Before kicking off this latest serial, a couple of housekeeping items…
First, I want to take a moment to thank Next Page Ink for publishing my short story, “The Halloween Hound.” To my surprise the story was awarded Best Original Short Story by the Delaware Press Association in their 2021 Communication Awards Competition. You can find the tale here.
Next, I’m also pleased to announce that my short promotional video for the Gravelight Press anthology, EXHUMED, was awarded Best Promotional Video by the DPA. Click here to view the clip. To purchase the collection from Amazon, go here.
Lastly, between Devil’s Party, Gravelight, Hawkshaw, and Out of This World, you can expect to see a cadre of terrific novels and collections in the coming months so stay tuned.
The Night it Rained Rembrandt – 1
The coconut-shaped ceramic glass was filled with a coconut-flavored alcoholic beverage, the name of which he had forgotten less than five seconds after ordering it from the waitress who looked neither Hawaiian, nor coconutesque, in shape or stature. The jukebox played not Don Ho, but Don Johnson, whose closest tie to Hawaii was the long-forgotten Miami Vice series that had aired on the National Broadcasting Company between 1984 and 1990 and which, truthfully, wasn’t close to Hawaiian at all. The fashion trends that the Michael Mann series once inspired were long gone, even though a subbaculture of individuals continued to consciously dress in blue and pink pastels in homage well beyond the series’ demise.
He sat and sipped the sweet coconut beverage recalling that, to his best recollection, Miami Vice epitomized weapons, women, and cars. These items, he knew, had already been with us. As American as apple pie, he thought. He couldn’t honestly blame such stereotypes on a one-hour television show that hadn’t been on the air in decades. But the pastel clothing he could never forgive. He wondered, the alcohol laced within his drink delivering a slow buzz, how many wedding albums across the US sat on dusty shelves, their pages filled with aging photos of brides, grooms, and entourages adorned in ghastly pastel, coiffures built on Aqua Net and fashions, and beards inspired by Sonny Crockett. The thought nearly brought a tear to his eye.
His gaze turned to the muted television suspended on the corner wall. He felt a need to connect the dots between own presence, a glass that felt cold in his steady hand, and the fiftieth state of the union. But Hawaii Five-O was not to be found. Nor was Tropic Thunder, Jurassic World, Pearl Harbor, or so much as a Hawaiian Tropic swimsuit competition. He’d have been content with a Hawaiian Punch advert. Instead, he stared at the silent screen and watched as two warriors brandishing Everlast gloves proceeded to beat the pulp out of each other.
“Fucking barbarians,” he whispered.
He placed the coconut drink on the bar, pushed it aside, and caught the bartender’s eye. PBR, Johnny Walker, and Maker’s Mark 46 were, he realized, more apropos for the evening. From Don Ho to George Thorogood in sixty seconds.
“Do me a solid, will you?” he said to the barkeep after ordering. “Change the channel.”
The man behind the bar issued a wafer-thin smile. “What’s your name, friend?”
“I’m Carmine. Now that we know each other, Barry, let me explain why I cannot perform the simple task you’ve requested.” He pointed to the far end of the bar. “Them guys are rabid fans of contact sports. They’re regulars. And frankly, they tip a hell of a lot better than you.”
Barry opened his billfold and slid a pair of crisp hundred-dollar bills across the bar.
“Weather Channel, Carmine. Thirty minutes.”
Carmine scrutinized the currency for a moment. He pocketed the bills and reached for the TV remote. “Weather Channel, Barry. Thirty minutes.”
Next: Our story continues.