|Night Walk by David Hudnut|
How do you like the new cover for Night Walk?
Hopefully this will help sell more books. As any of you self-published authors out there know, the cover is king when it comes to selling a book. I read somewhere the notion that "your cover is your genre." While I liked the previous cover for Night Walk, it didn't fit with a modern, slickly published horror novel.
So I took the original photo I'd shot for the cover and slapped a new logo treatment on it. This cover certainly gets to the heart of the basic plot better than the old one did: family of three, walking alone at night, bad shit happens.
What do you think? Do you like this cover better, or do your prefer the old one?
If you don't care and just wanna get down to the business of reading, be my guest:
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
City of Angels. City of Devils.
In every city big or small, rich or poor, the killers walk alongside the innocent.
They travel the same streets and breathe the same air. Much of the time, they coexist harmoniously.
But when Devils walk alongside Angels, random acts of violence are bound to happen at any moment…
It was Friday night in West Hollywood. The misty sky overhead glowed faintly orange, illuminated by the tapestry of city lights beneath. Crowds meandered in and out of numerous restaurants and bars along La Cienega Boulevard, enjoying the balmy summer weather.
One restaurant, the award-winning Il Susso, was packed with people sitting elbow-to-elbow while dining on delicious edgy cuisine. The restaurant’s bar overflowed with conversation, laughter, and Friday-night energy.
Tyler Hastings, 22 years old, waited tables at Il Susso. When his shift ended, he cashed out with his boss Giorgio, said goodnight to the cooks and kitchen staff, and walked outside into the fresh night air, smiling. Another successful night at work. Tyler spotted Veronique, the late night hostess, who stood by her podium at the main entrance. Tyler had a thing for Veronique.
At work, Veronique was Red Carpet ready at all times. On any given night she would fit right in with gorgeous Hollywood A-list actresses who got decked out in exclusive designer wear for the Academy Awards. Tonight Veronique wore blood red lipstick, her hair up in sultry curls, and a form-fitting black dress that caressed her curves elegantly. Peep-toe Jimmy Choo knock-offs completed her ensemble.
“Hey Veronique.” Tyler casually loitered by the hostess podium, pretending to text someone on his phone.
“Hey Tyler! You all done for tonight?” Veronique jotted a note on her seating chart.
“Yup, all cashed out and ready to party,” Tyler quipped.
“Did you get a call back on that Warner Bros. audition?”
“Any day now,” Tyler sighed. “I know it’s a toss up between me, Brad Pitt and Chris Hemsworth.”
“Was Chris Hemsworth the guy who played Thor?”
“Oh, he’s super hot,” Veronique said wistfully.
“Like I said, they can’t make up their minds between me or him.” Tyler grinned. He wished he was in the same league as Pitt or Hemsworth, but he’d already realized that he was more of the supporting actor type. If Anthony Edwards could go from playing Gilbert Lowell in Revenge of the Nerds to Goose in Top Gun, Tyler thought, maybe I can find my own niche too. Unfortunately for Tyler, his only credits thus far were Customer #2 in an ad for In-N-Out Burger and Grocery Store Bagger in a Ralph’s commercial. “Got any plans this weekend?”
“Yeah,” Veronique said. “Thousands of dates with rich and powerful men, all of them legitimate producers, directors and studio execs. I plan on being famous by Monday.”
“Me too, I’ve got tons of dates lined up,” Tyler said.
“Yeah, probably with the same guys I’m dating! Being bi is so Hollywood.”
“Well, don’t steal any of my dates,” she said sarcastically and smiled dryly. “If you do, I won’t seat your tables.” Despite Veronique’s stunning appearance, she was yet another beautiful nobody looking for a break.
“As if,” Tyler replied. One of the other waiters at Il Susso had told Tyler that Veronique’s real name was Julie, but if you called her that she would kill you. Tyler was entranced by the idea that beneath the dazzling, high-gloss exterior of ‘Veronique’ hid an everyday ‘Julie.’
What Tyler didn’t know was that ‘Julie’ was three continents away from being single. She was secretly dating several different men. One was older, and had plenty of money. The second was young, and had a killer body. The third was crazy and dangerous and rode a Harley. All three believed they were the only man in Veronique’s life. A girl had needs, after all, and in her experience, one man couldn’t fulfill them all. She kept her dating life lock-down private at work because she hoped to be discovered by any of the many agents, producers and directors who came into the restaurant regularly. Powerful men always made time for attractive single women, even if they weren’t single themselves. Hollywood was all about the appearance of things, not the truth.
But the truth was, ‘Julie’ didn’t like the life she was living as ‘Veronique.’ Julie didn’t want to date three different guys or obsess over how to manipulate men into making her famous. All Julie wanted was to enjoy life like a normal person. Veronique—Julie—needed an honest, sincere man like Tyler, but she didn’t know it yet.
A low, predatory rumble caught Tyler’s attention. A glistening black Maserati GranTurismo Sport poured into the valet space in front of Il Susso. Two valets sprung into action, opening both doors simultaneously.
A coifed Mediterranean guy with sculpted shoulders stretched languorously out of the Maserati, as if he knew that the paparazzi cameras were trained on him and rolling. From the other side of the car slid a sizzling young woman wearing an explosion of high fashion clothing and accessories. Dark glasses shielded her eyes from the glaring light of midnight. They were an effortlessly orchestrated ad campaign for beauty. Business as usual in the heart of Tinsel Town on a Friday night.
Three men wearing loose fitting khaki clothing, carrying heavy camera bags, and holding long-lensed Nikons in front of them like assault rifles jogged across four lanes of honking traffic. They fired off semi-automatic strobe flashes, snapping photo after photo of the glamorous couple. The photos would show up within one hour on internet gossip blogs like PerezHilton or TMZ.
Tyler was enthralled by it all, and imagined that one day he might be driving a similar car, with a similar super-model on his arm. Or maybe it would be Veronique on his arm.
Julie, Tyler thought.
Veronique smiled wide at the mysterious power couple as they approached her podium. “Good evening. Table for two?” She winked at Tyler, a hint that he should move along and let her get back to work.
Tyler winked back at Veronique, telling himself he would see her again tomorrow night, when he could resume his slow burrowing past her chrome-plated exterior, toward what lay beneath.
He dashed across La Cienega through an opening in traffic and walked onto a side street and headed toward the adjoining West Hollywood neighborhood where he’d parked before work. The neighborhood had an upscale suburban quality reminiscent of Tyler’s hometown of Bloomfield Hills, but also had a smattering of $800-a-month apartment buildings sandwiched between the million-dollar condos. Every block was crammed full of enough parked cars to fill a Walmart parking lot. The streets were surprisingly quiet at night but had a creepy quality that Tyler could never quite identify.
“No matter how nice it seems, it’s still Los Angeles,” his father John would remind him several times a week on the phone. “It’s the big city, Tyler, not Bloomfield Hills. Be careful.”
Tyler tried to keep his dad’s warnings in mind. So far he hadn’t had any problems since moving to L.A. He wondered if his dad was being over-protective. Every city had problems. Even Bloomfield Hills. Look what happened in upper-middle-class Columbine. As long as Tyler was careful, like his dad said, he would be fine.
Two blocks from his car, walking briskly, Tyler caught his foot on the sidewalk. He turned to investigate. No crack or root-lifted pads of concrete. What had he tripped on? He noticed a telephone pole surrounded by tall ivy bushes. Something shuffled in the darkness of the ivy and agitated the branches. A twig snapped. Probably a cat. He turned and kept walking.
Something heavy punched Tyler in the kidneys. It twisted. Intense fire bloomed in the small of his back. A rough hand wrapped around his neck from behind and pushed him to the ground face-first.
Tyler’s nose pounded into the cement. White fireworks exploded in his eyes. One of his front teeth cracked off, but he didn’t realize it. Someone fell on top of him and a heavy knee slammed into his punctured kidney.
Before Tyler could recover from the shock, cold metal pressed against his throat and sliced. His flesh fell open easily under the sharp edge. Blood poured out of Tyler. It pooled around his head and shoulders on the sidewalk and soaked through the back of his shirt, where he had been stabbed in his kidney.
A hand reached into his back pocket and yanked out his wallet violently, ripping the seams. The seams popped tiny firecracker snaps.
Absently, Tyler thought: You ruined my pants. He couldn’t see who, or what, had attacked him. He heard the voice of his dad in his head: “It’s still L.A., son, be careful.”
The pressure on Tyler’s back was suddenly released as the attacker stood up.
Tyler’s head was turned toward the street, and he could see the man’s back as he trotted off into the shadows.The man wore sagging jeans and a white tank top. Tyler never saw the man’s face.
Faintly, from the darkness, Tyler heard the following words: “Shit dawg, you fucked dat boy up REAL good, yo.”
Tyler’s attacker chuckled and replied “Next muhfuckah be yours, yo.”
The two unknown men faded into the darkness.
Tyler tried to push himself up on all fours but collapsed when white lightning ricocheted in his bowels. He hadn’t felt any pain in his throat, but he felt very light headed and tired. Usually he was wired for several hours after working the dinner shift. He lay where he was and his mind drifted off as a blood-chill set into his bones. The eighty-two degree midnight weather would not warm him.
In his remaining moments of consciousness, Tyler thought about his mother and father. What were they going to think? This was the last thing they would ever have imagined would happen to him when he moved to Los Angeles to become an actor.
Tyler remembered how last night he had parked right on this same street. There had been no attacker then. Instead there had been a young couple leaning against the side of a parked Audi attempting to swallow each other’s tongues.
He thought about the fact that his tip money from work was still in his front pocket. His wallet contained only twenty dollars in cash and his nearly maxed-out Visa card. That guy didn’t even bother to check my other pockets. Tyler tried to spit out the word “dummy.” All that came out was a gurgley whisper.
The white stars in Tyler’s vision were fading, as was the faint orange streetlight glow covering him like a corrosive shroud.
He thought about his roommates Josh and Todd. Who is going to help them pay rent next month?
A faint image of Veronique shimmered in Tyler’s mind’s eye, blotting out all his other thoughts.
She smiled confidently at him. He slowly realized, with a pang of regret, that he would not get to talk with her at work tomorrow. He would never get to know the real Julie.
Blackness painted his eyes. He swam toward nothingness.
Tyler Hastings had never previously met the man who had killed him on this night. His murderer did not know him either. They were complete strangers, and would remain unknown to each other for eternity.
* * *
Tyler’s murderer will never be caught despite every effort from his father John. Over the coming year, John Hastings will spend a substantial portion of his savings hiring three separate private detectives to look into the case. All of this effort will yield nothing. No evidence, no clues, no leads, no suspects, no motives. Nothing.
The killer will get away with it. Justice will never be served.
Two years hence, Tyler’s mother Barbara will gently encourage John that it is time they let their son’s memory rest in peace. John will cry for two hours while sitting on Tyler’s bed in the boy’s enshrined bedroom. Barbara will sit next to him, her arm draped around him lovingly. John will hold Tyler’s 1st place Lahser High School Varsity Tennis trophy in his quivering fingers the entire time. The trophy will be damp with his tears when Barbara gently takes it from him and puts it into a box with Tyler’s other things.
No one, not even the murderer, will ever know why Tyler Hastings was killed at the age of 22, for twenty dollars in cash and a nearly maxed-out Visa card. It was purely a random act of violence.
It’s still L.A., son. Be careful.
Despite John Hastings’ cautious warning, his Angel Tyler is dead.
Another Angel will die in Los Angeles tomorrow.
The mysterious man in the white tank top and his companion will make sure of it.
To find out what happens next, buy the full novel of Night Walk on Amazon.com here.