Thank you, Love Bytes, for allowing me to post a guest blog. I also have to let the helpful professionals at DSP Publications know how much I appreciate them for publishing my BJ Vinson Mystery Series.
The Zozobra Incident, the first book of the series featuring BJ Vinson as a gay Albuquerque confidential investigator, is due out on Tuesday, November 15, a red-letter day… at least for me.
The second book in the series, The Bisti Business, is scheduled for publication in April 2017, and the third book, The City of Rocks, will follow that one by about four months. The fourth novel in the series, The Lovely Pines, is currently bleeding out from my pen. The great state of New Mexico, my adopted home, claims a prominent place in my novels.
The blurb for Zozobra reads:
B. J. Vinson is a former marine and ex-Albuquerque PD detective turned confidential investigator. Against his better judgment, BJ agrees to find the gay gigolo who was responsible for his breakup with prominent Albuquerque lawyer Del Dahlman and recover some racy photographs from the handsome bastard. The assignment should be fast and simple.
But it quickly becomes clear the hustler isn’t the one making the anonymous demands, and things turn deadly with a high-profile murder at the burning of Zozobra on the first night of the Santa Fe Fiesta. BJ’s search takes him through virtually every stratum of Albuquerque and Santa Fe society, both straight and gay. Before it is over, BJ is uncertain whether Paul Barton, the young man quickly insinuating himself in BJ’s life, is friend or foe. But he knows he’s stepped into something much more serious than a modest blackmail scheme. With Paul and BJ next on the killer’s list, BJ must find a way to put a stop to the death threats once and for all.
In the following scene, our protagonist BJ Vinson has located Emilio Prada, the gay hustler who’s supposedly trying to blackmail BJ’s ex, Del Dahlman, with some sordid photographs. They are talking in the parking lot of the C&W, a huge nightclub on Albuquerque’s East Central Avenue. Hope you find it interesting.
The remark took the fight out of my quarry. Being labeled a queer by one of the gang told me Emilio wasn’t solid with this group. Once outside he twisted out of my grasp.
“All right, cocksucker, what you want with me?”
“What do I want? Right now I’m doing everything I can to keep from beating you within an inch of your miserable life.”
“You sore about Del Baby, go see him, not me. He come looking for me.” Recovering some of his swagger, he leered. “He’s a hell of a fuck, ain’t he?”
His backbone bruised my knuckles. He doubled over and got rid of the night’s load of beer and pretzels.
“Man!” He swiped his mouth with a sleeve and gasped for air. “You… you can’t do that. I call the fuzz.”
I shoved him back into the bushes lining the building. “You do that, smartass, and they’ll arrest you for propositioning me. The next time you mention Del Dahlman, you speak with respect. The man was good to you.”
“A’right. Wha’ chu wan’, man?”
His accent grew stronger. Not the one he used to charm men and women alike, but the patois of the streets that spawned him.
“I want those pictures of you and Del.”
He tried to climb back on top of the situation. “They good pictures, man. Hot. You cream lookin’ at ’em.” He held up a restraining hand as I advanced on him. “’Kay! Okay. If you ain’t got none a your own, I give you some. That way you get a good look at Emilio too.”
Something wasn’t right. If those photographs were his gravy train, Emilio wouldn’t surrender them so easily. “No tricks. You pull anything, I’ll take my frustration out on your ass.”
“That what you want, maybe we can work something out.”
I slapped him across the face. In the gloom, only partially eased by sodium-vapor lights mounted atop tall poles in the parking lot, I caught a look of confusion in his eyes. Not anger. Not fear. Emilio’s face crinkled with bewilderment. He was an actor. He made his living pretending to be drawn to sexual partners, extolling their prowess and faking concern, but he wasn’t that good of a thespian. My aggressiveness genuinely perplexed him.
“The pictures, Emilio.”
“A’right. I got ’em in the car.”
He was recovering now. The barrio lingo was gone. I resolved to watch my step. After all, he was a street tough, and my aura as a former cop carried me only so far.
He headed straight for an electric blue Mustang convertible heavy with gold trim, the muscle car Del had given him. When he reached for something in the backseat, I grabbed his wrist. He understood and waited patiently as I picked up a nylon backpack and made certain there were no weapons inside before handing it over. He pulled out an envelope stuffed with photographs.
The guy had been right; merely shuffling quickly though the graphic images aroused me. As stars of a homoerotic shoot, they made a perfect pair. Emilio’s dark good looks played off Del’s fair perfection like spring on summer. In appearance each was everyone’s ideal man. Even with Emilio in the saddle, the image somehow held.
Yet there was something wrong about them, something off-putting. Was it because they showed Del with another man? I shook my head. I was over that, wasn’t I?
“You have any more copies?”
“Naw.” He looked longingly at the photos in my hand. Doubtless they were mementos of the best few months of his life.
“I’m going to accept your word on that, Emilio, because if you’re lying and they turn up anywhere, I’ll come looking for you. Understand? Give me the negatives, and you can go back to your friends.”
He shifted his stance. “Can’t.”
“Don’t have ‘em no more.”
Now something about me. I’m an Okie who graduated from a university in Texas with a degree in government and history. With no idea of what to do with my degree, after service in the US Army, I found gainful employment in Denver, Colorado where I met and married my wife. Then we moved to Albuquerque, where I lost her to pneumonia. Despite that tragedy, New Mexico has become my adopted state. I hope my love for the place shows in my work.
I do a weekly blog centering on my writing and my personal foibles at dontravis.com. A member of SouthWest Writers, New Mexico’s largest writing association, I teach a writing class at one of Albuquerque’s multigenerational centers.
Here are some links to me and my writing:
Again, thanks to Love Bytes and DSP Publications for this opportunity.