Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Big Machine Birthed

Please welcome guest contributor Beau Johnson. In line with my recent posts regarding short stories and flash fiction Beau stops by to share the unusual way in which his character Bishop Rider found himself the subject of three anthologies.



It started when they found the fourth girl, her throat another mouth. Only it didn’t. It started seven years earlier with a girl named April Rider. For those of you who have read A BETTER KIND OF HATE, I tweaked that last sentence.

One, because it seems apt, those three lines coming from an early Bishop Rider tale, and two, because it’s as close as I can come to giving a time and place to when Rider entered my mind. His story morphed with time, sure, coming to include his mother’s murder as well, but yup, Rider’s story, it never really began with Rider, not as one would think.

Also, let’s get real: Bishop Rider is an archetype, and one which is as easily interchanged with Frank Castle as he is with Charles Bronson. What makes him different from those iconic characters is, well, not much of anything, really. He is just as angry. He is just as vicious. Willing to remove body parts when the situation calls for such an event to transpire. Granted, he may take things a step further, stacking said parts like wood, but only because a certain someone behind the keyboard feels there is some catching up to do.

And to tell you the truth, I never envisioned Rider’s story as this backdoor trilogy it will become. Better yet is at one time he actually stopped speaking to me. I know, I was just as surprised. Wasn’t until I broke a collarbone that his voice came back to me. And yes, I’d have to be a complete moron (hey, stop agreeing with that) in failing to see the correlation between Rider losing part of a leg at around the same time I snap my clavicle in half.

But that is only part of a trilogy I never knew was there, the other being a throwaway line from a story I wrote years before which proved to be not so throwaway after all. It involved Marcel Abrum (one half of a brother duo who take Rider’s sister and mother from him in ways we will not discuss) and a son which at the time I had yet to even name. 

Once this son re-enters Rider’s life, he is no longer that boy, but now a man just shy of thirty. A man quite unlike his father, oh yes, and looking back, exactly the turn of events I needed to open up Bishop’s world. I mean, I already had Batista, Rider’s old partner from his time as a cop, but to continue at the clip Rider wanted to, well, let’s just say it isn’t as inexpensive as people would lead you to believe. 

Enter Jeramiah Abrum, benefactor from the Gods. Better still was the irony I’d yet to discover-that the money Jeramiah would use to bankroll Bishop’s quest came from the very same man who’d taken Rider’s family from him. Ah, the ties that fucking bind.

So, we have Batista, Jeramiah, and Ray, a man who Rider and his platoon used to call Trinkets back in the day. He likes to make things, does Ray, and some of his ideas have gotten Rider out of some pretty hairy jams. Last but not least is one other, but as ever, this narrator has remained unnamed from the start. 

All told, and since I seem to tell Rider’s life out of sequence most times, he’s what I call my “previously on Rider” guy, implemented to keep you abreast of all the more pertinent points of interest so I don’t have to go all exposition-ninja on the reader whenever a Rider story is told. 

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still get to give my fair share of exposition, which is pretty much par for the course in a gig like this, but with this guy, I get to fill the bucket in a different (hopefully interesting) way.

Anyway, I’ve never been privy to how others work with characters who recur, but this here, warts and all, is how it happened for me. Take it or leave, it’s the only story I have to give on the subject.

Take it or leave it, it’s how Bishop Rider was born.

Also, and in case you missed it, I am now a co-editor over at The
Flash Fiction Offensive, or Out of the Gutter Online, along with Jesse Rawlins, Jim Shaffer, and Mick Rose. 

This means we’d like you to send us your double crosses, your tales of heists gone wrong, and maybe that one with that guy, him, buddy at the end of the bar. And trust us, we want to publish your stories, but only the best you have to offer will do. Even then it still might not fit---but be sure I have always believed in the motto of try, try again. 

Last thing: follow the guidelines. First thing that gets you ejected from the island will be this. As ever, we look forward to reading your dark minds laid bare. We look forward to your particular cup of swill.

Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town. He is the author of A BETTER KIND OF HATE, THE BIG MACHINE EATS, and in the spring of 2020, ALL OF THEM TO BURN. On top of this he enjoys book selfies, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and both Beckys from Roseanne equally.

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