Author of "Leaving Fantasyland"

Follow Baggs McAlister through the grit and grime of Little Rock crime, here at James E. Parker books.

James E. Parker is also the author of "Leaving Fantasyland."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baggs McAlister (Jacobs Trouble 4)

Lighting bolts of pain shot though my temples as my eyelids scrolled slowly open to a blurry french impressionist world. After two hard blinks, each sending waves of pain radiating though my head, things came back into focus. I could hear the roar of rain relentlessly pounding an overhead tin roof. My shoulders felt like they would pop out of joint if they hadn’t already. I was too numb from my finger tips to my torso to tell. As my mind caught up in clarity to my eyes, I felt my body slowly swinging back and forth, like a pendulum in a Grandfather Clock. It was then I realized that my hands were bound above my head white and lifeless, the blood flow cut off by a dam of rope. I traced the rope up and over a large wooden beam where it was securely tied in the ceiling of a one room dilapidated shack. Pressing my chin into my chest I looked at my feet dangling a good three feet above the floor. In my toes was an electric storm of  pinpricks from hanging for who knows how long. The cabin was dimly lit by a small oil lamp on the only furniture in the room, a small hand made aging table in the corner. Then suddenly the room lit up like a red carpet event with multiple flashes though it’s three wood framed windows. I heard thunder cut the sound around the cabin, shaking every loose board and window pane, and then roll in percussive beats to a distant place. In the flash of light I saw him. Sitting on an old rocking chair in the corner with something across his knees, was Terrance Jacobs. Jacobs got up from his chair and walked slowly across the room until he was standing in front of me. As I strained my neck to look down between lifeless numb arms I could see what he’d been holding in the chair. Jacobs’ was swinging a long sledge hammer just above the floor, with his right hand. 

“Welcome back, McAlister,” he said and I think he smiled but I couldn’t tell for sure behind his burly beard and bush of wiry hair.

“You should of killed me when you had the chance,” I shot back to let him know I wasn’t beaten yet
Jacobs’ laughed a harsh and broken laugh and came back, “Then you wuddna felt it. And trust me, you’re gonna feel this.” 

I scanned the room for any sign of a contingency plan, for any possible out. All I saw was a double barrel shot gun hanging on a wall just above a shelf with a sparse array of hunting gear and boxes of shells. It was well out of reach.

“Tell me one thing Jacobs, since your going to kill me anyway. Jenny Green. Is she really alive?”

He chunked out another harsh laugh and sent a wave of tobacco infused spit rolling across the floor. “Yep. She’s alive. But aint nobody gonna ever find her up here. I decided I’d keep this one for myself.” He smiled again behind the mask of hair, this time I was sure of it. “But you don’t bother yourself none with such as that.” The words sauntered out of his mouth in a slow country drawl. “You aint gonna be worried about it after a few minutes, or hours. Dependin on how long I wanna make this last.”

He pulled the heavy sledge hammer up and slapped the handle into one palm as he held the other end with one of his massive bear hands. His gargantuan arms wielded the thing like it weighed no more than a golf club. 

“One more thing Jacobs.”

“I’m listenin.”

Now I know how you stayed under our radar so long. You’ve had help all along haven’t you? It had to be whoever turned my lights out back at the river.”

The crows feet around his eyes dug in deep as he smiled again. He looked like an over confident living breathing Sasquatch.  

“So, since, like you said, you’re going to kill me anyway, I want to know who’s helped you all along.” This time I smiled, daring him to show me his ace in the hole.

Jacobs took a long pause. I couldn’t read what was going on behind his dark sadistic eyes that sat like periods on a face written in soulless evil. As he started to laugh that deep clunking laugh again he played his ace.

“Meet my brother. Cal.”

I felt a shock of pain hit as hard I know Jacobs could’ve done with the hammer in his hand, but this came from behind. As the blow made contact with my right kidney I heard the snap of ribs followed by pulses of pain kaleidoscoping across my entire right side. The blow was so hard it spun my body one hundred and eighty degrees. Now hanging below me as I writhed in a pain I couldn’t reach down to soothe, was another Sasquatch of a man. Jacobs brother had dealt me the hardest blow of the night. He was every bit as tall as Terrance Jacobs but with less beard and more belly. The giant, standing stationary as I floated above him, let out the same choppy sinister laugh as his brother. I knew then that I may have one chance and only one chance to get out of this alive. But, more importantly, I knew I was Jenny Green’s last and only hope. 

Jacobs Trouble 1
Jacobs Trouble 2
Jacobs Trouble 3

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What The ?

Some of you may be just clicking over to James E. Parker Books for the very first time. If you just read the article in our local newspaper about my new book "Leaving Fantasyland", then a really special thanks to you for stopping by. You may want to click on "join this site" and "follow me on twitter" in the side bar. I'd love to have you along for the ride.

A couple of things happen here at James E. Parker Books. One, I like to create a format for writers to discuss freely their writing. We eventually will hit on everything from the initial blank page to publishing. Along the way you will probably see things like the current "serial" I'm writing just for the online community, called Jacobs' Trouble. It follows Little Rock Police Detective Baggs McAlister. These serials have NOTHING to do with my current book "Leaving Fantasyland" or the new book I'm working on now. But, I like to write and think that's what writers should do, write rather than just talk about writing. Can writers use the word write that many times in a sentence and still call themselves writers? I hope so, because it appears I just did that twice in a row.

So if you are new, you are officially caught up. I hope you will stick around and come back often. If you write, please contact me or leave a comment. I'd love to hear your story. If you don't write, I hope you enjoy what you read here.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Baggs McAlister (Jacobs Trouble 3)

     Terrance Jacobs stumbled off of the chair at his table in the back of Juanita’s. He could hardly push through the crowd, making his way to the hallway leading to the restrooms in the back of the place. I’d watched him down enough drinks to know he was in no shape to drive, but also knew that didn’t mean he wouldn’t try. I waited for him to turn the corner into the back hallway, before I got up from my barstool.  He’d already been to the bathroom three times, since he came in. He was easy to track, with his six foot seven frame protruding over the rest of Juanita’s patrons. His bushy head and beard reminded me of a giant from a folklore tale as it bobbled above the crowd, on his way back to the restrooms. He looked in my direction once but his glassy eyes hardly seemed to register that anyone else was in the room at all. 
     I was on him as soon as he turned the corner. There was a line, at the already full bathroom, and Jacobs was nowhere to be seen. I pushed my way though the crowded hallway. I could see it made a right, where the wall boasting a giant Budweiser sign cut the restroom hallway off. Pushing harder I wormed my way though the tiny hall and quickly turned to the right at the Budweiser sign.  There was no one around the corner other than a couple making out against the wall. A door embossed with an “Emergency Exit” sign capped the end of the hall. The door was swinging shut just as I made the corner. I shot down the hall and pinned my shoulder into the exit door as I turned the knob. 
     I hit the door with such force that I had to adjust my balance to keep from falling.  I stumbled out into the hot August Air. The smell of the Arkansas River filled my nostrils. I looked to my left toward the River Park Amphitheater and saw nothing but a few random  couples holding hands, walking in the park, and a group of four teenagers on skateboards. Quickly snapping my head back to the right I squinted in the dim lights down 2nd street and saw no one. 
     “Think Baggs. Think,” I told myself trying to calm down. My mind flooded with the thought that I’d lost Jacobs now twice in two days, and this time would probably never see him again. I turned to look strait ahead, where a side walk lead across 2nd street and down to the river bank. My feet pounded the concrete as I shot down the sidewalk across 2nd and made my way into the clump of trees nestled at the bank of the river. Slowing my pace I cautiously began to snake through the tiny clump of trees, making my way to the waters edge. Suddenly a sledge hammer of a fist caught me square on the forehead. Jacobs emerged from behind a tree. He hit me so hard my feet left the ground and I landed on my back in the damp soil. My head spun for a moment. I tried to get my bearings. Before I could move Jacobs bear like hand grabbed me by my shirt and pulled me to my feet. He was fast for a big guy. I could hardly focus my eyes before he gave me three shots to my ribs. A left and then two quick rights. Air escaped my lungs like a punctured tire. I doubled over hugging my ribs in pain. I saw Jacobs swing his massive leg upward and try to land a kick to my head. Just before his weathered hunting boot caught my face, I twisted to the right. His giant frame fell like a tree with the missed kick. Sucking in what little air I could get, I was immediately on top of him. I shoved my hand into the light hoodie I was using to cover my shoulder holster. Before Jacobs had a chance to push me off I pulled my Glock and jammed the barrel into the corner of his eye. I straddled him like a jockey on a massive horse, pinning his arms to the ground with my legs. 
     “Listen to me you Grizzly Adams looking dirt ball. You’re going to tell me where she is, or I’m going to gouge out your eyes one at a time.”
He writhed in pain. I knew he had a major strength advantage on me and could of whipped me aside like a rag doll. But my 9mm evened the playing field. 

     “I don’t know what your talking about,” he said.
     “Where is Jenny Green?” I pushed harder on the pistol. Even in the dim light, I could see water pool around his eye and run down the side of his face. 
     “Wait, wait, wait-” Jacobs shouted squirming in pain. 
     “You’ve got about three seconds to talk or I take this eye out and see if you talk to save the other one.”
     “Ok! I’ve got her,” Jacobs said trying to twist his head free of the gun.

The words fell on me like cinder blocks but, I didn’t flinch.
     “Where?” I shouted into his face.
He squirmed again. I started to count.
     “Two, One.” I twisted the gun and put some real pressure behind it.
Jacobs screamed in pain, “Ok. Ok. I’ll tell you.”
I eased the pressure on my Glock, just a bit.
     “Now!” I gave his eye a quick poke with the barrel. 
     “It took her up to my cabin. It’s just up on-” he paused and then started to laugh from deep down in the blackness of his vile soul. Anger burned like a fuse over me.
    “It’s just up on what?”
Jacobs sinister laugh tapered off. He looked me in the face with the eye that didn’t have my gun barrel buried in it. 
     “Its just up on-” he formed his bearded cracked mouth into and O and quickly blew a giant wad of spit strait into my face. 
His deep rolling laugh started rising again. Just as I steadied my pistol to jam it all the way into his eye, I felt a thud that radiated down instantly from the crown of my head. I distinctly heard the ping an aluminum bat makes when it connects with a ball. Blackness filled my eyes as I felt my body fall limp.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Baggs McAlister (Jacobs Trouble 2)

Sitting at the bar in Juanita’s, I was working on my third Sam Adams. I’d always liked the atmosphere in there. Some of the best bands in the state of Arkansas were trying to claw their way to the top on Juanita's small, but locally legendary, stage. The food wasn’t half bad either. I fidgeted with a business card I’d found when fishing though my pocket for a tip to give the bartender. It read, Detective Baggins McAlister: L.R.P.D. I thought about when I was a kid . I would often ask my Dad to tell me once again the story of how I got my name, because I was the only Baggins I’d ever met.  My dad would always patiently tell me again about the great J.R.R. Tolkien. He would go on to point out his favorite character in all of Tolkien’s books, Bilbo Baggins.
  Dad always finished by saying, “Bilbo Baggins was but a hobbit, yet he lived a life of adventure.”
    Then my father, would say, “And, thats why you are named Baggins son, so that you will never forget to live everyday like a new adventure.”
As I sat in the crowded bar and listened to the band on stage finishing their set, I thought, this is probably not the life my dad had dreamed of for me.

It was a particularly humid August night. The cold beer went down smooth and fast. I had come to Juanita’s betting that my suspect, Terrance Randal Jacobs the Third, was going to make an appearance. Mud Flapp, a local gritty southern rock band fronted by the stringy haired Ricky Flapp, was set to take the stage at ten thirty. I knew from a recent, although not technically legal, excursion into Jacobs’s rat nest apartment, that he was a follower of the band. He had their homespun C.D. covers tagged all over the celling above the tattered futon mattress where he slept. My bet was that he would be at Juanita’s guzzling Jack and Coke’s mesmerized by the beat of the band and hopefully have his guard down.

At ten o’ five my hunch became a sure bet. Jacobs walked though the door and sat at one of the tables in the back. I would spend the next two and a half hours watching him get too drunk to drive and too caught up in the music to know he was being watched. I didn’t think Jacobs would recognize me even if he did see me.  I’d been tailing him now for close to two days, most of which I’d spent practically living out my car. He finally figured out he had a tail but I was pretty sure he hadn’t seen my face. Jacobs popped up on my radar for the first time nearly two years prior to that.

I was working a case where we found a nine year old boy’s body lodged under the dock leading out to the U.S.S. Razorback. The Razorback was a small World War II sub that sat permanently affixed just below the main Little Rock/North Little Rock bridge in the Arkansas River. It served as a small but intriguing tourist trap. However, on November 12th, 2009, it had trapped more than a tourist. The body of young Kevin Saunders had been carried by the river under the dock leading to the sub.  Forensics later determined the cause of death to be strangulation. My former partner and I worked that case for six months, but with no witness, no D.N.A., and only one weak lead to work from, we finally filed it as a cold case.

Just over two years later, nine year old Jenny Green disappeared from her home in Maumelle, a Little Rock suburb.  When I saw the Amber Alert go out over the wire, something about her age sparked an ember of memory in my mind about the Kevin Sunders case. I pulled his file and sure enough he had lived just two blocks away from Jenny Green’s home. Our partial lead on the Saunders case had been a report from a neighbor that lived down the street from the Saunders family.  She said she heard screams on the night of Kevin Saunders disappearance coming from an abandoned house next door to her home. We checked the place out and found nothing that indicated anyone squatting or even entering the abandoned and dilapidated house. Another neighbor reported seeing a man, who then lived a block away, walking his Pit Bull around the estimated time of Kevin Saunders disappearance. That man turned out to be Terrance Jacobs. I liked him as a possible in the Saunders case, but we never managed to find one solid lead connecting him to the disappearance or murder.

Two kids. Same age. From the same neighborhood. That had to be something. Arkansas law enforcement spread a statewide net for two days searching for Jenny Green. Cases like Jenny Green’s that had a missing person not found in forty-eight hours, usually did not turn out in the victim’s favor. I dropped all of my other current cases and set out in pursuit of Terrance Jacobs.  My gut told me that Jacobs was our guy.  So, against the counsel of our Chief Detective, Lenny Barns, I focused all efforts on finding him. Within eight hours, I had him. I stuck on him like dried paint after finding out that he’d moved to a ratty little apartment on the fifteen hundred block of Maple, in North Little Rock. After two exhausting days of watching Jacobs and getting nowhere, he managed to give me the slip when he went into a local package store and never came out. The owner told me he asked to use the restroom in the rear.  When we checked, no one was in the store’s bathroom. Jacobs had taken a back door out into the rear alley and left me dangling. It wasn’t until breaking into his apartment, without a warrant, that I found the lead that brought me to Juanita's the following night. Jacobs had left laying on his kitchen table a flyer that boasted Mud Flapp would be playing Juanita’s the next night. When I saw the homage he paid the band above his bed, I was laying odds he would show at Juanita’s to hear the band. What I didn’t find was any evidence that Jacobs had Jenny Green. She had been missing now for over seventy four hours, and our chances of finding her had grown about as dim as the light above my stool at the bar.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baggs McAlister (Jacobs Trouble 1)

     I stared down the site of my 9mm Glock. After two and half months of relentless pursuit, I finally had Terrance Jacobs just where I wanted him. Jacobs squirmed around in the dust below a giant oak, like a snake with a broken back. I focused so intently on the red dot stamped into my gun site that my squirming target seemed to blur in and out of focus as he writhed in pain just four feet away. 
“You can’t shoot me McAlister,” Jacobs screamed out, as his eyes widened with panic.
I let out a snort. “I can’t? Looks to me like I already have.”
  Jacobs eyes scrolled quickly down his own body to his right thigh. He gripped his leg tightly with both hands trying to stop the flow of black blood that puddled beneath him in the dirt. 
“Yeah, maybe.” Jacobs paused, “But you can’t kill me. You're a cop and cops have to play by the rules. Besides that, they will see.” 
  Jacobs eyes turned upward to the sky behind me. I could feel the swirling wind being churned by the blades of the county police chopper above my back. I’d tuned out the noisy chopping it made as it cut the air above. Unflinching, I kept the gun trained on Jacobs’ head.
     “I get a trial, a jury of my peers. I have the right to remain silent. You know, all that jazz man. Even a piece of trash like me has a right to a fair trial. That’s the beauty of this great country McAlister.”
  Jacobs laughed and coughed in between wheezes of pain. I cocked the hammer back on the Glock. Its chrome slide gleamed in the hot afternoon sun.
  “You think that’s what Jenny Greene got, a fair trial? What was fair about that Terrance?”
  “Oh, were on a first name basis now Baggs? Isn’t it special how we’ve grown so close over the last few weeks.”     
     Jacobs tried to laugh but just let out another cough. 
  “You got one thing right for sure Jacobs,” I hesitated for a moment, “wait make that two.”
  “And what’s that Baggs - Baggins - or whatever your cop buddies call you, McAlister.”
  “One, you definitely are a piece of trash Jacobs.”
  “And?” Jacobs questioned as he lifted his head toward me exhausted, still gripping his thigh in pain.
  “And two, you do have right to remain silent. Forever.”
  I glanced over my shoulder at the still hovering chopper for an instant. Returning my gaze slowly to the ragged bleeding man lying on the ground in front of me, I squeezed the trigger. The muzzle flash obscured my view of Terrance Jacobs as his head slammed rearward into the dirt, like a tiny splash in an ocean of regret.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Why You Should Never Blog

 Boy do I need to blog more often. I find it very difficult to shift my blogging time into high gear so that it can cruise past the million other things I need to do instead. Case in point, take a look at the date of my last post.  It was back during Santa’s busy season. Sure, right now blogging often may not be that big of a deal. I have just over 500 followers on twitter and just a handful of readers of my blog. (Thanks to you faithful few by the way) But I know like with any good thing we invest in, the more we plant the more we can expect to grow and one day multiply exponentially.  So I thought today I’d list a few of my really good reasons not to blog and see if any of you out there can relate. If so I’d love some feed back on what you guys are doing to beat the blogging beast and consistently put your thoughts out there for others to consider.
Why I don’t blog often (An expose by Jim Parker)
1. I have a lot going on in my REAL life with my other job.
2. No one really reads this stuff anyway, whats the use.

3. This post wil NOT be the revolutionary though that transforms the writing world. I'll wait until I have THAT post.

4. If I’m investing time in writing I need to be utilizing that time in working my current novel, not some meaningless blog post.

5. Ok now i'm going to sit, type, blog...wait, I wonder who's on facebook chat right now?
So, is it just me are do these kinds of really good excuses keep you guys from blogging early and often as well? The crazy thing is I know none of these excuses are good enough and some of these excuses are downright false. I read blog post all of the time from random unknown bloggers that inform, intrigue, and very often even inspire me.  So, what if my minor musings are doing the same for some other poor internet junkie out there?  Shouldn't I then feel compelled to put my thoughts out on a somewhat regular basis? I MUST blog more...wait, I wonder what’s trending on twitter right now, maybe I should click of over and just see, then I will (click)...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chalk Outlines (They aren't just for murder mysteries)

What's a good murder mystery without a dead body outlined in chalk?   One of the things I've learned early in writing is that I need my own "chalk outline" to write by.  It can be altered, re-shaped, or even erased but starting without knowing exactly how you're ending or precisely how to get there presents lots of problems.

When you write do you outline?  If so, then how do you outline?  I've finished my first novel "Leaving Fantasyland" and learned a LOT along the path to getting it done.  As I work now on my second novel one of the MAJOR lessons learned is the absolute necessity of an outline.  I like to write free form but I've found that ALL free and no FORM gets complicated.  I especially struggled as I began to draw conclusions, connect characters and bring the book to a logical and hopefully entertaining and exciting conclusion.

I had a basic idea of where I was going and how to get there from the beginning of my last novel.  What I lacked was a lot of those details that tie everything together.  Needless to say I had to do a fair amount of rethinking and rewriting along the way and afterwards to make everything flow.

So here's my question, or better yet, question(s).  What are you doing in regards to outlines in your own writing?  How detailed are your outlines?  Does every detail make sense to you before you start or do you figure some of it out along the way?  Please share with us your process below. We all love to hear how well other writers are writing, but we also want to know how you are writing well?  Thanks in advance for your input.