Friday, 24 August 2012

Beat to a Pulp Superhero

This anthology will be out in mere weeks and features 12 stories by writers like Thomas Pluck, Keith Rawson, Sandra Seamans, Steve Weddle, Court Merrigan, and Kevin Burton Smith. For more details, go to David Cranmer's Education of a Pulp Writer blog.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

We love I fucking love science

We love "I fucking love science."  Can't seem to find them on FB any more, but everyone else seems to have access to their particularly smart blend of science and snark.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Suspense Magazine

You can never read too much suspense. Suspense Magazine is available either online or in print, in full year or single issue options. If you sign up for the blog, there are freebies. They also host a writing contest (open until end of December). Here are the details.

Red 2--we'll be there

Royal Noir

Well, they say that "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," but as Prince Harry has just discovered, that doesn't mean pictures of bare-ass nekkid royals won't get snapped and uploaded. TMZ has the pictures with the naughty bits (sort of) obscured. (Come on, if we can see a guy's junk in HBO's Game of Thrones, couldn't we at least get a glimpse of the princely penis?)  Boys will be boys... but honest to God Harry, didn't you learn from the photo of you wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party?

So good we had to tell you twice! Interview with NoHo's Mark Satchwill

Over at EBSQ (Where Art Meets Blog) there's an excellent interview with artist Mark Satchwill. Mark talks about the transition from trad to digital and there are pictures! Check it out here.

Zombie Cat in the Hat

Somewhere, Dr. Seuss is turning over in his grave. (Maybe there's a zombie Dr. Seuss shambling around out there.) This is from Cthulhu Hand Luke. You can follow them on Tumblr here.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Monday, 20 August 2012

John Waters makes it simple....

What's going on with The Dark Tower?

Depending on who you talk to, a filmed adaptation of Stephen King's Dark Tower is still happening but in what form and with what filmmakers is unknown.
It's on. It's off. Javier Bardem is playing the gunslinger. Or he's not.
 Here's a Deadline Hollywood story with the latest, which seems to be that it's still alive with Ted backer MRC investigating the possibility of financing it.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Interview with Katherine Tomlinson

NoHo's Katherine Tomlinson is interviewed about her work and upcoming projects over on Jeff Shear's Six Degree Conspiracy blog!
Read it here:

Friday, 10 August 2012

Frightmare Film Review

Sheila Keith/Dorothy Yates, Digital, 2012

NoHo's Mark Satchwill has a written a new  review of the classic Peter Walker shocker "Frightmare" over on the Classic Horror Campaign website where it's British Horror Month.

He also created this illustration of the wonderful Sheila Keith as she appears in the film playing cannibal Dorothy Yates.

Check it out here:

Saturday, 4 August 2012

NoHo Noir: Perceived Value


Written by Katherine Tomlinson
Illustrated by Mark Satchwill

Gillis Montgomery didn’t like his wife working at the North Hollywood pawn shop. It was the biggest one they owned, but it was a trouble magnet, especially after a guy got shot trying to pass stolen goods while Orla was there alone. 

But Orla knew jewelry inside and out—“All those years of dress up,” she liked to say—and people were coming in every day hoping to exchange their valuables for enough money to pay their electric bill so they could keep the A/C on. Gillis could value most items with a cursory glance but he was clueless about bling.

Or so he claimed.

In truth, he hated dealing with jewelry. The misery was just too intimate when a woman came in to pawn her engagement ring, or a man brought in his father’s turquoise-inlaid cufflinks as collateral for a loan. The baubles were rarely worth much and the shame and despair of the people offering them up was like a wave of body odor—you couldn’t see it but the smell was so strong it could knock you off your feet.

Orla was better at dealing with the emotional stuff than he was.

Or so he liked to think.

When Martin Prentice walked through the door, Gillis heard Orla sigh.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Frighten Brighton Art and Interview

Noho Noir's Mark Satchwill has created a poster image for the Frighten Brighton Classic Horror Film Festival happening in the UK next month.
You can read an interview with Mark about his love of horror movies, the inspiration for the poster and why he supports the Classic Horror Campaign over on their website:

Sunday, 15 July 2012

NoHo Noir: Smother Mother

                                         SMOTHER MOTHER
Written by Katherine Tomlinson
Illustrated by Mark Satchwill

Shannon could hear her son sobbing all the way from the parking lot. When she entered the office of the little motel they owned, she was upset to see her mother Maeve holding down the counter instead of Nori, the guest who usually covered for her when she had to run out on an errand.

She was torn between confronting her mother and tending to her son, who had hurled himself into her arms the moment he saw her. “What’s wrong Liam?” she asked as he burrowed his head into her leg.

“Nothing’s wrong,” her mother said. “He’s just a little cry-baby.”

“I am not a cry-baby,” Liam wailed.

Shannon stroked his back. “I know sweetie,” she said, giving her mother a lethal look. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

She took Liam's hand and led him into the little apartment behind the office. 

“You’re doing him no favors by coddling him like that,” Maeve said, loudly enough that she could be heard through the locked door.

It had taken Shannon 15 minutes to calm Liam down and get the story out of him. He kept apologizing for “making Grandma mad,” and every time he did, the red haze clouding Shannon’s vision got a little redder.

She remembered apologizing for making her mother mad, even when she’d had no idea what she’d done.

Liam had set Maeve off by asking her where Nori was when he saw his grandmother behind the front desk in the motel’s office. Maeve had flown into a rage, ranting that he was dissing her and that she wasn’t going to stand for it. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Feeding Kate--A Charity Anthology

We all get by with a little help from our friends and sometimes our friends need more help than others. Feeding Kate is an anthology friends are putting together to raise money for Sabrina (of the blog "My Friends Call Me Kate"). She needs surgery and her insurance won't pay for it. You can read the details here on Thomas Pluck's blog and then you can head over to the Indiegogo page to see what a donation as little as $5 will get you.
I don't know Sabrina/Kate but for $5, I can help a sister out AND get an e-copy of the anthology, which will contain stories by Thomas Pluck, Hilary Davidson, Chad Eagleton, Chad Rohrbacher, Johnny Shaw, Anthony Shaw, Steve Weddle, Chuck Wendig, and Holly West. (Plus a lot more.)
Feel free to give more, but know that every little bit helps!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

NoHo Noir: The Heat is On!

The Heat Is On
Written by Katherine Tomlinson
Illustrated by Mark Satchwill

Vera Polk was bored. It was such an unusual sensation for her that she almost didn’t recognize it at first and thought it was just another variety of depression. It had been a tough school year and now that it was summer, she should have felt the usual vacation uptick in her mood, but instead she’d been plagued with sleeplessness and a vague sense of ennui.
“Just be glad you’re not teaching summer school,” her friend Moira had said when they met for lunch at City Wok one weekend.
Moira’s husband had been unemployed for nearly two years. She was burnt out on the job of teaching English to disinterested teens, but there was no scenario in which she could afford not to teach during the summer. It was starting to get to her, though. Whenever she and Vera got together, all Moira wanted to do was vent.
“We’re doing a section on Romeo & Juliet,” she said. “I promised everyone I’d give them an A if they could prove they’d watched any of the movie versions.”
She forked in another morsel of the crispy, sweet-hot City Wok Chicken they’d both ordered.
“Poo came in with a screen shot from Romeo is Bleeding,” she added.
Vera raised her eyebrow.
“Joel Silver movie,” Moira explained. “Jet Li. Gangs.” Moira slugged down the rest of her diet Coke. “I gave him a C and he was happy with it.”
Vera shuddered. She taught geometry, trigonometry and calculus. There was no chance that the thuggish Poo was going to end up in one of her classes.
She grabbed the check when it came. “My treat,” she said, as she almost always did.
“I’ll get it next time,” Moira said, as she almost always did.
“It’s on Ms. Math Whiz,” Vera assured her.
Vera was bored with Ms. Math Whiz. She’d turned in a draft of her latest “math for idiots” book in May and was waiting for her editor to give her the final edits. She made a nice side living from the books—almost twice what she brought home from her teaching job—but writing them was getting to be a chore. She enjoyed getting email from enthusiastic geeks who wanted to talk about famous math puzzles and she looked forward to interacting with a couple of her Twitter followers who engaged in lively conversations about subjects ranging from the discovery of the “God Particle” to the science of Prometheus. Other than that, though, being Ms. Math Whiz was about as much fun as teaching remedial math in a vocational school.
She was sitting on her balcony, relaxing with a glass of wine and gazing at the empty parking lot behind her condo when she was suddenly struck with the notion of creating a container garden.
She knew it was too late in the season for tomatoes, but she could try some herbs—chives and sage and dill—and chili peppers. The idea made her happy.
She finished off her glass of wine and went into her home office to tweet a few things before bed. The follower who called him/herself @geekusinterruptus was raving about the new Spider Man movie and wondering if she’d seen it yet. She’d lied and said she had, that she thought it was the best one yet.

The last time Vera had attempted any sort of gardening project, she’d bought all her plants from Stevens Nursery in Studio City. She’d loved browsing there, especially on cool days when the tropical humidity of the greenhouse felt like a lush oasis in the middle of the generally arid LA suburbs.
Stevens had been razed years ago, though, to make room for the ugliest mega-condo/apartment complex in the area.
Vera had found a nursery in Burbank that had a resident cat and good prices. She’d filled a basket with little green and white plastic pots filled with three-inch shoots of aromatic green. She’d been captivated by a square-stemmed plant that smelled like a peppermint patty.
“That’s chocolate mint,” said a guy wearing a dark green polo shirt with the Plant One On Us logo. “It’s great mixed with strawberries, but it’s a little late to be planting it.”
He took the pot out of her hands and put it back on the shelf with the other baby plants. “You’ll want to wait until the fall for it, or maybe early next spring.”
Vera was somewhere between bemused and annoyed as he looked over the other choices in her cart.
“Rosemary and sage but no thyme?” he asked. “How will you ever season a roast chicken?”
“I make roast chicken with garlic and lemon,” she said, not sure why she was trading cooking tips with a total stranger.
“Simple and elegant,” the guy said, “like the cook.”
Vera blushed from the tips of her toes even as she deflected the compliment with a bit of a shrug. “It’s hard to mess up a roast chicken,” she said.
Au contraire,” the guy said, with a pitch-perfect accent. “At the Culinary Institute of America they ask you to make two things to show off your expertise before graduating.”
“A roast chicken,” Vera guessed, “and what?”
“An omelette,” he replied. “The idea being that if you can create something beautifully simple, you can go on to cook something more complex.”
“You’re a cook?” she asked the guy.
Now it was his turn to shrug.
“I eat a lot of pasta,” he said. “I picked up a cookbook in self-defense.”
Vera casually glanced at the guy’s bare left hand while pretending to tidy the plants in her basket.
Divorced? Gay?
“Let me know if you need any help with anything,” the guy said and turned away.
Say something Vera.
“What about chilies?” she blurted, holding out a pot with a couple of the bright red peppers already ripening.
“Good choice for summer gardening,” he said. “Good way to spice things up.”
She smiled at him, charmed.
“I think I’m ready to check out,” she said.
“Right this way,” he said, and without asking, took the handle of her cart and rolled it over to the checkstand.
“Good luck,” he said to her as she walked away with her purchases. “Let me know if you have any problems.”
Vera blushed again as she put her change away. “I will,” she said, and was surprised that she actually meant it.
The owner of the shop looked at her brother as he watched Vera head for her car.
“She’ll be back,” he promised her.
She knew he was right. Business had almost doubled since he’d started working for her.
Seducing the middle-aged customers was like shooting fish in a barrel for him.
She almost felt guilty about it.
As for Vera…she wasn’t bored any more.

A different kind of noir

Pulp Ink 2 mashes up noir and horror.  Here's who's in it:  Kevin Brown, Mike Miner, Eric Beetner, Heath Lowrance, Matthew C. Funk, Richard Godwin, Cindy Rosmus, Christopher Black, Andrez Bergen, James Everington, W. D. County, Julia Madeleine, Kieran Shea, Joe Clifford, Katherine Tomlinson, R. Thomas Brown, Court Merrigan, BV Lawson, and Patti Abbott.  That's 15.7 cents per story. 

Go get it now!  And while you're at it, pick up Pulp Ink for just 99 cents.  And while you're on the page, why not hit the "like" button.  That's free.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Matt Damon is a bad ass in Elysium

First pics are out. Here it is. You're welcome.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

NoHo Noir: There is no Contingency Plan

There is no Contingency Plan for the Zombie Apocalypse
Written by Katherine Tomlinson
Illustration by Mark Satchwill

It was 101 degrees outside but Esme had cracked the car’s window to avoid breathing in the stale alcohol fumes her partner was breathing out. The metabolized bourbon mixed with toxic levels of garlic from the pizza he’d eaten at lunch had formed an almost visible aura around him. The smell was so thick she wondered if it would explode if she flicked her lighter.
Some days she really missed smoking.
“We should all go out sometime,” Edgar said, for at least the fourth time since they’d clocked in. He was newly hooked up with a skanky badge bunny he’d met in a bar and was looking for validation for the relationship. Considering he’d thrown away four years of sobriety to be with his new love, Esme was not a big fan. She already knew more than she wanted to about “Lucinda” from the pictures on Edgar’s cell and the stories he chose to relate.
She didn’t even listen to the stories anymore, just nodded or grunted every once in awhile.
“You’re not listening Esme,” Edgar said.
“Sorry,” she said. “I’ve got a little bit of a headache.”
“Caffeine withdrawal,” Edgar suggested smugly. He drank Maker’s Mark like it was mother’s milk but didn’t like coffee. She had tried to be inconspicuous about her attempts to cut back on coffee in the wake of a scare with some breast cysts, but Edgar had noticed and driven her nuts with questions until she finally admitted what she was doing.
She was about to say something scathing about there not being sobriety chips for caffeine when the call came over the radio.
“Dispatch, say again,” Edgar said.
“You heard me Edgar,” the dispatcher said, in total violation of protocol. “You’d better get over there fast. The uni who called it in sounded pretty freaked out.”
Esme was already turning the car around.
“It was only a matter of time before they showed up in Los Angeles,” Edgar said.
“There is no ‘they,’ Edgar,” Esme said.
“You saw the memo, same as me,” he insisted.
“This is L.A.,” Esme said, “somebody’s shooting a movie.”
Edgar made a noise that sounded like “humph.”
Esme sighed. It was bad enough that everyone on the force had been working overtime on the homeless serial killer case. When the stories started coming in about cannibal attacks and zombies eating dogs, and the shift briefings started including warnings about designer drugs, everything got amped up another notch.
She knew Edgar was just clowning around to annoy her but some of the kids actually believed zombies were real.
But then, Esme guessed she couldn’t blame them when news stories were actually reporting that voters thought President Obama was better suited to leading the country in the face of an alien attack than Mitt Romney.
In the face of an alien attack, God help us, Esme thought.
“I wonder if it’s a fast zombie,” Edgar said.

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Best-Tasting Movie Promo Ever

Nothing says Dark Knight Rising like chocolate and Cadbury's dark chocolate brand Bournville is going all out to promote the Warner Bros. movie. (But wait, wouldn't the brand have been even more appropriate for the upcoming Bourne reboot?) More information here.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Free Noir!

Who doesn't love Free Noir? It's almost as good as free love.  Right now Noiristo Nigel Bird is offering his third collection of short stories, With Love and Squalor free.  As a special pre-publication promo for Pulp Ink 2, he's also offering the original collection, Pulp Ink free.

Bloodline from James Rollins--out now

We're big James Rollins fans here at NoHo Noir and the good news is that he has a new Sigma Force novel available. It's called Bloodline. More about it here.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Dark Fiction: The Dark Monk

Something for the TBR pile. The Dark Monk by Oliver Pötzsch is the second book in a series called "The Hangman's Daughter." The stories take place in 17th century Bavaria where Magdalena, the daughter of a hangman (whose duties also involve extracting confessions by any means necessary) solves crimes.

Return of the Noir!!!

Regular weekly "episodes" of NoHo Noir will continue Sunday, July 1, 2012. Hope to see you then.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Abe--Don't give up your day job!!!

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter has not opened well. That's disappointing. The idea was just so off-the-wall appealing. And love the poster.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

SSW Interview with Katherine

There is an interview with NoHo Noir writer Katherine Tomlinson up on the Shared Story Worlds site, where she talks about some of her recent projects like Drunk On The Moon and the Driftng Isles Project, and of course, NoHo Noir!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

NoHo Noir: Child of the Heart

Written by Katherine Tomlinson
Illustrated by Mark Satchwill

Some of her clients had complained when Tina told them the yoga studio was going to be closed over the holiday weekend. “But you never close,” Marianne McSweeney had said accusingly, as if Tina were running some kind of bait and switch operation.
“I’m closing this year,” Tina said, without giving her an explanation.
“I think you’re being selfish,” Marianne had said and Tina had nearly laughed. Marianne McSweeney was the most singularly self-absorbed person she’d ever met and she wasn’t even an actress.
“I’ll see you Tuesday,” Tina said to her.
“Whatever,” Marianne had said and left in a huff.
Tina hated people who said whatever.
The truth was, Tina never had closed before. This was the first year she’d had enough of a financial cushion to even think about taking a three-day weekend. She’d opened the studio the year the economy had taken a dump and by December of 2009 she was sure she was going to have to close it and go back to doing medical transcription. And she so didn’t want to do that.
The work wasn’t particularly hard and the pay was okay, but she’d been working for the doctor who’d overseen her transition. He’d been wonderful during the process but she felt that every time she saw him she was taking a step back in her personal journey and not a step forward. She’d felt like she was playing it safe, hiding from reality, not really being the strong and independent woman she was born to be.
Her mother had loaned her a thousand dollars to keep the bills paid and then Tina had landed a job as a personal yoga trainer to the soon-to-be ex-wife of a major movie star. The ex-wife had paid her an outrageous amount of money to come to her Brentwood house twice a week and the gig had paid the studio rent for a year. She’d been sorry when that client had moved to Sedona, claiming to be in search of inner peace but actually in pursuit of a handsome artist who’d caught her eye.
It had been a lean couple of years but since the early spring, things had started to change. All of her classes were suddenly full and she was booked solid with private clients as well. Tina wasn’t sure what was happening—gas prices were still high and food prices were still going up and it wasn’t as if yoga lessons were a necessity—but for whatever reason she suddenly wasn’t having to kite checks to keep the lights on and the doors open at the same time.
And she really needed some time to herself. Since her mother had died in September, she’d been too busy to grieve. But getting through the first Mother’s Day since her death had been brutal. Every time she turned on the television there’d been some commercial with mothers and daughters. Or mothers and sons.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

NoHo Noir presents..."Knock, Knock"

NoHo Noir presents its first comic strip..."Knock, Knock".

Written and drawn by Mark (script edited by Katherine) it tells the story of an old lady, Norma, who receives an unexpected visitor...but all is not what it seems!

"Knock, Knock" can be viewed and downloaded by following the link below:

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Pulp In 2 is coming!

The writer half of NoHo has been off the radar for nearly a month but not because she's a lazy cow. Au contraire. I've been writing a lot, just not writing the latest episode. Forgive me for that. What I have been writing, among other things, is my story for Chris Rhatigan and Nigel Bird's anthology Pulp Ink 2. My story, "Thicker Than Water" involves crime syndicates, murder and blood on the water.  The lineup of writers is fantastic--Patti Abbott, Matthew C. Funk, Keiran Shea, Julia Madeleine, BV Lawson, James Everington, R Thomas Brown, WD County, Eric Beetner (who also did the cover), Richard Godwin, Christopher Black, Mike Miner, Kevin Brown, Cindy Rosmus, Heath Lowrance, Joe Clifford, Andrez Bergen.  Fast company...I admire every one of these writers. The anthology is being publisher by Snubnose Press and should be available shortly. Proceeds will go to charity.

What NoHo Noir is reading: The Future is Japanese

We're suckers for anthologies and this new one from Haikasoru Books is a wonderfully strange collection of stories wrapped in a handsome package. You can sample the story "Autogenic Dreaming: Interviews with the Columns of Clouds" by Tobi Hirotaka here. Haikasoru is an publishing company that specialilzes in space opera, dark fantasy and hard science. We're particularly fond of he story "Endoastronomy" by Toh EnJoe, but the contributors include Pat Cadigan, Project Itoh, Bruce Sterling, Ken Liu, Ekaterina Sedia and more. The book is handsomely designed, which is always a nice bonus. You can find The Future is Japanese in both Kindle and print editions.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Vintage Mug Shots from Australia

Admit it...You've clicked through The Smoking Gun's collection of mug shots before.  It's not just the celebrity snaps that fascinate--the dazed half-smiles, the unwashed and unruly hair, the wild eyes--but also pictures of ordinary people caught up in what can only be called "What the fuck?" moments. Feast your eyes on some vintage mug shots from the early years of the last century. Each comes with a little story (every picture tells a story) and they're little time capsules of noir. Find the collection here.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Friday, 4 May 2012

Horror Hotel Review

Mark has a new review and illustration of the 1960 atmospheric witchcraft chiller Horror Hotel posted on the Classic Horror Campaign website.

Horror Hotel Review

Sunday, 29 April 2012

NoHo Noir is still on hiatus.

We will return, like a television show, for May sweeps.
We miss you!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Classic Horror Film Reviews

NoHo's Mark Satchwill is writing film reviews (and accompanying them with illustrations) for the Classic Horror Campaign website. First up for review is the 1959 schlocker Horrors of the Black Museum.

Horrors of the Black Museum Review

About the Classic Horror Campaign

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Katherine Interviewed at The Slaughterhouse

NoHo's very own Katherine Tomlinson is interviewed by Richard Godwin on his Welcome To The Slaughterhouse blog. It's a fascinating, enlightening read, so do go and take a look:

Chin Wag At The Slaughterhouse

Saturday, 14 April 2012

NoHo Noir: Out of Sight

Out of Sight
Written by Katherine Tomlinson
Illustrated by Mark Satchwill

Shannon was worried sick about Liam.
She’d been promised police protection for him but after a drive-by shooting on his school’s playground, the principal had asked her to teach Liam at home “until the dust settles.” She couldn’t really blame the principal, three kids and a teacher had been wounded and one of the kids had been paralyzed from the waist down.
So she’d made arrangements to home-school her son, borrowing tons of books from the library and searching the internet for lesson plans.
Liam had been a good student before the shooting but now getting him to focus on anything for more than five minutes was a struggle. He was anxious and hyper-vigilant and complained of stomach aches and headaches. He’d never needed a night light, even as a toddler, but now he refused to go to bed unless all the lights were on.
She and Liam had moved into Barbara’s apartment behind the motel’s office, which offered a little more security than the flimsy door of their old room, but not much.
Shannon had called a locksmith to install extra dead bolts on the door connecting their apartment to the main office, but had sent the locksmith home when she saw his Hispanic features and the tats that sleeved his arms.
She’d told him she was sorry, but that she’d had a cash flow problem and offered to pay him for his drive-time and gas.
He’d been surprisingly nice about it, which had made her feel guilty.
She’d quit her day job when Liam inherited the motel, the income from the rentals being $100 more a month than she’d brought in before. She kept up the medical transcription gig, though, because she could do it at home and look after Liam and the needs of the guests at the same time.
 Not that guest services was a big part of the motel experience. There was no maid ser vice—guests were responsible for dumping their own trash.
They got clean towels and sheets once a week, but if they washed the linens themselves, they got a little bit taken off their rent.
Like Barbara, she turned a blind eye to the illegal hot plates and slow cookers plugged into the wall sockets in the tiny bathrooms. But like Barbara, she kept an eye on the people she knew were slobs, posting little notices about not leaving food out lest roaches move in.
She also kept an eye on Nori, a teenage girl she suspected of being a runaway who often entertained male visitors for a couple of hours at a time. But Nori kept a low-pro and the only real problem she’d ever caused was once when her pot dealer came around looking to barter his goods for her services.
The guy in the unit next to Nori, Kevin Eastman, was a recovering addict who had no problem confronting the “businessman” in the parking lot. Shannon hadn’t seen the pot dealer again. She had thanked Kevin and he had ducked her gratitude, saying only that he didn’t think the kids who lived at the motel should have to worry about druggie scum hanging around.
He asked her often how Liam was doing. He was a vet of the Gulf War and recognized PTSD when he saw it.
He’d told Shannon how sorry he was the boy had been caught in the middle of things and he’d praised him for being so brave.
He seemed to think it was a good thing that Barbara had left the motel to Liam. “Maybe something good can come out of something bad,” he’d said.
“I’ll pray for you both,” he’d added.
The other guests, some of whom had been at the motel longer than she and Liam, were jealous as hell about her son’s inheritance, and suggested that maybe Barbara had been a lesbian and Shannon had serviced her in return for favors.
They didn’t care if Shannon heard the gossip.
“Don’t listen to them,” Kevin Eastman had said.
Shannon didn’t care that much about what they said about her but she didn’t like Liam exposed to their nasty tongues.
If she could have come up with a legal reason to evict the haters, she would have.
Especially since the nasty remarks about prostituting herself hit too close to home.
She’d once traded sexual favors for car repairs and while the guy had been decent about it, she had been so consumed with self-loathing that she’d never been able to go back to the gas station, even though it was the one closest to the motel.
Liam didn’t really talk about Barbara much but she knew he missed her. The bitter old woman had been the closest thing he’d ever had to a grandmother and he’d soaked up her attention like a thirsty paper towel.
Shannon did not want her son to testify against the shooter, who’d been identified as a shot-caller for a gang called the Burbank Trece Rifa. When the cops first used the phrase “shot caller,” she thought they were saying “shock collar” and she’d been puzzled.
When the DA defined the term for her, she was still confused. The way she understood it, the “shot callers” were the ones who gave the orders, not the guys who actually got blood on their hands. She’d asked him about that and his answer had been chilling.
“He missed the juice,” the DA had said. “And this one was personal.” The kid he’d killed had been his nephew, Shannon had learned. The shooter had suspected him of working with the cops.
“Was he?” Shannon had asked.
The DA had shrugged. “Yeah. Someone dropped the ball there,” he’d admitted.
It had not been an answer calculated to instill confidence.
“My son is not testifying,” she’d said.
“If Liam doesn’t testify, we got no case,” he’d replied. “Your son can help us put away a real bad guy.”
“They said they would kill him,” Shannon said.
“They’re trying to intimidate you,” the DA said.
“They’re succeeding,” Shannon said.
The DA had sighed then.
“Nothing is going to happen to Liam,” he’d said.
Two hours later a couple of big guys in suits had shown up at the motel. “The DA sent us,” the first one said. “I’m Marshal Sullivan and this is Marshal Altieri.”
“We’re here to protect Liam,” Altieri said and then added as an afterthought, “and you.”
Shannon had introduced them to Liam as “friends,” and he seemed to accept their presence without much surprise.
The two men traded off shifts for the next two weeks, Sullivan sitting in the motel lobby during the day and Altieri spending the nights lounging on the couch in Barbara’s apartment, watching dvds with Liam until he went to bed and then working on his laptop as mother and son slept.
Shannon found it surprisingly easy to sleep with a stranger in her space. She’d forgotten how nice it was to have a man in the house.
On the morning Liam was to make his first appearance in court, Shannon dressed him up like a little man in a suit she’d found at a thrift shop.
“He’s a handsome kid,” Sullivan had told her as he bundled them into a black SUV.
“And brave too,” he’d added.
He’d touched her arm lightly then. “You’ve raised a little hero,” he said. “You should be very proud.”
Shannon had nodded, not trusting herself to say anything.
At the courthouse, the marshals had by-passed the screening but she had set off the alarms somehow.
“We’ll meet you upstairs,” Altieri said and he and Sullivan had walked off with Liam between them, looking very small.
The minute they turned the corner out of sight, Shannon started to panic.
She cleared the security scanner and ran down the hallway without retrieving her purse, hoping to catch the men before they got onto an elevator.
She was hyperventilating before she reached the bank of elevators and there was an alarmed bailiff trailing her.
“My son,” she gasped out, “they took him!”
The bailiff’s anxious look turned to one of alarm.
“Who took him?” she asked.
“The marshals,” Shannon said, punching the UP button on the nearest elevator.
“You need to calm down, ma’am,” the bailiff said, signaling one of the nearby cops for help.
The bailiff reached for Shannon and she drew back.
The cop closed in.
Shannon took a deep breath, trying to calm herself.
Before she could exhale, a tall blonde woman wearing a skin tight skirt suit in a shocking shade of orange glided up next to her and took her arm.
Shannon was so shocked to see her mother that she didn’t even resist.
“I’m so sorry,” Maeve said to the bailiff and the cop, “my daughter has been under a great deal of stress lately.”
The cop and the bailiff hesitated.
“It’ll be all right,” she said and gave them both the big smile that had won her the title of “Miss Henrico County” back in 1979.
The Bailiff had given Maeve a hard look—women always distrusted her southern charm—but the cop backed off right away, glad not to have been drawn into what was obviously a volatile situation.
“Your little boy?” she’d asked.
“He’s fine,” Maeve had said firmly. “His mother is a bit of a drama queen.”
She’d turned to Shannon then and given her a smile meant for show, a smile full of motherly fondness with a touch of despair.
“Let’s go Shannon,” she said.
She kept her grip on Shannon’s arm, her manicured fingernails biting through the thin fabric of Shannon’s blouse.
No, no, no, no, Shannon howled in her mind and then, when others in the hallway looked up, realized she’d screamed aloud.
“Stop making a scene,” her mother hissed.
The elevator opened onto the floor housing the criminal court and Shannon nearly sobbed with relief when she saw Liam sitting on one of the benches, bookended by the two marshals.
Liam saw her and waved happily, then stopped in confusion as he saw the woman in the shockingly orange suit.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m your grandmother,” Maeve said.
“I don’t have a grandmother,” he said and glanced at Shannon for corroboration.
“Oh you poor boy,” she said as she swooped down like a vulture to engulf him in a hug.
“Take your hands off him,” Shannon said, knowing even as the words left her mouth that she sounded crazy.
Sullivan raised his eyebrows. Maeve pouted in his direction, playing out a part.
 “Grandma’s here now and she’s going to take good care of you.”
She looked back over her shoulder at Shannon and her eyes had a triumphant gleam.
Shannon’s heart sank and she could barely hear her mother’s next words over the pounding blood in her temples.
“We’re going to have such fun while I’m here.”

Sunday, 8 April 2012

NoHo Noir: Take the Bunny and Run

Illustration by Mark Satchwill
By Katherine Tomlinson
Illustrated by Mark Satchwill

Rob Nolan didn’t like any of his teachers but he hated Adam Chu the most. He’d had the biology teacher freshman year and although he was now in P-Chem and would never take a class from him again, Rob was stuck in his home room. It seemed like Chu was always watching him with those slanted eyes, watching and waiting.
They’d clashed early in the semester when Rob had confronted the teacher about the constant surveillance.
“You like what you see Adam?” Rob had taunted, running a hand down his skinny chest seductively.
“I’m a biologist,” Chu had replied without heat, “I’m interested in mutated life forms.”
Some of the kids had laughed at that until Rob had looked at them.
That’s all it usually took. One look. And if that wasn’t enough, he could always sic Poo on them.
Poo liked hurting people.
Rob had thought about reporting the teacher to the principal—Wayne Richtman was a raging racist and homophobe and that made Chu a double target—but he had decided he wanted to deal with the teacher himself.
He’d put quite a bit of thought into what he might do and a lot of preparation as well. Rob had read about a guy who’d been blown up by terrorists who’d planted explosives under a floor years before their victim ever set foot in the room. He admired that kind of advance planning.
So he’d been keeping his head down, biding his time, lulling the biology teacher into a sense of complacency.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

NoHo Noir: Both Sides Now

Illustration by Mark Satchwill
Both Sides Now
By Katherine Tomlinson
Illustration by Mark Satchwill
It was the kind of California day Ron Zubic liked best, warm and windy after two days of rain, a soft sun falling on his face like a kiss..
Zubic’s best friend, a native Californian, complained about the sunshine all the time. “It depresses me,” he’d say. When Zubic had laughed at him, Terry had shown him a printout of a news story on CNN about summer-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Zubic had not been convinced.
“It says here it only affects one percent of the population,” he’d pointed out.
“What, you don’t think I’m special?” Terry had countered, but then he’d laughed, bitter humor being his default option for dealing with unpleasant topics.
It was no joke, though, how he started getting depressed and agitated the hotter it got. By June Terry would be damn near suicidal and there would be nothing Zubic or any of the guys could do.
Gene Burkhart had tried to get him into some kind of treatment but the VA system just wasn’t set up to handle anything but the basic alcohol- and drug-related problems. Not that those programs helped anyone either.
Kids were coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan so fucked up nobody was going to be able to fix them. And a lot of them kept getting sent back or kept going back out of some sort of screwed-up sense of honor. And that was fine with the Army until someone went nuts and started shooting women and children.
And then nobody wanted to know.
It had been the same way a generation ago.