Category Archives: T. Maxim Simmler

Love Is Stronger

I am here to try and give us all a chance to get out of this mess as easy as possible, without too much trouble, and with a shred of dignity. So I take a long, good, hard look at Tania first, as she’s sitting next to me on the couch, suckling the bong so hard, the insides of her cheeks touch each other.
+++++She’s too thin. Now, I like my women slender, but when the light is right, you can read the Daily Mail through her. There’s only one kind of hunger her body concentrates on, and she can quench it with smoke, with these little white lines spread out before her on a blind mirror like an indifferent I Ging oracle, and the flask of cheap vodka she pours into her vanilla milk.
+++++Her hair’s straggly, and the colour has gone out. It probably leaves her head at night and joins the other strays in the streets.
+++++Does it help? Does it fuck.
+++++Her tits are too small, her nose is too long, the ass too near to her popliteal fossa. Carrying a conversation is heavy lifting for her.
+++++None of that helps either.
+++++I love her, and I want her back, and that’s why I’m sitting here. Again. Three hundred fifty quid poorer and with the self-confidence of a sand puppy on a raft
+++++Her eyes are closed and her lids flutter a bit as she swallows the smoke.
+++++She’s a rather bad fuck, too. Not that I’m an expert. We did it twice in eight months, and the second time I was too strung out on diazepam to get the machine working. So I should say she’s rather bad at coming up with original excuses for not wanting to fuck me.
+++++Tania exhales a tiny blue cloud, turns around and eyes a hole in the air to my left that’s more interesting than me.
+++++“It’s not like you love Alex, is it?” I have asked this question over and over again. Should have printed it on a tee shirt by now.
+++++“Maybe not, Paul. But I’m with him for ten years. And it’s his flat. He pays the rent. While you can hardly afford the rat hole you live in. And living there with you on Ramen and a Happy Meal on Sundays is about as appealing as having my tits sewed on my ass.” She lights up a cigarette, takes a drag, coughs. “And, like I said about a hundred fucking times, I don’t love you either.”
+++++“That’s not what you said when…”
+++++She cuts me short. I hate that, but I’m not here to start trouble. Not when it can be avoided.
+++++“Don’t start. I said I liked you. Really liked you. At first. When I thought you were a nice guy, with no habit to feed, and maybe could, oh I don’t know … provide some stability. Help me getting sorted.”
+++++“I tried to do that, Tania. I still can. It’s not like you’ve given me a lot of chances to prove it. It’s always been Alex this, Alex that, Alex will be home soon, oh, I don’t like to do it in car, we can’t kiss here, Alex’ mates hang around this place.”
+++++“Jesus.” She started to refill the bong, hands trembling with either greed or annoyance. I hope it’s the drugs. “I shouldn’t have agreed to this. I knew it was going to be the same old shit again.”
+++++“I just want to understand why you don’t want to give us a chance. I just…”
+++++“Are you really that daft, Paul? You are worse than the drugs. They suck the life out of me, too, but at least I get something back. You’re just a vampire. An emotional parasite.”
+++++She suddenly knows some big words. It’s not the kind of talk I want to have with her, but, on a strictly verbal level, she sure has improved.
+++++“That’s bullshit. For God’s sake, I don’t even know what you are talking about. Look at you. I mean, don’t get me wrong, but you’re not exactly the big catch. You’re not cheerleader material. You’re an addict, you’re unstable and I sure have met smarter lasses. But I love you. Does that mean nothing? I don’t expect gratitude, but I fucking deserve a chance.”
+++++Now she looks at me. It’s not the look I hoped to get today, but, hell, yes – I’ve finally won over the hole in the air.
+++++“You bastard. You god-damned fucking piece of shit. You deserve? I can’t believe it. Every minute I spent with you drained the life out of me, you needy wee cocksucker. Twenty, thirty text messages a day about how you can’t live without me. Phone calls all through the night, with you crying like a baby who needs his tit. Suicide threats.”
+++++“Now, wait a minute. Suicide threats? That’s…“
+++++“That’s what? – ‘Ooooh, I’m bleeding, Tania. I think I did something stupid, Tania.’ And I drove up, at four in the morning, and you were laying in your beer puke with some driblets on your wrist. Or when you took five pills to treat high blood pressure? – ‘It’s your fault, Tania. I cannot live without you, Tania.’ These pathetic cries for my attention, and then you dare and blame me? It’s my fault you’ve got the emotional stability of a retarded three year old?”
+++++It’s a pretty crap imitation of me. I sure don’t sound like a hamster on a rack, even when I am upset. And it isn’t going the way I hoped. I grab the soft bag I bought last night in case it would turn out this way and hold onto it like a talisman. If I grab it hard enough, rub it, maybe I don’t have to use it.
+++++“Look, Tania.” I speak quietly, calm. Showing her I can be reasonable, grown up. “I’m not saying I haven’t made some mistakes… But it’s nothing we can’t work out. You just have to leave Alex. He’s not good for you. You’ll never stop taking these drugs as long as he is around. And that’s important. Once you are clean and can think straight again, you’ll see that I am good for you. And I can change. You’re overreacting a bit, but, yes, there maybe are some issues I might have to address.”
+++++“Get out.” She sounds even calmer than me. I may be on the right way. We’re both calm, so we can talk it through.
+++++“Come on. I think we are getting somewhere. Just give me five …”
+++++“Get out or I call Alex and let him go samba on your weenie dick. You get up from my couch and out of my flat and we pretend this talk never happened. You text me again, or call me, or show up on my doormat, I’ll have your arse kicked seven ways to Sundays and into the next decade. You understand that?”
+++++I do. Alex is the problem. As long as the bastard is around, we don’t have the chance I deserve. Plan B it is, then. When she turns around to get her phone as an encouragement for me to leave, I take the bag and jam it deep between the seat pads.
+++++“Fine. I’ll go.” I put on my jacket, walk to the door. “But you are making a mistake.”
+++++“Please, Paul.” She sounds tired. “Just piss off.”
+++++“Whatever happens, you can call me. You know that. Anytime.”
+++++She turns her back towards me. I close the door, zip up my jacket and take a deep breath. Then I take out my phone, change the SIM card and hit three numbers. Someone answers after the second bell signal.
+++++“Look, I can’t give you my name,” I say and I actually feel a bit sad about the whole affair. “But I’m afraid one of my neighbours is selling drugs to minors. Heroin. Yes. His name is Alex Compton and he lives…”
+++++I hang up a few seconds later, rewove the SIM and throw it into the gutter.
+++++She’ll call.
+++++We’ll talk.
+++++Everything will be fine.

Little Deaths In Venice

On the fourth day, Deirdre had stopped leaving the hotel room altogether.
+++++She pressed her forehead against the window, the heat tickling her temples like a soft electric current, and stared down at the canal. It didn’t look like water, more like thick, brown molasses or cold lava.
+++++Behind her, Josh snored steady and slowly, grinding her nerves down with every breath.
+++++She had stopped speaking to him two days ago, after a quick pity fuck, thoroughly annoyed by his retarded Jack-in-the-box face wobbling up and down, wiggling above her, and when he, cock still dripping, gave her a smug grin and said: “That’s what ye could call a little death in Venice, eh?”, she got up, and put on her bathrobe. He had seen nothing but the back of her since then.
+++++He had adapted quickly, spent his time either at the hotel bar, warming up, at the casino, loosing his money and, again, at the bar, drinking away his sorrows, before he went up to their room for a nap.
+++++Deirdre kept busy by hating Venice. It was hot and humid, she didn’t understand a word, and it was way too crowded, even now, well after the holiday season. Navigating through the market place had taken her almost an hour, wriggling between American tourists in colourful shorts and floating cameras with skinny Asian guys glued to the view-finder. Worse, since their first walk through the lanes and alleys in search of a McD for Josh, she couldn’t get the smell of shit out of her nose.
+++++A McD, for God’s sake. Venice’s a top choice for a guy who can’t stand pasta.
+++++The persistent stench was the final draw. The natives probably all shat in a bucket and poured it out of their window, into the canals, once a day, where a merry bunch of gondoliers stirred it up with their paddles, singing O Sole fucking Mio.
+++++And then there were the pigeons. Thousands of them, a hitchcockian thread circling above the city, ready to drown Venice away in a biblical flood of pigeon guano. They had ruined her Versace dress within half an hour.
+++++Deirdre was almost longing for some red hooded dwarf who’d put her out of her misery.
+++++“City for lovers, my arse,” she muttered.
+++++The knock at the door startled her and she dropped her cigarette. It was a non-smoking room anyway, so she stubbed it out with her heel. She heard the bed creak. Between two yawns, Josh said: “I’ll go. Fuck forbid, you’d move away from the fucking window for a minute.”
+++++She heard a muffled scream, then a short, dry sound of some fragile thing breaking. When she turned around, the big guy was halfway into the room, two branch-thick fingers hooked up Josh’s nostrils, dragging him behind. Josh floundered and ground, so the big guy dropped him and kicked him in the dick.
+++++Calling him big didn’t do him justice – he was built like a brick shitter inside a nuclear reactor.
+++++“Three days, Hank? It took you three fucking days to come and get me? What did you do? Amble along the scenic route all the way from Dublin?” Deirdre lit another cigarette and tossed the pack over to her brother.
+++++“Well, first of all I had a bit of a hard time convincing the old man that you shouldn’t get your ass whipped for running away with 750000 of his quid and that cuntwart here.”
+++++He casually kicked Josh’s balls again.
+++++“I did phone you, didn’t I?”
+++++“Took you a while though, didn’t it?” Hank lit his Chesterfield, took a hard drag, till a flock of ash snowed down on Josh who was silently puking snot and tears on a hand-woven carpet.
+++++“Must’ve been down to surprise, I reckon. First time the loser showed a bit of initiative.”
+++++“You married the moron. Told you not to. The old man told you not to. Even Josh’s Mom told you to dump him.”
+++++Josh babbled opaquely. and gained another kicking, hard enough to take all air out of his lungs.
+++++“So … he and I are good again?”
+++++“Yeah. Sure you are. Sentimental git loves you like a daughter.”
+++++Hank went to the window, opened it to flick out the cigarette butt and resiled.
+++++“God-damn. This fucking city smells even worse over here. You sure we won’t explode when I drop the fag?”
+++++She went over to the armoire to fetch the suitcase.
+++++Meanwhile, Josh tried to get up, toppling on his hands and knees, so Hank went over and put his shoe to Josh’s chin.
+++++“I wonder if you would’ve called if he had taken you to New York, sis’.”
+++++She paused and pursed her lips. Shrugged.
+++++“No idea,” she said. “You know what they say about New York, right? Everyone who wants to live anywhere else is a cunt.”
+++++“Thought so.” He gave her a big, shiny grin.
+++++“Oh, by the way.” She turned around, holding up a thick backpack. “With the hotel bill and what he lost at Black Jack, I’d say – 50000 Euros might well be gone.”
+++++“That’s OK.” Hank nodded, poked this thumb at Josh. “Old man said it wouldn’t be worth the bother to bring him back for anything less than 200000.”
+++++“Right.” She opened her suitcase and started packing.
+++++“Guess the old saying is true, then,” she said. “There really is no place like home.”

Breathe

“You want one of these goodies then?”
+++++Simon opened his hand under Johnjo’s nose so quickly, the tablet hopped up like a jumping bean.
+++++“Dunno,” Johnjo stared at the pill as if he tried to determine its carat. “What’s it for?”
+++++“Neck one and you can use those dormant ninety percent of your brain, Bro.”
+++++Simon threw it into his mouth and chewed it to pieces, guzzled it down with some Stella and slid his tongue through the holes and gaps in his denture. Waste not.
+++++“No idea. It’s the stuff Aunt Jodie gets for her cancer. Thought I’d give ‘em a try.”
+++++“Bet she already misses them.”
+++++“Way I see it? It’s for her own good. The poor cow can’t move, shits herself and she’s got these black things on her back, like holes? All pussy and shit? Looks like a fucking zombie. Honestly, she’s better off dead.”
+++++“That’s her painkillers, man. They ain’t for curing cancer, you fuckpot, it’s so she don’t scream the bloody roof down.”
+++++Simon shot Johnjo a skeptical look, shrugged and put the bottle back on the table.
+++++“So.” He slapped his hands on his thighs and grinned. “You happy to see your fave grandsons, Big Daddy?”
+++++Roland grabbed his oxygen tank by a cord, dragging it closer, put the mask over his mouth and nose and took a long gasp, hard enough to make his balls float gently in the scrotum.
+++++“Can’t say I feel the joy here,” he said, and coughed up a piece of phlegm that sat on his pants like an exotic bug. He eyed the twins up and down. Scrawny little bastards, mean as pit bulls on steroids. Walking the earth for twenty-one years and wasting and fucking up every single minute of it. Shared a flat, shared the birds, their money and four working brain cells. Not that any of it came as a surprise. After their mother had legged it and their father went down for a triple homicide he couldn’t even remember, being on enough meth to make a whole tower block of council houses shake, rattle and roll, he had taken them in and raised them.
+++++More or less.
+++++Less, actually.
+++++“That hurts.” Simon bent forward. “But it’s fine, Big Daddy. Like I said on the phone – just give us the gun for an hour or two and we’re gone again. It’s not like we want to be here, right?”
+++++He flicked the crown cap against the tank.
+++++“These things are bloody dangerous. Explode all the fucking time.”
+++++Roland lifted a yellow, kiln-dried finger, signing them to wait and turned up the valve a notch. When he inhaled, it felt like the oxygen was fanning a fire under his remaining lung. He coughed again. Longer this time and quite soggy.
+++++“I’m not giving you two retarded shitdicks a gun. Hell, I wouldn’t trust you with a plastic fork.”
+++++Johnjo watched Simon’s carotid artery thumping a techno beat and chimed in.
+++++“Look, Big D, we wouldn’t ask if there was a way around it. We really need a weighty argument, that’s all. It’s not like we gonna shoot someone.” He stared at the ceiling, waggled his head. “I guess.”
+++++Simon had regained his composure.
+++++“This fucker Marty,” he said, calm, though a bit pressed, “he says he’s going to grass us up to the filth if we don’t hand him a bag of E. And by bag he means a fucking plastic bag. So – we just drive up to the cunt, give him a bit of a kicking and a headbutt or two with the gun, explain to him the hurt that might come with a bullet up his spunk hole. Talk the talk, Big Daddy, that’s all.”
+++++“And, if you don’t mind me asking, what exactly does he have on you?”
+++++“Nothing really. You know … stuff?” Simon got twitchy, fiddled with his digits, rubbed his ass over the cord sofa.
+++++Roland felt a hard ball of rage next to his solar plexus.
+++++“Guess it has nothing to do with you fucking bastards raping his fourteen year old sister then?”
+++++All this hate and he couldn’t even scream. Damn lung.
+++++Not that the twins would’ve care anyway. Simon didn’t miss a beat.
+++++“Yeah. The fucking nerve of the cunt.” He nodded enthusiastically. “You know, Big Daddy – if I had a little sister and two wankers would bang her up the ass, I’d kill the bloody fucks. I wouldn’t try to make me some quid out of it. So you see … he has it coming, right? Can we have the gun now?”
+++++Johnjo picked at a long, dark flap of skin on his calf.
+++++“Oi, Simon,” he said. “I think the frigging bitch gave me the scabies.”
+++++“Maybe it’s my fault, y’know?” Roland closed his eyes, steadied his breath. “All the shite ‘bout the things we did back in the day. The hard guy stuff. About the girls running for us. How we took over the weed business from the Micks. The scutwork I did for the Krays.”
+++++“They were twins too.” Johnjo shouted with glee.
+++++Roland spat on the floor.
+++++“Difference is, one of them actually had a working brain.” He dry-wiped his face. “Whatever. I know I sure did my lot of bad deeds and the only thing I’ll ever get at the pearly gates is the finger, but you two? You are scum. Vile and evil scum.”
+++++“That’s it, you cunting old fart. You’re dead.” Simon jumped up.
+++++And sat down again; a dark red Rorschach pattern spreading out on his shirt. Johnjo screamed, but couldn’t hear himself, ears ringing from the shot. Roland leaned back in his arm chair, gun resting in his lap. Strangely, Simon seemed more concerned about the state of his shirt, picking the fabric with two fingers and pulling it away from the entrance wound. But his nostrils spasmed and his pupils almost met the eyebrows, so it was down to shock, Roland reckoned. He also reckoned he should talk a bit quicker. It was high time he got it from his chest and he wanted both kids to hear him.
+++++“I didn’t want you in my house or in my life. Even two mental farts like you should’ve noticed that. But I fed you. I put clothes on you, and hurled your asses out of the police station every fucking month. Considering all that, plus the defective genes you got from my son, I wouldn’t have been surprised if you had turned out to become some run of the mill bastards.”
+++++His lung ached and his throat burned. He hadn’t spoken that much in years. Roland grabbed the mask, but didn’t put it on. No time to breathe, he thought. Simon looked halfway gone already and Johnjo just sat there, quivering and mumbling, trying to get a grip on what was happening.
+++++“Fuck that.” Roland shook his head. “Fuck nurture. Fuck nature. You were born this way. No way around it. If I had chained you to the wall in the cellar and pissed in your mouth for supper, you still wouldn’t go out to rape fourteen year old girls if there was one human bone in your bodies. And you’re not getting away with that.”
+++++“Big D?” Snot dangled from Johnjo’s nose. “Don’t kill me.”
+++++Roland stared into Johnjo’s hollow eyes. There was no understanding, no remorse, nothing. Just primal fear. He stood up and it took all of his strength to stagger over to the boys, dragging his tank behind. Molten steel surged against his lung and the spittle he swallowed turned to acid in his chest. He counted his steps, so the pain wouldn’t swallow him and bring him down to his knees. Three, two, one, and he dropped down between his grandsons, his legs trembling and his heart humping his rips. Out of the corner of his right eye he saw Simon’s jaw slacken and his head slumping down.
+++++He reached over, gave the wheel another turn and slammed the mask against Simon’s nose.
+++++“Breathe, you fucker,” he said. “You’re not croaking on me just now. Breathe. Breathe!”
+++++Simon’s chest moved. And Johnjo made a move for the gun. He grabbed Roland’s hand, wriggled and wrestled, pressing it down and pumping it, aimlessly, desperate, but forceful.
+++++“Not… going… to… happen.” Roland squinted through little black holes dancing in front of him, held his breath and put the last bit of strength his body had to offer into his arm, slammed the elbow back, and Johnjo’s jowl dangled like a broken ventriloquist’s doll. The pain made his grip even harder. Roland heard one of his knuckles pop, and the gun went off. The bullet went straight through the tank’s oxygen gauge and little shreds of glass pierced Simon’s eye. He didn’t seem to notice. Johnjo went rigid. Roland dropped the gun. The tank hissed oxygen.
+++++“You pissed yourself,” Roland said, pointing at Johnjo’s trousers. Maybe all that sluicing oxygen was making him a bit stoned or that piss stain really looked like Piers Morgan’s profile.
+++++“Oh…” Roland laughed. It hurt like hell, but he didn’t care. It was the first laugh he had in over a decade. “You thought we’d all go out in a blaze of fucking glory. Jesus. Oxygen doesn’t explode, you stupid shit.”
+++++Johnjo wasn’t moving. Neither was Simon’s chest anymore.
+++++“How about bumming us a fag, boy?” Roland took a pack of cigarettes from Johnjo’s breast pocket.
+++++“Fucking Marlboro’s. Always been an Old Holborn man, me.”
+++++He slowly put the cigarette between his lips, bit down on the filter. His fingers went back into the breast pocket.
+++++“Oxygen, like I said, doesn’t explode.”
+++++Johnjo’s eyelids flattered. His upper lid curled.
+++++“You want to say something, huh?” Roland pulled the Zippo out and hit it against Johnjo’s forehead.
+++++“What oxygen does, however, is support combustion.”
+++++Roland looked at the Zippo, flicked it open.
+++++“Told you. You’re not getting away, the both of you.”
+++++He gave Johnjo a wide smile.
+++++“I really wonder if I’m quick enough to get one last drag out of that cigarette,” he said.

When The Dealin’s Done

Usually folks don’t believe me when I tell them the odds are in their favour. They rather whine, complain and call me a crook. Maybe they think I own this dump, cause I wear a tie.
+++++It’s the law, though; seventy percent of what goes into the slot machines must come out again. They can’t whirl on and on for weeks without giving the jackpot, either. So let’s say you visit once or twice a week and spend a tenner on the buggers. Then you’ll probably have doubled your wager by the end of the month. Of course, if you’re a gambler, you’re fucked. None of the sorry sods I see here every day, slack-jawed in front of the pokies, hypnotized by the wheezing sounds of the wheels, the soothing colours and the canon of merry jingles will ever make money. And if they accidentally hit it big, they’re too dull to get their ass out of these cosy leather stools and just keep playing, twenty hours, thirty, till the cash is gone.
+++++Daft as a lobotomised jellyfish.
+++++Not that I’m any better than the worst of them. As of now I owe 3k to a seven foot tall and five foot wide Russian who loves to toy with a golden cigar cutter while he watches you cram the credit into your pockets.
+++++What can I say? Horses, man. These fuckers rode me straight into some deep shit.
+++++My balls buzz and I know it’s him before I fiddle the cell out of my trouser. The weekly reminder is now an hourly one and I may have a day left till I’ve got to find new ways to poke my nose. I look at my watch and go into the cash booth to fetch me a cuppa.
+++++When I turn around I look at a gun.
+++++And a knife.
+++++And a plastic bag dangling from an outstretched pinkie.
+++++I won’t tell a guy with a black ski mask over his face how to do his job, but robbing an amusement arcade with a gun and a knife seems a bit excessive.
+++++It’s three in the morning and the only punter is Raoul the Dwarf. Hardly tall enough to headbutt your knee, he has managed to shrink somewhat more and all I can see is a shiny dome of rosy flesh drifting slowly back and forth over the back of his chair. A tiny thumb flips forward to hit the start button of the machine. God beware that he’d have to interrupt his game for a nuisance like an armed robbery.
+++++The masked face nods in the direction of the till.
+++++“Da munny,” he says.
+++++I pick the bag with two fingers, open the box and transfer the notes, the change and the coin rolls. Straight above us, the green light of the security camera is blinking steadily and the guy points his gun at the safe.
+++++“Uppen.”
+++++The safe is massive and old and hardly fits under the worktop. Hamid from the kebab shop sold it to my boss for a snip, back when the Krays nicked their first toy blocks. And since he can’t be arsed to answer the phone and drive five miles down to the den the two or three times a year someone happens to win the jackpot after midnight, I enter six times the zero and look at five-thousand neatly stacked Pounds. I throw the batch upon the rest of the money and hand the bag back.
+++++You’ve ever read or heard the expression “it seemed to happen in slow motion”? That’s bullshit. It’s more like stepping back into a different quantum level where you see everything at once, stretched into an amazingly vast and sprawling moment.
+++++The guy stows the gun away, moves out of the booth backwards and walks towards the exit, when one of the slot machines reels off a firework of exploding colours and an eardrum shattering rock fanfare blasts through the room.
+++++A tiny fist pumps the air and I hear: “Fuck yes, you fucker!”
+++++The whole commotion stops the robber dead in his tracks.
+++++I see the stool spinning around and Raoul, his head a pruney strawberry, jumps out, shouting: “That’s me fucking money, you bloody cunt!”
+++++The robber turns around and trips when Raoul grabs his thighs. Then, and I hardly can believe my eyes here, Raoul bites him the arse.
+++++Both fall down, Raoul bobs up and starts kicking him with his baby Nikes.
+++++When I get nearer, I see the carpet’s colour change from red to russet, and the blotch grows.
+++++I grab the dwarf’s collar, shove him aside and turn the guy around.
+++++The bent handle of the knife sticks out of the chest, way too close to the heart. I yank the mask from his head, brush the sweaty, blond hair out of his eyes. He looks at me, gobsmacked.
+++++“The fuck was that, man?” he says, hoarsely.
+++++I turn around and cry: “Call an ambulance, for God’s sake.”
+++++Raoul drags the bag to his place.
+++++“The fucking ambulance. Now!” I keep stroking Brian’s hair.
+++++“I can’t believe this shit, Ian,” he says. His eyes are losing their focus.
+++++“It’s fine, Brian. Everything’s good. I’ve got it all covered, mate,” I lie.
+++++“We got the whole 6k?”
+++++“Yeah, man. 3000 for the fucking Russian …”
+++++“… and 3000 for Benidorm, beer and boobies,” he says. Then he coughs up blood.
+++++“We’re as good as gone, bro.”
+++++I turn my head, beg into the black eye of the security cam.
+++++“Help me, please,” I taste tears. “My mate’s dying here.”
+++++Raoul rummages through the money.
+++++“Anyone?”
+++++But nobody here hears me anymore now.