Friday, May 7, 2010

Favorite Scene? I Got Two Words For Ya ...

By Shane

My No. 1 favorite scene?

"The End."

Cause it means I'm done telling that particular tale of derring-do, and can start another for your amusement and entertainment.

So that's it. Just two words: The End. Blog's done. Nothing more to see. Go on home now, show's over ...

Sigh. I didn't think that would cut it, dashing off a two-word blog then going outside to play in the pretty sunshine. (It's high 60s and gorjus here in Chicago today. It's our annual couple days of spring that separate the end of leaden winter and start of humid summer.) I'll bet you want a REAL scene that I enjoyed writing, right?

Yeah. So, here's one of my faves. It's in the upcoming TORN APART. It's a simple little scene involving fellow cops Martin Benedetti and Hercules Branch--two best friends, setting up camp, preparing to go deer-hunting. The thing to know is that in the forest, a hungry bear can set upon you at any moment, so smart people carry a heavy-caliber handgun for protection:

Marty strolled into the open-air latrine, toilet paper in hand.

Branch waited.

Waited some more.

“Bear!” he shouted at the top of his lungs.

Marty crashed out of the latrine, pants around his ankles, .44 revolver in hand. Mud splashed, toilet paper flew. His feet tangled. He fell into a puddle. Rainwater and mud gouts flew everywhere.

“Where?” Marty shouted, looking at tent, table, Escalade, tent. “Where’s the bear?”

“Don’t you see it?” Branch said, sinking to the ground laughing. “It’s right there.”

Marty followed the outstretched finger.

Which pointed at his shiny behind.

“You son of a bitch,” Marty sputtered, clutching at his pants. “I’ll get you for this.”

“Bare!” Branch howled.


“I still got mud up my ass,” Marty grumbled. “Oughta make you clean it out.”

“Shhhh,” Branch said, finger to his lips. “We’re hunting wabbits.”

Marty suppressed a laugh. Didn’t want Branch to think he was funny.

Though the latrine bit had been pretty good.

They continued their exploration of the Lee River Valley. They’d set up camp east of Millston, in the remote southern portion of the Black River State Forest. The air was nippy, the sun inviting. Barn owls hooted in the distance. Red-tailed hawks swooped for breakfast. Dwarf milkweed bent to the puffing breeze, sunlight scattered off patches of sandstone. They’d watched a beaver dam give way to the relentless pounding of the river, opening the clogged channel and sucking the flood waters back into the main stream. Fish splashed here and there. Pine sap mingled with the mushroom dankness of wet earth. They felt civilization slipping away. They were cavemen in Gore-Tex, locked and loaded, minimizing their noise to the squish of boots in muck. Looking for bucks . . .

It shows, in just a few moments of acting like grade schoolers, the warm comraderie of two grown men who have, together, lived, loved, laughed . . . and killed.

Everything a friendship should be.


In honor of this week's announcement of the merger of United and Continental airlines, I offer this YouTube sensation. For those who haven't seen it, the story is, sadly, true: a band took a flight on United, baggage handlers mangled their guitars, and customer service refused to do anything about it. So, the band leader put together this music video about the experience. It went viral with more than 8 million hits. United surely rues the day it decided to say, Get lost.

Or so one would hope.

And now that United will be busy making the merger actually work, anyone flying the Formerly Friendly Skies (as I will, in June) should openly tremble at the thought of getting to your destination, let alone on time. But hey, that's the future! For now, please enjoy, "United Breaks Guitars!"

Shane Gericke would be very grateful if you bought his new book, TORN APART, when it launches worldwide on July 6. And if you were of a mind, you could also buy his second book, CUT TO THE BONE, and his first book, BLOWN AWAY, as it'd be a shame to ignore them like you do your wormy kid brother when he makes those fart sounds in church. Visit him at


Sophie Littlefield said...

oh, I love that video with the disgruntled singer. my kids and i have watched it over and over...and it can make a person so crazy you think you'll never fly again but then how are you going to get from one coast to another? i wish i had my own downy pterodactyl to fly me back and forth.

Working Stiffs said...

Love it, Shane! I'd never seen the other two videos so it was a real treat. Thanks!

Paula Matter

Shane Gericke said...

Quite welcome, Paula. I loved this video so much I downloaded the song onto my iPod and listen to it like real music. The singer is talented for real--his first album is definitely worth listening to. His second and third videos on the United saga are fun, but the first is perfection. Thanks for writing.

Shane Gericke said...

A downy pterodactyl that serves coffee en flight and never hits turbulence ... what a pretty thing to dream, Sophie. Let's book our flight to ThrillerFest right now! It can pick you up in CA, stop at O'Hare for me, and get into a three-hour hold over LaGuardia. But there's coffee, so it'll be all right.

Once, an airline left one of my luggages on a runway and it got hit by jet blast. A sorrier sight you've never seen: plastic melted into burned globs o'goo. They did pay, though, without too much squawking. Good thing--I can't sing like Mr. Guitars.

Bill Cameron said...

Oh, yes, there is a beautiful magic in the words, The End.

But there's also something to be said for disrupting a friend's constitutional with a faux bear attack too.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Loved your friends in the woods scene.

And that United song was hysterical. Just giggled out loud here in Starbucks. Keep 'em coming, Shane!

Terry Stonecrop said...

Great bare in the woods scene!

Still waiting to hear your AC theft story starring, Sonny, Spike and Danger. Sounds like something the Coen brothers would produce.

My heat goes out to those guitars. :(

Shane Gericke said...

Thanks, Rebecca and Terry. I hope I answered the question, Does a bare shit in the woods ...

Ah, Sonny and friends. Well, I was in college, and got a summer job on the outdoor maintenance crew at the local shopping mall. We repaired streets and sidewalks, cut grass, watered and pruned trees, picked up the poopy diapers the parents tossed in the parking lot; the whole nine yards of Young Man Character-Building.

In late July, when it got really hot, we started the tree watering at 2:30 a.m. Naturally, Sonny wanted breakfast first, so we all climbed in the crew truck and went to McDonald's' drive-through. Came back to the garage, ate breakfast, then shot the breeze for ninety minutes. Sonny wasn't big on actual, you know, work, which worked out well for all of us. But if the trees died, someone would get suspicious, so it was time to put out the watering hoses. Spike, Danger and the others got that task.

As for me . . .

Shane Gericke said...


Crew Foreman Sonny, bald-headed, tattooed and two steps from incarceration himself (some of the other lads had logged time in prison, so I learned valuable insights about a-hole prison guards and shanking people) had decided that even though I was a college boy and therefore not to be trusted, I was pretty all right. He also decided his house needed a new air-conditioning unit, and he didn't wanna pay.

A construction company was doing some building repairs, and had planted a crew trailer in the adjoining field. Among other things, it contained a big ol' AC window unit, hanging there all free and easy.

"Hop in," said Sonny, pointing to the truck bed in the back.

"Where we going?" said I.

"You're gonna steal an air conditioner," said he.

I thought of my police sergeant father, my Girl Scout cookie chairwoman mother, my Eagle Scout outlook on life ... and decided I wanted to fit in just this one time. I gulped hard, and nodded.

He grinned and backed up the truck. I hopped in the bed. He drove to the far side of the mall, and I commenced to screwdrivering and crow-barring. Couldn't get the damn thing out.

"Goddammit, hurry up," Sonny would hiss from the cab. "Cops'll see us."

"You could put down your cigarette and help," I hissed back.

"That's what I got you for," said he. "Just hurry up, my bedroom's too hot and I need that AC."

Well, I worked on it and worked on it. The thing wobbled in the window like a drunk, but just wouldn't let go.

Then Sonny yelped. I froze.

"Security," he hissed. "Drop it."

I fell to the truck bed, tools clattering, and he roared off.

Several hours later, a city cop stopped by the garage. Sonny looked up from his porn collection, which he was studying while filling in time sheets.

"Help you?" he said all polite-like.

Cop said, "Construction crew called in a report of attempted theft of an air conditioner ..."

Sonny looked like he'd swallowed a goat. Me, I just kept looking at the porn. Didn't want to, naturally, but gotta fit in, right? Besides, I was producing such "I'm a good kid, honest" flopsweat that the cop would know instantly I was guilty if I met his eyes. Better to study Miss August.

"... and I was hoping you might have seen somebody around the trailer. Someone suspicious, who didn't fit in."

Sonny shook his head. "No, Officer. We was putting out hoses on the other side of the mall. Didn't see anyone. Geez, I hope you catch them."

Danger and the other boys--Danger was crazy but also a very nice guy, even though he'd knifed a man for stealing his mother's Social Security checks and did several years hard time in Stateville Penitentary, which I honestly thought a bit excessive cause the thief clearly had it coming as no one should mess with someone's mom, thank you--made the appropriate nods and murmurs that they hadn't either cause they were working so hard.

"We'll keep a close eye out, though," Sonny said, offering him a cup of coffee. "Call security if we see anyone."

Cop nodded thanks, took the coffee, and left.

Sonny smiled after him, then at me.

"Good job," he said. "Kept your cool there."

I shrugged, pleased with the compliment but also direly afraid we'd have to re-steal the damn thing. Fitting in was one thing. Having to telephone Dad to bail me out of jail was something else. I asked, "We going back?"

"Nah," Sonny said. "They'll be keeping an eye on the trailer now. Don't worry, I'll figure something out ..."

We all drove back to McDonald's to celebrate the fact that the college boy never broke.

And I've never stolen an air-conditioner since.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Great story! Thank you for posting it!

These guys were rather good, after all. Love the mother stuff. Yeah, can't blame him.

And I'm glad you kept your cool. Keep looking at Miss August....Always good advice.

You weren't a goober, either! It's not just country boys who act like goobers. City girls do too. Trust me on that one. ;)

Shane Gericke said...

Thanks, Terry. Sure, the boys were the human equivalent of toe fungus, but I still think of them warmly. They taught me a lot about things I knew nothing about ... and made me realize there are far better ways to make a living than digging holes and picking up diapers.

Love your Goober comment! We are all Goobers at times.

Shane Gericke said...

Bill, I'll remember you said that next time I see you entering the men's room at a book conference . . .

Joshua Corin said...

"The End" are my favorite words to type as well.

My favorite words to read, though, are "Yes, you are the most handsome gentleman on the heath."

Gabi said...

Where to start? A guy named Branch out in the woods or trying to get past me with a summer season in Chicago (I was born in Chicago Ridge) when everyone knows the midwest has two seasons -- the dreaded winter and the abysmal construction season. Both of those after trying to trick me with 'The End' and then a video distraction so I might miss the real fun in your new book. July 6 -- in my calendar in PEN.

Bill Cameron said...


Shane Gericke said...


Shane Gericke said...


In pen? Bless your heart.

I live to distract my readers ...