Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet by Adam Howe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
”His name was Jameson T. Salisbury: Skunk Ape Hunter.
And hell followed with him.”
Now, Salisbury is going to show up, but first, we need to rewind a bit. Reggie Levine is holding down his favorite place at the bar in the strip club The Henhouse when he hears the rumble of HOGS rolling up to the bar. Anytime a gang of bikers shows up anywhere, the scrotums of every male in the vicinity will tighten up, making their balls grasp each other like lovers going down with the Titantic. Women’s nipples will harden and start vibrating in time to the throb of the Harley Davidson exhaust pipes. Anybody with any sense will just ease out the back door of the bar and flee.
Levine can’t leave, which is what he should have done; nor can he be invisible by lowering his head deeper into his beer mug. He is the bouncer. He is the man who is expected to throw stone fists that knock out teeth and make men go cross-eyed as they find the floor with their face. Reggie is a washed-up prizefighter, and in a straight up fight, none of these morons would stand a chance, but since there is 4 or 5 or maybe 6 of them, he has to be ready to absorb some punish while giving out three times the pain he is receiving.
Things go great. DAMN DIRTY APES are bouncing on the floor, crashing through tables, and skulls are making that oh so beautiful TOINK sound as they bang against whatever is handy.
And then things go wrong.
They get Levine down, and then they start putting their crusty leather boots to him.
Let’s give Levine a moment to tend to himself.
Now The Henhouse is about as far from a classy joint as you can get, made slightly more glamorous by the dancing of one Eliza who has assets that place hasn’t seen in a long time. She was just too enticing for the Damn Dirty Apes and when they start pawing her...well...Levine has to intervene. Unfortunately, the bikers missed the return of one Marlene.
”Marlene was giving Lou her matinee performance. Clutching the dance pole like a Sumo who’s thrown her back, Marlene gyrated her chunky caboose above Lou’s leering face. He waggled a buck beneath her butt like a corner man rousing his boxer with smelling salts. Marlene squatted over the buck, her butt cheeks snatching at the bill in Lou’s hand like a flabby arcade claw groping for a plush toy.”
Now I might be in the bar for a quick cold beer (not to leer at the titties) before returning to my soul crushing job, but there ain’t no way I can pull my eyes away from that.
Levine hasn’t even pulled himself together from the embarrassing ass kicking he received from the Damn Dirty Apes, when Eliza and her pathetic, loser, boyfriend Lester drag him into their supernatural encounter with the mythical Bigelow Skunk Ape.
Within hours of that beast sighting, Jameson T. Salisbury arrives, and things get wiggy.
This tale is just pure fun. If you are a fan of the movie Jaws, there are all kinds of laugh out loud references to the best lines from that movie. There is Boogaloo Baboon porn that can’t be explained but must be read and inhaled, along with the musky tang of sweat, semen, and slobber.
Now the second story, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, is a whole ‘nother barrel of skunky piss beer. I would suggest reading this on an empty stomach, buzzed from a shot of vodka, and with the teddy bear that makes you feel safest clutched in your arms.
Tilly Mulvehill is resting her tired dogs, watching some bad TV, when she gets the call from the greasy diner she works at, asking her to come in for the second header of a double shift. She’s a bit past her prime, but the vestiges of pretty still cling to her like the fuzz on a peach.
If she’d known how the rest of her day was going to go, she’d have muted her phone, laid down on the couch, pulled her favorite comforter over her head, and whimpered the rest of the night away. She most certainly would not have left the house.
She is carjacked by a maniac by the name of Terence Hingle. Not only is her car jacked, but she is jacked along with the car. Hingle is not your run of the mill deadbeat stealing a car and kidnapping a woman for kicks. He is an escaped serial killer, and the one thing he has been dreaming about above all things is watching his knife sink into the tender flesh of a pretty woman...again.
Tilly thinks she’s already experienced the worse few hours of her life, but little does she know that the next few hours are about to get worse, a lot worse. Hingle is a badass, but the thing about being a sick son-of-a-bitch is there is always a sicker, meaner son-of-a-bitch out there. In this case times two. The Ritter twins, Dwayne and Dwight, have their own perverted games they like to play. Bondage, torture, and what the fuck is that hanging up in the bathroom?
Tilly finds that her nightmare has grown spikes, fangs, and putrid breath. To survive, she will have to summon the primordial lizard that has been slumbering in her brain since her caveman ancestor first crushed the skull of her husband over the last bloody piece of reindeer brain.
Needless to say, Adam Howe ratchets up the disgusting, dips it in bloody intestines, and uses it to slap you across the face until you are cowering like a whipped chihuahua, waiting for the final blow that will send you gurgling into the next world. Highest warning possible for upchuck worthy violence.
The third story, Gator Bait, is actually my favorite story of the three. Damn Dirty Apes is a black-comedy; Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet is a gruesome Southern Gothic style tale. Gator Bait is Southern noir with an alligator twist. This is the first story I read of Adam Howe’s. Ahh, those halcyon days before the synapses containing the last of my guileless innocence were filled with hydrogen and lit on fire to burn to a crisp like falling Hindenburgs. I wrote a separate review of this novella that can be found here: My Gator Bait Review
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