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Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel

There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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2 Beaverton Mystery- A to Z
1 Hawthorne Mystery- A to Z

The Shotgun Rule


The Shotgun Rule Cover




Piece of Shit Bike

It started with Andys piece of shit bike.

—What the fuck were you doing not locking it up?

—I just went in for a second.

—I just went in for a second. How long do you think it takes to steal a bike, dickweed?

—It was right next to the window.

—Yeah, thatll do it; no one ever steals shit thats next to a window. Numbnuts.

George is kneeling next to a bucket of water, submerging the half inflated innertube from his bikes front wheel. He looks once at Paul, then back in the bucket.

—Dont be such a dick, man, he lost his bike.

Paul picks up a rock from the huge pile that occupies half the driveway. He shakes the rock around in his hand.

—He didnt lose his bike.

He tosses the rock, bouncing it off Andys back.

—He let someone steal it.

Andy feels pressure behind his eyes and fights it. Already cried once coming out of the store and finding the bike gone. Cant cry again.

He picks up a rock of his own.

—I didnt let anyone steal it.

He throws the rock at Paul.

—It was stolen.

Paul stays right where he is, the rock skipping across the pavement and into the street without coming near him.

—Yeah, big diff.

George is still shuffling the innertube between his hands, looking for the string of bubbles that will point to the slow leak thats been plaguing him for days.

—Dont throw the fucking rocks around, dadll have a fit.

Andy kicks at a couple rocks, nudging them back toward the pile. His and Georges dad had them shovel the rocks from the back of his

4 ¥ 4 two weeks ago. This weekend hell rent a rototiller and plow up the back lawn and theyll have to move the rocks a wheelbarrow load at a time to spread over the yard. Its gonna suck and hes not even going to pay them. He says they should be thanking him for plowing under the lawn that they hate mowing and weeding.

A line of bubbles shoots to the surface of the water. George covers their source with a fingertip and lifts the tube from the water.

—Hand me that rag.

Andy bends to pick up a scrap of chamois thats lying next to the toolbox. Paul takes a quick step and places his foot over it.

—George, dont let this guy help with your bike. Hes bad luck. He touches your bike and its gone.

Andy yanks on the rag.

—Get off, dickmo.

—Make me.

—Get. Off.

Andy pulls harder and Paul lifts his foot and Andy falls back on his ass.

—Youre such a feeb.


George holds out his hand.

—Give me the rag.

Andy throws the rag at him.

Some big brother. Think he could take his side against Paul just once. Just today. Fucking bike. Still cant believe he was so stupid not to lock it up.

George lifts his finger from the puncture in the tube and starts drying the rubber around it.

—Did you see who took it?

Andy gets off his ass, takes the puncture kit from the toolbox and pops the shiny tin lid from the cardboard cylinder.

—No. If I had I would have kicked their ass.

Paul reaches up, grabbing a lower branch of the maple tree alongside the driveway and chinning himself on it.

—Yeah, George, what are you thinking? If hed seen them he would have kicked their ass. Hes such a badass ass kicker. Asses all over town are afraid of him.

Andy flips him off and hands George the top of the puncture kit.

George drops the rag, takes the lid, and uses its ridged upper surface to score the rubber around the puncture.

Paul hauls himself up onto the branch, hooks his knees around it and dangles upside down, long curls falling over his face.

—Come kick my ass, Andy, Ill just hang here and you try to kick my ass.

Andy stays where he is, watching George fix the leak, taking the lid back and handing him the metal tube of cement.

Hes imagining picking up the hammer from the toolbox and swinging it at Pauls face. Hes picturing finding whoever stole his bike and stabbing them in the throat with a screwdriver.

Paul puts one arm behind his back.

—Cmon, man, one handed and upside down! You gotta be able to kick my ass.

George rubs the cement over the puncture.

Paul puts his other arm behind him.

—No hands. No hands. Its never gonna get easier than this, man. Cmon and take a shot. You know you want to. Remember that time I pantsed you on the quad? Heres your chance to get back at me.

Andy remembers. First day of his freshman year, bad enough that hed been skipped a year to start high school early, but there was Paul, greeting him by running up and yanking his hand me down bell bottoms to his ankles while the entire student body was crisscrossing the quad on their way to homeroom.

He pictures standing in the middle of that quad with a machine gun in his hands, pulling the trigger and turning in slow circles until he is all alone and it is quiet.

He shakes his head sharply, trying to jar the image loose. He fails.

He takes the cement back from George, caps it and drops it in the kit, chews the inside of his cheek.

Paul swings himself back and forth a few times.

—Whats the matter, spaz? Looks like youre getting twitchy over there. You gonna freak out and start throwing things again?

George picks up one of the rocks, cups it like a marble and flicks it at Paul, bouncing it off his forehead.

Paul laughs.

—Youre off the hook, Andy, your bros fighting your battles again.

George sets the innertube aside, carefully draping it on the frame of his upside down bike. Andy hands him a large piece of patch and a small pair of scissors.

George clips a small square from the patch.

—I aint sticking up for the puss, dickhead. Im just sick of hearing your shit. Our dads gonna unload on him tonight and Im gonna have to listen it.

George squares his shoulders and lowers his voice.

—Opportunity, boys, thats what a thief looks for. Turn your back for a second, your property will be gone. Always lock up your bike. Its not just a toy, its a responsibility.

Paul rubs the spot where the rock tagged him.


George peels away the bright blue backing from the patch, careful not to touch the sticky underside, and picks up the innertube. Pressing the patch over the hole, using his thumbs to smooth away any air bubbles trapped under it, he looks at Andy.

—Whatre you gonna tell him?

Andy stares at the patch, the violence in his head finally fading as he draws blood from his cheek. Why does he have to think about that kind of shit? Its not like hes like Paul. Paul likes to fight. But fighting sucks. Getting punched sucks. And hurting someone else, that almost sucks worse.

George kicks him in the shin.

—Dude, what are you gonna tell dad?

Andy shrugs.


Paul unclamps his legs and tumbles to the ground, bracing with his arms as he lands.

Andy flips him off.

—Nice move, grace.

Paul doesnt move, just lays there with his eyes closed, his face suddenly pale and sweaty, skin drawn tight over his forehead.

George is focused on the tire and doesnt notice.

Andy does.

—You OK?

Paul doesnt move, just breathes deeply.

Andy steps closer.


Paul opens his eyes, wipes the sweat from his face. He sits up slowly.

—Im fucking fine. Youre the one with problems. Better tell your dad you locked it up.

Andy bends to pick up the patch backing that George discarded.

—He wont believe someone could steal it from in front of the store if it was locked up.

George nods.

—Tell him you had the wheel locked to the frame, but not locked up to anything. Someone could have tossed it in the back of a truck. Hell buy that.

—Whatever. Im still gonna have to walk everywhere.

A car swings around the corner, a 78 Firebird T-top, “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” blaring from the stereo.

Paul watches it all the way to the end of the street.

—Wouldnt have to walk if we had a fucking car.

Andy nods.

—Yeah, that would be sweet.

Paul reaches out and slaps the back of his head.

Andy does nothing, atoning for the imaginary hammer he smashed into Pauls face.

Hector barrels up the driveway.


He skids to a stop, leaving a streak of black rubber on the pavement, his front wheel scrunching into the rock pile.

—Hey, Andy, whats up with your bike? I just saw one of the Arroyos riding it around.

They all look at him.

Paul hawks and spits.

—Which one?


He sticks a finger in Hectors face.

—You fucking sure?

Hector knocks the finger away.

—Yeah, asshole, Im fucking sure. We may all look alike to you, but I can tell my Mexicans apart.

Paul picks up a rock.

—Fucking Timo.

He heaves the rock, sending it far down the street in the same direction as the Firebird.


It couldnt be better. Sweet enough it was one of the Arroyos that stole Andys bike, better yet that it was Timo.

That shit that happened when they played city league soccer, the year they were under twelves, Paul still thinks about that shit. Just about every day.

Its a City finals match and Pauls playing fullback, Timo is a forward on the other team. In a scrum down by Pauls goal, everyone going up for a header, Timo flails his elbow into Pauls face, sending him to the sideline with a split lip and a bloody nose. In the second half, cotton stuffed in his nostrils, Paul catches a deflection on his instep, traps the ball beneath his foot, waits for Timo to charge him, and drills the ball right into his gut. Timo goes down on top of the ball and before the whistle can sound Paul is kicking Timo in the crotch, not even trying to look like hes going for the ball. Redcarded, he argues that Timo was wearing a cup so no big deal, then walks from the field, screaming an endless string of fuck yous at the refs.

On his way home a gold flaked lowrider Impala rolls up next to him, Timo and his big brothers Fernando and Ramon get out. Ramon has a switchblade. Shit, they all have switchblades, but Ramon, he holds the point of his to Pauls throat and tells him to take his cup off. Paul doesnt think theyll stab him, but that doesnt keep him from getting scared. His face goes red and tears run down his cheeks. The Arroyo boys say something about what a puta he is, the only Spanish Paul knows. Once his cup is out, two of them hold him upright while Timo sets up for a penalty kick from five yards away and pounds an Official Primera League futbol into his nuts. Paul goes down and coughs up the orange slices he ate at halftime.

Wasnt till that evening that George and Hector found him at the firebreak at the edge of their housing tract. Drunk on the three sixteen ouncers hed grabbed from the fridge, head spinning from the smokes hed bummed off a high school kid, telling George and Hector that Timo is dead. Hes gonna kill that little fucking faggot. He tells them all the way home.

He doesnt tell them that he cried. And he doesnt tell them why he cried.

He doesnt tell them that reaching to pull his cup out of his athletic supporter, being told to put his hand down his shorts like that, made him think of his father.

—Im gonna kill that fucking faggot.

George is sitting on the ground, turning his bikes front wheel in his lap, tucking the innertube back up inside the tire.

—Whered you see him?

Hector is picking up tools.

—Over by their house.

—Was he fucking around or headed home?

—He was headed toward Fernandos pad.

George is using a screwdriver to flip the edge of the tire back inside the wheel rim. He stops.



George goes back to work.


Paul is on his bike. Hes already ridden it to the corner and back twice, Andy trailing him on foot both ways, saying nothing.

—So fucking what, hes going to his brothers; Im still gonna kill him.

Hector shakes his head.

—Fine, man, go pedal over there and kill him. Not like Fernando wont be home. Not like Ramon didnt get out of Santa Rita last month. You see him since he got out?

—Fuck him.

—Looks like all he did in there was eat and pump iron.

Paul limps his wrist.

—And take it in the ass.

Hector turns away.

—Im just saying, you know, you dont want to mess with Fernando and Ramon.

George has slipped the wheel back onto his bikes front forks. With a crescent wrench he gradually tightens the nuts on either side of the wheel, giving it a spin after each turn of the wrench to be certain that it stays true.

—Whend Timo move out of his folks?

Hector has pulled out a nearly full pack of Marlboro Reds. He takes one for himself and hands the pack around.

—Dont know. My sister says he got in a fight with his mom and hit her in the stomach and his dad threw him out. Like, dragged him out the front door and threw him and a bunch of his shit on the lawn. So now hes at Fernandos.

The others are quiet as they each take a smoke from the pack.

George takes out a Bic sheathed in the stainless steel and turquoise case he bought at the Devils Workshop head shop last summer. They all bum a light.

Hector takes the pack back and looks at Paul.

—And thats all. Hes over there with his brothers. You ride over there and fuck him up, theyre gonna kill you.

Paul bites the filter of his cigarette and gets back on his bike.

—Fuck em. Ill fucking kill those faggots if they let me take em one on one. Only way they can take me is if they gang up.

—Well, shit, man, thats what they fucking do.

George gives the wheel a final spin and packs the last of his tools away.

—Doesnt matter what they do. We got to go over there. They got Andys bike.

And thats when they look around and realize that Andys gone.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Huston, Charlie
Ballantine Books
Suspense fiction
Drug dealers
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.20x5.58x.58 in. .49 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
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Religion » Comparative Religion » General

The Shotgun Rule Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345481368 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "One of the crime genre's rising stars, Huston (Six Bad Things) delivers a stunning, darkly comic coming-of-age novel, set in the summer of 1983 in an unnamed Northern California town. Four teenage boys, out of school and experimenting with drugs, booze and sex, find trouble fast when they break into the home of the notorious Arroyo brothers to retrieve a stolen bicycle. In the process, they stumble on the Arroyo family's main operation, a meth lab. In a classic moment of naïve bravado, they steal part of the stash, setting off a downward spiral of events that will reopen the door to the town's dark past, when an earlier generation of criminals, including one of the boy's fathers, controlled the streets. Huston's natural gift for dialogue shines as he recreates the language of teenage males, in all its crude and often hilarious glory. Most importantly, Huston has the courage to both unsettle and entertain the reader, and his story resonates long after its disturbing final scenes." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "If you don't know this perfervid writer of thrillers (Caught Stealing) and comic books (Moon Knight), this stand-alone novel is a great place to start....The Shotgun Rule is wise about the way boys grow into men, and roots its violence in understandable emotion. (Grade: A-)"
"Review" by , "Anyone not acquainted with Charlie Huston's blistering, unputdownable novels will want to tie their sneakers nice and tight before starting The Shotgun Rule, or they are apt to be blasted clean out of them."
"Review" by , "From a sharp pitch, staccato dialogue and volatile action, durable characters and an intricate plot emerge, demonstrating Huston can still deliver the expected thriller goods."
"Review" by , "If your tolerance for violence, occasional sadism and bratty teens is sturdy enough, the talented Mr. Huston will keep you turning pages."
"Review" by , "Huston has developed a reputation for his own brand of noir fiction, by turns side-splittingly funny and gruesomely violent and repugnant....Parents who refuse to think about the world in which their children live will be repulsed by this book. Others might just find a glimmer of hope by its end."
"Review" by , "The fast-unfolding plot's tension springs from elements both expected...and surprising....Huston demonstrates a great feel for characters on the cusp of maturity — which helps readers connect with their adolescent aches even when they're being a pain."
"Review" by , "Equal parts Stephen King's Stand by Me and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, The Shotgun Rule is Huston in top form....[An] unforgettable blend of humor and horrific violence."
"Review" by , "[A] compelling depiction of aimless teenage boys trying to rise to manhood. In Huston's hands, it's Greek tragedy on speed....Huston's strengths are the brutal efficiency with which he sets a scene, and the breakneck pace he maintains throughout."
"Synopsis" by , The first stand-alone thriller by critically acclaimed author Huston, The Shotgun Rule is a raw tale of four teenage friends who go looking for a little trouble — and find it.
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