Somewhere in Slovenia

Go to Slovenia, the man said. It’s a green wonderland with cheap beer, Razzo had promised when he sold him on the trip to the away game. Euro games! You’ll have fun, see the footie, drink your fill. It’ll be aces.
+++++He had to admit it was postcard pretty, all mountains and vineyards like Switzerland was supposed to be (he’d never been there) and if they had just stuck to the match and the pub full of other supporters from both teams it might have stayed grand.
+++++Fuck Tommy, it was all his fault. ‘Go on then, let’s do it,’ he’d said, jabbering in his always too hopped way. ‘You could get ‘em cheap here. If the beer is this cheap, just think of the drugs!’
+++++He didn’t even do drugs any more. That was kid stuff. Far better to kill yourself the nice and slow way with booze. Cheaper, easier and far less palaver. He had kids, for chrissakes. How embarrassing it would be to have their dad in the nick? And Edie? She’d skelp him alive for sure.
+++++Goddamn Tommy. They should have never left the pub. Never should have left the others. That lot were probably still singing club songs with the locals, feeling up the barmaids and hoping to get lucky, making new Slovenian pals they were inviting back to their homes, if they were ever fool enough to travel across the Brexit lines to visit the fast-sinking island.
+++++The one thing they weren’t was slumped in an alley somewhere in Slovenia while a tough-looking skinhead straight out of a Britain First recruitment video beat you senseless. That’s where Tommy was right now. Two other thugs held Danny and made him watch. Of course the guy wasn’t actually a UKipper. He was Slovenian.
+++++Presumably: he could be Croatian for all they knew. Or what was that other place? Montenegro. The other match going on tonight, wasn’t it? Didn’t matter, did it? Maybe the bald guy got mad because they called him Slovenian but he was from somewhere else all together, some place that hated Slovenia like everyone hated Chelsea. Danny found he had to laugh. Was this what hysterical meant?
+++++The guy was shouting something as he aimed a few more kicks around the body, though Tommy wasn’t even crying at him anymore, just kind of lying there. What the hell? You don’t have drugs, fine. You don’t want to sell to us, fine. Why the hell you got to beat us up?
+++++The skinhead wiped his sweaty face and turned. Danny cringed. The two pals that held him by the arms took a tighter grip. The guy walked up scowling. He was a wee bit shorter but every bit of his body seemed to have been moulded from iron. There were a few flecks of blood sprayed across his cheek. Was it Tommy’s blood?
+++++The guy let loose a torrent of abuse. Meaningless words that whooshed past his face with the guy’s spittle and venom. Danny closed his eyes. What was the point anyway? It wasn’t like he knew any language but English. If only they’d stayed in the pub. If only Tommy hadn’t got the bright idea to look for drugs down some dark alley. They should call the police.
+++++Maybe they were the police. Was this how they treated druggies? Some countries did, he’d heard. He hadn’t even wanted drugs. If only he hadn’t been so loaded. They were awash with that funny named beer. Maybe it was stronger than their usual lager. What idiots they were. They wouldn’t have been this stupid at home. He’d never have followed Tommy on such a fool’s errand.
+++++He should have at least got a guidebook, some useful phrases. Like ‘help!’ for instance.
+++++He doubled over when the first blow hit his stomach. It was all he could do not to spew up on the guy but he fought back the sickness at least until another blow landed and then another and up it all came: the beer, the bile, the fear, the crisps and the kebab thing they’d all eaten at the grounds. Like a tsunami it washed out of him and onto the pavement, splashing their feet as well as his own, until the howls of disgust encircled him and he fell.
+++++Like slow motion it was. Danny could almost see it happening and thought he was completely numb until he hit the concrete and every bit of it hurt. Every bit. But the darkness rose up to meet him and he was free.

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Graham Wynd
A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Wynd’s novella of murder and obsessive love, EXTRICATE is out now from Fox Spirit Books; the print edition also includes the novella THROW THE BONES as well as a collection of short stories. ‘Headless in Bury’ will be in the MISSING MONARCHS Fox Pockets anthology, ‘The Tender Trap’ appears in EXILES: AN OUTSIDER ANTHOLOGY from Blackwitch Press and the short story ‘Kiss Like a Fist’ appears in NOIR NATION 3:
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