That Time Kai Rescued A Shoe (part 3)
by Rhys Ford
Thank you for following the Mad Lizard Mambo tour. My name’s Rhys Ford and well, we’re going back to the first character I wrote for this genre, Kai Gracen.
When I first began to write seriously, I went with an urban fantasy featuring a bisexual elfin character named Kai Gracen. The first book was Black Dog Blues and to make a long story short, DSP Publications approached me about publishing it after I’d self-pubbed it following my publishing a few books with Dreamspinner. DSP Publications hadn’t started yet but it suited their catalog and well, it’s a Dreamspinner Imprint so of course I was on board.
Now, after a few years, I would like to introduce to you Kai’s second adventure, Mad Lizard Mambo. It takes place a little bit after Black Dog Blues and well, life’s just gotten more complicated for Kai. I hope you enjoy it as well as the three short pieces I’ve done for this tour.
The first, When Kai Fell in Love, is written a little bit after Dempsey took him in. He’s young in this section and while his Singlish isn’t great, he understands a lot of what he hears. This is two parts.
The second, When Kai Discovers He Does Not Bounce, is when he’s about in his early teens(ish) and he’s on a disaster of a hunt with Dempsey. This is in four parts.
The third, That Time Kai Rescued A Shoe, is a few months after Dempsey retired and he’s moved into his warehouse in San Diego. This is in three parts.
Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to enter the giveaway on this blog! Follow the stories as they unfold on the tour and enter to win a $20 USD Gift Certificate at the e-retailer of your choice at every stop! See below for more details.
That Time Kai Rescued A Shoe (part 3)
The newt was huge. Larger than a lot of dragons stomping around the lava fields in Pendle pretending to be apex predators. Okay, it might not have been that big but it was certainly bigger than a standard tiger. Not one of the saber toothed ones, just a standard.
One thing for sure, the tiger would be a lot prettier.
Cave newts were somewhat see-through, mottled geckos who waddled at alarming speeds and preferred to spend their time partially submerged in muck and water. Normally, they were harmless, inedible blobs of gelatinous meat without much interaction with the human world, hibernating much of their life away.
Until they woke up and then an insane hunger drove them from their happy little mud packs and up towards the surface where they feasted on pigeons, rats, fish and the occasional bunny. It was a cyclic life of sleep, raging hunger, frenzied feeding then more sleep.
Problem was, they grew while they slept, using up their energy reserves so when they woke again, their only instinct was to consume everything in their path. And if they’d eaten something particularly large, they doubled or sometimes even tripled their size during their slumber.
From the size of the green and grey spotted frilled newt currently tearing apart the remains of a roasted chicken carcass it found in a tipped over dumpster, the damned thing used to live and feed off a mutant pig farm.
“Okay, hate to kill it but…Where the fuck did it come from?” I glanced over my shoulder, following the slime trail it’d left behind when it’d swung into a strip-mall alleyway, a narrow wedge of space between a Chinese restaurant and a massage parlour with blinking signs aggressively proclaiming it was a legitimate business and the only happy ending I would find behind its blacked-out glass doors and windows was the satisfaction of a good night’s sleep. “Newt, I do not want to kill you. Can’t we just find out where you used to live and get you back there before someone else loses their shit?”
I didn’t like killing things that didn’t need killing. The alleged dog the newt swallowed was just that…alleged. No one had any witnesses to the event or even spoke to someone missing a dog. Some mindless idiot probably spotted the huge giant proto-gojira with red frilled tassels along its jawline and freaked out.
It turned, its baleful yellow gaze a wet and sticky mess, with moist threads forming a weave over its eyeballs when it blinked slowly as it studied me. The shotgun would take care of it. I didn’t have any fear of that but what I did notice was the little curly-haired girl standing frozen in a not-so-safe niche a few feet away from the newt’s massive head.
Considering it was technically late afternoon, there wasn’t any reason for the little girl to be in bed asleep and far away from a starving cave newt but it would have been nice. I was crap at guessing the ages of kids and humans aged at bizarre rates. One moment they were still drooling into their oatmeal then the next they were off peeing in my shoes. I had Jonas’s kids to thank for that little lesson in human age progression but she seemed young. Too young really to be out on her own.
Or she could have just been short.
The alleyway and the newt were a tight fight. If it turned, it would see her. No avoiding that. Thing with newts were they couldn’t see for shit but man, did their noses work. And to a nearly sightless wet lizard, a little girl—even one dressed in a yellow pinafore with pink ribbons—smelled like meat.
Tasty, tasty meat and about the shape and weight of a medium-sized dog.
The girl didn’t make eye contact with me. It was like I didn’t even exist. Her eyes were pinned to the newt and when it slowly lowered its head to dumpster dive again, she moved, probably meaning to run down the alleyway. She made it two steps then the newt struck, its mouth unhinged, its jagged sharp little nubs of teeth glistening with its poisonous spit.
I was behind the damned thing but I was going to be fucked if I let it munch down on a little kid. Sure fire lose my license event and I clamoured over the newt’s slippery body, nearly losing my footing. Coming up over its shoulder, I saw its mouth was already on the girl and I made a grab for her with one hand, gripping as much hair, dress and girl as I could while I brought up the shotgun and blew a hole straight through the newt’s head.
The splatter was glorious. Jonas would have been proud if he’d been there. Dempsey would have been too but he would instead grumble and bitch about how I didn’t use my knives to kill it because that’s what a real Stalker used. This from a man who shot holes in his eaves because there was a wasp nest—a tiny wasp nest—and he’d scared to death of them.
I still had to get the fucking nest down and burn it.
This time, there was no one to glorify in the newt’s death and to top things off, the little girl began to scream.
The newt’s body was twitching, death throes of a spectacular scale so it was difficult to get around the damned thing to check on the girl. By the time I worked my way over its beefy, plump thigh, she was to sniffling and the sobbing was down to a few tears and hiccups. Her dress was torn, some bits of it caught on the newt’s mouth and that’s when I noticed she only had one shoe. She held the other one up by its ribbons or… no, they were ribbons… and the sobbing began again.
“Shoe!” She pointed at the still convulsing newt. “Ate my shoe.”
“Oh for… really? You’re fucking alive and you’re complaining about a damned shoe?” The wailing began again and now I heard people shouting for help, probably heading towards the alleyway where they’ll find me, a distraught tiny girl in a torn dress and a dead lizard the size of La Jolla.
“Fine. Shit.” I probably wasn’t supposed to swear in front of kids. I wouldn’t know. My first Singlish words were tāmā de guānbì according to Dempsey. The crying became screaming and I waved my hands in front of her, panicking at the rising volume. “Iesu, shut up. Fine. I’ll go get your damned shoe…just…shut up.”
I wasn’t happy.
Actually I was long past unhappy and straight into miserable. It’d taken me and a couple of people I’d conned into helping me get the newt’s cooling body into the back of my truck. And that was after I’d gotten the truck from where I’d left it, smearing newt guts and juice all over a perfectly good tarp which I’d laid down on my front seat to keep it relatively clean. Backing it up to the mouth of the alleyway, one thing became crystal clear.
The fricking newt would not fit into the bed of my truck.
Not without some help.
And that help came from a bunch of my knives, a crowd of backseat carvers and a few towels the girl’s mother brought me after I’d slit the newt from stem to stern to look for her daughter’s damned shoe. I’d found the shoe.
I’d also found the dog so alleged went straight out the window.
Getting as much of the gore off of me as I could, I looked around for the woman who’d given me the towels but she was long gone. As were most of the people who’d come to see the newt and take pictures standing next to it. There were a few crazies—there were always a few crazies—but for the most part, everyone was decent.
Closing the tailgate was a chore and something was making an odd noise, like a frozen goat being run through with a chain saw. I flicked a piece of the newt’s foot out of the way of the gate’s track when I heard the noise again, a soft growling then a mlemmlem sound, all coming from one side of the truck bed.
There was a kitten. An ugly as fuck newt-coloured kitten sitting on the damned lizard’s sagging shoulder, trying to eat its way down to the bone. With his mouth full of newt-meat, the kitten growled at me, standing on his three good legs over the tear he’d made in the creature’s shoulder. He was ugly, with matted short fur the color of vomit and concrete and holding a paw up against his body.. There was a notch missing from his left ear, like the one in my right, and his other ear wasn’t much better.
And when I plucked him from the newt’s shoulder, it bit me.
It was angry, furious at losing its meal and growling a warning loud enough to wake the dead.
For the first time in my life—second if I counted chocolate—I fell in love.
“You, little asshole, are coming home with me,” I murmured, tucking it into the crook of my arm, or as much as it would let me. “And I think I’m going to call you Newt.”
Follow the Mad Lizard Mambo Tour at these fantastic review sites:
Sept 6: Jeep Diva
Sept 7: Prism Book Alliance
Sept 8: It’s About The Book
Sept 9: MMGoodBookReviews
Sept 10: Sinfully Gay Romance
Sept 11: The Novel Approach
Sept 12: Oh My Shelves
Sept 13: Blogger Girls (Hey, that’s us!!)
Sept 14: Joyfully Jay
About Mad Lizard Mambo
Kai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.
Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.
Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.
The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.
About Rhys Ford
Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and was a 2016 LAMBDA finalist with her novel, Murder and Mayhem. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.
She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Yoshi, a grumpy tuxedo cat and Tam, a diabetic black pygmy panther, as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.
Rhys has graciously offered up $20 USD Gift Certificate to one lucky winner!! The giveaway starts now and ends September 19, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just comment below and Rhys will pick the winner once the giveaway ends 🙂