Thursday, January 23, 2014

Liberty on Beale Street

by Jude Hardin

Someone once asked me where I get my ideas. It’s a common question, and one with as many answers as there are authors, I suppose. For me, story ideas often come from real-life experiences. Not to say that my work is autobiographical. Not at all. But every snowball at the top of every hill needs that first push to get it going. That’s what I’m talking about. A catalyst.

I joined the Navy in 1985. After boot camp, I was sent to Memphis, Tennessee for some initial training in my chosen field of avionics. They kept me busy for the first few weeks, but eventually I earned a Saturday and Sunday free from duty. In the Army they call it a weekend pass. In the Navy they call it Liberty. It’s what you live for.

On our very first day away from the base, my friend Jeff and I decided to check out some of the drinking establishments on Beale Street. We chose a place that wasn’t too crowded, grabbed a stool at the bar and ordered some drinks. Rum and Coke for him, Miller Lite longneck for me. We hadn’t earned our “civvies chit” yet, so we were in our dress whites. Just a couple of sailors out having a good time.

We sat there and chatted for a while, drinking our drinks and munching on pretzels and generally enjoying an afternoon free from responsibility.

Then it happened.

A man sat on the barstool next to mine. Jeff was on my left, and this guy was on my right. He was short and skinny, and he needed a shave. Tattered jeans, dirty jacket, greasy black hair.

He put his hand on my leg, and at the same time leaned over and whispered in my ear.

“You’re pretty,” he said.

“You need to move along,” I said.

But he didn’t. He didn’t move along. Instead, he slid his hand down to my inner thigh. Furious at the nerve of this creep, I grabbed my beer bottle, broke it across the bar, and jammed it into his face.

The man screamed. Bright red blood gushed from the hole where his cheek used to be. He stood and staggered back and pulled a .22 caliber revolver out of his pocket.

Fortunately, two guys grabbed him from behind before he could get a round off. They threw him down and pinned him to the floor. I guess they held him there until the police came, but I didn’t stick around to find out. Jeff and I hurried out to the street, walked a few blocks and then took a bus back to the base.

Just a couple of sailors out having a good time.
Is that the end of the story?

No. It’s only the beginning.

Is that what really happened?

No. But someday I might decide to use that day on Beale Street as the initial spark for a new thriller.

Get the idea?

New from Jude Hardin: iSEAL
A civilian contractor for the Department of Defense has created an implantable brain-computer interface that will make the fiercest warriors on the planet exponentially smarter, faster, and deadlier. Codename: iSEAL. After years of painstaking research, the device is finally ready for human trials. Desperate to be reinstated as a Special Forces candidate, Nathan Brennan reluctantly volunteers for the study. Four weeks as a lab rat and his military career will be back on course. Unfortunately, by the end of day one, he finds himself on the run from the police, the CIA, and a mysterious criminal mastermind named Oberwand. With no memory of his past, and with little hope for a meaningful future, Brennan must utilize every weapon in his binary arsenal just to stay alive.

Jude Hardin publishes thrillers in several different subgenres. He graduated from the University of Louisville in 1983 with an English degree, and currently lives and works in northeast Florida. When he’s not pounding away at the computer keyboard, Jude can be found pounding away on his drums, playing tennis, reading, or wandering the streets of Bakersfield wearing wraparound shades and a red bandana. You can learn more about Jude and his books at

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