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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

D stands for Donate

Posted by JM Darhower Tuesday, April 17, 2012, under | No comments

AKA some of my favorite charities

One of my most cherished memories is after I completed my story, when there was an outpouring of people who contacted me about donating to charity to say thanks. Quite a few did just that, and I still have the emails (printed out and in a binder) from the charities about the donations. To know that I touched people so much, that I inspired them to donate their time or money, is a feeling unlike any other. Reviews are awesome. Having people enjoy your work is amazing. But opening eyes and helping to save lives? There are no words for how that feels.

People ask me often what my favorite charity is, and it's hard for me to choose... Sure, I have a soft spot for Love146 (I've personally been donating to them recently), but there are so many others that do spectacular things. So here's a list of some of my favorites... please consider donating to the cause. It doesn't have to be money... just educating yourself, sharing the links with others and spreading knowledge helps saves lives.





Thursday, April 12, 2012

C stands for Corrado

Posted by JM Darhower Thursday, April 12, 2012, under | 6 comments

AKA what else could C possibly stand for?

 Raoul Bova... who I envision when writing Corrado


Corrado Moretti, fictional hitman for Cosa Nostra. He's without a doubt one of my favorite characters to write. I could rattle on all day and night about why, analyzing him to death, but it would be senseless.

Instead, I'll share a piece I wrote, an outtake of Corrado. It pre-dates Sempre... Corrado just turned 18.


Corrado


Winter had come early to Chicago. A frosty wind whipped through the neighborhood, violently shaking the tall maple trees that surrounded the brick mansion on Felton Drive. Thick wet flakes were starting to fall from the sky, sporadically sticking wherever they landed, while a thin layer of ice coated everything around. It was slick and glistening, like a fresh top coat of paint.

Antonio DeMarco, the Don of the Chicago syndicate of Cosa Nostra, stood on his back deck, surrounded by some of the most dangerous men in the country. Salvatore Capozzi, the underboss of the organization, stood statuesque on Antonio’s right. He was hefty with a high-pitched voice, like an Italian Porky Pig without the incessant stutter. On Antonio’s left was Sonny Evola, his consigliere. Sonny was tall, six-and-a-half feet, but walked slumped over because of scoliosis. Also present were the organization’s highest producing Capos, each one steadfast in their dedication to la famiglia—Carlo Fatico, Vito Moretti, and Luigi Capozzi.

They were hardcore, sometimes so much so that they caused Antonio’s hair to stand on end in warning. He’d never admit it, nor would he show his fear, but he knew each one was capable of very horrifying things.

They’d brought along some of their strongest soldiers at his request, some of the most callous men in the city, but Antonio didn’t care to know their names. Chances were they wouldn’t last long enough for him to have reason to learn them. Some of them were peculiar, men in other circumstances he’d never want within a hundred feet of the home, and a few were uglier than the syphilis-ridden addicts on the south side, but Antonio had faith in their abilities to do what needed to be done. The men in front of him had yet to let him down, and he was counting on them now more than ever.

It was a matter of life or death… his life or death, specifically.

“What we gon’ do, Boss?” Luigi asked. “This is gettin’ out of control.”

“I know it is,” Antonio said. “Why do you think I called you here? It needs handled. Now.”

“I’ll do it,” someone chimed in from the center of the crowd, the voice self-assured. “Whatever it is. Let me do it.”

Antonio looked at the man who spoke. He was built like a linebacker with a cocky smirk and piercing eyes. Blue, not brown. His wife, Gia, told him never to trust a man with blue eyes—they’re the first to curse you while you sleep. While he knew most people thought she was crazy with her superstitions, his wife’s warnings had never steered him wrong before.

He scanned the others, trying to gauge the best way to go about it. He could send the whole group and maybe half of them would come back, or he could send two or three and hope for the best. If he sent just the soldiers, it wouldn’t be a big loss if none survived, but the others would certainly be a pity to lose. He’d already lost enough over this. He needed it settled with as little damage as possible.

Antonio’s gaze shifted from man-to-man, surveying and calculating, when he came upon the young guy standing off by himself in the back.  He was clean-shaven and baby-faced, the fluffy white snowflakes sticking to the curls of his dark hair. He stood silently, his gloved hands clutching his black coat tightly around him. His teeth were chattering as a shiver ripped through him. He seemed disinterested in what was going on, impatiently rocking on his heels like he had something better to do. Who the hell does this fool think he is?

“Are you cold?” Antonio asked him, annoyed he seemed to be barely paying attention. His life was on the line, and the kid had the audacity to look fuckin’ bored stiff.

“No, sir.”

“Really?” Antonio asked, raising an eyebrow. “You shivered.”

“Excitement.”

 “Your teeth were chattering.”

“Anticipation.”

Antonio’s eyes narrowed at the detached tone in his voice. Was the kid lying or intentionally being sarcastic? Either way, it didn’t sit well with him. Antonio wasn't easily impressed, nor did he care for many people, and he made it no secret to them how he felt. If someone wanted his approval, they had to do something drastic to earn it. They had to prove themselves to him. They had to show themselves worthy of his time and attention.

And disrupting a Cosa Nostra meeting with a flippant attitude and chattering teeth certainly wasn't the way to do that.

“Since you seem to be so eager, I have a job for you,” Antonio said, deciding to teach the boy a lesson. You don’t give a DeMarco man attitude and not expect him to give it right back. “Do you know who Luca Esponzio is?"

There was a sharp intake of breath from the men surrounding them. Everyone in the godforsaken country knew the name Luca Esponzio. The FBI had him linked to no less than fourteen ghastly deaths. He’d really slaughtered damn near a hundred men, most at the order of Antonio himself, but those bodies had never been recovered. Luca had a knack for disintegrating the evidence in barrels of acid before flushing it all away into the city’s sewer system.

He’d been Cosa Nostra’s most reliable hitman until recently, but he was gunning for Antonio now and they all knew it. They all knew he wanted the Don dead.

“Yes, I’ve heard of him,” the kid said. “The murderer.”

“Right,” Antonio said, glancing around at the others again. He could see the fear in most of their eyes—even the cocky blue-eyed bastard that was so eager to take the job just moments before looked terrified. It was so subtle Antonio wouldn’t catch it if he weren’t trained to, but he detected none in the young guy’s. His expression was completely vacant as if he were just discussing the weather.

Yeah, the snow’s fuckin’ falling, and I have no problem visiting a paranoid serial killer for you, Boss. Hey, say, you think it’ll snow tomorrow, too?

Antonio shook his head. Crazy bastards. “You see, he’s being a thorn in my side,” he continued, “and I need it removed right away. You get what I’m saying?”

The kid nodded. “You want him taken care of.”

“Exactly. You think you can do that for me? You think you can get rid of my little problem?”

Antonio waited for him to say no. He waited for the spark of fear, waited for the backtracking and excuses he was used to hearing when he brought up a tough job that could easily land you in a body bag, but none of it came. The boy simply remained stoic as he nodded once. “Yes, sir.”

Antonio dismissed him with the casual wave of a hand. “Do it, then.”

“How will you know I did it?”

The question threw Antonio off. Why would he fuckin’ care as long as the guy was dead? “Uh, he wears a ring, left middle finger. It’s covered in diamonds, a big L in the center of it. Bring it to me.”

The boy disappeared into the night without another word. The Don watched him go, believing he’d never see the kid again. He hadn’t earned his button, he hadn’t made his bones. He was no match against the most prolific killer in the country. He’d be dead before he even knew what hit him.

Stupid Young Turk. He’d just gone on a suicide mission.

Shaking his head, the Don turned back to the others. He didn’t care what happened to that boy, but he cared what happened to himself. He still had a situation that needed resolved. “I need the Chinatown and Elmwood crews to try to hit Luca at his house. Melrose Park and Grand Avenue crews can try to take him by the docks where he roams. No excuses. I need it done—no if, ands, or buts. If he’s still alive at the end of the weekend, I’ll fuckin’ kill you all myself.”

No one objected. Antonio turned around and went back inside his house while the men wandered off down Felton Drive, a few of them certainly heading straight to their death. It was the third time Antonio had sent a team after Luca, and none of the previous ones had been heard from again. They were probably deep within the sewer system or being eaten by wildlife in the woods somewhere.

The night in the DeMarco house passed in its usual tedious fashion. Antonio had dinner with his family--wife Gia and children Celia and Vincenzo. Celia was the apple of his eye, his beautiful baby girl that had grown and flourished into a young woman. She was nearing her eighteenth birthday, and although she’d soon be legally an adult, Antonio was nowhere near ready to let her out of his grasp. He was protective and guarded her like she was the crown jewels. No one touched his baby girl. No one came near her without his approval. If someone tried, he’d personally saw off their balls with a dull pocket knife.

His relationship with his son was different. Vincenzo, going on fifteen, had a stubbornness and rebellion streak that rubbed Antonio the wrong way. If he told the boy to go left, he’d fight with everything in him to go right. He was a hothead, and Antonio worried about his safety. The DeMarco name naturally came with a certain amount of attention, and adding more to it with childish, dangerous antics wasn’t wise for anyone… especially the boss’s son. He was trying to toughen the kid up and set him on the path to take over the family dynasty once he was gone, but it wasn’t easy. Vincenzo despised Antonio’s lifestyle. Would rather feed the fuckin’ poor than feed himself, the selfless little shit.

A day passed with no word, and then two. Antonio grew more and more on edge, imagining his whole organization dismembered at the hands of a psychopath determined to bring him down. They’d just vanish into thin air, never to be seen again, and Antonio would be next.

But not just him. No. Luca would take out his whole family in front of him, rape his wife and behead his kids. No thirst is as potent as the thirst for revenge, and Luca was fuckin’ thirsty. There was no doubt about that. He wanted blood.

It was the evening of the third day, the weekend coming to a close, and Antonio sat in his office on the first floor of his house, attempting to count money from the previous week’s takes. His eyes kept drifting from the stacks of cash to the clock on the wall, then down to the bulky gray beeper sitting on his desk. His Capos knew how these things went… once it was handled it, once the mark was dead, they’d page him the number of a payphone.  He’d then go out and walk around the block to the 24-hour market on the corner and use one of their phones to place a call.

No beep came. Nothing. No word at all.

He counted and recounted, trying to distract himself, but continually lost his place and had to start over. It was well after midnight when he’d reached the end of his patience, unable to focus any longer. He shoved the cash aside and leaned back in the chair, rubbing his tired eyes.

Antonio didn’t see or hear anything, but he could suddenly sense the change in the air. A feeling wafted across his skin, a chill creeping through him. He knew it then as his hair stood on end… he wasn’t alone.

His eyes snapped open, and he instantly reached into his desk drawer. He pulled out the .22 with ferocious speed, aiming it directly at the person stepping into the doorway.

Antonio’s heart beat frantically, adrenaline scorching his veins. He’d expected to see Luca, expected it to be the end, but instead he stared down a faintly familiar baby-faced kid. The boy stood calmly, his stance once again nonchalant. No fear, no sense of urgency. It was like he was there to just fuckin’ chit-chat.

The fact that he was still alive startled Antonio.

“How’d you get in here?” the Boss asked, something feeling off. Was he working with the enemy? Was that how he’d survived? Was he a fuckin’ plant? A rat? Antonio nearly pulled the trigger at the thought alone.

“Your son let me in,” the boy said. “He told me where to find you.”

Antonio cursed under his breath. How many times had he told Vincenzo never to let people into the house? You couldn’t trust anyone, no matter who they were. Sometimes he wondered if his son did it on purpose, if Vincenzo was trying to get them all killed.

“What are you doing here?” Antonio spat, losing his temper. “You had an order! Did you think I was fuckin’ around?”

The boy said nothing as he slowly reached into his coat. Antonio watched apprehensively, his finger still on the trigger of his gun. The fact that he’d snuck up on him was unnerving. No one had ever done it before. Antonio could sense people a mile away.

The boy pulled something out of his pocket, concealing it in the palm of his hand as he took two steps forward. Antonio kept the gun trained on him as the boy placed something on the desk in front of him before taking those same two steps back. It was calculated, careful, but he still sensed no fear at all from him.

Glancing down, Antonio balked and nearly dropped his gun. A human finger lay in front of him, bloody and still fresh, with a familiar ring attached to it. Antonio stared at the ‘L’ on the ring, absolutely dumbfounded. The kid had done it. He’d brought him Luca’s ring.

He hadn’t expected the fuckin’ finger to still be attached to it, though.

“How…?” Antonio started, trying to get his thoughts in order as he looked back up at the kid. “You? How the hell did you do it?”

He shrugged. Nonchalant. Flippant. “I watched him for two days, studied him, until I could predict his next move. Then I just stayed one step ahead of him. Simple as that.”

The boy turned to leave. Antonio was so stunned that he didn’t even reprimand him for not waiting to be dismissed. He made it to the doorway when Antonio cleared his throat. “Hey, kid.”

He turned back around. “Yes?”

“What’s your name?” Antonio asked, breaking his own rule. Never learn their names, because they won’t be around for long. But this one was different. Antonio knew it.

“Corrado,” he replied. “Corrado Moretti.”

Vito’s son, he realized. Antonio had heard about him. He’d moved to Chicago just a few weeks ago.  “Nice job, Corrado.”

Corrado shook his head. “A job is a job, sir. If you’re doing it right, there’s nothing nice about it.”

He walked away, not awaiting a response from the Boss. Antonio’s eyes shifted from the now vacant doorway back to the bloody finger, a chill shooting down his spine as the hair on the back of his neck stood up.

Corrado Moretti—a name Antonio was certain would be heard time and again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

B stands for Books

Posted by JM Darhower Tuesday, April 10, 2012, under | 6 comments

AKA the shit I like to read


It's no secret that I *love* books. They're my passion. I spend countless hours every month scouring stores and blowing money on books I don't need. I have way too many to count, but I just can't seem to stop. If I find a book I like, I have to buy it. No if, ands, or buts about it.

 Having said that, I have to make a confession: I don't do a hell of a lot of reading. Okay, okay, I know... that's fucking ridiculous. Stephen King once said, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." And I totally agree--to an extent--which is why I start every book I buy... I just rarely finish one. There are a few reasons, usually because I either get annoyed by something going on or I stop at a place and feel 'complete' and I'm not compelled to go on, but it's true.

I also judge a book by its cover. I think we all do, whether we admit it or not. I can't help it. If I see a book with a gorgeous cover, I absolutely have to have it on my shelf. My favorite covers? The MATCHED series by Ally Condie.
 

Anyway, yeah, so while I'm a chronic flouncer, there are some books that I couldn't get enough of... books that I devoured in one sitting, books I still can't stop thinking about, books I could read again and again. Here's a list of a few of them ;)

1. The Harry Potter books. I think they go without saying. If you haven't read them, I'm afraid we can't be friends. Get on that shit.
2. Twilight saga. Okay, okay... the writing itself isn't the best, and I'm still trying to come to a point where I can accept that we weren't getting PUNK'D with the last book, but they remain near the top of my list.
3. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I know, it's a huge undertaking, but totally worth it to read all 7 books (8, if you count the one coming out this month). The ending is one of the best in history, IMO.
4. The Demonica series by Larissa Ione. I could never get past the first BDB book, but these I can't get enough of. Sex demons with a hint of humor minus the shit like "blooming cores"... what more could you need?
5. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I was obsessed with the Japanese culture for months afterward.
6. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I know, I know... not everyone's cup of tea. It's long and educational, focusing on the history of philosophy (I actually read it for a history class), but it remains one of my favorite books. Pretty mind-blowing.
7. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I had to stop a few times while reading and digest lines because they were so damn beautiful. It's just the first in a series. I cannot wait for the others.
8. Forbidden by Tabitha Sazuma. I know people shy away from this because of the subject matter, it's controversial with the incest theme, but this book absolutely blew me away. I've never cried so hard reading a book before... someday I want to meet the author and thank her for reminding me that the world isn't always so black and white.
9. The Godfather series (basically every book Mario Puzo ever wrote). Come one, are you even surprised? His words are golden.  I also admittedly like Mark Winegardner's "Godfather's Revenge" and "Godfather Returns" (in case you don't know, Winegardner essentially 'fanficed' the Godfather and made a best seller).
10. Room by Emma Donoghue. I know so many people hate this book because it's written from the POV of a child, but I'm still amazed and affected by it a year after reading.



So there you go... there are dozens more that I could talk about, but I'll stop at ten. If you haven't read them, get on that shit. You'll thank me later (or else hate me, whatever lol)

Monday, April 9, 2012

A stands for Alphabet

Posted by JM Darhower Monday, April 09, 2012, under | 8 comments

AKA I'm going to blog the fucking alphabet


Okay, so, my blog has been sitting here unused for like a year, and I feel kinda lame about that. I've tried to think of something interesting to blog about, something worthwhile, but I've been coming up blank. Frankly, I think I'm boring, but whatever. It's my blog, so who gives a shit if I bore myself, right? RIGHT? *waits for the world to agree*

So I'm just going to blog the alphabet. I have no idea what the rest of the entries will look like, but expect 25 more blogs about nonsense, with too many curse words and photos that have absolutely nothing to do with what I'm writing about. Like this:

(I started dieting... again... and I would probably cut a bitch for some unhealthy food right now)

and this:

(The people on Twitter alerted me that it's her birthday, so a Kristen GIF seemed appropriate)

So, yeah. A stands for Alphabet... bored yet?