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  • Published: 19 Oct 2011
  • Updated: 27 May 2014
  • Status: Complete
"I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as the lamb."
Herman Melville (1819-1891)

This is a thoroughly nasty short novel about ruthless gangsters, crooked cops, torture, castration and cannibalism. It is also a straight, bisexual and gay love story.


Graphic descriptions of gratuitous violence may offend certain readers, as may the expletive laden dialogue, explicit descriptions of sex acts and the sexual predilections of some of the characters.

It is not for the faint hearted. If your taste in crime fiction leans towards Agatha Christie, it may be better to stop reading now.

But if you feel up to a tough, violent, gritty gangster story, please read on…


6. 18 - 20

18.   ONE DOWN

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

Plato. (427—347 BC)


Two of Koen’s brothers were playing soccer in the street at the front gate of Koen’s house. It was their job to guard the front gate. James drove up to them and opened his window.

       ‘Your brother wants to see me again. Know what it’s about?’

       They looked at each other. The question had thrown them. They were confused. People usually told them what to do. Hardly anyone ever asked them anything.

They’d searched him the first time he’d been to see Koen. This time they simply opened the gate.

       James drove up the driveway past abandoned cars, broken fridges and television sets to the front door.

       Not searching James had been a mistake. Or perhaps not, from their point of view, because they were still alive and playing with a ball at the gate. He’d not had to kill them to get in.

       James took a long barrel pistol out of the boot. He unscrewed the silencer. When he used the gun, he wanted it to make a noise.

       He punched a code into the system. It still worked.

       ‘Even too fucking stupid to change that,’ he said to himself.

       James went upstairs and through a door into Aladdin’s cave. The room was a violent mess of clashing colours and garish retro furniture and ornaments.

       ‘How’d you get in?’ Koen asked in a tone that showed only a mild hint of surprise. ‘I’m supposed to key a code in to open the front door before you come up here.’

       ‘Same number they gave me last time. So your system’s suspect. I’d have it checked, if I were you.’       They looked at each other. ‘But it’s too late for that now,’ James added.

       ‘Fucking idiots, my brothers. There must be something wrong with the genes in my family.’

       A long silence.

       Then Koen said, ‘Well, smart arse? What news? Have you got Smith yet? It seems not. My informants tell me that the Mad Dog’s still walking around. Alive and well, apparently. With his tail in the air. When do we see some action? Or have you come to give me my money back?’

       James walked over to Koen and shot him in the mouth. The first bullet killed him, taking most of his brain out of the back of the skull. He fired another six times until Koen’s head looked like sausage meat.

       ‘No point in taking chances,’ he said to himself.

He took out a silencer and screwed it onto the barrel. He put the gun back in his pocket and went out to his car.

When he got to the gate there was no sign of Koen’s brothers. They’d obviously heard the sound of shooting. James drove off doing some sums in his head. The mental calculations about how much he had just earned.


Finding Koen had been the easy part of the assignment.

But it was not that simple for James to conclude the other part of the deal. The main prize. The big one. Getting hold of Smith. In the middle of his Warehouse lair. At the heart of that dark labyrinth of crumbling buildings.

       James worked long and hard for his money on this, the Mad Dog, part of his contract.

       Of course there was also the other matter that would need attention: Terry Cain. But James knew that would be like taking candy from a kid. Killing Terry Cain would be easy.


Everyone knew who MD Smith was. And where he was. But how to get to him, well that was another thing altogether. A completely different kettle of fish.

James thought about it for a long time. He made copious notes. He made drawings. He sketched plans. On paper and on a computer. He drew coloured arrows on his scribblings. He looked up documents, deeds and records.

He went for a long walks. He made telephone calls.


       He made more calls.

       More nothing.

       James thought hard. Then he dialled a number.

       A man’s voice said: ‘Yea?’

       James said, ‘ Slimy? It’s James here.’



       Dead quiet.

       James tried a new tack. ‘OK, OK, I’ll start again. Here goes. Hello, do you have a Mr Bosco there? This is James calling for him. He around today?’

       ‘Yea, I’m here. But like I’ve said before, if call me Slimy and I’ll hang up.’

       ‘I’m looking for information on Smith. You know him don’t you?’

       ‘I don’t think so.’

       ‘Come on. MD Smith. Don’t fuck me around. I’ve got lots on you. So be polite.’

       ‘Yea, well, you might have. But I value my life. I don’t want to be dead.’

       ‘I need info about where he lives. That Warehouse place.’

       ‘Fuck off James. You want to get me killed?’

       James chewed on a matchstick. He bit the inside of his cheek. ‘It’s worth a lot of money.’

       Silence. James said nothing. Bosco said nothing.

       Eventually Bosco broke the silence. ‘How much you got?’


       ‘You’ll pay in the usual way?’

       ‘Just fucking give me the information.’

       ‘It’s on the East Side. Down by the river. But it’s a no go area for the likes of you.’

       ‘I know where it is. Everyone does. But I want to know how to get inside.’

       They talked for quite a while. James made notes.        Bosco babbled on. ‘Well, there’s not much on it. No plans. No photos of the inside. It used to be a series of factories. Smith’s made lots of alterations over the years. Apparently it’s impossible to get into or to get to him. On the outside it looks like a pile of eating-places and betting shops. I’m told there used to be several entrances, but they’ve been walled up. So now there’s only one. It’s been turned into a fortress.’

       There was a long silence.

       ‘Yes? I’m waiting. Get on with it.’

       ‘Well, my information is that you’ll need very high-tech specialist help. It’s virtually impossible to get in without passwords and codes.’

       James asked more questions. He made more notes.

       Eventually James said, ‘How much for this?’

       Slimy told him.

       ‘What? You slimy bastard. You’ve told me almost fuck all.’

       ‘Just send the dough in the usual way. Otherwise you won’t get nothing in future.’

       ‘I should have put you away when I had the chance.’

       James put the phone back in his pocket and took out a new match. He used it to scratch in his ear.



Early to rise and early to bed makes a male healthy, wealthy and dead.

James Thurber. (1894—1961)


Smith phoned Terry Cain. ‘You better get over here because I’ve got her with me. I found out where you hid her and I’ve brought her back.’

       Smith hung up. But there was no doubting what he meant. Terry Cain knew immediately that he was talking about Marge.

       Terry Cain also knew that a crisis lay just ahead. He sensed that it would end in tears. But whose tears? Or whose blood?


Inside the gloomy interior, Terry Cain saw that some of the Warehouse’s cameras were working. A rare event, but Smith must have found someone to switch them on.

       He was sweating. His stomach started playing up as he wound his way through the maze of corridors. He was on his way towards the Mad Dog’s lair. Hoping to find Marge. Hoping she was still alive. Hoping he’d be able to talk Smith out of doing anything rash. Hoping that Smith would remember how long they’d been friends.

       Terry Cain knew he was being watched on a monitor. He was trying to work out what would happen.  He knew by now Smith knew about the money. That’s why he’d kidnapped Marge. And he knew Terry Cain would try to get her back. Smith always knew everything. But Terry Cain hoped against hope that he wouldn’t know about the razor.


It was an ugly sight. And Terry Cain detested ugly people. Old and ugly bodies. Wasted bodies. Flabby. Flawed. Wrinkled. Bodies ravaged by age and time. And that was what he saw. In bed. On the mattress. With the sheets thrown off. Both bare-arse naked. Marge and MD Smith. In a brilliantly illuminated, windowless room.       They certainly didn’t have a lot going for them. In fact, Terry Cain decided it was better not to look at them at all.

       He felt a surge of revulsion. Quite unlike the first few times it had happened. When there were three in a bed and the middle one said, ‘Roll over, roll over.’ Which had been so enjoyable. So long ago. But only once or twice, Terry Cain reminded himself. Those few ecstatic times with Smith and Marge. The good times.

       But that was not quite what Smith had had in mind. A fun time was not part of his plan. Because his idea was payback, not pleasure.

       It was all about revenge. He wanted to do something that was just plain evil.


Smith was naked when he’d opened the door. Flaccid, shrunken, and nothing to write home about. A pitiable site. But a frightening one for Terry Cain, because of the gun. Smith had it in his hand. Blue-black and big. A deadly lump of steel.

       Smith motioned Terry Cain into the room and said, ‘Get your gear off. All of it. She’s waiting for us. It’s going to be just like the old days.’

       That’s how it started. The rerun of the scenario played out several times in the distant past. Terry Cain and Smith and Marge, together again. Without a stitch of clothing between them.

       Marge’s dress and underwear were neatly hung over a chair. She was slumped back against the headboard, gravity pulling her ageing breasts towards her waist. Smith’s clothes were nowhere to be seen. He was an ugly sight without them.

       Terry Cain kicked his into a pile under the bed. He stood staring at Smith, waiting for the next move.

       Smith pointed at Marge. ‘Get onto the bed next to her.’

       Years ago the excitement had been electric. Only this time, all Terry Cain could feel was the palpable presence of fear.


Then Smith started laughing. A maniacal, cackling laughter. Standing over them with his cock in one hand and his gun in the other.

‘Get it up Terry Cain. Get on top of her. Like you did in the old days. Like we both did.’

But it was impossible. Fear had eclipsed any possibility of excitement. An erection and, therefore, penetration, was totally beyond Terry Cain. Even when coaxed on by Smith’s gun.


Smith stopped laughing. He suddenly stepped forward and smashed his gun down on Terry Cain’s head.

       Terry Cain fell sideways onto Marge’s body.

       Marge was talking about clocks. She asked him what time it was. She said the one she was looking at had no numbers on its face. And the hands seemed to be stuck.

       But Terry Cain didn’t answer. Terry Cain couldn’t answer. Because Terry Cain thought he was dead.


When he came round, Marge was staring at him. She appeared to be trying to say something. But no words came out of her mouth.

       Smith was in bed on the other side of Marge with the sheets pulled over himself. His gun lay on a low table next to the bed.

       Marge said, ‘I’ve got a splitting headache and my rock’s starting to roll again. It’s moving about all over. Inside my head.’

       Terry Cain put his fingers on her lips.

       ‘Shhhh. You’ll be alright. You’ll be OK, my darling. I promise.’

       But it wasn’t true. She’d never be normal again. He knew it, and she too appeared to have some idea that things were on the skids. She lay back and closed her eyes.

       So Terry Cain just lay there and tried to think.

He felt depleted by fright and fear as he tried to work out what Smith was going to do next.

       But Smith didn’t seem to be in any kind of a hurry.

Which gave Terry Cain a chance with the crude and simple plan he was formulating.

       He did not want to look at the two bodies that were in bed with him. But there was problem with that strategy. He couldn’t afford to take his eyes off Smith.


Terry Cain’s only advantage was that he knew that Smith was about to kill him. And Marge. And Terry Cain knew that Smith would want to do it as violently as possible.

He also knew that he only had one chance. The childishly simple plan that was floating around in his head.

       What he had in mind would depend on split second timing. He knew the odds that it would work were less than a pound to a pinch of shit. But there was no alternative.

       So it was just a matter trying to decide when to strike.

       He looked at Marge. He tried to concentrate.

       It would have to be quick and sudden — when Smith was least expecting a reaction.

       This was going to be difficult with Smith lying on the other side of Marge. Only one body space away.

       Terry Cain made up his mind.  He worked out that lying there without doing anything was not on. It would only give Smith the advantage.

       He moved his arm over the edge of the bed and found his pile of clothing. He saw Smith watching him. But he knew Smith couldn’t see the short cut throat razor he’d had in his pocket. Terry Cain eased it out slowly. Then, with the handle in his hand, he relaxed back onto the mattress.

       Smith shifted onto one elbow and stared at Terry Cain. He reached out towards his gun. His hand curled round the cold blue-black metal. He moved his index finger onto the trigger.

       Terry Cain lunged at him over Marge’s body. With stiff, jabbing movements, he drew the blade several times across Smith’s face. The cuts were deep and blood spurted out in time with his heart’s contractions. It gushed out from several severed veins. The blade kept cutting. It found its way through Smith’s fingers. It went into the neck they were trying to protect. Searching for arteries.

       Smith sat up with a fountain of blood pouring down onto his chest. His heart pumped faster from shock and surprise. The red stuff squirted onto the sheets and pillows. More stabbing. Deeper incisions. Life threatening cuts.

       Marge woke up screaming. The rock was moving in her head.

       Terry Cain’s razor made a deep incision across Smith’s cheek. A row of yellow teeth leered out through the gap.

       Terry Cain leaned across Marge trying to cut Smith again.

       But the Mad Dog’s time-ravaged body was still wiry and strong. He fought back as some of his vital fluid flowed into his eyes. Blind with blood he squirmed his weight over Marge, and fought his way on top of Terry Cain.

       The blade fell onto the sheet.

       Smith was trying to dig at Terry Cain’s eyes with the ends of his blood stained fingers.

       Terry Caine pulled at the hole he’d made in Smith’s face. It was the only thing he could think of to do. And the only thing his fingers could get purchase on.

       The blood-stained bodies rolled onto the floor.

Adrenalin-induced strength got Terry Cain to his feet.

       Smith crawled about, leaving a bright red trail on the floor.

       Terry Cain knew what he was looking for. He reacted spontaneously. He took one last look at Marge and ran to the door. It was the start of the long, dark passage to freedom.

       Smith found his gun.

       Marge’s shrieks filled the bedroom. She shouted at Smith that Doctor Abdeer had just run out of the door. ‘He stole that drawing of your fucking clock,’ she added.

       Terry Cain was in the long, dark corridor, hell bent on escaping from the nightmare.

       Smith was at the door hell-bent on killing Terry Cain. He fired into the darkness. The cartridge sped into the long, dark distance. The deadly lead found only brick at the end of the long, dark space. But a piece of the shattered bullet found a fleshy spot in Terry Cain’s calf.

       Terry Cain was running. Running. And running.

Run Rabbit run Rabbit run, run, run. Away from the Mad Dog Smith with his gun, gun, gun.

       Down the stairs and through a maze of corridours. In and out of doors and archways. Across the courtyard. Into a passage. Through an opening. And another and another.

       Not a person in sight. The Warehouse seemed empty. Thank Christ for small mercies.


There it was just ahead. A heavy metal door. The way out into the street.   Quick, push it open. Before Smith flips the switch. But ‘Close’ was already activated.

       Fuck — it won’t give!

       Push harder you prick. Punch in the code. Try that. Try anything.

       Yes, but what the fuck is the code?

       Stop. Slow down. Think. Now try again.

       Terry Cain hit the numbers he’d dredged up from a dark place deep inside him.


       Try another sequence.

       He took a deep breath and tried a different code.

       The door swung open and Terry Cain fell out into the street. Salvation at last.

       He ran across the cobbles, slipping on blood.


Smith felt his central nervous system weakening and fading. He’d lost a lot of blood. He had very little energy left, and his body was slowing down. He fell forward onto the floor. His strength was leaving along with the red stuff.

       He turned towards Marge and shot her in the face. The noise was enormous. But it stopped her talking about her drawings of fucking clocks.

       He sat down on the bed and looked at her.

She lay back in the bloody sheets. She made a few gasping noises as the blood ran down her throat and into her lungs.

       Smith and Marge looked as if they had been wrestling in crimson paint.

       He lay down in the blood next to her. Then he shot her again just to make sure.

       He put the gun down on the floor.

       A few minutes went by. He got up and went into the bathroom again. Without his gun.

       He grabbed the toilet bowl as he slumped to the floor. He rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling.

       But he was not dead. And he was determined not to die. He just needed a little time to plan his next move.


Wounded and bleeding, Terry Cain ran across the cobbles. He did not see James at the far end of the alley. He ran on, towards some parked cars, leaving a trail of congealing blood.

       He opened the door of the taxi and climbed in before the driver could lock his doors. Peering into his rear view mirror, the cab owner saw a dirty apparition in the back of his car. This was Terry Cain who was covered in blood and stark bollocks naked to boot.



Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

Benjamin Franklin. (1706—1790)


James turned into the ally and walked towards the Smith Warehouse. His target was what looked like an entrance. It was the last one he was going to try. Just then a naked man came running out of the door. He was limping badly as he crossed the cobbles leaving a trail of blood behind him. Off he ran, like a scared hare.

       James shook his head in disbelief.

       The heavily reinforced door was still open. And no one seemed to be there to close it.


The naked Terry Cain was a very ugly sight with his cock bouncing from side to side. And slapping against his thighs. He disappeared into the dark. He ran on towards several taxis waiting for anyone who might turn up at this ungodly hour. Run rabbit run.

       James ran over to the open door, but he needn’t have bothered. It had not moved since Terry Cain’s mind had dredged up the correct code.

       James walked carefully into the dark system of passages that led deep into the Warehouse. He was soon lost in the darkness.

       But when he heard the shot, he knew that his luck was holding. Although he didn’t know where it came from, sound of the gun was a godsend. It told him that he was within a stone’s throw of his quarry.

       James felt his way furtively down a dim passage. He passed several doors, and then a dimly lit toilet complex. It was just like a railway station, he thought. ‘Only it smells a lot worse. How the fuck do these people live here,’ he asked himself. Then he heard water running in the plumbing. Then he heard another shot. But this time it was close by. He was almost on top of the sound. So close, that he guessed it was behind the door dead ahead of him. He turned the handle and gave a shove.

       James found a dead woman and a blood-drenched bed.

       Then he saw Smith lying on the floor in a filthy bathroom. He was trying to quench the flow of red fluid pumping out of his face and neck. The bath towel he was using had changed from dull white to bright crimson.

       James walked over to him from behind. At the last moment, Smith saw James’s gun in the grimy mirror.

James said, ‘This will probably come as a surprise to you. I wanted to kill you slowly but I just don’t have the time.’ He shot Smith in both knees. The Mad Dog’s screams bounced around the apartment. They skidded off the walls and echoed throughout the Warehouse complex.

James saw that Smith was on the edge of departure, but he was no longer screaming. The shock of cuts and bullet wounds and falling blood pressure had numbed Smith’s body. It was on the verge of collapse. As he started the slide towards death, James saw that his lips moving.

The words were squeezed out slowly between teeth broken by years of neglect. James listened carefully. Smith spoke softly.

       ‘James. You always were one. Even after they kicked you out of the Force. I knew it when you took that dive in the ring. You’re a fucking cunt, James, that’s what you are.’

       James shot the Mad Dog in the face. Then for good measure he fired into Smith’s head again at point blank range.


He made a phone call to Evans to report on his progress. Once again he got no answer. He thought about this for a moment. It wasn’t a good sign. But it wasn’t his problem.

He booked into a cheap hotel in a satellite town. There were still a few loose ends to take care of before he could finally rest in peace. He lay in the cramped bath and thought about Terry Cain.


Terry Cain was at the age where he’d started to worry about things. Things that had never crossed his mind before in his life.

       Personal hygiene. Did his breath smell? Was his body odour offensive? Was he still attractive to people? Was he still okay in bed? Would his erection stay the course?

       He thought about the pain in his stomach. Could it somehow be connected to the bird tattoo on his neck? The swallow that started itching when the pain in his guts began gnawing at its walls.

       But there were more serious things for him to worry about right now. Like who was out to kill him? And when was he likely to try?

       Terry Cain was tired and he was not as sharp as he used to be.

       Plus he’d made a cardinal error.

       He’d started using stuff. It helped him feel on top of things. It calmed him down. It stopped his stomach churning. And the tattoo stopped sweating. He slept better. He didn’t eat much though, and now he had trouble thinking things through. The stuff didn’t sort that out. Unfortunately for Terry Cain, it also made him ask himself a really silly question: I’m on top of this now. What’s there to worry about?


So the stuff made him feel much better. Especially now that Marge — bless her soul — was out of the picture. Now he only had Ben to worry about. Everything else was looking good. He had a very large amount of cash. He had lots of stuff. And here he was, safely squirrelled away with Ben in their little bolt hole. Or love nest. Or drug den. Without a care in the world. Or so it seemed.


Over a lifetime, James had benefited from all kinds of income and cash flows associated with his rank. Those personal sources of finance he’d developed all over the city. So James was a wealthy man. Very wealthy. And his plan was to become even wealthier over the next few days. Because most of the job was already done. Only a few loose ends left to tie up. And he’d call it quits as soon as he’d killed Terry Cain.


James knew that Terry Cain had a weakness. And he knew exactly how he was going to exploit this frailty in Terry Cain’s character. This thing that Terry Cain though was a secret.

       James was always prepared to pay for information. It often cost him quite a lot. But it invariably saved lots of fucking around. Provided he got his money’s worth.

       Naturally Terry Cain’s secret was not a secret from everyone. No secret is, and some people knew all about Terry Cain. But most of them were no longer around. Apart from Ben, that is.

       The secret James was about to exploit was to do with things that had happened a long time ago. When Terry Cain was at school. But a few of these…let’s say, indiscretions…had occurred after he’d left school. And even after he’d passed through his teenage years.

       Like that time with Mad Dog Smith. After they’d been to the Quarry Bar. When they’d spent the night at that motel. So now James was going to put his knowledge of Terry Cain’s peccadillos to the test — and use it to his advantage. That tiny morsel of information the motel owner had passed on to someone. Who had passed it onto someone else. Until eventually it had gone into one of the files on the Smith gang.


So Terry Cain was in hiding. And James knew he’d have to work hard to finish the contract. But someone, James was sure, would know something. And he would pay. Because, in that desperate city, someone would have seen something. Or heard somebody talking. In a toilet, or in a club, or a pub, or somewhere. So provided money was put on the table, it would attract the details that James wanted.

       Terry Cain, in his turn, knew that someone would soon be after him. He also knew that this person would have access to enormous recourses. All those taxpayer funded gadgets, if and when required. And links with an extensive network of narks and snouts and other slime.


But James’s plan was much more simple than that. Because he knew that finding Terry Cain would be just a matter of time. Sooner or later someone somewhere would pick something up. And James would be one of the first to hear about it.

       So James let it be known that he wanted information. He put it a little more strongly with some contacts. He demanded information. He spread it around that he’d be in the Queen’s Head Bar on the Bridge Road every night.

       The news soon got about that James wanted news. And everyone knew he’d pay. Big money. Because by now everyone knew that he was a bounty hunter. And it was not long before the network responded.


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