Thursday, March 26, 2015

A minor fight scene

This is a fight scene excerpted from my forthcoming (July 2015) spy-intrigue, The Ninja and the Diplomat. It does not involve the major characters and indeed should not be taken to characterize that book. I am writing this three volume series of The Chinese Spymaster not as thrillers but as spy-novels, with the emphasis on intelligence gathering/analysis and international intrigue. But there are fight scenes. I have also included a picture of the jade vine, download from Wikimedia Commons, which was once more common throughout the Philippines than now.

Later that day, Hashim and Emilio got out of the jeep that had brought them from the
airport in Cotabato to the hillside village and walked towards a medium-sized wooden house. They were met at the door with bowls of water to wash the dust off their faces and hands and invited in. Four lean and strong young men met them in a large room that was the front of the house.
“You have come again to recruit us,” said the handsome leader of the group with a hint of a sneer.
Hashim sighed inwardly and replied, “I come to persuade you to join with other brothers in a common struggle. We will never succeed if we do not work together.”
“You think you will lead us, bakla?”
“That was rude,” declared Emilio in a quiet but firm tone. Hashim merely waved the remark off though his eyes smoldered.
“I see some reaction from our great unifier.”
“Why do you wish to pick a fight?” demanded Hashim in a voice oscillating between rage and tact. “Nothing is gained for our cause.”
“Why are you so noble, bakla? Is it because you have something to prove?”
“What would you prove fighting us four to two?” asked Emilio, confident that Hashim and he were more than a match for the local group.
“Oh, there are more than four of us,” announced their host. Through the open windows and door, they could see a large group gathering. “But there is no honor if twenty of us kick you like dogs. I want to see if the great Hashim can be the Saladin of our people. How about it?”
“You want to fight me?” asked the incredulous Hashim.
“I have heard that the great Tok Mat taught you and that he taught you well. I wonder if what he taught you was not taken away from you with your—”
“Enough!” yelled Hashim. “I did not come to fight you. But it seems you cannot get that out of your head, so let’s fight.”
“One on one and everybody else stay out of this,” ordered his host imperiously. “No matter what happens!”
“This is insane,” muttered Emilio as he moved to a wall near the door. The rest of the local band grouped against the opposite wall by the windows around which those outside had gathered to watch.
“Come,” shouted the host as he sprang into the middle of the room. Hashim strode on and the two men adopted their chosen silat stances. They stepped around each other like praying mantises. Their knees were well bent and directed to their sides, their arms and elbows moved slowly as their feet circled each other.
In the first flurry of strikes and kicks Hashim appeared to act purely defensively until he found an opening to kick at his opponent’s crotch. He stepped away from the man who had taunted him, now doubled in pain.
“A lucky strike, bakla,” he finally spat after several minutes of stunned silence and heightened tension among his followers. “Do you think you can do it again?”
The two men approached each other and almost immediately were locked in furious blows and kicks. Hashim easily blocked his opponent’s initial strikes but did not stay on the defensive this time. The praying mantises now fought furiously, engaging in swift and repeated strikes, kicks and throws. Hashim hit out at the knees and elbows of his opponent. In retaliation, his opponent spun several times, aiming to throw him off balance, and succeeded in grappling with Hashim for a moment and landing a sharp elbow into his solar plexus.
Hashim appeared to fall to his back but continued rolling to his feet. As the fight resumed, his opponent called out,
“Blades?”
The crowd stirred as someone found their leader’s kris and Emilio quickly rummaged through Hashim’s bag but found only a wooden stick had been packed as Hashim knew they would be searched by airport security. The wooden stick, however, had been especially hardened and its tip had killed before. Hashim looked at Emilio and shrugged. He believed his fate had been written and he accepted it.
The fight resumed with more deliberate maneuvers. The combatants seemed to rehearse their respective repertory of classic martial positions and motions. This slow dance sped up until only experts themselves could follow the antagonists or divine their respective intentions. Hashim blocked several strikes and thrusts before whirling his sharpened stick, disarming his opponent and thrusting the hardened sharp end up into the man’s stomach into his heart.
Everyone inside the house froze as cries came from several men outside.
“The imam!”


Friday, March 13, 2015

Guest blog by Ron Cherry, author of It's Bad Business

I am honored to host a blog by Ron Cherry, author (most recently) of It’s Bad Business.

P.I. Morgana Mahoney, known as Morg, prides herself on being tough.  But in It’s Bad
Business, she finds that her hard shell is vulnerable if she cares for someone too much.  However, she also realizes she can’t live her life as a stoic.  There is a time to love.  And a time to mourn.  It’s 1999 and Morg Mahoney has just graduated from college with a degree in Classics, which she feels qualifies her for jobs like a bank teller or a gas station cashier.  When Joe Spector, a retired San Bernardino County Sheriff’s detective that Morg calls Papa Joe, offers her a job as a private investigator, she jumps at it.  Soon they become embroiled in a case that lands them smack dab in the middle of a scheme by the Mexican Mafia, La Eme. She gains a few friends and more enemies as she solves the case, while suffering a tragic loss.  Fifteen years later, Morg gets an early-morning call from her filthy-rich best friend, Heather Pierce.  Heather’s sorority sister’s fiancĂ© has disappeared on the night before their wedding.  Morg drives up to Lake Tahoe to help, only to become the target of a sociopathic murderer.  Is there a connection to her past?  With a tip of the fedora to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, the story even includes a Sam Spade who helps Morg at key moments.
This is the second in the Morg Mahoney Mysteries series.  It starts before the first book, giving a background about how she got into the business.  She is fresh out of college with no real goals when a friend of her father, who also was on the job, brings her into his small agency in San Bernardino, CA.  In some ways, she's more vulnerable, but still maintains a hard shell to protect herself.  She's hard boiled, but with a center that's still a little soft.  Then the book jumps to the present where she is once again helping her friend, Heather, and getting into trouble.  She travels up to Lake Tahoe.  Although I have also written and published a book that has a noirish undertone, it is a stand-alone and will never have a sequel.  I have finished writing, and now am editing, an historical novel taking place in late 7th c Ireland and Western Scotland.  I also have a few sci-fi or futuristic short stories that have been published in ezines.  As Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." 
For me, I know Morg by now.  She's an old friend who sometimes does outrageous things.  I often write a scene and she balks, refusing to be in it.  So I have to rewrite it until she finds it acceptable.  A big bugaboo for me is when I read a book and find a character or two acting out of character.  Morg won't let me do that.  I also research the locations by personally visiting them and often photographing them.  Google maps are great for describing routes, but I also try to drive them myself as well.  Although the basic mystery is in my mind when I write my books, they constantly change and evolve, more organically.  While the basic concept for my plot doesn't change, the scenes and even some of the outcome does.  Again, my characters drive the developments.

I love mysteries.  My favorites are by now-dead authors.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are the giants I admire most.  Rober Parker was good in his early books, but lost his edge as the volumes of his work grew.  I am very hands-on in my research.

I am editing my historical fiction, writing a Father Robert Bruce cozy mystery that takes place in the Foothills and planning my next Morg, where she travels to Austria.  It ain't no "Sound of Music."  In the meantime, I also write my blog and car articles for The Union.