Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page


In crime on September 24, 2012 at 8:27 am

I sit and stare at the gray block. A few white chips show where the paint has been scraped off. I imagine looking into the expanse of the night through a telescope, the chips resembling the specks of starlight in black sky. The door of the cell opens and light explodes into my room-light, and another object appears, a red dwarf smelling like diesel fuel.

“I have some company for you, Jack,” Virge says, as she escorts the new inmate into my cell, my tight little universe.

I stand and eyeball this character. He’s rather short, ornery looking, with clipped blond hair. The orange jumpsuit is ill fitting, looks like it belonged to his father, and he smells of diesel fuel. I’m reluctant, but, if this is to be my cellmate for the next several weeks, I might as well try and be pleasant.

“Jack,” I say, extending a handshake.

He stares at me with his blue eyes but doesn’t shake my hand.

“Dean Goudge,” he says. “These fucking assholes arrested me where I work. I told them I’m working on an engine, which I hate doing, and I’ve got diesel fuel all over me. I asked them if I could clean up before they dragged me down here. But they wouldn’t even let me wash my fucking hands. They just cuffed me and dragged me out of work, right in front of everybody.” He begins to pace the cell.

I watch him walk back and forth for a few minutes, steaming, swearing under his breath.

“Fucking bitch, I’m gonna kill her as soon as I get out of here.”

“Why are you here?” I say.

“The fucking bitch is the reason I’m in here. She says I beat her up, kicked her in the back. I never touched her. She lied to the deputies when they came out.”

I’m wondering why they would arrest him if they didn’t see evidence she had been injured, a bruise, a cut, blood. “I think it’ll all be straightened out when…” I start to say when Virge appears at the door and knocks on it.

“Door’s open, c’mon in,” I say.

“Very funny.” She unlocks the door and stands in the doorway. “That’s your bedding,” she says, pointing to a slim mattress and raggedy pillow bundled up on the floor behind her. “Get it and follow me down the hall.”

Goudge and I pick up our bedding in the hallway and walk down the hall to the end where Virge opens the door to our cell. It’s a square room, perhaps twenty by twenty, in which two of the walls are bars and the other two are thick cement; greasy, unpainted, peeling. In the center of the room a metal picnic table is bolted to the floor. The bunks, six of them, line the perimeter of the walls. The three along the bars instead of the concrete walls are prime as you can stuff some of your junk between the bars. The rest of us store our things in a plastic tote that has a lid and you slide it under your bunk.

In the corner is an open toilet, with a makeshift privacy curtain made from an old sheet that is full of holes. At least it provides a modicum of privacy as you sit on the seat. Above the toilet is a steel sink. Next to the toilet is a metal shower stall, which has a plastic shower curtain, so dirty and greasy I would be afraid to touch it. Next to a formidable steel door with a little window near the top is a telephone on the wall. It looks like an old black pay phone out of the fifties, with the receiver hanging on the side and a dialer on the front. These are the built-in appliances in our suite. There is nothing else in the room. I make a mental note to find out if the phone actually works.

The bedding consists of a mat about four inches thick with a little bit of cotton stuffing placed on the steel frame of the bunk. The jail supplies a sheet, a scant wool blanket, and a thin reedy pillow with a pillow case. The room is damp and the bunk is hard. There is no comfort; no sense of place or privacy, no space of your own. You aren’t at home, you are incarcerated.

With the addition of Goudge and me, the cell is full. Labonte, a thin, older, balding man in the corner bunk is sick and gagging. One of the other jailbirds says he’s been sick since lunch, which he was unable to eat because of the gagging. I’m not too keen being locked up in the same cell with him, but you don’t get to reserve rooms in this Hilton. You get what they give you and at least I’m not sleeping on the floor, which is even harder and colder than my bunk.

LaBonte, besides his physical problems, is a bit mental. He is here because he got pissed off at a neighbor and poured something in the engine block of his neighbor’s lawn tractor that caused the engine to seize up. I have no idea if they are going to prosecute this sick old buzzard or not.

At promptly four o’clock dinner is served. It consists of a lukewarm pot pie that is crushed and most of it is stuck to the bottom of an ancient melamine plate. There is also a bologna and cheese sandwich with mustard. The bologna has no taste. Someone says it’s turkey bologna. It must have come from a plastic turkey, uh… forget that, plastic would taste better than this sticky piece of vinyl they call bologna. There are a few pieces of lettuce with some watery French dressing on it and three chocolate chip cookies. You get to flush your dinner down with a glass of room temperature Lafite Rothschild vintage 1957 red Kool Aid.

LaBonte begins some very serious gagging at the table and is hacking and spitting all over his plate of food. It’s impossible for him to swallow any of the stuff, and personally, minus gagging, I am having the same trouble, can’t force myself to eat this stuff, and don’t.

About seven p.m. one of the guards and a trustee comes by and they take orders for items available from the jail commissary. I order a couple of bags of Tostitos, three Hershey bars, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a bag of instant coffee. We have no way of heating any water for it, so you make it at a tepid temperature from the hot water faucet above the toilet. You also have to order a plastic glass to make it in, a glass is not supplied; you pay for it. And it’s made of plastic; you’re not allowed anything metal in the cell.

“Does that phone on the wall work?” I ask the guard.

“It does if you buy a phone card. You get ten minutes for five bucks,” he says.

“I had a phone card in my wallet when I checked in. Virge put my wallet with my watch and ring. Could you get the card for me?”

“It won’t work. You have to use one of ours.”

I give him a wry look. “That doesn’t seem right.”

He just shrugs. “That’s just how it is.”

This irritates me, the arrogance; the lack of fairness in an institution that has put me here because they didn’t think I was treating the rest of society fairly. But I’m a short-timer; all I want is to get out. I don’t argue with the guard, who seems pleasant, just a man with a job.

“Give me five of them.”

He looks at me a little incredulous, but hands me the phone cards along with my snacks and coffee and I put them in my tote and slide it under my bunk. I think about making a call to Sarah, but decide I’ll wait until tomorrow. I want to think on things, what I want to say to her about our future. As much as I’ve studied the cosmology of the universe, the future and the past, how everything came to be and where it might be going, seldom have I ever concerned myself much with my own future, or past. I am different now, since Sarah. She has made a difference in me. I believe that’s what love is: when you meet someone who creates change in you, is able to alter what you believed unalterable, unchangeable. When you meet someone who can bring about necessary change, and not by force, just by their presence, being with you, then you have found love.

After dinner I sit on my bunk, which is right in front of the toilet and the stinkiest bunk in the cell, for the obvious reason. Two guards open the door and enter the cell. LaBonte has been bonded out by his daughter, he is leaving. This leaves five of us. Regardless of any bacteria LaBonte left behind, his bunk has a much better location than mine, so I move across the cell.

I sit on my new and improved bunk among my cellmates, there is no conversation. We all look out into the middle of the cell, observing one another from the corner of our eyes.

I break the silence. “Jack Joseph, DUI.”

“Dean Goudge, fucked,” Goudge says, which extracts a snicker from a young dark haired man in one of the two premier bunks that are along the wall with bars, and with a better view of the TV out in the hall, and less stink.

“Derrick, fucked.”

“Fucked,” the youthful skinhead on the bunk in front of me says.

We all laugh, except for the big guy sitting on the bunk in front of Derrick’s. He doesn’t laugh, says nothing, just smiles showing his bad teeth. He is the scariest looking of my cellmates, a large bearded man who has a distant look in his eyes. Even when he looks at you it’s as if he doesn’t see you.

“What are you guys here for?” I ask to no one in particular. I look at Derrick, who seemed the most friendly, and normal.

“Embezzling from Walmart,” he says.

“How’d you manage that?”

Derrick shrugged. “It wasn’t hard. When I worked a night shift I’d just wander over to the checkout counters and open a drawer and take some. I only did it for about a month. When they questioned me I confessed.”

“That was stupid,” the young skinhead says. “Unless they caught you with your hand in the drawer they couldn’t prove it.”

“Yeah, I know. They asked me and it just popped out, I took it. I felt guilty about it.”

“That’s because you’re an honest man,” I say.

“You’re a man in the can,” the skinhead says, laughing at his attempt at humor. “You fucked yourself. You could be waiting on the outside to go to trial. Your attorney could postpone, you could be old before you ever got convicted, if they convicted you. All you had to do was keep your mouth shut. Make them prove it.”

“Fuck you, Phil. If you’re so smart why are you in here with me? And I didn’t have any money for a lawyer. If I had any money I’d have bonded out.”

 “I haven’t been convicted, yet,” Phil says. And I’m trying to get in touch with my brother out west. He’ll bail me out, and when he does, I’m gonna bail. I’m gonna go back out west with him. How much time did you get?”
            Derrick shakes his head. “I don’t know. I’m waiting for sentencing. So is Jim,” he says, looking towards the big man with the beard in the bunk next to him. Jim just smiles with his green teeth, says nothing.
            I look at Jim. “What are you in for?”
            He looks at me, without malice, with that kind of silly look of someone who doesn’t know what to say, or what he should say. But he does answer. “They said I attacked two cops with my knife.”
            I can’t help but stare at this large man, this huge disheveled beast of a man. “You aren’t sure if you attacked them?”
            “I don’t remember. I only sort of recall being out on this deck behind a house and a couple of men came with guns pulled. They tell me I jumped up and pulled my knife out. But all I remember is waking up in the jail. If they say I attacked them I probably did.”
            To describe Jim as beautiful would be illogical. But there is no relationship between logic and beauty. Beauty is as uncertain as the flight of an electron leaving its atom. I watch Jim as he moves his hands as he talks, expressing himself in an effective but ungainly manner. There’s gentleness in his movements that are paradoxical to his looks. “Do you have a lawyer?”
            “No, I plead guilty,” Jim says.
            “How long have you been here?”
            “He was here when I got here,” Phil says. “And I’ve been here about six weeks. He’s waiting to be sentenced. And
he’s gonna get big time. He’s a mental. He never should have been out on the street.”
            Jim looks at Phil with his blank eyes. “I’m not like you, Phil. I have love in my heart.”
            “Yeah, and shit in your head.”
            Jim stares at Phil for a moment. I’m wondering what’s about to happen, the lizard in my primal brain has me on alert for a battle, or to hide. But Jim doesn’t attack Phil. He simply lies down on his bunk and rolls over and faces the bars, where he can’t see Phil. I am right. Jim Walters is a beautiful person.

High Crimes and Bad times is an excerpt from a novel titled The Pool Boy’s Beatitude. The book is yet unpublished.

This is the first installment of a 10K piece. Next week, the second one and so on for the next five weeks. Don’t miss it.


SWEAT STREET (excerpt from the sequel to Children of the Enemy) by DJ SWYKERT

In crime on September 18, 2012 at 6:51 am

The Blueboys call it Mack Avenue
but we like to call it Sweat Street
because the Blueboys, wearing shields
like to make us sweat. Sweat the
working girls with white teeth smiling
inviting suits and old bar guys to
love them in their secret hideaways.
Sweat the golden boys selling blow
and crack dreams to window shoppers
cruising the old Detroit bricks
in their UAW horse carriages.
Sweat the others; the wine people
the crackheads, the shooters
and juicers that choose to die on
this street that the Blueboys
behind their shields call the Mack
but we know as Sweat Street.

Yuki shook her hips to the rhythmic beat in her headset as she walked past the van with the two young men in it, a large blond man in the passenger seat, and one with short, dark hair behind the wheel. She paused a few feet from them and shook it extra hard to the “We know as Sweat Street” that boomed in her ear.

“Hey, wanna shake that thing some more for me? For some green? Or you gonna just shake it all night for free?” the blond in the passenger seat said, eyes glued on Yuki, and the shapely shaking going on.

How bad do I want to get high? Yuki thought. I like dope better than people, better than men, better than women. I’d rather get high than get dead, and that’s what people do to you; get you to slide, beat you, cheat you, fuck you, steal you, kill you, make you dead. Only thing in this world makes me feel good every time, all the time, my dope, my hope, my true love. “What are you willing to give up for some of this?” Yuki said, giving it another hard shake, without turning around.

“I got green, lots of it. Whatta you got to give sweet thing?”

Yuki paused for a moment. That little voice in her head gave her a twinge. That could be cop talk. Set a price on the goods for them and they’ll set the cuffs on you. “You tell Yuki what you want, and how bad you want it, how much green, in numbers, you want it, then Yuki’ll tell you what she’s got to give,” she said, turning to get a look at this mouthy blond in the van .

“Hey now, listen to you,” the blond man said. “And look at you, you‘ve got the goods, girl. You’ve got the numbers I want, a forty double D of what I want, how about a hundred for an all around, a little of everything?”

Yuki looked at him. She didn’t like what she saw. How bad do I want to get high she asked herself again. “There are two of you,” she said, trying to catch a better look at the driver.

“The hundred’s for both of us, fifty for each. Fifty is a lot for girls on this street. You do an all around on both of us for a hundred,” the blond said, dangling two fifties out of the window.

Yuki touched her arm. A hundred get me enough to get very high. Get me off this street for a couple of days, away from these people, away from all the people out here. “Yeah, okay, I’ll do you both for a hundred. It’ll be a hundred you’ll be glad you spent. You’ll go off like you ain’t never gone off before, you’ll sky, and you’ll be real happy when Yuki gets done with you, when she gives you a pull with her muscle.”

“Whooeee, then you get in here sweet girl. You got me up in the sky already. You get in and give me a pull with that muscle, hey.”

“We go to my place. I got place about a block from here,” Yuki said.

“No, you get in the van,” the blond said, sliding out and opening the side door of the van.

Yuki looked inside. It was carpeted in a dark red, and the seat removed to provide an open space. “Where do I sit my ass down?”

The blond laughed. “You won’t be needing a place to sit your ass. You’re gonna be busy with it. Gonna be earning that hundred.”

Yuki stood for a moment. There was time to just take a step back and say goodbye. But that would be so long to the hundred, the night off of the street. She looked again at the large, blond young man. His eyes were steeled on her, and he made her nervous. Her inner voice tugged at her feet, get out of here, they heard, but didn’t listen.

The blond motioned for her to get in the van, “There’s a lot of girls on this street, lots of sweet girls. You getting in or am I getting out, moving on down the line?”

Yuki climbed into the back of the van and kneeled as the blond got back in the front seat.  The van moved down the well-lit Mack Avenue, Sweat Street, past the girls walking the night, the juicers, the junkies, the drifters and muggers. Yuki became impatient, not wanting to get too far away from the safety of her street, her corner. “I don’t travel too far off of my street. This is where I do business, and I got more business than you to do tonight. If we gonna get this going you pull off the street somewhere quick. Or you let me out and you just go find yourself another one of those lots of girls on this street you shooting off about. But you won’t find one like Yuki, you won’t find anyone out there that get you off like Yuki.”

The driver turned his head. He had a long scar that went from him temple to his jaw and along the jaw line. He didn’t get it at choir practice. “I hope you can fuck as good as you can talk, you got plenty of jive, but you gonna have to show me you’re worth the fifty,” he said. “I’m a show me motherfucker. Anybody can jive. You got to show me.”

“You pull this fucking van over you’ll find out how good this muscle between my legs is. But you ain’t never gonna get any ass driving down Mack Avenue. You pull this thing over and Yuki’ll teach you the real meaning of life.”

He laughed. But he did turn the van onto Van Dyke and then into an alley and parked it. “Time for school, teacher,” he said. “Your student is ready.”

Yuki took a deep breath. Her pulse was up, her heart raced a little. But she wasn’t about to let it show. “Who’s first?”

“We are,” the big blond said, opening his door and getting out of the van.

Yuki knelt down on the dark red carpet on the van floor as the blond slid the door open and climbed into the back of the van with her and stood, hunched over, in front of her. The driver, Scarface, followed him, and slipped in behind Yuki and kneeled on the floor.

“What’s your name?” the blond asked.

“Yuki, Yukisha.”

“What kind of name is that?” Scarface said, his voice almost a whisper, from so close Yuki could feel his breath on her neck. It sent a chill through her.

The last thing on Mack Avenue you want to show anybody is fear. Yuki knew this. She knew the street very well. She had a deep scar on her left cheek that she hid with makeup; and another around her back, a long one that curled from her side to almost the middle of her back. But, in her business, on her back, most of the Johns never noticed, or never cared. But Yuki remembered very well how it got there.  “Be the name my mama gave me. She always say you gonna be pretty. She always say, Yukisha, you here to be the joy of my life child. And she was right. I am here to bring joy into life. And I can be the joy in your life, too. I can make you forget everything else but the muscle between my legs. So you be nice to Yukisha.”

The blond smiled. “You’re a cocky bitch.”

“I’m a good bitch. Best bitch you ever gonna find. You gonna be real happy with Yuki. You gonna part with that hundred with a smile on your face that nobody can ever wipe off.  Yeah, I’m a cocky bitch. But I can back it up.”

“For a hundred you best be able to,” Scarface said from behind her. And Yuki felt those familiar chills again.

Yuki faked a bold smile. “I got a big chest and a tight muscle. You want to see how big? You want to know how tight? Then we need to do some business here first. You give up the hundred and Yuki’ll hold onto you with her muscle. That’s how this all works.”

“The deal was an all around for the hundred. You gonna hold onto me with those big beautiful lips of yours, too,” the blond said, kneeling in front of her. “That’s the business we agreed to.”

Yuki looked into his blue eyes. “Yeah, that was the deal. So, let’s see the hundred,” she said, holding out her hand, but careful not to touch him.

The blond kind of leaned his head to one side. “Let’s see some skin.”

“You show me some green, I’ll show you some skin. That’s the deal.”

The blond had to stand up again, as best he could in the van, bent over, he was a big man. He fumbled in his front pocket and pulled out the two fifties he had flashed at her before and handed them to Yuki.

Yuki picked up her purse off the floor next to her and stuffed them inside.

“Now you show me we ain’t wasting our hundred,” the blond giant said.

Yuki pulled her halter top over her head. She was large breasted, but no sag. They hung there in glory, and the blonde’s eyes said so. Another good reason I don’t need no man, she thought. They only get you pregnant, tear your insides up with some kid nobody on this street wants anyway. Some kid who’ll only grow up and drop dead on this street, dead from doing nothing, dead from wanting. And your tits will sag.

“You do have a pair,” the blond said, watching as her breasts bounced free, two big brown eyes staring at him.

Dope don’t make them sag like milk does. It don’t fill them up until they wilt like dead flowers. It don’t make no babies that wake up with big beautiful eyes that can’t see the world for the shithole it is. They still remember the ocean they just left, think they’ve arrived on some virgin beach that the gods created just for them. They don’t know they can’t make a difference here. That the way things are is the way things stay. No, better off they never leave the sky they come from, and stay out of the ocean in my belly, she thought. “You like these? I got some more for you to like.”

Scarface had put his hands on her hips and began pulling down her skirt over her ample rear end, that beautiful back porch she was shaking so good walking down the Mack, down Sweat Street.

The groping irritated Yuki. “Wait, let me get it.” She unzipped, and sat down and pulled it off, revealing her pink thong. She sat there on the red carpeted floor of the van, and looked, without smiling, at the blond giant in front of her, looked into his sharp blue eyes.

“You got a body that never quits,” the blond said. “But I didn’t pay to look at you. Slide out of those, too. I’m hard, and I’m ready. And I’m paying you to make it soft. Pull them off and get on all fours in front of me.”

Yuki wiggled out of her pink thong, the muscles in her thighs rippled against the streetlights as they flashed by. She reached in her purse and took out a condom. “You put this on and Yuki teach you what life is all about.”

The blond looked at the condom in her hand. “I don’t use them.”

“Everybody use them now. You know what’s going around out there. You wear it. You never know you got it on. I got this big chest, and an ass that’s the glory, and a tight muscle. When Yuki grab you with her muscle you never know you wearing anything but skin.”

“I said I don’t use them,” the blond snarled.

“I ain’t popping for fifty to fuck you with my socks on,” Scarface said, putting a hand underneath Yuki’s belly and coaxing her up onto all fours.

Yuki heard the inner voice again. The warning she had felt earlier had returned. “Hey, you’re a couple of good looking young dudes. You don’t want to catch anything…” Yuki began to choke on the words as she felt a cold blade against the side of her neck.

Scarface took hold of her hair with one hand and held the knife against her throat with the other. “We don’t use them. Now you’re gonna do the deed, put out what I paid for, or I’ll slit your face open. I’ll cut you so ugly you’ll never turn another trick, Yuki bitch,” he said, pressing the sharp blade harder against her neck.

Yuki was a professional, a woman who made her living with her body like an athlete. She was well toned and muscular, she was used to men treating her a little rough and she didn’t hurt easy. But these two men made it hurt. They probed her from every imaginable angle; penetrated her with a violent frenzy, like sharks. Yuki did whatever they asked. She performed like the sexual ballerina she was capable of. She accepted the hurting. Nobody lives free.  Sometimes we all got to take some hurt, she thought.

They slapped her around, screamed for her to satisfy them, to quiet their urges, and she obeyed. Violence and sex have always been in partnership. Yuki endured the pain. This was her business. This was what she did. This was what it was. Yuki gathered her strength and flexed her muscle. She groaned and grunted for them, faking ecstasy.

The blond erupted, the secretions of his glands pouring out of his spout and into her throat. She did not choke, simply swallowed the salty sea water from his ocean.

Scarface clutched her around the waist and shouted. “I can feel you, your heat. I know you’re hot. Now come for me.”

Yuki bore down and gripped him. She released, moved forward, then took hold of him and drove down hard against him. He let out a squeal, primal, like a donkey, then released and fell back against the side of the van. He leaned there for a moment, then sat up and began to rub her shoulders, almost tenderly.

Yuki leaned back against him and moaned softly, wanting to cool him down, calm the heat of his maleness, his turbulence.

Having finished with her the blond zipped up and reached for her purse to take back the money. Yuki, seeing this, grabbed the purse and yanked it away from him. “Hey, blond man, we had a deal. A hundred for Yuki to give you what you wanted. You came like a horse, I know, now just let Yuki out and we can all finish our night happy people.”

It was risky. But she’d fucked her brains out before only to lose her purse for the effort. You gotta take chances to get what you want. You gotta hurt sometimes, you gotta be willing to give it up to get it. Even knowing Scarface behind her held a knife she clutched at her purse. And with a free hand began to gather her clothes.

As she leaned forward the blond giant grabbed her by the hair and twisted her head, and with his free hand pulled at the purse. “If you’re lucky you get out of here with your life. Gimme the purse, or you’re gonna give up a lot more than that hundred.”

Life is as full of surprise as uncertainty. Scarface reached over and removed the blond’s hand from Yuki’s hair. “She can keep the hundred, and her throat. I just might want to come back and get another dose of this bitch. Let her be.”

Now the two men were squared off against one another. But the blond relinquished his grip on the purse and nodded at Scarface. “She could suck the chrome off of a bumper, I’ll give her that. You’re lucky, Yuki bitch, he likes you. You’re lucky to get out of this van with your lungs. I’d have ripped them out of you to get that hundred back. I can find someone to swallow all night for half what I gave you.”

Yuki glared at him. She was scared, but it never showed. And that’s the real trick, she thought. Everybody, every last one of us, is scared out here. We’re all of us alone. There ain’t nobody in here, inside with us you can really hold onto. You gotta just hold onto yourself, take your chances, you gotta be bold, and don’t let anyone know how alone you feel in here.  How alone you are in here.

As she collected her clothes the blond slid the van door open. He got out. As Yuki slipped back into her skirt he once again grabbed her by the hair. She clutched at her purse, held onto her halter top, her breasts flopped loose as he yanked her right out of the van and she fell face first into the alley, her forehead and nose scraped the rough concrete. But she held onto her halter, and the purse with the hundred. Yuki lay there, bleeding a little from the scrape on her forehead and on the tip of her nose. She bled, and listened, as the blond slid the side door to the van shut and climbed in on the passenger side.

Scarface got out and bent over her. “He’s an asshole. You a good girl. I might just come back for another trip in that sweet ass of yours. And it is as sweet and as tight as you say it is. If you want I’ll take you back to your corner.”

Yuki didn’t answer. She was mad. She was hurt and bleeding. It was a tough hundred she earned. And she wanted no further part of the van, or the blond, or even Scarface. She wanted to get her ass home and lick her wounds. She wanted to feel better. Fire up a spoonful and take a snort, get that feeling inside she liked so much, the feeling that treated her the way she liked, made this world a better place, not the shithole it mostly was.

Scarface stood there for a second. When she didn’t answer he simply nudged her with his foot. “Have it your way. I gotta be on mine. But I might look for you again on the street, you fine,” he said, then walked around and got in the van with the blond.

Yuki heard the sound of the van fade away into the night. She lay still for a long while under the moon. She pulled her halter top on, checked to make sure the hundred was still in her purse, and looked at her face in the mirror of her compact.  Her forehead had a slight abrasion and a small scab had formed on the end of her nose.  At least they didn’t cut up my face. I can still do my business. My forehead will heal, the scab will fall off, my muscle will gather its strength, and I am still alive to get high again. And that’s all I really care about anyway. I don’t want white boys or black boys. I don’t want women with long slender tongues. I want God in my veins. I want the high no simple orgasm can give. I want the dreams. I want the high only dope can gives. I want to live like an eagle, live in the sky.

As Yuki walked down the alley to where it wound back around to Mack, wondering whether to call a cab to ferry her home` to her street, she saw a familiar figure standing in the intersection.  Yuki recognized the thin, petite body with the big booty and the five inch heels. “Hey, Aleena, Leenie, teeny Leenie, what you doing down here?”

Aleena turned and looked at the much bigger, more muscular woman approaching her. She recognized Yuki. “Whatta you mean, what am I doing down here. What are you doing so far off the street?”

“Turning a few to get off the fucking street for a couple of days,” Yuki answered.

Aleena saw the scrape on her forehead and the dried blood on the end of Yuki’s nose, “Bad boys?”

Yuki nodded. “Bad boys, but they paid. It could have been worse. Now I want to meet up with your boy, Three-finger. I can afford to buy enough of a load to keep me in luxury for a couple of nights. I want to go flying, just sky for a while.”

“I’m waiting to talk to someone. You wait until I do the deed with Charlie and he’ll drop both of us. And you can catch up with Three-finger. He’ll be glad to see you.”

Yuki looked at Aleena kind of curiously, “Since when did you take up talking for a living? You look to me like you still out walking, them five inch heels and that little skirt on your booty ain’t a talking outfit.”

Aleena kind of looked up and down Mack, as if to be sure nobody could hear them. “I got this thing going on with a sergeant, one of the Blueboys. And it beats getting your ass kicked to earn a living. You looked at yourself in a mirror lately?”

“You’re snitching?”

“Don’t cop no attitude with me, Yuki.  Don’t get righteous. You do what you do. I do what I do. That’s what it’s like here. I’m just doing the same thing you do, trying to feed the habit. And I’m not gonna just give anybody up. I ain’t taking down nobody that don’t deserve to get taken down.”

“I don’t give a fuck who you give up, long as it isn’t me.”

“Now why would I give up a twenty dollar girl like you for? What would I get for you, fifty cents?” Aleena said with a sly smile.

“You know, I could clean this fucking alley up with your skanky ass,” Yuki said, raising her voice.

Leenie quieted down the jive. “Listen, I got a lot going on. I got two young boys at home that have needs, different than just me and you. And I can’t do this forever. I’m not feeling so good anymore, and walking this street for a living ain’t getting any easier. I can see that looking at you. That sends a message to me. I want to get out. And Three-finger ain’t the answer, neither. He’s the other half of the problem, there’s the dope, and him; he’s the dope, too. All my problems dope related,” Aleena said,

Yuki looked at her friend and shook her head.  Aleena had two young sons, and she was in the life, just like Yuki. But it’s different with me, I don’t have no kids. It’s why I stay like I am, so I don’t have to think like she does, and maybe have to do like she’s doing. I don’t want none of that. I don’t want to put myself there. I like it the way I got it. I like it like it is, Yuki thought. “Hey, I didn’t mean nothing. I was just jiving you. I don’t care what you do as long as you don’t do it to me. But you can get yourself hurt a lot more snitching than the little bruising I took. You can get yourself dead. Then what’s gonna happen to those two little boys?”

A car pulled up to the intersection and they stepped back to let it pull into the alley.  “It’s Charlie. You let me do my business here with him, then he can drop both of us. And I’ll get you hooked up with Three-finger.”

Yuki nodded, then stood back in the shadows and watched as Leenie walked up to the car. The passenger side window came down and she peered inside. “How’s my man tonight?” she said.

The large man with almost no neck reached across and opened the car door. “Were you able to talk to Three-finger, and what did he think? He’s got to wear a wire for it to work. I’ve got to get them on tape.”

Yuki watched from the shadows, pretty sure Charlie never saw her there as Aleena got into the car and shut the door. No sooner had the window gone back up when another car pulled right up behind them in the alley and two men got out. Yuki watched as they quickly approached the car with Aleena in it, one covering each door. Neither of them appeared to see Yuki who crouched back into the shadow of the building behind her.

One of the men, a tall man with a pointed face, had a 9mm. in his hand and pointed the gun at the driver’s side window, and without warning, began firing off rounds into the car at Charlie.

She heard Aleena scream, then saw the other man, a shorter and wider bodied man, fire into the passenger side at her.

The alley filled with the sounds of the pop from the pistols and crumbling glass. She saw the large no neck man in the car slump backwards, his head lying on the headrest. She didn’t see Aleena on the other side of the front seat. She must have slid down out of sight. It all happened so fast Yuki didn’t know whether to run or to yell, but she must have gasped, given herself away, and the tall man turned and looked right into her face.

Their eyes met, two interlocking beams of light connecting them to one another. The tall man was as stunned to see Yuki standing there as Yuki had been at seeing the shooting. He took a step towards her, his free hand outstretched to grab her.

Yuki wasn’t sticking around. Gun or no gun, there wasn’t anything to do but run. If she hesitated she was as dead as Leenie in the car. You don’t run well in stiletto heels. She stumbled trying to take flight and he grabbed her by her hair as she was falling forward. “You’re not going anywhere,” he said, twisting her head to face him.

Yuki jerked her head from side to side, trying to pull away. But he was too strong. As he stood her up she reached down with her hand and removed one of her stiletto heels. As she stood there face to face with him she whacked him hard along side of his head.

The force of the blow from the heel stunned him, and he let go of her hair. The shorter, wider man had opened the car door and was spreading a powder around inside the car and seemed oblivious to the struggle taking place on the other side of the car.

Yuki kicked off the other shoe. And before the tall man in the trench coat could grab her again she took off barefoot down the alley.

“Stop or I’ll shoot,” he yelled.

Fear never stops running, and neither did Yuki. She knew her only chance was flight into the shadows, the darkness of the alley, and the natural barricades the concrete garbage bins provided. She dodged between them, in and out. She heard his gun go off, the whooshing sound of the rounds go by. But she was built like an athlete, strong thighs, quick reflexes, a sure step, and she dodged in between the concrete garbage bins, running in the night shadows as much as she could.

She heard the two men behind her giving chase. But they were no match on foot for Yuki, not even barefoot.  She ran as if going across hot coals and began to put a little distance between them.

The alley branched off into a courtyard lined with the concrete garbage bins behind the apartments. Yuki veered into it and crouched behind one of the bins, the sound of rats scurrying through the garbage, the smell of molting stench floating in the night air out of the bin. But she remained still, trying to breathe as quiet as possible. These two men were going to kill her if they could find her.

Neither of the men ran very well, the taller, more elegant man could only lope, perhaps from bad knees. The shorter, more compact man, though heavier, was lighter on his feet but still slow. They paused at the courtyard and looked into the depths. “I’ll look down here, you go straight down the alley,” the tall man said.

The shorter man stooped over, out of breath. “Okay, but I think we’re just wasting our time. That fucking bitch can run. We’re never gonna catch up to her. Fuck, she could be in Hazel Park by now the way she took off.”

“That ain’t funny,” the taller man said. “She’s a fucking witness, she saw everything. And she got a real good look at me.  We can’t leave her out walking around. I don’t want to meet up with her in court.”

“Yeah, I know, but we got two dead people back down the alley. We can’t screw around out here all night looking for her. You want to be wandering around the alley holding the murder weapon when a black and white shows up? Someone had to hear the shots and is gonna call 911.”

The taller of the two men was in charge. He looked down the alley and saw nothing but darkness. He took a few steps into the courtyard. Yuki held her breath for what seemed like forever. Then the taller man stopped, turned, and walked back to where the shorter man stood. “Let’s get out of here. We’ll deal with her later. We’ll find her, and when we do we can deal with her then.”

Yuki sat on the concrete and stretched out her legs. She rubbed her calves and listened as the men walked back down the alley. The soles of her bare feet were cut and bleeding a little from running on the cement. They would heal, but the dead Aleena, and the other man in the car, their souls could only be healed in heaven, if there is one.


In crime on September 17, 2012 at 7:13 am

When people used to ask me who I am I used to answer: I’m an insane Yooper poet police dispatcher fortune telling witch, I’m armed, and very very dangerous. Yes, this was just fun, although it’s true. You could add I’m a wolf lover, raised two of them and when I don’t write crime stories I have written extensively about wolves, am currently writing a novel about a former soldier-cop who moves up to his family cabin on top of Brockway Mountain. When his psychiatrist asks him what he’s going to be doing  up there he answers, “Counting Wolves.”  I also have a novel with a wolf in it on the Noble Romance website, it’s a historical love story with a woman who has a wolf.

This is my official writing bio:

DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator. Short fiction and poetry published in: The Tampa Review, Monarch Review, Sand Canyon Review, Zodiac Review, Scissors and Spackle, Spittoon, Barbaric Yawp and BULL. Children of the Enemy, a novel, released September, 2012 by Cambridge Books. Alpha Wolves, a novel, released May, 2012, available on the Noble Publishing website. You can find him on the blogspot: He is a wolf expert.


In crime on September 4, 2012 at 6:45 am
While I spend a good part of my day writing crime books, I spend another part attending college as a criminal justice major. It’s true most of the people in my class expect to be a cop of some sort when they graduate, but I am more interested in investigations. In fact, I’m taking a criminal investigations class this semester! The stuff I have learned so far, definitely helps me be a better crime writer.
What does one learn in a criminal investigation class? A lot. We have covered forensic stuff like how to recognize basic fingerprint types – arch, loop and whorl. How to take fingerprints. We have also covered what type of evidence is most likely to contain DNA. (drinking glasses, underwear, bloody rags) We have learned that a single strand of hair can inform one of gender, race, age, true hair color, and general health. We have also learned that the definition of homicide is the killing of one human by another human and that murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or excuse. We know that murders are always homicides but homicides are not always murders.
The most important thing I have learned, however, in terms of both writing and investigating: is that chronology is king. That is to say, when trying to piece together an investigation, one must do it in chronological order. Even though this may seem self-evident, there is a big tendency (myself included) to jump back and forth in time while stepping through the crime. My advice is: don’t do it. It’s too confusing for the reader (and an investigations process). I have found that if everything is put in precise time order, the reader doesn’t have to think so hard. They can just enjoy the read.
For instance, this week my class was given the assignment to review the Jon Benet Ramsey case and list the things that were done wrong by the Boulder Colorado Police and then list what the police should have done. The general facts of the case are that on the morning of December 26, 1996, a six year old girl was found missing by her mother who simultaneously discovered a ransom note on the stairs. The mother called 911, the police came and about seven hours later the child was found by her father. She was discovered in the basement of her own house – murdered. The crime was never solved and the parents were (and still are by many) considered the prime suspects.
The first thing I did was make a time line of events for the initial 24 hours. Once I did that, many mistakes were obvious. Here is a the first few entries in my time line. Can you see with this time line, even without professional training, some of the things that were done wrong?
1. 2 AM neighbor hears scream.
2. 5:45 JBR found missing by mom
3. 5:48 mom finds kidnapper’s ransom note on stairs
4. 5:52 mom calls police – 911
5. 5:55 JBR parents call two sets of family friends to come over to the house
6. 5:59 police arrive – Officer French – 1st to arrive
7. 6 AM Officer French makes a quick search of the house with dad, John Ramsey, then looks for entry/exit points. He sees no sign of struggle. Did not search “wine cellar room” in basement because it was “locked”.
8. 6:03 am – “friends” arrive including Fleet White
9. 6:20 am Fleet White searches basement. Mr White sees lights on in the basement and “wine cellar” door open. Mr White sees broken window in the basement and a suitcase along with a broken shard of glass under the window. (Note: later he did not remember if the window was open or closed.) Mr White opens the wine cellar door but doesn’t see anything because he can’t find the light switch.
10. 6:25 Officer French seals off JBR’s bedroom only
11. 6:45 Three more BPD arrive
12. 7 am Burke (JBR’s brother) awakened
Based on only the above facts, did mistakes jump out at you? Some of the things I saw was: the first officer on the scene (who was the Boulder Police Chief) did not secure the entire house as a crime scene, the parents and their friends were allowed to remain in the house and roam freely, thus contaminating evidence. The police officer, when searching the house initially, did not open a locked door in the basement. This is where the body was eventually found. There is no mention of experts like the FBI being called in immediately. (They weren’t called until three hours later). The brother, who slept on the same floor of the house as the sister was not awakened and questioned for an hour.
Obviously, there was a mountain of mistakes in this case and many books have been written discussing these mistakes. But in this case, like any other case, the easiest way to begin to understand the crime and to find discrepancies, is to put the events in time order. I recommend when writing about crime, be it true crime or crime fiction, always put the sequences in chronological order, do not jump around in time. It builds tension naturally and makes it easier for the reader to follow and to possibly solve the crime.
Escaping the Arroyo is available on ebook and paperback at
Joyce Nance can be found on Facebook: 


In crime on September 3, 2012 at 6:54 am
Joyce Nance, award winning documentarian, video editor, Albuquerque Sports News publisher, and paralegal at the Public Defenders Office, has written her first book. She is currently pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice and working on her next project about an unsolved mass murder in New Mexico.
Her current book, “Escaping the Arroyo” is about a 1981 abduction and kidnapping of two University of New Mexico coeds as they walked home from getting a cup of coffee. This book is based on the true story of what happened that night. It is a gritty tale of of unspeakable violence and the relentless search for justice, but it is also the story of a young woman’s incredible will to live….and her life-long struggle to escape the legacy of that deadly arroyo.  
Escaping the Arroyo is available on ebook and paperback at
Joyce Nance can be found on Facebook: