New Year Noir: Gumshoe Blues

Gumshoe Blues

In the beginning was the sound. The light came later. The sound was a horrifying wail that skewered its way deep into my unconscious brain, until I awoke swiftly, sharply , drowning in sweat, my heart smashing through my ribcage; my head about to burst. Some twat, somewhere, was playing a U2 song, over and over again, and all was far from friggin’ quiet on New Year’s Day.

I forced my eyes open and squinted until I saw the familiar sight of a fraying Seatown United poster peeling from fuzzy, red-flock wallpaper. I was lying on a brown tweed sofa and tangled up in a tartan blanket that had seen better days and nights. I was home.

The air in the room was warm and soupy, and I felt a wave of nausea pass over me. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and counted to ten. The dry heaves kicked in around six. A beat. I peeled my eyes open again. The aquarium bubbled and gurgled, bathing the room in a sickly green light. Sickly and yet soothing. I reminded myself that I really had to put some tropical fish in there one day.

I edged onto my side and awkwardly kicked the blanket to the floor. I was fully clothed. My armpits were soaking. My fake Armani shirt was soggy. A sickly smell permeated my pores and the least said about my trousers the better. Beside me was a sticky coffee table that was cluttered with the remnants of the previous night’s drinking session. I picked up an open can of Stella Artois and shook it. It was more than half full. A result, then. I slowly sipped the beer can’s warm, flat contents until I started to get a glow on, like one of the kids in the old Ready-Brek adverts. Booze: central heating for pissheads.

Bonzo, The Ledge, and their musically illiterate pals continued to strangle a cat in the flat next door, and I knew that I was going to have to make a move soon, before my head went all Scanners. I finished the lager, edged myself up to a sitting position, and picked up my glasses from the coffee table. One of the lenses was scratched, but at least they weren’t broken. Another result. The blinking, digital clock-radio that was plonked on top of the television set, said that it was 3.15am. It was always 3.15am, ever since I’d thrown it against the wall during a particularly grating late night phone-in show. In the real dark night of the soul, there was always some twat talking bollocks at three o’clock in the morning.

I grabbed my knock-off Armani jacket from the floor and fumbled in the pockets for my mobile phone. It was just after ten. That gave me enough time to get ready and make myself presentable before my midday meeting with Jack Martin. My stiff joints ached as I shuffled towards the kitchen, and I noticed that my shoes were stained with something that looked a lot like blood, but was much more likely to be chilli sauce from the doner kebab I vaguely remembered stuffing down my gob the night before. I put on the kettle and crushed a couple of diazepam and codeine into an Xmas turkey-flavour Pot Noodle: most important meal of the day.

My headache was starting to settle into a steady throb, but my throat was like a nun’s knickers. I foolishly opened the buzzing fridge to look for a cold beer, but the smell made my stomach lurch and the waves of nausea quickly built to a tsunami. I staggered toward the toilet bowl and evacuated my New Year’s Eve overindulgence. After a minute or two of retching, I kneeled on the linoleum, whimpering and panting like a stray dog. Wiping my mouth on the back of my hand, I went back to the living room and poured myself a large vodka and orange.

Happy New Year. Out with the old and in with the new.




braz-calenderHere’s a clip from GUNS OF BRIXTON, which kicks off on New Year’s Day – as does COLD LONDON BLUES:

‘Oh, for fuck’s sake!’ said Richard Sanderson.

He was soaked in crimson and a sharp, knife-edged pain sliced through the back of his neck. He twisted himself upright, looking around for a horse’s head.

The bottle of red wine that he’d fallen asleep clutching like a Teddy Bear fell to the ground, spilling what remained of its contents across the fluffy white rug. He rubbed the back of his neck and stretched. He was feeling more than a little worse for wear – and kipping on the basement sofa hadn’t exactly helped his New Year’s Day hangover a great deal, either.

He picked up his red Gretsch guitar and put it back in its case, then propped it against a box of old twelve inch singles. Televisions’ ‘Marquee Moon’ – in green vinyl – was out of its sleeve and he slipped it back in and then carefully put it back into the box. Alphabetically.

He couldn’t remember playing the guitar at all. It wasn’t something he did that much, these days, but he could see blisters on his fingertips.

 Moving like an arthritic Robocop, Richard trudged up the stairs from his basement office to the living room. He went to the window and peeled back the blinds. Outside, the tree-lined suburban street was deserted.

After a few minutes, Richard heard the squeak of wheels and saw Batty Betty pushing her shopping trolley full of broken dolls toward the graffiti stained Ford Granada where she lived. In the distance, a constellation of streetlamps and a galaxy of Christmas decorations trailed Chiswick High Road and faded towards Hammersmith. He walked upstairs and into the migraine bright bathroom and turned the shower on as hot as possible.