Like a lot of other young men in the ’60s, Kirk Jones was drafted into the military. The Ohio native seized the opportunity to go overseas. “That’s something every young man and women should do, go and see how life really is in other places,” he says. “When you get home, you appreciate life here.” Now settled in Charleston, Jones published his first novel, Nab Jones, last year under the pen name B.C. Kidd (B.C. stands for Butler County).
The book’s title character is a unique African American superhero, an alter ego of Nate Jones. In his military years, Nate gambles and takes drugs until an ancient tribe saves him from death by resurrecting him as Nab. Nate/Nab devotes his life to combating drug abuse and distribution before settling down and starting a family with journalist Rita Dunn. When Rita is kidnapped, Nab comes out of retirement. Many storylines in the book were directly inspired by Jones’ life.
Jones was nicknamed Kidd by his peers during his time in the Air Force. “Air Force personnel aren’t really known to be combat guys, but I was proud to be associated with the troops,” he explains. “I used to count bombs, inventory them, and make sure their shelf life hadn’t expired.”
Jones says that he would also go to bombsites, dismantle dangerous munitions, and ship them back to America from Cambodia. The high-pressure work needed a safety valve, so he drank, gambled, and partied a lot.
However, it was his bad attitude that really got him in trouble. “The military thing to do was get drunk and go AWOL,” he says. “The Philippines was the land of AWOLs, which was acceptable for everyone from grunts to generals. It was all kinda messed up.”
Jones left the military in 1975. Dreaming of being a writer, he decided to develop a thriller that would eventually be called Nab Jones. He had plenty of material; he’d logged every detail of his service, and he always had a story to tell. But getting started on the book was easier said than done.
“I automatically got a slide tech job with the federal government,” he says. “That kept me busy.” But when his son contracted lymphatic cancer, Jones went back to school, “to get health qualifications to help him out.” The newly trained occupational therapist was present for his son’s surgery and saw him through his recovery. Jones continued the same career for 13 years, working with clients who had suffered gun shot wounds, head traumas, and injuries from motor vehicle accidents or assaults. Eighty to ninety percent of them were due to drug abuse, he says. Every patient had a story, and Jones filed them all away in his mind.
His life changed again when, according to Jones, he suffered a spinal injury in 1996. He finally had time to pen his novel, which he sweated through for the next three years. “There’s a lot of truth in the book even though it’s fiction,” he insists. “A lot of things I write about took place, with the exception of the supernatural elements. The travel, the people, the food, the sights, the trouble I got in. I just ran with it as if it was something.”
With the book complete, Jones was ready to submit the manuscript. Then he encountered the biggest obstacle of his life. “In 2000 I experimented with crack cocaine,” he sighs. “I’d heard about the lifestyle and the women.”
After getting heavily hooked, he finally contacted the VA. “They have a program that helps vets out, but to this day it’s a battle for me. I struggle with my sobriety. Crack haunts me, tells me to get a fix. This drug will kill you — I know a lot of people who are not here today because of it.”
Last year, Nab Jones arrived in paperback via Xlibris, a self-publishing company. He heralded its release with ads on CARTA buses and posters stating, “Jesus walked on water. Nab Jones ran across it.”
As with most self-published books, Nab Jones could use the touch of a good editor. It’s marred by typos, unlikely dialogue, and a scattershot structure. The author makes the bold choice of having Rita narrate, describing events, thoughts, and feelings she doesn’t witness. Nevertheless, the core concept of Nab Jones is sound, there are lots of entertaining ideas, and the story has the pace and excitement of a blockbuster movie. Best of all, there’s Kirk Jones’ autobiographical cautionary tale running throughout. The book ends with a message: For a drug addict, love and affection is AWOL. Typos or no, that’s a message worth reading.