Saturday, December 17, 2016

Chris DeWildt's Crime Noir Novel "Kill Em With Kindness" an education of violence . . .

Christal Cooper


Kill Em With Kindness

C.S. DeWildt on writing of Kill Em With Kindness: 
“I began writing the book about five years ago as a short story called “Our Hockey Girl”. It was a revenge story and originally the protagonist Nick was an elderly man. In my mind, I saw it as a “Grumpy Old Men meets Andre Dubus’s short story ‘Killing’,” but I was never happy with it. So, after about a dozen false starts (and a couple false finishes) I decided to age Nick down and the story just took off. It was the right decision.

There were a couple reasons for this. The first was I needed him to be a little more virile than I could plausibly expect an old man to be. Additionally, I felt that with an older protagonist I was getting bogged down in backstory, which I hate. Making Nick younger took care of both of these issues.

       Another reason was that I really wanted to write a straight noir novel and I wanted to be able to create some sexual tension between Nick and Kimmy. When Nick was old, he was more grandfatherly and I didn’t feel comfortable exploring any kind of romantic entanglement.

Nick as a young man is still to broken to “go there” but I wanted it to be on the table none the less. I liked the result as you have two damaged people who—had they met at different points in their lives—could have been together.”

Photoshop by Christal Rice Cooper 

Chris Rice Cooper’s Analysis on Kill Em With Kindness:
Nick Gillis is a widower still mourning the loss of his wife and their unborn child.  He’s also mourning the loss of his career, the loss of whatever prestige he had in the small Michigan town.  He has been able to maintain some sort of sane functionality but he is still plagued with memories so painful to revisit but yet he can’t help but caress what remains.

He traced his fingers over a series of photos that lined the hall to the master bedroom.  The affection soured and his fingers pulled the frames from the wall with such a nimble perfection.  It almost seemed as if that’s all they’d been made for, or perhaps the pictures fell from his caress, repelled by his touch. They were mostly photos of Grete and him.  Domestic shit he no longer wanted but didn’t have the energy to part with.

Nick continues to live in his own shell, safe from every one surrounding him, especially from the Lucifer-incarnate Chad Toll, who rules the small Michigan town with an iron fist with the help of his two demons of black dogs and two psycho ex-convicts Erik and Russell.  Nick manages to stay out of Chad Toll’s clutches, but all that changes when he sees Chad’s girlfriend Kimmy Flynn at the local bar.  

Photoshop by Christal Rice Cooper 

Her face was purple on the right side.  One eyelid stretched across her face, sealed tight and so swollen it looked like the slightest poke would burst it like an angry boil.  Her right arm was in a sling and she moved with a limp, trying to hide it and failing.
       But the most striking thing, aside from her not being with Chad, was the metal halo screwed into her head.

       Kimmy gets into an altercation with another girl and a violent fight ensues.  To prevent Kimmy from beating the girl to death and to save her from an arrest, Nick takes pity on Kimmy, separates her from the girl, and gives her a ride home. 

Nick later learns that Chad knows of his small but very successful marijuana business on the side, and he also knows that Nick gave Kimmy a ride home.   Chad and his two black dogs approach Nick at the local bar and he gives Nick a “choice.”  

       Doesn’t seem like I have much of a choice.”
       Chad smirked.  “There’s always a choice, Nick.  Don’t fool yourself.  You got a choice.  You always got one.”  Chad stood from his chair.  “You make your choice by morning. I hate to rush a man through his chance to choose.  So go.  Use your time.  I got churches to burn.”

       The Horton Police Department Chief acting under Chad’s orders confronts Nick with a videotape of Kimmy claiming Nick raped her.  He also gives Nick a free 24-hour stay in the county jail.   Nick’s choice has already been made.

       What happens between Chad and Nick is not a friendship, a business partnership, or even a battle between two enemies, but an education on violence.    The remaining of the novel is a full-fledged sensory of violence against humanity, animals, oneself that Nick has never encountered or even thought existed. 

       “Git ‘em,” was all Chad said and then the dogs were on Hobo and it was messy as you’d expect.  Helpless was the only way to feel, and horrified, watching the pieces of Hobo as they practically fell away from his frame and into the hot gullets of the beasts.

                      Scene from "Djaigon Unchained" FUUS

Nick finds himself trapped in two worlds- The World of Violence and the World of Greater Violence – but he yearns for a world of no violence.  Nick learns that Kimmy feels the same way and both agree to a plot of the ultimate violence, in hopes of finding peace.

       In the process Nick and Kimmy develop an affection for one another – a friendship with a hint of romance, and, Nick finds himself in awe of Kimmy and her talents, which include communing with a flock of crows.

Photoshop by Christal Rice Cooper 

       Kimmy opened a jar and took a handful of quarters.  She looked at Nick, and flashed a smile.  “Watch,” she whispered and threw the quarters into the air.  For a moment they were lost against the blare flare of the sun, then just as quickly reappeared in the grass before vanishing again, this time beneath the beating of black wings.
Nick watched as more and more crows descended on the yard, each coin found and retrieved by different birds.  Nick sat dumbstruck as the birds, one by one, perched atop the wooden box and deposited the coins into a visible slot.  On the side facing Nick and Kimmy, near the bottom, a small amount of yellow meal corn flowed from around a hole, catching in a small plastic cup fixed to the box with duct tape. 

       Nick is not the only one who is in awe; Chad is in complete awe of Nick Gillis and respects him, not at all suspicious of Nick and Kimmy’s plans for him.

       “I said you’re good people and I mean it.  You took her home, no thought of who I was. Yea, she gave me some of the story and I pieced together the rest from those assholes who would have let Kimmy kill that girl.  You got a good foundation in you, Nick.  So it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s going to be good.”

       Only it isn’t good – in fact, it is very bad and very ugly.   So ugly that the reader will experience another sensory full of violence – even more vile and dark than the previous pages of the book – so disturbing it will make the hair on their necks stand straight up, and, coming to the end, their eyes widening with shock, their lungs gasping for breath.

Biography on CS (Chris) DeWildt

CS (Chris) DeWildt lives and writes in Tucson Arizona. His titles include Kill ‘Em with Kindness, Love You to a Pulp, Candy and Cigarettes, and a collection of short stories titled Dead Animals. He recently finished a new novel and is working on a prequel to Love You to a Pulp.  He has a wife, two sons, and a dog named Bernie.

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