THUGLIT Issue One

Todd Robinson, Jordan Harper, Jason Duke, Court Merrigan, Hilary Davidson, Hilary Davidson, Terrence P. McCauley, Matthew C. Funk, Mike Wilkerson, Johnny Shaw

THUGLIT Issue One

Issue 1 THUGLIT Issue One

Edited by Todd Robinson

Welcome (back?) to Thuglit

I'm gonna break down this introduction into two parts to avoid confusion-first part is for the Newbies. A welcome, a how-do-ya-do to the world of the wicked that is Thuglit. The other half is for…you know who you are. You know why you're here. Let's get started, shall we?

NEWBIES

How ya doin? New around these parts? Lemme tell ya, you're in the right place…or the worst place imaginable, depending on your sensibilities. But I'm going to plow right ahead and assume that you're reading a mag like Thuglit because you've heard of us and like your literature like we do-nasty.

You haven't heard of us? Well, in our previous incarnation, we ran for five years, then went on hiatus for the last two years. We published some early work from some of the best crime fiction scribblers on the planet. We won so many dang awards that we lost count.

Seriously.

We don't fuck around.

What you're about to delve into is some short fiction that will make your head spin, your heart race, and your grandma weep.

And if you're like us, you're gonna love every goddamn word.

If that's the case? Welcome. You're beginning a journey into the unwashed alley of crime fiction where the men are men, the women are women, the men are sometimes women, the women play with the big boys, and everybody's intentions lean to the unsavory.

If you're not? Go back down into your Mom's basement and blog away about how you've just wasted your Taco Bell wages.

Haters gonna hate.

THUGKETEERS

How's it been, babies?

You miss us?

Aw, now…don't be like that. We missed you too.

C'mere.

Closer.

You know you wanted this. That's why you're here. That's why you came back. I know you was mad, but we had to go away for a while. We needed some space.

But now we're back and it's gonna be better than ever.

You smell nice…

We missed you too. Mmmm, reader, you feel so good. I wanna get up in your occipital-temporal cortex where your voluptuous brain processes written language and thrust these words all deep inside you. Can you feel it? Can you feel how much I want to do it?

That sound good babies?

That feeeeel good?

And now that I've creeped everybody the hell out: Enjoy, bitches!

Todd Robinson (Big Daddy Thug)

08/30/2012

Lucy in the Pit by Jordan Harper

If she pisses, she lives.

Lucy’s gums are bone-white, whiter that the teeth set into them. It is a sign of shock. Her body is shutting down, one system at a time. Kidneys close shop first. If she pisses, it means her body is starting up again. If she doesn’t, her blood will fill with poisons and she will die.

If Lucy was my dog I would not have matched her against Tuna. Four pounds is a serious advantage for a sixty-pound dog. It should have been a forfeit. But Jesse needed the money. I told myself that I let him get his way because he is Lucy’s owner and I am just her handler.

Icy wind off Lake Erie rocks the truck, making me swerve. I pull my hand back from Lucy’s mouth and put it back on the wheel. I must drive steady. I must not speed. I cannot risk the police pulling us over. Lucy would die on the side of the road while I sat helpless in handcuffs.

Lucy’s fur is the color of a bad day. Deep grey turned to black where the blood soaks her. Her blood is everywhere. There is gauze over a bad bleeder on the thick muscles of her neck where Tuna savaged her. I wanted to end the fight then, pick Lucy up and declare Tuna the victor. But Jesse said no. Again I let him win. And Lucy scratched the floor trying to get back in the fight.

Tough little bitch. Proud little warrior.

She cannot fight again. Her front leg will never be the same. After tonight she can retire, she can breed, she can heal. But she isn’t done yet. We both have a fight waiting for us in the hotel room.

*****

I am a dogman. I breed fighting dogs. I train fighting dogs to fight better. I take fighting dogs to their fights and I handle them in the pit. This is what I do. It may not be your way but it is an old way. My father was a dogman. He learned the trade from my grandfather, and he taught it to me. I have seen dogs fight and bleed and die. I have cheered them on as they fought. It can be cruel.

There are dog-fighters who beat their dogs, who whip them and starve them thinking to make the dogs savage. There’s those who kill their curs, who drown them or shock them and then burn their bodies in the backyard. Some men fight their dogs to the death every time, no quarter asked for or given. Some men fight their dogs in garbage-strewn alleys with rats watching on greedily, the rats knowing they’ll get to feed on the corpse of the loser.

There is another way. In a real dog match, the kind that still draws its rules from old issues of The Police Gazette, there’s a ring about fourteen feet square. Each side has a line in the dirt, a scratch line. You set the dogs behind their scratch lines and hold on to their collars good and tight. You let them go. Each time there’s a break in the action you pull those dogs apart and put them back behind their scratch lines. If one of the dogs doesn’t scratch the earth, running in place to get back into it, the fight is over. No dog fights that doesn’t want it. It has to more than want it-it has to claw for it, it has to want it like the fight was a chunk of steak or a piece of pussy.

When a dog doesn’t scratch, the fight is over. A dog that gives up, you call that a "cur." Dogs that don’t have any cur in them, we call them "game dogs." Dogs that scratch even when they’re close to death, who’d rather die than give up, you call those dogs "dead game."

But you don’t let them die, not if you’re a real dogman. A dead game dog is the goal, the pinnacle of a pit dog. That needs to breed. To make more dead game dogs. To breed more warrior stock. You’ve got to be the quit for a dog who doesn’t have quit in them. A man who lets a dead game dog fight to the death is both cruel and foolish.

My employer is a cruel and foolish man.

You may think that I am cruel and foolish too. Maybe you want to think I’m the villain of this story. And maybe I am. But now I’m going to tell you about Lucy. And hers is a story worth telling.

*****

The hotel where I have built my emergency room sits in one of those Detroit neighborhoods where it looks like a slow-motion bomb has been exploding for the last thirty years. Even the people are torn apart. I see crutches, wheelchairs, missing limbs. Nothing and no one are complete.

I pull off of Van Dyke into the lot of the Coral Court. Hookers, tricks and pimps scatter like chickens. The tires crunch on asphalt chunks and broken glass. I park as close to the room as I can.

I leave Lucy in the cab of the truck and open the door to the room I have rented. It is just how I left it. One of the double beds has been stripped down, a fresh sheet of my own laid across it. I crank the thermostat up to max. Lucy will need the heat.

I wrap Lucy in a towel and carry her across the lot. She is so small and so cold. As we cross the lot, a fat man drinking from a brown paper bag shoots me a look.

“Goddamn, what’d you do to that dog?”

“Put your eyes back in your head, motherfucker,” I tell him. He looks away. So cur he can’t even see I’m bluffing.

I take Lucy inside. I place her on the sheet. The white sheet blushes as it soaks up her blood. I open up the tackle box that serves as my mobile medical kit. I change the gauze on her neck. I tape it on tight. I take out a long loop of bootlace. I tourniquet the front leg, the one with the most bleeders. I take out a brown plastic bottle of hydrogen peroxide. I yank out the marlinspike on my knife and stab through the lid. I wash out the wounds. Dozens of punctures, tears, jaw-shaped rings all over the front of her.

They say that Vlad the Impaler walked through the field hospitals after battle, inspecting the wounded. Those with wounds to the front of them got promoted. Those with wounds in their backs, like they’d been fleeing-Vlad had those men killed. Vlad would have made Lucy a general. Her back and haunches are unmarred. She’d fought every second she’d been in the bout.

Tough little bitch. Proud little warrior.

*****

The match had been in an abandoned warehouse-no shortage of those here. The ring had been built in the morning out of a two-foot tall square of wood filled up halfway with dirt. Around the ring stood gangbangers, bikers, cholos and mobbed-up types. Dog matches in Detroit are like those ads by that one clothes company that always have the black guy and the white guy holding hands, except at the dog match the other hand is filled with blood money or a gun.

Tuna was owned by Frankie Arno, who lived in St. Clai ...

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