He'll Have to Go

Swords in the Gutter are a funny thing. Still make a point. But they dont hold a candle to a good blaster.

Intergalactic metaphors aside, you still live by them, you die by them.

He'll Have to Go by Paul D. Brazill

Frankie fidgets on the wobbly barstool. Takes a swig of Guinness, then a sip of Jack Daniels. Grimaces. Shuffles his shoulders. Feels a joint crack. Sighs.

“Me and my big mouth, eh?” he says. “Another case of foot in mouth disease.”

He chuckles to himself. Takes a pork scratching from a half empty bag. Stuffs it in his mouth and crunches.

“Well, we’ve all been there, Frankie,” says Big Pat, the barman. Sweat soaked his white nylon shirt. “Let our tempers get the better of us, and that.”

Pat picks up a remote control and switches on a plasma screen television that is hung askew on the back wall. He flicks channels until he finds an old James Bond film. A Duran Duran song suddenly blasts out.

“Bugger that for a game of soldiers,” he says. He quickly turns off the sound. Puts in a Jim Reeves CD.

Frankie catches a glimpse of himself in the dusty Johnny Walker mirror that hangs behind the bar. Brushes dandruff from a shoulder. Messes with his dyed black hair.

It’s late evening and The Blue Anchor’s only other customer is a saggy old man who sat at a table in the corner nursing a half of bitter. He’s playing Sudoku and squinting in the wan light.

“Look at that old fucker?” says Pat, pointing at the television screen. “Still getting away with it. 

Jammy twat.”

Frankie looks up and sees Roger Moore in a romantic clinch with a much younger woman.

“Still, I don’t mind getting old so much,” says Pat. “Beats the alternative, eh?”

He chuckles.

Frankie goes grim.

Pat leans over the bar and looks Frankie in the eyes.

“So, have you told Wolf yet?” he says.

Frankie avoids Pat’s glare. Looks up at the television.

“Well, not as such …”


“Well, not at all.”

“Best get it out of the way, if I was you. You know what he’s like … remember Harjit?”

Frankie knocks back his whisky.

“I most certainly do remember Harjit Singh,” says Frankie. “The grass. If I remember correctly, Wolf nailed Harjit’s turban to his head, inspired by a documentary he’d seen about Vlad the Impaler. To make his point even clearer, Wolf decapitated Harjit and put his head on one of the spikes outside Singh’s Essex home for his missus to see when she got up.” He forces a grin.

“Never does things by halves, does Wolf,” he says.

“Well, then,” says Pat. “So …”

Pat’s mobile buzzes. He glances at it and heads outside the pub to answer it.

He listens, nods and sighs. Sighs and nods. He goes back behind the bar.

“Yeah but, you know,” says Frankie. “Me and Wolf, go way back. We’ve got history.”

“History repeats,” says Pat. “Like a Poundshop pork pie.”

He winds up and whacks Frankie on the back of the head with a baseball bat.

Frankie collapses to the floor.

Pat leans under the bar and pulls out a machete. Hopes that Wolf remembers to bring the bleach with him this time.

Paul D. Brazill is the author of Guns Of Brixton, Cold London Blues, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. His blog is here.