Black Cat Mojo is a twisted ride down a vicious road. And that was part of the reason I enjoyed it. This is a collection of novelettes. They all have similar themes. Animals. Trailer trash. And bad luck. Let's not forget bad decisions. Our 'heroes' (I use that term very loosely here) are put in impossible situations but handle themselves as best as they know how. Not good. They are not the brightest bunch, but a lot of them have heart. There's redemption here. You root for these folks even when you know you probably shouldn't. The prose is direct and to the point. The plot is swift and unapologetic. And the characters are colorful. You can't really ask for more. But it does leave you wanting more.
Because these shorts are individual pieces,and I don't want to lump them into one long, general review, I'll go at them one by one:
OF BADGERS & PORN DWARFS:
First of all, that title alone tells you a lot of what you need to know. Rummy is a dwarfs with a huge penis. A porn actor with a drug and gambling problem. He wasn't always a fuck up. At one time, Rummy was just a a little guy with big ambition who wanted to make serious films, and not as the lead of Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Up Your Ass We Go. He gets into some financial trouble with a bookmaker, Scanlon, and his muscle, Beef, who personally wanted to make him a eunuch, or as the dwarf puts it:
Rummy suspected the promise of a blowtorch weenie roast was the only reason he'd (Beef) rolled out of bed this morning.In order to pay for his debt, poor Rummy has to do the unthinkable--or unthinkable only because he wasn't into that stuff. This leads to a series of events that leave the dwarf fighting for his life, his sanity, and another chance to do it all over again. There are some hilarious moments in this short--probably my second favorite--and I laughed out loud at lines like the one below where the bookmaker discusses Rummy's appearance:
"I didn't know you already, you told me you had progeria, I'd believe you."
"Jesus, man, I know I look tired but--"Of Badgers and Porn Dwarfs stays mostly in Rummy's pov. Flashbacks to his former life add a whole set of layers to this has-been's story. Its entertainingly wicked, but it also has a lot of heart.
JESUS IN A DOG’S ASS
Gotta love these titles. This little story weaves more characters and story lines with distinct goals and levels of aptitude. Again, not the cleverest bunch, but hilarious nonetheless. We have Hank and his wife Marsha. He's an unemployed, moviemaking wannabe, and she's a religious woman who's idea of a good day is coming come to watch American Idol with a large tube of Ben & Jerry's. They have dog name Scooter, and Scooter's ass happens to look like Jesus.
In this same town we have Poke and Hootie. Two lowlifes whose schemes only get them into trouble. Mostly Poke who is more a follower than a leader. After being released from jail again, Poke teams up with Hootie to Steal the dog a lot of the townsfolk have been worshiping. The rest is fanatic mayhem.
The characters in this one were some of my favorites. They were conniving. They all had their own agendas to get what they wanted. Marsha arguably the best at it. The rest just didn't know how to go about it, and when they tried, it all fell apart. Watching this group stumble from A to B, trying to outsmart one another with their poorly thought-out schemes was too funny. The only character worth feeling sorry for here was the dog.
FRANK, THE SNAKE, & THE SNAKE
The tale of Frankie “The Tin Man” Piscopo was my favorite. A three part story about a man with bad luck who was once an average mechanic until his shop was destroyed. He asks the wrong man for help. The Snake, a mob leader, who proves to be as slithering as the creature his nickname comes from.
Frank wrote a book about his former life. The book was named: Requiem for a Rat. That's not what Frank had in mind, but that's the shitty luck he has. Witness protection isn't all that great either. He works at a shitty garage and ends the night at a shitty bar. The wife left him. And he's old. There's nothing much to live for. It wasn't always like that for Frankie. For about six months of his life, he was a "Goodfella" or so he'd liked to believe.
I loved the many references to the mobster movies. Maybe because I'm personally a fan. I found this story the most entertaining, mostly because of Frank. He was just a poor sucker with bad luck. He was not greedy or conniving like some of the other characters in the book. He was just an unlucky smuck who never seemed to catch a break for long. When he meets Stevie, the story really starts to get fun but sad. The obsessive boy demands the impossible from Frank and because Frank has no choice, or assumes he doesn't, he goes a long with everything, hoping things will work out. But things never work out for Frank, and that large (actual) snake in that reeking trailer proves it.
THE MAD BUTCHER OF PLAINFIELD'S CHARIOT OF DEATH
Last but not least. The shortest. The bonus. I don't know what I liked more about this one. The crime or the horror. Maybe both. The real details about Ed Gein, the killer and body snatcher, were a nice sprinkle, and this story was actually based on some truth. Bunny Gibbons was an actual person. He was a funfair owner who bought Ed's car. A Ford. He called it "Ed Gein Ghoul Car". History doesn't tell us much about the man, but Adam Howe does. Like Rummy, Bunny had some serious mommy issues, and not only that, but he was a serious alcoholic. His shows didn't go the way he wanted. And he wanted to scare the reason out of people. Bunny went the extra mile to ensure this. Of course, to a large population, he was seen as a con taking advantage of a terrible situation for financial gain. Depress, he starts to drink more and sleep more until one rainy night he has a breakthrough--or so he thinks.
I love the horror and the backstory to the last one--or really all the stories. The characters were not just mindless people going about their lives reacting to their environment. These were well-fleshed out folks who tried to survive and make a living in even the most dire of circumstances. Anyone can relate to that if nothing else.
Did I enjoy this book? Yes. Do I recommend it? Yes. In short: Buy it. Read it. Share it. Because why the hell not?