Category Archives: Paul D. Brazill

The Tall Man

I sit on a bench in the darkened park and watch The Slug get out of his car. I am dressed head to foot in black and holding a black briefcase. The Slug walks up to an apartment block and opens the front door with a key. He doesn’t leave a real trail of slime behind him, of course, just a metaphorical one.
+++++The Slug is a very bad man, for sure; drug dealing, loan sharking, money laundering, people trafficking. He has his grubby fingers in so many dirty pies. But he has friends in high places: power and influence. So he has remained untouchable by the law for a very long time.
+++++He is also a creature of narrow habit. Come rain or shine, hell or high water, each Monday, just after midnight, he visits his Colombian mistress in her luxurious penthouse apartment atop an expensive West London apartment block. One hour later, he returns home.
+++++I wait for fifty five minutes and cross the road to The Slug’s Daimler. I take the Semtex out of the briefcase and strap it under the car. The sciatica in my back and knee hurts as I bend and stand up again. I massage my joints. And then go home to sleep the sleep of the just.
+++++I have much in common with The Slug. Once upon a time I was a very bad person, too: working for people like him, killing for money, until what my creative writing teacher called an ‘inciting incident’ occurred and I changed my ways. After a fashion.
+++++I am also a creature of narrow habit. Each and every morning I have a cup of sweet tea and a bacon sandwich at The Star Coffee Bar, just off the Walworth Road. And as per usual, I listen to Jazz FM and read the tabloids. I open a copy of The Sun, a loathsome rag that I stopped buying after Hillsborough, and find out The Slug is still alive. The article says that he is in intensive care after a suspected terrorist attack and under 24-hour police protection.
+++++I take out my mobile phone. It’s an old Nokia: less easy to hack than a Smartphone. I send a one word text message: Coffee.
+++++Like The Slug, I have friends in high places. And low ones too. Detective Sergeant Steve Toshack is somewhere in between, I suppose.
+++++He arrives at noon and orders a black coffee with hot buttered scones.
+++++He sits in front of me. As always, he wears a waxy raincoat and his long moustache is ragged, in need of a trim. Tosh is also a creature of narrow habit. Maybe it’s an age thing.
+++++‘A bit of an oops moment, then,’ says Tosh.‘A faux-pas.’
+++++‘He’s either a lucky bastard or I’m losing my touch,’ I say. ‘Where is he?’
+++++Tosh hands me a betting slip.
+++++‘That’s the hospital and that’s the room,’ he says, tapping the paper. ‘The copper on duty is a bloke called PC Whittaker. He’s a useless sort, been on the take for years too. He’s due a suspension. If you do the job on The Slug he’ll be up shit creek without a paddle: might even be able to get him to name some names.’
+++++‘A win-win then,’ I say.
+++++We sit in silence while Tosh finishes his food and drink. I try not to look at him while he eats.
+++++After my inciting incident, I decided to go in to business for myself: getting rid of undesirables. I built up a large client base, too, including a couple of governments and police forces.
+++++Now, I use the name The Tall Man and give out business cards that contain only a drawing: the elongated silhouette of a man, and a mobile phone number. Very few people know who I am and even fewer others are able to guess my identity: especially since I’m short. And I’m a woman.
+++++Tosh leaves and I wait for fifteen minutes and get up: my sciatica bites.
+++++I straighten my tweed skirt and pull my tartan shopping trolley towards the front door, waving at Pete and Jason behind the counter. The shopping trolley jams as I try to get it out of the door.
+++++A massive builder gets up and helps me with it.
+++++‘There you go, pet,’ he says, straining with its weight. ‘Bleedin’ hell, that’s heavy. What have you got in there?’
+++++‘Slug repellent,’ I say and step out into the autumn rain.

Killing Mr Cornflakes

Mr Cornflakes eased the two plastic carrier bags onto the wet pavement and wiggled his fingers. Squeezed his left arm. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. Then he picked the bags back up and waddled on down the high street.
+++++He’d changed somewhat over the twenty years since Roddy had last seen him. His psoriasis, which had earned him his nick name at the comprehensive school, looked like it was under control but his skinny neck seemed elongated to snapping point now and his eyes were yellow, bulging. He was completely bald, too.
+++++Roddy thought he looked like one of those dinosaurs, a raptor, he thought they were called. He was sure that’s what the kids would call him now, if he was still teaching. Still making kids’ lives a misery.
+++++Roddy drove slowly past him, replaying all the humiliations that he’d endured at Mr Cornflakes’ hands. The times he’d wanted to smash his skull in. Jab a fountain pen in his eye. Thought about how easy it would be to ram his car into him and drive off. Crush those bent legs.
+++++But the old man just looked pathetic now, in his worn suit, with his arthritic hands. And Roddy thought about how much he’d achieved, his expensive cars, homes around the world, and how living well really was the best revenge.
+++++For the most part, anyway, he thought, as he turned the car, sped up and splashed through a puddle, soaking Mr Cornflakes.
+++++Sometimes, it was the little things that made a day.

*

Asia switched off her laptop and took a sip from the glass of Bombay Sapphire. She didn’t usually drink before her shift at the hospital but her other job, as a video cam worker, was eating into her, making her feel stained. Dirty. The drink seemed to cleanse her, though. At least most of the time.
But tonight’s last caller had been a real creep – obsessed with necrophilia- and had freaked her out more than somewhat. She finished her gin and poured herself another glass.
+++++Earlier in the week, Annie-May, one of the psychiatric nurses at the hospital, high on self-prescribed pharmaceuticals, put the wind up Asia, saying that some of the callers were probably cyber nerds. Brilliant hackers who could track the workers down. This had scared Asia even more than the phone calls.
+++++She put on her coat and was about to walk out of the door of her flat when she heard a screaming sound. She raced over to the window and looked out. An old man was stood on the kerb side. Shouting at a car that was haring down the road. He looked like a real nutter. And then she was sure he started looking up at her flat. She checked the Taser in her handbag.

*

George Middleton’s foul mood was getting worse by the minute. He was sure that the idiot driver in the expensive car had soaked him on purpose. Typical of the youth of today. Money but no manners.
+++++He put down his shopping and fumbled in his pocket. His fingers were stiff and it was a struggle to pull out his hip flask. It was looking a bit worn now but it had seen him through many a bad day. He’d never have survived all those years at that hell house of a school if he hadn’t been able to have his little nips of brandy. This time he took a deep swig.
+++++The comforting warmth filled him and he took another drink. He looked up at the clouds spreading across the sky like a cancer. He’d really have to get a move on if he was to avoid getting pneumonia.
+++++He picked up his shopping and headed off down the street. But stopped as he started to feel numbness in his left arm again. And then the weight of an elephant on his chest. He rushed and staggered toward the block of flats as he saw a woman in a nurses uniform step out.
He headed towards her, to ask for help but he couldn’t form words. The woman started screaming and pointing at him with something that looked like a sparking, toy ray gun. And then darkness and peace slowly enfolded and smothered Mr Cornflakes until he was dead.

© Paul D. Brazill 2012