Tuesday 24 March 2009


Here's some 'cheerful' stuff to lighten your day (Yeah, right. Have you forgotten where you are?)

There’s no Glamour in this Tinsel

People talk about bucket lists; y’know, the things you want to do before you kick the bucket? Well, the way things were, my bucket only needed to be about the size of a thimble, ’cause there was only one thing on my must do list.

I wanted to take Vic Newsome kicking and screaming into hell with me.

See, when I was diagnosed with this creeping sickness, my girlfriend was real upset. Poor, Melanie. And Vic, being my best buddy in the whole wide world, thought he was doing me a service by consoling her. Right! You know how those things go. Half a dozen vodkas later and Vic has Mel in the palm of his hand. Literally. One thing led to another and a couple of weeks later Mel’s getting sick on a morning and complaining that she’s getting a bit puffy round the middle. I knew the baby wasn’t mine. Since I’d been taking the meds and the other treatment, we hadn’t slept together. My excuse was the radio active glow coming off my new shiny head. Not that she’d ever admit it but I think that Melanie was repulsed, as though she would catch the dreaded ‘C’ off me.

We split up, of course.

Mel went to see Vic, but this time he wasn’t the consoling friend. He told her to fuck right off and get rid of the baby. Which she promptly organised at the local clinic. Her appointment with a bent coat hanger was for today.

In my eyes, Vic advocated murder.

Well, what’s good for him is good for me. An eye for an eye and all that shit.

So that’s why I lured him round to my pad, plied him with a couple of drinks laced with two dozen of the surplus morphine sulphate tabs from my medicine cabinet. It wasn’t like I was going to need them anymore, was it?

Vic’s a big lump of a lad, and could skull-drag me from one end of a bar to the other even when I was hale and hearty. Shit, when we were growing up, he did it enough times. Dunno why I thought that bastard was a friend. But, tough guy or not, the overload of morphine tablets kind of evened up the score. In fact the asshole couldn’t even lift a hand to stop me from battering his face bloody. Maybe I should’ve halved the dosage of morphine ‘cause it didn’t look much like I was hurting him. In the end, I didn’t have the strength to beat him to a pulp and collapsed on the settee next to him.

He would only last a couple minutes more. But I wouldn’t be far behind him. I downed the rest of the surplus morphine with a tumbler full of whisky.

When I was young I dreamed of my amazing future. I was going to be rich and famous. I was going to celebrate my glorious life, party every day. But the dreams died. The tinsel dimmed and lost its glamour. Now I was sitting next to my oldest friend, spattered by his blood, dying of a drug overdose and of the malignant cells that must by now have invaded my brain. The carnival music that used to play in my head had become a funeral dirge.

It took a few rings for the phone to register in my brain.

Part of me thought that it was Melanie ringing. She would tell me that her tests had been wrong. She was further into the pregnancy than she’d thought. There was no way she was going to terminate our baby. That would have been a mixed blessing, and I was pleased to find that it wasn’t Mel. It was my doctor calling with some amazing news.

The fuckin’ cancer’s gone into remission?


Thursday 19 March 2009

A mention at The Rap Sheet for Col Bury


Some of you may have seen this before, but over at the Rap Sheet an interview I did with Col Bury has been given a mention and link. If you missed Col's interview first time round, here's your chance to take a look at it now. Col (not Cory as mentioned in the link) is an aspiring crime novelist and co-edits Thrillers, Killers 'N' Chillers. Some of Col's short stories -as well as others by some equally inventive writers - can be read here at TK'N'C.

GEMINI by Bill Haddow-Allen

A chiller from Bill.....


Max was being followed by a man who looked exactly like him. At first, Max had thought that he’d seen his own reflection in that shop window. But just as he was about to descend into the tube station he suddenly stopped and quickly looked back along the street. It was empty. He had realised when feeling in his raincoat for his ticket that the reflection wasn’t wearing a raincoat. And he had a flower on his lapel. Max instinctively checked his own lapel as if to make sure that he wasn’t, after all, wearing one.
The different clothes confused him for a while but he dismissed it, forgot about it and moved on.
The following morning the face of his doppelganger stared into his through the window of the train as it was leaving the station.
Max had always been confident, optimistic, on a continuous burn of achievement, but this gave him a fright.
Doppelganger was across the road when Max left his office, looking directly at him. It was the look that scared Max - a superior, detached stare. For the first time in his life Max was rattled. Max saw his double a number of times over the next few days; in the supermarket - on the golf course - across the street - and each time close enough for Max to see that - that look, that questioning gaze - yet far enough away to make a confrontation impractical.
Getting on a bus he looked back as the bus was moving away and there he was, his other self, at the bus stop looking into Max’s eyes. By this time Max had got into the habit of looking, checking now and then, but he hadn’t noticed him before; it was as if he’d been standing right behind him all the while.
Despite himself, and to his own irritation, he was getting a little nervous and phoned in sick for a few days. Something he had never done. Unable to relax and loaf about he paced. Kept looking out of the window. His wife Laura was concerned by his uncharacteristic behaviour and Max had to suffer her endless questions about, ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Is it work?’ ‘What about your project?’ ‘Didn’t you get the promotion?’...on and on and he felt powerless to do anything about the situation and reluctant to confide in her so he decided after a few days to go back to work thinking that maybe it was just a phase. Perhaps he was just tired. On the first day back to work doppelganger was there on the platform. Max watched him. Doppelganger played with the hair behind his right ear, curling his hair around his finger - just as he, Max himself, was in the habit of doing.
On the way home he saw him through the window of the connecting door, sitting in the next carriage. He gave Max a grin this time.
He took another few days off away from the office and tried to keep his finger on the pulse by keeping in touch by phone and e-mail but he’d lost his zest. All his experience and knowledge deserted him. His colleagues worried about him and rang Laura, instead of Max.
He kept looking out of the window. Helping Laura in the front garden he checked down the street and worried about unfamiliar parked cars.
After a few more days Laura had soothed and reassured him. Max gave in to the pressure from the office and said he’d be back on Monday. Today was a suburban hedge clipping, car washing Sunday and he decided to take a trip into town. He stopped now and again and checked up and down the quiet cherry blossomed Avenue.
He checked around him at the station - peered onto the platform before he reached the top step. Waiting for the train he thought about Laura - her painted nails, her fussing, her body smell. And remembered the scent of flowers and polish in the oasis of their quiet hall, remembered her quizzical look as if she had detected something - feared something - how she had hugged him tighter.
He heard the rumble and clatter of the approaching train and moved forward. He heard his own voice behind him, felt a hand on his back and was propelled forward. Twisting as he fell, his last vision was a face; his own, giving him a disdainful look.

Monday 16 March 2009


Be careful who you move in with...


Sarah Meek had a problem. It wasn’t any old problem; it was a ten year old one. His name was Steve Fury. He was her long term problem, but Sarah had a short term problem, too.
She was presently handcuffed to a bed in only her panties with Steve edging closer to her, his eyes wide and manic, his panting like a hunting dog: ‘I’m gonna fuckin kill you, slag!’

When she’d met Steve Fury all those years ago she was still living at home with her family, relying a tad too heavily on her mum and dad to tidy up after her and mollycoddle her to the extent she’d barely lifted a finger. But then ‘The Perfect Gent’ had swept her off her feet.
Initially Steve Fury had broken up a heated altercation in Manchester’s trendy Swish Bar, between Sarah and her best friend, Melanie, and a robust Glaswegian woman who’d had one too many. Steve had seen the punch being thrown at the cowering Sarah and had gallantly placed himself in harm’s way, taking a hefty right on his nose, before he’d escorted the portly woman over to the doormen who had promptly thrown her out of the bar amid a tirade of expletives.
Just three months later, having been exhilarated by that elusive and long-awaited ‘special’ romance, she’d gleefully accepted her knight in shining armour’s offer to her move in with him.
The first year was sheer bliss.
The second one wasn’t.
Steve had begun to show signs of possessiveness, pulling his face whenever Melanie called to see if Sarah wanted to go out on the town with the girls. Melanie had warned her she’d seen these signs before, but Sarah was blinded by love and Melanie’s calls became less frequent.
By year three Melanie was a distant memory and by year four Sarah had lost touch with her parents, except for Christmas and birthday cards. Steve liked to know exactly where Sarah was all of the time and had encouraged her to pack in her job as Logistics Clerk for a local import and export firm. After all, he’d insisted, ‘My wage as a Director of a Global Consultants would more than cover the household bills.’ Steve had told her that as long as the house was ‘spick-and-span’ and a hot meal was on the table when he returned home from the office then he would be a happy man.
Consequently Sarah became extremely domesticated for the first time in her life. Her parents would have been proud of her, had they known.
The ensuing years merged together, a blur of painful flashbacks. Sarah felt trapped as Steve’s controlling became unbearable and if Sarah was to look at a man, even on telly for God’s sake, Steve’s mood would switch in an instant. The first time he hit her was when he arrived home late from ‘work’ (again) smelling of booze and stale tobacco. Sarah was sat on the sofa watching a Brad Pitt film.
‘Oh, a cosy night in? Just you and Brad, eh?’
And Whack!
It stung like hell. Gob-smacked - literally - Sarah couldn’t believe it and put it down to him having a bad day at the office. The next day a dozen red roses arrived with a note begging for forgiveness and professing his undying love, saying it had been a ‘one off.’ She was subsequently wined and dined, and the world was a beautiful place again.
Until three weeks later when he'd accused her of having an affair with the bloke next door after he'd caught them chatting over the garden fence. Stanley Wise was sixty-two and had a look of Albert Steptoe! When she’d laughed mockingly and said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ the first blow nearly knocked her out.
The second one did.
She awoke being cradled by the whimpering Steve Fury who was stroking her hair and forehead gently. The black-eye and swollen cheek-bone only took a few weeks to clear up so it wasn’t so bad. Anyhow, she’d become quite skilled in covering her injuries with make up and clothing as well as having creative cover stories in case anyone did notice.
The police had attended on two occasions when things had gotten out of hand and once they even took Steve with them, but Sarah didn’t have the heart to provide a statement as, to be honest, she was petrified of the repercussions, and he was released the next day.
All ties with friends and family had now been severed beyond repair. Steve had a knack of twisting things, especially the guilt, appealing to her kind nature to forgive him and the cycle of abuse just perpetuated itself, escalating into his kinky sex games.
And there she was lying on the bed, her heart-rate double the norm. His breath and spit showered her as he yelled, ‘Do you hear me, bitch? I’m fuckin gonna kill you!’
She’d become a great actress, Oscar winning standard. Learning to go with the flow, knowing when to agree, when to compliment and, more pertinently, when to lie. And although being on her own everyday was a lonely life, she’d had valuable thinking time in abundance.
‘You think you’re fuckin clever don’t you, switching the keys? Unless you let me go now, I will kill you. Do you hear me?’ continued Steve, yanking noisily at the bedpost.
Sarah had playfully dangled her cuffs with a raised hand, a look of disbelief on his face. She’d cunningly persuaded Steve to dabble in the submissive role for a change by cuffing his right hand to the bedpost, while his left held the cuff key to release him at his leisure. Although she’d not only swapped his cuff key earlier for a similar one that didn’t fit, she’d also adeptly undone her own cuffs with another key acquired from her wily neighbour, Stanley ‘Steptoe’ Wise, the ex-cop who’d offered her so much advice over the years.
She slid off the bed as Steve Fury kicked and bellowed. No longer was she ‘Submissive Sarah.’ For the first time in ten years she was now in control.
She lifted a hefty snooker trophy from a shelf and strolled toward Steve.
A look of shock shot across Steve’s face. ‘Sarah? Now enough’s enough!’
‘You took the words right out of my mouth, Steve,’ she said coolly.
He swung a punch with his free hand which Sarah side-stepped.
And Whack!
Steve slumped on the bed with a low groan, swelling already appearing on his forehead.
‘Submissive Steve. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?’ said Sarah as she opened the bedside cabinet and the light shimmered off the blade of the kitchen knife. She clutched onto the knife as Steve began to come round. She took in the moment; almost disbelieving it, yet also savouring it. Steve Fury’s true face now emerged: that of a vulnerable little man.
She raised the knife.
Steve’s eyes widened. ‘Pleeease…nooo…Saraaaargh!’
And she smiled as she strolled round the bed. Allowing herself a little wink she plunged the knife deep into his heart, oblivious to the spurt of crimson spattering her cheeks.
She watched intently as his body tensed then jolted. When he was still she un-cuffed him before taking in a deep breath.
Now for the hard bit.
Sarah Meek quickly slashed at the palm of her right hand, wincing at the sharp stinging pain. She then cut into her right forearm and screamed.
Regaining her composure, she used her blood-free left hand to clench Steve’s fingers around the knife’s handle before tossing it onto the floor along with the upturned trophy. After pushing over the bedside cabinet she called the police...
...just like Stanley ‘Steptoe’ Wise had advised her.

Col Bury is currently writing a crime novel and his ever-growing selection of short stories can be found on TKnC and A Twist Of Noir. He blogs and interviews crime authors here:


Friday 13 March 2009

DUNN DEAL by Vallon Jackson

Be careful what you agree to...


‘It‘s all a question of finding the right price, isn’t it, Mr Dunn?’

Now there was the, uh, twenty thousand pound question. To someone like Dunn, twenty thousand pounds wasn’t that much. By the time he paid off his helpers, arranged transport, set things up, sourced a throwaway weapon, he’d be killing a man for something in the region of two grand. For that he could barely put a new set of wheels on his car. But then again he needed a new set of wheels for his car.

‘Thirty grand,’ Dunn said.


‘Meet me mid-way and we have a deal.’


It was as easy as that. Or at least wangling his fee was. Killing the mark might prove a little more difficult. Except Jack Dunn wasn’t one to experience moments of insecurity. He was fully confident in his abilities to kill one old man, even if he was surrounded day and night by his gang of knuckle-dragging henchmen.

Dunn organized the hit for a Tuesday evening. In his estimation Tuesdays were none-days in the scheme of the weekly calendar. Whoever did anything important on a Tuesday? The mark would stay home, confident that he was safe in his fortified mansion house in the Essex country-side, and therefore his guard would be lowered. He’d be in his slippers, a whisky-laced coffee at hand, watching some inane crap on TV. His retainers would be as sloppy. Whoever important had ever been murdered on a Tuesday evening?

Dunn and two others arrived at the estate. Johnny Watt was their getaway driver and wouldn’t be involved in the hit. Richard Small – now there was an unfortunate name if ever there was one – was only there to see to the security precautions. Guy who went by the name of Dick Small had to be a computer nerd because Dunn didn’t think he’d have had much of a social life growing up. Shame on his parents for not taking the abbreviated name into consideration when they christened him – or maybe they just had a nasty sense of humour.

While Watt kept the getaway car ticking over and ready for a hasty retreat, Dick got busy with the laptop he’d brought, patching into the alarm system at a junction box on the side of the mark’s house. As soon as he gave Dunn a thumb’s up, he unplugged his leads and jogged back to the car. Now Dunn was all alone. Just the way he liked it. Brand new Michelins here we come, he thought as he pulled out his Glock and screwed on the suppressor.

The front door was too obviously guarded, so he slipped around the side of the building. In his balaclava and boiler suit he was as indistinguishable as the bats flitting along the eaves in search of insects, and almost as silent. His Magnum boots – a quality purchase for one in his trade – barely made a sound on the gravel path that ran along the back of the house to the entrance to the kitchen. Dunn hunkered down, then glanced through a window. He saw a big man in tight t-shirt and jeans eating Heinz beans directly from a can. Now, Dunn thought, that’s just not HP. He chuckled at his own joke.

In the next instant he stepped to the door and swung it inward. He placed a single round through the big man’s chest. Then, as the man slumped to the floor surrounded by a pool of blood and beans, Dunn took careful aim and put another round through his skull. Blood sat on the quarry tiles like crimson mercury.

Dunn left the man where he was lying, moving immediately into a service corridor. Light spilled from the living quarters at the front of the house. Dunn could hear the chuntering voices of people in TV land. He crept along the corridor and at the end he took a quick peek to either side. There was another man – this one in a white jerkin over his shirt – bending over a desk in an alcove. Dunn took careful aim and fired. The bullet took the man in the base of his skull. He’d used 9mm rounds – without the benefit of steel jackets this time – because there was less likelihood that the rounds would pass directly through the target and cause further damage. The man pitched dead over the desk, his hands sliding some of the paperwork he’d been busy with on the floor. A mess like that was no problem, not compared to the alternative.

He spun around. Another man was rushing towards him from the front of the house. The man – a muscle freak by any definition of the term – should have brought a gun if he had any hope of stopping Dunn. But he was too stupid or too confident in his ability to intimidate for that. Dunn smiled faintly at the brute, then shot him in the heart. As big and muscular as he was he still went down like a whore on crack. Dunn was a firm believer in tradition. A double-tap was the accepted method for a hit, so he obliged, putting another 9mm round in the back of the man’s skull.

Then he stood listening. Apart from the talking heads on TV no one else made a sound. He turned from the dead man and headed for the living room. There he found the mark. The old man was propped in his easy chair, and sure enough he had on his slippers and a mug of Irish coffee to hand. The canisters of oxygen and the tubes running from them and into his nose didn’t give Dunn a moment’s pause.

‘Wasn’t expecting you so soon,’ said the mark. His voice was whispery and laden with phlegm. ‘Did you have to pick tonight to do the job?’

‘Could think of nothing better to do on a Tuesday evening.’

‘You don’t think you could see fit to give me another half hour do you? I wanted to see which one of these young beauties is going to be Britain’s Next Top Model.’

‘Got my ride waiting outside,’ Dunn said apologetically. ‘When we did the deal you said you didn’t want to know when I was going to do it. Didn’t think you’d have a favourite TV programme to worry about.’

The mark shrugged his knobby shoulders. ‘Pretty girls. Even an old man like me likes to look now and again. Fifteen minutes..?’

‘Sorry, but a deal’s a deal.’

‘If I give you more money?’

‘Can’t do it. You know me: when a deal’s done it’s a done deal. You said I had to kill you in a way so that it didn’t look like suicide. This way your wife gets your inheritance and you get to keep your reputation as a tough old bastard. Not even your dodgy heart could take you down.’

The man nodded whimsically. ‘I suppose you’re right, Dunn. But just let me get a look at this here beauty in the bikini first, huh?’


The mark turned his head to the TV. He nodded at the gazelle-like grace of the girl on the screen. Dunn shot him in the back of the head.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Try these out

Jim Hilton, a regular here at TK'n'C has added three new stories over at his own website at www.jimhilton.co.uk all about ex-Green Jacket tough guy Danny 'McMurder'. They're great fun - why not check them out after you've read the latest offerings here.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

New Co-Editor of Thrillers, Killers n Chillers.

Just to let you all know that I'm honoured to accept Matt's invitation to assist him in editing this excellent 'site as he becomes increasingly involved in the exciting process of his book launch. Personally I've found Thrillers, Killers n Chillers to be extremely helpful, especially regarding the positive feedback contained within people's comments about ideas to improve my stories.
So if there are any new writers out there who want to take advantage of the gauntlet thrown down by Matt...then what are you waiting for?

PIE = MC SQUARED by Vallon Jackson

The return of the master of disaster, our old friend the Wile. E. Coyote killer is up to his hopeless tricks again... (To read previous entries, enter PIE in the 'Search blog' bar)


Three months ago I killed my wife Roxy. I panned her over the skull with an iron bar then parked her car on a level crossing which resulted in the derailing of the 07.25 West Line train and thirty five more murders. All of their deaths were inconsequential when really I was trying to kill my business partner, Robert of the red hair and the nasty habit of dipping his fingers in too many pies. Robert thwarted my plan by not boarding the goddamn train ‘cause his perpetual finger-dipping meant he was off visiting his latest conquest, Charmaine, instead. He’d decided to leave Roxy alone that morning out of the goodness of his heart – seeing it was our wedding anniversary and all.

Two months ago I’d tried again. This time I slipped the handbrake on a truck and sent it through the window of the hairdressing salon ‘Hair of Superiority’ flattening everyone inside, only to find out that the queen of bleach actually ran her business from a store three along at ‘Superior Hair’. Robert and his ruby locks had survived yet again. The driver of the truck is awaiting his day in court where he’ll be lucky if he escapes prison.

I was getting to wonder that Robert was one of those lucky bastitches that have a guardian angel watching over him. If that was the case, that goddamn angel must have been sick of watching his pale butt bounce up and down over the latest woman he was dabbling. Either that or said angel was of the fallen variety.

My days had become filled with plans for doing away with my work buddy. I’d considered and discarded the usual ideas of guns and knives because...well, quite frankly I didn’t want to end up in prison for the rest of my days. When he went he had to go in a fashion that looked entirely accidental.

Being half-decent businessmen – in the correct sense of the term – we were occasionally requested to attend conferences. I hated the blooming things, but Robert being Robert, he always seen them as ways to hook up with new women. He booked us into at least three or four a year. I usually made my apologies being a happily married man but this time I had no excuse.

Roxy wouldn’t want you to stay single all your life, Robert told me. You have to get out there. Start dipping your fingers in a few pies and see what comes of it. Knowing me I’d pull out a plum.

He was surprised when I agreed to attend the annual get together at the Hoxley Annual Trade Emporium (HATE for short). Not that I wanted to listen to big-mouthed Alan Sugar wannabes all weekend, but the building was a lovely old place with a working stage where some of the local amateur dramatics groups still performed. Under my unassuming exterior I am quite the dramatist, I suppose.

We got there on a Wednesday morning, and by lunch time Robert had pulled with a woman called Angie whose hairspray arrived three steps before she did. Under the make up she was ten years older than she admitted to and I guess she was flattered by the big red-head’s advances. She even agreed to a threesome until she saw me. Then there was a lot of whispering and screwing up of faces. I saved her the trouble, saying I had work to be getting on with. I had the onerous task of writing the thank you speech that Robert was due to give later in the day. After that they disappeared off for a little lunch together. I supposed that pie was on the menu - unless it was past its use by date.

Two hours later Robert returned, hiking up his trousers. He was grinning and looking exactly like a ginger tom. He smelled like one too. He accepted my mumbled congratulations, then took from my hand the idiot cards I’d prepared.

I joined the applause from the side of the stage as Robert stepped out to shake hands with Master of Ceremonies, Burt Wigglesworth, who announced Robert the Red then relinquished his post at the podium and stood grinning up at him like a sycophant.

Robert’s speech went down a treat – he was such a clever orator apparently.

I didn’t go there with the intention of killing him. Far too public for that. But I couldn’t help myself. The opportunity was staring me in the face while I stood in shadow at the side of the stage. I was such a non-entity in the room that no-one would swear afterwards that they saw me standing there where the ropes for the sand bag pulleys were rigged. It would simply be a tragic accident at a most inopportune time.

As Robert drolled on, I tugged at knots; calculating angles and the rate of velocity when propelled by gravity and the subsequent impact force generated, those kinds of things.

The sandbag fell.

Seems I never was very good at mathematical problems.

The sandbag hit Burt Wigglesworth the MC square on the crown of his head, flattened his skull into his neck, then squished him like a bag of suet across the boards.