Brit Grit Alley features interviews, news and updates on what's happening down British crime fiction's booze and blood soaked alleyways.
Down Brit Grit Alley this week we have a sharp slice of gritty fiction from rising Brit Grit star Ryan Bracha:
Work’s Murder By Ryan Bracha
"It's that time again Barry," he says, pulling a manilla document wallet from his desk drawer and slapping it onto the surface, before opening the thing up. He goes silent as he scans the papers, and I feel a bit of mucus tickling the top of my throat which I'm hesitant to clear. He'll take it that I have something to say, which I don't. Before long he's shifted his eyes from the file to me.
"How's things then Barry? Your Cynthia keeping well?"
See? This is the kind of cunt behaviour you expect from the prick, he knows for a fact that Cynth left me for my cousin Andy last year. Yeah, she goes home when I'm out, working on a lead, for my job like, clears the house out and moves in with that shit. You know the worst thing about that? The rest of the family expect me to stop going to all the get-togethers, in case I make it awkward for them fuckers.
I take my chance to clear that tickly mucus, then smile what is only just a smile, seriously it's like nought point nought nought one of a smile. I say nothing.
"Good girl, your Cynth, got a lot of time for the girl." His eyebrows rise when he says the last part, his bronzed fat face smothered with a thick film of insinuation. And moisturiser. Prick.
"Anyway, enough of that, how've you been finding the job since your last one to one? You doing okay?"
How to respond to that one? Am I doing okay? Well, aside from the fact that I haven't hit my kill target once in the last six months, and Steve fucking golden boy Garrett, waltzing round like he owns the place, getting right on my tits when he comes round the office, waving his fucking wage slip around, pointing out how much bonus he made. I haven’t made bonus since September. Not since I took out that snitching cunt Billy Stammer. Even then it was basic bonus. A simple but effective shot to the head, it was. Lack of imagination, they called it.
You see, that’s what killed my place in the organisation. When they changed the bonus structure. It used to be that you could walk into a strip club and blast the back of some cunt’s skull off, wipe the bits of brain off your face and walk out of there knowing that was an extra couple of grand in your wage packet at the end of the month. Not any more. Clients started coming in wanting more and more extravagant killings, they wanted more imagination in the kill. I was saying that we were fucking professionals, not fucking flouncy namby-pamby artists. I said the next thing we’d know we’d all be drinking lattés and wearing cravats.
One guy came in one time with a bag with two dicks in it. He wanted some fella taking out, then he wanted his eyeballs scooping out and he wanted the eyeballs replacing with dicks. I mean, what the fuck? Who the fuck in their right mind goes to a professional firm with that kind of request? There was no way I was holding any dicks except my own, so I passed on that one, not for me. No way jo-zay. That golden boy cunt Steve Garrett couldn’t wait to get a hold of them dicks. He took photos of it for on the company website. Ever the visionary, he called that piece of work Dick Eyes.
“Barry, I asked you a question,” says Donald as I click back into the room. He’s waving his chubby brown arm up and down, his thick gold bracelet jingling against his huge watch, “are you doing okay, yeah?”
“Uh, yeah, pretty good, I got a lead I’m working on, I think I can get us the business,” I say, quite unconvincingly, since I’m talking fucking bullshit. I haven’t had a solid lead in ages.
“Yeah? That’s good Barry,” says the patronising cunt. He knows I’m talking bollocks, but he’s going on. Giving me all the rope I need to hang myself, “thing is, I’m paying you a wage here, but you’re not giving much back. Help me to understand why you’re not pulling your weight anymore. You used to be my number one killer, now even Joe with the gimpy leg’s got more bonus coming in. That’s a low place to be Barry. It’s like your hearts not really in the killing game. Would that be an accurate observation Barry? Is your heart still in it?”
How can my heart still be in it? I’m a relic. I know this and Donald knows this. All this new blood coming through the ranks. You know the last time I was employee of the month? Three years ago. Three fucking years ago. I ain’t even got one by default of being here that long. I didn’t even get the pity award for my last birthday. Nothing. It’s been a long time since I felt welcome in here. All the younger fucks sitting in the canteen, making small talk about shit I have no clue about. My silence has prompted the boss to keep talking. Asking questions I can’t answer. Help me to understand. It’s all the cunt has said since he got back from that HR course. Understanding your employees my arse. His fingers press together in front of his face before he points one my way.
“Let me ask you this, where do you see yourself in five years? Are you wanting to make a career out of this or are you happy as a bottom feeder? Because, I’ll be honest with you Barry, if you’re happy as a bottom feeder then I don’t think I can accommodate. You see Steve, right? He’s the kind of guy who’s got ideas, he wants to go places. You see what he did with the fingers in the fag packet, he called it Finger Cigs? That was genius. Or what about the head in the arse? What did he call that one, now?”
“That’s it, arse head, brilliant,” he laughs, shakes his head, then he goes all serious again, “whereas you, well, you’re in a bit of a rut, mate.”
Again with the mate. I got a bad feeling about this.
“Put yourself in my position. The killing industry’s changing. People want their revenge a little bit more inventive. They want people hanging by the balls from a tree. They want a bunch of politicians discovered dead in some fruity circle-wank with a skinned dog in the middle covered in eight different types of fuck muck. Christ, they even want rock stars found beaten to death with their own fucking arms. That’s what they want. Nobody’s interested in poison, nobody wants quiet. They want the business, and they want my business to perform that business, and you,” he points at me, “represent what they don’t want anymore. You represent times gone by, Barry. If you were me, what would you do?”
What would I do? I’d show all of those flamboyant upstart fucks the door, and take it back to the old school. Back when murder was about doing a job, not about how fancy you could make it look. I don’t say anything, and Donald brings the gun up from his desk.
“I don’t suppose it makes a difference, to be fair. What any of us would do is unlikely to be the same as the other. I’m gonna have to let you go Barry, it’s as simple as that. I’ve spoken with HR and they’re happy with my decision. You’ve had several chances to improve your performances, but you refuse to step into the twenty first century, you’re a relic.
“Now, I appreciate that you’ve been a respected and loyal servant, mate, so I’m gonna give you a choice. You can either do it yourself, or I can ask Steve Garrett to do something really special for you.”
That’s that then. I find myself here. Twitching on the floor of the yard behind the office, the pulse from Steve Garrett’s huge bicep throbs against the pulse from my neck, and he’s whispering in my ear that he’s gonna call this one Cock and Ball Throat.
(c) Ryan Bracha.
Bio: Ryan Bracha is the 34 year old author of three novels and a collection of shorts, including the number one best selling Strangers are Just Friends you Haven't Killed yet, and Paul Carter is a Dead Man. When he's not writing ridiculous stuff, he's saying ridiculous stuff, and when he's doing none of those he's doing ridiculous stuff. His wife will confirm this. He lives in Barnsley.