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  • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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;
  • 9. Bullet No 53 Job Done plastic seats and idly flicked through an old As I entered the men’s dressing room I fished Tony Lagosh (Cambridge, UK) car magazine. A couple of minutes later he out the locker key from my pocket and was back. opened number 672. A pound coin dropped “Renault Clio was it sir?” endlessly polite and as I swivelled the key. I quickly undressed, and efficient too, there was no hope for the man. roughly shoved the Burton’s suit into the bin- Cambridge, 6.13am Work starts early scattering of the dog’s claws and the faint rustle “Yes, it’s parked out front.” I stood and tossed bag. I tied a knot in the neck and chucked it I thumped the knife into Schroeder and carried of the man’s newspaper fade away. I sat up and the keys on to the chest high counter and in the locker and changed into my Adidas kit. on running, leaving it, proud , protruding from sneaked a look. He was heading towards the leaned on it, my left arm supporting my chin. his rib cage. Behind me I heard his breathless, River, he gave no glance backwards but I let him “I’ll need to pay for some extra valeting, I’m This is never a good time, this is when the middle aged running, slow, then stop as blood turn the corner before I twisted the key to start the afraid I’ve made a bit of a mess of the car. Fear hits in a second tsunami. This is when filled his heart. I span round and saw him slump engine. I pulled away. I’d have to get changed Stood in some mud and it got everywhere. It’ll the nerves come on, the regret, the panic, the to the ground, his back sinking into the mud of somewhere else. need a thorough cleaning, will that be extra?” cold blind terror of being caught. But I have Parker’s Piece, hands waving in the air like a “Oh don’t worry about that sir, I’m sure it’s my routine and that helps me cope, it stops mad raver. There was surprise on his face, sur- Fifteen miles out of Cambridge I found it. A Little not too bad.” the panic, helps me think. Activity is the only prise at the kitchen knife in his chest and at the Chef set into a clump of trees. Keeping my head “No really, I would like it to be cleaned thor- cure so I always end up here, at the gym, way the crimson spread across his grey tracksuit. down to avoid the CCTV I pulled in and headed oughly. Before anybody else uses it.” pounding away on the running machine, Weakening, his head lolled and he stared for the restaurant. I pushed open the fake “It’s all part of the service sir. No bumps or burning off the hormones, trying to bring me straight at me, green eyes in a sun tanned face, wooden door and was hit by the smell of frying anything?” back down to a level where I can think tough leather skin, framed by a mess of grey bacon. The sheer normality was shocking, it woke “No, as I say, just a bit dirty.” straight and rationally. Inactivity would mean white hair. I watched a vigorous life ebb away. me up quicker than a cold shower. In the grimly Colin whisked round the counter, file in hand thought and that would drive me insane. The functional, white light toilets, I found an empty sit and went out to check the car. I could see him only way is to lose myself in mindless distrac- Job done. down, filled with the smell of stale piss and inef- through the window, creeping and dancing tion. Repetitive exercise, loud blaring dance fective bleach. Shutting the door behind me I got round the Clio, meticulously examining for music and cable TV to keep my eyes occu- I kept on running. Shades bounced irritatingly on changed, peeling the layers off like an onion. damage, circling it in an effeminate war pied. Fitness Forever, it’s the only way. my nose, and the sweat top hood was tied tightly, Pulling the suit out of the bin bag, I hung it up on dance. With a balletic leap he jumped up and contorting my face into a mess of rubbery wrin- the door and smoothed out the creases. I returned, slightly flushed from the cold air, full An hour later, I was walking out of the gym kles. I was hot and sweaty, bulked out with six dropped the tracksuits into the bag and re-tied of brisk efficiency. towards my car I’d left overnight in the gym’s sweat tops and three tracksuit bottoms. It made the knot in its neck. Unhooking the suit from its “Oh there’s nothing to worry about there sir, car park. I was calmer, more relaxed, thinking me look overweight, unrecognisable, but boy was hanger I squeezed into it and a cheap blue shirt could hardly see a thing, quick hoover with straight again. Amazing what a good work it uncomfortable and it put me on edge. and matching tie set. Then I slipped on plastic the hand vac and it’ll be as good as new.” out can do for you. I bleeped the car open black shoes and opened the cubicle door, I didn’t push it. Colin shoved a form at me and cocooned myself in the black leather up- It was touching seven by the time I got back to checked there was no one around and left. and I signed it. He let me call a cab and holstery. I turned the key and imperceptibly the car. The sun was fully risen in a watery glow- twenty minutes later I was outside Fitness For- the engine started, I released the hand brake ing white that was burning off the early morning Two hours later, I was walking into Mertz Rental ever, the only club I ever felt comfortable join- as the Cream CD kicked in and revved away. chill. In the homes that lined the avenue, lights and being irritated by the ringing of a bell. It ing, clutching the incriminating bin bag. were being switched on as families woke to a brought out a young man, smart in a red uni- On the Fulham Road I noticed a slim black new day. Street lamps were clicking off like met- form, beaming a disturbingly happy smile, full of It was late morning but there were already alley. I pulled over, parked across the double ronomes, loud sharp and echoing in the morning teeth and vivacity. He had to be a fake, a student fifty or sixty sweating middle aged women yellows and put my lights on hazard. I hauled silence. It was spooky, nerve jangling and it re- of all those self help courses that tell you it takes pounding away on running and rowing ma- out the bin bag and nervously entered. It ignited the Fear. 300 muscles to frown but only three to smile. All chines. Their faces were bright pink and dark turned sharply to the left behind a kebab technique and no honesty. It oozed from his shiny patches of sweat were collecting round their shop. There was a bin there, half full of rot- I got in the car and began to get changed. Then I red skin, the bright green eyes and the fashiona- arse crack and arm pits. It was not a pretty ting food and discarded packaging. It stank saw him. An old man walking a black and tan bly tousled, dyed blonde hair that crowned a sight. If anybody tells you that gyms are a like a rotting body. I hurled the bag into the collie. He was reading a paper, idly flicking the short, slim frame. He reeked of cloying, disinfec- good place to pull, don’t believe ‘em, there is open top and left its metallic crash echoing pages over whilst his dog strained energetically at tant after-shave. nothing attractive about over weight bodies behind me. I returned to the car, slipped in the leash. I dropped on to the passenger seat, the “Good morning sir, my name is Colin, how can I sweating in stretch fabric leotards, built up and pulled away into traffic. Now I could gear stick pushing sharply into my ribs. I shifted help you.?” His voice was sharp and Estuary into mountains and valleys by piles of un- really relax, now I could go home, now it was myself off the stick and lay motionless. Time singsong. quot;The name’s Fletcher, just returning the wanted flesh. I shuddered as I weaved my over. slowed down, waiting, waiting, expecting the po- car” fully dressed way through them, avoiding the lite tap on the window; my mind was racing, pre- “If you’d like to take a seat I’ll get your file.” With occasional flirtatious smile that was flicked my At least till next time. paring an answer, an explanation. I stuck my a theatrical flourish he twirled like Anthea and way. hand into the glove compartment. I heard the returned to the back office. I sat in one of the red
  • 10. Bullet No 54 Swinging Like Tiger simile of Stevie, him but not him if you know flashed it the fingers, the cheeky fucker. Kev Martin (Carlisle, UK) what I mean. The outside was still there but the spirit, the life force, had gone some- I took one last heave and pushed them into where else. The blood had gone from his the inky black void. There was a second of Nothing like a nine iron. ish.” face leaving his skin a deep chalk white but silence then a splash. I dusted off my hands “Don’t man, please god don’t. I don’t deserve it was now outside, streaming in watery rivu- and checked my watch. Gone midnight, just The rubber grip felt good in my hand, the club this, not from you at least.” lets down his forehead and cheeks. gone. I wondered what that mean, would felt heavy, satisfying. I swung it, the swoop in “What’s going on in there Stevie? In that thick that mean he’d be stuck in limbo forever the air was deep and booming, the connection skull of yours, what you thinking?” I pulled the camera out, one of them tiny not sure if he’d died one day or the next? I with Stevie’s head solid and clean. “I’m thinking what the fuck are you doing? Any- digital things that hangs from a key ring. laughed, like god or the devil or even Stevie way, it ain’t so thick now, you must have taken Comes in handy now and then. I took a would care about a couple of fucking min- He fell into the water, moans mixed with bub- an inch out.” couple of quick snaps for later. I wasn’t sure utes here and there. bles, it was too dark to see the blood. I turned We laughed, like only good mates can in times if they’d come out but hey, if they did then away from him and walked back up the beach. of trouble. they’d be worth looking at. Last few seconds I turned and headed back to the hotel. As I I heard Stevie claw his way up through shallow of a man’s life, might be able to learn did so I slipped in my iPod earphones. The surf, coughing and spluttering at water and “Can you see the tunnel yet?” something, see his spirit leave, see if there is shuffle was on loop and I got “Folsom blood and seaweed getting where it shouldn’t. “The tunnel? What the fuck you mean? The peace right at the end, see if inevitability Prison Blues” over and over and over again. Tyne Tunnel?” can be met with rich acceptance, might help “Jeeze! Bry! What the fuck was that for?” “Naw you twat, the tunnel of death, the one with me when it’s my turn. the white light shining at the other end and St Over his head, just to the right, the moon was Peter welcoming you on. The one you see when A small guttural groan bubbled up; poor rising from the North Sea. It was a Daz blue you’re going to die.” fucker was still hanging on. I decided to try white, its broken reflections rippled in the eager “I’m going to die?” it another way, might help him along, I was horse heads rolling up the beach, it was beauti- “Yeah, course you fucking are.” starting to feel sorry for the poor fucker. I ful, calming, atmospheric. Stevie was ruining it drove the top of the club into his head, thin though, swaying like an idiot, non-plussed, feel- I thumped the iron into his head again like I was edge down. It caved into his skull and stuck ing his head with surprise like he couldn’t quite Phil Mickelson. Left handed, I know my golfers. I there, I levered it free with a squelching tug believe what was going. This was going to take wondered what Tiger would make of my swing. that snapped like a cork. Stevie stopped a bit more work. Stevie slumped to his knees, hands clutched to moving, the hands twitched, the ribs his head. I wondered if he’d have a go at me, I heaved, only the blood kept on moving out- I looked at the iron’s head and made out a bit reckoned not, this was all too much for him; the wards and downwards and out there to- of bone and hair, I fussily removed it like an surprise would have done for him. wards continental Europe. Then a few bub- over-proud house wife. I let the head drop into “See it now?” bles of the last bit of oxygen escaping from the water swilling it till it was clean, then I swung “No, I can’t fucking see anything.” his lungs and that was it. Stevie was gone. it in a baseball curve and connected with Stevie “Gone blind have you?” again. The ribs this time, got him in the ribs, “No! What? Yes, I mean I don’t know. Fuck! The I stood there a few minutes and wondered wanted to see what that was like. pain!” what to do next. I looked up the beach and saw a discarded shopping trolley. I heaved Stevie gasped, he didn’t cry or scream he Stevie tried to stand up like a man but he Stevie up and on to my shoulders, a dead gasped, every atom of air expelled from his swayed like a dumb clown, legs flashed up- weight soaking with water and staggered lungs. I imagined them deflating like balloons. wards and he collapsed backwards into the wa- though sinking sand and slippery seaweed “Bry man! what the fuck are you doing?” ter. He was like a cow with an advanced case of to the trolley. I dropped him on the sand “What the fuck does it look like?” BSE, uncoordinated, legs everywhere. The sand and pushed the trolley up on to the cause- “Why man Bry? Why? What the fuck have I shifting beneath his feet, the disintegrating nerv- way. I went back and picked Stevie up, stag- done?” ous system, nothing was helping his limbs get gered to the trolley and dropped him in the “Fuck all, absolutely fuck all.” him erect again. He splashed in the water, arms basket with a metallic shivering. I began “So why you doing it then?” flailing eddies of foam into the bleak night air, pushing him up the concrete road and “Lovely night innit?” very atmospheric. I let him calm down, let the along the pier, it took half an hour and I “Bry?” splashing cease then I went in. was fucked when I got to the lighthouse, its “Good spot for it an’ all.” blinking eye balefully disapproving. I “Stop it man, Bry, stop it.” I pulled out a maglite and shone a beam right “Can’t Stevie. You know that. Started so I fin- into his face. It was fixed, still and pale, a fac-
  • 11. Bullet No 55 No More the Blues back with them, I know it. The song crashes to a stop. The Joel Lane (Birmingham, UK) ‘Come on, lend me some money. band wave goodbye and leave the That’s what you bastards do, isn’t it?’ stage, all except Feltham. He’s play- Another classic night at the Robin 2 club quences. The new songs are grimy, ‘Smart one.’ For the first time I ing a blues version of ‘Amazing in Bilston. You wouldn’t expect it. Bilston’s smeared with desire and disappoint- realise how much Dec looks like the Grace’. Then something else, a faster one of the worst living dead towns in the ment. The album’s clearly a strong one. man my wife left me for. The poker- tempo. Will he finish his solo before Black Country. The snafu capital of Brit- In front of me a middle-aged couple are playing shit with a degree in Applied the shit hits the fan? Knowing this ain. There’s something appropriate in dancing together, his arms around her Fuckery who played around so much could end at any moment makes this the fact that it has the best rhythm & thick waist. The only distraction is that my she was phoning me for sympathy. the most precious music I’ve ever blues club in the country. I swear, people weak bladder is playing up and I’m al- Me. heard. Great music always feels like fly over from Holland to go to the Robin ready aching for a piss. Have to wait un- I consider kicking the crap out of that. 2. And when they finally let you in, not til the end. Dec, but my good mood and the dis- There’s some noise behind me. I long before the gig starts, there are signs After five new songs, they go tant rumble of Nine Below prompt me turn and see two goons pushing telling you to shut up while the bands are straight into a set of their best material to help him. I pull out my wallet and through the crowd. Tight suits, dark playing. You don’t see that very often. since the 1995 reunion. Singer Dennis look for my last tenner. His pale hand glasses. Gangster chic. So it wasn’t The crowd tonight are mostly in their Greaves almost gets booed off stage for moves so fast I hardly see it, grabbing the police who found him. I can tell forties, and there’s a lot of couples. A calling the audience Brummies. Fucking the leather and yanking it open. it’s me they’re heading for. So I do vibe of togetherness. Nine Below Zero hell, wrong thing to do in Bilston. Then Credit cards and train tickets spill the only thing I can. I turn my back to are back in town. A better band now Mark Feltham takes over and sings ‘No onto the hard floor. them and watch Mark Feltham finish than they ever were back in their More the Blues’. There’s so much in that: His reflexes are quick, but mine his harp solo as the rest of Nine Be- younger days. The blues needs maturity, the band getting back together, are quicker. I’m not a junkie. Before I low Zero slip back onto the stage. the bitter taste of experience. They’ve Feltham’s recovery from serious illness. really have time to think about it, my He’s playing like a fallen angel in a seen it all and they still feel something. It’s in his voice, but really it’s in his har- penknife is open in my hand and my blind alley. I can’t see his eyes behind Maybe I do too. monica. He looks like a little rabbi in his hand is pressed to his throat. Like a his shades. I wish him long life. The support band are edgy and black suit and skull-cap. knee-trembler, how quickly you reach paranoid; they remind me of stuff I want During a pleasant but not essential the point of no return. I push him to leave outside. I drink two Diamond bass solo, I struggle through the crowd back into the cubicle and shut the Whites quickly, then take a third down to to the Gents’. It’s up a flight of stairs by door, then wash my hands. There’s the floor in front of the stage. The place the door. A row of off-white urinals. I let blood on the floor, but not much. is filling up slowly. By the time Nine Be- the pain and tension flow out of me like Could be a nosebleed. I wonder what low come on there’s hardly room to a bad dream. Then I hear the thin voice to do. move. They have a new keyboard player. behind my back. ‘Gary.’ I finish my piss In the end I go back to the con- ‘We’re gonna play some tracks from our and turn around slowly. cert room. It’s a place to hide. And I new album, Hats Off. It’s a blues al- Dec is sitting in a cubicle with the want to hear the rest of the gig. bum.’ And there we were expecting a door open. His nose is running; his eyes There’s blood on my sleeve, I hope new direction. are like a dying man’s in a hospital bed. no-one notices. Lights are burning As Mark Feltham’s harmonica He’ll need a taxi back to Wolverhampton above the stage, the audience are bleeds through the slow grind of the gui- to find his contact. ‘I need fifty,’ he says. huddled together. The blues is bigger tars, I remember my dream from the ‘Don’t let me down, Gary.’ than they are. Greaves moans his way night before. British planes dropping ‘I haven’t got it. And I’m not going through a slow guitar solo, the drum- bombs over China, a strange interval of out to a fucking cashpoint.’ What do I mer shakes the place apart. I wonder calm before all hell breaks loose. My have to do to get that bunch of losers out if the police will block the exits and dreams are always impossible corridors of my life? They’re worse than old drink- search everyone, even the band. between a violent event and its conse- ing buddies. This is just a trick to get me
  • 12. Bullet No 56 let me in Delphine Lecompte (Belgium) hurts when he arsefucks me cos his boner is as big as a cocker spaniel,but not as fluffy and good-natured,and it swells when i am sitting at my sheffielder angel's glasses and cutlery and jars off the kitchen it's inside me,right now it must be as big kitchen table,i'm trying to write a slander- table,i cut my wrists with the broken as a rocky mountain goat,i scream out in ous story,but it's hard,cos i'm so bloody glass,but i'm way too randy and hungover pain,sand fills my mouth and lungs,i try to randy,and my sheffielder angel is skinning to kill myself,i get dressed and leave the pull myself free but he's lying on top of me rabbits above his sink,and he's talking to apartment,i sit myself on a piss-soaked and his fists are punching my shoulder them,comforting them,or actually he's just bench opposite the nuthouse, smoke some blades,but then he grabs my hair and humming an insipid swedish pop song,but fags,carve a few slanderous stories into the pulls my head out of the sand,i throw the it's arousing me all the same,so i snap my bench,down a bottle of spanish rum,carve whisky and the smoked kippers that my pencil in two,go over to that sheffielder some more venom into the bench and dodgy neighbour fed me last week up on middle class cunt,unzip his pants and start rudely play with myself;around six am the my blouse,the kinky nightnurse kicks me in stroking his ridiculously small but never- kinky nightnurse walks out of the nut- the back,spits on me and walks away,i put theless very endearing boner,i suck it till it house,i call his ugly flemish name and he on my knickers and jeans and stagger to spunks in my face and hair,i wipe the comes over to me,we share a bottle of the sea,but i'm way too randy and hun- spunk away with a checkered kitchen towel cheap dutch tequila and he tells me about gover to kill myself. and sit myself in front of his flemish stove,i all the new underage anorexic traumatised open the wee door,rip out some of my assets to the nuthouse,i tell him about all hair,throw it in the flames and sniff up the the dour german accountants i've fucked awkward sobering scent,it's just what i and ripped off last week,and then i moan needed,but then my sheffielder angel for a while about my sheffielder angel and yanks my arm and drags me to his bed- about wee andy and about my dodgy room,he rips off my jeans and knickers neighbour and about my nefarious scottish and enters me,he pulls away,cums on my pimp,and then i stop moaning,unzip his belly and falls asleep,i poke my fingers in pants and jerk him off,afterwards he buys all his me breakfast in a seedy coastal pub that's orifices,bang my fists against his cheek full of old boisterous swedish whores and bones and soles,but he doesn't wake cocky mancunian heroin pushers and up,he's smugly smiling and snoring,and handsome french porn directors and their he'll probably sleep till dawn,it's lonely hostile slavonic crew,breakfast is irish cof- without him,not as lonely as when he's fee and fried mackerels,i give my break- awake and being dour and conceited,but fast to an obese english setter that's lying still too fucking lonely,noone to bare my in front of the jukebox,after breakfast we soul and flash my wounds to,not even the order stellas and shots of whisky,we down rabbits in the sink,cos they look dead with- them and leave the pub,we walk to the out their coats and eyes,they are dead ac- dunes,the kinky nightnurse is rambling tually,his tropical fish aren't dead,but about all the skinny doe-eyed flemish or- they're mute and autistic,that's even phan boys who bared their souls and wee worse,this place is stuffed with cold smug underage genitals to him last night,i put middle class gadgets and they're not about my hands to my ears and bury my head in to take pity on a fucked-up manipulative the sand,the kinky nightnurse rips off my orphan girl,i sweep the bottles and shot jeans and knickers and arsefucks me,it
  • 13. Bullet No 57 Super Size Her Gary6 (Weston Super Mare, UK) and filled it with the fat and left it winched her back on to the bed and over her mouth. She’d drink it, got her on her back again, at least It never really bothered me, all that widened and her arm caressed mine. she’d have to. that way she could breathe more banging and moaning and desperation She was beautiful. Straight black hair, easily. seeping through the walls. I guess it big wide blue eyes and a face like a cir- Three months she was like that. I’d should have done but it didn’t. Not even cular cherub. Innocent, bulbous, per- fill the cylinder up every night when I looked at her, small face at apex of when the knocking started which turned fect. Marlene’s body was a size twenty she was asleep and I had my night a blubber mountain. Big round eyes into pawing, scraping, scratching and and her breasts sagged just nicely, she goggles on. Didn’t want to see her, pupils dilated in the dim dusk nether finally the crying of desperate realisa- was maybe five foot tall and an outgo- didn’t want to talk. Had to be new. world she’d lived in these last three tion that the only person who could help ing bubbly personality but underneath Everything had to be new. Born months. Her hair was greasy and wouldn’t. It was simply something that she wasn’t as confident as she made again. After a while though I had to lank and stuck in lumps to her had to be done, if she wanted to out, she’s been made too much fun of do something. head. Bulbous layers of flat were achieve her ideal weight. over the years. Too fat people said, not stuck like kids plasticine all over. for me she wasn’t. I went in and disconnected the drip Some of the outer extremities were Eventually though, I had to do some- “Look I’ve got an idea.” and saw what had to be done. I going grey where the skin had died thing, go in make sure she was okay went out and then came backing and turned hard like elephant flesh. that she was er well functional. So I showed her the apparatus and she again, this time dragging a bucket said okay. Honest she did she really did. of hot watery disinfectant and a She was done to perfection, then I Me and Marlene had been together sponge form the shower. I began to looked into her eyes and you know, about four months by that time. Met on At first she wasn’t too sure about the wash her down. something was missing. That look of the Internet as us BBW lovers usually do. pulleys, about being strapped up like “Please, I don’t feel well, I can’t innocent pleasure she’d once taken Yeah there’s parties but the Internet is that, legs and arms in the air but I reas- breathe.” in my attentions was gone. I’d done the best, you get to be more personal sured her. all this for her and now she resented that way, get to know each other first. I kept on washing. me. I could tell. The magic was Personality’s important. We met in a few “You’ll have space to grow, darling “I thought you loved me.” gone. I got up and left. pubs had a few dates, got on really Marlene.” And she believed me, she well, only trouble was she wasn’t big trusted me. I hooked her feet into one of the Left her to it. enough, didn’t have enough flesh on stirrups and using the pulley pulled her but I liked her, I really liked her, I I slipped the cradle underneath her and her legs up. Helped me get to her didn’t want to give her up. pulled the ropes through the pulleys arse. I scraped and sponged the shit and winches that were held up by the away. It stank and I gagged but I We started to have, you know, relations, scaffolding I’d set up over her bed. was sure it was going to be worth it. be proper girlfriend and boyfriend and she said she was in love but she knew “I’ll look after you, darling I really will”, The water was getting filthy and I she could tell there was something pecked her on the cheek and left her to needed a new batch so I left here gnawing away at the back of my mind. it. The pipe in her mouth and the needle again. While I was out there was a in her arm. Every day for three weeks I thump. I ran back and there she “What’s the matter love, you can tell came in and attended to her ablutions was on the floor. Marlene.” then I’d go out and leave the telly on. “Help me, help me” she wheezed. ”You know I love you don’t you?” ”Of course, darling, we’ve made love “Michael wont you talk to me?” Didn’t have much time left so I haven’t we? You wouldn’t do that if you I ignored her, I had to, she needed to didn’t love me would you?” Her eyes be a new person. I connected the pipe
  • 14. Bullet No 58 The Zone tainty, playing on my nerves. was no return to be had from such an invest- Mary MacKenzie (Christchurch, New Zealand) ment, one look at Wyvern told me that. In this What if he was alive? business you back people, you get a gut feeling What if he was gone? and you go with that. You can always make the What if I was caught? figures work if you have to but if you have no Hate drives out fear. Simon had placed it there so consider a loan application? Is there anybody watching? faith in the man behind the business, it’s all far back it now defined me but as my hands As I opened the door, my hands began to pointless. This man was too close, it was his squeezed tightly around his neck, I realised the Stop asking questions, think move do. shake, sweat gathered in beads all over my life, he couldn’t make redundant those he terror was gone. I released my grip and his body body and a buzzing gnawed at my joints. The viewed as family, that would have been a be- collapsed to the floor. Simon lay there in a foetal There is a place that athletes go to when years of office, bathed in the blue whiteness of trayal. Wyvern still kept horses for god’s sake. heap and for the first time in his life he looked like training has left them able to turn pure thought moonlight, was filled with an eerie stillness. I A decent man but out of his time and on his a nobody. His Armani suit was wrinkled, dishev- into action. They visualise an action and their body checked momentarily, maybe it was the way out. There was nothing I could do. elled, bereft of its billowing insouciance, his fash- just does it, faster than a speeding thought. The strangeness of the light or creeping madness ionable hairstyle, flecked with grey distinction, ability to enter this zone is the difference between a but for a second I wondered if this was even my However, here in my office at midnight, with a flopped untidily on the carpet. All his power had medal and nowhere. It’s going on the b of the own office. Surely I couldn’t have made that corpse on the floor I looked at things a little gone, all that had defined him, his charm, his elo- bang. stupid a mistake, I carried on, my mind was differently. I picked up the phone and Wyvern quence, gone. Now he was nothing. playing tricks but I had to get a grip. There was agreed to come straight away. We struck a Something clicked and right then I entered the my desk, my spare suit hanging in the corner deal. My hands retained the shape of the stranglehold zone myself. My mind was clear of self knowing, and directly ahead of me, the cupboard. A for seconds afterwards. Utter, utter disbelief set in, my thoughts translated into actions so instantane- split second later I was putting the key in the Of course it changed me that thing I did, but no thoughts, no feelings, only a sensation of dull ously it was as if I was pure electricity. lock and feeling Simon’s arm brush gently not in the way you’d think. It released me, set uncertainty pervaded. Then, rising, like a billowing against my trouser leg as it flopped out, life- me free. Till then I’d been like a diver clumping of bubbles, came the questions. His body was lighter than I anticipated as I carried less. Relief surged through me and immediately around at the bottom of the sea, but with him to the cupboard in the corner of my office. I was back in the Zone. Simon’s death, the weights had been taken off What had I done? That much was plain to see. I’d Simon nestled like a baby in my arms, his body still and I’d risen to the top with a flurry of bubbles placed my hands round Simon’s neck and warm, his head flapped and lolled, his tongue I hauled Simon out. He seemed heavier some- and excitement. Power, money, respect, it all squeezed until there was not a drop of life left. protruded purple in a way I thought only hap- how. Delicately and diligently I laid him on his came to me. I’d even had an affair with a pened in cartoons. His skin was no longer apo- back on the floor. I straightened out the lines of woman half my age – a minor revenge, but it Why had I done it? That was easy, this time he’d plectic puce and his acquired tan had resumed its his suit, brushed hair from his eyes and but- further enhanced my reputation. Harris? With gone too far, this time he’d misjudged me, this glowing bronze. toned up his jacket. No doubt about it, he had her? time I’d gone right over the edge. What a mistake been a good-looking man, few women could that had been. For him certainly, maybe for me. Simon folded easily into the bottom of the cup- resist when he turned on the charm, Sue in- Sometimes though when I get a little down and board amongst the files, folders and stationery. As cluded. Still I wanted him to look good. Dignity need a pick me up I go back to my own little What do I do now? It was getting harder to answer I closed the door on his resting-place, the phone is important, especially in death. It’s your final piece of paradise, a small one bedroom flat these answers. rang, Andrea my secretary calling through my statement, you have to get things right. It was just up Market Street. There, in a comfortable 10.20. I replaced the receiver and sat down be- imperative I paid him respect. After all nobody leather chair sits Simon, glassy eyed in his fa- Would I get away with it? Even then I was intrigued hind my desk quickly flicking the mouser to lose else would have the chance to. vourite Armani suit. There I can tell him of my that I could ask such a question. To think of only the screen saver, give an impression of work. latest triumphs, achievements and conquests. myself at such a time and with such diamond clar- There was a file open, Simon’s account. I closed it. I thought back to my 10.20. Wyvern’s Funeral Most especially I like to tell him how happy I ity was probably the most shocking thing that had Ready, back to normal. Parlour, Mr Wyvern at his wits end, 3 genera- am, how the kids are growing up, how much rd ever happened to me. I never knew I had it in me. tion company going bust. Strange to think a money I’m making and how my hair seems to I often work late so the security guard wasn’t sur- business as basic as that could lose money. My be growing back. It recharges the batteries. Would I get away with it? prised to see me check in just before midnight. Wyvern though was from another more hon- That question stayed when all others had gone, “Evening Mr Harris” ourable time. He was steeped in sombre cere- Seeing Simon sitting there, solitary, not sleep- residual, heavy black, cold. It forced me outside “Evening Bob.” mony and I thought I detected a checked bow ing with my wife, not stealing my money, not myself and I began to think like I’d never thought “Late start tonight?” when we shook hands. I saw immediately why holding my career back with blackmail and before. In that zone of icy certainty I saw only facts, “Yes, end of quarter figures. Head office need they were going bust. People don’t want old extortion, I feel my powers return. He makes conclusions and plans. them by the end of the week.” fashioned quality like Wyvern could offer, me happy. It’s what brothers are for. “They’re nothing but slavedrivers, Mr Harris.” speed and efficiency are what counts these Those cold calculations surprised me. I’m a hum- “It’s my own fault, I should have had them done by days. ble bank manager, member of the Chamber of now” Commerce, masonic nights every other month, “Fancy a cup of tea? I’ve got a brew on, help keep Wyvern was respectful in his plea for money married with two kids about to do their A levels. you awake?” and I refused just as gracefully. I took no pleas- I’m a pillar of the establishment, not a criminal, a “That’s okay, I’m not planning to be long” ure in it but I had to think of the Bank. There murderer. Why was I now planning to dispose of I was nervous as I turned the door handle. Those my brother’s body as dispassionately as I would questions came racing back, spreading uncer-
  • 15. Bullet No 59 Sparkies I shrugged my shoulders and dabbed the cable on Gareth Hall (Cardiff, Wales) You see these rich fuckers like to protect their hard- hand. The buzz convulsed me and I collapsed to ware. So sometimes they get these laser guns that the ground. The cable fell. shoot massive bolts of electricity right at you. The Then you know what that fucking bitch went and game was this. I and Tony put the crow bar to the lamp post and nothing. All we could do was have a little fun now did, she only went and shoved that cable right up levered open the panel. In there were the cables. and then. my arse and fucking held it there. Fucking agony. I Three twats have bin lids and they attract the fire Tony had the shears in his hands ready to snip the burned to a fucking crisp. Dead as a fucking dodo from the laser guns. The bolts hit the bin lids and wires as I held them out like a sacrificial lamb. On my way back from the cop pod I felt a tingle in in five seconds flat. bounce off our way. If you wanted a shot of leccy my back. I turned and saw a punchie behind me. you had to dive for it, catch the laser. Top blast. Blue sparks threw, serious. Saliva dropped from Fuck! I ran, hard as fuck but the bastard was on me. I floated out over everything and saw her run away. Tony’s mouth. I got a hard on just thinking about it. Had no fucken chance, got me to the ground, kept Joey and Tweedy headed off for the light show and Saw her get back to her three up two down, her kicking me in the head and the arms till a hover car homely little husband and two kids. I was about to do the same when I saw a flash of Tony looked at me. I looked at him and nodded. pulled up. Just as the fat cop got out, we both got blonde hair. That woman again, running away Tony stabbed the juice and the current flew through up, running, mad maniac laughter bursting out of from the light show. Fuck it I thought, she had to be What did she fucking do that for eh? Everything me. I bounced back three yards and staggered into a our lungs. more interesting than a bunch of forty year old vir- thing in the world she had and she had to do wall. Dazed, I looked up and saw Tony close his eyes something like that. gins getting their kicks from shots of blue and and touch the cut cable to his crotch. His pants went Ten minutes and I was at the barbed wire gates of green light. I followed her up the ramp and out the up in a blue flame. I blacked out. the hostel, easing myself through, hoping nobody I fucking well went to see her in spirit form like and car park. would see me. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed confronted her; I mean I wasn’t going to let her get When I came to, there was the warden, hands slap- something move, something blond. She turned and saw me and she nodded towards a away with it. ping my face, waking me up. yellow fed skip. It was dark behind there; I could “Hey you, boyo. Wake yourself up there lad.” I I turned. A woman. I stared and I knew she knew I I floated down in front of her and after she recov- feel spunk start to drip. Was this me going to pop flashed a look towards Tony. He wasn't there. The was staring at her. I must have spooked her as she my cherry? Before the age of 40? I’d heard of birds ered from the surprise she said this: warden saw me look for my mukka. His black mous- averted her eyes and moved on hurriedly. I forgot like her, they liked a quick bit of rough, spiced up tache on an up turned lip flickered. about her, I had better things to think about. I had to I was bored, I needed to do something extreme, their lives. “Aw laddie, he’s gone.” get myself cleaned up and in bed by curfew. It was a for once in my life, put myself in danger. And I “You a sparkie?” I laughed. Only way to go. special day tomorrow, didn’t want to ruin it. Tomor- knew nobody would miss scum like you.” “Yeah?” row I was going to be thirty eight. “What’s it like?” The warden shoved me in the hover car and took me It was a bad night’s sleep like they usually are but Fucking cheeky bitch. “What’s what like?” in. The police pod was a click away. They frisked me the bracelet buzzed me awake at the normal time. “The electricity.” down, checked my id tab and let me go, several The vid flickered into action listing stuff they wanted “Oh that. Alright I suppose.” credits down on the plastic. It was worth it, despite me to do today. I ignored it. “Is that all? Why do you do it then?” Tony. “Gareth you fat fucker!” “Nothing else to do I suppose.” Tweedy's voice boomed from the screen. “But it hurts doesn’t it?” I walked home; the warm bland air was just what I “Heard about Tony?” “Fills in the time.” needed. “Forget about it Gareth, move on boyo. He went the “Can….can I try some?” She was looking coy now Cardiff had been like this for fifty years. Told us way all of us want to.” and I started to lose interest. Shag looked well out about it at school. Global warming meant every day “He’s the lucky one. I don’t wanna be on this earth of the question now. But you never know. was exactly the same as the last cept maybe in Feb- till I’m sixty.” ruary when we got a little bit of rain. Boy that was “Saw a tart yesterday.” She didn’t look anything like them girls in the vids. big time for us sparkies, we’d all get out there on our “No!” They were all thin and tanned and long legs. She bikes and splash around till the wardens eventually “Yeah, gorgeous she was too. Blonde hair.” was stumpy with frizzed up blonde hair. Christ she rounded us up or chased us back to our hostels. “You lucky bastard. All I get are fat old bints you looked even older than me. Her skin was all pock wouldn’t fuck if you were being paid.” marked and layered in make up. Black roots came But they stopped us like they always do. Can’t have “I would, me I’d fuck anything.” through the bottom of her hair. If I hadn’t been so any fun these days without it impinging on some “So’d I. What do you reckon it’s like Gareth? You desperate I wouldn’t’ve fancied her at all, quite other fuckers rights. As for having a laugh? Fucken reckon it’s like in those porno vids?” plain she was really. forget it. That was frowned upon. Big time. Joey’s name came up on the liquid crystal. “Come on then.” “Yo bwanas! There’s madness on down the under- She followed me to the lamp post in the street out- Most everybody was happy see, had everything they ground garage. Someone’s installed one of those side the car park. I dropped the crow bar from my wanted in their little lives. Plenty of money, plenty of anti vandal guns down there. sleeve and levered open the cover. I nipped holidays, plenty of gadgets. Maybe that’s why the I was down there ten minutes later. through a cable and held it out to her. She backed men have been firing blanks these last twenty years. away. No sense of danger, nothing to give them a hard on. The beams were flashing as me, Joey and Tweedy “What’s the matter like?” Everyone had everything ‘cept us Sparkies and climbed through the battered metal fencing and “You first.” Punchies. We had fuck all. No jobs, no respect, no watched the light show.
  • 16. Bullet No 60 Sadie help Dave, you can help me. Only you can “Guess I’m all out on that one.” Lauren Frenz (Manchester, UK) help me.” “You got other things going on. But I don’t wanna marry you or shit like that.” Exhausted by the effort she falls back in her “Then what you doing all this for?” Big Dave Malheureuse walked into the café out a knife, and waves it like a hypnotist. It looks bed and stares glumly at the ceiling. Dave ”Friends do what they think is right for their wearing a huge black Paul Smith overcoat and right for him, broken down, no handle, serrated shifts uncomfortably, he feels the need to friends.” an exasperated expression. He found Sadie’s edge, rusty. It barely works, but it does, just justify himself. quot;Rich coming from you.quot; table, sat down and spread fat banana hands enough. “If I was an accountant, I’d do your books. “I ain’t done right in my life except for this, on the Formica. Dave sighed. It couldn’t carry If I was a solicitor, I’d write your will. If I was Sadie. Except for this. Come on gimme a on like this. “Money, fucking money.” It’s like he’s had a jolt a priest I’d take your confession. If I was break.” “Sadie doll, what the fuck you playing at?” Sym- of electricity whacked through him and he stag- anything else I’d do anything else for you. pathetic was not what he did well. gers forward. Sadie spots her opportunity, smiles FLASH But I am what I am and I cannot do this “What’s the matter? Not got the balls to kill a and falls forward. Sadie. Sadie, this is too much.” Sadie’s back home now standing at a For- woman?” Sadie bored cold angry eyes hard at “Mr. Soft guy huh?” mica work surface in her kitchen. Brown FLASH Dave. He squeezes her hand. glass bottles are open and spread in front “A woman yes, you no.” Big Dave Malheureuse walks into the ward, still “Don’t tell anybody.” of her. At least Dave didn’t take her back to “I’ve paid you.” wearing his black Paul Smith overcoat and carry- the hospital but now she’s angry, she’ll “Here.” ing a big bunch of yellow carnations in his hand. FLASH show him. Dave handed back his fee wrapped up in a His fat face, red with panic and burst capillaries Sadie’s finally made it to the railway station. “Fat bastard telling me what to do.” Tesco carrier bag. She pushed it right back at is twitching nervously. He’s terrified of what he’s Felt the need to move, go somewhere, do She opens a bottle of whisky and pours half him. about to see. something, take control. There’s a train into a glass. Then she takes one of those “You doing refunds now?” coming and the platform is packed. She’s pestle and mortars she got one year when “Just for you. Only for you.” He smiled sheep- He lets out a deep wheezing sigh as he sees wearing Dave’s overcoat on top of her hos- she fancied herself a serious cook. Into it ishly and the conversation stopped. Neither had Sadie, seemingly okay. There’s a drip attached pital bed clothes. Dave went for a coffee she pours all the pills she can find. Hang- a clue what to say or do. Dave got up and to her arm and she’s drugged to the eye balls. and she took his precious Paul Smith over- over cures, paracetamol, those pink and walked. Sadie sat staring at the bag. Still she’s breathing and functional despite that coat while he was away. Her ribs are burn- yellow things she got on prescription for her bandage on her shoulder. ing from the knife wound and she feels a depression. She grinds them all up into a FLASH dampness begin to grow as the blood seeps lumpy grey powder and pours it into the Sadie’s walking down the street. She’s out shop- Dave sits in the chair beside her bed, clutching through the bandage. Her bare feet are whisky. ping, spending that fee, the cold hard cash she’s the garage bought flowers like a nervous date. stinging from the inadvertent tramplings blowing on herself, trying to make herself feel He waits for her to notice he’s there. Minutes she’s getting in the crush. She gulps it down in five or six coughing, that somehow she’s worth it; but it isn’t working. turn to hours but he stays there, motionless fo- gasping drafts. The doorbell rings, there’s a There still lurks that dread, that wondering why cused on her, mind blank, meditating on Sadie The train comes banging into the station, banging on the door. A smile spreads she bothers and if living is nothing more than and what he can do for her. Given his line of she closes her eyes and falls forward and across her face. just wading through treacle then what is the work there is only one thing he can do but he then…… “Too late fat boy.” point? ain’t going to do it. FLASH A hand grabs the belt and pulls her back. She turns and sees Dave. Her heart sinks, It’s a quiet day at the shopping mall, but people Eventually she begins to surface. She moves and quickly replaced by a rising anger. still bustle, carrier bags in hand, oblivious to then realises someone’s there. She rolls towards “Dave please, let me go.” everything but themselves. Shopping malls aren’t him and Dave puts his arms out to catch her. “Nope Sadie. You can’t just give it away like healthy places for Sadie right now so she heads Sadie smiles blearily at him. that.” to the railway station, a vague notion of travel in Embarrassed, Dave gets up and begins to ar- “My God what are you doing this for? Are her mind. Down the street she walks, takes a range the flowers as delicately as fat, clumsy, you in love with me?” short cut down an alley. killing hands will allow. “In general yes, romantically no.” “What’s the matter? Don’t you fancy me?” She stops, there’s a guy there and he ain’t look- “This is your fault Dave. Leave it to an amateur “Nah. You’re not my type.” ing good. The blood has gone from his flesh, and look what happens.” “You got a type?” black encircles his eyes, and crack twitches his Dave sits down and takes her hand. “We all got types.” bones. He sees the bag and somehow senses “Like I said Sadie, I don’t do friends.” “What’s your type?” what’s in there. In an extravagant arc, he pulls “Friends help out, do things for people. I need “Women who ain’t nuts.”
  • 17. BULLET HEROES No 7—Jim Thompson well developed tendency to self-destruct was his life. Stroke after stroke attacked him till only exacerbated by this affliction. The one finally he’d had enough. Sick of hospitals time he did manage to make it big (with his and maybe of life, he starved himself to novel “Nothing More Than Murder”) he death, it was the only dignified self controlled It’s a bleak and cruel world…. palatable, how much it hurts, is what gives managed to blow it all on booze, leaving action left to him Thompson’s writing its power. I cannot read a him back where he started. But this was just Hell yeah! Jim Thompson, writer of “The Grifters”, novel of his without feeling dirty, like he’s taking one setback amongst many and through it Jim Thompson never compromised, he stuck “The Killer Inside Me” and a whole whole lot the slime of whatever criminal he’s talking about all he didn’t stop writing, he couldn’t. The it through to the end; his dying said every- more. Welcome to the hallowed ranks of the Bul- and he’s spreading it all over me as I read. The man redefined the term prolific and in one thing about the man. That is the lesson for us let Heroes. Man you deserve it. dirt just oozes from the page, at once enthralling spectacular 18 month burst in the fifties pro- at Bullet, be hard, be uncompromising be- with the lean speedy splendour of his style and duced 12 novels. cause there are some things worth believing Jim is the archetypal noir writer, well known and sickening you that you belong to the same human in some things you cannot betray no matter beloved amongst the ranks of crime aficionados race as this low life he’s describing. Thompson had joined the Communist party the cost. but mysteriously overlooked outside. This is a in the thirties and that was to do him no fa- shame given the power and longevity of his work, Take “The Killer Inside Me”. A tight short book vours in the fifties. He was blacklisted by Jim Thompson is a Bullet Hero and we hope but then nothing much ever did work for Jim. De- about a psychopathic Sheriff. It’s a great set-up. McCarthy and work was hard to come by. he’s up there laughing his pants off at the spite the classics and the brushes with celebrity Just think of the perks of this particular job if However, Kubrick came to his rescue and success and acclaim that should have been the guy is not held in the sort of esteem Chandler you’re a serial killer, think of the low lifes you can commissioned him to write “The Killing”, a due to him when he was alive. and Hammett are, and he should be, oh yes, he do away with when the mood takes you. The seminal piece of work that was subsequently really is that good. Sheriff is so down home so ordinary and above to influence Scorsese, Ellroy and Tarantino. Jimmy my boy, welcome to the club. all a cop that he is able to, literally, get away with But, as usual, that mild success didn’t last Thompson published prolifically throughout his murder. long and he was back to pounding out career, he worked with Kubrick and wrote one of cheap novels to whoever would pay him to the all time classic noir films “The Killing”. But Probably the most well known of his books is “The do so. Eventually his health gave way to the when he died he was stony broke, all his books Grifters” turned by Stephen Frears into a high murderous battering his alcohol intake had were out of his print and he was forgotten, no quality film starring Angelica Huston and John subjected it to. In 1960 he had a stroke and more than a literary footprint, disregarded, a Cusack. It’s all about a low life con artist stuck in his health would be a constant hindrance for mere writer of pulp. Yet on his dying bed he pro- an oedipal fixation with his Mom. She clearly has the rest of his life. claimed to his wife that one day his true recogni- no instincts, maternal or otherwise, other than tion would come, such was his own unbreakable self-preservation and the denouements in the film He continued to write though, what else belief in his own abilities. And lo it has come to and book are stark and brutal, qualities that are could he do? Anything as it happens. He did pass. Jim is now beginning to be recognized by absolute hallmarks of Thompson’s work. anything for a buck. Scripts for Dr Kildare the eggheads as one of the great American writ- and Ironside, but in the sixties he produced ers. The guy is proving himself right and if he’s Like all Thompson’s characters, glamour doesn’t maybe his finest novels “Pop 1280” and not already in the pantheon of American writers rank high. His protagonists are weak cowardly “The Grifters.” that include Faulkner, Chandler, Steinbeck and individuals looking for a short cut that always Hammett then he very shortly will be. goes wrong. Just like you and me eh? By the seventies he was finished, health wise and creatively. There was the odd novel and Jim Thompson was the ultimate outsider, born to It was his time working as a bell hop in the twen- he worked up a script for Sam Peckinpah’s an immigrant family and part Cherokee, he rev- ties that gave him his unique insight into the “The Getaway”, based on Thompson’s novel. elled in his distance from decent WASP society. shadier side of life. There he saw the Grift at first Peckinpah hated the script and brought in Maybe that was the source of his literary power; hand and the libidinous greed that drives men Walter Hill to sort it out. being that distant from everybody meant he could and women. Working at the Hotel Texas he made observe what ordinary people did to each other a few bucks on the side procuring booze, women Thompson had one last hurrah. Dick Rich- their motives crystal clear revealing the common- and occasionally drugs for the low lifes that ards was directing “Farewell My Lovely” with place evils that lurk within us all. needed a cheap thrill to get them through the Robert Mitchum. Fan that he was, he asked night. Thompson to make an appearance as Judge That forensic dissection of guilt and evil, the unre- Grayle. He did a good job and he enjoyed it lenting, unremitting hardness of his pursuit of the It was here he first had a drink and it was a rela- but the good times didn’t last long as they wrong doer, the unwillingness, inability to shy tionship that haunted him for the rest of his life. wouldn't in a Thompson novel, never mind away from the truth no matter how hard, how un- Alcoholism dogged him all his life, his already
  • 18. REVIEWS - NOIR ing to top this one. the Devil” by Day Keene, a great, “Kiss Her Goodbye” – Al Guthrie (HardCase) sexy, if dated blast from the past. Al’s “Two Way Split” – Al Guthrie (PointBlank) “Grifter’s Game” – Lawrence Block (Hard Case) Hard Case Crime is a beautiful doing great work for noir, get out “Fade to Blonde” – Max Phillips (Hard Case) throw back in that they publish new there and support him. “Sleep with the Devil” – Day Keene (Noir Originals) and classic noir in a set of covers that shriek pulp. Only available in the US www.allanguthrie.co.uk but check out their website, you might www.hardcasecrime.com www.pointblankpress.com Here’s the thing, why does Al Guthrie Edinburgh debt collector who suffers the get lucky. They’ve re-issued an old have to go all the way to America to get loss of his daughter by suicide and then is Lawrence Block novel “Grifter’s his stuff published? What’s wrong with the framed for the murder of his wife. He’s a Game” aka “Mona”. The problem UK that Ian Rankine gets all the kudos bad man but not as bad as his associates, I’ve always had with Block is that for and this guy; writing about the same Ed- he won’t kill no one but he doesn’t mind me he’s of the second rank, not to be inburgh; gets such short shrift in his taking his beloved baseball bat to miscre- sniffed at of course but he ain’t no homeland. Here he has 2 books, virtually ants late on their debt repayments. By the Hammett or Chandler. Then again at the same time, by two different Ameri- middle of the book it’s fairly apparent not many people are. He is, though can imprints. Nuts. I guess that says it all who did what to whom but that doesn’t able to churn out highly enjoyable about UK publishing, for them crime is matter. We become more concerned and satisfying crime novels that fill the still about cops solving crimes, good guys about the revenge the guy is desperate to gaps between the big stuff. “Grifter’s and bad guys. Truth is; the world is irritat- wreak on the people who’ve fucked up his Game” is a good example. Basically ingly painted in delicate shades of grey life than the whodunnit that drives the plot it’s “Double Indemnity” with highly and that’s a wee bit complicated. Maybe forward. This is a good solid slice of gritty effective noir stylings. What sets it it doesn’t sell, maybe it hasn’t had a urban noir and well worth forking out for. apart though, is the ending. Dark, chance to sell but we need real writers brutal and vicious, taking the story to who tell the truth. Writers like Al Guthrie. So there I was thinking hey, well done Al, a place JM Cain never knew existed. good stuff but you know nothing earth Al is special, but then you’ll know that shattering. Then I read “Two Way Split” A new novel from Hard Case is from the stories we’ve had the privilege of and I gotta say it’s a stone cold classic. “Fade to Blonde” by Max Phillips, a publishing in previous issues of Bullet. But Elsewhere you will see Al’s top 100 noir highly competent stroll through the here’s the news, he’s getting better, he’s novels, say hello to No 101. “Two Way usual noir clichés. I don’t mean that getting major. Split” is the most exciting novel I’ve read as an insult but it’s all there, the since Ellroy put out “White Jazz” all those smart guy hero down on his luck, a Al writes about the rough end of Edin- years ago. It has everything, great charac- two faced damsel in distress, the bru- burgh, a grim place but one you’ll imme- ters, a cute little guessing game and a tal gangsters, but it’s done with a diately recognize because it also exists just sharp immensely satisfying cut up ap- pleasing style and panache that is al- down the road from you. A place where proach to the structure. ways satisfying. Check the Hardcase ASBO’s are a badge of honour and nasty website to see how you can get hold neighbours outweigh the law-abiding two At its heart is the story of a post office of their stuff. to one. Drugs and loan sharks loom large hold up gone wrong but this is simply the in this world and the cops are noticeable catalyst to an unfolding horror show Back to Al Guthrie again. You want by their absence. driven by greed jealousy and hatred. Bul- great noir? Check out his Noir Origi- “Kiss Her Goodbye” published by the let fans get out there NOW and buy this nals website where you can buy and hugely exciting Hard Case Crime imprint thing, it really is that good. The only thing download a range of long lost noir is Al’s second novel. It tells the story of an Al has to worry about now is how he’s go- classics. Great books like “Sleep with
  • 19. REVIEWS - ROCK’N’ROLL No Wow – The Kills Senor Smoke – Electric Six There’s the occasional flash of wit and hu- prove is that rock’n’roll didn’t begin in the fif- Little Steven’s Underground Garage Sympathetic Sounds of Montreal mour but it doesn’t last long, its just too stiff, ties with some white guy in Memphis, hell no, le Nouveau Rock’n’roll Francais – Various Carbon Silicon I’ve Been a Bad, Bad, Bad Girl – Various too well produced and, worst of all, there ain't remember this is a black music of the forties no attitude. Valentine has it in him to be a and you can begin to see just how rich the great rock singer, he just has to get a decent tapestry is. band together and remember he ain’t god’s Man! I’m gonna move me to Montreal!” greater sense of commercial nous with bright gift. Talking of the forties, Mick Jones has teamed That’s where it’s happening if the Sympathetic synths and pretty tunes that no doubt will see up with Tony James to form a new band Sounds of Montreal is anything to go by. Sympa- some of them break out. We ain’t got anything These two albums depressed me, not because called Carbon Silicon. I got really excited thy for the Record Industry have hit upon one of against anybody making a buck though and this is they’re poor (No Wow is pretty listenable, cer- about this. Tony James is probably the most happening scenes in the world and have a pretty good album, worth picking up if you can tainly compared to Senor Smoke) but because rock’n’roll’s last great theoretician and from presented it in all its glory in a fantastic new com- get it cheap. it left me in a quandary, these guys were the the website this kinda looked like his band pilation. Now I’m always a bit suspicious about standard bearers totemic almost, so if these with Mick Jones along for the ride. How round ups of local scenes, as they tend to focus on If there were two bands that woke me up to the guy’s were fucking up who could you turn to wrong can you be. This is Mick Jones’s band the label’s favourites at the expense of other less possibility of rock’n’roll heaving itself from out of next? in every way, he’s the singer and main song well managed or promoted bands. This however, the grave, brushing off the grimy clay and picking writer. Wanna know what they sound like? feels different. For a start there’s 11 bands here up a guitar and a side order of attitude then it has Until only a few months ago the place you Big Audio Dynamite without the hip hop influ- each with their own sound yet all heading in the to be the Kills and the Electric Six. The Kills espe- turned to was John Peel and of course he’s ence. same direction, like they’ve been brought up lis- cially were of interest to Bullet. Their m.o. was dirty gone so where to now? Well you could do tening to exactly the same records. They specialise grunge blues with an iconography based on worse than Little Steven’s Underground Ga- in a whiny, scratchy, bratty, trashy rock’n’roll aes- Bonny and Clyde. They even had a couple of de- rage show. Yep that bloke out of Bruce thetic big on energy and attitude which after all is cent songs which is always a bonus. “No Wow” Springsteens’ band that’s also in the So- what it’s all about. There really isn’t a bad track pretty much carries on where the first album left, pranos and who covers up his baldness with a on here, but the stand outs are the Cut Offs who which is kinda disappointing, almost as disap- bandana. For some years, he’s been champi- sound like a young and punky, the Scat Rag pointing as their recent shows in fact. Something oning a garage sound which on closer exami- Boosters who play degenerate blues and the needs to happen with these two, something that nation is down and dirty, classic rock and roll. Cheating Hearts who well, just rock your pants off. shakes ‘em up, addresses the dour meanness of He’s a great presenter dripping with presence Montreal, whodda thunk it. their music. It’s their strength and their Achilles and a sense of having been there. The music heel. What they’re missing is abandon, everything covers rock’n’roll from the fifties to the mod- Sort of ploughing the same territory is the album is too controlled, too full of menace and suspense. ern day and although his modern day taste is compiled by ex-Subway Sect and Joboxer Sean My guess is they’d write a great novel, trouble is a little suspect, it all works within a historical McLusky. Le Nouveau Rock’n’roll Francais tries to that’s not the game they’re in. Still they’re interest- context. The Underground shows are often make the argument that the best rock’n’roll bands ing and always worth coming back to in a nag- thematic, those celebrating the release of are coming out of France right now. Well they ging kinda way. “Chronicles” and the Stones’ “Rock and Roll ain’t, they’re coming out of Montreal as I’ve just Circus” were especially invigorating. If you explained and there ain’t nobody on this album The Kills have addressed the second album rea- got broadband, check him out there’s over who can get anywhere near the Thermals or the sonably adroitly, the next one should be great if 150 shows to plough through. Little Killers or Guitar Wolf but there are some they can get a real band together and drop the gems on here and it’s a welcome calling card for drum machine and learn to let go a little more. The next few years look like being a great some interesting bands emerging out of a very time for the rock’n’roll aficionado as a slew of healthy French scene. Stand out tracks are “The Whilst “No Wow” doesn’t quite hit the heights at stuff from the forties and fifties being hurled Cheeraks” with a distorted punk rock Iggy-esque least they haven’t fucked it up as badly as Electric at us in every direction. Classic recordings are track, Blutt with a convincing Wire meets Dick Dale Six have with their new album “Senor Smoke”. I now emerging from copyright and being re- Boy in Brazil, Barth, Volt and Electronic mine the mean “Radio Ga Ga” for fuck’s sake. The album packaged into compilations that redefine the Suicide approach to rock’n’roll and Lili Z just majors on the second rate fillers that stopped the word value. Take “I’m a Bad Bad Girl” a su- sound real sexy. Plus there’s a track by the Proto- first becoming the stone cold classic it could have perbly packaged compilation of “seven dozen types that sounds like I’ve known it all my life, it been. I should have realised what was going on dusky divas”. 87 songs that you can pick up ain't rock’n’roll as Bullet likes it but it should be when Valentine sacked his band just as they hit the from Amazon for only £11.99. Get moving, huge. charts, looks like he lost the talent as well as his and fill yer boots. shot at the big time. What is revealed is a mid- In stark comparison to Montreal, the French scene west 70’s rock aesthetic, a world where Styx and Of course the other thing these compilations has one eye on making it big. There is a far the Alan Parsons Project are top of the tree.
  • 20. REVIEWS - FICTION Who the Hell is Frank Wilson? – Pete McKenna 21 songs – Nick Hornby some other purpose, now crow view in Mojo last year. Having now LitRiffs – Various: ed Malcolm Miele barred the story into the brief. Check read it the mythology around it baf- The Punk – Gideon Sams out the story apparently inspired by fles me. It was written by a 14 year “Highway to Hell”. Others such as “I old and was not meant for publica- shot the Sheriff” by Toure are almost tion and in fact was sitting in the bun There is one huge enormous truth right self-published and you can see why no- literal interpretations of the song when Sams’ alert mother hauled it at the beginning of Who the Hell is Frank body else would publish it. Publishers they’re drawn from. out, dusted it down and persuaded Wilson. It is revealed when the northern must get this sort of thing piling through someone to publish it. The best thing soul loving “hero” of the novel goes to their letter boxes by the hundred every- The idea is a great one, literature in- to be said about it is that for a four- his lock up and opens it up to reveal pic- day. It feels like a poor third draft and in spired by music, it is after all what teen year old, it’s excellent, as a tures of sixties soul stars and box upon need of a total re-write. The plot (an ex- Bullet is about, the trick that Matthew grown up novel, its painful. It does box upon box of records. There, right in pensive rare soul record goes missing Miele has missed is in challenging work on one level, though and that the centre, given pride of place in this chaos ensues) is flimsy. I won’t bore you his writers to really address the aes- is as a swift glimpse into what it was tatty little storage space is his bright and any further. Steer well clear. thetic being expressed by the song. like to live in the seventies. It gives shiny scooter. It is then, there in that There is no attempt to take inspira- you a gritty and pungent reminder of place with all his acquired cultural arte- “Frank Wilson” is just one of a spate of tion from the spirit, rhythm, sonic as- why punk rock happened, so from facts around him that he feels truly books inspired by music that have hit the sault expressed within the songs. It’s that respect it is an invaluable docu- deeply and most recognizably himself. It shelves in the last few months. I guess a real opportunity missed. ment, but approach with caution is the music, the culture, the scooter that they were kicked off by Nick Hornby’s 21 and low expectations. defines him and best articulates who he Songs, which if you don’t know by now, The book was inspired by Lester is. is a list of some of his favourite and not Bangs “Maggie May” which frankly so favourite songs. It’s written in the was never his greatest moment. I guess that works for all of us who love usual self-deprecatory style that’s You’d be better off getting music, literature, films, art, whatever. It is brought him millions but you gotta be “Carburettor Dung” where this story those things we choose to do or enjoy suspicious of anybody who gets quite first featured. that best express who we are that allow that excited over Nelly Furtado or Bruce us complete self realisation. I’ve never Springsteen. His big give away is his dis- Nelson George’s piece is inspired by seen it better articulated than in this missal of Suicide’s Frankie Teardrop. His James Brown works but you feel book, in fact “Frank Wilson” may be the argument is that as he’s in his forties there’s a lot more where that came only book to reveal this truth for so much now, he doesn’t have to listen to music as from, the rest is well you may well of popular music is taken up with stars unpleasant as this. It’s a book dedicated get more enjoyment out of it than I myth and legend, drugs, music and to a man announcing he’s giving up and ever could, approach with caution. glamour that we forget that the true settling for the easy life, where power lies in its ability for the inarticulate sonic/intellectual challenges are no The other music inspired piece of fic- to have a vehicle that inherently ex- longer on the agenda. All he wants to do tion to emerge lately is “The Punk” presses themselves. Music isn’t for those his settle into a groove, carry on with his by Gideon Sams. This “legendary” who make it; it’s for those who choose to writing and listen to nice bits of music piece of fiction was published at the become part of it. now and then. Depressing isn’t it? height of punk fervour in 1977 and its myth has grown with each pass- It’s a wonderful thing to express; sadly Walking in the same territory is “Lit Riffs”, ing year. To be honest, speaking as it’s the only wonderful thing about this a collection of short stories “inspired” by someone with a passionate addic- novel. The style, the plotting, the charac- songs. I use the quotation marks advis- tion to classic punk rock I’d never terization, is bad, inept and sadly in need edly. A lot of them have the feel of some- heard of the thing until I saw a re- of a decent editor. I suspect the book is thing they’d previously knocked off for
  • 21. AUTHOR! AUTHOR! - Al Guthrie 1959 WILD TO POSSESS Gil Brewer 1959 THE REAL COOL KILLERS Chester Himes 1960 THE THREE-WAY SPLIT Gil Brewer “So Al,” we said “you’ve just written 2 fantastic novels, how about telling us what your top 5 1960 THE SYNDICATE Clarence Cooper novels and rock’n’roll records are” . So Al said “How about I send you a list of 100 of the great- 1960 THE MERCENARIES Donald Westlake est noir novels of all time?” “That’ll do us” we said. 1961 FELONY TANK Malcolm Braly 1929 RED HARVEST Dashiell Hammett 1961 SLOW BURN Jack Ehrlich 1931 THE GLASS KEY Dashiell Hammett 1962 THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH Dan Marlowe 1931 BODIES ARE DUST P J Wolfson 1962 THE BOX Peter Rabe 1933 MISS LONELYHEARTS Nathanael West 1963 DEAD CALM Charles Williams 1934 THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE James M Cain 1964 POP. 1280 Jim Thompson 1935 DOUBLE INDEMNITY James M Cain 1967 ON THE YARD Malcolm Braly 1935 THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? Horace McCoy 1967 TRICK BABY Iceberg Slim 1937 THIEVES LIKE US Edward Anderson 1967 PICK-UP Charles Willeford 1938 NIGHT AND THE CITY Gerald Kersh 1968 THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN Mai Sjowall&Par Wahloo 1939 NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH James Hadley Chase 1969 MONA (aka GRIFTER’S GAME) Lawrence Block 1940 FAREWELL, MY LOVELY Raymond Chandler 1969 SUCH MEN ARE DANGEROUS Paul Kavanagh 1940 THEY DON'T DANCE MUCH James Ross 1976 GUNS Ed McBain 1940 THE BRIDE WORE BLACK Cornell Woolrich 1978 FALLING ANGEL William Hjortsberg 1946 THE DEADLY PERCHERON John Franklin Bardin 1978 THE SWITCH Elmore Leonard 1946 THE BUTTERFLY James M Cain 1980 THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER Marc Behm 1946 BUILD MY GALLOWS HIGH Geoffrey Holmes 1981 THE PRONE GUNMAN Jean-Patrick Manchette 1947 PRELUDE TO A CERTAIN MIDNIGHT Gerald Kersh 1984 HE DIED WITH HIS EYES OPEN Derek Raymond 1948 KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE Horace McCoy 1985 THE DEVIL'S HOME ON LEAVE Derek Raymond 1949 THE DEAD STAY DUMB James Hadley Chase 1990 I WAS DORA SUAREZ Derek Raymond 1951 PORTRAIT IN SMOKE Bill Ballinger 1991 PAYBACK Russell James 1951 13 FRENCH STREET Gil Brewer 1994 SLAUGHTER MUSIC Russell James 1951 CASSIDY'S GIRL David Goodis 1996 GIVE US A KISS Daniel Woodrell 1952 OF TENDER SIN David Goodis 1997 THE HACKMAN BLUES Ken Bruen 1952 HOME IS THE SAILOR Day Keene 1997 THE AX Donald E Westlake 1952 THE DAMNED John D MacDonald 1998 HER LAST CALL TO LOUIS MACNEICE Ken Bruen 1952 YOU'LL GET YOURS Thomas Wills 2000 NINETEEN SEVENTY-SEVEN David Peace 1953 THE MOON IN THE GUTTER David Goodis 2000 RUN Douglas E Winter 1953 HARDMAN David Karp 2001 THE GUARDS Ken Bruen 1953 A KISS BEFORE DYING Ira Levin 2001 SENSELESS Stona Fitch 1953 THE BIG HEAT William McGivern 2001 GUN MONKEYS Victor Gischler 1953 SAVAGE NIGHT Jim Thompson 2001 THE DEATH OF SWEET MISTER Daniel Woodrell 1953 HELL HATH NO FURY Charles Williams 2002 BLITZ Ken Bruen 1953 A TOUCH OF DEATH Charles Williams 2002 WALKING BONES Charlotte Carter 1954 A KILLER IS LOOSE Gil Brewer 2002 MATCHSTICK MEN Eric Garcia 1954 SLEEP WITH THE DEVIL Day Keene 2002 HARD FEELINGS Jason Starr 1954 NOTORIOUS Day Keene 2003 TOUGH LUCK Jason Starr 1954 THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN Day Keene 2003 CHARLIE OPERA Charlie Stella 1954 A HELL OF A WOMAN Jim Thompson 2004 LITTLE GIRL LOST Richard Aleas 1955 THE BIG CAPER Lionel White 2004 THE BIG BLIND Ray Banks 1955 CLEAN BREAK Lionel White 2004 DISPATCHING BAUDELAIRE Ken Bruen 1956 DOWN THERE David Goodis 2004 POTSDAMER PLATZ Buddy Giovinazzo 1956 THE DIAMOND BIKINI Charles Williams 2004 FADE TO BLONDE Max Phillips 1958 THE RED SCARF Gil Brewer 2004 THE CONFESSION Domenic Stansberry 1958 WHISPERS OF THE FLESH Fletcher Flora 2004 DEADFOLK Charlie Williams 1958 SOFT TOUCH John D MacDonald 2004 FAST LANE Dave Zeltserman 1958 THE GETAWAY Jim Thompson 2005 CHEAPSKATES Charlie Stella 1958 WEB OF MURDER Harry Whittington 2005 SECRET DEAD MEN Duane Swierczynski
  • 22. T-Shirts! T-Shirts! T-Shirts! Back Issues All T-shirts are available in M/L/XL and cost £11 inc p&p (UK). BULLET 3 Cheques to digitalent Ltd, 7 Roker Park Road, Sunderland, SR6 9PF specifying size. 15 fast and brutal stories Laird Now accepting credit cards and Paypal on line at bulletmagazine.co.uk Long, Delphine Lecompte, Al Guth- Please allow 28 days for delivery rie and many many more. Plus fea- tures on Iceberg Slim, the Ramones and Ray Banks. £3 inc p&p BULLET 2 20 hot rockin’ stories from the likes of Dave Balfe, Milky Wilberforce, Laird Long amongst many others LOGO LESTER BANGS GENE VINCENT £3 inc p&p ESQUERITA JAMES ELLROY MICK RONSON BULLET 1 The one that started it all. 10 stories ex- SUBMISSIONS ploring the notion of rock’n’roll noir from an international array of writers. £2 inc p&p Wanna write some rock’n’roll noir? Check out our submissions guidelines at bulletmagazine.co.uk. Buy online or cheques payable to digitalent Ltd to: 7 Roker Park Road, Sunderland, SR6 9PF.

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