Friday, August 3, 2018

Ashes and Entropy Story Spotlight: Ain't Much Pride by Nate Southard

Time for another ASHES AND ENTROPY Story Spotlight! Today's beacon of anti-hope shines on Nate Southard's "Ain't Much Pride." "Ain't Much Pride" is a nautical tale of a mob henchman and his boss and cohorts hiding out at sea from "the feds." But something unfathomable lurks beneath the water waiting for them and, like our anti-hero, it's hungry for more than just fish.

Nate Southard is the author of Bad Dogs, Porcelain, Will the Sun Ever Come Out Again?, Red Sky, Lights Out, and Just Like Hell.  When he isn’t writing scary stories, he’s probably cooking.  Usually Thai food or fried chicken.  He loves fried chicken.

Nate lives in Austin, Texas with his girlfriend, a dog, and two cats.  The cats are total assholes.

www.natesouthard.com

I've loved Nate's work ever since I first read his submission "Mouth" for Horror for Good back in 2011. He continues to write phenomenal raw and emotional pieces of brutal fiction and he was an obvious choice when I set out to make a list of authors to solicit for this collection. And unsurprisingly, he brought that same sense of brutal originality to ASHES AND ENTROPY with this story. So without further ado, here is the opening to "Ain't Much Pride":


Used to be, I loved fish. Tuna, swordfish, red snapper, striped bass—found me a chef who knew how to cook it, and I’d belly up. I’m not talking about deep frying catfish or beer-battered cod, either. Any goon can do that. Cooking a real piece of fish; that takes skill. Try to say I’m wrong, you get cuffed behind the ear. Hard.
Now? Man, I hate fish. The look, the smell, the taste. Jesus Christ. Makes me sick just to think about it. Seven months hiding out in international waters will do that to you, though. Don’t matter if you’re on a luxury yacht or not. No steak or pork or chicken on this floating tomb. Just fish. We eat what we got; we get more. It’s like the circle of life, except with a skeleton crew, couple of girls, a looming drug trafficking charge, and so much sea food it’ll grow you gills.
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Boss Wilburn sits in one of the yacht’s bigger rooms—I know crap about boats, but my guess is it’s a ballroom…maybe a dining room—in one of his better suits. Months without a dry cleaner have left it smudged with salt air, but he still suits up every Thursday. Says it’s important to keep things formal. He insists on formality while doing lines off Betty Numero Uno, whose name is Cynthia.
I stand in the corner, hands folded in front of my crotch like I need to piss. The 9mm is hard against my ribs, but I’m used to it.
Gregory reads him one of the latest encrypted emails. Wilburn receives one a week, no more, and he’s powerful enough to afford keeping a lawyer like Gregory on board to explain all of them. Back when boredom hadn’t chained him to a gold straw, he’d insisted this would keep us all safe and secure. I want a steak so bad I’ve been considering a Facebook account so I can display our location, maybe tag the Feds. Pretty sure they don’t serve fish in prison.
“Okay, yeah, sure,” Wilburn says. “Skip the pretty words and tell me what it means.”
“It means the Feds aren’t tossing the investigation,” Gregory says. “Another month, maybe, but for right now we’re staying put.”
“Fine with me. Ain’t it fine with you, Cindy?”
Cynthia giggles, her stomach spasming, and Wilburn holds up both hands. “Hold still, dammit! I got two lines left.”
“Sorry, Baby.” Her red hair lies in a perfect fan on the mahogany tabletop.
“It’s good, Sugar. We all so good.”
The lines disappear, and I dream of fried chicken.


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