John Wisniewski interviews Robert Ragan

Interviews, John Wisniewski, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

 

robert-ragan.jpegJW: When did you start writing, Robert?

RR: As a child I use to make up scary stories and drawing horrible pictures to go along with them. I won essay contests at school. When I was 19, I tried to write poetry every day, I did that for 10 years.

 

JW: Did you write short stories?

 

RR: When I was 29, I started writing short stories. I have been writing them ever since. Short fiction has become my true passion as far as the arts.

 

JW: Any favourite crime/noir writers

RR: The first crime fiction I remember reading was in prison. I read a novel by Donald Goines. Favourites? I’d have to say Don Winslow and Frank Bill. Lately, I really enjoy reading crime fiction at Punk Noir Magazine, Flash Fiction Offensive, and Shotgun Honey. I really enjoy short stories by Morgan Boyd and Tom Leins.

 

JW: What makes a good pulp/crime novel?

RR: In my opinion a good pulp/crime novel has a good story line, characterizations, and mystery involving anti-heroes dealing with violent situations.

 

JW: Any favourite noir films?

RR: Reservoir Dogs, and Training Day. One of my favourite crime stories was HBO’s The Wire.

 

JW: Besides writing crime noir, Robert, you also write poems. What may inspire you to write? 

RR: Personal life experiences, conversations with people from different walks of life, dreams, and music; countless things can inspire me.

 

JW: Could you tell us what your next book will be, Robert? Any future plans and projects?

RR: I like writing in a number of different genres. Crime Fiction, Horror, Comedy, even stories with romantic elements. I don’t exactly know what direction I’m going in next but it will definitely be a short story collection.

 

Bio: Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Terror House Magazine, and Rust Belt Review, Horror Sleeze Trash. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”

Bio: John Wisniewski is a writer who resides in NY. He has written for the LA Review of Books, AMFM magazine, and Perfect Sounds Forever. This is his first article with Punk Noir.

There by Robert Ragan

Blue Collar Noir, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

I was sitting on the couch playing a video game about to unlock a magical secret door when my own front door was kicked off the hinges.

Agents rushed inside and drew their weapons on me. My hands were clenched around the controller.
Two of them watched over me as the rest of the team proceeded to search my trailer. I sat there with a huge smile.
Lighting a cigarette, I exhaled smoke and said, “I’m sorry, but you guys are wasting your time, there’s nothing here hidden or out in the open.”

Throughout the trailer, I hear drawers being pulled out and mattresses being flipped over.

The two standing over me with their guns out were hotshot rookies. If they’d put down their pistols and nightsticks, I’d beat the fuck out of both of them.

The other agents all meet back up in the living room, the oldest one has a full beard, and I assume he’s in charge after saying, “We came at the wrong time but eventually we’ll catch you slipping.”

They all walked out.

Over the next few weeks, I set up shop away from home at a buddies house.
He didn’t care as long as I hooked him up.
The last thing I expected was for the law to show up there. But they did, rolling up four cars deep.
My buddy Dwight, freaked out, “Come on! Help me hide this shit.”

Knowing I was defeated, I told him there’s no way we can hide everything.

Then came that knock on the door.

Dwight looked at me.

“You might as well go ahead and answer it,” I said.

Once he did, I got up and walked to where they could see me with my hands up. They would have gladly shot me had I given them the slightest reason.

I knew it was over for me long before they put me in the back of the car. I knew I didn’t have a chance before the morning came when a CO transported me to court.

I didn’t even ask for a court-appointed attorney. The judge would give me what he would give me. I was fully prepared to sit it on down and do the time.
Vanessa, the woman I was seeing, and I were already arguing and taking a break at the time they got me. I’d have been a fool to believe she would be faithful.

It seems like we only got along whenever I had extra coke to give her along with a little spending money.

 

I called her on my second day in jail. I told her where I was, and she started to cry.

“When is visitation?” asked Vanessa. “I’m coming to see you.”

“Vanessa,” I said, “Don’t make any empty promises about being there for me and waiting out my sentence.”
She said, “Well, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.”

“So you admit that you just made a promise you won’t keep.”

“No,” she said, “I’m gonna be here for you and wait it out till you come home.”

It felt good to hear it, but I knew better than to get my hopes up.

It’s hard for a straight-laced woman to remain faithful under circumstances like these. But when she does cocaine, drinks, and smokes cigarettes, then it just increases the odds that she’s gonna find another man out there.

If Vanessa was fucking around, she had me fooled. She came during every visitation making me sick to see how beautiful she was. Her light brown hair done differently every time.

Jokingly I say, “I told you to move on and live your life. But you’ve got my hopes up now, so I better not find out you’ve hooked up with someone else.”

Vanessa was in the courtroom and cried again when the judge gave me three years.

My first week in prison, she sent commissary money, and everything was fine.

 

It was hard to believe Vanessa was hanging on like this. Her efforts were much appreciated as I began to long for her.

At night, I was dreaming of her in my arms as some sad love song played in the background.

It all lasted about a year. Then one day I sat at the picnic table alone as the other inmates lifted weights and played softball.
I hadn’t been expecting a letter from Vanessa until the following week. But there I sat under the hot sun with this letter from her in my shaking hands.

Opening it up and unfolding the paper I started to read. Right away I wanted to cry but forced myself to laugh instead.

Now after all this time she was ready to give up. Said she had given her heart to someone else. He made the ultimate sacrifice for her, me, and every one by dying for all of our sins.

Basically, she wanted to change her life. Get off the powder stop drinking, and become a better person.

Vanessa wrote that she couldn’t do that while waiting on her convict boyfriend to get out of prison.

Me, I figured what probably happened was she went to church with family members and met some well to do guy with money he made while making an honest living.

Guess I’ll never know.

The next two years went by at a snail pace.
I never did hear from Vanessa again.
When I asked friends and family members none of them had seen her, except one who said she was moving away from NC.

When my time was up, I got out and borrowed my mom’s car. I was supposed to be looking for work, but instead, I drove all over town trying to find Vanessa’s relatives. Maybe an old friend, anyone who could tell me about her.

I didn’t have any luck at all.

If you’re out there Vanessa, I hope you’re doing well. Hopefully, you’re still in church and living the kind of life that makes you happy.

But if you’re not and just want to say to hell with it all, just come and find me.
It shouldn’t be too hard; I’m always hanging around the same town we grew up in.

Oh, and if you’d like to get geeked out say for old times sake, I can still get some really good coke.

 

Wherever you are, no matter what you’re doing, you were there for me as long as you absolutely could be and I thank you.

 

Bio: Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Terror House Magazine, and Rust Belt Review, Horror Sleeze Trash. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”

Robert Ragan

Blood On Stacks by Robert Ragan

Crime Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan, Short Stories

Waiting in his car in front of the Brentwood apartment building, Gary Walter is turned in his seat staring up at a window on the second floor. He slaps the steering wheel, “Come on! What the fuck are y’all doing in there?”

Finally, he hears the sweetest music to his ears…gunshots going off.

Gary is spooked by headlights coming up behind him but the car passes by.

 

Looking back the doors burst open. Sinclair Simon stumbles out with the duffel bag and pistol clenched tightly in his hands. Before the doors close, Gary sees Justin Thompson limping down the stairs.

 

Sinclair doesn’t wait and rushes to the car. “Take off man, they’re coming!” Justin is limping across the street when the doors open up and shots go off in their direction.

Justin Thompson, J.T, makes it inside the car and ducks down as a bullet takes out the back glass.

Gary peels off…the shooters fire until the car is out of sight.

Away from the scene, Gary slows down to obey the speed limit. In the backseat, J.T. yells, “Fuck! They shot the hell out of me.”

Looking back, Sinclair pulls the toboggan off his head. He says, “How bad is it?” Looking at Gary he says, “Turn on the interior light.”

Looking back he sees blood leaking from J.T’s jeans right below the left pocket. Sinclair turns to Gary, “Yeah, they got him pretty good man.”

Looking in the rearview mirror Gary says, “What do we need to do? Drop you off at the emergency room?”

“Hell no,” says J.T. “You know I’ve got a warrant.”

 

Gary says, “If you don’t go to the hospital you might bleed to death.”

J.T. said, “Just drop me off at my mom’s, we’ll pick the bullet out and doctor it up.”

Looking back Gary says, “The bullet may have hit the main artery.”

Giving up J.T. rolls his eyes, “Drop me off, damn it. I got shot just so you two motherfuckers can make all the money off the dope while I’m locked up.”

Gary says, “Chill out! We’ll look out for you while you’re locked down.”

Pulling up to the automatic sliding doors outside the Emergency Entrance, J.T. can barely move. He says, “I feel dizzy, one of you are gonna have to help me.”

Sinclair speaks up, “Fuck that! Get your ass out.”

J.T. falls beside the car, taking off Gary nearly ran over his foot.

He and Sinclair head towards his ex-wife’s house. Leslie is a sorry bitch, but hey, she lets them hideout for a just a little bit of dope.

A car trails them for the last 10 miles.
Gary says, “The last thing we need is to get pulled over.”
Sinclair looks in his mirror, “I don’t think it’s the law,” he said.

Gary says, “Those crooked fucks could be driving anything.”

They both felt relieved when Gary switched on the turn signal and didn’t see blue lights at the last second before pulling in.

Leslie walks outside to meet them at 3 am.
Her blonde hair is golden, pretty face with rosy cheeks, she could be America’s sweetheart until she opens her dicksucker revealing awful rotten gapped teeth. She’s in her pink nightgown with white house slippers on her feet. Smoking a cigarette and already getting on Gary’s nerves before he gets in the door.

“How much stuff did y’all steal?”

Gary says, “Jesus Christ, tell the whole neighborhood why don’t you.”

Once they’re all inside Leslie asked them, “Where’s J.T?”

Sinclair screws the ball on the curved barbell in his pierced eyebrow. He tells Leslie, “J.T. fucked around and got shot in leg right when we were taking off out of their apartment.”

Leslie’s hazel eyes widen, “Shit! Is he okay?”

Gary says, “Yeah, he’ll live but he’s probably about to get locked up.”

He and Sinclair counted the money in the bag. Not much, just enough for a small re-up.

Gary says, “Oh shit look,” then he pulls out a 9 mm pistol from the duffel bag.

Leslie says, “Are you gonna give me a line or what…if not, you guys take your shit and get on up the road!”

Gary says, “If I give you some dope…will you shut the fuck up?”

Sinclair laughs and sticks his tongue out which is also pierced.

With full sleeves of tattoos and piercings, he looks like one of those guys you’d see stomping around a mosh pit in combat boots. His long stringy hair is clumped together in strands.

Sinclair has this big goofy dumb grin the whole time they’re separating the stash.
He deserves his part and J.T’s.

J.T. might be locked up…Sinclair may not be far behind.

 

Some wannabe henchman, fucking failed thug, made a sudden movement and Sinclair didn’t hesitate to drop him with a shot to the chest.

He didn’t want to kill anyone but when it came down to it he pulled the trigger.
J.T. didn’t have this same mentality. Too passive he tried to avoid letting his pistol off at all cost.

Sinclair would often tell Gary he needed to find someone more serious or maybe just put in some work himself.

When the sun came up they were both ready to go. They were supposed to meet with a dealer about buying the whole stash.
Neither Sinclair nor Gary was enthused about the idea of slanging the product on a regular basis. They wanted one big payoff out if it.

Meanwhile, J.T. was being held without bond. For failing to appear in court on a weapons charges.

The three of them were basically legends around their part of town. They started off with one gun between the three of them.
Back then Gary was hungry and would have been the first through the door not sitting outside playing the getaway driver.

Over the years they’ve pissed off a lot of people, but this time…they’d run up in a THC stash house.

 

THC as in Thugs, Hustlers, Cons. When Sinclair found out about the name he said, “They think it sounds hard but really it’s lame as fuck.”
Gary says, “Man we might be in trouble.”

The THC leader was an old school hustler who started out cooking crack in the 80s.
Over the years, Taye Lucas has gained the reputation of being a cold-blooded ruthless bastard.

It was rumored that a few of his boys knew who pulled the stickup. His little cousin Jason was shot in the chest and killed during the robbery.

Now, Taye had money on those white crackers heads. The only reason they were able to identify them was because J.T. bought loud from them on occasion.

 

When Taye Lucas had money on someone’s head…he meant it in the literal sense. Anyone willing to take on the challenge was instructed to decapitate the targets and bring their heads to him for proof on a job well done.

Sinclair and Gary were hiding out in a motel room when Sinclair got a call from J.T. This fucking cocksucker Lucas even has people in here.

He details an attack in the shower where two young black men attack him with shanks. Luckily J.T. made it out with only a few minor cuts. He said one of those young thugs yelled out, “THC motherfucker.”

Sinclair is on the nod, slicing off pieces of a suboxone strip. Gary pulls smoke as he holds the button down on a green dab pen.
He tells Sinclair, “Don’t open up that door for anyone! There’s no telling who might try to cash in on us.”

They both felt safer ever since Leslie switched cars with Gary.

When money from the sale started to run thin…these two were contemplating another heist.

Out of the motel and back couch surfing with random fiends. Gary looked over his shoulder more than ever. Around that time Sinclair went extra strength rogue.

While members hunted them down, he returned back to the building in the Brentwood Apartments where the shooting first took place. Pulling out a can, he spray painted Fuck THC in bright red letters across the front doors.

Gary got a big laugh out of it but still told him to stop. “They already want us bad enough. Now you have to make it worse?”

Sinclair says, “Look what I bought the other day,” then removed a chrome 40 caliber pistol from the waistband of his jeans.

Gary says, “Damn, you’re ready, aren’t you?”

Talking tough Sinclair says, “I’m ready to put holes in every one of those fake ass gangsters.”

He was all down for robbing another THC stash house.
Gary refused to take part in it saying, “There are other, lesser known, dealers we can hit without the threat of such consequences.”

There was still six more months before J.T’s eight-month bid was up. Sinclair said, when J.T. got out, they’d show Gary how it’s done.

With no other options at the time. Sinclair tagged along as Gary went to a nightclub his latest target frequented, a white wannabe dope boy; this kid was moving a considerable amount of powder.

Gary sat at a table puffing on the dab pen.
They both watched this guy’s every move.
Sinclair said something about the cokeheads following him around like sheep.

Gary asked if he had the new pistol on him.
“You know I do,” said Sinclair.

They both got up and walked outside. While going over the game plan they were spotted by THC members smoking a blunt in the parking lot.

One of them, wearing a black bandana, says,  “Ain’t that one of them cracker bitches that ran up in Taye’s cousin’s spot.

Leaning forward his partner with long dreadlocks looks closer and says, “Fuck yeah, it is them boys.”

He takes a colt 45 from the glove compartment and steps out of the car unloading towards Gary and Sinclair without warning.

Gary ducks down and manages to make it back in the club. Outside Sinclair isn’t so lucky. Sprawled out on the steps bleeding from bullet wounds to his chest and spitting blood as he wheezes.

From inside, Gary looks out as the shooter with dreadlocks comes towards Sinclair’s shaking body.

People yell for him to stop but no one tries to help and right before reaching Sinclair this savage pulls out a long hunting knife.

Gary could have kicked the door open and fired back but now…he was outnumbered.

He looked away only hearing screams from the people outside as this THC member took the blade and began sawing across Sinclair’s throat. For now, he couldn’t move on this little sissy coke dealer. Gary just wanted to find a way to escape out the back.

Now he’s in the woods, ducked down trying to see what’s going on. Leslie’s car is parked there but he doesn’t want to go anywhere near it with police swarming the area.

Gary’s phone was dead. It made him think of poor Sinclair. Motherfuckers got him.

Those thugs will take his head with the long hair and pierced face. Taye Lucas will make good on his promise. His people wonder what he does with these decapitated heads.

Meanwhile, Sinclair’s tattooed body is missing its top. As Gary makes his way through underbrush, limbs, and vines, sweat runs down his face…the sleeve was torn on the nice button up shirt he wore.

Soon he would be in the clear and make his way towards the highway. Gary would call Leslie and have her come and get the car.

 

He was still alive but dead broke.

Now Gary would have to put in the work by himself, well at least until J.T. got out of jail.

Gary had to instill the killer instinct into J.T. or else they might both lose their heads.

 

Bio: Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir, Synchronized Chaos, and Terror House Magazine. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”.

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Outlaws by Robert Ragan

Blue Collar Noir, Crime Fiction, Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

So many people want to be outlaws. They want the adrenaline rush that comes with the gunfire. They don’t realize the blood remains on their hands long after it’s washed off.

Devin would make fun of you for having a conscience. He had the best work ethic of any thief out there. Creative when putting together scheme’s, he was an artist when pulling a stick-up. Escape routes mapped out beforehand, every angle covered, everyone involved, well-armed, and prepared.

I tell him, “The word going around is a team of feds has taken over the case. Don’t you think we should lay low for a while?”  Devon’s smile fades, squinting his dark eyes, deeper in thought he says, “Of course they had to bring in the feds.” Devin made it clear that he wasn’t slowing down.

It will never stop now,” he says, “We’ve crossed the wrong people.” Devon explains how laying low would have us off guard. “You don’t hold up high dollar drug transactions and take off with someone’s re-up without repercussions.”

So you want to be a true outlaw? Don’t think law enforcement is the only enemy. They want to lock you inside a cage to rot. Other criminals you cross would rather find you somewhere and make sure you begin to rot much sooner.

Before the feds found me dead or alive, I told Devon I wanted out. Exhaling cigarette smoke, he pulls down the brim of his black baseball cap, looking into my eyes but hiding his own.

Now he was roasting me. Laughing. “What are you going to do clock in and work a nine-to-five?” Devin says, “With your criminal record, they’ll throw your application in the trash as soon as they run a background check.”

“Oh, so you going to get on welfare,” smiling he says, “I should go apply myself. Get everything we can out of this crooked ass government, but still make real money our own way.”

Shaking my head, I say, “Real money? You’re the only one with a nice car or anything to show for that real money.”

He was slick, calm, and collected but saying that I managed to strike a nerve. 

Removing his hat revealing his shaved head he says, “I made smarter decisions with my money. It’s not my fault you have stupid expensive habits.”

Devin says, ‘Do what you want, but don’t come back later when you want back in. You know how many hungry criminals would like to make money with me?”

I told Devin he was slipping, “Remember when you said all those hungry criminals wanted to take your money? ”

Acknowledging my hard work, he says, “You are an honorable thief, but there has to be someone else out there I can trust.”

I left that day determined to make a change. It was hard to look forward to the future. For the things I’d done, the law could come and pick me up at any time.

They were investigating crimes we’d committed. Even Devin wondered exactly what they had on us. Inevitably he was right, I couldn’t get a job anywhere just random under the table work. All that money I blew right away then struggled to pay my bills.

I’m below rock bottom right now, contemplating doing some stick-ups on my own. Not major drug and gun runners. No, maybe a couple making a withdrawal at an ATM. Put the pistol to her brand new hairdo, and he’ll make the largest withdrawal possible in a hurry. Hell, I might make them take a ride, she’ll drive while I hold the gun on him, we’ll visit a few ATMs.

I learned from Devin to analyze every possible outcome. Try to see everything coming.

Behind-the-wheel she might try to save the day. Only she won’t be a heroine with her boyfriend’s brains splattered all over the back seat.

If I let them go they won’t come back for revenge. No, they’ll run straight to their local authorities and file a report. I should tell them my name is Devin Pages.

Instead of all this, I should go see him. Not to get back in his good graces but to beat him at his own game. I know his moves, all I have to do is wait, find out where he’s stashing the money. Remember that it’s never at the hideout.

He really thinks I was an honorable thief. I’m the last person he would expect. Not only will I take the money, but I’m also taking his guns and any dope he stole too.

First of all, am I prepared to die? Once I make this first move, one of us will kill the other without a doubt. I could pull it off and make a get-way. But I’d have to disappear. Devin would be out to get me at all cost.

No, I’m not prepared to die. When I’m done before Devin takes his last breath, he’ll remember the saying, There’s no honor amongst thieves.

All you aspiring outlaws out there, are you sure this is the life you really want?

20181231_180713Bio: Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir, Synchronized Chaos, and Terror House Magazine. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”

 

Mixed With Reality by Robert Ragan

Crime Fiction, Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

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Sound asleep in bed I’m out of this world at 3 am. Meanwhile, a classic movie marathon continues in black and white.

A private detective in a trench coat investigates the husband of a wealthy young woman. It seems she’s unexplainably accident prone. In the end, she and the detective will embrace and kiss in an epic final scene before the credits roll.

In my dream, it’s sunny outside with a light breeze that makes my skin tingle. The fruit’s filled with worms. The snake’s wrapped around a branch sleeping.

There’s a song; it’s the sound of cries then…

Cut to the ragged bum stumbling down the road barefoot. I walked down my driveway and called out, “Are you alright?” His face was smeared with soot, and his eyes were wide and wild.

Walking towards me, he says, “They’ll never understand.” Looking down, I see his fingertips are stained with blood. His hair is matted to his forehead, sweating profusely. He says, “You have no idea what I’ve done.”

With shaky hands he reached into his pockets, pulling out a pocket knife he says, “Listen to me”…then vanishes.

It’s after that I’m blind in a pitch black darkness. There’s the sound of dogs barking. Then in the distance, a young woman approaches. Her entire body is brightly lit.

Unable to look away, I’m frozen and can’t move. Overhead in the sky, the stars and moon have finally come out of hiding.

This glowing damsel comes closer. She says, “I made it!”
Her laughter, which followed, echoed throughout the end.

I was in a trance, and she continued, “They’ll never understand. You have no idea what’s happened to me.”

It’s then that smoke comes from her nostrils as her blue eyes begin to melt inside their sockets. Screaming, she shed her clothes revealing tribal tattoos covering her back.

Her light goes out. Flashing to total darkness wakes me this time.

Disoriented, it feels like instant shock until I see another black and white movie playing on my TV. This time a horror film with a gigantic pair of scissors terrorizing a small town.

I keep expecting that barefoot guy to burst through my bedroom door and attack me with his pocket knife.

On TV, all the blood is black, and the National Guard is called in for combat with these freakishly large scissors.

Volunteers fill trucks with parts of bodies cut in half. Crazy but I still can’t get over dreaming about someone’s eyes melting.

Maybe I witness these things during sleep because of the atrocities during

 my waking hours. I’m so ruthless and filled with hatred, not afraid of anything. So, maybe this is how they inject the fear and mess with my head.

Bio: Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, and Cajun Mutt Press. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”