Snub Nose Press‘s first offering is a doozy, reminiscent of Plots With Guns, yet so much more. Speedloader is six slices of noir with an unusual opening salvo from Nigel Byrd. In “You Dirty Rat,” a French soldier in World War I decides that his sergeant has disgraced the uniform, disgraced the human race, and is guilty of murder. After ordering a soldier shot for dragging his wounded brother out of the line of fire, Bird’s bitter trench warfare vet decides to return the favor after the war’s end.
Nik Korpon and Richard Thomas each find addiction is a possessive mistress who will not be denied no matter how long she’s been abandoned. In Korpon’s “Mori Obscura,” a freelance photographer is thrown right back into the belly of the beast on an assignment to get photos of the very ghettos he abandoned, where temptation and the horror of what he used to be both confront him. Thomas’s “Herniated Roots” moves into Leaving Las Vegas territory (The story even reminds me of the late John O’Brien’s writing) as the protagonist meets a blonde who unleashes the drunk he thought he’d put behind him. He decides to drink himself to death rather than fight the addiction anymore.
But it’s WD County’s “Plastic Soldiers” that packs the hardest wallop. A boy is trapped with several others into a life of sexual slavery by a pig of a man who sells their services. All that keeps him sane are the plastic soldiers he’s kept on him. Each time a boy is killed, the protagonist tosses one on the funeral pyre (if the disposal of the poor boys’ bodies could be dignified as such a thing.) But if insanity can be expected, then it’s a productive one. The boy keeps the sergeant for himself. And it talks to him, tells him how to keep the other boys alive, how to escape, how to kill.
Speedloader is short, which is the biggest advantage of the electronic format. Snub Nose is not obligated to thicken a book’s spine by padding it with stories that don’t fit in or aren’t up to par. And what makes it in is completely original and compelling.