Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chapter Three of Dangerous Rabbits (In Albuquerque)

(Here's chapter three of Dangerous Rabbits (In Albuquerque). For more on the book, go here. Or just drop over to Amazon where you can find it here:


I'm told that people react to Tasers in different ways. Some folks simply freeze up. Some suffer extreme pain. Some have a heart attack and die. Lucky bastards.

Me…I'm a flopper. I flop around a lot. And flip. Basically, if you want to envision what happens next in our little story, trot over to Youtube and watch any video available in which a large and meaty fish of some kind, perhaps an Ahi Tuna, is pulled aboard a fishing boat and allowed to expire. Energetically. If not gracefully.

Now, swap the fishing boat for a café. And in place of the Tuna, insert moi.

Got the picture? Thought you might.

So, there were two electrode darts projecting out of my chest. And I seemed to be flopping about. One foot managed to overturn a table. The other drop kicked the waiter guy in the knee.

"Because you're going to jail, you son of a bitch!" I heard her yell, distantly, somewhere on the other side of Taser-land.

She was standing up in front of me. She had the Taser in one hand. Long wires were snaking down from it to the electrodes. "Are you getting all this?" she asked camera-guy.

"Couldn't be better."

She turned back to me. "You loathsome son of a bitch. Where is she?"

I responded with a cheery, if non-verbal, series of flips, flops, and semi-somersaults.

"The Taser," waiter-guy reminded her.

"Oh, right." She took her finger off the trigger. "Now, where the hell is she?"

"I don't..."

"Right!" Down went the trigger.

Flippy, flop, flop…I replied.

In fact, that sort of characterized our conversation for the next few minutes. She'd ask questions or make statements. And I'd flop. Or flip. Depending.

"If you've hurt her, so help me God!"

Floppy, flippy, flop flip.

"You despicable piece of shit."

Flippy, Flipsy, Flop.

"Hateful, pathetic excuse for a man!"

Flopsy, Mopsy, Flipsy, Floppsy.

"And you couldn't even come up with a decent fake name! Sewell! Jesus! What kind of it an idiot do you think I am?"

Floppity, flop, flip.

About that time I got a break because waiter-guy picked up my wallet from the table where'd I dropped it and started going through the contents. After a second, he looked up. "It isn't him," he said.


"It's not him. Not the right guy."

"Not. The. Right. Guy?"

"No. His driver's license says he's Maxwell."

"It's a fake."

"No," he held my license up in the light. "Looks legit. There's a social security card, too."


The next thing I heard was somebody yelling "Cut" And then there were all sorts of people running around. And somewhere along the line "Veronica" remembered she was still pressing the trigger and that I was still doing the yellow fin tuna routine on the café floor.

She let up on the trigger. "Marty," she said to the heavy-set guy I'd seen before, "you told me this wasn't going to happen again."

"Hell," chubby-guy replied. "How was I supposed to know? He was in the apartment. He matches the description."

"But that's twice in six months, Marty. Do you know how bad that looks?"

"Nothing made it on the air."


Chubby-guy remembered me. "He's not…dead, is he?"

She looked down at me. "You're not dead, or anything. Are you?"

I said, "Wheeze, gasp, pant, wheeze…"

"See? He's fine."

She dropped the Taser on a table. "Well," she said. "I'll let you sort it out. I should check my email."

"Don't forget," Chubby-guy said. "Your fans are expecting tweets tonight."

"I'm on it." Then, with a sniff, she was gone.

I realized that green apron guy was bending down over me. "Are you…are you okay?"

I wheezed out something that sounded terribly reassuring I'm sure.

"Should we call an ambulance?"

I heard chubby-guy react to that. "No. No. No! That would mean cops. Publicity. We'd be on the news!"

"But, he might be having, I don't know, a stroke or something."

"Let him have it someplace else."

"I think we really should…"

I held up a wavering hand and watched the fingers moving about, apparently all on their own. Nice to know that you've raised your appendages to be independent thinkers. Minds of their own and all that. "Just help me up," I told them.

Green apron guy gestured and then there seemed to be a whole bunch of young people around me. More interns, I assume. Anyway, I noticed that several of them were wearing either baseball caps or t-shirts, or both, emblazoned with the image of a big, nasty-looking bird, maybe a vulture, and the words, "Three Furies Productions."

Then it hit me. I knew what I'd stumbled into. Even I have heard of the Three Furies.

To explain, there is a cable TV network called EssEnEm Inc. That's S and M. It used to stand for the "Science and Music" Network. It started way back in the early 1980s and its original goal was to be (and here I'm quoting from the Wikipedia entry on them) "the commercial counterpoint to Public Broadcasting." It offered a rich selection of culturally enriching items—educational programs, symphonies, lectures, classic movies, etc., etc., and, of course, etc.

Great stuff. Only one problem. The public didn't give a Flying Fluggie At A Rolling Donut about educational programs, symphonies, lectures, classic movies, etc., etc., etc.  So, around 2000, Science and Music got new management and a new direction. From hence forward, announced a press release at the time, the company would provide "edgier content," that would be "aimed at a younger demographic," who were "interested in the issues of today." And it would do nothing but Reality Television.

Their first great hit? "Truck Stop Hookers: Highway 2 Hell On Wheels."

And EssEnEm (or S&Mtv) has traveled merrily down that same Highway ever since. Among the network's many successful productions and co-productions are such well-known titles as "Hillbilly Trailer Trash Does Dallas," "Fire, Lace, and Steel: Real Ladies of the Ku Klux Klan," "Crazy Crackers Of The Deep Woods," "Red Neck Nazis Go Hawaiian," and, of course, the ever popular "Daddy's Little Lolitas: Keeping It In The Family."

But all of these hits, despite their success, pale before one particular program. To wit: "The Three Furies Detective Agency." These are the adventures of three female detectives who, each week, accept a case from a "concerned viewer." This might be, for instance, a wife who fears her husband is cheating on her. Or, it might be someone who has been robbed and seeks some kind of vengeance. Or, well, you get the point.

I've never seen an episode of Furies, but Sam has, and he tells me there is a regular pattern to it. Each week, we meet the detectives, two of whom are supposed to be colorful and tough Southern Women of the Steel Magnolias variety. These two, "Bobby-Jo," and "Betty-Jo," are older …i.e. somewhere in their forties…and are the founders of the detective agency. The third woman is younger. She's supposed to be a recent hire and the other women are mentoring her. They teach her the arts of the detective and the ways of being a woman. A tough woman. A very tough woman.

Also each week, the three Furies encounter a villain…always blue-collar and always dumb as a brick. Or dumber. Then, over the next sixty minutes, we watch the Furies use a combination of their awe-inspiring street smarts, skill in physical combat, and (when necessary) feminine wiles, to bring down the Bad Guy.

Sam tells me that in all the years the program has run, the Three Furies have never failed to solve a case. Which strikes me as interesting. Given the fact that this is "reality television," and in reality the good guys (or girls) don't always win…well, that is, you know, you might suspect the data got just a wee bit skewed somewhere along the line.

But that's another story.

Anyway, Sam also tells me that after five successful seasons Three Furies is coming to an end. The two older detectives, Bobby-Jo and Betty-Jean, want to focus on other, more personal interests. Specifically, Bobby-Jo has a line of cosmetics, "Bobby-Jo's Black and Blue Beauty Basics," that needs her constant attention and management. Similarly, Betty-Jean has authored several successful cookbooks and plans to start a commercial baking operation—"Betty-Jean's Awe-Somely Bad Ass Biscuits. Ask for them at your grocer's."

As a result, Sam tells me, the producers of the Furies have penned their hopes on the third and youngest detective. She will be taking over the show, which is to be re-titled simply Fury: The Avenging Angel. It will have the same formula…the same dim-witted villain and the same inevitably happy endings…but the focus will now be on the single detective.

Oh, and the name of the woman in question? The detective? Well, of course, it is Veronica Eisenfist.

A.K.A., Veronica Smith.

So, if I'd only owned a TV and watched it regularly, I would have been able to save myself considerable trouble and Taser-time. Let this be a lesson to you, kids. When Mom and Dad say stop with the TV and read something, ignore 'em. Do yourself no end of good.

But, anyhoo, I found myself propped back up in my chair in the café. Green Apron guy had gotten me a glass of water and Chubby-Guy was sort of hovering near-by. He had one of his damn consent forms in hand. "Now," he said, "just an accident. Bygones be bygones. Right?"

"Say what?" I said.

"I mean, Fred, we wouldn't want to hold grudges, would we?"

"It's Sewell," feeling a vague sense of déjà vu.

"I mean, Fred, this was just an honest mistake. You understand, of course."


"So, Fred, if I could just get you to sign this little consent form."

"It's Sewell."

"It would be so helpful.

"Twenty-five thousand dollars."


"To make it all go away."

He stared at me with the same general affection that you might bring to a rabid hyena in heat. "Twenty-five thousand dollars!"


"Are you crazy?"


"But twenty five!"

"To make sure I don't go to the press."

He froze. For once in his life, he'd been genuinely surprised—not something, I could see, that happened to him very often. He'd been expecting me to threaten to sue. And being sued held no terrors for him. His company had lots of big nasty lawyers with big teeth and fangs and a deep desire to remove various of my more important organs and use them for a spirited game of volleyball. Or volley-lungs, -heart, and -liver.

You see, he knew, and I knew he knew, that America guarantees justice for all… who can afford it. If I took him to court, he and his legal staff would happily bleed me to death.  Even if I could find a lawyer who'd take my case on a contingency fee basis (doubtful), then I'd be looking at years and years and years of delays, evasions, and appeals…and even if I won I'd end up passing most of my ill-gotten gains to the lawyer, assuming that is I hadn't already quietly croaked of old age.

But the press…that was another matter entirely. He was having visions of me on TV, me talking to someone from the Albuquerque Journal, me being cited by ambitious Congressmen about How The Media Is Out Of Control.

"You wouldn't," he said.

"I would," I replied, with a warm and friendly smile.

"But that would screw us."

"I know," I said, cheerfully.


"Good to know we understand each other."

We then got down to bargaining in earnest. I was actually bluffing, naturally. I didn't want the press involved any more than he did. It would have been …inconvenient. A reporter looking into my happy Tasing over coffee and cookies might also get interested in little things like who the hell I was. And why I was in Albuquerque. Questions, in other words, neither Sam nor I (and particularly not Sam) really wanted anyone asking.

When it all got done, I was $15K richer and he was calling me You-Despicable-SunOBitch-I-Hate-Your-Fucking-Guts. But in a nice way. Very comradely. Affectionate even. The earthy but friendly exchange of two old soldiers recalling the common battle.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I learned that his name was Martin G. Sneiderman and he was the executive producer of Fury. The young guy, the one I'd been calling Green Apron Guy, was Robert ("call me Bob") Garcia, and he was the associate producer. I got the feeling Garcia was actually the Showrunner, i.e., the individual who actually did most of the work. But Sneiderman supervised. Oh, yes. A true manager was our Mr. Sneiderman. A credit to his MBA.

When we finally came to agreement, Sneiderman told Garcia "handle it." Then he stomped off toward the manager's office where, I gather, further negotiations, apologies, and check writing would be required.

"It's been kind of a long day for him," Garcia told me.

"Yes, I suppose it has been."

Garcia produced a consent form and a checkbook. "If you'll just sign this," he passed it to me. I waited until he'd opened the checkbook and started writing. "Your full name?"

"Sewell Arthur Maxwell."

He filled in the "pay to the order of" line. "Sewell Arthur Maxwell…" He laughed. "S.A.M.  Not many people have initials that spell another name."

"I'm blessed," I agreed. He handed me the check. I handed him the signed form.

I stood and shook his hand. He walked me to the door. We made small talk—the weather, what life was like in the broadcast industry, that sort of thing.

"Oh," I said. "One last thing."


"This guy you're looking for. Hastings?"


"He was the previous tenant of my apartment. That's why you got me confused with him."


"He left a few documents behind. I've read them."

Now he got very interested.

"Couple of things," I said. "Pretty sure he dealt drugs. But you probably knew that already."

"Yesss…" the voice was uncertain.

 "I found a notebook. I think it is some kind of customer list. Lots of addresses. Also dates and times. Maybe it's a schedule of deliveries. I don’t know."

His eyes were round and staring. "Would you…could we see it?"

I smiled. "Well," I said, "if someone asked Pretty-Please. With a cherry on top."

"I see."

He put out his hand. I shook it. Then I left.

Outside, the late afternoon sun was red and low. It was, I realized, nearly evening. I glanced at the mountains to the east, the Sandias. It was August, which is what the city residents call "monsoon season." Albuquerque doesn’t get much rain, but what it does receive frequently comes in late summer. It can be quite exciting then, particularly in the mountains, with powerful storms sweeping in from the east.

 As I watched, the thunderhead turned black. A moment later, there was a bolt of lightening that streaked all the way from heaven to the microwave towers on the mountain peak.

Damn, I thought.

Because there is nothing I loath as much as when God does foreshadowing.

It's so bloody hard to miss the message.

More about Dangerous Rabbits...

Here is a new development. We have just published our very first mystery novel. Which is also a comic novel. Which is also kind of a sad novel. Which is also about a man, a woman, and a giant imaginary white rabbit …who's a trained assassin.

It's called Dangerous Rabbits (In Albuquerque) and it's by T.J. Wise. And believe it or not, it all actually makes sense.

That's no small feat given the subject matter.


Dangerous Rabbits tells the story of Sewell Arthur Maxwell and his best friend Sam, and their encounter with the beautiful star of a "reality" TV program about detectives. Sewell seems like an ordinary albeit down-and-out resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sam…well, Sam is his "imaginary friend."

He's not, he assures the reader, "really" crazy, just a little odd. And besides, he says,  "… think about the number of guys who play Fantasy Football. They've got whole damn teams of imaginary friends. I've just got Sam…So, in terms of numbers alone, I'm actually doing pretty good."

Sam and Sewell happen to meet the lovely, talented, and tough Veronica Eisenfist, who is supposed to be a detective. Actually, she's the star of a reality TV program in which she and two other "detectives" hunt down various minor offenders.

I'll spare you how she comes to meet Sewell. Suffice to say that it involves a case of mistaken identity …and a stun gun. (In fact, we'll be posting chapter 3 in a moment. So you'll be able to see the whole thing in glorious color.)

Anyway, Sewell and Sam are witty and funny, and Sewell's attempts to woo the TV detective are appropriately clumsy. At first it seems there's no more to the book than that…a tale as fluffy as Sam the rabbit's backside, and just as immaterial.

But then…things change. And not for the better. First, there's a murder. Maybe more than one.

Second…we learn a little more about Sewell. To be precise, we learn that his history is horrific.  It begins with a childhood crowded with abuse and neglect, and then goes down (if such a thing is possible) from there.

Yet, through it all, as he struggles to deal with corruption and murder (and assist his lady-friend, however indifferent she is to his attempts at help), he maintains a kind of honor. Indeed, even in his wounded madness, he is an old-fashioned gentleman, trying to make his way in a world that has no use for gentlemen or honor … and still less, for innocence.


So, give Sewell and Sam a read. You may find the two of them amusing. Sad, sometimes, but always witty, brave, and true. There's something endearing in those characteristics.

In other words, Sewell may be mad as a March Hare, but maybe that's just the sort of fine madness this sad old world needs. Or, as Sam might say, let's seek a moral victory though…Hare Power.

(Sorry. Just couldn't help myself.0


On that note, check out chapter Three of Dangerous Rabbits (In Albuquerque), by T.J. Wise. It will be in the posting above.

Or, just go to Amazon and see the whole book. It is here:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Something wonderfully goofy! A man, a woman, and a giant rabbit

And now for something completely different...

From Dangerous Rabbits...(In Albuquerque)

       Sam is my imaginary friend.
       No, I am neither four years old nor am I suffering from severe mental illness. I'm a little crazy, yes. But not big league crazy. Not hard-core Fly Over the Coconut's Nest crazy. I'm not some sort of Three Faces of Eve Q. Sybil type with multiple personalities who talks to aliens and garbage cans on a regular basis. I'm just, well, call it "eccentric."
       But, anyway, a few decades back, I went through a kind of difficult period in my life. And I didn't have a lot of friends so I thought I'd invent one. And so, Sam...
      Stop looking at me like that. I said I was odd. And before you start casting stones, think about the number of guys who play Fantasy Football. They've got whole damn teams of imaginary friends. I've just got Sam.
      So, in terms of numbers alone, I'm actually doing pretty good.

Sewell is just an ordinary guy. A bit nuts, yeah. But not so much as you'd notice. Just enough to have a Giant White Rabbit as his best friend.

But then Sewell met up with the beautiful pretend detective …and a very real murder. And all of a sudden Sewell's craziness looked downright sane.

Fortunately, when the chips are down, you can always count on your BFF…even if he is a wisecracking killer rabbit with commando training.

'Cause, after all. Sometimes a hare's gotta do what a hare's gotta do.

"On one level this is a witty, romantic, and light-hearted mystery comedy of a book," says Stewart Arthur Ravelin (author of The Kind And Gentle Fascist), "but on another, it is quite serious. It is the tale of a man so horribly abused that he has become something of a monster. But a monster determined to be on the side of the angels."

Dangerous Rabbits (In Albuquerque), now on Amazon at:

Our first venture into books of poetry! Lucky Pennies!

Lucky Pennies & A new and luminous voice in American Poetry!

Belfort and Bastion is proud to introduce W. L. Kasperek's debut collection of poetry in e-book form, Lucky Pennies. In this remarkable work, Kasperek proves herself to be among the best of the new voices of what has been called the post-postmodern age. Her works firmly reject the cheap cynicism and cheaper irony that have been all too often the hallmarks of recent poetry. In their place she offers an unblinking realism but a realism firmly tied to a strong moral conception of what the world could be and should be

"Kasperek's work shows that reports of the 'death of the aesthetic' are greatly exaggerated," notes Victor Storiguard (author of Singular Encounters and Hydra). "Her poetry proves beyond question that there is still a place for beauty, morality, sentiment, and justice in the world of the artist."

Lucky Pennies includes some of the best of Kasperek's recent work. The poems here range from the haiku-like evocations of the natural world (for example, "The Lake Is A Mirror,") to wonderfully comic meditations on the passing scene ("Please Save Our Drive-Inns"), to the deeply personal and touching ("A True Hero").

Lucky Pennies is available as an e-book on Amazon now at:

About W. L. Kasperek

Kasperek was born and raised in southern California. She then launched into a career that includes military service, music, and motherhood.

As for her poetry, she notes, "creating poems is a healing process for me …As I move on in life I will continue to share what I see in this world of mine, good and bad and right or wrong…"