[11/19 - Earning a prize (of sorts) at the Book Passage Mystery Writer’s Conference and gaining an agent for the novel Arisugawa Park [now A Beautiful Case of the Blues] gave me the briefly held idea that I could be a mystery writer. Genres are fluid, I’ve always believed....
Speaking of which, the lesbian daughter angle was one suggested (as usual) by a conversation I had at a hostel in Miami Beach. I realize now it's beyond my abilities to sustain such a character over the course of an entire novel. I am no Rita Mae Brown, or even a Franzen, and I don't want to cheapen anything I don't own through personal experience. Call it "Fear of Getting Cancelled."
What about the title? Besides the obvious Nick Drake reference, "bullets" is a term used when entering poker tournaments with rebuys––it’s how many more attempts you have at the glory. Or mere survival.* I still like the title, though I think I’ll change it to four bullets. That gives more of a fighting chance.
The protagonist was originally named Dagmar, but as my mom noted, that's a Viking woman's name. So Darknur... came to me recently in a dream.
As for the content? I have shaved a few sentences, tightened a few phrases, but it still stands as the fertile imagination of a confirmed dreamer––nothing more, nothing less. Definitely not based on anyone I have ever met.
*As I put it at the time... "bullets are buy-ins in poker lingo - the inference being that our protagonist is running perilously short on life - money - mojo."
2/15 - What does a novel look like when first setting pen to paper? This was penned in Playa, shortly before Tulum, where the fabric music project first came into focus.
"Two Bullets Left" will begin with a washed up poker pro semi-retired in Mayan Mexico, Honduras, or Belize. His old partner is killed at night on one of those transparent pedestrian overpasses on the Las Vegas Strip. His estranged (or never met) daughter has recently taken residence in Sin City and found a girlfriend. A high stakes poker team is formed that takes on a corrupt/ruthless poker conglomerate. Meanwhile, father-daughter relations are complex, to say the least. Action shifts to Macau after a big fizzle in the Vegas games. A billion dollar game is set up on a crocodile infested island in the Philippines. X––– (from Ari Park) shows up representing the anonymous, highly guarded Asian high rollers. He certainly appears evil... is he?
Darknur had arranged the usual game at his property by the sea, a small neglected corner of Playa not far from the master-planned all inclusives, several worlds removed. This still had a character distinctly Yucatan, with hammocks and porch fans the predominate vibe. The players were a “check your identity at the door” bunch; a retired mid-tier government official who financed his gambling habit through consulting ––an unofficial addendum to years of profits laundered through a Mexicali construction firm. Souvenir shop entrepreneurs who were actually high-level narco trafficantes. They had worked their way through the ranks and taken bullets so that they could retire on the beach in guarded luxury by age 50. There were a few expats who had been in the community for years and become fixtures. Gutted businessmen with such a mixture of accents that it was not immediately clear from which country, or planet, they came.
Participants of the $50,000 minimum buy-in gathering enjoyed the camaraderie as much as anything, trusting that Darknur would keep everything running in a dependable manner. Collusion was not tolerated among the regulars, who had instinct honed over long years when things were not exactly right––naturally, all gentleman's agreements were off in the feeding frenzy that ensued when the whales arrived, seasonal Playa residents with money to splurge on the "chic and cheap" Mayan Riviera ––the French import/exporter who wore wraparound sunglasses and smoked Gitanes with nervous fingers; the Argentinian fashion magnate with a predilection (so the bartender at El DIablo said) for those who exuded machismo—-
Darknur set the whisky in the rolling glass tumbler on the weathered porch and looked out to sea as the fan spun lazy circles, just enough with the aid of coastal breezes to keep the skin cool. Just warm enough to feel at moments––caught off guard––that you were in paradise. The sound of chips clacking brought him to the here and now. He glanced inside at the high roller who had just been taken down from $100,000 to $25,000 in 30 minutes. The regulars' voices amiable and pleasant, with the surgical precision of trained killers who had accomplished their hit and agreed––by unspoken signal––to give a little back.