Hardcover: 310 pages
Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc. (October 10, 2019)
Slap Happy invites you on a quirky, riotous ride through the Galaxy with con men, eight-legged, three-eyed cephalopod nymphos and desperate writers to a crazy, hilarious parallel UNI that just might make even a skeptic’s dreams come true. Spurned and dissed by countless agents, book doctors, gatekeepers, editors and critics, an author’s only hope may be an alternate reality where a deal with a Uni parolee named Bob sounds like the ticket to fortune and fame.
Any suffering writer will tell you when you ask, and belabor you with tales of woe even if you don’t ask, Scribblers must labor for years, ages, eternities and eons before a book is born. Only the family pooch or myopic great aunt even gives a rip.
Sullivan Fleece needed to bet on a winner for once and come up roses. His older brother Mathew had done his duty and made his mother proud. He’d worked after school for a Jewish grocer, then when the old man retired, his brother took over the store and now was a manager and half owner. Mathew would come over for Sunday dinner and bring his mom fresh scallions, scrubbed new potatoes and lamb shanks. All organic. He was the hero at Sunday suppers. What bugged Sully was having to listen ad nauseum about how the produce had never been sprayed with insecticide, was grown in hydroponic greenhouses and had twice as many nutrients as the stuff the chain stores sold.
“Oh, Matty,” his mom would gush as she dished an extra-big slice of raisin pie on his brother’s plate. “Hydroponic! That’s so modern, isn’t it? High tech for onions. Who would have guessed? Sully never even thinks about nutrients or poisonous things they spray on plants when he shops. Do you, Sully? You should talk to Matty and learn something. Improve your diet, feed your brain. It would help you with your writing, Sully. Give you a real boost. Maybe give you a good plot for a change – something more realistic, something romantic and mystical like Shane or Pale Rider. You could maybe do a sequel to High Noon. Gary Cooper could give up the law and become a realtor. Sell mobile homes to all the new settlers. Maybe even double-wides if they had a lot of kids. Grace Kelly could start a daycare for the pioneer women who get waitressing jobs at the saloon. I bet that would be real popular, Sully. Gee, I just loved those movies.”
Lena had married a podiatrist who had a hole-in-the-wall clinic at a mini mall in Bayonne, New Jersey. “Toe Nails Clipped While You Wait.” After Rose brought in the Sunday dessert, Doctor Jacob Carmody would puff up like a viper and begin a litany of his medical miracles.
“Her bunion was one of the biggest I’d ever seen in my entire practice,” Carmody would start. “It’s definitely one for the books. But then I’ve seen a lot of difficult cases. That’s why I get the big referrals. The reason my patients seek me out. I’m known in professional medical circles as The Foot Fixer.”
“Well, Sully, Mom tells us you have a new book you’re working on. Is it a western?”
“No, Matt. I don’t do westerns.”
Rose swooned. “Oh, I just adore Louis Lamour. I’ve read all his books.”
“It’s not a western, Mom.”
Lena leaned over her peach pie. “Westerns are very cool, Sully. Think of how much you could do with calico and leather chaps and blood in the sagebrush. They’re very romantic.”
“That’s not my genre.”
“I read a great book the other day,” Carmody butted in with pie juice on his chin. “Sunset in the Sierra. Great use of prose that really puts you back in time. The author takes at least three pages to paint every scene for you, smelling the sagebrush, feeling the texture of the sand, counting the colors in all the gingham dresses, recoiling at the bloody wound an old forty-four Colt can do at close range, and the horses – you can actually feel like you’re a part of everything, riding through the gullies, ravines and draws. Wind in your hair. Sweaty horseflesh. Wonderful writing. Absolutely award-winning. And the author spins a unique tale, too. Totally fresh.”
“Really.” Sully pushed his pie away.
“Imagine a horse that uses ESP to read the marshal’s mind. Amazing. What a creative talent to write like that. Science is doing so many things that it could actually be happening now. Imagine Snuffy putting thoughts in my head without my even knowing it.”
Snuffy was Rose’s lame chihuahua who piddled on the potted plants, farted like a Great Dane and ate one of Sully’s shoes.
“Nobody’s ever heard of horses reading anybody’s mind, Jake,” Sully fought back against such nonsense. “I think that’s just about the dumbest, most assholian idea I ever heard of. In fact –”
“You ought to read his books, Sully. Give you some ideas. He’s already won a Laramie for outstanding western writers. I can loan you my copy of Sunset in the Sierra.”
“I don’t really read westerns.”
“Well, there you go. How can you ever get anything published if you don’t keep up with what’s selling? You can’t argue with success, Buddy.”
“S’pose not.” He scooted his chair back, already an hour late for the door. Sully felt like he’d been dodging flak. Sully always wanted to slit his throat when he got back to his pad. What kept him from self destruction was the knowledge that being younger than all of them, they’d die first, and he would finally have some peace. Wouldn’t it be great though if he could accomplish something while they were still around to see his success? That’s what Gundelfinger had given him – a chance. And he was going to grab it with both hands and hang on for dear life.