Sneaker World

Sneaker World cover final 1-4-15 copy

Sir Bentley Carruthers, sneaker magnate and exploiter of the poor on four continents, has decided to expand his empire into the lucrative field of biopiracy. He’s purchased a small group of islands from the Indian government ostensibly to assist with recovery efforts after a devastating tsunami. So he’s built a sneaker factory on one of the islands along with a high-end resort that caters exclusively to the uber-rich. Unfortunately for Sir Bentley, Doc and the rest of the Damaged Posse are well aware of what his real motives are. And the fact that Sir Bentley has been selling weapons technology to the highest bidders also hasn’t gone unnoticed. After the Posse arrives on the island, they embark on their strangest and funniest adventure yet that is filled with dense jungles, a lost tribe, cantankerous girlfriends, shoulder-fired missiles, and a safari suit wearing antagonist you’ll love to hate.

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The soft underbelly of globalization is exposed and fully taken to task. Like the previous books in the Damaged Posse series, Sneaker World opens up on several fronts, folds back on itself and seamlessly combines a strange collection of characters into one hysterical narrative.  Three books into this fantastic series, B. R. Snow continues to deliver the goods.

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Chapter 1

Summerman lowered the book and squinted, his left hand shielding his eyes from the late afternoon sun. He looked past the small man grudgingly inching his way out from water’s edge and the two hundred pound dog woofing at him to hurry up.

Past the handful of swimmers and would-be surfers.

Past, after pausing to admire the skinny dipping woman’s endless dolphin impression, all other distractions until his narrowed eyes came to rest on the horizon where the axis of sky and ocean met and merged.

Summerman smiled. Yes, life on this side could be very good.

“Damn it, Murray. Knock it off.”

Summerman’s gaze left the horizon and he watched Merlin continue his cautious, off-shore adventure. Merlin’s exploration had ended knee-high but Murray wasn’t satisfied with the effort. Summerman laughed as he watched the massive dog nudge Merlin forward. It wasn’t a fair fight.

“I said knock it off, Murray.”

The dog woofed loudly, spotted Dolphin Girl and swam towards her.

“Well done, Murray,” Summerman said. “You get Dolphin Girl. I get the phobic.”

“Hey, Summerman. Check this out.” Merlin was staring down through the clear water and meticulously shuffling through the white sand. “Look at this fish.”

Summerman dropped his elbows in the sand to prop himself up for a better view and immediately regretted the decision. He winced against the heat and decided to try a lotus position from the safety of his beach towel. He poked his chest with a finger and watched as the skin changed from a luscious pink, to white, to dark purple, then back to pink.

“Medium rare,” he said, pulling on a shirt.

“Excuse me, sir. Did you order two Screaming Meemies?”

“I did indeed.” Summerman squinted up at the young man holding a tray. Summerman beamed back at the huge smile he was getting from the waiter and guessed his age somewhere around twenty-five. He put his height somewhere around four and a half feet.

“Hey, Summerman. You gotta see this fish.” Merlin refocused his stare beneath the surface.

“Enjoy your fish, Merlin. I’ll stick with the Screaming Meemies.”

“No, really. It’s amazing. It’s orange and black with green antennas sticking out the side of his head. And it’s trying to nibble my toes.”

“This is not good,” the waiter said. He knelt down in the sand and set the tray aside. “You must tell your friend to get out of the water.”

“Tell him to get out?” Summerman laughed as he watched Merlin. “It’s taken me three days just to get him in that far. He wouldn’t even shower the first two days until he’d tested the water for bacteria.” He glanced up at the waiter. “He’s such a baby.”

“No, I am serious,” the waiter said, staring at Merlin. “That fish is very dangerous.”

Summerman stood and squinted at the fish that was now slowly circling Merlin’s legs. Merlin, transfixed, shuffled in a small circle in order to maintain eye contact. His movements only served to make the fish circle faster.

“That little thing?” Summerman said. “How dangerous could it be?”

The waiter began reciting.

“Sharp teeth that cause hundreds of bites like paper cuts.”

“Paper cuts? Man, I hate those.” Summerman poked his forearm with a finger. “I’m fried.”

“Severe spasms sometimes followed by total paralysis. If left untreated, death is also a possibility.”

“Really?” Summerman leaned forward to get a better view of the fish. “That little bugger?”

“Believe me, it is very dangerous. The locals call him, the Revenge of Shiva.”

“Shiva. Like the Hindu goddess?”

“Yes. Now please tell your friend to slowly edge his way out of the water.”

Summerman stood up and walked the short distance to water’s edge.

“Hey, Merlin.”

“Yeah,” Merlin replied not taking his eyes off the fish that had come to rest on the top of his left foot. “Man, is this the coolest thing or what?”

“Why don’t you get out? Your Screaming Meemie is getting warm.”

“In a minute.”

The waiter joined Summerman at the edge of the water and called to Merlin. “You may not have a minute, sir.”

Merlin stared at the diminutive waiter and then glanced at Summerman. “Who’s the Smurf?”

“I am only someone who cares about your best interest, sir. You must immediately remove yourself from the water. But do so very slowly.”

Merlin froze and stared at Summerman. “What’s going on?”

Summerman took a long slurp of his drink and shrugged his shoulders. “Well, you see, Merlin. Apparently, there might be a bit of a problem with that fish.”

“Problem?” Merlin, increasingly agitated, glanced down at the fish, then back at the two men standing on the shore. “I don’t see any problem…what’s the problem? I mean, he’s just resting on my foot. In fact, I think he’s actually…yes, he’s tickling the top of my foot.”

“Oh, no,” the waiter said.

Fear began to override Merlin’s curiosity. “Oh, no what?”

“That’s not a tickle. He’s preparing to strike.”

“Preparing to strike?” Merlin laughed. “Gee, for a minute there I was beginning to worry. Ooh, the big bad fish is going to strike.” Merlin wiggled his big toe at the fish. “Ooh, death by fish tickle.”

The late afternoon air was pierced by the screams of a man in excruciating pain. One hundred feet offshore, four buzzed resort-guests froze as they mulled the possibilities.

“Uh-oh. I hear screams. Shark?”

“Here? No way, dude. We’re too close to shore.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. The beach is right over there.”

“No, you idiot. About the shark.”

“What shark? Oh. Yeah, I’m sure. Sharks hunt in cold water.”

“Are you sure?”

“You’re swimming ten feet away. You tell me.”

“What?”

“About the water. It’s warm. Right?”

“Yeah. It’s perfect.”

“Well there you go. Problem solved.”

“Cool.”

An empty beer can drifted past and grazed one of the swimmer’s legs.

“Shark!”

“Where?”

“My leg!”

The swimmers churned their way back to shore and spent the rest of their day in safer waters; the swim-up bar in the middle of the resort’s pool.

Murray recognized the scream and immediately swam in Merlin’s direction. Dolphin Girl glided her way through the waves as she followed Murray back towards shore.

Merlin fell back into the water and his left foot broke the surface and hung suspended, twitching violently against the backdrop of the setting sun. Summerman and the waiter raced into the water and dragged the spasmodic Merlin by the shoulders to dry land.

“Mo..ther…fuck…er. Get…this…thing off…me.”

Summerman watched as the waiter covered Merlin with a beach towel. The fish’s antennas whirled furiously as it chomped down harder on Merlin’s left toe.

“S..ss…son of a bitch,” Merlin screamed. His body racked with convulsions as the screams echoed against the distant rainforest that filled the center of the island.

“Here.” The waiter handed Summerman a bar rag. “Put that in his mouth.”

“Will that help?” Summerman said.

“No, but he’s scaring the guests.”

Summerman nodded and stuffed half the towel in Merlin’s mouth. His muffled screams continued.

“Wait here. I’ll be right back. And don’t let him move.” The waiter sprinted towards the resort.

“Mm…mm…mmm…fu…kkkaa.” Merlin howled and shook like a vibrating bed.

“Hang in there, Merlin. Help is on the way.” Summerman patted Merlin’s head as he struggled to hold him still.

“Ggg…gget…th…the…ffff.”

Summerman leaned in closer and cocked his head. “I’m going to need some clarification here, Merlin.”

“Ggg…gggg…fffu,”

Summerman removed the bar rag from Merlin’s mouth.

“Get the fucking fish off me…Yeeeeeeeeoooooowwww!”

Wincing, Summerman tried to stuff the rag back in Merlin’s mouth. Merlin wasn’t playing.

“Open,” Summerman said. “Open your mouth. C’mon. Don’t be such a baby.”

Merlin violently shook his head.

“C’mon, Merlin. Open your mouth.”

Merlin slowly maneuvered his quivering right hand and extended his middle finger.

“That’s not very nice.” Summerman struggled to hold Merlin more or less stationary on the sand. “C’mon, open up.”

Merlin shook his head but changed his mind when the fish tightened his grip. His eyes rolled back in his head as his mouth opened.

Summerman stuffed the bar rag back in place. “Good boy.” He brushed the sand off his hands and turned his attention to the fish that had managed to wedge most of Merlin’s big toe between its razor sharp rows of teeth.

Merlin’s convulsions increased as whatever toxins the fish was pumping into his body continued to head north. Summerman leaned forward to examine the fish. Both bright green antennas spun rapidly on their axis and, despite being deprived of its requisite salt water, the fish showed no signs of loosening its grip. Like a dog playing tuggie with a sweat sock, it held on even as its body flapped back and forth in the breeze.

A small group of onlookers arrived and kept a safe distance as they watched the proceedings. The waiter emerged from the pack carrying a small leather pouch. He raced across the sand and slid on his knees through the sand. He came to a stop near Merlin’s foot and looked up at Summerman.

“Try to hold him still.” The waiter dug through the pouch.

“Easy for you to say,” Summerman said, ducking away from Merlin’s wildly swinging leg.

“Just grab his leg and hold it down.” The waiter reached into the pouch and removed a pinch of a pasty substance that reeked of dead fish.

Summerman wretched at the smell but wrapped both arms around Merlin’s leg and tackled it down into the sand. Seizing his opportunity, the waiter reached for the fish and pushed the paste into its eyes. Immediately, the fish stopped flopping and appeared to gag. The waiter placed a small amount of the paste around the fish’s mouth. The fish released its grip and spent the next several seconds gagging and trying to get the taste out of its mouth. Taking his cue, the waiter grabbed the fish by the tail and hurled it over his shoulder where it landed with a soft splash. The fish spent several moments catching its breath and then disappeared from sight.

“You put it back?”

The waiter glanced at the incredulous Summerman and shrugged. “They’re sacred.”

“Fucking environmentalists.” Summerman refocused his attention on Merlin’s steak tartare toe. “Man, that’s gotta hurt.”

Merlin’s muffled screams confirmed Summerman’s suspicion. The waiter reached into the pouch and extracted a small handful of another stinking paste. He carefully applied the paste to Merlin’s toe and continued until he had created a large poultice. The waiter sat back on the sand and admired his handiwork. “He’ll be fine.” The waiter brushed sand off his serving jacket.

“When?”

“Eventually.”

Summerman removed the bar rag from Merlin’s mouth and leaned in.

“How you doin, little buddy?”

“F…f…fucking hurts.”

“I’ll bet,” Summerman said. He sniffed the air and laughed. “Man, you stink.”

“F…finding this f…f…funny?”

Summerman used the bar rag to wipe away Merlin’s drool and sat down in the sand. “Well, you have to admit, it’s something you don’t see every day.”

“You and your f…f…fucking tropical holiday. We could have gone to f…fucking Paris.”

“When Doc calls, we come running, remember?”

“F…fuck him.”

Summerman wiped Merlin’s brow with the bar rag. Murray dashed across the beach, stopped next to Merlin and Summerman and shook vigorously.

“Jesus, Murray. You couldn’t have done that when you got out of the water?”

Murray woofed and splayed out in the sand in front of Merlin’s bandaged foot. He sniffed several times and sneezed. He padded across the sand and stretched out on a towel underneath his sun umbrella.

“Your dog?”

Summerman nodded at the waiter. “That’s Murray.”

The waiter stared at Murray and tentatively extended a hand. “He looks like a tiger. Does he bite?”

“Only if he hears somebody calling him a tiger.”

The waiter took a few steps back as he continued to stare as the massive animal. The crowd of onlookers began to disperse in the general direction of the resort as the Happy Hour bell clanged. A sunburned boy stayed behind and stared at Merlin as devoured a large ice cream cone that dripped incessantly onto his protruding stomach.

“What are you looking at? You little f…fat f…fuck.”

“Merlin,” Summerman said. “What’s the matter with you?”

“Well, he is a f…fat f…fuck.”

The young boy stopped licking his cone and glared at Merlin. He swung a chubby leg and followed through with a swift kick to the injured foot. He resumed eating and waddled off. Merlin screamed and groaned his way through another round of body spasms.

“You deserved that,” Summerman said. “What on earth has gotten into you?”

“Don’t worry,” the waiter said. “It’s just another side effect of the fish poison. It’s quite common for victims to express verbally whatever thought comes into their mind. I believe in the west you call it Tourette’s. It will pass as the toxins work their way through the system.”

“I don’t have f…fucking Tourette’s, you f…fucking shrimp.” Merlin struggled to a sitting position. “What are you, f…four foot four?”

“Four-six,” the waiter said, ignoring the insult.

“Excuse me. I hate to intrude, but I couldn’t help but notice that paste you applied seemed to begin working immediately.”

All three men turned in the direction of the melodic voice tinged with a French accent. Dolphin Girl, clad only in a bright yellow sarong loosely tied around the waist, was standing a few feet away casually combing the salt out of her long, jet black hair. Up close, she was even more impressive.

“I’m so glad I don’t have Tourette’s right now,” the waiter whispered.

“You got that right,” Summerman whispered back. “I’d be in a whole bunch of trouble.”

“Great f.f.f…fucking tits,” Merlin said, staring up from the sand at the statuesque woman.

The woman blushed and folded her arms over her chest.

Summerman stared down in disbelief at his diminutive friend, a card carrying asexual who viewed sex the way others would a root canal.

“Thanks, I guess. I hope my appearance isn’t making any of you uncomfortable.”

“No, no, no,” Summerman said. “Not at all.”

The woman smiled and closed her eyes and enjoyed the cool breeze washing over her. “I just love feeling the sun and wind against my skin.” She opened her eyes and knelt down next to Murray who was stretched out on his towel. “What a magnificent animal.”

Knowing a good thing when he saw it, Murray rolled over and offered his belly to the woman. She accepted the invitation and scratched vigorously.

“I’ll take some of that.” Merlin lay down on his back and waited.

“Merlin. Jesus, what is wrong with you?” Summerman turned towards the woman. “That’s Murray.” He nodded his head at Merlin. “I have no idea who that is.”

“Murray,” she said. “You like that, don’t you?”

Summerman scanned her browned skin from head to toe. The combination of genetics and swimming had created the perfect female form. That form, combined with the jet black hair that ended near the top of her legs along with her emerald green eyes, was leaving him speechless. Unfortunately, it was having exactly the opposite effect on Merlin.

“Do you shave or wax?”

“Merlin,” Summerman said. “Stop it.” Summerman turned to the woman. “I apologize for my friend. He’s had a rather bad experience this afternoon and he’s just not himself.”

“Yes, I understand that the bite of the Revenge of Shiva can be quite devastating. Potentially fatal if left untreated. That’s why I’m so intrigued by the poultice you’ve used.”

The waiter, unable to maintain eye contact, shuffled his feet in the sand. “It’s just an old family recipe.”

The woman smiled at him. “I see. Would you mind if I took a closer look?”

“I guess not,” the waiter said.

“Knock yourself out,” Merlin said.

She dropped to her knees on the sand with her back towards Merlin and leaned forward to examine the poultice. Summerman gasped and looked down at his injured companion.

“Merlin…,” Summerman said, his voice rising in warning.

Merlin swallowed hard and propped himself up in the sand on both elbows. He glanced at Summerman and then refocused on the woman who continued to examine his toe.

“It’s quite amazing,” the woman said not looking up. “Remarkable texture. Yet incredibly firm.”

“Thanks. I thought you’d never notice,” Merlin said.

“And when I blow on it, it seems to harden faster.” The woman turned her head and looked at Merlin. “Can you feel that?”

“Oh, yeah. M..m..m..major wood,” Merlin said, gasping through clenched teeth.

The woman gently brushed Merlin’s calf with her fingers.

“How about this? Any sign of paralysis or can you feel my fingers?”

“Not sure,” Merlin said. “Maybe a little higher.”

The woman, completely focused on her analysis, continued to work her way up Merlin’s leg with gentle strokes. She paused at mid-thigh to check in again. “How about that? Can you feel that?”

Merlin swallowed hard. “Maybe.”

“Hmmm,” she said. “Paralysis and numbness are supposed to arrive within minutes of the bite. But in your case, the paste appears to be counteracting the toxin. Are you sure you can’t feel my fingers?”

Merlin bit through his lip and tasted blood. “Not sure. Need doggie. Woof.”

Murray cocked his head and barked once.

She eyed Merlin suspiciously and used both hands to squeeze his upper thigh. “Maybe a bit more pressure.” His eyes rolled back in his head as she squeezed. Merlin moaned and arched his back.

“Okay, I get it,” she said. “You’re a little faker aren’t you?”

“I’m going to need some clarification here,” Merlin said.

The woman smiled and gave his leg a long, hard clinical squeeze. Merlin exhaled slowly then swallowed.

“Well, we certainly aren’t having any problems with blood flow, are we?”

She stood up and brushed the sand off her arms. She turned to the waiter. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to talk some more with you at some point.”

“I guess that would be okay,” the waiter said.

“Great,” she said. “Maybe I’ll see all of you at dinner later.” She looked down at Merlin. “I hope you feel better.”

“I don’t think that’s possible,” Merlin said.

She smiled and waved and casually strolled towards the resort. All three continued to stare at her until she disappeared from view.

“Wow, she’s something,” Summerman said. He turned his attention to the waiter. “You have my undying gratitude for saving my friend’s life. By the way, I’m Summerman Lawless.” He extended his hand and shared a firm but rather strange handshake with the waiter.

“I’m Bantu. It’s nice to meet you and it was my pleasure.”

Merlin climbed to his feet and limped over to the waiter with his own arm extended.

“I’m Merlin.”

“Nice to meet you, Merlin.”

Merlin stared down at the young man’s right hand he was still holding. The thumb was in its normal position but the other four fingers appeared stuck together. Merlin stared at the waiter. “Webbed fingers?”

“No, stitched.”

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Sneaker World cover thumb final 1-27-2015

2 comments

  1. Waiting.for.the.Flood

    Just saw your Damaged Posse group on FB.

  2. Jeffrey.G.

    Keep them coming!

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