Available in eBook and paperback in late April.
Voodoo Bully is about bullying the bully; a daunting prospect for one small high school boy to avenge the poisoning of his pet. It was on the Bookkus site for reading and reviewing but few people there read juvenile/YA even so, the few reviews it got were good.
Independent review from Bookkus.com:
I enjoyed the book so much I raced through it and now have to think about it before I write. A very descriptive and entertaining Canadian book. There is nice background information for the actions so the reader is not left wondering where did that come from? it is smoothly written and transition very well between actions. Covering many current events and popular subjects it does not bog down in detail but keeps the reader moving forward.
From Mimi (top Bookkus reviewer): I really enjoyed this. It’s very well written, with many delightful turns of phrase. A marvelous voice, a charming character and an entertaining, quirky tale. It is so easy to write a review when something is very well done!
Voodoo Bully If your pet was poisoned, how far would you go to get payback? Evens Duluce, an ambitious Haitian boy, knows the man who poisoned Scraps, his dog, but can do little about it. He vows to get even somehow, someway. Unfortunately, no magic wands, incantations, or friendly creatures can help.
He’s not sure how to get even for the dog’s death until he stumbles upon the dark secret of the high school bully, Algie. Evens, in grade ten and much too small to physically confront Algie, must control him somehow. Handling the walking, talking slab on the senior football team is risky and probably painful. Evens manages most of the flyer and newspaper deliveries around town. With a sharp eye and suspicious streak, he holds secrets about his customers, secrets they’d rather stay hidden. He embarks upon a complex plan where the enemies he makes are the only ones that can help him. Perhaps a little bit of voodoo will help things along.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
–Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. president b.1858 – d.1919
Planning to go up against the big bully Algernon, or Algie, was terrifying to think about. He was big, perhaps the biggest person in town. Putting my plan into action jacked up fears that had me bolting upright in bed in the middle of the night.
My father was a P.I., a private investigator and I know he would be proud of me for my cleverness and problem-solving skills. Even though he was dead, I suppose he’s the reason I was doing this; somehow to prove myself to him.
I wasn’t going to fight the bully. I was too small, a grade ten student, and he was a senior, a behemoth. I only wanted to control the bully. It was the only way to avenge the death of my dog, Scraps.
You see, I know the man who poisoned him.
Wash an apple in water containing gopher dust and the first person to bite that apple will lose their teeth in five days.
When the weather was good or especially during a full moon, I often would head down to the river with Scraps for a walk or to fish. On this particular morning Scraps was not in the yard, probably having squeezed through the high hedge to chase something. I missed his presence trotting beside me, sometimes running around me in circles. Before leaving home I walked around the block searching for him with no luck. Scraps enjoyed running along the shore to bother ducks, romp around the thickets, and occasionally try to swim after beavers. Further disrupting my fishing at the river, one of my delivery boys called to say he’d quit his paper route. That meant I’d have to get up before school and take over the spot until I could find a replacement. I managed several paper routes and most of the flyer deliveries in my small town of Devon, Alberta.
I didn’t see Scraps until I returned home. He lay on his side in the hedges, panting; not trotting over to greet me as he usually did. Curious, I set my rod against the house and walked over to him.
“What’re you doing over there, Evens?” said Uncle Alain, coming out onto the deck with a bottle of beer in his hand.
“Something’s wrong with Scraps.” I knelt down on the grass beside my dog, who appeared in great distress.
Scraps was a border collie-cross, a mongrel, my parents adopted from the animal pound three years ago before they left Canada to visit relatives in Haiti. They never came back. Mom and Dad were abducted, shot, and dumped in front of a police station in the middle of the night. Dad, a former policeman on the island, a top cop, became involved in organized crime investigating the Cité Soleil gang. One day, he gathered up my mother and I, and fled to Canada under threat of death. In Canada, he became a private detective. He taught me all I know about the detecting business and a lot about people. “Everyone has secrets, Evens.”
Scraps bled badly from his nose and mouth and was having a lot of trouble breathing. The blood would not stop coming. How much blood could a dog have? I went into the shed for a rag to staunch the flow, but it became soaked in no time. I couldn’t really put it over his nose and mouth. He tried to stand to greet me as he always did, but was too weak. His muscles twitched like an electric current ran through him.
“What can I do?” I pleaded.
“He will not be making it, Evens,” Uncle Alain said, and came over with a doggie bowl of water. “Looks like rat poison to me. It stops the clotting and makes blood flow freely.” He nodded in agreement with himself. His large baldhead bobbed like a toy as he set down the water. “Happens when you let him run free like you do. That dog will eat anything. You should not let him wander the town.”
Scraps’ eyes were glassy and seemed to be looking faraway, like watching a daydream go by.
“Can we get him to the vet, or something?” I asked, turning to my uncle.
“Yes, we can. All we will get is a big bill and the dog will still die.” He set his large brown hand on my shoulder. “He’s too far gone. Say your goodbyes. I’m sorry.”
I sat on the grass trying to comfort my pet by scratching his belly. Scraps coughed a bit and bubbled up more blood. I wiped away some tears. “Wasn’t somethin’ on the street, Uncle. No. Someone did this.” I looked up at my uncle. “I know who did it.”
“Yes, I know who you mean,” said Uncle Alain, rising unsteadily and returned to the deck and sat on a lawn chair.
Scraps’ murderer lives three blocks away in a rundown rented bungalow at the end of an unfinished dead end street. It’s where my friend Jay lives, too.
Joseph ‘Joey’ Mendel is about thirty years old; a skinny runt inked with cheap tattoos on his arms and neck, and a pencil-thin moustache. He always wore a shabby Bud Light straw cowboy hat; got it free for buying a truckload of beer for a party where six people showed up. The music was so loud the police paid him a visit. His older model 4×4 truck windows are pasted with oil industry stickers and jacked up so high a ladder is almost needed to climb in.
In reality, he’s a dropout with bad teeth and hygiene who works at the truck wash, power spraying the real oil worker’s trucks. A wannabe. One of my teachers keeps telling my class to develop our own identity as we enter adulthood; find our way in life. I hope I don’t develop like Joey. I don’t know where he got his instructions.
Joey doesn’t like me, and I don’t like him. Neither do his neighbors. If I’m shooting hoops at the end of his street with my buds and the ball happens to roll into his yard, he keeps the ball. He’ll give it back in a few days, but only when Jay’s dad or my Uncle Alain knock on his door. Or else he’ll leave it in the street, hoping someone will walk off with it.
“Come try to get it back and I’ll put a hole in you,” he says, like some movie cowboy, pantomiming pulling a trigger with his finger.
Scraps, my unfortunate pet, didn’t like Joey much either, and showed it by lifting a leg, leaving some liquid discontent on the chrome rims of his 4×4. Poor dog just couldn’t help himself. It was as if he knew what Joey was all about, and the disrespect poured out of him. This would send Joey into outer space with rage. He’d grab the garden hose and stammer and holler and swear as he hosed off his wheel. Me and my buds would have a good laugh. Scraps would return with a bounce in his stride to be petted approvingly.
This infuriated Joey into:
-picking up a hockey stick and chasing Scraps down the street.
-threatening us as we shot baskets, until we left.
-throwing empty beer cans as we played, forcing us to move the hoop and backboard down the street in amongst parked cars.
-cranking up his crappy country rebel music to ear-splitting levels until we’d leave.
Little Joey’s venom spewed far and wide, bringing out his neighbors for a quick look to see all the fuss. My father once told me that if the police couldn’t be relied upon to look after its citizens, the community is forced to take the initiative. The neighbors on the dead end street were big men, putting up with the runt and his antics. These men were nothing but Big Pussies who actually told us to quit inciting the man.
Well, I was in for some incitement myself.
I sat with Scraps until he drew in his last breath and closed his eyes. “You were a fine friend,” I said.
I began to cry when I thought of how smart Scraps was. He liked to surprise beavers, ambush them by making them think he’d go one way then double back to jump out at them. I think…no, I know he had a sense of humor, too. If he could talk, he’d be a standup comedian at the SPCA. When I caught a fish, he’d wade into the shallows, clamp down on it with his teeth, and bring it onto the shore.
When it began to drizzle, I dug his grave under a poplar at the far end of our small garden. Inside, I joined my uncle at the kitchen table. While absently scanning the newspaper I noticed many of the movie listings were about zombies or werewolves or magic.
The words seeded my thoughts. No vampire or any creature would be biting Joey–reality would.
Uncle Alain went to the fridge and cracked another beer. He’d moved in with me after my parents were murdered. He was my father’s brother, and also a renter. He suggested he’d help me out by moving in and paying the bills and taxes. Cheaper than the rent at his apartment in Edmonton. That way I didn’t lose the house because I was a minor. By default, Alain became my guardian. It worked out good so far with him minding his own business and not giving me much parental grief. When he drank in the evenings he became real easy to get along with. Then again, I was a good student and busy with my newspaper delivery business, soon to be an empire. As I stared out the window at the freshly dug earth, I felt my anger simmering, my brain shifting into gear, hurtling recklessly around corners.
“You got that look on your face. Where you goin’?” asked Uncle Alain.
“Going to see the man who murdered my dog!”