Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas…Ike Style

 

‘Tis the season…right?

I guess that depends on who you ask.

As you know – Ike is not the sappy, emotional type, so how do you think he handles the onslaught of forced sentimentality every December?

It probably won’t surprise you…but let’s find out.

Don’t Call Me Carol

“So, tell me, why don’t you like Christmas?” Tiki asked as he handed Ike a bottle of Budweiser.

“No offense, Tiki,” Ike said, “but you’re a bartender at The Golden Lion…not a shrink.”

Tiki held his hands up, palms out. “Sorry. Just making conversation.”

“I don’t come here to chat.”

Tiki decided to try his conversational skills on the bikini-clad blonde at the end of the bar. Ike turned his attention to his beer.

He closed his eyes and saw Dodger. The ten-year-old memory hadn’t faded at all.

Dodger sat against the cave wall and dug into his MRE. Ike stood at the entrance of the cave scanning the horizon through his night-vision scope.

“Hey relax, bro,” Dodger said. “It’s Christmas Eve, even here in Ass-Crakistan.”

“You relax. I’ll make sure nobody fires an RPG into the cave. I don’t care that it’s Christmas and neither do the insurgents.”

“How can you not care that it’s Christmas? You gotta care that it’s Christmas.”

“No I don’t.”

“Hey, I’m a million miles from my wife and daughter, but I’m not letting that stop me.” He tossed the MRE to the back of the cave. “Meal-ready-to-eat, my ass, I might have to kill a camel. Anyway, don’t scrooge out on me. Merry Christmas, bro.”

“Right,” Ike said.

“Come on, just say it once. Ten years we’ve been eating dirt together and I’ve never heard you say Merry Christmas.”

“And you never will.”

“No, man. You need to say Merry Christmas. Say it once and it’ll change your whole outlook. I promise.”

“Shut up and eat,” Ike told him.

 

Hugo Baccarri stopped next to the BMW and looked around the parking lot for potential witnesses.

Nobody in sight.

He climbed into the car as if it were his own and drove away, watching the rear view mirror as he went.

“What kind of idiot leaves the keys in their Beemer?” he asked himself.

He drove north for forty-five minutes, exited I-95 at Palm Coast and parked behind a Chinese restaurant, where he proceeded to rummage through the console and glove box. A watch, an iPod and a really nice Zippo lighter…not bad. He got out to check the trunk.

“What the hell is this?” He pulled a bright red coat and the tall black boots from the trunk.

When he saw the white beard and the donation bucket he realized what he had found. An idea struck him and he laughed out loud.

Tossing everything into the backseat, he drove to a nearby Home Depot. The backseat of the BMW was not a dressing room, but he managed to change into the Santa suit. It was a little big for him, but it would do the trick. He grabbed the donation bucket and stood on the sidewalk by the entrance to the store.

Nobody bothers Santa Clause, especially on Christmas Eve.

It was a great plan. In no time at all his donation bucket was filling with cash. Hugo wished every passer-by a Merry Christmas, even the ones who didn’t donate, and threw in plenty of Ho Ho Hos. He even posed for a couple of pictures with babies.

 

Ike opened his eyes when he sensed a presence on the stool next to him.

“Jingle bells, my brother,” Brewski said.

“What’s happening?” Ike asked, returning his friend’s fist bump.

“Nothing, just figured I’d stop off and have a beer with my best friend on Christmas Eve.”

“I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”

Brewski grinned and shook his head.

“What are you doing tonight, Grinch?” Brewski asked.

“I’m gonna have another beer then go back to the boat and drink some more.”

“Come on, where’s your Christmas spirit?”

“You mean the spirit that makes people stampede each other for a TV at Walmart? No thanks.”

“Hey cheer up,” Brewski said. “It could be worse. Remember last Christmas when we had to go have a chat with that guy who was trying to skip out on the five grand he owed Ralph? And when we got there he had his two brothers-in-law with him? Man, we worked hard for the money that night.”

“Good times,” Ike said flatly.

“And how about the year you had that woman stalking you? You didn’t expect to find her on your boat on Christmas morning…with no wrapping.”

Ike turned on his stool and looked at Brewski.

“Are you trying to cheer me up?”

“Yeah, but it’s not working. Come on, just try and enjoy the season. It won’t kill you.”

“Not worth the risk,” Ike said.

Brewski downed his beer and stood to leave. The men exchanged another fist bump.

“Merry Christmas, bro,” Brewski said.

“Later,” Ike returned to his beer.

 

After an hour-and-a-half Hugo packed up his bucket and left Home Depot. His score, not counting the change, was almost $300. Not bad for less than two hours. He drove into Flagler Beach and set up in front of a Publix supermarket.

Almost immediately the good people of Flagler Beach began filling his bucket.

Hugo grinned behind the itchy white beard. He had never been a big fan of Christmas, but his attitude changed a little bit every time a soccer mom dropped her change into his bucket.

 

Ike felt a hand on his shoulder, followed by a kiss on his cheek.

“Hello, Nadine.”

“Hi sweetie,” she said. “Merry Christmas.”

Ike smiled weakly and drank some beer.

Nadine was un-phased.

“Are you coming to my Christmas Ball tonight?”

“Nadine, we’ve been over this.”

“I know we have,” she said, “but you do so much for Christmas Come True, I’ll just keep asking.”

“And I’ll keep saying no,” Ike said, offering her a better smile to soften the blow. “Thank you anyway.”

Nadine kissed his cheek again and hugged him.

“Okay, honey, but the fun starts at 8:30 and you’re always welcome.”

She spotted Ralph, Ike’s boss and owner of The Golden Lion, and made a beeline for him. Ike waved over his shoulder then motioned to Tiki for another beer.

 

The Publix yielded more than $100 in an hour, but the manager hassled Hugo so he had to split. He relocated to a CVS and got a little more aggressive with his bell ringing, knowing that the Chistmas Eve foot traffic would be dying off soon.

 

Tiki swapped Ike’s empty bottle for a fresh beer.

“Nice night,” Tiki tried.

Ike looked around. “Yup.”

“Hey listen,” Tiki said. “Every year I get a bunch of people together for a Christmas Night booze cruise. It’s the perfect thing for people like…it’s better than hanging out at home alone.” Tiki regretted saying it as soon as the words left his mouth.

“Where you going with this, Tiki?”

“Well…this year’s cruise is already booked, but I’m taking names for next year. It fills up fast. What do you say? Want me to hold you a spot?”

Ike stood and downed most of the beer in one long swallow and dropped a ten on the bar.

“I don’t think so. Adios.”

“See you Ike. Merry…see ya.”

 

More than fifty bucks in half-an-hour. Hugo was very happy. He decided to call it a night, grab a bottle and a hotel…maybe even a hooker.

“Merry Christmas to me,” he said as he drove toward A1A.

He found a liquor store behind a night club called Finn’s and grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels. At the counter, the clerk hummed a Christmas song as she rang up the whiskey.

“Santa doing some last minute shopping?” she asked Hugo.

Hugo pulled the gun from the pocket of his Santa suit.

“Gimmee the bottle and whatever you got in the register. Now!”

 

Ike walked toward the front of the store with his 12-pack of Budweiser. When he saw Santa standing at the counter he rolled his eyes.

“I can’t wait ‘til this shit is over,” he muttered.

 

“Come on, bitch” the Santa growled as Ike drew closer. “Gimmee the cash.”

“Son of a bitch,” Ike whispered when he saw the gun.

Ike slowly bent down and quietly set his 12-pack on the floor then reached behind his back and pulled the .45 from his belt.

 

The force of the bullet hitting him in the back drove Hugo into a pyramid-shaped display of rum. He crashed to the floor, the rum bottles cutting and slashing him as they shattered. The last thing he saw was his own blood mixing with Sailor Jerry’s, conjuring a bizarre cocktail of death.

 

Ike tucked his gun away, picked up his beer and casually continued to the counter. The clerk was wide-eyed with horror and her eyes were fixed on Santa’s corpse.

Ike dropped a twenty on the counter and turned toward the door.

“Merry Christmas,” he said.

As he approached the exit he caught his reflection in the glass door…smiling.

 

Don’t Call Me Carol was written before Christmas in 2013 and is the opening story in “Path of a Bullet – A Collection of Short Stories featuring Ike

As always – thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the holiday season in whatever way makes you happy!

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How a Quote from Ray Bradbury Turned into My Next Project

Without question the most common question asked of an author after the release of a new book is (in one form or another) “So what are you working on now?”

With the release of Eyewitness Blues only a month in the rear-view – I’ll save you the trouble of asking.

Eyewitness Blues final cover

I am working on, and almost finished with a collection of short stories about Ike. (Who is Ike? Click here.)

Actually – I started working on it just before Christmas 2013 when I needed a short story to read at The Inspired Mic (an open mic night for writers here in Flagler Beach). Since the event was taking place two weeks before Christmas I decided to write a Christmas themed story. It was a fun little piece called Don’t Call Me Carol and the audience really enjoyed it.

Around the same time I submitted a short story to a horror anthology called State of Horror: New Jersey and the organizer suggested I start an anthology of my own, maybe writing one story for each holiday throughout the coming year and releasing it before the following Christmas.

I thought it was a good idea, but I wasn’t sure I’d have time since I was in the middle of writing Eyewitness Blues.

Then, quite serendipitously, I came across a quote from Ray Bradbury ( a pretty good writer) which said “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

It made sense so I decided to give it a try. (Here’s a blog post I wrote about this anthology while it was still in its infancy)

I had already written the Christmas story, so I followed up with a New Year’s story. The “one story per week” goal was a bit ambitious for me while simultaneously working on a novel, but I wrote as many as I could…

Now that I’m nearing completion of the project I understand Bradbury’s logic about the short story.

He believed that writing short stories teaches a writer to be constantly looking for ideas. He also said “every week you’ll be happy, because by the end of each week you’ll have something to show for your efforts.”

Not surprisingly – he was right. I really enjoyed the entire process and I’ll probably keep doing it and maybe release a collection of Ike stories every year.

Then there was an added bonus…In addition to the stories I’ve written I’ve also received a few stories from other authors about Ike. The fact that other writers wanted to write stories about my character was pretty cool. How could I say no?

I plan to release the collection before Christmas.

Originally I had planned to call it An Ike for all Seasons…but an Ike quote from one of the stories gave me the perfect title. The quote, as spoken by Ike, was “The shortest distance between two points is the path of a bullet.”

There was an a-ha moment as soon as I wrote it…I knew I had the title of the book.

The Path of a Bullet

Then…another serendipitous moment…a photographer friend of mine (Marina Pierre) shared this image on facebook…

Path of a Bullet cover

As soon as I saw it I knew I had my book cover.

To quote one of my favorite movie characters (Oddball – played brilliantly by Donald Sutherland – in Kelly’s Heroes)…

oddball

As always – thank you for reading

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So You Want to be a Writer…Say Goodbye to Your Spare Time

Last Sunday my family (at least the portion of it here in Florida) held a birthday party for my great-niece, who turned 3.

3I didn’t go.

Hold on…before you tell me what a horrible great-uncle (clever word-play there, huh?) I am, let me explain. Believe it or not, I have a valid reason.

What could have kept me away from a reasonably significant family gathering? (I know my brother, nephew and sister were asking the same question).

The thing is – I had to check my e-mail.

I can practically hear your reaction to that…and by the way, that’s not a very nice thing to say.

Truth be told, it’s not quite that simple. Yes I had dozens of emails to go through, but I had a few other chores to do as well.

I have 3 facebook pages to monitor (4 if you count my personal page). There is my Blindogg Books page…there is the page for The Castaways (a weekly radio show I host along with friends Armand and Becky) and there is the page for my solo radio show Tim Baker’s B-Sides and Deep Cuts.

Then there are the two Twitter accounts (@blindoggbooks and @djcastaways).

Not ready to cut me any slack yet?

Well, for some reason, my LinkedIn account went crazy this week…I must have gotten more than two-hundred new contacts – and for each one there is an email to look at and decide whether to accept said contact. That process alone took me more than 2 hours.

What else did I do this weekend?

Well – I was doing some research for my B-Sides show, coming up with good songs to play and the stories behind them. (contrary to what Armand says – I do my research).

I was also preparing questions for this week’s guest on The Castaways Three Hour Tour.

I spent some time getting books ready to ship out to readers…not extremely time-consuming, but if I don’t do it – nobody else does.

dpiral time

I exchanged several emails with a Louisiana Police Detective (retired) learning about certain aspects of police work and the witness protection program for my next book, tentatively titled Protect This (more research – take that Armand!)

Speaking of Armand, he and I are working on the sequel to our co-authored zombie novella Dying Days – The Siege of European Village and he wanted to get together to write this weekend. Unfortunately, I had to decline that invitation as well (we’re doing it next weekend – so don’t expect me at any parties then either).

Oh and last – but certainly not least – I spent several hours actually writing Protect This. (although not nearly enough, I am not as far along as I’d hoped to be)

Aside from the 2 hour motorcycle ride I took Sunday morning I didn’t leave my house from the time I got home from work Friday evening until it was time to go back to work Monday morning. Oh, in case I didn’t mention it…I also have a full time job, so accomplishing all of these things must be done in my spare time.

I know what you’re thinking…did he just say ‘2 hour motorcycle ride’?

What’s up with that? Surely I could have foregone the motorcycle ride to spend time with my family…

Let me tell you about the motorcycle ride…

Tim at Putnam

I do a lot of work for a charity called Christmas Come True. On October 26 we are having our 4th annual Poker Run to raise money for the cause. I am in charge of the run, so it is my responsibility to map it, time it and coordinate the cooperation of the venues along the route. So my brother and I did that Sunday morning – and while it was extremely enjoyable – it was not a joyride. Not entirely anyway.

So there you have it.

Depending on how you look at it, this was either an apology or an excuse…but either way – it’s the truth.

Many people think writing is a spare time thing…a hobby-like alternative to TV that requires nothing more than sitting in front of a keyboard and clicking away. After all, you know what they say about a roomful of monkeys…

Take it from me – if it were that easy I wouldn’t have missed the party.

Happy Birthday Alexis! Hopefully I’ll make the next one.

As always – thank you for reading

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