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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 

A slice of Brit Grit Alley flash ficition from yours truly!

The Sharpest Tools In The Box by Paul D. Brazill
“It’s friggin obvious, Browny”, said Kenny.

Kenny Cokehead was waving his arms around like a windmill. In his hands he had
a couple of CDs that he’d found in the glove compartment of Mikey The Mechanic’s
BMW: Hot Stuff by Donna Summer and the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.

“It stands to reason, don’t it? Look at this stuff. Clear as day. He’s an arse bandit, dinner masher ...”

I zoned out. Kenny Cokehead was was really living up to his nickname; he was snotty nosed and talking ten to the dozen. Me, I was trying my hardest to concentrate on manipulating the BMW round Seatown’s darkened side streets.

This was proving to be a bit of a problem. For one thing, the car was a left hand drive - which looked very cool this side of the pond but made it pretty difficult maneuver
– and another factor was that we didn’t want anyone to see us, so we were driving
without using the headlights.

Since most of the streetlights had been smashed out around here-and most of the terraced houses have been boarded up- I was doing about as well as Stevie Wonder.

The situation wasn’t exactly helped by the fact that my full bladder felt ready to burst. And then there was Kenny who, like most cokeheads, had got a degree in stating the friggin obvious. And repeating it ad infinitum.

His theme at that moment was that Mikey The Mechanic may have actually been a
homosexual. The bigger part of his deduction was seemingly based on the contents of Mikey’s CD collection.

Kenny, however, was uncharacteristically on the money as Mikey had indeed played for the pink team. In fact, pretty much half of the town had been aware of Mikey’s sexual predilections for as long as I could remember- it was what was known as an open secret.

Now, myself, I couldn’t care less where Mikey chose to stick his one eyed milkman. It didn’t exactly crop up in conversations down the pub, either.

“Alright Mikey, how’s work? How’s the wife? Still bumming Batty Boys on Hampstead Heath once a month?” 

Nope, I don’t think so. Mikey was a big bastard; built like a brick shithouse. If he wanted to keep things secret that was fine by me.

And, of course, there was his older brother, Malcolm, to think of. Although he lacked Mikey’s size, Malcolm made up for it by being a 100% proof, A1 psycho. He became the head of the family business – yes, that type of family, more Manson than Hanson - after his father and grandfather mysteriously disappeared on a fishing trip in the Lake District. He was a British National Party councilor to boot so it would hardly have been welcome news to find out that his little brother was- as Kenny would say – a fudge packer.

The thing was, most people liked Mikey and didn’t give a toss whether his cock puppets were men or women. Indeed, when he’d turned up at Astros Bar the night before, it was all Hail Fellow Well Met, backslapping and the like.

Well, that was how it started out.

As the night wore on, Kenny - who was head barman at the time- asked a few of us regulars if we wanted to stay for a stoppy-back and, before I knew it, I was heading toward oblivion like dirty dishwater down a plughole.

Around two in the morning the only customers were me and Mikey. We were talking about films, Scarface in particular, when our resident genius Kenny asked us if we wanted some Colombian marching powder.

This was no great shock. Kenny had been twitchy all night because he’d been off the stuff for a week and I’d seen one of Captain Cutlass’ nephews make a delivery around midnight. So, I was just waiting for the moment.

I said no, like Nancy Regan used to tell us; I knew Cutlass and his nephews and I knew that they sold cheap but ropey stuff. Mikey, however, said yes. And then it all went pear shaped as quick as spit disappears on hot pavement

At some point I went to the toilet and when I came back Mikey was laying on the floor foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. And then he went into convulsions. And then he was dead.

For a few minutes we paused – it was like a freeze frame in a film – and then Kenny started getting the giggles. I knew it was fear. Fear of the police. Fear of Malcolm.

But at that moment I just wanted to smash his face in. Instead, I walked over to the bar and poured myself a large Bourbon.

Twenty minutes later I was in lay-by with Kenny who wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box, as my grandma used to say. He’d covered Mikey’s body with a lot of booze and a bit of lighter fuel and set it alight, deciding that that was the best way to dispose of the corpse. Which was great for all of ten minutes but then the flames fizzled out as quickly as an X Factor winner’s career.

So now we were driving around the city looking for somewhere to dump Mikey’s body and I was close to pulling over to go for a piss when Kenny’s gesticulating gave me an idea.

“I know,” I said. ‘The Windmill,’

I turned the car around, narrowly missing a handful of bagheads who looked like something out of Michael Jackson Thriller video.

“The Windmill? The pub on Raby Road?” said Kenny.

“No not the friggin pub, idiot boy. Mikey’s garage.”

Mikey had a converted windmill at the top of Hart Hill that he used as a car repair shop. And, along with his car keys, I had the keys to that garage. Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I put my foot down as I headed out of town.

The silhouette of the windmill stood stark against the gibbous moon, and looked more than a little ominous, but since the night has been such a cock up, I thought that nothing else could possibly go wrong. And you know what thought did, as my old granddad used to say.

“Do you think we could stop off for a drive thru?” said Kenny. “That smell’s giving me the munchies.”

He gestured toward the back of the car. I’d been trying to stop myself from gagging on the smells that were wafting from the boot of the car but our Kenny, well, he was a one off, as my dad used to say. Thank fuck.

Once we pulled up outside the Hart Windmill, I left Kenny to drag Mikey’s body inside while I ran round the side to have a Gypsy’s Kiss against the side of the mill.

This went on forever and a stream as long as the Nile ran between my legs but it felt so good that I started whistling Old Man River and didn’t notice the sound of another car pulling up until it was too late.

A car door slammed and someone shouted “What the fuck?” and so I decided that this was probably not good news and I finished up as fast as I could.

As I rushed to the front of the windmill, I saw a big black Jag with the number plate Big 1 - Malcolm - and then I realised that I was so far up shit creek an outboard motor wouldn’t help let alone a paddle.

Then things happened a tad sharpish. I saw the silhouette of a short stocky man in the doorway. He was shouting and screaming but I couldn’t make out what he was saying and before I knew it I saw Kenny run up and hit him with a hammer.

And then I said “Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks...” so many times it was like a mantra.

“I just used the ball end,” said Kenny, pacing up and down the room and tucking into a pack of Pork Scratchings that he’d found. “I didn’t use the claw end. I could have. But I didn’t. I didn’t mean to croak him...”

I zoned out again and tried to think of a damage limitation plan.

And then, when I looked at Kenny with his mouth full of roasted pig scabs and saw all the tools in the garage, I had my best idea of the night.


“They’re all the rage these family fun pubs,” said Kenny as he looked down the Kunta Kinte blonde’s cleavage. “So we just thought we’d do summit for the local kiddies, like.”

And he was correct. Astros Fun Pub Sunday BBQ had been a roaring success, attracting as many alchopop swigging single parents as you could shake a giro at.

And the kids were loving it.

“Have you got any more free burgers, Uncle Cokey?” said one snotty nosed six year old.

“Oh, aye, Kaylee,” said Kenny. “We’ve got plenty. We bought a Family Pack, eh?” and he winked at me.

I took my pint of Stella and sat down on a rickety wooden bench. As I watched the sun set, I thought that it looked like a great gold doubloon and after a moment, as the barbecue smell drifted towards me, my stomach started to growl.

In for a penny, in for a pound, I thought, as my Aunt Tina used to say.

“Throw us a burger on, Kenny,” I shouted.

Well, waste not want not, as my old gran used to say.

The end.

This yarn appeared in the debut issue of Needle- A Magazine Of Noir and can be found in my collection The Gumshoe, and Other Brit Grit Yarns.

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

Paul D. Brazill is the author of The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Cold London Blues, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc member whose 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. He has edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here.