using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : May 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2011 70 up, over the slate roofs, at the half-moon with the shadow clouds passing across. he’s been six months sober and still he wants another hit. he spent four years on the avenue, chasing the high that would make it all make sense. in the end he hadn’t cared about sense. he only cared about the high. and he cared about emmy. he looks back down at the avenue, watching the people in the shadows. he knows that life. it’s almost all he knows. he can tell who’s dealing, who’s hustling the girls in the rooming houses, who’s waiting for a chance at a snatch and grab. and he can tell which ones are just standing in the shadows with nowhere else to go but down and down. he has a sense for that. he knows about down. there’s a man under an awning. fidgeting. he’s wearing a denim jacket with the collar up, hands in his back pockets. he thinks it’s rodrigo, but he knows better. this happens to him. he’s outlived his friends and most of his enemies. now when he looks down at the street he sees them, alive as they were before they overdosed or killed each other. there’s another man step- ping out to the curb to cut a deal with someone in an old Buick. it could be grady. But grady took six bullets in an alley and died trying to get one last hit off a square of foil. and still he wants to see emmy. But he won’t. he sees every- one in the street, but he never sees emmy. a man comes out of the pizza shop, balancing a pizza box. he stands in the light and looks up and down the avenue. he’s tall and thin as rails, with stringy black hair and skin the color of paper. mccall can’t see his eyes, but he knows they’re black and empty. it’s Karek. mccall has been looking for Karek. Karek, who’d sold smack laced with lye. Karek, who’d ratted out every- one he knew to cover his own ass. Karek, who’d come into mc- call’s with a .45 looking for whatever he could steal, firing into the darkness, putting one through mccall’s leg and bouncing another off his ribcage. Putting one though emmy’s forehead as she slept, passed out after three days of hitting lines off a three- inch mirror. Karek. mccall watches Karek turn and come toward him. a cold wind blows. the man keeps his head down, turns a little as he walks. mccall can go down the stairs, out into the street. he can follow Karek until he’s alone on some side street. he can come up behind, take him before he knows. make him suffer. make him pay. mccall feels his blood hot under his skin. he’s waited for this. he’s wanted this. Karek knifes into the wind, half a block away. he looks up, sees mccall on the fire escape. they lock eyes. it isn’t Karek. mccall remembers. they told him Karek was dead. shot down by a Jamaican drug gang he’d owed money to. he’d owed almost everyone and robbed or snitched out everyone else. he’d just been another desperate loser out on the avenue, trying to get by a little longer. like mccall. like all of them. and like emmy, who’d been stretched out on a mattress in mccall’s apartment only because he had more coke than anyone else that week. that was the life. that was what they all did. mccall climbs back through the window. he settles back on his cushion. he takes a long, deep breath, lets it out slowly. then another. he’s outlived them all, and this is what he has left. his next breath. his next moment. and the moment after that. he feels everything else fall away. and he lets it go. *** When i started writing crime fiction, i wasn’t really in- terested in crime. it was just a way of writing about the people i knew, ordinary people who got a little too close to the edge sometimes. People who could go either way, depending on what came along. i wrote about a down-on-his luck-musician working a speed trap for his uncle, a small-town sheriff; a convict whose three-year sentence over a bar fight leads to trouble in prison and another twenty years added to his sen- tence; and a punch-drunk ex-fighter being used by a mob boss he works for. i didn’t really know any punch-drunk ex-fighters, but i didn’t have much trouble picturing people getting in trou- ble. i’d seen some of that over the years. Before long my stories were appearing in Thuglit, Yellow Mama, Pulp Pusher, and other upstanding publications. and Swill. that’s right, Swill. i realized i was writing noir fiction. the genre seemed to suit my spare writing style—i was never much for description and inner monologue—and it suited my plotlines. i noticed that most of my protagonists were dying off after a few thousand words. the death rate was running about 70 percent. most of my other protagonists were looking at long prison stretches. not all of them: the ex-musician at the speed trap solved a murder. But the bodies were piling up. i had a thought about that: you are what you write. as a Buddhist, it seemed like i should have a healthier, more optimistic view of life. i really wanted to write something more uplifting, more hopeful. if i’m going to make a difference in this world, i’d like to help people get more out of their lives, not de- press them. i was determined to take a more positive tone. it wouldn’t play at Thuglit, but there were plenty of other outlets. my next story was about a forklift driver at a glass plant whose boss wouldn’t let him have a day off to visit his father on the day he was to be executed for murder. after another worker dies of heatstroke due to being overworked, the forklift driver snaps and beats the boss to death. the story ends with him on the road to the prison to see the old man one last time before he’s arrested for murder himself. it wasn’t what i started out to write, but that was how it wound up. Well, i told myself, at least he’s not dead. noir fiction grew out of hardboiled crime fiction in the thir- ties, when writers like James m. cain and cornell Woolrich start- ed writing about ordinary people hanging on in very hard times. Desperate people making some bad choices. and everything they did to get out of trouble only pulled them in deeper. given