Authors: David Siddall,Scott Adlerberg,Joseph Rubas,Eric Beetner,Mike Monson
ALL DUE RESPECT: ISSUE 2
All Due Respect
Full Dark City Press publication
Copyright © 2014, Full Dark City Press
All rights reserved. No part of this electronic book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The All Due Respect Crew
Editor: Chris Rhatigan
Associate Editor: Mike Monson
Publisher: Full Dark City Press
Cover Artist: Eric Beetner
Formatting: JW Manus
All Due Respect
Issue No. 2
Table of Contents
by Owen Laukkanen
Decomposition is the Universe Forgetting Itself
by CS DeWildt
by David Siddall
That Time I Worked for the Feds in Mississippi
by Joseph Rubas
Ice Cold Alibi
by Eric Beetner
by Liam Sweeny
by Scott Adlerberg
On Arbitrary Writing Decisions: An Interview with Owen Laukkanen
by Chris F. Holm
Dock Talk: How I Came to Write N.F.G.
by Owen Laukkanen
The Gutter and the Grave
, by Ed McBain
reviewed by David Bishop
Plunder of the Sun
, by David Dodge
reviewed by Larry Maddox
, by Stephen King
reviewed by Steven Belanger
The Twenty-Year Death
, by Ariel Winter
reviewed by David Bishop
by Donald Westlake
reviewed by Mike Monson
The Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble,
ed. by Clare Toohey
reviewed by Chris Rhatigan
By Owen Laukkanen
OU HEAR STORIES.
There’s not much to do when you’re out on the water. There’s the work, sure, the fishing: long days running gear, cleaning the fish, packing them in ice in the hold. Gear always needs tying and the decks need a wash, and when the Coho are running there’s nothing but hauling and cleaning and packing, a couple hundred fish a day. Guts everywhere, slime and blood. Seagulls by the scores dive bombing the boat.
But there’s downtime, too. Weather days, harbor days. A long run between tacks. You take an early night at anchor, cook a nice meal, spend a few hours in the galley, crowded around the tiny table. You hear stories.
Earl’s spent fifty years on the water. He talks about the old days. The Black Mamba, a drop-dead gorgeous deckhand with a standing invitation to party with Zeppelin wherever they were touring.
“They’d fly her in on a jet,” he tells you, packing his pipe. “Pick her up anywhere, party with her, have her back on the grounds in time for the next halibut opening.”
Earl talks about a harbor day in Prince Rupert, a legendary herring run. Boats tied five and six deep at the fisherman’s wharf, and the skipper had a mind to have a small dinner party.
“Only thing was, he needed potato salad and the stores were all closed,” Earl says. “Rupert had a good three or four peeler bars, back in those days, all of them with kitchens. So we told the skipper we’d run up to the Brass Rail, ask the dancers if they could fix us up a salad.”
He looks around the wheelhouse, gauging his audience. The skipper’s dozing off in the captain’s chair. The owner’s son picks at his fingernails. You’re the only one listening. Doesn’t matter to Earl.
“Girls at the Brass Rail say they can’t help us, but maybe the ladies at the Sundowner will. So we take another cab across town, visit the Sundowner.” He takes a puff of his pipe. “Of course, we all had to get dances.”
“Of course,” you say.
“Sundowner girls have potatoes, but they don’t have any eggs. So we head across the street to the Alibi Room.” He winks at you. “More dances.”
You nod. You drink your coffee. You listen.
“Alibi girls have the eggs, but no mayonnaise. By this point we’re all out of peeler bars, so we head back to the Brass Rail and badger the clientele some more. Finally, one of the girls agrees to take us to her place, let us raid her pantry. We cab her there, cab her back, toss back a couple beers. By the time we get back to the boat, the party’s long over and the food’s all been eaten.”
He puts down his pipe, looks at you, a glint in his eye. “Skipper gave us a hundred bucks to buy potato salad,” he says. “Smallest bill he had. We brought him his salad, and three dollars in change.”
The skipper tells stories, too. He tells about the fishing boat that dragged anchor, top of the Queen Charlottes, loaded with king salmon and headed for the rocks.
“Called in a mayday,” he says. “Soon as they do that, the boat’s up for grabs. Couple enterprising young fellows were anchored nearby, headed over to relieve the stricken boat of its cargo.”
He sips his coffee, stares out the window. “Filled their holds with the fish just as fast as they could. Then they stripped the wheelhouse of everything wasn’t nailed down.”
“And the skipper?” you say. “The guy who owned the boat?”
“Hell, what did he care?” the skipper says. “He had the insurance coming.”
The owner’s son tells his own stories. He’s never been on the water. He’s green as they come. He talks about dry land, Las Vegas, women. A couple drunk girls in a Tofino hotel room. You all look and listen; you’re all envious. He’s young. Tattoos. Gold jewelry. Walks with a swagger.
“Don’t know why he’s so cocky,” Earl mutters. “The kid’s N.F.G.”
There’s a washdown bucket on deck with a hole in the bottom. A big old garbage can and it leaks everywhere. Most of the time, you don’t notice until the thing’s half filled with water. Then you’re dumping it out and pulling out the spare wasting time, cursing, hoping Earl didn’t see.
One day, Earl brings out a marker. Scrawls in big letters on the side of the bucket. “N.F.G.,” he says. “No fucking good.”
Then he gestures to the owner’s son, farting around in the stern. “N.F.G.,” he says. “Exhibit A.”
The kid’s name is Chad, the owner’s son. He’s never worked on a boat, couldn’t tie a knot if you taught him. Always losing the gaff overboard. He’ll suitcase a king salmon more often than not, miss the head with the hook and put a hole in the belly, the meaty stuff, ruin the fish. Can’t sell a suitcase. A hundred bucks, gone. A greenhorn’s mistake.
You’ve been out for a month now, watching Earl watching Chad, his frustration supersizing. The kid still doesn’t get it, treats it all like a game. Still walks and talks like he’s king of the reef.
“Lot of accidents happen on a boat,” Earl says. “It’s a dangerous place.”
He tells you another story. Some shitty deckhand. Went out on deck for a piss in the dead of the night, fell overboard, vanished. Never heard from again.
“We always wondered,” Earl tells you, casting a glance toward Chad. “Maybe the skipper pushed him over on purpose, on account of the kid being such a shit stain. Be a convenient way to get rid of a guy, we always figured.”
Lots of stories on the water. Lots of time to tell them.
You don’t tell many stories. You don’t know many good ones. You needed a job. Your buddy knew a guy. Now you’re here. Now you’re fishing. Now you’re out on this boat, all forty-two feet of her, a hundred miles out at sea. Watching Chad dick around, watching Earl’s temper rise. And the skipper in his stocking feet at the wheel.
You hear other stories, though. Whispers, mostly. You see the dark looks from the other fishermen when you tie up in the harbor. Silences, sideways glances. Muttered words and long stares. You hear whispers.
You hear whispers Earl used to be a captain. Had a bit of a problem. Smoked a little too much green in the wheelhouse, ran his boat on the beach. Failed a drug test, lost the boat. Moved back to the city.
You hear Earl got in with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts, the Devil Dogs. You hear he sold a little weed for them. One night in a bar overlooking the harbor, you hear Earl got sick of selling, bilked the biker boys of their money. Took eighty-two grand and hit the road, Jack.
You hear Earl lived it large for a while. Moved inland, bought a Corvette, found a pretty young girlfriend. You hear the Devil Dogs tracked him down. You hear that Corvette got burned. You hear that girlfriend skipped town on the back of a Harley-Davidson.
You hear Earl hit the road in the other direction.
They say he ducked out in the dead of the night. Beat the Devil Dogs and their baseball bats by about forty-five minutes. Their knives and their guns. They say Earl started running, and he hasn’t stopped since. Hopped this boat in Port Hardy, at the top of the island. Figures the Devil Dogs can’t hurt him a hundred miles out at sea.
They say Earl isn’t even Earl’s real name.
You hear stories. You keep your mouth shut. You just sit there and listen.