DIRTY ENGLISHJuly 24, 2018
Kenneth Spate speaks in a nerve-damaged monotone. I can barely hear what he is saying over the splashback of the amateur shower show.
The tepid gush stops abruptly, and the crumpled-looking compere steps forward. His name is Louie Drambuie, and his main hobbies are GBH and GHB. His reputation is stained worse than his fucking trousers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for tonight’s star attraction… Angina!”
A dripping wet, malnourished-looking girl climbs out of the plastic tray.
I’m so busy staring at her pale, angular body that I forget about Spate.
“… at least £8,000 in cash. You can keep half if you can find it by the end of the month…”
“Hold up, Kenneth. Run that past me again?”
Years ago, Spate and his associate Eddie ‘The Embolism’ Elgin held up a suburban Post Office. Coshed an employee so badly that he has to shit on a plastic sheet – even now. They left the money with a mutual friend named Tony English until the heat died down – and promptly forgot about it – obsessed with bigger, greasier, more lucrative scams.
The bulk of the money was in old £10 notes – the precise currency that is being withdrawn by the Bank of England and replaced with new polymer notes.
‘Dirty’ Tony English used to be a professional footballer. He played for 13 different clubs in his 20-year career, including all three Devon teams. In fact, he played for Torquay United twice – once on the way up, once on the way down. As a player, he was tough and dirty.
In his second career, as a cocaine trafficker, he was even worse. People say he killed a bent cop with a lump hammer after a deal went boss-eyed, but then again, I’ve heard worse stories about myself that weren’t necessarily true…
English’s decaying mansion is called Rockwood Heights. Spate said that English and his wife Sharon are in Torremolinos until the end of the month.
As jobs go, it beats some of the shit assignments I’ve agreed to in recent months. Endless afternoons trawling social clubs and snooker halls looking for missing kids – getting stomped on by sagging middle-aged men in steel-toe-capped boots.
When I see the copper-coloured Jaguar sat on flat tyres on the gravel driveway I assume they have been out of the country a while. I trudge through the decaying garden vegetation and pop the front door lock with my pig-knife. No alarms and no surprises, Spate told me.
I get as far as the kitchen when I see him.
He’s wearing nothing but sun-bed goggles and Speedos. His face is pink and swollen and looks like something you might win in a Meat Bingo. His moustache is lightly dusted with cocaine.
“You dirty fucking toe-rag!”
He launches a slide tackle at me across the linoleum, catching me on the side of the knee, and I slam into the wine rack. I’m just glad he’s not wearing his football boots.
I hobble down the hallway, straight into the gleaming snout of a shotgun.
Sharon. His wife. Bubble perm. Boob job. Tart-with-a-heart. She used to work as a ‘glamour model’, but that description only really works if you find women from Newton Abbot posing topless on page three of the Herald Express glamorous…
I bite down on her hand and the gun clatters to the floor. I lurch inside the room, and a shotgun slug shatters the window in front of me.
I upend the sun-bed, shattering the UV tubes, and the mattress explodes behind my head. Mouldy, shredded banknotes rain down on me.
I retrieve some of the ruined currency from the floor. How long ago did they rob this fucking Post Office? These banknotes are useless. They are older than I am!
Dirty English edges towards me, big balls bulging against his trunks, and wedges the steel nostrils of the shotgun against my nose.
He’s practically frothing at the mouth.
“You fucking bleeder…”
I shake the pig-knife out of my boot and hack at his Achilles tendon. He howls and drops like a sack of warm shit. I kick the shooter out of his hands and crunch his head into the skirting board. He goes mercifully limp.
I wipe the bloody knife on English’s hair and slide it back inside my boot.
Time to pay Kenneth another fucking visit. That old bastard is about as trustworthy as a packet of Poundland condoms…
The sign on the pub door says ‘Closed For Refurbishment’, but the shuddering bass and queasy disco lights tell another story.
The door is unlocked. I try to match the ugly faces with the ugly rumours – it looks like Kenneth is throwing a fucking staff party.
His niece, Keisha, is in the corner, handcuffed to a stripper pole – which looks rustier than a scaffolding pole. Ever since a needle snapped off when she was injecting heavily-cut Bristol smack into a sore next to her groin Kenneth has stopped her from working the streets.
He hobbles through the crowd towards me.
“What the fuck do you want?”
He grabs my throat and kicks my legs out from underneath me. I twist his ankle sharply and he falls clumsily. I slam my head into his chin, ruining his dental work.
Kenneth pulls out a flick-knife, but I stamp on his wrist, and the blade skitters loose.
“Easy, pal – that’s my wanking hand!”
“Stay down Kenneth, or I’ll bust your gob-job lips as well.”
He glares up at me.
I glare back.
“Four grand, you said, Kenneth.”
His teeth are streaked with blood when he finally speaks.
“I’ll give you £500 if you leave now.”
I nod, and he peels a stack of greasy £50 notes off his money clip. They are the same pink colour as his ruined teeth.
He waves me away.
“Fuck off then, darling.”
I stomp his jaw, and it gives way with an ugly crack.
Goodbyes can be messy…by
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Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Close to the Bone, Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Horror Sleaze Trash and Spelk Fiction. A novelette, Skull Meat, is available via Amazon, and a new book,Repetition Kills You, is available now, published by All Due Respect (an imprint of Down & Out Books).