The Man From Esperanto BY PAUL D. BRAZILL

So, you’re in Warsaw’s Esperanto district hiding from an obscenely large, bullet-headed man wielding a baseball bat. In a pizza oven.

And, to paraphrase the singer David Byrne, you might ask yourself –how the fuck did I get here?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once described London as being a ‘great cesspool into which the flotsam and jetsam of life are inevitably drawn’ and the same might reasonably be said of the world of TEFL teaching. A Teacher Of English as a Foreign Language can usually be described as either flotsam – perhaps a fresh faced young thing taking a break from University – or jetsam – the middle aged man with the inevitable drinking problem and enough skeletons in his closet to keep a paleontologist happy for months.

And, I’ll make no bones about it, I fit rather snugly into the latter category.

Hence, me, three months earlier, hungover, in the back of a deodorant soaked taxi as it hurtled – like the Starship Enterprise on Warp Factor nine- down Warsaw’s John Paul 2nd Avenue, through the constellation of neon signs that marked out the sex shops, 24 hour pubs and kebab shops.

‘When the Pope died the whole street was lined with candles in tribute ,’ said the taxi driver, looking almost tearful.

‘Uh huh,’ I replied, as I fought back the acrid bile that burned my throat.

Before I’d come to Warsaw, I’d heard stories about ‘The Night Drivers’-amphetamine pumped young men who, each midnight, tied fishing wire around their necks, and the cars brakes, and then raced from one end of the city to the next. When I saw the cut marks on the taxi driver’s neck and his red, red eyes. I didn’t exactly have the Colgate ring of confidence.

I was relieved, then, when, minutes later, we pulled up outside The Palace of Culture and Science, Joe Stalin’s unwanted Neoclassical gift to the people of Warsaw.

fished a handful of notes from my pocket and stuffed them into the driver’s hand before running to the toilets to puke.

‘Out with the old, in with the new,’ said a well-spoken, sandblasted voice from the next cubicle. ‘We are all in the gutter but some of us a looking at it through the bottom of a rather nice glass of gin and tonic, eh?’

‘The thing is, some people absolutely loath the place,’ said Sean Bradley, gesturing around The Palace’s Kafe Kulturalna. ‘The locals call it the Russian Wedding Cake. And, indeed, that’s what it looks like; a wedding cake plonked in the middle of the road.’ Sean was a drunk, dapper, nicotine stained example of jetsam who supplemented his teaching by chess hustling. He was one of the few expats who actually liked his chosen country of exile since most just complained about everything being so – foreign. Me? It was as good a place as any.

‘It’s an old song isn’t it?’ said Konrad AKA flotsam, a shiny, happy Canadian of Polish extraction, in Warsaw to find his roots. Aided and abetted by his family’s money, of course.

‘Maybe…’

‘I’m sure it is. Someone left a cake out in the road,’ he sang.

I really wasn’t too sure if he was joking or not. Konrad was either as bright as a two watt bulb or a major piss taker. I just ignored him and took in the Kafe’s interior before we invariably passed the pint of no return.

I met her on a Monday and although my heart didn’t exactly stand still it certainly skipped a beat or two. Tall and with long black hair she flew into the bar like a murder of crows, swathed in scarves and wearing a long black raincoat which flapped in the breeze behind her.

‘Ding dong,’ I said a la Leslie Phillips.

‘Oh.That’s Daria. Better watch out for her,’ said Sean. ‘She’s married to Bronek Malinowski. You know him?’

I shook my head.

‘The second-hand clothes Baron,’ said Konrad.

‘Who and what?’ I said.

‘He’s a low level gangster who has Poles collect donated clothes left outside charity shops overnight in, say, London or Dublin and ship them back to Poland to sell. You can get some damn good schmutter, actually,’ said Sean, pointing to the Hugo Boss label in his jacket.

‘The only crime is getting caught,’ I said, shrugging.

‘Yes, but if a butterfly beats it’s wings in the forest a one handed man claps and a tree falls down.’ said Konrad.

I ignored him and tried to catch Daria’s eye. ‘No, really, she’s trouble,’ said Sean.

I walked over. ‘Would you like a drink?’ I said.

She turned and tried to focus on me, as if she were looking at a magic eye painting. She shook her head. ‘Best not,’ she said, with a fake sounding transatlantic accent. ‘I should hit the sack. I’ve hit the bottle enough for one night.’ Standing close, she looked me up and down, like was deciding on whether or not to buy a second-hand car.‘You’ll do,’ she said dragging me out of the bar by my tie.

Someone or other once remarked that the reason that something became a cliche was because it was true. Certainly, getting caught in bed with a married woman by her musclebound husband was a cliche straight out of ‘Confessions Of A Plummer’s Mate.’ Unfortunately for me, however, it was also true.

The brainwave of escaping into to the kitchens of a nearby pizza restaurant and hiding in one of the ovens was, I would imagine, a one off. But in retrospect, originality, it probably wasn’t one of my better ideas.

So, the oven door slams and you’re sure you can smell gas and now you might reasonably ask yourself – how the fuck do I get out of here? And the probable answer is – you don’t.

I’m Interviewed by Jason Beech at The Flash Fiction Offensive

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Born in legendary England, but having sojourned in Poland for some time, Brit-Grit author Paul D. Brazill typically pens what he calls “screwball noir.” His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. His work has also been published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.

Back in the day, Mr. Brazill graciously provided content for Out of the Gutter Online’s Brit Grit Alley—bringing diehard readers news about British crime fiction’s notorious booze and blood-soaked alleyways.
Mr. Messy Business Jason Beech—himself both born and forged in Sheffield, England (before audaciously making the move to Yank-filled-New Jersey-USA to teach a game that he calls “football—but which parts of the world call SOCCER) decided to corral Mr. Brazill for a little tête-à-tête.
We hoped to bring you video footage … but the content proved way too graphic. So we’re sharing this heavily-edited transcript instead. Of course we had to kill the stenographer afterwards …. But that’s Life in The Gutter, eh.
Hi Paul. I’ve just finished Close to the Bone’s excellent short story anthology, A Time for Violenceedited by edgy U.S. crime writers Andy Rausch and Chris Roy. What attracted you to the anthology?
 
PDB: Really, just because the editors kindly asked me. I also wanted to write another story featuring Tommy Bennett from my book Last Year’s Man and thought it might work to put him in a story with very little violence. The story title—”Baby’s Got A Gun”—is from an old Only Ones LP.

I’m Interviewed By Chris Rhatigan

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Chris Rhatigan interviews me over at the All Due Respect blog:

‘Paul D. Brazill is one of the most entertaining and original voices in the independent crime fiction community. I recently spoke with him about Last Year’s Man, his latest book through All Due Respect about ageing hit man Tommy Bennett.

— When I first learned about the online crime fiction scene about ten years ago, you were one of the first writers I started following. How have things changed since then?

Those were great, fun times, weren’t they?

There seemed to be oodles of cool ezines out and about: Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Pusher, A Twist Of Noir, Beat To A Pulp, Thrillers, Killers n Chillers, Thuglit, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, Death By Killing and more. What treasure troves! There seemed to be lots of strange voices telling stories with nodules and spikes. I’m sure I would never have started writing without them.’

Read the rest HERE.

Carcass at The Flash Fiction Offensive

FFO BADGE 2017OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE’S FLASH FICTION OFFENSIVE have kicked off their GUTTERAL SCREAMS series of  Halloween yarns with a slice of Punk Fiction from me called CARCASS.

Ava drove her battered, old Ford Escort to the edge of the forest and parked beneath a pine tree. As she sat and watched the autumn rain batter the windscreen, she listened to the Siouxsie and The Banshees CD that Martin had given her for her birthday’

You can read the rest HERE.

Submissions

Book submissions are currently open at ALL DUE RESPECT, the splendid publishers who’ve put out books by the likes of Rob Pierce, Paul Heatley, Eric Beetner, Marietta Miles, Alec Cizak, and even me.

They say:

Submissions are open. What we want: low-life literature. Criminals, thugs, douchebags, cheaters, gamblers, pickpockets, ne’er-do-wells, guns, cigarettes, bath salts, booze, beer, strippers, whores, wheelers, dealers, schemers, robbers, adulterers, embezzlers, loan sharks, losers, and lottery winners (who are, of course, losers).

All at 100 mph with the brake lines cut and a shitload of speed running through its veins.’

There’s more information HERE.

THE FLASH FICTION OFFENSIVE are looking for stories under 1000 words to publish at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE.

‘We are looking for, as the old Gutter guidelines put it, “well-written, fucked up stuff.” This means nicely constructed stories in which things–that is, bad things–happen; stories that test boundaries and give readers something to think about while taking readers from A to B without getting lost.’

There’s more information HERE.

SHOTGUN HONEY are open for flash fiction and books submissions.

They say:

‘Since 2011, Shotgun Honey has been a steady outlet for crime, noir, and hard-boiled flash fiction. Our prominent website has featured over 400 writers and has published nearly a thousand stories all told within a mere 700 words. If you feel you have what it takes to beat our gauntlet of editors, submit your story today. We’re look something new and fresh, and we hope that it’ll come from you.

If you want to be part of our growing imprint and have a novella or short novel between 25,000 and 50,000 words, or a collection of short stories with a crime fiction slant, we want to read from you.’

There’s more information HERE. 

And you can find loads more submission calls at Sandra Seamans’ MY LITTLE CORNER.     

Short, Sharp Interview: Beau Johnson

20525595_1907272402872470_5546300016962871857_nPDB: Can you pitch your latest book in 25 words?

BJ:  Nope.  Not enough space.  If I had more space, maybe.  But even then, maybe not.  Hate.  The book is about hate.  How we can use it better.

PDB: Which music, book, films or television do you wish you had written?

BJ:  Oh man, there are tons.  Silence of the Lambs.  Seven.  Lost.  Breaking Bad.  Up to season 7 of the X-files.  The episode where Buffy’s mom dies.  As for books: everything by Thomas Harris excluding Hannibal Rising.  The Long Walk by King.  The Jaunt.  The raft.  Music?  Wheat Kings by The Tragically Hip, our very own Canadian treasure.

PDB: Which books do you think would make great films or TV series?

BJ: I want to say the Dark Tower, but as it seems that particular ship might have somewhat sailed.

a better kind of hatePDB:  Who are the great British Writers?

BJ: PDB, naturally.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

BJ:  I have a few shorts in the pipe, some coming soon.  Bishop Rider has been poking his head up too, just headlining a new finished piece titled Old Ghosts.  It’s companion story to a yarn called Shift Work, where I once and for all debunk his reasons for retirement.  It might include dismemberment.

PDB: Anything else?

BJ:  Big thanks to you, Paul.  For offering this platform and for supporting me in the past.  If memory serves, you were one of the first who started sharing my work when I first got on to Facebook.  I want you to know I appreciate that, Paul.  I always have.

 BIO:  Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town.  Such fine establishments might include Out of the Gutter Online, Shotgun Honey, Spelk, HST, and/or the Molotov Cocktail.  A collection of Beau’s, A Better Kind Of Hate, is published by Down and Out Books.

I’m at the Flash Fiction Offensive

SNAPSHOTS AT THE FLASH FICTION OFFENSIVEWith a little yarn called The Contender:

‘It was a Saturday night and The Cobble Bar was only slightly busier than it was midweek, which really wasn’t very. Indeed, if the place hadn’t been useful for the local criminal fraternity–money laundering, distribution of contraband and the like—it would have closed down years ago.

A big screen television was silently showing a 24-hour weather channel though no one seemed to be watching it.  Status Quo’s ‘Paper Plane’ blasted out as I walked up to the bar and took off my raincoat.’

Read the rest here.

Christmas Wrapping at The Flash Fiction Offensive.

SNAPSHOTS AT THE FLASH FICTION OFFENSIVEOver at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE they’re celebrating THE TWELVE DAZE OF CHRISTMAS. A different flash fiction story is posted every day until Crimbo.

It’s my turn today with CHRISTMAS WRAPPING.

‘‘It’s child abuse, when you think about it,’ said David Ryan. He nodded toward the television screen, which was filled with McCauley Culkin’s screaming face.

‘It seems to me like poor old Joe Pesci is the one that’s being abused,’ said Niki.

She wrapped more duct tape around Mark Shaw’s wrists, just to be on the safe side.

Shaw was still unconscious and strapped to the kitchen chair. He was a big man.’

READ THE REST HERE.

#FRIDAY FLASH: HE’LL HAVE TO GO.

Frankie fidgets on the wobbly bar-stool.  Takes a swig of Guinness, then a sip of Jack Daniels. Grimaces. Shuffles his shoulders. Feels a joint crack. Sighs.

‘Me and my big mouth, eh? Another case of foot in mouth disease,’ he says.

He chuckles to himself.  Takes a pork scratching from a half empty bag. Stuffs it in his mouth and crunches.

‘Well, we’ve all been there, Frankie,’ says Big Pat, the barman.

Sweat soaks his white nylon shirt. ‘We’ve let our tempers get the better of us, and that.’

Pat picks up a remote control and switches on a plasma screen television that is hung askew on the back wall. He flicks channels until he finds an old James Bond film. A Duran Duran song suddenly blasts out. Pat grimaces.

‘Bugger that for a game of soldiers,’ he says.

He quickly turns off the sound and puts in a Jim Reeves CD.

Frankie catches a glimpse of himself in the dusty Johnny Walker mirror that hangs behind the bar. He brushes dandruff from a shoulder. Messes with his dyed black hair.

It’s late evening and The Blue Anchor’s only other customer is an saggy old man that is sat at a table in the corner nursing a half of bitter. He’s playing Sudoku and squinting in the wan light.

‘Look at that old fucker?’ says Pat, pointing at the television screen. ‘He’s still getting away with it. Jammy twat. ’

Frankie looks up and sees Roger Moore in a romantic clinch with a much younger woman.

‘Still, I don’t mind getting old so much,’ says Pat. ‘Beats the alternative, eh?’

He chuckles.

Frankie goes grim.

Pat leans over the bar and looks Frankie in the eyes.

‘So, have you told Wolf yet?’ he says.

Frankie avoids Pat’s glare. He looks up at the television.

‘Well, not as such …’ says Frankie.

‘Yeah?’

‘Well, not at all.’

‘Best get it out of the way, if I was you. You know what he’s like … remember Harjit?’

Frankie knocks back his whisky.

‘I most certainly do remember Harjit Singh. The grass. If I remember correctly, Wolf nailed Harjit’s turban to his head, inspired by a documentary he’d seen about Vlad The Impaler. To make his point even clearer, Wolf decapitated Harjit and put his head on one of the spikes outside Singh’s Essex home for his missus to see when she got up,’ says Frankie.

He forces a grin.

‘He never does things by halves, does Wolf,’ he says.

‘Well, then,’ says Pat. ‘So …’

Pat’s mobile buzzes. He glances at it and heads outside the pub to answer it.

He listens, nods and sighs. Sighs and nods. He goes back behind the bar,

‘Yeah but, you know, me and Wolf, go way back. We’ve got history,’ says Frankie.

‘Yeah, but history repeats,’ says Pat. ‘Like a Poundshop pork pie.’

He smacks Frankie on the back of the head with a baseball bat. Frankie collapses to the floor.

Pat leans under the bar and pulls out a machete. Hopes that Wolf remembers to bring the bleach with him this time.

(c) Paul D. Brazill

(This yarn first appeared at The Flash Fiction Offensive.)

Sheila, Take A Bow at The Flash Fiction Offensive.

ffo-badge-finalI’m flashing at OUT OF THE GUTTER‘s FLASH FICTION OFFENSIVE again.

She’s lost the plot again. It’s the third time this week. Sheila should never have come off her meds in the first place and now she’s just bounced straight back onto the cider. In fact, she’s bouncing around my front room at the moment, smashing into the telly, and knocking over the ornaments. As she waves a bottle of White Lightning cider around, I fear for the glass coffee table. I really do.’

Read the rest of SHEILA, TAKE A BOW here.

A Story For Sunday: Never One To Do Things By Half by Beau Johnson

 

SNAPSHOTS AT THE FLASH FICTION OFFENSIVE‘He knows he’s fucked the moment I ask if it should be Agent Brand I call him now, or would it be better if we still went with Hank.  I tell him I can’t do Ryan though, a name I just couldn’t comprehend when I looked at his face.’

Read the rest here at The Flash Fiction Offensive.