For the first time ever, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month ( It’s kicking my butt, taking me away from everything I need to be doing, but I’m one day shy of the halfway point AND still in it! I can’t believe it. I’d bake myself a cupcake if I had the time.

Things I almost missed out on — Another of my stories made print this month. “Taking Austin” in Shane Allison’s latest erotic anthology Nasty Boys. Nothing like seeing my name in print to make me get enough sleep to pick up a pen tomorrow morning.

Taking Austin, by Martha Davis
(Nasty Boys: Rough Trade Erotica)

I looked back over my shoulder then plopped down in the first available bar stool and ordered a beer. The bar was dim, smoky, the heat turned a tad too high. Three older people navigated a pool table in one corner; a straight couple felt each other up under the table in another. Two waitresses wiped down glasses and gossiped at the other end of the bar. You’d think a place called Brimstone would be way more badass.

The bartender pulled my drink from the tap but when I reached for it, he pressed his knuckles against the glass and slid it out of reach.

“Nuh-uh. ID first.”

I reached in the back pocket of my jeans and pulled out my wallet, yanked my driver’s license out and chucked it in his direction.

He took it to a computer monitor behind the cash register, pressed a few buttons, smiled slowly. “Austin Gregory?”

“I’m legal.”


He tossed the ID back with a fancy wrist flick while simultaneously sliding my beer back in reach.

I gulped half of it down at once and refused to cough when the burn hit the back of my throat. Where did he make this shit, his backyard?

The bartender checked me out without caring if I saw, assessed me up and down, judging me like he knew me. I snorted and returned the favor, scanning him just as hard. He was blond with curly hair, tall and muscular, overdressed for a minimum wage bartender, wearing a starched white shirt and gray pants. The only deviances from hardcore lame-ass office drone were a name tag on his right breast pocket reading SNAKE and a black tie printed with little skulls and crossbones.

Our eyes met. His were as gold as the locks of his hair, glistening like molten metal in the dim light. They almost didn’t look human.

His smile broadened. “You have permission to suck my cock.”

What the fuck? “Sorry, dude, you ain’t my type.”

“Oh, I am most definitely your type.”

The bartender turned to his right and smiled fondly at the approaching redheaded waitress.

“P.D. is coming, Boss.”

“I know Satrinah.” He stroked the line of her jaw and winked. “I can smell them.”

Snake looked in my direction. “Ready to tell me what you did?”

“I didn’t do shit!”

His eyes roved over me again, taking in the tight jeans torn at the knee, the black leather jacket and the old Poison concert T-shirt I’d found in a thrift store.

“Got any tattoos?”

“A couple. Why?”

“Any on your hairy ass?”

“Fuck you!”

“I said you could suck my cock. You haven’t earned a fuck yet.”

“What is wrong with you? Have you lost your fucking mind?”

I got up to leave about the same time two police officers walked through the front door. Snake reached over the bar and took me by the elbow. “Sit down and keep making small talk. Try not to look so damn scared.”

He poured me another beer. “Here. Drink. This one is a little more refined. Better for your young, untried palate.”

The officers had a short talk with the bouncer who pointed in our direction.

“An owl.”

“An owl?”

“Yes, I have an owl tattooed on my butt so I can be a wise ass forever. Why are you so curious? Do ass tattoos get you off?”

“Just interested.”

“What are you? Some kind of wannabe badass?”

He snorted.

“Are you the owner?” The taller of the two officers approached and offered his hand.

“Yes,” the bartender replied and gave the officer a hearty handshake. “The name on the birth certificate is Asmodeus, but the average bar patron finds it hard to pronounce. You can call me Snake.”

“Your mother must have had a sense of humor.”

Snake pulled out a box from under the bar, opened it and started rolling a joint right there in front of the cops. They watched him do it and just smiled. How the fuck did he get away with it?

“My father. He named me. Don’t have much of a relationship. In fact, I haven’t spoken to him in years.” He laughed and lit the damn joint, took a long drag while the cops laughed with him.

The satanic references were way too lame to be funny. But they laughed. Did he own them? Was he some bigwig gangster dude with cops on his payroll?

“I want to make you aware there was a planned hit on an elderly man in a nearby neighborhood. Gang initiation of some sort. An anonymous caller tipped us off, and we would love to talk with him further. Since the call was made from one of those prepaid, disposable cell phones, all we know is that it came from this general area.”

“If I see or hear anything, I’ll let you know.” Snake took another drag on the joint.

The other officer looked in my direction, as if looking through me, but taking way too much interest. I turned away, thought it might make me more suspect and stared down at my boots instead.

The initial officer handed Snake one of his cards. “Please feel free to call us anytime.”

“How did you do that?” I couldn’t help but laugh once the officers had left. The bartender impressed me. Just did whatever the hell he wanted and answered to nobody. Not even the cops.

“So you’re the tipster they’re looking for?”

“Oh no!”

“Sure you don’t want to confess? I heard it’s good for the soul.”

“I didn’t do a damn thing! How did you get away with rolling drugs right there in front of a couple of cops?”

“I have a special way with certain people.” He shrugged.

“Certain people?”

“Those who ain’t choirboys, son.”

“But they’re police officers? The good guys?”

“The baddest boys start off as angels.” He shrugged, finished up his joint and snuffed it out.