The Compleat Winter: Mind Your Manners, No Exceptions, For the Cause

cover-smallMind Your Manners

A little revenge fic for you. A woman I knew who had recently married found her ex-boyfriend’s wife trying to create some drama. She had married a coworker of mine at BigHugeCo, so I had a front row seat to the incident that sparked this story. My friend had remained on good terms with her ex-boyfriend, though it was pretty clear that ship had already sailed. The ex’s wife could not handle this. Understandable. Relationships with exes are often awkward and set a new partner on edge.

Only this woman took it to the extreme. One afternoon, my friend played a voicemail for me. “If this is the [Ron]* who married [Cindy]*, he should know his wife still calls her ex-fiancee and tells him she loves her.” As I said, I knew the wife. I also knew how that relationship ended. I asked “Ron” “What do you want to do about it?”

“Fly to Dallas. Smash her windshield.”

“That might get you arrested. What’s [Cindy] think?”

“Well, they’re not speaking anymore.”

“Let me handle this.”

So I wrote the story from the ex’s wife’s point-of-view. We often hear, “Don’t mess with a crazy person. They’re unpredictable.” But what if the crazy person fails to take this advice? The beauty of this story is that you can take either Greg’s side – the harassed husband drawn into the drama surrounding his wife’s ex – or Susan, who has to wonder if her man is truly faithful to her.

*Names changed to protect the innocent.

No Exceptions

Ken Bruen is responsible for this story, originally written for Dublin Noir. Paddy is an amoral Irish thug, so amoral that he thinks The Troubles were a business opportunity, not good for an Irishman. But he does have some scruples. You’re his friend if you help make him rich, and the whores he runs make him rich. So do their customers. Enter Rob Duquesne.

I based Duquesne loosely on Brad Pitt, a very handsome actor who draws cameras everywhere he goes. A lot of actors in his position tend to have a sense of entitlement. A few have a habit of taking liberties with no thought of the consequences. Hey, something goes wrong? Buy everyone off. Since this was written, we’ve had numerous celebrity and political examples: Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods, Toronto mayor Rob Ford. They get caught. And they fall hard.

But this story has Rob Duquesne falling harder than any of those people. It starts out with Paddy wanting to know why Duquesne beat up the lovely Russian woman sent to service him. After all, an unhappy customer is bad business. But then Duquesne damaged the goods. By marring her appearance, she can’t turn tricks and earn a living. If she doesn’t earn a living, she doesn’t help make Paddy rich. If she can’t help make Paddy rich, Paddy gets upset. There are consequences.

Ironically, in the process of writing this, I started to picture Paddy as Brad Pitt. I think, if he could do a decent Irish accent, he could make a very convincing Paddy. He has some of that detached intensity Pitt showed in Fight Club.

For the Cause

Political pundits are an annoying breed. They tend to be hardliners, more interested in getting people to foam at the mouth over nothing or outright lying to stir up anger than actually accomplishing anything. Lest ye think this is solely a function of the right (who market their fire-breathing blowhards better), watch Facebook next time someone pulls a Phil Robertson. I had to unfollow a couple of people for a week until they quit posting articles on why Duck Dynasty was a harbinger of the Apocalypse.

I’ve thought like this for years. Screaming and beating your chest is not taking a stand or sticking to your principles. It’s beating your chest and screaming, usually so no one with an opposing viewpoint can get a word in edgewise. Thus, Matt Croy was born. Matt I envisioned as a left-wing Sean Hannity, only louder, meaner, and more egotistical. But what happens when Matt bites the hand that feeds him? Moreover, what happens when a powerful operative steps outside the lines to silence Matt, only to find there’s a witness?