Good times remembered.
Now he checked the rearview, saw nothing but rain and bouncing asses. He pinched out a smile. The runaway, who’d introduced herself as “Kandy, with a K,” was a pleasant way to kill the eight-hour drive from Minneapolis to Naperville, the Chicago suburb where they’d drop their load of narcotics and collect their suitcase of dead presidents. Gemini checked his watch. Not bad. Even with the storm they were moving all right—Naperville by six a.m., rich as thieves by seven. “Not bad for a working man,” he murmured. “Not bad at all—”
Another wail erupted from the back.
Gemini sighed. The teenager was more appealing than he’d expected from a hitchhiker. Polo-shirted, blue-jeaned, and knob-kneed. Loose swingy hair, legs up to her armpits, narrow hips, grapefruit boobs. Creamy face with a smile that made corpses pay attention. Exactly the kind of girl Freddie-Boy should have wet himself to own, the picky pervert . . .
“Enough,” Gemini said.
A moment later he heard the distinctive clack of a forearm breaking a windpipe. It wasn’t loud like in the movies. More like a dry stick across a knee.
“Women,” Cancer said, wagging his finger in mock dismay as she thrashed like a gaffed marlin, trying to suck air.
“Can’t live with ’em,” Gemini said.
She turned blue.
Virgo spread her dancer legs. “One for the road?” he asked.
“Thanks, baby, you’re great too.”
Five minutes later they were done.
So was Kandy, with a K.
His name is Gemini. It’s his gang nickname; his New Orleans birth certificate reads, “Eric Dettmer.” He’s in his late twenties. His hair is electric yellow. He wears it in a skater cut—buzzed on the sides, long on top. His arms are long, his eyes are green, his fingers are twitchy.
He’s a stone killer.
A multiple murderer.
A maimer and shooter, a knifer and beater.
He loves it.
But he keeps me awake at night.
Because he is mine.
I created Gemini. He’s the bad guy in my next book, MOVING TARGET, which appears next summer from my publisher, Kensington Books.
That’s not why I'm writing about him, though. This piece isn’t for self-promotion.
It’s to remind you that for every nightmarish creepazoid you see in a thriller, there's an author who created it.
And has to live with it.
Seven days a week.
Twenty-four hours a day.
In other words, we sleep with killer scum.
We hang out with face rippers.
They live in our waking and invade our dreams, for the year or so it takes us to flesh them fully and wrap them in a hundred thousand words. When they’re ready to bare their teeth, they vomit themselves onto the page, for all the world to see.
Where they’ll live forever, as your terror. And mine.
For, I gave them life.
It’s a crime writer’s lot, creating monsters that go bump in the night.
I truly love it.
But it does have one big downside . . .
I have to live with the spawn of my over-caffeinated mind.
I’m not complaining. I love the way my mind snakes and coils to produce a monster so vile not even his mother could love him.
I can’t love him either. He’s too cold. Too evil. Too inhumane.
But he nonetheless draws me like a moth to a flame.
With any luck, he’ll fascinate you too.
Let me know next summer.
¶ Just finished one of the best crime novels I’ve ever read. It’s ONCE WERE COPS by Ken Bruen. Ken hails from Galway, Ireland, and he’s created an Irish cop Michael O’Shay. The cop is a sociopath who walks a knife-edge between sanity and all-out mayhem, and now he’s on the NYPD, part of an two-country exchange program. I was utterly fascinated by O’Shay, and even more by his new NYPD partner, a nasty piece of work named Kebar. In my opinion, this is Ken’s best work yet, and that’s saying a lot.
¶ Got an advance copy of JUGGLERS AT THE BORDER, the new book from Los Angeles writer Robert Fate. If you haven’t checked out his “Baby Shark” series, of which JUGGLERS is the fourth, please do. It’s set in 1950s Texas, and you can practically smell the smoke of the bars and joints in which action takes place. Kristin Van Dijk, the protagonist, is a young female pool shark turned private eye, and she’s as hard-boiled as a twenty-minute egg. I’ve loved Fate’s work from the first book, and you will too.
¶ Coming to ThrillerFest in July? Me, too. Please stop me in the hall and say hello, I’d love to meet you. And please look up the rest of the Criminal Minds gang, many of whom will be there too. (Fun fact: our own CJ Lyons was the director of the very first ThrillerFest in Phoenix, and she did a crackerjack job.) If you haven’t signed up yet, check out the conference at:
www.thrillerfest.com. Then sign up and come have fun.
¶ Finally, to leaven all the homicide and mayhem in this little ditty, I present one of the most inspiring videos I’ve ever watched. It has nothing to do with writing, but rather, spirit. To call this a jump-rope video is to call the Sears Tower a high-rise—it just doesn’t fit the towering reality. These kids are the Kings Firecrackers, and they’re a performance jump-rope team from the Kings Local School District around Cincinnati, Ohio. The team is made up of 4th through 8th graders, and their talent will take your breath away. Here, they’re performing at the U.S. Naval Academy. I wasn’t this good at anything in grade school except eating bologna-and-cheese sandwiches for lunch, were you? Anyway, check them out at:
If anyone knows who’s singing the opening song—a way-jazzy version of the Wizard of Oz—let me know. I want to download it to my iPod.
Thanks for reading, and see you next week.
P.S. Our June contest is still afoot--just post to this blog and you're eligible to win a bunch o' Criminal Minds writers' books PLUS a Barnes & Noble gift certificate. And be sure to start thinking about next week's topic. We'd love to have you back to visit.