It’s time for another interview and this time it’s my great pleasure to introduce Fish from Chump Change (written by Jeff Lee) to you all. Fish, why don’t you introduce yourself to everyone:
I dunno, not sure I’m all that special. Hell, I’ve got an eye on each side of my nose and my legs reach all the way to the ground. Add a pair of arms that are sleeved in tattoos and healthy dose of wise-ass, and you’ve pretty much got the whole package. My mother used to joke that they broke the mold before they made me. I mean, I’ve done a lot of different things in my life. Shipping and receiving for a big department store; been a restaurant line cook and a sous chef. Worked for a big-time, downtown law firm, helping the rich avoid the consequences of their actions. (Christ, whatever you do, don’t get me started on lawyers. Please!) Now I practice a little law here, a little bail jumper apprehension and vehicle repossession there. And when we’re not doing that, the two junior members of the firm and I try to spend as much time as we can lickity-splitting up and down the coast on our Harleys. Look, at the end of the day, if we’ve done what we said we’d do; didn’t fracture any major statutes getting it done; and nobody’s wearing any fresh plaster on their extremities, then it was a good day. And if I’ve managed to royally piss off one attorney or A-list player, then life is good.
NN Light: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Not knowing when to keep my big, fat pie-hole buttoned & shut. You diss the mayor of a city the size of Los Angeles, or insult the worldwide head production for one of the major studios in a meeting, and they’re gonna come looking for a little payback. And sometimes, these bozos get pretty damn creative about it. But then again, hey, screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke.
NN Light: What is your greatest extravagance?
Hell, with what I do for a living, I can afford a number of things some people might see as extravagances. Like a house up on the cliffs in the Malibu barrio. And Kenny, Einstein and me fiddle-farting around on about 150K worth of custom Harleys. But, that’s just stuff. The real extravagance is that I only work with people I want to work with. If I don’t like a client, I can tell them to blow it out their little brown star, and walk away. And I’ve got friends – not just acquaintances. But guys (and women) I would trust with my life. Because I have. In a town like this, that’s an extravagance almost nobody can brag about.
NN Light: What is the quality you most like in a woman?
OK, beauty is definitely up there. I mean, in the final analysis, I am a guy. And L.A. is the paparazzi capital of the whole freakin’ world. But if a woman doesn’t take herself or this stupid town too seriously, if there’s a well-developed brain behind those gorgeous eyes, then yeah. She definitely has my attention.
NN Light: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Maybe get myself in better shape. What can I say? I love to cook and I’m pretty damn good at it. So, maybe I’m a little more aerodynamic than I’d like to be. Especially with what I, and my two buds do for a living. I mean, sometimes, a simple bench warrant roundup can turn into a full-contact sport.
NN Light: What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, loyalty and a sense of humor. Look, when it comes to stuff like this, I’m old school. I need to know my friends aren’t going to try to stick it to me when I’m not looking, because that’s something I just wouldn’t do. If you’re a friend of mine, I need to know that you’ve got my back, come Hell or high water. Because I’ve definitely got yours. And if I bust your gonads over a poker bluff you couldn’t turn, a date gone sideways, or even an ugly gift you picked out for your wife, I need you to be able to laugh with me. What’s more important, I want you to be able to return my little digs in spades. That’s what I look for in a friend.
NN Light: What is your motto?
“Non illigitamus carborundum.”
It’s Latin for, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
Thank you, Fish, for that, ummm, honest interview. (chuckles) To read more about Fish and his adventures in L.A., check out:
Title: Chump Change
Author: Jeff Lee
You think being the Bounty Hunter and Repo Guy to the Stars is easy? Just talk to “Fish” Fishbein. If he isn’t trying to round up a heavily lubricated ex-rocker, he’s flying down the freeway in a repoed Wiener Mobile, chased by the pistol-packing deadbeat who owns it.
A bail bondsman hires him to track down a crew of un-wise guys who blew off their court date to snatch L.A.’s monthly parking meter take — 300 grand in quarters. Then they start dropping like flies. And Fish has to catch the killer.
Maybe it’s the city’s armed and dangerous Parking Meter Czar. Or his brother-in-law, a corrupt televangelist who needs some serious coin to bankroll his foray into Bible-based porn. Or the Rev’s wife and co-minister, who’s several clicks beyond bonkers about toddler beauty pageants. Or, it just might be the defrocked talent agent who’s dying to make Fish a reality TV star.
With more than seven tons of quarters at stake, bodies are dropping faster than turn-downs on America’s Got Talent. And if Fish and his hog-riding buds, Kenny and Einstein, don’t nab the killer in a hurry, they could get eliminated themselves.
Chump Change is author Jeff Lee’s third book in his Adventures in La-La Land series, following The Ladies Temperance Club’s Farewell Tour and Hair of the Dog. If you enjoy the whacko characters, situations and fast pace that Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard bring to the party, check out all of Fish Fishbein’s big adventures.
WARNING: Contains some of the most hysterical erotica scenes ever written.
“Yeah, I’m pretty damn happy to see you too.” Fish lifted Beast up and for a few moments, it was hard to tell which of the two pack members was happier to see the other.
Then, right in the middle of madly pumping his tiny legs in mid-air and trying to lick Fish’s nose, the little dog suddenly stiffened and started growling and barking in the direction of the front. Fish set him back down and Beast tore off for the front of the house, trailing a non-stop torrent of angry barks and growls that would have been more menacing, had he been about seventy pounds heavier.
A few months ago, right after their run-in with the hit man who talked like Marilyn Monroe, Fish had security around Big Dog Recoveries’ world headquarters building seriously beefed up.
Now there were motion sensors in the hallways and every window and exterior door was wired. And about a half dozen security cameras now kept an eye peeled 24/7 on the inside and outside of the house, including the front door.
While the doorbell was serenading the interior of the house with an eighties Aussie rock band musically musing Who Can It Be Now, Fish took a second to eyeball the video screen on the wall next to the door.
Some bozo was standing on the welcome mat, looking all Fred MacMurray in a shapeless, conservative business suit.
Fish didn’t have much of an issue with that. You didn’t see a lot of three-piece banker’s suits around this part of Malibu, but what the hay.
But he did have a problem with the way this stranger checked the snub-nosed .38 in his hand and then shoved it back into the waistband of his slacks.
He pushed the talk-back button on the monitor.
The man at the door was startled by Fish’s voice and jumped a little, almost dropping his gun.
“You Morris Fishbein?”
Without taking his eyes off the monitor, Fish reached behind and back into the kitchen. The junk drawer was at the top of a floor cabinet where the kitchen counter ended at the doorway.
“Because you and I need to have a talk,” came back over the intercom.
Fish slid the drawer open, rooted around and pulled out a nine millimeter Glock trailing a couple of rubber bands and miscellaneous bits of flotsam and string. Sure, the gun wasn’t loaded, but the guy on the other side of his door probably wouldn’t have that piece of intel.
“OK, Wild Bill. This here’s a gun-free zone. You want to come in … then leave your six-shooter on the chair by the door.”
“Gun?” His visitor shrugged into the monitor, trying to look innocent and clueless. “What gun?”
Fish made a loud buzzer sound. “Ehhnck! Wrong answer, buckaroo. X gets the secret square. You want to try Rose Marie to block?”
“C’mon, it’s completely legal,” Fish’s wanna-be visitor fired back as he flipped open his wallet and held an official looking, City of L.A. stamped card up to the camera. “I even got a permit to carry. See?”
“So do a lot of other people, Hoss. But you don’t see any of them around here, either.”
The man on the monitor sighed in resignation. Then he grumbled under his breath as he pulled the pistol from his belt and set it on the chair next to the door.
“Good,” Fish took another look at the monitor, where the metal detector’s LED was still glowing red.
“Now, the back-up piece.”
On the monitor, his visitor opened his mouth to protest.
Then he had second thoughts, lifted his foot onto the chair and pulled a small caliber automatic from the holster velcroed around his ankle, and left it sitting next to its larger cousin.
“You happy now?”
“Uh huh, like the pig that found out it was too late for the luau,” Fish chuckled. “Just one more question, cowboy. Who the hell are you?”
The man dug a business card holder out of the inside pocket of his suit jacket and held one of his cards up in front of the camera.
Fish could make out the official city of Los Angeles seal, but that was about it.
“The name’s Harry Fairweather.”
Fish unlocked the door and pulled it open, keeping the hand with the unloaded Glock out of view.
“Hey, Harry. Call me Fish.”
He held out his free hand for his visitor to shake, but the man pressed his business card into it, so Fish took a second to read over the card.
“Hmm, so when did the city of L.A. start making armed house calls?”
“You all done being cute, wise-ass? Can we talk now, or do I have to wait for the end of your show?”
“Mighty big words, Hopalong. Especially for a guy who left his shootin’ irons out in the front yard.”
Born near New York City and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jeff Lee has spent his entire writing career in Los Angeles. For more than 35 years, he has been a copywriter, producer and creative director for some of the advertising industry’s most recognizable agencies, winning numerous awards for his creativity and wise-ass sense of humor. Typical for his industry, none of those ad agencies are still in business, but Jeff appears to have pretty solid alibis for the deaths of each one.
Retired from advertising, Jeff now spends his time on his own writing, having produced four novels – The Ladies Temperance Club’s Farewell Tour, Hair of the Dog, Chump Change and Bird Boy. Each of these books debuted to rave reviews, garnering all 4 and 5-star reviews.
Trained as a cook in the Army, he still enjoys being creative in the kitchen, and admits that few things in life compare with the thrill of discovering you’ve just given a nasty case of food poisoning to 140 heavily-armed troops.
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