Category Archives: Short Story

Nick Sweeney is at Polski Noir

polski noir t-shirtTRANSAKCJA – NICK SWEENEY (PRZEŁ. ALEKSANDRA GUZIK)

‘Witek Galicki nie mógł tego wieczoru nazwać sukcesem. Kobieta uśmiechnęła się w sposób, który można by wziąć za zachętę, ale Witek zsunął się z niej delikatnie i uniósł rękę w przepraszającym geście. Odwrócił się tyłem i przysiadł na brzegu łóżka. „Nieudana transakcja” pomyślał.’

Read the rest here.

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Grab Exiles: An Outsider Anthology for only 99p/ 99c!

exiles artizan
Exiles

To celebrate the latest ALIBI  noir festival in Slovenia, EXILES: AN OUTSIDER ANTHOLOGY is currently only 99c / 99p!

A powerful Noir short story collection edited by the Bukowski of Noir, Paul D. Brazill. Exiles features 26 outsiders-themed stories by some of the greatest crime and noir writers, K. A. Laity, Chris Rhatigan, Steven Porter, Patti Abbott, Ryan Sayles, Gareth Spark, Pamila Payne, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel, Carrie Clevenger, David Malcolm, Nick Sweeney, Sonia Kilvington, Rob Brunet, James A. Newman, Tess Makovesky, Chris Leek, McDroll, Renato Bratkovič, Walter Conley, Marietta Miles, Aidan Thorn, Benjamin Sobieck, Graham Wynd, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, and an introduction by Heath Lowrance.

#FRIDAY FLASH: Thicker Than Blood

TODAY

‘The thing is, Bren,’ says Craig Hornby, kissing his bloody knuckles, ‘you’ve just got to face facts sometime. You might be a nicer bloke than your Tony. Well, in fact, you are nicer. Much nicer. But your kid is more likeable. It’s just one of those things. And that’s why he always ends up getting what he wants. Getting his own way. If he fell in the sea, he’d come out with a pocket full of fish. That’s him, eh? Teflon Tony.’

Craig walks over to the window and closes the blinds. The room turns black. Specks of dust float in a shard of sunlight that slices through a broken slat and spotlights a pool of blood at Bren Murdoch’s feet. Bren’s head pounds. Blood trickles down his nose and is soaked up by the socks stuffed in his mouth .He twists but the fishing wire cuts further into his wrists and ankles.

‘And that’s also why you’re here now instead of him.’

Craig’s heavy feet echo off the concrete floor as he walks over to the corner of the room and switches on the strip lighting.

Bren clamps his eyes shut.

‘That’s why you’re the one who has to take the consequences of the shit-storm your kid brother brewed up.’

The dining chair wobbles as Craig sits. He’s sweating like a pig. Dark semi-circles under his arms. He knocks back a can of Red Bull and kisses his bruised knuckles again.

‘It’s just one of those things. Something I have to do. I have to, I have no choice , really. Have to make an example of someone. You understand, don’t you?’

Bren understands all right. He understands that in less than a week his life has turned from shinola to shit. And he knows who to blame.

YESTERDAY

‘It’s bollocks. I can’t believe you operate like this,’ said Bren.

He looked pissed off as he dragged the wads of paper from the bread bin and spread them over the shop counter. ‘It’s all in here?’

Tony Murdoch smirked and sipped a can of Carling. ‘Aye.’

‘You keep all your paperwork, all your receipts, invoices, tax bills in a bread bin and you expect me to do your accounts for you?’

‘You’re the accountant,’ said Tony. ‘I’m the … entrepreneur.’

He leaned against a stack of ‘80s 12-inch singles that were marked down to 10p. Star-shaped, day-glow signs hung everywhere in the cluttered shop. It was always cluttered these days. Not with customers, though. The second-hand record business wasn’t what it used to be. Anyway, Tony made more money from organising coach trips to stadium rock gigs. And then there was the other little business with Craig. The import/export business.

‘Well, I’m not your accountant, am I? Thank fuck. What happened to that bloke you used to use? Stewie Shorthands?’ said Bren.

He got up from the counter and walked to the fridge in the corner of the room.

‘He went AWOL, didn’t he? Supposed to have drowned out near Seal Sands. He’s been missing without a trace for a couple of days now,’ said Tony.

Bren opened a can of Carling. As he clicked the ring pull, it frothed up, soaking his expensive suit.

‘Shit, are you still buying beer from News N Booze? The stuff that’s past its sell-by-date?’ he said.

‘It’s half price, man. Yer, canna wack it.’

Tony, the great business man, thought Bren. He’d always wondered how the shop, Tony’s Tunes, had kept in business for so long.

‘Listen Bren,’ said Tony. ‘I’ve got a little proposition for you.’

‘Oh, yes?’ said Bren. ‘And what might that be?’

‘Well,’ said Tony, handing his brother a small bar towel. ‘I’m in need of a little bit of creative accountancy.’

THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY

‘He’s worm meat,’ said Veronica Fleece.

‘Are you sure?’ said Tony, switching off the Tupac CD.

‘Well, I’m no Doctor House,’ said Veronica. ‘But look.’

Tony was trying not to gag as he looked down at Shorthands’ naked, flabby body, spread-eagled across the hotel bed. He had to agree with Veronica. The accountant had croaked. ‘What are we gonna do?’ said Veronica, pulling on a kimono.

‘We can’t exactly call an ambulance, can we? Not with all the happy-talc he’s got in him,’ said Tony. ‘Shit. Shit. Shit.’.

‘I told the daft, fat twat to take it easy with that stuff,’ said Veronica. ‘Eyes bigger than his gut.’

She collapsed onto the squeaky leather sofa.

Veronica and Tony both glanced at Shorthands’ stomach and burst out laughing.

‘Getting rid of him won’t be too hard. I’ll phone my dad. He’ll sneak him up to Jed Bramble’s pig farm,’ said Veronica, wiping the white powder from her nose.

Shit, thought Tony. He needed someone to prepare a set of accounts for him to give Craig, so that he didn’t know that Tony had been skimming off the top of the delivery payments. There was no other way, he realised. He’d have to contact Bren.

TODAY

‘I’ve mellowed, Bren. I really have,’ says Craig. ‘I’m a granddad now. I play golf. I go to car-boot sales. I recycle. But if there’s one thing guaranteed to get my goat, to wind me fucking up, it’s someone pissing down my back and trying to tell me it’s raining.’

Craig stands and stretches, yawns. ‘And that’s pretty much what you and your brother did. Eh?’

He walks over to a cupboard in the corner of the room. Unlocks it.

‘But, it’s not so much that. Everyone has their fingers in the till here and there. It’s standard practice. But getting found out. Getting caught so the whole world knows you’ve been taking the piss. Well…’

He pulls a golf bag from the cupboard. It clatters over, spilling clubs over the floor.

‘Fuck,’ says Craig. ‘Give us hand, eh?’

‘Maybe a nine iron,’ says Tony Murdoch, putting out a cigarette and walking over. ‘That should do the trick.’

(c) Paul D. Brazill

Short, Sharp Interview: L A Sykes

Lee Sykes Noir Medley

PDB: What’s going on?

 

Sorting out some manuscripts and working on some more short fiction.

Also, Near To The Knuckle are putting out the full collection of my short stories and flash fiction in a volume entitled Noir Medley.

 

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

 

No, the quieter the better these days. So I can earwig on the voices.

 

PDB: What makes you laugh?

 

Can’t go wrong with the old classics: Only Fools, Blackadder. I’m partial to satire, word play and things of that nature.

 

PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?

 

A pint of water and a hot shower followed by a fry up. Before that some deep breathing to stave off the panic as the flashbacks of the night before creep into conscious awareness.

 

PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

 

I suppose I should be ambitious and say a platinum palace in the Antarctic, but to be honest I’d be happy enough up the Lake District.

 

PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?

 

I haven’t considered a bucket list as I’m still conniving to cheat Death.

 

PDB: What’s on the cards?

 

Like I mentioned, Noir Medley, thirty six stories in one volume coming soon from Near To The Knuckle.

Also, the novella The Hard Cold Shoulder is being republished by the same crew later in the year. Another collection of short stories is in the works and some longer projects are being drafted.

 

PDB: Anything else?

 

Just a big thanks for having me. Cheers.

 

Bio: LA Sykes is a writer from Atherton, Greater Manchester, UK. He’s been up at the likes of Blink Ink, Shotgun Honey, Nightmare Illustrated, Spelk Fiction, podcasted at Dark Dreams and Blackout City and has a story in Dog Horn Press’ punkPunk! Anthology co-written with Mark Slade. He’s the author of Noir Medley: collected fiction volume 1 and the novella The Hard Cold Shoulder coming soon from Near To The Knuckle publishing and has other works lined up in the not so distant future.

Recommended Read: Tales From The Underbelly by Aidan Thorn

tales from the underbellyAidan Thorn’s Tales From The Underbelly is a collection of hard-hitting, interconnected crime stories, and is pure Brit Grit. The collection kicks off with a fistful of short, sharp jabs of flash fiction and ends with a couple of longer pieces which really show Thorn’s strengths.

A Sporting Chance is the story of a local football star who returns to his home town after a stint in the Premier League and has a fateful encounter with local gangster Tony Ricco. The final story, Worst Laid Plans, is a knockout punch telling the tale of a group of young lads whose lives soon spiral out of control after a night out. Worst Laid Plans is an absolute belter of a tale, full of dark humour, sharp twists and turns and great characters.

If you enjoyed Thorn’s cracking novella When the Music’s Over then you should most certainly grab a copy of Tales From The Underbelly.

Dave Wilde Reviews 13 Shots Of Noir

13 shots2Over at Goodreads, he says:

‘These are all good stories. “The Tut” begins with the unforgettable line: “After enduring forty-five years of a marriage that was at best, like wading through treacle, Oliver Robinson eventually had enough and smothered his wife with the beige corduroy cushion that he’d accidentally burned with a cigarette two fraught days before.” Wow, what an entire history Brazill packed into that one sentence! The second selection “Anger Management” is another short masterpiece. It is sort of a mood piece, but it is filled with lines like: “I’ve heard it said that eighteen months of sleep deprivation can drive you crazy.” You can honestly open up the book to any point in these thirteen stories and find something of interest, some dark haunting poetic line. “The Friend Catcher” is another short (they are all short) that begins with an amazingly thick line of prose: “The morning after Charlotte killed her father, the air tasted like lead and the sky was gun metal grey.” That’s a whole story right there.
Thirteen little gems packed into a short little book. I enjoyed these little glimpse into the darkness.’

Short, Sharp Interview: Beau Johnson

20525595_1907272402872470_5546300016962871857_nPDB: Can you pitch your latest book in 25 words?

BJ:  Nope.  Not enough space.  If I had more space, maybe.  But even then, maybe not.  Hate.  The book is about hate.  How we can use it better.

PDB: Which music, book, films or television do you wish you had written?

BJ:  Oh man, there are tons.  Silence of the Lambs.  Seven.  Lost.  Breaking Bad.  Up to season 7 of the X-files.  The episode where Buffy’s mom dies.  As for books: everything by Thomas Harris excluding Hannibal Rising.  The Long Walk by King.  The Jaunt.  The raft.  Music?  Wheat Kings by The Tragically Hip, our very own Canadian treasure.

PDB: Which books do you think would make great films or TV series?

BJ: I want to say the Dark Tower, but as it seems that particular ship might have somewhat sailed.

a better kind of hatePDB:  Who are the great British Writers?

BJ: PDB, naturally.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

BJ:  I have a few shorts in the pipe, some coming soon.  Bishop Rider has been poking his head up too, just headlining a new finished piece titled Old Ghosts.  It’s companion story to a yarn called Shift Work, where I once and for all debunk his reasons for retirement.  It might include dismemberment.

PDB: Anything else?

BJ:  Big thanks to you, Paul.  For offering this platform and for supporting me in the past.  If memory serves, you were one of the first who started sharing my work when I first got on to Facebook.  I want you to know I appreciate that, Paul.  I always have.

 BIO:  Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town.  Such fine establishments might include Out of the Gutter Online, Shotgun Honey, Spelk, HST, and/or the Molotov Cocktail.  A collection of Beau’s, A Better Kind Of Hate, is published by Down and Out Books.

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)