So excited that Col Bury is my Partner In Crime this month! I am a true fan of Col’s crime fiction and I am looking forward to see what is next in store for DI Jack Striker of GMP’s Major Incident Team! My Kind of Justice was in my Top Reads of 2015 and well worth checking out!
What you may not know about Mr Bury is that he is also a funny guy! And to prove it, he has written a great book for charity called Pun Fun which will be available on Amazon soon!
FORUM OF FURY by Col Bury
Frustrated wannabe writer, Joe Barron, had no idea such a simple act could irrevocably change his life.
He was typing yet another post, grumbling about his chronic writers’ block, on the online Writers Forum, when he heard the slap of the mail on the hallway lino of his lonely two-bedroom flat in Eccles, Manchester. A flicker of excitement prompted him to exit his writing room – so-called as he was supposed to write in there, but seldom did – and he headed for the front door.
He exhaled on seeing there were no brown A4 envelopes within the small pile of mail. This meant the dream was still alive regarding the three chapters and synopsis he’d sent out to the latest wave of agents on his list. He flicked through the mail: a mundane selection of junk, including a cheap-looking clothing pick up service pamphlet, some crap about double glazing, a couple of bills and, he was surprised to see, a white envelope with handwriting he didn’t recognise on the front.
Could this be a response from an agent, maybe requesting the rest of the manuscript? Exhilaration swept through him, soon tempered by panic, as he’d still not finished the ‘novel’ yet despite starting it three years ago. The idea of publication was what Joe dreamed of, but the discipline and hard slog of achieving it was another thing altogether. He hastily ripped open the letter and stared in shock at its contents:
Dear Mr Barron,
So now I know your name, you foolish, foolish man.
Did you really expect me to forget our disagreement?
You reap what you sow.
Expect a visit.
For the rest of the day he stewed on the letter, but couldn’t make any sense of it. It had clearly been meant for him, though he’d no idea who ‘HM’ was, and couldn’t recall any disagreements he’d had recently.
The ‘expect a visit’ part was playing on his mind and he pulled back a curtain and glanced at the street five floors below. Everything looked as per usual; people going about their business, kids playing football against the graffiti-ridden substation wall and a solitary car parked up on the road. He didn’t recognise the car and strained to focus. There was someone in the driver’s seat… a man…just waiting.
His vivid imagination began to zoom. “Joe, you daft sod. Stop being paranoid.” He’d have to ease off the weed.
The man looked up, directly at him.
Joe retreated behind the curtains, his heart-rate speeding.
A moment later, he checked again and the man was still sitting there, but not looking up now. His head was dipped towards his lap. He was reading a newspaper, or was it a laptop?
I’m being stupid. Sometimes having the mind of a writer was a hindrance: over analytical, reading too deeply into things. He decided a chat with his like-minded virtual friends was required. They understood him, unlike his family, who just regarded him as the mad, pot-smoking writer!
Back in his ‘writing room’, he took a long audible drag of a freshly rolled joint, its effect instant in chilling him. Flash Fiction Feline was online, and was the first to comment on the thread he’d created in the hope of reassurance regarding the letter.
FFF stated… It’s just probably one of your friends messing about. Don’t worry.
Writer Online was next… You could go to the police if it’s bothering you, but as there’s no direct threat in the letter, then they wouldn’t waste money on checking for prints, etc, so I doubt they’d take it very seriously.
Creative Carl was more philosophical… If this idiot was the real deal, then he wouldn’t send a letter first. It’s like when people yell from the rooftops threatening to kill themselves – they never jump. It’s the quieter ones who commit suicide. Forget about it, Joe.
He felt much better and was glad he had such great friends, even though he’d never met any of them, as they were scattered around the world. He considered having another stab at the novel, but the thought filled him with dread. He’d been uninspired just lately, so he made a coffee and returned to the computer for another chat.
Three more comments on the thread he’d started. He knew he was procrastinating, and that if he carried on like this he’d never finish the novel, but he remained on the forum to read the comments regardless. The first two were pretty much reiterating the previous postings, and then he came to the third.
Hatchet Man said… You’re not fretting are you? I once knew a bloke who’d had an online argument, but nothing came of it.
Joe responded… Hi Hatchet Man. Long time, no hear. That happens a lot, but it’s all part of the forum thing, innit? Not everyone will agree all of the time.
Yeah, but this guy got personal.
Joe shuffled in his seat. Was that on this forum?
You know it was, Mr Barron!
Joe’s heart somersaulted. He glared at the screen, realisation kicking in. Hatchet Man…HM!
Joe’s hands were shaking like an MFI wardrobe as he typed… Did you send the letter?
What do you think, you foolish man?
“Shit!” He vaguely recalled coming home drunk and stoned about a year ago, and having a minor disagreement with him about a topic so irrelevant he couldn’t even remember.
He did a search for the old conversation. What did I say that’s made you so pissed? It’s been deleted by the moderator.
I can recall it word for word.
Well, whatever I said, I didn’t mean it.
Even the fact that I am supposedly a “Mummy’s boy,” and you were, “Gonna hunt me down and kick my arse”?
Joe didn’t respond. He couldn’t deny it. He’d had a few ding- dongs in the pub that night and was in a stinker of a mood.
Well, there’s no need to hunt me down now is there? The last man who messed with me isn’t here anymore. Fancy changing your pen name on here, you fool.
Joe jumped out of his chair, clattering it backwards, and ran to the window. He saw a tall man dressed in all black, alight the car. Closing a laptop, the man glanced over both shoulders, before placing it in the boot. He again gazed up at Joe’s window and walked purposefully towards the entrance to the flats.
Joe clasped his hands on his head. “Oh, fuck!” He felt his adrenaline pumping, making him feel nauseous.
What are the chances of having an argument with someone on the net and them hunting you down? Trust me to find the only lunatic on a forum for intelligent people! And why the fuck did I change my pen name to my real name?
He called the police, but struggled to find the right words, as he was that scared and stoned. When he began swearing down the phone, the silly bitch hung up! He threw the phone in anger and it smashed on the laminate floor. He scrambled on his knees trying to piece it back together, but it was useless.
He heard a deep voice echoing in the outside corridor. Looking through the spy-hole he saw a distorted face staring back at him. Joe jolted back from the door.
Three loud bangs on the door. Hatchet Man would have only gone this far for one reason. He ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife. This man was clearly a fuckin lunatic. Three louder bangs on the door. I’ll show the bastard. I’m not dying before me novel gets published. No way!
He took three deep breaths to psyche himself up.
He opened the door and lunged at Hatchet Man with the blade, plunging it straight into his stomach. The scream of a woman was followed by a door slamming across the corridor. Hatchet Man slumped to the floor, both hands clutching the protruding handle of the knife. A leaflet wafted to a stop beside him.
Breathless and numb with shock, Joe read the leaflet. It detailed a smart-looking bathroom suite with free fitting. He looked down at the man who gurgled, and then lay motionless.
Joe gazed in disbelief at the growing pool of claret on the carpet, and it began to trickle down the stairs. Like a zombie, he trudged into his writing room and checked for any further messages on the forum.
Hatchet Man… I meant the last man isn’t on the forum anymore. He’d obviously had enough.
… Joe, are you there?
… Okay, Joe. This has gone too far now. The letter was to spook you, that’s all. When I’d seen you’d put your full name on I just couldn’t resist it. I admit it was a childish revenge. Shall we call it quits, mate?
The cell in Strangeways Prison was cold, smelly and very basic, but at least he wasn’t sharing. And, with no internet connection, maybe now he’d finish that damned novel.
How AWESOME was that #bookjunkies! I have saved the best for last though as I bloody LOVE this short story. I loved it so much I was hoping that the author may one day make it into a full novel! It is a bit dark and ever so gritty –it can be found in The Cops of Manchester which I gave a well-deserved 5 star rating!
EYES WIDE SHUT
Kingston caught a red tear trickling down the flushed cheek, with the muzzle of his Browning 9mm.
“Aw… poor O’Shea. We all get our comeuppance eventually, don’t we, Joe?”
The reply was muffled by a gaffer-taped mouth, but the panicky eyes and frantic head shakes translated as ‘guilty’ to Kingston.
“That you begging for forgiveness, Joe? Well, you won’t be getting any from me,” Kingston spat, his gold incisor accentuating a sneer behind the neatly trimmed goatee. “Fancy agreeing to come for a pint with me. As if I’d tell you anything. I’m no grass, ya fuckin’ sucker. Thought your lot always had your eyes wide open.”
Kingston took a small bottle from his jacket pocket. “He-he. You’ll know it as Rohypnol, but we call it ‘Roofies’.”
Joe O’Shea still appeared groggy, but his vivid blue eyes widened on seeing the bottle, the head-shaking more frenetic.
Kingston thrust the single action Browning to O’Shea’s left temple. “I see you’ve pissed ya pants too. Is that the piss of a guilty man?”
As he shook his head, O’Shea’s eyes gestured desperately at his wallet on the adjacent desk.
“What? I’ve already taken the hundred quid. It’ll come in handy that, thanks a lot, buddy. The credit crunch even affects us guys you know.”
O’Shea indicated again, more pointedly this time by using his head.
“Oh, you want me to look inside?”
Kingston used the muzzle of the pistol to open the wallet and studied the photo of O’Shea with his three children. Beaming smiles all round; his two young sons in their Manchester City kits, one with a foot propped up on a football. The older girl had headphones on, her long strawberry blonde hair lit by the sun glistening off the vast lake splitting a backdrop of two mountains.
“This you trying to convince me then, Joe?”
He shrugged, blinked exaggeratedly.
“Well, it’s not working, man. The only thing this has done is give me a semi-on looking at your daughter.”
O’Shea’s eyes hardened.
“Tell me, Joe… does she take it up the arse?”
He wriggled on the wooden chair, jerking it briefly off the badly-tiled floor, the leg and wrist ligatures binding him and the chair as one.
“I’ll take that as a ‘Yes’ then, buddy. Or at least she will do when I’ve finished with her.” A throaty laugh revealed the gold tooth.
Muffled cursing followed, pleading eyes widening again.
“You really love ‘em ‘don’tcha’, Joe?”
His head dipped.
Kingston pointed at the snapshot with the pistol. “Look at you with your daft smile and that twinkle in your eyes. Aw, big daddy Joe O’Shea, the family man, eh? Hey, have you ever considered… you know… with her?” He pointed the gun at O’Shea’s daughter.
O’Shea glared at him, fixedly.
“What?” Kingston shrugged, chuckled. “You must’ve considered it, even for a split second. C’mon, man, admit it.”
Ignoring Kingston, O’Shea looked up and scanned the room; desk to his left, the open window, a metal cabinet in front and the door to his right…
Another guttural snicker then he asked, “You gotta have seen her naked over the years… seen her maturing… an’ then, a guy like you must’ve been tempted?”
He continued to scrutinize the sparsely furnished room, particularly the wide open window beyond the desk.
“Don’t fuckin’ ignore me, ya low-life piece of shit.” yelled Kingston, pistol-whipping him on both cheeks.
The chair jolted noisily off the floor and O’Shea shook his head violently, as if to clear the pain somehow. It didn’t work. His jawbones throbbed like hell and he felt dizzy.
“So, let me put a scenario to ya, Joe… there’s these two cops on patrol. It’s late at night, not much happenin’. To relieve the boredom they cruise over to the red light district, near the arches on the edge of town. They see this fit piece of black meat and decide to have some fun, get her into the back of the van. She’s cold, right? And she trusts the cops. They ask a few cop-like questions, but no worries, par for the course in her line of work, so nothin’ untoward there, right? Then she’s threatened with arrest cos she’s already had her quota of street warnings. But she don’t wanna spend the night in a cell cos she’s rattling an’ clucking, cold turkey, right? So they notice this, and the conversation turns to… ‘What can you do for us?’… Right? One cop climbs into the back an’ whips his cock out… an’ she gets down to it. But, no, he’s not happy with that… he wants to feel this whore, taste her. But she’s not happy with that, and so the second cop pins her down. Then they both abuse their positions big time… and of course, the girl. Afterwards they just laugh and dump her back on the streets… the piece of meat she is, right?”
O’Shea motioned an emphatic ‘NO’ with his head.
“So, what do ya think of that scenario then?” he asks, almost casually, before ripping the gaffer tape from O’Shea’s mouth.
“Bet that’s what you said on the night, innit?”
O’Shea opened his mouth, stretching his aching jaw and stinging facial muscles. His mind still foggy, he tried to speak, but just croaked. He cleared his throat with a cough. “I didn’t… do anything… I swear.”
“Bollocks, bitch.” Kingston forced the Browning into O’Shea’s mouth, the muzzle clattering against his teeth making him heave. “Just cos some bullshit internal enquiry says you did shit, don’t make it so, ya punk-arsed pig. I wanna fuckin’ confession. Now!”
O’Shea just eyeballed him, had no choice. He could feel the metallic tang, the grind of metal on teeth. The sickly taste of the gun’s last discharge made him heave again. He wondered who it had been used on. Kingston yanked the pistol from the cop’s mouth, scraping a molar on its exit. A sharp pain was followed by a hint of blood oozing onto the back of O’Shea’s tongue.
Ignoring the pain, and the banging headache, he tried to compose himself, think straight. With a deep breath, he said, “Believe what you want… but I know the truth.”
“The truth? The fuckin’ truth!”
“Yeah… and I… did nothing that night.”
“Nothin’?” Kingston’s dark eyes flared. “You raped ma fuckin’ daughter, ya cunt.”
“She was lying, Kingston… and what the hell are you playing at anyway… pimping out your own flesh and blood like that?”
Kingston suddenly became quiet, his eyes narrowing. He turned his back, shoulders sagging. Smoothing his braided hair, his voice hushed. “But times have been real hard. It’s a jungle on the street, man. And, anyway, she was more than willing…”
O’Shea’s senses continued to slowly kick in, and he realised just how musty the room was, increasing his nausea. He couldn’t quite place the smell, but it was familiar. “Imagine how hard times will be… if you kill me. A life sentence, feller.”
Kingston pivoted, grimacing, pointing the Browning toward O’Shea’s forehead. “Yeah, but it’ll be worth it. I’d be a hero inside for killing a pervert cop.”
“Whoa. Am not so sure about that, Kingston. Pimps are classed as sex offenders in prison… just like the paedos.”
“Don’tcha fuckin’ compare me to no nonce, man.”
“Well, my daughter’s only fourteen, you know.” He gazed at the photo on the desk.
“That’s well different. You smartarse cops always twist things. This isn’t about me, man… it’s about you.” Rushing forward a pace, he raised the gun, pointing it at O’Shea, whose head flicked edgily from side to side. Leering, he inched closer, pressing the pistol into the cop’s brow.
O’Shea winced, thought of his family.
“Thirteen rounds in this magazine, Joe. Well, there was. Unlucky for some, eh?”
Was? O’Shea glanced at the wallet photo on the desk, he tried to stop his voice from trembling, being parched wasn’t helping. “But… but what’s the point, Kingston, when I honestly did nothing wrong? The judge threw it out of court, remember?”
The gun remained pressed against O’Shea’s forehead, creating a ringed imprint. “Rah, rah, everyone knows you all piss in the same pot. Confess or die, you cunt.”
“Pleeease. You know that’s… not the case. Loads of bad guys get off with shit… including you.”
Kingston lowered the gun. “You’re pecking ma head, man. You smartarse muthas do ma box in.” He turned, picked up the gaffer tape from the desk.
“Look… before you do that… please, just let me tell you about that night.”
Kingston hesitated, glared. “It better be good, pig.”
O’Shea glanced out of the open window, the view of roof tops in the distance telling him he was high up, the blue sky and wafting breeze teasing him. “Please, hear me out…” he began.
“It was a cold night, very cold. My partner, Webber, saw Shannice standing on the corner. She was freezing, had no coat on. He shouted her over. We took her into the van, flicked the heater on and chatted. Suggested ways she could get off the brown. Rehab programs, drugs workers and all that. I even gave her a coffee from my own flask to warm her up. We were with her for about twenty-five minutes, half hour tops, when she insisted on hitting the streets again, saying she was losing money for every second spent talking to us. So we dropped her off, told her to be careful. She even thanked us for caring… for God’s sake.”
“Not good enough, O’Shea. Nice touch blaming Webber for shouting her over, though. That lying piece of shit.” He noisily yanked gaffer tape from the roll, bit the strip off.
O’Shea briefly considered his partner. They spoke daily. Surely he’d be out looking for O’Shea by now. He had to keep stalling. “Okay then. If it’s as you said, then why did Shannice not get examined at the hospital? She refused remember?”
He held the strip of duct tape outstretched, aloft, his right index finger resting perilously on the Browning’s trigger. “It was too late.”
“Exactly. She left it too late. I mean, five days later she reports it.”
He stepped forward a pace. “She was scared of repercussions.”
“I’m not having that, as it’s the easiest thing to do. Contrary to popular belief, and unlike with the public, if you accuse a cop of anything, he’s guilty straight away, until proven otherwise. Because no one likes a dirty cop, including other cops. I’ve already been through hell these last eighteen months.”
“Nice speech, O’Shea. Even I’m beginning to believe you. No wonder you got off with it.”
“Okay, why didn’t Shannice hand over the clothes she wore that night?”
“She’d already washed them.”
“Surely it was worth a shot though, if not for DNA, then fibres.”
“You’re twisting again. Don’t wind me up, you mutha. Or you’ll end up like…” He fleetingly turned to the cabinet.
“Like what… who?”
Kingston ignored him, screwed up the gaffer tape, went to the window and stared outside.
O’Shea’s fuzzy mind drifted back to his children. They were too young to lose their daddy. He cursed himself for trusting this career criminal, saying he had ‘info of interest to the police’. Should’ve taken Webber with him, dammit. He glanced at the door to his right, then back to Kingston. He heard traffic below, emanating from the gaping window. He tugged on the ligatures. No use. Think.
He swallowed then said, “My guess is that Shannice, like many others, saw an opportunity. The chance of getting off the streets by winning a shed-load of compensation, and even selling her story to the papers then living happily ever after.”
“Fuck this, man!” yelled Kingston manically, passing the metal cabinet and banging the butt of the gun on it in anger. The left cabinet door slowly opened behind him, as he turned and forced the Browning into O’Shea’s gob again.
This time Kingston leaned in real close, his contracting pupils inches from O’Shea’s. He was so close that O’Shea could smell his breath. It smelt like dog shit, a reflection of its owner.
O’Shea could just about see the left cabinet door, now fully open. His heart somersaulted and he double-blinked in a rush of panic. Webber was squashed inside, staring blankly, but seeing nothing. The bullet hole in his forehead ensured that.
Kingston seemed to notice what O’Shea had seen and glanced behind for a second. O’Shea bit down hard on the gun’s barrel. With a twist of his neck he yanked the pistol from his kidnapper’s grasp and flicked it overhead. The gun clattered on the floor. Kingston’s eyebrows shot up to his creasing brow, as O’Shea lunged forward, still tied to the chair. The cop’s gaping mouth impacted Kingston’s neck, forcing him backward onto the desk. O’Shea clamped his teeth down, feeling the skin giving then splitting. The taste of blood, bitter and metallic, flooded warm in his mouth. It spurted up into the air as he rocked his head side to side and ripped at the flesh like a starved Hyena. He felt Kingston’s desperate punches thudding on his head. But O’Shea continued, tearing into the pimp’s throat, survival instinct and desperation driving him on, until Kingston’s screams became a pathetic gurgle.
O’Shea was standing in a painfully awkward crouch, the chair sticking out behind him. He yanked repeatedly, ripping bloody tendrils out, feeling them rubbery between his teeth, Kingston now offering silent screams, his vocal cords in bits. O’Shea re-clamped his aching incisors and dragged Kingston inch by painful inch along the desk closer to the open window. Kingston’s dark, bloodshot eyes filled with fear and tears, his leg kicking out like a giant, upturned insect. O’Shea struggled with the weight, so unclamped again and sank his blood-dripping teeth into the pimp’s thigh, the punches hitting him now were like that of a child’s.
Half out of the window, Kingston’s head jerked up and O’Shea looked into those dark, defeated eyes one last time, showing their true cowardly colours as they pleaded mercy. Ignoring the pain in his gums and neck, and the increasing weight of the chair, O’Shea swiftly switched his grip. He bit hard onto Kingston’s belt, before heaving him that crucial last few inches, the slippery blood-drenched desk O’Shea’s ally.
Relief flooding him, O’Shea peered over the window’s sill… and mentally waved ‘bye-bye’ to the cop killer, whose eyes bulged in disbelief as he plummeted.
Seconds later, O’Shea heard screams from below and sank backward clumsily into the chair still strapped to him, knowing his colleagues would soon be here.
Breathlessly, he surveyed the bloody scene; incredible how much of the fluid covered the walls, desk and floor. He, himself, was soaked from head to toe in Kingston’s claret. He prayed that the pimp hadn’t dipped into too many of his girls. He spat sprays of Kingston’s sickly fluid repeatedly on to the floor in disgust.
His best mate, Webber, eyed him. How could he possibly tell Webber’s wife and kids about this? His emotions bubbled and he saw his open wallet on the floor, the blood-splattered photo of his own three children staring back up at him. It was all too much. He cried red tears.
As he heard the sirens, he reflected. He knew the world would be a better place without Kingston. And, as a vampiric smirk formed, he also knew that bitch, Shannice had enjoyed it. He could tell by her eyes.
BOOM!! what a story! Huge, mahoosive thanks to Col Bury for being my Partner in Crime for June! I cannot sing this author’s praises enough and urge you to pop over to amazon and check out his books!
Next month I am thrilled that Douglas Skelton will be my Partner In Crime …and trust me #bookjunkies….you are in for one hell of a treat!!
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