Snubnose Sampler: The openings of upcoming releases

May 23, 2012

To Die Upon a Kiss by Craig Wallwork:

The old woman never put up a fight. For this reason she has been my favourite victim to date, never once questioning the bitter taste of crushed Atenolol in her tea or our motives for being here. I’m thankful at least for that much, and by the same token, wretched with sympathy too.

City of Heretics by Heath Lowrance

He saw the Ghost Cat twice. The first time: a cold and icy morning in the middle of nowhere, and him sprawled out on a desolate two-lane road, blood freezing to his face, spent cartridges scattered. January Third. From the corner of his eye he saw it moving amongst the dead, searching…

Ghost Money by Andrew Nette

The corpse couldn’t have been more than a few hours old. For an instant Quinlan thought it might be Charles Avery. But Avery’s tastes ran to expensive suits, while the body splayed out on the parquet floor wore old jeans and a short-sleeved shirt with bright red tropical flowers. Avery was slim. John Doe sported a roll of flab that suggested a large amount of stool time in Bangkok’s bars.

All the Wild Children by Josh Stallings

I am 50, and I am sitting in the day room of a mental hospital. The world around me is muted colors. Scuffed white floors and walls. Pale green scrubs. Brown skin, light skin, crazy is democratic. Men, women, in between, crazy takes no sides in the gender war. Crazy takes casualties. Crazy takes prisoners. The day room is full. Crazy is the woman rocking back and forth wrapped in her Snoopy blanket, her once blonde hair matted thick as any dread. Crazy rails. Crazy cries softly. Crazy is my son. His eyes come briefly into focus. He looks around at the damaged inhabitants of the day room and then at me. His eyes ask, how did I get here? And I wish I knew. So I start to write this book. I think it is about my son. I know it is about much more.

The Subtle Arts of Brutality by Ryan Sayles

“The worst thing about a contact shot to someone else’s head is getting their brains, hair and skull fragments washed off my face.”

I cock the hammer back. He sobs harder. “If you’ve never tasted a man’s grey matter tinged with gun powder and revenge you have an inexperienced palette.”

The man is on his knees before me, facing away, hands tied behind him, crying, .44 magnum squeezed against the back of his skull as tight as a waterproof seal.

“Then of course, you have no idea what diseases the guy might have had.” I blow smoke. It crowns his head. “But the money is good.”

Smoke drifts off my cigarette, lazy and weaving in the air. The souls of dead soldiers rising from a battlefield. I drag and watch ruined ashes flutter off the cherry like leaves from a long-dead tree, tracing spirals through the night and fluttering down to their deaths before my feet.

A Healthy Fear of Man by Aaron Philip Clark

Another distilled morning. The sun is rising over the red clay earth and my eyes are damned by the light piercing through the branches of the dogwood—the slender, crooked tree with leaves like crucifixes, once white, now red and on fire. Autumn has come.

I roll over on my side and cough—my throat raspy and dry. The nights are getting too cool for sleeping outdoors. Every part of my body is sore and stiff. I investigate a tender spot on my lower back and the indention a sharp stone has left. The sleeping bag is frayed—the insulation protrudes from tattered holes. I might as well have slept on the bare ground.

Inside is where I should be. I look toward the abandoned house in the distance. I get to my feet, roll up the sleeping bag, and begin making my way toward it. What a mess I am, sleeping next to my grandfather’s grave like some pitifully hopeless mutt longing for his dead master. By now my grandfather is dried bones and what’s left of a cheap suit, and if I don’t take better care of myself, I may be right there with him. Caskets buried next to each other—the last of the bloodline. I run my hand around my waist feeling for my hip bones that push through my pants, a pair of filthy cargos that hang sloppily despite my efforts to keep them up with a belt. I’m wasting away. It’s the thinnest I’ve ever been—even thinner than I was in prison.

Dope Sick: A Love Story by JA Kazimer

I searched for the nearest bathroom, pressing through the station thick with mid-afternoon commuters. Where the fuck was it? The packet clutched in my palm promised relief from the talons tearing up my spine.

Restrooms. A large sign overhead pointed to the right.

I peered over the crowd and saw nothing but a rack of cheap tourist trinkets. Bile crawled up my esophagus. Oh, God, please.

There.

Ten feet away.

The white outline of a little blue briefcased man.

I darted through the door and past the dirty, cracked men’s room mirror. My eyes avoided the reflective surface. A red and white sign on the wall said, ‘Employees must wash hands before returning to work’. I wondered if they did, or if it mattered.

I headed for the last stall, shoving my fingertips into the pocket of my jeans. Sweat beaded on my upper lip. I twisted the lock on the graffiti-marred door and pulled a bag from my pocket. It held the tools of my trade—cotton, a burnt spoon, and the junkie’s grail—a brightly orange-capped needle, ready for use. I went to work, wiping a trail of dope sick sweat from my forehead.

Blood on Blood by Frank Zafiro & Jim Wilsky

The last light bled out of the sky like a violent smear onto the distant skyscrapers. At least, that was what Gar Sawyer thought he was seeing when he looked through the tiny rectangular strip of a window in the prison hospital. He stared at the red wisps and shook his head.

“Ain’t that some shit,” he muttered.

He hated that view, almost as much as he’d hated having no view at all in his old cell. He hated the people out there in the world who could stop whatever they were doing and stare up at the sky and see the complete expanse of the sunset. He hated that it was beautiful. He hated that he knew it was beautiful, and that his life was such that he now had enough time to think and reflect and realize there was some beauty in the world. And then he hated that beauty.

Captain Cooker by Todd Morr

The sound of television cut though their silence as the old man held the gun up and tried his best to balance the heavy weapon so it pointed at Cooke’s face. From the television’s tiny speakers a man with an Aussie accent was very enthusiastically describing the behaviors of feral pigs.

“It is amazing, just how quickly they can turn from a cute, cuddly, mass of future breakfast meat to a dangerous predator, in a matter of weeks. In some cases, it is just mere days before they are unrecognizable as their former domestic selves.”

The old man started to say something, but then, almost in deference to the Australian’s excitement about hog behavior, stayed silent.

Wake the Undertaker by Joe Clifford

Saturday night and Lone Palm manager Gabriel Christos was expecting a good crowd. Word had gotten out about the new kid singing, creating a buzz around town, and leading to increased traffic and liquor sales for the underground North Beach club. This pleased the Old Man.

Gabriel didn’t relish giving his father the bad news. He knew the Old Man wouldn’t be happy letting his cash cow go.

The Lone Palm constituted one of a dozen joints owned by the Christos family, who generally favored the sexier, more illicit enterprises. But while the nightclub may have been the most reputable of these establishments, it was also the toughest to find. Above Chinatown, deep in the urban hills of North Beach, the Palm represented a leftover from Prohibition days. To find it you’d need to know where you were going. Tucked away from the main strip, an unmarked door complete with sliding eye slot, ushered the way inside. You didn’t come to the Lone Palm unless you were invited. And the big bruiser standing guard outside made sure of that.

Piggyback by Tom Pitts

He woke up early, crawled out of bed, and made his way into the bathroom. He stood staring at the shadows that were once his eyes. He was gaunt and his skin looked yellow in the bright light. He couldn’t decide if he hated himself or not. He’d been at this job for years now and it was starting to show. He had a talent, he knew that, but the job was eating it up, eating him up. He squinted, exaggerating the wrinkles around his eyes, turning his face into a scowl. He looked old, like a stranger. He was someone else, someone whom he could easily hate.

He lifted up his head just a little, letting the light fall onto his eyes. He looked into them, cold and blue. The eyes he trusted. He recognized himself again, could feel himself in his own skin. He pissed, flushed, flicked off the light and went back to bed.

It was the light that woke him up again. It cut through the venetian blinds in clean hot lines, heating up the room. He had a headache, his shirt was wet, his sheets damp. He wondered what the dreams had done to him this time. It was past noon. Even when he managed to sleep long enough he still felt exhausted.

Drug dealer, drug courier, mule, wholesaler, runner. He wouldn’t know what you’d call him; he was a go-between, a bottom-feeder. He’d never get called a kingpin, that’s for sure. He was good at it; he was all-business in a business full of fools. Working his way up from a trunk full of pot from Humboldt County to the kilos of blow and the ounces of heroin he moved now. It was all the same to him; it was product. It paid the bills and it kept him from having a real job.

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