Excerpt: Blood Will Have Blood by, Thomas H. Carry

Here’s your chance to take a look inside one of the Best Indie Novels of 2020 – Blood Will Have Blood by, Thomas H. Carry.

A darkly humorous and edgy crime novel set in New York City in the late ‘80s, Blood Will Have Blood will appeal to fans of Elmore Leonard, the Coen Brothers, and Lawrence Block.

Seven years in New York, and that big break has yet to materialize for struggling actor and inveterate pothead Scott Russo. Performing in terrible, barely attended Off-Off Broadway productions, hopping from one soul-crushing job to the next, Scott slacks away in a pot-fueled haze and contemplates throwing in the towel on his anemic career. The only thing that keeps him going is the humiliation of returning home to Baltimore. That and his current theatrical gig: an idiotically bad production of Macbeth.

Broke and out of a job, Scott jumps at his friend’s offer to work for a pot delivery service, only to get caught in a web of brutal Irish gangsters, a charismatic psychopath, ruthless prosecutors, and clueless actors. As his theatrical and criminal worlds collide in mayhem, murder, and betrayal, Scott finds himself morphing into a bumbling and blood-stained Macbeth, on stage and off.

If he can just make it to opening night…

Blood Will Have Blood by Thomas H. Carry
Excerpt, Chapter One

“And that’s why De Niro is superior to Pacino. Can you pass the bong?”

I passed the bong to Freddie and reached for the soft pack of Marlboro Lights on the secondhand coffee table, pushing aside the plastic container of leftover food from the Korean deli’s buffet. I wondered which item would give me the runs later. Probably the glazed chicken. While I lighted my smoke, Freddie took a deep hit off of the bong, the gurgling water sounding like obscene plumbing.

Freddie was the delivery guy from the pot phone-order service I’d used for the past few years, after giving up on sketchy purchases in Central Park, and over time he’d become a decent friend. Like me, he was an actor. I should probably put that in quotes, since I don’t know the last time he’d actually acted in anything, though he talked about the craft incessantly. Freddie had a set routine: he would collect the cash payment and hand over the pot I’d selected from the brochure menu (my usual choice, Hawaiian Dream), then plop down in a chair and smoke with me. In his slow drawl, his squinty eyes peering up to the ceiling through thick, round, John Lennon glasses, he would pontificate on various actors. He was on his favorite tangent: the superiority of De Niro’s craft to Pacino’s.

“I’m talking strictly film here, okay? Not stage. I mean, if you saw De Niro at the Public in Cuba and His Teddy Bear, then you see the limits. He had trouble filling the space. That Karate Kid dude was pretty good, I have to admit. I didn’t see Pacino in American Buffalo, so I cannot comment.”

“Ralph Macchio?” I said incredulously.

“Yes, the kid had heart. He’s green—not a lot of training, that was clear—but honest. An honest performance. He was doing, not acting. Doing.” He gurgled another hit of my pot.

Christ, save me. Here he goes again with the whole “doing” thing. Acting is doing. If he fucking quotes Lee Strasberg, I’m going to toss him. I wasn’t really, of course; I didn’t have it in me. I was content to sit, occasionally nod, and let him drone on. It was actually kind of peaceful after the bad day I’d had. Rude and rushed diners during my lunch shift as a new waiter-in-training at a trendy restaurant. Pinstriped young finance guys with gelled hair enjoying the power dynamic of bossing me around, no doubt working off the humiliation of having their manhood berated by a coked-up manager who thought he was Gordon Gecko.

After the shift, a quick shower in my Hell’s Kitchen studio apartment, and off to the subway and downtown to the East Village to rehearse in a dark, smoke-filled black box ruled by Allison Rucker, an obese alcoholic director with a particular vision for reframing the classics. This time it was Macbeth set in Capone’s Chicago. (She was inspired by The Untouchables movie.) Oh, I’m sorry: the “Scottish Play.” I let the title slip during rehearsal and she practically shit her khakis. After another lecture on the curse of the play’s name, I was demoted to the role of Second Murderer.

This wasn’t my first rodeo with her. I’d previously performed in her punk-rock Euripides (yes, she’d seen  Sid and Nancy). It took several weeks for my hair to grow in after that Mohawk.

Now, I was happily stoned. Or stoned, at least. Comfortably numb, to borrow from Pink Floyd. I looked at Freddie with blurred detachment. He was going for a look, but I couldn’t quite place it. The pleated, tapered pants, purple leather shoes, and spiked, thinning hair. He looked like an older, cartoon version of a rocker I couldn’t quite recall. At any rate, he appeared exactly as he was: a forty-year-old pot delivery guy who had lost himself in the drowning waters of New York theater, one of the emptied human shells inflating themselves with false delusions of pending breakthroughs, the nobility of the uncompromising artist suffering for art, and the pretense that attitude and posture could substitute for craft.

Or, you know, doing.

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