A new novel celebrating the second season of the Sundance TV Hap and Leonard series starring Michael K. Williams ( The Wire ), James Purefoy ( The Following ), and Christina Hendricks ( Mad Men ).
Hap Collins is becoming a manjust not the man he's expected to be. His East Texan childhood has been chock full of ignorant rednecks, bullies, and bigots. As a more enlightened sort, Hap went and figured out that being right is a lot less fun that kicking ass.
But singlehandedly punishing the jerks of the world is a tough row to hoe. Luckily, Hap's about to meet his unlikely partner-in-crime-solving.
Leonard Pine is many things Hap is not: black, gay, and surprisingly conservative. Frankly, the two young men seem ill-matched at best. But when Hap sees Leonard demolishing an angry mob with both his fists and words, it's immediately clear that they have a lot in common.
Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade brings together the origins of Joe R. Lansdale’s popular Texan crime-fighting duo. These new, familiar, and definitive adventures show once and for all how two pissed-off young men became one heck of a bad-ass team.
About the Author
Joe R. Lansdale is the internationally-bestselling author of over forty novels, including twelve books featuring the popular Hap and Leonard. Many of his cult classics have been adapted for television and film, most famously Bubba Ho-Tep , starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. Lansdale has written numerous screenplays and teleplays, including for the iconic Batman the Animated Series. He has won an Edgar Award for The Bottoms , ten Stoker Awards, and has been designated a World Horror Grandmaster. Lansdale, like many of his characters, lives in East Texas.
Read an Excerpt
Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade
By Joe R. Lansdale, Richard Klaw
Tachyon PublicationsCopyright © 2017 Joe R. Lansdale
All rights reserved.
Parable of the Stick
Leonard looked up from the newspaper he was reading, a little rag that was all that was left of our town paper, the bulk of it now being on line, and glanced at me.
"So I'm reading in the paper here about how the high school, hell, grade school, all the grades, they got a no fighting policy, no matter who starts it. Some guy jumps you on the playground, lunch break, or some such, and you whack him in the nose so he'll leave you alone, you both go to detention."
"Can't have kids fighting. You and me, we fought too much. Maybe it's not a good thing to learn, all that fighting. We met at a fight, remember?"
"Horse shit," Leonard said, and put the paper down. "Look here, I know a thing about you, and I know how it was for me at school, with integration and all, and I don't think it works like that, and shouldn't. This whole thing about fighting to protect yourself, and getting the same punishment as the one who picks on you, how's that teaching common sense?"
"How's it work, Leonard?"
"Think on it. There's this thing I know about you, let's call it the parable of the stick."
I knew exactly what he was talking about.
I said, "Okay, let's call it that."
"You moved here from a smaller school, and I know you had some problems. We've talked about it. I wasn't there, but I know the drill. Try being black in a formerly all-white school sometime."
"I could try being black," I said, "but I'd still be white."
"You came to school from some little town to Marvel Creek. And there was this bully, a real asshole, bigger than you, and you were small then, right?"
"Not that I'm a behemoth now."
"No, you lack my manly physique, but you've grown into something solid. Then, though, you were a skinny little kid with hay fever and a plan to do something with your life. Which, of course, you failed to do. What were you going to be, by the way?"
"I don't know. A writer I thought."
"Ah, that's right. Hell, I knew that. It's been so long since you mentioned it, I forgot. Yeah, a writer. So you move here, a poor country kid with shabby clothes and his nose in a book, and this guy, this big kid, he picks on you. He does it every day. Calls you book worm or some such, maybe pencil dick. So what do you do? You do the right thing. You go to the principal and tell him the kid's fucking with you, and the principal says, okay, and he pulls the mean kid in and talks to him. So what's the mean little shit do the very next day?" "Double beats the shit out of me."
"There you have it, but you're not fighting back, right?"
"Oh, I fought back. I just wasn't any good at it then. Probably why I learned martial arts."
"Sure it is. I did the same thing. I wasn't so little and didn't lose too much, but, like I said, I was a black kid in a formerly all-white school, and then there was my extraordinary beauty they were jealous of."
"Don't forget the massive dick."
"Oh yeah, the black anaconda that knows no friends. So this happens a few days in a row, this mean kid ignoring the principal, him not giving a greased dog turd what the principal said. You go home, and your dad, he sees you got a black eye and busted lip, and what does he do?"
"He tells you if he's bigger than me, bring him down to size."
"Right. He says, 'Hap, go out there and get yourself a good stick, 'cause there's plenty of them lying around on the edge of the playground by the woods. You get that big stick, and you lay for him, and when he don't expect it none, you bring that stick down on him so hard it will cause you to come up off the ground. Don't put his eye out with it, and don't hit him in the head, unless you have to, but use that stick with all your force, and if something breaks on him, well, it breaks. You get a licking every day and you don't do something back, taking that licking and being licked is gonna turn into a lifetime business.' He told you that, right?"
"And you got you a stick next day at playground break, laid it up by the edge of the concrete wall on one side of the steps that led out of the school, and when the bell rang for the day to end, you got out there as quick as you could, ahead of the mean kid, and you picked up that stick."
"I did at that."
"Like a fucking hawk watching for a rat."
"Down the stairs he came, and you —"
"Swung that stick," I said. "Jesus. To this day I can still hear that fucking stick whistling in the wind, and I can still hear the way it met his leg just above the knee, right as he came down the last step. I remember even better that shiteating, asshole-sucking grin he had on his face as he came down and saw me, before he realized about the stick. And better than that, I remember the way his face changed when he saw I had that stick. But it was too late for that motherfucker."
"What I'm saying."
"I caught him as he put his weight on his left leg. Smack of that stick on his hide was like a choir of angels had let out with one clean note, and down he went, right on his face."
"And when he started to get up?"
"I brought that stick down on his goddamn back with all I had in the tank, and oh my god, did that feel good. Then I couldn't stop, Leonard. I swear I couldn't."
"Tell it, brother. Tell it like it was. I never get tired of it."
"I started crying and swinging that stick, and I just couldn't fucking stop. Finally a teacher, a coach I think, he came out and got me and pulled me off that bastard, and that bastard was bawling like a baby and screaming, 'Don't hit me no more. Please don't hit me no more.'"
"I actually started to feel bad about it, sorry for him —"
"As you always do," Leonard said.
"— and they carried me to the principal's office, and they brought the asshole in with me, and they put us in chairs beside one another, where we both sat crying, me mostly with happiness, and him because I had just beaten the living hell out of him with a stick and he had a fucking limp. He hurt so bad he could hardly walk."
"What did the principal do?"
"You know what he did."
"Yeah, but now that you're worked up and starting to sweat, let's not spoil it by you not getting it all out, 'cause I can tell right now, for you, the whole thing is as raw as if it happened yesterday."
"It is. The principal said, 'Hap, did you hit him with a stick?' and I say to him, 'Hard as I could.' The principal looks at the mean kid, says, 'And what did you do?' 'I didn't do nothing,' he says. 'No,' the principal said, 'what did you do the day before, and the day before that, and what were you told?' And the kid said, 'I was told to leave Hap alone.'"
"And what did the principal say," Leonard said. "Keep on telling it."
"You're nuts, Leonard. You know what he said."
"Like I said, I never tire of hearing this one."
"He said to the kid, 'But you went back and did it again anyway, didn't you? You went back and did it because you wanted to pick on someone who you thought wouldn't fight back, or couldn't, but today, he was waiting for you. You didn't start it today, but you started it ever other day, and you got just what you deserve, you little bully. You picked on a nice kid that didn't want to fight and really just wanted to get along, and I know for a fact, he asked you to quit, and he came to me, and I came to you, and still you did it. Why?' 'I don't know,' he said. 'There you are,' said the principal, 'the mantra of the ignorant and the doomed.'"
I took a deep breath.
"I remember him saying just that. The ignorant and the doomed. Then the principal said to me, 'Hap. He picks on you again, you have my permission to pick up a stick and just whack the good ole horse hockey out of him. I catch you lying in wait for him again, or doing it because you can, then that's different. That makes you just like him, a low-life bully. He had this one coming, but he's only got it coming now if he starts it. But he picks on you, you give it to him back, and I won't do a thing. I won't say a word.'"
"There you have it," Leonard said. "That's the way we should have kept it. Self-defense is permissible."
"A stick was a little much," I said.
"Yeah, but these kids in school now, they're being taught to accept being victims. Why there's so many goddamn whiners, I think."
"You don't learn justice by taking it like the French. That's not how it works. Someone doesn't give you justice, you got to get your own."
"Or get out of the way of the problem."
"Alright, there's that. But then the motherfucker just moves down the road a little, and picks a new victim."
"I think you're trying to justify what we do sometimes."
"I don't need to justify it. Here's the thing, you get more shit from the meanies because the good folks don't stand up, don't know how, and don't learn how. And they're taught to just take it these days, and do it with a smile. Principal then, he knew what was up. You have any more trouble from the bully after that?"
"Not an inch worth," I said. "We became friends later, well, friendly enough. I think in his case it cured him across the board."
"So he didn't pick someone else to whip on?"
"No, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen that way. I think he wasn't really a bad guy, just needed some adjustment, and I gave it to him. I think he had problems at home."
"Fuck him and his home," Leonard said. "Everyone now, they don't have an idea what's just, what's right, because they punish everyone the same. Ones that did it, and ones that didn't. I can see that if no one knows what went down, but now, even when they know who the culprit is, one who started it, it comes out the same for both. The good and the bad."
"Could have gone really bad. I could have killed that kid with that stick."
"That would have been too much, I guess," Leonard said.
"Alright, maybe too much, but there's still something to learn there, still something your dad taught you that matters and has guided you ever since. Don't treat the just and righteous the same as the bad and the willfully evil, or you breed a tribe of victims and a tribe of evil bastards. Learning to be a coward is the same as learning to be brave. It takes practice. And that, my good brother, is the parable of the stick."CHAPTER 2
We went to the dojo where we trained and had a session in self-defense with the Shen Chuan instructor, and when that was over we had some free mat time. We sparred and did ground work and practiced throws until we were exhausted. We sat down on the mat with our backs against the wall, sweating and breathing hard. Everyone else had gone home, and since we had keys, we just sat there with the lights out and talked.
"Neither of us ever cross the line," Leonard said.
"I beg your pardon?" I said. "I think we have crossed a few lines."
"I mean in here, anywhere we train. We spar, and we go at it pretty hard, but we always hold back."
"We should. Someone might lose an eye."
"I mean we don't quite take the big step."
"That's because I don't hate you, Leonard. And, of course, I wouldn't want to embarrass you."
"It's like that, is it?"
"Pretty much ... No, it's exactly like that."
"We could find out whose best, you know," Leonard said.
"There was that one time," I said.
"That was almost the real thing. I mean it hurt, and we came close to some damage, but we stalled most of it."
"I don't remember that much stalling," I said. "I thought you might be trying to prove something to yourself."
"Haven't you wondered which of us is the best?"
"I'll be honest," I said. "I don't want to find out."
"You got a point there," Leonard said.
"We might not like how we feel about one another afterwards."
"And your point sharpens."
"And, again, I wouldn't want to embarrass you."
"Oh, you are an asshole," Leonard said.
"You know, I will say this, first time I saw you, at that tire fire fight, I thought you were better than me then."
"Then and now," Leonard said.
"You're not going to give that up, are you? I've gotten a lot better."
"Yeah, but you're lazy. I train harder."
"Probably," I said. "That night, I think you might could have whipped anyone in the world, and I include one of my heroes, Muhammad Ali."
"Greatest fucking boxer that ever lived."
"But he was a boxer. We cheat a lot more. Boxing, maybe he does get you, but the whole enchilada, not so much."
"Kick, bite, head-butt, lock, throw, do ground work, and pick up a stick if it's available," Leonard said.
"What I'm saying."
"It was a hell of a night."
"You know that's right."
It was a night hunt, and I was sick of the whole thing already. I didn't want to shoot any coons or possums, or much of anything. I was ready to get home and shower and pick the ticks off my balls. Sure, coon can be eaten, and I knew families who did, mostly black families, but I didn't want none of it, and unlike my uncle, I didn't sell the skins.
A lot of people ate possum, our family included, if there was nothing else. To me it tasted like greasy pork, and the best way to eat possum was catch it and put it up and feed it some corn for a week or two, and then kill and eat it. But I didn't like to do that anymore, on account of I got attached to the damn things. I was still sick over the hogs we had butchered. I had got to know them. There was a thing Winston Churchill said in a book I read, about how dogs looked up to you, cats down on you, but hogs treated you as equals. This was true, and on that account I was through butchering hogs myself, and from then on my parents, to placate me, bought our pork chops and bacon wrapped in cellophane and found in the freezer section at the store. I preferred being a hypocrite, eating meat someone else killed.
It was finding an animal in a trap that was still alive, seeing my uncle dispatch it with a shotgun butt, that had put me off the idea of trapping and hunting, that and me shooting a bird for no good reason other than to see it fall, and finding it lying on the ground, its beak open, trying desperately to draw in air, its eyes glazing over like a sugar donut. It got to me. One dead bird and thousands of bird songs unsung for no goddamn good reason other than I wanted to see a bird fall.
So there we were out in the woods at night, and I was thinking this was my last hunt, though it wouldn't be, but it would be for a long while. There was a can of Wolf Brand Chili at home, and that was good enough for me. Me and Roger had been hunting and fishing together for years, and on this night we had gone into the woods to spotlight critters, shoot them out of trees, bag them and take them home to be dressed and cooked, but as I said, I knew that night I had completely lost my interest in hunting unless I was actually hungry. Girls were far more interesting. Some of the boys called chasing girls hunting squirrel, which came from the idea that their pubic hair was a pelt. It wasn't exactly forward thinking, but there you have it. Everything in East Texas was compared to hunting.
Our trek had brought us down by the riverside, using our head band lights to travel by. Down close to the river I could smell fish, and then a smell that took me a moment to figure out. It was burning rubber.
We could see the fire after a moment, and it was pretty big. There was an old abandoned, tumbling-down sawmill on the other side of the river where the fire was, and there was a clearing in front of the mill, and it wasn't unusual for kids to drive down there to smoke dope, drink and screw, throw rocks in the water and fire off guns.
The fire was really big, and we could see the silhouettes of people cast off by the firelight. Two of the shadows were moving quickly, and the rest were still, forming what looked like a dark tree line, or the craggy shapes of a mountain. We could hear voices too, some of them yelling. As we neared, moving along the tree line on our side, the voices rose up and rolled over the river like a tide, and came to us in excited cries and yells. There was the sound of grunting, and a slapping sound, as if someone were beating a car seat from time to time with a belt.
Finally we could see the people making the shadows, but we couldn't figure out who was who or what was what. We turned off our headlamps and took them off our heads, and from what I could tell it didn't matter. No one had noticed us when our lights were on.
Roger said, "You want to go see what's happening?" I didn't, but I was seventeen and didn't want Roger to think my balls hadn't dropped, so I said, "Yeah, let's go see."
We had to go down a pretty good distance before we came to the Swinging Bridge. It was a bridge that had been put across the river by some oil company so they could get down there and drill for oil. It had been built back in the thirties during the oil boom that had engulfed that region. Whole towns had been created by the oil boom overnight. The oil was pulled up and out, and then it was gone, and so was the bulk of the towns. Some survived, like Marvel Creek, made up of a handful of folks rich from the oil boom, and about three or four thousand others, oil field trash, whores, white trash, and poor blacks, a few you might call middle class.
Excerpted from Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade by Joe R. Lansdale, Richard Klaw. Copyright © 2017 Joe R. Lansdale. Excerpted by permission of Tachyon Publications.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Enjoyed every word.
“Blood and Lemonade” is a collection of short stories by Joe Lansdale. It features great backstories from the early lives Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. Be advised that Hap and Leonard are, as always, rude, crude, and very funny. If you are not prepared for “colorful” language and politically incorrect scenarios, do not read this book. If you want to laugh and recollect along with Hap and Leonard, then this book fills-in the gaps and background that you might have missed. It is all about Marvel Creek, East Texas and all the good, the bad, and the in between who lived there. It’s about, as Hap puts it, “the rough kind of life that was below the surface, the stuff that the people with money didn’t know about or didn’t want to talk about.” It’s about the 60s, fishing, cars, ninth grade, sex, cowboy movies, and segregation. It’s not mean spirited, just daringly honest. NetGalley gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is not my first Hap and Leonard book, and I both laughed, and cringed all the way through.