Saturday, 18 January 2020

SERIAL PUBLICATION: The Recalcitrant P.I. ~ Chapter 34


a Mac Armstrong mystery


T.F. Pruden

Copyright © 2018 by T.F. Pruden

All rights reserved. No part of this manuscript may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without prior written permission of the author


Toni watched the resident intern walk away from the lengthy conversation just ended with her to start another with a family waiting nearby.
Despite knowing the pattern would be repeated indefinitely, she took an unwanted comfort from the sight of a harried physician in rumpled hospital garb.  The young doctor told her, with restrained patience, Mac would pull through.
Mac had again escaped what Toni now hoped must be his destiny.
The way she felt today, it could not take him soon enough.
The doctor assured her that with any luck, Mac should be his old self in just a few short months.  There would likely be therapy required, but the compound fracture to one leg with the similarly injured arm immobilized looked far worse than it was.  His face though swollen, even now returned to normal.
Neither those injuries nor the broken ribs should limit future activities.
There was yet no way of knowing how badly Mac might have hurt his head nor was a reliable prognosis available.  When it came to concussions, the physician with mirthless but gentle bedside manner revealed, only time could tell how severely a brain was damaged.
Until the fellow came around, there was no way of knowing how badly Mac's might have been injured.
Toni made no reply when told Mac should likely soon be fine.  She nodded with feigned sympathy when told about the concussion while considering the divorce papers she carried in her purse.  The no-fault paperwork she filed earlier today waited to be served to the soon-to-be erstwhile husband lying in the hospital room behind her.
More than anything else she wanted to serve the bastard with the divorce papers by throwing them into his face.  That or hand them to him with one hand while slapping the smug arrogance off it with the other.  She hoped one day someone would manage to do that.
Knowing it could not be her; Toni instead hoped she might see it happen.
In her opinion, there was not a person alive who deserved it more.
Two years of marriage had, albeit slowly, worn away Toni's sympathy for Mac.  While the ability to empathize with those she cared for remained, it withdrew when thoughts turned to her husband.
Toni had reached the end of what she believed a lengthy rope.
She first tried waiting in patient silence.  When that failed she cried, often with pitiful intent, when he arrived home at odd hours.  In search of a more practical means to alter his behavior, she took part in what seemed an endless number of deviant sexual practices for which she had neither taste nor curiosity.
As it turned out, nothing would change the behavior of her husband.
He often seemed a dedicated, if low paid, workaholic.  With that she was, eventually, able to grow comfortable.
It was his secret habit she refused to accept.
Of course, ignorance of his extra-curricular activity meant it arrived as news to her.  Mac worked as a bartender to supplement his income as a Private Investigator, which Toni believed little more than a lingering hangover from an earlier addiction.
It was only now clear she must deal with more serious challenges than Mac earning a living.  In truth, from the day of their marriage, there seemed little future in any of his career choices for either of them.
With ebbing patience, she had tolerated the fits and starts.
What she would not take were threats to either health or sanity.  This she silently swore to herself through tears after the conversation with her doctor.  The terrible news arrived as a disgusting shock.  Caught unawares, Toni was first devastated.
Though stunned, her anger sparked as implications of the diagnosis were explained, growing as she learned in detail what to expect.
It was soon replaced by silent rage.
Toni nursed the fury, tending it like a fire within her.
Treatment began at once.  For a change, Mac's crazy schedule worked to her advantage as she was able to get the papers filed without his knowing it.  In a matter of weeks, they were prepared.
Toni struggled to contain a secret joy.
While their divorce would be legally described as a no-fault, she intended to make sure Mac new exactly where it lay.
The cash he earned tending bar was a necessity.  Neither his P.I. work nor her career as a childcare worker paid enough to support a lifestyle they both enjoyed.  Toni eventually accepted she was spoiled by it.
Changes must be made if they were to achieve her dreams.
The certificate she worked toward was intended to improve their circumstances.  To get it, she worked long hours followed by more invested in study at night with relentless aspirational intent.
A lifestyle change would soon happen, but the circumstances improving for the better would be hers alone.  At this point, Toni didn't care what happened to Mac.
The news of his latest near-death experience filled her with a momentary glee she made sure not to reveal to the harried physician.
Toni then waited until the nurse left a second time before slipping into the semi-private room where Mac lay, helpless, on the bed.  He was in bad shape, there was no denying it.  She shook her head as momentary sympathy for him rose, reminding herself in silence of what he had done.
While his dreams might well come true after their divorce, hers now could not.
He said nothing, but she knew Mac would be aware of her presence.  The lust they shared, though shameful to her now, was also undeniable.  A thought, a glimpse, even a scent was enough to overfill Toni with urgent need for the private investigator.
It was all she could do not to climb under the blanket to get what she wanted, badly, right now.
Once for a short time enthralled by them, Toni hated herself for the feelings.
She said nothing, instead removing the brown envelope containing the divorce papers from her purse, placing it with gentle care on his chiseled pecs.  Mac could look them over whenever he might be up to it.
She was responsible only for letting him know he was served.
Toni smiled with relieved satisfaction as she leaned over to allow her soft lips to brush against Mac's ear.
"Mr. Mac Armstrong," she breathed in her lustiest whisper, "I'm pleased to inform you that you've just been served divorce papers."
Toni stepped away from her husband's hospital bed.  His eyes opened, grotesquely swollen but now wide with shock, to stare up at her.  She smiled what she hoped was her sweetest, before winking down at the battered face of the man lying helpless before her.
  "I also want you to know," Toni spoke with bloodless glee, "that I hope you rot in hell, you miserable sonofabitch."


T.F. Pruden
Thorsby, Alberta, Canada
October 11, 2018

Monday, 27 May 2019

The Twelve Rules For Writing Literature

My Twelve Rules For Writing Literature


T.F. Pruden

1. Literature must provide questions, not answers.

The writer's job is sharing experiences, not telling readers what to think about them.  As the fundamental responsibility of art, music and literature is illuminating the condition of society, neither personal opinions nor rhetorical positions are acceptable for inclusion within literary work.  Specifically, the writer must share a story, while keeping both opinions and answers out of it.

2. Literature must be known by experience, not reported as bystander.

A writer may factually document only that which individual temporal experience personally reveals.  Specifically, third-party information must be identified in first-person narratives, with omniscient narration based on science, observed, or related behaviour employed only when or if judged necessary to best serve the story.

3. Literature must respect the rules of grammar, not serve them.

The writer must demonstrate mastery of the craft.  As such, basic guidelines of mid-twentieth century English grammar are to be observed, aside from within dialogue.  While splitting the infinitive for reasons of style is approved meanwhile, use of the vernacular must always be limited to either first-person narratives or dialogue.  Specifically, this rule prohibits sentences from ending with prepositions, while those begun with prepositional phrases require use of a comma. 

4. Literature must rely on facts, not beliefs.

As science is fact while history but opinion, so genre fiction is entertainment and not to be confused with literature.  For a work to be literary, the facts of temporal reality must compose and provide the entirety of theme, plot and characterisation.  Specifically, this rule identifies that while opinions are certainly as common as ass-holes, they have no place in literature.

5. Literature must be written individually, not by committee.

A writer must work alone, from a project's start to its completion. The writer's work is not finished when either draft or manuscript is completed. While editorial feedback is encouraged prior to engaging the revision process, neither line editing nor collaboration of any kind is allowed at any time. Specifically, this rule approves the use of word processing and editing software but limits third-party assistance to feedback, proofreading and copy editing.

6. Literature must provide historical perspective, not timely reportage.

Experience while most often the best teacher, must be allowed the benefit of time's perspective to be appreciated. The writer must not allow emotions or desire for timeliness to limit the perspective achieved only by distance and time. Specifically, this rule prevents the damning of a work to either period or emotional influence by requiring writing driven by fashions, fads or favorites be avoided.

7. Literature must be grammatically constrained, not mutilated.

While appropriate for the writer to incorporate specific language constraints to demonstrate literary mastery, such constraints must always be near invisible to the reader and incorporated throughout a work.  Specifically, this rule identifies either loss of grammatical consistency or stylistic readability in support of constraint as not acceptable.

8. Literature must be thematically defined, not limited.

While multiple thematic elements are acceptable within a single work, each must be effectively represented within its context.  Specifically, this rule recognises broad implementation of either symbolism or metaphor as suitable but requires single-sentence thematic statements provided in explanation for a work be suggested within the text.

9. Literature must respect tradition, not deny it.

Defending traditional literary forms requires an understanding of the difference between influence and respect.  Those either hidebound by conformity or blindly devoted to innovation miss the point of not only literature, but also music and art.  The timeless secrets of form and function valuable to writers from all ages meanwhile, are most reliably discovered within classical works.  Specifically, this rule confirms those who don't read good books suffer a far greater loss than they who can't and requires the writer to read and implement the lessons found there.

10. Literature must be stylistically consistent, not obtrusive.

No matter what is written, literature must incorporate a narrative voice appropriate to the writer's taste, not that of either desired audience or treasured results. Consistency of literary style builds trust between reader and writer, and from that rises verisimilitude. Specifically, this rule identifies the intellectual and emotional bond created by consistent and unobtrusive style as necessary to a believable and lasting literary experience.

11. Literature must serve the story, not its writer.

The point of writing novels is neither enriching nor ennobling writers but documenting the ever-evolving conditions of life on earth.  As talking about and promoting the work might damage or affect its process, a writer must avoid intrusions related to fame, fortune and notoriety.  Specifically, to achieve success a writer must choose to write, not speak.

12. The writer must write, not make excuses for it.

As a wise man said long ago, to be, one must do.  Thus, to earn the authentic title of writer requires the act of writing be an undeniable and lifelong habit bordering on obsession.  To those who must, the work produced should then and ever be allowed to speak for itself.  Specifically, this rule prohibits the writer from either written response to critics and criticism or seeking of awards and plaudits.

T.F. Pruden

Thorsby, Alberta, Canada


“Do not seek perfection, which is death.  Let it seek you.” ~ William Saroyan, 1908-1981

Monday, 11 February 2019

RIP Mr. Koko Pruden, December 5, 2002 - February 11, 2019

After a brief illness, with great sadness I must report the passing of my adorable, Mr. Koko Pruden.
The resolute dog has left the building.
A little man in a hair suit made completely of love, Mr. Koko was my best friend, ever and always. The last of the actual road dogs, Mr. Koko stood guard for Harwill at over 1500 show stops and traveled more than a million kilometers from coast-to-coast and throughout North America. We spent the best days of our lives together and my baby boy gave love to the end before passing away in the arms of his papa.
Beloved by all before circumstance brought him to live with me at age two, throughout his life Mr. Koko also found great joy loving and caring for his original and extended families. For the life we shared and all I learned from him, there can be no recompense other than to report he taught me how to live. The subject of 2015 #1 hit song 'I love my dog (the ballad of Mr. Koko)' on the US Americana charts, there never was, nor could there ever be, another like him.
Though our tears must fall, the love and wisdom of his teachings lives in our hearts forever.
So long pard, it's been good to know you.

   Feb 11, 2019

Monday, 19 November 2018

'The Recalitrant P.I.' is published!

 My favorite day of the year has been and gone.  Once again, a solo celebration served to mark a much hallowed (in these parts!) occasion.

Such is life, or so it would seem, for the world’s least popular novelist.

My latest novel ‘The Recalcitrant P.I.’ is published!

The fourth example of my best literary effort, it’s also the first in what is intended as a series featuring the western Canadian stoner private investigator Mac Armstrong.  Now available from Amazon in your choice of Paperback or Kindle, I’ve included the book blurb below here and recommend you order yours today.


Mac Armstrong is a half-baked dick in a hard-boiled world.

When life as a Private Investigator in western Canada serves a daily bowl of drab routine, his bad habits keep things interesting.  With an immature wife, an underage lover, plus a litany of addictions to anchor his broken dreams, a day of reckoning proves unavoidable.


In the inevitable unwinding of Mac’s life, more than love will be lost.

Searching for imagined glamor, only justice awaits The Recalcitrant P.I.


As is the norm for my work, the new novel relies on constrained writing technique to reinforce either narrative voice or the many subtleties of its plot.  Like each of those I’ve written before it, the world of this novel closely follows that of recorded history, where little accepted as fact occurred as those in power claim it did.

Due to an undying belief in the intelligence of my fellow homo sapiens, I will offer no further explanation regarding the plot of this or any other of my novels.  By now, it should be clear enough to those few who read these works that subtlety is an admired quality here.  The books are written as they are on purpose, because I believe you’re smart enough to figure them out without me ~ or anyone else ~ telling you about it.

As a writer after all, my job is to show, not tell.  As an artist however, what you, the consumer of it, take from my work is entirely up to you.

Near as I can tell, that has ever been its point.

For this writer, it’s been enough reward to keep me working at it.

I hope you like the new novel.  If you do, thanks for the support and for sharing your opinion on Goodreads, Amazon and wherever else it’s appropriate to do so.  If you don’t, thanks for the support and for also sharing yours as widely as possible.  For while not my intent, some have been outraged while others nonplussed by early drafts, leaving the writer looking forward to reviews with anticipation.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.


  • TFP
    November 19, 2018