by Chad Eagleton
Picture it. It’s my 21st birthday. My buddies have brought me to the only strip club in a Midwest College town. To keep from drunkenly spending too much, it’s early in the night, barely dark. The club is subdued. Inside is all empty tables, dim light and low bass throb. Slightly buzzed on my second overpriced shot, I’m sitting on pervert row, brandishing a dollar in my right hand and trying to look cool. A pretty dark haired girl turns on her stacked heels, locks eyes, and shimmies over toward me. When she’s close she drops to her hands and knees, then stalks like a panther closing in on its prey.
My buddies hoot.
Close now, she leans in closer as if for a kiss. Her lips detour at the last minute, her face barely brushes against mine. I can smell the perfume in her hair and feel her warm breath in my ear. Then she pulls back suddenly, holds my eyes for a moment, and plants both her hands on my shoulders. Her body sweeps in, breasts pressed against either side of my face. She pushes herself upward. Her chest makes contact. The two handfuls of Royal Crown pomade I had used to sculpt my pompadour makes a loud squelching sound as she glides over my hair likes she’s on a Slip ‘N Slide.
In utter revulsion, she pushes me back in the chair. A look of disgust contorts her pretty face. In one quick motion, she stands. The spotlight hits the Royal Crown sheen on her chest and it’s blinding and more brilliant than any of the lights on stage. She dagger-eyes me and dances away without even taking her dollar.
The pompadour is long since gone. A victim of genetics, not a change in taste. I still dig rockabilly music and the 1950s. That love fuels the Hoods, Hot Rods, and Hellcats anthology. Now, just like the stripper didn’t much care for what I wore in my hair, I understand that at first hearing not everyone is going to be interested in stories about guys in leather jackets, biker gangs, or dangerous girls in letterman sweaters. But this isn’t just a fetishism of the past, a kitschy alternative to fedoras and jazz music, or trading in one set of dated slang for a another set of date slang. Hoods opens with an introduction from the late Mick Farren, a legend of the UK underground and counterculture, and features brand new and hard-hitting fiction from some of the most popular names in crime fiction: Eric Beetner, Matthew Funk, Christopher Grant, Heath Lowrance, David James Keaton, Nik Korpon, and Thomas Pluck. Yes, there are pompadours and back pocket combs with pomade caked and pooled along their spines, but there’s heart and there’s truth in spades. There always is when you’re writing about the individual confronting the consumer culture, when you’re talking about hoods, hot rods, and hellcats.
So, I hope you give it a chance.
Oh, and don't mind the grease.