Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I like it. The main thing we're talking about is the image of the guy. It's an ensemble story and there are some strong women in the book, too. Plus, I just like the idea of a woman on the cover.
Here's the opening of the book:
Coming off the Ambassador Bridge into Canada,
Vernard pulled up to the customs booth, the sign saying it
was the longest international suspension bridge in the
world. The tunnel would’ve been faster, but there was no
way he was going underground, underwater, gave him the
willies, worse than all those caves in Afghanistan.
The Canadian customs guy looked at him and Vernard
nodded, serious, seeing the guy’s Glock, thinking, shit,
these guys just started carrying guns a couple months ago,
probably couldn’t get it out of his holster. Fucking Canada.
The guy asked him all the questions, how long he was
staying, was he an American citizen, carrying any firearms?
Vernard showed him his driver’s licence and his
Armed Forces id, blue for retired—honourable discharge,
Sergeant Vernard McGetty. Said, “Not any more.”
“What’s the purpose of your trip?”
Vernard said it was a vacation. “I’m going to the film festival.”
The guy said, oh yeah, and it’s not business?
Vernard said, yeah, “I’m Jamie Foxx.”
The guy actually laughed and said have a nice trip,
waving him through, twenty-eight-year-old black guy from
Detroit driving a brand-new Mercedes ml370 suv, leather
interior and twelve-speaker surround on his way to
Toronto to meet with some bikers, sell them a truckload of
Uncle Sam’s guns and set up a pipeline for their coke and
weed back to Detroit, stepping up to the big leagues.
Looking back he saw the U.S. customs guys just
waving people through, too; cars and vans and campers
and trucks. Fucking trucks, must be thousands a day,
going back and forth, couldn’t check them all. Couldn’t
check two per cent of them.
Shit, Vernard was thinking, turning up his system loud,
Little Walter finding his Key to the Highway, it’s easier to
cross this border into another country than it is to cross
Mack Ave into Grosse Pointe.
Through Windsor it was all Taco Bells and KFC and
Burger King, didn’t seem like another country at all
except for the place selling Cuban coffee, Vernard thinking,
right, that’s not the only thing from Cuba in there.
Outside of Windsor this part of Canada was flat and
bleak, farms, gas stations, fast-food places, and lots of
traffic. Vernard was surprised there could be this much
open space so close to Detroit, a foreign goddamn country,
and you’d never know it was there.
Four-hour drive, Detroit to Toronto, six lanes of steady
traffic going in both directions.
An hour in Vernard pulled into a gas station. Filled up
and parked in the back behind the Wendy’s with all the
trucks, shit, looked like hundreds of them all lined up. He
went inside and saw the guy he wanted sitting there eating
a cheeseburger and drinking a shake.
“You keep this up, you might get fat.”
The guy, three hundred pounds at least, his whole face
smiled, shaking his big bald black head, standing up and
saying, “Fucking Get, man, they let you in this motherfucking
country?” They hugged, backslapping, and sat
down across from each other in the little plastic seats.
“Saw your cousin on the news, man.”
The big guy, once Corporal Duane Thomkins, now just
Tommy K, looked off into the distance. “She so fine, all the
reporters want to talk to her, all dressed up in her fatigues.”
Vernard, sliding easy now back to being just Get, said,
“They knew what she was sending home, man, blow they
“You know it.” Tommy laughed out loud. Then he
said, “Eat up, man, next stop is all Mickey Dees.”
“I’ll wait till I get there.”
They walked out back to the truck lot behind the
restaurant, stopping to look at Get’s new car, Tommy
saying, “Motherfucking German-ass piece of shit, man.
“What do you drive?”
“Fucking Peterbilt, man, 370, air ride, mp3, dvd, got a
satellite map, goddamn double bed. Look at these sorry-ass
motherfuckers; Volvos, Swedish fucking bullshit, Hino,
what the fuck kind of rice paddy piece of shit is Hino?”
Get said, “You’re loyal, Tommy, patriotic. That’s cool.”
They got to Tommy’s red Peterbilt hooked to a fiftythree-
foot trailer and he opened the door, saying,
“Fucking right I’m patriotic, man. Where’d we be without
Uncle Sam?” Climbed into the sleeper and came out with
a dark green duffle bag.
Get didn’t even look in the bag, he just hucked it over
his shoulder feeling the weight, nodding, yeah. “We’d be
some sorry-ass niggers.”
Tommy said, “No hassle at the border?”
“Guy was happy to see me,” Get said. “But you never
know, next time they could tear my car apart.”
“Shine that fucking Maglite up your ass.”
Get said, oh man, don’t even joke.
Tommy smiled again, that full of life-is-good enthusiasm,
and said, “Don’t sweat it, a million trucks a day, they
can’t look at every one. You got somebody crosses here
every week,” and winked. Then he said, “There’s only one
“Yeah?” Anybody else Get would have given a hard
time, matter of respect, but not Tommy. Get was the boss,
but Tommy would never really be an employee. “Guess I
just have to shoot the motherfuckers one at a time.”
Tommy said, yeah, make every shot count.
Get said, “You going to Toronto?”
“The Big Smoke?”
Tommy laughed. “Assholes call it that, looking for a
name, be cool, play with the big boys.”
Get hefted the bag, said, they playing with the big boys
“They don’t even know it. Naw, man, I’m going to
Montreal. Some fine French chicks there. And the food,
shit, food alone’s worth the drive. You should come.”
“Maybe next time.”
“You say that, man, but you all business, never take a
break. You still that skinny-ass nigger on the bike.”
“Yeah, but the Army made a man out of me.”
Tommy laughed and gave him a hug, saying, “You
fucking funny, you know it. Shit. Your mama be proud.”
“Don’t have to thank me,” Tommy said. “You paying
Get said, yeah, but you’re worth it.
Tommy got into his rig and started it up, saying,
“Every penny.” He blew the air horn on his way out, and
Get walked back to his car, his German-ass suv.
Three hours to Toronto, see what it’s like, this Big
Smoke, wants to play with the big boys. Meet with these
bikers think they’re running the show, sell them this
weaponry, see if they really can deliver the meth and X
and coke and the tons of weed they say they can.
Get felt good, ready to really step up, make some
changes in the Motor City, make his mama proud.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We're getting close to the end of shooting the first season of The Bridge and I'm starting to think about writing books again.
Swap will be out in Canada in September from ECW Press and in the USA from St. Martins in April, as Let It Ride.
I'm now working on the next one, which I'm hoping will be called Tumbling Dice in both countries.
Here's how it starts:
The High had been back together and on the road for a couple of months playing mostly casinos when the lead singer, Clifford Moore, got the idea to start robbing them. Not the casinos so much, the shylocks working them.
It was two in the morning, they'd played the Northern Lights Theatre at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, nostalgia show with Grand Funk and Eddie Money, and Cliff was in a minivan in the parking lot getting a blowjob. Out the van window he saw the bass player, Barry Nemeth, walking between parked cars, looking around like somebody might be following him and putting a wad of cash in his jacket pocket. Cliff said, "What the fuck," and the soccer mom looked up at him and said, you don't like it, and Cliff said, no, it's good, honey, "Really good, I'm almost there." When he finished he signed another autograph, the mom saying the first time she saw The High was in Madison, must have been seventy-eight or seventy-nine, her and her friends still in high school sneaking into the show at the University of Wisconsin. She said, "It was you guys and Styx, remember? I had a crush on you ever since."
Cliff caught up to Barry standing outside the tour bus having a smoke and asked him about the money, when did he have time to get into the casino, and Barry said, no, he didn't win it, he stole it.
Cliff said, "You mugged somebody," and Barry said, fuck no, "The money's from a shylock. Come on," and got on the bus. Cliff started to follow, felt a hand on his arm and looked around to see two very hot chicks, had to be teenagers, but maybe legal, looked exactly the same; long blonde hair, tight jeans, low cut tees, like twins, same serious look on their faces and he said, "Hey ladies, looking for some fun?"
One of the girls said, "No, we're looking for our Mom, she was talking to you before."
Ritchie came up then, squeezed between the girls, shaking his head at Cliff, saying, "At least they're not looking for their grandma," and Cliff said, "Fuck you."
On the bus Cliff walked past Ritchie and sat down beside Barry, saying, "What're you talking about, shylocks?"
They were settled in then, heading to Niagara Falls, going to open for the Doobie Brothers and Barry said, "You know, loan sharks working the casinos."
Cliff said, "They work for the casinos?" and Barry said, no, "They don't work for the casinos, they work at them. They cash cheques."
"We don't get paid by cheque," Cliff said, "it's direct deposit."
"They buy jewellery, cars, whatever. Usually the same guy sells the speed and meth."
"So how'd you get the money?"
"This guy, I sold him a microphone," and Cliff said, shit, "Now you have no mike," and Barry said it was one of Grand Funk's, "So the drummer doesn't sing back-up, so what?"
Ritchie walked down the aisle then, going into the bathroom right behind Barry and Cliff and Dale, the drummer, sitting across the aisle beside his wife Jackie said, "You take one of your monster dumps in there, you fucking hot bag it," and Jackie said, "Dale, please."
She looked across the aisle at Cliff and Barry and said, "What is it happens to you guys, you get on the road and you're teenagers again?"
Cliff said, "Again?" pointing at Dale, saying, "He ever poke you as much as that PS2," and Jackie rolled her eyes and looked away. She and Dale married nearly twenty years, she was the only wife left on the bus. Dale said, "Do not stink up this fucking bus, there's bags in there."
Now Cliff was whispering but nobody was listening anyway, saying, "They fired a roadie, it was you? How much you get?"
Barry said he got two hundred for the mike, five hundred for the Stratocaster he lifted from Eddie Money – guy never played it anyway -- and a hundred and fifty for the back-up singer's leather boots back at the Northern Lights Casino in Minnesota. Cliff said, shit, "That chick was so pissed off, man, that was a catfight, she went after the black one hard."
Cliff was looking right at Barry now and he said, "All this time we haven't seen each other, it's like I don't even know you anymore."
Barry said, yeah.
Cliff said, "They always have the cash to pay you, just like that?"
"Shit, these guys are mobile fucking pawn shops, they buy anything. They buy cars, it's all cash, people take it right back into the casino."
"Full service business."
Barry said, you know it. "This guy tonight, he probably had twenty, thirty grand on him. I'd like to get my hands on that," and Cliff said, what do you want to do, sell them the bus? But that's when he had the idea.
Ritchie came out of the bathroom, dropped a plastic grocery bag in the aisle between Cliff and Jackie and said, "Here, you want it so bad," and kept going back to his seat behind the driver.
Jackie said, "Oh for Christ sake," making a face like he dropped it in her lap and Dale reached past her, grabbed the bag, opened the window and threw it out in one motion, saying, "I'm not riding in a stinking bus."
Cliff said to Barry, "Twenty grand? You think so?"
"Remember that hockey player's brother, guy on the Red Wings, got picked up at the casino in Detroit, loan sharking?"
Cliff said, yeah, vaguely, he remembered something about betting on games, too, wasn't the brother a goalie? "Wasn't he tied to the Saints of Hell, the motorcycle gang?"
"Probably. Gotta be tied to somebody to work the casino. They picked him up, it was on the news, him and his girlfriend, had forty-five grand in cash on them, a pile of jewellery they'd bought, government cheques they cashed."
Cliff said, shit.
Barry said if they could get their hands on a big money item it would make the tour worthwhile and Cliff said, "This whole reunion thing was your idea, you think I wanted to get back on the fucking bus, ride with these assholes?"
Barry said, no, "You wanted to keep selling yuppies half million dollar fucking bungalows in Toronto, bust your hump seven days a week, suck up to everybody in sight, hoping they don't do the deal with their brother-in-law."
Cliff didn't say anything but he thought, yeah, the real estate was getting tough. Tough to get a listing, tough to keep a client, working eighteen hour days, always on call, working every minute of long weekends. He was ready when Barry called with this idea of putting The High back together, heading out on the road.
Cliff said, "Maybe you don't have to sell them anything," and Barry said, what do you mean? Cliff said he had an idea, but wait a minute and he went in the bathroom.
There was a plastic bag full of other plastic bags in the little sink and Cliff got one out and stretched it over the toilet seat thinking it was just like all the dog owners in his neighbourhood back home, always carrying bags, always ready to pick up the shit. Won't give the homeless guy in front of the Tim Hortons a dime for the newspaper he's trying to sell, but they get on their knees to pick up dog shit.
He started to undo his belt and thought, no, really just need to take a leak, this is just nerves, butterflies, but bad ones, worse than getting up on stage ever felt, and then realized, well, you start thinking about ripping off connected guys in casinos, it's got to give you some nerves.
Gives you a rush, too, though. Cliff pulled the bag off the toilet and started pissing, thinking, yeah, add twenty grand to what they were getting for a night on stage, putting the band back together starts to look like a great idea.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
... the midlife crisis of a guy with a short attention span.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
There's an article in the New York Times today about Canadian TV shows in the US and about "The Bridge" it says, While members of the Strategic Response Unit on “Flashpoint” sport Canadian flags on their jackets, “The Bridge” seems to be moving toward a more generic sense of place. “Cops are the same in Italy, Canada, Spain,” said the show’s star, Aaron Douglas, best known as Galen Tyrol in “Battlestar Galactica.” “I’m playing it like Anytown, U.S.A.”
The article is here.
In my novels the Toronto setting is very important. The way the city has emerged over the last twenty years as the biggest in the country and the financial centre affects the way the people interact. Those changes to Toronto's character (and the change to my hometown of Montreal over the same time - all those head offices and people moving from Montreal to Toronto, "Bill 101 or the 401" and all that, not to mention the move of organized crime from Montreal to Toronto) are, I hope, deeply ingrained in the novels.
But "The Bridge" has different themes that aren't as dependent on setting. The stories that inspire the show are from all over North America, the challenges for the citizens and the police are, as Aaron Douglas says, pretty much the same all over the world.
Setting is an important consideration in a novel or a TV show and it's more than just a patriotic stance. If you look closely, "The Bridge" takes place in Toronto, but it could take place in any big city in 2009.
My novels could only take place the way they do in Toronto.
I think these are the right choices for both "The Bridge" and my novels.