Thursday, January 17, 2019

Don Travis: The Dancer (Part 1 of 3 Parts)

Don Travis: The Dancer (Part 1 of 3 Parts): dontravis.com blog post #320 Courtesy of Wikipedia TO MY READERS : The “Contact” section has disappeared from my Web Site, so I h...

The Dancer (Part 1 of 3 Parts)


dontravis.com blog post #320

Courtesy of Wikipedia
TO MY READERS: The “Contact” section has disappeared from my Web Site, so I have no way of reading or responding to your comments. I’ve tried all the corrective suggestions by “experts” to no avail. Please make any comments directly to my personal email, dontravis21@gmail.com, until this situation is corrected. Thanks.

WARNING: Some readers will find language in the following story to be offensive, but it accurately represents at time that was—and in too many places, still is. Enjoy the story, don’t concentrate on such language.

*****
THE DANCER

          A call from my ex-wife venting her undiminished rage drove me out of the apartment into the streets of Manhattan. Melanie and I had met and married in college. Upon graduation, we moved into the apartment my folks had left me in a good high rise and pursued successful careers—me as a writer of how-to books and Mel as a nursing supervisor. I hadn’t realized how much trouble my marriage was in until her younger brother visited one weekend. His first night there, while Mel was working overtime, Brad sneaked into our bedroom and seduced me. The good-looking nineteen-year-old introduced something new into my life and drove me out of a stale marriage. He’d both liberated and crippled me, opening me to a new and exciting experience while leaving me with no idea how to replicate it.
          Mel’s phone call this otherwise pleasant early summer afternoon let me know she had learned of my liaison with her “little brother.” If only she knew! In addition to all my other sins, I had corrupted an innocent youth. Yeah, right.
          Nursing my frustration, I headed for my favorite place in the world… the public library. I fumed at the fates on the eight-block walk to my destination. Could I induce Brad to come back for a visit? Not likely, given the fact he’d spilled the beans to his sister. Should I visit a gay bar? The very thought shriveled my insides. Men’s rooms? They say men’s rooms are places homos go to meet. That thought brought me to a halt in the middle of the sidewalk. Is that what I had become? I resumed pacing, unsure of the answer.
           A vivid red and black poster advertising a flamenco troupe posted outside the public library caught my eye. A haughty young dancer stared out of the picture through smoldering eyes. His broad shoulders and unbelievably slender hips and accentuated groin instantly focused my desires and brought me into a state of physical discomfort. Glancing around guiltily, I was startled to find a man at my side eyeing me boldly. When he suggested what we could do for the handsome dancer… or for one another, I panicked and fled down the sidewalk.
          Realizing I had missed an opportunity to find what I yearned for, I turned back, but the pleasant-looking stranger was gone. Succumbing to a sudden urge, I did something totally out of character. The poster came away in my hand, although the corners ripped a little. A clerk at a nearby framing shop grumbled at my request for a rush job but assured me it could be trimmed and framed. An hour later, I carried my ill-gotten treasure into the apartment and hung it in my bedroom.
          The unknown young man’s whip-like body was as exciting as his features were handsome. A strong jawline saved his beautiful face from androgyny and made me wonder at his experiences with women—and men. Entranced, I stood before the picture and gave myself over to lust. The poster became my shrine. I spurned human contact and turned to the image of this young Adonis for my carnal needs. By late summer, I was content with my existence. I no longer hunted for something I didn’t know how to hunt


          One day, as I wandered the Times Square area in a moment of leisure, something caught my eye. My dancer! My poster strode down the sidewalk in jeans and shirt instead of a flamenco costume. I froze, caught my breath, and hastily fell in behind him. He moved in long, graceful strides—just as I had imagined—drawing me along helplessly in his wake.
          The tall youth turned into one of those Turkish baths that public health officials tried to close down years ago at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Heedless of anything other than catching a better glimpse of my quarry, I handed over the price of admission, accepted a large towel, and rushed inside. He stood stripping off his shirt in the locker room, exposing a long, muscled torso. Eventually, I recovered my wits enough to sit on a bench and remove my shoes.
          This was not my dancer, but it could have been. Hispanic, twenty or so, six-foot, hundred and seventy, broad back, narrow waist. He nodded a silent greeting. I smiled but took my cue from him and said nothing. He slipped jeans and briefs down his trim hips. He was breathtaking—a dark golden tan all over. The youth fixed a towel around his waist and disappeared through another set of doors.
          I sat on the bench, shaken by proximity to a real, live Lothario. What had his face looked like? No idea, except he was handsome. My attention had centered on his smooth chest, flat belly, and exciting nether regions.
          A banging locker startled me out of my trance. I undressed and rushed through the door, coming to an abrupt halt. A big room dominated by a huge swimming pool with lounges scattered around the edges teemed with men. Some were older, and all appeared to be on the hunt. A dozen predatory eyes fixed on me.
          I secured the towel around my waist and fought a wave of panic. Ignore them! Go about your business and ignore them. Go about my business? My business was ogling a young man the way these guys were gaping at me. I strode through the room studiously avoiding eye contact. As I reached the far doors, a man rose from one of the lounges and started my way. Seeking to put distance between us, I more or less blundered into the steam room. There was one occupant. My young man. Totally naked, he sat on his towel and leaned back against the wooden platform, legs splayed. He opened his eyes long enough to give me a quick, irritated look. I took a seat opposite him, winced at the heat of the wooden bench, and emulated him by sitting on my towel.

*****
Many years ago, I visited a New York Turkish bath, and it scared the hell out of me. My tender Oklahoma roots weren’t built for such aggressive soil. I scooted right back out of there, but it looks like our hero—Rob’s his name, by the way—is made of sterner stuff. Of course, he’s pursuing a dream. I was merely a timid youth exploring the unknown and the unfamiliar.

Tune in next week to see if anything develops between Rob and his flamenco dancer look-alike.

Abaddon’s Locusts--my fifth BJ Vinson mystery series book--comes out on the 22nd. Hope you’ll get a copy of it. If you do, please post a review of the book on Amazon. Each one helps… as do letters to the publisher.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

My personal links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Don Travis: A Look at the Upcoming The Voxlightner Scandal

Don Travis: A Look at the Upcoming The Voxlightner Scandal: dontravis.com blog post #319 TO MY READERS : The “Contact” section has disappeared from my Web Site, so I have no way of reading or r...

A Look at the Upcoming The Voxlightner Scandal


dontravis.com blog post #319

TO MY READERS: The “Contact” section has disappeared from my Web Site, so I have no way of reading or responding to your comments. I’ve tried all the corrective suggestions by “experts” to no avail. Please make any comments directly to my personal email, dontravis21@gmail.com, until this situation is corrected. Thanks.

As I wrote last week’s post,  flakes of snow feathered lightly to the ground outside my patio door. Some of the cursed stuff is still there, especially in shady parts of the parking lot. Unusual for snow to last this long in Albuquerque.

Another matter of potential interest. Once or twice a year, the site gets 3,000 or so hits from Israel, usually all on one day. For last week’s posting, I noticed a new phenomenon: 1,700 hits from Russia. They can’t all be spies, can they? Even so, I encourage them to continue reading my blog.


Last week, we looked at my most recent novel (release date January 22), Abaddon’s Locusts, the fifth in the BJ Vinson mystery series. This week, I’d like to give you a peek at my latest, and as yet, unreleased novel, The Voxlightner Scandal. The story begins when BJ’s young companion Paul Barton, a budding investigative journalist, decides to look into the murder of an Albuquerque author. That leads to reopening one of the state’s largest scandals. The excerpt that follows is set in BJ's and Paul’s home on Post Oak Drive NW in Albuquerque in July 2011.


Alas, no artwork yet exists on Vox, rendering this week’s post pictureless.

*****
THE VOXLIGHTNER SCANDAL
Chapter 1

          If this was the year of the Arab Spring, this morning’s Albuquerque Journal neglected to mention it. The international lead story—above the fold—reported the bombing of the government quarter in Oslo and the subsequent murder by gunfire of sixty-eight youth activists of the Labour Party by a native Norwegian terrorist.
          The below-the-fold story told of the death of local author John Pierce Belhaven in a garage fire mere blocks from my home. What snagged my attention was that the terrorist attack in Norway took place today. The local tragedy occurred two nights ago. Our paper reported foreign events faster than local ones.
          Paul strode into the kitchen where I sat at the table munching an English muffin slathered with cream cheese and dusted with ground black pepper. He brought with him the aroma of his shower. He was using a new aftershave lotion… Axe, possibly.
          He halted at the sight of me. “Whoa, Vince, I was gonna fix omelets.”
          The rest of the world called me BJ. This young man, my companion and the love of my life, preferred Vince, a pet name derived from my family moniker of Vinson.
          “My stomach wouldn’t wait. By the way I know why we heard all those sirens Wednesday night. Garage fire just down the street.”
          “Where?”
          I checked the news article. “Forty-eight eighteen.”
          “Belhaven’s place?”
          “I’ll admit you’re more neighborly than I am, but how do you know who lives four blocks down the street?”
          A minute later he plopped a bowl of instant oatmeal on the table, apparently abandoning the idea of an omelet. “I know him from SouthWest Writers.”
          Paul joined the professional writing association a year ago when he got his Master’s in journalism from the University of New Mexico and decided a membership would provide him some valuable contacts. He was probably right, although I never considered journalism as writing until he pointed out that’s exactly what it was.
          “Can I see the article when you’re finished?” he asked.
          After I commandeered the sports section and handed over the rest, his voice startled me out of a story about the Lobo baseball team.
          “This can’t be right.”
          “Uh.” I refused to be distracted.                                                   
          “Vince.” He shoved the newspaper in front of me. “I didn’t know Belhaven well, but I know one thing for sure. He wouldn’t repair his lawn mower. He’d have the kid who mowed his lawn do it or else buy a new mower.” He paused. “The rest sounds right. Belhaven would probably spill gas all over himself and somehow manage to light it up. But I’m telling you… he’d never even try it.”
          “A klutz, huh?”
          Paul nodded. “You could say that.”
          “I’ll tell you what I can’t believe. This happened two days ago, and Mrs. Wardlow hasn’t broadcast the gory details all over the neighborhood.”
          Gertrude Wardlow, the septuagenarian widow living across the street, was a retired DEA agent and the grande dame of our local neighborhood watch. But I had no gripes coming. She’d saved my bacon a couple of times when suspects tried to bring grievances to my home. More importantly she’d warned me Paul was in trouble when a gang kidnapped him a few years back.
          “Can I assume you smell a story?” I asked.
          “I smell a rat. But you’re right, I’m going to look into it. Who do you know in the fire department?”
          I gave him the name of the AFD Arson Squad commander I’d worked with a couple of times. “You can call Gene Enriquez if you want to know if there’s a police case working.”
          “You call Lieutenant Enriquez, okay? He’ll talk to you. You’re the confidential investigator, not me.”
          “Don’t sell yourself short. Way I figure it, an investigating journalist is simply a confidential investigator without a license.”

*****
And so it opens, reeling backward in time to 2003 and 2004 when a gigantic scam took $40,000,000 out of the local economy and resulted in multiple deaths. I hope you found this teaser interesting.

I encourage reader feedback on all my novels, and if you do read one, please post a review of the book on Amazon. Each one helps… as do letters to the publisher.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

My personal links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Don Travis: Interview of BJ Vinson About Abaddon’s Locusts

Don Travis: Interview of BJ Vinson About Abaddon’s Locusts: dontravis.com blog post #318   Artist: Maria Fanning TO MY READERS: The “Contact” section has disappeared from my Web Site, so I h...

Interview of BJ Vinson About Abaddon’s Locusts


dontravis.com blog post #318
 
Artist: Maria Fanning
TO MY READERS: The “Contact” section has disappeared from my Web Site, so I have no way of reading or responding to your comments. Please make any comments directly to my personal email, dontravis21@gmail.com, until this situation is corrected. Thanks.

Outside my patio door, flakes of snow are feathering lightly to the ground. I put it that way because we more often have wind than not when it is snowing or raining. Snow here in the high desert country is usually the way I like snow: I comes one day, goes away the next, and we all remember it fondly. Not so this one. We had a blizzard (officially determined as such) last Friday, and as the temperature remained in the 20s, it hadn’t gone anywhere. Now here’s more to add to the mix. Okay, enough already!

Abaddon’s Locusts, the fifth in the BJ Vinson mystery series,is due for release on January 22 (although I think you can get advance copies from Dreamspinner). In view of this, I wanted to give you an interview between me and the protagonist, Confidential Investigator Burleigh J. Vinson. (Do you blame him for going by BJ?)

*****
Travis: First, let’s clear up this name thing. I sometimes see it with periods between the initials and sometimes without. By the way, what do the initials stand for?

Vinson: When I sign something formal, like a contract, it’s B period J period Vinson. Informally, it’s BJ. What do they stand for? Well, I’m named after my mother’s father, so it’s Burleigh J. The J is a middle initial only. Do you blame me for using initials?

Travis: Yet, your significant other, Paul Barton, calls you Vince. Why?

Vinson: I’m BJ to everyone except two individuals. To Paul, Vince is a pet name he draws from my family name.

Travis: And the other individual?

Vinson: Del Dahlman. He’s a local lawyer and my first companion.

Travis: This leads to a sensitive—at least personal—question. You’re gay, right? And you seem rather open about it.

Vinson: I don’t advertise the fact, but I don’t deny it, either. That’s not always been the case. As a kid, I struggled to be like everyone else. To be honest, that’s probably why I played football in high school and enlisted in the Marine Corps. By the time I joined the Albuquerque Police Department, I was ready to accept and admit who I was. After all, it wasn’t a significant factor in doing the job.

Travis: It didn’t cause you a problem with the other cops? You hear stories about them leaving their gay brothers out in the cold in dangerous situations. And you were shot once, on the job, weren’t you?

Vinson: That’s true. Shot in the thigh while apprehending a suspected killer. But it wasn’t from lack of support from my compadres.

Travis: So tell me about this book we cooperated to put together.

Vinson: One of my favorite people is this mixed-blood kid named Jazz Penrod over in Farmington. He’s super handsome and hunky and gay, which caused Paul some needless anxiety. Jazz and his Navajo half-brother, Henry Secatero, helped me out on a case I call the Bisti Business three years ago. When Jazz disappeared recently, Henry came to me for help. It turned out Jazz had been lured by sex traffickers and hooked on crack cocaine.

Travis: Why don’t we take a look at how things developed.

Excerpt from beginning of Chapter 3 of Abaddon’s Locusts. Our hero and the missing man’s half-brother, a Navajo named Henry Secatero go to BJ’s old riding partner at APD, Lt. Gene Enriquez to report Jazz Penrod as missing. Henry—who’ll we’ll call an independent soul—isn’t very cop friendly. He’s also having trouble accepting his half-brother’s in the hands of sex traffickers. So here’s how things go:

Henry couldn’t quite hide his discomfort at shaking hands with a policeman—even a friendly one—the next morning when the two of us met Gene in the downtown stationhouse. I could see that my ex-partner was aware of the Navajo’s attitude, and no doubt he would run Henry’s ID through the system the moment we left. I was wrong; he’d already done it.


“You always get in fights when you go to the Blue Spruce?” Gene asked.

“Mostly.”

“It’s a good place to find them. Bad place for staying out of them.”

“You got that right.”

The Blue Spruce was an Indian bar out on East Central near the fairgrounds. The place was notorious for its police calls. On the other side of the coin, it was a good spot for cops short on traffic tickets to make quota.

“Your brother like to fight too? Or is he all sizzle and no steak?”

Henry’s face clouded for a moment. “He’s better at starting them and standing around watching ever’body scrap, but he’s good backup when it’s needed.”

After that, Gene settled down and guided Henry through filling out a request to search for his brother’s car. There hadn’t been any results overnight, but none were expected, unless Jazz was moving around. Or someone was using his Jeep. There were a couple of Juan Gonzaleses in the system, but when I hauled out the photo of Jazz’s email contact, none of them matched.

Henry tapped his finger on the photograph. “Don’t you guys have some kinda gizmo where you can compare photos and make an ID?”

“A facial recognition program, you mean?” Gene asked. “Scuttlebutt says it’s on its way, but we don’t have a system yet. The state boys have something, but I’d have to have probable cause for an arrest before I could even ask them to run a search.”

“My brother’s missing, and he was talking to this guy. Ain’t that enough?”

“No evidence this guy’s the cause of your brother’s disappearance. Hell, for all we know, he and his new friend are just out having a good time. But I think BJ’s right on this, Mr. Secatero. Your brother’s caught in the sex trade racket.”

“Call me Henry, and just because my brother’s gay don’t mean he goes around selling his body. Never has. Never will.”

“Look, fella—” Gene pointed a stubby finger at Henry and nodded at me. “—don’t get your back up. I rode with this guy for three years, and we never had trouble over him being gay. But the human trafficking racket is getting to be big business. Some people figure there are more people in slavery today than before the Civil War. And I made some calls this morning and found out more kids than we’d like to admit disappear from Indian reservations. I grant you it’s mostly women and girls that get caught up in the sex part of it, but some boys and men do too.”

“Jazz wouldn’t stand still for that. He’d just walk out the door and go home.”

“Unless they’re holding something over him,” Gene said. “I’ll admit he doesn’t fit the pattern. He’s older than the norm, and he’s male. Most are female somewhere around the ages of thirteen to fifteen or sixteen. Usually, the traffickers claim a debt’s gotta be paid or threaten somebody—maybe a family member—with bodily harm or death. They’ve got lotsa ways of making victims toe the line.”

“Not Jazz. He’d go postal.”

“Some of them do, but they’re overpowered or done away with. So maybe he did fight them.”

 Either the implications of that remark went over Henry’s head or he chose to ignore them. “I can’t think of a damned thing they could threaten my brother with. He knows his dad and me can take care of ourselves. His uncle Riley will make sure his mother’s okay. There ain’t nobody else.”


*****
I hope the book sounds as interesting to you as it does to me. If I were forced to pick a favorite from the series right at the moment, Abaddon’s Locusts would be it.

I encourage reader feedback on all my novels, and if you do read one, please post a review of the book on Amazon. Each one helps… as do letters to the publisher.

The Voxlightner Scandal is on the cusp of being finalized and on its way to DSP Publications.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

My personal links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to the Lovely Pines:


See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


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