Kraj The Enforcer: Stories


Kraj is a human wreck­ing ball, hid­ing a tac­ti­cal mind­set, along with his sense of humor. Barnes’ Croat knockaroud guy is mas­ter­ful­ly sub­tle, yet ampli­fied by the col­or­ful char­ac­ters around him.”

— Scotch Ruther­ford, Switch­blade Magazine

Rusty Barnes leads us on a pulpy under­world adven­ture pop­u­lat­ed by toughs, scum­bags, hench­men, dou­ble-crossers, pimps, and con men of the first water with his lat­est col­lec­tion The Kraj Sto­ries. Open­ing the book is step­ping into the cage and each turn of the page is a quick jab to the face. You’ll close the book and find your­self with a bloody nose, a crushed lar­ynx, and, if you’re real­ly lucky, that you’ve been set on fire.”

— Eryk Pruitt, author What We Reckon

Meet Kraj—pronounced krai—a low-lev­el errand boy and hit-man mas­querad­ing as a bounc­er for Tricky Ricky Gutier­rez, nefar­i­ous own­er of the Twist, a club in upstate Elmi­ra NY. A place that has both a LGBTQIA night and a cow­boy coun­try night, this cock­eyed cor­ner bar in north­ern Appalachia sup­ports Ricky’s ille­gal schemes, and serves as a rur­al balm for Croa­t­ian-war refugee Kraj.

Kraj plies his trade over a short span, mov­ing from pet­ty theft to strong-arm­ing tips from peo­ple at the door, break­ing up red­neck fights, pro­tect­ing the club’s nubile female staff and col­lect­ing gam­bling debts owed Tricky Ricky. Kraj even­tu­al­ly gets sucked fur­ther and fur­ther into Ricky’s under­world plans, where he wants to be seen as a man on the come-up, but he has prob­lems mov­ing up in Ricky's orga­ni­za­tion will nev­er solve. His sis­ter Ana, miss­ing since the Croa­t­ian War for Inde­pen­dence, nev­er strays far from his mind.

Kraj, togeth­er with his some­time girl­friend Cami, new­ly become man­ag­er of a fran­chisee McDonald’s, and his man­ag­er Mikael. nego­ti­ates his way through under­ground fight clubs, pros­ti­tu­tion rings, drug deals, pet­ty thiev­ery, and of course, mur­der. Tricky Ricky gives Kraj a great deal of rope and auton­o­my to operate.

Will he hang him­self with it or swing?

Pur­chase a copy here.