Deleted scene: “What’s Going On”

Here’s a deleted scene from Vampire Syndrome, taking place at the same time as the first scene in Chapter Thirteen, “Black And Blue Mustangs”…

Damien:

Unmarked silver Charger in the Jacksons’ driveway. Yep, Curtis finally got a night off. Between us and the Normal police, I’m amazed poor Curtis gets any time at home.

Always liked this little Victorian of theirs in Park Hill. Been re-painted 32 times, in every shade of the red rainbow.

I still remember when those young gang-bangers tried to rob me on this very sidewalk a few decades ago. Now, fixie bicycles are parked on the neighbors’ front porches, unlocked.

Gentrification marches on. Too bad. Ripping heads and limbs off those little gangsters was much more fun than walking past roving packs of hemp-and-jeans-clad hipsters in Civil War beards talking about indie bands.

I march up the Jacksons’ front porch steps and tap my knuckles on the door screen thirteen times.

Curtis whips open the door. “Oh, come on, brother…”

“Chill, C.J., I just want a beer.” I pat his shoulder and smile.

Curtis’s wife Tamika saunters up behind him. “Don’t be givin’ him that ‘I just want a beer’ shit, peckerwood.”

I add fangs to my smile. “A beer and a chat, Tammy. Off-duty, of course.”

Her eyes blacken as her fangs extend. “What’re you up to now?”

“I have a new plan. Gotta keep Curtis in the loop.” I smirk at Curtis.

“Who you gon’ fuck up now, white boy?” Tamika demands.

“More like who else will fuck who up.” I reply. “May I?” I wave my hand toward the living room.

Curtis and Tamika lead me into the room. Their old posters always catch my eye. Scream, Blacula, Scream! Super Fly. Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off. Shaft in Africa. Dolemite. And my favorite.

Coffy. She’s the godmother of them all. “I’m not worthy,” I whisper.

Tamika touches my cheek with a handkerchief. “Here, lemme help you with some of that drool, Damien.”

“Pam Grier.” I smile.

Tamika playfully nudges my shoulder.

Curtis, carrying three brown bottles, strides to the couch. He places the brews on the coffe table and motions us over.

Tamika and I sit down at Curtis’ sides.

I state, “This Jack thing is getting out of hand.”

“You’re mad cause he got away,” Curtis says.

“No,” I reply, “I’m mad that he’s still at large. And I intend to correct this state of affairs.”

I fetch my phone from my coat pocket.

“Who you calling?” curtis asks.

I answer Curtis and Tamika with a smirk as I dial Lilly.

She picks up and says “I’m almost there, honeybun.”

“Thanks for picking up Zetania, sweetheart.” Curtis and Tamika’s expressions change to quizzical, yet mean, stares. I knew they’d like this. Tamika taps my shoulder, wanting to speak, and I wave her silent.

“Mamuwalde’s showing off the new gold caps between his fangs,” Lilly says. “They’d look pretty good on you, honeybun.”

“Practical, too,” I reply. “If he ever ran out of Normal money, he can just go to a We Buy Gold shop and pull those caps out with pliers.”

I shake my head and whisper “No, not Jack” to Curtis and Tamika.

“I think he’d sell his gold necklace or rings first, don’t you?” Lilly asks. “Anyway, I gotta go, honeybun. I’m almost at the entrance.”

“Bye,” I say before I hang up.

Tamika fangs out. “Why the hell is Zetania Vinescu coming here?”

“I decided I need some outside help.”

“To kill innocent Normal bystanders and cause massive car wrecks?” Curtis asks. I can see my face reflecting in Tamika’s raging black eyeballs.

“Zetania doesn’t fuck around,” I state.

“She hunts Pures,” Tamika snaps. “That shit’s okay when you’re chasing Pures, but she can’t come here and pull that crap just to get some handicapped kid. Zetania might give us all away by accident.”

I fang out. “And Jack will give us all away by accident.”

Tamika and I leap off the couch. Curtis slips between us, fanged out and ready.

“As you heard, Tammy, I have Lilly’s okay.”

Curtis glances in our directions, then sits down. Tamika and I reluctantly seat ourselves.

“That bitch has lost her mind,” Tamika whispers to Curtis.

“I don’t think so,” I reply. “Even she couldn’t catch Jack last night.”

Vampire Syndrome now available in paperback versions

Vampire Syndrome Young Adult Cover
Vampire Syndrome (Young Adult version)

Vampire Syndrome Adult Cover
Vampire Syndrome (Erotica version)

The Car Thing: Words of Wisdom from a Gearhead

The Car Thing: Words of Wisdom from a Gearhead
©May 17, 2011 by Daven Anderson

I’ve noticed some readers think my stories have excess detail when I refer to cars by their specific model, even sub-model. The specific references are there to help the clarify the readers’ mental pictures of the character’s cars.

Example: How descriptive are you when you say that your character drives a “Dodge Charger?” Do you mean the muscle car two-door coupe made from 1966 to 1978, the subcompact hatchback made from 1983 to 1987, or the current four-door sports sedan made since 2006? This is a perfect example of where specifying the car’s sub-model is of great help to assist the reader in knowing which Dodge Charger you’re writing about.

By specifying that my character drives an “SRT8″ (sub-model name), not just a “Charger” (model name), I give my readers the important clue they need to know exactly what kind of car he’s driving. Some readers will recognize what an “SRT8″ is immediately, and the rest can Google it.

I ran into the car-model problem myself one evening at our critique group. When I wrote about my character’s “Shelby GT-500″, one person at the table wrote that he loved my reference to the “classic 1960′s muscle-car.” The only problem was, I meant for the car to be the current 2011 model year Shelby GT-500. The next day, I made sure to add “2011″ to my chapter.

It’s true some readers don’t care about cars. The reverse is also true. When Stephen King’s novel Christine was released in 1983, he made numerous factual errors when describing various attributes of a 1958 Plymouth Fury. His errors were even more notorious than usual because the novel’s central character, Christine, is a (supernaturally sentient) 1958 Plymouth Fury.

Even in 1983, error after error leapt out at me from the pages of Christine, yanking me out of the story. Christine was painted “Autumn Red” color, even though the 1958 Fury was only offered in Buckskin Beige. King himself had to explain (after the book was released!) that Christine was special-ordered in red. But he never explained the “Hydramatic transmission lever” (push buttons shift the 1958 Plymouth’s Torqueflite transmission), the “Rocket V8″ air cleaner (did Christine eat an Oldsmobile?), Arnie replacing the “rear door” on a car that had no rear doors, or the non-existent door lock button clamping down as Leigh Cabot eats her burger in the drive-in. The movie’s car builders had to install fake door lock buttons in a 1958 Plymouth to replicate this scene.

The final insult was when I noticed the rear cover’s picture of Stephen King, sitting on the hood of a 1957 (not a 1958) Plymouth. A world-famous author, who could have bought a 1958 Plymouth Fury just for research purposes, or at least borrowed one. What did it say about his “research” when even a teenage reader (before the modern Internet existed!) was laughing at all his mistakes? This is why I swore back in 1983 that if I ever wrote a book, the car details would be correct. My younger self would be proud to see I kept that promise.