Monday, June 14, 2021

Moving to Substack

Hello friends,

I created this blog back in February of 2017 to organize James LaFonds multitude of published books.  Since then, I have used it to publish our podcast and many exclusive pieces of writing not found on other LaFond websites. 

From now on, the posts that usually appear hear will appear as public posts on substack.  If you sign up for free emails, these pieces will be sent to you automatically.  There will be more stuff behind the paywall, including audio.  Visit us there:  SUBSTACK

The most important part of this blogspot are the bookstores I created.  I spent a lot of time tracking down all LaFond's titles in print, emailing and calling him up to figure out which titles were related to one another, organizing them into genres, and saving the book cover images and purchase links.  This will stay up indefinitely and I hope to duplicate it on other platforms for the sake of posterity.  Please visit the front page of the BOOKSTORE and click through to find the genres of your interest.


Monday, June 7, 2021

By Gaslight Chapter 7 Gunshots


Thursday, November 5, 2020, 7:10 pm,
Holgate and Foster



 slow rain failed to keep the fog at bay, a mist which seeped to the lungs and the hands, the soggy shoes too.  They stood in the grassy, muddy alley behind the Northwest IPA Bottle Shop, where those hipster faggots drank their fancy beer.  They had run the trash to the dumpster in the rain for the Cherokee owner.  So he gave them a Pabst tall boy to split.  Tones was feeling kind of bad drinking near all of it.  But Dox would not stop digging, just shoveling like a maniac.  He was digging a deep hole behind the abandoned furniture in the ally, six feet long, two feet wide and about four feet deep at this point, even getting down in the hole and digging.  This was uncharacteristic of him.  He was such a clean freak most of his effort as a homeless guy was spent keeping clean, which in and of itself was no mean feat.  He was doing this in a driven frenzy, not getting tired despite his age.

Tones finished the beer and tossed it on the couch as Dox stopped digging, got up out of the slot ditch against the concrete foundation of the brick building, and leaned on the shovel they had stolen out of a backyard a block to the west.

“What is it Dox?” Tones asked, for he could see the empty, receiving light in those small grey eyes.

“Tri-colored lights, crossroad, the crackle of highway musketry—two heads are better than one, the Grey Norn on Her remorseless Loom has so spun.”

The beating of wings overhead and the crackle of crow feet landing on grating shingles seeped down to them in the fog-choked alley.

A block away, on Foster, sounded like at the intersection, they heard five rounds from a handgun, in two controlled bursts.  Then came the dull report of three, three-round bursts from another handgun, followed by squealing tires and a continuous stream of semi-auto handgun fire that came to about ten rounds.  There was more tire squealing, sounding like from a different car, and then two more shots and the gunning of engines.

There was a crash, a dull crash, like a car hitting a curb and pole at low speed.  This was followed by the sound of another car tearing off northward and two car doors slamming shut near the mouth of the alley.

“Here they come, Dox.”

What the hell—this is all wrong.

Dox ducked down behind the couch and chair and Tones simply laid on the couch, holding his hammer close.

Within seconds two thin black guys in hooded sweat shirts, one with a spent Glock in his hand, came running down the alley.

As they passed Tones he grabbed the rear one around the waist, and did a roll-off-the-couch tackle and Dox, rising from his wolfish crouch, damn near cut the other guy’s head off with the shovel.  Tones crawled into a back mount and pinned the guy below him, not having the heart to hammer him.  These guys had done nothing to him.

Then the little skinny under him snarled, “Nigga, you dead—I’ll come back with—”

And just like that he was silent and dead, a hole knocked in the back of his head.

Dox was cutting off the head of the other gangbanger as the neck spurted warm steamy blood everywhere, then, in an amount of time that seemed too brief to dispose of a human life, the old guy neatly rolled the body into the trench.  He placed the head in his backpack—Tones now understanding why the fellow had left his spare clothes behind the makeshift plywood shelter they had slept in last night.

People were yelling worriedly out on the street.

Tones stood up and turned around and then he heard a sickening slice and saw that Dox had chopped off the dude’s head and was rolling the corpse into the trench.  As the little guy placed the second head in his rucksack and picked up the shovel and began to shovel the muddy topsoil into that grave, Tones had an idea.

“Dox, throw in half the dirt, just level.  Don’t mound it up. Scatter the rest over the blood and marks.  I’ll move the couch over the grave.”

Dox nodded his head “Yes,” and that sentiment was ostentatiously echoed within Tones’ bewildered mind, “Yaas!”

Get out of my head, asshole.

They were soon marching down Foster in the driving rain, sirens sounding in the distance behind them.

When they got to the train platform, Dox went up.

This is weird, where I came into town.

In the mist and rain above the singing splash of the highway they stood before the fence that kept fools from getting run over on the rails and Dox looked up at the top, where the wigged-out baby doll head Tones had taken from C-Three the Guru the other night was hanging just out of reach.

Dox shucked his pack, and took out both heads and held them up towards the baby doll head and stood like a maniac, like some Aztec priest who had just ripped out a heart.

Oh, this does not look good.

Tones turned and faced down at Foster.  If a train came by they would be made.  But at least his big frame would blot out sight of Dox having gone insane and holding up those heads.

I killed a man.

…He threatened you.

Yeah, because I tackled him!

…He was a scumbag out there gang-banging, just like those savages that did you wrong up in Seattle.

“Yaas,” came the echo in is head.  And before he could think a negative about the creeping ego edging into his mind, four crows swooped down out of the misty night and he heard them fluttering and cawing and pecking and ripping behind him.

“Yaas… a thinker next, a revel maker, an ethereal baker,” echoed in his head.

The crows flew off in a wicked fury of wet wings, eyes dangling from their beaks, circling out over Foster and then back northeast in the direction of Mount Tabor.

He turned around and saw Dox placing the heads reverentially, one in each of his old T-shirts, swaddling them and sliding them one at a time down into the bottom of his rucksack. 

Dox also shouldered the shovel, which they should have thrown on the roof of the buildings over the alley, looked up at Tones with a weary, ashen cast to his pinched face and asked, “What’s a revel?”

“It’s a party, like a drinking party, I guess in olden times.”

Dox blinked, “What would that have to do with an ethereal baker?”

“My guess is brewing, beer-making, the brewer uses yeast to make the booze.”

“What is Domingo?”

“Fuck, you’re a radar dish.  You got more than me. Domingo is Sunday, the Lord’s day, if you believe in that shit.”

“The Master believes.”

I feel bad for this guy.  He’s worse off than me by a long shot.

“I’m tired, Tones, so tired.”

“Come on, pal, let’s find someplace dry.  There is a dry doorway near the 7-Eleven. We need to get a tent.  Tent living is the way to go.”

Off into the misty night they walked, the black hole in Tones’ chest not aching for the first time since he came to Portland.

Monday, May 31, 2021

By Gaslight Chapter 6 Tent of Shadows

Monday, November 2, 2020, 3:48 am
57th and Powell



he night was clear, the moon was down below the distant trees and Tones was fearfully proud that he somehow had a pal three times his age, a loyal buddy that had saved his life, was the first to wake, the last to go to sleep, didn’t jerk-off in the middle of the night like Erik, was as wary of tweakers, hobo camps and cops as he was.

They sat sipping coffee behind the brewery, drinking out of cups that the old guy had made using aluminum foil.  The coffee itself they had gotten from the Cherokee at the 7-Eleven on Foster in return for cleaning the windows on the exterior.  It was the left over shit at 3 am.

He mused as the old fellow, his head forever on a swivel, looked into the clear night sky of predawn.

I mean, the only possible downside to this situation is the fact that my little buddy is insane, believes that he is possessed by the soul of an ancient sorcerer, and is actively hunting another ancient sorcerer—that must have been a good acid trip.

Yeah, but at least the creepy-ass crow has not come back since my cuffs came off—that was just too much.  Yeah, and no more LSD—imagine how much LSD this fucker has eaten!

With that thought, he heard a crackle above and saw the wings of the crow outlined under the ambient night sky land on the edge of the brewery, the eyeball still dangling from its beak—are you fucking kidding me?  Erik, why did you sell me that Nepalese paper!

Dox stood, drank the rest of his coffee, carefully folded the cup for reuse, slid it into his jacket pocket, shucked on his rucksack, saluted the crow, and as the thing flew off, Tones’ belly of blackness burned like ice and he rose eerily to his feet, “He’s back in your head, Dox?”

The little fellow looked up at him with steely grey eyes over his pinched face, now almost bearded and nodded to the right, across Foster, “Alongside Powell, five wolves and seven sheep, a big blue tent.”

“Fifty-seventh and Powell,” he answered.  Then he asked, as he finished his coffee and dropped the aluminum foil cup, which caused the little fellow to wince, like someone had stepped on a beautiful flower, “What do we need to collect, Dox?”

The fellow seemed to register verbal addresses much better when his name was spoken.  Otherwise he often would not answer absent eye contact.

“A head, the Shaman’s head.”


“Yaas” sounded the stentorian voice dripping with assurance within his subconscious.

“Well, I’m not killing anybody.  But you saved my ass.  So I’ll play lookout on your caper.”

The little man walked off—no, marched like going to war—and Tones ambled on after him, keeping up easily, checking to make sure that ball peen hammer was still in his back pocket.

Within a few short minutes, they found themselves at the homeless camp where five tweakers stood around the bicycle tent where they chopped up stolen bikes and collected an inventory of scrap-built bicycles.  Eventually a panel truck would show up and load the bikes.  He supposed it was the racket that kept these guys in their meth.  Shit, the Chinese meth was so cheap.

He then realized that Dox was seriously fucked up.  This dude just stood there, looking up at these guys, around the fire, sniffing and listening, saying nothing.  Tones walked up behind him and said, “What do we want?”

“The wise one in the big blue tent.”

“Okay, Dox.”

With that Tones stepped up to the tall long-haired hippy leaning on his dragon cane under his cowboy hat, “Look, Pal, we’re lookin’ for a fortune-teller, in a big blue tent.”

“Oh, sure friend,” the man answered glassy-eyed and languid, “C-Three the Guru is up a block, on the next side lot, on the other side of the apple tree.  Tell him that Hip-Man sent you.”

They followed the directions and came to a large blue tarp tent and could hear chanting within, in a throaty nasal rasp, that hollow drug-addict glitch of a voice.  Dox looked up at him and said, “Ask him for his head, the Master says.”

Tones ducked into the tent while Dox stood guard and, in the dull candle light saw this light-skinned, maybe 20% African fellow with dreads and a denim braided bandana and all these affected esoteric bullshit trinkets, sitting cross legged in the center of his tent while some fat red-headed bitch sucked his dick.

He was in some weird Buddhist posture and she was methed out of her mind sucking away, while this guy seemed to be focusing on this baby-doll head wearing a cancer-kid hair wig and eye shadow.

This is some sick shit.

Tones snatched the baby doll head from its string and the weird lame guru looked up at him and yawned, “That ain’ right, man,” and Tones used his sneaker to heel-stomped his nose into mush and walked out with the wigged-up baby doll head on a string.

He showed the thing to Dox, who seemed kind of lethargic all of a sudden, and the crow with the eye ball in its beak lighted on Dox’s backpack, finally swallowed the eye ball and retinas after carrying it for two days.  The crow plucked the string from Tones’ hand and flew off into the dying night.

This is far, far beyond disturbing.

“Dox, are you alright, little buddy?”

“I’m real tired, Tones.”

“Let’s go down to the park.  We can sleep behind the pool house, okay.”

“Okay, Tones.” And the little man waited for Tones to walk off and then followed him like a puppy dog down towards the homeless guys and Hip-Man, who kind of seemed as much as a pervert as C-Three was.  He just knew there was some child abuse somewhere along the line and all those bikes being kids bikes pissed him off.  It wasn’t so long ago that he had been a kid on a bike getting knocked off in the street by adults he was trying to escape.

Dox stopped behind him and Tones said to Hip-Man, “My friend is tired and you guys suck, and you are a bitch, so I’ll take your best bike for my buddy here.”

Hip-Man said, “Wait a minute, friend.”

“I’m not your fuckin’ friend, bitch!”

What are you gonna do?” he asked one big tweaker, who backed off into the shadows for answer.

“And you, what are you gonna do?” he demanded of another shadowy figure, who also backed off.

“Nothin’, that’s what you bitches are gonna do.”

Dox then patted him on the shoulder and hissed, “The Master doesn’t want me killing this one with the creased forehead,” nodding to a big leather-faced tweaker with his hand in his pocket as Dox placed his hand on his own sheathe knife.

“You sure, pal?”

“I’m sure.  I can walk.  But my hand is thirsty so we have to go.  If he keeps looking at me like that my hand will have to drink.  The Master will be mad with the wasted effort.  His wants only quality heads.  The creased forehead would ruin the curation of the totem.”

A chill issued from the black hole in his heart and in his mind echoed, “Yaas!” like the whisper of the Devil himself.

The man with the creased head stepped further back and showed his hands, apparently creeped out by Dox’s languid and matter-of-fact appraisal of his head.  He had to come away with something, so he grabbed Hip-Man’s cane and said, “I’m Big Tones, you’re my bitch and this is my cane!  Got a problem with that?”

“No, Big Tones.  Thank you for letting me hold your cane’” submitted the big old hippy.

And so they stalked off, Dox pirouetting like a merry-go-round to keep eyes on the camp until it was out of sight.

“Simple beast,” hissed the distant voice in his head.

Maybe I am, asshole boring into my soul.  But I’m not letting you take over my mind, and you better let my pal off the hook or I’ll find a way to wreck your game.

Monday, May 24, 2021

By Gaslight Chapter 5 Moon Crow

Foster-Powell Community, Halloween

Saturday, October 31, 2020, 4:00 pm



ig Tones was shitting his guts out on the toilet—at least he had a toilet.  And the process seemed to interrupt his hallucination about Harry fucking Houdini inhabiting his abdomen.

Shit, no toilet paper.

You are two feet from the shower.

He heard the front door open.

You have to be kidding me!

Who shows a house on Halloween, on a Saturday?

For a moment he wondered if perhaps he was losing his mind.  His hearing is usually great for cars and car doors.  That audio imprints very strongly the first time the cops come to beat your ass for sleeping in the bushes.

He tip-toed, as easily as a 270-pound dude can, out of the bathroom, holding his clothes, and slid into the closet and curled up.

The realtor was about to open the closet for this lisping hipster faggot and his prissy-sounding bitch when the woman said, “What is that smell?  Is there a sewer line broken here?”

“Oh, oh, let me check said the realtor,” as her hand pulled away from the slide knob and Tones heard her walking into the bathroom with the couple and then the man started gushing, “Oh My God! Oh—I have to leave—Linda, we’ are goiiiing!” and this faggot starts running out of the bedroom and down the stairs and his girl is saying to the realtor, “Eduardo has a fecal phobia—we have to go…”  

The woman realtor was on the phone with some other realtor as she left, so he figured his spot had been made and he’d pack up and leave the mess for them as well—fuck them, these rich people.  In the meantime he laughed his ass off.  He must have laughed for a half hour.

But first he needed a good shower, not in the bathroom he had blown up, but in the main bathroom with that nice custom stainless steel nozzle with all of the settings that housewives use for masturbation.

Hell yeah that felt good.  Shit, these fools had the water tank stoked too.  He was running this bitch dry!  Damn this felt good.  They even had soap in the form of the bullshit flower-shaped scented decorations in this porcelain cornucopia.  He hated hipsters and all their bullshit.  But they did serve the purpose giving him food, and a place to sleep and shit and shower, before he continued down his own personalized stairway to hell.

He got out of that steaming stall, dried off with the towel, got dressed, brushed his teeth and then had to pee.  One good thing about being over six foot tall, is that you can piss in the sink.  There he stood, everything but his jacket and backpack on, pissing in the sink, holding his dick in his hand, when two rednecks, muscular, bearded, MAGA-fucking Trumptards busted through the bathroom door and screamed, “Freeze motherfucker!”

One was holding an aluminum bat and the other a big fucking nickel-plated revolver.  Everything but his pisser froze and he was embarrassed to hear the sink, where some rich bitch would one day be brushing her teeth, gurgling with his piss.

“Oh, you dirty motherfucker,” snarled the big one with the gun—shit, these dudes were both bigger than him and looked like they banged steroids.

To that the even bigger one rumbled, “Oh, I see, we got us a Goldilocks wannabe shittin’ up this house that we scarped and saved and busted our asses to build and—you know what…we gonna take you out in the woods and make you dig your own grave!”

He had finally gotten his dick back in his pants and said, kind of deadpan he thought for a dude who always tried so hard not to get killed, “Please don’t kill me.”

Wow, does that dude even want to live?  Life must have screwed him good.

Tones spent about two hours scrubbing the bathrooms while those goddamned rednecks took turns bitching him out and kicking him in the ass with their steel toe boots.  By the time he was done he didn’t even like them anymore.  Then, just as he was thinking he was free and clear, the asshole with the gun slapped a pair of handcuffs on him, “To the woods, Goldilocks.  We got the shovel in the truck.”

It would figure that of all the houses in Portland to crash at this one would be owned by two lumberjack-steroid-bangers and one of them a cop.

Oh, God does hate you, Tones.

Off to his doom he went with head down and hopes gone, shoved into the black pickup truck in the front passenger seat with a muzzle of a 357 pressed behind his ear.

As he sat in the truck and the sun dipped down below the tree tops, streaking the world with bright diffused light, a big crow cawed at him from across the street, where it was perched on the hood of an Audi, which he thought was pretty damned strange, especially since that was his totem, his tattoo fetish anyhow.  Tones had seven different raven tattoos on his body.  The raven and the crow were just always a kind of bird he admired and he did not know why, but he’d had an affinity for them since boyhood.  This thing was looking right at him like it had something to say and his chest tingled like he had just snorted a huge line of coke through his navel and was drawing the powder up through his guts to his nose.

Portland, Oregon, Halloween,

October 31, 2020, 7:57 pm, 72nd and Holgate


“This homeless piece-of-shit is going to pay.  The cops are all getting their asses kicked downtown—nobody to save his worthless ass!”

So snarled the big boy with the gun as the bigger boy with the bat drove the big black 4x4 Dodge ram down Powell and agreed, “Shoot, shovel and shut-up, I say, Brother!”

Fuck, I’m really dead.  We’re headed out towards Gresham.  These hicks are going to murder me out in the sticks.  They will chuck me in a hole that they are going to make me dig.

“Fuck that, you sell-out bitches, working your ass off to provide housing for cross-dressing hipsters who would never buy it if they saw your bearded pie-holes.  I can’t keep you fucking inbred assholes from killing me, but the hell if I’m going to dig my own grave.”

“You’ll be singing a different song—what the hell?!” exclaimed the Bigger Boy behind the wheel as a crow, Tones had to think it was the same crow that was looking at him before, came down on the windshield, grabbed the wiper in front of the driver and started flapping its wings and obstructing his vision.  These guys may have wanted to be killers but they were still knee jerk rules followers and the big monstrosity stopped the pickup right at 72nd where the 7-Eleven was on the left.  He grabbed his bat and got out of the truck to shoo the crow off of the windshield.

This could be my—

“Don’t even think about it, motherfucker,” snarled the big boy behind him as he pressed the muzzle behind his ear.

Then, as the bigger redneck tried getting rid of the crow, they all heard something, a human war cry, like out of Last of the Mohicans and this little dude, an old dude with a pinched face and a 5 o’clock shadow, looking on the clean side of homeless, came running down the side walk on 72nd and leaped out into Powell with both hands on an aluminum baseball bat that smacked the side of the big, bearded head with a ringing ping and that giant redneck’s bloody face smashed into the window frame and—horror to behold—the crow started poking its beak into the big man’s eye, ripping that thing out!

“Billy!” yelled the big boy as he jerked open the back right passenger seat and stood on the seat and tried to aim his pistol down over the roof at the twerpish tweaker who was now running back down 72nd—but not for long.

Tones had pulled his ass and cuffed hands up, opened the door with one big thumb and slid out instinctively.  Tones managed to land on his feet, and rammed his left shoulder into the open rear door and pinched that uninjured brother, spilling him hip over doorframe back on his shoulders on the street, where he could hear an audible crack, like bones breaking in a chain and the pistol discharge, ripping through his pants leg, burning his shin and blowing a hole in the front tire with a gout of flame.  Tones was off down Powell, running after his little savage savior, the crow, its beak occupied by a dangling eye, flying above him framed in the dull light of the just risen moon.

He could hear the two big monsters moaning and groaning at one another and asking after each other as he chased the little man down 72nd towards Mount Tabor, his hands cuffed behind his back.

“Hey, wait man, I can’t keep up.  My hands are cuffed.”

The little man stopped next to a car, reached behind it, and shucked on a ruck sack, placing the bat in the top with his left hand and standing there looking up at him as if dumb.  Tones could tell that the little guy was scared.  And as he got close he could see he wasn’t a tweaker, actually looked recently homeless.  

“Hey man, let’s cut north down the side street and cross Powell a ways up.  I got a place we can regroup.”

The little, older man, like sixty it looked, nodded “Yes,” and they walked along side-by-side, the crow with the eye in its beak keeping pace with them flying out in the street, waiting on a car roof, and then hopping alongside them as they slid like shadows through shade.

Three blocks back, before they turned to re-cross Powell, he stopped and looked down at the little man, “Hey man, thanks.  My name is Tones and you saved my ass.  We might get pinched crossing the road.  I gotta know.  Why’d you save me?”

The little man nodded at the crow, the eye dangling from its beak, standing imperiously on the roof of an old Bronco, “The man in my head said so, said the crow would help.”

“The man in your head?”

“A voice—I thought I was losing it.  But the man was right and he seems to know me somehow in a way I don’t know myself.  Anyways, I can’t stand him.  He is so bossy.  So I just do as he says so he’ll go away.”

Is that like the man in the mirror in my belly?

They darted across the street, no traffic in sight, and over the grassy median and across the other side, and Tones was feeling creepy about the little guy when they got to the service road where the homeless camp was.  So, among the blue tarp-covered tents and the eerie fires, one in a hubcap, one on the asphalt and another in a legless dish grill, he stepped in front of the man and said, “What’s your name?”


“Why are you hurrying ahead?  I know the way, not you.”

“The bathroom light is on, a side light, second story, behind a frosted window over a rose bush next to a house with three black-spotted, white dog statues on the lawn.  The crow will be on the porch eave.”

A chill emanated from the black mirror to hell in his chest.

“Yes, that’s the house.”

The little man continued, “There is a little red shed in the yard with tools.  I can cut off your cuffs,” and on past him he walked, as if obedient to some other will than his own, but not in a daze.  This guy was keen beyond cagey, like a coyote trotting down the street, moving better than a guy his age with that size pack should be able to.

Tones followed him as the crow beat wing softly above them, framed in the dull street light and something, a keenly observed thought, echoed ominously and with supreme confidence in his head, “Yaas!”

Oh, this is fucking bad.



Monday, May 17, 2021

By Gaslight Chapter 4 Tones

Portland, Oregon, Southeast 52nd Street,
Friday, October 30, 2020 7:01 pm



ifteen years a brat and ever since his mother kicked him out, he’d been nine years a knave.

Knave, who the hell says knave?

It must have been those 120 hours of community service he did at the library shelving books.  The other dummies got yelled at doing road work while he was reading.  He’d been homeless, mostly in Seattle, since age fifteen, minus the two years he did in the King County Jail.  There had also been a couple of years hopping freight trains and scamming bus rides.  He supposed Seattle had only had to endure his presence for five years all told.

But that bullshit in downtown Seattle since the “Rising” was actually making shit too hot for him there.  It’s one thing dealing with the cops when you are a non-violent criminal scamming for a meal to eat and a place to sleep.  The cops generally had worse assholes than him to deal with.  But having to live on the streets now that the cops were literally not allowed to deal with violent criminals, meant that those fuckers had free rein to tax bums and they would be bored with nothing to do—at least some not being completely lazy—and be free to roust a guy down on his luck and out on his ass—just like Jack London and Jack Black wrote about a hundred years ago.

Here he was, on the train platform above I-5 and Foster, looking out over the highway towards distant Mount Hood.  He had spent most of his life in the shadow of Rainier and the Olympias.  Now, he thought he’d reboot his road show in the shadow of another unlucky white mountain, volcanoes all of them, one day to blow their tops like that insane nun Helens.

Ouch.  His chest hurt, like a piece of rebar had run clean through him under his sternum.  It felt kind of raised there, warm to the touch under his hoodie.

Shit, I need a place to stay and I haven’t been in Portland in years.

He looked down the stairs from the platform and saw a couple lowlife tweakers there and just decided that he’d avoid the camps as much as possible.  He could see their tents all along the overpass.

Fucking tweakers.

Shit that hurts.  I know I’m big.  But could this really be a heart attack?  I’m only 24, should be graduating from college!  My heart is racing and my—fuck it.

He had been born Frank Radicke, a boy without a dad.  Through his involvement in stealing music equipment he had wrangled some work as a roadie for a few local bands and had gotten the nickname Tones and just felt like it was more true to who he was then Frank.  Poor fucked-over Frank, the kid whom the principal kicked out of his chair and informed that he was going straight from school to prison—and the bastard was right.  Who wanted to be Frank?

Down beneath the platform his chest still hurt and he wasn’t dead yet so he set out looking for houses that were for sale.  Some of these hipster faggots had to be selling houses, what with all the arson and anarchist violence.  The cops were getting their asses kicked downtown, so he’d graze along the way.  Tones was a big man with one change of clothes and some beef jerky he had stolen from the 7-Eleven in his small backpack along with a bottle of water.

After about a half hour walk he hit the bar strip along Foster, all of the hipsters outside eating at tables.  He turned right on Holgate and started zigzagging through the side streets.  Two houses were for sale but occupied.  On the sixth block he finally found one that was unoccupied, walked around back between the garage and the house, located the laundry room door, and looked around to make sure no neighbors had a clear line of sight on his position.  Night was falling and the mist was coming in from the sea.  He did not want to be out in this shit tonight without a tent.  He took his jimmy out of his backpack.  Old Erik had fucked their tent up trying to make a fire inside in the rain.  Erik was a good dude but just did some weird shit.  He guessed he was better off that his pal had not decided to come south with him.

One of the realtors must have forgotten the deadbolt—no way was he defeating the deadbolt without cracking the frame and making his egress obvious at a glance.  The door knob was a cinch, as the wet Portland weather had warped the frame enough that this lock barely locked and he was in within five seconds.

What a nice house, he thought as his chest expanded to breathe in the unfamiliar sent of forced dry air, as the furnace was pumping just then.

Shit, that hurts.

He located a bathroom, found the mirror, took off his jacket, his hoodie and his shirt—awe fuck!

Right under his breast bone, over the diaphragm was either burned, or tattooed or grown a black sphere, a glassy globe of night.  He turned this way and that to see if it was a growth.

Fuck, could this be from smoking too much meth, pot, or from the LSD I got off of Erik last week—Erik?


Erik, what the fuck? 

It was not raised like a tumor or something—what the fuck do I know, I never finished high school!

He did notice that the lights around the mirror—some woman obviously lived here—radiated a brightness that grew duller as it neared his malformed diaphragm, like there was no sure way to really illuminate his chest or belly fully, with the shiny mark seemingly absorbing some of the light.

He heard two car doors slam shut out front—shit, three!

He grabbed his clothes and backpack and headed upstairs, found the master bedroom and found a walk-in closet and secreted himself there.  He did not even dare put his clothes on as the realtor and the potential buyers wandered about the house chattering.

They came into the bedroom, examined the large empty space, passed by the closet without a mention and spent a couple minutes critiquing the bathroom.

This is perfect—he thought as they flushed the toilet to demonstrate the water pressure—two dykes and a straight female realtor.  I can shit and shower and sleep all up here in this little corner.  I didn’t see any furniture.  If the fridge is plugged in that will be great!  

The mark on his chest tingled more and ached less, not even a pain anymore but more of an informative sensation—like fucking aliens are about to burst forth from your guts, Hoss!

The front door shut and the cars pulled off.  It was dark now, so he broke out his little flashlight, got dressed, tried not to think about the creepy black hole in his body and explored the house.  The fridge was plugged in.  He needed to heist some beer.  There was a decorative towel in the bathroom off the master bedroom—he was going to be drying his big ass with that!

It was getting late, almost 9 o’clock and he was hungry.  He walked up to Foster, across the park, past the government building, made a left and just saw loads of rubes, feasting on all kinds of great bar food, nothing but little fat teddy bears, skinny jean hipsters and their women.  Guilt was rife, not a black person in sight and Black Lives Matter signage all over the place.

An inspiration hit him and big Tones was among the feasting hipsters—probably the blackest man in Portland despite his pale skin—raising his fist in the air and chanting, “Black Lives Matter!  What matters?  Black Lives Matter!—come on y’all, get up and march, Black Lives Matter!”

That’s all it took for these rubes.  The guys, he could tell, did not want to get up and march around the four little pavilions, with their gas lights heating the silly faggots and turd-brained princesses afraid of this phony fucking disease.  But the women, who all apparently dreamed of being gang raped by the savages he played dominos and spades with in the King County Jail, those stupid bitches could not resist and were soon running the thing: syncopating, dancing, leading chants, dressing lines.

And, to the tune of “Black Lives Matter!” Tones slipped off down the side street behind the trashcans with a plate of nachos, a slice of pizza and three vegan enchiladas!

Well, the nachos were good!  He ate the rest on principle as he sat on the toilet behind the master bedroom that had a frosted window and the decorative towel as a makeshift curtain to hide his presence.

Big Boy Tones sept like a baby, high and dry—well, unfortunately not high.

In the morning—well, in the early afternoon—he woke up with that ache in his chest and went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, hoping he was not going to see some alien shit ripping out through his stomach and then attaching itself to his face.

What he saw, in a way, was worse.  A stern human face looked out at him from within that globe of night as if this son-of-a-bitch were tunneling out through his guts.  The face had piercing dark eyes, a forked mustache, a scar on the cheek and a pointed beard.  This face held all of the vicious arrogance of a cop, the caper-making wits of a crook, and the high and mighty disdain of a judge.

“What a perfect prick this bastard must be.  Shit, I’m talking out loud.  That must have been some bad LSD, Erik.”

“No,” spoke the face from the well of night, “you litigious scoundrel, you, my reviled mutineer, have partaken of the potion of the shaman upon the Hitching Post of the Sun.  I could not rightly kill a white man—no matter how low—without soiling my honor, unless I somehow made use of the fellow in furtherance of illumination.  You, brute though you are, have been honored to be cast into the distant future in search of he who fled my wrath some years ago and laid upon me a curse.  More importantly, Eternity yawns with the possibilities.”

“What, Oh shit—sorry man, my stomach is not right.  You probably want to leave my hallucination—Oh God, those fucking vegan enchiladas!”

The scandalized face of the mesmerist in his fist-sized upper navel of night, scrunched with disgust and Tones barely had time to take a seat before he rocked out the song of the vegans on the porcelain kettle drum.

“Fucking hipsters!”

Monday, May 10, 2021

By Gaslight Chapter 3 The Bridge


Over the Columbia River,
Portland, Oregon, 7:50 pm



he air was cold now and he shivered, more so from what lurked within than what chill vapors crept down from those distant, unseen mountains to remind men why they clung to the coasts and valleys.

Twilight was here, darkness descending, and his dumbass had failed to find the quickest route up across the river to the other side.  The ugly hospital grinned on the mountainside behind him—a kind of place he deeply feared, ever since his wife had him committed to Shepherd Pratt back in Maryland.  He would never go to a hospital again.

The people with the Nazi masks and shields, hunting Nazis had scared him slightly.  But for some reason, the modern style opera house right on the river galled something deep inside—as if a higher self who gave a shit about such things cared deeply for the aesthetics of this soulless place—and impelled him to walk as fast as possible across that mighty bridge.  He could still see the dim outlines of the hills above and ahead he saw the house lights blinking on, drawing him upward and out of this rat’s maze of a city—he so hated city centers with their cops, other homeless and the empty ways that made him feel all the more alone.  He wanted to find a residential area where he could camp behind some bushes near a park and not be drawn into the camp scene or worse.  He wanted to at least live where families existed even if all alone.

Shoot, look at this coming.

Two young men, late teens to early twenties, with surgical masks on their faces and clown masks worn as hats were coming down the sidewalk on skateboards towards him.

Hope they pass.  They’re tall.

They pulled up in front of him, both kicked their skateboards up into their hands, and the tall one with the pink hair accused from behind his mask, “You gonna breath on us?  Social distance out in the road, or mask up, bitch!”   

He just kept marching past, hoping they would let him go.  He moved nearer to the railing and scooted sideways a little and the pink-haired guy, who kind of had an afro, swung on him inwardly with his skate board.  If not for the handle of his aluminum bat sticking up out of his rucksack, he would have had his head knocked in.  But the ringing bat handle saved him and he stepped right towards the blond kid, ducking his head as the taller, pink-haired guy swatted down with his skateboard wheels and they became stuck in the torn top of his torn-up rucksack.

Then, as the blond kid seemed to try and block his way with his board, as if he had no stomach for hurting bums, Dox pulled his five-inch knife out from the sheath on his front right hip and thrust upward.  The blade sank up to his fist and he cut inward, across the kid’s belly as the kid wheezed and he dragged the kid leftward as a shield to hide behind from the pink-haired freak swinging the board again.  That board came down on the head of the blond kid and Dox shoved with hand, shoulder, and elbow as his knife ripped clear out of the belly, sending the gutted and head-banged kid over the railing and into the darkness.

The pink-haired kid opened his eyes wide.  Dox drew his bat out and sheathed the knife, not wanting any motorist to see it.  As he did this, facing the now-terrified youth, the blue eyes under the pink afro seemed drawn to his right hand and a panic swept the mouthless face and he laid down his skateboard and pushed for all he was worth down the way Dox had come.

Dox beat feet for the high end of the bridge and those welcoming houselights twinkling in the fresh night.  He ran with remarkable dexterity and lack of fatigue, possessed as he was with a deep fear for the police and the hospital they would surely take him to.

“Yaas,” echoed the voce in his head as he returned his bat to his rucksack and wiped the blood from his hand off in the pockets of his black hoody under his denim jacket, running again like a young fellow without a fifty-pound load on his back, running for freedom into the gathering night from the freaks and fools that infested this sick city.

My hand tingles like it is alive.

The unblinking stars above seem so near and the twinkling houses on the hill so far.

Am I really losing it?

Was Becky right—that wicked bitch—for shutting me away, having me comitted?

How did I get discharged?  I don’t remember.

Then I am losing it.  The memory of my freedom from those mind-fuckers, that should be etched in my mind.  Where is my mind?

…Your consciousness spreads like a sail before the breeze of Infinity, Drood.  You sail forth within the Boat of a Million Years.

Drood? I am not Drood.  I am—I was Ted—now I’m Dox.

…Yaas Drood, yaas…

Get out of my head!  Stop talking to me.

…Onward, Drood, into the night, beyond peril and below the reach of the petty officials who would foil our purpose. 

The hand began to ache again instead of tingling and Dox jogged along at a sharp pace in a mania to achieve distance from his just-lived past.

I killed a man?  I’ve never killed a man.

I should be sick, throwing up, crying, turning myself in—that’s what they always said.

He began to sweat and grow angry at the kids back there, could feel his heart pounding in his chest, probably headed for his first and last heart attack on account of those rotten kids who had turned him into a killer.

He ran, surprised at the resilience of his bad back.

I feel good.  I feel strong.

Dox’s hand ached but his chest heaved high, his wrecked back did not spasm and his duct-taped boots trod the concrete with confidence he had never known, not in any of his failed lives: bullied kid, spurned husband, order picker, mental patient, bum.

He felt somehow different, taller, wider, deeper, yaas, deeper.

To hell with these people!  Let the cops come.  That is my ticket to punch, to checkout time…pull out the knife and they’ll light me up and this miserable fucking life is finally over forever.

Dox left the bridge and headed uphill, wanting the highest ground for a spot he could get in this rainy climate.  The stars smiled down in this young night.  But by morning they could be raining their wrath and freezing his ass.  Not for little Teddy, not for loser Ted, and not for the bum named Dox either, life had never had a luster to lose, but freezing to death was not the way he wanted to end his sentence in Hell.

Monday, May 3, 2021

By Gaslight Chapter 2 Dox

Union Station, Portland Oregon, Thursday, 5:00 P.M., October 17, 2020



hirty hours on the Coastal Starlight train and he hadn’t seen the coast once.  It was a fine ride, much better than, than what—what is that ache?

Dox was out of sorts.  He had adopted a new identity, even legally got his name changed to Dox Smith two years ago, after he lost his job for posting his political views on social media.  Before he even bought a backpack or a train ticket he got his name changed, a man with no history in a nation that hated him could do little worse than a change of name.

Ever since the train hit Oakland he’d had this terrible ache in his right hand.  His paranoia about the virus had kept him out of the bathroom except for right after the steward cleaned them.  He went nowhere on the train without his rubber gloves on, even washed the rubber gloves when he was done in the bathroom.

Is that why his right hand ached so much, because he was wearing these gloves?  Then why not the left hand?  Maybe because it was smaller—he was right-handed after all.

He would have to make his way through another train-side homeless camp as a lone hobo, just a little guy and he was highly reliant on his right hand for working his knife.  Big tweakers had their own canes and bats—and he had his aluminum bat sticking out of the top of his rucksack.  But it was the knife that kept them off a man and preserved a little fella from a homeless woman’s raped fate.

The train was winding along the Columbia River Gorge in its gloomy, rust-tinged majesty.  The hand was driving him crazy.  He had to take a look and headed down to the bathroom.  As it happened, one of the aluminum doors in the 2-foot wide metal hallway was rattling open and he ducked in, found paper towels, pulled the door shut and locked it with a paper towel, disposed of it and then gingerly peeled off that black plastic glove.

A black shadow streaked by his right eye and another by his left.  Each time he tried to follow their progress he got a sick queasy feeling in his shrunken gut.  Almost 60, after a life of work, and here he was, alone on the rails like an A.D. 1900 hobo, but minus all of the prospects…noting but lame old age looming grey before him…

No!  No!!  What the hell?

Dox, who had until a couple years previous been a discredited man living under a given name rather than his defiantly taken name, looked down at the previously aged, spotted and thin-skinned back of his hand, swollen from years of order picking in refrigerated warehouses and saw a terrible black spot.  This was not cancer or some outrageous liver spot, but something artificial, something that looked like the “black spot” handed to that pirate of old who had violated an oath and fallen out of favor with his cutthroat brotherhood.  From the back of his hand just behind the swollen knuckles, to the base of his thumb and upon the wrist proper, was a clean, clear, hairless, black sphere—not an exact circle—that appeared tattooed but shone, and the skin that shimmered with that glassy black radiance sprouted no fine little hairs but had been given over wholly to this radiant sink hole of lightlessness.  There was something unsettlingly concave about the spherical mark.

To check his faltering sanity, Dox turned to the mirror, held up his hand and could see therein the shining blackness tattooed—no, branded—no implanted—there.  He shivered and shook when he noted that the bright white light of that tiny, unsanitary cubicle seemed to bend towards that tiny sphere of night where his hand ached so.  Standing with a shiver a bit more rigid he looked himself in the eyes in the mirror, afraid now to look at the apparition upon—or rather within—his hand and wrist.

As the train rocked and the steel wheels squealed below his tin-trapped feet, homeless reprobate Dox Smith, formerly concerned citizen and wage laborer Theodore Roy looked at his small weathered face, pinched nose and bald head and saw there something wicked, thirsty and unfed.

A larger head, as if floating or rooted on a taller set of shoulders—yes, a hazy outline of higher wider shoulders played dully behind him in the mirror—shimmered hazily above his own head.  Or did this shadow of light emanate from his head?  There, about his ears and eyes expanded a larger, more artistically formed head, possessed of a higher forehead, black and still substantial hair, though closely cut, over domineering eyes, sporting a forked mustache beneath scarred cheek and above a wickedly pointed beard of short cut.

This hallucination would not dissipate and the base of his brain burned, icy claws gripped within his head as he seemed to grow a bit stronger than his scrawny norm and a shiver coursed through him as if something old and forgotten had within him been reborn.

The image framing him faded in the mirror.  But this granted no comfort, no reprieve, for then, within him, within his very head, in his mind, echoed words, “Yaas, Drood, find the Hindoo priest.”

He vomited in the sink, and, embarrassed at himself, began running the water, trying to clear that fine, L. A. soup kitchen slop from the bowl, forever fouling the gloves, which he then discarded in horror.

“Take me damned virus!  It will be better than going insane.”

With another shiver and an unmanly shake, he drew his green bandana up over his nose, and feeling the train begin to brake, stepped out into the hallway to heft on his rucksack over his denim jacket and jeans and await the welcome opening of the door, when he would once again be able to breathe straight air without sucking life’s breath through a face diaper.

The train shook and the old Mexican woman leaning on her cane looked to him as he instinctively placed his right hand to her shoulder to keep her from falling into the electrical panel casement.

Her eyes crinkled in an easy smile as he withdrew his hand and then, as he smiled back, she caught sight of the unnatural sphere of night on the back of his hand and her smile went out like a harshly blown candle.

The ache in his hand and the sickness in his belly returned and continued during the long, slow braking process.

Then, finally, the conductor opened the door and Dox motioned for the old woman to step off first and she shrank back into the press of the others, mostly men.  A bit wounded in his vestigial honor gland, he shrugged his shoulders and stepped off onto the metal stepper and then to the concrete platform.

The station was crowded with masked normals and he could not wait to get free of their fearful taint, to get out to the round-about cab stand and walk, walk, walk, hike, march and leave the toxifying hallucinations of that train bathroom behind.  These dreads were only amplified by proximity to the fearful zombie mob at the station.

The sun was dipping down as he walked to the bus stop past the tents on the sidewalk and the moist air closed in around him between the tall empty buildings.

Oh, one could not get aboard a bus with cash, and he had no credit card…

A hike it would be.