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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 month down Brit Grit Alley, I take a look at the works of  Richard Godwin.

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.

Meaningful Conversations Dark, rich language that paints a deliciously delirious Ballardian Giallo.

In Noir City, Richard Godwin unflinchingly and masterfully digs beneath the surface of London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Dusseldorf, and the cities’ recalcitrant denizens, as he follows the trail of sociopathic gigolo Paris Tongue deeper and deeper into the darkness.

Beautiful prose and a claustrophobic sense of dread make Richard Godwin’s Noir City a lyrical hybrid of noir,erotica,crime fiction and psychological drama worthy of Hitchcock or Argento.
Richard Godwin’s One Lost Summer is a sweltering, intense noir. A claustrophobic, psychological study of obsession and loss, with echoes of Simenon, Highsmith and Hitchcock’s Vertigo.
Richard Godwin‘s debut novel, Apostle Rising,is a dark as the void between the stars. As black as a killer’s soul.

On the surface, Apostle Rising is a police procedural. A serial killer novel. And a damned good one it is, too.

It’s the story of a haunted policeman- and the killer he never caught. Detective Frank Castle is still living in the pitch black shadow of The Woodlands Killer – the one that got away. But then a copycat killer crawls through the cracks in the pavement and Castle and his partner are dragged down a tunnel to gaze into the abyss.

But Apostle Rising is more than that. It’s also wonderful, rich prose and a breathtaking plot with more than a few savage twists of noir.

‘Paul De Longe put the phone down and opened a bottle of Morey-Blanc. It was cold and smooth and biscuity.Below him the skyline of London stretched out like an inviting mistress.
London kills you. Kills the best of us. And the worst.

And in Richard Godwin‘s second novel, the brilliantly vivid giallo, Mr Glamour, the streets of London aren’t so much paved with gold, as splattered with blood that leaves a trail from the pavement to the penthouse. And back again.

Mr Glamour‘s London is the London of Hitchcock’s Frenzy, Roeg’s Performance and The Picture Of Dorian Grey. It is a living, pulsating thing that is being sliced to pieces, from swanky Mayfair and Holland Park to suburban Acton, from Wandsworth prison to Earls Court bedsits and East End boozers.

And in Mr Glamour, everyone is scarred, including the books’ protagonists, Chief Inspector Jackson Flare and his partner Inspector Mandy Steele. Though Flares scars are mostly physical, Steel hides her psychological damage.

When Flare and Steel are called to investigate the murder of a rich big shot, whose body has been ripped apart and left next to his gleaming Maserati, they soon realize that they are a hunting a serial killer who is preying on the rich, the powerful, the glamorous.

Mr Glamour is a graphic,intense, at times delirious journey into the dark sides of London’s glitz and of the human psyche and is highly recommended for those of a STRONG disposition.

Godwin's latest novel is Paranoia And The Destiny Programme , a powerful and disturbing, Dystopian horror story.


  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.



Working Overtime

They say it is better to give than it is to receive. They also say turnabout is fair play.

In the Gutter, they say a lot of things. And none of it is good.

Working Overtime by Jeff Switt



I watched them exit the elevator, his arm circled around the small of her back, his hand cupping her waist, pulling her to him. Her hip flounced against his as they walked, and they shared a laugh over something private. He pulled her close and nuzzled her neck, and I saw her give his butt a squeeze. His laughter boomed across the deserted lobby. 

“Shush,” she admonished him. He reached to fondle a breast, and she slapped his hand in a playful way, postmarking her message with a pair of red-lip impressions on his cheek. I watched him exit through the revolving door of the hotel with a carefree lightness to his step. I thought I heard him whistling. I clutched my purse to my gut. I felt sick, then mad as hell. 

She strutted across the midnight lobby toward the hotel bar, her stiletto heels clicking on the marble floor, making that sound that turns men’s heads. The sound that other women envy. Her black dress looked like a river at night: the top clung to her breasts like moss on two alabaster boulders; the skirt rippled like black water across her hips and legs. For a moment I felt so ordinary, dressed in my workout clothes and running shoes with my oversize purse hanging from my shoulder. 

***

And now I’m in a hotel room with her. We’ve settled on a price of one hundred dollars. She tells me it’s been a while since she fucked another woman. She slips off her heels and turns toward me probably to ask for her money. 

I take a closer look. Too much makeup. An aging facelift. Signs of anorexia. 

She starts to speak, and I whack her across her face with my hand. She looks at me, startled, and grins. “If you want it rough, that’s another hundred.” 

“Fine with me,” I reply as I draw back my hand to give her another shot. 

Her quickness surprises me. Her fist digs into my gut. My knees buckle. I drop to the floor and want to puke. She stands over me and peels the straps of her dress from her shoulders, down across her breasts, and lets the flimsy garment fall to the floor leaving her naked. 

She jumps on me, slapping and kicking. We wrestle across the floor, but she has a grip on my hair and I can’t get away.  She forces my face between her legs. It’s obvious what she wants. I relent, and when she’s satisfied she lets me go. 

“My turn to play.” I kick off my shoes, shed my jacket, and drop my pants. Now we are both naked. 

I push her down on the bed. “On your stomach,” I order, and she obeys. From my purse I pull a pair of stockings. I tie her wrists together at the small of her back with one, and with the other I bind her ankles. I roll her over, face up, and straddle her hips. I reach inside my purse and fetch a pair of kid leather gloves. I slip them on. Slowly. Enjoying the moment. 

I am drawn to her bulbous breasts, obviously not natural, their blue veins anything but attractive. “Do men really like these?” I ask, as I rake them with my gloved fingers. She quivers at my touch. 

“The last guy sure did,” she answers with a prideful smirk as she looks at mine hanging long and natural. 

I look closer. There are hickies on her tits. 

She speaks again. “Now, let me ask you a question. When I forced you down, between my legs … you didn’t object to what you found.” 

“Nah. No big deal. Just my husband’s leftovers.” 

It’s my time to smirk. Panic overtakes her face. She struggles to break loose, trying to escape from under my weight, but she can’t. I return to my purse and pull a bone-handle hunting knife. Its cold steel blade gives me a chill. 

“This is my husband’s, too.”


Jeff Switt is a retired advertising agency guy who loves writing flash fiction, some days to curb his angst, other days to fuel it. His words have been featured online at Every Day Fiction, Shotgun Honey, Dogzplot, Boston Literary Magazine, 101 Word Stories, A Story In 100 Words, 100 Word Story, 50-Word Stories, Postcard Shorts, and Nailpolish Stories. His latest venture, A Story in Three Paragraphs, is at http://jeffswitt.wordpress.com/s3p-a-story-in-three-paragraphs/

Dealer Sets Price

To celebrate (or perhaps humiliate) our editor Tom Pitts on his Knuckleball release day, we dug way back in the FFO archives, way way back to April, 2012, before Joe and Tom took the editorial helm.

It's a gentle reminder that, even when you're down in the Gutter, life still manages to throw you loving little surprises.

Dealer Sets Price by Tom Pitts



“I’m telling you, when he’s out, he’s out cold. All we gotta do is get someone to buzz us inside the building.”

“It’ll never work.”

“It’ll work, I’m telling you. He keeps his shit in that little plastic box with his scale.” Jeff envisioned it, a fat sticky lump of Mexican heroin. Enough to keep him, Ricky, and Crystal high for days.

“What if the door is locked?”

“I have the goddamn key to the front door. I made a copy last week when he sent me out to the store for cigarettes. Fucking asshole, making me fetch him shit like some kind of gopher. Serves him right.”

“I mean, what if there’s a deadbolt or chain or something on the door?”

“So what? Then we walk away. He’s not gonna wake up, that’s for sure. That prick sleeps like he’s dead.”

“What if he’s not alone?”

“He’s alone. Who the fuck in their right mind would sleep with that arrogant piece of shit?”

“I dunno, man. Sounds risky.”

“Risky? Ricky, are you kidding me? Fuck this asshole, he takes our goddamn money everyday, makes us wait forever, treats us like children. Do you wanna get well or not? I got Crystal waiting for me at home and she’s gonna wake up sick and I’m not coming back to my baby empty-handed.”

“Yeah.” Ricky’s tone was sheepish.

“All right then.”

The two junkies walked up the marble steps and studied the intercom bank for a button to push.

“Pick one on the third floor.”

“What if they walk down to check?”

“Just fuckin’ pick one and stop being such a chicken-shit.”

Ricky hit a random button on the third floor. No response. He hit another. Same. Jeff reached past him and, using all four fingers, hit four at once. The front door buzzed. They were in. 


They walked down the first-floor hallway, light on their feet. They could hear sounds of life from the other apartments. TV, dishes clamoring, a small dog yelping. The apartment they wanted was toward the back of the building.

They came to the door. Jeff turned toward Ricky and whispered, “I work too hard hustling all day to keep giving this prick my money for those tiny slivers of dope. He might as well just factor my goddamn dignity into the price.” From his pocket he pulled out a single bronze key. He slid the key into the lock and turned the knob. They were met with stale cigarette smoke, body odor, and darkness.

With a plastic disposable lighter for a torch, they entered the dealer’s apartment. Jeff knew right where the dope was stashed, beside the computer monitor in a pale green plastic box. He put away the lighter and picked up the box. He opened it up, felt inside for the lump of dope, and found it. Ecstatic, his heart skipped a beat. The lid to the box fell loudly onto the keyboard in front of the monitor. The blank screen flashed on brightly, illuminating their horrified faces.

“Shit,” mouthed Ricky.

“Hello?” They heard a voice say. A female voice. “Hello, is there anyone there?”

The two junkies froze.

The bare lightbulb above their heads flared and they stood looking at a woman with a small silver handgun pointed toward them. She was in one of the dealer’s ugly paisley dress shirts, unbuttoned, no bra, no panties.

“Jeff?”

“Crystal?” said Jeff. It was his girlfriend, fiancé in fact. It wasn’t registering, his mind raced to find a reason for her to be there. Maybe she was doing what he was doing—working hard to bring home some dope so the both of them could have wake-ups tomorrow. Working hard—with no panties.

“What the fuck?”

She said nothing.

The two junkies knew at once they weren’t going to be shot. But it didn’t matter. Jeff looked like he’d already been shot.

C’mon!” said Ricky. The two fiends ran out the front door of the apartment, down the hallway, and out into the cool night air. It was blocks before they slowed down to a walk.

Ricky finally said it.

“You’re right, Jeff, dignity is factored into the price.”


Tom Pitts received his education on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, working, writing, and trying to survive. His novel, HUSTLE, and his novella, Piggyback, are available from Snubnose Press. His new novella, Knuckleball, will be released by One Eye Press on March 24th. Find links to more of his work at: TomPittsAuthor.com

Limp Dick

Hey! Who here has been tested for the clap? Yeah. Me neither.

Men, you might want to be sitting down when you read this one...

Limp Dick by Erik Storey



Chandra had been bitch-slapped for the last time.

But Limp Dick, as she’d started thinking of him, didn’t know that. Luckily he didn’t try it again, just screamed, “I know you holding out, bitch. You got the high ends. They pay for all the weird shit. And all you bring me is the straight-rate monies? This shit’s gonna stop. You bring me twice the green tomorrow or I’ll fuck you six ways from Sunday. Got it?”

Chandra pretended to cower and pretended to grovel. “Okay,” she said, and Limp Dick left the little brown hotel room, stuffing the rolls of bills into the pocket of his pearl-snap shirt.

He was right about one thing. She was holding out. Big time. One of her clients, Fingerman, paid her an extra hundred if she stuck three fingers up his ass while she jerked him off. Another she called “Pillows,” who paid an extra five hundred for what he called the “blackout-blowout.” He would stick his head inside a pillowcase and smother himself while she gave him head. Two of her guys paid extra to lick her toes, and one guy paid her two big bills a day just to lick her armpits.

And she pocketed all this extra money. Then took it with her on the five different buses that she rode to get to her mom’s house, where Chandra’s two daughters were watched by her younger sister. She never showed her mom the money, but gave a little to her sister, and put the rest in a giant pink piggybank on her youngest kid’s dresser. Limp Dick didn’t know about any of this.

Because she was smart. And she was careful. Her mom thought she was finishing college. Which she was, in a way, although Chandra had graduated (but didn’t walk) a year ago. She’d learned more about sociology in the last year than she had in all four years at school. Not only did she have enough money to keep her and the kids afloat, she now had enough to pay off the school loans. She was free and clear and ready to start a real life.

There was just the little problem of Limp Dick, and his correct suspicions. Chandra had prepared for this, and she had a plan.

***

“You bring it all this time?” is what Limp Dick asked on the phone an hour before he came to the hotel.

“With more from the back end,” is how she answered, knowing that he’d show and be happy.

When he did show, he pretended not to be happy. He walked into the little shabby room, saw the piles of bills on the puke-colored bedspread and jumped into his angry mode. “Where the fuck’s this been, baby? You think I can protect you and set you up with the men for the money you’ve been giving me? I shoulda been seeing this every goddamned day.” He strode over to her, and wound up with another backhand.

“Use this,” she said, before he completed his swing. He looked confused, unsure what she was doing. Or why she was holding a straightened wire coat hanger. But he took the proffered wire and held it while Chandra took off her robe and bent over the bed, offering him her naked ass.

The first couple blows with the thin metal stung like hell. Chandra had to bite the dirty bedspread to keep from crying out, but she knew it was worth it. The next few strikes weren’t as bad, because she knew that between the money and the sadism, Limp Dick was finally getting hard. And a hard, lusty man was easy to control. It was one of the many things she’d learned this last year.

“Let me show you something, a trick that one of my specials likes,” Chandra said finally, unable to endure anymore of the whipping.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “what’s that?” He stopped smacking her as she turned around on the bed and sat before him. She unbuckled his pants.

“That’s right,” he said. “Show daddy something special.” He wasn’t paying attention as she pulled his pants to his knees. He was staring at the stacks of bills on the bed.

Which distracted him enough for Chandra to take the wire hanger, rub it around the head of his dick, then plunge the blunt metal into his pee-hole. She pulled his dick toward the ground and jammed the hanger further in.

The screaming was loud, but short-lived. Lubricated with Limp Dick’s pre-cum, the wire slid easily up the urethra and into the bladder. By then he’d passed out and fallen over backward in shock. She pushed the wire harder, and farther, into the bastard’s guts until there wasn’t enough metal to hold.

Due to the metal blockage, at first there was surprisingly little blood that oozed out the man’s dick. But there was enough of a constant flow to make Chandra turn her head, stumble to the bed and grab her robe. She left him on the filthy carpet to bleed out, then took a shower.

When she exited the bathroom, fresh and clean and fully clothed, Limp Dick lay on a stain of dark red shag. She checked his pulse, found none, and left the room.


As she walked down the hall, heading to the exit that would take her to the bus station, she giggled. She and her kids were free of the only man that would’ve followed them into their new life. She could get a job and start something else. But she was going to have to change the nickname she’d given her pimp. Because, due to the wire, and later, rigor mortis, he would never be limp again.

Erik Storey works during the day and writes crime fiction at night. He’s been a ranch hand, bartender, truck driver, sled-dog musher, Orkin man, and locksmith. His works have appeared in Shotgun Honey, Linguistic Erosion, Waving Hands Review, and in the upcoming anthology To Hell with Dante. He lives in the high deserts of Western Colorado with his wife, two daughters, and dogs.

I Mean, Seriously, What Are The Odds?

Other than death and taxes, they say, one of the most basic truths in life is that we eventually become our parents.

For some of us, this is a blessings, but for others, a curse.

I Mean, Seriously, What Are The Odds? by Beau Johnson



“Dad, what’s a motherfucker?” 
I’m not saying I believe in coincidence, not on the whole, but seeing how things have played themselves out these last few days, I may have some adjusting to do.  It’s more than likely the entire reason I hadn’t even asked Duane where he’d heard the word.

Dishes in my hand, drying them, my boy sits there at the table, cut up apples in a bowl to his left.  His hoodie is as it always is, up, and his blue eyes remain wide.  Wasn’t no thing with him and me, Duane asking questions and such.  It’s really the only way it should be between a father and his boy.  I’m not saying I corner the market on such observations, but I am saying I know what not to be when it comes to being a parent.  Learned that shit straight up, belt buckle and all.            

Enough about that---back to my boy’s question and the answer I knew he wanted but I was unable to give.  I could have given it though, just so we’re clear, but it wouldn’t have been right, not from a parent who truly holds their child’s best interest at heart.  He’d be curious, sure, as would anyone who saw their mother’s mouth half full of some guy’s cock.  Full and flush, my wife’s face is half turned towards whoever snapped the shot in this picture, her hand up in the A-OK position Duane and I had come to expect.  This was pre-cancer Diane too, and from the looks of her hair, about a year before she is diagnosed.  But would my boy’s eight year old mind truly understand what was happening within the frame?  And really, is this even the type of question I wanted to be asking?
              
Context indeed.
              
So I’m going to start over and forget that showing my son the picture even passed through my mind and just say it’s a month ago that I find what I find and that even though I wanted to stop looking at it, I couldn’t.  That about sums this shit up.  Except for the scar on the upper right thigh of the man my wife was throating.  You can’t actually see who the man in the picture is, just my wife’s exuberant expression.  I’m not sure if I’d mentioned that or not.  I’d grown up with that scar though, so that I will mention, and I knew exactly how it had come to be.  Funny how things like that happen; how what you help create can turn and rip your shit apart.
              
The scar belonged to Barry, my goddamn twin.

And of course if it had been anyone else it would have been better than this.  I wouldn’t have been able to know who it was, only guess, and somehow come to terms with the fact that the woman who died as I wiped her face decided to blow some random dude during the course of our marriage.  I’d even stopped myself from worrying if someone else had been there at the time, taking the picture, or if a timer had been used.  Either way, what was the point?  But then the scar comes into focus, there during the moments I was unable to put the picture down.  Like a little half-moon but jagged at the end where I pulled the nail free.  I picture a different picture then, one from fifth grade, the day Barry and I pulled down our old tree fort even though we were told we could not.  I want to scream.  I want to cry.  Instead I do the very thing I have rallied against my entire life: I become my father.  I embrace my rage.

Belt buckle and all.


“Dad?”

Should I?  No.  Not outright.  As I’ve said, it wouldn’t seem proper, not from a parent who truly cared.  I select a different picture instead, one from an album I hadn’t paged through since before Diane succumbed.  In it Barry is wearing his lumberjack garb, a rifle over his shoulder and his leg upon a stump.  The smile below his mustache is the one I’ve been attempting to obliterate since the day before last.  In my basement is where I do this, during the time that Duane is at school.  

Not that I expected him to, but my son says nothing when I hand him the still.  He doesn’t understand.  Then again, neither do I.


In Canada, with his wife and three boys, Beau Johnson lives, writes and breathes. He has been published before, on the darker side of town. Such places might include Underground Voices, the Molotov Cocktail, and Shotgun Honey. He would like it to be known that it is an honor to be here, down in the Gutter

The Woods

Nothing like a nice, leisurely walk in the woods.

In the Gutter, Nothing like a lot of things. And Nothing forgives even less.

In the Woods by Gary Duncan



Frank stopped where the bridge used to be, and looked around.

“They’re all gone,” he said. “The bridge, the stream.”

Mike looked back the way they’d come: row after row of red-brick houses with red-tiled roofs. They’d parked the van on the edge of the estate and walked through another development: more red-brick houses with red-tiled roofs.

“It must have been something,” Mike said. “Before all this.”

He took a bottle of water from his rucksack and offered it to Frank. Frank needed something stronger, but he took it, clumsily, and spilled most of it down his chin. The others had stayed back a little, but they were watching him: eight pairs of eyes boring into him.

“We can wait here a bit,” Mike said. “Till you catch your breath.”

“I’m fine,” Frank said.

They set off into the woods, the path forking left and right and then petering out. Frank took his time, breathing in the cool, damp air, the sweet smell of wet soil and fallen leaves that took him back to another time.

He stopped when they reached the clearing, and looked up at the light filtering in through the tops of the trees.

“Here?” Mike asked.

Frank shook his head. He inhaled, held it, and let it out slowly. “I’d forgotten that smell.”

Mike looked back towards the path.

“Jesus Christ,” he said, grinding his boot into a pile of dead leaves.

One of the guards had lost a shoe in the mud and was trying to retrieve it with a stick. He was young, about the same age Frank had been last time he’d been in the woods.

“Maybe you should help,” Frank said.

“Maybe he should watch where he’s walking.”

Mike bent down and grabbed some leaves.

“Why now, Frank? Why wait all this time?”

Frank shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the right time. The right thing to do.”

Mike threw the leaves up in the air and watched them fall slowly back to the ground, turning, caught in the breeze.

Frank looked down at his hands.

“How about taking these things off, Mike.”

“You know that’s not going to happen, Frank.”

Frank nodded. Mike was one of the good ones. Probably the only good one.

They set off again when the others reached the clearing, Frank out front, Mike one step behind, the others following.

Frank could have cut through the bramble bushes, like he’d done all those years ago, but he didn’t want to make it too easy for them. Let them sweat a bit first. They’d waited long enough—another hour wouldn’t make much difference.

He took them away from the clearing, farther into the woods, down to where the stream used to run deep and wide. Every now and then he slowed down and looked back and saw them all lined up behind him, single file on the narrow path.

When they’d almost gone full circle, Mike came up beside him and said, “I know what you’re doing, Frank.”

Frank ignored him.

“Frank, you—”

“They’re over there,” Frank said. “Other side of the bramble bushes. I killed them both, just like they said, and buried them in the ground.”

Frank looked around one last time, and said, “I’m sorry, Mike. You can take me back now.”

Gary Duncan is a freelance writer and editor based in Northumberland, England. His stories have appeared in Shotgun Honey, Yellow Mama, and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine.

Two Birds, One Stone

Some of us are lucky enough to look back on an idyllic childhood. The kind Norman Rockwell liked to paint.

Others ain't so lucky. They spent their childhoods down here, in the Gutter.

Two Birds, One Stone by J. David Jaggers



What is it with adults? Why do they need to beat the shit out of somebody smaller to feel better about themselves? I ask myself this every day when my dad comes home and hits me. If that’s growing up, then I’ll stay a kid. It’s just not worth it. That’s heavy thinking for a twelve year old I know, but I’m not your average kid.

You see my dad works for some shady people. He doesn’t know I know. He thinks I believe his bullshit story about being a contractor, but that fell apart when I found the black case he keeps hidden in the garage. What kind of contractor keeps a gun and some piano wire stashed behind his bowling trophies? I think my dad kills people.

Our next door neighbor Mr. Kimball is the other shining example of why I don’t want to grow up. He’s retired and spends all day yelling at all us neighborhood kids or leaving nasty notes on my dad’s car about the grass. I heard dad say once that he’d fuck him up if it wasn’t so obvious who did it. That’s not why I hate Mr. Kimball. I hate the bastard because he beats his dog.


Buster and I are good friends. We have a lot in common. We both like to lay in the grass on sunny days, and we both know what’s it’s like to be punched by a grown man. Buster takes it well, better than me. If you didn’t know, it would be hard to tell. He walks with a slight limp, his hip stiff from Mr. Kimball’s boot, and he has a milky left eye. Mr. Kimball says it’s all from old age, cataracts and stiff joints. That’s bullshit. Sometimes when I look at Buster it seems like he’s telling me something. It’s like he’s saying to me, “You have to help me. You have to stop this.” I want to real bad, but I never had a plan until now.

“What you working on champ?”  Dad asks, just home, and not started in on the beer yet.

“I have a science project due at school this Friday. I need to get this poster frame made.”  He gets his first beer from the fridge and sits down to help. I hand him two wooden dowel rods that I need to tape to some poster board. He holds them in his sweaty hands and for a moment he seems like a real dad. Four beers later, he has already beaten me with one of rods and ripped the poster in half. I lay in my room nursing my sore ribs and smiling. So far so good.

After the old man passes out in his chair, I put on the rubber gloves I stashed under my mattress. I take one of the dowel rods and sneak out to the garage. I break the rod in two and take the piano wire from the case and wrap it around each half. I sneak next door and wait in the dark behind Mr. Kimball's deck until I hear the back door open and Buster runs out into the yard.

“Do your goddamned business, you piece of shit. Track anything in this house and I’ll rip your fucking ears off.”

Buster runs and hides. It’s like he knows what I’m about to do. Mr. Kimball yells, and when Buster doesn’t come back, he walks out into the yard.


“You’re gonna get it now, you little bastard.”

I step from the shadows and wrap the wire around his neck. He’s strong, still in shape. He slings me around, knocking the garbage cans over. I plant both feet in the small of his back and pull hard. It isn't long before he gives 'cause the wire is sharp. I hold it tight for a minute longer to be sure, while Buster lifts his leg on Kimball's purple face.

I put the wire in the backseat of dad’s car. The next day there are police cruisers in our driveway after school.  I don’t even go in. I just whistle for Buster and we take a walk in the sunshine.


J. David Jaggers lives in fly over country, where he spends his days in the white collar world and his nights feeding the thugs, pimps, and enforcers he keeps caged in his basement. He has been, or is scheduled to be, published in Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, Spelk and Out of the Gutter magazines.