What Goes On? Rob Pierce

vernMy novella, Vern in the Heat, has just been released by All Due Respect. Vern’s the opposite of an enforcer; he’s the muscle whose job on illegal exchanges is to make sure things go smooth. Until someone tries to rip off a drug deal he’s working and he gets blamed. Now both gangs involved are after him, including the one he works for.

Needing a place to hide before he goes back out and makes things right, Vern turns to an ex-girlfriend, Deria, a bartender who never liked his violence. Things don’t go as planned, and they wind up driving away from trouble. Here’s a scene:

***

“We get off at 98th,” Vern said. “98th to East 14th.”

Deria held her arms rigid as she clutched the wheel. 98th Avenue was deep into East Oakland. Stretches of it were nasty, dangerous even by Oakland standards. East Oakland, where a night without gunshots was a surprise, where every morning there were sirens before sunrise.

They got off the freeway, got onto 98th. East 14th Street had been renamed International Avenue years before, in an attempt to scrub the city clean by renaming one of its most crime-riddled stretches. No one was fooled. Locals still called the street East 14th.

International was just a mile down the road, and the road wasn’t busy.

“Right on East 14th,” Vern said. “Then a left at 92nd.”

The streets weren’t crowded with cars, but there were plenty of people on the sidewalks. Hookers and far more dangerous criminals, and people looking for hookers and far more dangerous criminals. Partners in crime, most of them not all that violent. Most.

Vern looked straight ahead. “A couple more blocks,” he said to Deria. “Take a right on G, then drive real slow.”

A couple of blocks down G Street and they reached 89th. The block was supposed to be residential but there wasn’t any sign of residents, or even sidewalk, which, if it existed, was covered with so much trash it looked like garbage trucks had unloaded. At least two feet high, as much as six, the garbage stink seeped into the car even with the windows rolled up. This was a dumping ground, probably Oakland’s worst, although there was competition. A lot of crime on nearby blocks, but gangs didn’t bother straggling over here, they dealt and robbed and killed where the stench wasn’t so obvious.

***

Rob’s bio: Rob Pierce wrote the novel Uncle Dust (2015) and the novella Vern In The Heat (2016). Editor of Swill Magazine and an editorial consultant with All Due Respect Books, Rob has been nominated for a Derringer Award for short crime fiction and has had stories published in Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Modern, Plots With Guns, The Big Click, Near To The Knuckle, and Shotgun Honey, among others. He lives and will probably die in Oakland, California.

Tentative plans are for All Due Respect to publish Rob’s short story collection, The Things I Love Will Me Yet, this summer, and the sequel to Uncle Dust, which is currently titled With The Right Enemies, in the fall. So there’s a lot of writing going on.

Also, Swill Magazine, which Rob edits with Sean Craven, will have its eighth issue available for purchase shortly, and he’s an executive consultant with All Due Respect. So, there’s a lot of editing going on.

This wouldn’t seem to leave a lot of time for his full-time paying job, or time with family, or leisure. The main thing it leaves little time for is sleep.

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