Category Archives: Short Story

The Last Shot at Near To The Knuckle

near to the knuckleI have a new yarn up at Near To The Knuckle. It’s called The Last Shot.

I was ten minutes late. Chunky Baines stood in the crisp factory doorway with his hands on his hips or at least where his hips used to be. He was wearing a grubby string vest, stained tracksuit bottoms and a pair of worn tartan slippers, despite the fact that it was pissing down with rain. He chomped on a bar of chocolate.
I jogged up to him, sweating like a pig.
‘You’re late,’ said Chunky, grinning.
‘No shit Sherlock,’ I said.
‘Yes, I know Sherlock’s shit,’ said Chunky. ‘But Wilson’s been looking for you. He knows you’re late.’

Read the rest here.

OUT NOW! The Thirteen Lives of Frank Peppercorn

frank peppercornThirteen ways to remember the dead. Thirteen histories of a loving husband.

Betty Peppercorn is burning her husband Frank today. Well, she’s burning her property. The corpse she was left with as a reward for loving somebody for better or worse. Frank exists only in her thoughts, anymore.

To her knowledge, Frank had no friends. Betty’s not even sure he existed before they met. It comes as a major surprise, then, when several strange faces appear at the funeral, each of them bringing their own stories of what Frank meant to them.

As the day goes on, it becomes increasingly apparent that Frank was not the man she thought he was.

Thirteen new and established writers collide in this brand new novel-of-stories project from Ryan Bracha, the brains behind Twelve Mad Men, The Switched, and The Dead Man Trilogy. All proceeds will be donated to Alzheimer’s charities.

Featuring contributions from:

Dominic Adler – The Ninth Circle
Jason Beech – Moorlands
Kevin Berg – Indifference
Paul D. Brazill – A Case of Noir, Guns of Brixton, Kill Me Quick
Robert Cowan – The Search For Ethan, For All is Vanity
Craig Furchtenicht – Dimebag Bandits, Behind the 8 Ball
Shervin Jamali – The Devil’s Lieutenant
Jason Michel – The Death of Three Colours, The Black-Hearted Beat
Allen Miles – This is How You Disappear
Alex Shaw – The Aidan Snow series
Martin Stanley – The Gamblers, Glasgow Grin, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Billingham Forum
Mark Wilson – The dEaDINBURGH series, On The Seventh Day, Ice Cold Alice

Grab it from Amazon,com, Amazon.co.uk and loads of other places called Amazon.

Keep It Simple. Keep It Short.

4 picsI think I’ve always liked singles more than LPs. Preferred the short, sharp burst of a 45 rpm vinyl to 33 and 1/3 rpm of a few decent tunes padded out with fillers. And maybe that’s why I was drawn to flash fiction.

I started off my crime writing ‘career’ – arf – submitting yarns to the late lamented Six Sentences website – short stories in just six sentences. Indeed, my first writing to appear in print was in the 6S volume 2 anthology.

Here’s an example of a 6S yarn:

A Cold Day in Helsinki

The January night had long since waned when Mika blasted Aki’s brains over the snow covered street, producing a more than passable Rorschach test. A murder of crows sliced through the whiteness as the purr of the passing motorcycle grew to a roar, masking the sound of the shotgun. When day eventually melted into night, the moon hung fat and gibbous, the bloodstains now black in the moonlight. Mika draped Aki’s cold, dead skin over his own pallid flesh as, shivering, he breathed in the scent of cheap aftershave, cigarettes and booze. Sour memories trampled over his thoughts with bloodstained feet. Together forever he rasped, as tears filled his bloodshot eyes.

Or:

Snap, Crackle & Pop! 

Snap went Larry’s index finger when Mo bent it back. Crackle went the cigar that Mo slammed into Larry’s face. Pop went the pistol that Mo shoved under Larry’s chin. Snap went the paparazzi when Mo was led into court. Crackle went the electric chair when Mo was sent to meet his maker. Pop went the champagne cork in Curly and Shemp’s hotel room.

And I’ve also enjoyed writing a few other forms of flash and micro fiction too, such as 6word stories a la Ernest Hemingway.

Quentin.

Blah blah. Bang bang. Ha ha.

Or there are stories limited to fifty words for magazines such as Blink Ink.

Old Town, midnight.

The moonlight oozed across the dank cobblestones like quicksilver; creeping between the cracks, crawling into the gutters. Howls sliced the silence. Lara shivered, pulling the fur close to her flesh. Each heartbeat was like the tick of a clock. As the limousine growled into view, heavy footsteps shuffled closer.

And flash fiction in 100 words, which is known as Drabble.

Swamplands

Elvis awoke in a cold, dank sweat, hungover from bourbon and bad dreams. The nightmares had consisted of him being hunted through a swamp by the murderous spectre of Jesse, his stillborn twin. His pounding heartbeat seemed to echo through the mansion. He stumbled into the bathroom, splashed cold water on his face and looked in the mirror, only to be confronted by his own ashen reflection and that of his grinning doppelganger. Jesse tightly wrapped the umbilical cord around Elvis’ throat and pulled it until Elvis breathed no more. The king is dead, long live the king, he muttered.

Indeed, if you feel the urge to take the plunge into writing but just want to test the water, there are plenty of flash fiction sites online. Spelk Fiction, for example,’ limit you to 500 words and Shotgun Honey have a 700 word limit.  And it’s a great way for more experienced writers to practice disciplining their writing too.

So why not get flashing!

This post first appeared over at Debbi Mack’s blog.

Train In Vain at Pulp Metal Magazine

PULPLOGO (1)I have a new yarn up at Pulp Metal Magazine.

It’s called TRAIN IN VAIN:

Seatown train station was certainly a lot better looking than I remembered it but it still smelled of puke. And shit, And sweat. Well, it did now that Smiffy was there. He’d spruced himself up a bit, slicked back his hair, put on a double-breasted pinstripe suit. But his rancid stench still oozed out. I hadn’t really seemed to notice it when we were boozing together in The Cobble Bar but out here in the fresh air it seemed overpowering.

A small group of football fans, watched by an equal sized group of bored policemen, snaked out of the station, through the streets and toward the town centre. They were quieter than I expected but then I’d never been much of a football fan, even as a child. I assumed supporting a football team was something you just grew out of although a few of the fans looked as if they’d grown a bit too much. Especially around the stomach area.’

Check it out, if you fancy.

Check It Out! The Odds are Against Us: A Military-Fiction Anthology.

antho

Have you ever wished that people could publish the books that you wanted to read? Now, you can make that wish a reality! The Odds Are Against Us will be an anthology of military-fiction short stories, broadly defined, that celebrate the courage of those who push on despite the likelihood of failure. (Read the details here.) Open to new and experienced authors, this anthology is meant to serve an unfairly neglected genre—providing a place to tell stories about honor, will, cunning, and the other martial virtues that we admire.

The goal is to publish ten or more short stories, of between 3,500 and 7,000 words, and to pay the authors fairly for their work. Your donations will help support the authors whose work you want to read! (It’s part of a concept I like to call audience-driven writing.)

CHECK IT OUT! 

Short, Sharp Interview: Tom Leins

wu-tang-antho-coverPDB: Can you pitch This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck with: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology in 25 words or less?

Tremendous hip-hop inspired collection edited by Christoph Paul and Grant Wamack. My story, INCARCERATED SCARFACES, is a Paignton Noir remix of Van Damme’s Death Warrant!

 PDB: Which music, books, films, songs or television shows do you wish you had written?

Music: Mule Variations by Tom Waits, and Hold On in particular. That song and album introduced me to his work back in ’99, and remain firm favourites.

Book: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. An absolutely devastating piece of work. If I were to read it again since becoming a father it would probably destroy me!

Film: Pulp Fiction. Most of my nominal ‘Top 10’ movies would probably be drawn from the 1990s, back when video shops still ruled the roost. Tarantino has plenty of detractors nowadays, but the Reservoir Dogs-Pulp Fiction one-two punch still excites me.

TV show: Breaking Bad. Such a smart, multi-faceted show. Excellent storytelling, and great attention to detail.

PDB: Which of your books do you think would make good films or TV series?

I would love to see a Paignton Noir TV series one day. Regional voices have always done well in the UK cop-show world, and I would like to see my shabby seaside town given the same treatment. It would be great to shine a light on the sun-blurred beaches, dilapidated caravan parks, murky amusement arcades and time-ravaged pubs that are this town’s stock-in-trade. I’m working on a ten-book series, starting with ‘Boneyard Dogs’, so there is plenty of scope for small-screen action. (Of course, I need to get the actual books published first…!)

PDB: Who are your favourite writers?

Far too many to mention, so I will namecheck the writer I have been reading back-to-back in recent weeks: Adrian McKinty. I thoroughly enjoyed his Dead trilogy years ago, but his Sean Duffy series – set in 1980s Northern Ireland – sees him raise his game to dizzy new heights. The volatile backdrop provides extra frisson, and the mysteries themselves are impeccably put together. Plus, anyone who uses Tom Waits lyrics as book titles is worthy of our attention, right?

PDB: What’s your favourite joke?

My literary career!

PDB: What’s your favourite song?

To answer this question properly would take me weeks of contemplation and research, so I will defer to the all-time most-played track on my iPod: ‘Unchained (The Payback/Untouchable)’ by James Brown and 2Pac, as featured on the Django Unchained soundtrack.

tomleins-2017-bwPDB: What’s on the cards?

My story THE STOOGE is in the first issue of the brand new California crime magazine Switchblade, edited by Scotch Rutherford. It is one of the nastiest stories I have ever written, and has little in common with anything else I have ever published. After that, my story HERE COMES THAT WEIRD CHILL features in ‘More Bizarro Than Bizarro’, the new anthology from Bizarro Pulp Press, edited by Vincenzo Bilof. It is Paignton Gothic rather than Paignton Noir – a slight departure from my regular stuff. In terms of flash fiction, I have a new batch of wrestling noir stories in the pipeline, which I hope people dig.

PDB: Anything else?

Thank you for having me, Paul!

Bio: Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun HoneyNear to the KnuckleRevolution John and Spelk. He is currently working on a novella called Boneyard Dogs. Get your pound of flesh at https://thingstodoindevonwhenyouredead.wordpress.com

#FRIDAY FLASH: STOP ME IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS ONE

The Last Laugh paperbackGINGER RONNY HAD told Burkey about the murder towards the bitter end of one of their occasional raucous Tuesday night drinking sessions, as the dawn had desperately begun to grasp for life and Malcolm Duffy was grumpily getting ready to close up Le Duffy. But it wasn’t until the cusp of Wednesday evening—as Burkey struggled out of bed to start his night shift at the slaughterhouse—that the reality of the situation finally melted into his consciousness, like ice cubes in a glass of Jack Daniels.

‘Jude Walker,’ he groaned, as he sat on the stained and wobbly toilet. ‘Jude friggin’ Walker.’

He put his head in his hands as he pebble-dashed the inside of the toilet bowl with the residue of the previous night’s boozing session and tried to force a tear or two with the same passion that he’d shat. But he couldn’t. Despite all Jude had done for Burkey over the years, the man had been a nasty twat who’d had payback coming to him for donkeys.

Burkey showered, dressed and left his flat, a hovel that was above a closed down dirty book store and had been advertised as being a ‘loft-style apartment’. He started to have a nagging feeling tugging at him as he limped down the stairs, and it wasn’t just the need for a little eye opener before he started work.

As he shuffled into Le Duffy’s dimly lit bar, adjusting his eyes as he negotiated his way through the closely stacked tables, he realised what the problem was. Ronny had confided in him, Burkey. Or Gimpy, as Ginger Ronny usually called him. Of all of Ronny’s dodgy cronies and neo-incestuous family members he’d confessed a murder to Burkey.

Although they occasionally got drunk together, Ronny and Burkey had never been friends, as such. Even back in school he’d been worse than most of the other kids when it came to cruel jibes. Ronny had taken great pleasure in taking the piss out of Burkey’s limp. They were bound together by a love of the booze, though.

Malcolm served Burkey his usual pre-work shot of peppermint schnapps. He hated the taste but it didn’t smell of booze, they said. He sat at the bar, knocked it back and ordered another. This Ronny situation was a quandary and a conundrum, as his old granddad used to say. What the hell was Ronny up to?

He ordered another drink and tried to piece together what Ronny had actually told him about killing Jude.

It went like this: Ronny was in his Ford Granada in the car park outside The Bongo Club getting a blow job from Skinny Minnie, one of the club’s barmaids, who gave extras when it came close to her rent day. She was dressed as a schoolgirl since, although she was forty if she was a day, she had the skinny, petit body of an anorexic teen which boosted her earning capacity.

After she eventually swallowed his load, Ronny loosened his grip and allowed her to come up for air. He pulled a wad of notes from his Wranglers and peeled a few off. Most of the cash he used to pay her was counterfeit but there was so much of it in the town these days that it was becoming accepted currency.

He sat and smoked a joint while Minnie cleaned him up with baby wipes and there was a knock on the window. Well, more of a bang. Ronny wound down the window to see the massive form of Jude Walker shouting and screaming about something or other. Ronny had no idea what he was on about. Not that it mattered since Jude had a tendency to completely lose the plot over any old thing when he was snorting the crap coke produced by the same Russians that made the fake cash.

Ronny knew that there was nothing he could do to placate Jude and began to wind up the window when Jude stuffed a massive hand through the gap and grabbed Minnie by the throat. Well, Ronny, ever the gentleman, couldn’t allow that to happen so he pushed open the car door sending Jude sprawling backwards until he crashed his head against the breeze-block wall that everyone used to piss against when they went outside the club for a cigarette. Ronny walked over and saw that Jude was out for the count. And then, before he could do anything about it, Minnie turned up with a brick and proceeded to smash the shite out of the unconscious Jude’s big fat head.

Ronny apparently grabbed the brick from Minnie and slapped her till she calmed down. Then he started to hyperventilate. Jude Walker was an old school-friend, for sure, but he was also the off-white sheep in a very dark family. A very loyal family indeed.

Burkey looked up at the cracked triangular clock that hung behind the bar and realised that he was going to be late for work if he didn’t get a move on. Fuck it, he thought. This was serious stuff. He ordered another drink. A proper one this time. A double Jack D.

The bar had started to fill out without him realising it and he was in his pots, singing along to the Pina Colada song when someone tapped him on his shoulder. He could almost taste the sour breath.

‘Burkey, I need you,’ Ronny whispered in his ear. Burkey turned and saw Ginger Ronny, high as a kite, wearing a cagoule and covered in all sorts of mud and shit.

‘What do you…want?’ said Burkey.

‘I need you to help me bury him.’

***

‘Get a friggin’ move on Gimpy,’ said Ronny, as it started pissing down.

Ronny must have thought that using Burkey’s old school nickname would motivate him. Far from it. He was starting to realise that Ronnie was just manipulating him. Using him to do his dirty work.

Burkey forced a smile. He was getting soaked to the skin in a vandalised cemetery after spending the last half hour digging a grave, and Ronnie was going on and on at him like fingers down a blackboard.

Burkey stopped, the pain in his bad knee getting worse and worse in the cold and wet weather.

‘Give me a minute or two,’ he said.

‘Oh, for fuck’s sake, Gimpy, I friggin’ told you…’

Burkey swung the shovel without thinking about it and it smacked Ronnie square on in the head. Ronnie just stood there, an unlit cigarette in his hand. A blank expression on his face that reminded Burkey of a cartoon character.

So Burkey twatted him again and Ronny fell forward, joining him in the open grave. There was a flash of lightning, followed by a rumble of thunder as Burkey managed to drag himself out. He paused to catch his breath and got down to covering up the bodies with renewed enthusiasm, safe in the knowledge that he’d make it back to Le Duffy in time for last orders. But he’d keep himself to himself tonight, that was for sure.

(This yarn first appeared at PULP METAL MAGAZINE and is included in my collection THE LAST LAUGH)

The Liberator is BACK!

The Liberator. THE LIBERATOR is on sale again.

The skinny:

A priest tracks down his kidnapped sister and finds her trapped in a nest of evil.

Van Helsing meets The Punisher in The Liberator, a hard-boiled noir/ horror short story from Paul D. Brazill creator of Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI.

A dark and atmospheric story of the usual high standard you expect from Paul D.Brazill. Each scene is a perfectly blended mix of noir, horror and highly charged magic. Great characters, world weary cynicism and a great short story all in a few thousand words. Another winner from Brazill.’
You can grab THE LIBERATOR from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and any other Amazon.

Dark Minds Is OUT NOW!

life-after-life-dark-minds

DARK MINDS is:

A collection of short stories from some of your favourite authors

You think you know darkness? Think again.

Bloodhound Books presents Dark Minds – a collection of stories by authors who have come together to produce an anthology that will lure, tantalise and shock its readers.

What took place By the Water?

What goes on behind A Stranger’s Eyes?

dark-minds-paperbackAnd what is so special about Slow Roast Pork?

From master authors such as Lisa Hall, Steven Dunne, Louise Jensen and Anita Waller, readers can expect a one hell of a ride…

All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Hospice UK and Sophie’s Appeal.

Dark Minds is a collection of 40 crime and thriller short stories from authors including; Louise Jensen, L.J. Ross, Lisa Hall, Steven Dunne, Betsy Reavley, M.A. Comley, Alex Walters and Anita Waller plus many more.’

And it includes my yarn ‘Life After Life.’

You can get it from Amazon.com , Amazon.co.uk , and loads of other places too!

Yesterday’s Wine at Pulp Metal Magazine

PULPLOGO (1)I’m over at PULP METAL MAGAZINE with a little yarn called ‘Yesterday’s Wine.’

Pauline Williams really hadn’t wanted to talk to her brother. Not for a while, anyway. She’d been giving him the cold shoulder recently. She’d had more than enough of Billy’s shenanigans over the years, so she started to ignore his text messages and calls. She’d even unfriended him on Facebook. But when she found out he’d been in an accident, her resolve soon wilted. Family was family, after all.’

Check out the rest here.

J J Toner Reviews 13 Shots Of Noir

13 shots2Over at Amazon.co.uk, author JJ Toner says:

5.0 out of 5 starsA master of the noir genre.

I read these stories a year ago. I loved them all. Paul’s writing is to die for. I thought I wrote a review at the time, but can’t find it, now. A rare find, a kick-ass collection of noir stories told by a master of the genre. Highly recommended. Five stars. JJ Toner.’

New Dawn Fades in Crooked Holster 3

Crooked Holster: An Anthology of Crime and Thriller Writing: Volume 3

crooked-holster‘Dip into a deadly bath, lurk in a dark Glasgow alley, solve a puzzle in a dark railway station bar. In this third volume of Crooked Holster, the stories and poems travel from Australia to America, from Switzerland to Scotland with many treacherous detours along the way. With a foreword from Andrew Taylor, award-winning crime and historical author of The Ashes of London, The American Boy and the Lydmouth series, the Crooked Holster series continues to showcase the very best in emerging crime and thriller writing. Troublesome tourists, bloody witnesses and untrustworthy servants mingle with hard-boiled detectives and betrayed – or betraying – spouses. Loitering with devious intent and unexpected twists from the finest team, this edition of Crooked Holster will leave you wondering who you can trust.’

Includes my yarn NEW DAWN FADES. 

Dark Minds Book Trailer

 

The charity anthology is edited by Betsy Reavley and the full cast list is as follows:

Dark Minds Charity Anthology by Bloodhound Books

1. Ten Green Bottles — B A Morton
2. London’s Crawling — Emma Pullar
3. The Shoes Maketh The Man — Louise Jensen
4. Never tell a Lie — Tara Lyons
5. A Christmas Killing — Richard T Burke
6. By the Water — Betsy Reavley
7. A Cup Of Cold Coffee And A Slice Of Life — Tony R. Cox
8. Slow Roast Pork — S.E.Lynes
9. A Lawful Killing — Ross Greenwood
10. Sticky Fingers — JT Lawrence
11. You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger — Ron Nicholson
12. The Wages Of Sin — Lisa Hall
13. Hidden — KA Richardson
14. The Sydney Dahlia — A.J.Sendall
15. Pop Dead – The Pension Papers — Pete Adams
16. The Sins of Muriel McGarry — A.S.King
17. The Shepherd’s Bothy — L J Ross
18. Life After Life — Paul D Brazil
19. The Smallest Acorn — April Taylor
20. An Onion — Joel Hames
21. I’ve Gone — Anita Waller
22. The Bridge — Simon Maltman
23. The Moth In The Jar — Jim Ody
24. Jimmy Jimmy — Steven Dunne
25. Be Careful What You Wish For — Peter Best
26. My Own Eggsecutioner — Tess Makovesky
27. One Last Job — Alex Walters
28. A Stranger’s Eyes — Paul Gitsham
29. Dangerous Actions — M.A.Comley
30. Captive — Stephen Edger
31. Left Behind — Nick Jackson
32. Horror — Roz White
33. Mary and Joseph — David Evans
34. Love You To Death — Lucy V Hay
35. Fastball — Alex Shaw
36. The Retreat — Jane E. James
37. Out of Retirement — Mark L. Fowler
38. Don’t go to Marsh Town, Johnny Ray! — Charlie Flowers & Hannah Haq
39. Everything Comes — B.A. Steadman

#FRIDAY FLASH: BAND ON THE RUN

Over at LITERALLY STORIES, I have a new short story:

‘It was windy, it was cold and it was pissing down with rain. Craig Spark and Carl ‘Robbo’ Robinson sat illuminated by a flickering streetlamp on a graffiti-stained park bench sharing a litre bottle of White Lightning cider. A church bell chimed midnight and a cat screeched. A siren wailed in the distance.

‘They say you used to be able to hire a contract killer there in the fifties,’ said Sparky, shivering.’

Read the rest of BAND ON THE RUN here.