John Wisniewski interviews Bill Baber

Bill Baber, Flash Fiction, Indie, Interviews, John Wisniewski, Poetry, Shotgun Honey, T Fox Dunham

When did you begin writing, Bill?

I took writing classes in high school as well as Journalism. Wrote for the school paper and continued that in college. I wrote for small newspapers for many years before switching to fiction, which is much more enjoyable! The deadlines are much more manageable!

Any favorite crime authors?

How much space do you have? JamesCrumley is the reason I write crime fiction. To me, “The Last Good Kiss” is the best crime novel ever written. James Lee Burke is a close second and I really enjoy Don Winslow and Dennis Lehane.

Then there are all the writers who are part of the online community and that is a long list- Joe Clifford, Tom Pitts, Rob Pierce, S. A Cosby, Brian Panowich, Chris De Wildt, Greg Barth, Bruce Harris, Chris McGinley, Jim Shaffer, and Johnny Shaw (Love the Jimmy Veeder Series.) Lately I have read a couple of books by Andrew Rausch-not for the faint of heart. Then there are the chaps from across the pond, Paul Brazil, Tom Leins, Ken Bruen and on and on-I hope they all know who they are!

Lastly, T. Fox Dunham wrote a book a few years ago called The Street Martyr. It is damn near perfect.

This is a partial list as there are a number of other great writers that deserve mention!

What makes a good crime novel?                                                                                     

Tough question. The reason I like Crumley and James Lee Burke is because they bring a literary side to the genre. Dialogue is important, it has to be believable. And a little humor helps. Lately, I have been drawn to stories featuring characters that are hard core criminals. Tommy Shakes by Rob Pearce and American Trash by Andrew Rausch are great examples. Pearce’s book should come with a warning- “Do Not Read With A Full Stomach!” It is disturbing- and about as real as crime fiction gets. When I wrote a review of American Trash I said I didn’t know if I should be outraged or entertained. I felt a little guilty that I liked it. Both were like reading Edward Bunker- dark and disturbing but real crime fiction.

You write poems as well as crime fiction. Could you tell us what interested you about poetry?

Back in the 70’s I was enamored with the writing of Richard Brautigan. I read all his novels and short stories. All that was left was two volumes of poetry. I was not a fan of poetry-until then. His was very easy to understand as was stuff written by Gary Snyder. I thought I could do similar stuff. I was in my twenties, living in a cabin in the redwoods of northern California. I still have those poems floating around. They weren’t very good. It was thirty years before I started writing poetry again.

The poetry I write is mostly spontaneous prose. Something pops into my head and I write it down. It requires very little in the way of editing. When I was first published, I was living in Central Oregon which is big, wild country. It was “nature” poetry because I was surrounded by raw beauty every day. I just wrote what I saw. Had a book of poems published in 2011.

A few years ago, I discovered a crime poetry site, The Five-Two. I was fortunate enough to have a number of poems appear there, two of which were nominated for “Best of the Net” consideration.

Could you tell us writing “Betrayed “? What inspired you?

 “Betrayed” was an anthology about domestic violence that was put together by Pam Stack, the woman behind “Authors on the Air.” My contribution, “No One Heard” is a story about multi-generational abuse. It might be the darkest thing I have written but it was what the subject called for. The title is still out there, and proceeds go to survivors of domestic violence.

How do you create such gritty characters?

 I am an observer of people. And it helped that I spent fifteen years working as a bartender in a small town. I got to know some real characters who had criminal tendencies. Many of my characters are based on them or guys I knew growing up in San Francisco. Now, I look at people and see if I could imagine them a s a criminal, you know, do they have larceny in their heart? And if you walk around Tucson or Phoenix there seems to be no shortage of people you could imagine as characters in a crime story.

How have you managed to be so prolific a writer, Bill, publishing nearly fifty stories? 

I need to update that; it is well past fifty now. My first crime story was published at “Out of the Gutter” back in 2010. Writing is a hobby for me- and a release. I work long hours for corporate America, so it is difficult to stick to any kind of a schedule. Most of those stories have been flash fiction at sites like OOTG, Shotgun Honey, Close to the Bone and Yellow Mama. Maybe a dozen stories that have been published have been longer, I’m trying to force myself to go more in that direction.

What will your next story be about?

I have a story in the just released “Coming Through in Waves” Crime Fiction based on the songs of Pink Floyd. It is titled Arnold Layne and is named for the bands first single. The story is about a million-dollar jewel heist that is interrupted by Arnold’s strange hobby.  This collection was edited by T. Fox Dunham and has some incredible stories by a bunch of great writers. It was an honor to be included!

I am currently working on a story that starts with an armed robbery and a bunch of meth in Tucson and ends with a triple cross and lots of bodies in Albuquerque.

Could you tell us about writing “Sleepwalk “, an award-winning short story?

For the record, it was nominated for a Derringer award by John Thompson, the editor at Dead Guns Press where it appeared. It was set in Tucson. I walked around the barrio where the late Isaac Kirkman, who was well known and loved in the writing community lived. It was during the monsoon season. A thunderstorm was brewing, and it was easy to picture the city fifty years earlier. Tucson has that timeless feel about it. It’s an easy place for a noir tale to take hold.

A son kills the man who murdered the father he never knew. And the fathers best friend lives with guilt and regret for not doing it himself. It was different than anything I had written before. If I had to pick a favorite story of mine, “Sleepwalk” might be it

Order Coming Through in Waves: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Pink Floyd NOW!

Andy Rausch, Anthology, Bill Baber, Jim Shaffer, K A Laity, Mark Slade, Music, Paul D. Brazill, Pink Floyd, S.W. Lauden, T Fox Dunham, Tom Leins

Perhaps no other major band or artist has equaled the lyrical and musical poignancy that Pink Floyd has achieved in landmark records such as The Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall.In this, the fourth installment in Gutter Books’ Rock Anthology Series, we pay tribute to, and hopefully in some small way enhance the legend of, a band that has spoken so compellingly to— and for—millions of people searching for meaning in the modern world.Featuring some of today’s most exciting authors, and edited by horror author and cancer survivor T. Fox DunhamComing Through in Waves weaves together a plethora of dark, strange, and intriguing images that only Pink Floyd could inspire.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

COME IN NUMBER 51, YOUR TIME IS UP – DBSCHLOSSER. A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS – PAUL D. BRAZILL MOTHER – KIMBERLY GODWIN HAVE A CIGAR – FRASER MASSEY FEARLESS – LINDA SLATER HEY YOU – PHIL THOMAS ARNOLD LAYNE – BILL BABER BRAIN DAMAGE – TOM LEINS CAREFUL WITH THAT AXE, EUGENE – MARK SLADE HEART BEAT, PIG MEAT – KENNETH W. CAIN ONE OF THESE DAYS – JIM SHAFFER JUGBAND BLUES – C. W. BLACKWELL JULIA DREAM – MORGAN SYLVIA KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY STACK – RENEE ASHER PICKUP LUCIFER SAM – K. A. LAITY NOBODY HOME – JOSEPH S. WALKER ON THE RUN – S. W. LAUDEN REMEMBER A DAY – KURT REICHENBAUGH OBSCURED BY CLOUDS – ALLAN ROZINSKI THE SCARECROW – KAREN KEELEY WISH YOU WERE HERE – ANDY RAUSCH CHILDHOOD’S END – A. B PATTERSON WAITING FOR THE WORMS – PAUL WILLIAMS

ORDER COMING THROUGH IN WAVES HERE

Santa’s Helper by Bill Baber.

Bill Baber, Christmas, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

It was a job and a shitty one at that. Wasn’t going to do much more than pay the rent for the month and make a small dent in a growing mountain of bills. It sure as hell wasn’t going to buy presents for her two kids- it might not leave enough for a goddamn tree and lord knows her rotten prick of an ex wasn’t going to contribute anything.

She had hoped she might have landed a job at the cosmetics counter at Goodall’s Department Store. Or, if not that, maybe in lingerie. Even fitting fat woman with bras and helping horny husbands and boyfriends pick out red satin and white fir trimmed nighties to dress their women in on Christmas Eve would have been better than this.

It started with the outfit. A scratchy, too short green felt dress. A goofy red hat, red tights to match and some stupid looking things she wore on her feet that curled up at the ends. On top of that, they expected her to paint two bright red dots the size of a silver dollar on her cheeks.

She was supposed to be an elf, Santa’s helper. Santa was half in the bag most of the time and smelled like the crapper at O’Malley’s pub. On top of that, the fat bastard – she knew for a fact that he didn’t use any extra padding- goosed her every chance he got. She took the wee ones from their mothers and loaded them on the old goat’s lap. Then tried to coax a smile out of the poor things while some bored looking junkie took pictures.

It was a week before Christmas and, it was payday. The idea hit her like a lump of coal. Santa was especially frisky that evening. He had lewdly lunged at her breasts and slapped her rump twice.

The assistant manager handed them each an envelope at closing time-his obviously fatter than hers.

“So Santa, what do you say we grab a drink and then have a little fun?”

He fixed his pig eyes on her and grinned wickedly.

“Ho Ho Ho, let’s go!” he replied.

They stood at the bar at O’ Malley’s and the cheap bastard didn’t even buy her a drink. Instead, he kept trying to reach under her skirt. She wasn’t sure if she could go through with her plan. But it would mean a tree and the Nintendo game little Jake wanted and the Barbie Ferrari for Julie underneath it.

The lecherous sot was downing shots like water. She sipped a beer. After a while he said,

“Let’s go to my place.”

He got a pint of Black Bush to go.

His room was just a block or two away and looked like something out of a 40’s movie; single, un-shaded light bulb, a stained mattress with a couple of dirty old blankets and a hot plate. A yellowed blind was pulled down over the window, trash strewn around and a stink permeated the small room like meat gone bad.

As soon as he closed the door, he forcefully threw her on the bed and started groping. Her purse flew across the room. Put his mouth close to hers and tried to kiss her. His breath was like reindeer poop.

“Wait, wait Santa!” she pleaded, “I gotta pee and put my diaphragm in.”

With a grunt, he rolled off of her. Started peeling off his Santa costume. He had started to sweat and the stench was overpowering. She thought she would be sick.

She retrieved her purse and as Santa was tugging his black boots off she pulled a .38 revolver from her purse and shot him twice in the side of the head.

Grabbing the envelope with his pay and the unopened bottle of whiskey, she fled the apartment.

She stopped at Wal Mart and brought presents for her kids and two boxes of cheap ornaments along with a string of lights and some wrapping paper. After taking them home, she went back out and at a lot three blocks away bought the cheapest tree they had. When she returned, she poured a stiff drink from Santa’s bottle, wrapped the presents and decorated the tree. The look on the kids face the next morning made it almost worthwhile. She found it ironic that she had killed Santa Claus to provide Christmas for her children. But a girl had to do what a girl has to do sometimes. After a while, she was okay with what had happened.

No one was too surprised when Santa didn’t show up for work the next day. When the cops found him, they discovered he was an ex- felon who among other things had done time for rape. They wouldn’t spend much time on this case. They figured someone had done them a favor.

He was replaced by a kindly old gent who called her “dear” and always seemed to have a seasonally appropriate twinkle in his eye.

On Christmas night, after the kids had gone to bed exhausted and happy, she sat at the kitchen table, looking at the sparsely decorated tree. She poured the last of the dead man’s whiskey and smiled to herself. In the end, old St. Nick had come through, just as she had promised her kids he would.

BILL BABER

 

Fiction: All That and More by Bill Baber

Bill Baber, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

billbaber2-300x300What if I told you things about me no one else knew? Things no one would probably expect from me?

I wonder what you would think; wonder if you would be surprised or-more likely –shocked.

You see, I’m not who I appear to be. I am not the man you think you know.

I am not the man with the nice house with the manicured lawn, the two cars that are always clean and the one house on the block that always has perfectly hung Christmas decorations.

I am not that guy you see with the beautiful wife and three adorable kids. Not the person who smiles as he collects the offering at church every Sunday morning. I am someone else. And to be honest, that person scares the shit out of me.

You want to know about the real me? You’re sure?

Okay, you asked for it.

When my neighbor’s dog shits in my yard and he doesn’t clean it up? I fantasize about rubbing his face in it then smashing his head in the gutter over and over until it is nothing but raw, bloody pulp.

You laugh a nervous laugh. Barely perceptible but I noticed. See, I knew this would happen. But I’m just getting started.

That young girl who lives up the street? Yeah, the one who dresses like that?

I daydream about holding her hostage in a cabin deep in the woods. And that’s not all I think about doing to her.

I see that you’re starting to back away. Don’t go. I’m not done yet.

Some people count sheep when they can’t sleep. Not me. I make a mental list of everyone I want to kill. People I counted as friends who  have wronged me, enemies from young adulthood, co-workers who have thrown me under the bus, political figures I disagree with and most all that asshole of a boss who treats me like something he scraped off of his shoe.

I make that list and find it soothing. It really helps me sleep.

So there you have it. That’s what goes on in my head, all that and more. See, I’m not all who you think I am. I constantly wonder if I’m capable out carrying out any of these things. I wonder if other people have these kinds of thoughts.

I can tell by your reaction that even if you did you would be afraid to admit to it. For a long time I was petrified too. But just telling someone makes me feel better.

But I am terrified. What would happen if I did any of those things? What would people think of me? What would they say?

But you know what scares me most of all?

Thinking about what I have to do to you now that you know.

Bio: Inspired to write by Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss and the poems of Brautigan and Hugo, Bill Baber has worked as a ranch hand, bartender, truck driver and, for a while, as a sports columnist. His crime fiction has appeared at various sites on the net. A book of his poetry, Where the Wind Comes to Play was published by Berberis Press in 2011.He lives in Tucson with his wife Robin and a spoiled dog. He has been known to cross the border just for a cold Mexican brew. A novel in waiting can be found somewhere on his computer.

A First Time for Everything by Bill Baber

Bill Baber, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Shotgun Honey

billbaber2-300x300When I found Skeeter Hyland he was a fuckin’ mess. Chucky Nuts found him before I did. All I was supposed to do was break a bone or two. Chucky had done more than that and now I would have to find Chucky. Shit, I didn’t relish that thought. I was liable to end up like Skeeter, sliced up like salami and left to rot in the sun on a dead end dirt road.

There was a time Chucky and me had been best pals. That was thirty years ago, when we were kids, a couple of real bad asses. He really was crazy. When we were eighteen we robbed a liquor store in Santa Rosa. Did it just for kicks, it was a Friday night and we were fucked up and bored. Instead of just showing the clerk the gun, Chucky grabbed him, shoving the barrel in the guy’s mouth. Teeth and blood were all over the counter and even after the guy gave up the cash, Chucky pistol whipped him then shot him in his right kneecap just to hear him howl.

Chucky had a record, I didn’t. The clerk was able to pick him out of a line up and of course Chucky was stand up. I walked; he got three to five in Chino. I didn’t see him for a long time after he came out. He laid low, living with his old lady up around Laytonville, growing a little weed. Sometime later he went to work for Hank Daggett selling crank to bikers. He was so crazy they wouldn’t even mess with him. Somewhere along the way old Hank just dropped out of the picture and was never heard from again. Suddenly, Chucky was the biggest dealer on the North Coast.

I guess Skeeter Hyland thought he was smooth. Thought he could screw over a lot of bad people and get away with it. All I know was that I was supposed to collect fifty K and hurt him a little bit. Now he was in a land far beyond hurt and the money was gone.

Danny Martinez was a guy who always had good information. He also had a problem with OxyContin. So I didn’t always trust him. He used to be a jockey at all the county fair meets up and down the coast. He was only in his late 40’s but needed a cane to get around. The ponies busted him up pretty good. He told me Chucky was shacked up with some woman and her kids in an old farmhouse outside of Willits. I paid Danny a hundred bucks and went looking.

Like I said, I didn’t always trust him and he gave me a bum steer. When I went back to beat some sense into him, Chucky had already been there. And Danny was in that great Winners Circle in the sky.

There was no two ways about it- I’d shoot him in the back from 400 yards if it came down to it. I’d seen enough of his handiwork to last me quite a while. I would have just turned away from it and left the state. But my people had connections and arms that reached everywhere. And Chucky knew I was after him which meant no matter where I went I’d be afraid of shadows for the rest of my days. I had no other choice.

Chucky’s mom had seven other kids. But Chucky was the only one from the man she had loved, a guy who died in Quentin where he was serving life for killing a sailor in Frisco who had whistled at her. She was a tough old broad and I had to slap her before she would call her favorite son. I tied her up, stashed her in a closet and waited with a cut down .12 gauge for her favorite son to come and visit.

He smiled when he walked in and saw me. Said he didn’t think I was chicken shit enough to use his mom to get to him. I smiled back and said I didn’t think I was chicken shit enough to use double ought buckshot either.

But, there’s a first time for everything.

Bio: Inspired to write by Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss and the poems of Brautigan and Hugo, Bill Baber has worked as a ranch hand, bartender, truck driver and, for a while, as a sports columnist. His crime fiction has appeared at various sites on the net. A book of his poetry, Where the Wind Comes to Play was published by Berberis Press in 2011.He lives in Tucson with his wife Robin and a spoiled dog. He has been known to cross the border just for a cold Mexican brew. A novel in waiting can be found somewhere on his computer.