Redundant by Ian Lewis Copestick

Redundant


I remember, as a child
thinking of the future.
Of the year 2000.
Even then I knew that
it wasn’t going to be
like the T.V. programme,
Space 1999, I wasn’t
expecting an atomic
jet pack. Still, I thought,
” In the year 2000, I’ll be
28 years old. My life
will be settled, I will have
a wife, kids a calm life
and a good career.”
Here I am, aged 48, and
my life is a howling chaos.
I don’t have a wife, or
any kids, and a calm,
settled life ?
You must be fucking
joking!
As for a career ?
I must have had at
least 50 jobs and nearly
every one I’ve hated.
The few I’ve liked, and
the rest, have all ended
pretty much the same
way. Redundancy,
recession, or just being
fired. But usually,
redundancy. There’s
nothing that destroys
your pride like being
told that you’re redundant,
in the real meaning of
the word ;


Out of date,


Obsolete,


Of no use to anyone.


Yet the people of my
generation have had
to get used to being
called it again, again
and again.
Yet we get up, brush
ourselves off and on
we go. Applying for
any job that you can
get your hands on.
Minimum wage,  no
brain jobs, I even got
turned down by fucking
McDonald’s !


Am I bitter ?
You bet I fucking am !
Once upon a time
I had a trade, I was a
precision engineer.
Then they closed all
of the factories, moved
the jobs to Indonesia,

or maybe Malaysia
and all of the workers
were left high and dry.
I had worked hard, gone

to college at night,

after a full day at work, but

suddenly there was no

need for my skills anymore,

my qualifications were useless.

It’s the way that capitalism

works.

Then you were something,

because we needed you,
now you’re just
redundant.

This is the story of my life, my city, my county.
We were known as the potteries, now we are nothing.

This Earth by Ian Lewis Copestick

 This Earth

It’s strange when you think
of the Earth under your feet.
Not only the fact that you are
on a piece of rock, rotating
through the nothingness of
space at roughly 65,000 miles
per hour, but this actual earth
and how many feet must have
trodden on it before you were
even born. Not just the farmers
and factory workers of the last
few generations, but the serfs,
and peasants of the 18th, 19th,
or whatever century. Before, even
that, I wonder what was happening
here in the Civil War, or going back
even further, did the Vikings reach
this part of England ? Was this
ground ever trod by a Celtic berserker ?
Or has it just been drunken Stoke City
fans ?

Noirvember Review: John Bowie’s Transference by KA Laity

Noirvember can be a little too much of a look-back-bore at times (at times!) so it’s good to remind ourselves that we’re living in something of a heyday of new noir (neo-noir too, but let’s not nitpick about genre borders just now: life is hard enough at the moment). Maybe we don’t want to think too much about why that is and how much the current landscape blows, so let’s just enjoy what there is to be savoured now.

Mother-Manchester swallowed the train with a blanket of grey. Rain and the smog of industry, breweries and relentless traffic were all around. With no gradual build-up of population, houses and industrial units to the city, it just happened; it was there. Everywhere. Its presence hit me out of the blue like a brick in the face thrown from its many factory walls. I’d been there before, travelled that line, entered it many times. Each time I still got the same awakening, eyes opening; a realisation to the endless brick. And the dank soup of it all.

John Bowie is best known for Bristol Noir, a terrific site where, in full disclosure, some of my writing has appeared (and I received a review copy of this book in hopes of an honest review). There’s a reason for that: a shared love of noir’s dark crystalline beauty. Transference distills that rich vein of noir and blends it with a pure Manchester poison. Too much can brutalise as his protagonist John Black knows. Like so many noir characters, he reluctantly heads back to the city that slapped him down for a final reckoning with the scars and bars he couldn’t put behind him.

As soon as I entered Manchester. As the smoke of the factories stung at my nose. He was in that band once. Now, he’s in another.

Three women look over his shoulder as he navigates the return to his haunted past. My favourite was his agent: ‘an ex-burlesque dancer, stage name M. Pampelmousse’ but there’s also a cop named Cherry, and emphasising the deep roots of the past, a therapist (there’s all kinds of juice in the book’s title). This is noir: their motivations may not be as clear as John believes, but he desperately needs to have faith in someone.

Fittingly for a book that knows where the border between Salford and Manchester lies, it’s suffused with the pulse of the music and familiar lyrics pop up in the prose and the chapter titles, running the gamut from Dice Man to Some Velvet Morning. This is a book for some whisky and a turntable. You can hear the crackle of needle on every page.

Transference by John Bowie is available from Red Dog Press.

Bone Train by Tom Leins

BONE TRAIN

By Tom Leins

It has been a cold, rotten afternoon so far – and it’s shaping up to be an even uglier evening…

I’m leaning against a badly rusted rollercoaster called the ‘Titty Twister’, staring at a guy who looks like a fucking autopsy sketch. His complexion is tombstone grey and he’s wearing a fluorescent 1980s ski jacket with one of the ragged sleeves gaffer-taped back on. He looks like he’d be more at home selling crack to addicts in a graveyard than working at a funfair.

His name is Garry Granville and he’s manning the ‘Spook Loop’ ghost train. It’s his second year working the fair, after he served six years in Channings Wood for assisting with the disposal of a corpse. He fires up the diesel generator and the garish night-time lighting makes queasy promises that the daylight can’t cash.

Raucous psychobilly crackles out of the ancient Tannoy system and Granville does an awkward, spasmodic little jig. I’ve been watching him all week.He likes to smoke a little skunk and drink a can of scrumpy on the test ride before the Spook Loop opens to the general public. I edge closer. There are small clumps of people scattered across Paignton Green. Boys. Girls. Undecided. Young. Smiling. Blissfully unaware about the horrors that lurk in plain sight.

Granville removes a can from the Slazenger kit-bag next to the ticket-taker booth and retrieves the pre-rolled joint from behind his right ear. I take a deep breath and slip on my rubber Halloween mask, then I ease myself into the final carriage – lowering myself as far as I can go. I’m not exactly sure what creature the mask is supposed to depict – I found it at the bottom of the bargain bin in the fancy dress shop on Hyde Road – and it looks warped and faded.

Granville cracks open his can, hollers to himself and cranks the start lever. The ragged black curtains jerk apart and the ghost train jolts into the gloom.

***

One week earlier.

When I arrive at the Embassy Tavern, Harris has the worst seat in the house – first table, back to the front door. Not a fucking care in the world. Any feeble-minded local undesirable could jab a needle in his neck, or slip a blade in his armpit while he reached for his tumbler.

I tap his elbow to get his attention and step aside.

“Same again, mate?”

“Mr Rey! Glad you could make it. Stay where you are, son – it’s my round.”

I help him up and he shuffles across the threadbare carpet towards the bar. Downstairs, a pub singer called Alan Spunk: King of Funk growls his way through a disco song that is older than I am.

Despite the Autumn chill, Spunk is drenched in sweat and breathes like a wank-blistered crank-caller between songs.

Moments later, Harris hands me a glass.

“What the fuck’s that?”

“Spiced rum and ginger beer. It was my late wife’s favourite.”

I take a sip.

Not fucking bad.

Drinks in hand, we retire to the outdoor conservatory. The rainfall is louder than gunfire on the thick, plastic corrugated roof, but it will drown out our conversation.

Harris removes a newspaper cutting from his briefcase. It takes him a minute or so to find, so the case must be crammed with filth.

I glance warily at the photo.

“He’s an ex-con. So am I. So are you, mate! So fucking what?”

Harris bristles at the remark. Years ago, he briefly served time after a £300,000 worth of cocaine was found stashed in twelve rusted caravans on a patch of waste-ground under a motorway flyover outside Taunton. His name was on the deeds for the waste-ground, but his brief managed to get him out of HMP Dartmoor on time served.

“The rotten bastard exposed himself to my daughter last year, and the police didn’t do a fucking thing about it.”

“How old is your daughter?”

“It’s not important,” he grunts. “She’s 41. 42 next week.”

I take another sip of my drink. It’s already growing on me.

“What exactly do you want me to do about it?”

He removes a lump hammer from his briefcase, followed by an envelope full of cash.

“I want you to give the little shit a fright.”

He grins, displaying receding gums and yellowed, overlapping teeth.

I drop the hammer in my left pocket, the money in my right.

Murky alliances are my stock-in-trade – and Paignton always extracts its price.

***

The ancient tracks creak and I feel my neck snap as the battered carriage jolts around the third bend.

“Motherfucker.”

Granville sits up, suddenly alert and cranks the kill-switch. The ghost train grinds to a halt and the psychobilly tape cuts out.

He clambers out of the front carriage, stubs the joint out on the back of his hand and places it back behind his ear.

He wheezes, and his rotten breath hangs in the air.

“It got cold early this year, huh, boy?”

This bastard has the small-talk skills of a fucking crack-addict.

He drifts towards me. A look of surprise flickers across his ugly face as he clocks my rubber mask. By the look of his glazed eyes he’s been sniffing shoe repairer’s glue as well as hitting the skunk.

“What the fuck did you come as?!”

I lunge forward and slam a head-butt into the bridge of his nose. The lumpen bone gives way with a satisfying crack.

He rights himself and pushes me backwards with a grunt. I clatter into a half-rotted Mummy and lose my footing. The soiled coverings it’s swathed in remind me of the old surgical support bandages I’m constantly finding in the corridor at the Black Regent.

It rained last night and the floor is waterlogged – the stagnant water threaded with green scum-trails. Nearby, exposed wiring fizzes and crackles.

Granville comes after me and I retreat into the midst of the mannequins. Monsters from a bygone era – they stink of rotting nostalgia.

Dracula’s flaking head has been screwed onto a female torso, and has improbable breasts like an ‘80s Page 3 girl.

The Wolfman is missing big clumps of fur and appears to be suffering from alopecia. The rotten figure reminds me of a dead dog I once saw in Paignton Harbour – its mangy body all swollen up with sea water.

“Is that a knife in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me, Granville?”

All carnies are blade artists and he removes the inevitable Stanley from his stonewashed jeans.

When he smiles, it looks positively obscene.

I heard he once sliced up a minor hoodlum called Titch Mitchum in a fun-pub. Put a broken match-stick between two taped-together razor-blades. Apparently, it makes it far more difficult for the surgeon to sew the face back together afterwards. I enjoy a knife fight as much as the next man, but I’ve never been a fan of that kind of delicate savagery. 

I pull out the lump hammer and he flinches.

Sometimes my life feels like a hellish version of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Knife. Hammer. Firearm.

“You need to get that leaky arsehole fixed, mate.”

He jabs at me, and tries to tug off my rubber mask at the same time. I sidestep him and bring the hammer down on his right arm – shattering his elbow.

“Trick or treat, motherfucker.”

He stoops down to retrieve the knife and I crunch the hammer into his spine. I’m already nauseated with myself, and taste hot sick in my throat, but Harris promised me a bonus if I break all four of Granville’s limbs.

I glance over my shoulder, at my ghoulish friends. Under the dead gaze of the assembled monsters, I go to work.

***

Five minutes later, I dump Granville in the front carriage, like a bag of bones, and yank the lever.

I’ve already slipped between the disfigured relics and exited the Spook Loop through a slashed hole in the tarpaulin when the fucking screaming starts.

The End

Bio:

Tom Leins is a crime writer from Paignton, UK. His books include Boneyard Dogs, Ten Pints of Blood, Meat Bubbles & Other Stories (all Close to the Bone) and Repetition Kills You and The Good Book: Fairy Tales for Hard Men (both All Due Respect).

For more information, please visit:

https://thingstodoindevonwhenyouredead.wordpress.com/

A Bad Stephen King Book by Ian Lewis Copestick

A Bad Stephen King Book


Life has turned into
a Bad Stephen King
book. It may sound
crazy, but it’s true.
All of the elements
are in place;

The plague that
threatens humanity.

The scarily, crazed
crypto – fascist leader.

All we need now is
a plucky band of
outsiders. Preferably
one with a special
forces background.
A feisty female, to be
the love interest, and
at least one innocent
child, with strange, but
strangely relevant
powers.

If they are still casting,
I’d like to audition for
the part of the guy who
has a history of addiction.
Who seems like a coward,
until he becomes the
unlikely, but obvious
hero in the last quarter
of the book.

Let’s hope that in
real life, it’s the same
as in fiction.

Let’s all hope that
the bad guys don’t
win.

Herd of Angels by Mark McConville

Herd Of Angels …

There’s nowhere for me to rest my head, in this pit we all sit in, and drink in, feel feeble in. The light blinds me and my ambitions to stray from this temple of the unforgivable, the heartless, and the people who grind their lives to dust without even knowing it. Sincerity has no place here either. Compassion needs a lifeline, hearts inside these chests in this ungodly room, beat faster than a shooting star. They’re all under the illusion that drugs mean they’re invincible, and their decisions inconceivable but right in their own private worlds. 

I pick up a half-empty bottle of beer, drink it, and then throw it at the coffee table. It doesn’t smash, it only ricochets and drops like a coin into a deep well. Next to me sits a boy lonely in his own mind. He keeps on uttering the word ‘’Hopeless’’ at the thin walls, smoking a cigarette that hasn’t got much life left. And the futures of these people may have been mapped out, puzzled in, as all their eyes droop into a state, a tired state. 

The mixture, the cocktails filled with pills and alcohol have taken its toll on the livers and minds, and the silence becomes a loud noise in my brain. A monotonous sound which reverberates and echoes and my mind feels like it’s a coliseum of raucous thoughts and corrosion. 

I leave my thoughts in the living room and step out into the kitchen where sexual urgency once peaked, where it created some children who have grown into this framework, the walls built around them, where they may die if they don’t depart this dark place where ghosts roam and memories scratch at the skin which is draped over them.  

Water brings me back to life, thankfully. The thirst always comes after the 20 bottles of beer consumed in succession. Like a chain smoker, I consume alcohol rapidly, letting it flow down my widened throat. Then, as I drink more water, I detect freedom of speech gone wrong. 

The living room is bright red. Captivating unconventionally. There’s no paint here, but blood splashed up the walls. The young man, who was lost in his own mind, stands with a large knife in his hand. Brutality has been given a chance to shine here, and I’m the only innocent man alive here, staring at the knife and this kid who has been subjected to a psychotic episode. This isn’t real, it can’t be. I knew there was an oddness to his character, a monster waiting to burst from his thin torso, but on this night, I couldn’t have imagined it. 

He comes closer to me. His eyes like tyrant’s eyes. If they could turn red they’d burn a hole in the atmosphere. He isn’t a superhero, he’s now a murderer, putting it all on the line. Then there’s me, a man with a stomach full of alcohol and drugs, hopefully, caught up in a fever dream, a nightmare, a hallucination. But, no, this is real, this isn’t a figment, it’s an explosion of realism tapered to my imagination. 

As the dead lie on sofas and chairs, the man in front of me looks desperate. He wants me dead, so he can run. His inhibitions tuned out as the drugs moan for an upgrade. Earlier in the evening, he spoke about his heart being broken, shattered by a girl who stole every piece of soul from his battered body. When I listened on, I could hear the pain in his voice, the rasp, the despair. He only stopped when he knew more people were listening in. 

Another step, another broken heart purring for blood. My blood, he wants my blood. Another step, another unhopeful embrace. He isn’t a catalyst for good, he’s damaged, like the writers of this world, the ones who have had afflictions dumped upon them. Throughout the conversation earlier, he also told me about the nightmares he was having, the nightmares where ghosts swirled around and spooked the herd of angels. 

‘’Stay there’’ 

He has me in stuck to the blood embroiled carpet. With me, he shudders and doesn’t know how to handle the situation. Above him isn’t a glass ceiling he can smash and then ascend through. The only way out is through my heart and lungs.  


‘’Stay there I said’’ 

He’s breaking a sweat, I can see the shine on his skin. Truthfully, he’s losing his stance, his defence. 

‘’Give me the knife, we can sort through this’’ 

‘’How can we? They’re all dead because of me’’ 

‘’It was a moment of madness, we all have them’’ 

Under his breath, he utters a name. A name burned into his mind. 

‘’Who?’’ 

‘’They’re all fucking dead, even’’ 

‘’Even who??’’ 

He puts his hand in his pocket and takes out a small bag containing a pair of eyes. 

‘’These, the only part of her I have left’’ 

I try not to wretch. The eyes still have a thin line of blue. 

He runs towards me in haste, stabbing me once, and then he escapes. 

I’m on the floor among dead people and the ghosts who endured much worse in a past that should be kept concealed. 

This house is alive, and the walls beat like hearts, and my blood only adds to a scene that will become a constant nightmare.

Just a Boy’s Game

Just a Boys’ Game is a 1979 Play for Today which aired 8 November 1979, written by Peter McDougall and directed by John Mackenzie.

It features Frankie MillerGregor FisherKen HutchisonHector Nicol, Jean Taylor Smith, Katherine Stark, Barry Malone, Michael Malone and band The Cuban Heels.

The plot revolves around the life of Jake McQuillan who lives in the shadow of his dying grandfather, who used to be Greenock‘s hardest man.

The play was filmed in and around Greenock and Port Glasgow.

In Context by Ian Lewis Copestick

In Context

As you get older,
one of the many
things you learn
is that certain
things only work
as being cool in
a certain context.
When I was in my
teens a ‘Head ‘ shop
opened in my town.
This meant that it
sold vintage ’60’s, and
’70’s clothes. I went
and bought a really
loud silk shirt, it was
almost exactly the
same as the one that
Bob Dylan was wearing
on the cover of ” Highway
61 Revisited “. I thought
it was the coolest thing
ever.
But context, yes context.
In 1960’s New York, being
worn by Bob Dylan it was
cool.
In 1980’s Stoke On Trent,
being worn by a spotty,
ginger haired 15 year old.
Well, what do you think ?
Everyone laughed at me,
and I do mean everyone.
But, at least I learned
a valuable lesson…
And I thank God that I
couldn’t afford the
leather trousers.

Surroundings by Ian Lewis Copestick

Surroundings

A dark, damp Sunday evening,
it’s not raining now, but my
coat and shoes still feel soggy
from earlier. These dark nights
may have only just kicked in
for this year, but somehow it
feels like summer was just a
two minute ad break between
the programmes of darkness.
I roll, then light a cigarette, at
least it’s dry and I’m able to do  that. I blow out the smoke to
temporarily blur my view of
deep purple sky, dark green  grass, and the ugly grey  concrete of pavement and  road. Never believe people  who’ll tell you that your  surroundings don’t influence  the way that you feel.
I feel like;
deep purple,
dark green, and
ugly, ugly grey.

Can’t Help But Care by Ian Lewis Copestick

Can’t Help But Care


Sometimes I wonder
why do I bother ?
You can’t seem to
please anyone, any
of the time. Why not
just say ” Fuck ’em all “
and live for yourself.
Never worry about
anybody else at all.
But, it’s not in my
nature, I can’t be that
selfish. You have to
share this world with
other people, and I can’t
help but care. Sometimes
I wish that I could,
but it’s just not in me.
I’m too much of a softie
to turn my back on
them all.