Stealing Christmas Chapter One

As you may know, I released my new Christmas crime novella a couple of weeks ago, Stealing Christmas, and I thought I’d share here the opening chapter. If you find it appeals and you can’t go another moment without reading the rest, or picking it up and putting it to one side for December, you can find a link at the bottom of the post. Kindle and paperback both available. Enjoy!

 

Chapter One
The Christmas lights on the outside of the first house illuminate the whole street.
“Jesus Christ,” Teddy Norton says. It’s not his first viewing, but it still gets him. “Pretty sure she’s added more bulbs to it every damn time I come round. You reckon people on this block go about their homes with sunglasses on?”
Bud Corrigan stares at the house. The flickering of the lights dance across his features. It’s the first time he’s seen it. He shields his eyes as he peers out. “Cindy must really like Christmas, huh?”
“Who knew?” Teddy says. “This looks like the house of someone that actually enjoys the season, and she never looked to me like she enjoyed anything.” Teddy grits his teeth. Cindy was in charge of human resources at the factory where they’d both worked just a few short months ago. She was the one found out about Teddy’s…history. She was the one that got them both fired.
Bud stares at the house like the lights have him hypnotised.
Teddy taps him on the arm. “Come on. We’ll roll round the back, go in that way.”
“You don’t think it’s too well lit? People might see us.”
“See us? It’s the best cover we’ve got. Can you see anything through those windows?”
Bud leans forward, against the passenger side door, right up to the glass, trying to see through the house’s windows. “No, guess not.”
“We could probably hit every light switch in the place and still no one would be able to see us.”
“Okay, sure, good point.”
Teddy starts up the van, rolls down the street and round the corner. He takes his time through the slush on the road. Snow is piled high on the sidewalks and next to the parked cars there. It’s not snowing right now, but the sky above them looks heavy with clouds. There isn’t a single star visible. It’ll likely snow again, and hard, before the night is out.
“How long ago did the party start?” Bud says.
Teddy checks the clock on the dashboard. “An hour.”
“She’ll be there now, right? I mean, there’s fashionably late, but an hour would just be rude, right?”
“She’ll be there. It didn’t look like there was anyone home. We’ll check first, don’t worry.”
Bud is worried, though. He’s never done this before. This is his first time. He chews his bottom lip and his knees bounce. He’s balled his hands up in his lap to stop them from fidgeting. He’s balled them up so tight his knuckles are bone white.
The other houses on the street have made an effort, but none of them compare to Cindy’s in terms of lights per square inch. It makes Teddy think of the Griswold home in Christmas Vacation. He thinks maybe her husband is the joyous one, just like Clark in the movie. The big kid. Probably put all those lights up himself right at the start of the month, spends the rest of the year counting down until he can do it all over again.
It’s eight o’clock, Christmas Eve. Cindy’s house is the first on their list. They’re starting in the centre of town, working their way out. Phil’s will be last. He lives on the outskirts, the biggest house in town for the biggest swinging dick. Phil owns the factory where Teddy and Bud worked. Where Cindy works. Phil was their boss. He didn’t fire them personally – got his brother, the head of security, to do that – but he surely signed off on it.
They intend to be done in three hours, tops. Three hours then they’re gone, out of town, keep driving, and find somewhere new to start over. Kiss this shitty little place goodbye. Merry Christmas. They’re giving themselves the biggest gift of all come Christmas morning, and they’re not gonna wait for no fat man in a red suit to deliver it, they’re gonna go out and get it themselves.
New lives.
There’s a group of carollers going from house to house. They’ve already been to Cindy’s, moved on after receiving no answer. Now, three doors down, a husband, wife, and child stand in their doorway, listening to them tunelessly work their way through We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Still, as bad as it is, they smile. They all smile, singers and listeners alike. It’s Christmas Eve. The happiest time of the year. Everyone’s in a good mood.
The back wheels of the van skid a little as Teddy takes the corner, but he manages to right it. Slows a little more.
“Remember when we used to do that?” Bud says.
“Do what?” Teddy is concentrating on the road, he doesn’t have time for reminiscing.
“When we usedta go carol singing to get a little cash together.”
“I remember about three houses outta five usedta give us cash for singing. The other two times we just had to wind the song up and stand there lookin like a couple of assholes twiddling our thumbs.”
Bud laughs. “Yeah, but they were usually the old people. The elderly. They had the biggest smiles, though.”
“Oh yeah, that’s what I was in it for – the fuckin smiles. I had the voice of an angel, man. I deserved payment for that shit.”
“It’s true, you really hit those high notes. I was a decent, uh…what’s it called…”
“Baritone.”
“Yeah, that’s it. I was good at that.”
“If you say so.”
“I do. And you don’t sound like an angel no more. What went wrong?”
“Cigarettes and booze, man.”
“You’d sound more like Tom Waits if we tried it now.”
Teddy grunts. “Uh-huh. Mark Lanegan.”
“Brian Johnson.”
“Howlin Wolf.”
Bud laughs.
Teddy slows, stops at the back of Cindy’s house. It’s easy to tell which is hers. There are no lights on the back, but it’s hard to miss the glow that emanates from the front.
“Then we’d take all that loose change and we’d go hang round the liquor store until someone came along who’d go in and buy us beer.”
“Keep us warm on those cold nights,” Teddy says, not really paying attention, looking up at the dark windows of the house, making sure it’s as empty as he tried to convince Bud it is. He remembers how no one answered for the carollers. He’s just doubting himself, is all. Listening too much to his nerves.
“Wasn’t so hard to find someone to go in for us when it was December,” Bud says. “People were always a lot nicer at Christmas.”
“Maybe they still are and we just don’t notice as much anymore.” Teddy checks the windows of the other houses. The neighbours. Checks for lights, for movement, anyone watching them. Doesn’t see anyone. It’s not a night for people to lurk at their windows and be suspicious of every car on the road. It’s a night to relax with family and watch Christmas specials on the television, to sip egg nog and sing songs at the piano. To tuck up the children on the one night of the year they’re eager to get to bed. Santa Claus is coming to town. “C’mon, let’s go.”
Teddy kills the engine, pockets the keys. They both slide from the van and make their way to the back gate. They’re lucky – it’s not locked. Bud looks at Teddy. “Get in,” Teddy prompts.
“Figured we’d have to climb the fence.”
“Yeah, well, we don’t, so get movin.”
They both wear black. Jeans, jumpers, woollen hats. They look suspicious as all hell, it’s true, but it’s also necessary. When they’re driving, they take off the hats, wear heavy coats that aren’t black. If a cop passes them on the road, looks inside, they don’t want to arouse his interest. If he pulls them over, they don’t want him questioning the evening’s all-black fashion choices. If he asks, they’re plumbers on an emergency call, trying to save someone’s Christmas from being ruined entirely from a burst pipe.
Snow in the back yard crunches underfoot. It’s thick, untouched. No kids have played in it, no dogs have run in it. Not a single snowman. Near the back door there’s a gas-powered barbecue, wrapped up for the winter, practically buried under white. Teddy recognises the shape of it. They go to the back door. Teddy keeps an eye on all the nearby windows. He carries a toolkit. It’s held close to his side. Bud carries the bags. Holds them close, too. They both stop at the back door, listen. They look at each other.
“I don’t hear anything,” Bud says.
“See, what’d I tell you? She’s gone to the party.”
Bud nods along. “Yeah, good.”
Teddy tries the handle, on the off-chance they’ll get as lucky with the door as they were with the gate, but it’s not to be. He’s not disappointed because he’s not surprised, but it was worth checking. He gets down on his knees, checks the style of lock, then opens up the toolkit. Pulls out a hammer and chisel. Before he sets to work he turns to Bud, looks up at him. They’ve been over this already, but sometimes it’s worth repeating things to Bud. He’s prone to forgetting the important details. “If there’s an alarm, forget the gifts. Straight upstairs, grab the jewellery. Got it?”
“Yeah man, I know, I know.”
“Uh-huh. I’m gonna hit this now – you keep a look out.”
Bud turns his back on Teddy, holds watch. Teddy places the chisel in the centre of the door handle, hits it hard with the hammer. The lock flies out the other side, hits the floor with a thud. The door opens. It’s not his first time.
They listen. There’s no alarm. Teddy pats Bud on the arm, squeezes his bicep. “Let’s move.”
They get inside. Teddy stays in the kitchen, checks drawers and cupboards and cookie jars for wallets, purses, change. Bud goes straight into the front room, checks the gifts. Shakes each box. Anything that sounds like jewellery, feels like it might be expensive, he tears it open, checks. Teddy doesn’t find anything in the kitchen, but as he heads through, on his way to the stairs to go up to the bedroom, he notices that Bud has come up with a Rolex, a pair of earrings, a necklace. He’s working fast. Teddy is impressed. It’s probably the nerves.
The lights on the Christmas tree are on. They twinkle. There are a couple of fake candles flickering on the fireplace. It all looks decidedly dim in contrast with the front of the house.
Teddy reaches the landing, checks the bedroom. Straight to the vanity table. He empties out the contents of the jewellery box, upends the necklace stand. Bud appears behind him in the doorway. “Reckon I got all the gifts worth anything,” he says.
Teddy shakes his bag. “Cindy sure has a lot of jewellery.”
“Anything good?”
“Well, I’ll say this for her, she’s never looked cheap.”
Bud goes to the built-in wardrobes, rummages. Pulls out a couple of suits, stuffs them into the bag. Teddy spots him.
“Fold them, Bud, fold them. They ain’t gonna be worth anythin if they’re all crumpled up and damaged.”
Bud looks confused. “I’ve never folded a suit before.”
Teddy narrows his eyes. The only time he’s ever had to wear a suit he was in court. “Well, just be gentle with em, okay? We’ll fold them after. Try not to crease them.”
“Sure.” Bud folds a suit in half – jacket and pants – and feeds it into the bag.
Teddy looks round the room. He checks under the bed. “We’re done here. Let’s go.”
They leave the house as quietly as they entered, checking the windows again before they crunch through the yard and back to the van. Bud carries both bags. He slides open the side door, puts them in. Doesn’t throw them, doesn’t want to make more noise than necessary. He grabs a new pair of plates. They have a change for after each house they plan to hit.
Teddy starts the van. Bud gets in, straps in, Teddy drives on. Takes his time, goes nice and slow, keeps in control of the steering wheel. Doesn’t want to skid, to sideswipe one of the parked cars and set off its alarm.
“D’you think they’re having a good time?” Bud says.
Teddy narrows his eyes. “What? Who?” Sometimes Bud comes out with non-sequiturs, and no matter how many times Teddy has berated him about this, it doesn’t stop him. Part of the reason being Bud doesn’t understand what a non-sequitur is.
“The people at the party. Do you think they’re enjoying themselves?”
Teddy shakes his head. Other than to acknowledge where they are, Teddy hasn’t given them a thought. “The fuck do I care?”

 

 

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Stealing Christmas

My tenth book is now available! As you can probably guess from the title, it’s a Christmas themed crime novella to compliment my release last year of Christmas Stockings. I love Christmas, what can I say? I keep it up with these surprise releases and one day I’ll be known as the Sufjan Stevens of Christmas crime fiction.

Anyway, here’s the description of the new book, and below that is a link to the Amazon UK page to buy it directly:

‘Life has been tough on Teddy Norton and Bud Corrigan. A pair of lifelong best friends and perennial losers, they’ve never had anyone but each other, and they’ve never had more than they could scrape together. Now it’s Christmas, and they want more than they’ve been given.

Teddy’s good at breaking in. Bud’s good at lifting heavy things and doing what he’s told. They’ve got a list of houses they want to hit, of people they want to hurt the same way they’ve been hurt. They’re all at a party. Their homes are all empty…right?

Stealing Christmas takes the villains from Home Alone, makes them the heroes, then throws them in a blender with Of Mice And Men and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.’

 

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Bad Bastards

So, a couple of things. Firstly, I have a website these days! If you wanna check it out, just visit:

http://www.paulheatley.com

It’s got links to all my books, and a couple of pictures of me looking moody in the woods. Cos, y’know, why not.

Secondly, I have a new book out! Bad Bastards is available right now from Fahrenheit 13, an imprint of Fahrenheit Press. If you wanna check that out, link below:

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_bad_bastards.html

Bad Bastards is a noir love story, telling the tale of Patton and Tammy, and Tammy’s father who is a member of the eponymous Bad Bastards Motorcycle Club. It also includes a trailer park hitman, a militia, and a creepy best friend. There’s a lot going on in this one, but it remains fast-paced and brutal, just like the rest of my works. I’m gonna post the prologue and chapter one down the bottom of this post. But you know what else is cool? Fahrenheit made a t-shirt for it! Here it is:

BBMC_Unisex_360x

Doesn’t that look amazing? I’m so pleased with this. I have merchandise! Haha. If you’re interested in getting one for yourself (and be sure to check out the book, too!) you’ll be able to find the merchandise section on the Fahrenheit link I posted above. Anyway, as promised, here’s the prologue and chapter one of Bad Bastards.
Prologue
Be Prepared.
Be Quick.
Be Wary.
Harvey thinks, Fuck this shit.
Harvey thinks, if he’d known what a fucking clusterfucking fuck this whole thing would be, he’d’ve chased this kid soon as he’d laid eyes on him.
Be Prepared.
Be Quick.
Be Wary.
Shit, he remembers. I did chase this kid.
But he was persistent.
Harvey should’ve chased him further.
Now it’s too late.
Now what he’s got is one hell of a fucking mess to clean up.
Bullets.
Blood.
And a fuckload of bodies.
Be Prepared.
Be Quick.
Be Wary.

Chapter One
How it begins:
Patton is fucking a girl.
He knows he shouldn’t be fucking her, but he is.
He thinks he’s in love.
It’s a fool notion. He knows it, same as how he knows he shouldn’t be fucking her, shouldn’t be anywhere near her.
The girl’s name is Tammy Dawson.
Tammy Dawson is the most beautiful girl Patton’s ever seen.
She’s tall, almost as tall as he is, and most of her length can be attributed to her legs. They go on and on, from the tops of her thighs to the tips of her toes.
The rest of her is real swell, too. She’s tight-bodied, like a supermodel. Her hair is long, brown, straight, like a supermodel. She’s flat-chested, like a supermodel, but when he sucks on her pink rosebud nipples, feels them harden between his teeth, it doesn’t matter how big or small her breasts are.
They went to school together, but she’s a couple of years younger. She didn’t look then how she looks now. Kept herself covered up with thick jumpers and plaid skirts that went down past her knees, coke-bottle glasses that covered half her face and made her bug-eyed. Books clutched to her chest like she was trying to hide behind them. Always hiding. The clothes, disguising what was beneath, who she was.
Didn’t matter what she’d worn, though. People stayed away.
People knew who her father was.
Knew who he was with.
Knew the things he’d done.
Same way Patton knows it. Knows it right now, deep inside her, her long legs wrapped around him.
But, right now, deep inside her, her long legs wrapped around him, Tammy’s father is the furthest thing from his mind.
The first time they hooked up, he couldn’t shake Bobby Hodge’s bearded visage. Took him a long time to finish, in the back of his car. The sweat was dripping from him, from the tip of his nose, and running in rivulets down his back. It wasn’t solely the exertion that made him sweat. The constant looking over his shoulder, out the steamed windows, making sure Bobby Hodge wasn’t closing in like some all-knowing force of nature – the fear was making him sweat hard.
They’d met in the bar.
Tammy was dressed different.
Gone were the home-knit hand-me-down sweaters gifted from her grandmother. Gone were the too-long skirts that concealed the toned muscles in her thighs. Gone were those painfully thick granny-glasses.
Instead, she wore denim cut-offs that barely covered all of her ass, and a loose black vest that flashed her bra if she moved too quick. The glasses were gone completely.
She looked like what she was.
A biker’s daughter.
Or a biker’s old lady.
Patton hadn’t recognised her. When he voiced his surprise at her metamorphosis, she said she’d recognised him straight off. Said she remembered him.
Remembered him from school.
She’d always thought he was cute.
That surprised him, too. It wasn’t like he’d been popular, like he’d been on any sports team, like he’d been particularly noticeable. He’d kept to himself. A loner. He’d been as invisible as Tammy had tried to make herself.
So they talked. Then they went to his car, and they fucked.
After, they exchanged numbers. He didn’t expect her to call, but she did. They met up more. They fucked more.
Sometimes they didn’t fuck. They sat together. Lay together. Talked.
Patton fell in love.
Like a fucking idiot, he fell in love with Bobby Hodge’s daughter.
But now, now is one of the times they fuck.
Time has passed, so now Patton is relaxed. He’s at ease. His mind is concentrated solely upon Tammy, below him, around him, what he’s doing to her and what she’s doing to him. He’s not listening to anything beyond her breaths, beyond her gasps. He’s not listening to the house. He doesn’t hear the door open. Doesn’t hear the footfalls out in the corridor, getting closer.
They’re in her house. It’s a nice house, in a not-so-nice neighbourhood. No one bothers Tammy, though. Not the drug dealers or the crack heads. Her father’s name, the club he’s a part of, it still carries as much weight now as it did when they were in high school. More so. The drug dealers work for them. The crack heads rely on them. They won’t go near Tammy.
Whoever’s in the house, it’s not them. Tammy’s is the only house that has never been broken into.
Tammy’s house is under constant surveillance.
By the drug dealers.
By the crack heads.
And they report back to Bobby.
They tell him who comes and goes.
They especially tell him about the guy that keeps coming back. That stays the night.
Bobby is especially interested.
Bobby comes down the hallway. He isn’t trying to be quiet.
First Patton knows of it, there’re hands on his shoulders. They yank him up, drag him from the bed. He can smell sweat, and leather. He can feel the strength in those hands.
Then those hands throw him to the ground. Those hands are decorated with rings. Thick fucking rings. They do more damage than knuckles ever could. They tear up Patton’s face with every blow rained down.
At first, all Patton can think is, I’m naked. I’m getting my ass kicked, and I’m naked.
Then he hears Tammy, on the bed still. She’s screaming.
Then he realises it’s Bobby, the hands, the rings, they belong to Bobby, and he gets scared.
Really scared.
Those fists keep raining down, and he thinks he’s gonna die.
Bobby will kill him. Bobby won’t think twice.
Bobby’s killed men before. Everyone knows it. He’s been to prison for one of them. He got off on another on the grounds of self-defence, though everyone knows that’s bullshit. Same way everyone knows there’s a whole bunch of other corpses that’ve never been found.
That’s me.
They ain’t gonna find me.
Then the punching stops. There’s a boot gets driven into his ribs for good measure, and it’s over.
His head swims. He tastes blood. It’s in his eyes. He can’t open his eyes. They’re swollen shut. The whole of his face feels swollen, and it pulses, it throbs.
Tammy is screaming still, and then she’s not.
Something is said, shouted. Patton can’t tell by whom. It feels like he’s underwater. He can’t hear a thing.
Then those hands have him again, one of them tangles itself in his hair, and it drags him down the hallway. It feels like his scalp will tear from his skull.
And then he’s outside. The ground gets cold, and it’s kind of wet, and Patton remembers that he is still naked.
He feels warm breath on his face. It gets close to his ear, making sure he hears.
“You come back here, and I’ll kill ya.”
Then the door to the house is slammed shut.
Patton is out in the cold.

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Guillotine

My new book Guillotine has been out in the world for just over a week now! As I’m sure you’ll agree from the photos below, it’s a damn good looking book! The cover was designed by prolific artist JT Lindroos, and the book itself has been published by All Due Respect and Down & Out Books, who published my previous work Fatboy.

Thus far it’s seen some comparisons to Quentin Tarantino and Patricia Highsmith, so naturally I’m very pleased with those. It’s also been called my most violent work so far. I’m certainly of the opinion it’s my darkest, I’m intrigued to hear what others think.

Here’s the worldwide link, click on this and it should take you to the appropriate Amazon site wherever you are in the world:

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B07N7MWGJY

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Guillotine Chapter One

As you may or may not know, I have a new book coming out very, very soon. Guillotine will be released via All Due Respect and Down & Out Books on the 22nd February and will be my eighth book in total, and my second with All Due Respect. American-set, it tells the tale of Lou-Lou, a young lady trying to escape from her tyrannical father with the man she loves. Of course, her father doesn’t plan on making that easy for her…

The paperback pre-order is available from Amazon right now, and with a striking fucking cover from J T Lindroos, why WOULDN’T you wanna own a physical copy of this beauty? I mean, the story might be pretty good too…  😉

Okay, so without further ado, here is Chapter One of Guillotine! And if it successfully whets your appetite, UK and US links at the bottom.

 

One

A topless girl dances on a stage in the corner. The music is a bass-heavy drone that loops round on itself, unending.

The bar is mostly empty. A few sad, crumpled drunks sit alone at their tables and booths, a couple more prop up the bar. Occasionally they glance at the girl, but mostly they stare into their drinks.

Mikey sits in a booth at the back, near the toilets. The stink of piss wafts out the swinging doors every time someone goes to relieve themselves. He has a whisky, and he sips it from time to time while he watches the door. He waits. Tommy said he would reach the bar at ten. It’s after half past.

He glances back at the half-naked girl, her pale skin lit red then purple by the strobe lights that hang above her. She is skinny and Mikey can see her ribcage as plain as the keys on a piano. Her small breasts are bare, her nipples point with the cold. She wears black underwear and heels, stockings that go up past her knees. Her eyes are closed. Her dark hair is cut short, bangs that reach almost to her eyelids, her face turned to the side, her shoulders pressed back against the wall. Her hips do the dancing. They sway, roll slowly left to right, then right to left. Her hands rest lightly upon them, fingers spread, curled. Watching her face, she looks like she could be anywhere in the world, not stripping in the corner of some scuzzy bar, garishly lit, occasionally ogled by some depressed drunk.

Mikey takes another sip, holds it in his mouth, lets the liquid slosh between his cheeks, over his teeth, feels it numb his gums.

The door opens and Tommy stumbles in. He goes straight to the bar, orders a beer

and a shot. He watches the girl while he waits. In turn, Mikey watches him.

Tommy grabs the shot as soon as the glass is filled, throws his head back and downs it, then wraps a hand around the beer and sips it slowly. He talks briefly to the bartender. Mikey finishes his drink while he does. Tommy turns, leans against the bar, scans the room. He drinks. His eyes settle on Mikey over the top of his glass. They exchange nods and Tommy approaches.

He is tall and thin, but he still wears the clothes from back when he’d had some meat on his bones, before his drug use took precedence over working out and eating. His jeans are loose, his beaten leather jacket is baggy. Looks like it could wrap him twice. He resembles a little brother borrowing his older sibling’s clothes, and appears just as ridiculous. He takes a seat, sniffs. “How’s it goin?”

Mikey nods.

Tommy sniffs again, harder this time, then smooths down the straggling hairs in his thick beard. He dresses like a biker, wears big boots and has a chain that hangs from his belt to his pocket thick enough to choke out an elephant. There are tattoos across his knuckles, but if they spell anything out it’s impossible to decipher. Faded green squiggles that are as likely to be Celtic symbols or Kanji as they are to be letters.

The rumour is that Tommy used to prospect for a local MC, but he didn’t make the grade. Mikey knows Tommy well enough to know it’s the kind of rumour he’d start himself, and he’d believe this to be the case were it not for the part about Tommy’s failure to break into the MC ranks. Were it truly a tall Tommy tale, he’d have gotten his patch in record time, have ascended to the presidency of the club, then had to have given it all up and go into hiding because of some cartel hit placed upon him in a deal gone wrong.

Tommy does a lot of coke and his stories have a tendency to lean toward the

extravagant.

Regardless of whether the story is fact or fiction, Tommy tries his best to live a biker lifestyle and to represent himself as such. But there is no patch on the back of his jacket, and Mikey has never seen him near a motorcycle.

“Been busy?” Tommy says.

“Busy enough,” Mikey says.

Tommy sucks his teeth, nods, then flicks his head to get strands of greasy long hair out of his face. He sniffs. Looks over at the girl again, is distracted by her. She slips her hands down the front of her underwear, sinks her teeth into her bottom lip, her hips continuing to roll with the unending bass line. Tommy stares, transfixed.

Mikey wipes chip crumbs from the sticky tabletop before he rests his forearms upon it and leans forward. “Let’s talk about why we’re here.”

Tommy turns back, wipes his raw, red nostrils with the back of his hand. “You don’t waste time.”

“I didn’t come to this dive to shoot the shit. Spill.”

“Sure. Well.” He takes a drink. “I understand you’ve done some work for Big Bobby Joe.”

“Big Bobby Joe is an asshole.”

“Figure his money’s as green as the next guy’s. Way I heard it, once upon a time you did a lot of work for Big Bobby Joe. Straight outta high school, right?”

“That’s how I know he’s an asshole.”

“I ain’t here to debate that issue.”

“You work for him?”

“You know what I do?”

“Chop shop.”

“Big Bobby Joe signs my paychecks. Least he would, if things were on the up and

up. But you catch my meaning. He owns the garage.”

“That a recent venture of his?”

“Coupla years now. He’s got his fingers in a lot of pies round here. Where’ve you been?”

“Keepin outta his business.”

“Your line of work, that must be hard to do.”

“I can afford to be selective. And I take on most of my jobs elsewhere. I ain’t afraid to travel. It’s never wise to shit where you eat.”

“Said just like the man himself.” Tommy laughs. “Some things you just can’t shake, huh? He’s always saying that, over and over, gets it engrained in your head so you won’t forget: Don’t shit where you eat, boys.”

Mikey grunts. “He says it often enough, but he shits plenty in his own backyard.”

“Ha! Well, it ain’t so bad if you know the guys shovelling the shit. Big Bobby Joe is a big man with big ideas. He’s always looking to expand, any way he can. A lot of those bozos you’ll do jobs for in the cities, wherever else you might go, probably he’s got a line on them.”

“I don’t doubt it. He likes makin money as much as he likes shovin food in his fat fuckin face.”

Tommy laughs again. “Absolutely. Maybe even more so. You heard about his recent troubles?”

“Should I care?”

Tommy shrugs. “Maybe. Depends how interested I can make you.”

“Give it your best shot.”

“His little girl’s run away.”

Mikey runs his tongue over his teeth, responds before his hesitation can be noticed. “She ain’t so little anymore. And it was bound to happen, sooner or later.”

“True. But I ain’t got to the best part yet. You got kids?”

Mikey looks at him. “No.”

“Neither do I, but I reckon for those that do they have a blind spot when it comes to their kid’s digressions. Big Bobby Joe’s always gonna see his little girl when he looks at her.”

“Sees her as his property.”

Tommy grins. “Yeah, I’ve heard that too. Could be the reason he’s so heavy handed with her is cos he always remembers that magical moment he held her the first time. I heard he got worse after the mom died.”

Mikey wants another drink, but he doesn’t stand. “I think ‘worse’ would be a matter of opinion.”

“Some men, they love the only they way know how. The way they think best. He looks at her, he sees her three-foot tall, gap-toothed, pig-tails, dressed in her Sunday best for early mornin Mass, and that’s how he wants to keep her. That’s the little girl he never wanted her to stop being. But the rest of us, we look at her, we see the truth. We see a bitch in heat. That come-hither look in her eyes while she chews on her lip. And now she’s gone. But what truly eats at Big Bobby Joe is the way she departed.”

Mikey stares at Tommy, waits for him to continue, no patience for his dramatic pauses.

Tommy gets the hint, sniffs hard. “Lusty Lou-Lou fell for big bad Leon.”

“That a name I should know?”

“Don’t see why you should, but you never know, huh? Leon’s just another nobody. Usedta work with me, but then he caught the eye of Davey Sparks. You know Davey Sparks, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Of course you do. See, Leon’s a big guy. Broad shoulders, just how Davey likes

em. And he’s done some time inside – so now he’s double the kind of guy Davey Sparks likes. Recruits him from the chop shop, assigns him to Lou-Lou. Babysitter, basically. Didn’t you have that job once?”

Mikey doesn’t answer. “Tell your story.”

“So he’s drivin her round town, takes her shopping, keeps an eye on her. Reports back daily. Bodyguard-babysitter type shit. You know.” Tommy grins. “Bobby Joe’s a paranoid man, he likes to know his little girl’s safe as much as he likes to know she ain’t goin anywhere or doin anythin he don’t want her doin. Leon was good at his job, far as anyone could see. But somewhere down the line, he and Lou-Lou got a little more friendly than was professionally acceptable. Maybe it was just a recent thing, or maybe it’s been going on since day one and Leon’s regular reports to Davey Sparks have been a regular pile of bullshit. Whenever it started doesn’t matter. It’s all comin out now.”

“And Bobby Joe’s pissed.”

“Naturally. He’d be pissed at any of the boys stickin it to his little girl, but in this instance, with Leon, he’s doubly pissed.”

“What’s so special about Leon?”

“He’s a nigger.”

“Then I’m surprised he took him on in the first place.”

“Took him on in the chop shop. Wasn’t ever supposed to go anywhere else. This one’s on Davey Sparks, and you gotta believe he’s eatin a lot of shit right now. Cos there’s more. Cos Bobby Joe’s triply pissed. The goodbye note sent him truly over the edge. You ready for this? A pregnancy test, freshly doused.” Tommy grins, bites into his dry bottom lip with discoloured teeth. “Guess the outcome?”

“She’s cookin a fresh one.”

“You betcha. Congratulations, it’s a boy – or girl, whatever. So now Bobby Joe

wants his little girl back, sans bun, and he wants big bad Leon dead. There’s a hit out.”

“How much?”

Tommy’s grin gets wider, exposes more of his cracked and rotten teeth. “Sixty grand.”

Mikey keeps a straight face, but the sum catches him by surprise. “That’s steep.”

“You know Big Bobby Joe, he’s got a big fuckin temper. And right now he has a fuckin ragin hard-on for this kid.”

Mikey scratches the side of his nose, hung up on the bounty. “Why you bringin this to me?”

“Why do you think? You’re the guy to make him flaccid.”

“Bobby Joe asked for me?”

“He’s put a call out to anyone who’ll listen. He’s got the word on the street. I called you myself.”

Mikey’s eyes narrow. “That so.”

“That’s so.”

“When’d they split? Today?”

Tommy shakes his head. “Three days ago.”

“You tryin to waste my time?”

Tommy sniggers, gives Mikey a blast of his fetid breath, the stink worse than anything coming from the swinging doors of the nearby toilet. “I know where they are.”

Mikey raises an eyebrow.

“They ain’t even left town.”

“Get to the fuckin point.”

“Lookit, hear me out. You go do this thing, take care of Leon, we split the cash.”

“You know where he is, why don’t you do it?”

“Cos I ain’t you, Guillotine. I ain’t a pro.”

Mikey locks his eyes with Tommy’s bloodshot peepers. “Don’t call me that.”

Tommy holds up his hands. “Sure, sure.”

“Where are they?”

“Some fleabag downtown. Just waiting for me to give them the call.”

“The call?”

“Telling them I’ve got a car. Telling them it’s safe to leave.”

“And why’re they relying on you for this?”

“Cos the dumb motherfucker thinks we’re friends.”

“Are you?”

“We’re as close as we need to be.” He wears his repulsive grin again. “You remember how I said we worked together at the chop shop? We talked, we hung out. We’ve kept in touch since he’s moved up in the world. It’s important to keep in contact with your friends, especially the ones that could be worth somethin to you.”

“You sound like a swell pal.”

“Trustworthy and loyal, like a dog.” Tommy shows his teeth again, like their rot is supposed to be some kind of exclamation whenever he thinks he’s said something funny. “So…” He looks expectant. “You in?”

Mikey looks at the girl. Her bony hips are pushed forward, her shoulders are against the wall and her arms are raised over her head. “No,” he says.

Tommy blinks. “No?”

“You deaf?”

“I ain’t deaf, I’m just in disbelief. Here I am, offering you this sweet fuckin deal on a platter, and you say no?”

“You heard me. We don’t need to discuss it any further.”

“I think that we do. I could’ve taken this to anyone, and I’ve brought it to you. Where’s your fuckin gratitude, man?”

“I didn’t ask for it.”

“Y’know, I was willin to go a sixty-forty split on this, in your favour.”

“There’s plenty others will take you up on it.”

“You could stick your fuckin signature on it, man. Bobby Joe woulda lapped that shit up. Hell, I reckon he’d have given you another five if you turned up at his house with that motherfucker’s head gift-wrapped. You’re gonna walk away from this?”

“Yes.”

“Is it Lou-Lou?”

Mikey says nothing.

“You took your turn on her, but that was a long fuckin time ago now. You ain’t over it yet?”

“I’m leavin.”

“Sure, go, whatever. Bobby Joe ever find out about the two of you? You up and joined the army real abrupt, as I recall. Maybe I oughtta tell him about your past dalliances with his daughter. It’s kinda my duty as an employee, right?”

Mikey reaches across the table faster than Tommy can react, grabs him by the back of the head and slams his face down into the table. Blood sprays from Tommy’s nose and Mikey holds him there, pushes down, grinds his face into the tabletop. A couple of people at the bar look over, alerted to the sudden commotion, but quickly turn away.

Tommy struggles, but he can’t get free. Mikey lowers his face so Tommy can see him out the corner of his eye. “You need to learn when to keep your mouth shut,” he says. He lets go and Tommy straightens, wipes the blood from his nostrils, though it has caked in his moustache, too. “You ever think about threatening me again, I’ll put

the signature on you. And I’ll make sure you’re still breathing when the saw’s teeth touch your throat.”

Tommy swallows. He nods, holds up his hands again. “Hey, it was just a joke is all, just a joke. I didn’t mean nothin by it.”

“Then you need to work on your material. It wasn’t funny, Tommy.”

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry.”

Mikey grunts, then stands. “Uh-huh.” He leaves Tommy at the table, heads for the exit. When he reaches it, he glances back. Tommy hasn’t moved. A hand is at his nose, probing at it, picking at the blood drying in his beard. His face is turned to the girl. He watches her dance.

***

Like the sounds of that? Well it’s out on February 22nd, but the paperback is available for pre-order right now! Here’s the UK and US links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guillotine-Paul-Heatley/dp/1643960091/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546691154&sr=1-1&keywords=guillotine+paul+heatley

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1643960091?pf_rd_p=1581d9f4-062f-453c-b69e-0f3e00ba2652&pf_rd_r=2G1JDGV9KHJ3J4917Q3S

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Reading List 2018

I usually get this posted on New Year’s Eve but I’ve been a bit lax on most things for a little while now, but better late than never. Anywho, I had a pretty good reading year, the most I’ve read for quite a few now! Read on if you’re interested, an eclectic mix of fiction, biogs, kids books, and comic books:

The Fury Of Blacky Jaguar – Angel Luis Colon

Lost In The Funhouse: The Life And Mind Of Andy Kaufman – Bill Zehme

Hardway – Hector Acosta

Down To No Good – Earl Javorsky

Last Year’s Man – Paul D Brazill

Get In The Van – Henry Rollins

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

The Big Machine Eats – Beau Johnson

Cleaning Up Finn – Sarah M Chen

Crimes In Southern Indiana – Frank Bill

The Big Meat – Carlton Mellick III

Meat Bubbles & Other Stories – Tom Leins

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk – Legs McNeil and Gillian McNeil

Saga: Book 8 – Brian K Vaughan

Down On The Street – Alec Cizak

Fortunately, The Milk – Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

Wolverine – Chris Claremont

Nick Cave: Mercy On Me – Reinhard Kleist

The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski

The Eyes – Jesús Ignacio Aldapuerta

Snuff – Chuck Palahniuk

On The Far Side Of The Cadillac Desert With Dead Folks – Joe R Lansdale

The Walking Dead: Books 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 – Robert Kirkman

Northern Lights – Phillip Pullman

Animal Tracks, The Story Of The Animals: Newcastle’s Rising Sons – Sean Egan

Catching The Big Fish – David Lynch

Stop Talking Start Doing – Sháá Wasmund and Richard Newton

Know Me From Smoke – Matt Phillips

Everything You Love Will Burn – Vegas Tenold

You’re Not Supposed To Cry – Gary Duncan

My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf

JLA: Earth 2 – Grant Morrison

A History Of Heavy Metal – Andrew O’Neill

Consider Phlebas – Iain M Banks

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina: The Crucible – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Scalped: Deluxe Edition Book One – Jason Aaron

Paper Girls Book One – Brian K Vaughan

Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator – Roald Dahl

Mwrvel Zombies – Robert Kirkman

Marvel Zombies 2 – Robert Kirkman

Avengers Versus X-Men – Various

Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me – Will Viharo

Repetition Kills You – Tom Leins

Dodgers – Bill Beverly

Something Wicked Ths Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

Mongrels – Stephen Graham Jones

Coyote Songs – Gabino Iglesias

Only Bones – Daniel Vlasaty

Donnybrook – Frank Bill

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea – Yukio Mishima

Hogfather – Terry Pratchett

Saga: Book 9 – Brian K Vaughan

The Nature Of The Beast – Janni Howker

May – Marietta Miles

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An Eye For An Eye Series

So, I may not have been particularly busy on here, but I’ve been preeeeeety busy in the outside world!

You may remember my book An Eye For An Eye, published by Near To The Knuckle (who are now going by Close To The Bone), well, it’s now a series of three books! An Eye For An Eye has a new front cover to go with its two new brothers – The Runner, which is a standalone tale featuring appearances from characters in the original story, and Violent By Design is the sequel proper to Eye. All three feature the exploits of the Doyle family, a crime organisation based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the north east of England.

Theyre fast, they’re violent, and they’re filled with heart! One reviewer has described them as a cross between Brit Grit and Kitchen Sink Drama, which I’m pretty pleased with. As far as my own influences go, if you’re a fan of Get Carter, Chester Himes, or, to a lesser extent, James Ellroy, maybe you’ll find these bad motherfuckers up your alley. I’ve put a link below that’ll take you to the Eye For An Eye paperback at Amazon, where you’ll easily find the other two in the series, too. Also, you can find images below of how beautiful the three look together – three covers and the spines! I think you’ll find the spines particularly special!

Anyway, if you find yourself interested enough to give the link below a click and then to give them a read, I hope you enjoy!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eye-Paul-Heatley/dp/1717841570/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1717841570&pd_rd_r=234d9f77-cecc-11e8-a2f0-1db2f7b7d021&pd_rd_w=5ingY&pd_rd_wg=9kMnN&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_p=1e3b4162-429b-4ea8-80b8-75d978d3d89e&pf_rd_r=EJHDR6T912465JT7W5R4&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=EJHDR6T912465JT7W5R4

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