From the far East-to-the backwoods of the American Nightmare – Crimefactory Magazine Presents: Kung Fu Factory! Crimefactory’s hardest hitting pulpfest to date! Featuring new fiction and features by Christa Faust, Anthony Neil Smith, Frank Bill, Cameron Ashley, Duane Swierczynski Chad Eagleton, Chris La Tray, Matthew McBride, Liam Jose, Jimmy Callaway, Garnett Elliot, Bryon Quertermous, the Nerd Of Noir, Michael S. Chong, and Joshua Reynolds!
In a nutshell these are all stories that have something to do with people getting their asses kicked. Not only that, but these are some top shelf writers. Yeah, this is the Christa Faust I’m always raving about, who is offering an excerpt from her next book from Hard Case Crime, due out in October, called Choke Hold. Duane Swierczynski‘s name has also graced these pages before, and he’s talking about his run as writer on The Immortal Iron Fist from Marvel Comics. He also has a new book coming out from Mulholland Books called Fun & Games, the first of what I think are three books. That’s pretty awesome. Hell, I could rave about all these writers, but you get the picture — top shelf talent, no doubt about it.
As for my story, it’s called “Buster Lee and the Chucklehead That Wouldn’t Stay Down — A Tribute – with Apologies – to Robert E. Howard and Eric Powell.” The call to submit stories came right after I’d visited the Robert E. Howard museum in Cross Plains, TX, last year, and I had just read a collection of Howard’s boxing stories. So the timing was perfect.
I think I knocked it out in one sitting. The other dude referenced in the tribute part of the title, Eric Powell, is also a guy I’m a big fan of. He is most famous for creating and writing The Goon, one of my all-time favorite comic series. My main character in the story, Buster Lee, and his sidekick Marvin, are definitely nods at Powell’s Goon and Frankie characters . . . whom I also see a lot of Howard’s own boxing characters in as well. So my idea was to kind of put my foot in that little circle, and I think the story is pretty entertaining. I know I had fun writing it, and I had fun reading it at Noir at the Bar in St. Louis last fall.
Here’s an excerpt. Buster and Marvin are in a bar owned by a dude named Stanley, who has just brought the fight promoter Herkimer Yelm to their table to talk Buster, Champion of the Air Brigade, into fighting an opponent for big money.
We talked more than a minute. Finally I rubbed my chin and said, “Thing is, Herkimer, I thought I heard ‘ole Abbott Drooker got himself killed.”
“I heard that too,” Marvin said. “Killed in the ring is what I remember.”
Herkimer nodded. “We all heard that, but I seen him, and he’s fight ready.”
“Apparently tales of his demise were exaggerated,” Stanley said, with a little self-important chuckle.
I ignored him. “And this new trainer of his, this wag calls himself ‘The Doctor’, is offerin’ a thousand dollars for me to get in the ring with Drooker.”
“Won’t put him up against anyone else, only you,” Herkimer said.
“Which is why I was so keen to see you, Buster!” Stanley said. “He wants to set up a big fight; he’s been talking about it for weeks!”
“We’ve all been waiting for you, Buster Lee, Champion of the Air Brigade,” Herkimer said, leanin’ forward, his eyes all bright with greed.
In ten years my mama raised me with more sense than my old man could beat outta me, and I could smell a scam from a mile away. This one stunk more than Marvin’s feet after double shifts in the engine room. I was scowlin’ pretty hard, and I could feel all these guys’ anticipation just leanin’ on me like a landlady on pay day.
“So I get a thousand dollars, win or lose,” I said. Herkimer and Stanley about threwtheir heads outta socket they was noddin’ ‘em so hard.
“And whadda you guys get?” Marvin said.
Both scallywags hemmed and hawed and cleared their throats without sayin’ much at all, and I silenced ‘em with a hard slap of my hand against the table that made everyone in the room jump. “I don’t much care what you sons-a-bitches are gonna get off my back,” I said. “I’ll do this fight – ”
The guys started to get all excited.
“On a couple conditions.” They froze. “First off, Herkimer, you’re the most crookedest promoter ever put together a card, which is why I never wanted to see you again. You’re gonna advance me fifty dollars right now, to tide me over to the fight, which is gonna be tomorrow night. And you,” I said, pointing a big finger at Stanley, “are gonna put me and Marvin up for the night, keep our glasses filled, and our bellies tight ‘tween now and then. It’s that way, or no way.”
Stanley and Herkimer looked at each other with kinda pained expressions, then nodded.
“Alright then. Go spread the word. Make sure everyone in Omaha knows that the champ’s in town, and will be deliverin’ a beat-down come Saturdee night.”