When a full moon fills the night sky, Private Investigator Roman Dalton becomes a werewolf and prowls The City‘s neon and blood soaked streets. There are six Roman Dalton Yarns written by Paul D. Brazill in this short collection.
When a full moon fills the night sky, Private Investigator Roman Dalton becomes a werewolf and prowls The City‘s neon and blood soaked streets. There are six Roman Dalton Yarns written by Paul D. Brazill in this short collection.
MAKING THE WORLD LIVABLE AGAIN
“Look, I’ll be honest. It was only after my third ability manifested that I knew I’d be changing the world. That I’d be attempting to, anyway.”
Their eyes follow me, but as instructed, their mouths remain closed. A near insurmountable feat with this particular bunch, junior especially, but seeing as they’d been privy to my opening salvo, completely understandable.
“And I know some of you have come around to my way of thinking, but people, too little too late became popular for a reason.” I turn to the live feed and address the world. It’s not first time I have done this. I’m sure it will not be my last. Behind me, I hear a few of them readjust their positions. Twelve is their total today. Today, I hope it’s enough.
“Here we are again, yes, but instead of the White House, today I have chosen Capital Hill. Might not mean much to some, but to others I believe the nuance is not lost.”
I hold my look. I stare into the camera. Does it work? I truly don’t know. But as I’ve always been, I’m a man who has clung to hope.
“Many of you see me as a murderer. You are not wrong in this assessment. I am the villain here. Make no mistake. But I have chosen to become a monster in order to contain a monster—because of people like the ones behind me.”
“Two wrongs don’t make a right, correct, but you know what else? The equation failed the human race long ago, we just weren’t aware it had occurred. Children in cages put an end to that. Add a black man out for a jog and an entire race placed beneath the knee of oppression for four hundred years and you’d have to be a goddamn idiot not to see why the center couldn’t hold.”
I stop there. I’m getting heated. It’s nothing new, of course, but as I said, I’m attempting something new. The thought takes me back to that photo-op. Not only to how that bible had been held, but how those protesters were tear gassed by a man who felt he’d been made to look small.
Looking back, this was the moment I knew.
Wasn’t until he decides to address the nation from the Oval Office two days later that I reveal myself, however. And I know it appeared as though I came out of thin air beside the man, but that’s not how it works. I move differently now is all.
It’s when the secret service attempt to draw weapons upon me that the entire room becomes a vacuum, though. I wouldn’t allow them to move. Each muscle fibre within them held at bay by my second ability, the one I woke up to last fall.
I look to the camera then—the camera focused on the President of the United States in his chair that day. My promises made, I reiterate how it began for me, from his mocking of a disabled man and then back to the aforementioned children he’d chosen to keep in cages. Only when I bring up how he failed to condemn nazis, saying there were good people on both sides, do I reach into his mouth and pull out the bottom part of his jaw until it separates from his chest.
As I hoped it would, it gets my point across, but not before actions are taken and in through the window behind me, they attempt to shoot me in the back of the head. I am not phased, of course, and the world sees as much, the sniper’s bullet and my first ability combining to create an image you only find in comic books.
But I am not done.
Which brings us back to here, with the men and women I have brought together today.
“And to be fair, I did warn you I’d be back.” True. I just didn’t tell them who I’d be choosing. Makes me sympathetic to why some of them were weeping openly now. All told, caught out as they were, I’d be crying too.
“But there’s been a development,” I say, and inform them of last Wednesday, when my latest ability manifests itself and how I now had one new trait for every year of this particular Presidency.
Correction: what was this particular Presidency.
“Now I want you all to listen,” I continue, turning to address the larger audience tuning in. “For some of you, what is about to occur, it might very well happen within your personal space. Brace yourself is all I can say.” They would never be ready, though. Not as they should. I am something that has never been. Some would suggest I’m a god now. I’ve decided to go with evolution, or a different type of evolution, and one where the evil that people do can now be fought on level ground.
I raise my hand. I clench my fist.
And around the world implode the heads of more than eight hundred and sixty million rapists and pedophiles at the same time. One step better is Melania’s scream, there as she’s drenched by what remained of Lyndsey Graham.
“Hmm,” I say and hook a thumb back behind me as I do. “Always thought that Lady G business was the reason he chose to throw McCain under the bus. Looks like I was wrong.” It’s enough, and it ensures the majority can no longer abide by my one rule. But it’s not just screaming that begins. Others start to grovel. More beg. Pence, Barr, and Kelly-Anne most of all.
I snap my fingers and in an instant, they implode like Graham. The aisles of Congress now flowing with actual blood. I move on to Ivanka and Jared, pushing them through Melania and creating something that would make John Carpenter proud. I take Nunes next, his buddy Gaetz, then Eric and Don Jr. It’s swift, compact, and Eric’s head rolls furthest of them all. McConnell I save for last, and I let him bleed out only after the last of his skin had been removed.
I turn back to my audience. I repeat that I’m not the good guy; that I know my trespasses and what they represent. I will change things regardless, I say, and then to those still listening, I go on about Russia, about China, and every other country I plan to visit.
I speak of returns as well; that I was not yet done with America and its sins. I mention Karla Homolka, Casey Anthony, Jim Jordan, Brett Kavanaugh, George Zimmerman, O.J. Simpson, Sarah Sanders, Stephen Millar, and advise every other enabler/facilitator who continued to stare at their screens and believed this all to be a dream to expect a visit from me as well.
I say I will get them all, but that I once I had, I held no plans to rule. That when I was done, I’d be done, and the only thing to ever pull me back would be if human decency chose to waver once more.
What I state last is the root of it all; the thing I would take care of next.
“All right,” I say. “Now that I have your attention, who’s up for redistributing some wealth? Who’s ready to dismantle some billionaires?”
Through the concrete, I hear the world respond.
Do You Believe in Magic
A Psychic was considering to rent the store front next to the bar I owned. She asked my opinion as a business owner about foot traffic and specifically if I thought it was a good idea and if she would be successful. She wasn’t sure if it would be a wise investment. I was bewildered by her line of questioning finding it quite confusing. With a surprised tone in my voice I answered. ” I’m somewhat puzzled by your question. Being a Psychic isn’t that something you would know having the ability to see the future?
She looked at me with a loathing expression, threw her hands in the air and with a disgusted tone called me a smart ass turned and walked away.
The space remained vacant for three months and was eventually rented by an extremely pleasant guy named Marvin from Boston. He opened a magic shop and claimed to be related to Harry Houdini. He became a regular at the bar and drank Sam Adams with a shot of Old Grandad. He was a gifted story teller entertaining customers with humorous tales of his career as a magician in his younger days.
Occasionally he’d do magic tricks for patrons although almost exclusively for good looking women.
I realized an opportunity to book his act in the bar. I asked “Mystic Marvin Master of Illusion.” if by chance he’d be interested in performing once a week with payment to be negotiated.
The bar had a small stage and I let a local musician host an Open Mic on Wednesday and Sunday nights. On Friday and Saturday nights Comedians performed hosted by a local Radio Personality and City Councilman. He didn’t possess much charisma and lacked audience appeal. Neither he or the Comedians he booked were very funny and didn’t draw much of a crowd as promised.
Mystic Marvin was excited at the opportunity to perform his magic. We arranged for his first performance the upcoming Friday night at nine o’clock as an opening act before the so-called Comedians.
The word spread quickly around the pueblo and I did a small bit of advertising, putting posters outside the bar and passing out flyers to everyone that entered.
My novia (girlfriend) at the time was a gorgeous woman who I was fortunate to be able to afford. She was a vixen in bed with a voracious sexual appetite. I found it necessary to increase my testosterone dosage to keep up with her. She was also a thief and pathological liar which I considered minor character flaws I chose to overlook in light of her other qualities. Marvin and Veronica seemed to get on well together despite the language barrier. She spoke little to no English and Mystic Marvin was one of those” I know enough Spanish to get by” type of people. Which I’ve discovered actually translates into “they don’t know shit.”
He asked if it would be possible to have Veronica act as his assistant for the magic performance. There wasn’t any reason that I could imagine not to grant his request. Veronica appeared thrilled at the prospect to be on stage without having to take her clothes off. Besides our relationship had been waning and I’d been trying to come up with a way to terminate our arrangement. I was pleased she would be occupied and not hanging around, getting in my way. She was suppose to be working as a waitress but never caught on to exactly what the job entailed.
They took their gig very seriously practicing twice a day and sometimes into the early morning hours at the magic shop. After five days Veronica came to me and asked me to purchase a costume for her to wear for the performance. The sequined costume she wanted cost one hundred twenty- five dollars.
“Are you serious? I’m not laying out that kind of cash for a costume. That should be Marvin’s expense. You tell him what I said.”
” You are so mean to me. You never want me to look nice because you’re jealous other men look at me.”
” First of all I am not the jealous type. If it were so I would’ve kicked your ass out of here long ago. I’m well aware of your flirtatious nature.
Secondly, this was Magic Marvin’s idea to have you perform as his assistant. This falls under the responsibility of the talent. Don’t make it my problem.”
Marvin walks in at the height of the heated discussion standing behind Veronica with an apologetic look on is face. I’d finished my oration, turned to walk back behind the bar when Marvin decided to add his commentary.
” I know you think there’s something going on between Veronica and me. You have a right to feel that way. I know I’ve been monopolizing a lot of her time.”
” Marvin that’s not at all what the conversation was about. If there’s something going on between you two, well that’s something I haven’t considered and honestly don’t give a shit.”
I knew he was banging her and it honestly didn’t upset me. I was getting more sleep at night. “The disagreement was over her wanting me to pay for a costume for the performance. And I believe it is an expense you should be responsible for not me. I find it interesting however you assumed the disagreement was about me being suspicious of the two of you having sex.”
” She mentioned that you were jealous she was spending so much time with me. That’s what I thought you were arguing about. I bought the costume for the show yesterday. She tried it on and modeled it for the customers. You were gone, went to pay the electric and water bills I was told. Strange that she would ask you for money when she knew it was paid for.”
I look around the bar, check the kitchen, office and bathroom, Veronica is nowhere around. I call out for her but she still doesn’t appear. Then I’m told by one of the customers she’d left after I started the conversation with Marvin.
” It’s not strange at all Marvin. As a matter of fact it’s her modus operandi. She’s a con and pathological liar. Don’t try to make sense of it, that’s just the way she is. Are you ready for tomorrow night? There should be a good sized crowd from what I’ve heard.”
” Yes I’m good to go. My act will last about forty five minutes to an hour is that ok?”
” Just fine. I’ll see you tomorrow night then. You go on at nine so be sure to get here around eight thirty or so to get set up.”
” You bet Santiago. I’m going to try to find Veronica she may be upset. See ya tomorrow.”
” She’s most likely at the bar in the Casino. Catch you later.”
Can you believe that insensitive snake trying to shake me down for money knowing it was already paid for. She thinks I’m a dipshit gringo and it’s my first experience dealing with women and their underhanded ways. After all I’ve done and tolerated from that stripper prostitute. Her dishonesty goes with the territory.
The night of the performance the bar was jam packed with standing room only. I was a bit upset with myself that I hadn’t thought to charge a cover of a couple of bucks a head. I did up the price on the drinks however.
Mystic Marvin and the Lovely Veronica put on an entertaining and professional show. He included an audience participation segment which received thundering applause as well as laughs for it’s humorous content.
After a few weeks the crowd dissipated and his act became less amazing. Although he performed one of the most mystifying magic tricks I’d ever witnessed. It was a disappearing act that ended with both him and Veronica vanishing. The next morning I noticed the Magic Shop empty and Veronica’s clothes had disappeared from my apartment along with some cash. There was no note no goodbye they just disappeared.
I was actually quite elated there wasn’t a long drawn out break up. Melissa a young, beautiful and personable woman I hired as a replacement that afternoon.
That night at the bar I bought a couple of rounds for all as a tribute to my single status. The comedians even seemed to be funny although I’d heard the same jokes for months.
I bumped into Marvin about eight months later when I took a short vacation with Melissa to the beach in Guanacasta. He was sitting alone at a bar looking somewhat unhappy, overweight and desheveled. When he recognized me his expression revealed both fear and surprise. I waited for him to initiate conversation which he did with questioned confidence.
” Hello Santiago it’s Marvin how ya doing? It’s been a while.”
” Doing just dandy Marv. Man you look like you’ve been tortured by Jehovah’s Witnesses that beat you with Bibles. Are you still with Veronica? You two left together so I was told.”
” Ya well that’s right. I should apologize for how I acted after you giving me an opportunity to perform at your bar.”
” Okay go ahead.”
” Go ahead what?
” Go ahead and apologize for being a back stabbing prick.”
” I’m truly sorry.” He whimpered.
” I really don’t fucking care.”
“She blindsided me Santiago. I got all caught up in her web of deception and couldn’t get out.”
He continued his voice cracking as he spoke.
” I thought she loved me. I did everything for her and she pulled the rug out from under my feet. Took off with some surfer bum but not before cleaning out my bank accounts and stealing anything of value I had. Took my little dog Abracadabra too.”
I wanted to say how sorry I was but I wasn’t.
” Well ya know what they say.”
” No what do they say?”
” Love is great until the magic wears off. See ya around maybe.”
Never saw the guy again. Soon afterwards I began learning card tricks and graduated to some elementary sleight of hand tricks as well. I never developed a quality trick always screwed it up somehow.
” Do you believe in magic. In a young girls heart…”
What if the power went out? What if hope crashed like an old computer? People would lose their minds. They would arm themselves with everything sharp and dangerous. Dangerous enough to cut through bone if needs be.
It is cold here, so cold I can’t feel my toes. The attic, painted in vibrant colours looks mundane when the darkness shrouds them. All over the floor are empty wine bottles filled with wax to create a glint of light. We’re cooped up here to preserve our lives. Those down on the streets have turned into maniacs, stealing what they can. Through time, they’ve altered the look of the town. Once a bustling patch of hope is now a decaying, festering pit of despair.
Cutting into us are these freezing temperatures. During the day, the sun shines, but only as an aesthetic orb in the sky. We have covers, but they’re paper-thin rags that barely add effect. We will die through the night. I can sense the Black Death eating through the wood, complementing the insects. I can see through my own nightmares that my mother will die before me and I’ll be left on my own. She’s a saviour, but I feel I am weighing her down.
Her greying hair alarms me. Only a few months ago, her hair was brown. It must be the worry that is ingrained in her mind. She used to be courageous and flamboyant, a lover of a blank canvas and paint. Her workmanship unparalleled as she would sit and finish a painting with sheer elegance and flair. When problems surfaced, she’d count to ten and then fix it. She doesn’t talk much these days, she only utters the same name ‘’James’’
James was a man who brought shivers to her spine. A crutch, a father, a dreamer. He was killed by two assailants. Victimized in the dark streets, kicked and stamped on, savagely beaten. He was trying to get some supplies, but found himself caught in a war of words and pain. He must have felt pain pulsate through his body until the end. My mother is deeply enraged and at some points during the night, she hollers out for him and scorns the attackers. I have to nullify and suppress these outbursts so we don’t get caught.
We hear voices from under us occasionally. People rummaging around, taking things. We hear gunshots and grovelling. Raids are commonplace, death swarms like flies, and happiness is forever dead in the eyes of even the optimists. Desire to run overwhelms me too. But what would I do? I’d be killed in seconds, my blood would be smeared across the walls, my insides left for the dogs. Adrenaline courses through my veins, but I wouldn’t make it out alive.
I’ll grow old here, maybe. If the stock lasts. Tins of oranges stack up. They become lacklustre, but are the only foodstuff we have. I’ve read the same book over and over for two months. I’ve counted the marks on the wooden floor, I’ve walked back and forth to keep the circulation in my legs. These are what I’ve designed to kill boredom.
Night comes and the temperatures drop again. I hear a noise coming from outside. Screams of terror alert me to drift to the small window that leads to the roof. I open it softly and climb onto the roof and look down, there’s no one there now. I venture back in until I hear a cry. The cold chill bites into my skin but I persevere. I know I shouldn’t do this, but it could be someone needing help.
I whistle. I whistle again. Using the makeshift candle as a source of light.
Out from the shadows comes a young boy. He looks at me.
He nods at me.
I throw him down a rope. My eagerness could cause harm. It could be a ploy to grind down our defences. If my mother was fully alive, she’d tell me how complacent I am being. He climbs steadily up and I push my hands out to grab him. He isn’t heavy. His frame is skin and bones. I close the hatch.
‘‘I’m so glad you…’’
‘‘Shh. My mother is sleeping. Talk quietly’’
‘‘Thank you. My name is Chico’’
‘‘Your eyes they’re so beautiful’’
‘‘Thank you, I guess’’
His gaunt face is a reminder of the lack of nourishment. He shakes constantly. I grab onto his hand to try to stop the agitations. He lets me. There’s no warmth in him. I place my head on his heart. It beats fast and hard like it’s about to explode.
‘‘Your heart, it’s loud’’
‘’It’s been like that since I saw…’’
‘‘People being gunned down. Their hearts were on show. I could see them beat outside of their chests. It is graphic out there’’
‘‘Where is your family?’’
‘‘They’re gone, I think. They ran, but I fell behind’’
‘‘So it’s only you?’’
‘‘You can stay for a while’’
‘‘Is she okay?’’
‘‘Yeah, she’s sleeping”
My nightmares never predicted this. There was no other person. There was only to be me and my mother. I relied on these dreams to give answers. They’re fake and I should have known it. They’re full of ghouls and ghosts. I shouldn’t have been naïve. The thunderous thoughts that rip through my mind have been stemmed by the introduction of a new ally.
Joy is still under the strain of dismay. We’re still stuck in this small space, hungry for freedom. Only now is there a person I can have a conversation with. He’s fully alive, not broken, not demented. His cute features are an attraction, his smile compelling enough for me to look at him frequently.
‘So how did you end up here?’
‘‘We escaped to the attic and have been here ever since’’
‘’My father was beaten to death and there was no other choice’’
My mother’s eyes twitch. She opens them and screams at Chico.
‘‘Who is this?’’
‘‘It’s okay mum?’’
I console her, but she demands me to tell her who Chico is.
‘’He’s the devil’s child. Those eyes, he’s evil’’
‘’He’s not evil, he’s scared like us’’
‘Yes, believe me.’’
She opens up her dusty old purse and points a crucifix at Chico.
‘Stop it mother, you’re tired, go back to sleep’’
The atmosphere curdles. The room becomes a place of friction.
‘‘You will get us caught’’
The screams become louder and we hear commotion under us. We hear gunshots and people talking.
‘‘Now look what you’ve done’’
Bullets pierce the weak wood. Hope diminishes with every shot.
‘‘What should we do?’’
‘Let me think,’’
The inner sanctum of my mind-set is subsiding. The nightmarish ghosts are flooding the room. Beams of light shimmer through from battery fuelled torches. It’s time to die, I can feel it. Chico stands there, hopeless and unready for what’s occurring.
‘Your mother, she’s sputtering,’’
Blood spills from my mother’s mouth.
‘We need to leave. It’s our only chance’’
‘‘I can’t leave her.’’
‘We will die. She’s had a purposeful life before this, let her be’’
There isn’t a glimmer of hope to save us all. My mother will perish under the weight of her own ways. Guns and bullets will play their part. The foundation of love is breaking.
We climb upon the roof, and look down at the blood soaked streets. We wait until the rest of them enter the building. They carry weapons, spreading destruction. Their eyes terrified, but their cravings for food and control are bubbling inside them.
We hear three gunshots…
They’re louder than normal. Volatile, ripping through the skin and into important organs. I can picture my mother laying there. Bloodied up, but the pain has faded.
Her laced up mind, untied.
We rappel down the side of the house and run.
We have to run…
Over at DO SOME DAMAGE ace writer, editor, and publisher Chris Rhatigan takes a look at writing short stories.
‘As the co-editor of All Due Respect, I read a high volume of short stories. These days, the quality of submissions is high. Most of what we receive is fairly close to on target—the right length, in the right genre, not too many typos or other glaring errors. Still, if I reach the end of a story and think, “Whelp, nothing wrong with that,” I’m unlikely to recommend accepting it. After all, if co-editor David Nemeth and I aren’t jazzed about a story, then what’s the point in publishing it?’
This is a show within a show. Usually the Intros are performed by actors (such as Lothar Tuppan and Geri Elliff) with the storyline that a mad scientist and a washed up News anchor are trapped up in a radio station in a post apocalyptic world, where they come across ghosts, demons, lost authors from the 1950’s and other strange occurrences. In the mean time Dr. Mary and Tiffany fill their time with silly shenanigans, broadcasting audio dramas, narrated short stories, commercials, and music.
Visit our facebook page here www.facebook.com/twistedpulpradiohour/?view_public_for=109459000
Longcroft on Lockdown
The Longcroft Housing Estate, Yorkshire, England.
These were scary times. A global pandemic has changed the world as we know it albeit temporarily. As the world held its collective breath unprecedented events were unfolding on the Longcroft estate.
North Longcroft Estate – Police Control Room
An assortment of coppers of varying ages, ranks and sexes shuffled restlessly on their seats waiting for the Sarge to get his papers in order and begin the late shift briefing. All were sat the government dictated two metres apart. This, of course, led to the usual childish behaviour you’d expect from any group under stress. Giggling and the throwing of notes to one another. The Sarge conscious of the restlessness of his captive audience launched into his briefing.
“Thanks for your attention ladies and gentlemen.” he coughed, then laughed.
“It’s alright I haven’t got this fucking virus. Damn tree pollen is playing havoc with my tubes.”
There was a half-hearted laugh. The Sarge was to comedy what Piers Morgan was to diplomacy.
Sensing he hadn’t engaged his troops he ploughed on regardless.
“Okay, there’s something big going down on the estate. It’s been quiet generally until now. All of the usual scrotes are playing nice on lock down or breaking into garages, cars and sheds. But they’re scared of the virus same as the rest of us so the low level scum bags are not currently a worry. Oh, and if any of them say they’ve got the virus and threaten to spit on you then you have my personal permission to ram your baton up their arse.”
This time there were genuine laughs. Nothing united a force more than twatting the enemy.
“An informant has let us know that all the top level scum bags in the area are meeting up. They’re planning something and it’s BIG. We have no idea where the meeting is or what the hell they are discussing but keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t take any unnecessary risks but find out what you can.”
He was losing them, they were muttering and speculating amongst themselves. Time to conclude.
“Okay, stay safe out there and go get ’em. Dismissed.”
“Oi! Soft lad, get your fucking arse over here!” yelled Davey in a loud whisper.
Rich looked up from the patio door handle he was yanking on.
“This shed is unlocked” stage whispered Davey.
Rich gave up, low crouched then ran over to Davey at the shed. He cursed as he caught his leg on a terracotta potted plant. Hopping for a moment on one foot.
“Quiet you twat. You’ll wake people up.”
Rich winced in pain, “Sorry! It’s so dark” he whispered.
“People tend to see if you try robbing them in the daytime you muppet.”
They were in the garden of a house on the very edge of the estate, where the houses were bigger, and it was just that little bit more affluent. Richer pickings in other words.
“This door is unlocked, let’s see what’s in here.” said Davey.
They crept carefully over the threshold, neither of them could see a thing. Davey reached into his pocket and took out his LED torch.
“Pull the door closed, just in case the light carries.” Said Davey
Rich did as he was asked and with a creak the little remaining light from outside was slowly extinguished. It was pitch black.
Davey clicked on his torch and swept it across the shed. He quickly clicked it off again.
“What the…” he said.
“Did I just…” said Rich.
Davey clicked on his torch again to see if what he’d seen was still there. This time he did a slow sweep. Rows and rows of shelves of creepy china dolls stared at them. They were exquisitely painted with rosy cheeks but their eyes were dark pools of evilness and they stared down at them with malevolence unknown to man.
However, the back wall of the shed is what made them both gasp in fear. A long row of brutal looking dildos. In order of size. Some with spikes. Some wrapped in barbed wire. Some as large as golf clubs.
“Oh-my-fucking-God” was Rich’s eloquent response.
“Dude, I don’t think god has anything to do with the contents of this shed, look.” replied Davey.
He swept the torch over a corner and saw several secure hooks containing sturdy looking studded bondage gear and several leather gimp masks.
There was a loud bang from the nearby house. They looked at each other and ran for their
Somewhere on the east side of the Longcroft Estate in a small closed down community centre and tonight there was a flurry of nervous activity. The estate is roughly split up into several powerful gangs, centres of power. All of whom would be present at this most unusual meeting.
The first to enter was the dreadlocked figure of Drexel. Originally from West Indian but his parents had moved to the estate when he was just two years old. Drexel was six foot three of pure muscle and aggression. His dreadlocks cultivated over years hung three quarters of the way down his back. His well muscled arms bulged free in his bodybuilders vest top. Drexel was your man for drugs on the estate. If you needed a high you came to one of his network of dealers. Going anywhere else for your high on the estate was worse for health than the drugs themselves. Drexel took his seat at the table on a tiny plastic chair designed only for an old ladies bottom.
Next to enter was Chuck “Knuckles” Van Cleef. He was the Longcroft’s gangster. Protection rackets, girls, clubs they were his thing. No one knew how he’d gotten his peculiarly American name but every one was sure they didn’t want to be on the other end of his knuckles. He stood at just under five foot six but was almost as wide as he was tall. His hands were like hams, huge and menacing and his knuckles stood out even amongst the meaty flesh of his hands. Hence his nickname.
There was only one Biker gang on the estate that for reasons known only to themselves were called The Found. Their fifteen members all wore a uniform of denim jackets and green bandanas with The Found in fancy scroll on the back. Since they were almost all male they cultivated ZZ Top style beards, with varying degrees of success. Except Rosy their only female member, but you’d have to look twice to establish that. They were not a criminal gang per se but if you crossed one of them vengence was sure to be swift and merciless. Their leader Ted O’Malley was a skinny guy but if you crossed him you’d see just what a skinny elbow could do to your face.
All of these leaders were sat glaring at each other, trash talking and nervously waiting for the real power in the estate to arrive. Outside their various hard men were all in separate groups waiting for it to kick off so they could have a good scrap.
Finally, ten minutes later than the agreed meeting time the door creaked open and the ominous shuffle and tap tap of several canes and zimmer frames were heard. The most powerful group on the estate had arrived. The Longcroft East Bingo Club. There was a scrape of chairs as all of the estates hardest men rushed to stand and show their respect. These ladies controlled the estate by fear and information. If you crossed them they didn’t forgive and they didn’t forget. They had access to a source of information and gossip more powerful than any internet server. The weekly bingo meetings.
If you dared to cross them the information was shared among the network. Your card (like a bingo card) was marked for good. The first time you slipped up they’d have you. Any one of dozens of pairs of curtain twitching eyes was watching your every move. A phone call would be made. It could be the taxman. It could the DWP. It could be a rival drug dealer. Underestimate them at your peril.
Vera, their natural leader and most vicious with an elbow, quickest with a dabber and most merciless with a cutting remark was the first to speak.
“Good evening gentleman.”
She made no apology for being late and settled heavily down on the seat at the head of the table. She was flanked by her two closest cronies, mad Margo and dotty Dotty.
“Before we begin,” said Margo, “I’d just like to inform Mr O’Malley that one of his bikers nearly ran over my nephew last week. Sort it out quickly or we’ll be forced to give Mr Van Cleef the photographs of one of your lads and his wife.”
Chuck leapt to his feet in anger and glared at O’Malley who looked bewildered and terrified all at the same time. Before things could get out of hand. Vera shook her grey haired head.
“Not now gentlemen. We have business to deal with.”
And with her true demonstration of power over they began their meeting.
So it was decided with some raising of voices, threats, anger and some chess grandmaster moves by Vera that the meanest, toughest, nastiest tribes on the Longcroft Estate would use their networks to ensure that no one went too hungry, everyone had toilet rolls and that everyone would get their medication. They would look after the vulnerable and the needy until lock down was over. They would help each other in a way they never had before for the mutual good and no knee caps needed to be broken for a while.
The moment it was lifted…the gloves would be off and it’d be back to settling old scores and making money. For now peace and co-operation would be the order of the day, signed and sealed by Vera.
The Sarge kicked off his boots and went into the living room to kiss his wife.
“Hi love. How was your day?” She enquired.
“Not too bad. There is something big going down but the streets are quiet for now. It’s eerie really.”
“How are your officers coping?”
“They’re as clueless as ever.” He chuckled.
“Oh well, at least they have you to guide them.”
He smiled at her lovingly and patted the little pug that was sat on her lap.
“They do indeed. Listen it’s been a long day. I need to unwind. I’m going to spend some time in the shed.”
She smiled and nodded, “You do that I’ll catch up with the soaps. You’ll have to show me what you do in that shed one of these days you’re so secretive.”
He smiled, “Oh I will. Don’t worry about that.”
Darren Sant was born in 1970 and raised in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire which is in the United Kingdom. He moved to Hull in East Yorkshire in 2001.
Darren’s stories have appeared in various online publications such as The Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal, Thrillers Killers N Chillers, The Killing Pandemic, Flash Jab Fiction and Shotgun Honey.
Darren’s creation The Longcroft Estate is the setting for a number of his stories. A collection of the first three of these tales is was published by Close To The Bone in February 2012.
What is Tiny Tales? It’s a brand new podcast with a homemade punk rock ethos. Featuring multi-genre fiction and poetry.
Who can get involved? Absolutely anyone! Drop me a message on our Twitter account @Tiny_Tales_Cast or find me, Darren Sant on Facebook or email me on email@example.com
Is there A word limit? The clue is in our name. We’re looking for complete stories on the shorter side. However, we could spread out longer works across multiple episodes. I’m also trying to include a poetry if that is your thing.
Why a Podcast? I’ve been fascinated by spoken tales since I was a child. Stories can have an extra dimension when spoken aloud! Before we had printed matter tales were told over the campfire, knowledge was passed on, people were entertained.
Who is the Target Audience? I don’t like to impose limitations on style or language so I’ll often include tales with adult themes and violence so these podcasts will tend to be for an adult audience
Episode 2 of Tiny Tales features: Nick Boldock, Paul D. Brazill, Ian Ayris and Darren Sant. This podcast features adult themes and language throughout.
It was shortly after the pitter-patter of tiny feet had been drowned out by the rat-a-tat-tat of the debt collector’s knocks that Carole Parker considered killing her husband. But it wasn’t until many years later, when her daughter Kate had grown up and flown the nest, that she actually decided to do it.
Carole had barely been out of her teens when Doctor James Parker, as glimmering and sophisticated as a Brandy Alexander, swept through her hum-drum life like a tornado, picked her up like Dorothy and plonked her in an Oz that bore more than a passing resemblance to Chiswick, West London.
As the years trundled on, however, James’s gambling and drinking habits ballooned to the size of the Hindenburg, his mood swings and behaviour grew more and more erratic and Oz turned out to be no place like home.
Carole’s initial, overriding feeling of disappointment eventually melded into a hate that slowly marinaded until it congealed into a cold, hard contempt.
Carole, who had been studying Chemistry at Durham University when she met James, found that she couldn’t safely rely on him for an income and she eventually took a part time job at Bogajski’s Veterinary Practice in Holland Park, an upmarket joint that pampered the pets of B and C-list celebrities. Over the years, a bottle of chloral hydrate that nestled on a shelf at work had stood out like the lone, beautiful whore in a rundown brothel, teasing and tempting Carole. The years had stretched out like a long summer shadow until, at last, she spiked a bottle of Mortlach – James’s favourite whisky – and headed home.
Carole got off the 94 bus at Turnham Green and glimpsed her reflection in the newsagent’s window. Her heart sank like the Titanic. As she looked at the frump in the window she remembered overhearing a couple of shiny, happy WAGs talking about her as they sat in the vet’s waiting room.
‘Not bad looking but a bit on the drab side’, the northern one had said.
‘Dowdy and past her sell-by date,’ commented the other, in a grating Estuary accent.
‘About time for a make-over,’ they giggled.
It had hurt but Carole could hardly disagree and she’d been depressed for days after. What had happened to the vivacious young woman who used to light up a room like a firework display? She’d been drowned in a flat cocktail of debt and drudgery but there was still a spark, she knew.
Well, she thought, with James out of the way – and his insurance money in the bank – there would be a rebirth. A phoenix from the ashes. A flush of excitement burst free like a champagne cork but by the time she stood at the gate of her semi-detached house that excitement was waning and being replaced with fear. Fear of prison if she was caught. Fear of what Kate would think. And then the guilt, the doubt and the panic hit her like a tsunami.
Then she saw the car. A big grey BMW that was parked outside her house looking like a shark that was waiting to strike.
‘There are, of course, myriad negotiation techniques,’ said Detective Sergent Frank Cook, in a voice not dissimilar to that of the tiger in the Jungle Book film. ‘One of the most popular is a two-hander, as it were, known as the good-cop/ bad-cop. But I, however, am here alone today and I am as far from a good cop as you can imagine so I think I’ll just stick to the Corleone method.’
Carole was focused now. She looked at James but he just looked pathetic, like a scolded schoolboy. His face was bleeding and snotty and the fingers of his left hand hung limp. With his shaking right hand, he signed the contract as Frank Cook hovered over him like Godzilla over a flattened Tokyo. James was a big man – he’d played prop forward for Durham University – but Frank was bigger, with a face that looked as if it had recently been scrubbed by a Brillo pad and big, big hands, one of which held a big, shiny bloodstained Glock 29. The moment that Carole signed the paper she could feel her life slipping away like dishwater down a plughole.
‘Congratulations,’ said Frank. ‘You are now the proud owners of ..well … life.’ He grinned like a game show host, pushed the deeds to the house in the pocket of his Armani jacket and then indifferently threw an IOU towards James.
‘I do believe we should have a little snifter to celebrate, don’t you?’ said Frank, putting a CD into the player. ‘I think Doctor James here is certainly in need of a little hair of the dog that fucked him up.’
Carole went over to the drinks cabinet. She took a swig of Glenfidich before passing the bottle over to James, who gulped it down like a drowning man gasping for the last breath of air.
Puccini’s Tosca blasted out as Frank looked at a photograph on the wall: Carole and Jimmy on honeymoon in Las Vegas, looking full of life and future.
‘Those were the days, my friends, eh?’ said Frank, turning and spotting Carole’s Sainsbury’s bag. ‘And is that a bottle of Mortlach, I spy? I hope you’re not keeping the good stuff for yourself.’
For the next few minutes, Carole seemed to step out of herself as if she were watching a film. She poured the Mortlach for Frank and let it all happen. About halfway through Tosca’s third act, as church bells rang, Frank started babbling, puking and convulsing and, by the late evening, he was dead.
Outside The City Barge, a bustling pub overlooking the Thames, the speakers were blasting out an old Eddie & The Hot Rods song. A jet ski cut across the water and Carole flashed back to the previous month when she and James had dumped Frank Cook’s body and BMW in the river’s murky water, somewhere near the Isle of Dogs.
A small aeroplane left a trail of white foam across the vivid blue sky. Carole smiled to herself as she showed her friends the shiny red shoes that she’d bought from Harvey Nichols with one of James’s many credit cards.
‘I think I saw your husband looking out of the window again today,’ said Sarah, a mousy woman with mousy hair. ‘Is that all he does these days? He seems to peek through the curtains whenever I park near you. Is he turning into a Peeping Tom?’
Carole laughed. That really was all James did now. Snoop. He was at the window day and night waiting for reprisals from Frank’s cronies. Reprisals that she doubted would come.
If anyone missed Frank Cook or thought that he’d been murdered, she doubted that they would suspect a boring suburban couple like her and James. And if they did, well, she had that big, shiny gun in her handbag, just in case.
‘Oh, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,’ chuckled Carole as she drained her glass of Pimms and lemonade. ‘Same again?