Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Black Rock - chapter one

This book won't be published until sometime next year (I hope the first half of the year) but here's the first chapter.


Constable Eddie Dougherty climbed up the iron work of the Victoria Bridge onto the railway tracks and said to his partner standing by the radio car, yeah, “C’est une bombe.”

            They were halfway between the island of Montreal and the south shore, cars slowing down but still managing to get past in the single lane and Gauthier said, “Vachon arrive,” as the unmarked black station wagon pulled up behind the radio car and Gilles Vachon and Robert Meloche got out.

            The bomb squad.

            Dougherty walked back onto the railway tracks in the middle of the bridge and showed Vachon the blue Expo 67 flight bag wedged between one of the the stone piers and an iron truss.

            Meloche said, “Tabernac,” and Vachon nodded and looked from the flight bag to Dougherty’s badge and name tag and then spoke english, saying, “Did you hear anything?”

            “Just the river.”

            Vachon said, “Of course.” Twenty feet below the bridge the St. Lawrence rushed by. “This bridge is over a hundred years old,” Vachon said. “It would be a shame to lose it.”

            Dougherty didn’t know what to say, he’d only been a cop a couple of years, practically still a rookie and Vachon was becoming a legend dismantling so many bombs, but he didn’t seem very serious.

            “It was the longest bridge in the world when it was built, almost two miles. Just for trains then, of course,” Vachon said. “These lanes were added later,” and he stomped on the metal grated surface the cars drove on.

            Meloche said, “Come on,” and started climbing down the iron work.

            Vachon nodded a little and looked down at the bag and then back to Dougherty and said, “You didn’t get too close, did you?”

            Dougherty said, no, but now he was feeling too close. A bag stuffed with dynamite and the bomb squad was two guys in overalls.

            Vachon reached down and took something out of a leather pouch on his belt and Dougherty figured it must be some kind of fancy bomb squad tool and then saw it was a pair of nail clippers.

            “To snip the wires,” Vachon said and he followed Meloche until they were standing on the concrete pier face to face with the blue bag.

            Dougherty followed them as far as he could, holding on to a truss and watching as the two man bomb squad who had dismantled almost a hundred of these dynamite bombs in the last year talked about what to do. The flight bag was zipper-down, of course, wedged in fairly tight.

            From up top Gauthier yelled, “What are you doing, come up here,” speaking english but Dougherty didn’t say anything. He watched Vachon and Meloche waving their hands and talking but couldn’t hear what they were saying over the rushing water below.

            After a few minutes Meloche shrugged and pushed one end of the bag until it came loose and fell into the river and disappeared in the fast moving current. And then the two bomb squad guys climbed back up the iron work to the railway tracks.

            Dougherty said, “What the hell,” and Vachon said, “It’s gone now.”

            “Yeah, but now there’s a bomb in the river.”

            “You don’t know that,” Meloche said, “it could be a bag of donuts,” and he climbed up past Dougherty.

            Vachon said, “The dynamite is ruined, it’s safe now.”

            “What are you going to say in your report?”

            “What report?” He walked over to unmarked station wagon, stood by the passenger door and said, “If we report it, it gets in the press, why give these bastards what they want?”

            Dougherty said, yeah, “I guess,” and Vachon smiled and got into the passenger seat of the unmarked station wagon and Meloche drove towards the south shore to turn around and head back onto the island of Montreal.

            Dougherty just stood there watching them go and then Gauthier, who’d been a cop longer than Dougherty’d been alive said, “Come on, that’s enough action for me, I need a drink,” and got into the squad car.

            The action was why Dougherty had joined the police.

The rest of Chapter One can be found here.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Swag by Elmore Leonard

While doing a little research I came across this ad for apartment rentals in Montreal in 1970:

The building (which is still there but doesn't look very swinging on Google view) is near the airport and now I've discovered stories of wild parties with stewardesses (no one used the words "flight attendant") and the rumour that Xaviera Hollander (the Happy Hooker) lived there for a while, or maybe partied there or maybe worked there.

But what the ad really made me think of was Frank and Stick in Elmore Leonard's Swag and the apartment they lived in while pulling armed robberies around Detroit.

Swag wasn't the first Elmore Leonard novel I read but it was the first one that had characters that acted exactly like people I knew.