Friday, September 06, 2013

Crime Fiction for Teens - Events

Back Up is from the 2011 collection You Don't Have A Clue: Latino Mystery Stories For Teens, edited by Sarah Cortez, published by Piñata Books (Arte Público Press.)  Scroll to the bottom for a schedule of literary events in which I will participate.


Back Up
Manuel Ramos
[all rights reserved by the author]

It’s not that I thought Dad was a creep just because he was a cop. It was weird, that’s all. He’d be out busting the bad guys, getting worked up behind the stuff he had to see every day like women all bruised and black-eyed, and burned kids and old men pistol-whipped. And the dead people. He saw plenty of those. He did that for years, and he started drinking heavy, a regular booze hound. And I remember him coming home in his uniform and before he hit the bottle he’d take off his gun, unload and wipe it clean, and tell me and my brother Martín that if he ever caught us fooling around with his piece that he would “kick the living hell out of us.” We were like seven and ten so that scared us, of course, and made us want to get our hands on that gun all that much more. We never did, though. He kept it locked up and the key stayed with him and when he eventually took us target shooting and tried to teach us how to deal with a gun he jammed us with rules.  “Never load a gun unless you intend to use it. Never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to hurt them. Never shoot at someone unless you intend to kill that person.” His favorite rule? “Stop. Look. Be Careful. Be aware of where you are and who’s around.”  By the time he preached his rules we had moved on and it was no big deal.  And by the time I made it to Cunningham High, no one hardly ever brought up Dad's cop job.

That was before Dad made detective and before Martín was arrested and sent to the Youth Correctional Facility, or the YCF, as the old man called it. I missed that guy, but truth is, he was a mess-up, big time. Martín never grew up, never figured out what to do with himself, and when he got into drugs, that was it for my big brother. Now, he’s sitting out his sentence. The judge showed no mercy (even though Dad was on the force) and sentenced him to farm work and boredom at the YCF until he turned eighteen. That was the first time I knew that my mother’s heart was broken. Pinche judge, like my Dad said, just loud enough for the asshole to hear him. But Martín will get out later this year. Whether he wants to come home is another question. What’s there to come home to, right?

The second my mom broke down, was when they forced Dad off the force. Even I did not see that coming. And then they started fighting all the time until he moved out and they filed for divorce, and there I was, trying to finish high school when I didn’t really care about nothing, Dad turned into a stranger, my mom wouldn’t quit crying, and life was like one big drag.

But I didn’t mean for this to be a downer. I like to write in my journal and so I just let it rip; whatever pops in my head ends up in my book. Sometimes it comes out all cheery and sappy and sometimes I can’t believe the stuff I put down. I been doing it for years but not even Jamey knows about it.

Jamey’s real name is Jaime Rodriguez, but no one calls him that. And I’m Miguel Resendez, but you can call me Mike. Mike and Jamey – we been buds since he moved to El-town (our neighborhood is Elvin Heights, but it’s been known as El-town from the years when the OGs cruised Braxton Avenue in their low-rider Chevys and Mercurys.) He sauntered into Mrs. Hyde’s second-grade class looking like a tall, skinny version of George Lopez, all dark and big-headed. Jamey and Mike – Cheech and Chong. That’s what some of the jocks call us, behind our backs, but we don’t care.

Jamey and I are a good team. He’s tough, not afraid to mix it up if he has to. We’ve had to back each other up a few times, usually against the El-town Cutters. They finally left us alone, but there were plenty of times when Jamey and I had to throw down. We been knocked out, cut up, even shot at, but we never gave in. So now there’s a truce between us and the Cutters, and most of the guys who used to hassle us are getting beat up by my brother in the YCF, or cruisin’ in their wheelchairs, or dead. It’s all good now. Except that my life still sucks.

Jamey and I talked one day a few weeks after Dad split.

“You don’t know where he is?” Jamey said, although I think he knew the answer.

“Him and Mom had a big fight. He ran out of the house saying that everyone could shove it. He must have gotten drunk. He came home the next morning, early. I could hear him stumbling around. But he didn’t stay long. He moved out. It’s like he blames us because he screwed up. What I really don’t like is that he won’t talk to us, he won’t explain what’s going on with him.”

Jamey shrugged. We had skipped last period and were sitting around our table in Corey Park, the place where we wasted a lot of time, sometimes with others from school but most often just the two of us.

“What do you think happened? Didn’t your pops say nothing?” Jamey spoke like he was picking his words all careful. I didn’t answer right away. I looked at the carved heart with the initials AB/MR that I had carved into the table months ago, when me and Andrea were still an item. “You got to admit, that was extreme, even for your old man.” I jerked my head and glared at Jamey. Where was he going with this? “I mean, shooting Cold Play when he didn’t have any gun. He’s a clown and all that, but still.”

I pushed Jamey off the table bench.

“Shut up!” I never had been mad at Jamey, but I was pissed right then, real pissed. Me and Dad weren’t exactly
Father and Son of the Year, but he was my old man, and no one had a right to talk about him, except me.

“Hey, dude. Damn. Cool it.” Jamey picked himself up. He clenched his fists, then let it go. “Catch you later, jerk face.” He walked away. I almost shouted at him to come back. Almost.

The night it all came down, I was alone in the house. Mom’s text said that she was visiting Grandma Herrera over in Clifton; she might stay the night; something about Grandma not feeling well. Dad apparently had stopped by, there was a dirty plate and half-filled coffee pot on the counter, but he hadn’t stayed or left a message.

I felt sick, like the flu or something. I listened to a mix of Dad’s oldies. Too many tear drops for one heart to be crying. You’re gonna cry ninety-six tears. Cry, cry, cry. I had always liked that song even though it made no sense. What was so bad about ninety-six tears? I turned off the CD player and sat in the dark and the silence. I thought about throwing up, or maybe smoking a cigarette, but I didn’t do anything. I just sat there, for a long time.

Finally, I switched on a lamp and picked up a newspaper from the end table where it had gathered dust for weeks. MAN SHOT BY POLICE EXPECTED TO RECOVER. A smaller headline announced: Resendez on Administrative Leave. I didn’t have to read the story to know what else it said.

Officer Resendez and his partner, Sandra Moreno, were driving through the alleys in the Horseback Hill area when they saw a man crawl out of a basement window and sneak through a back yard. The police officers waited in the darkness and made their arrest.

Slam-dunk. Dad and his partner Sandra must have been all smiles. They had busted Hank Garcia, the so-called Zebra Burglar because he wore a black-and-white bandanna around his head. The cops wanted that guy, for months. The story was that he and his gang had broken into hundreds of homes and businesses over the past two years, and some people had been hurt, seriously.

But the arrest went bad. They were calling in the details when Fred Jackson showed up. He was a low-life most of us knew as a cheap hood who gave himself the nickname “Cold Play.” According to Garcia, Dad immediately left the car and started waving his gun at Cold Play. I was sitting in the back seat, handcuffed. The cop and this other guy were saying something behind the car, I don’t know what. It sounded like an argument. Then I heard the blast of a gun, and it seemed like the whole inside of the car lit up. I twisted around to my left and I could see the cop holding his gun, standing over the guy who was bleeding in the street. The second cop, who had been in the front seat, rushed out. I heard her say, “What did you do, Carlos?” Then they messed around in the dark for a long time. Finally, more cops showed up and they took me away. It didn’t look right, that’s all I know.

There had been an internal investigation by the police department and the district attorney’s office. The newspapers had a great time quoting the criminals, who had no problem slamming Dad and the police in general. Jackson’s story, told from his hospital bed, was that he had been walking home after a night of partying when he stumbled on Dad’s police cruiser. He admitted that he had been drinking but denied that he had done anything to provoke the cops. That one pig, the Mexican, he shot me like I was a sick dog. Any soulful man he saw that night was gonna get shot, and that turned out to be me. I want him to pay. Someone has to pay for what happened to me.  The Elvin Heights Echo had a photograph of Jackson in his hospital bed, a bandage wrapped around his head. The caption read: Fred Jackson, aka Cold Play: Innocent victim of police shooting?

I had to laugh. Cold Play had never been innocent of anything. He was one of those white guys who tried to act ghetto, gangsta bullshit. We thought he was stupid. And his nickname was another joke. The guy probably didn’t know that he had named himself after a white music group – music that he would never listen to. But then I guess a guy who needs to give himself a handle didn’t give a damn about what I thought.

They put Dad on administrative leave while the investigation dragged on. Dad kept telling us that it would be straightened out, that the investigation would go nowhere, but even he admitted that the Department wanted no more of him. My Dad had a reputation for being an aggressive cop; quick to retaliate and much too likely to draw his weapon. He had been involved in two other shootings, and he was the subject of a half-dozen citizen complaints for excessive force. Each time he had been cleared by the Police Review Board, but the complaints stayed in his personnel file. Dad didn’t know what to do when he wasn’t being a cop, and it showed. One day he told us he was quitting the force. That was when the real trouble started between Dad and Mom.

My cell rang and vibrated.


“You cool down?” Jamey asked. We hadn’t talked since I had shoved him off our table.

“I’m okay. You?”

“I’m not the one been screwed up. Your old man home yet?”

“He’s been around but I haven’t seen him. Now Mom’s gone, too.”

“You’re on your own?”

“Nothing new. Look, I’m beat. I need some sleep.”

“Let’s get together tomorrow, okay?”

“If you want.”

“Yeah. Terry told me to act right. Like you’re under pressure or something. 'Poor baby,' I said.”

“Screw you.”

“Yeah, right. We’ll hook up tomorrow.”

“Later, dude. Easy.”

Terry was his on-again, off-again girlfriend. She had more common sense in her pudgy little finger than Jamey had in his whole family.

I sat in the dark for a few more minutes. Eventually I shuffled to my room and flopped on the bed.

About an hour later I threw a few clothes and candy bars into a backpack. I picked up my cell, slipped a cap on my head. I locked all the windows and doors. I snared cash from the envelope I had taped under my bed (about $500 saved from my part-time gig as a busboy) and I wrote a note that said, I’ll be back in a few days. I need to get my head together. Don’t worry. I’ll be okay. I signed it "Miguel." I stepped out the door and walked up the street and it was as though I saw the houses and lawns and driveways for the first time. I looked back at the house and realized that it looked like every other house on the block. I kept on walking even though I didn’t know where
I was going.

I had to wait forever but eventually I caught the bus at the corner of Wilder and 40th. It took me downtown, which seemed as good a place as any to spend the night. I seriously thought about staying on the bus until it got to the edge of El-town, out near the old airport. But then what?

As I debated my short-term future, my cell rang. It was the old man.

“Yeah?” I said.

“Mike. Where are you?”

“I’m on my way to Jamey’s. We got some math homework. He always needs my help with that stuff. Where are you?”

“I’m at work. Overtime, under the lights. I had to take a construction job. An old friend put in a good word for me with the foreman and the union. They need a lot of men to get the new courthouse back on schedule. It’s crazy out here. Ironic, me working on a courthouse, huh?”

“I guess.”

“I can’t talk too much, Mike. So you gotta listen good. You and your mother have to be careful. Sandra let me know that Cold Play put a target on my back. I can handle that, but I’m worried about your mother, and you.”
I wanted to say that if he had never left, maybe he wouldn’t have to worry so much.

“Mom’s at Grandma’s for a few days. I’ll call her and let her know. She won’t take your calls.”

“I know. I know. What about you?”

“I’m good, Dad. Jamey and me been in tight spots before. This is just Cold Play doin’ it macho for his suck-ups. No sweat, Dad. Seriously.”

“Yeah, I know, you’re a tough guy. But this Cold Play is just enough of an idiot to try to do something. You should be okay at school tomorrow. I’ll pick you up after, and give you a ride home. About 3:30?”

“No way. I’m not in middle school. I can deal with it. I’ll be with Jamey. I’ll walk home the long way, by his house. We’ll be careful. I thought you had to work, anyway?”

“Yeah, I do. I probably can’t get to the school until 4:30. Wait for me, inside. I mean it, Mike.”

“I said I’d be okay. I can take care of myself.”

“This is serious, Mike. This guy is crazy. He tried to kill me once, that’s why I had to shoot him. And he won’t let it go. Now that I think about it, I’m going to pick you up in the morning and take you to school. I’ll be there by seven-thirty.”

I shut the cell. I didn’t answer it when he called back.

I called Grandma’s number but no one picked up. I texted Mom – Dad sd b careful. Cold Play threats. Stay @ Grandma a few days. I didn’t mention that I had run away.

I patted my backpack and felt the gun. Jamey and I bought it a long time before, when we thought that we needed extra protection from the Cutters. I never had to use it, but I figured that it would be a good thing to have as I walked the streets when I … well, I wasn’t sure what I was trying to do, I only knew that I had to get out of the house and away from everyone and everything. I needed a change, and I was doing the only thing that might cause that change.

That night was rough. I roamed the streets, confused, sneaking around like a thief, heading for cover whenever I saw headlights. I avoided everyone – the homeless guys, the hookers, the other runaways. Dad’s message had put a little panic in my head. Maybe Cold Play was looking for me. What if he found me? What would I do? I decided to leave town, hit the road.

I crashed not too far from the Main Street Mall, down a flight of stairs that led to the small shop where Downtown Barbers had been for years, below street level. I leaned against the door and tried to get comfortable. I had to move broken glass and old newspapers. I made sure no one could see me from the street. I cleaned the area as best I could.

That’s when it hit me. What the hell was I doing? I had a warm bed at my house. Food. Cable. I should be going to school in the morning, spending time with Jamey and maybe talking to Andrea, if she would only give me a chance. What did I expect to accomplish scrunched up in a ball hidden away like a bum, a gun pressing against my ribs? Or on the run like an orphan? Did I think I could fix everything on my own? Take care of Cold Play? Get Dad’s job back? Get Mom and Dad back together?

The wind picked up. It whistled across the deserted streets, pushing trash and dirt into my concrete cave. I shivered, occasionally drifted off. The night dragged on.

I nearly jumped out of my shoes when my cell buzzed. Jamey. The screen flashed 5:38 AM.

“Mike? I’m in a jam. You got to come.”

“What is it? What the hell …”

“Cold Play grabbed me when I left Terry’s last night. He said he couldn’t find you so he settled for me.” It almost sounded like Jamey laughed at his own words. “He finally got me to call you. He’s says you have to do something.”

“What does he want? Are you okay?”

 He waited a few seconds. He shouted, “Call the cops, your dad! Don’t come …”

I heard what must have been Jamey getting punched and a loud “Oh!” Then it sounded like the phone had been dropped. A gruff, almost hoarse voice said, “Kid – If you want to see your buddy again, you better listen good.  It’s your old man. You get him to come and talk to me, and your pal walks out of here okay. If Resendez ain’t here in another hour, Jamey’s dead. And you’re next."

“What? What do you mean?”

“Don’t be stupid kid. Get your old man here to the football field, at the high school. One hour, six-thirty. You get him here. And tell him he better be alone or this punk is dead, and then you. I know where you and your old lady live.” He hung up.

I immediately punched in number 1 – Dad’s speed dial. He answered on the first ring. I guess he wasn’t sleeping either. I tried to explain what was going on but all I could get out was a jumbled mix of crying and half-sentences. He finally had to shout at me, “Michael! Get it together! Goddammit! What is going on?”

It took longer than I wanted but I managed to convince Dad that Jamey was in trouble and needed his help.

“You stay where you are. I’ll send Sandra for you and I’ll go meet Jackson. I’m gonna bust his ass for good.”

“How can you do that?” I was so mixed up that it sounded like Dad was talking as though he was still a cop. He just couldn’t give it up.

“I can’t explain now, Mike. I’ve got to get to the football field. Jamey’s in real danger. I hope I’m not too late. Wait for Sandra.”

My stomach tightened and dry heaves jerked my upper body. I couldn’t think straight for a long time. I sweated and shivered, imagined terrible things about Jamey, my Dad, and Cold Play. Confusion mixed up with the wind that whipped around me. I should do what Dad said, I thought. But, I can’t let down Jamey. It’s all my fault.

That stuff went on in my head until I finally settled down and figured out what I needed to do. I grabbed the gun, stuck it in my pants, made sure I had my money and then I ran up the stairs from my hiding place. I left everything else for the barbers. I tore down windy Main Street heading for the high school and the football field. The gun hindered my running so I pulled it from my pants and held it while I ran. If anyone saw me they’d have to call the police – crazy teenager running through the dark with a gun. There was no traffic but some lights had been turned on in a few of the stores and buildings. I heard Jamey’s voice as I ran – worried but still telling me to stay away, to let my Dad handle it. Jamey had been willing to get hurt, maybe killed just to keep me out of danger. I saw a bike leaning against a tree in a yard. I didn’t slow down as I approached the short picket fence. I jumped over the fence, grabbed the bike, ran it to the gate and took off. A dog jumped at me from behind but I left him barking and howling.

The football field appeared in the night like a giant sleeping black bear. A wire and plywood fence surrounded the field, and the gate was chained and locked up. But I didn’t have a problem getting in. The fence had more holes than Grandma Herrera’s old aprons, and it was no big deal to get inside to the asphalt strip that circled the field. I left the bike at the fence, found a break in the old wire and crawled in and stayed low, looking for any sign of Dad, Jamey or Cold Play.

When I saw them, I stopped breathing for a few seconds. They were in the end zone under the score board, the darkest place on the field, maybe thirty yards from me. Cold Play must have thought he would be safe there, and the truth was that no one could see him from the street, outside the fence. Dad knelt on the ground, his hands behind his head. Jamey was also on the ground but he was lying down and I didn’t see him move. Cold Play strutted around them, holding a gun pointed at Dad’s head.

I moved to them, on hands and knees. I thought I inched along slow, so as not to make noise, but in just a few seconds I was close enough that I could hear Cold Play cussing and threatening my father.

“You thought you could burn Cold Play and that’d be it? You dumb pig. Get ready to kiss your ass goodbye, Resendez. Tonight you pay for messing with me.”

“I already said I’m sorry that happened. We can do business together, man. I know stuff that you can use, and I want in on the action. Don’t you understand?”

Cold Play swung the gun at Dad and hit him on the jaw. Dad dropped to the grass, next to Jamey. Cold Play held his gun with both hands and aimed at Dad.

I stood up and waved at Cold Play. “Hey, asshole. Over here, you dumb sonofabitch.” I jumped up and down. He stumbled backwards, surprised I guess. Dad screamed something I couldn’t understand. Cold Play aimed the gun at me and before I could do anything, he shot at me. The bullet landed a few feet to my right. I hollered although I didn’t even think about it. It just came out. I rolled to my left and dug into the ground. I aimed my gun in the general direction of Cold Play.

Dad’s rules rolled through my head. Stop. Look. Be Careful. Be Aware.  It was too dark and I couldn’t take the chance that I might shoot Dad or Jamey. I couldn’t see Cold Play anyway. I rolled some more and picked up my head to take another look. I saw no one. I waited a few minutes. Nothing moved except the tips of the grass in the remaining breeze from the windy night. A piece of paper floated across the field and jammed itself against the fence, where it quivered like something dying.

I started to crawl to the end zone, slowly and quietly, and had gone only a few yards when I heard the footsteps behind me. Then I felt the gun at the back of my head.

“What a night for old Cold Play. A trifecta. The pig, his kid, and another kid just for grins. Yeah, a great night.” I smelled booze and a sickly, sweet odor of something else coming from Cold Play. It’s strange, but I didn’t feel afraid. That might sound like bragging, but I’m just saying that right then, when Cold Play had his gun pressed against my skull and I waited for the final flash or whatever it was that would happen when he pulled the trigger, right then, I could see clearly, make out details in the dark; I could hear each sound in the night, any little bit of noise, even the beating of Cold Play’s crazy heart. And I knew I could handle it. My only thought was that I still needed to do something to help Dad and Jamey. I hadn’t finished and I hadn’t helped, and that bothered me.

The shot sounded like every movie gun blast I had ever heard, like every explosion in Grand Theft Auto, like every argument Mom and Dad made me sit through. I collapsed on the ground, heaving and breathing deeply but feeling like my lungs were blocked off. Cold Play fell next to me, blood flowing from his mouth, a gurgling noise coming out of his nose, tiny red bubbles covering his lips.

Dad reached down and picked me up. He hugged me and I think we were both crying.

“How …?” I stammered.

“The dummy didn’t think that I might have a back up. Hidden in my boot. I was waiting for my chance. You gave it to me, Mike.”

“Jamey?” I said.

“He’s hurt, beat up pretty bad. But he’ll be all right.”

I looked over Dad’s shoulder. The sun was coming up over the downtown buildings. A half-dozen cops were running into the field. Four of them surrounded us, two checked out Dead Play. Sandra stepped forward.

“Carlos, you all right? I told you to wait for backup. ¡Cabezón!” She slugged him on the shoulder, then she smiled. “Your boy, he okay?”

An ambulance raced onto the field and Jamey was loaded aboard and then hauled away. Sandra called his parents.
There were more questions but I didn’t say too much. Dad had to tell the story of what happened at least three times to different cops and detectives. It looked like the cops didn’t know how to deal with Dad. At least there wasn't a question about it being self-defense. Finally, they let him take me home. Sandra said she would make sure the bike I had “borrowed” would be returned. She grabbed my gun, too.

Dad took me to the motel where he was sleeping. He could tell that I was tired, completely beat, so he didn’t ask me any more questions or dig into what I was doing on the street, with a gun, or what the hell did I think I was doing at the football field. He saved all that for the next day, and when he was finished with me he called Mom and told her what had happened. Dad and I talked a lot waiting for Mom. I think he needed that. Then she picked me up and took me home where I had to deal with another lecture, then more crying from her, and finally hugs and kisses.

A few days later, Jamey and I were able to talk without anyone else around.

“So, your Dad is still a cop, undercover, eh? That’s wild – crazy but cool, know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. He said not to tell anyone, not even you.”

“You serious? You know you can trust me. Who else you got?”

“Yeah. It’s all good. I think he expects me to tell you.”

“There you go.”

“Anyway, Dad and Sandra had been trying to stop the burglary ring for months. Cold Play and that Zebra guy are just part of the gang. The burglaries are a small piece of what they’re in to. When Dad had to shoot Cold Play it gave him an idea, an excuse to put himself on the street in civilian clothes. A way to get inside the gang.”

“But they didn’t find a gun. The story was that Cold Play didn’t have a weapon.”

“Dad explained that. When Cold Play got shot he managed to kick his gun down the sewer drain and Dad and Sandra acted like they couldn’t find it. Dad’s trying to make contact with one of the leaders of the gang, someone who doesn’t think much of Cold Play. Dad said his own rep is shot now, and everyone thinks he’s dirty. That’s how he wanted it.”

“He should have told you, or your Mom at least.”

“He thought it was too dangerous for us to know. But it didn’t matter anyway. Cold Play made his move.”

“Your Dad stopped him. Ain’t his cover blown?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Since Cold Play is dead, there’s only a few who know the real story. You for one.”

Jamey tried to smile but he looked nervous.

“Dad shooting Cold Play gives him some cred with the gang. Cold Play wasn’t too popular. That’s why you can’t say anything, Jamey. Nada.

He extended his hand and we knuckle-bumped. Jamey would never tell anyone.

“But your mom and dad are over? This didn’t fix it?”

“No way. If anything, she hates him worse now. He almost got me killed, according to her. I’ve tried to tell her it wasn’t his fault. He saved me. But that’s not the way she looks at it.”

Jamey nodded.

“When you get those stitches out?” I asked. “They are ugly, bro. How can Terry stand to kiss that face?”

“Hey, man. She’s all over me now, like syrup on a pancake. Nothing better than a good beating so women will act nice and accommodating. Too bad nothing happened to you that you can use on Andrea. You missed your chance. You should have got wounded, or something. At least.”

“Yeah, too bad. Maybe next time.”


Upcoming Events For Manuel Ramos

I'll be making a few public presentations in the next several weeks. If you are in the neighborhood, drop on by. Free book to anyone who says they saw this post on La Bloga and that's why they came to the show.

September 20, 6:00 - 8:30 PM:  Books and Bites - Arvada Public Library
An evening of local authors and food trucks.  Join us to meet and talk to over 30 local authors.  Non-fiction, fiction, adult, children's and teen book authors - we'll have something for everyone.  We will also have several food trucks in the town square.  Bring the kids, we will have a children's table with crafts.
7525 West 57th Avenue, Arvada, CO 80002, (303) 235-5275

October 5, 1:00 - 5:00 PM:  Houston LibroFEST -  Houston Public Library, Julia Ideson Building
The Houston Public Library presents the Houston LibroFEST, a book and arts festival for the general public that highlights Hispanic writers and showcases the vibrant culture of the Latino community through storytelling, writing workshops, book giveaways, and performances for children and adults. Featuring a lineup of acclaimed writers talking about "Heroes, Villains and Monsters," "Cops, Desperados" and debut poetry: Sarah Cortez, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Manuel Ramos, René Saldaña, Jr., and Gwendolyn Zepeda.
 550 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77002

October 14:  Southwest Minnesota State University

During the day I'll be on campus talking and visiting with students as a guest of the English Department, and in the evening I'll do a reading and talk at 7:00 PM along with fellow crime writer Lori Armstrong.
1501 State St., Marshall, MN 56258 1-800-642-0684

I'm also visiting with three different book clubs in the next few months - great way to talk with readers and answer questions from folks who have read my books.


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