Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Memories: My Earliest Memory


Most of my memories of the time before kindergarten began are missing. Psychologists call this 'childhood amnesia.'

And yet, my earliest memory is from well before that time. To this day, I still remember it quite clearly. There's nothing traumatic about it.

I'm a baby or at least a toddler. I'm in my parents' bedroom with my sister, Susan, and her friend Penny. I'm in the middle of my parents' bed and the two girls are good-naturedly fighting over me because one of them would have to play house with a doll and the other would get to play house with a real live baby.

Me.

In my mind's eye, I can still see them. Still feel the contentedness of being in that room and of being wanted.

I'm not sure why this memory sticks with me. But it gives a glimpse into a time when I may not have even been able to talk yet, so I'm grateful that I can travel that far back in time.

What's your earliest memory?

Friday, January 12, 2018

#FLASHBACKFRIDAY: My Second Book, PENANCE, Monster Preys on Street Kids on Chicago's North Side



Penance was part of Dell's historic horror line, Abyss, lauded by none other than Stephen King, who called it "remarkable". Here's the original 1993 cover:




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BLURB

Bound by misery. Marked by sin. Set free by death.

Barely into their teens, without homes, they dwell in neon shadows, the violent eddies of urban America. They trade their innocence for money, abuse their hopes, and then a monster comes...

 A monster without fangs or claws, but more deadly. Because of them, he has lost everything: his wife, his family. And he vows to clean the streets of Chicago...for good.

 One of the street kids and a man of the cloth form a desperate pact. Together, they will find the madman whose basement has become a chamber of horrors...

EXCERPT
Lawrence Avenue was alive with rain-slicked excitement. Here, in Chicago’s uptown, royal blue, yellow, and green neon reflected off the pavement’s darkness. Cold night air. Steam rushing up through manhole covers. Christmas lights in neighborhood bar windows beckoned passersby with watery promises of “Christmas cheer.”

Jimmy Fels occupied his street corner. At thirteen, he already knew the poses. There was a casual defiance in the way he leaned against the storefront doorway, pelvis thrust out just enough to attract the interest of the cars cruising by more slowly than the others. He wore a faded jean jacket, Metallica T-shirt, pegged jeans, and Reebok Pumps. His ripped T-shirt deliberately exposed a nipple and a flash of smooth white stomach. The top of the T-shirt was cut away to reveal a gold rope chain, glinting in the glow of the streetlight above him.

Green eyes, wizened beyond their years, stared out of a pale face. He brought a cigarette to his full lips, lips almost too feminine and full for a boy, too ripe for anything clean. His hair, freshly washed, was still damp, looking darker than blond.

He tried not to appear too interested in the cars passing by, some slowing down to take a look at him. He knew it was bad to look too hungry. Make them think you’re doing them a favor…always keep the upper hand. Street knowledge passed on. Remember Gacy. Remember Larry Eyler and what he did to Danny Bridges, the boy who ended up chopped into pieces and thrown into a Dumpster. Get it over with as quickly as possible and keep moving. But he looked anyway, his eyes moving slowly, catching glances out of the corners, and saw the shadows of men leaning forward, their faces ghostly through car windows.

*

Dwight Morris looked at himself in his bathroom mirror. Forty-two years old, he thought, forty-two years old and you can’t even tell. The Cubs baseball cap was positioned just so, with the bill facing backward. His acid-washed Levi’s jacket hung loosely on him, with the cuffs of the sleeves turned up. Under the jacket, he wore an old grey-hooded sweatshirt unzipped just enough to show the New Kids T-shirt underneath. The mirror didn’t reveal the pegged black jeans and the BK high tops.

Dwight smiled at himself, exposing the boyish gap in his teeth. The hint of rouge on his cheeks made him look flushed; a young boy.

I must look at least twenty-five years younger.

*

Jimmy imagined their yearning.

He was cold, but didn’t want to warm himself. That would destroy the pose. The tough guy. So his arms remained at his sides, the cigarette an orange glow in one hand, held between thumb and forefinger. Too many suburban guys tucked at home with wife and kiddies, Indiana Jones on the VCR, lust for his little thirteen-year-old ass on their minds.

“Isn’t it a little cold out here for you, little boy?”

Jimmy jumped at the sound of a girl’s voice. He turned to his left and there she was. Miranda. Tonight she was wearing a black derby, a big black sweatshirt, urban camouflage pants, black leg warmers, army boots. Christ.

An amused grin played about her lips. “Shouldn’t you be home in bed, little boy? I think your mama has some cocoa and Oreos waiting.”

“Real funny, ’Ran. C’mon, gimme a fuckin’ break. I’m workin’.”

Miranda rolled her eyes. “Slow night?” She took off the black derby she wore and ran her hand through her close-cropped red hair, making it stand on end.

“It is with you standin’ there blockin’ the fuckin’ view.”

Miranda shook her head. “I can see we’re in a mood tonight.” She started away from him, hips sashaying, swinging her bag.

“Hey.” Jimmy took a last drag off his cigarette, flicked it into the gutter.

Miranda stopped and turned, cocked her head. “Thought you didn’t want to be bothered.”

Jimmy raised his hands to her. “See ya later?”

Miranda shrugged. “Depends on how it goes.”

“Right. That’s cool.”

Jimmy watched her walking away. Who would she find tonight? Would she make enough to buy herself a bottle of Cisco?

“How you doin’, son?”

The man’s voice made Jimmy take his eyes away from Miranda. He pulled a cigarette out of his jacket pocket and lit it, cupping his hand to shield the flame, before he looked up.

It was the creep. At least that’s what Jimmy called him. Some fucking preacher who lived around here. Tall, thin, pasty white with these little old-fashioned wire-rim glasses.

“Beat it. I ain’t interested.” Jimmy sucked in on the cigarette, blew the smoke toward the man.

The preacher made a gesture like a shrug, bringing his hands up, like I’m innocent.

Right. “Look, man, I’m okay. All right? See you later?”

Jimmy smirked as the preacher walked away, his hands dug deep in his pockets, head hunched down against the Chicago wind whistling down Lawrence, off the lake.

A Toyota pickup pulled over to the curb. Black with neon detailing. The truck had these squiggles of hot pink and turquoise. Jimmy pretended not to notice at first, then glanced in the direction of the truck. There was some young guy inside, wearing a baseball cap backward, leaning over and rolling down the window. Jimmy leaned over to get a better look at the face.

Wait a minute. Jimmy moved a little closer, trying to make it look like he’d just decided he wanted to cross the street or something. But he needed to get a better look.

This guy wasn’t so young. There were lines around his eyes, across his forehead. He had so much makeup on his cheeks he looked like fuckin’ Bozo the Clown..

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday Memories: That Time I Got Hit by a Car

Me...in the blue shirt at age 6 (1964)

Note: Each Monday, until my memory disappears, I will recount a significant event in my life...to reveal more about myself to you, to collect fodder for future books, and to ward off, hopefully, senior moments....

This week, I'm remembering the time I got hit by a car.

It was right before I would begin first grade at Garfield Elementary School in East Liverpool, Ohio. Back in 1964, parents actually would let their kids out the back door on summer days and allow them to play most of the day with nary a worry about where they were and other more formidable bogeymen parents these days contend with.

As with many other summer days, I was with the neighborhood gang, some of whom you see pictured above at my birthday party that year.

All of us had been sent over to the candy store on Mulberry Street by one of the kids' mothers to get Popsicles for everyone. It was a hot day. While in the candy store, perusing the glass-fronted cases filled with penny candy, an older kid came in, one that was known as a joker*, came in and told little six-year-old Ricky (aka me) that my mother needed me at home right now.

I don't recall questioning it, although I do remember this probably meant I wouldn't get the free banana Popsicle I was lusting after.

I left my friends in the store and went outside to confront crossing busy Mulberry Street alone, which I had never done and, like playing on the banks of the Ohio River a couple of blocks over, was expressly forbidden to do.

Buy hey...I could do this. Hadn't someone recently told me all I needed to remember, when crossing a street, was to look at the traffic light (we didn't have walk/don't walk signs back then--not in my little town). If it was red, I could safely cross.

What I wasn't remembering was that the rule only applied if one was at the corner.

I was halfway down the street when I saw the light was red and assuming, in my six-year-old mind, that I was safe. I darted out from in between two parked cars and...

...was confronted with what I remember as a big-grilled, deep green car bearing down on me.

I don't remember the impact, nor the screeching of brakes. I vaguely remember groaning as I went down on the pavement. I remember a man (and that's all I can recall) jumping from the car. I don't know if he asked me if I was all right or what, but the next thing I knew he had me in his car.

I suspect he was young, because I don't think he knew what to do.

Someone in the neighborhood, I think it was Vic from Fiorello's Market on the corner, ran to our house to tell my mom what had happened.

I still remember my young mother very clearly on that hot summer day, running to the car, still stopped in the middle of the street. She wore slacks and a white blouse with red flowers. There was an expression of terror on her face.

She got in the car and there must have been frantic talk.

They took me to the emergency room, where I was diagnosed with a concussion. I was not so bad off that I wasn't unable to weakly mumble, "I want a toy, I want a toy." One of the nurses found a hand puppet for me.

I was "treated and released" as they would say in the East Liverpool Review's listing of Emergency Room visits (yes, my hometown paper used to catalog all ER visits, with names and addresses). I know they bandaged my head and I was up and around pretty soon thereafter.

But what I really remember, and this still chokes me up to this day, is my eyes widening as we drove up to our green and white shingled house on Pennsylvania Avenue because outside, a crowd of neighbors had gathered, waiting to see if I was okay. That kindness and concern touched me as a little boy and still touches me today, almost 54 years later.


Friday, January 5, 2018

#FLASHBACKFRIDAY My First Book: OBSESSED--Serial Killer with Blood Lust Thriller


BLURB
I kill, therefore I am…

Voices slam through the corridor of his wounded mind. The words of his dead sister cry out. His parents' taunts fill the silent room where he sits and waits--waits for the murderous rage, filling him with strength, driving him to kill, to touch the cold flesh, taste the warm blood--to feel alive again… A witness has seen him, but his killing only turns her on and now she wants to protect him. His wife suspects him, but the private detective she hired cannot stop him. Joe MacAree fears nothing--except that he may no longer be human. The thirst that drives him is relentless, moving deeper and deeper into his own shattering, private realm, where each murder is a delicious new gift of life, where revulsion is beauty, and the obsession will never let him go.


"A harrowing ride through cutting-edge psychological horror, this one's got a vicious bite. Rick R. Reed's Obsessed is a twisted nightmare." - Douglas Clegg, bestselling author


Here's a very positive review (5 Stars and a Top Pick!) for OBSESSED from Night Owl Reviews. In part, Lilyraines, reviewer said:

"A portion of that feeling stems from the fact that I am picky with the horror I read and pickier still with what would stay on my "keeper" shelf... Obsessed fits into that category.a story that I found difficult to put down..."

Read the whole review here.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Win a FREE Copy of My New Audiobook, LOST AND FOUND


I'm excited to announce the audiobook release of  my dog-brings-two-men-together love story, Lost and Found. The story was inspired by my love for dogs...and for a good love story with a happy ending. Hope you'll let Barley the beagle and his human caretakers, Mac and Flynn, into your hearts today.

WIN A FREE AUDIOBOOK OF LOST AND FOUND!
Simply leave the following information below to be entered to win a free audiobook of LOST AND FOUND:
1. Your favorite dog-related memory (can be your own pup, someone else's, or a famous canine)
2. A way to contact you when you win
3. If you are sharing this post on social media

BONUS POINT: Share this blog/contest on your social media.

CONTEST CLOSED! WINNER IS DONNA PROFITT. THANKS FOR PLAYING! Please remember, you can still get a copy of the audiobook here:
Audiobook


BLURB
On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park.

On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle.

Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem—who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be—but that's just what Flynn experienced.

A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it—and along the way, they just might fall in love. 

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Audiobook

Dreamspinner Press ebook
Dreamspinner Press Paperback
Amazon Kindle (Also available in paperback)