Excerpt: Sean Penn's "Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff"

Simon & Schuster

Two-time Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn has written his first novel, the dark comedy *Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff," just published by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (a division of CBS).

Like his character in 2015's "The Gunman," the protagonist of Penn's novel is an assassin, but he's one who doesn't use a gun. Bob Honey is a septic tank salesman-turned-assassin who kills people with a mallet.

It's a satire ("Yeah. I mean, everything's a metaphor for something," Penn told CBS News' Tracy Smith), but the satire can also get pretty grim.

Read an excerpt below; and check out Smith's profile of Penn for "Sunday Morning."



SEPTEMBER 15, 2001

"911 . . . What's your emergency?"

"Yes. My name is Helen Mayo. I live at 1531 Sweet Dog Lane. I don't know if I have an emergency, but I do have a new neighbor and I'm sorry if I just think he's [loud dog barking renders caller unintelligible]—Nicky, please!—I'm sorry that's just my little doggy—if I just think he's behaving strangely, and perhaps, the police would like to take a look, or maybe go and . . . you know, sniff it out. Sniff, chat, whatever it is that you do." [more dog barking]

"It's a little difficult to hear you, ma'am. Can you describe the strange behavior, please?"

"Well, it seems he's wrapping some kind of insulated wire around his house." "Insulated wire, ma'am?"

"Yes, or maybe a clothesline. He's spooling it into his toolshed. I don't know his exact street number, but it's just two doors from me and across the street and I can see him from my kitchen window and, well . . . I don't know. I just think the police should be involved."

"Okay, ma'am. Thank you for your call. We'll go ahead and notify patrol."

"Thank you. Bye bye. [renewed loud dog barking] Who's a good boy-ee?"

DECEMBER 7, 2003

Numerous residents of Upper Sweet Dog Lane reporting overgrowth of a neighbor's lawn. A 30-day notice has been posted.

DECEMBER 23, 2003

Resident at 1528 Sweet Dog Lane was cited for illegal posting of placard admonishing, "International Airports Boast Morbid Mannequins at Duty Free."

At 2200 hrs., a patrol car, dispatched to the address, served the citation to the location. Resident was either not home or nonresponsive to officers. The citation was left at resident's door.

DECEMBER 24, 2003

At 0634 hrs., Woodview County Sheriff's office was contacted by cited resident.

"Woodview Sheriff's Office."

"Yes, ma'am. I am resident 1528 Sweet Dog Lane and in receipt of a citation for illegal posting. To whom it may concern, it wasn't my sign."

(Without sufficient evidence to the contrary, citation was rescinded.)

DECEMBER 29, 2003

Neighbors complain of excessive lawn mower noise—0300 hrs. When patrol arrived at scene, all was quiet. Scent of fresh cut grass permeating the air.

DECEMBER 1, 2004

"911. What's your emergency?"

"Yes, this is Helen Mayo on Sweet Dog Lane."

"Yes, Ms. Mayo. What's your emergency?"

"Well, I just don't know. But that neighbor, I've called you about him before. He's cut his hair in a rather disturbing way."

"He's cut his hair, Ms. Mayo?"

"Yes, but I wouldn't bother you with a fashion, you know."

"No, I'm sure you wouldn't, ma'am. But you have to help me understand your concern."

"Well, this hairdo of his, it's something like a Nazi, or a woodshop teacher. And as you know, I'm not the only one on this street who has registered my concerns about this man. Despite numerous complaints or reports or what have you, I'm just baffled that you all have never actually engaged this gentleman. That you people haven't made any official law enforcement contacts. Forgive me if I . . . that with all his strange behavior and haircuts and all that . . . you know what I mean . . . I'm not saying he looks Arab, mind you. He's a white man. Anyone could see that, but I still think that the police should, well, you know . . . yes, sniff him out, just sniff that man out!"

Station One 



Cactus Fields, a Low-Cost Home for Assisted Senior Living, looms like a large khaki-colored brick isolated against a backdrop of distant ambient light. Its draped windows and solitary silhouette sit in a seemingly endless desert tableau. Here it seems that the desert itself has been deserted.

And there they are, the brand-less beasts of yesteryear. Moist, sagging eyes, illuminated by the rarefied strobe of a passing car on the interstate. Behind the windows of the beige stucco building that sits behind a dilapidated, sporadically visited parking lot where brown weeds burst through fissures in the pavement, eight senior residents have been awakened by the power cut. They huddle side by side in plastic chairs. Portraiture of sagging faces falling in and out of indelicate light and shadow. Theirs, a blotchy batch of colorless dermal masks. That last life spark extracted from their oblivion, a reckoning of their uselessness in a world where branding is being. Bound by brutal boredom. Then . . .

mercy comes.


A chosen three down.

The elderly are being executed by a talented blunt force. Gloved hands reconnect wires in a power box out back. Eight now reduced to five whose day will come. A dull white Pontiac ignites its engine, rolls over the fissures of weed onto the interstate and under its driver's breath, "It wasn't me."

Excerpted from "Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff" by Sean Penn. Copyright © 2018 by Sean Penn. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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