Seriously? Women portrayed in media

Usually when this topic comes up, my immediate response is, “Don’t even get me started!” Today, I can’t stop myself from giving a message to photographers.

I’ll preface this by telling you that I am also a photographer. Although the vast proportion of my experience was in documenting evidence, crime scenes and motor vehicle collisions, I have done quite a few portraits, weddings, and general photography. When it comes to finding photos for advertising, covers, etc, I don’t always have the facilities, time, props or models to fulfill my needs. That’s when I turn to the online stock photo websites, and that’s when I get frustrated.

woman with an idea isolated over white

For example, today I was looking for photos for my next book, featuring a confident middle-aged woman. I typed in these search terms: “woman” “middle-aged”. The images returned were mostly of smiling thirty year olds, or women in the kitchen. I added “serious” to my search and was appalled by the results. Over half the images featured mostly puzzled-looking women with either their finger or thumb up alongside their face. Nearly all of them were looking off into space. Seriously?

Middle aged caucasian man with doubtful expresssion and arms crossed looking at camera over white background.When I swapped in the word “man” for woman, I got rows of photos of men in confident poses, arms crossed, looking straight into the camera. One man on the entire page was in the classic pensive pose with his finger curled under his chin. Seriously?

I remember how frustrated I was trying to find good stock photos of real female police officers for my Intuition Series thriller novels. If you want to understand what I mean, go to any stock photo website and type in “woman” and “police”. Then do the same for “man”. Depending on your XXX filter settings, you may be offended by the proportion of truly skanky female officers as compared to male. Seriously?

You can do this for pretty much any search term involving men and women. Women are not taken seriously, and it’s about time.

Photographers: It is 2015.
Up. Your. Game.

Makenzi Fisk
Author website: www.makenzifisk.com

Put Your Words Into Action. Do something real.

We have all heard about the Syrian refugee crisis, and have also been subjected to the associated fear-mongering. Clicking LIKE on a tragic Facebook picture or supportive comment does NOTHING to help anyone. That’s why my wife and I have promised to do something that we hope can actually help.

Right now.

Today.

We are making a meaningful cash donation and also pledging to continue helping in the future. There are so many wonderful people among us and we can make a difference in the lives of other families.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 6.59.16 PMDonate your time, or your money, or something tangible that is needed. If you have no idea where to start, look at this: A small town in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, has had its own troubled times but they’ve come together as concerned citizens to try to help a Syrian family in need. Even if it’s just one family, it will make all the difference to them. Housing, jobs, an opportunity to learn English, go to school, make friends. To live a life that is safe and welcoming in a supportive community. We think that’s awesome.

I think it’s extra special because it’s my home town.

https://donate.mcccanada.ca/registry/atikokan-love-refugees

Find your good cause, and DONATE.

Makenzi Fisk
Author of the Intuition Series
www.makenzifisk.com

Drone pilot fuels idea for book character

Eldon Dunnet is a pretty cool guy with the best grown-up job ever. He’s a professional drone pilot whose enthusiasm for his work is infectious.

hdr
Eldon Dunnet, aerial drone pilot

Based in Calgary, Alberta, he travels where needed for drone work and also as a specialized NDE/API inspector but, if he ruled the world, he’d fly every day. Sometimes his work is routine, and sometimes his expertise is crucial to ensuring safety.

He recalls being able to assist during a major industrial incident in Northern Alberta. A large area had been rendered unsafe to approach due to possible dangerous air quality levels as well as other mitigating factors that made it too hazardous for humans. After air monitoring equipment was set up, Eldon was able to approach to a distance of around 400 feet to deploy his drone.

Eldon demonstrates the gyro stabilized camera
Eldon demonstrates the gyro stabilized camera

He piloted the Infinite Jib Y6 Surveyor aerial drone with a four foot diameter, a weight of around 20 lbs, travel speed up to 45 miles an hour, and a 7” monitor to view the scene through the onboard camera. He was assisted by ground control who directed him in the survey of the area, and together they conducted a thorough search by capturing still images in a grid pattern.

During his involvement in the critical incident, Eldon’s skill was instrumental in assessing the safety of the scene, and in gathering photographic information. This information was later employed to recreate the entire scene as a 3D model using photogrammetry. The biggest issue in this case was the time-sensitive nature. The scene needed to be assessed as quickly as possible to ensure safety and to assist in the investigation. Eldon’s expertise with the professional drone was crucial. That makes him a hero in my opinion.

Besides possibly dangerous air quality issues, another mitigating factor in that investigation was that the entire site was a “very metallic environment” which posed extra risk for flight navigation, as it can affect the compass and disable automated flight capability and GPS systems.

(NOTE: Readers might be interested that in my book, Fatal Intuition, Allie flies a smaller drone, similar to the white one pictured above, near electrical towers. This factors into her ability to maintain control. Eldon, also a helicopter pilot, is well aware of the hazards of power lines to navigational equipment. He says that although it is possible to fly near electrical towers, it is extremely dangerous and a very specialized skill.  Helicopters are in fact sometimes used in tower maintenance and an excellent pilot can hover with skids touching the power lines. A technician clad in chain mail or other protective gear can then exit the craft onto the live electrical lines to complete work. The electricity will flow through the metal instead of through the technician’s body. This entire process is truly hazardous work and is tremendously expensive.)

Eldon's drone built from scratchEldon’s expertise doesn’t end with flying commercially available machines. He’s so fired up about flying that he’s even built his own drone from scratch, complete with onboard camera, navigational system and a viewing monitor he wears as goggles. “It’s a much more aggressive drone,” he says. Although not as stable as his commercial drones, he has the freedom to reprogram the computerized navigation system and turn off the gyro stabilizer to do what he wants. Now it will do flips and other aerial maneuvers not possible on the larger drones.

After watching Eldon fly one day, I decided that my latest novel Fatal Intuition would feature a boy with a drone who allows one of the main characters (Allie) to use it for a difficult search.

I’m proud to acknowledge that Eldon Dunnet is my nephew, and that he works for my brother Jared Fisk’s company Ironhide Inspection Inc. 

You can read more about my books on my website
www.makenzifisk.com

Makenzi Fisk
Murder | Mystery | Thriller
Author of the Intuition Series

Book Release: Fatal Intuition

FIcoverOctober 2, 2015
Book Release
 Fatal Intuition by Makenzi Fisk
     A little town called Atikokan is a fantastic place to write thriller novels. It’s tucked off Highway 11, a lesser known route between Winnipeg, Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ontario, right in the middle of miles and miles of wilderness and pristine lakes. Wifi is nonexistent at the lake, and cell phone coverage spotty, so there’s less to distract an author than in the middle of a big city teeming with activity and constant interruption. Things move at a different pace in Northwestern Ontario. There is time to sit and talk, time to relax, and time to write.cabin
     The best parts of this book were penned in a rustic lakeside cabin, with a treacherously rotten deck and fabulous view. Other writing locations included the local library and laundromat because writers, like most other people these days, are drawn to free WiFi like junkies. The area’s influence finds its way onto the page especially during the book’s action-packed finale.swamp
     I plan to head back there and write every summer – when I’m not fishing or picking blueberries.

BOOK NAME:
Fatal Intuition

Intuition Series Book 3
by Makenzi Fisk
Publisher: Mischievous Books

Description:
Erin Ericsson joined the FBI for a fresh start, but leaving Morley Falls was the hardest thing she’s ever done. She can’t escape her past, not when it comes back with a vengeance, wreaking havoc across a half dozen states.

Allie was sure she had her gift under control, thought she’d finally settled into the life she wanted. The ominous cloud on the horizon tells her otherwise. A malevolent storm is building, and all she loves is directly in its path.

Will their family pay the ultimate price?

“Suspenseful” “Intense” “Exhilarating”

MORE INFORMATION & promo video
www.makenzifisk.com

REQUEST A REVIEW COPY
mischievousbookspublishing@gmail.com


AUTHOR BIO:

MakenziFisk150px

Makenzi Fisk grew up in Atikokan, a small town in Northwestern Ontario. She spent much of her youth outdoors, surrounded by the rugged landscape of the Canadian Shield. Moving west, she became a police officer with patrol, communications and forensic experience before transitioning to graphic design. She now works for herself.

Her first novel, Just Intuition, earned her Debut Author in the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards. Just Intuition was also a Mystery/Thriller Finalist in the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Awards and the 2014 Rainbow Awards. She is a Canadian Lesfic author, a member of ARWA and GCLS.

Books:
Just Intuition
Burning Intuition
Fatal Intuition

Cheering for Our Future

Today we celebrate Pride in Calgary (Alberta, CANADA) 

me&staceprideparade2014The rest of the country has already had their parades, their parties and their hype. Now it’s our turn, and party we will. When I first moved to Calgary, I remember watching the dozen or so float entrants and defiant marchers from a hilltop, afraid to appear on camera for fear of losing my job.

cps-prideToday, rows of flag waving police officers celebrate down the streets and the parade has grown from a few, to an expected throng of 60,000 for 2015. Today, the parade is family friendly, and backed by not only LGBTQ organizations, but also financial institutions, corporations, politicians, service groups, major sports teams, public servants and people of all walks. And I’ll be there too, in the September rain, with my family and my flag, and we’ll cheer for our future.
 http://www.calgarysun.com/2015/09/05/despite-rain-calgary-pride-parade-a-go-for-sunday

Makenzi Fisk
Murder | Mystery | Thriller
Author of the Intuition Series

Authors: How I create marketing materials for less

Indie authors know that we not only have to write a good book, we also must arrange our own editing, formatting, publishing, marketing, etc. Because of some people’s perceptions about self-published authors, we need to be especially diligent in putting out a professional product and about how we present ourselves in public.

tableatIndigo

I can only achieve so much with my smiling face, so that’s where quality marketing materials can help. It’s no secret that most authors don’t earn a ton of royalties, especially in the first few years, and every tip to save cash can help.

With that in mind, here are a few things I do to save when buying advertising products. I have some design experience, but you can work with decent quality  images and templates included at no extra cost by many online printers.

* If you  have some good tips of your own, please let me know in the comment section below. I’d love to hear how you’re saving money.

BUSINESS CARDS
I design my own and upload the completed file. I could save a little money by printing full sheets and cutting them myself, but I’ve learned that business card printing has come a long way in the last few years and the quality and price of professional printers can’t be beat. There are so many options, but I consider the anticipated life of a business card and choose basic. With low prices, I can afford two sets of cards. One for me and one for my book series.
buscardbuscard

Cost: I paid under $20 for 500 business cards at *Vistaprint

BOOKMARKS
*Vistaprint quotes $58 + shipping for 100 bookmarks. Here’s how I do it for less. I choose 50 ‘Rack cards’ instead and design my artwork so it fits two, side-by-side on the front.
bookmarks

I select black and white for the backs and do the same, including details like my book description and where to purchase.  All I need to do is cut them in half when they arrive. It takes a little time but I decided it’s worth it.
bookmarks-cut

Cutting tip: You can use a craft paper cutter, but I like precision cuts and can’t always get them with the cutters. I use a good self-sealing cutting mat, a cork-backed steel ruler and an Exacto. I learned in art class to flip the ruler backwards to ensure a better cut, and to use a sharp cutting knife. Sharp is important so you don’t pucker your cuts or tear corners. Exacto blades are not expensive, so snap that old one off and use a new one.
tools

Cost: I paid around $30 for 100 bookmarks (including shipping) and saved myself at least $35.

bannerFABRIC BANNERS
Many authors I know get their banners printed using *Vistaprint, an online multi product printing service. I tried it and I’m satisfied with the result. They have a ton of high resolution images you can choose at no extra charge, and the interface is easy.

I chose a vertically oriented 6′ X 2 1/2′ banner and also chose to include a stand. When the banner arrived, I followed the instructions to attach the banner to the mounting brackets and set up the stand, which comes in its own carry case. I purchased a rigid document tube from the local art store to protect the banner from damage during transport to signings and events. It takes less than five minutes to unpack and set it all up, and it’s lightweight. I’m sure the stand wouldn’t withstand a windy day outside, but it’s perfect for my intended use.

Design tip: Keep it simple. Pair a strong image with a little text. Remember that your viewing distance is six feet or more so avoid small fonts and excessive writing. Have a good, long look at the sample image they show. If you can’t read your message in the preview size, it’s wasted on a banner.

Cost: I paid $75 for the banner, including the stand and mounting hardware, AND shipping. I paid an additional $20 to an online agency for the stock photo.

GIFT CARDS
This is a new venture for me. I’ve seen a variety of ebooks for sale as gift cards and there doesn’t seem to be a standard size or format. I liked the idea of plastic cards with scratch-off codes on the reverse but the cost, and order quantity are prohibitive to small orders. This is what I chose for my trial run.

giftcardfront(front and back covers)

giftcardbk
(inside layout)

I designed my own gift card to be printed on card stock. *Vistaprint’s “medium postcard” gave me the size I wanted, and I can get 50 printed for about $10. That’s only $0.20 per card, and doesn’t cut into my profits much. As usual, I design the card with front and back cover side by side on the front, and the inside like the inside of a book. I will be folding this in half and using a sticker to seal it once I’ve added the download code. The space I’ve left for download codes just happens to be the same size as a return address label, so I can easily print and add those before sale or giveaway.

For the download site, I use Smashwords coupons and set it at 100%. Recipients can just go to their site and download my book in a variety of formats. For ease of use, I created QR codes using a free QR creator (there’s a ton of them online but check to make sure it works before you print your cards). When scanned with a smart phone, they will direct the user to the applicable URL. In case that’s baffling for anyone, I’ve included the web address that can be typed into a browser manually. I added a barcode to the back, created from my digital ISBN for each book – because I’m optimistic.
scoringgiftcard

Folding tip: If you’ve ever folded card stock, you know that it puckers and does naughty things. I wanted a nice clean fold and professional look and didn’t want to score the outside of the fold with a knife, so I used a pizza cutter to create a smart crease that will fold perfectly and easily. Make sure you do this on the outside of the fold, not the inside.
giftcardfolded                                            (finished and folded cards) 

Cost: about $13 for 50 cards + shipping

TABLE DISPLAY SIGNS:
You can pay $20 or more for mounted feature signs to put on your display table. Here’s how I did it for less. I designed the image and had it printed on glossy photo paper at Costco. I like Costco for quick turnaround, consistent quality and because I’m always going there so it’s convenient. Other places like Walmart do a good job too. I chose glossy but matte would work fine too. It depends on the look you want. I buy full sheets of foam core at the art store for about $10 and cut them to size. I recently discovered that black foam core is available at the same price as white, and I like the look. Foam core is easier to transport than lumber, but sometimes big sheets just won’t fit in the car, or on the bus! If your sheet is too large, ask them to cut it in half there. They’ll usually do it in exchange for a smile. I cut the foam core at home with my trusty Exacto knife and cutting board, and affix to the photo print with double sided tape. Trim after mounting if  you need to ensure clean edges.

Cutting tip for foam core: Change your Exacto blade because here’s where you really need a sharp edge. Make your cuts in multiple passes, instead of trying to power through in a single cut. Hold onto that ruler to ensure clean lines.
tablesigns

Cost:
8 x 12 photo print:  $2.50
Foam core: about $1 or $2
Double-sided tape: pennies
Document stand: $1 or $2 at the local dollar store, or you can tape a wedge of cardboard or foam core on the back like they did on the cheapie photo frames you got on your school pictures. I splurged at the dollar store for a half dozen stands to use for books and signs.

NAME TAG:
How many times have you been sitting there in front of your books and someone asks if you’re the author? Make your own nametag using an old retired one. I used my wife’s and glued a new image, printed using photo paper on my home printer. I discovered how awesome packing tape is (see Swag section below) and used it as a shiny plastic coating that protects it from fingerprints and scratches. I trimmed the edges with, yes, my trusty Exacto and ran a black Sharpie around the edges to conceal any imperfections.

nametag
Cost:
Pennies

SWAG:
Pick up packages of interesting pens or similar items like book lights at dollar stores, etc. I found items with light coloured areas for best results. Most of my items were $1 each, or pens for about $0.50 each.

I made my own stickers. I printed a simple design onto Clear Transparency plastic (Avery brand, intended for use on overhead projectors.) When I realized they weren’t actually clear stickers, I used clear packing tape and transferred the image to the tape by sticking it on and pulling it off.
stickers
It required a little finesse to keep it from wrinkling or folding in on itself but it took me way back to my crime scene work recovering fingerprints from crime scenes. Similar technique. I cut the packing tape (with scissors) into smaller pieces with a little tab to put my grimy fingers on. I trimmed that off later. The tape transfer worked remarkably well after a few tries, and it looked like a professional sticker. The thin tape adhered well and didn’t have a hard edge that would peel easily.

I gave these away to customers when I launched my new book in Chapters. The mechanical pencils with my sticker on them were remarkably popular. This was a bit of a time-consuming venture but fun if you like crafts and working with cantankerous tape.
swag

I paid an average of $1 per item.

*TIPS FOR USING VISTAPRINT
I like Vistaprint for their prices, quick turnaround, consistent quality and ease of use, but there are many others out there. [I can only hope Vistaprint sees this blog post and sends me free stuff.]

Bulk orders: When I place my order on Vistaprint, I choose a basic amount because they will invariably offer me a better discount at checkout, or even after purchase, for doubling my order. That’s how Vistaprint works, they try to up-sell you at checkout, and you can use it to your advantage if you know how it works.

Coupons: Make sure you’ve used any available coupons. Discounts range from 10-45% off. I do a Google search for this and try a variety to see which gives me the best benefit. Each time you make a purchase, they will also send you a discount code for your next purchase.

Stay focused: Just because they print on a million cool products, and you like the look of your logo on a six-pack of cute hockeysticks, it doesn’t mean you need to purchase everything you see. You’ll never save money that way. Just click to the end and buy what you came for.

Combine orders: I know you want it right now, but what else do you need? Combine orders for bookmarks, business cards and other items to save on shipping costs.

Makenzi-tableSomeday, a picture like this will mean I’m making tons of money. Right now, it means my kid probably told me a funny joke and happened to have her new camera in her hand.

Feel free to leave money-saving tips in the Comments section…

Makenzi Fisk
Murder | Mystery | Thriller
Author of the Intuition Series

Things I love about doing author signings at bookstores

Makenzi at a bookstoreI love watching young readers eagerly carry armfuls of books to the register. They can’t wait to get home and dive in.

I love talking to confident young teens who are avid readers and aspiring writers. I hope good things for their futures.

I love hearing what others like to read. Young people, old people, and those in between. I especially like when they get that gleam in their eye.

I love talking to people who are excited about discovering a new author, a new book, a new adventure.

I love watching the people run for Starbucks, the intense look of determination on their faces. I stay out of the way until they get their fix.

I love being in the stroller runway so I can smile at all the babies and cute little kids. I pat myself on the back when I don’t make a single one cry.

I love watching good dads with their little kids. Toddlers on daddy’s shoulders rubbing bristly shaved heads, babies contentedly snuggling in dad’s arms while he browses, and the super proud dads who stop to talk to me and show off their beautiful little ones.

I love seeing the moms with the mini versions of themselves strolling through, little girls imitating mom’s every move.

I love the older folks’ puzzled expressions at newer technology and talking to them about the changes they’ve seen in the world. They are a wealth of information.

I love to hear people’s stories, everyone has a good one.

I love watching people wander aimlessly, looking for that one book, but not knowing which one it will be.

I love the single-minded reader who is only interested in a very specific genre. Space born shape shifting unicorns who …

I love connecting with a reader who hears about my book and says, “Yes! That is what I’m looking for.”

I am NOT a Jerk, by Timmie the Dog

notajerk

 

 

 

 

 

I am NOT a jerk
by Timmie the dog

timmiebottombunkI’m not really a jerk, I just don’t like rules. So, here I am, in the doghouse. The dreaded cat got first pick and I am stuck with the bottom bunk, again.  It bites being the little brother.

I don’t remember my mama, but this is not one of those pull-out-the-tissues sob stories. This is my story. The story of a big dog trapped in a little dog’s fur.

I remember the good old days when I was a free range pup. Living off the land and eating all the garbage I wanted. I can dream it now. The sky is blue and I’m running along a highway. Whoa… freak out! Here comes a strange dog! Whoops, look out for that car! My tummy hurts. What’s the sticky stuff in my fur? Well, maybe life wasn’t perfect, but I was free. Nobody told me what to do.

timmieTimeoutOne fateful day, I was caught and sent to a foster home with other dogs. There was food, and I soon learned how easy it was to control pit bulls. My crazy-dog routine worked well with the passive brutes. By day two, I ran the house.

I thought I had it all figured out when, BAM, I was adopted. My world changed again. This time, there were rules. Not just dog rules, but human rules.

Rule #1
Do your business outside.
What? Why? Oh fine. If it’s such a big deal to you.

Rule #2
timmieandcatDon’t bother the cat.
So, that fuzzy, half-catatonic demon is called a cat? No problem. I kind of figured that rule out on my own. And I’m a big enough dog to admit that she  scares me just a little bit.

Rule #3
Don’t act like a maniac.
This rule has always been hard for me. Frankly, it’s exciting to run around in circles, jump on everything, chew up stuff and yap my head off. Gets my heart pumping and lets all the dogs in the neighbourhood know how awesome I am.

Rule #4
timmiegradGet a good education
Dog school was a breeze. I graduated at the top of my class. Okay, only one other dog showed up for grad, and he was still using puppy training pads. The rigors of academia weren’t really my thing. With so many humans around, I couldn’t make the other dogs do a dang thing I wanted, but every week there were less of them, and more treats for me. That was my plan all along. Need I say more?

Rule #5
TimmielippyNo biting the humans.
This was number one on the humans’ list, but not so high on mine. How was I going to communicate if I couldn’t sink my teeth into soft pink skin? How could I tell them to move over on the couch, for example? Would they understand that I wanted another treat if I didn’t chomp someone’s ankle?

It’s been a steep learning curve but I’ve been forced to learn a few tricks. Wiggling and kicking wildly will make a tiny human move away. Presto, I have the chair to myself.  Look mom, I didn’t use my teeth. When someone says BANG, falling to my side and remaining still will get me a cookie, every single time.

Now I am on the subject of cookies. I love cookies. Any kind. All kinds. Vegetables too. Veggies being chopped in the kitchen bring me running. And meat. Meat. Meat. Meat! I’ll be a very good boy if you’re a messy cook.

There are a few things I want my humans to know, if they want me to behave.timmiecone

I miss my “bits”, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the cone of shame. That’s on you.

Every time I’m naughty, it’s your fault. More cookies will help me forgive you.

timmiebandanaKeep on dressing me up. I’m handsome and when you think I’m cute, I get more cookies.

Once in a while I so badly want to feel the delicate skin of a human between my teeth. Little ones are delicious with their sticky, candy-flavored paws. I can hardly stand it! Let me chew on your arm when we play. No? Okay, didn’t hurt to ask.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 12.39.31 PMI know, I know. There is only one dog in the world who likes me, but I want more playtime with her. You should know that Olivia’s mom gives me more cookies than you do. 

A bald dog is a cranky dog, so stop shaving off my fluff. Seriously, I look like a plucked chicken. Cookies would make me feel better.

And I would be less of a jerk if I had more cookies.

fluffometerThat is all.

Timmie the dog

Makenzi Fisk
makenzifisk.com

Author of the Intuition Series
– Just Intuition May 2014
– Burning Intuition Jan 2015
Fatal Intuition coming Fall 2015

Coffee Shop Gossip, Part II: The Greyhound Bus

True stories from the police coffee shop…

greyhoundtxtThe Greyhound Bus

“How’s Sergeant Rogers enjoying his retirement?” I tipped the plastic water cooler and shook out the last few drops. I’d never gotten used to the foul-tasting prairie water and could have kissed whoever had made this appear in the lunch room.

“Let me tell you a story he told me about his vacation.” Constable Donnie Banks suppressed a grin.

“I heard he bought himself a brand new travel trailer.” I waited for the story while Donnie took his time to settle down in his chair and leisurely sip his coffee. He’d be the perfect straight man in any comedy routine.

“Okay. He told me this story himself so I know it’s true.” Donnie plopped both elbows on the table and peered into my eyes.

“Yeah, yeah,” I replied impatiently. “Get on with it.”

“Well, you know how the Sarge is a little forgetful sometimes?”

“That’s an understatement.” I rolled my eyes.

“Well, he decided to take a vacation with his wife and got everything all loaded up in his truck. They were going down to Palm Springs, I think. Anyway, he had been driving on the highway for a couple of hours and all of a sudden noticed someone tailgating him. He got pissed off and slowed down to let the guy pass. The guy behind him slowed down too. Looks like a big freakin’ Greyhound bus, he thinks.” Donnie stopped to let that sink in.

“So, since the bus wouldn’t pass, he sped up to get away from him. The bus stayed right on his ass. He was really pissed now and jerked his truck over to the side of the road. He’s shaking his fist out the window and everything. And goddammit if the Greyhound bus doesn’t pull over right behind him! He’s absolutely livid now and gets out of his truck and stomps back to give the bus driver a piece of his mind!”

Donnie’s face turned a deep purple. He took another sip of coffee. “When he gets behind his truck,” he exploded with laughter, “he stands there and looks at his freakin’ travel trailer! He forgot he was haulin’ it! Isn’t that the funniest thing you ever heard? It’s all true! God, that guy has to have a good sense of humour to admit something like that!”

trailerMakenzi Fisk
makenzifisk.com
Author of the Intuition Series
– Just Intuition May 2014
– Burning Intuition Jan 2015
Fatal Intuition coming Fall 2015

Coffee Shop Gossip, Part I: Freddie the Freeloader

True stories from the police coffee shop…

freddietxtFREDDIE THE FREELOADER

Artie paid for my apple fritter. He always seemed to find an excuse to foot the bill when we went for coffee. Did I look that financially unbalanced? With only a couple of coins in my pocket, enough for a soda, maybe I did. The previous fall I’d bought a starter home and discovered what “house poor” really means.

At this hour the coffee shop was deserted, but we took the little table by the window, where we always sat. It had a view of the entrance, the parking lot and the washrooms.

Back to the wall, Artie dumped cream into his coffee and watched it swirl for a moment before taking a sip. It was late, we were both bleary-eyed and quitting time couldn’t come soon enough. I figured it was my turn to tell a story. He liked dogs too so I picked one that might perk him up.

“Did I tell you about the little dog I picked up last month?”

“What dog?” I knew he hadn’t heard this story because he’d taken that shift off to do something urgent on his ranch. Artie was a real cowboy in his personal life. I had no idea how he found the time to show up for police work when he had cattle to tend to, but somehow he did.

“Dispatch sent me to put down a dog that had been reported hit by a car.”

“Aw, you’re not going to wreck my night, are you?” Bristly mustache twisted in a grimace, he pushed back his chair as if it was time to leave. Animal Control officers didn’t work the nightshift so cops were called to take care of animals. Dangerous ones, strays and those in distress. The distressed ones were the worst. If an animal has been hit by a half-ton, it wouldn’t stand a chance even if we had an emergency veterinarian on call, which we didn’t. Not in a town this size. There was only one option left to relieve suffering. By now, you’ve figured out that by “take care of”, I mean “put down”. Nobody hated that job more than we did. One hand reaching for his car keys, Artie glared at me across the table. “This better not be a tear-jerker. I left my hankie in the tractor.”

“Don’t worry.” I waved him back into his seat. “The dog wasn’t hurt at all.”

coffeeshop1“Better not be lyin’ to me.” He inched forward and narrowed his eyes over his coffee mug.

I laughed. Artie was one of those guys who was crunchy on the outside but soft and squishy inside. The kind of guy who always had your back, didn’t badmouth you when you weren’t around, and paid for your donut more often than not.

He took a cautious sip and relaxed. I think he suspected that I was squishy on the inside too, but I’d never be confident enough to admit it. “So, tell me about the dang dog.”

“I found him huddled in a hedge not a block from where the caller thought he’d been hit. He was scared, but not hurt anywhere I could tell. He was the cutest little guy I ever saw.” I cupped my hands as if I was holding him right now, and Artie smiled. “His fur was all ratty and overgrown but he was cuddly and burrowed right into the front of my jacket.”

“Awww.” Artie’s mustache curved up at the corners.

“I called in for the door code to the Animal Control building and was on my way to take him in. I swear I was going to do it, but I pictured all those big out-of-control dogs barking their heads off when I got there. He was such a little guy.” I cupped my hands again and Artie’s mustache did its curvy trick one more time. “I could picture him in there, scared to death, and I didn’t have the heart to go through with it.”

“I thought maybe I could keep him. The way he looked, no one had been taking care of him for a long time. He needed a home and maybe I could do it.”

Artie’s head bobbed in agreement.

“Then reality set in and I realized I couldn’t take him. I was never home long enough to have a pet.” I didn’t mention the part where I had no idea how to take care of a dog, no matter how cute. “By that time, I’d had him with me in the car for over an hour. He crawled up and wedged himself between the back of my neck and the headrest and stayed there the whole time I drove around the light industrial area checking property. He was so content I fell in love with him.”

“At the end of shift, I still had the dog in my car and took him into the station. Sergeant Rogers got sucked in by his little puppy face. He fed him a half bowl of milk and most of his ham sandwich.”

This story was taking more time than I’d planned. The coffee girl had already refilled Artie’s mug and offered me another donut. Our break was probably over.

“What happened to the dog, you softie?” He settled back in his chair. “You couldn’t do it, could you?” He wasn’t leaving until he’d satisfied himself that I was as big a sucker as he.

“Rogers liked the dog. He volunteered to take him down to the pound first thing. He scooped him up under his arm and that’s the last I saw of him.” An itchy memory crawled across the back of my neck. “Except that afterward I nearly scratched my skin off. I hopped out of bed in the middle of my sleep to hit the shower! Get it? He gave me fleas. Funny isn’t it?”

“Hmmph.” Artie crossed his arms. “So they probably put him down anyway when no one claimed him. You said this story wasn’t a downer.”

“That’s the thing.” I got up from the table. It was time to get back to work. “Sarge said the dog escaped when he was trying to put him in the car. Took off like a rabbit as soon as he had a chance. He couldn’t catch him. That little guy is probably living the high life by now with some little old lady.” That’s what I wanted to tell myself, anyway. It still hurt a bit to think of how he’d burrowed into me for protection. I hadn’t really followed through, had I?

Artie drained the last of his coffee and stood. He took a few steps toward the door and then turned back to me, brows crinkled in thought. “Besides being small, what did you say this dog looked like?”

“I didn’t. He was a little black fella with one white ear and a tail that curls like a half pretzel. Cutest…”

Artie’s mouth opened. “Freddie the Freeloader.”

“What?”

“That’s what I called him,” he said. “Around the same time, a little black stray with one white ear and a pretzel tail showed up at my farm. He snuck in every day and ate all of my dog’s food. I don’t know how such a small dog could eat so much but he did.”

The dog I’d picked up had wolfed down a half bowl of milk as well as Sergeant Rogers’ sandwich. Now it was my turn to stand there with my mouth hanging open like a Neanderthal.

“My old lab Daisy’s half blind and could never catch him. She gave up after a while so I just filled her bowl with enough for the both of them. I took to calling the thief Freddie the Freeloader, and I mostly let him be because he didn’t bother anybody. He was smart enough to stay out of sight and eventually he wandered off. I always figured he moved over to Mrs. Hammond’s place. She said something about getting a hungry little dog right after that.” He clapped me on the shoulder and I followed him out the door.

freddie“Freddie the Freeloader,” I said aloud as I started my cruiser. He very well might be living the high life with a sweet little old lady.

Makenzi Fisk
makenzifisk.com

Author of the Intuition Series
– Just Intuition May 2014
– Burning Intuition Jan 2015
Fatal Intuition coming Fall 2015