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Old 12-14-2009, 12:03 PM   #1
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An excerpt from Boomerang

Here is an excerpt from Boomerang:



Outside Cafe Verdi, North Beach San Francisco


“You know,” said Jerry, “for a big, tall, fat guy, you sure are hard to find.”

Ted looked up from the San Francisco Chronicle crossword puzzle on the table in front of him. He had yet to take his first sip from the big blue mug of steaming Guatemalan Antigua Supremo next to the newspaper and that, combined with the fact that some cretin with a rollerball—doubtless the individual who had purchased the paper and then left it hanging half in-half out of the waste receptacle next to the entrance—had scrawled a dozen pathetically incorrect answers across the crossword, meant Ted was predisposed at this point to be grumpy. He liked a nice, clean crossword in his second–hand paper. What he saw when he looked up did not improve his disposition.

“I am not seeing you,” he said.

He returned to the crossword, erasing the man standing next to his table from his consciousness the way he wished he could erase the bold, black ink from the crossword. Seven letter word meaning cylindrical in shape. “ROUNDED”? Some feebleminded clod was wandering the City with a permanent writing instrument, probably a Mont Blanc, confident that he had conquered a line of the crossword with “ROUNDED”. Ted clicked another measure of lead through the point of his mechanical pencil and squeezed “tubular” into the violated squares.

“Ted, man, it's me.”

“No, it’s not you.”

Fourteen across, “A public clown”. Eleven letters. The cretin had tried-doubling up the letters in the last three squares-to fit in R-O-N-A-L-D-M-C-D-O-N-A-L-D. Ted grudgingly admitted the cretin had a point, in a mentally deficient sort of way. He squeezed in the correct answer: M-e-r-r-y-A-n-d-r-e-w.

“Okay, okay, sorry about the big, fat crack. You want to stop acting like a jerk?”

Ted took a sip of his freshly poured coffee. Black, couple packets of the tan sugar crystals. Still too hot. He set it back on the table and checked the “Across” clues.

Jerry shook his head and thought for a couple of seconds. He ran a hand over his carefully slicked back hair, held it for a moment on the back of his neck and frowned. “Look, Ted, just gimme a minute here, ok?”

Ted inserted another word; “Roald”, for “Author Dahl”.

Jerry turned to the two men holding hands across the table to his right, said, “Hey, guys, mind if I borrow this?”, referring to a third, unoccupied chair at their table. Not waiting for a reply, he pulled the plastic, patio style chair in front of himself, its back to Ted's table. He swung a leg high to straddle it.

If Jerry had been more observant he would have noticed that the chair had molded-in armrests. All parts of him above the knee swung down and all parts below the knee pivoted up. His head smacked sharply against the sidewalk just as his foot came up under the table. It lifted on his side a good twelve, fourteen inches into the air. The newspaper slid off the table, fluttered across Ted's lap, and drifted in fragments down the sidewalk. The still steaming coffee followed, but only the cobalt blue stoneware cup made it as far as the sidewalk. The coffee arced directly onto Ted's lap.

“Aiaiaiaiaiai!”

Ted shot up, sending the table in the opposite direction with no little vigor. Jerry, knocked just the wrong side of sensibility by the sudden meeting of the sidewalk and the base of his skull, got a quick wake-up from a corner of the table, which landed sharply about six inches south of his naval.

“Ooooooph! Nrrr.”

The patrons at the half-dozen other outside tables belonging to the Cafe Verdi, as well as passersby in the vicinity, were treated to the sight of Ted dancing vigorously about, hopping from one foot to the other, and pulling his slacks away from his crotch. He looked like a Kodiak bear auditioning for Bring on da Music, Bring on de Funk or one of any of the other testosterone heavy dance spectacles so popular in recent years. Jerry served up an accompanying low ostinato moan as he rocked back and forth on the sidewalk. Not as entertaining as the human robot on Union Square or even the guy who played guitar, after a fashion, and sang, after a different fashion, at the trolley stop by Fisherman's Wharf, but a passing appliance dealer from Iowa thought it merited a quarter. Ted's coffee cup, which had landed, miraculously enough, upright and unscathed, received the coin with equanimity.

A minute later and half-a-block away, Jerry caught up with Ted. Each man's gait was a little out of the norm. Ted swept his right arm up and back as he heard Jerry approach. Jerry ducked under and ran ahead, then turned to backpedal for a mobile face to face. Ted reversed direction, quickening his pace back toward Cafe Verdi.

“Ted! Ah, man, c'mon!”

Jerry sprinted after. Ted's right arm flashed up again and, as Jerry tried once again to duck under, Ted spun around, caught him under the arms with both hands, and lifted him a foot off the ground. He held the little man there a full thirty seconds, nose to nose, chin to chin, eyeball to eyeball and fixed him with a stare that had caused many an opposing forward in both college and the NBA to honor his personal space.

“Go,” he said. “Away.”

He lowered Jerry back to ground level, enveloped the little man’s shoulders in his massive hands and turned him around.

“That way.”

“But—”

A shove at the small of the back sent Jerry involuntarily lurching in the direction indicated. Ted looked mournfully down at the large, dark stain spread across his crotch and slowly walked away.

Jerry, after the shove inspired stumble and couple of steps, took three or four more steps on his own, stopped, turned back, and called after Ted.

“We've got a job!”

The big man kept walking.

“It's money, Ted! Good, real good money!”

Ted did not stop. Jerry chanced a small advancing step.

“Piece of cake!”

Ted kept going. Jerry had to raise his voice to carry over the traffic sounds.

“I know you lost your job! You need the bucks!”

Ted raised a single-digit response high over his head and kept going.

Jerry returned the salute. He had a little argument with himself, decided the issue without looking like he was entirely happy about the outcome, raised his eyes skyward, closed them and yelled.

“Ted! She pawned your guitar! I been to your apartment and your landlady PAWNED YOUR GIBSON!”

Ted froze in his tracks, rather as if a street lamp had sprouted from the sidewalk and introduced itself to his chin. Jerry made a face and tried to make himself smaller. Not there at all would have been nice right about then. Ted turned slowly and said in a low tone that had no problem carrying over the city sounds.

“What?”

He leaned slightly forward, head cocked to one side, presenting an “I-don't-believe-I-caught-that-the-first-time-would-you-care-to-repeat-it-and-it-damn-well-better-not-be-what-I-thought-I-heard-you-say” expression.

There was no turning back. Jerry had not wanted to be the one to break the news, had not wanted to be forced to play that card. But now it had to be played. His throat felt so dry and his chin was so quivery, the words came out as reluctantly as a gay mayoral candidate in Alabama.

“Your landlady, man. She pawned your guitar.”

A cry rose from the big man. A great cry of mythic volume and pathos that echoed through the farthest reaches of the City by the Bay. A cry that made Jerry want to be any place but where he was. A cry that gave everyone within eyeshot an excuse to stop and stare at the big man with the large dark stain over his crotch.

As the echoes of Ted's wail faded off toward Marin County, Candlestick Park, the Sierra Nevadas and Hong Kong, he retraced his steps, holding Jerry in a paralyzing glare. As the big man approached, Jerry set the world record for intensity and duration of a wince.

“You have money?” Ted said, calmly, when he was within a foot of Jerry.

“Uh…,” said Jerry. He was thrown for a loop by the quiet tone of the question and the fact it hadn't been accompanied by an act of violence against himself. “Money?”

“Yes. Money. I need a cab.”

“You kidding?”

“No, I am not kidding. It's a forty-minute walk to my apartment,” Ted said. “If Sarah is in some pawn shop, I can't waste any time.”

“Our wheels are just around the corner.” Jerry took off past Ted and crossed the street at a fast jog. “Don’t move, I’ll be right back!”

“Oh great,” Ted muttered. Jerry disappeared around a corner a quarter of a block away.

A minute later, a sunflower-yellow AMC Javelin came leaning around the corner, more a result of a weary suspension than Jerry’s driving, and pulled up next to Ted. The passenger door popped open and Jerry said. “Hop in and tell me where to go.”

“Would that I could. Oh, would that I could.” Ted folded himself into the car. His knees pressed painfully against the dashboard. The Javelin, which had been leaning off to port, now took a distinct tilt to starboard. “Straight ahead until you get to Market. I'll let you know when we're getting close. GO!”

Ted's apartment on Evans Street, South of Market, was the first floor of a four story converted rowhouse cheek to jowl with other converted houses on either side. Actually it was half of the first floor, the other half being the garage. Jerry double parked next to an vintage Civic hatchback and in an instant Ted was down the four steps to his front door. He put a key in the deadbolt. It went in, but wouldn't turn.

“Damn!”


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Old 12-15-2009, 10:37 AM   #2
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One more excerpt

Ted and Jerry are the ones most readers mention as their favorite characters in Boomerang (see first excerpt). But coming in a close second, at least with the men in the crowd, is Bethie, so I thought a little excerpt featuring her would round out this thread.


“Oh, Quinny, it’s such a gorgeously beautiful day!” Bethie skipped—yes, she skipped—into the room until she was right in front of Senator Farlow. “I’ve been waiting for the sun for such a long time. Don’t you just love sunny days?” she addressed the question to Farlow.

What a lovely young woman, thought the senator. Absolutely lovely. No, none of that now. He forced himself to turn back to Wilson, who was smiling widely.

“As I was saying,” said Farlow. What had he been he saying? Oh, right. “I would advise you to watch your step,” He made a movement toward the door, but the young woman was directly in his path.

“Bethie, honey,” said Wilson. “This is Mr. Landingham from Five Artists.”

“Hollywood?” exclaimed Bethie. She took Senator Farlow’s hand in both of hers and pumped it vigorously. Her right foot did a little rise and point. “Oh, this is so exciting!”

“I most certainly am not from Holly...Holly...Holly...“ the third syllable of the world’s cinema capital temporarily escaped the senator, who was doing a little rise and point of his own, an event he would have celebrated under different circumstances.

“I was Daisy Mae in our senior class production of L’il Abner,” Bethie said as she worked Farlow's hand. She leaned in close as if confiding a confidence. “And I won Miss Onion Ring Festival twice. In a row!”

“Young lady, please!”

Senator Farlow detached himself from Bethie's grasp and stepped back. He distributed about the room his best effort at an expression of moral outrage, just in case there were cameras. He sidestepped the nude young woman and marched, not a little stiffly, to the door. At the door he turned, prepared to deliver a combination rebuke and reminder of the reach of senatorial power, but there she was, this delectable and absolutely at ease looking morsel, and Senator Wilford Farlow, the man who had been the terror of four presidents, found that his system was operating at such an unavoidably visceral level the words would not come. His Adams apple just bobbed up and down and his lower lip trembled. Damn it all, his mouth was watering. It was with a heroic effort that Senator Wilford Farlow mentally girded his loins and got himself well and truly out the door.

The Lincoln kicked up enough dust on its way out to get even Special Agent Waas’s attention. He tried to take a shot of the Lincoln as it flew past, but found he had used up the entire memory card with pictures of Mrs. Franklin Quincy Wilson II.

Inside the Wilson residence, Bethie felt that a pall had suddenly fallen over what had begun as such a glorious day. She slumped into the Spanish leather desk chair. “I thought you said the man from Five Artists was named Something-berger.”

“Mr. Landingham is even higher up than Mr. Something-berger, my dear. Much goddam higher indeed.” Wilson walked behind the desk and began twirling the chair gently around, much as a parent would propel a playground merry-go-round for a small child.

“It didn’t go very well, though,” Bethie pouted.

“Oh, no my dear. It went very well.” Quinny smiled, but the smile was to himself, not to Bethie. “Very well, indeed.” Then, to himself, he said, “Now all we need is a nice call from our friend Down Under and everything will be fine.”

“Ooh, Quinny,” Bethie giggled as she spun. She held her hand up to her ear, thumb and pinkie out in a pantomimed telephone. “Mr. Down Under,” she purred. “Call for Mr. Down Under.”

“Hmm? Oh. That is not what I meant.” Wilson stopped spinning the chair and gazed at the twenty-two year old, five-foot-four, one-hundred-five pound temptation in his chair.

“Doesn’t Mr. Down Under want to take his call?” said Bethie. “It’s pre-paid.”

What the hell, thought Quinny. As long as it was pre-paid.



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Old 12-23-2009, 02:50 PM   #3
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The response to Boomerang has been so nice that I have begun work afresh on a new Ted and Jerry adventure. Close Enough for Jazz is very much a work in progress, but if you would like to check out the opening chapters so far, here is a link to that page on my wordpress blog.

Close Enough for Jazz

Thanks, and Happy Holidays to all!

Alan
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:00 PM   #4
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Revised Opening to Close Enough for Jazz

Well, wouldn't you know it, the original pages I posted for Close Enough for Jazz, the follow up to Boomerang, just had to be revised. A lot. So if you would like to see the latest version of the beginning of this novel-in-progress, please come visit my blog.

Thanks,
Alan

Close Enough for Jazz


Here is what one Smashwords reviewer has to say about Boomerang.

Alan Hutcheson has writen a wonderfully fun tale that will keep you reading all night. Ted and Jerry make a unique team on the hunt for a strange relic once owned by a super powerful Washingtom lawman; and if thats not enough they have a crossbow wielding albino after them to keep them from slowing down. The characters are weird and entertaining they will make you laugh. I can't wait for Alan's next book.
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Old 01-05-2010, 11:25 AM   #5
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The latest, expanded sneak peek at Close Enough for Jazz is now up on my blog. Come on by and have a look at this in-progress follow up to Boomerang, which now ranks Number Four on the All Time Bestseller List at Smashwords.com!

http://plumboz.wordpress.com/close-enough-for-jazz-the-in-progress-follow-up-to-boomerang/
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Old 02-04-2010, 09:24 AM   #6
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Another excerpt from Boomerang

Another random (okay, carefully handpicked) excerpt from Boomerang.

$1.99 from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

or use coupon CC73Z at Smashwords and get Boomerang for just $0.99




2

The George Bush (the elder) Intelligence Center
Langley, Virginia
The next day (April 13th)



Hank Berringer, recently minted Assistant Deputy Director of the CIA, looked at the round, slightly glistening man sitting in front of his desk. Berringer made as if to lift up a dark green, one-inch three-ring binder that was sitting on his desk and then seemed to think better of it. Instead he tapped it.

“Just how sure are you about the accuracy of this report?” he asked the round man, whose name was Tad Rushmore. Mr. Rushmore was Senior Research Historian for the CIA, and had held that post for over twenty years.

“I did have my doubts, at first,” said Rushmore. “Just another apocryphal Hoover story to go with all the rest. But as you can see there is a nearly perfect statistical match in all of the important evaluative criteria. Add that to the current trails I found leading to Australia and Massachusetts and the conclusion is inescapable.”

“And this all started when J. Edgar Hoover tried to rig the 1948 presidential election?”

“That was the genesis of the situation,” said Rushmore.

“But he failed.”

“In his objective, yes. But the fact that he was able to manipulate the system as far as he did is, well...”

“Not exactly the sort of news the American people are interested in hearing,” Hank filled in the blank. “Or the administration.”

“The fallout could be considerable.”

“That‘s one way of putting it,” said Berringer. His finger was poised to tap the binder again, but instead eased it away a couple of inches.

What it said in the binder was that in the late 1940's FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had commissioned a group of agencies-strictly without congressional knowledge or approval-which were answerable only to him. The agencies had been established around the country in twenty-six key voting regions and their sole purpose had been to influence, by any means possible, the outcome of the 1948 Presidential election. Hoover had apparently tired of Harry Truman's intrusive and restrictive style of leadership and was intent on ousting him in favor of a more pliable occupant in the White House. The Alphabet Agencies, so called because Hoover had simply assigned each of them a letter as identification, had been covertly funded with money from pork barrel projects that never existed, inserted into bills introduced on the House and Senate floors by members of Congress beholden to Hoover for earlier favors, mostly of the Mum's the Word variety. Only one of the honorable members of Congress had thought it proper to ask just what Mr. Hoover intended to do with his under the table money. His curiosity had been considerably dampened by the next day arrival of a packet of photographs, anonymously delivered to his office, which featured himself and a person who was not anyone's wife caught in moments of tender ecstasy. A promise of express home delivery of a second set was included in the envelope.

The Alphabet Agencies were generously funded, but in a triumph of the democratic system they did not succeed. And all would have been well if the only place one could find this potentially damning bit of American history was in the report on Hank Berringer's desk.

“I wouldn't have even brought it to your attention,” said Rushmore, “if this curious combination of factors wasn‘t in play.”

“You did the right thing,” Berringer said. To himself he thought, “But I wish to hell you had plopped this cowpie on somebody else's desk.” According to Rushmore's research the Alphabet Agencies, or at least one of them, had survived to present day. So chances were somebody knew something that could deeply compromise the position of The United States as World Leader and Sterling Example. Well, further compromise it, anyway.

It was Hank Berringer's job to make sure that didn't happen.

Actually, it was his job to find someone else to do it. In this case Hank knew it would have to be someone completely unconnected with any United States intelligence agency. Which just added another layer or two of unpredictability.

Wasn't that just great.
.
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:01 PM   #7
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A bit of Doreen

Several readers lately have been asking if Doreen is going to be in the follow-up to Boomerang. That hasn't been determined yet, but here is a bit from fairly early in the book featuring what seems to be many readers' favorite character, along with her sister Amelia, and their daytrip guide Cy as they have their first encounter with Leslie, the ruthless assassin.


“Quickly, Mrs. Scott, we must leave, now!”

Doreen pulled back. “No!”

“I must insist! Something is very wrong here. I can feel it!” Cy took her arm in both hands and tried to slingshot her past him toward the front of the building.

“I am not going anywhere without my boomerang!” Doreen dug in with one thick-sole booted foot and kicked Cy in the knee with the other. He let go of her and fell backward.

As he fell there was a sharp thwack against the wood siding of the shop. A thin, golden-colored shaft, about six inches long, vibrated where it had pierced the siding directly behind where Cy had been standing. Three golden wings were spaced evenly about the end of the shaft.

Leslie stood in the doorway, a suit jacket and a small crossbow added to his ensemble. He was fixing another bolt, for such is the term used to identify what we would, if not otherwise informed for the better, call the stubby arrows or overgrown darts used by Leslie’s modern, carbon–fiber version of this weapon from the early ages of Killing from a Distance. He raised it to fire again, his cold eyes locked on Cy, who was still stretched out on the ground.

But just as Leslie’s finger began to tighten on the trigger, something very solid caught him on the left side of his head. He was thrown against the side of the house and his aim jerked up and to the side. The bolt released, arcing harmlessly over the corner of the shop. Leslie staggered briefly, but he quickly regained his footing. Ignoring the blood dripping from his left temple, he reached into his jacket to the specially designed pouch that held another half-dozen bolts. His face was still a cold, angular mask, but now it was a cold, angular mask with blood dripping down one side and an expression of silent rage. As Leslie raised the crossbow once again, his thoughts, however, were shifted to a consideration of the size and relative hardness of the white, squashed-grapefruit size rock that was speeding its way through the air in his direction, and doing so at a remarkably vigorous rate of speed. This train of thought was, in its turn, interrupted by the arrival of the white rock at his nose. Leslie plunged back through the doorway and onto the slate tile flooring of the entryway. The crossbow, possibly owing to the fact that it spent so much of its time in his grasp, did not abandon that familiar harbor. It came to rest, bolt intact and pointing out the door, directly where his belt buckle would have been had he not instead been wearing a set of very stylish braces.

Doreen was at once irritated at herself for not delivering the knockout punch with the first effort and smugly satisfied with the effectiveness of the second. She dusted her hands and triumphantly glared at the soles of Leslie's Italian tasseled loafers, the rest of him being obscured from view by position and shadow.

“Now,” she said, “maybe we can have a look inside that shop.”

She headed to the doorway where Leslie lay, intending to search his pockets and, if necessary, the house, for a key to open the shop door. Failing that, she was more than willing to exercise the break-and-enter option. If Sally was not going to be around to keep her appointments then it was her own bloody fault if her guests found it necessary to smash a window or jimmy a door.

“Mrs. Scott!” Cy called after her. “Stay away from that man!”

“Oh, shut up.” Doreen waved him off and continued toward the Italian loafers. She intended to give them a good, swift kick. All Italian loafers with tassels deserved a good, swift kick. They broke hearts, stole life-savings and tried to kill people with stupid little bow and arrow thingamajigs. It was time they got what was coming to them.

She was within ten feet of the hated loafers when they moved. They had been in a position more or less parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground. Now the toes were fanning out and the soles were forming into a distinct V shape.

“MRS. SCOTT!”

Cy hurled himself at Doreen, catching her around the knees and flinging both of them to the ground just as another golden bolt went whizzing above them and buried itself in the eaves of the shop building. His adrenaline flowing at a rate he hadn't experienced since his days thirty years agoon the National Rugby Team, Cy sprang back to his feet, grabbed Doreen with a vice-like grip around the wrist, yanked her to her feet and dragged her, sprinting, around to the front of the property, back to the Land Cruiser.

“Miss Lewis!” shouted Cy as he yanked open the driver’s side door and shoved Doreen in. He gave her a push over and stood on the door frame to give himself a higher vantage point to call out. “Miss Lewis! Miss Lewis!”

Doreen poked her head out the other side and bellowed in a voice that humbled Cy’s by a couple-hundred decibels.

“AMELIA! AMELIA!!!”

“Miss Lewis!”

In a tiny window of silence within the wall of yelling Cy and Doreen heard a small voice coming from the back of the Land Cruiser.

“Doreen, dear, I don’t feel very well.”

Barely visibly above the middle seat was a pale-looking Amelia.

“Amelia!” scolded Doreen. “What are you doing back there?”

Cy didn’t care what she was doing as long as she was in the vehicle. He had the Land Cruiser started and in gear in two seconds. Substituting a terse, commanding "Hold on!" for his usual announcement regarding safety-belts, he jammed his foot on the accelerator and sent the big vehicle fish-tailing across the gravel drive toward the road.

If Cy had taken a look in the rear-view mirror, he might have noticed a bloodied and staggering Leslie come around the corner of the shop, raise the crossbow once again, and squeeze off yet another shot. As it was, the sound of the bolt scraping against the side of the Land Cruiser mixed in with the gravel ricocheting off the sheet metal and the only person to register any response to the effort was Leslie.

He looked disappointed.
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