Bishop Rider Week: Monday – Fire In The Hole by Beau Johnson

Beau Johnson, Canada, Crime Fiction, Down and Out Books., Indie, Pulp, Short Stories

This story is part of Rider’s early days, before he finds a certain video and tracks down the men who killed his mother and sister. This is also Batista’s first appearance in a Rider story, and as you’ll see, the Detective isn’t as onboard with Bishop’s brand of justice as he’d come to be. Either way: the struggle begins.        


I push the steel harder into the back of Terrance’s shaved head. 

            “C’mon,” he says. “You and me, Rider, we’ve similar goals.”  The scum was right as well as wrong.  Where I saw him and his kind as a means to an end, he only wanted atop the pile.  “We’re businessmen, you and I.  Way I see it, the info I’m givin’ you, I should be gettin’ a free pass.” 

“Anne-Marie Shields.  Did she get a pass?”  Terrance was smart, played dumb, but I already knew.   Put a bullet in his crotch to make him understand.  I unloaded the remaining five just to let off steam.

            “And this piece of shit, this Terrance, he said Toomey and his men are coming in night after next?”  Batista continued to look out over Culver, the city he’d sworn to protect.  Duty and honor are the things which make up Detective John Batista; what made up most of the men he stood in line with.  That he now found himself in my world was something we rarely discussed.  It was a given, what I did.  And he’d yet to try and turn me in.

In him I see myself, a time when belief had been the norm; that this world did in fact not kick at its dead.  Detective Batista and I, we have our demons, sure, each the thing that drives us on.  But to be fair, that is where the similarities end.  No matter how much he might think otherwise.

Toomey, though…Toomey was the here and now.  And Toomey was trouble.  Aggressive. Ruthless.  Feral.  He was high end too, lacking the moral compass most considered a conscience.  Word on the street was he kept a portable wood chipper now, and that the man was unafraid to take his time if given the chance. 

Bangers wouldn’t use him, slingers either, which left me two choices, both of which I could work with.  Russians or Italians.  Little more re-con and Bobby Carmine popped into view.

“Head-shit looking to take you out, I see.”  Batista runs a hand through his greying hair, goes down about his goatee and finishes with a sigh.  Politics notwithstanding, I swear the man’s as textbook as they come.

“What it looks like, yeah.”

“And just what is it you want from me?”  I looked to the city’s lights behind him, looked down into the valley which had claimed so many.  Culver was not the place I’d been born, but I was certain it’d be the place I’d die.       

“I want unobstructed access to the south side when this goes down.  I’m not looking for collateral damage.  Ensure the night’s patrol is light.”

He looks at me, shakes his head, and then says he’d work on it: Batista-speak for yes.

“You’re going to need ordnance, then.”  I told him yes, but that it wouldn’t be coming from him.  As ever, he’d already done more than enough. 

Outside Carmine’s place I load the launcher as soon as I see Toomey and his crew are given the go through.  Ten minutes later and I light the night.  Upon entering, I can’t help but think back to men like Toomey.  Hell, to men like Carmine himself.  Lowlifes who think they deserve; men arrogant enough to believe the streets were theirs; who would rob and kill and extort and have others do the very same thing in their name.  I picture Mick the Fish, Danny Dolan, and Marcel Abrum.  They were special, each of them, all receiving a little extra piece of my time.  To Toomey I would do the same.  He of the wood chipper fame deserved no less.

As the Kevlar takes two to the chest I turn, dive, but take one in the side of the leg as I return fire.  I hear a click.  Another.  And then the gun as it’s tossed aside. 

“Come if yer comin’ goddammit!”  I did.  It was Toomey, of course.  Why men like him never died like the rest of them I will never know for sure.

Through the debris and flame and smoke I see what he’s become—intestines that stream outwards, flowing in place of his legs.  Thick, they wind around brick and plaster like pregnant string.  He gurgles, spits up, and as I approach I step on as much of him as I can.  In the end I don’t need bullets.  I only look him in the eye. 

To protect and serve, Batista says.  To protect and save, I respond.

I admit the difference is vast.

Beau Johnson lives in Canada with his wife and three boys. He has been published before, usually on the darker side of town. Such fine establishments might include Out of the Gutter Online, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and the Molotov Cocktail. Besides writing, Beau enjoys golfing, pushing off Boats and certain Giant Tigers.

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Portrait Of The Artist as a Consumer: Dietrich Kalteis

Canada, Dietrich Kalteis, Music, New Musical Express, Portait Of The Artist As A Consumer, Punk Noir Magazine
The Big Bad Blues by Billy F GIbbons
You Want it Darker by Leonard Cohen
Kill or Be Kind by Samantha Fish
The Sparky Sessions by The Hillbilly Moon Explosion
Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen
Colorado by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
The Bodyguard
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Crown
Schitt’s Creek
White Gold
The Border by Don Winslow
The New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke
Julia, Naked by Nick Hornsby
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
House of Earth by Woody Guthrie
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
The Irishman
Ford v Ferrari
The Good Liar
Green Book
Carmel by the Sea
Milk Stout
Vintage guitars
Vintage sports cars
Vinyl albums
A good book
Dietrich Kalteis is the award-winning author of Ride the Lightning (bronze medal winner, 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best regional fiction), The Deadbeat Club, Triggerfish, House of Blazes (silver medal winner, 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best historical fiction), Zero Avenue, Poughkeepsie Shuffle and Call Down the Thunder. His novel The Deadbeat Club has been translated to German as „Shootout“, and 50 of his short stories have also been published internationally. He lives with his family on Canada’s West Coast.

Canada Rocks by Dietrich Kalteis

Canada, Crime Fiction, Dietrich Kalteis, Music, Punk Noir Magazine

dietrich k

(Photo credit Andrea Kalteis)

I can’t imagine a day without music. When I write, I put on my headphones and play whatever inspires me to spin a story.

There have been so many great Canadian artists, and here are some of my favorites that I’ve listened to over the years. I’ve linked some of the tunes in hopes that you’ll check them out and find something that you haven’t heard in a while, or something that’s new to you.

Growing up in Toronto, Canadian music was all around, and I still connect certain tunes to certain times in my life, things I was doing when a particular song hit the charts. Goldies like Hank Snow’s “I’ve Been Everywhere,” Bobby Curtola’s “Fortune Teller,” and Shirley Matthews “Big Town Boy.” And what red-blooded Canadian didn’t ring in the New Year with Guy Lombardo.

Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, or The Hawk as he’s known to some, originally hailed from Arkansas, but he moved north of the border and helped shape the rock scene here early on, giving us hits like “Mary Lou”, “Forty Days” and more. Here he is with The Band in ’76 from the film The Last Waltz, doing “Who Do You Love?


Leonard Cohen showed up in the early sixties with “Suzanne”. From there he turned out so much more, was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor. And he received a Prince of Asturias Award for literature, as well as the Glenn Gould Prize. Since he passed away in 2016, a posthumous album of new songs has been announced.

It’s called Thanks for the Dance, and here’s the first track called “The Goal”.

Then there’s Gordon Lightfoot who came on the scene with “Early Mornin’ Rain” and helped define the folk-pop sound of the sixties in a career that’s spanned over five decades and turned out over twenty great albums. Along with other prestigious awards, he’s won sixteen Junos, been nominated for five Grammys, and he’s been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Another great Canadian songwriter, Joni Mitchell came along in ’68 with her first album Song to a Seagull, and she’s given us so many memorable songs since. She’s also won nine Grammys, three Junos, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. She became only the third Canadian singer-songwriter, along with Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen, to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada. Here’s the title track from her 2007 studio album Shine.

And who doesn’t remember the riff for “American Woman” by the Guess Who, a band out of Winnipeg in ‘65, delivering one smash hit after another over the next decade. If you ask me, Burton Cummings stands among rock’s top vocalists, and Randy Bachman is one of the finest guitarists on the planet. And if you give their 2007 album Jukebox a listen, you’ll see they’ve gotten better with age. Here’s a retake of “American Woman” from the album.

Members of Steppenwolf hailed from the Sparrows, a Canadian blues/rock band that produced a handful of recordings, with frontmen Jack London, and later with John Kay. Check out “Twisted” from the ’67 album John Kay and the Sparrows. It’s interesting to note Kay’s still going strong and performing solo.

Since Neil Young’s self-titled debut album in ’69, he’s given us forty solid studio albums, won a Juno for Artist of the Year, won a Grammy, was nominated for an Oscar, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can’t wait for the new album called Colorado coming out in October. Here’s a taste, a track called “Milky Way”. Just no sign of him burning out or fading away.

I still covet the original vinyl of a couple of favorite local bands from the late sixties. I used to love going down to Sam the Record Man’s on Yonge Street and picking up the latest discs. And I still never tire of hearing the albums now. Give The Ugly Ducklings’ a listen. This is “Nothin’” from Somewhere Outside recorded in ’67. Another album that I’ve given a lot of play over the years is Magic People by The Paupers, released the same year, featuring rock drummer Skip Prokop, later to play with Lighthouse. Check out “Think I Care.”

The late ‘60s also gave us The Band, who originally came together as The Hawks, the backing band for Ronnie Hawkins, and debuted on their own in ’68 with Music From the Big Pink. They turned out nine more fabulous albums, as well as three they recorded with Bob Dylan.

Other Canadian favorites moving into the ‘70s were Murray McLauchlan with his self-titled debut release in ‘72, four-time Juno award-winning Bachman Turner Overdrive, Blood Sweat & Tears, Lighthouse, Heart, King Biscuit Boy, Crowbar, Downchild Blues Band, and A Foot in Coldwater. And by the mid-seventies we added Triumph, April Wine, and Rush, who went on to turn out twenty-five gold and fourteen platinum records, making them the third best-selling rock band in history behind the Beatles and the Stones.

When I researched for my novel, Zero Avenue, set in Vancouver during the early days of punk rock, I revisited the sounds of some kickass bands like D.O.A., as well as the Young Canadians, the Subhumans, Dishrags and Pointed Sticks. And east of the Rockies there were the punk sounds of the Demics, the Viletones, the Diodes, and another favorite Teenage Head. Check out “Let’s Shake” from 1980s Frantic City.

Into the eighties there was glam, new wave, heavy metal and music videos with the debut of Much Music in ’84. Along came Rough Trade, and the underrated David Wilcox. Here’s “My Eyes Keep Me in Trouble” from the ’83 album of the same name. Other artists I loved during that time: Powder Blues Band, Doug and the Slugs, and k.d. lang.

The late eighties gave us Colin James, and also Jeff Healey, another awesome guitar player. Here’s See the Light from his ’88 debut album.

And of course, there was Kingston’s the Tragically Hip, another multi-award winning group that turned out a superb body of work. Give a listen to “New Orleans is Sinking” from their second LP Up to Here from ’89.

In the nineties glam and new wave got old and gave way to hip hop, alternative and grunge. It was also the time for emerging bands like Fathead, The Crash Test Dummies, Bif Naked, and some blues-based rock by Wide Mouth Mason, and ska-dipped punk by The Planet Smashers. It was also the time for some new-age music with Loreena McKennitt, and some jazz with Diana Krall and Holly Cole.

In the new millennium there was post-grunge, pop punk and indie rock. And for folks like me who now lean old-school there are bands with their roots in blues like the Sheepdogs and Monster Truck, David Gogo, MonkeyJunk, and Sue Foley.

This is just an sample of some of the great Canadian music that I’ve enjoyed over the years, and my apologies for all the deserving bands and songwriters I couldn’t mention in this amount of space. But, one thing is for sure, Canada has turned out a lot of talent, and it looks like we’re just going to keep on rocking.

Desperate times call for desperate measures in Dietrich Kalteis’s latest lightning fast crime caper set in the Dust Bowl.
Call Down the Thunder (ECW Press, October 2019) follows Sonny and Clara Myers as they struggle on their Kansas farm in the late 1930s, a time the Lord gave up on. The land has dried up and become worthless, the bankers are trying to squeeze farmers out of their homes, and Sonny and Clara’s marriage is in trouble. Faced with a decision between withering along with the land or surrendering to the bankers and hightailing it to California like most of the other farmers, Sonny and Clara are on opposing sides.
In a fit of temper, Clara takes off westward alone. Determined to get back both his wife and the good old days, Sonny comes up with a risky plan that will let him keep his land and even prosper, all while giving the banks a taste of their own misery. He sets the scheme in motion under the cover of the commotion being caused by a rainmaker hired by the mayor to call down the thunder and wash away everyone’s troubles.
Dietrich Kalteis is the award-winning author of Ride the Lightning (bronze medal, 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best regional fiction), The Deadbeat Club, Triggerfish, House of Blazes (silver medal, 2017 IPPY, for best historical fiction), Zero Avenue, and Poughkeepsie Shuffle. He lives with his family on Canada’s west coast

Call Down the Thunder Blog Tour (1)

Dietrich Kalteis is the award-winning author of Ride the Lightning (bronze medal, 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best regional fiction), The Deadbeat Club, Triggerfish, House of Blazes (silver medal, 2017 IPPY, for best historical fiction), Zero Avenue, and Poughkeepsie Shuffle. He lives with his family on Canada’s west coast