THE KILLING OF FAT BOY KOEN
Amazon Kindle version:
A thoroughly nasty short novel about ruthless
gangsters, crooked cops, torture, castration
Once again this book is for Lynne,
although she’ll probably never read it.
Well, maybe when I’m dead.
But even then, she certainly won’t like it.
Some of the characters are gay, some are bisexual and some are straight.
I have written a wicked book,
and feel spotless as the lamb.
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
CHAPTER 1. BOYS WILL BE BOYS
You have to show violence the way it is. If you don't show it realistically, then that's immoral and harmful. If you don't upset people, then that's obscenity.
Roman Polanski (1933 - )
What Terry Cain saw those animals do to Koen’s overweight young brother at the far end of Queer Street that night proves that there is no such thing as mercy.
Not in their lives, anyway.
Because things are different in that twilight place on the fringe of that dirty city. So the idea of compassion would not have been understood. The concept just doesn’t exist in this world that thrives at the edge of civilized society. Pity – or any kind of feeling for that matter - shown to one’s enemies is simply not on.
No one who witnessed the murder would have heard of mercy. They wouldn’t understand it, and not one of them would expect it.
And what MD Smith did to the Fat Boy Koen before killing him that night confirms this point in spades.
The only possible exception was Terry Cain.
But this was by no means certain, because he too had lived in the shadows all his life. He’d grown up with MD Smith in that penumbra of violence and terror on the mean side of town not far from that place where Queer Street loses itself, and where Smith proved, again, that night that evil lives among us. In a fevered display of cruelty and barbarism.
Queer Street started out as Queen Street at the industrial edge of the concrete tenements, crumbling factories and slum housing that ran down towards the river. But where it ended was hard to determine. It meandered through a wasteland of trash and detritus. A maze of abandoned white goods, smashed televisions, builders’ rubble, filthy household waste and burnt out vehicles. A few miles from the last warehouses and wire-fringed lots, it became known locally as Queer Street where it degraded and eventually lost itself somewhere in these vast acres of junk. A polluted marshland that separated the grimy metropolis from the gloomy river. So Queer Street was really a cul de sac. A no through road. A dead end.
And this was where the Fat Boy would end up dead.
It was then, and still is to this day, a remote and desolate space where bands of deprived kids and adult scavengers scratched and sifted and fossicked through the rubbish. Territorial competition resulted in savage pitched battles fought out regularly by various gangs, who practiced their skills, hoping to rise up the ladder and enter a more productive life of crime. But even they stayed on the periphery and rarely penetrated very far into the dump where mounds of debris, piles of plastic, rusting metal and broken beams gave off the smoke and fumes of spontaneous combustion, and the long-discarded carcasses of a few first-generation Serfs, their eviscerated entrails of multi-coloured flex spilling out of rusting control panels, bore witness to a failed technology.
Where the Fat Boy was going to meet his maker. If you believe in that kind of thing.
Somewhere near the centre of this god-forsaken space, a man was chained upright to a wrecked car. He was stout and in his late twenties. Since childhood his body had managed to produce just enough melanin to avoid being classified albino. And the lack of pigment in his irises gave them a red appearance that caused rapid and irregular eye movements. Using a somewhat modified aphorism, someone had once said that he looked like a rabid hyena caught in the headlights of a truck.
This was the Fat Boy, whose real name was Robert Koen, but who was sometimes called Bobby. He’d been caught, and he was about to be in the spotlight. Literally. On this occasion looking more like a scared rabbit than an African scavenger. And on that bitter night in the wasteland he’d soon be everyone’s focus of attention.
Except, perhaps, Terry Cain.
Because Terry Cain was different. Well, not much really, but a little bit different.
So this is the scene, on that fateful night, with overtones of the blasted heath: Fat Boy Bobby Koen had blood dribbling out of his mouth and snot running down his face.
He was also naked, and his ample, protruding stomach almost covered his genitals. Almost, but not quite.
Several cars, bright, shiny, top-of-the-market cars, were drawn up facing the wreck that was serving as the Fat Boy’s stake.
A band of men was watching the Fat Boy who was intermittently winging and crying and promising and screaming.
But they were not listening to him. They were waiting for things to happen. As they waited in anticipation of a memorable evening.
And Bobby Koen’s fate was not in their hands.
The Fat Boy was begging them to do something. ‘It wasn’t me. Let me go. I want outta here. I’ll do anything.’
But all to no avail.
Because everyone present, including the Fat Boy himself, knew it would never happen. He was surrounded by deaf ears. And his words fell on them without effect. They were not listening to him. He would not be set free. Not that night. Nor the next day. Or the one after. In fact not ever. Never.
Even Terry Cain knew it was not possible. No one would dare to deal with the exposed man before MD Smith arrived. In person. The Mad Dog himself. That personification of … well, evil, is probably the most accurate description. As we shall see.
Terry Cain watched a few gulls as they rose and fell from the rubbish piles in the murky surrounds. They flew in jagged, random patterns ignoring the decadent odours that seeped up through the trash and defiled the night air. A cold wind had picked up bringing with it the sound of an approaching vehicle. An expensive black car drove slowly down the rutted road carefully avoiding the cavities and potholes as it picked its way towards centre stage. It was spattered with mud and grime and it made scraping noises when its low clearance grated over corrugations in the track.
The design on Terry Cain’s neck was itching. He felt in his pocket for a tablet. He pressed one out from its silver wrapper and chewed well before swallowing. Just like it said to on the label.
He liked watching birds. Even gulls, but they suddenly flew off into the deepening night. He wished he could disappear like they had. He wanted to be out of there. Somewhere far away. For a moment his mind wandered off to exotic locations. ‘Take me away, silver bird.’
But when the car door opened, his mind came back to reality – to the Fat Boy - and the new arrival.
Things were about to happen. Things were getting started. Bad things.
Michael Douglas Smith, also known as MD Smith, and another name, got out of the car. His eyes swept quickly over his men. They were his, because over many years, he’d made them his. Every one of them was beholden unto him. They were loyal, they all relied on him, and they all did his bidding. They needed him to a man. But no one should ever forget that loyalty has its limitations. As we shall see.
When it was his turn to be scrutinized, Terry Cain thought Smith’s eye contact with him had slowed - perhaps stopped for a moment - before they moved on to the other men. He hoped this fleeting split second was an extra token of recognition, like an instructor’s wispy smile on receiving a half intelligible answer from an all but illiterate apprentice. But he was not sure. He’d never been sure with Smith. Although he’d known him all his life, he knew Smith was capable of anything. Including forgetting. If it suited him.
Yes, because all bonds are tenuous. And finite. And Terry Cain knew that Smith could and would forget everything. Including Terry Cain and the long years they’d known each other. Instantly, if it suited him. And if it was expedient to do so.
When he was out of hearing distance, most of the men called him the Mad Dog Smith.
Where this epithet had come from no one knew.
Except Terry Cain, who had been there when it was used for the first time. All those years ago.
Terry Cain had seen Smith in action many times. Including when the insulting epithet stuck and became his name. So, although it was only used behind Smith’s back, even his best friend Terry Cain thought it appropriate.
Well, here’s why.
When he was a kid, MD Smith had been a leader of kids.
He’d caused havoc in the lower grades at school. He had intimidated the teachers and bashed and bullied his classmates. He’d caused mayhem in the playground. The rough tar coating was regularly spattered with blood as he fought for control of disparate groups of kids.
And just as he fought his way through his formative years, he eventually went on to fight his way to the top. Right up to the summit of a profitable pile of crime. A very lucrative enterprise indeed.
But first he became the head of a teenage gang whose violence and ruthlessness were notorious. They’d terrorized the neighbourhood with mindless vandalism and petty delinquency, until they were supreme. And Smith had devised ways and means to force other gangs to disband, or they were driven into oblivion.
And then MD Smith became a leader of men.
He’d done time in his early twenties. And he’d made many useful contacts inside, both amongst his fellow inmates, but also with numerous crooked prison officers.
Screws have their own influence and networks, and, once out, Smith had retained and nurtured this line of connections. It soon flourished and became part of a complex grid that criss-crossed power and politics and reporting and policing.
It had proved very useful very often. And to all concerned.
But what about the epithet?
Well, the name was pinned on Smith by a dying man. A tired man. A man who had been tortured to the point of wishing for death. ‘For the love of God get it over with. Kill me now. You fucking mad dog.’
If the boot, or the name, fits, wear it, and from that day on, Smith became permanently associated with a demeanour symptomized by hallucinations, delusion of grandeur, suspiciousness, aggression, and sometimes, catatonic behaviour. And everyone who knew him, or knew of him, knew that he was mad.