Archive for January, 2016

Hey, gang! If you want more updates from me, you can follow me on Facebook right here! Remember, my new novel BLOOD TRADE comes out February 22!
-A.B.

BLOOD TRADE EDBOOK

It’s now just under a month (February 22, to be exact) until my new novel, BLOOD TRADE, is available in paperback and Ebook form on Amazon! A few days ago, I gave you guys a sneak peek at chapter one(which you can read right here) now, here’s chapter two! If you like it, feel free to share it with othersand stay tuned for more updates!
-A.B.

CHAPTER TWO: THE SALESMAN

“How does my suit look?David asked in the storage space of the grocery store.

     Fine, man,Marco said. Fine. Jesus, didnt you just press that thing?

     Yeah,David said. Its just a big one today and I dont want to look unprofessional, you know?He straightened his tie nervously. He did, in fact, press the gray suit that he had always worn on deals, but tonight, the clothes felt alien on his skin.

Shit, its cold back here.He buttoned his jacket and rubbed his shoulders.  The AC was on full blast tonight at the back of the Grocery Palace. He was hoping his nerves would heat him up.

     Marco stopped hooking up the lap top for a moment to glance at his watch. Fuck, where is that truck?

     Marco, you always know the cops get first dibs.

     Dont joke like that, man! This is a big one. If you fuck this up, Thorne will-

     Thorne wont do shit,David interrupted. Im the best dealer hes got. He knows it, I know it.

     David always combated stress with humor. It had been a defense mechanism of his since he was a child. Now at the ripe old age of twenty-five, he still felt like one. Selling always felt like being in a school production. Waiting in the wings knowing that there were people out in the audience waiting to see you perform. Like jumping off of a diving board with no splash. The only difference is that his parents and sister wouldnt be in this crowd.

No, this crowd was filled with bone-thin junkies waiting to get their fix. Sure, they couldve gone to any other dealer in the city of King Beach, California, but they wanted the Salesman.  Everyone wants the Salesman. Going to any of those amateurs was like choosing a fast-food hamburger over a prime steak. The Salesman always sold the best and nothing but the best.

     There was a knock on the large grill door behind them. Santas here!David said. He and Marco lifted the grill up, making a noise like a thousand rattle snakes slithering upwards. Bright light blasted into their eyes like two orange suns.  Just your typical Grocery Palace eighteen wheeler. Or, at least, what looked like your typical Grocery Palace eighteen wheeler. Thornes boys were experts at dressing their vehicles. Two men stood in front of each side of the truck wearing Kevlar vests. They said nothing.

    After a moment, one of them finally asked,You Frye?

     I thought you guys would be taller,David replied.

     The two men in Kevlar vests opened up the doors to the truck. Marco gave his partner a look. David shrugged and smiled.

     The truck was filled with bags of all types of drugs. Coke, heroin, meth, weed, pills, you name it. Unlike most dealers, David didnt specialize in one type of product. If you were a salesman at an electronics store, you wouldnt push your favorite TV, youd push all of them. Thats what made the Salesman so special. He took no prejudices regarding his product. He didnt even want to know where it came from. Columbia? Brazil? Who the fuck cared? Junkies sure didnt. They could inject horse shit into their veins and not even blink if it got them high. Never underestimate the power of the high.

     Alright, gentlemen,David said. If you could be so kind as to stack as many bags as you can in these designated areas on the table here.David gestured to the tables that they had set up a few feet in front of the grill door. Across the long wood were yellow sticky notes indicating which drugs went into which spots, like a buffet of narcotics.

     Where do you want us to put the rest?One of the men asked after placing the drugs in the right locations.

     Oh, well just add more as we go along,David said.

     You expecting a large crowd?The other man smiled.

     When Elvis was playing Vegas, did anyone ask him if he was playing a large crowd? No. Next time Thorne gives you a big delivery, do some research before you start fucking mouthing off, okay?

Why you little-the bodyguard snarled, moving forward.

  Hey, sorry guys,Marco interjected. My partner gets nervous during these types of things. And when he gets nervous, he turns into a dick.He pulled David off to the side. What the fuck are you doing?

     Marco, you know Thorne isnt going to hurt us. He needs us. All of these gangsters do.

     Dave, youre getting too cocky for this, man,Marco said. Were going to end up at the bottom of a river.

     Better pack a swimsuit then. Have you got the board done?

     No,Marco grabbed the small white board and the marker that was on the table.

     Okay, lets make coke fifty,David said. Smack eighty, weed ten, and uppers. . .He scratched his chin. Sixty.

     Marco wrote all of it down on the board and propped it up on the table.

     The grocery store manager walked into the garage, sweating in his nice polo shirt. You guys ready, yet? Its a mad house out there.

     Indeed we are, good sir,David said reaching into his wallet. He pulled out a hundred. Thank you so much for your services, yet again.

     The manager snatched the money from Davids hand. This is the last time Im doing this for you.

     You said that the last time,David said with a smile showing his teeth. The kind of smile that would bite his face off if he took one step closer. The manager walked back and put his palm on the handle of the door.

        Does my tie look good?

     As good as itll look, asshole,Marco said, setting up his register. He gave David a nod.

     David gave the manager a thumbs up and the door opened.

     Hundreds of bodies came spewing out of the doorway and into the room like sick cattle. Some were corpses dressed in rags, others were young healthy kids that had just gotten their first fix and wanted more. Drugs had such a range of lovers. David yelled at the top his lungs for everyone to get into a single file. He raised his arms up and down like he was conducting an orchestra, screaming out prices and deals to whomever wanted them. He looked back periodically and saw Thornes men rushing back and forth to the truck, grabbing more bags. He couldnt help but laugh. Sweat was pouring from his face, his heart raced at top speed. Selling was its own type of drug. He felt the room getting hotter and hotter as more people crammed in, shoveling their money at him. It was beautiful. Every single one of them came to see the great David Frye work his magic. Look at me, ma. Top of the world.

     Three hours later, the grocery store owner glared at David as he washed the puke off of the floor with a hose. It resembled a Jackson Pollack painting.  David shrugged and the owner gave him the finger. David wiped the sweat from his face with a towel and took a sip from a beer bottle courtesy of the back rooms supply.

     

Well, old sport,he said to Marco, we did it again.

     May the Goddess of Junkies be with us always,Marcos usual prayer. He clinked his bottle with Davids.

     Shall we be off darling?David raised one eye brow and cocked his arm.

     With pleasure, mi belleza,Marco linked his arm with Davids and grabbed the lap top/ register with his right. They walked together out of the garage and started to pass the truck.

     Nice job, fellas!David said as the men were finishing putting the bags of cash into the truck. Now after you and your boss divide up the money, send our shares to the addresses I gave you.  T.T.F.N! Ta-ta, for n-

     Wait,one of the men said closing up the truck.

     David and Marco stopped in their tracks and unhooked their arms. Yeeeees?David asked, turning towards them.

     Mr. Thorne would like to speak with you,the man said.

     Ah, shit, David,Marco whispered. Were fucked. I told you we were fucked. Were-

     I got this,David whispered and turned back to the two men. And, uh, why would Mr. Thorne like to speak with us?

     Thats what Rick and me are wondering too,the man and his partner Rick smiled at each other.

     Rick and I.

     What?The man stopped smiling.

     Rick and I,David said. Grammar.

     Rick pulled out a knife and walked up to David. How about you apologize to Steve for being a smart ass or Ill rip that fuckintongue out of your fuckinmouth?

     My mistake,David said. Steve, I apologize. How about Marco and I get in our car and we follow you and well gladly see what Mr. Thorne wants to speak with us about, eh?

     Rick looked at Steve and nodded. Steve nodded back. Okay, but if you dont follow us-

     If we dont follow you,David said. I will personally mail you my dick and balls in a package with a bow on top.He smiled at Rick, wanting to murder him.

     Rick sheathed his knife. Get in your car,returning to his partner.

     Thank you, boys, well meet again shortly,David gave them both a salute, clicking his heels, and he and Marco walked down the alleyway.

     Dont freak out,David said to Marco when they were out of ear shot.

     Fuck you, Im freaking out! David, this is Rupert Thorne were talking about here. Were playing with the big leagues now. I heard this one time, he fed a guy to the lions at the zoo just for coughing near him.

     Were too important Marco. Ive already told you, Thorne loses us, he loses a lot of money.

     No, David,Marco stopped him, Thorne loses you, he loses a lot of money. Im expendable.

     David looked at him and knew that he was right. Marco was a part of the team, but he knew deep down in the worst part of himself, he didnt need him. He could find any old guy on the street desperate enough to handle drug money. Friendship makes fools of us all he smirked as the thought entered his head.

     Well, here we are,David said gesturing theatrically to the car. Your chariot awaits.

     Their chariot was a 2006 P.T. Cruiser. The years of dust and age had turned the bright rose color body into a dark maroon. Its hubcaps had been replaced multiple times and the ghosts of obscenities still haunted the back windshield from when vandals wrote on it. The front of the car was dented, the headlights resembling a boxers eyes that had been beaten to a pulp. David had called it the Poor Mans Batmobile.

     Old man car,Marco grumbled as he got into the passenger seat.

     Its not old, Marco,David closed his door. It’s retro.

     Well, whatever it is, we need to find a new one,Marco put the register in the glove compartment.

     Several seconds later, the eighteen wheeler slowly rolled out of the alleyway. The cruiser lurched forward with a high pitched squeal and followed it. The side of King Beach that they were on was not the good side of town. Houses stood behind chain link fences and barred windows. Ronan dogs walked the streets aimlessly, their eyes glowing whenever the light of the cars would shine on them. Garbage cans were open half-empty and drunk hobos yelled baby-talk slurs at them. This was not the place you took tourists, but to David, it was Wall Street. The place where he made the most green. It wasnt pretty, but it sure was home. They went down Matheson Street, a red minnow following an iron shark.

     Rupert Thornes apartment, however, was located on the nice side of town. Rice Avenue was where all of the wealthy lived in King Beach. Huge towers of glass lined the concrete sidewalks. Stores selling furs skinned from foxes and diamonds cut by the hard working sick children of Africa sat with their amber lights on, waiting for the bees to take their price tagged honey. Marcos mouth started to water as they passed a restaurant window where a couple was eating a gorgeously prepared full sized lobster. In this Eden, the fruit of the Tree of Life was money.

     Davids cell phone rang. Thank you for calling 1-800- Sexy Time, how may I blow you?He asked in a soft tone.

     Park at the front of Thorne Tower,Rick said on the other end. Well meet you in the lobby.

     Aye, aye, captain,David hung up.

        Thorne Tower was the tallest building on the street. Its lights seemed to touch the clouds. David parked the Cruiser and they both got out.

     Were going to meet them in the lobby,David pushed a button and the door locked with a goose-honk. There they go!The eighteen wheeler turned the corner and down the alley to a private garage somewhere so that the money could be dispensed.

     A bellhop opened the doors of the building, Davids bow to him left the poor boy confused. The lobby was decorated from floor to ceiling with white marble. The bright florescent light bulbs from above made them shimmer. Beautiful red carpet lined the floor and a giant flower arrangement stood as the centerpiece. With their hands politely in front of them, they turned and smiled to an old man behind the desk. He looked back at them as if two giant rats had just walked into the building. David looked behind him and saw a golden Ton the back wall.

     You think were in the right place?He whispered to Marco. But before his partner could answer, Rick and Steve walked in.

     Come,Rick said.

     With us,Steve said.

      Nice trick,David said and followed them.

     They entered a chrome-plated elevator and patiently stood in silence. Listening to Kenny G as they reached the sixty-sixth floor. Ding! The doors slid opened.

     The hallways were no longer made of marble, but were covered with equally white wall paper. As they past the doors, they heard televisions going on in each room. David couldnt tell if one person was either crying or laughing. At the end of the hallway was a pair of double-doors marked: ROOM 217.Rick knocked and the doors opened. 

     Rupert Thornes apartment was two stories high. The back wall was a huge glass window overlooking Rice Avenue. Pictures of Thorne shaking hands with celebrities and politicians decorated the room. Original Van Goughs, OKeeffes, and Basquiats were also peppered all over the room. A grand piano stood near the dining table. Crystal chandeliers hung from above.

     Remove your shoes,Rick said as he and his partner did the same.

     David and Marco followed their lead. David awkwardly hopped on one foot as he tried to get his right shoe off. With one final pull, he almost lost it and would have sent it hitting the wall if he hadnt grasped it. All four of them left their shoes out in a designated box placed next to the doors.

     Good evening, gentlemen,Thorne said descending the winding staircase. He was in his sixties. His face was made lizard-like by the years of the Botox. He wore a white suit with a gold chain necklace over the tiny bush of gray hair that peaked from his shirt. He looked to David like an eighties porn director. So glad you could come at such a late hour.

     The pleasures all ours, sir,David stuck out his hand. No time for jokes. He put on his professional face.

     Absolutely, sir,Marco said, sticking out his hand as well. A real pleasure.

     Thorne kept his hands close to his body. He eyed them up and down. Yes. Yes, it is. Can I get you boys a drink?

     No, sir,David and Marco said together.

     Cute,Thorne chuckled, pouring himself a glass of whisky from the bar. Real cute.He put the top of the class container back in with a pop and gestured the pair to follow him. Like the place?

     Yes, sir,David said looking out the giant window. Beautiful view. We dont get this type of sight from where we live.Fake humility got him a long way in his career.

     Ha!Thorne barked. I bet you dont, I bet you dont!He led them into his office. A huge room completely covered in baseball memorabilia. The space surrounding the desk were sections of glass cases lined with autographed baseballs. Miniature lights were placed in the cases for optimum viewing. The back wall was a vertical display of signed wooden bats. He motioned for them to sit down as he did from the other side. David noticed that the chairs gave the illusion that they were shorter than Thorne. He felt like a little kid in the principals office. The desk had numerous awards placed around it. A framed picture of Thorne with a little boy about seven years old holding a fishing rod was the only sign of a personal life the two had seen of the millionaire so far. Seeing him smiling gave him an even more reptilian appearance.

     Is that your son?Marco asked pointing at the picture.

     Huh? Oh, that! No, no. Thats my grandson. He should be about twelve now.

     Do you spend a lot of time with him?

     No.

     Wheres Mrs. ThorneDavid asked. Is she out?

     Thorne sat down, setting his drink, and placing his hands together. Boys, youre probably wondering why Ive asked you here.

     Yes sir,they both said in unison again. Thorne didnt laugh this time.

     See, I know how you young guys start. Bottom of the ladder and you work yourselves up. First just doing street deals, then for the local gang lords, then you arrive at people such as myself. Ive seen a lot of dealers in my time, a lot. But you two, you two are something special. The two of you are like the Lennon and McCartney of your world. Or, at least, you could be. Right now, youre just playing gigs in abandoned wine sellers. What you need is your very own Brian Epstein. Someone that knows that you have extraordinary talent and can sell it to the masses. This is obviously where I come in. The two of you and I have only worked once. But, after getting to know each other a little bit more, I really think that we can form a team. I can be your Fifth Beatle, so to speak.

     Im sorry,David said. I dont follow you, sir.

     I didnt expect you to,Thorne smiled. Yes, I think we could make a good team. The problem is that Ive heard from others that you and Marco here have a little bit more Mick and Keith than Paul and John in you. The two of you like to play things a little fast and loose. My colleagues in your world have told me that you dont really respect the people above you. That you can be. . . unpredictable.

     Oh, Im sorry sir, but I disagree,David said. Its not that we disagree with our employers, its just that, you know, we like to do things our way sometimes.He was being coy, but David knew exactly what Thorne was talking about. Their previous bosses: Salvatore Valestra, Chuckie Sol, Buzz Bronski, all of them he must have called. They must have warned him about how they (mostly David) didnt give a shit about the rules. How they back talked, double-crossed, and stole from them. David was starting to sweat.

     Thorne got up from his desk with a loud sigh. He went to the baseball bat collection behind him and stood there with his back facing them. Do you know why I love baseball, boys?

     No-Marco cleared his throat, no, sir, we dont. Why do you love baseball?

    “Because I can do this,” Thorne picked up a bat, ran over, and slammed it right into Davids face. There was a loud cracking sound as wood connected with bone. David let out a scream as he was sent flying back in his chair and on to the floor.

     Dont you fucking dare get blood on to my carpet, boy,Thorne said. Dont you fucking dare.

     David clutched his nose with both hands, tears streaming from his eyes.Fuck you!

     Thorne punched him, his gold ring, leaving an imprint on Davids forehead. Dont you fucking tell me what to do, you little shit.

     Rick and Steve entered the room. Marco was standing, frozen in place.

     I know what you young punks are like,Thorne continued. Always thinking that the world is yours and fuck the previous generation. Well, Ill tell you what buddy, until Im in the ground I control you. I make the rules. I run this streets. I own this building. If you ever think about playing with me, I will cut off your own dick and shove it down your own throat. Do you understand me?

     Ssssss,David screamed through his hands.

     What the fuck did you say?Thorne said. He grabbed David by the scruff of his shirt and pressed his face against his. I cant fucking hear you! WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY?

     

YES!

     Thorne let go and stood up. Good. Now get the fuck out of my house.

     Marco regained his senses and rushed to David. He waved him off and slowly got back up. As they walked down the hall, Marco put his arm around him. David was holding his hands over his mouth, making loud gasping noises as he did so. Trying with every fiber of his being not to get his mucus and blood on to Mr. Thornes nice carpet. Rick and Steve followed.

     As they were reaching the door, David heard Thorne mumbling to himself. Got blood on my Babe Ruth. Jesus fucking Christ.

     Thats when something clicked in him. It was the little voice in the back of his brain. The Little Devil that he had since he was a kid. The one that told him not to do his homework. The one that told him to carve a hole into the girls locker room.  The one that told him to spray a water hose at the hornets nest. The Little Devil said: Fuck. This. Guy.

     Hey, Rupert,David said as best as he could.

     Yeah, dickhead?Thorne looked up.

     Use the metal one next time,working through the pain, David held his left nostril in one hand and blew bloody snot on to the carpet as hard as he could. He and Marco grabbed their shoes and ran out the door.

     The elevator ride down was completely silent with the exception of Davids wet, clogged breathing through his broken nose. Both he and Marco walked through the lobby in unison. The man at the desk looked at them with wide eyes and raised eye brows. The bellhop kept his head down as they walked by.

     Do you know where the nearest hospital is?David asked Marco as he walked to his side of the car.

     Im walking home,Marco said.

     What?

       Fucking deaf? I said Im walking home, David. You can find yourself a new partner.He made his way down the sidewalk.

     Marco?David said. Marco? Shit.He got into the car and drove down the road.

     

Dont follow me, David,Marco said, eyes on the concrete.

     Your house is miles away from here, man,David said through the open window. Let me take you.

     Ill get a bus or a cab. Anything but you.

     Look, I made a mistake, okay? You know me, I get a little cocky and-

     Cocky?Marco stopped and looked him. No, David. What you did up there wasnt cocky. What you did up there wasnt stupid. What you did up there was insane. I mean, Grade A insanity. Im sick of your bullshit. You just think you can do whatever you want without any blow back, huh? You’ve been this way since we were kids, man. Are you ever going to grow up or are you just going to have to learn by getting buried six feet under?

     Marco, would you calm down,David said. Hes not going to do anything. Those dickless rich dudes use that baseball bat routine all the time. Replace a carpet? He shits that kind of money every morning.

     Jesus, no wonder your parents disowned you.

     What?David slammed on the breaks and yanked the gear into park. He got out and was inches away from Marcos face. What the fuck did you say to me?

     Have you ever thought about what your life wouldve been like if you had just listened to them?

     Dont make this about me. This isnt about me. You decided to get into this with me, remember?

     No, David, its all about you,Marco said. See, you need to learn that you have a gift. A bad, dangerous gift. You have a gift for making the lives of others around you miserable. Me, Christi, whoever. People arent people to you. Theyre just debris that gets thrown around from your hurricane. Your mom and dad and Sam knew that too. They were smart. They kicked you out of house and now youre standing on a sidewalk with a broken nose, selling drugs to junk-David clocked him right in the jaw, sending him down on to the pavement.

     Dont you ever talk about my family again!David said.

     Marco got up and wiped tears from his eyes. So thats how you treat your best friend, huh?

     Come on, hit me,David said. Or are you too much of a pussy?

     Marco smiled, rubbing his chin. Nah, man. Im done with you.He walked past him.

     Where are you going?David turned. Fucking pussy!

     Marco continued to walk down the street.

     Hey, fuck you too, man!David called after him. One of these days, youre going to wake up and realize that David Frye was right! That you need me. You need the Salesman! You hear that? You fucking need me!Marco was now just a tiny spot on the horizon. Then, a sudden chill came over David. He looked around and saw nothing but the lights of expensive buildings. It was a strange sensation, like he was being watched. He got into the Cruiser and drove, sending a scream of rubber and metal down Rice Avenue.

***

     Two hours later, David was back at his apartment. He had finally found a hospital on the way home. He told them that he fell down a flight of stairs. They had bandaged him up, gave him some meds, and told him that it would heal in about three weeks.

     Honey!He called as he opened the door. Im home!

     Daaaaaaaaaviiiiiiiid!She was high. That was the voice that she used whenever she was high. Where have you been?

     The person known as Christi walked briskly over to him, her bare feet made a soft sucking sound as skin made contact with the smooth wooden floor. Personwas a generous term. Christi had resembled a person when she and David first met. Tall, blonde, and beautiful. Now, she resembled a corpse. Her eyes were huge and sunken, her skin was gray, and her teeth were now the color of her hair. Her flesh clung to her bones for dear life. It was hard to imagine that she was once at the top of their senior class.

     Oh my God!She gasped at the sight of him. Baby, what happened?

     Nothing, it was-David thought about explaining the situation to her, but that quickly went away. Shed forget about it by morning. Just nothing.

     Davids face looked almost as bad as his girlfriends. There were purple circles over his eyes and a huge white bandage covered his nose. A thin white strip of gauze was under that, making him look like the Phantom of the Opera.

     Come here, honey, sit down,Christi wrapped a stick-arm around him and gestured over to the couch. Let me get you some water.

     He sat down on the couch with a thump. He slowly felt himself sink into the cushions like quicksand. The apartment was one of the nicer ones in the projects. That is to say, terrible. The paint on the walls was faded and chipped. A few bulbs were on to save electricity and the rest were broken. A few lit candles were placed here and there. The sound of the boat horn on the way to the landfill was about as common as birds chirping. Through the amber glow, David saw a manila envelope along with Christis used needle and belt on the table.

     Is this the payment from the last job?He said holding up the envelope.

     Yyyyyyep!She sang from the kitchen. She stumbled over with the glass of water and sat it down.

     David opened the envelope and counted the money. Five-thousand. He took a hundred and placed it in his pocket. The rest he put on the table.

     Is that the money were going to use to save for our trip?

     Sure,David drank a little bit of water. Taking long gasps of breath between sips. He was lying; he had promised her that they would go to Hawaii on vacation one of these days. He said it just to shut her up.

     I cant wait to go Hawaii,Christi said with a yellow smile. I love the beach.

     Weve already got a beach here.

     Yeah, but this ones different,she paused. Her eyes got narrow like a cats. Someones grumpy.She straddled him. I know how to make it alllllll better.She started kissing him on the neck.

     About a year ago, this would have gotten him at his full and upright position immediately. A woman like Christi would have done that to any man. But not now. Seeing track marks on her arms and legs made her look alien. Making love to a skeleton was not a good way to end the night.

     Listen, hey, baby,David touched her shoulders and looked at her. Ive had a really bad day, okay? Can we not do this tonight?

     Oh,she looked sad. Okay,She got off of him.

     He walked over to the closet and flipped on the switch. He reached up and took out a cardboard box with FAMILYscrawled on it. He took the hundred out of his pocket and put it in the box amongst the others. Before putting it back, he looked down at the black marker handwriting. The thing that he held in his hand felt heavier than usual. The box felt like a relic from a past life He felt it start to come up, very slowly, from his memory. Mom, Dad, Sam. That family turned into Marco and then Christi. The girl in the other room was one of the few things he had in his life that even resembled it. She had gotten him a glass of water when he was hurt. She tried to comfort him, knowing that something was wrong and he had loved her for that.

     Hey,Christi,he said as he put away the box and flipped off the switch. Have I ever told you that I-

     He walked into the room to see her passed out on the couch. The feeling slowly went away, as it often did.

***

Twenty-five year old David Frye is known as the best drug dealer in King Beach, California. But when a local gangster calls for his head on a plate, he is made an offer that he can’t refuse by an unlikely source. A mafia clan of vampires has chosen him to test run their new business venture: use the drug trading system as a way to distribute human blood amongst themselves. David accepts and is quickly swept away by the seductive world of the undead. That is until he begins to suspect that there might be something far more insidious at work than what he had originally bargained for. Encountering vampire history, a secret government agency of monster hunters, and more; David is confronted with the darkness within himself and is forced to come to terms with the horrors that he has unleashed. Both terrifying and thought provoking, BLOOD TRADE gives vampires their bite back.

BLOOD TRADE EDBOOK

Hey, everyone! My book BLOOD TRADE doesn’t come out on Amazon till February 22, but I thought I’d give y’all a sneak peak by posting the first chapter! Updates on when you can pre-order the Ebook version, sample chapters, and more are all coming soon!
-A.B.

CHAPTER ONE: NIGHT SHIFT

   Lester Niles lifted the garbage bag of human remains into the bed of his truck. It wasnt his first time, but it was still quite the load. Four bags: two parents, two children. He thought about chopping up the dog after he had strangled it to keep it quiet, but he decided against it. He didnt know if They liked canine. Dont mess up the order. Dont get Them angry. He closed the tailgate and got into the truck.

     Lesters first murder was of his pet goldfish, Jimmy, when he was seven. Jimmy was the only pet Lesters parents would allow him to have because a dog, a cat, or a bird would just make as mess all over the house. Lester loved that fish. He would watch it swim in its little bowl for hours on end. Going around the tiny fake castle among the pebbles, he felt a kinship with Jimmy that he hadnt with other people. Though he was too young to articulate it, he felt like Jimmy understood his worldview. That, for him, the world was just one giant glass bowl. The human race spins around and around and we forget everything that weve done before. We are on a constant reset button. Forgetting, or choosing to forget, the mistakes that we have made.

     One day, Lester decided to murder Jimmy. It wasnt out of malice or anger, just curiosity. He had never seen anything die before, so why not use his best friend as a test subject? He thought Jimmy wouldnt mind. He grabbed the fish by the tail, took him out of the bowl, and placed him on the table where the bowl sat. The fish flopped on the table like it was on a pogo stick, its mouth opened wide for air. Minute by minute Jimmys jumps grew shorter until he just lay on the table. His fin moved up and down, his mouth opened and closed, his eyes bulged out of their sockets. Then he stopped.

     Lester drove to the pick-up spot with the windows down. He didnt like the smell of blood. He let the night wind blow his long, greasy hair and remembered the look on the parentsfaces when he injected them. They seemed so calm.

     The seven year-old Lester didnt dispose of the fishs corpse after it had expired. Nor did he cry, he just left the fish there on the table and continued to play with his toys. Mom and Dad would be mad, though.

     When Lester was using the cleaver to take apart the little boy and little girl, he wondered if he left the toaster on back at his house.

     Honey!His mother said when she came back home. What happened to Jimmy?She rushed over to the table and picked up the now pale-white fish with her soft hands.  She frowned. Poor thing. Must have jumped out.

     I killed him,Lester said.

     You. . . you what?His mother asked.

     I. Killed. Him,Lester said as if she were hard of hearing.

     His mother dropped the fish on to the carpet. But. . . why?

     All he could do was shrug.

     Well talk about this when your father gets home,she said, her face as white as paper.

     He got hungry, so he stopped by a McDonalds to get something to eat. Always a Happy Meal. He loved the little toy inside.

     Dinner that night wasnt the most lively. It never was in the Niles household. They would usually sit and just watch the TV. No talking, no questions, just stare at the glowing box. Tonight was different, though. Lesters father wasnt very good with feelings. He sat at the table, wringing his hands together.

     Lester,he said.

     Yes, Dad?Lester asked.

     You. . . you know that what you did was. . . his fathers eyes wandered about as if the right words were in the air. Wrong. Dont you, son?

    Maybe,the little boy said playing with his corn. I dont know.

     What do you mean, you dont-

     Phil,his mother said, cutting him off. She, unlike her husband, was good with talking to people. Sweetie, what were trying to say is. . . what you did was very bad.

     Why?Their son asked.

     Mr. and Mrs. Niles could only exchange worried glances. The tilapia that they were having had lost its flavor.

     Lester filled up his tank with gas. He liked that people werent friendly. Minding your own  business meant not wanting to ask questions. He considered it to be a virtue.

     For the next three years little Lester was subjected to appointments with psychiatrists and prescriptions of various medications. At first, Lester was honest with his doctors. He told them about how he didnt understand why killing was such a bad thing to do. But he had gotten smart. He soon realized that the doctors, his family, and the world didnt understand him. Didnt understand that what he did was personal and that it wasnt bothering anyone else. So why should it? He told the doctors that yes, he had been taking his pills, and no, he wasnt having murderous thoughts anymore. He didnt tell them about the decapitated bird that he kept in a shoe box in his closet.

     Another pick-up truck pulled up at the gas station. On the back window, a sticker read: GET ER DEADwith a picture of a cartoon deers corpse on it. Lester smiled at it fondly.

     When Lester was thirteen, Phil Niles thought it would be a good idea to teach his son how to hunt. He had, after all, been episode free for some years and he was taking his medication regularly. Lesters father bought him a rifle that Christmas and one week later, they decided to test it out. Up at dawn, the cold air stung Lesters face as they waited behind a log in the forest.

     Whens it coming, Dad?Lester asked impatiently.

     Any minute now, sonhis father replied. It should be- there it is!

     His father pointed up ahead at a deer that was trotting in the snow. Lester thought it was beautiful. It looked so innocent. So pure.

     Now remember, Lest,his father said. Keep calm and squeeze the trigger. Dont jerk it.

     Lester tried to keep his hands from shaking. Even through his gloves he thought that he could feel the metal of the trigger on his skin. He squeezed, there was a small pop that echoed through the woods, and the deer fell.

     Great shot, my boy!Phil Niles said as he slapped Lester on the back.

He flinched. Lester didnt like to be touched.

     They walked over to the corpse and Lester looked down at his kill. He was surprised to see that it wasnt like how Jimmy had died. The fishs body looked just as plain to Lester as a sock lying on a dresser. But, this, this was different. The deer looked even more beautiful now than it did when it was alive. Voluptuous even. Lester looked into the deers eyes and thought he saw God.

     They brought back the deer to his grandfathers wood shed and he and his father dressed it. Cutting off the skin. Removing the organs and head. Disposing of the skeleton.

     Now,Phil said, breathing in cold air, finally done with the task. What do you want to do with it? Eat it or hang it?

     What do you mean?Lester asked.

     Lester, this is important,his father said. Some folks like to hunt for the sake of killing. That aint right. Whenever we hunt, we either eat it or stuff it. Okay?

     The next time he hunted, Lester asked if he could do it alone. Each time he killed a deer, the hair on the back of his neck would stand up. He believed in Jesus, but this was the closest thing he would ever come to having a religious experience. At the shed, he would skin the deer slowly, as if undressing a lover. Once all the organs and skin had been removed, he would take the skeleton off the hook and lay it on the floor. He would lay down next it, covering himself in blood. He would caress its rib cage and its teeth where its fur would have been. Soon it became mundane. He would bury all the skin, bones, and organs in the ground with the ease of brushing his teeth. He needed to improve his hobby.

     With a full tank of gas, Lester continued to drive to his destination. He had rolled up the windows now, the smell had passed. At a traffic light, he turned and saw a couple on the sidewalk kissing. First pecks and then, full lips and mouths together. First kisses were always the best.

     Teenage Lester would watch programs about serial killers with rapt attention. The kind of attention reserved for sports fans on game night. He would sit in his chair, bent over, eyes wide, gazing at the exposeof murderers. Charles Manson, Jeffery Dahmer, B.T.K, and of course, Ed Gein. Mr. Gein was Lesters favorite. His Elvis. A man who put so much pride and detail into his work. A man who wasnt ashamed to be who he was. That was the one thing that infuriated Lester the most about these programs. His idols were demeaned as monstersand sickos.As if the public would understand. Lester would make them understand. No college for him. Only total dedication to his work. He would make his heroes proud.

     His high-school girlfriend was named Gertrude Mayberry. A heavy-set girl with braces and huge glasses. Lester and her started dating because they bonded over a shared experience of being  bullied. He took her to the movies, to dinner, to prom. She was nice and quiet. He really did like her. Whenever he had a difficult time getting an erection with her, he would think about caving her head in. But he didnt go through with it. He couldnt. He needed more time to study his craft.

     Lester turned a corner and there it was. An alley between an old hotel and a restaurant. Both buildings were dead. He slowly drove into the alley, making sure that no one was around. He put the truck in park next to the dumpster and got out.

     Once Lester graduated, he had trouble figuring out what type of job he wanted. What job would allow him to gain money and pursue his passion? Then it clicked: pest control. It was perfect. He would be able to go into peoples houses with their consent and scout out his hunting grounds. See where every lock, every door, every alarm system was. He would be able to see if they had a cat or a dog, if they had kids or not, where their bedrooms were. He had found a solution to his problem.

     That next summer, he got a job with Bug Stompers Pest Control. Every day, he would gear up with his jump suit and gather up his equipment. He would greet his customers with a friendly smile. Then, at night, he would break into their houses. At first, it was hard to decide which tools he should use. There were so many choices. Gun? Knife? Rope? He quickly decided on the cleaver. He liked the weight of it.

     At first, Lester was sloppy with his killings. His arm would get sore from jerking the cleaver out of someones flesh. But, as they say, practice makes perfect. Soon Lester became quite the pro at his work. He wasnt a professional like Gein, Dahmer, or Gacy, were. But he got the job done and he was pleased with it. The newspapers called him the King Beach Cleaver.A nice enough  title. He would cut out the articles about him and place them in a scrapbook. He made sure to record every TV piece about his killings. He would repeat the name over and over again until the word just became noise. King Beach Cleaver, King Beach Cleaver, King Beach Cleaver, King Beach Cleaver.It was without a doubt the best three years of his life. That is, until They came.

     It started out as nightmares. Lester would wake up in a cold sweat after seeing visions of fangs and blood. The nightmares soon became voices in his head, whispering his name. Even before he was prescribed medication, Lester never heard voices. They would taunt him, tell him that They knew what he did and that They would tell everyone about his work. They were watching him.

     Finally, after a month of voices in his head and nightmares, They paid him a visit. Lester woke up one night and saw a shadow at the end of his bed. The Shadow was wearing a suit, it looked too real to be a dream. Lester quickly reached over to the lamp on the bedside table.

     Dont bother,the Shadow said.

     Lester clicked the lamp anyway. The room remained dark.

     Who are you?Lester asked, shaking.

     I am a representative of a very powerful organization that is headed by a very powerful man, Mr. Niles,the Shadow said. The voice was calm and business like.

     What do you want? Why do you keep following me?

     We would like to offer you a proposition, Mr. Niles.

     The Shadow explained that the organization that he worked for survived purely on the life force of humans. Blood to be more specific and that this organization had shared the same hobby with Lester for centuries. But, times had changed, they needed to make themselves more hidden. What Lester would provide for them would be the bodies that he would kill. He would place these bodies at a specific location to be picked up. They get to have their food, he got to do what he loved, a win-win scenario.

     Do I get paid for this?Lester asked.

     Ah, yes, Mr. Niles,the Shadow said. Not with money, but with dreams,

     Lesters vision was flooded. His room was now gone and he was in a field of bodies. All of the victims that he could ask for: hacked, mangled, and screaming. Their wails of pain were music to his ears. He looked up at the red sky and saw a portrait of himself along with his heroes. He was famous. He was among the best. He had made it.  He suddenly came back to the room.

     And. . . he started, trying not to get too excited. What if I refuse?Lester blinked and the Shadow was no longer at the foot of his bed, but at his side. The Shadows face was inches from his. In the darkness, Lester could make out his horrible bat-like features.

     That would be very unwise of you, Mr. Niles,the Shadow said, two white fangs glistened where his canines should have been. Very unwise of you indeed.

     Lester blinked and the Shadow was gone. Hed never cried that hard since he was a baby. He felt his underpants and they were wet.

     The next night, a note appeared under his front door. It read:

  

622 West Matheson Street.

     Alleyway.

     Drop off point.

     A week from tonight.

     Do not be late.

     The note was signed with an insignia, a bat’s snarling face.

     And so, Lester Niles had to change his act a bit. First, he would now inject his victims with a poison using a syringe. He hated how they would slowly stop breathing and become stiff; too minimalist for his taste. Carefully, he would place the body over a tarp and then he would use the cleaver. He didnt like using the tarp. He loved having the blood splatter on the bed, carpet, or wherever the person was when they were killed. He liked to show his work. Oh, well, he would think to himself. This would all pay off sooner or later.

    After he used the cleaver, he would place the limbs in garbage bags. He would do the arms first and save the torso, the hardest part, for last.

     Like his first time killing people, it took awhile for Lester to get used to it. Making sure that the bags didnt rip or leak. . Making sure that no one was around when he would drive into the alleyway.

    But tonight was different. Tonight, he was angry. He had been doing this for a full year now and he still hadnt received one piece of high-profile attention from the media save for the local news. Much less a thank you from this organization. “Fuck em,” he thought. He was tired of being their delivery boy. All he wanted to do was do what he wanted to achieve on his own terms. No one else’s. He didnt care if They were monsters that were only found in movies or books, They were full of shit. Tonight would be his last night. He slammed the dumpster door and got back into his car.

     As he turned the key into the ignition, a thought came into his mind. It was something that had come up every now and then after he would kill someone. It was about Jesus. Would He forgive him? Lester always knew that killing people would send him to Hell, but he just loved it far too much to care. He was brought up to believe that Jesus would always turn the other cheek. That no matter how bad you may have sinned, He would forgive and welcome you into His kingdom. Jesus would have to forgive Lester.

     Wouldn’t He?

***

Twenty-five year old David Frye is known as the best drug dealer in King Beach, California. But when a local gangster calls for his head on a plate, he is made an offer that he can’t refuse by an unlikely source. A mafia clan of vampires has chosen him to test run their new business venture: use the drug trading system as a way to distribute human blood amongst themselves. David accepts and is quickly swept away by the seductive world of the undead. That is until he begins to suspect that there might be something far more insidious at work than what he had originally bargained for. Encountering vampire history, a secret government agency of monster hunters, and more; David is confronted with the darkness within himself and is forced to come to terms with the horrors that he has unleashed. Both terrifying and thought provoking, BLOOD TRADE gives vampires their bite back.

 

Bowie

 

The word “genius” gets thrown around a lot, but there are very few people that fit that term as perfectly as David Bowie did. A musician that created incredible albums like SPACE ODDITY, THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD, HUNKY DORY, THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS, ALADDIN SANE, DIAMOND DOGS, YOUNG AMERICANS, HEROES, SCARY MONSTERS(AND SUPER CREEPS), LET’S DANCE, THE NEXT DAY, and BLACKSTAR any of which someone would be lucky to have one of those in their career, let alone multiple times. Fusing the folk stylings of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed with the grand operatics of the 70’s, Bowie crafted a genre all his own. He gave legitimately great performances in films like THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, MERRY CHRISTMAS MR.LAWRENCE, THE HUNGER, THE PRESTIGE, and of course LABYRINTH. A man who, even up until his death was constantly reinventing himself and what a creative person could be, something that I’ve applied to my own life. David Bowie never sold out, never compromised, never dried up, and never stopped giving everything that he did one-hundred precent. He has left a gapping hole in not just my own my own heart, but of the entire world.

I was very fortunate to be asked to be interviewed by the very kind and thoughtful young writer behind the blog, “1,000 Stories Behind The Eyes.” Check it out right here!
-A.B.

GOOD NEWS, BOYS AND GIRLS!!! The paperback and Ebook versions of my new novel BLOOD TRADE will be released on February 22! To lead up to the big day, I’ll be posting lots and lots of contests, videos, and other fun things! Exciting stuff lies ahead!
-A.B.

Twenty-five year old David Frye is known as the best drug dealer in King Beach, California. But when a local gangster calls for his head on a plate, he is made an offer that he can’t refuse by an unlikely source. A mafia clan of vampires has chosen him to test run their new business venture: use the drug trading system as a way to distribute human blood amongst themselves. David accepts and is quickly swept away by the seductive world of the undead. That is until he begins to suspect that there might be something far more insidious at work than what he had originally bargained for. Encountering vampire history, a secret government agency of monster hunters, and more; David is confronted with the darkness within himself and is forced to come to terms with the horrors that he has unleashed. Both terrifying and thought provoking, BLOOD TRADE gives vampires their bite back.

BLOOD TRADE EDBOOK

Zone

 

The first writer I remember being aware of was Rod Serling. The only reoccurring character in the anthology series, it was clear that the show was his vision and that he was the God of the Twilight Zone. As an adult, I’m still blown away by how damn good that show was. How it was able to cram an extremely tight script, social commentary, and great acting into a thirty minute format astounds me. Not to mention that a series made in the 50’s could push the limits of weirdness and intelligence far more than most media today. Watching the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi channel remains a New Year’s tradition for me even to this very day. If Star Trek shows us what we can be, the Twilight Zone showed us what we are.

-A.B.