It’s too late for Red’s Longneck Hooch.


Shotgun Honey Presents: Locked and Loaded

Today we launch the third volume of the Both Barrels series with Shotgun Honey Presents: Locked and Loaded.

Featuring 25 stories by:

  • “A Boy Like Billy” by Patricia Abbott
  • “Border Crossing” by Michael McGlade
  • “Looking for the Death Trick” by Bracken MacLeod
  • “Maybelle’s Last Stand” by Travis Richardson
  • “Predators” by Marie S. Crosswell
  • “Twenty to Life” by Frank Byrns
  • “So Much Love” by Keith Rawson
  • “Running Late” by Tess Makovesky
  • “Last Supper” by Katanie Duarte
  • “Danny” by Michael Bracken
  • “The Plot” by Jedidiah Ayres
  • “What Alva Wants” by Timothy Friend
  • “Time Enough to Kill” by Kent Gowran
  • “Copas” by Hector Acosta
  • “Yellow Car Punch” by Nigel Bird
  • “Love at First Fight” by Angel Luis Colón
  • “Traps” by Owen Laukkanen
  • “Down the Rickety Stairs” by Alan Orloff
  • “Blackmailer’s Pep Talk” by Chris Rhatigan
  • “With a Little bit of Luck” by Bill Baber
  • “As Cute as a Speckled Pup Under a Red Wagon” by Tony Conaway
  • “Chipping off the Old Block” by Nick Kolakowski
  • “Young Turks and Old Wives” by Shane Simmons
  • “The Hangover Cure” by Seth Lynch
  • “Highway Six” by John L. Thompson

Available in paperback and Kindle editions. Buy your copy today!


Lily-Beth’s a Whore

Two weeks ago I was having some after-work brews at Jimbo’s bar. A buddy of mine pointed at Frank McDonnell. The cantankerous fat fart listened to talk radio, believing that America’s been screwed ever since Reagan left office. Don’t get me wrong, I lean right of center, but people who callous their knees from sucking Limbaugh’s dick give the rest of us a bad name.

“Hey, Frank,” my buddy shouted, elbowing me. I knew what was coming next.  “Heard a rumor you voted for Obama.”

Frank slammed his Coors Light on the bar. The Light hadn’t helped his gut any.

“Horseshit! Who’s been sayin’ that? I’d rather eat my own fingers than vote for that racist socialist Nazi. He wants to take our guns so them Muslims can take over.”

The whole bar laughed.

“Heard Obama’s got a list of American gun owners and your name’s at the top,” another guy shouted. “You’re gonna have to turn yours over to him.”

“Over my dead body. Second Amendment guarantees they’re mine. Make guns illegal an’ only criminals will have ‘em.”

“But what does Obama think about the Constitution?” I asked.

“That no good half-breed wants to burn it. But ain’t nobody takin’ Stonewall, Patton, Chuck, or Lily-Beth away from me.”

Our eyes widened. What the hell?

“Who’s Chuck?” somebody asked.

Frank stood tall as a smile crossed his lips. “Chuck’s my Bushmaster XM-fifteen heavy carbine. Will knock down a dozen men in a second.”

“Like Chuck Norris?” I asked.

“Exactly.”

“What about Lily-Beth?” the bartender asked.  

“Lily-Beth.” Frank’s face glowed with fatherly pride. “She’s a beauty. A lil’ palm-sized stainless steel three-fifty-seven cannon. Might be small, but don’t mess with her.”

“Know what I heard?” I asked.

“What’s that?” Frank’s eyes were wide and expectant like his pistol won the spelling bee or something.

“Lily-Beth’s a whore.”

The entire bar busted out laughing. Beer shot out of some guy’s nose. Before I could catch my breath, I was looking at her. Lily-Beth. That shiny pocket-rocket was pressed against my forehead.

Frank wasn’t smiling none. All of his self-righteous anger was pointed down a one-and-half inch snubnosed barrel. Barflies scurried from their stools. While I’d like to say I was brave, I wasn’t. I shook like a three-year-old girl who’d lost her parents.

“Apologize to Lily-Beth. Right. Now.”

“I-I’m sorry Lily-Beth.”

“Louder, boy. I want all these asswipes to hear ya.”

“S-s-sorry… Lily-Beth.”

“Uh-huh, I bet you are.” He eased the hammer back with his thumb. “Best you watch your back, son.”

He shoved Lily-Beth down his pants and ambled out the front door. Everybody watched with open mouths. 

Buddies and complete strangers tried to cheer me up, offering free drinks and cracking wise about how Lily-Beth slept around. But I was trembling too much to enjoy it, wondering if I still had ammo for the gun buried deep in my closet.

***

Can’t say I’ve ever been into guns even though I was raised with them. That night I lay in bed with a single shot .410 across my chest. Such a puny weapon it could hardly knock over a squirrel. Listening to every sound outside, I knew I needed more firepower. 

Next morning I went to Walmart and bought a Colt Carbine Semi-Automatic Rifle. The salesman said it’s like the army’s M-16. I felt confident, but I couldn’t carry it everywhere and it sure wasn’t practical for my roofing job. So I went to a pawnshop and bought a sweet Beretta I could carry in a holster. Friends called me paranoid, but they didn’t have to worry about a nutjob whose best friends were Patton and Stonewall.

Then last night I bumped into Frank leaving the john at Jimbo’s. He glared at me and then at Tyson on my hip. My body tensed, ready to whip out Tyson and make a personal introduction between his eyes.

“That there a Beretta 92FS?”

I nodded.

“Shoot it much?”

“Enough,” I said, trying to sound threatening. My hand hovered near Tyson, waiting for Frank to reach for Lily-Beth.

Didn’t happen. Instead Frank invited me, Tyson, and Tyson’s big brother, Maximus, to the dump tomorrow for target practice.


A Shitty Story

Ernest sat in his rig at the Port of Oakland devouring egg chorizo burritos while waiting for a load of cheap Chinese crap. It was taking forever. He’d called Darla three times last night, but she hadn’t answered. Too busy bumpin’ uglies with some skinny punk.

By seven he was hauling butt, eastbound and down. Ernest loved listening to historical audiobooks, particularly World War II. He slid in a CD about the London Blitz and cranked the volume. Six hours later in Barstow, he told Darla between bites of a chilidog that the shipment was delayed, so expect him home Monday. Ernest sensed she liked the weekend without his fat ass around.

By midnight he passed Albuquerque. Quittin’ time should’ve been in Flagstaff, but he wasn’t slowing down. Along with a full tank, he had his thermos full of coffee, NoDoz buzzing his brain, and Arby’s in his belly. He listened to a retelling of the Normandy Invasion. By the time he made Oklahoma City, it was eight on a Saturday morning. He headed up I-44, knowing that if Darla had been partying before screwing, they both might be sleeping in.

After refilling in Tulsa, he calculated he’d make it to Rogers before noon, drop his load and be home by one. That wouldn’t work. Even if they went another round in the morning, the bastard would be gone by then. Ernest needed to go Eisenhower on their ass. A surprise D-Day attack they wouldn’t see coming. Ernest didn’t know what he’d do, but taking the Colt from the glove box seemed logical.

Racing into the mobile home park, gravel flew six feet in the air, and the trailer nearly jackknifed when he punched the brakes. Ernest leapt out and stormed his front door. He found Darla sitting on the bed wide-eyed naked. The room smelled of stale sex. Boots and Wranglers that weren’t his lay on the floor.

“What the hell, Ernie!”

“Where is he?”

“Who?”

Ernest grabbed Darla by her peroxide hair and flung her off the bed. He cocked the .45 and stalked out. The living room and kitchen were empty. Darla stood in the hall trembling with last night’s mascara streaking down her cheeks.

“Ernie, p-p-please…”

Ernest raised the barrel to her forehead.

“You’re cheatin’ on me. You deny it?”

“I’m… so s-s-sorry,” she bawled. Tears and piss flowed.

He looked at this pathetic leaking woman. The center of his heart, the core of his being. He’d given her everything and she betrayed him. Yet, a pathetic piece of him still wanted her.

His finger tightened around the trigger. She raised her hands, pleading… when it hit.

It hit him hard. He darted past Darla and threw open the john door.

Twenty-nine hours of straight driving, three breakfast burritos, seven hamburgers, five roast beefs, three chilidogs, two-dozen doughnuts, and a bag of Doritos. They all needed out. He pocketed the gun, unhooked his overalls and dropped on the throne. What happened next exceeded any orgasm he’d ever experienced and crossed over into the divine. He realized the movement felt better than anything he’d ever had with Darla.

Coming back to earth, he knew what he needed to do. He glanced at the tremendous damage below. Wouldn’t be worth flushing, ‘cause it’d only clog up. Besides, it was Darla’s now. He washed up, noticing the smell rivaled Arkansas Porta-Potties in late August. Then he heard a sigh.

Earnest yanked open the shower curtain and found a thin naked dude holding his privates in one hand and covering his nose with the other. His face bore a green tint. Ernest punched him in the gut. Air exploded out of his mouth as he crumpled to the tub, gasping. Ernest aimed the pistol, but remembered the peace he’d just found.

“Guess what?”

The man looked up, tears wetting his eyes.

“Darla’s your problem now, buddy.”

Ernest turned to find Darla standing in the bathroom doorway smothering her nose.

“Don’t need this trailer or anything in it, hon. ‘Specially you.”

She reached for him as he pushed past.

“Ernie…” she called.

Ernest opened the front door and turned. “Ya’ll have a good life, hear? I’m through with this shit.”


The Day We Shot Jesus on Main Street

If there are two things you outta know about Lynchwood, it’s that nobody votes Democrat and nobody blasphames the Lord God Almighty… at least in public. Now Chad Parrish, would’ve broken rule number one had he lived enough and it’s ‘cause of rule number two he didn’t ever register. He was always makin’ a ruckus about things that we weren’t gonna change. Like changin’ our minds about them gays or interracial marriages. See, Chad was born in the wrong place. Had he been raised in New York, he might’ve been praised by liberal comrades for bein’ a creative bastard and an all-around troublemaker.  But here in Lynchwood, that bird don’t fly.

Chad had gathered some of the town’s ne’er-do-wells – you know, them boys who don’t play football and complain about the school’s arts program not getting enough funding. Yep, them types. It seems that Chad had a bug up his butt about The Lynchwood Ministry and how we were so successful. It’s a congregation the media might label a mega-church, but it’s practically the only house of worship all of us in Lynchwood go to, ’cept for Chad and a handful of sinners.

Well, we’re all passin’ the collection plates during Sunday services when five of these fellows, dressed in robes and wearing fake beards and long haired wigs, come burstin’ through the doors shoutin’ like banshees. They grabbed the collection money and ran straight for the pulpit. Then they threw them plates of cash and coins on the ground and started shoutin’ sometin’ about the scripture of John and moneychangers. But it didn’t matter what they said. After a few of us men got over the shock, we were up on our feet headin’ for them. By this point them Jesuses were doin’ some sort of hustle dance. Absolute blasphemy.

Fred Konklin grabbed the first Jesus, a skinny little twerp with glasses, and pile drove him into the floor. Then the rest of the Jesuses scattered. But I kept my eyes on Chad. Even with the disguise, anybody could tell it was him with that long anglin’ body. Could’ve played basketball had he been so inclined. Two more Jesuses were tackled and pummeled by the congregation. Men, women and children all takin’ turns on the beatin’. Chad and a buddy slipped out the back door. By the time I made it to the parkin’ lot, they were peelin’ out in his Mustang. Me, Clifford Dobbs, and Sam Cantrell jumped into our trucks and pursued, pedal to the metal, chasin’ those sons of bitches. We were takin’ pop shots out the windows with our handguns – this is a right to carry state and if you don’t carry… well, that says a lot about your character.

Anyhow, tryin’ to shoot left handed out a movin’ vehicle on potholed streets ain’t no easy feat, but Clifford managed to hit a back tire and send that ‘Stang head-on into a telephone pole on Main and First. The passenger Jesus went out cold, but Chad, the crazy fool that he was, climbed out, bible in hand and shouted biblical slogans while runnin’ down Main with his robe flyin’ in the wind, tighty-whiteys underneath. By this time a few other parishioners arrived, guns in hand, and well, it was a shootin’ gallery. Seemed like we all got hits, but that bastard kept runnin’ and bouncin’ here and there after each bullet smack, wavin’ his hands like a maniac. We had target practice on his movin’ body.

Finally, he dropped to his knees, bleedin’ from all them holes. He looked at us all and then up to the sky and said “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” He fell backwards, arms out like he was on a cross. Symbolic to the very end. We didn’t say much, just stood there for several minutes with goose bumps on our arms.

We still don’t talk about it much today. Some people, like my wife, think we did somethin’ wrong, but it was blaspheme straight up. We’d’ve stoned him in Old Testament times. Besides Chad was a liberal and anybody who knows anything knows Jesus just wasn’t that way. That’s just common sense.