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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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Path of a Bullet Now Available!

 

interuption

Just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday…

Path of a Bullet – A Collection of Short Stories featuring Ike

is available for the Ike lover on your list…even if the Ike lover is you!

A year in the making – Path of a Bullet is chock full of nuts…as well as psychos, dirtbags and sleezeballs of all kinds, but don’t worry – Ike is there to save the day!

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I’m not going to toot my own horn about this collection, I’m going to let critically acclaimed author Seumas Gallacher do it for me…

‘…for afficianados of clever, solid, pacy action writing, PATH OF A BULLET is for you… a compilation of great short stories dressed up as a loose calendar of events spins around Ike, an improbable, roustabout hero… ex-Seal, six-feet-five, 275 pounds of muscle, carefree by nature, but caring by inclination… a modern off-white Knight in shining armour, likes his beer, his liquor, and his ladies… most of whom seem to have need of the self-dispensing justice and skills that his past has endowed him with… 

…Ike’s principal source of income comes from heavy duty collection work for a local bookmaker in Florida’s Flagler Beach and St. Augustine, and provides a baseline for the stories…

…Tim Baker’s ear for punchy narrative  runs through this rapid-fire collection, in which a few hand-picked author pals have also contributed… Ike is an enduring character you can’t help but take to, although some of his methods will have you wincing…

~Seumas Gallacher, Author of the Jack Calder crime series

To get your paperback copy of this must-have collection click here

and

For the kindle version click here

book tree

If one book isn’t enough Ike for you please visit my website – www.blindoggbooks.com – for the rest of the collection!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Path of a Bullet is Locked and Loaded

I am very excited to announce that Path of a Bullet – A Collection of Short Stories featuring Ike will be available on December 1.

PoaB Cover

Acclaimed author Seumas Gallacher has read it and had this to say about it…

“…for aficionados of clever, solid, pacy action writing, PATH OF A BULLET is for you… a compilation of great short stories dressed up as a loose calendar of events spins around Ike, an improbable, roustabout hero… ex-Seal, six-feet-five, 275 pounds of muscle, carefree by nature, but caring by inclination… a modern off-white Knight in shining armour, likes his beer, his liquor, and his ladies… most of whom seem to have need of the self-dispensing justice and skills that his past has endowed him with… 

…Ike’s principal source of income comes from heavy duty collection work for a local bookmaker in Florida’s Flagler Beach and St. Augustine, and provides a baseline for the stories…

…Tim Baker’s ear for punchy narrative runs through this rapid-fire collection, in which a few hand-picked author pals have also contributed… Ike is an enduring character you can’t help but take to, although some of his methods will have you wincing…”

~Seumas Gallacher, Author of the Jack Calder crime series’

I was extremely flattered by that endorsement, and I’m fairly confident that Path of a Bullet will live up to Seumas’ praise.

This book was a year in the making. It contains 18 stories…but only 12 of them were written by me.

The other six were written by writer friends of mine.

For some of them it will be the first time their work has been published…making it a very special occasion indeed.

Over the past twelve months I had lots of fun writing my Ike vignettes, but I have to admit – it was just as fun working with the contributing authors too.

It was also very flattering that these writers thought enough of me and my work not only to become involved, but to write fan-fiction about my character. I can’t think of higher praise for a writer.

I’d like to share with you some of their thoughts about the experience…

Ann Marie Vancas

“This will be the first time I have ever been published.  My writing has mostly remained hidden.  It’s like having a crush you don’t want to reveal… But like love…once you know it’s right…you want to tell the world.”

Gi Arena  

“I’d like to thank fellow author and friend, Tim Baker, for giving me the opportunity to write about his elusive character, Ike. I had the best time pairing Ike with my character, Ruby. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I loved writing it.”

 Becky Pourchot 

“I must say, I never thought I’d be in a compilation of Ike stories. Action stories were never my thing. That said, I liked the idea of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. In the end I had a lot of fun with it. Who knows, someday I might even write more stories featuring the tough guy, hero.”

Lockie Young 

“It was an absolute pleasure working with Tim on this project. I tried to get behind the character of Ike, and figure out what he would want. I think I came up with just the down to earth guy to get Ike the goods he really wants.”

Becky Heishman 

“I didn’t have to write a story for Tim Baker’s anthology. I’m a pretty fair writer with my own thing going on. But I believe in Tim Baker and his talent. I believe that his character, Ike, has the potential to become a cultural icon. So when the Tim Baker rocket ship is launched into the stratosphere, I want to be onboard.”

 Susan Toy 

“Bequia Blues, a pure piece of Ike fan fiction that takes the man to my Caribbean home of Bequia, was written and submitted for inclusion in Path of a Bullet, because Tim Baker assured me I’d be able to go on a date with Ike as payment. That I’d stay on the boat with him, go for dinner and drinks at The Golden Lion, meet Brewski and Mr. Donebedian, and ride on the back of Ike’s Harley down A1A. That hasn’t happened yet and I’m beginning to think it never will. I’ve been hearing rumours lately that larger-than-life Ike is actually, and indeed, a fictional character! And that he may not exist AT ALL!!! WTF??? This all proves you just can’t trust novelists, because they all lie like a dog!”

This was my first attempt at compiling an anthology, but the experience was so positive that I plan to make it an annual event.

I’ve even come up with a possible title for next year’s version…Muzzle Velocity.

I’d like to take this opportunity, once again, to thank all six of my guest authors for their hard work and dedication to the project and I’d like to thank you, the reader, in advance for supporting independent authors.

As always – thank you for reading

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Kill Your Darlings (maybe I misunderstood)

“Kill your darlings.”

If you’ve been in the writing game for any length of time you’ve heard this quote. Some people attribute it to Allen Ginsberg, others to William Faulkner, some believe Stephen King said it. The earliest known use of the phrase actually came from Arthur Quiller-Couch, who used it in his 1913-1914 Cambridge lectures “On the Art of Writing.”

darlingsRegardless of who said it when…the context of the quote is the need for writers to be relentless in the editing of their work…to eliminate unnecessary fluff…to get rid of every paragraph, sentence and word that doesn’t contribute something essential to the story.

Given the work of King, Faulkner and the others, I’d say it’s advice worth following.

I think I may have taken it a bit too literally while working on a short story this week. The story will be included in my upcoming anthology tentatively titled The Path of a Bullet. The stories in the anthology will focus on my anti-hero, Ike. Most of them will be written by me and there will be a few written by other writers who happen to be fans of Ike.

As I was writing this particular story I decided to kill one of the characters who has appeared in all of my books.

The killing wasn’t necessary.

I could have made the story work without having a good character meet their demise.

It also wasn’t gratuitous.

I think the story is much better because of it.

Either way…it’s still tough to kill one of your darlings.

When I wrote my first novel, Living the Dream, I created what would inadvertently become a cast of characters who worked together to right wrongs perpetrated upon innocent people.

Living the DreamThe unlikely band of Samaritans is led by the aforementioned Ike, an ex-Navy SEAL who has a tendency to bend the rules a bit in order to see that order is preserved. As one reader described him in a review… “Robin Hood on a Harley.”

Ike is the right-hand-man to a wheelchair bound bookie named Ralph Donabedian. Despite the fact that Ralph is, for all intents and purposes, a criminal, he is the unofficial mayor of Flagler Beach. Nothing happens in the small beachside community unless he allows it.

Whenever Ike needs help he calls on his best friend, and resident bad-ass, Brewski. With ties to a local motorcycle gang and a bit of an attitude problem, Brewski tends to lean toward a shoot first, shoot again, have a cigarette, and then ask questions policy. Fortunately, Ike keeps him reined in…most of the time.

Perpetually perched on the back of Brewski’s Harley is Didi—a wise-cracking, chain-smoking, no-nonsense biker-bitch who would like to slap the stupid out of everybody (because everybody is a dumb-ass).

Making fewer appearances than the others, but nonetheless an important member of the group is Bob Butler. Another close friend of Ike’s, Bob Butler (who is always addressed by both his first and last names, never one or the other) is an honest family man who turns a blind eye to some questionable tactics out of respect for Ike’s motives.

So, as I was saying…I recently wrote a short story for my Ike anthology and I decided that it was time to kill one of my darlings.

I’m not going to tell you which one, you’ll have to read the book to find out. For now I’ll just call them “X” (pretty dramatic, huh?).

I will tell you this—it’s not Ike – that would be like Elmore Leonard killing Raylan Givens…Robert B. Parker killing Spenser or JK Rowling killing Harry Potter.

Moving forward I’ll have to figure out what, if anything, I should do to fill the void left by X. Fortunately writing books is not like cooking. If you don’t have a key ingredient required by your recipe you could end up tipping a driver for delivering your meal.

With books, the loss of a character does not have to be the end of the story. In fact it could lead to a new, maybe even better story.

I guess we’ll find out when I write my next book.

Between you and me, I’ve already got an idea of how to move forward and I’m pretty sure it will be a seamless transition.

In the meantime, The Path of a Bullet is scheduled to be released before Christmas. My beta-readers have enjoyed all of the stories so far, so I’m sure you will too.

This is not the cover of Path of a Bullet...it's just a cool picture.

This is not the cover of Path of a Bullet…it’s just a cool picture.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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