THE TUT BY PAUL D. BRAZILL

After enduring forty-five years of a marriage that was, at best, like wading through treacle, Oliver Beacock Robinson eventually had enough and smothered his wife with the beige corduroy cushion that he’d accidentally burned with a cigarette two fraught days before.

Oliver had been, for most of his life, a temperate man and he had survived the sexless marriage – its colourless cuisine and half-hearted holidays – with a stoicism that bordered on indifference. But his patience had been stretched to the breaking point by Gloria’s constant disapproval of almost everything he did.

And then there was the “tut.”

The tut invariably accompanied Gloria’s scowl whenever Oliver poured himself an evening drink or smoked a cigarette. She would tut loudly if he spilled the salt. Or swore. Or stayed up late to watch the snooker. The tut, tut, tut was like the rattle of a machine gun that seemed to echo through their West London home from dusk till dawn until he reached the end of his tether.

Wrapping his wife’s body in the fluffy white bedroom rug, Oliver supposed that he should have felt guilty, depressed or scared – but he didn’t. Far from it. In fact, he felt as free and as light as a multi-coloured helium balloon that had been set adrift to float above a brightly lit fun fair.

Oliver fastened the rug with gaffer tape and dragged the corpse down the steps to the basement. As the head bounced from every step, it made a sound not unlike a tut and he had to fight the urge to say sorry.

He’d done enough apologising.

***

Oliver poured himself a whisky – at eight o’clock in the morning! – and it tasted better than any whisky he had ever tasted before. Looking around his antiseptic home, the sofa still wrapped in the plastic coating that it came in, he smiled.

Savouring the silence, he resisted the temptation to clean Gloria’s puke from the scarred cushion that had been the catalyst of her death. Taking a Marlboro full strength from the secret supply that was hidden in a hollowed-out hardback copy of Jaws – Gloria didn’t approve of fiction and would never have found the stash there – he proceeded to burn holes in every cushion in the house.

And then he started on the sofa.

Oliver’s brief burst of pyromania was interrupted when he thought he heard a tut, tut, tut from the hallway. His heart seemed to skip a beat or two, but then he gave a relieved laugh when it was just the sound of the letter box, flapping in the wind.

***

Disposal of Gloria’s body proved much easier than Oliver would have expected. On a bright Sunday morning in April he hauled Gloria’s corpse into the back of his car, keeping an eye out for nosy neighbours, and drove towards Jed Bramble’s rundown farm, and the village of Innersmouth.

Jed was an old school friend and fellow Territorial Army member whom Oliver occasionally used to meet for a sly drink in the Innersmouth Arms’ smoky, pokey snug. He was also a phenomenal lush. The plan was to get him comatose and then feed Gloria’s body to his pigs. Oliver knew the farm was on its last legs, along with most of the livestock, so he felt sure that the poor emaciated creatures would be more than happy to tuck in to Gloria’s cadaver.

Perched on the passenger seat Oliver had a Sainsbury’s bag stuffed with six bottles of Grant’s Whisky. Just in case, he had a bottle of diazepam in his pocket, which he’d used to drug Gloria.

Just outside Innersmouth it started to rain. Tut, tut went the rain on the windscreen. At first it was only a shower but then it fell down in sheets. Tut, tut, tut, tut, tut.

Oliver switched on the windscreen wipers but every swish seemed to be replaced by a tut. He opened up a bottle of whisky and drank until the rain resumed sounding like rain.

Outside the dilapidated farmhouse, Jed stood with a rifle over his arm, looking more than a little weather-beaten himself. His straggly hair was long and greasy and his red eyes lit up like Xmas tree lights when he saw Oliver’s booze.

***

The cold Monday morning air tasted like tin to Oliver as, hungover and wheezing, he pulled Gloria’s body from the car and dumped it in the big sty. The starving wretches took to their meal with relish. Watching, Oliver vomited, but he didn’t try to stop the proceedings.

Back at the farmhouse Jed was still slumped over the kitchen table, snoring heavily. Oliver collapsed into a battered armchair and started to sweat and shake. He’d decided to stay with Jed for a few days, keeping him safely inebriated until Gloria’s remains were completely consumed. But as the days grew dark the tut returned.

The tick tock of Jed’s grandfather clock, for instance, was replaced by a tut, tut. The drip, drip, drip of the leaking tap kept him awake at night and became a tut, tut, tut. The postman’s bright and breezy rat-a-tat-tat on the front door seemed to pull the fillings right from his teeth. He turned on the radio but even Bob Dylan was tut, tut, tutting on heaven’s door.

***

The usually bustling Innersmouth High Street was almost deserted now. The majority of the local people were cowering indoors – in shops, pubs, fast food joints. Oliver walked down the street with Jed’s rifle over his shoulder. No matter how many people he shot he still couldn’t seem to escape the sound of Gloria’s disapprobation.

Tut went the gun when he shot the postman.

Tut, tut when he pressed the trigger and blew Harry the milkman’s brains out.

Tut, tut, tut when he blasted fat PC Thompson to smithereens as he attempted to escape by climbing over the infant school wall.

Oliver heard the sirens of approaching police cars in the distance and realised there was only one thing left to do.

Pushing the gun into his mouth he squeezed the trigger.

The last sound that he heard was a resounding TUT!

The End.

CHECK OUT PAUL D. BRAZILL’S BOOKS HERE IF YOU FANCY.

THE MAN WHOSE HEAD EXPANDED AND EVENTUALLY POPPED by Paul D. Brazill

THE MAN WHOSE HEAD EXPANDED AND EVENTUALLY POPPED

Lenny Cray had always thought that the quest for experience was a vital part of a man’s learning curve and so, throughout his life, whenever a window of opportunity opened up, he jumped straight through, headfirst if necessary. And at times he just kicked the bugger in. But teetering on the precipice of middle age, Lenny was slowly overcome with doubt, a pronounced lack of self-confidence, even a fear of the consequences of his actions. Which was around the time that Lenny discovered the writings of G.I. Gurdjieff a philosopher and mystic who believed that most people lived their lives in a ‘waking sleep’ that they needed to waken from. For Lenny it was as if the doors of perception had been opened wide for him and he devoured Gurdjieff’s works with all the enthusiasm of a Weightwatchers attendee in an all-you-can-eat buffet. Although he was well aware that it was a radical reaction to Gurdjieff’s work, Lenny decided to break free from his own ‘waking sleep’ by sitting at the top of a tall building and shooting passers-by, an experiment that proved remarkably successful, until he was fatally shot in the head by an insomniac police marksman that was just finishing his night shift.

(c) Paul D. Brazill.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving by Paul D. Brazill

ONE

Living well is the best revenge, or so my arthritic old grandmother used to say. And , for most of my life, I have lived very well – once I’d broken free of Seatown’s umbilical cord, which was strangling me like a noose.

Fame. Money. Drugs. Travel. Fast cars. Faster women. All of the above.And it felt good. Bloody good.

Or it used to.

TWO

The taxi crept along the coast road, past the worn-out Bed & Breakfasts, half-empty amusement arcades and deserted kebab shops. A shabby looking Santa Clause pissed against the side of a mangy looking Christmas Tree that was stood shaking in the wind outside the public toilets.

‘Do you get home much, these days, Mr Stroud?’ said the crumpled tissue of a taxi driver with the the big, bushy eyebrows.

‘Not so much, these days,’ I said, half yawning. The radio was playing a medley of Christmas carols at a volume so low it was sending me to sleep.

‘Bet it’s a fair bit different to life down the smoke, eh?’ said the taxi driver. ‘Bright lights, big city!’

He slowed down as a raggle-taggle group of rat boys staggered across the road.

‘Vive la différence,’ I said.

The taxi pulled up at a red light. It was early evening and allegedly rush hour but there weren’t too many cars on the road. The granite sky was filling with black, storm clouds.

I gazed out of the window at Booze n News, Seatown’s popular chain of newsagents and off-licences. Booze n News had been the brainchild of Frank Griffin, a local Conservative councillor and father of Craig, my childhood tormentor and font of all of my bile.

Outside the shop was a familiar looking woman being hassled by a whining toddler as she struggled to put a buggy into the back of a Renault Espace. Karen Griffin, Craig’s wife.

Once she’d been the glam of glams and now she was looking more than a little shop soiled. I smiled to myself with satisfaction. This is what I really came ‘home’ for. Bathing in the misery of the people that had caused me so much suffering. Taking pleasure from seeing any spark of life that they’d had dampened by the drab hand of domesticity.

Karen locked eyes with me and smiled but I just turned away and looked at the torn billboard outside the shop.

In red marker pen it proclaimed:

‘Best selling thriller author Julian Stroud to host Rotary Club Christmas Charity Lunch’.

‘Bet it’s gone downhill since you came here last time, eh, Mr Stroud?’ said the taxi driver.

‘Plus ca change,‘ I said, as I slowly let out a silent fart.

‘Aye,’ said the taxi driver, winding down the window.

THREE

I used to lay awake at night thinking of my childhood humiliations. How much I was ridiculed. Laughed at. And over the years I let my my hatred marinade. And congeal.

And then the doctor told me about my body’s uninvited guest. The plague that crawled through my veins. And then I had an idea.

FOUR

‘So, you never heard about Fast Eddy then?’ said Karen Griffin. She downed her fifth Baileys and her face flushed red and her eyes sparkled.

‘No, I hadn’t,’ I said. I looked out of the Carvery window. The sea was grey. Out at sea, a fishing trawler adorned with Christmas lights bobbed up and down on the waves.

‘They say he met a lass on the Internet. Was getting on really well, too, until he sent her his picture, that is, and then she blocked him,’ said Karen.

I remembered Fast Eddy and could understand the girls consternation. He was once described as being like a fatter version of Bernard Manning. Without the charm.

‘And what happened?’ I said, almost interested.

Karen was looking good, I had to admit. She’d dolled herself up pretty well. Her idiot husband had been in a drunken sleep on the sofa and hadn’t even noticed her sneak out.

The fatigue was behind her eyes though. I almost felt sorry for her. I was starting to wonder if I could go through with this nasty little plan that I’d hatched.‘Well , he had an idea of where she lived. Some village in Scotland.. And so he started to spend every weekend going up there on the train and walking around the place looking for her. Until he got picked up by the police for being drunk and disorderly. Thing is, though, he’d got the wrong village,anyway!’

And then she laughed.

Karen Griffin’s cruel cackle reminded me of my teenagers years and the agony of just living. And it made up my mind for me.

FIVE

The motel room was dimly lit. Outside, I could the heavy bass of an old Public Image song.

I finished my brandy, popped a viagra and crawled into the bed.

‘Speak French to me Julian, you know it really turns me on, ‘ said Karen, as she pulled me towards her.

I took out a condom that I’d pricked with a pin earlier and put it on.

‘Le Petit Mort,’ I said, with a smirk.

Well, Christmas is a time for sharing, after all.

(c) Paul D. Brazill

The LAST LAUGH: CRIME STORIES BY PAUL D. BRAZILL

‘The stories in The Last Laugh are vivid and violent slices of Brit Grit and international noir, full of gaudy characters and dialogue sharp enough to cut your throat. The Last Laugh is a violent and blackly comic look at life through a shot glass darkly.’

From France, to Spain, to the northeast of England, hit men, gangsters, corrupt cops, drunks, punks, and petty thieves all tumble toward the abyss.

Published by All Due Respect.

THE LAST LAUGH: CRIME STORIES BY PAUL D. BRAZILL

A Story For Sunday: SMUDGE

‘No one gets out of life without dirtying their hands,’ said Jeff ‘Smudge’ May, watching the steam rise from his muddy coffee. Fitz just nodded and started digging into his bacon and eggs with all the enthusiasm of an ex-con in a bordello.

The Star Coffee Bar was stiflingly hot and cluttered with the usual hodge podge of waifs and strays that seemed to congregate at greasy spoons during the early evening. Behind the counter, Madge, a midget with a withered arm, was serving tea in half pint glasses to a couple of ageing Teddy Boys with fading tattoos. A sound system that was twice as big as Madge, blasted out a Stone Roses song.

Fitz’s head was pounding and he was starting to wish he’d gone to Smudge’s office now, but he really couldn’t risk being seen going in. He wanted to keep his problem as secret as possible and Smudge had a…reputation.

‘I’ve gone arse over tit many a time, metaphorically and literally,’ continued Smudge. ‘Especially when I’ve been imbibing.’

He picked up a napkin and shined his pearl Yin and Yang cuff links. Sitting back in his chair, he flicked lint from his black Hugo Boss suit, surveyed the room disinterestedly and then looked at his potential client.

Trevor Fitzroy was an overweight man in his late forties, wearing a safari suit and with an expression so hangdog as to make a basset hound jealous. Smudge could imagine him collecting comics and talcum powdering his palms before shaking hands. He was right on both counts.

Fitz absently scratched his arm with a fork. Without looking up, he said. ‘So, do you believe me?’

‘I’m a…facilitator,’ said Smudge, squirming as Fitz pulled a string of bacon rind from his mouth. ‘I’m impartial. It matters not a jot if I believe you or not. My responsibility is to listen to your story. And to act.’

Fitz stared out of the window at the High Street, bustling with Christmas shoppers and glistening with fairy lights. A group of schoolkids raced past, chased by a wheezing Santa Claus.

‘So. Take it away. One more time,’ said Smudge with a grin.

‘Well, you see, I put it down to stress,’ said Fitz, shuffling in his seat. ‘Things went pear-shaped about a year ago. This recession. You know?’

Smudge nodded.

‘I lost my job. I’ve always had a bit of a weight problem and I’d tried my best to keep it under control but you know, as an insurance salesman…well, the company said I was bad for their image. I’d been with the firm all my life. I couldn’t face telling the wife and kids so I just continued leaving the house at the same time.’

He let out a wheezy sigh.

‘I returned home at the same time. I spent my days like a…a ghost. In the park. Library. Here. And, of course, I took out all sorts of loans to keep up the lifestyle. Rolling interest. You know?’

‘Unfortunately, I do,’ said Smudge.

‘And then I kept getting this urge. This compulsion. It came during the night. In the street. I’d never felt that way before. I’d always been a clean-living kinda guy.’

He downed his coffee in one.

‘I was in Harrods when the urge reached a…a crescendo. I was in the food hall. And I saw them. A massive bunch of Cumberland sausages. Juicy. Succulent. I just had to have them. Before I knew it, I’d whipped them off the shelf and stuffed them down the front of my trousers.’

‘Ahem,’ said Smudge.

‘And then I just wandered off, in some sort of a trance.’

‘And you ended up where?’ said Smudge.

‘In the lingerie section.’

‘Aha,’ said Smudge, licking his lips.

‘I don’t remember getting there. Like I say, I was in a…sort of…’

‘Trance. Yes, you did say.’

‘I came to when this vinegary-looking woman started screaming at me. Calling me a pervert.’

‘What had happened?’ said Smudge.

‘I looked down and realized that my fly was half open and one of the sausages was sticking out. The security guards came and then the police and then I was charged. With…with…’

‘With indecent exposure?’ said Smudge.

Fitz nodded. Madge plonked a plate of apple pie and custard in front of him. He started to breathe heavily.

‘But I’m not a perv. If this gets out, well… You believe me, don’t you? I need you to believe me, Mr. May.’

‘Strangely, I do,’ said Smudge. ’But the most important question, of course, is what I need to do to eradicate your problem and, more importantly for me, if you can afford to pay.’

‘I can, I can,’ said Fitz. ‘Are you sure you can help?’

Smudge nodded. ‘Give me the information, the name of the shop, the description of the woman and I’m sure I’ll be able to…renegotiate with her.’

Trembling, Fitz pushed a stuffed brown envelope over to Smudge.

‘It’s all there,’ he said. ‘Can you honestly do what you say?’

Smudge stood up, his suit impeccable, stretched his long arms and yawned.

‘I am – and have been – many things,’ said Smudge. ‘But I’m always honest. Hence the nickname.’

‘Eh?’ said Fitz.

‘Like in the Spandau Ballet song,’ said Smudge, picking up his briefcase.

‘I don’t follow,’ said Fitz.

‘True?’ said Smudge. ‘You must know it?’

Fitz looked bewildered.

‘Baa ba ba baa ba daa/I know this…’ sang Smudge as he walked out of the cafe, trying not to laugh.

(c) Paul D. Brazill.

The Boys

‘In 1962 London, Four youths, described frequently as teddy boys, are on trial for the murder of a garage night watchman in the course of a burglary. Witnesses and the accused give differing accounts of the lead-up to the crime, a dispiriting and frustrating evening out in London. Flashbacks of the teenagers’ insecure and sometimes alienated lives contrast strongly with the austere legality of the courtroom as, by degrees, the truth emerges.’

Recommended Reads: Black Summer & The Curator by M W Craven

Recommended Reads: Black Summer & The Curator by M W Craven

A few SPOILER FREE words about these marvellous books. With his excellent novel The Puppet Show, M W Craven introduced us to the mismatched-team of rough n’ tumble cop Washington Poe and eccentric computer genius Tilly Bradshaw.

In Black Summer and The Curator, Poe and Bradshaw are back again. It’s been a very long time since I read two novels by the same author one after the other, but Black Summer was such a joy that I immediately moved onto The Curator. Both books are a skilful blend of whipcrack-thriller and police procedural that had me racing through them but what really puts meat on their bones-sorry Tilly! – is the characters and how they interact with each other. The cast of all three books are like a surrogate family of misfits and are all well-drawn, realistic and likeable, even when they can sometimes be annoying. There is darkness in these books for sure, but there is also a lot of humour and warmth. Extra points for a cracking villain in Black Summer– too! Highly recommended.

Recommended Read: Weston-super-Nightmare: A Hellbent Riff Raff Thriller by John Bowie

When a group of London gangsters turn up at a half-dead seaside town to take revenge upon a former hardman, they get more than they bargained for. Weston-super-Nightmare is violent and funny and also touching. A vivid Brit Grit gangster yarn full of broad humour, gaudy characters and also pathos. It’s a balancing act that John Bowie carries off with aplomb. Brit Grit Seaside Fun n Frolics and highly recommended.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence’s Mate is at 6S

I’m back over at the Six Sentences site with a little yarn entitled The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence’s Mate.

‘Oliver Peacock had often thought that there was an art to being in the right place at the right time and that life was more than simply a matter of chance, of luck.’

Read the rest here, if you fancy, and check out te rest of 6S, if you have the time.

Recommended Read: Bad Penny Blues by Cathi Unsworth

At the start of the Swinging Sixties, a serial killer nicknamed Jack The Stripper stalked te streets of West London. In Bad Penny Blues, Cathi Unsworth smartly weaves together fact and fiction as she tells the stories of Stella – a young fashion- designer who is haunted by visons of the dead women – and PC Peter Bradley, a policeman who is investigation the killings.

First published in 2010 by Serpents Tail, Bad Penny Blues as been republished by Strange Attractor Press and now includes an introduction from no less than Greil Marcus as well as The Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove, a revealing afterword from Cathi Unsworth.

Bad Penny Blues remains a cracking yarn with a great sense of time and place and is, of course, highly recommended.