Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Give it a read and then check out his books Down Solo and Trust Me. Trust me, this piece'll whet your appetite.
A Brief History of My Gun
by Earl Javorsky
Jennifer was a piece of work. She was my connection’s girlfriend. Jim was the guy that got the ergotamine tartrate from Czechoslovakia, found the chemist in Ann Arbor, and had the tabbing machine in Woodland Hills. Best damn LSD in the ’70s. I would buy it in crystal form—four thousand hits to the gram—and turn it into pyramid-shaped windowpanes. Green for Connecticut. Red for Australia. Blue for LA. We made a lot of money.
One night I was supposed to have dinner at their house on the beach in Malibu. I lived nearby, up in one of the canyons. Jim called me and said Jennifer was at the Topanga market, buying food. He said she was running late but come over anyway.
It was late dusk, August, and muggy out. Northbound traffic was still heavy, but I was going the other way. About a mile from the house, I noticed a car in the dirt lane between the northbound lane and the dirt cliff that looms above it. I wasn’t sure, but it looked like Jim’s El Camino. I hadn’t seen it more than a few times—it belonged to his gallery at the MGM Grand in Vegas—but it had a distinctive look with its flatbed and its two-tone paint job. I did a U-turn and doubled back.
The El Camino’s lights were on. There was movement in the cab when I pulled up behind it. Something didn’t check out, but there was no reason Jennifer would be here; the location was past her house if she was coming back from Topanga. I got out of my car.
The El Camino’s windows were fogged. A kid was in the driver’s seat; I knocked on the window and he rolled it down. I asked him what he was doing, and he said he and his girlfriend were having “a little, uh, you know.” I said, “No, I don’t know, can you come out here for a moment?” And he did. Surfy looking kid, about nineteen, stocky, a bit sweaty, standing there between me and the door. I caught a glimpse of someone seemingly passed out on the bench seat.
I told him I was sorry to bother him, but the car looked like my friend’s car. He said, “No, I’ve had this car since I got my license.” I said, “Is your girlfriend okay?” and he said, “Yeah, she took a couple of reds, I gotta get her home.” Kept his cool, he did. I sensed something was off, but couldn’t pin it down.
I told him I lived right up the street and would be checking him out, then I got back in my car and went to Jim’s. When I told him what happened he shrugged and said, “There’s lots of cars like that.” I said, “Just check your registration.”
Jim went to a back room and a minute later came charging out with his car keys and a shotgun. We jammed up the PCH in his 450SL and skidded to a stop behind the El Camino. The door was open, the kid was gone, and Jennifer stumbled out, her face bruised and bleeding. She had been beaten and raped. Jim ran up the now-quiet highway in the dark with the shotgun, as if to catch the kid, or reverse time, or just rage at the universe.
Malibu Sheriff pulled up. They took my report and called an ambulance for Jennifer. Nobody asked about the shotgun, which later turned out to have been stolen from a Highway Patrol car.
Jim and I went back to his place and started drinking. Or resumed drinking, who knows? Wondering why the kid was in the driver’s seat. Why there were no groceries. Why there, on the Pacific Coast Highway, in late rush-hour traffic? And where was the kid from? Local? The Valley?
Later that night, while Jim ranted about hunting down the little fuck and killing him, it occurred to me that I had told the kid I lived nearby and that he had seen my car, an older Mercedes grey-market import with an odd plastic cover over the sunroof—you could spot it from a mile away. And I was the guy that could put him away for a few years.
So the next day I went to a gun shop. I didn’t take long deciding; I pretty much went straight for the Walther P38K, mainly for its don’t-fuck-with-me look and manageable size.
A basement ran the length of the house I was renting. One night, loaded, I took the gun down there and fired at a paper bull’s eye someone had left on the far wall. It was a concrete wall, and the bullet bounced off and zinged toward where I was standing next to the water heater. That was the only time I ever shot the damned thing. I did aim it at a few people, highly intoxicated. Talk about an idiot with a gun.
I didn’t know that Jim had a heroin problem. It was early in my career in the chemical entertainment industry, and I couldn’t recognize the signs. One time, we flew to Europe on business: New York, London, Paris, and then Geneva. From there, we drove to Bern. On the flight to London, I came back from the bathroom to find Jim unconscious. He stayed that way for most of the flight. He claimed that he had had trouble pulling off his Tony Lamas and that when his foot finally came out his knee jerked up, hit him in the forehead, and knocked him out.
A few days after I arrived home, I got a call from a hotel manager in Milan, asking me to wire money for Jim’s bill. Apparently, Jim had nodded out in the bath and caught pneumonia when the water turned cold. He had run out of cash and was too sick to travel.
Some months went by. One day Jennifer called, hysterical, and told me that Jim had put a bullet in his brain. About a week later, I got a call from the cops, asking me to come to the station. When I got there, they gave me a manila envelope. The Walther was in it, and at the bottom, wedged in the corner, was a misshapen slug with visible organic matter stuck to it. I asked the officer why they were giving that to me and he said, “Well, it’s your property, isn’t it?”
Years later, when things had turned really ugly, I got popped in a coke bust. The cops said I was reaching for the gun when they blasted through the door, which was a serious crock of shit. This time, they didn’t give it back.
Down Solo and Trust Me. A sequel to Down Solo is due for release in September. For more, go to www.earljavorsky.com.
Sunday, July 23, 2017
this conversation I had with Gischler in 2010 for the release of his novel The Deputy. Then check out Gun Monkeys on Vimeo here.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
The Robbery - d: Jim Cummings w: Jim Cummings, Dustin Hahn. A couple weeks back Brian Lindenmuth gave me the heads up on this crime short and watching it reminded me of reading Eryk Pruitt. Give it a looksee - Vimeo link here.
Friday, July 14, 2017
Hard Sentences is the best book of crime fiction inspired by Alcatraz ever published.
Edited by David James Keaton and Joe Clifford, it also features contributions by N@B alum Glenn Gray, Matthew McBride and Les Edgerton plus Johnny Shaw, Gabino Iglesias, Max Booth III, Nik Korpon, Nick Mamatas, Rory Costello, Rob Hart, Mark Rapacz, Joshua Chaplinsky, Amber Sparks, Nick Kolakowski, Leah Rhyne, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Carrie Laben and Dino Parenti.
My contribution, Clean Shot, is a fictionalized account of the first escape attempt by the hapless Joseph Bowers, an inmate who sotle $16 from the U.S. Mail. I had a lot of fun researching the story and Alcatraz in general - a rich vein to mine for inspiration - and from the stories I've read so far (about half) it looks like everybody else did too.
Monday, July 10, 2017
His just released novel Three Hours Past Midnight is a corker too. Reading it I couldn't help but wish Michael Mann had used it for the basis of a one-crazy-night movie (rather than ever having made Collateral). If you dig the genre of professional criminals just doing their job and having to improvise when it all goes to hell, this one is right up your alley. (Kindle available now - paperback soon).
I asked Tony for a CriMemoir piece and he sent this.
September 7th, 1987, was Labor Day – I could smell charcoal from cookouts as I drove to work – and was warm and breezy. I remember my lieutenant having difficulty lighting a cigarette as some of us stood in front of the station and talked while it got dark.
According to the Fire Marshal’s report, one woman, still unhappy with her neighbor, set fire to the polyester curtains on the enclosed front porch windows. The fire quickly ran the main stairway, cutting off the resident’s primary route of escape, involving the dwelling throughout, and extending to the neighboring homes.
That night I responded with the first-in ladder company. As we approached, we saw the fronts of two of these massive dwellings engulfed in flame. The fire in the front extended upward from the first floor windows to beyond the main roofline – over fifty feet. I had two years on the job and while I’d been to many fires, I’d never seen anything like this. I couldn’t fathom how the fire had so quickly advanced – it was as though someone had doused the buildings with gasoline. This was a busy intersection during a holiday weekend; there were people on the sidewalks and cars were still traveling past, the drivers gawking. I found the contrast between the completely abnormal and something asmundane as auto traffic surreal.
Then I saw people jumping. They were coming out of the side windows from the second and third floors. I heard a man hit the ground.
My memories of those next few minutes are confused – the sights and sounds of companies stretching line and raising ladders, firemen yelling to be heard over the din of screaming civilians and sirens as more companies arrived, and the blackness and heat inside the burning building are all less than clear to me now, thirty years later – but I remember how it felt. I was frightened, but oddly, also elated, in a way that went beyond the easy explanation of adrenaline.
A few years ago, I went with some civilian friends to hear a band at a club, a few doors away from the site of a different but similar fire in another part of the city. I pointed to the empty lot and began to tell the others about it but realized I was failing – I was giving them descriptions of what I’d seen and what had happened but my friends couldn’t glean any significance from the story – none had ever had this sort of experience. I faltered, a bit embarrassed, and gave up.
There was a small piece of good luck: within seconds of our arrival, a friend was pulling line and heard a plop behind him in the street. A woman on the third floor had panicked and thrown her eighteen-month old son out a window. The child was released from the hospital the next morning, unscathed.
Three Hours Past Midnight as well as the novella and story collection Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties from Crime Wave Press. Follow him on Twitter @dinnertimedave