Bloody Knuckles Newsletter

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A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Release

Pretty intense cover, isn't it?

COLT BUCHANAN AND THE WEATHER WALKERS is the first in what I hope will be a series of steampunk westerns centered around a young character named Colt Buchanan.


Colt Buchanan hasn't quite figured out that he is the son of two of the country's greatest tinkerers and thinkers but that is all about to change. In the wake of a devastating attack by a gang of tornado riding outlaws known as the Weather Walkers, Colt wakes to find his home destroyed and his parents missing. Alone in the northwestern wilderness, Colt clings to the memories of his mother and father, recalling the stories his father told him as he clutches his mother’s handmade pillow for comfort.

Into his life comes a mysterious man who explains to Colt that places like Fort Discovery and the Institute for Reformed Science are as real as real as Colt himself. Colt had always thought they were just bedtime stories his father told him. Soon enough Colt will meet mechanical men and the scientists who invent them, including the top tinkerer himself, Dr. Elkin Wanderer. It won't be easy; Colt will have to survive a wild ride through the clouds when the Weather Walkers ambush him on his journey.

It will take some time for Colt to adjust to the new world of contraptions. Once he does, he and his band of confederates will have to work together to fend off one last big attack from the Weather Walkers who want nothing more than to destroy Fort Discovery and the man who built it.

The book should launch soon.

UPDATE: Colt has launched! Here is the Amazon link:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Grimm Tales

From the Untreed Reads description:

Grimm Tales is a collection of stories by some of the top names in online crime fiction, all based on classic fairy tales. As novelist Ken Bruen writes in his introduction, "Ever imagined what would have come down the dark pike if The Brothers Grimm were more Brothers Coen and wrote mystery?" The collection is edited by John Kenyon, editor of Grift magazine, and contains 17 stories by Patricia Abbott, Absolutely*Kate, Jack Bates, Eric Beetner, Nigel Bird, Loren Eaton, Kaye George, Blu Gilliand, Seana Graham, Eirik Gumeny, R.L. Kelstrom, John Kenyon, BV Lawson, Evan Lewis, B. Nagel, Sean Patrick Reardon and Sandra Seamans.

From me:

As a struggling writer, this is huge for me. I'm in with some of the best crime fiction writers around today. I can't thank John Kenyon enough for including my story, The Flying Trunk. I keep looking at the list of names and it still seems unreal that I'm in it.

And the fact that Ken Bruen called my piece a gem, well, baby, hit me with those brass knuckles one more time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Micro Interview: PATTI ABBOTT

This month’s guest is none other than Patti Abbott. She has been a recipient of a Derringer Award, edited several anthologies, and writes some of the hardest-hitting crime fiction around. She also maintains a popular blog for writers and readers at Here latest release is Monkey Justice, an anthology of her stories.

HARD-NOSED SLEUTH: Give us a little background on your latest release of Monkey Justice.

PATTI ABBOTT: Monkey Justice includes about 25 of my stories from various zines, anthologies, and print publications. That's roughly 1/3 of my published stories. I had never considered publishing them until Brian Lindenmuth, from the newly formed SNUBNOSE PRESS and SPINETINGLER ZINE, emailed me and asked me if I'd be interested in collecting them for one of their first anthologies. Usually a collection of stories come after a published novel. But with the way ebooks can target a smaller audience than a print book and still have some success, it made sense. All the stories I chose are crime-related, but not particularly violent. Brian allowed me to choose whatever stories I wanted for the collection. A few stories I would have liked to have included were under copyright still or had not appeared in publications yet. I also tried to vary the places they were published, the age of the protagonist, the setting. Maybe I will get to include the others in another collection at some point. I am very grateful for the folks who have blogged about the collection, written amazon reviews, or bought the ebook. It is extremely hard to know how to publicize it and I now appreciate why facebook is mostly people pitching their wares.

BK: When I started my journey as an English major at Oakland University, I dreamed of having a seat at the Algonquin Round Table. A few years ago on a trip to New York I even hunted down the famed hotel just to sit at the bar and take a look in the room where the table sat. You run, what I think, is one of the more popular blogs for writers and I often see/hear a lot of advice and suggestions on it. How do you think social media/ blogs/groups help us as writers in that tradition of open dialogue?

PA: Ha! I have stayed at the Algonquin Hotel on a few occasions and sat in that room. It is magical, isn't it? I do try to run my blog for readers, writers and people who like to discuss various things. Initially, it was almost all about writing. But over time, more and more people who commented did not write and wanted to talk about books, movies, TV. I expected Friday's Forgotten Books to last about two months and we are headed for four years. A few people have written a book review every week over that time. I also add topics like HOW I CAME TO WRITE THIS BOOK or STORY. I also issue challenges to write flash fiction based on some theme about twice a year.

I write about movies a lot. Some things I eliminated. I stopped talking about politics because it attracted some argumentative people. I try to make my blog personal without talking too much about my family. I also very rarely review a new book despite continuous attempts by publicists to do that. I could never give a book a bad review and consequently my reviews would be meaningless. I invite any writer of a book, not self-published, to come on and talk about their book though. Some take me up on it and some just don't have the time.

BK: I ask this of everyone I interview. When did you know you just had to write?

PA: This is an interesting question. I have always written in some fashion. But I lacked confidence until I took a poetry workshop because another class didn't carry when I returned to school. That was in the mid-nineties when I was over forty. The instructor encouraged me to the point I submitted some poetry, got it published, and finally had a poetry chapbook published. But I was a lousy poet because all I did was to tell a story in the form of a poem. So eventually I came to stories and took four writing workshops where a marvelous teacher, Chris Leland, encouraged me even more.

So I have always known I wanted to write but only acted on it after forty. And I was almost fifty before I began writing stories.

How's that Jack?

BK: That was absolutely wonderful, Patti. Thank you for the interview.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Pulp Metal Magazine will run my short, ‘The Dog That Shat against the Wall’. No firm date yet.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER NEXT: Untreed Reads will be releasing two of my pieces in the coming weeks. Monkey See, Monkey Murder is a novella introducing Detroit’s PI to the stars, Hack Ward. The Flying Box will be a part of the Grimm Tales anthology. Look for both to launch soon. By the way, Patti Abbott also has a story in it.

FLASH JAB CHALLENGE #8: Still waiting for responses. Fire up those keyboards or set those pencils afire! Flash Jab Fiction wants your stories!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


If you’re in the states and aren’t looking forward to parades and football on the tube this Thanksgiving, let me suggest catching the first season of WHITECHAPEL on BBC America On-Demand. What does it bring to the table that you haven’t sampled before? A heapin’-helpin’ of freshness that examines what is probably the most notorious serial killer crime fiction aficionados like me still like to explore: Jack the Ripper.
Now there’s a holiday treat to whet the appetite of the most seasoned viewers of dark dramas.
Set in modern day London, a new series of Ripper copy-cat murders begins to plague the beleaguered detectives of the Whitechapel district. There is the requisite denial of a theory presented by a Ripperologist, played with a creepy and yet heartwarming temerity by Steve Pemberton, until newly appointed golden-boy DI Chandler begins to listen more closely to the theory. Embroiled with his own subplot, Chandler must develop the theory while trying to establish himself in front of his men. Pretty hard for a detective who was textbook trained at solving crimes instead of being out in the fields like his seasoned detectives. Nowhere is this more apparent then when Chandler and his Detective Sergeant view the first victim. Neither man can conceal his poker face. Chandler is completely repulsed when he stares at the body as much as his DS is repulsed at his boss’s reaction.
Okay- pretty standard fare at this point, I agree. So now check out the cinematography. Quirky, dark, electric, as much so as the rest of the post-production work. On a degree of difficulty scale, the technical team of WHITECHAPEL scores 10.0. The editing is frantic at times, intentionally so, to put the viewer on the edge of his or her seat. This is good old fashion, late night, lights off, scare the ju-ju-bees out of you entertainment.
Last thing I’ll say is the dynamic between seasoned Detective Sergeant Miles (Philip Davis) and rookie Detective Inspector Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) is one of those love-hate-can’t-do-my-job-without-you-doing-yours-eventually-I-will-trust-you kinds of relationships. At times it’s awkward, even bordering on violent, but eventually becomes a partnership that will make these two like Holmes and Watson, McGarret and Dano, Bond and Q.
BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Monkey See, Monkey Murder just wrapped its final line edits. Untreed Reads should be releasing it before Christmas. Just in time for the electronic shopping days.
COMING UP NEXT: Flash Jab Challenge #8 is up at Flash Jab Fiction. You’ve got the time. Start doing some writing. Check it out:

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Interview with an Author: Keith Gilman- Cop and Writer

This month I spend some time talking to Philadelphia police officer Keith Gilman and discuss his latest work, My Brother’s Keeper.

Keith Gilman has been a police officer in the Philadelphia area for close to twenty years and his writing reflects that experience on many levels. He believes that cops have important stories to tell, stories that need to be told and deserve a strong voice. My Brother's Keeper is the second book in his detective series. The publisher is Severn House. His debut novel, Father's Day, won the Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel Award and is now available in paperback. He's also had numerous short stories published in a variety of crime fiction magazines both on the web and in print. Most recently, his story Devil's Pocket, featured in the anthology Philadelphia Noir from Akashic Books, was nominated for a Macavity Award.

Visit the author at

HARD-NOSED SLEUTH: Let's start by talking about how the two worlds of being a police officer in Philadelphia and being a writer in Philadelphia converge. How much of what you write is based on actual experiences?

Keith Gilman: Readers want to know what cops know. And what cops know best is Death. They've grown accustomed to its face. They've come to recognize it in all its forms. They know it for what it is, without the glamour or the superstition. They can often see it coming. They've seen its aftermath. They've boiled it down to its most common denominators. It is the thing they are most qualified to talk about and write about.

There's a story of a rookie cop, still in the police academy, who asks a question of one of his instructors, a grizzled, old, veteran homicide detective. He wants to know how to be sure someone is dead, how to recognize it. He already knows the physical characteristics. If there's no breathing and no pulse, the person is technically dead. But is there something else he should be looking for?

The grizzled cop says only this, "Dead is dead, son. You'll know it when you see it." It didn't really answer his question but it was an answer that said something about the grizzled old cop, about where he's coming from. In My Brother's Keeper, we get to view the world through the eyes of that cop, who's seen it all and done it all. He walks the walk and he talks the talk and he pulls back the curtain on the dark stage of humanity and its crimes.

HNS: I know I get irked when I'm reading or watching stories about education and the narrative jumps the shark. Believe it or not, there are aspects of Glee that are dead on, unlike Boston Public that threw the most outlandish plots against the wall to see what would stick. Do you ever find yourself in a similar position with TV, movies, or books that have clearly not been written by someone in law enforcement?

KG: What I'm looking for in fiction is a well-told story, with vision and insight and characters that come to life. Pure realism is relatively easy to replicate. But poetic realism needs to be molded as a lump of clay into a sculpture, it needs to be drawn as a painting might. It is not merely a mirror held up to the world, though it is our eyes that must gaze into that mirror. It's a singular vision. I'd like to think that in My Brother's Keeper you'll find that singular vision and that quality of poetic realism, along with moments of extreme violence that remind the reader that this is a story of pain and death as well as redemption.

My writing style is consistently atmospheric, gritty, lyrical and haunting. The narrative contains stark imagery, strong noir elements, multiple layers of meaning and psychological depth. The setting of My Brother's Keeper is the urban landscape of Philadelphia, and there we delve not just into the soul of a city, but into the soul of a man.

HNS: I ask this of all the authors I interview, but when did you recognize your gift/desire for writing?

KG: I always had a pretty good jump shot. Other than that, writing was only thing I was relatively competent at.

HNS: Thanks, Keith!

MY BROTHER'S KEEPER is a detective novel set in Philadelphia, about a down-and-out, ex-Philly cop trying to put to rest the ghosts that still haunt him from his days on the street. A woman from his past returns. His old partner is killed. There's a psycho-sexual murderer loose on the streets of Philadelphia. Death is everywhere and he's learned to live with it, until it ends up on his doorstep.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Heard from John Kenyon today that the anthology GRIMM TALES, could be released this month. The stories in the book re-imagine classic tales of the brothers Grimm. It includes selections by Patti Abbott, Nigel Bird, Eric Beetner, and me!

Monday, October 24, 2011


I guess the secret to attracting followers is to stay away.

Actually, I've been right next store working on the Bloody Knuckles newsletter and running Flash Jab Fiction, a posting space for writers who take on the challenges. It's been a hoot so far.

I've also been doing re-writes and line edits for upcoming releases. Exhilarating! I absolutely dig writing.

I'll pop in here from time to time. In the mean time, watch for at


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

(The following review originally appeared in my newsletter, Bloody Knuckles. The review has been approved of by the author's mother. Thank you, Patti, for your insight and proofing.)

Die A Little. It was a hell of an introduction to the prose of Megan Abbott. I’ll be honest, I was just looking for something to listen to on my way into work that wasn’t morning talk radio or commercial laden music channels. The cover is what drew me in; additionally, Ellen Archer was gifted in her reading. I stuck with it and by the time I finished my twenty-five minute commute along winding, twisting surface streets, I was hooked on the story. I remember what struck me was the immediate reversal of traditional roles, how strong women drove he story and how men were wall dressing. It was as hard hitting as any of the Hard Case novels I’d been eating up for more than a year.

Next up was The Song Is You, my favorite to date. Abbott spins the notorious case of the Black Dahlia in a new and sinister way. 1940s Hollywood jumps off the page and the hapless hero, Hap, gets himself tangled in more than one wicked web. The story is so alive, so real, I felt like I was there watching this man’s world slide away from him.

I had to read Queenpin in large print because it was the only copy my local library had on its shelves. Once again the women flex and strut and command the men around them, knowing how to play them and when. The climatic ending is surprising and works so well I wonder how I didn’t see it coming except that Abbott is such a wordsmith she knew how to move me along without giving away the twist.

By the time Bury Me Deep launched, I had pre-ordered it from one of the chains. (Later, I won an autographed copy from another author’s website.) The story of Winnie Ruth Judd, the Trunk Murderess, had interested me for quite some time. Several years earlier some of my theatre students had workshopped a short play based on the same story. If only they had waited. Abbott delivered a solid retelling of well known murder case set in Depression Era America, addressing the lingering question everyone had at the time but never received any answer for: Why would a woman board a train with trunks filled with chopped up body parts? Abbott doesn’t set out to solve the case, she simply uses it as the back drop for a really good mystery.

Now comes The End of Everything. It is filled with prose that makes me wonder why, after thirty plus years of being a writer, why can’t I write like that? To say she gives us another impressive, strong female protagonist is to undersell the power of thirteen year old Lizzie Hood. The wonder, the fear, the daily uncertainty of growing up in a suburb full of secrets and lies unfolds through Lizzie’s eyes. When her best friend Evie Verver goes missing, it is through Lizzie we live and feel during the agonizing days after the disappearance.

The story strikes close to home for me. I was a few years older than Lizzie’s character when southeast Michigan was terrorized by a lurking presence known only as the Oakland County Child Killer. During the long, overlapping months at the end of 1976 and on through the winter of 1977, four children between the ages of 10 and 12 were abducted and murdered, their bodies left alongside snowy roads. The only clue: a blue Gremlin that always seemed to be part of every story.

The summer in between the two long winters was a tense time. I remember cutting across a field at the end of the dead end street I grew up on and coming out along a major road when out of nowhere, a rusted, blue, pick-up truck pulled over, the passenger door flew open, and a man I didn’t know told me, my nephew, and my buddy to ‘get in, your mother wants me to take you home.’ We stood there for a second or two staring at the old, creased faced of the stranger before my buddy told him to ‘f*** off’ and slammed the door. We ran back across the field until we reached the concrete front steps of my house where we collapsed huffing and puffing. We told our parents and neighbors and everyone said it was probably someone they all knew but just couldn’t quite place his face or name. I kept pointing out he was driving a blue truck. My dad said a blue truck wasn’t the same as a blue Gremlin.

I don’t know if Abbott was around at the time of the killings, but growing up in southeastern Michigan, it would be hard to not to know the story, or the story of another little girl who was taken from a slumber party almost twenty years later. There were rumors that maybe the Oakland County Child Killer was back, only this little girl was from Macomb County and what if he moved around the country doing the same thing? A young man was eventually convicted of the last little girl’s death when strands of her hair were found in the carpet of his van. He was far too young to have been killing in the 70’s.

The terror, the wonder, the suspicion all came flooding back for me as I read The End of Everything. It made wonder if maybe I had seen something long ago, and if that strange, old man in the rusted out, blue, pick-up wasn’t somebody anyone in the neighborhood knew after all. Abbott has exposed similar dark shadows of a neighborhood, of a place where everyone knows everyone but doesn’t know anything about anyone. Monsters like child killers just don’t live next door to us, do they? It takes a determined thirteen year old girl to pry away the façade of her Norman Rockwell world and expose us to truths we might see but turn our eyes away from before we recognize them.

In the end, The End of Everything is a departure for Abbott from her noir roots, but it is perhaps the most frightening work she has done thus far. Where Bury Me Deep was gruesome, and The Song is You was darkly melancholy, The End of Everything makes me sit up in the night when I hear the creaks of a settling house or the slow approach of car that has driven all the way down to the end of a clearly marked dead end street only to turn around in my driveway and slowly drive away.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flash Bang #1

Promsies by AJ Hayes was this month's entry from the first ever Flash Bang Challenge at my newsletter, Bloody Knuckles. The topic was a picture of the 1940s era bathing beauty located in older post here at the Hard Nosed Sleuth. The prose is down right sinister. Enjoy. I did!

by AJ Hayes

I saw her first on the terrace next to mine at the Biltmore. She was reclining on an Adirondack chaise, head tilted to the side, eyes closed, long legs burnished by the winter sun. I had never seen anything so beautiful. I snapped her picture with my Speed Graphic, worried that the sharp click and fast whirr of the shutter would wake her. But she slept on. She was perfection.

That night I saw her in the bar and bought her a drink. She was vivacious and even prettier than I had thought. During the course of the evening I learned that she was from back East and, like most of the pretty girls in Los Angeles, desperately trying to get into the movies. "Just a break, "she said. "Just one little break."

I smiled at her over my martini and told her I thought I had a part for her. Two parts, actually. A dual role. One that could make her famous overnight.

"Like Lana Turner?" she asked, her eyes bright with laughter.

"Even more famous than that," I said. "A hundred years from now, no one will remember Lana. But everyone will remember you."

"Promise?" She asked.

"Promise." I answered.

The barbiturate I'd slipped in her drink hit her pretty hard so I had to half carry her out of the bar. No one noticed. The L.A. of nineteen-forty-seven was a wide open town, filled with post-war celebration and excess.

I took her to my studio in the valley. In those days it was an empty, desolate place where they used to shoot westerns and jungle movies. The only habitations were widely scattered ranches and a couple of movie star estates hidden behind high fences and thick hedges.

She partially woke just as I finished suspending her. Her hair barely brushed the sawdust covered floor of the old barn I used for my art. Even upside down she was beautiful.

Her voice was slow and slurred when she asked what I was doing.

I didn't bother saying anything. She got the idea when I made my first cut. Her screams were as bright as her laughter.

I had an advantage back then. To the cops I was just another free lance photographer scuttling around the city. Hanging on and hoping for the shot that would take me to the big leagues. Not worth noticing. Invisible.

I took her from the trunk of my car, arranged her properly on the vacant lot and shot my photos. Then I waited for dawn to bring the first sirens. When they came I raced to my paper and stunned the morning editor with the first pictures of my creation. He stopped the presses and featured them on the front page, above the fold, under screaming seventy-two point headlines.

I kept my promises to her. She did play in two parts. Well, her carefully separated body did anyhow. And she is more famous than Lana Turner ever was.

I still have the photograph of her on that hotel terrace. I look at it almost every day. She was beautiful then and she is beautiful now. None of my other works compare.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Photos I Found Interesting

Bathing Beauty

This photo was in an old album I found while cleaning my book room. I'm not sure when I got the album or where. What I do know is this is from a family's album, that she was some place tropical, and that there is a man in an army uniform in some fo the pictures. The people were around in the 1940s.


From the same album. I think the picture lives up to a thousand words.

Boys and Beers

The last of the three pictures I scanned. Tens guys knocking back beers. Were they going off to war? Were they coming back from war? Was the heist a success?

Are any of these flash worthy? If they are, say around 800-1000 words. Post on your blog, put your link in the comment section. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Derringer Nomination


Broken Down on the Bonneville Flats has been nominated for a Derringer.

Thanks to David Cranmer for his editorial expertise and for his wonderful website. Thanks to the readers.

Here's a link to the story:

Monday, February 28, 2011

Not Quite the Oscars

Late in the summer of 2008, my entourage and I traveled to Westlake, Ohio to attend the Indie Gathering Film Festival. Part festival, part convention, part martial arts and stunt program, the Indie Gathering stood out from a few of the other film fests I had attended. It was well attended, had a variety of indie professionals and newbies, and offered some really good short and feature films and docs.

My buddy Panooch and I had written a family comedy script about a wayward young man who finds his calling and true love when he becomes an accidental animal trainer. MY TICKET HOME received the Top Star Award in the coveted Other Category. (It didn't fit anywhere else so the director created a new category and voila! we won.)

We met a lot of interesting people. When the hotel bar closed, we brought down our own supply and sat poolside holding court with about thirty people. As fun as the film festivals were, and I went to quite a few between 2006 and 2008, they just got to be too costly in the end with fees, travel expenses, and entertaining.

Me (with Panooch)and the award for winning script

Post awards interview

Serving on a panel about acting

Thursday, February 10, 2011


(Kudos to Patti Abbott for suggesting these flash challenges! I enjoy writing them as well as reading them.)

Black Bear’s Den was a bar in northern Michigan five or so miles outside of Cheboygan. It sat just off US 23 where the shoulder became the entrance to or exit from the parking lot. Used to have images of dancing topless women done in fluorescent paint. The old owner, Dickie ‘Bear’ Black, shined black lights on and off them making them appear to jiggle. The joke was the sailors on freighters passing through the Mackinac Straits would see those naked, glowing girls and stop in when they docked at Petosky or Roger’s City to spend all their shore leave money.

That was the crowd the Black Bear’s Den attracted. Sailors, drifters, loners who lived in the Atlanta State Forest Area of northern Michigan. You didn’t want to go there if you didn’t have to and really, nobody had to go to the Black Bear’s Den. It was the kind of place where direct eye contact meant you just insulted somebody’s mother. In all honesty, you only went there if you were looking to get your ass kicked.
One particularly rowdy night, a fight broke out. It wasn’t uncommon.

The story goes that a couple of Dominican sailors passing through out of Chicago paid a little too much attention to a certain young dancer innocently named Sarah. Not that this young lady minded, mind you. They were paying the right kind of attention: fistfuls of dollars they were more than willing to tuck into tight places.

Sarah’s guy, a local punk named Calvin but known as Vinnie, who had led the Catholic high school’s football team to a Division Four championship but flunked out of the University of Michigan his freshmen year, decided to make it a point that night that he was going to make an honest woman of his dancing darling Sarah. Drunk enough to be boldly dumb, the former all-state tackle began pushing the Dominicans around. It got ugly when the Dominicans pushed back and one drew a knife.

Dickie Black was a big man, carried his belly weight like a battering ram. He grabbed up Old Hickory Number 6, a handmade baseball bat, and moved like a juggernaut through the crowd to break up the brewing fight. The Dominicans tried to plead their case, saying they were just paying customers and had done nothing wrong. Vinnie disagreed. They were guilty, alright, guilty of admiring his gal.

Vinnie took a swing at one of the Dominicans, landing a punch against the side of his head and knocking him down cold. The Dominican with the knife stepped back, weapon held in front, ready to defend.

Dickie Bear shouted at Vinnie, told him to lay off, he was costing Dickie Bear money. He shoved the meaty end of Old Hickory against Vinnie’s chest. Vinnie stumbled backwards knocking into Sarah. She fell forward onto the blade the second Dominican waved in front of himself for protection.

Sarah died instantly. Vinnie made it through the trial before throwing himself from the cliff on the shore side of US 23. Legend has it the ghosts of the two lovers stare at one another across the two lane state highway.

Even though the crowd knew exactly what happened, it was a full house against a pair of Dominicans. The trial was swift, the verdict fair given the dynamics of the situation. After that, the local sheriff’s department busted the Black Bear’s Den for everything from being open to looking ugly. Dickie Bear closed it down.

There was a young guy there the night of that fight, a wanderer. Carried a guitar and played for change. He immortalized the story, won a CMA. It’s one of those songs that never goes away. The chorus goes:

‘I really don’t mind the scars/You left on my heart when you died/They’re all I have left of you/From all of the tears that I cried…’

If you don’t know the rest, you should.

The Black Bear’s Den passed from owner to owner, staying closed for longer stretches of time then it stayed opened. Not too long ago a new owner came in, reopened it under the benign name of Skipper’s.

Dumped the Schlitz décor for a nautical theme.

Weekends have become karaoke nights during the summer. Some of the locals mix with the weekend trippers. There are still plenty in the area that know the story of Sarah and Vinnie. Some of them were even there the night it happened. Buy one a beer; he’ll tell you the story. Spring for a shot and he’ll sing you the song.

They may have mellowed over the years, but nothing scares these guys. Not even singing a song about people they knew.

And hell, I don’t mind. Keeps my song--and Sarah and Vinnie-- alive.

So many people emailed or posted they wanted the song completed, I gave it a try. Sometimes late night writing, like late night refrigerator raids, should be avoided.

She was a soft looking woman
With a hard hitting heart
She filled it with love
Gave me a big part
Her heart was all mine
But I didn’t know
I figured her dancing
Was more than a show

I really don’t mind the scars
You left on my heart when you died
It’s all I have left of you
From all of the tears that I cried

Sometimes a man
Twists up a thought
Bringing him pain
Like the whiskey he’s bought
He gets an idea
For right or for wrong
His actions eventually
Spill out in his song

I really don’t mind the scars
You left on my heart when you died
It’s all I have left of you
From all of the tears that I cried

I figured to love her
Like she once loved me
But my head got all clouded
And I couldn’t see
That this soft looking woman
With the hard hitting heart
Had always been mine
Right from the loving start