A Better Lie

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It has taken eight years of work to get my first novel ready for publication and now, I can finally announce that you can pre-order a special early edition of A Better Lie through my IndieGogo campaign. There are only 100 copies. Each is signed and numbered.

A Better Lie is a novel about a handful of employees at a flower shop who start selling alibis to their customers as well as flowers. It’s also about an affair that gets out of hand and a heist connected to the Russian mob. On top of that it’s a bit of a tour of Tacoma.

I’m the sort of person who believes you should get an idea of what you’re buying before you buy it. So in that spirit, I’m sharing a special short about a character from A Better Lie. Let me introduce you to Augie.

– Jack

Augie

by Jack Cameron

“This is a great apartment…”

There was a pause after he said it. Augie was fairly certain the boy could not remember his name. Augie didn’t mind. He wasn’t sure of the boy’s name either. Tony, Troy, something with a ‘T’.

He watched from the bed as the boy walked around his apartment. The boy had his shirt off. Augie was enjoying the view. This boy was probably half Augie’s age with skin so white it looked like milk. He had that farm-boy-in-the-city look to him. Augie wondered how many times the boy had done this sort of thing. The boy picked up a framed photo from the dresser. Augie almost forty years ago standing next to his friend Daniel. Dan the man. It didn’t matter where they were, Dan could score enough reefer for him and all of his friends. The photo was taken in Quang Tin Province, Viet Nam. Two weeks later Daniel was dead. Shot by a sniper.

“Whoa.” The boy said, “Is this your dad?” Augie couldn’t help but smile. He’d be sixty-eight in a month but he didn’t look it at all.

“How about you stop playing with my stuff and start playing with me?” The boy smiled and crawled into bed with him.

Augie woke up around one in the morning. The boy was gone. He got up. He checked the top right drawer of his old oak dresser. His wallet and keys were still there. He glanced around to make sure nothing else of value was missing. He noticed a Post-It on his front door. It just said, “Thnx. Put my # in your phone.”

Augie grabbed his cell phone and checked the contact list. He had well over three hundred contacts in here. He went to the T’s but nothing jumped out. Oh well.

Augie smiled. As finding companions online went, this one was fairly successful. They both seemed to have fun. No one was hurt and all was well with the world. He opened the refrigerator and found that he was wrong. The boy had taken something. His last beer was gone.

Awake and thirsty, Augie threw on some sweatpants and a t-shirt. He grabbed his wallet and keys and walked out the door. It was a nice night. And MSM was only a few blocks away. He decided to walk it. The MSM Deli was known for great sandwiches and one of the best beer selections in the city. It was also open 24 hours and frequented by police officers.

As Augie passed an alleyway he noticed a short, jittery looking guy standing near the entrance of the alley. Down the alleyway about a hundred feet further, there was a large man doing a bad job of hiding. The jittery guy began to approach Augie and then stepped away. These guys were two of the worst muggers Augie had ever seen. If Augie were even ten years younger, he might cause these guys some problems just on general principle. But as it was, he kept on walking.

At MSM, Augie selected a can of Wingman Ace IPA. It was a Tacoma brew and Augie liked to buy local. He paid the cashier, who put the can in a brown paper bag. Augie stepped out of the place, opened the can, but kept it in the bag. He took a long drink as he passed a police officer walking in. If the cop were a hard ass, he could have given Augie a problem, but cops didn’t usually bother the customers of MSM without good reason.

Augie spotted the jittery guy again about half a block away. Still standing in the alleyway. Augie finished the can before he got there and tossed it on the ground. He wanted his hands free if this turned into something. The jittery guy stepped into Augie’s path.

“Y-you…you got a light?” Augie eyed this guy trying to determine if he was already high or shaking due to withdrawal. Whatever the case, this guy was dumb as a post.

“You don’t have a cigarette.” Augie looked back into the alley. “Where’s your friend?” “Wh-what?” “The big guy. I’m supposed to reach in my pocket for a smoke while the big guy approaches me and then demands all my money or something, right?”

“Wh-who are y-you?” The jittery guy took a few steps back.

“You’re not wrong.” Augie heard from behind him. As he turned around, he felt the punch. It hurt like hell, but he pretended not to notice. He stayed standing, though he wanted to fall. He wanted to show these guys he could take a punch.

“Wait.” Augie said. He could taste blood in his mouth. He ignored it. “You should know something first.”

“What’s that?”

“Two things. One, you’re going to have to beat me unconscious or dead because I’m not giving you anything.”

“What’s the other thing, tough guy?”

“You’ll win. I’m too old to stop you, but I promise you, before the fight is over, you’re going to lose an eye. Possibly both. I will make it my final act in this world. Now I’ve got about eighty bucks in my pocket and a couple of maxed out credit cards. You decide if that’s worth wearing a patch the rest of your life.”

Augie got ready to kick this guy in the crotch as hard as he could. Then the guy said, “Taylor, forget this guy. Let’s go.”

Augie spit some blood on the ground and smiled. That was it. The boy’s name was Taylor.

END.

To read more about Augie, pre-order A Better Lie at IndieGogo.com.
(Link not working? Copy this: https://bit.ly/2LSG0MI  )

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Locked Up by Jack Cameron

I can’t draw. I love comic books. But I can’t draw. Over the years I’ve worked with a handful of artists but they’ve all disappeared. One was in a terrible snowmobile accident. Another just dropped off the face of the Earth. And another disappeared in a cloud of disturbing rumors. So I decided to try my hand at making a comic using images and Photoshop.

As the images are mostly from copyrighted material and then altered, I’m not sure on the legality of selling stuff like this and since this was basically just a ‘proof of concept’ for me, I figured the best thing to do would be to share it here.

Enjoy.

– Jack Cameron

15 Minute Story #25: Survival

Survival 25

How did I get here? It’s kind of a funny story. It started with a simple plan to make some money. I heard about this crew that was moving a lot of dope. One of the guys, a guy named James, is a friend of mine. He told me the price they were buying their dope. I had a Connect that would get me dope for far less than that, so I made James a better offer.

This seemed like a good thing. I talked to my guy. Upped my regular order and prepared to count some money. I make the delivery a few days later. James and his people are happy with the price. I’m happy with my new source of income and all is well with the world, right? Not exactly.

I get the call from James the following week:

“Dude, you’ve got trouble.”
“What do you mean, James?”
“The guys we used to buy from, they ain’t happy.”
“I bet not. But that’s business. You and I both making money.”
“Yeah, but these guys, they’re connected….and they know who you are.”
“Are you telling me you ratted me out to them?”
“They’re dangerous guys. I didn’t want any trouble. But now they’ve put a contract out on you.”
“Thanks a load, James.  Now you’ve managed to piss off your old dealer and your new dealer. Good luck finding a new supplier, asshole.”

I hang up the phone. Sure I have some cash. But I don’t have ‘disappear from the mafia’ cash. With the contract already out, it’s clear there isn’t any way to negotiate. But my Dad always said, “Survive first. Everything else, second.”

So I go to that T-Shirt place in the mall and have a shirt made with the ISIS flag. I call the White House from my home phone and make a threaten them. Then I buy a first class airplane ticket to Washington DC. I’m stopped just past the metal detectors and detained. They put a bag over my head and now I’m here in some no name facility. It’s not the best accommodations, but the mob will have a hard time getting me here. If the people here demand I name accomplices, I think James will be at the top of my list.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #21: Magic

Magic 21

When you’re a kid it’s easy to believe in things like imaginary friends and super powers and spells and witches and that sort of thing, but when you grow up, it gets drummed out of you. You find out Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real. You notice that no one else can see your imaginary friend. You realize that everything can be explained one way or another and that explanation is never ‘It’s magic.’

So when I was young and chose to become a magician, I did it still thinking magic existed. However, I learned fairly quickly that it’s all slight of hand and obfuscation. It’s making someone look here while you do something over there. Magic tricks aren’t magic. They’re just tricks.

While I got very good at performing these tricks and people loved it, the child inside me was sad that I wasn’t performing real magic.

I collected old magic books. More out of curiosity than anything else. I didn’t expect to find anything in there except maybe some material I could use for the act.

I think the book came from somewhere in Eastern Europe. It was made sometime in the 1700s. It’s all hand written. And there are no tricks. Just words. Words I’ve never heard before. I was alone at night in my apartment. I said the words.

My point is that the monsters you hear about? Those ones that were responsible for what happened in Brazil…and Cuba….and Florida? They’re my fault. But it’s not a trick. It’s magic. While I understand that the loss of life is tragic, the child in me is jumping in glee. Magic is real.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #20: Love In Flames

Love in Flames 20

“He broke your heart.”  Natalie said, “Fucker.” Kate watched Natalie down the last of her third martini in solid female solidarity. Woe to the next dumbass fratboy who tried a pick up line on this table. Kate smiled. It was her first smile three days. Kate sipped her drink and thought about how a week ago she thought she was going to marry Thomas.

Thomas Ping. Cute. Wealthy. Fun. A house here in Portland AND in Hong Kong. He felt like the first man Kate had ever dated. The others were just boys. Two years and three months seemed like a pretty sure thing. She’d played it slow though. She didn’t move in, though weeks would go by without stopping by her apartment. And when her grandmother died, Thomas was there for her. He paid for the funeral and the limos for her family. He held her and made her feel safe.

All that was gone now. He wasn’t even supposed to be in town. He was supposedly in New York closing a business deal of some sort. But he was in his giant house on a hill in Beaverton just outside of Portland getting drunk with not one but two other women. They say there was some sort of electrical problem that started the fire. Thomas and Bimbo #1  were rescued. Bimbo #2 didn’t make it. Neither did Kate’s relationship.

Kate thought about it and realized Natalie was wrong.

“He didn’t break my heart, Nat.” Natalie gave an inquiring look, “He broke my trust. He broke my plans. He broke our relationship. He broke a lot, but my heart’s just fine. It keeps beating and keeps going. Just like me. Let’s get one more round.”

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #17: Two Boxes

TwoBoxes 17
I have two boxes in my head. One is where I put all the shit I understand. And the other is the box I put all the shit I don’t understand. Whenever I put something in the second box, I open the box just long enough to put something in and then I seal it shut. I don’t think about the things in the second box. But every now and then it cracks open a bit.

There was the dead mirror. A friend of mine had a mirror. It was mounted in what look like the portal of ship. You looked in it and you looked like you were dead. There was no other way to describe it. It was genuinely creepy.

There was that time that I was walking through the forest with a friend and for no reason at all I started talking about a big white dog and five minutes later a big white dog appeared.

There was the man running through the train tunnel. He jogged as if it were the most natural thing in the world seemingly oblivious to the fact that there was no light in that tunnel. He didn’t even squint at the sunlight as he jogged out. That tunnel was three miles long.

There was the time that pallet landed on Joey’s foot. Me and Cody lifted it off. It had to have been over a ton. There was no way we should have been able to lift it no matter how much adrenaline was pumping through our veins.

There was that time I saw an actual ghost and just as quickly watched him disappear right in front of me.

All of these things are things I don’t think about because whenever I do, I feel like I’m going crazy. They don’t fit with the rest of the world I know. But the latest addition to the box tops them all. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it and I accept it. I’m even happy about it. But there’s no way I’ll ever understand it.

The latest addition to the box? She’s in love with me.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

15 Minute Story #16: Lunacy

Lunacy 16
“Let me tell you about the moon, buddy.” The guy talking to me showed up about a half hour ago and sat on the stool next to me despite the bar being almost entirely empty. He called me ‘buddy’ immediately. He then spent a good while telling me how hard it was to find a bar in this town without any ‘Jews or Arabs or colored folk’. I almost laughed out loud because it was hard to believe this guy was serious.

It’s been my experience that when you have a crazy drunk talking your ear off, the worst thing you can do is engage him. So I quietly drank my beer and looked straight ahead as he started telling me about the moon.

“The last time we went to the moon was 1972. And then we stopped. You know why? Civil rights. Twelve white heterosexual American males walked on that moon. The moon has only ever known the footprint of the white man. And to keep it pure, the government stopped the Apollo program before the blacks could get to the moon.”

I couldn’t help it, I actually turned to look at him to see if there was any trace of humor, but he was dead serious.

“Yup. That’s what they did alright.” He continued. “I’m building my own rocket, y’know. I’m going to the moon. I’m going up to that moon where a white man can be free.”

“Wait a minute.” I said setting my beer down. “You mean to tell me that you’re building a spaceship?”

“Yup. There’s room for three or four. If you earn your keep, you can come along.”

I had tried to ignore him but I was too curious. “So where’s this spaceship?”

“I ain’t built it yet. But I’ve got plans. Saturn V rocket technology is half a century old. I can do it. Though I do need a little funding. That’s why I’ve started me a Kickstarter campaign. With just $30,000,000, I’ll be able to go to the moon and start my own white moon colony.”

“Thirty million dollars?”

“I know it seems like a lot, but there’s like two hundred million white folk out there in America. I only need fifteen cents from each of them of course some won’t do it because they’re race traitors. So what I really need is twenty-five cents from each Believer.”

“Sir,” I said, “I am not giving you a quarter.”

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal