"Police Navidad"

"Josh Pachter is a professor of communications and film and a translator of crime fiction from Flemish and Dutch. He is also the author of nearly six dozen short stories, an adult novel (Dutch Threat) and the children's book First Week Free at the Roomy Toilet. His writing career began in the pages of EQMM in 1968, when he was just seventeen, making him one of the youngest writers ever published in this magazine. Decades later he collaborated with his daughter, Rebecca K. Jones, on her first fiction for EQMM."

Early in 2014, my wife Laurie and I went to see Robert Earl Keen perform at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. During a song called "Merry Christmas From the Family," I could've sworn I heard Robert Earl sing the words "Police Navidad" instead of "Feliz Navidad," and I thought now that would make a great title for a short story! When Laurie and I got home, I Googled the phrase "Police Navidad" and discovered that (1) it doesn't ever seem to have been used as a title before, but (2) it is in fact an actual thing, both an urban slang expression and the name of an annual celebration held around the holidays in Alaska and parts of the Southwest. In this video of the song on YouTube, it sounds like Robert Earl actually is singing "Feliz" rather than "Police," but the seed was planted in my mind, and the result was this story.

In homage to Robert Earl Keen, I have named the two male characters Bob Keen and Earl, and the one unnamed song quoted in the story is no surprise here "Merry Christmas From the Family." (The reference to Lyle Lovett is an acknowledgment of the fact that Keene and Lovett used to be college roommates. If you know Lyle Lovett's work but didn't know about the connection with REK, this will explain why the opening lines of Lyle's "Record Lady" are, "Robert Earl, he's a friend of mine, you know, he's always lookin' out for my best interests....")

This story kicked off what was the most active EQMM year I've ever had, since I also had translations in the February, May, July, and September/October issues. Another piece of trivia is that this was the first time my byline ever appeared in three consecutive issues of the magazine: since I had a translation in the December 2014 issue, "Police Navidad" was the filling in a Josh-in-EQMM sandwich.

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