Tag Archives: Jazzy Brass

E Z Knight Versus Your Favorite Fast Food Customer Service Engineer.

(With Russian beauty Zoya & E Z’s golden retriever Jazzy Brass)
Excerpt from KNIGHT’S RANSOM, near the end of Chapter 12
© 2012 by Gordon A Kessler
Available at:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007F08MU8

It was 1:00 p.m., and Zoya, Jazzy Brass and I were getting hungry. While looking for an In-N-Out Burger or maybe a Del Taco, I checked my cell phone video to see if I’d gotten anything useful from just prior to our shootout. It was nothing but blurred gun barrels — completely useless.

We couldn’t find any of the more popular fast-food chain restaurants — usually you find them everywhere you look in SoCal. Finally Zoya pulled into one I hadn’t tried before, a Burger Bender. We ordered three cheeseburgers, fries and drinks. Jazzy loved chicken nuggets, but they weren’t on the menu. She’d have to make due. I promised her next time we’d find a Wendy’s, and she could have it her way. It was hard telling when she’d get back on her normal diet of dry dog food and an occasional spoon of pumpkin or slice of apple.

I gave Zoya a twenty-dollar bill and she paid the kid at the window. He didn’t look like a high school student, had to be at least twenty, hair spiked, with body piercings and tattoos. Jada, my young friend back at the marina, has a similar look. But I soon found out that she wears it with a hell of a lot more personality.

The young man, obviously a career fast-food customer-service engineer, dumped the change into Zoya’s hands.

Don’t they teach kids to count back change anymore?

I figured by the looks of him, he’d have a heck of a time counting back more than a nickel anyway.

He gave us the drinks.

They’d overflown their lids, and soda was dripping down the sides of the cups.

We asked for napkins.

He stuck a wad of them out the window.

A minute later, he handed us the bag of food.

We had to ask for straws.

He passed us half a dozen for two drinks.

We had to ask for ketchup.

He handed us mayonnaise instead.

I told him we wanted ketchup not mayonnaise.

He gave us a fistful, without reply.

We asked if there was salt in the bag.

He said, “No.”

We waited. Ten seconds later, I asked, “Well, can we have some?”

He didn’t say anything, but grabbed a handful of the tiny salt packets and stuck them out the window. At least a half dozen fell to the driveway beside the car door.

Zoya cupped her hands to receive the rest. He’d passed us enough salt to season every potato in Idaho, let alone two orders of French fries.

At that point, I considered pulling Zoya’s Mac 10 out from under the seat, pointing it at him and informing him that I was a trained assassin and had snuffed more people than he had stainless steel rings on his face and dick — there were at least twenty on his face alone.

Instead, I swallowed the venom surging in my throat, and we thanked him.

Then…and this is the kicker — what do you think the little shit said in return?

Come on, guess?

He said, “No problem.”

I don’t know that you’ve noticed, but my day began two popcorn farts less than great, and it was turning out three root canals and a kidney stone more than terrible.

I was stressed. I’d had a bad day. My head was about to explode from the pressure building inside. My good nature was stretched across my face like a two-bit condom over a pineapple — let’s say it developed a few holes.

To start with, first thing this morning, I get the finger from an old woman. That alone would ruin many a man’s day. But then I discover my goddaughter has been kidnapped by people who want me dead; a boat blows up that was supposed to have been mine; I find a good friend beaten into hamburger by guys trying to kill me; I get shot at; I nearly fall off a cliff; I have to kick a big bald guy’s ass; and then, to top it off, I only get half a BJ before finding out I’m being setup to be murdered.

Okay, that was just this morning. Next, the goombas who took a pot-shot at me come back and riddle my beautiful classic muscle car full of holes. I have to leave it in a heap of smashed up, smoldering metal because the cops are coming and, if I stick around, they’ll arrest me, and I’ll go back to prison.

So far today, I’d done nothing wrong — so far.

And then the kid at the fast-food window says, “No problem,” in response to our polite “thank you” without so much as a glance at us.

*  *  *

I stretch over Jazzy and Zoya to the little convertible’s driver side, get a foothold on the center console, and then reach into the drive-thru window. Jazzy and Zoya lean out of my way.

With my fists full of the server’s uniform shirt, I pull him to me and our noses touch.

“All right, booger-eater; listen to me this one time.” I start low and slow. “Your job is to wait on us; provide us with courteous service and a quality meal,” I say, my voice coming out louder, words faster. “We; your customers — the reason you even have a job — say ‘thank you.‘ And how do you answer? With a smile and a respectful ‘you’re welcome — thank you for your business. Please come again,’ right?”

My eyes are bugging, spittle comes out unintentionally with my elevated words.

“No-o. You say,” I whine with a sneer in exaggerated imitation, “‘No problem,’ as if you feel the need to tell me it wasn’t too damn far out of your way for you to do the job you’re being paid to do —”

I take a deep breath, “— instead of what you’d be doing if we hadn’t come to your little window: sitting on your dumb ass, atop a box of frozen beef and sawdust patties, listening to gangster rap while popping pimples with one hand and rubbing your balls like they’re Aladdin’s lamp and you’re wishing you had something more than a three-inch pecker with the other.

No problem? You say no problem to your neighbor when you pull a turd out of his toilet that got stuck sideways and clogged it up. You say no problem when you stop and fix a stranger’s flat tire in the rain, even though you’re going to be late for work. You say no problem when the guy with no arms standing beside you at the urinal asks you to shake the dew off his lily and put it back in his pants for him — that’s when you say, no freaking problem!”

I’m glaring at him. He’s gaping back, as are Zoya, Jazzy, the burger joint employees and the few customers who can see me from the inside.

“No problem?” I ask quietly, but with a ragged edge. My next words come out from between my barred teeth. “Of course it was no damn problem, you little freak!”

The kid is in shock. He finally stutters, “Yu-you’re…wu-welcome — s-sir!”

“There. Was that so goddamn hard?”

I let him go, push off and slip back into my seat without looking at him. I answer, “No problem.”

Zoya, with her heavy Russian accent, says, “Have … nice … day!” and we pull away.

*  *  *

 I took a deep breath and within five minutes I was feeling pretty good.

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Dog Park for Toddlers? How about crossing the track during the Indie 500?

It happened again today. A small child was hurt.

There are a lot of really great young parents out there. They love their children dearly and only want what’s the very best for them. Sometimes they don’t think things through before they do them, deciding, “Oh, how much fun it would be to take Junior to …” Some folks who haven’t been to a dog park have no idea what goes on there.

Well, here’s your warning, good-intentioned but inexperienced parents: what goes on at a dog park is utter chaos!

What? Chaos at a dog park? Someone should do something! Someone should enforce order so that all dogs walk, not run; lick, not play bite; romp and play like kiddies and not run amok and wrestle like … well, like — dogs!

If you’ve been to a dog park, you know that most of the animals are out there just having a great time. Even my sweet Jazzy Brass, one of the most pleasant dogs you’ll ever meet, gets a little nuts. It’s the dogs’ place to be dogs, to do what dogs do. They want to chase each other, play bite and wrestle. There are small dogs, and huge dogs, and as long as the “alpha” male or female doesn’t come out in them, the time spent in the park can be a blast for both dogs and their caregivers.

But, if you’ve visited one of these fun places more than a couple of times, you’ve most likely seen some little accidents, sometimes not so little. Adults have even been known to get mowed down by dogs being dogs. These dogs don’t watch where they’re running, they’re just enjoying the chaos at the time. A person can easily get hurt, if they’re not keeping an eye out. The canines are excited, they’re letting off steam. You’re the cheerleader when you’re at the park, and your beloved companion is the player. If you’re a smart cheerleader, you don’t go onto the playing field in the middle of a game without being sure you won’t get trampled.

As soon as I saw it, I knew there would be trouble. A young mother with two small dogs and a medium-size one on leashes had entered the park’s main gate with a toddler in her arms. Hmmm. Obviously, she was thinking of how much fun was about to be had, but not considering she was leading three primed and ready rugby players onto the field of a very active game in progress. Within five seconds, she was down on the large concrete entryway, and she had dropped her little girl face first onto the hard surface, as well.

What could I do except run to her and try to keep the excited pack of dogs that quickly gathered away from mother and screaming child while they attempted to recover and find their legs?

Damn it! What a shame for the little girl who ended up with a bloody chin and a huge knot on her forehead. Accidents happen. This young mother certainly would have never risked her child’s wellbeing had she actually considered the danger.

It’s one of my pet peeves and this is a warning to others, old and young, short and tall. Dog parks are for dogs to play and have fun — to be dogs. It’s not a place for an overly aggressive dog. It’s not a place for elderly who can’t move out of the way of a large pack running at full speed. It’s not a place for a toddler even with close supervision or in a stroller. Sure, it’d be fun to see Junior reacting to all the nice little puppies. How about keeping Junior outside the fence? Here’s an idea; what about taking Junior to a pet store (the puppy mills that supply them are a whole other story)? Even better, take Junior to see all the really cute doggies and kitties at the local animal shelter!

Please stop and think. Don’t bring your small child inside the gate of any dog park. And, when you go with your best friend and constant companion, keep on your toes and be ready for a great time!

Jazzy Brass and James Rollins Need Your Help with a Fun Contest!

Many of you know Jazzy Brass, my canine heroine from my men’s action/adventure series “The E Z Knight Reports,” is also a hero of sorts in real life, too. Well, she needs your assistance this time—and you can have a lot of fun while helping!

Our heroine golden retriever is unofficially teaming up with New York Times super-bestselling, action-thriller author James Rollins (in his free time, when he’s not writing bestselling novels, he’s a veterinarian—Huh? That’s right!) and his Sigma Force to help raise money for the Humane Society with a neat and fun contest. Two heroes teamed up together to help animals–wow! So, you want to be a superhero and join them, right (you’ll have to provide your own cape)?

What do you get if you win, you ask? I’ll give you a hint…this is so cool…you’ll love it…wait for it…wait…here it is–I told you it was great: IMORTALITY!

PLEASE check out James’s blog post on Goodreads (click!) and then visit his Sigma Store (click!).

Jazzy Brass and I thank you–and I know James will, too!

Finding the Body, Day 3, and the Mysterious Flower

Mysterious Iris for the Lost (from “I found a body” series of three posts).

Mysterious Iris for the Lost (from “I found a body” series of three posts).

We visited the site again this morning. Before the incident, I walked Jazzy past it sometimes as many as six times on a typical day. What happened Wednesday hasn’t deterred us from that ritual.

For the past couple of days, we’ve stopped in the same location from which we’d spotted the body, and both Jazzy and I have stared down into the empty water. I know Jazzy has been reliving that moment as much as I. Until this morning, I’d gaze down unrealistically wishing that I might somehow see something that would replace the shocking reality we’d found. I had no choice but to look, my eyes drawn to that place in the water.

This morning was different. I found myself hesitant to look, feeling eerily reluctant, as if I would find another lost soul’s vessel floating there. I knew if that happened, I would surely vomit. The first time hadn’t hit me that hard, but a second time would have sent me over the edge and into the Twilight Zone.

Once Jazzy and I crept to the side of the high bank and looked over, I was relieved to see…nothing. But when we turned to leave, I noticed something I hadn’t before. Surely it was because of my focus and dread that I hadn’t noticed it: a sole iris, purple and lovely. Irises grow wild, so it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. But as I looked closer at this fully bloomed blood iris, I saw that it was surrounded by potting soil. It had been freshly planted.

I was immediately taken aback at the instant of this revelation. Someone had cared enough to leave this flower on the site of the woman’s passing. Had it been family? Had it been one of the law enforcement officers or EMTs? Or had it been a stranger?

I must admit that I felt both pleased at someone’s thoughtfulness but at the same time somewhat guilty by it as well. I had unjustifiably found a sort of kinship with the deceased, the thoughts of this person and her life dominating my mind for going on three days. Some of the memory remained very unpleasant: the sight of what turtles do to a body, motionless in the water, forever etched behind my eyes; the sound of Jazzy’s frightened bark at the body’s movement while being assaulted by the turtles, sounding over and over in my ears (normally silent, she’s barked softly no more than six times before this in her eighteen months of life); and the footprints leading to the body on that muddy bank forever being questioned in my head.

So has anything changed for me or Jazzy Brass? I can’t say it has in a major way. For some days to come, Jazzy will likely be drawn, as I will, to the place we’d stood on that faithful morning. I will be attracted to the flower as well, in hopes that it will continue to bloom in the absence of the life it symbolizes.

I will treat my golden retriever companion’s side trips from the beaten path with more respect than they would normally deserve—her often picking up on the scent of rabbits or squirrels. After all, this is the second body other than rodents’ she’s found—the first being a yearling deer killed by a bobcat or pack of coyotes right here in suburbia last fall.

I will put this day behind us in hopes of never reliving the feeling of unbelieving helplessness from less than three days ago.

My self-therapy session is finished.

I found a body yesterday—Jazzy Brass and I

No good news comes today. But there is news that brings some sort of resolution, at least to law enforcement. They tell me the death was neither accidental nor foul play. It was not natural, either. I am somewhat relieved. (For background see yesterday’s post: I just found a body.)

It wasn’t on the TV news. I watched for it all day, hoping to steer my thoughts and emotions in one way or another down a rocky path. I searched the Internet for news. There was absolutely nothing. I became suspicious. At first, I wondered if there could be good reason for this information to be held from the public. A little frightening, if that were the case. Then I questioned if my mystery-thriller-writer’s brain had taken me on a side trip of its own.

Finally, this morning I queried and found out. I’m still numb. I’m sorrowful for the deceased and for the family. Briefly, I felt anger at the human condition. As I write this now, I feel empathy for a life that was troubled so much: empathizing, not just sympathizing.

We’ve all had our troubles, some so much more than others. Most of us are on the lighter side of that and should be so very thankful for what we’ve had and have now. I’m not talking about riches, at least the material kind. I’m talking about lives enriched with the wonders of this world enough that it’s been a positive experience more than a negative one. After all, life is a gift that should never be taken for granted. A gift; to live. Is society to blame? Do we easily cast off souls to become human driftwood?

So the rest of us go on. We see another day, thankful we and our loved ones are alive one more day. We hope and pray we’ll see the sunrise tomorrow and the sunset on another good day. It won’t last forever. Enjoy it. Savor it. Take in a deep breath of fresh air and taste it, feel it, live it. Be a part of it. Look at your loved ones and enjoy the sight of them, even if only in a photo. Take a mental trip back and find pleasure in the good memories of them. And if you have arms, use them. Hug someone special to you. If you have legs, take advantage of them. Go to someone you care for, if for no other good reason but to lend them your smile to pass on to others. Never take these things for granted. And, if you have a big heart, touch it, feel it, explore it. Push it out and let others do the same in return.

I’ll continue to write about death, murder and violence in my thrillers. I’ll continue to make the bad guy a living, breathing thing that, after overcoming impossible odds, can be dealt with, given his comeuppance, and stopped.

But real life goes on. The real bad guys sometimes get away. And sometimes the bad guy isn’t a guy or girl at all. Sometimes it’s your own heart and mind. Sometimes it lives in your soul, becomes a part of you. It torments you. Get help. Sometimes you can’t do it alone. You can’t be the good guy all the time and put the villain in its place. Its place isn’t inside your skull or in the center of your chest. It may be deeply rooted. You might need help. Don’t be afraid to ask. There are thousands like you who can be helped if they’d just ask. Don’t allow yourself to slip through societal cracks. And don’t let anyone you love or even know slip away, either. Get help.

Regardless, my heroine is my golden retriever Jazzy Brass. I thank God for her. I thank God for my family. I’m thankful for my kids and lovely grand kids, all my friends… I’m thankful for a life that isn’t always positive, but seldom all negative, and for waking to over 20,000 sunrises.

To find help through troubled times, here are a few resources:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

http://www.afsp.org/

Help Guide—Suicide Prevention:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm

Suicide Prevention Resource Center:

http://www.sprc.org/

CDC’s Violence Prevention Page:

http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy:

http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/

Safe Horizon for Domestic Violence:

http://www.safehorizon.org/index/get-help-8/for-domestic-violence-35.html?gclid=CIzs7Y_IvLACFcIUKgod5Fd-qg

Hospice Foundation of America:

http://www.hospicefoundation.org/

Know of other important resources for our troubled friends? Please leave them in a comment.

Take care, my friends, my fellow members of the human race club. Let the Good Lord grant you another, and always better and brighter, day.

News Flash: E Z Knight is stuck in the Big Easy!

THIS IS OLD NEWS! KNIGHT’S BIG EASY MADE ITS DEBUT JUNE 30!

E Z Knight fans have been after me about when the next episode will be published. Well the first draft is finished and on my editors’ desks. The book will hit Amazon very soon!

JUNE 30!

That’s right. Poor ol’ E Z Knight has been stuck down in Norlins (New Orleans) for the past two and a half months (my writing time, that is). He’s in the Big Easy trying to stop some really mean bastards from killing a whole bunch of people, including Billie, the son of E Z’s parole officer, Tamara White Cloud.

Leaving Smokey and his buddies Beautiful and Booger behind in Southern California, he’s working with Black Zack, an old jazz trombone player, and beautiful redhead FBI Special Agent Pooh Dooley (Poodoo), who’s working undercover in more ways than one. They’re chasing and being chased by a couple of despicable villains named Papa Legba and Sheriff DePue. These two lowlifes are playing God over the lives of 500 children.

This is the wildest ride E Z’s been on yet, and if you’ve read Knight’s Ransom, you know I’m not talking about Disneyland amusements. With eyes popping, necks breaking, stabbing, shooting, choking, and even a little alligator chomping, E Z is working his way to the bottom of this, his deadliest of all capers yet. And staying alive and among the living has been especially difficult with a Voodoo queen doing everything she can to make him a zombie, and his new ally Jazz player Black Zack hauling something a little more illegal than plain fescue clippings in back of his pickup.

Time is running out–500 kids’ lives are at stake. Find out what happens in Knight’s Big Easy coming at the end of June.

Still on the back burner is Jazzy Brass’s Missing Scenes. Knight’s Big Easy is Jazzy’s debut, and she’ll accompany E Z in every episode from their meeting in the Big Easy forward.

Happy reading!