…I’m taking a brief sabbatical from Intoxicology Report to write a pair of wine books. ‘Norton Wine: Walking Off To Look For America’, a book about a genuine native American varietal that can, in its best incarnation, rival vitis vinifera. And ‘Starstruck In Lodi Again’, a book about that fascinating California appellation where some of the most intense and underappreciated wines are coming into their own.
In the meantime, I am releasing in serial form a supernatural novel set in the streets of Detroit, ‘The Jinx Fragment’.
I will link the novel here with an excerpt from each chapter as it is released, and if you want more, you can follow the story through the ethers. The novel is illustrated by my son Jesse, who has a supernatural gift of his own…
‘The Jinx Fragment’
CHAPTER 1: CASKET SHARP
Bex stood on the corner of Benodet and Havre and squinted at the Shell Mini Stop. The whole McDougall-Stout hood called it the Shell Mini Stop even though the shop hadn’t belonged to Shell or sold gas or even had a visible sign for longer than anyone knew or cared; it was a tagged, tired and tumble-down relic and inside you could buy dusty candy and Swisher Sweets and Scorpio and cigarettes and lotto tickets and blunt wraps.
You could also buy SpaghettiOs, and Bex needed to pick up two cans for Grasshopper’s dinner. SpaghettiOs was the only thing that Grasshopper would eat on Tuesdays and Thursdays and today was Thursday and Grasshopper was unable to fend for himself out here, even to walk a block to the Mini Stop. He was preoccupied and driven by strange ideas, strange visions and Bex took care of his dinners for him.
Unfortunately, tonight, eight neighborhood Scril Boyz bangers had decided to play their janked-up game with the Mini Stop owner, a nervous, clay-colored Sikh named Singh. They wanted to remind him that this was a hood mart, their hood mart and they owned it, not him, so they piled into the cramped aisle, poured the pot of coffee on the floor, stole some Skittles and Nacho Cheese Doritos and sat on the counter in front of the ballistic curtain behind which Singh skulked, peering out as they chased away at least a couple of customers. One was a street dude with puffy thyroid eyes and a stringy beard trying to buy cheap wine and the other was an elegant fellow in a black and white dashiki pant set who looked almost Biblical.
Normally, this would not have been too much of a problem for Bex, because the Scril Boyz looked out for him and called him Li’l Brah, even understanding that dope slangin was not his deal. Bex was fourteen years old—an age by which most of them had been jumped-in with so-called acts of love that ended in broken ribs and concussions—but these were kids with minds to want this.
For whatever reason, Bex wasn’t.
But it was cool because his uncle Chebby had been high up on the Scril Boyz food chain—one of the blood-in/blood-out O.G.S—and the others, those who came later, had sworn to have his family’s back after Chebby was killed. On any other night, Bex could have just snaked between the Scril Boyz and taken Grasshopper’s two cans of SpaghettiOs and paid Singh for them later without the brothers knowing.
But tonight, there was a sudden writhing from the shadowy tunnel that was Eschambault street and Bex knew what it was and he knew that it wasn’t good.
Bex was small for his age, hollow-thin with high, cramped shoulders, lithe limbs and narrow eyes that did a lot of moving around. This was mostly the nervous tension that came with the hood, but when Bex’s gaze began to oscillate and shift, it often looked out of place. He had streamlined features—a finely textured face, panther black, glittery black, glossy black—but it was generally frozen with a sort of protective inertia. When his eyes darted it was unsettling and looked like secret lights moving inside an onyx statue.
Now his ears perked up as well. From the gloom behind the red-brick corpse of Elkin Corporation—a long-gone maker of milling equipment—a storm of motorcycle engines came as a single quick peal. It was like all the Dynas and Softails and Street Bobs had been startled by something and were now awake and angry…
For the rest, and more: