Sunday, May 29, 2011

#SampleSunday: Circle City Blues

Circle City Blues has received several great reviews in the last few weeks. If you'd like to read them, I recommend visiting Smashwords or As a sort of mini-celebration of this happy news, I'd like to share a 500-word excerpt so that you can get a taste of this funny novel. To set the scene, Mac -- our hero and narrator -- is a truck driver whose wife has recently abandoned him:

New Orleans is one of my least favorite cities. Even though it has recovered considerably since the hurricane that nearly destroyed it, it’s still a dirty place that seems perpetually on the verge of collapse, whether from outside forces or interior rot. In addition, it’s the murder capital of the country. Intellectually, I know that most murder victims are killed by people whom they know personally. Still, there are random acts of violence and I can’t help thinking that there are more of those incidents in New Orleans than anywhere else, simply because their overall murder rate is so high. Therefore, the only thing that made deadheading into Mardi Gras worthwhile was the ultimate destination of Amarillo.

Even though there were plenty of dockworkers at the warehouse, I jumped out of the cab and helped them. I was antsy and anxious to be on my way as soon as possible. Besides, I could use the exercise – my jeans felt a little tight that morning as I pulled them on. I’d been to that warehouse many times in the last couple years, and the manager, a muscular woman called Bess, greeted me by name. “Where’s the little woman?” she asked after peeking around the outside of the rig. “Watching TV?”

“No, I’m afraid not. She decided she liked Indianapolis a whole lot better than me.”

Bess frowned and she clapped me on the shoulder. “Sorry to hear that, man. Lonely on the road alone.”

“Don’t worry too much about me, Bess. I have a new partner – he’s just on his honeymoon. Next time I come through, you’ll probably meet him.”

“Good to hear. I’ve got the bill of lading ready in the office. Come see me when you’re loaded up.”

“You got it.” I helped the guys finish up and pulled the door closed, pad-locking it. Then I trotted over to the square glass cage Bess occupied and stuck my head around the corner of her door. “Knock knock.”

“Come on in. Have a seat. Would you like a bottle of water?”

“Wow. What’s with the cordiality?” I smiled lopsidedly at her.

“I’m trying to improve your opinion of my native city,” she said with a chuckle.

“I don’t know if that’s possible,” I answered honestly.

She took a deep breath, tensing and relaxing her hands. Bess was the shipping and receiving manager for the largest import company in New Orleans; I knew that had to be a stressful job. She’d been using Flo as her primary freight broker for fifteen years, long before I was out of college. “Mac,” she said; she sighed. “NOW is a huge company, did you know that?”

NOW was the acronym for New Orleans Worldwide. “Yes, I know.”

She cracked her knuckles in a distracted manner and sighed again.

“Spit it out, will you? I need to get on the road.”

She laughed and relaxed a bit. “I’m sorry. I can honestly say I’ve never wanted anything as badly as I want this, and I have a terrible suspicion I’m not going to get it.”

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