Originally published in Slake: Los Angeles, #2 Crossing Over, 2011, Selected for Best American Mystery Stories, 2012, Robert Crais, Editor.
By Joe Donnelly and Harry Shannon
The client is a balding, sunburned man with soft, forgettable features. Running late, he enters the office at 7:02 p.m. and nearly knocks a small Buddha statue from its wooden base. He closes the waiting room door behind him and pauses, unsure of the protocol. From behind his desk, Dr. Bell watches intently. Experience has taught him that a new client will give you 90 percent of what you need just walking through the door. Dr. Bell sees that Mr. Potter is mildly agitated—perspiration rings the armpits of his Hawaiian-print shirt and his breathing is rapid. Not unusual for a first-timer, Dr. Bell thinks. The psychotherapist smiles wryly and motions for Potter to sit on the green couch. Mr. Potter collapses into the cushions and sets his leather shoulder bag in front of him. His khaki slacks are a size behind the times.
Originally published in Vegas7 ~
You are a young man attending journalism school at Berkeley, and you develop a serious crush on L___, who is skinny and has white teeth, honey hair and a winsome smile that seems born of the California you’ve been dreaming about after several long winters in the Rocky Mountains.
Please accept my apologies for the ol’ shuck and jive number I did when you called from New York. Yes, I was turning the conversation back to you, like I always do. I’m sorry; I seem to lack the energy to spin my broken record on the phone. Not to mention, you’re so far away. And, after all, you’re the one who’s doing something different, right? Your life surfing couches and writing poetry and working on a novel while looking up Fifth Avenue from your downtown perch sounds so young and fresh and full of optimism. And really, what changes from one day to the next in Los Angeles? But let me now attempt to redress my prior evasiveness when you asked me in lieu of a bigger picture to at least tell you what I’ve been doing today.
Originally published in the LA Weekly ~
Thirty-three. It’s a tough one. A lot of all-time greats went down at 33. Jesus was 33 when they hung him up on that cross. So was Keith Relf of the Yardbirds when a high-voltage shock unplugged him forever. Rushton Moreve from Steppenwolf was born to be wild but not to see 34. He died at 33 in a car crash. Same thing happened to Rob Collins from the Charlatans UK. Don’t forget poor Lester Bangs, dead at 33 of “flu-like symptoms.” The great Sam Cooke got shot dead before he could sing himself a sweet, happy 34th. Remember Lee Morgan, the legendary jazz trumpeter? Murdered when he was 33. And, of course, there’s John Belushi, who was done in by a speedball at 33. Fifteen years later Belushi lover Chris Farley performed the sincerest form of flattery and did himself in the same way. At 33.