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  • Published: 19 Oct 2011
  • Updated: 27 May 2014
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"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…


3. 9 - 11


Power is what men seek and any group that gets it will abuse it.

Abraham Lincoln. (1809—1865)


The Smith versus Koen gang war soon ignited into a citywide battle. At first the goal was revenge. Then it became a fight for survival. And even those few who thought they were in a safe place were caught up in the violence.


Most members of the various law enforcement agencies thought that gang wars didn’t matter. The Koens and Smiths had been at it for years, they said.

       ‘Let them kill each other as long as they like. It’s a bonus for the taxpayer, and the more these gangs kill each other, the better it’ll be for everyone,’ they said. 

       But those who received their incomes from the free flow of stuff, saw things differently. They knew the mayhem was disruptive.

       Why were the apples in the cart being upset, they asked? What about the stuff that everyone relied on? Who was looking after distribution while all this was going on? And what about cash flow? Who was keeping an eye on that? All those brown paper parcels of money that needed to be delivered. Would the regular payments remain regular?


The Chief Commissioner was known to everyone as the Big Man. He sat in a position of considerable clout. But with it came responsibility. That’s why those with even more power him had put him there. His main job was to ensure that all those special commercial relationships stayed in place. So that the distribution of stuff continued unhindered. And no one was inconvenienced.


       At the other end of the spectrum — at the working end — was where the two main gangs operated. Koen and his brothers — and Smith, ably assisted by Terry Cain and a group of very hard men.


A mesh of corrupt relationships covered the entire city. It held the fabric of commerce together, and allowed the stuff to flow freely. It was a loose commercial structure from which everyone benefitted. So it was in everyone’s interests to maintain and support the system at every level.

       In short, the city was built on a foundation of crime, corruption and sleaze.

       From time to time, of course, things went wrong, and there were bashings and beatings and even killings.

But this time it was different. When bodies started turning up all over the place, things changed. A few powerful influences started saying that the commercial life of the city was under threat.

       Then those in higher than high places started asking questions. Who was supposed to keep an eye on things? Was he on holiday? Was he retired or had he just fast asleep? Everyone was great friends when times were good. But they were far less friendly when things turned sour. And when the temperature went up even higher, someone eventually asked a blunt question. ‘What the fuck do we pay the Big Man for anyway?’


The Chief Commissioner started taking flack. Erstwhile friends and political allies dumped him like a ton of hot bricks. Some seemed to have forgotten the benefits of the relationships that he had developed with them.

       The Big Man realized he had to act. As Top Cop he had to decide. He had to do something dramatic to show that he was still in control.

       HE shrugged. Then he made his decision. ‘Fuck them. Fuck the lot of them.’

       It was that simple, really. Think of yourself and fuck everybody else.


He picked up the phone and dialled a number. He spoke to a man he’d never met, but one he knew all about. One he knew he could rely on. He’d the checked officer’s files and computer records. He’d seen the blots and blemishes. The mistakes the officer had made. He told the man who answered his call to come to a meeting. In a room near the Big Man’s office.

       They met late at night. Only the two of them were present. An hour before the meeting, the Big Man walked around the room, slowly and methodically. He picked up several phones. He took out a small device and switched it on. He pointed it in various directions. He read the dial. But he found nothing untoward at the heart of his empire.


The officer’s name was Evans and he had a patchy reputation. He’d been caught drunk driving. He’d tried to bribe his way out of it. He’d savagely beaten a teenager in custody. And then he came close to killing a fellow officer who tried to intervene.

       At their meeting the Big Man briefed Evans carefully. Very carefully. He got straight to the point. He told Evans he was fed up to the teeth with the gang war. ‘All these killings. It’s bad for business,’ he said. ‘I want you to see someone who can stop it. And to help him wherever possible.’

       The Big Man paused, looking intently at Evans. He came to the point. His orders were quite simple and unambiguous. ‘So I want Koen and Smith both dead.’

       Evans nodded knowingly.

The Big Man went on. ‘Then we’ll fill the gaps with new faces. Ugly faces perhaps, but faces that we’ll control.’

       He thought for a while, staring at the ceiling. ‘And I know just the man to help us. He’s an ex-cop who got into a spot of bother and had to leave the force. But we looked after him when he left. So he owes us. And when he’s done his job, we’ll clean up the dregs.’

       There was another long pause. Then, ominously, ‘At which point we’ll decide what to do with him.’

       Evans studied The Big Man. Lots of questions jostled in his mind, but he kept his trap shut.

       The Big Man went on. ‘So I want you to contact him. And I want him to contact them and play one off against the other. Because I want their men to go on killing each other. For a while anyway. With support from our people where necessary.’

       Evans nodded to show he understood.

       The Big Man looked up at the ceiling again, as if searching for further inspiration.

‘I want the gangs to wear each other out. Then I want him to kill their leaders’

       The Big Man’s summarised his orders. ‘Just to be absolutely sure, I’m going to repeat the most important points again.’

       He held up a finger. ‘One — The crucial thing is this. In the end, Smith and Koen must both be dead. Like last week’s mutton. And buried and gone and out of sight forever.’

       He paused for a while, and then he added, ‘Two — And there’ll be a substantial bonus for getting rid of the one they call Terry Cain. He must be killed too.’

       The Big Man was silent for a moment. ‘And three — You must make this very plain to him. He’ll be rich for life. When it’s all over, we’ll just hand over the cash. No questions asked.’

       Evans waited. The only time his eyes flickered was when the Chief Commissioner mentioned the amount involved.



Once the bell rings you’re on your own.

Joe Louis. (1914—1981)


Evans parked in a disabled bay.

       It was just another dirty, seedy neighbourhood of disused warehouses and boarded up shops.

       He got out of his car but left it unlocked.

He spoke to a teenage boy. ‘Hey kid! Here’s twenty.’ The kid looked suspicious.

‘Whadda you want? I’m not selling my bum, if that’s what you think.’

Evans was not easily amused, but he smiled. ‘Stay here until I get back. And tell anyone who goes anywhere near my vehicle that it’s a pig’s car, OK?’

The kid laughed. He took the money and sat on a step near the pig’s car.

‘I’ll be gone less than half an hour. Twenty minutes probably. That’s a lot of money per minute. Much more than you’d ever get even if you were selling your arse.’

Evans walked across the road. He went through some double doors into what looked like a derelict building.

He went up a flight of stairs into a smoky space that had been turned into a gymnasium. Daylight bright lights were blazing down on a dozen boxing rings. Teenage kids were using them. They were all endeavouring to beat the living shit out of each other.

Several groups of older men stood about. Most of them wore raincoats. But some were in tracksuits. They were the ones who made sure the kids kept on bashing away.

What those in coats did was uncertain. They were just there. Most were big and ugly.

A huge man stopped Evans. He was wearing only tracksuit pants and runners. His powerful chest and arms were covered in tattoos.

Evans said, ‘I’m looking for James.’

‘Who wants him?’

‘Just tell him someone wants him.’

‘Listen, I need more than someone. And I don’t have the time to fuck around. So tell me who you are so I can tell him.’

‘Tell him it’s Evans. He’ll understand and he’ll want to see me. He’ll know it’s in his best interests.’

The man looked closely at Evans. ‘So I’m to tell Mr J James esquire that a Mr Someone Evans wants to see him?’

‘You got it in one,’ said Evans.

‘Wait here.’

Evans sat on a plastic chair near one of the rings. He watched the kids attacking each other.


Suddenly a man was standing next to him.

Evans had not noticed James arriving. He was annoyed at this lapse of concentration.

The man stared down at Evans who stared up at the man.

‘I’m James. Who wants him?’

‘I’m Evans. I’m here with a message. It's from the Big Man.’

‘Not sure I want to hear it.’

‘I’m sure you will. I know you will. Because you’ll do well out of it. If you handle things correctly. And you’ll make more than you did taking that dive. Falling on your face in front of Tiger Bay Cray. And letting everyone think what a ponce you were.’

James took a match out of his pocket. ‘That was a long time ago. I needed the money. And I crucified him in our next fight.’

‘I know you did. I was there. I paid to watch.’

James looked at Evans. He put the match in his ear and scratched it around. He said nothing.

Evans gave James the Big Man’s message. ‘So, The Big Man says you should be able to get it done. He says you’re the only one who has a chance. He says he wants them both dead. And he says he’ll pay bundles for you to have them rubbed out. Simple as that. He believes that once they’re both dead, this dog eat dog thing will be over. And the good citizens of our great city will just get on with their lives. And let us get on with ours.’

‘Simple for him to say, perhaps. Fucking difficult to do, I’d say.’

‘You’ll have help, if you want it. Just like the old days. Every kind of support you need. All the resources of all departments. No expense spared. And then the bag of gold at the end of the rainbow. So get them killed — all three of them.’

Evans and James spoke the same language, and it looked as if they could do business together. Evans could now report back that to the Big Man that his plan was about to go into action.

But then James added one tiny little minor hitch. He took the match out of his ear and looked at it to see what he’d collected. ‘Tell him OK. But for double the money.’

Evans sighed. This was routine. It was the way things were done. ‘I’m sure he’ll consider your counter offer. I’ll let you know.’

The outcome was inevitable. The deal was consummated and James took the job. His task was to kill Koen and the Mad Dog Smith. And, almost but not quite an afterthought, he had to take out Terry Cain too.

James handed Evans a very amateurishly designed and cheaply printed business card.

‘A tight-arse when it comes to spending money, I see,’ he said as he read:

J. James Esquire

Difficult debts Collected

People Handled

Miscellaneous Investigations Anything


James disappeared back into the darkness. A bell rang. The kids started punching each other again.

Evans pocketed the card then got up and left.

He went back to his car.

The teenager stood up from his step when Evans opened the driver’s door.

‘You owe me.’

Evans looked at the boy. ‘Fuck off, I’ve paid you.’

The boy said, ‘You been gone twenty-three minutes. You said twenty. You owe me three quid. Even a kid can work that out.’

Evans laughed. He didn’t laugh often. He gave the kid another ten.


James knew he’d have to move quickly.

It was not going to be easy. Killing them both wouldn’t quite be like taking candy from kids. Those in the know would soon know what was going on. Then everyone would know.

And James worried these days. Much more than he used to. About his age. About his virility. About his teeth. About pissing in the night. And now about sorting this Smith and Koen thing out.


The problem was that any plan he thought through turned out to be very complicated.

Killing killers might sound simple enough. But, whichever way he looked at it, it always came out far too complicated. The plans James considered always involved too many people.

He put a matchstick into his ear and stirred it around thoughtfully.

Then he had a flash of inspiration. He saw a blinding light. But it wasn’t a burning bush. And he didn’t become a believer. What he saw was the way through this amazing opportunity that had come to him so late in life.

It was glaringly simple really. No matter which way he looked at it, he decided it was perfect. The answer was that he’d simply kill both of them. By himself. He’d do it alone. Nothing could be more simple than using just one person. To kill two. Well, OK, three. And maybe a few others along the route, if they got in the way. Collateral damaged was always part of the deal.

Despite a few ageing man doubts, James warmed to his decision. He felt satisfied. He’d solved his problem. In a very practical way. In the end he felt quite pleased with himself. He took the match out of his ear and put it in his pocket. He hated wastage. He liked saving matches.



Big Brother is watching you.

George Orwell. (1903—1950)


James dialled a number.

       A man’s voice said: ‘Yea?’

       James said, ‘That you Slimy? James here.’

       ‘Yea. I recognized the voice. And I’ve told you before, don’t call me Slimy. Wot you want.’

‘Koen. How do I get to him?’

‘You pay me for info. That’s how.’

‘Why the fuck do you think I’m calling?’

‘Everyone knows where he lives.’

‘I need more than that. Some details on how to get past his front gate. I know you collect that kind of information.’


Behind a very ugly steel security gate, the driveway led to the front door. But before it got there, it meandered through a garden of weeds and trash. Various expensive security systems competed with each other, but they were seldom operative. No one bothered to turn them on. It was always a problem to find someone who knew the codes and passwords.


The man removed the match from his ear as he came into the room. They stared at each other, sizing each other up.

Eventually the man said, ‘I’m James.’

Koen rubbed his nose. ‘I know that already. Think you’d get in here if I didn’t?’

They stared at each other a while longer, then Koen said, ‘Well, you know who I am. These are my brothers. Get on with it.’

James looked at the other men in the room. He looked at his match and said, ‘The Big Man sent me.’ He paused for a long moment and then went on. ‘It’s about your brother, Fat Boy.

A stony silence filled the room.

James went on. ‘You needed some help to pay Smith back.’

Still Koen did not respond.

James started moving the match back up towards his ear, but halfway he changed his mind as if he’d been reprimanded for what he was about to do. His hand dropped to his side again.

Still Koen simply stared at James. A long, drawn out silence. The silence of the grave, some would say, but this was the silence of trying to read minds.

At last the Fat Boy’s brother spoke. ‘OK. So what makes you think you can help us?’

James just looked at him for a while. He seemed to be thinking. Then he said, ‘I was at the Kremlin, as it’s called, for nearly twenty years.’

For a while no one said anything.

Then Koen asked a question. ‘OK. You were at there a long time. So what?’

‘So I know how to get things done, that's what. You might kill a few of Smith’s sidekicks, but you’ll never get Smith. You haven’t got the resources. And you’re not smart enough.’

Koen pinched his nostrils while he considered the insult. He thought carefully about his reply. ‘But maybe you were just chained to a desk and shining your bum on a chair for all those years.’

It was James’s turn to flinch at the insult. But he controlled his anger.

The hand with the match was lifting up slowly. Then it stopped. He scrutinised the end and flicked off some wax with his thumb.

He thought for a while and decided to answer.

‘I know what to look for. And I know how to get into the Smith warehouse.’

This was a lie, but James knew that Koen wouldn’t know this. He went on ‘More importantly, I know how to clean up afterwards. Which is important. When an expert makes sure there’s no evidence, no one can come after you. So it’s game over as far as the law is concerned.’

Koen thought for a long time. ‘How much?’

‘A lot. I charge lots for this kind of thing.’


‘Because I'm good value. No one else can offer you the services I can.’ James paused. He started picking his teeth with the match.

‘OK. Let me think it over.’

James said, ‘No. It’s now or never. I need to know right away. I don’t have the time to mess around and I know you can afford it. I know what you’re worth. And it’s not only for me. It’s for all the peripherals. All the clean up details. It’s for me and my team. You buy the full package.’

James handed Koen a folded sheet of paper.

‘Holy Christ!’ said Koen.

James shrugged. He waited a while. Then he put the match in his mouth and started moving towards the door. He knew how to play this kind of game.

Koen put up both hands, palms out. ‘Stop! OK. You win. You’ve got me and you’ve got the job. Now get out and get on with it.’

James came back towards Koen. ‘Half now.’

Koen showed his anger. The red in the whites of his eyes blazed. ‘Wot?’ was all he could say.

James just looked at him with his hand out, ready for Koen to put something into it.

With considerable effort Koen said, ‘Don’t fuck us around! What do you mean half now?’

‘I need working capital. This is a big operation. Take it or leave it.’


Then at last: ‘OK. Like I said. You win.’

James said, ‘Get it then.’

Koen found the money. The brothers scratched around in several rooms and came up with the goods. Even James was amazed at the number of bags they produced. And all full of pictures of Her Majesty the Queen of the Country. In a mix of large and small denomination notes.


In a shabby room with the curtains closed, two women were watching a porn movie.

They were close to each other and both were naked.

One was drinking beer straight from the bottle. She had an arabesque tattooed around both nipples, which were shiny with saliva.

A phone rang. They both ignored it. But it rang again, making a weird ringing tone as it vibrated around in a circle on the floor. Five rings and then it stopped.

And then again. Five shrill peals as it moved across the floor and then nothing.

The third time it rang five times and stopped, they disentangled themselves from what they were doing. As it rang again, the one with floral nipples picked up the handset.

It was Koen. ‘I need summink. And I need it quick.’

‘Can’t do it now, I’m watching a video. A very interesting one. I’ll do it later.’

Koen ignored her. He went on talking. ‘James is his name. Write it down. Find out about him. He claims to have been at the Kremlin. For twenty-five years. Find out if he’s got any form. I want to know what he knows and who he knows. Why’s he not there any more. Anything I can use on him. And more important. Is he any good?’

The woman wiped her nipples with a cloth, ‘Can’t. Like I said, I’m busy.’

‘Just do it. And get back to me. Or I’ll send someone round. You got ten minutes.’ Koen hung up.

The woman sighed and put the phone back on the floor. She gently moved her partner’s body into the other corner of the couch and went across to her laptop.

Her companion got up and started to dress. She left without saying anything, but she slammed the door as she went out.

The still naked woman with the designs on her breasts shouted after her, ‘Bye darling. Sorry about this. But Koen pays the bills.’


‘Call this ten minutes?’ said Koen when she answered her phone before it had rung five times. ‘What’ve you got?’

‘Keep your shirt on. I’ve got what you want. This stuff is really hard to get hold of, you know. And I’ve never had one as difficult as this before.’

‘Well?’ said Koen. ‘Get on with it. I haven’t got all day.’

‘No wife. No partner. Never married. Works the stuff. With several brothers.’

Koen interrupted, ‘Whoa! Stop right there. That’s not what I’m interested in. I couldn’t care if he’s a cross dressing carpet muncher disguised as a man. What I want to know is this. Has he got form?’

‘You can keep your jockstrap on as well darling.’

‘Don’t darling me you fucking slut. What the hell do you think I pay you for?’

He heard her hesitate. Her tone changed. ‘OK. OK. I’m getting to it.’

The woman looked at her screen and started scrolling around. ‘Well, it’s nothing official like. Nothing on the books. But it seems to me that he did do time. And it seems that he was well protected inside. Looked after, like. Lived the good life. Not quite a holiday. But not far from it. He got two years. For bashing someone he arrested. Beat the guy up quite badly. Like so badly that the prick died in hospital.’

Koen asked, ‘So he’s got form? And he’s got contacts? And he can handle himself.’

‘Yea. That’s about it. You got it all.’

‘Watch what how you speak to me next time. I’ve just about had enough of you. There are plenty out there who can get me this kind of thing. And more of it. Probably quicker too. Hackers are a dime a dozen these days, so just remember who calls the shots. Otherwise you might find someone using a razor to peel those tattoos off your fucking tits.’ He hung up.

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