REGARDING NORMAN #4: THE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL


If you are not yet aware, my first, full length, Norman Oklahoma novel is now available for pre-order for just 99 cents. Click here if you'd like to get it now before it becomes $3.99 when it is released on April 28, 2018.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about Norman Oklahoma.

The Regarding Norman series is a chance for me to talk about all the dumb things I've done with Norman Oklahoma.

And by dumb things, I mean releasing books or stories that weren't ready, then taking them down, then trying them again, only to take them down again.

Sounds exhausting, right.

It was.

But I had to do it. I had to get through all of that to get to where I am now.

So let's talk about all that.

In Part One of Regarding Norman, I talked about how Norman Oklahoma got started.

In Part Two, I talked about the first book I started, but never finished.

In Part Three, I talked about Norman fighting zombies.

Today, I'm going to talk about the Norman Oklahoma Christmas Special:

Norman Oklahoma and the Bullets that Saved Christmas


The cover there was created by Harold C. Jennett III. He's the artist that did my Holliday's Gold cover, and who I work with on the Our Adventure Continues web comic. You can see his stuff HERE and HERE.

So, one day in early 2013 (I think, I can't find any of the original correspondence), not long after I had published Norman Oklahoma and the Zombie Fanboys of Doom (again, this is all guesswork as far as the timeline), Harold tells me that if I write another Norman Oklahoma story, a Christmas story, he would do the cover.

Well, how could I resist?

I mean, I was making my own covers, still am, but I was terrible at it back then. I'm not great now, but I'm much better.

For any aspiring self-publishing author, when we are out looking for advice or reading books about self-publishing, or listening to podcasts about self-publishing, one of the main areas that you are told not to scrimp on is the cover. "Hire a professional to create your cover," they say.

Well, I can't do that. I have no money. So I try my best to put together the best covers I can, which is why some of my books have so darn many of them.

So when someone like Harold offers to create a cover for me, for free, I'm going to jump at that chance.

So I spent the rest of the year writing the book and had it finished and released in time for Christmas, 2013.

Here's Chapter One, unedited from when it was released in 2013:

CHAPTER ONE
IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR


MY NAME IS Norman Oklahoma. I’m a private investigator who specializes in the unexplained, the supernatural, and the just plain weird. With a job like mine you could say that I’ve seen everything. After all, I’ve wrestled werewolves, manhandled minotaurs, vanquished vampires, and ganked goblins. In other words, I ain’t often surprised by the sorts of oddities I might see while out on a case. Aliens, fairies, ghosts – okay, I don’t do ghosts – but the rest? Been there, done that.

And I’ve been doing it for a good long time.

That was until something happened that went and changed all that for me right quick. See, 'twas the day before Christmas that I had come across something I’d never thought possible, not once, never in my wildest dreams had I even begun to wrap my mind around the concept. And it all began with the Walrus I caught outside the Barn.

Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it’s the one time of the years to be with their loved ones. For others it’s their only chance to tell those in their life how much they love them by purchasing expensive presents. There are those that consider Christmas just a day off from work, and there are others who see it as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. For me...well, for a time there, a long time, it didn’t really mean jack. It was just another day, except all the stores were closed. I ain’t never had family to celebrate with, nobody to shop for, I never get a day off, and I ain’t none too religious, so for me it was “bah humbug” and all that. But this year was different.

I live in Eudora, Kansas. My office is on the corner of 7th and Main. I’m just above the coffee shop, you can’t miss me. I’ve been in town for a great long time, but I’ve never really put myself in any kind of place to make friends. My job don’t lend well to relationships and anyone I’ve ever gotten close to I’ve just had to watch die, so I shut myself off from people to a certain extent.

The only person in my life that I would even call a friend is Patrick McCrae. He’s the town Sheriff. With my work it pays to get to know the law. I’ve had to do the kind of tasks now and again that might walk the line between legal and illegal and it’s good to have a senior lawman at your back when you do. Last year, Patrick invited me over for dinner on Christmas Eve. It was my first time meeting his wife Melissa, and their granddaughter, Skie.

Skie was only five that year and she’d been with Pat and Melissa since she was one. Her parents, Pat’s son and his wife, had died in a car crash. Pat and Melissa had been looking after the girl ever since. I really took to little Skie. I’m not sure why, but there was a fire in her that I respected. I’d never made a connection like that to another human being before, much less some little kid, but it was there. I wanted to make sure I get her something special this year. I had no idea what, I just felt I the need to get her something great – something perfect. So far however, the quest wasn’t going well.

I’d been to each of the big malls in Kansas City four times and visited each shop. So far I’d found nothing. I’d just about given up. I’d found myself out by the airport, thinking maybe I could find...honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t finding anything and was about to pack it in. It was nearly midnight on December 23rd and I was running out of time. That’s when I decided to go to the Barn and let out a little frustration.

The Barn is a nightclub, a place known around the world. It’s a famous vampire hangout. But it ain’t just vampires that frequent this establishment. Most of your dark and evil creatures stop by for a drink and a bit of debauchery on any given night. One of my favorite pastimes, when I’m not working a case, is to sit outside the club and see if I can’t start a little something with any random creature that’s just out to have a good time at the expense of us humans.

Okay, I feel like I need to explain a few things here.

First, if you haven’t figured it out yet, monsters exist. Vampires, werewolves, they live among us. Most are like you and me. They just want to get through life with as little fuss as possible. They work, earn money, and even pay their taxes. All in all, they contribute to society. But there are a few who put themselves above the rest. Those are the nasty ones. For example, that rogue werewolf I tussled with last year. Or the minotaur that got drunk and destroyed a china shop – yeah, it happened. See, when those things step out of line (and believe me, they do) I’m there to push them back over. Usually with a pair of antique revolvers.

The Barn is exactly what it sounds like. It began its life as an actual barn. It held cows, farming equipment, bales of hay and all that. It was converted into a nightclub back in the early 70’s. It’s west of Eudora, off of Old Kansas Highway 10.

The Barn isn’t hard to find. You just take Old 10 west out of Eudora to County Road 2000, turn right, take that about a mile and turn right again on County Road 1500. Drive about a half a mile and look for the gravel road with the giant wrought iron gate and there you are. Here’s the thing though, you don’t want to actually go there, not that the vamps would let you. Only certain folks get through that gate and go down that long and winding gravel road – and that ain’t you, not if you value your life. See, the Barn is owned by an ancient vampire family, the Brones. Currently, the only Brone left is old Bertram Brone, though being a vampire and immortal and all, he doesn’t look his age. But then again, neither do I.

Bertram and I go back a long ways. I once caused him a great embarrassment a little over hundred years ago when I caught him feeding on a live cow in Dodge City, but that’s a story for another time.

And yes, you read that correct, I’m old. I’d love to tell you when I was born, but to be honest with you, I don’t rightly know. I was found just north of Eudora in March of 1848 on a sandbar in the middle of the Kansas River. I looked a bit like I look now, maybe a mite younger. Don’t know where I came from, don’t know how I got on that sandbar, and I surely don’t know why I’m still alive and kicking. I do know that I heal quick-like. Minor cuts seal up within seconds, bones mend in hours, and I ain’t never been sick a day in my life, so at least I got that going for me.

But hey, back to the Barn. The structure itself is surrounded by acres upon acres of cornfields. To the north lies the Kansas River. To the east you have corn, to the west you have corn, and to the south you have even more corn. Further south is Old 10. Straight across Old 10 is a wooded area in which sits a special hunter’s blind. The blind is camouflaged to look like part of the hill. Inside this blind were me and a small telescope.

Typically, during most of the year, the corn was as high as an elephant’s eye so watching the Barn from my blind was impossible. During the winter however, all of the fields are empty and I have clear line of sight with the Barn’s front door. So I sat on a stool, watched the Barn, and waited. I’d heard a rumor that the Walrus was back in town and I wanted to make sure he didn’t leave without getting the chance to say ‘hi’.

I didn’t have to wait long. The Walrus wasn’t a social creature. He conducted business and got out. But I knew he’d show at the Barn. See, the Walrus makes his living as a hit man – well, walrus. He works for all sorts of nasty people; humans, vampires, demons, it didn’t really matter to him, as long as they met his price. He’s a big name in the life, an assassin that knows no equal, and I knew he wouldn’t come to town without stopping in to pay his respects to Bertram Brone.

The Walrus began life as an English aristocrat by the name of Norbert Lockley and unlike most of the Barn’s patrons; he’s not technically a member of the supernatural community. Instead he’s the product of genetic manipulation. He’s what happens when a group of scientists and doctors with backgrounds in genetics get together and ask the age-old question: “What if we were to splice together the DNA of a human with that of a walrus?”

These particular scientists and doctors and such were between projects and found themselves encountering that most deadly of beasts – boredom. Besides, they hadn’t quite used up their grant at that point, and they needed to spend the surplus cash on something if they expected to get the same amount the following year.

That’s how we get someone like the Walrus walking around. This guy is dern scary too. I mean, lets get past the fact that he looks like a muscled-up version of Wally Walrus from the Woody Woodpecker show. He’s also got the strength of ten men, skin that’s thicker than boiled leather, and a soul void of compassion. I know, I’ve been blessed enough to run into the guy from time to time. The last time we met, I kicked him in the baked ham and dropped a fridge on him. So yeah – he doesn’t like me much.

I watched through the telescope’s sight as a black limousine made from a Humvee pulled up to the Barn’s front door. A uniformed driver stepped out of the limo, opened the rear door, and waited as the Walrus emerged from within the club. Soon he was inside and the limo was pulling out onto County Road 1500 and heading west.

I grabbed my hat and coat. I dressed as I usually do when I’m out on business. Suit and tie, vest, trench coat, and fedora. I’ve been told many times I look like one of Elliot Ness’s boys, and frankly, I do. I found the look in the 40’s, found that I liked it, and so I’ve stuck with it. I like old things. The only piece of my ensemble that strayed from the whole Untouchables thing was the pair of antique revolvers that hung low on each hip. I carry with me a pair of custom-made Colt Peacemakers. For those who don’t know guns, the Peacemaker was the gun they say won the West. Mine are a mite different than those used by the scores of cowboys and gunslingers back when the West was won. Every other Colt Peacemaker was made to fire a .45 caliber cartridge. Not mine. See, I made somewhat of a name for myself even back then. Not among the general public, mind you. But when it came to the kind of circles I ran in, the kind of circles that hunted monsters, I was a known man. I was able to commission Sam Colt himself
to build me a custom pair of Peacemakers that fire a .50 caliber cartridge. That’s a bit of a hefty slug, but then again, I tend to go up against a bit of a hefty fella now and again.

Behind the hunter’s blind sat my ride. I drive a Harley Davidson WLA, first manufactured in 1940 and used by the military in World War II. Like I said, I like old things. Near the front of the bike, just below the handlebars, rode a Winchester Model 1866 Lever-Action Repeating Rifle in a leather scabbard – again, old.

I climbed aboard the bike and kicked it into life. I love the sound of a good Harley. The WLA was built for a bit of off-roading, so I drove it down the hill and turned onto Old 10, pointing west. Most would find traveling down a dark highway after midnight during a typical Kansas winter to be somewhat brisk, and I’m sure it was, but with the way I heal, the cold doesn’t touch me too much. I can get cold, but it has to be the kind of weather they see up at the North Pole, and as I don’t plan on visiting that far north anytime soon, the overcoat is really all I need.

I put together my plan as I sped down Old 10. I’m not much of a strategist; my best laid plans typically involved shooting at something until it stopped moving. But if I wanted to intercept the Walrus, I needed to do it out here on one these back country roads. Unfortunately, with the lack of corn we wouldn’t be hidden from anyone driving by on Old 10. Fortunately, this time of night, Old 10 was pretty empty.

The plan was rather simple. Hit them fast and hard, throw my custom made titanium cuffs on the Walrus, knock him about a bit, then drag his sorry butt back to jail. When last we met and I dropped that fridge on him, the boys in blue showed and threw the Walrus in a dark cell. Sadly, my friends with the Eudora Police Department didn’t quite believe my warnings regarding Norbert’s strength, and so the big jerk broke free that very night, putting my friend Pat in the hospital for a few weeks. I don’t understand how I’m allowed to let something like that stand. I’m just not built that way.

I met the limo on County Road 2000. As I passed the modified Humvee, I pulled one the of the Peacemakers and shot out the front driver’s side tire. The limousine had reached about 50 miles per hour by then. Going that fast in a car that big on a road covered in loose gravel is not the opportune time to have a blow out. In this case, it actually slid sideways before it began to roll. I just let it pass me by. Once I was clear, I stopped and turned to watch it roll and bounce until it finally coming to rest back on its tires in the middle of the road.

I drove back to where the limo sat, its engine knocking as it spluttered out. I slid off the bike and before I did anything else, replaced the spent cartridge in my Peacemaker. I learned long ago to reload at the earliest opportunity. I retrieved two sets of cuffs from the saddle bags on the back of my bike. I put the titanium pair in the cuff holder on the back of my belt and held onto the other set as I walked to the limo. I went first for the driver. I pulled the door open and found the man alive, but dazed, cuffing him to the wheel as he man began to stir. I found him unarmed, nothing under the seat, and nothing in the glove compartment, so I left him as he was.

The sound of something big crunching gravel beneath it came from behind. Instincts kicked in and I rolled sideways, away from the limo, as a fist the size of my head sailed through the space I had just vacated. I rolled to a crouch, pulled both of the Colts and thumbed back the hammers as the fist connected with the open door. I watched the steel bend and crunch from the blow. A shiver ran through me as the hulking figure in the three piece suit turned from the limo and directed its red eyes on me.

“Norman Oklahoma,” the Walrus said. His voice always reminded me of Graham Chapman – just a few dozen octaves down. “I should have known.”

“Howdy, Bert,” I said, and opened fire.

But the Walrus was too fast. He ripped the door from its hinges and used it as a shield. The bullets slammed into the steel, but didn’t go through. And then, before I could get off more than four shots, the Walrus threw the door at me.

Now let me tell you something. I’m an excellent shot. I will usually hit what I’m shooting at. However, it ain’t easy shooting at a target that’s throwing a car door at you. So, of course, I missed – and, I ain’t embarrassed to say, I fell on my backside as the door hurtled toward me. I held on to my guns however, and that’s really what’s important. Not that it really mattered. As soon as the door passed safely overhead, the Walrus was on me.

He came at me like a freight train, and before I could pop off another shot, he had me by the wrists, squeezing like a vise. First my wrists snapped like breadsticks, then I dropped the Colts to the ground. I tried to kick at him, but he threw me instead. I sailed through the air and landed in the empty field next to the car door. I lay there, helpless. My hands didn’t work. I was at his mercy.

The Walrus stood over me and laughed.

“Oh how the tables have turned,” he said.

“Oh, zip it,” I replied. “Just finish me. I’m already tired of hearing your voice.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Norman. I’m going to kill you soon enough. But you must allow me just a little time to make you suffer first. After all, you did drop that icebox on me. It’s only fair.”

He reached down and took me by the lapels in his left hand, pulling me from the ground and bringing me to eye level. My legs dangled in the air, so I tried the same plan of action that worked so well for the last time. I kicked him between the legs. But of course, he was expecting that. He moved slightly and blocked my kick with his leg.

“Come now, Norman,” he laughed again. “You must take me for an idiot.”

“Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Charming, to the last.”

He brought his right arm back, his giant fist poised to strike. I could see his massive bicep bulging under the suit jacket. He threw the punch with all of his might, but his fist never connected with my face, never crushed my nose, nor popped an eye out its socket.

Instead, I heard a soft ‘pfft’ sound and suddenly there was a small dart sticking out of Norbert’s neck. The Walrus went stiff, uttered the word “Halibut?” and collapsed to the ground with a loud thud. That’s when I noticed the elf.

The elf was about four feet tall and stood to Norbert’s right, clutching a curved sword in one hand, and what appeared to be a wooden Luger in the other.

“Uh,” was about all I could manage as I lay there in the dirt.

“Norman Oklahoma,” the elf said, holstering his pistol and sliding the sword into the scabbard on his back. “I greet thee with much joy in my heart.”

“Uh,” I said. I’ve never been mistaken for one of the great conversationalists.

As the elf strode toward me, I took in the look of the little fella. I knew elves existed, you can’t do what I’ve done for as long as I’ve done it and not hear stories and rumor from those that know, but I’d never met one before. This one wore a mixture of chain mail and leather in dark red and earth green. His head was bare, his long black hair tied into a ponytail, and the points of his ears stuck up over the top of his head by at least an inch. His eyes were large, almost too large for his delicate face, and were shaped like almonds. He walked with a grace that was almost alien. His movements were fluid and effortless.

“I am Bricker,” he said as he reached my side, “and I need your help. In less than twenty four hours, someone is going to kill Santa Claus.”

Ok, so there'a all kinds of problems with this story.

I won't get in to all of them, because frankly, in the end, I think the story, as a whole, is pretty good. With a bit of work it can become quite great. In the end it has a great message and I'm really fond of it.

But, while I'd posted my Walrus story on my site, I hadn't yet published it, other than the comic book short (which we'll talk about next week). So as far as publication history is concerned, this is the first time anyone is meeting the Walrus.

Norman's origin has changed slightly since then as well.

But most importantly, this story takes place after something I've never published. Something that involves Pat's granddaughter. She's Skie in this story, but has since been changed to Sally. Heck, Pat's a man here, but is a woman now. Oh, the changes I've made.

But, this story that takes place before the Christmas one, well, what happens in that story makes the Christmas one mean so much more. It gives Norman more of a purpose to worry about getting her the perfect Christmas gift, and it makes Skie/Sally's reasoning for clinging to him much more sensible.

So, eventually, once I'd seen the error of my ways, I took it down.

The plan had been to first put up The Walrus of Death, then a second story, then the Christmas story.

And here's the thing, I'm doing that now, only in serial form. We haven't gotten to the tale that makes the Christmas story mean so much more, and the Christmas story itself is a ways off, but that's what everything is leading to.

Next week, the comic.

In the meantime, if you aren't following the serial, The Adventures of Norman Oklahoma, you can (and should) do so HERE. We are 26 chapters in and still 22 more to go.

All 48 chapters comprise Volume One, which is already available for pre-order, as mentioned above.

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