Bullet 4

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Bullet 4

  1. 1. Fast brutal fiction from: Hi there! Welcome to issue four of Bullet—the Delphine Lecompte ONLY magazine publishing rock’n’roll noir. Pete McAdam Laird Long We’re proud to present another actionpacked is- TK Dan sue featuring 15 brand new stories including 2 by Milky Wilberforce and many, many more…... Delphine Lecompte. Yeah she is that good. We think she’s a star in the making. Another name on the rise is Al Guthrie, well known to Bullet readers but now with 2 amazing new novels under his belt. Check out our reviews. Al has also put together a list of the greatest noir novels of all time, 100 of ’em, count ’em. Let us know who he missed out at our website bullet- magazine.co.uk. And of course there’s the Bullet Heroes club to which we now welcome the monster talent of Jim Thompson. The man is a constant inspiration to The bleak Bullet, find out why in our appreciation. and cruel Original, power packed fiction, noir and hard world of assed rock’n’roll. What more could you want? Jim Thompson Hope you like Bullet 4 and remember….keep on rockin’. Keith Jeffrey Editor PLUS!!! Al Guthrie’s Top100 Noir Novels Music and Fiction Reviews Issue 4 - £3.00 bulletmagazine.co.uk
  2. 2. Bullet No 46 and that’s why I’m limping today bone and shoved the screwdriver up my arse,but Delphine Lecompte (Belgium) with all his middle-aged fervour he shoved it too deeply,he said: quot;it's stuck!!quot; and ran out of the ware- there's a screwdriver stuck up my gus tips and his cognac-drenched house,i tried to pull it out,but there were so many arse,that's why i'm standing in the baby oysters or whatever it is the parts of my body broken that i had to give up and bus,rather than sitting,if i sit unimaginative overprivileged stingy take a nap against a piss-soaked pillar,when i woke down,guts will be pierced and per- middle class cunt is stuffing his face up there were a crack-crazed alsatian and a skinny forated,and i'll die a ludicrous with tonight until my dodgy junkie with wild rolling eyes licking my cunt,i said: death,i'm on my way to wee neighbour smashed my collar bone quot;good morning,there's a screwdriver stuck up my andy,he's gonna pull the screwdriver against the dashboard and said he'd arse,could you please help me pull it out?quot;,but the out of my arse,he's used to pulling crush my windpipe and rip out all dog and the junkie just hissed at me and crawled sharp implements and gigantic egg- my hair and eat my toenails,but not away,i left the derelict warehouse and took the plants out of my arse,it was my necessarily in that order,if i didn't bus,that's the short version,there's a longer,more te- neighbour who shoved a screwdriver stop moaning about other men,i dious one that i won't bore you with;i get off the up my arse,who shoved it too asked him if i could moan about bus,there are french kids laughing behind my back deeply,it's not his screwdriver liam gallagher,cos it's not like i know cos i walk so awkwardly,i turn around and tell them though,i don't know whose screw- him personally,but my neighbour that i'm only just learning how to use this artificial driver it is,but it feels very much stopped the car,started slapping my left leg,i was in rwanda you see,i was there to vacci- mine at this moment,last night i vis- chest,bit off my nipples and fed nate sturdy black geezers against clap and small- ited my dodgy neighbour,cos i them to the cows who were so pox,then one unfortunate day as i was on my way to needed someone to break my nose gracefully grazing in their wee pas- church to say my novenas and rub myself against for me,i was too drunk to do it my- ture by the motorway,and he the candelabra i treaded on a landmine,and self,and i also needed shots of flem- shouted in my ear: quot;NO,YOU CAN- WOOSH POW SPLATTER BAM my left leg and right ish gin,and i'd run out of rum and NOT MOAN ABOUT LIAM GALLA- buttock were gone,the french kids apologise and ac- port,i'd even run out of detergent GHER,STUPID WHOREquot;,but i al- company me to wee andy's place,we exchange tele- and turpentine;my dodgy neighbour ready knew that the minute he phone numbers and handshakes,and then i knock was thrilled to see me,he put on cliff started slapping my chest,i was quiet on wee andy's window,he opens the door,quot;good richard,broke my nose and a few after that,we got out of the car and morning,delphinequot; he says,quot;there's a screwdriver ribs,bit off my clit and thumb and entered the derelict warehouse,it stuck up my arsequot; i say,quot;i seequot; wee andy says,he lets then he got bored of me,but i man- was there that we found the screw- me in,pulls the screwdriver out of my arse and after- aged to convince him to take me to driver with the yellow handle that wards we down two bottles of brazilian whisky and a derelict warehouse and fuck me was gnawed at,by a crack-crazed watch apocalypse now to overcome the embarrass- between the used syringes and shit- doberman presumably,my ment and my sore arse respectively. stained sleeping bags,so he drove neighbour's eyes twinkled when he me to the derelict warehouse,in the studied the screwdriver,he said: quot;it's car i rambled about my sheffielder a piece of beauty,bitch,and beauty angel and how i miss licking those lies in the eye of the beholder,slutquot;,i wee black balls and how i hope he nodded,he ripped of my chokes on his yolk-soaked aspara- clothes,kissed my broken collar
  3. 3. Bullet No 47 Burning Car Blues tion, vinyl oldies a few Robbie Williams CD’s, I say with gusto, from some B Movie gangster flick I look at him in disgust. “It’s Samantha’s” he ex- heard at the corner of my ear, somewhere, some- Peter McAdam (Washington CD) plains day. I hope it was Edward G. my favourite, he “Kinda ironic...Escapology” always looks like he’s been eating tomato I put on one of his, the Mona Lisa of the vi- ketchup. nyl...Gene Vincent’s Be Bop A Lula. I part the dirty net curtains and wipe the condensation using it, besides I’ve a temporary cash flow problem. “I’ll give you this old Benny boy, you’ve got some I shoot him right in the flaky bit on his forehead, off the window. Looking down through the drips of Mind you if she brings anyone back with her I’ll fuck- good taste, but you can tell the generation gap... where I scratched earlier, the blood sprays up like water I see the kids emptying a skip all over the street ing gut her. Eddie Cochran vs. Beyonce” a geyser from the back of his head. “Wooh!! That jumping up and down on a busted settee, dogs snap- was cool” the record sticks sounding like a STCH, ping at their heels. He’s struggling to talk so I whip off the tape from his “BE BOP A LULA SHE’S MY BABY” I take in this cool montage...Samantha lying like a mouth to give him some talk-space; “AHHH” he crumpled handkerchief...STCH…The uninvited Looking to my right I see the sunset between the screams I’ve just taken half his fucking beard off. Af- The chug a chug groove rings in my ears and it’s guest and his tomato head… STCH... Benny look- tower blocks then I catch sight of a burning car sail- ter a barrage of expletives he calms down and asks got my toes a tapping. Now I feel good, I take out ing up to a dead mans lampshade...STCH... A ing down the grassy bank - red and orange flames for his inhaler, “Nahhh!! It’s all in the mind, you a few bullets, if you look closely it has the words spray of blood on the back wall like a Jackson lapping in the air like an infernal cavalcade followed should try meditation not medication”. “Don’t Take It Personally” inscribed in Times ital- Pollock... STCH... LP cover showing Gene Vincent by a bunch of 7-10 year olds screaming their fucking “Fuck off” he replies with venom, ics. I do it for all my victims they make nice orna- throwing his leg over a Microphone stand...STCH heads off. “Ever see Father Ted? You remind me...” ments when not in use. I’m a sucker for detail. A The Humour Bullet laughing all the way to his “I’m not religious” Swiss guy did it for me via the internet. brains... STCH and that BEAUTIFUL BURNING Welcome to Benwell, Newcastle, a Class A Utopia full “Forget it” I finish my tea stand up and stretch. I look CAR... STCH of dead end kids and cars that go nowhere. out the window again and then turn to face him. I turn down the record slightly, don’t want to get carried away. I bend down beside Samantha, grab the £200, I’m in a flat above a Takeaway, it’s a little bland but “Know what I’ve just seen? A bloody burning car, well £180, bitch spent £20 on fags and choco- he has it nice. Benjamin Smith aka Benny Benzedrine, waltzing down the hill, some kids must have torched it I hear the metallic grind of the key turning. I move late. I nick them an’all. a top pill pusher... them kids playing trampoline and pushed it on its way”. to the living room door, ready for unexpected visi- down there are probably his next customers being “They should be at school” he quips nervously and tors. There’s a pause then she bangs the door like I go for the door and turn to see my hosts scat- groomed for Prison or the Afterlife. Benny is a first looks at his lo-fi bondage of gaffa tape and electrical someone has come in with her, I know that delay tered and inert, like the furniture outside. class scumbag, a bearded big broad guy, a tuft of flex. in time, when someone follows you in before you “Well it’s been a nice party, some good music ginger hair hinting at a residue of a quiff and one of “They’re your future customers” close the door, she’s fucking brought someone and a bit of excitement, but if I could speak truth- those clumsy Indian ink swallow tattoo’s on his lower “I don’t do kids” says Mr Beelzebub. Fucking liar. The else. Benny looks up, his eyes are like saucers, fully, the company’s been shite..Adios”. thumb, hangover from his teddy boy days. “Yeah I reason why I’m here is my client wants some vindica- he’s speechless, he’s shaking his head as though can just see you in your rock n roll drag, flick knife tion for his dead and gone heirs. he knows about my deduction. Clunk-clunk up the fights, Benny and the Jets eh?” “You pushed some amphetamines onto two little kids. stairs like really heavy, she’s a slim lass, unless You know who their father was? I can’t figure out if she’s gained weight at Barclays.. The door parts I’ve got Old Benny gaffa taped to a red velvet arm- you’re fucking dumb or you did it for revenge?” open, she comes in and says a nervous “hiya”. chair, and his dirty mouth taped up, he looks like a He grunts and looks to his left; a photo of Saman- Tracy Emin installation. I should get a fucking Arts tha’s absent kids, pauses and turns to look me in the She moves over to Benny’s side like she’s choreo- Council grant for this, this is real art. His face looks eyes. graphed her position, she points at me holding like he’s going to explode, a big red ball puffing and “I didn’t know, honest” the money. panting, he signals me to scratch something. “Ahh! Shit happens” Fucking academic to me. He sighs and drops his head. I drop to the floor seconds before a fucking gun I sit back on the settee sip from a Happy Birthday “You know it’s sticking in my mind...the burning car, peeks around the corner. He fires where I should Benny mug. He mumbles and struggles to lift his it’s kind of majestic but at the same time destructive - have been standing, quickly he lowers his gun as arms. I lean over nonchalantly and scratch his fore- bit like me” he sees me lying on the floor, then I shoot, rip- head, his eyeballs move to the extreme right; I scratch “Fucking big head” ping his fucking ankle off. He falls holding his it and look at my fingernails... “You’re fucking flaking I lean over and menacingly speak into his ear. busted leg. Then I give him one in the head. you old bastard”. I lean back and observe his Living “Another fucking word from you and I’ll spoon your Samantha starts screaming and coming for me, I Room. This looks like he’s only here temporarily, the fucking eyes out”. shoot her between the tits and she falls like a bun- girl, Samantha, is probably one of his many custom- Now he looks pissed. dle of laundry. ers doing a freebie for an ounce. She’s a kappa slappa, two failed marriages, four kids in care, I saunter around the room, it’s kind of a mix of taste I turn the record up. Benny is shouting over the blonde snake hair and a white tracksuit that’s seen and tat; 70’s wallpaper, Ikea furniture half assem- “She’s my Baby” line with all kinds of curses. better days. If the soap powder guy from the TV ad- bled, a quaint collection of charity shop knick fucking I put my little special bullet in the chamber twirl it vert knocked on her door she would chin him. knacks, a well worn floral Axminster with carefully around and do a Russian Roulette on the ginger positioned tab burn holes, a DVD system and an old fucker. This Samantha has been gone 20 minutes; I’ve sent gram from the 50’s. Bit of a mix but it works. I give her to a hole-in-the-wall to get me some money. Well him a nod of approval but he thinks I’m taking the “You’re dead lumber coz life’s inherently unfair” I it’s a perk of the job, after all he’s not going to be piss. I crouch down and flip through his record collec-
  4. 4. Bullet No 48 Pinstripes & Leather……Kate Frost (Bristol, UK) Zero plus four minutes... Police flood the bank. The clerks are hysteri- cal. The bank manager is distraught. “Three women, youngish... hap- Zero seconds... Cameron hisses. pened so quickly...” Deliciously rouged lips poke through bala- quot;You sound just like my daddy.quot; “Suspects are three females, approximately clavas. Cameron looks svelte in Love-handle woman is on her feet, eyes fixed late twenties, dressed in pinstripe suits and black leather trousers. Drew clasps the cash on Cameron. Her hand reaches out for leather,” the police detective says into his ra- to her bouncing chest as they run; their heels Mandy. Cameron pleads with her eyes, mo- dio. pound the pavement. Lucy fires the ignition tions with the barrel of the gun for them to sit. The bank manager interrupts. “There is just of the van; an ear splitting alarm splices the Wide-eyed the woman steps closer. quot;Cam?quot; one other thing, it’s probably air with a shriek. nothing, just the one who tied me up; I swear Zero minus 40 seconds... she was wearing aftershave.” BANG: Zero minus two minutes... There’s a lot of money, thick wads of crisp Lucy leads as they storm the bank, a shot gun notes. Drew wraps wire around Zero plus four minutes 15 seconds... gripped in her slender hand. the bank manager’s wrists, tapes his mouth Cam pulls two flabby chicken fillet replica’s “Everyone, hit the floor!” she screams. A grey while Lucy stuffs the holdall full. They zip it from down his black top. He haired man in a dark blue suit closed and Drew slings it over her shoulder. squeezes them before chucking them on top and a twenty-something mother with love Voices sound from out the front. Their feet of the bag of twenty pound notes. “Man I handles and a screaming kid dive onto the pound back towards Cameron. have to un-tuck my bits,” Dave, aka Drew cold tiles. says, sticking his hand Zero minus 30 seconds... “You too,” Lucy says, motioning the barrel of down his pinstripe trousers and freeing his the gun towards the bank clerks.. Pasty faced quot;You're not supposed to be here,quot; Cameron prized possessions from between his legs. the two female clerks comply. Cameron dou- whispers.. Love-handle woman stares wide Lucy slams the van into fifth gear and slips ble-takes when she spots the mum and kid. eyed.quot; I'm cashing in your mum's Christmas onto the motorway. quot;Lucy,quot; she whispers. Her heart is in her stom- cheque. What about you? You're supposed to ach. be at work.quot; Zero plus six minutes... Lucy glares, quot;Shut it, are you mad?quot; She mo- quot;I am at work.quot; quot;What's your name, love?quot; a police officer tions to the customers and staff. Lucy and Drew storm in brandishing guns. asks love-handle woman. quot;Keep them quiet.quot; One of the cashiers screams. Mandy tugs at her top. quot;Mum, where's daddy Love-handle woman stares. Cameron shakes gone?quot; Zero minus 80 seconds... her head. The woman turns to the officer. quot;I so knew “Fill us up,” Lucy says while Drew clasps their quot;Lady, take your kid and sit back down,quot; Lucy something was up. He's been black holdall open. The bank manager fum- says. She presses the gun acting strange for a while; thought he was bles with the keys. Damp patches darken his against the woman's head. having an affair.quot; light blue shirt. Sweat dribbles down his pale quot;No Lucy, please no,quot; Cameron says. quot;I'm sorry?quot; the officer's pen hovers over his face, the bags ringing his eyes emphasised quot;You bastard.quot; The woman spits at Cameron notepad. quot;Who was?quot; beneath the bright lights. Lucy wedges the before she drops to the floor, pulling the girl quot;And he nicked me bleedin' leather trousers.quot; gun in the small of his back. “Move it, unless with her. The officer frowns. quot;One of the clerks said you you want a hole in your chest big enough to seemed to know one of the Zero plus 10 seconds... see through.” women?quot; Fingers move faster, sweat runs quicker. Lucy fires the ignition and they skid off, rub- quot;Oh please, fake boobs and lipstick didn't Meanwhile... ber burning tarmac. She pulls off even fool my five-year old.quot; Cameron's alone out front. Her heart thumps her balaclava and turns to Cam. quot;You could- quot;So you knew him?quot; while her eyes flit from the glass doors to the n't keep your mouth shut.quot; quot;Course I bloody knew him.quot; She covers woman cowering on the floor. Cameron quot;What did you want me to do? Shoot my own Mandy's ears. quot;Kim Sanders - been prays she doesn't look up. Suddenly love- kid?quot; married to the bastard for seven years.quot; handle woman screams, quot;Mandy, no!quot; Cam- quot;Your kid? What d'you mean, your kid?quot; eron looks down at the little girl. quot;Ah, we're fucked,quot; says Drew. quot;Why you dressed like that?quot; she asks. quot;Go back to mummy and no-one gets hurt,quot;
  5. 5. Bullet No 49 Flesh & Blood…..Laird Long (Winnipeg, Canada) A door flew open on my right and a down to my heap, drove the poor little girl shaggy head peeked out. Frightened, filmed home to her mansion in the hills. eyes found me, and the door slammed shut Chalmers Carrington was putting pen to The old man was slumming, and he and I both I had to ask around at five different tea- again. I took it full-speed, knocking the flimsy paperwork in his book-lined study, signing the knew it. His thin frame was swaddled in a pin- rooms before I got a line on Flash, so by the time portal clean off its hinges with a cinder-block foreclosure notice on an orphanage, or the striped, tailor-made suit, and a chauffer waited I finally found him toking up with another bum- shoulder. eviction order for a nunnery, no doubt. “So, you patiently for him on the curb outside. My rates boy in an alley off Broderick Street, my head was “Fuck you, asshole!” Shaggy yelled, blaz- found her,” he stated dryly, looking up at me were rock-bottom, my office a dusty cubbyhole in buzzing with a contact high. I scared the bud- ing away with a pint-sized .22. and my bundle from behind his massive, ma- a semi-abandoned building. So the question buddy off with a boot to the ass, then showed A bullet seared my left shoulder, another hogany desk. was: what the hell was he doing here? Flash the missing girl’s picture. “Know where she dug into the wall behind me. I opened up with “Don’t shoot off any fireworks,” I grunted, “You’re going to find my daughter, Mr. is?” my cannon, blasting off three rounds in split- placing Michelle’s limp body into a leather Dirk,” he stated, then covered his thin, blue lips “Hey, man, I haven’t seen that chick in second succession. The room shook with the chair. with a monogrammed handkerchief and hacked days,” he exhaled, running a twitching set of yel- concussions, and Shaggy did a jig like a puppet Carrington stood up, walked around his up a lung. low-stained digits through a greasy, black beard. with some of its strings cut. Then he flopped desk, and stared down his nose at Michelle. I glanced at the gold-framed photo of the His Black Panther shades and olive-colored over backwards onto a bed already packed Then he grabbed the girl’s hair at the back and little girl with the blonde curls that occupied a beret with red star were the first things I slapped with human flesh. jerked her head up. prominent place on my battered desk, then off his head – the beard’d be next. “Either you Gunsmoke and girlish screams filled the Her eyes fluttered open. “D-don’t be mad asked at the end of his coughing fit, “Tried the got the heebie-jeebies, asswipe, or you know air, and I stared at the blonde, brunette, and at me, daddy!” she gasped, fumbling for the cops?” where she is!” I snarled, slamming him up redheaded dolls who were entwined on the bed old man’s belt. “I’ll suck you, daddy, I’ll-” “No cops!” he gasped. “Are you for hire, or against the brick wall, shaking him like my dick with Shaggy’s bullet-ridden corpse. The three “Quiet, you little slut!” Carrington barked, aren’t you?” after pissing. “Start talking!” girls were as naked and damning as the truth, smacking Michelle across the face. He had me there. “Peace, man, peace!” he wailed. “Last time arranged in a daisy-chain, camera-ready for “She isn’t your daughter, is she?” I His name was Chalmers Carrington, and I saw the lady she was crashing with the Horowitz blue movie action. growled at the old man. “She’s your lover.” he looked every bit of it. He pulled a leather bill- brothers,” Flash gabbed. A 16-millimeter sat on a tripod, wedged “Both, mister!” Michelle shrieked, gig- fold out of his jacket pocket, then a picture out of “Who and where are the Horowitz broth- against the foot of the fuck platform, and on a gling hysterically. “He’s both!” the billfold. “Michelle went missing just over a ers!?” I thundered. table next to the recording device was enough Carrington licked his quivering, blue lips week ago,” he said, tossing the picture on my “The H brothers, man – they make blue heroin, hashish, and hallucinogens to keep the with a grey tongue, eyes spilling from me to the desk, gazing at me through watery, brown eyes. movies …” ‘Frisco hippy movement airborne for weeks. I girl, and back again. He pulled out his billfold, “She associates with the wrong crowd; I’ll provide “Where!?” I bellowed. carefully surveyed the blonde-in-the-raw. It was flung five more one-hundred dollar bills in my you with some names.” “At their pad on Ashbury, man! 794 my blonde, all right – Michelle Carrington. Her direction. “Your job is done, Dirk,” he rasped. I picked up the photo and looked at the Ashbury!” eyes were as dull as jukebox slugs, but her “Get out!” pretty, young girl looking back at me. She could- I loosened my grip on the bum’s chest body was the stuff that jack-off dreams are I watched the rectangular, green pieces of n’t have been more than eighteen. Her face was hairs. made from. paper flutter to the floor, then balled my huge a perfect oval, with a cute, little nose in the cen- Flash straightened his tie-dye and grinned. I reached into the pile of used flesh and hands into fists. I advanced on Carrington like ter, her eyes cornflower blue, her strawberry- “You wanna score some blues, man? Or maybe- pulled the girl free. “You’re goin’ home,” I grit- a storm, memories of my own long-lost little girl blonde hair long and wavy. ” ted. filling my head, feeding my hate. I glanced from the photo to bald, long- I banged my left sledge against his jaw and I found a towel in a festering bathroom jawed, hook-nosed Chalmers Carrington. “Not his head bounced off the brick. He looked right and wrapped Michelle in it. She thanked me by much of a family resemblance,” I commented. at home sleeping in that trash-strewn alleyway. passing out. Then I slapped some sense back “You’re wasting time, Mr. Dirk – my time!” I splintered the weathered green door at into sleeping ugly on the floor. Fatso wasn’t he shot back. 794 Ashbury Street with a size-twelve steel-toed dead, but he was sure as hell headed there. He gave me a list of the girl’s known asso- and barreled inside, my .45 in the upright and And he used his last few minutes on earth to ciates, descriptions, and the names of the places cocked position. confess to his sins. where Michelle was known to hang out. Then he A fat slob with stringy, blonde hair dropped He told me that he and his brother had handed me five one-hundred dollar bills and a a dirty comic book, slid off a ratty couch, and made it their business to dope up pretty, young, vow of silence, and I was on the case. shouted, “What the fuck!?” wayward girls and then star them in porn flics. The first name on old man Carrington’s list “Horowitz!?” I hissed. And when more fresh, white meat appeared on was Flash Escobar, a hippy poet/photog with no He half-nodded, his glazed eyes and brain the scene, the two joy-boys would sell the stale- fixed address. Apparently, he hung around the struggling to comprehend the viciousness on my dated female flesh on the foreign markets, seedy coffee bars and hash houses that were face. But his senses failed him miserably, be- where a busty, blue-eyed, All-American blonde popping up all over the Haight Ashbury District cause he made the mistake of a lifetime by low- could garner as much fifty G’s. like blackheads. ‘Frisco was being flooded with ering his head, letting out a bellow, and charg- I ended Larry Horowitz’s tale of forced, refugees from the ‘60’s, turning whole sections of ing. I cracked the butt of the .45 down over top filmed sex and white slavery with a crushing the City by the Bay into sordid havens for dopers of his greasy head. My gun was hard and heavy, right hand to the pimply face, speeding him on and doggy-stylers. The year might be 1972, but his head soft and empty. Fatso took a nosedive his downward spiral. Then I carried Michelle my attitude, and haircut, were strictly ‘50’s. into the dirty carpet and lay motionless.
  6. 6. Bullet No 50 My Best Friend’s Girl “But I saw—” Anthony Neil Smith (Allendale, USA) Cut to Pascha alone, drunken smile, a fruity drink in Then I realized that I hadn’t seen much. Gene had front of her. “Everything okay?” Gene said. She interrupted me. “I don’t know what I saw. What shrugged. “You know Rick. No fun sometimes.” happened?” Gene wanted to get rich on porn like the Girls Gone Wild I crashed their party, instantly regretting it, and said, “What happened?” “We went back to his apartment. I was drunk, you “Pascha, let’s go.” The guys had been hoping for this— geniuses. “He wouldn’t dance. That’s all I wanted.” Babydoll know. He turned on some music, asked me to “Christian Girls on Their Wedding Nights. I mean, the hiking their shoulders, muttering, “S’up?” Pascha said, sad face. dance, be flirty. I just undid a couple buttons when sex isn’t a sin then, plus it’s something the Bible wants “I’m having fun. It’s early. You’re a pooper.” “You heard he reached for me. Said it had to be dirty if I wanted people to do, have sex with their spouses” the lady,” said goatee boy #1. “Back off.” The bartender Cut to Pascha walking on the sidewalk, Gene beside revenge. He wanted to film himself going down on I said, “It’s still a sin to watch other people have sex.” snapped his fingers at the bouncer, motioned our way. I her asking, “Think about it. He doesn’t want you to me. I stopped him. quot; I stumbled back. leaned towards Pascha, whispered, “I don’t want trou- have fun, so show him how much fun you can have.” She said, “I told him I was in love with you. Even Gene managed an electronics store in New Orleans and ble.”She said, “Not right now, please. Go home, I’ll stop Pascha waved him off. “Come on, Gene.” now, I’m still crazy about you. I don’t care what he often borrowed video cameras, computers, Blackberries, by later.” “Imagine, he sees you on tape, he’ll make goddamn said. I’m telling you the truth.” “trying them out”. I preferred stereos—surround-sound in “If you’re not leaving with me now, don’t bother.” sure to dance with you anytime you want.” the bedroom. My girl Pascha loved it. Too bad she loved The bouncer’s shadow dimmed the light. The frat boys She looked agitated. “Jesus, Gene, you’re his best Another step back for me. Matchbox Twenty. Gene let me borrow CDs from his shrank—“It’s cool.” friend.” store. Pascha didn’t look me in the eye. “I’ll stop by later.” “He would understand. I’m doing it to help him.” She looked holy and I was the snake. I croaked, “Baby—” My angel, arms crossed, a little unsteady. “He didn’t tell me anything. I…didn’t watch it all. I Gene kept it up while I rifled through the store’s new re- “I need a drink.” She walked to the bar. With Hulk the C’mon, baby, tell him to go to hell. Just walk just assumed.” I held my palm to my temple. leases—Rilo Kiley, Low, The Delgados. I held up a Bright Doorman inches away, I didn’t follow. Left the club, away… Eyes disc. Gene nodded. drove home, and kicked my couch until the leg splintered Pascha nodded and said, “I’ll hear you out.” Pascha said, “Rick, what did you do?” She said it “Why the Christian stuff anyway?” I said. off. I passed out face down on the cushions. End of disc. Blue screen. Later, I turned and stared again, her voice tightening. “Just trying to tap into a new audience.” at the camera. “The tried and true keeps bringing them back.” She stopped by at three in the morning. We fucked, not “Call the police,” I whispered. “That Gene, he’s a Gene said, “How about My Best Friend’s Girl? Like after make-up sex, but a grudge fuck. She was all worked up It took me a few minutes to figure out how to work funny guy.” from dancing, while I needed to hit something hard other a big fight or when he was flirting with some slut, swoop the camera and watch the footage. It was silent. in, tell her it’s great revenge.” than my couch. Pascha’s face, close-up. Pulled back to reveal her “You’re sick.” kneeling on Gene’s futon. She was dancing from “If she’s on tape, he’ll be all pissed but I bet he won’t do The next day, she was gone. All quiet til afternoon, when the waist up. She reached for the top button of her it again. I can sell it, make her sign some contract she I saw Gene. I couldn’t shake his comment, though. No blouse— way he knew Pascha and I had fought, and no way he’d can’t understand.” How would I feel about Pascha with Gene? Murderous. mention something like a porn tape featuring girlfriends The front door swung open. Gene. Already nine- out for revenge if he had gone through with it. I didn’t fifteen. Time had gotten away from me. The previous night, Pascha and I hit a French Quarter think Pascha and Gene liked each other at all. Still, I had “What are you doing?” He glanced at the blue club. The band was dull, trying to do serious tunes in a to satisfy the nagging in my head. screen, then me standing at the camera. “No, wait.” town that liked its music party-soaked— zydeco, blues, “Best friend’s girl, Gene? You think telling me about cheesy brass jazz. Gene couldn’t have known that I was Gene was working until nine, so I let myself into his apart- it was a smart move?” moody and Pascha was tanked. Been that way between ment the hard way—shoulder to the door. Inside, his fu- “Let me explain.” us for months. She said, “This is boring.” ton was flat, the sheets scattered. Stale sweat and sex “Trying to help me again?” “Why’d you come if you’re bored?” odors. There was a digital video camera on a tripod at “Rick—” “I didn’t know I’d be bored until right now.” She was sexy, the corner. DVDs lined a shelf on the far side of the front One hand tightened on the tripod. Decision made. but bitterly so. Her straight black hair covered half her room. I ran my fingers along the rows, handwritten I lifted it like a sledgehammer and swung hard at face like thick paint, and her eyes burned. She wanted a names—“Rhiannon”, “Lucy”, “Drama Queen”, “Pascha, Gene’s head. The camera exploded, bits of plastic Son of a bitch. fight. Drama. She lusted for it. The house speakers— Part I”. and blood spraying the entertainment center. Gene Jesus—“Don’t Mess with My Toot-toot”. Pascha snapped was down. I waited for him to get up again. He her fingers, grooved. I took the DVD to his entertainment center and slid it in, didn’t. I checked him for breath. I didn’t get past “Don’t,” I said. “This weekend, I promise, but not to- sat on the futon and worked the remote. First scene, his wide-open eyes. I threw up on his body. Blood, night—” Gene’s aiming the camera from a moving car. Gene’s puke, diodes. One more stop to make. She was past caring what I had to say. Her hips swayed. voice: “Let’s see who we find, rejected and looking for ****** Her ass invited. Pascha wanted to be center-stage. She revenge.” The car he was following—it was mine. Pascha was in a bathrobe. “Rick, I feel terrible. knew where to aim her scent. I wished I could cool out Please, no fighting.” I stepped in and closed her and let her dance without thinking she intended to humili- He caught us parking and walking. He waited until we door. “Not a fight. An explanation. Maybe some ate me. were a block ahead to follow. Terrible camera work, all acting you did last night?” shaky with loud breathing. Her mouth made an “O”. “What did Gene tell you? Two frat boys crowded around. I swear she knew they Don’t believe what he said.” were there but waited until one came up and touched her Cut to the front of the club. He caught me storming out “Not what he said, darlin’. What you did. I saw it waist before she looked up, wagged her finger and later. Gene said, “Trouble in Paradise? Let’s find out.” I myself.” pointed at me. She pushed his hands away but let him wondered how he knew to follow us. Or had he been She clutched her robe together at her neck. “It was stay right on her, skinwidth’s separation between them. following for longer? Sure, I’d told him Pascha and I wrong.” The other guy did a little bump on her backside. weren’t on the best of terms. But who follows a couple on “Goddamn right it was.” dates hoping for a blowout? “That’s why I didn’t go through with it. He didn’t tell you, did he?”
  7. 7. Bullet No 51 Funtime ously incongruous domestic sound of the kettle being filled and TK Dan (Newcastle, UK) put on to boil, the chinking of cups and teaspoons. He reap- pears in the doorway two mugs of steaming tea in his hands. “Yer divven’t take sugar dee yer?” he says, almost politely, as if Pasty has his forehead against mine. His Ne- had spilt their Bovril ower us. Then ah felt I’m the vicar calling in for a chat. Then he hurls the tea, mug anderthal brow rocking from side to side as and me fingers were covered in blood. Now and all, across the room, I manage to swing the chair to one he stares into my eyes. I think of Doug that was a sharp Stanley knife, through me side and go crashing to the floor as the mug explodes against McClure in the Land that Time Forgot and a trackie top and shirt and ah never felt a the wall behind me. programme on the making of it I saw when I thing.” He seems to drift off, almost nostal- “Aww, look what yer’ve done now yer messy cunt,” he strides was a kid. The cavemen had their brows built gic. “Took them a fuckin’ age to stitch us up across the room and pulls the chair back upright “yer worse than up by gluing potato peelings just above their mind.” a fucking bairn.” He stands hands on his hips surveying the eyes, but Pasty’s brow is hard, solid bone I try to reason with him, “Pasty man, why the damage. Despite myself I feel a traitor tear begin to course waiting and wanting to crunch into my face. fuck would I rip you off…” down my face. Pasty notices, “Aww, there, there ….” he mocks “You were fucking seen man, yer think I’m “Shut the fuck up!” he snarls coming back ruffling my hair before going back into the kitchen. When he re- fucking daft. You were fucking seen!” he into my face, holding the tip of the knife be- emerges, he has the knife. “Tell yer what, being as yer upset, hisses, chemical fumes from the poppers he’s low my left eye, “Aye, yer a sharp shite ye. ah’ll sing yer a lullaby, help yer gan to sleep.” been sniffing washing over my face. He Coming down to live with us common peo- He slides the blade out of the knife and advances across the draws back slowly, his pupils tiny pin pricks in ple. Yer sit there fucking smirking the whole room, gently singing, “Baa, baa, black sheep have yer any the steely blue of his eyes. I take a breath, grit time, like nae fucker’s got the joke but ye. All wool? Yes sir, yes sir three bags full” my teeth, exhale slowly. one big fucking laugh. Well ah’m warning He straddles me on the chair. “Yer’ve seen Reservoir dogs haven’t yer,” he yer college boy yer better start fucking talking “One for the master,” chortles as if we were in the pub discussing or mammy and daddy are going to start get- A cut above the left eye. favourite movie moments. I nod. ting pieces of yer in the fucking post! What “And one for the maid,” “What’s that fucking song he sings?” I shrug were yer talking to Dogger aboot?” Above the right eye. as best I can. “Haway college boy, divven’t “Nowt man, Pasty, nowt!” “And one for the little boy….” play it dumb with me, ah knaa yer knaa.” “You were fucking seen man! You were fuck- I feel the tension in his arm, see the pure venom in his eyes as I clear my throat, “Stuck in the middle with ing seen! Outside the Cluny you were fucking he places the blade inside my left nostril. you,” I mumble. A slow easy grin comes seen!” There’s a sound. The living room door scrapes open. The blade across his face, “That’s it,” he says, “Stuck in “Like I said man Pasty he was just there and stays where it is but Pasty looks up. the middle with ye.” He begins to hum to then the fucking cops turned up and I had to “Well?” himself, doing a grotesque little jig, imitating dump the stuff.” Billy appears; he puts a Morrisons carrier down on the table, Mad Michael Madsen. I shift uncomfortably in “Dogger’s got it hasn’t he!” lights up a cigarette and nods. Pasty laughs, just once “Ha!” the chair; the parcel tape binding me, rus- “No man Pasty! No! The coppers saw Dogger Slowly, he takes the blade away from my nostril and stands up. tling, twisting and turning as I do. Pasty goes and stopped, I knew they’d want a word with He retracts the blade and crosses his arms. Billy, still dragging behind me. I hear a drawer open and close. him, so I walked. Then one of them shouted on his fag, comes to stand beside him. They both look at me, His hand appears from behind holding a of me back. I pretended not to hear, got up smirking. Stanley knife. Stepney bank a bit, made out like I was doing “Whaddya reckon?” says Pasty. “Haway, man Pasty, this is fucking daft,” I up me shoe laces and pushed the stuff under Billy shrugs. Pasty leans towards me. I swallow hard, feeling the hear the quiver and terror in my own voice. one of the garage doors before the copper blood trickle down either side of my face. He stares me out for a “’Haway man Pasty’” he mimics coming saw.” couple of seconds that feel like hours, then he lunges forward round in front of me. He slides the blade out “Yer lying!” he roars and pushes the chair and shouts “Boo!”. I recoil and tip the chair over again. Him and of the knife and examines it. “Blunt. Rusty.” backwards, my head hits a radiator and Billy laugh fit to bust a gut. He picks me up, sets me straight and He shrugs, “Could put a new one in ah sup- there’s a comedy clanging noise, and then starts cutting at the parcel tape. pose. But yer wouldn’t feel a fucking thing just pain, pure and undiluted, shooting “Haway man! Nowt to worry about,” he says chuckling and wip- then.” through my head. He jolts the chair back up ing some of the blood away. “Couple of nicks. That’s all. Get “Pasty, man!” and draws back his arm. cleaned up, we’ll gan for a pint. Ah was only funning.” “Did ah ever tell yer, aboot the time at “Pasty man! Just give us a chance, wait till St.James’s. Been to see the toon. Came oot Billy gets back at least.” the match and ah felt something sticky run- “That useless cunt!” he growls, but backs off ning doon me back. Thought some fucker and skulks into the kitchen. There’s the curi-
  8. 8. Bullet No 52 How to defuse a terrorist rald’s face took on a wild, crazed look. I didn’t like I caught a certain sly tone in Gerald’s voice to play seeing it there. along. “Sure. I’ve been meaning to get rid of this Ed Lynskey (Annandale, USA) pasty Irish look. Where do I lay down, doc?” Dr. We soon reached the dam’s bottom, we were Ames beamed at us. “Take any one you’d like. breathless but too amped on adrenaline to notice. Meantime, I’ll go fetch the cobalt.” He strutted the “Frank, you’ve been awfully closed-mouth,” said the said. “How do we get started at the dam?” The facility’s locked steel doors didn’t deter Ge- opposite way through an arched doorway. big man behind the steering wheel. “Nothing to it,” I said. “We do some snooping rald. He blew away all the offending hardware. “The lead container must be inside that hidey “Just thinking, Gerald.” around.” Cordite stung our eyes. My ears screamed in pro- hole,” Gerald side mouthed to me. “What now?” “Solid,” said Gerald. “Solid. Now, tell me about this asshole doctor.” test. I coughed, waving away acrid gun smoke. “Send Ames to the happy hunting grounds,” I said. Solid? I mused. Well, that was Gerald Peyton for “Dr. Ames, a nuclear physicist educated at Yale no “Gerald, hold up a second.” “Before he sends us there. I don’t see any other you -- Shaft on steroids. I’d asked him along to be less, took the facility out of mothballs,” I said. “His “Man, it’s creepy inside this concrete tomb,” said exit out of this shit-storm.” more than a sidekick -- he had my back. For now, experiments with radioactive stuff centered on how to Gerald. “Where’s the fucking lab?” “Solid.” we cruised down a desolate stretch. Why did Inter- counteract bad guys with a hard-on for Americans.” “Mrs. Saxon told me it’s in a large room near the states always take the butt-ugliest path? We’d flown “Things got out of hand and he nuked this Saxon front.” Gerald thumbed more shells into his shot- We hoofed it at a snappy pace ducking through by toxic waste dumps all colors of the rainbow, kid,” said Gerald. gun, then pointed. “I see lights up ahead behind where Dr. Ames had disappeared. We heard his blasted out phosphate quarries, and a farm of rust- “Hell, you must’ve been there,” I said. “At least that concrete column.” spectral voice rattling off something excited and ing junk cars. America the Beautiful? Yeah. that’s the official version.” “Man, we need a Geiger counter,” I said, as we demented. Death permeated the oxygen-starved “This lady, Mrs. Saxon, you say her son died,” said “Where is Dr. Ames nowadays?” advanced into the musty gloom. “Who knows how air. Our scuffing shoes alerted Dr. Ames to gaze Gerald. “I’m vague on the details. What killed “Probably lounging on a beach in the Azores,” I hot the radioactivity is in here?” up as we invaded his Inner Sanctum. him?” said. “He was exonerated of all criminal negli- “I thought you said this Ames skipped the country, “Doc, step away from that box,” said Gerald. “He was Quincy Saxon, age 23,” I said. “Exposure gence.” Frank.” Defying our wishes, he unsnapped the clasps. to radioactivity killed him. His morgue photos “Yeah, he’s about as harmless as a goddamn box- “That’s what I heard.” “Oh put up your shotguns,” he said. “You’ll only showed third-degree burns smothering his body. He cutter,” Gerald said, his grim tone sending an icy “Well, I hear somebody or something talking.” scare the other customers.” looked like rotisseried chicken.” chill up my spine. We sidled up a series of “Probably the dead souls your shotgun blasts woke “He’s starting to crack the fucking lid.” Gerald whistled through his teeth. “Bad news. The switchbacks climbing the face to a jagged mountain. up,” I said. “No way that can happen,” said Gerald. “No lady wants answers and we’re her answer men.” My ears popped twice. Gerald let off the gas pedal “Man, I love teaming up with you, Frank. Never a other choice now. Let’s rock-and-roll, Frank.” “Solid,” I parroted back to him. and geared down. A lift in power got us to the top. dull moment.” Our 12-gauge shotguns flamed out blasts like a Gerald’s grin broadened. “Okay, what about At the last dogleg turn in the narrow lane, we braked “Shut it up. Keep moving.” double-necked electric guitar’s first riff. Quincy’s boss? Is he some sort of a whack job sci- to a standstill. Below us in a shallow crater, a con- In single file, we prowled deeper into the cavern- entist on a mountaintop playing with fire?” crete monolithic dam bottled up a deep lake I ous space. Some electrical source lit the way. The “That pretty much covers it,” I said. “The investigat- judged as arsenic green in color. smell of charred human flesh grew sweet and op- ing authorities accepted his explanation that The tallest spiral staircase in the world went down to pressive. We swung around a corner, shotguns Quincy’s death was a work-related accident. Shit the crackerbox buildings. It was our only way in and hoisted at the ready. happens, right? His mom didn’t sign off on it.” out. Recent rockslides from a hurricane had blocked “Gentlemen,” said the nasal, reedy voice. “You’re “I don’t blame her,” said Gerald. “Don’t sweat it. the road. I half-expected to see a crack in the con- here in time for your tanning session. Most excel- We’ll get to the bottom of things.” crete dam and a dutiful Hans Brinker with his thumb lent.” Gerald’s reassurance didn’t quell my queasiness. stuck in it. After unbuckling, Gerald and I hauled out “What the hell?” said Gerald. Appalachia was a third-world nation stuck up in the of my car. He notched his nuts and I spat. “Just keep your weapon fixed on the crazy bas- leafy hills. The smart young folks counted off the “I guess we have to snake down that staircase,” said tard,” I said. My eyes cut back and forth. Four days until they could eject from it. Many enlisted to Gerald. tanning beds lay open, awaiting their next victims. go wage our holy oil wars. Our destination there “You’re a good guesser.” “Who will go first?” the man asked. I blinked at a was an old, defunct dam condemned by the TVA. “All right then, wait up.” Mumbling dark obscenities, tall, lanky man with a swatch of jet hair combed The last worker leaving it ages ago had switched off Gerald stalked around to key open the trunk. I ig- back off a bulbous forehead. Gerald growled. the lights and padlocked its gate shut. nored him until he returned brandishing two sawed- “Mister, keep your hands where I can see them. “Hey, are you packing heat?” Gerald asked me. off 12-gauge riot shotguns and bandoleers heavy Any funny moves and -- ” “No, my mama told me to leave my guns at home,” with fresh shells, buckshot load. “Here,” he said. “ -- we’ll blow your shit away,” I said to complete I said. “But I bet you brought along some pyrotech- “Take this. Stay sharp.” Gerald’s thought. nics in your duffel bag.” I accepted his martial gifts. At the stairhead, I didn’t The gaunt madman frowned at us. “I’m Dr. Ames. “Yep,” said Gerald. “Cause, you see, my mama look down until vertigo hit me. My mouth went dry Aren’t you my one-thirty appointment?” told me just the opposite.” and my heart hammered. Gerald came after me, “Appointment for what?” After a while we approached a pale blue limestone one-handing a loaded pump shotgun. We started “Why, to soak up a tan,” said Dr. Ames. cliff. Pointing at it, I asked for Gerald’s opinion. He down the staircase. “Where do you stash the cobalt?” I asked. squinted to look through the dirty windshield and “Any idea what we’re after down here?” asked Ge- “Why, in its lead container, of course,” Dr. Ames agreed. It did appear to be a half-finished portrait rald. said. “Now, which of you will go first?” of Mr. Reagan, our fortieth president, carved into the “Any bad shit,” I said. “We’ll know it when we smell “Frank, I believe I’m satisfied with my pigmenta- cliff. it.” tion,” said Gerald. “Why don’t you hop on one of “What a monumental waste of limestone,” Gerald “Right. I got a nose for sniffing it out, dawg.” Ge- those tanning beds, boy? quot;

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