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Brit Grit Alley

Brit Grit Alley features interviews, news and updates on what's happening down British crime fiction's booze and blood soaked alleyways.

By Paul D. Brazill 

This week down Brit Grit Alley, I give you a few Brit Grit recommended reads.

“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him” 

From its brilliant opening line,Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (1938) grabs you by the throat and almost strangles you with its intensity. The lives of fanatstically rich characters, such as big hearted Ida Arnold who is investigating Hale’s murder and Pinkie, the psychotic young gangster, intertwine in a gripping novel that is well-deserved of its classic status. The seaside town of Brighton itself is also one of the book’s strongest characters, as the glitz and grit collide.

Cathi Unsworth‘s marvelously atmospheric Weirdo (2012) also takes place in an English seaside town, the fictitious Ernemouth. Again two sides of the town are contrasted with bright lights hiding dark and dirty corners. A private detective investigates a 20 year old murder and unearths some nasty secrets. Weirdo cleverly takes place in two time periods (2003 and 1983), is populated with great charters and has a vividly, strong sense of time and place.

Detectives Zigic and Ferreira are back, and a welcome return it is, too. As in Eva Dolan‘s marvelous debut novel,Long Way Home, the prickly duo investigate a murder which leads them to dig deeply into Britain’s immigrant communities. The sequel, Tell No Tales, is an engrossing, marvelously well-written and perfectly paced police procedural that takes an uncomfortable look at the lives of those at the bottom of British society. Zigic and Ferreir are strong and very likable protagonists and, like the rest of the characters in Tell No Tales, are completely believable. Tell No Tales confirms Eva Dolan‘s position as one of the the UK’s most powerful social-realist writers.

Richard Godwin’s Confessions Of A Hit Man is the violent and action-packed story of an ex-marine who becomes a globe-trotting contract killer. A marvelously, hard-hitting slice of international crime fiction.

Down Among The Dead by Steve Finbow is the brilliantly breathless, brutal and lyrical story of a retired IRA gunman facing up to his past. Published by the splendid Number Thirteen Press.

Micheal Young’s Of Blonde’s And Bullets is the story of a man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hard-hitting hardboiled crime fiction. An absolute belter. Published by Number Thirteen Press.

U.v ray‘s brilliant uber-noir Spiral Out opens up with Mark Karzoso on the phone to his father, asking for his help to dispose of a body, and before you know it we’re sharply hauled into Karzoso’s deliriously nihilistic world of misogyny, misanthropy, drugs, booze, bad men and women. Spiral Out is a like a whip-crack. A short and painfully sharp shock to the system. A kick in the eye with a stiletto heel. Spiral Out is limited to only 200 copies so you’d best grab it asap from here, or here.

Published by Pendragon Press, Mark West’s Drive is available as a limited (to 100 copies) edition paperback (which contains an exclusive afterword) and unlimited ebook, across platforms.
“Drive takes you for a journey down the darkest alleyways of human savagery.
A fast paced, high tension thriller that delivers on all fronts….”
- Jim Mcleod, The Ginger Nuts Of Horror

“Drive is a gripping, tense urban noir with prose as tight as a snare drum…”
- Paul D. Brazill, A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton.

“Mark West writes the kind of fiction that gets under the skin where it lies dormant until you turn out the lights …”
- Dave Jeffery, author of the Necropolis Rising series

Get Drive here.

And watch the trailer here.

  There'll be more carryings on down Brit Grit Alley very soon, sorta kinda thing, like.

Paul D. Brazill is the author of A Case Of Noir,Guns Of Brixton and The Neon Boneyard. He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc member whose writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here.



Transparent / The Fugitive Slave Act

I met Peter Mehlman, a former writer for Seinfeld, when I was reading at this years Miami International Book Fair. We were on a panel together. Yada Yada, Shrinkage—I told Peter I should pay him royalties for how often I quote his work.

Looks like Ill owe a little more.

Transplant and the Fugitive Slave Act by Peter Mehlman



Transplant

Speaking at the penalty phase for Doug, the organ-donor administrator, were former victims of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, leukemia, obstructive uropathy, valvular stenosis, and a once blind girl who invented a digital movie camera that made people look ten pounds thinner.

On a porch with dry rot, Doug’s ex-wife inadvertently said, Your son is in better places.


The Fugitive Slave Act

The tornado spun Myra’s Hyundai through a stop sign. The priest said the Hyundai shows how sensibly Myra lived.

“God’s will . . .” he said.

The chief of police whispered to his smiling wife, “God's will what?”

She said, “Gods will put stop signs in perfect places.”

The chief got the warrant for God’s arrest although the judge said, “He could be miles away by now.” 

Peter Mehlman was a writer for the Washington Post and SportsBeat with Howard Cossell before moving to Los Angeles and becoming a writer on Seinfeld. He recently published his first novel, “It Won’t Always Be This Great.”

Where the Bodies Are

Counting the sins of a sociopath is like guessing how many jelly beans are in the giant jar at the candy store.

It's nice when someone can cut through the chaff and give you the greatest hits.

Where the Bodies Are by Keith Rawson



The first one was when I was seventeen.

Seventeen and passed out at the house of a stranger. 

Not really a stranger, some kid named Billy who I sold pot to and the occasional quarter bag of mushrooms to. He considered me a friend, but all he was to me was fifty bucks every other week.

A tank of gas and a carton of smokes.

I'm sure we would've been friends if we went to same school, but you know how that goes.

He'd been telling me for a week about this party he was going to have when his parents went on vacation to Florida.

Dude, it's going to be so rad. My cousin is going to buy a couple of kegs for me. It's going to be awesome.

I went out of boredom and because my mom had ripped off my stash again and I beat the shit out of her for it and her then boyfriend Brian, or Scott, or Tim, or whoever was looking for me so he could return the favor. I hadn't figured out yet that 99.9% of what mom's boyfriends said was complete and absolute bullshit and they only threatened me so my mom would share the dope she'd skimmed off of me.


Anyway, went to the party, ended up making out with this redhead nobody knew. We were peas and carrots because nobody but Billy knew who I was.  We were making out in a quiet corner of the house and decided to move into one of the bedrooms. She passed out right as I finally got her panties off. Don't worry, though, I was a gentlemen and rolled over and went to sleep. Woke up, redhead had a mouth full of vomit, her body turned cold and blue. I dragged her into the room Billy was sleeping in. He was ass naked with his dick in his hand. It was sad, the host of the party and he couldn't even get laid at it. At least he'd think he'd gotten it wet, and then spend the next couple of years in juvie for involuntary MS.

The second one was the same as the first. Dorm party, pretty blonde, we geezed before making out and then nodded. Woke up, she was blue and bloated. I slipped out at 3 AM, the party still swimming around me.

The third was Sam and her kink was to be punched in the face while I fingered her. She never wanted to fuck, she said the feel of a penis inside her made her gag. The second time we were together I asked her why she didn't just get together with a woman?

I'm not gay. Besides, women have no upper body strength.

Fair enough.

I liked Sam, she was funny, smart, into comic books and cool movies. Plus she could narcotics me under the table, which was saying something. But thanks to all the cuts and bruises, going out and grabbing a burger was more uncomfortable than kestering a ziplock bag of jagged rocks.

Sam went how you'd expect her to: My left hand working her into a lather, my right balled into a fist banging down on her forehead, her nose, her lips, her chin.

Unlike the first three, I cried over Sam. The other three, there was a disconnect, not with Sam.


Niagara Falls, baby.

I spent 24-hours with the body, pacing, smoking, drinking, trying figure out my next move. In the end, I loaded her into the trunk of her Volvo through the garage, drove to the desert, doused the car with a couple of gallons of gas and let it burn. I wandered around the desert for a couple of hours after burning the car, covered in soot, tears carving small valleys into the black of my face. I thought about just laying down, letting dehydration and heat exposure do the job. But after a few hours of boiling, I got up, made my way back out to the road, put my thumb up. The trucker who picked me up didn't even blink when he stopped for me, but I'm pretty sure he was tweaked to the gills and needed a sounding board for the awful thoughts bouncing around his skull.

Number four was mom and that bitch deserved what she got. You can only steal from somebody for so long before said somebody replaces his stash of smack for a baggy of rat poison. I mean, fuck, the two powders didn't even look alike. But I guess when you're jonesing, clorox looks like coke; rat poison looks like high end China white.

Mom wasn't going to go like Sam. Sure, I could've gone to the trouble of driving the corpse out to the desert staging an accident, blah, blah, blah, but there still would've been questions. I lived with her, it was known in all the wrong circles that I was a dealer and she was a junkie. Plus her newest pimp/connect/cock in her ass was a narc for the Chandler PD. Dude was bugshit for mom; dude was Obsessed with a capital O, and I'm positive he would've set the dogs on me, and after a two year possession stretch in Florence, there was no way I was going back there on a lifetime murder beef.

So I went proactive, headed to Sky Harbor International with my passport, bought a ticket to the land of milk, honey, and hot and cold running underage gash: Thailand.


It ain't been so bad. It reminds me a lot of home: Dope, heat, horny girls willing to do anything for a couple of grams. But I get lonely. I get real lonely.  All the English-speaking ex-pats here are freaks, all the girls care about is my dope, but worst of all, I keep thinking about Sam. I keep thinking about the girl at Billy's party. About the girl from the ASU dorm. I even in think about mom here and there. I think about all of them. I carry them around with me, their bodies rotting around my neck.

I've decided to become #5

I've bought two girls for the night. They're slim and brown and courteous enough to use make up to cover up the track marks. One will be in charge of the front, the other from behind, pulling tight on the belt around my throat. 

My safe word is banana, or something like that? 

Keith Rawson is the author of over 200 short stories, articles, interviews, and essays. He lives in southern Arizona with his wife and daughter.

Like a Fox

They say the Eskimos have 37 words for snow. It’s a lie of course. But you can appreciate the sentiment.

Watercolors are a little like that. I mean, expression through varying shades and gradation. Sounds nice. Except there’s not enough red to paint some revenge right.

Like a Fox by Rose Lee-Delgado



Sensing Roger’s presence, Angela looked up from her book and turned toward him. “I’m calling it a night,” he said. 

She nodded, smiling faintly. 

“Coming?” he said. 

“In a bit,” she said. 

“I guess I’ll say goodnight then.”  

“Before you go,” she said, catching him mid-stride. “Before you go, I wondered if you’ve read it yet.” 

“Read what?” 

“My story,” she said. “I gave it to you last week, remember?” 

“’I remember,” he said, “and yes, I’ve read it.”

“What did you think?” 

“Now?” he said, glancing at his watch. 

“Please,” she said. “I’d appreciate it.” 

Nodding, he crossed the living room and positioned himself behind a large easy chair opposite her. Gripping the back of the chair as though it were a lectern, he gazed in her direction. It was his preferred professorial stance, one Angela had seen many times during the past twenty-five years. She smoothed her skirt, folded her hands in her lap and looked up at him. 

“I’m sorry to say it, but I’m afraid your story has problems.” 

“Problems?” she said, still smiling. 

“I’ll try to explain,” he said. “As I recall, a man and a woman are in bed together. It wasn’t clear whether they were married, but anyway, sometime during the night while he’s asleep, she slits his throat. Afterward, she doesn’t attempt to hide what she did, or to escape. Instead, she goes outside and sits on the front steps until daybreak, blood all over her. A passerby notices, and calls the police. When they arrive, she admits what she did, and when asked why, she shrugs and says only that his number came up. That’s basically it.” 

“You remember it well.” 

“The problem is, readers will want to know why she killed him,” he said, “but you don’t give them anything to go on. You refer to him as narrow-minded and judgmental, but is this reason enough to kill him?” 

“Hmmm.” 

“If she stood to gain financially, or if there had been abuse or infidelity on his part, I could understand, but nothing like this was mentioned.” 

“True.” 

“It doesn’t make sense. How could any sane person do what she did, and then shrug it off?” 

Angela nodded. 

“To be fair, I suppose there are people who would appreciate the gruesome details you provided, like the part where she nudged him so that he rolled over and exposed his throat, or the part where she positioned the tip of the knife just below one of his ear lobes before driving it in and slashing him from ear to ear, as you put it. But even people who like this sort of stuff would expect more than just blood and gore.” 

Angela nodded again. 

“What you’ve written is simply a description of a woman who seems crazy. If there’s a story here, I couldn’t find it.” 

“I see.”    

“Let me make a suggestion,” he said, stroking his graying goatee. “Take a course on creative writing. Study the subject, learn the fundamentals.” 
 
“That’s an idea.” 

“It’s possible, of course, that writing isn’t the best creative outlet for you. Have you considered anything else?” He hesitated, then added, “What about watercolors?” 

“Watercolors?” 

“Why not,” he said, warming to the subject. “Do you remember when Rob was what, five or six, and we gave him that watercolor set? You showed him what to do, and I remember how well you could paint, how easily it came to you.”  

“You’re bringing up Rob now?” she said, eyes flashing. “The son I haven’t seen in four years, the son who avoids us like the plague?” 

“Let’s not start, okay?” Roger said. “It’s late, and besides, how many times do I have to say I was wrong? It was a poor choice of words, and I’ve already told you that I’d apologize to Rob if I knew how to contact him.” 

“A poor choice of words, you say? Calling him a fairy, a little faggot, a fucking queer, that’s what you’re calling a poor choice of words?” 

“Please, you’re acting like you’ll never see him again, but you know he’ll come home sooner or later, if only to see you.” 

“No, he won’t. When he walked out, he said I was no better than you, otherwise, I’d leave with him. Remember that?” 

“Sweet Jesus, can’t we drop it, at least for now? I have an early faculty meeting.”

“Ah yes, a faculty meeting,” Angela said, her voice heavy with irony. “Ever wonder what your colleagues would think if they knew the truth about why Rob has been away so long? I’ve never told anyone what you did, you know. I’m too ashamed.”    

They stared at each other for several long moments before Angela’s face softened.  “You’re right, this isn’t the time,” she said. “Any more thoughts about my story?” 

“No, that’s all. I’m sorry I had to be so negative.” 

“Don’t apologize,” she said. “You’ve been very helpful. Go on to bed, get some sleep.”

Two hours later, Angela peered into their bedroom. Roger was curled up on his side of the bed, and seemed fast asleep.  

She moved on to Roger’s study and rummaged through his desk until she found his copy of the story. She glanced at his red-penciled comments before tearing each page into small pieces, which she flushed away in a nearby bathroom. She next entered the kitchen and went to the oak block that held their cutlery. Without hesitation, she withdrew the six-inch chef’s knife. Well-balanced and razor-sharp, it was her favorite. 

Holding the knife at her side, she returned to their bedroom and stood in the doorway, watching Roger sleep. After several minutes, she took a deep breath and approached the bed. Her right hand gripped the knife, its gleaming blade now raised and poised for a downward thrust. Her other hand was extended toward Roger, ready to give him a little nudge, just enough to make him roll over and expose his throat. 

The author is a social psychologist living in the Pacific Northwest, now writing short fiction. Her previous work (“Amber Learns to Drive”) has appeared in Out of the Gutter. Rose Lee-Delgado is a pseudonym.

Money is Thicker Than Blood

Brotherly love? Thick as thieves? These terms are of no use in the Gutter.

Down here, the only thing that matters is looking out for number one.

Money is Thicker Than Blood by Garrett Box



“You’ve got a job lined up, don't you?” Charlie said over breakfast at a local diner. PJ's. It was his brother's favorite spot. His lucky spot. Hell, he did half his business behind a chipped Formica table near the back. “Of course you do." Charlie smiled at him over the rim of his mug. "You’re my brother.”

“I’m having breakfast.”

“I want in. I can drive. Seriously. I need the money.”

“From what I hear, you need a lot more money than this job'll pay.”

Charlie looked miserably down at his cup of coffee. “It isn't about the money; it’s about my clean slate.”

“Sounds like you've got bigger problems,” said Trevor. “Take a contract or two. Do what you’re good at and leave the grunt work to people like me.”


“I picked up a contract. More than one, in fact. The organization wants them dead, but they love money more than blood. Money means one of them gets to walk, and that’s where I come in. I invite you to this café," He waved his hand to the diner behind him. "I pay for your breakfast, and then I ask to be your driver.”

Charlie placed a photograph face-up in front of Trevor and spun it around with his finger. It was taken from a high-powered lens. Grainy, but it was clear who it was: Trevor alongside the two other men in his crew.

 Trevor set down his utensils and squinted at the picture. “What the fuck is this?”

“A picture of two dead men if you play your cards right.”

"Why?"

"Banks, Trevor. They've got diminishing odds. You can't do 'em forever and they know it. They think someone's gonna flip." Charlie held up a finger. "Remember what happened with Tony." 

Trevor and his partners depended on the organization for more than just inside information on banks, they had their hands in everything. Grunt work. Anytime there was a card game to burn or a drug dealer to punish or a slow payer on a loan, Trevor and the boys got the nod. A weak link among them would lead all the way up the food chain. A liability. 

“Jesus, Chuck, what have you agreed to?”

Charlie took a flask of whiskey out of his pocket and poured it into his coffee and stirred it with a spoon. “Way I see it, we do this thing right, drop the extra baggage in the street, and buy our lives back.”

“We’re a tight crew.”

“You’re a dead crew.”

Trevor pushed his plate away in defiance.

“You going to collect on us all, Chuck? I known these guys my whole life.”

Charlie took a moment to collect his thoughts and said, “When the Titanic was sinking, two men happened to come across the same lifeboat while treading water; but the kicker was that it could only carry one of them. While they sat freezing to death, one of them said three words, drowned the other and took the lifeboat.”

“How profound, Chuck, except that they didn't have lifeboats like that on the Titanic.”

“It’s a fucking story and you’re missing the point.”

“And what’s the point?”

“Be the one on the lifeboat; otherwise they’re both dead men in a story that never happened.”

Trevor looked down at the rest of his scrambled eggs and said in a low, defeated voice, “Why are you telling me this?”

“There's a non-negotiable favor you need to do for me. This next job, you walk in the front door and you leave out the front door. The side or back door is not an option.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s the way they want it done. It has to look like you didn't see it coming.”

“That’s how Tony died.”

“Don’t think about Tony, think about you.”

“I suppose I should thank you. Not every day your brother offers your life back,” said Trevor sarcastically.

“You shouldn’t. Just do this for me and I’ll be forever in your debt.”

****

The other two men didn’t suspect Trevor in the slightest as he went over the plan in preparation for the job that evening. They would be the bank's final customers of the day and the rest was just rote execution. 

Charlie and Trevor sat in the car, waiting for the last few straggling patrons to exit while Trevor's two-man crew milled inside and stalled, writing deposit slips and studying loan pamphlets. Once the bank was empty and the two were in place, Trevor would walk in with the heavy artillery

The last of the civilians stepped out of the entrance and Trevor opened his door. Charlie stopped Trevor before he stepped out of the car.

“After this and that’s it for me. I just wanted you to know that I’m not going to waste this. I mean it.” He took a long swig from his flask. “Shit, Trevor, I…I… see you when you come out.”

Trevor smiled, pulled his mask on and said, “Who are you kiddin’? We’ll always be in the game.” He stopped and smiled back at his brother. “You never told me what those three words were.”

"What three words?"

"The lifeboat. The Titanic, remember?"

“When you get back,” Charlie said with a forced smile.



Trevor walked into the bank while Charlie waited in his car. From out of the dashboard he pulled a picture of the three men inside and a pistol equipped with a silencer. He looked at Trevor in the photo and said to himself, “Who are you kiddin’?”

Charlie placed the photograph down and readied his gun. The three men burst out of the bank and made their way towards the car. The first man dropped like a rag doll and then the second. Head-shots, easy targets. Trevor kept walking and then stopped when he saw that Charlie’s aim was fixed on him.

“So long, brother.”

Trevor held out his hand, but it did no good, and Trevor collapsed into a pool of his own blood just like the others.

Charlie drove away, leaving the money behind. The investigation would end with three dead bank robbers with nothing to show for it.

He cracked the window and the cool afternoon air filled the car. On the passenger’s seat, the photograph flipped upside-down, driven by the current, and on the back was written; “Three hits – one clean slate. Do them like they did Tony.” 

Garret Box has B.A. in English and a Theatre minor from the University of Utah. He started out writing screenplays and then turned to the master race of novels. He is married with two kids and always striving for that double-dipped goal: publication and a root beer float.

So Helpless

“What’s in the box?” is a nice question, unless you are Detective Mills or a little girl in the park.

In the Gutter, ain’t nothing is free. Including candy, puppies, and free rides...

So Helpless by JP Lundstrom



She was the only one left. There had been other children on the playground, but as evening approached, their careful mothers had shepherded them into cars that waited to carry them home to warm houses and hot meals. She sat alone in a swing, patiently waiting, her shoes tapping the sand to make the little built-in lights blink on and off. Puffs of dust rose into the air and then settled on her sparkling toes.  

The child watched as a light blue van pulled in and stopped at the edge of the parking lot. She liked the look of the van; blue was her favorite color. The driver parked over on the shady side of the lot, near the edge. It was cooler there—a good place to stop and eat lunch, no matter how late in the day. Sunshine filtered through the trees and fell on the shrubbery that surrounded the van.

The driver got out, walked around to the back, and opened the doors. He was trying to move something in the back of the van, but was having trouble. She could tell he’d hurt it somehow: it was wrapped in a dark blue cowboy scarf. She watched him for some time as he worked, his hurt arm hindering his efforts. At last, she left the swing and moved closer.

“What are you doing?” Her curiosity had brought her to him. He smiled.

“Shhhh—you have to be quiet. You don’t want to wake them up. They’ll start crying.” The man wrestled awkwardly with a bulky bundle, muttering under his breath at the sling that kept one arm tied up. He gave the bundle a final shove with his free arm and started to close the door. 

The little girl peered curiously into the van. It was nice inside, with plenty of room to move around. There was a large, floppy cardboard box on the back seat. She wrinkled her nose at its milky, vaguely dirty smell. She climbed into the back of the van for a better look. Inside the box were three sleeping puppies.

“Oooh,” she said, eyes wide. Then she covered her mouth with one tiny hand, so as not to awaken the puppies. 

“What’s your name?” he asked her.

“Bonnie,” she answered. “I know what your name is. It’s Bud. I can read.” She pointed to the name on his dark gray work shirt.

“Well, Bonnie, what do you think of the puppies?”

“They’re darling!” She used the word carefully, as if hoping she’d got it right. 

He leaned in, watching her. 

She concentrated on the puppies. She liked the caramel-colored one. It pawed its way around the box, looking for something that wasn’t there. She reached in to stroke its soft fur.

“Poor little thing. It’s helpless,” she said. “It can’t find its mom.”

“I know. She got hit by a car.”

“Did she die?” She was curious about death.

“No. She’s in the pet hospital. She’ll be okay, but now I’m stuck taking care of her pups.” 

“Can I help?” she asked.                

“I don’t know . . . you have to be pretty responsible,” he said doubtfully.

She knew that word. That was the word they used at the Home when kids didn’t follow the rules. “That’s all right. I’m very responsible. I’m responsible for a lot of things.”

He hesitated. “Well, look. With my arm banged up like this, I’ve only got one hand. I could use some help. They’ll be waking up soon, and they’ll need to be fed. Do you think you could do that?”

“Sure. Do you have dog food?”

He laughed. “These dogs are babies. They don’t eat dog food. They only drink milk. You have to hold one at a time and feed it with a baby bottle.”

She considered this. “I guess I could do that. I know how to feed a baby doll.”

He laughed again. “Well, I guess you can. We’ll just wait till they wake up, and then you can feed them.”

She looked around again. The van was spotless, and empty. “Where do you keep the baby bottles?”

“I don’t keep them in the van,” he said. “I have to keep them at home, in my refrigerator. We’ll go get them. It’s not far.”

“Okay. I’ll go tell my daddy where we’re going.”

Bud scanned the area. The parking lot was empty, as was the playground. He saw no one, except a ragged trash picker going through the garbage cans near the picnic tables. He watched as the man added to his collection in a black trash bag. The bum stared back at him for a moment, then returned to his work.

“Your dad is here? I don’t see him. Where is he?”

“I think he went to the bathroom. I’ll go find him.” She slid over on the seat and started to climb down from the van.

Now was the moment. Bud moved quickly, slipping the sling from his arm and blocking the way. He pushed the child back inside and slammed the door shut. She was his.

 “Hey!” she shouted through the window. No cause for concern. The park was empty now; no one would hear her. Then she shouted, “There he is! Daddy!”

The ragged bum was suddenly behind him. He’d been concentrating on the little girl. He hadn’t noticed when the bum left off going through the trash and started slowly edging closer.

“Going somewhere, Mister?” asked the bum.

Bud felt the burst of his own skin and the plunge of a blade. He felt the sharp point travel through his flesh and between his ribs. By the time it reached his heart—less than a second, really—he didn’t feel a thing anymore. Darkness filled his brain as he slipped to the ground. 

“Nice work, Bonnie. You had him eating out of your hand.” 

The bum wiped his knife on the dead man’s shirt. He pushed at the body until it had rolled under the surrounding shrubbery, then shed his ragged coat and used it to cover his work. 

“Get in quick, Daddy. The keys are right here.” 

Bonnie’s daddy took his place in the driver’s seat and the van pulled slowly out of the parking lot. “What an actress. In twenty years, I’ll probably be watching you win an Academy Award.” 

“What’s that, Daddy?” she asked absently. She was moving around in the back of the van. He heard the box rustle, and then a faint yelp.

“What shall we do with the puppies? Do you want to play with them?”

“No, I guess not. They smell bad.” She folded the flaps over the box of now lifeless pups. “Stop up there and I’ll throw this in the trash.”

Bonnie moved to the seat beside him, and he smiled and pulled his girl close. In twenty years, I’ll be watching you like a hawk, he thought. If you haven’t already done me in. 

“Isn’t this a nice van? I told you I could do it.” She snuggled against him.

He sighed as he contemplated a life sentence with this fearless, monstrous child.

“I love you, Daddy.”


JP Lundstrom sat around being belittled and browbeaten, until she took matters into her own hands, and now she’s out for BLOOD! Lundstrom writes crime: white collar, blue collar or leave your shirt off.