Krab Kaper, short fiction for RRBC!

Welcome, Rave Reviews Book Club!

Today we’ll have five winners, each choosing any Stephen Geez or GeezWriter book, print edition or ebook.

 

Krab Kaper

Short Fiction

By Stephen Geez

Featuring Characters from Fantasy Patch

 

Some lettuce just leaves a bad taste.

I don’t know why, but this critter won’t eat the stuff, instead preferring collards and other greens.

So imagine warm light, cool breeze, a splash of gurgling water, eight explorable square feet, one climbing ladder of latticed sticks, a thatch of tasty greens beckoning from above, and our hero methodically clawing his way upward for all he’s worth—which is normally about five bucks, free if you simply pick him up, as Taj did.

    It’s a hermit crab, about the size of a jawbreaker, the landlubber version found in tropical beach-side brush.  This crab and its three crabby cohorts hail from Gulfcoast Florida, having hitched back to Chicago in a sack of shells collected by the four-year-old son of my youngest producer.  I normally frown on taking souvenirs from sites above water and below, these being nature’s mobile homes for myriad denizens wet or dry, but young Taj didn’t know better, so no major harm.

I help him and three other kids, all now dedicated hermit-crab owners, as they outfit a large terrarium in the day-care area of our video-production facility.  Dabbing quick-clean non-toxic paint, each decorates his crab’s shell for easy identification, this despite my warning that these critters often change houses for better fit and to runway-strut the latest in chic crab style.

We provide a small plate of corn meal, little-bit fruit bites, and other crabby snacks; but for some reason the one now climbing after the greens always decides to pass when it’s offered mere iceberg.

Apparently, some lettuce just leaves a bad taste.

So we’re watching the crabs one day when my friend/client Flynn Durbett stops by with a sackful of test products designed for kid safety and/or fun learning.  Flynn’s the soldier-of-fortune character first introduced in Stephen Geez’s novel Invigilator, way back before he settled down a bit and founded a company dedicated to helping people protect themselves from a dangerous world. He needs some marketing hooks, packaging, design—anything I might contribute as his agency-of-record creative director.  My name is Danté Roenik, but Flynn’s been occasionally calling me “The Image Maker”—ever since I deigned to narrate Stephen Geez’s novel Fantasy Patch, the tale of my infamous tilting at pharmaceutical-conglomerate windmills. Yikes! Turns out windmills are quite willing to shred anybody who dares get in their way.

Flynn shows me a sort of child’s poncho boasting swirls of fabric stitched to hold pocketfuls of kid-stuff—tearaways for safety, elastic gathers to avoid strangle-strings—all topped by a nifty hood with sewn-in sweatband crafted such that side panels pull away to ensure full peripheral vision when young street-crossing bike-riding skater-boarders turn their heads to look both ways.  Flynn has inked a distribution deal with a chain of big-box stores, a test-market roll-out in the Chicago ’burbs, but the product needs a name, a hook, and some cool images laser-screened on the front and back.

Big-eyed Taj dons the smallest in Flynn’s Santa-sack, and I’m instantly reminded of a hermit crab, the swirling shell, this spiky-haired lad peering out from under the hood, his expression that sneaky escapade-plotting look of appraisal often found on little kids and littler crabs.


I notice the real crab has reached his goal, now perched atop the ladder, contentedly munching his greens as I paint an art-deco shell design onto one of Flynn’s pullovers.  The kids all want them, but each prefers to paint his or her own design.

And there’s Flynn’s hook: “KrabbShells,” pre-screened as a plain hermit shell, each including a small set of disposable fabric markers so pint-sized fashion plates can customize unique looks—or visit Flynn’s company website for ideas and templates, a safe place to share photos of their own and to admire the works of other young artists.

Next we paw through Flynn’s collection of new products.  I’m intrigued by a tiny ball with a slot that reveals a mini-light and magnifying glass with tiny tweezer and gripper.  They prove especially handy for examining real crabs up close and personal.  We all want one.

Flynn trundles off to meet with the big-boxers.  They’re lucky to be working with such a good man who values loyalty and integrity, one who looks out for others and the world we share—unless you cross him or try to hurt a friend, but that’s a longer story, actually two, both attractively priced in print or multiple ebook formats.

So KrabbShells sales rapidly climb that ladder for the big-box stores, and Flynn’s company feeds on the green, but we’re not in control of the promotion, and Flynn’s contract doesn’t confer veto power over the unacceptable: our retailer starts offering one free hermit crab with every KrabbShells sale.

I do encourage responsible pet ownership for young people to learn about caring for others.  Hermit crabs aren’t endangered, and they’re certainly not dangerous, but I have a pet-store-chain client who rightly rails against such indiscriminate pet-mongering.  Buy a hermit from one of her outlets and you’re not getting out the door without the proper habitat, supplies, how-to pamphlet, and a thorough conversation.  Living creatures are not toy prizes; they should be entrusted only to those who truly want them and will properly care for them.

The big-box buyers dismiss Flynn’s objections, opting instead to enforce their contract in lieu of maintaining good faith between retailer and supplier.  We’re all angry about this, including the kids and their chums, most of whom want to voice their outrage.  After some serious hand-wringing over where to draw the line between exploiting young’ns and nurturing their burgeoning need to self-express, I do what people so often pay me a lot of green to do: I orchestrate one bodacious media spectacle, nationwide coverage, a public-relations cesspool to mire the mid-city big-box headquarters of these crass exploiters of innocent crabs.

So picture this: more than two-dozen subtly supervised teenies and tweenies dressed as hermit crabs, their hand-painted KrabbShells emblazoned with “Kidz for Krabs,” a crusading cadre marching sideways in the cutest camera-calling crabwalk you could ever imagine. These irate squeaky-voiced orators are delivering little-bit sound bites for sympathetically amused on-the-scene TV reporters, crowds gathering to gawk and chant, our urban beach awash in a growing tidal wave of righteous indignation.

In a surprising move, egregiously unprofitable for successful builders of bigger boxes, our adversaries opt out rather than address the problem, apparently preferring to retreat into their shells to avoid fostering an image of cavers-in to special-interest pressure.

So Flynn gets his product back, then re-launches with a smaller big-box that’s been angling to out-box the bigger big-boxers.  Cranking up the Danté publicity machine proves a cakewalk—a crabwalk, as it were—after the impromptu kid-protest already raised awareness about the irresponsible, um, spreading of crabs.

Besides, offering free KrabbShell handhelds that open to reveal a tiny light, magnifier, and tweezer/gripper crab pincers starts piling some serious green on Flynn’s plate.

Taj’s crustaceous little friend promptly moves himself into a bigger, more stylish shell, and the young’ns all learn about making planet-friendly choices when their own careers someday find them climbing that ladder in the age-old quest for a little bit of green.

It’s a lesson fit for a sound-bite:

Some lettuce just leaves a bad taste.

 

Thanks to Rave Reviews Book Club for the attention today!

 

Discover Dante and his media-manipulating crew in Fantasy Patch by Stephen Geez!

Thanks again!

 

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73 Comments

  1. Great post, Stephen. I love the new site. This place really pops! Fantasy Patch is my favorite of your books. It’s told in a fast-paced style. A solid thriller. Best wishes with your Block Party! I’ll be over at your bar for a while, quaffing a few ice cold brews!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And thank you, too, Mr. Beem Weeks, author of Jazz Baby and more! I’ve been wanting to meet you, so save me a Becks and I’ll cruise by the bar to fling wordly tales at you–comparing notes, so to speak (write). I’m liking the new site, a way to embed my blog and have a lot more rotating content situated here and there. Fantasy Patch was a fun write, intricate plotting with my only first-person and present-tense narrative. I’m proud to have you come by, even if you drink up all my brews.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent post, Geezman! I’ve always loved how you can use the simplest things in life to explain some of the most daunting and complicated topics. I’ve read at least half of your books already, but I’ll definitely be adding this one to my TBR list.

    Have a great tour!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is terrific to see you’ve visited D.L. I’m not seeing why you’d need to go to the beach with so much of the splendid world already around you there in the Sierra foothills! I’ve been leaning more about you in recent weeks as my co-conspirators at Fresh Ink Group and I expand into YA books; you offer fine examples of how to convey beautiful ideas to young people. I love how your book trailers tell the story with transcendent “imagery” welling from mere words on page or screen. I’m thinking maybe my novel Papala Skies might slip easily into your interests–alternating impressions of a college-graduating young lady alternating with scenes from her early teen years as she’s pulled between very different worlds and the people who inhabit them, all with a simmering hint of mystical realism in mythical Hawaiian beliefs. Sigh… I sit here by the lake in Alabama now–a transplant from beautiful Michigan–and somehow feel a connection to a wondrous soul out near the westernmost edge of our continent! Thanks for that and more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Stephen–my reply post seems to have disappeared!

        Thank you for your recommendation of “Papala Skies”. I am planning on reading it while relaxing on a Hawaiian beach, next month! Sounds like a perfect holiday book. Good luck with with the YA book. I am going into that, too. I am finding it fun writing for different ages! Yes, isn’t it great to connect where distance isn’t an issue?
        I will be looking for hermit crabs, while I am reading 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Stephen (aka Gary) Geez, Love your website. Great to get to know you a little better. Well educated, older fart like me, works probably a little harder than he should. My kind of guy. Hope you’re having fun with the Party. I’m having a blast getting to know some of you a little better and a new face or two. Party on my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You know it, Larry. The crappie and bream are moving in to bed and thus starting to bite anything I throw near them. The largemouths are getting hungry. The catfish are lurking about, competing for bait. Pausing to work is always important, but pausing to play is just as much. I’m learning you’re like that, too, and I am proud to include our common goals in my daily efforts. Thank you for visiting my new blog and website!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yikes! Honestly, I feel like I’m in the presence of royalty today! I’ve been tweeting on your behalf for a while now because you caught my attention and I learned about your personal journey and the splendid writing that has grown from that. I’m an admirer and a fan, and while positive comments are always appreciated, yours today has made me somehow feel proud. You say I have your attention now, so I will endeavor to continue to earn it. Thanks!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Cool! My goal was to ensure that everybody who visited would depart with a bad case of the crabs–that and spreading the word about my books and website and services and more. Spinning head, that’s just a bonus! I’d buy tickets for a good head-spinning. Mae, your name has been catching my eye the past month or so, and I’ve kept intending to learn more. Your esteemed presence here today has encouraged me to admit it’s past time I discover more about you and your work. I like it when people stop by and say nice things about me or my work, but the chance to whisper, “Who’s that over there by the snack table?” is where the treasure is found. Methinks you might just sparkle. Thanks for stopping by and introducing yourself!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well, you are just a man of intriguing words, and even more intriguing books! I checked out your work and just purchased Papala Skies for my TBR. You’ve been on my radar too, especially with your kind of, er…a wee bit off the wall way of thinking–which works for me fine.

      I look forward to discovering Rochelle DuFortier’s journey. I’m headed out of the country for a while, but you’re high on my TBR. Should you like to try something of mine, A COLD TOMORROW is currently on sale for .99c. The Mothman, UFOs, alien connections…it may appeal to you, I’ve got a post about it tomorrow on P.H. Solomon’s blog. Just saying, but all of that aside, the great thing about RRBC (and their wonderful blog parties) is making connections with other members. Glad to connect with you, and I look forward to discovering your brand of story-telling! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Maggie! I’ve been noticing you across the virtual “room” for a while now, thinking I really need to learn more. I’ve had Captured Lives on my tablet reader since March of last year, but getting through my list keeps being slowed by working on projects with Fresh Ink Group, sometimes reading, sometimes editing our group’s books. I WILL get to it, and it will be wonderful after anticipating it for so long! I was at a store selling hermit crabs right at the time I was thinking about what a short that introduces my FPatch characters could be about. As a youngster I liked keeping some critters, but for me setting up elaborate habitats that kept them happy was important. In the store, they had dozens in a tiny plain enclosure, and I thought my narrator Dante wouldn’t like that. Voila! Yes, that’s my voice, which lacks gravitas, but this was the first trailer Beem Weeks and I made as we were learning our software. (I’m a retired TV producer used to teams working in expensive suites, so now I’m in a phase of figuring out what I/we can do on laptops sitting by the lake in Alabama and Skyping with Beem 700 miles away.) I have access to a raft of professionals, but I’m rather liking the convenience of just opening an app and hitting record. (I did have a pro friend read one for my book of essays, but we’ve not made that trailer yet.) Thanks for visiting, Maggie!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Fellow writers, after deeply reading KRAB KAPER by Stephen Geez, it’s incisive, a cutting up with a crab story, A tribute to this master writer.
    Overview: I remember this story’s Flynn and Taj and Dante’ Roenik from FANTASY PATCH, a fine, fast-moving, character-rich novel. Now, they’ve apparently reappeared to re-tickle my brain with their capers…<-well, not the food "capers," but the food
    crabs, which look appetizing in the videos. Which
    also look ticklish in their "writhing" video presentations. As usual, the talents of Stephen Geez are abundant. Keep on writhing and krabbing along, Mr. Geez. And, of course, keep on writing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Dr. Borel. I do loves me some capers topping some baked fish! One of the characters you cited is the only time I carried someone from one novel of mine into another (except series). Flynn Durbett is introduced in Invigilator, which is a very different kind of book than Fantasy Patch. Still, when I wrote Patch, I needed someone like him, and I figured, heck, this guy has to go wherever I tell him, so I aged him some years and brought him into Dante’s tale. Oh, the power we wield! Thanks for your visit and supportive comment.

      Like

  7. John, the memory is a bit hazy, but I’m fairly sure back in college I had several beers with a hermit crab! That’s quite a superlative compliment you posted there, and it’s much appreciated! Congrats on your new cover! I’ll see ya ’round the terrarium.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love it when characters attain such a life of their own that they spin off from their original setting. If nothing else, that shows some serious character development. I loved Dante in Fantasy Patch and it’s great to see him in action again. I hope he finds new venues along with Flynn. Great little story and even greater message about caring for the living creatures around us. Love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Marcha. I have this notion that each of my novels is written in a very different style with very different characters; plus I’ve noticed feeling maudlin about finishing a book and having to say goodbye forever to characters I’ve come to know so well. So, having an excuse to bring back Dante and his crew, if only for a few minutes, was great fun. Maybe I should write more “promo shorts.” Living creatures, yes. All my life I’ve appreciated those around me, and now I’m on an Alabama lake discovering that birds are cool, too. I have purple martin gourds aswarm, wood duck boxes full of eggs, bluebird houses getting busy, plus a plethora of usual denizens from bald eagles and ospreys down to Carolina wrens. My favorite, though, is a five-foot blue heron who comes to hang out and stalk the waters outside my window every day. Dante is more like me than any of my characters (though his buddy Frank is another side of me, too), so I think Dante would want to teach the kids it’s okay to have a critter friend, but you make sure his little world keeps him happy. Thanks for the great comment!

      Like

    • Ha! I’m standing with you holding my placard, too! I’ve noticed when I open my tablet it sparkles with Fairy Dust. It’s, like, I think next or second next on my list now, too. I look forward to it. I love your bio, which certainly explains why A GIRL grew up to write fantasy, a phenomenon too rare in this quarter of the globe. Your walks must give you a chance to pause and pay attention to all the life around you. How cool is that? Thanks for visiting and commenting, Wendy. I’ll be paying attention…

      Like

  9. Thank you, Stephen! What a lovely way to begin my day. Your story made me laugh … “about the irresponsible, um, spreading of crabs.” But more than that, it made me smile (albeit in a misty way) I was both touched and delighted, what a lovely way to discover your work up close and personal. My TBR list just went into ‘overdrive’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Frances, you’ve offered a great reason to participate in such blog-sharings. You’re not familiar to me, and (oh no!) I’m not familiar with your work. More frustrating, I can’t find anything by you on Amazon (unless you are F. B. Veneziano, but I can’t confirm when the bio never says Frances!), and I can’t find you on Twitter. So, please use the contact page hereabouts and send me a note. If the orphan book is yours (and your first!), I’d like to add it to my library and keep an eye on you and your upcoming works. I look forward to learning more!

      Like

    • Natalie, you just made me smile broadly! (Broadly?–sounds weird!) You’ve been tickling my intrigue lobe for a while now. I made a graphic placard to help support your work with tweets. I listened intently to your interview with Beem Weeks. I’m sufficiently enthralled now that I daren’t look away! I’m watching to see what’s your next act. Thanks fro the broad-smile-inducing comment. Great luck to you, and be sure to alert me if/when I can help!

      Like

  10. Hi Stephen. I like your site and I just followed you. Loved the crab story and the visuals. I always wonder how to handle a post for these blog tours. Very creative! Enjoy your party, though I think some RRBC members have cleaned out the bar!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh, it’s so bright here at the Neon House! Hey, you’re that new kid who keeps smiling from across the room. I was tweeting in support before you even had a cover to share with us. You muscled yourself right up onto the A list, so you can reach behind the bar where we hide the good stuff. Yeah, you invite that bunch from RRBC over and discover they’re not wastrels after all, despite what you might have heard. They do drink up the bar, pocket all the snacks, and scare the pets; but when you’re cleaning up you see the mess sparkling, and you look close, and you discover they’ve left fabulous gems, snippets of writing, notions and ideas and concepts and characters who’ll be your friend or enemy, plots to rival the best of literature or the funnest of pop culture, and the room tingles with the glow of good people who have passed through and spread a bit of magic here and there. Look closely, just as I’ve been looking your way. If you want to see magic, go where the magicians hang out–even if they drink up the bar and pocket all the snacks and scare the pets. Thanks for visiting Boom_lyn. You brought some magic, too!

      Like

    • Hey, Kim~! Wow. I’ve been a fan of yours since I joined RRBC, like day one, nearly two years ago (that long?–explains my arthritis…). I swear I’m going to come by and visit y’all there in the Carolina colonies someday, if only a drive-by window-shout. If you look closely at the animated gifs peppering the story, you’ll see one showing a crab switching shells. I had one as a pet in my youth, keeping him for fifteen years as he went from a little feller to a big old guy. I kept bigger shells nearby for him, and every now and then I’d see him checking one out. I’d sit for hours to watch while he sized it up and positioned it precisely so he could make the one-second switch. (They’re very soft and vulnerable at the back end, rather like some people I know.) What fun! Thanks for the visit and support. You’ve been on my list of all-time favorite people I’ll probably never actually meet, and I’m proud to have you on there!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What an incredible short story! It has piqued my interest and I find Fantasy Patch now readily available on my iPad! It isn’t often a short story comes to life like your has! Kudos, Mr. Geez! What a great party you are throwing here today. I hope to find it this exciting on every visit!

    Thank you for the fantastic post for the #RRBC Springtime Book and Blog Block Party!

    Patricia Green

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Rhani! I love to scuba dive with suspicious crabs eyeing me from under the coral, and to watch land hermits sizing up shells for a move up, and to eat snow crab and tanner crab and dungeness (my favorite) and blue crab and king. They’re been putting tanner and snow on sale hereabouts for $9 a pound! Open one of my freezers and it looks scary in there, all legs and shoulders. I’m proud that you visited and left a note. How cool is that?

      Like

  12. I’m glad you made it, Shirley. Born in Detroit, raised in the ‘burbs, I knew hermits only as sold in the pet store. My friend who grew up in Lincoln Park and Wyandotte and is visiting me next week now lives in Clearwater, Florida, where the crabs come up from the beach and hang out in his yard. What a fun world. It’s nice to (virtually) see you again. Thanks for the visit and comment.

    Liked by 1 person

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