Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Excepts from the Next BJ Vinson Novel

A BJ Vinson Mystery Novel

Chapter 1 (Second Installment)

“Now wait a minute.” Anthony Alfano obviously was not accustomed to getting the brush-off. “I know all about you. And except for that—nonsense—you’ve got a good reputation. You can move in both the straight world and the gay world. You’re the one I want. Find my son, Vinson, and send him home to his mother and me.”

“It’s Mr. Vinson.” Might as well set the bigoted SOB straight right at the beginning.

“All right, Mr. Vinson, score one for you. Are you sure you’re gay? You don’t sound it.”

“Does your son?”

“No, but—”

“But in your dreams he’s not twisted, right? How about Norville? Am I looking for a flaming queen?”

“Of course, not. Lando wouldn’t hang out with someone like that. No, I’ve got to admit, looking at Dana Norville, you wouldn’t suspect.”

“Then how can you be certain?”

“I did a quick background check on Norville when the two of them started bumming around together, and the guy was clean. But when they…uh, got close, I took another look and found the man Norville had been shacking up with before he latched onto my son.”

“Very well, Mr. Alfano, I’ll look into the matter. I’ll do it for Orlando and Dana, but you’re going to be footing the bills.”

He promised to have his secretary in California call Hazel tomorrow with the credit card information for my retainer and to provide anything else we requested. I asked him to email color photos of the two men. If they were as close as he believed, there would be a few around somewhere. He also gave me his son’s cell and pager numbers.

After hanging up, I tapped my desk blotter with a gold and onyx letter opener fashioned into a miniature Toledo blade. I sighed aloud. The Alfano case had all the hallmarks of developing into a nightmare. Working for attorneys was easier; they understood the process. Private individuals had a warped idea of what a PI did, which was nothing more or less than gathering information. But I was committed, so I might as well make the best of it.

Next Week: Third Installment of Chapter 1

To read the Prologue and the first installment of Chapter 1, please see the prior two posts.

PS: Please feel free to comment. I appreciate receiving feedback from readers.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Excepts from the Next BJ Vinson Novel

A BJ Vinson Mystery Novel 

Chapter 1 (First Installment) 

Albuquerque, New Mexico 

The telephone jolted me out of my reverie. Hazel Harris, my secretary, aide, and surrogate mother, had left for the day, but the answering service could field the call. Ninety percent of my clients were attorneys, and there weren’t many of them working this time of day. But when the phone shrieked a second time, I glanced at the unfamiliar long-distance number on the Caller ID and caved in to curiosity.
“B. J. Vinson, Confidential Investigations.” 

“Who’s speaking?” 

“B. J. Vinson. What can I do for you?” 

“What’s this?” a gravely voice demanded. “Some rinky-dink outfit where the boss answers his own phone?” 

Curiosity has its limits. Without another word, I dropped the receiver back into its cradle. It usually takes a while to recognize a problem client, but this obnoxious prick had done me a favor by convincing me of it within a couple of sentences. 

I swiveled my chair around to return to what I had been doing, savoring the view from the north-facing window of my third-floor office in one of Albuquerque’s historic buildings at Fifth and Copper. I often undertook this ritual before heading home. It was my favorite vista at my favorite hour in my least favorite time of year—about three-quarters of the way into evening on a muggy summer’s day made uncomfortable by the lingering humidity of an earlier quick-moving thunderstorm. Fortunately a more hospitable autumn hovered just around the corner. 

The phone intruded again. Determined to cut this guy off at the pass, I snatched up the receiver, but before I could say anything, a loud laugh threatened to burst my eardrum. 

“Short fuse, huh? Okay, I can respect that. Look, I’m in Hawaii on business and lost track of the time difference. Sorry to call so late.” 

The bastard was pretty good at defusing things. 

“Let’s start over, shall we? I’m Anthony P. Alfano. I run Alfano Vineyards in Napa Valley. I’ve got a problem out there in New Mexico, and I think you’re the guy who can help me. I got your name off the Internet. I like your website. It’s a solid professional layout.” 

He left me little recourse except to respond gracefully. “Thanks. I assume you checked me out with someone, too.” I exhaled and tried to ignore the feeling I was being manipulated by an expert. “Okay, what’s the problem?” 

“My son. He’s missing. Probably nothing serious, but I need to locate him.” 

Orlando Selvanus Alfano—was this family Italian, or what?—twenty-one, and a graduate student in history at UCLA, had left on July twenty-second for an extended vacation. He and his traveling companion, another student named Dana Norville, intended to explore the natural wonders of the great Southwest and sample the wares of local vineyards. Even though they were three days late returning home, the vacationers were still registered at the Albuquerque Sheraton on Menaul and Louisiana across the street from Coronado Mall. Repeated phone messages left at the hotel and on Orlando’s cell phone had gotten no response. The two were going to miss the first classes of the fall semester if they didn’t return immediately. 

“I take it the other student—this Dana—is his girlfriend.” 

Alfano’s pregnant pause and terse answer raised my antennae. “It’s Dana James Norville. One of those names that can go either way.” 

So that’s the way it was. Alfano needed a gay PI to look for a gay son. “Does he? Go either way, I mean?” 

His rage was palpable. “Only one way. The wrong way.” 

“And your son?” 

Instead of the expected explosion, Alfano sighed heavily. “You have to understand something. Orlando’s not queer. Hell, most of us jerked off with buddies when we were kids. We grew out of it, no harm done. Lando’s just a slow developer. He hasn’t come out of it yet, but he will.” 

“How about Norville?” 

“That bastard’s a dyed-in-the-wool pansy, and he’s contaminating my son.” 

I bit my tongue at the sophomoric outburst. “For your information, Mr. Alfano, I’m pretty ‘dyed-in-the-wool’ myself. I think you need to call someone else.”

Next Week: Second Installment of Chapter 1

To read the Prologue of the novel, see the previous post.

PS: Please feel free to comment. I solicit readers' opinions of my writing.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Excepts from The Bisti Business

A BJ Vinson Mystery Novel


Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, South of Farmington, New Mexico

A lopsided moon daubed wispy tendrils of scattered clouds with pewter. Glittering pinpricks of muted light smeared the Milky Way while moon shine bleached the barren landscape silver. Sharp-edged shadows shrouded the feet of mute, grotesque gargoyles of clay and sandstone: hoodoos masquerading as monumental toadstools, spheroid stones aping gigantic dinosaur eggs, and eroded clay hills with folds like delicate lace drapery.

A great horned owl soared above the high desert floor, its keen eyes scouring the panorama below. The plumed predator dipped a wing and veered eastward, attracted by the dull metallic shine of a large foreign object. Quickly discerning it represented no culinary opportunity, the raptor flew in slow, ever-widening circles in search of something more promising.

The huge bird’s flitting shadow startled two figures, interrupting their heated argument. Both glanced up quickly. Taking advantage of the moment, the larger man snaked a belt from his waist and slipped behind the other. He whipped the leather strap over his victim’s head, driving him to the ground with a knee to the back. After a short, desperate struggle, the man sprawled in the cooling sand ceased to resist. The violent tremors in his extremities passed, and he lay still.

Panting from his exertions, the killer rose and began the hunt for a suitable crevice to hide the body. It wasn’t difficult to find one in the unstable terrain of these remote badlands. Satisfied his cairn of loose stones and sandy soil blended well with the rest of this weird, other-world place, he turned and plodded toward his distant vehicle.

Next Week: Installment One of Chapter 1

PS: Please feel free to comment. I'm interested in readers' reaction to my writing. Thanks.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Gestation and Birth of the BJ Vinson Series

A reader—actually a dear friend and fellow scrivener—commented on my last post and suggested I describe how and why I wrote the BJ Vinson books. THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT is available as both an ebook and in print. THE BISTI BUSINESS, the second in the series, will be coming out shortly in ebook form with the print version to follow. The third, called THE CITY OF ROCKS, is already in the hands of the publisher. A fourth, with the working title of THE LOVELY PINES, is in the works.

I am, and always have been, drawn to mystery novels. James Lee Burke, Robert B. Parker, and Stuart Woods are among my favorite writers. So it was natural that I decided to write a mystery. Maybe even a series. But who would be the hero…the protagonist…the doer of great deeds?
As I began to think about the possibility, a name popped into my head. Burleigh J. Vinson. Burleigh? An unlikely name for a fellow who had to carry the load for an entire series. But there it was, and it wouldn’t go away. He could be known as Burl. Or Leigh. Neither rang a bell. But B. J. Vinson sounded pretty good. Okay, so it would be BJ…with no punctuation. I liked that. Punchy. What did the J stand for? Nothing. It was a MIO…a Middle Initial Only. Why? Because I didn’t want to burden the guy with any more letters of the alphabet.

Now that was settled. But when you got right down to it, BJ didn’t have an intimate sound. Because my hero was a flesh and blood guy, he had to have some cozy moments. In a previous post, I explained why he was gay, therefore I won’t cover that ground again. So how about Vince (taken from his last name) for those who were closest to him? Sounded good to me. In the post titled “Who is BJ Vinson and Why is He Gay,” I gave you his history and threw in the fact that he was independently wealthy—thanks to his parents—which allowed him to pick and choose his cases. That was important since I wanted to write about is this great, big, beautiful state I have chosen to call home.

New Mexico is truly an amazing place. Members of my family, who hail from Oklahoma and East Texas, come for visits and shake their heads because everything isn’t covered in carpets of green. There are places lush with grama and buffalo grass, but there are also great swaths of stark, barren rock. There are exotic, unreal places like the Tent Rocks, the Bisti/De Na Zin Badlands, the black lava beds of the Valley of Fire, the enormous caverns at Carlsbad, the Rio Grande Gorge…and other places too numerous to mention here. That was what I wanted to write about…the State of New Mexico. I wanted to share the beauty of this place with readers. 

One way to accomplish this is to send the intrepid BJ all over the state on behalf of his clients. Each of the novels takes him to different parts of the state. The Zozobra Incident is set in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe corridor. In The Bisti Business, BJ travels from Albuquerque to the Continental Divide, to Taos, Farmington…and finally the Bisti/De Na Zin Wilderness area. The City of Rocks sends him to Deming and deep into the Boot Heel country. The Lonely Pines, puts him squarely in the wine country north and east of Albuquerque. 

BJ is an ex-Marine MP and an ex-Albuquerque Police detective, so he is seldom satisfied with simply collecting information (which is essentially a private investigator’s job). He’s compelled to dig into it and see what lies behind the data he collects. He’s gay, but he doesn’t serve just the gay community. Some of his cases involve homosexual clients, but in others there isn’t a gay in sight…except for BJ and his companion, of course.

I also have an abiding interest in various cultures, and New Mexico is awash in them. So BJ deals with Anglos, Hispanics, Pueblo Indians, Navajos, and in one case, Swiss immigrants.
This is a very lengthy way of saying BJ Vinson was created as a foil to indulge my passion for history, love of my adopted home, a fascination with diverse cultures, and the intrigue of a good mystery. I pray my writing enmeshes the readers in these fascinating subjects, as well.

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