Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet

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Praise for

DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET

____________

“With
Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet
, Adam Howe hasn’t written one of my favorite books of the year, he’s actually written three of my favorites. If novellas are the format of kings (and Kings), then this collection is a royal smorgasbord. Stories that are tight, toned, and genre-confounding … Love this goddamn book and hate it at the same time. How is a British dude better a better observer and hybrid-izer of junk Americana than most American writers?” —Adam Cesare, author of
Tribesmen
and
Mercy House

“The recipe for Adam Howe’s
Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet
is:
Two parts Joe Lansdale
One part
Justified
and a heavy dose of WTF
The result is a swampy cocktail darker than any backwoods hayride, stronger than the meanest Sasquatch, and crazier than anything you’ll find chicken-fried at your local state fair.” —Eryk Pruitt, author of
Hashtag
and
Dirtbags

“Whether you call it Splatterpulp or Punk-Noir,
Die Dog
is an out-of-control ‘46 Mercury coupe heading hell-bent for Dead Man’s Curve without brakes; a velvet-swathed lead slapjack to the base of the skull; a hard kick in the balls from a twisted, homicidal clown with giant shoes wrapped in razor-wire. It’s an explicit, hard-hitting, twisted funhouse ride into pulpish horror wrapped loosely in a tattered skein of irreverent, jet black humor. In short, it’s a freakin’ blast.” —Walt Hicks, author of
Dirge of the Forgotten.

“Adam Howe’s skill with hilarious dialogue makes reading
Damn Dirty Apes
a laugh-out-loud experience, keeping you turning pages until the end and eliciting snickers from memory long after the story’s over. Filled with brutality, atmosphere, and surprising depth, it’s an absurd tale that explores not just the American south’s backwoods in all its sticky, smelly grandeur, but also the all-too human yearning for stardom, even greatness. Don’t let the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape (SPNASA) prevent you from reading it! … There’s no safe place to hide in
Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet
. Once it gets started, the story sticks to you like flypaper, keeping you right there with shaking hands and widened eyes. Every page ratchets up the tension another notch even as it descends deeper and deeper into terrible darkness.”
—David Dubrow, author of
The Blessed Man and the Witch

“Hilarious, repulsive, caustic and downright rad, these yarns run the gauntlet of a true reading experience. The only common thread amongst these tales is an overwhelming air of menace and the genuine threat that anything can happen, nobody is safe. Least of all you, the reader. Adam Howe is not for prudes or the faint of heart.” —Zachary Walters @
The Mouths of Madness Podcast


Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet
is like James M. Cain on a bender with Spinal Tap. One louder and then some.”—Kent Gowran, founding editor
Shotgun Honey

“A nasty little cracklin of Louisiana noir with a great classic pulp vibe.” —Thomas Pluck, author of
Blade of Dishonor

“Adam Howe has done it again—I’ve neglected my family, forgotten to eat, lost track of time in my quest to devour each word & nuance of
Die Dog or Eat The Hatchet.
He’s delighted me at every turn while making the darkest recesses of my mind feel both alive & sullied all at the same time. Whatever you’re reading at the moment, stop it immediately and read this RIGHT BLOODY NOW” —Zombie Rob @
The Slaughtered Bird

“A rancid broth of gross distortions, misrepresentations and half-truths, played for shock value and scatological humor … I cannot, in all good conscience, endorse this work.” —Lambert Pogue, General Secretary, Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape (on
Damn Dirty Apes
)

“A nasty little cracklin of Louisiana noir with a great classic pulp vibe.” —Thomas Pluck, author of
Blade of Dishonor
(on
Gator Bait
)

“From its brilliant opening Adam Howe‘s short n sharp novella
Gator Bait
grabs you by the throat and drags you through the down and dirty world of 1930s Louisiana. A sleazy piano player makes one mistake after another in this atmospheric, brutal and darkly comic noir tale. I loved it.” —Paul D. Brazill, author of
Guns of Brixton

“Adam Howe writes dirty stories populated with characters working like hell to leave a scum ring around the tub while they circle the drain.
Gator Bait
starts with mutilation and murder then shoves a rocket up its ass and goes south from there. Sticky, icky, pure pulp fun.” —Jedidiah Ayres, author of
Peckerwood

First Comet Press Electronic Edition November 2015

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet
copyright © 2015
by Adam Howe
All Rights Reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Print ISBN 13: 978-1-936964-25-3

Visit Comet Press on the web at:

CONTENTS

Foreword by Randy Chandler

Acknowledgements

Epigraph

Damn Dirty Apes

Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet

Gator Bait

Story Notes

About the Author

FOREWORD

BY RANDY CHANDLER

My introduction to Adam Howe came by way of a porn-star dwarf with a humongous member. The well-endowed munchkin was named Rummy Rumsfeld, and his misadventures as portrayed in “Of Badgers & Porn Dwarfs” struck me with revelatory illumination in much the same way a Zen master smacks his student upside the head to impart nonverbal enlightenment. Rummy, of course, is a fictional character (though perhaps a doppelganger of a real-life diminutive porn star), whereas his creator is the real deal: a wily wizard of a storyteller we now know as Adam Howe.

But Adam Howe hasn’t always gone by his given name. For reasons known only to himself, he used the pseudonym Garrett Addams when he won the
On Writing
contest judged by none other than Stephen King and was awarded the prize of having his winning short story “Jumper” included in later editions of King’s slim nonfiction tome.

Writing under his own name since then, Adam Howe has crafted a handful of astonishingly eccentric stories and novellas, some of which were collected in
Black Cat Mojo,
including the aforementioned porn dwarf with the legendary talent—one of the most affecting tales I have ever had the pleasure of reading. For all its cringe-worthy explicitness, delivered with razor-sharp humor of blackest hue, the story ends with a surprising twist that tugs at the heart. Who knew such hardcore stuff could be so heartwarming? Not I, genital reader. But Adam Howe pulled it off (pun admittedly intended). And that was when I knew I was in the hands of a uniquely talented storyteller.

The other two novellas and bonus short story in
Black Cat Mojo
(Comet Press, 2015) took me deeper into Adam Howe Land, inhabited by would-be play-yahs, half-assed criminals, delusional losers and a ragtag menagerie of dumb animals that are nevertheless generally smarter than their homo sapien counterparts. If you haven’t read it, add it to your Read Me Next stack/cue/ cache. Speaking of animals, Adam says he has plotted out a novel featuring a chimp in a prominent role, adding “I think that might have to be my last animal story for the foreseeable future. Be weird to get typecast as a writer of lurid animal-themed pulp books.” Yes, but it is a wonderful weirdness.

Which brings us to the book in your immediate possession.

A quick look at the titles tells you that animals also play key roles in these new tales. This time we get primates, a hungry man-eating gator, a dog-eat-dog serial killer duel, and what may be an Arkansas Bigfoot known locally as a skunk ape. And who could forget the simian descendants of Neanderthals bumping against lowlifes, rogues and brawlers in bizarre scenarios Hunter S. Thompson might’ve dreamed up on a weeklong binge of acid/ booze/laughing gas.

Adam describes the stories in
Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet
as “straight horror/crime,” much darker than the first collection. And while that may be true, his trademark black humor (or
humour
, as Adam would say) is nonetheless present—in spades. The man can’t help himself. He turns people and situations sideways, ass over teakettle (
ass over tit
if you’re a Brit) and upsidedown to expose the absurd follies of man, and he does it in a voice echoing the hollow laughter of the gods as they look down upon the capering human circus from a crumbling Olympus.

As these stories you are about to read will prove, Adam Howe has a natural flair for making sentences sing and images dance, sometimes to bluesy jazz, sometimes to good old rock ‘n’ roll. The dude turns phrases that stick with you the way catchy song lyrics do. Like this grab-you-by-the-balls description of a man tithing a pole dancer in a Louisiana swamp dive: “He waggled a buck beneath her butt like a corner man rousing his boxer with smelling salts.” Trust me, it works perfectly in the context of the scene. It’s not easy to write original neo-noir that doesn’t suck but Adam clearly knows how. And he
kills
it.

Another lyrical example of the author’s gritty eloquence: “He was a little gray sadsack with bloodhound eyes, a drooping mustache and worry lines corrugating his forehead. He wore a funeral-black suit. Cobwebs of hair were pasted across his sweat-beaded baldpate.” And then the expositive kicker: “He was the kind of guy you don’t give a second glance—especially when looming beside him was a rent-a-thug with a mug like a Universal monster.”

I needn’t give more examples. I’ve kept you long enough from the stories within.

But before you proceed, a word of warning. And that word is suspense. Adam will ratchet the tension to nearly unbearable heights but by that time you’re so deeply involved in the story that there is no stopping. You must go on! The diabolical brew of humor and horror is the alchemical elixir that will fuel your journey to the climax of the tales, even as you’re not sure whether you should laugh aloud or cry out in horror. These stories are intended only for those with strong stomachs and sturdy hearts.

To put it in laconic vernacular: NO WIMPS BEYOND THIS POINT!

And please …
don’t feed the animals
.

—Randy Chandler, author of
Dime Detective, Bad Juju & HELLz BELLz

Acknowledgements

My partner Suzie.

Ladies, pop quiz: Your fella tells you he has a ‘good idea’ about a randy skunk ape abducting a porn performer wearing a baboon costume …
Do you
a) Change the locks?
b) Have him committed?
c) Ask, what’s a skunk ape?
d) Support him wholeheartedly?
I’m very lucky … for a guy currently residing in a lunatic asylum.

‘Bloody’ Bill Chaney: Helped me edit these stories, often under sufferance.

Clans Howe and Cooper: I apologise in advance.

Paul Cook (massively talented singer/songwriter—check him out @ Paul Cook & the Chronicles), Dave Head, Paul Usher, Alexis Liosatos (whose first short story
The Man Who Collected Dali
you should read in Verto Publishing’s
Into the Trenches
anthology …)

Gino: For enduring the book’s title with the plucky good grace of his breed. (His preferred title was
Live Dog and Bite the Axeman
.)

Also:
Chris Barnes @ The Slaughtered Bird
Jim @ GingerNuts of Horror
Col @ Col’s Criminal Library
Paul D. Brazill @ Brit Grit & International Noir
Paul Nelson @ From Dark Places
Gef Fox @ Wag the Fox
Matt Craig @ Reader Dad
And Thomas Pluck

My e-buddies: Randy ‘Big Dawg’ Chandler & David Dubrow
One of these men survived a close encounter with a Floridian skunk ape.

For the
Gator Bait
early release, I assembled a crack-team of blurbers:
Jedidiah Ayres (follow his Hardboiled Wonderland blog)
Dave Dubrow
Walt Hicks
Zombie Rob @ The Slaughtered Bird
And they didn’t leave this man behind.

For the
Die Dog
collection, these guys had my back:
Eryk Pruitt
Adam Cesare (we’ll put our little misunderstanding down to cultural differences)
Kent Gowran
Zach @ The Mouths of Madness Podcast
And Dave Dubrow, Walt Hicks, and Zombie Rob served a second tour of duty: I salute you.

Thanks also to Cheryl Mullenax at Comet Press for weathering the skunk ape storm.

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