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Bad-ass Characters!

Strong characters in fiction really capture my memory. One of the best is, The Judge. Probably Cormac McCarthy’s most memorable appearance in Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West.


The following is a description of what he looked like. “An enormous man dressed in an oilcloth slicker had entered the tent and removed his hat. He was as bald as a stone and had no trace of beard and he had no brows to his
eyes nor lashes to them. He was close to seven feet in height and he stood smoking a cigar…”- Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West


He rode with a group of scalp hunters. Their profession marked them as unsavory beings. The Judge was their interpreter of life and marked as semi divine, although demonic. His spoken words always brought the group to silence. “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.” – Cormac McCarthy,

My name is Wally Runnels and I write Border Pulp.

Final Thoughts About the A-Z Blog Challenge

The challenge was daunting in the beginning. I had no idea what I was going to write about.
However I do have a character that I’ve used in a repertory way. No idea of a plot so I started with a scene by simply using the character I am familiar with. From that point on each scene told me where to go. Eventually
what I came up with was a story outline.

Now I can go back and fill out the story and develop links between scenes. Work with the characters and their emotions and their arcs. Get inside them a little more. It was like advertising when you had to come up with a
concept within a given time, because a million bucks in media had been purchased and you had to deliver a concept within a specific time.

It was challenging, but fun and showed me things about my writing self that I hadn’t known before.

Wally Runnels

Zen was in…#atozchallenge

Z2020

Zen was in the top of Rocky’s mind. Lately he hadn’t had enough time to meditate. He was slightly anxious and a little apprehensive.

He stood at the door and wondered if he should knock. He did and gave it three raps.

“Come in Rocky,” crooned an enticing voice.

He opened the door and stared at the naked beauty of Lucille. There could be no mistake even though she stood as a fleshed out woman. “You’re more gorgeous than I ever imagined.”

“And you’re more man that I could ever hope to have.”

“How much time do we have?”

“I’ll be dead at sunrise.”

“Jesus, then your back to La Rumorosa?”

“But Evan gave us this moment to be together. He can be nice when he wants to be.”

“He’s an interesting guy. Even though he works for

the …”

“Don’t say it. We always refer to him as the boos of the master.”

“We don’t have a lot of time, Lucille.”

“It’s sad, because I have so much love for you.”

“I want to know more about you.”

“Let me undress you.” She moved closer to Rocky. Their bodies touched, and she began to remove his clothes. “Evan says you read. I don’t know how.”

“He threw Xenophon at me, an ancient Greek mercenary and writer.”

“Most of the guys I slept with couldn’t read.”

“If we had more time I could teach you.”

“We must make time for other things.” Lucille pulled Rocky to her and they became one.

**

     Rocky rolled over crazy angry he had fallen asleep. Light was coming through the window and Lucille was gone. He horridly dressed and ran down stairs. The Tuna Club was empty. Tables and chairs were overturned and shattered glass lay around the floor.

With a quick glance he ran to the front door and saw three eighteen wheeler semis parked out front. On the center truck was a coffin secured with tie downs. Idling the exhaust stacks filled the air with a hellish Diesel smell.

The smell of brimstone turned Rocky around to face Evan. “Well Rocky you have had a busy night.” He made the comment with a straight face.

“It was wonderful, thank you. Among other things, we talked.”

“You could leave your world.”

“I don’t think I ready yet.”

“People always say that.”

“Is she in the coffin?” Rocky gestured to the middle truck.

“Yes, it’s a nice escort for a lovely woman.”

“I agree.”

“I understand you drink coffee.”

“It’s my favorite drink.”

“Let me make you a cup of my master’s coffee.”

“He drinks coffee?”

“As long as it’s scalding hot.”

“That figures.”

“You drink your coffee Cowboy style.”

“Yes.”

Evan produced a white metal battered pot that had burn marks and a smoke colored bottom. It looked familiar to Rocky.

“Yes that’s your pot, I’m just borrowing it.” Even produced a crystal skull and from the left eye poured coffee into the pot. From the right eye he poured water. He set Rocky’s pot on stones that were gathered around a small fire filled with red coals. The water boiled immediately.

“What you must understand is that drinking this coffee is like committing a sin. ”Evan poured a black arc into a cup and handed it to Rocky. He held the cup in his bare hands and it was painfully hot.

“Drink it, Rocky. It’s hot but you can handle it.”

Rocky pressed the cup rim to his lips and drank. It was hot but not terrible. He drank more. Wonderful pictures of victories he had had, women, Lucille and great devilish experiences with Hector ran through his mind. It was euphoric. He closed his eyes to savor the sinful moment.

Then terrible pain came as the brew ran down his insides. Pain and more pain ran through his body. He fell to his knees and moaned at the jarring anguish he felt.

“Ha, ha, ha. At first you felt the joy of your sins. It was wonderful and fulfilling. But then comes the retribution of your waywardness, which, by the way, we love you for.”

“That was hell,” moaned Rocky.

“We’ll be in touch,” cackled Evan.

Yikes! #atozchallenge

Y2020

Yikes, Rocky was excited to be getting back to Mexicali. He’d be that much closer to Bankhead Springs.

He had the truck at ninety when a police car came up and flashed his lights. He pulled up next to Rocky and a look of recognition lit his face. He waved and passed Rocky the lights still going. Rocky had forgotten the guy’s name. He was likeable and easy going. His sister was going into a nunnery.

Finally he made Mexicali. It was changing. Dirt streets were getting scarce. It was becoming a technical center for water and power. The buildings were getting taller and there were more suits and Mercedes downtown.

The Tuna club was still on the outskirts of Mexicali and the street was still dirt. Rocky pulled up to the front of the club and got out of the pickup. The club was still shabby and raucous, but Rocky rather liked it.

He walked through the front door and saw Hector sitting with the girls. Araceli saw him first and jumped up and gave Rocky a hug. “Rocky we were worried about you.”

“It was a close one, Ari.”

“You saved Hector’s ass. Cruz came in screaming where’s that asshole Hector Rosales.”

“He would.”

“We all gave him shit for talking that way.”

“He can be a real jerk sometimes,” said Rocky.

“He just laughed and turned away and walked out. He’s got two new Indians now.”

“They got names?”

“Yeah, Mauser and Ka-Bar.”

“Marked up?”

“Yeah scars and tats. One got his tongue tatted up.”

“Rocky, Rocky, amigo, your got me out man.” Hector screamed. “Heard you went through hell.”

“Evan may take me there himself.”

“He’s a sinister fucker, he runs La Rumorosa.”

“He runs most everything.”

“By the way he’s got a surprise for you.”

“Wonder what that would be?”

“Go upstairs. It’s the room at the end of the hall.”

“Rocky had a concerned look on his face.”

Hector grinned and winked.

Xenophon…#atozchallenge

X2020

“Xenophon,” Evan gestured with his cape, “could not have done better, Rocky.”

“Yes, the Anabasis,” Rocky waved his hand in recognition of Evan’s gesture. “The story of the ten thousand.”

Evan gestured to Homer and Beatrice who now had a new family member. “A gift to you two from Rocky.”

“Oh thank you Rocky.” Bernice cooed and petted the bony canine. “Homer and I are getting married.”

“That’s great, congratulations to both of you.”

“Yes thanks, we’ll call him Bony Mutt.” It was a happy for the couple.

“So Where’s Arango, Rocky?”

“Had to leave him behind. He was attached to the wall.”

“Oh yes, our friends in the bone towers won’t stand for any abuse.”

“The same ting happened to Bone Breaker.”

“Well, Rocky, it seems your work is complete. I think you should go to Mexicali and check on your friend, Hector.”

“Okay, that sounds really good.”

“Then I will see you one last time before I get back to La Rumorosa.”

Why wait? PART 2 #atozchallenge

1badge“Why wait, Arango? Come on.”

Rocky was in the middle between Arango and Bone Breaker. He pulled out his Taurus revolver. It was loaded with forty-five long. Bone Breaker was getting close. Rocky could tell he was just around the corner in the long hall.

“Come and get it amigo,” Arango yelled the challenge at Rocky.

“I can shoot you shoot you just as well from here,” Rocky growled at his quarry.

“Sure, but I got more than this knife,” Arango pulled a small semiautomatic handgun.

“That’s a toy, Arango.” Rocky aimed his pistol at Arango. “You gonna shoot, go ahead.”

Arango backed to the wall behind him. The wall began to scream and howl. Rocky guessed it was one of the walls he had been stabbing. Bony hands and fingers reached out. Rocky saw their intent was not to touch and caress, but to rip and tear.

Arango screamed and fired his weapon into the wall creating a frenzy of deadly clawing wall people. The hands, stripped of flesh began pulling at a screaming Arango. He stabbed with his knife. It was a futile attempt to disengage from the wall of many people. He sat upright held by bony hands and arms. Bones around Arango were covered in his blood. He emptied his pistol and stabbed with his knife again, screaming obscenities and threats. Finally he could no longer move his body or his arms. His eyes widened into round spheres of shock. He was slowly being pulled into the wall, his body cracking, as his bones were broken to fit the tiny aperture he was making. His last sound was a muffled scream.

A hammer hit the wall behind Rocky. Bone Breaker was behind Rocky and close. The malevolent tool was raised in mid stroke. Rocky grabbed it and forced Bone Breaker against wall. Happy murmurs forced the creature’s mouth into s silent scream. Clamping shut as if in pain, teeth flew out at the abrupt closure. Now the skeletal creature was being torn apart by happy bony hands. Bone Breaker’s anatomy was being shattered and by a happy crowd of his tormented companions. A happy mum carried through the tight space. Bone Breaker no longer existed. The only evidence of his being was the rusty hammer that lay on the bone covered passage.

Rocky looked back at Arango, or what was once Arango. Only a smear of torn clothing, shards of meat and blood were the only evidence of his existence. Rocky sat and leaned against the wall and happy hands massaged his weary muscles. “Thank you, my friends,” he said and smiled. His job was done.

Roberto Cruz asked for the job to be nasty. And it was. Rocky wouldn’t go into details but Cruz would gladly pay the price.

Rocky began the laborious move to the entrance. Sighs and laughter and caressing hands followed his progress. “Woof, woof,” came out of the wall to his right. He carefully looked up and down the skeletal fragments. Where is it, he wondered? Then, saw a line of cartilage and hair that wagged. Rocky searched for the collarbone and cautiously pulled at it. Guiding the muzzle through some ribs he carefully got it out.

The bony creature jumped and rattled around Rocky. He rubbed his hand over the bony, hairy back. “Good boy, he said, guessing at the gender.

He followed the bony canine to the opening anticipating the feeling of sunlight on his chilled body.

Now he had to get Hector.

Where’s Arango? PART 1 #atozchallenge

W2020

     “Where’s Arango,” Rocky asked.

“Not here.” And then the thing went back to its work.

“You must be Bone Breaker. You’re not very popular around here.” The moans and groans of the broken bones of his brothers and sisters were too heart rending for Rocky.

It didn’t seem to bother Bone Breaker. “After all, a man has to take care of himself.”

“But not at the hurt of others.” While Rocky was no saint he was shocked at the uncaring destruction of others. Although dead they were a kind of life form.

“You better get out of my house, or I’ll break your bones.”

Rocky pulled his pistol. “Don’t try to deal with me.” Rocky lost interest in the creature, Bone Breaker was not why he was here. He wanted Arango. Rocky moved away and passed Bone Breaker and headed for the end of the tunnel he was in.

“Hey Arango, you got some body coming for you.”

Rocky ignored the call and kept moving. Hands still reached out and touched him. Fingers ran through his hair. The happy murmurs began to rise. Then, there were moans, they seemed like warnings. Arango may have made some friends. Were they warning Rocky or Arango? His quarry may have made some friends.

Here was another corner in the passage. This one turned left and the passage Rocky was in continued on.

Rocky stopped and carefully leaned over, not to expose too much of his head.

There was Arango, illuminated by a flickering candle. Unshaven, his hair was a mess and his clothes were in tatters. His body trembled, he was wild eyed and he held a crucifix. He saw Rocky and made the sign of the cross. “What do you want?”

In his other hand he held a knife and was jabbing and breaking bones that were within his reach. Cries of anguish and hate came out of the walls around Arango. He sat away from the surrounding walls out of range of hands and arms.

Rocky sat in the passage with Arango. He could hear a rattling noise and the pounding thump of the hammer behind him. It had to be Bone Breaker coming to help Arango. Rocky knew he would be in for a two-far.

Oh well.

Visit the Tuna Club (A Momentary Break In the Action) #AtoZChallenge

V2020

 

Modesta

Under a bright hot sun…#atozchallenge

U2020

     Under a bright hot sun they walked two rows over between high piles of bony people. Bone Hump pointed to a dark opening in a large pile they stood in front of.

“That’s sssan ugly hole,” Bone Hag murmured.

“Looks like a tunnel,” Rocky said.

“Made out of crushed dead people,” growled Bone Hump.

“When I go in, will hands reach out and try to grab me?” Rocky asked.

“Yes, I certain,” Bone Hump nodded. “They’ll want you to pull them out.”

“Damn, I guess I got no choice.”

“We’ll be here waiting for you,” Bone Hump nodded his head.

“Yeah, thanks,” Rocky chuckled. He studied the opening. It looked to be about four feet high and three feet wide. Rocky was six feet. He’d have to stoop or go on his hands and knees, which would make his silhouette lower.

He didn’t know how Arango was armed. Rocky assumed he was. Rocky wore Armani sport coat and shirt and black Levis. He dropped to his knees and began the slow journey through the tunnel.

Once inside he cold hear a chorus of murmurs. High and low, some were male and some were female. Somewhere that was a woof, woof greeting from a dog.

Evan had everything down here. The dog melted his   heart. He thought about his pet pack rat, Dewey back at Bankhead Springs.

Bone Hump was right. Hands reached out for him. Bony fingers ran over his clothes and hair. It was as if they wanted to touch something living and warm blooded. Hisses greeted him. Somewhere he heard Armani hissed. A trail of moans followed his progress.

Woof, woof had become a whine and it saddened Rocky. He kept moving moved to a corner and he saw the tunnel continued on. He picked up crunching and cracking sounds from around the corner. He could hear cries of anguish and frightened whispers followed by sobs. He stuck his head around the corner to see the origins of these sounds.

There was a skeleton in bib overalls wearing a hard hat with a light. It broke bones with a small sledge. The light jerked and skittered with its movements. It hovered over freshly broken bones picking them up dropping them like dust. It seemed proud of it endeavors.

It stopped and turned to Rocky. “What are you doing in my houssse,” it hissed.

These just aren’t…#atozchallenge

T2020

“These just aren’t piles of bones?”

“Noss they are actually piles of dead people.”

“And they all want out.”

“Yepsss. Now maybe I can go find my mother.”

“What’s your name?”

“They call me Bone Hump. What’s your woman’s name.”

“This is Bernice.” Rocky said with a gesture.

“No Rocky, Lucille and Evan gave me another name.”

“What is it,” Rocky asked.

“Lucille started it. They call me Bone Hag.

“Lucille is just getting back at you.”

“These names are just to put us down,” said Bone Hump. “My name was Homer Gibson, but now I’m Bone Hump.

“Well Bone Hump, do you know where I might find Arango Mota. He’s hiding in here somewhere.”

“I’ve heard that name,” answered Bone Hump. “Everyone knows what you say around here. All the bones are complete bodies and they want out of the pile. And here I am.” He did a funny little bone man dance.

“Can you help out this man?” asked Bone Hag. “He’s a killer, but he’s very nice.”

“Thanks Bone Hag,” murmured Rocky.

“I hope I didn’t say something wrong.”

“Not as farss as I’m concerned,” hissed Bone Hump.

Rocky had a feeling something was happening between Bone Hag and Bone Hump.

“The body you’ll want to talk to is Bone Breaker.”

“Where is he?”

“Everyone hates him. He made a cave by breaking up skeleton remains. He just tore them apart. Once bones are broken and torn away you can never be whole again.”

“Okay lets go,” Bone Hag urged her new friend. “Rocky needs to find Arango.”

“Bone Hag, can I walk with you?”

“Oh certainly,” she put her arm under his and they walked away side by side.

There’s something for everyone, Rocky thought. He rubbed his Buddha and his pistol and began to feel really good.