Mistress Murder


Bridget Jones meets 120 Days of Sodom 

Susan Godly (Sue’s UnGodly) aka Mistress Murder 

To Do List

1 Catch stalker – Someone who knows me well. 

2 Choose between two lovers 

3 Beat drink and drug addiction 

4 Try not to murder my mother, the pointlessly durable crone 

5 Stop being a pro-domme. Become a psychologist? Vlogger? Flamenco dancer? 

6 I’ve caught him. Can I kill him?

Full length novel £1.69 direct from the FABULOUS Fahrenheit Press

read inside at Amazon or here below. with occasional format glitches courtesy of WordPress’s entirely useless new ‘blocks’ system which you can take and shove somewhere inaccessible. Thanks for wasting two hours of my life. Ahem. I do apologise. (Except to WordPress) 

MISTRESS MURDER

STAY OF EXECUTION

“You can’t kill me,” he says, very confident considering he’s chained to a St Andrew’s Cross. 

“Can’t I?” Well, not just yet. I’d rather look at the moon over St Pauls. Full, bright, maddening. Closing the blinds helps, though there’s still a sinister shimmer. The City of London is deserted at weekends. I’d love to be walking down to the river, shivering as I pass the Tower of London, thinking about subjugated women waiting for the axe. 

I’m in a different sort of dungeon. Where women rule. 

Newcomers love the mingled smell of heavy leather and rubber, the obsessively neat rows of implements. The teasers and tweakers. The strokers and strikers. For me, the thrill has gone. I should stop, really. More than a thousand clients. Several stalkers. Who were a little frightening. Though none were as bad as this guy. Who is terrifying.

“You’ll never do it,” he says.A year of death threats, hate mail, long lens photos on his website, threats to kidnap my son. He’s unafraid, unrepentant. Which is ruining my moment. I’m not a sadist, except for money, and even then I’m generally not as cruel as the clients like. But some people do need some chiding. Taking down a peg or two. Taking down permanently.

“Your life is pathetic,” he says. “Craving control. Pretending to be dominant.” 

“I don’t know. It’s better than a slap in the belly with a dank haddock.” 

‘It’s ‘a slap in the belly with a wet fish’,” he says.

“I know.”

I give him a blast in the stomach with a taser. He has a bit of a flail, gradually regains his arrogance. 

“You can’t kill me. You would have done it by now.”

“I’m a cat. I play with my prey.” 

Wish I hadn’t said that. Sentences shouldn’t rhyme. Then again, you shouldn’t kill people. 
That’s what I’ve always felt. Can I fix that? 

“I know you.” he says, surprisingly arrogant for a man facing a Yoshihiro sushi knife. I put the tip to his throat. He’s now the colour of a super white tuna. 

Should I christen a £5000 blade? It was a present from a Japanese client. The lacquered sheath features a phoenix. He said it would always protect me. He said he loved me – for all the use thatwas. 

Could I actually do this? Destroy all of the evidence including his body? I’m a good girl. “You haven’t got the guts,” he says. “You’re not who you’re pretending to be,” “Who is?” 

My name is Susan Godly and I’m a sex, drug and alcohol addict. Which is fine. The only thing I’m ashamed of is being called Susan, and there was nothing much I could have done about it. I blame the parents. My name is almost ‘Sue’s Ungodly’, sounds the same anyway, and that prophecy came true when I was a teenage Goth, of which more later. 

Susan is the name C.S Lewis chose for the older sister who is supposedly too grown up by the end of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. She likes make up and – trigger warning! – she likes nylon stockings. Yes, sheathed female legs, the Devil’s work. So I’m Mistress Marissa, professionally, when I help men become women, with a little lewd chastisement. I’m Mistress Murder for more hardcore clientele. Despite that name I probably can’t kill but I might surprise myself. Particularly if he keeps up the cold contempt, the arrogant condescension. How did we get here? 

THE DEATH THREAT 

“Your going to die, WHORE!!! Im going to slit your dirty fucking THROAT!!”

The first threat. Capital letters scrawled on dirty, torn foolscap paper, inside an envelope with my name on, no stamp. He knows where I live. One of my clients? Surely not. Someone who doesn’t use apostrophes, who writes ‘your’ for ‘you’re’?

Soon I will no longer be a WHORE!!!. I will be a THERAPIST!!!. I’m studying for a psychology degree. With the Open University. Well, some of the time. Even if I weren’t a WHORE!!! this spiteful inadequate would probably still want to kill me, another unavailable woman, someone who makes him feel inferior. I suppose I’m already a therapist, if you count roleplay, but the talking cure would be more respectable. And no repetitive strain injury. 

2

MISTRESS MURDER’S MAKEOVER

I’m getting ready for a client, staring at myself in a mirror lit by lights bright enough to crack the toughest suspect. “You’re lovely,” Geezer Hardnut would say, one of my primary partners, who is smitten. I look OK I suppose. 

Forty winters have yet to ‘besiege my brow’, (I am currently celebrating my third twenty-ninth birthday). The said dread winters may yet ‘dig deep trenches in my beauty’s field’ but we now have much better make up than in Shakespeare’s day. 

If only I didn’t need so much time in front of my mirror disguising myself. The last person I need to see is the mad tart caking on the make up. And why bother? When most men would shag a rotting corpse. It’s got a pussy, hasn’t it? What’s wrong with you? You a poof or what? 

“You look fine,” My Man Max would say, eventually, wearily. He’s my other bloke, the one I’m going to keep. Even though he’s only in love with himself – with good reason. Maybe I should eat more. You could chop out a line with my cheekbones. But when does ‘thin’ turn into ‘haggard’? 

Shouldn’t be so self critical but then I aim higher than mere men. I wish to be judged by a jury of my peers. Their criteria is not whether I look attractive to men but whether I terrify them. Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen. 

I tease and tweak my hair. I could soften up and let it loose but I prefer this tight, dark helmet. Louise Brooks with a touch of evil. I spend a long time putting on and taking off make up until I am presentable. Though if the eyes are the window to the soul mine need cleaning. 

MARRY IN HASTE. RESENT AT LEISURE

Drama needs conflict and jeopardy, a mighty battle, something worth fighting for. I’m not short of material, whatever the genre. My marriage was a farce and my divorce is a tragedy which could still damage future generations. In literature comedies end with a marriage. In life, tragedies begin with one. Bit harsh? My child saw that parents can hate each other, sometimes, but those memories tend to last. Will he be afraid of intimacy? Having seen our bickering broil?

Still, you might as well marry, if you’re young and in love. Or so I thought, till I tied the knot – around my own neck. After a good start I spent the next few years gradually suffocating. And when the end came it was anything but merciful. A scumbag once told my friend Crystal he was dying, just to get out of a relationship. She isinsufferable: a spiteful, greedy miser, a user who never does anything unless it profits her or hurts someone else. Painful as that must have been I was dumped for an older woman, the sort of muesli-fetishist who has a white stripe in her hair, on purpose, surely best on badgers or raccoons? Our love had died. But he swappedmefor death by home-made yoghurt. Or could it have been the big bazookas? Was he bullied by breasts? Pinioned by paps? 

Sorry, I overdo alliteration. As a tease.Perhaps I’m hoping that Mr Jenkins my sixth form English teacher will give me a stern talking to before bending me to his iron will. Ahem. Focus. My real problem is… 

WILL I GET MY SON BACK?

I don’t like him being at boarding school. Look what it did to me. I have access but not enough. I’m his mother FFS. My ex-husband was awarded custody because I am a sex worker and a drug user. Or, as judges and the tabloids might have it, ‘Kinky Hooker Mum is drug addict!“ But it’s recreational use. Perhaps on the heavy side, well, industrial, really but not actually addiction. As such. Just lots and lots and lots of ketamine and MDMA. A bit of Charles now and again. I only chase the dragon with someone’s else’s gear and I don’t hang round with losers anyway. I’m loved up. A club raver. Whatevs, I could clean up. I am giving up sex work too. To become a therapist. Or at the very least a Life Coach. I will advise vanilla women how to tame their men. I’ll be their husband whisperer. I’m starting a Vlog: ‘Taming men – Capturing the Beast.’ 

Maybe my life’s not the best example but then what sort of man complains that their woman is a sex maniac? My ex husband, that’s who. He emailed me some miserable drivel, just before we split. He was having difficulty with me having other partners. We were trying polyamory, at least I was. 

“Sexual addiction or hypersexuality is defined as a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy, often in combination with the obsessive pursuit of casual or non-intimate sex; pornography; compulsive masturbation; romantic intensity and objectified partner sex for a period of at least six months”.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” I replied. Flippant perhaps but imagine getting a note saying ‘you’re a loony’. 

I had given him the polyamory bible: The Ethical Slut, or, as it often turns out, ‘How to Get Divorced in Triplicate’. It didn’t convert him. 

He kept on at me. I was already going to Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, on and off. Mostly off. I was already getting told off by them. I didn’t need him joining in. Besides, sex is the closest thing I have to a religion. I can’t see the harm in hypersexuality, if hypersexuality actually exists anyway. We are all programmed to have as much sex as possible to keep the human race going. It’s good exercise and although you don’t get out in the fresh air, as in golf, the outfits are way cooler. Some disagree. Most disagree. Do they have the happy marriages to prove it?

3

MISTRESS MURDER’S MINIONS: T-GIRLS and KINKY GUYS

“She seemed to me to be a man in woman’s clothes>” James Boswell on the Chevalier D’Eon, an eighteenth century transvestite. 

I specialize in makeovers, helping men get in touch with their inner female. Unfortunately, most men’s transgendered persona is a slut or a whore. She doesn’t crave chocolate or coo over kitten pics. This is a new evolutionary development: men who think they’re better women than we are. After all, we were only born with vaginas and a sweet tooth. You need a man to do anything properly… Could my stalker be one of my clients? It’s not unknown for trans people to have some mental issues although just saying that gets you death threats from outraged millennials. And how dare you suggest ‘gender’ exists? Whatever thatis. Sigh. This used to be fun, not an excuse to be offended or play the victim card. 

Mistress Murder is my new persona. I already have a leather hood, red and black with purple eyelets, red satanic horns. The Domme from Hell. A Mexican wrestler who will wrap her legs around your neck, squeeze you till you beg for mercy. Maybe it’ll scare my stalker. Maybe it will trigger him, incite him to kill me just to defend himself. 

Maybe I should stop overthinking everything. 

I need help, also therapy, a sugar Daddy and a new Mummy, preferably someone with some maternal feelings although I’d settle for anyone who isn’t a sour, disapproving bitch, anyone who isn’t a colossal snob, anyone who isn’t hoarding the family fortune. Let me at it, you pointlessly durable crone. Don’t worry you’ll still be able to belittle and control me once you’re gone. You’ll still haunt me, always assuming you’re actually ever going to die. Even then, she’ll have herself cryogenically frozen, which will cost what’s left of my inheritance. 

4

MASSAGE WITH MY MAN MAX 

I rang My Man Max to discuss the threat. And because I love him. He had been on his way to some black tie dinner but came straight over, hugged me, listened for a while. 

Right now he is pouring more lavender and calendula oil into my hot, foaming bath, a deep golden blend enriched with soy and avocado. His manly musk mixes in with the fragrance of well-scrubbed Mistress Murder – on heat but trying my best to look aloof. He rubs my shoulders with his strong hands, nuzzles the nape of my neck, whispers some lewdly poetic praise into my ear.

“Put the threat out of your mind. There’s a lot of sad, inadequate people out there. This is the only way they can get any attention.”

Deep, manly voice. Strong hands, kneading and soothing.

“Take it to the Police. Let them deal with it. Be even more careful than usual. Carry on living. Otherwise he’s won.”

He makes me feel safe. Protected. 

“Shame you’re not around more often,” I say, then regret it. Never good to sound clingy. 

“I missed your scent,” he says. “Your soulful eyes, your smile.” A neat deflection. Doesn’t address where he’s been. Or who with. 

Then it gets too spicy for public consumption. Scandalously intimate. 

“Down, boy!” I tell him, although he’s making me purr.

My, it’s hot in here. Steamy, too. He must be wilting in his tux, although his starched wing collar remains stiff. Limpness is not an issue with My Man Max. He’s hard when he wants to be and a softy when I need cuddling. He cuddles. He cossets. He’ll cherish you till you’re red in the face, sighing for mercy. He’s an Alpha Male, yet emotionally literate. He’s a moody marauder, a handsome rascal, a lovable rogue. Tall, dark and handsome. Hands on, just where you need them. Big money, big ego and a big weapon in his pants. He listens and he’s good at caring, sharing psycho-babble. He probably learnt it just to keep the female engine running smoothly but how many men would even bother trying? 

He loves fast cars, any sort of engine he can tune to work better. He’s good with his hands. 

There is a catch, needless to say. He’s not around very often. There may be other women, although he says there aren’t. He’s too busy doing something stupefyingly boring for big bucks. Or racing his cars against other laddish millionaires. If not quite a bastard, Max is the unavailable devil we ladies often yearn for. 

Surely I can tame him? Puncture his ego with a few sly barbs? I am skilled at filleting men and removing their backbone. Which I sharpen and use on the next victim. Max is different. His real thing is cars. (What real man’s real thing is women?) If I were a Porsche it would matter if I had developed a worrying noise in the gear-box. (Look, I don’t know or care if Porsches have gearboxes. All I know is that his is cramped and he’s always trying to drive it too fast. It’s more trouble than a catwalk model but at least it doesn’t answer back. He loveshis Porsche. Even if he does cheat on it with a Bentley and a Jaguar. And two Ferraris.) 

So he’s everything I want but he’s not here often enough. There’s too many nights when I sleep with a teddy bear. Too many nights when I’m awake and the flat is full of wide-eyed users – using my body, using drugs. Which I might, er, occasionally use too. Just to keep them company. Just to be polite. 

He could rescue me, protect me. Marry me and make me happy for ever and ever. But he needs his space. Some cheating men smell of perfume. He smells of oil. And money. So he’s flawed. 

I still love him. 

“You are going to take that threat to the Police?” he says. “Not just say you going to.” He knows me so well. 

“Everyone gets death threats now,” I say. “Not hand delivered.” 

“I’d have you killed if you betrayed me,” I tell him. 

He’s not bothered. Though he should be. Being a tad evasive when it comes to commitment.

I get the faintest rasp of stubble as he whispers some sweet and salty sex talk. My Man Max makes the average razor ad Adonis look like an alcoholic rough sleeper but they have yet to invent a razor that can tame his testosterone. Still, if you want a real man you have to take the rough with the smooth. His blue eyes sparkle as he leans in to whisper something rude.

“Stop it!” I tell him. Even if I weren’t giggling he would know I mean ‘Carry on! And crank it up, big boy.’

He’s just back from a City of London function, hence the tux. Something boring yet massively lucrative has just happened to his firm. I’d sooner listen to a drunk, weepy phone call from my mother than attempt to explain what he does. My Man Max plays with pretend money, which turns into large amounts of real cash, too little of which he spends on me. Rich, rugged, racy; he’s still under thirty and yet he is not arrogant. How often do you get that combination? I could call him a toyboy, as I am on my fourth twenty-ninth birthday. However, I look up to him in more than just height.

He’s very smart, without being condescending, masterful, without being overbearing, macho, without being brutish and sensitive without being a big girl’s blouse. He’s a bigger-brained Pierce Brosnan, tough as early Sean Connery, suave as Roger Moore, smart as Timothy Dalton, as ripped as Daniel Craig – all without the wearisome vanity thespians display. He’s Bond without the balderdash. Men like him and womenlurvehim. Some might find his good looks boring, perhaps even gay. But there’s an intriguing scar down the side of one cheek. He changes the explanation for its existence as often as he upgrades his computers so I’m assuming he has a dark secret. 

“Feeling good, honey?” he asks. “Got everything you want?”

“Oh yes. You’reeverything I want.” 

My Man Max puts a manicured hand into the bath and swirls the water around, wafting up aromatic bath oil over us both. He strokes my belly in slow insistent circles, drifting downwards, sailing slowly into port. It doesn’t take long before my eyes are closed and he gives me a brief taste of what is to come. His busy fingers stroke and soothe, rubbing me softly. After a brief sojourn somewhere crucial he withdraws his hand and dries it carefully. No Mess Max, the only house-trained male I ever knew.

“I’ve fluffed the duvet, mixed your Pink Lady, prepared a Cole Porter playlist.”

I was a cocktail pianist once upon a time. Then I was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End bitch for a while, churning out his pigswill on a synthesiser till drug addiction and various personality disorders terminated any further chance of employment. He often made secret visits to check up on his little darlings and my slapdash keyboard work (a little the worse for lunchtime cocktails) once reduced him to tears, the big girl’s blouse. Well, if I achieve nothing else in this life I can still retire happily. I inflicted some much needed pain on that overpaid bumface. With risible hair…oh forget him. Here’s My Man Max. The opposite end of the evolutionary scale. 

“I’ve bought you some Agent Provocateur lingerie. From the new catalogue. Can’t wait to see you in them. Or out of them.” 

Could he be after something? Well, he may very well be in luck. I can’t give in that easily though. It’s the rules. Men should be wrong-footed as often as possible. Which I’m usually happy to do. Although My Man Max and that deep, wicked, manly rasp turns me all gooey. 

“I’ve found Diana Krall versions of ‘You’d be so nice to come home to’. ‘Easy to love’. ‘I get a kick out of you’.”

Three of my favourites. And I can ignore Diana Krall’s virtuosity, beauty, good fortune and happy marriage for these titles remind me of when My Man Max flew me first class to watch a Cole Porter revival on Broadway. He’s so considerate, so desirable and so very hard to resist. I do like proper musicals. The ones not written by bumface. 

For the moment I stay calm, raising an eyebrow, checking in my many mirrors to see if I look inquiring as opposed to imperious. Max understands my moods. I don’t need to shout. The Pink Lady turns out to have enough lemon to be tangy but not enough to make you blanch.

“I forgot the cherry,” he says, “Sorry.”

“Stuff the cherry.”

“Very well, Ma’am.”

A mock bow, a hint of a smile. I toast his very good health. If only he weren’t away so often. If only he weren’t married to fast cars. You think he pampers me? It’s nothing to what those bitches get. So he’s good at massage. Theyget their bodies rubbed and oiled and buffed and…I’d rather not know what else he does to them. 

He leaves on some unspecified errand. I subside back into the water and let it wash away the memory of idiotic clients and the hard ache of missing my son, which is never too far away even during a severe pampering. I picture My Man Max and me on our wedding day. St Paul’s Cathedral or Brixton registry office? And should I have my mother sectioned before the ceremony? 

I recall our last lovemaking, the strangled sound of his release, the sigh of his gratitude. For once he wasn’t in control and that’s my fierce pleasure. Unmanning him for a brief moment. He walks past the open door, naked, his tight, taut bum crying out to be nibbled. 

That does it. I was never too good at delayed gratification. I want him. I want him now. I step out, towel off quickly and walk towards my cherishing.

Fill me up. Up to the brim.

HATE MALE. LEGION OF THE DIM.

DCI Wilson is a friend with benefits, good in bed, though it’s been a while. We’re drinking coffee in a family run Italian place. The bickering sounds classier. 

Shagging a Detective Chief Inspector had its uses. Access to the Police computer, expert analysis of CSI plots and a very good critique of my Policewoman roleplay (When he was naked, cuffed, face down on the bed, begging for a touch of the truncheon.) He reads through the threats, which I photographed and stored on my phone. 

“We should run a DNA test,” he says. “And we need to make this official.”

“What if it’s someone I know? I don’t want to send anyone to prison.” 

“They might get probation. And the therapy they need.”

And it might make them hate me even more, even more determined to kill me. Though it’s still likely to be a sad loner. Even so, these threats have got under my skin, more than the usual hate mail, which we’re all used to by now. Everyone’s at it. Spitting poison on the internet. Flaming, trolling, hacking. What happened to a brisk walk then a nice sit down? Cribbage. Mini golf. Why pretend to be as horrible as possible? In order to win a pointless squabble with total strangers? People who aren’t who they’repretending to be. 

“You’ve had threats before?” he asks. 

“Yeah but this one knows too much about me. Maybe he’s guessing but I don’t know. Everyone gets threats but it’s worse for women.” Inadequate men, hating you because of their mothers, their girlfriends. Maybe their blow up dolls developed a leak. Maybe their Sex Robots rusted. 

“How do you know when it’s a real threat?” I ask. “When does obsession turn to stalking? When does obsession become murder?” 

I should stop being so flowery, so talkative. Why can’t I be strong and silent like him? I drivel on, embarrassing myself in the process. 

“If they’re saying it they probably won’t do it,” he says, finally, when I’ve stopped wittering. “He probably wrote that left-handed so he could tug himself off with his right.”

Trying to reassure me. My lovely gruff bear. Big and huggy. Although that was more than a year ago now. 

I shouldn’t be remembering our brief encounters. But…he’s a hard, muscular man. A tough guy. Good at sex, plenty of staying power. He doesn’t stint when it comes to putting the nosebag on, chowing down. You don’t have to plead for it either. You don’t need threats or bribes. He actually wants to do it. 

While he’s telling me about security I remember his 

tongue teasing my nub, his fingers working wonders. He was a right laugh and he even bought thoughtful presents. But it couldn’t last and it didn’t. The sex worker thing, probably. Tis pity I’m a whore, to customize a play I couldn’t sit through at school. 

“Keep me posted,” he says, getting up to go. “And get me that note.”

That makes me feel better. Although I would prefer to be held in his strong arms till this vague panic goes away for good. Our concluding hug is brief and chaste but leaves me wanting more. His smile warms me on the way to the tube. Till I see him looking solemn at my funeral. Next to my mother who looks as cold and dismissive as ever. And my friends who knew I should have left the life and…everything feels cold. Fear floods me. Is my killer following me? I turn round in the hope of surprising him. One guy swerves to avoid me. Someone else tells me to get out of the fucking way. I keep moving, trying to take slow, deep breaths. Count them, Long slow, deep breaths. 

This would be the day I have no valium. Dumb doc won’t write a prescription in case I get ‘addicted’. As if I would. So I have to keep going, experiencing actual unvarnished reality. And full frazzled anxiety! Don’t panic. Easy to say. 

Maybe my other man will have an answer. 

YOU WANT MY MAN MAX. YOU’D SETTLE FOR GEEZER HARDNUT. 

Geezer Hardnut, up from Brighton, is panting at my feet, pretending to be a randy dog. He’s a lovable hound, the sort of shaggy-coated mongrel that shouldn’t be allowed on the bed. He’s so sweet,cute for a tough guy but still lethal. Pumped up muscles, cropped hair, and too many sharp suits – the great nancy. He has some frightening scars and tattoos from his misspent youth but has renounced violence – except for money. Or when taken suddenly drunk. He is a successful entrepreneur, a club promoter, also an alternative alchemist, selling magic white crystals. I’m trying to give him up. But, like his product, he’s addictive. Fortunately I’m not too fond of Charles. But if it’s there… When in Rome… 

He runs the provisional wing of Fathers Need Justice! (North Kent No Surrender! Branch). Yet he just can’t quit marrying people. He’s a big soppy dog with some lovable traits but why would anyone put up with this mongrel when My Man Max is around? My Man Max is not around. I should probably put that on a macro key to save me the bother of typing it so often. At least Geezer is generous with money and goodies and he’s here, not somewhere else with a rich, dumb floozy. The problem, one of the problems, is that he keeps asking to marry me. 

“We don’t need that. Long. slow death.. Shopping at Homebase.” 

“You can mock. Marriage is a beautiful institution.”

“You should be in an institution,” I tell him. “How much maintenance are you paying?”

“None!” says Geezer. “Trust fund girls love me, their bit of rough.”

Of course. Geezer never loses. So he keeps saying. I’ve seen him cry over his kids. At Christmas. But we don’t talk about that sort of thing. Just in case it sets meoff. 

“So I’m just another posh bird.”

“You’re not like them.”

“How dare you! I went to a boarding school, for young ladies.” “Yeah babe but…you’re not…well…” 

“Yes? Spit it out.” 

“Well…you’re not…aristocratic, are you? Not the Clarissa 

Ponsoby-Smythe type. And I wouldn’t want you to be. 

You’reyou. Just you, with all 

your…special qualities. I love you.”

So he does. He says so. He’s in love with me and he feels fine. (Wish he wouldn’t keep playing Beatles songs. What year is this anyway?) But how do I feel? 

It’s complicated.

Also – he’s drugged and bathing in the warmth of a few double brandies. Does he just love the way I make him feel? Does he just love sex? It has been known, with men. And can I compete with the blazing sunshine of his self-love? It must be nice not having to go anywhere else for romance. Just get up, look straight in the mirror and there you are: the object of your affection. You might still have to buy yourself little presents, just to keep yourself sweet. But then you can keep them all to yourself. Well, maybe he’s just young and justly confident of his fit bod and genuine machismo. 

I only wish my mother could see us together. It might just finish her off. With any luck. The shiny suits, the tattoos, the shaven head, the chunky wrist bracelet. I don’t like his jewellery come to think of it but it never seems the right moment to say so. Besides, where else can you find a real man who actually likes women? Most hunks are only interested in shagging each other. Geezer’s not only well-endowed he knows what to do with it. He also loves to lick. He’s quite happy down there, listening to me grunt and groan. It may be because he’s a control freak, and he just likes making things work – cars, computers, women – probably in that order. But, he isn’t My Man Max. And he isn’t the Honourable something or other, the sort of chinless berk my mother would prefer. 

“We were made for each other,” he says. “We should be together.” 

I let him suffer a little. 

“And what makes you think you’re worthy of me?” 

“Oh yeah?” he says, full of himself as usual. “I’m going to write a book, about you entitled, stuck up bitches. ‘It’s only a pussy, not the crown fucking jewels.’ Good title eh? What women need to know. By a man. Simple, really. Stop holding us to ransom. ‘It’s only a pussy. Not the crown fucking jewels.’” 

There is a pause. I’m giving him enough rope with which to hang himself. Geezer is on the verge of repeating this searing philosophical insight, perhaps hoping for opposition, or a tired smile and a weary ‘yeah yeah ‘. He does know he’s on thin ice. 

I pour him another balloon of brandy, wiping and tidying the bar as I go. I avoid my reflection in the mirror. Trying not to see the solitary, fussy old bat I am fast becoming. Even though my ex-husband rarely comes here he reserves the right to complain if it’s not neurotically tidy. 

At first I thought ketamine was the next step in human evolution, perhaps the means by which humans could become divine. I thought the visionary trances were an essential Shamanic tool for exploring consciousness, both before and after death. I could summon angels. Sounds nuts but then K is a radical dissociative. It makes the average LSD trip look like a vicarage tea party. It’s acid. On Acid! Be that as it may, if you take horse tranquilliser too often your flat gets as messy as a stables. So I’m giving it up. No more three day binges for me. I didn’t buy any today. 

Not yet. 

Geezer doesn’t like me on it. He can’t take the k-hole blackouts, the lunatic conversations, the near death experiences, not of all which are euphoric. He’s a bit of a lightweight, really. Actually, he’s a control freak who can’t be doing with time running backwards and out of body experiences before lunch. That’s why he prefers coke. Which can make him too aggressive. Would it make him mad enough to send me death threats? Unlikely as he’s totally smitten. But unrequited love can make people crazy.

“You’d never crack and start sending me death threats would you?” I ask. He doesn’t break down and confess just looks puzzled. He genuinely has no idea of what I’m talking about. And, not for the first time, neither do I. 

“I might,” he says, “if you kept taunting me with some other bloke.”

“You know we’re not exclusive.”

“Yeah but Max is a poof. And you’ll never get him anyway.” 

“What do youknow about it?”

“He’s out of your league.” 

I’mout of your league.” 

“Oh yeah, who was screaming how much she loves it? Getting a good portion. Getting it right up the…” 

“You’re so crude.” 

“And you love it.” 

And I do. But I don’t love him.No doubt how much I love my crystal Goddess though, Lady K. Which I need medically, as it’s a cure for bipolar depression. It is. Well, if administered in small doses under clinical conditions. One day I will be rewarded for my pioneering research. Just you wait. 

“Thanks, babe,” says Geezer, receiving his brandy with as much grace as he can muster, for a nude man with a large glistening semi. I love him saying ‘babe’, any sign of affection really. I get sloppy and sentimental when told to ‘mind the gap’ on the tube. At leastsomebodycares about me. Well Geezer does but…is it enough? Would I be any good as a gangster’s moll? 

“‘It’s only a pussy,” he says, still proud of this idiotic assertion. “Not the crown fucking jewels.”

“A little less anger dear. Makes you sound sad and bitter.” 

“Then I’m going to do another book,” says Geezer. “’And bum-holes are tighter too.’”

Most amusing. I could say, ‘and you should know’ but then hard men can be a little touchy about situational homosexuality. More of them than you might think are bi and fighting it and some of the straight ones have experienced male rape in various prison and army settings, as rarely seen in geezer chic gangster pics. This is the secret no one wants to know. Some men like a bit of that. 

“Sounds like a great movie,” I tell him. “Who will play the bum-hole? Hugh Grant? He’s getting a bit old to play you, isn’t he?”

“Oh Ha Ha. No. I want Danny Dyer.”

“What?” 

“Him off Eastenders.” 

“I know! And I do NOT watch Eastenders!” 

“Keep your hair on, Lady Muck. I know you’d never watch a soap. Apart from all those American series.”

“That’s long form drama.”

“Keep telling yourself that.”

There is a grumpy silence. Just as I finally simmer down, he gets me again. 

“Shall I put The Football Factory on?”

“Oh for…”

Big ‘gotcha’ grin. Time he had a good punitive cropping. Nothing sexual, just a damn good thrashing, till he’s begging for mercy. Danny bloody Dyer.

He once made me sit through The Football Factory. Recall is swift and painful. And why do their horrible clothes cost so much? Plastic anorak with logo – £200.

The broadsheets are always bemoaning the death of the British Film Industry. You can’t lose with a film about football yobs or neanderthals in Essex Range Rovers. You’re ‘Larfing! Having a right tin bath!’ 

I look at Geezer and ponder the cultural chasm between us, much wider than the usual moat dividing men and women. 

“Why are we together?” I ask. Geezer says something very rude indeed in reply. It could be interpreted as a slur upon my honour. 

Oh well. I say some very rude things back and Geezer pulls my knicks down and starts doing what I want. What we both want. 

“You love it. You love it, you filthy bitch.” 

I don’t love this particular phrase but it excites my valiant swain, who keeps on stoking my fire. And on. He doesn’t stint himself. Or me. Once we’ve scraped ourselves back down from the ceiling there’s a lovely, long cuddle afterwards. And he says some soppy stuff he keeps for me alone. 

It could be worse. 

Perhaps if he was unavailable I would yearn for him and I would be in love. Like he is in love with me. Because, ultimately, I’m unavailable to him. As it is, I’m bitching about a coupling that works. Love is a bitch. Is this love? Well, yes, sort of, but not while My Man Max is still a contender. Geezer knows all this, or at least I keep telling him it. But he’s persistent. I’ll give him that. 

I suppose I’ll miss him when the time comes. I’ll worry about that later. Sufficient to the day the troubles thereof, said some Galilean hippie. 

7 ‘I CLEAN THE STREET’S. OF FUCKING WHORES!’

Another hand delivered threat. Written in blood. Could be ochre paint I suppose. Which is no excuse for rogue apostrophes. Or is he just pretending to be stupid? I ring the Police, who aren’t interested. Maybe I should have called it a hate crime. If only he’d misgendered me, on Twitter, they would have sent a squad car. 

8 GILES AND ME. CAN’T YOU TAKE A JOKE?

My MP client has just come – finally! The Goddess be praised. ‘Roxy’ gets up off her knees and is Giles once more. Well, you’re not likely to mistake ‘Roxy’ for a woman, or a t-girl, one of those who can ‘pass’. He’s a bloke in drag, en drab, in the jargon. There’s nothing wrong with that but I sometimes get ‘Roxy’ mansplaining make up and what really suits ‘her’. How to be a woman – by a guy. 

He wipes his make up off, peels off the fishnets, looking very pleased with himself, as usual. Time someone burst his bubble. 

“My boyfriend thinks I should blackmail you.” 

What on earth made me say that? Spirit possession? Satan himself? I soften it with a smile. He’s not amused. 

“I’m joking.” 

He’s looking down at me. The air has frozen solid. 

“I could have him killed,” he says. “Pimps don’t get in the way of what we’redoing, dear.” He’s never called me ‘dear’, practically spitting at me.

“It was a joke.” 

“Was it really? Tell your moronic thug that anyone can be killed cheaply, as he will know. We have people disappeared.”

“Who’s ‘we’?” 

Thin smile. He makes regular trips all over the Middle East, on behalf of a security consultancy, privatised spooks performing various shadowy services. They must be really good at it because there’s going to be peace any day soon. Or there might just be more lucrative carnage. Something’s bought him a big house in Chelsea. 

“You don’t need to know,” he says. “Tell him it’s the Rothschilds or the Bilderbergs. Throw in Chemtrails and Mossad, some ‘conspiracy’ you moronsmight believe.I’m too important to be fucked with. That’s all you need to know.” 

He’s still staring down at me, glaring, trying to burn my eyes out.

“I get it, no need to make a meal out of it,” 

“You and lover boy get in my way you’ll just vanish. Like that.” 

He clicks his fingers. It’s genuinely chilling. Despite the burlesque outfit and the recent age regression roleplay. Or does that make it worse? 

“I’m sorry,” I say. A curt nod. 

He gives me an extra hundred quid, throwing it at my feet and insisting I pick it up. He sneers when I comply. 

9 “I BOUGHT YOU A NEW DIET BOOK, DEAR. I KNOW HOW KEEN YOU ARE TO LOSE WEIGHT.”

Tea with Mother. At the Langham Hotel. Where I used to play the piano back in the day. Right opposite the BBC. Palm plants and the sort of celebrities my mother’s heard of: Melvyn Bragg, John Humphreys. Geriatric lounge lizards. 

I look at the diet book. A 5:2 system, two days fast, five days eat normally. As I’ve been on the E Plan diet for some years I’m more in need of a guide to bulking up. The Italian Mama pasta diet perhaps. Neither do I need the other book, ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies.’ Well, I might needit but I’m not ready for it and I resent the Dummy insinuation. Over sensitive perhaps but then everything she does rubs me up the wrong way. 

‘I worry about you,” she says. “When I was your age I had your father.’

And look how well that turned out. 

“Why do I need a diet book? I’m practically skeletal.” Although I’m now starting to doubt that. This is what she does to me. 

“I’m sorry. I haven’t seen you since last Christmas. You were talking about diets.” 

“Someone else’s diet. You were talking about Nigel Lawson. The Conservative politician. He lost tons of weight then wrote a book. Do I look like I need to lose weight?” 

She doesn’t doesn’t answer for just long enough to plant doubt and self-loathing. 

“What’s the diet?”

“No alcohol, no sugar, no dairy. I’ll get the book if you want.” 

NO!He looks dreadful. Like a collapsed scrotum.”

“You could pass it on. Regifting, I think it’s called.” 

“Yes, women love that. When you give them a diet book.” 

I tug my skirt down, conscious that a mini skirt was more appropriate to clubbing with Geezer last night than tea with Mama. I woke up late, hungover and needing more chemical confidence. We were chatting and chortling, way past dawn. 

“That is a rather daring skirt, dear. You can see what you had for breakfast.” 

Not long now. And then I won’t have to see her till Christmas. 

A moptop celebrity guitarist arrives with an eager to please BBC person. He defined the mid nineties, by pillaging the sixties. An affable funny guy who, annoyingly, has even managed to kick a massive habit. 

“Cocaine,” says my mother, spotting him. I suppose it’s all in her Daily Mail. “It makes good people tiresome and bad people evil.”

Is she quoting someone? Did she actually make that up?

“Don’t look so shocked darling. Before your father I was with a Harley Street Doctor.” 

And with anyone else with the price of a champagne cocktail. And delivery men, shoeshine boys and guys who stopped to ask the time. She once tried to corrupt a Jehovah’s Witness but his faith was too strong. Maybe he recognized the Devil had assumed female form. 

“I tried it once, didn’t like it,” she says. “He wanted me to inject his bottom. Sad little pervert. Is that the sort of thing you like?”

“What?! I’m not going to discuss my sex life.” 

“Bit quiet? You can always take evening classes. Great way to meet men.”

“I’m meeting enough men, thank you.” 

“Well don’t be so fussy. If I’d have waited for a perfect man you’d never have been born. And that’s what we’re here for, darling. Reproduction. Keeping the human race going.” 

“I have a son.” 

“Yes but wouldn’t you like another one you could see more of?” 

She must know this hurts. More than anything else. But she can’t or won’t stop. Is it a disease or condition? Manic cunt syndrome? No boundaries, breathtaking offensiveness, useless advice, unwanted help. 

I really hate people who look at their phones in company. I’m now trying to calm myself down by seeing if I’ve had any more emailed death threats. 

“Darling, we said no phones.” 

I have a text from my stalker. 

“That skirt is far too short. Cover yourself up, WHORE!”

I close my eyes. 

“Bad news?” she asks. 

“No, just my life coach. Keeping me on my toes. Time I got back, lovely seeing you.”

“Anything I can help with? Something I can get for Josh. You must miss him.” 

Only all the time. 


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Les Edgerton – Reformed Outlaw – Truthtelling Scribe

How often is a memoir genuinely astounding? Adrenaline Junkie takes us through Les Edgerton’s harsh rural childhood, working harder before he was twelve than most of us ever will. There follows armed robbery, pimping, drug dealing, rape in prison, narrowly avoiding a hellcat’s castration attempt, suicide foiled by the rope breaking, a walk on part for Charles Manson and his creepy serial killer mate – who got short shrift from our host. And so much more…

 So many startling sentences: ‘She was going to be his last fuck before the operation and I was going to be his first after he became a woman.’ ‘It was then Charles Manson started to contact me…’ There’s a satisfying twist late on after he becomes a family man so this fascinating book has just the right ending. 

 I was also reading, of all things, Two Sisters, Gore Vidal’s rambling fictional memoir, wherein he boasts about being related to Jackie Kennedy, and how it annoys his social climber friends, whom he doesn’t like. It’s mostly glib preening, with too much emphasis on sex with one’s sister – which is any emphasis at all.

Les Edgerton’s story sounds different. ‘I grew up in Gulf coast Texas and spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s bar/restaurant where I’d done every job—bartending, bussing tables, dishwashing—before I turned 12 when I added cab dispatcher to my resume. It was a honky tonk so I saw my share of knifings and shootings.’

Adrenaline Junkie makes Bukowski seem like Donny Osmond and it’s all the better for being true. A must read.

 Down&Out Books, November, 2018. 

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MR Have you written about your prison experience? Will it be covered in your memoir? 

LE I’ve written about those experiences in a number of works, including short stories and novels, most notably Hard Times. I do write a lot about it in Adrenaline Junkie.

MR  42 per cent of prisoners in a new study said they had seen someone killed in childhood. Is there any way of preventing troubled adolescents becoming hardened criminals?
LE  I’ve seen several people killed when I was a kid. One such incident happened when I was 12. My grandmother thought I was old enough to learn her taxicab business so she started me out as the night dispatcher. The night dispatcher as that was the quiet period.
An hour on the job, one of the cabbies started hassling another cabbie with a dead rattlesnake. The guy he was tormenting thought it was alive and when the guy threw it on him, he pulled out his pistol and shot him in the throat. About 4-5 feet from me.

As the dispatcher, it was my job to call the police, which I did. This was in the days before 911 so I had to look it up and dial it. The guy went to trial (I had to testify) and he was acquitted on a defense of self-defense. This was in the days before people had gone nuts and still had common sense. The guy left town immediately as the guy he’d exed had a bunch of friends and relatives.

I saw my share of knifings and shootings. However, I wouldn’t consider myself “troubled.” It was just what it was. We just lived in a different era and place than some others. My early experiences didn’t make me a criminal—it just made me a person who didn’t take shit from others or who needed a safe place or a skirt that fit…
As to how to prevent adolescents from becoming hardened criminals, the answer is easy but most won’t do it. The entire secret in a teen emerging into adulthood and not becoming
a criminal is simply to make sure they feel they have control of their lives. This is why people perform criminal acts—they perceive a lack of control in some area of their lives. A rapist was probably raped himself as a child and sees the act of rape as a way to gain control over that part of their lives, albeit briefly. A person who holds up a clerk has just gained control over his life, again, albeit briefly. You can trace virtually every crime back to an intense feeling of being powerless in some area. It’s basically why they keep repeating crimes—the feeling of power is intense, but it goes away quickly. To recapture that feeling they have to repeat the crime, usually with less and less time between each instance and also they have a need to ratchet up the intensity of the crime. Most of those folks with sociology degrees and the like don’t have a clue—they’re too busy trying to figure out if the causes are genetic or environmental and never stop to figure out why some members of the same family or members of the same class or neighborhood environment turn out lawabiding and some don’t. It’s their individual experience and how they interpreted that experience.

All kids who get abused sexually don’t turn out to be pedophiles or rapists. A large percentage do, simply because they belong to the group that was violated. But, it’s not just the act of being violated; it’s their perception of that experience.
This was a theme in my novel, Just Like That, and the then-assistant warden of the state prison in Louisiana—the Farm—Cathy Johns read it and said it was the most accurate
and truest take on the criminal mind she’d ever read. That meant more to me than any praise from some social academic. Cathy knows criminals…

just like that

MR You’re like ‘a focussed Bukowski’, according to the great Ken Bruen. Bukowski is still connecting with young people. (Maybe the last of the writer superstars. I can’t see Jonathan Franzen becoming iconic.) Your biography from the Will Vahero interview has the ingredients of a good movie.
https://lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/2018/03/author-of-week-les-edgerton.html?spref=fb

LE That’s funny you mentioned that. A few years ago, I’d sold my memoir to the University of North Texas Press and shortly after that, was out in Hollywood, staying with my then-manager, Paul Bennett, who was getting me pitch meetings for the screenplays I was writing then. I’d just signed the contract with UNT and told Paul I’d just sold it and he asked if he could read it and I just happened to have a copy with me as I was starting rewrite edits on it. The next morning, he told me he’d stayed up all night—couldn’t put it down—and wondered if he could show it to his best friend—who happened to be the president of HBO Films. Before Paul had become a manager, he’d been the V.P. of HBO—Paul was the guy who started and ran the Comedy Specials. I said sure and the next day that guy called Paul and said he’d had the same reaction—stayed up all night reading it (and those guys never read anything!). He asked Paul if I’d sold it to the film industry and when Paul told him I hadn’t, he told him not to show it to anyone—that HBO wanted
it and would film it, and that they’d just wait until it came out, got some sales, some reviews and maybe some awards and then they’d film it. I went home on Cloud Nine, and then, my editor at UNT quit corresponding with me and I finally got ahold of the editor and he said they weren’t going to publish it as I didn’t have a contract with them. What had happened was that a week or so after I’d signed the contract, my editor and the publisher both left—the publisher, Fran Vick had retired and the editor, Charlotte Wright had quit at UNT and had taken a similar position at the University of Iowa Press. In a panic, I got hold of Charlotte and she told me she’d been expecting my call, that the new editor had been doing the same with all the authors she’d signed—he wanted to create his own stable. Plus, he was an asshole. She said I certainly did have a contract and she’d send me a copy if I wanted her to and if I took him to court they’d have to publish it, but she asked me if I really wanted someone to publish it who didn’t want to. Reluctantly, I told her I agreed and then I called my agent, Jimmy Vines, and he said don’t worry about it, he’d find a new publisher and that was it. Shortly after that, Jimmy was drummed out of the agent biz for some nefarious behavior on his part and the memoir languished in a drawer for years. Not getting it published then cost me any deal with HBO, not the first time I’ve been fucked in publishing…

MR Mickey Rourke played Bukowski in Barfly. Anyone handsome enough to play yourself?
LE The actor I wanted then is the same I’d love today—Woody Harrelson. He played the lead in the only movie I’ve seen that I thought was accurate for criminals—Natural-Born Killers. Plus, he’s a Hoosier and his dad died in the joint so he has the right background…
You do know Bukowski hated the movie Barfly and in particular the acting of Rourke. He much preferred the later edition where Matt Dillon played him in Factotem.

MR ‘I began by reading Balzac and de Maupassant and the Russians when I was six and seven and eight years old’ Wow.  Was it hard being so different to your contemporaries?

LE I really didn’t have many contemporaries. Growing up in Freeport, Texas I had two friends and when we moved to Indiana we never lived in one place long enough to make any but acquaintances. And, I didn’t know anyone who read what I read. Most were mouthbreathers who read crap like The Hardy Boys Do Dumbass Stuff. Mark, I have an I.Q. of 163. Couldn’t really relate to many kids my age so I mostly hung out with myself.
It’s really hard to remain civil when you can see the dumbness up close and personal. Am I an elitist? I certainly hope so! Have you ever talked to those people who think everyone is
equal? The ones who think that… often are…

MR The narrator in The Rapist is bleakly psychopathic, rather than a charming Ted Bundy type. Utterly horrible. This goes against current wisdom: audiences need to identify with a character. Plus just about everyone has to get over being revolted by the subject matter. Yet it’s compulsive reading. It seemed to me, and others, that it’s up there with Camus’s The Outsider. Is it best to forget about markets and be as truthful as possible?

LE It’s absolutely best for me. Money has never ever been a goal of mine. My goal is to be as honest as I can be and tell the best story I’m capable of. Money just never interested me in the least. Time after time, I’ve walked away from lucrative situations just because I was bored. After all, how many cars can you drive at one time, how many houses can you live in at one time, how many clothes does one need? 

Just never considered wealth to be a measure of anything important. I really feel sorry for those folks who base their personal value or the worth of others on money or things.
The readers who find they need to identify with characters and those characters are predominantly good guys with the same politics and belief system as they have are not the
folks I want reading my work. They’re just not going to get it. I’d recommend a Hardy Boys book perhaps with some curse words so they feel it’s an adult book…

 

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MR Hooked is a great guide to grabbing the reader immediately. Does teaching and writing books on the craft keep you sharper than creative writing alone?

LE  Sure. To be honest, I don’t think much about craft—when I write it’s just good the second it’s on paper. I’ve never rewritten anything in my life. The craft books I’ve written were just based on common sense in writing and designed for those who need the obvious pointed out to them.

MR Which includes me these days. You ‘admire Lee Child who doesn’t pretend to be a writer but is an author. Big difference’. How do you see the difference?

LE A writer is someone who doesn’t allow anything to influence what he writes and is a person of intelligence. An author is someone who has either lucked on something
marketable or figured it out and mostly just keeps doing the same thing over and over. A totally boring existence unless your world is centered around money and what it can buy. Usually a smart or clever person, but not necessarily an intelligent one. Big difference between being smart and being intelligent. The trick is if you’re intelligent not to let on that you see the difference in public… like I’m doing here…

MR Adrenaline Junkie briefly describes a tryst with Britt Ekland, while you were in the navy. Incredibly, Britt Ekland came on to me when I was 22 and she was 35. Maunkberry’s Club Jermyn Street. I didn’t get as far as primal bliss in a cupboard. I was a bit intimidated by this exceptionally beautiful and, on this occasion, well refreshed woman…(yes, she’d have to be…)

LE Ha-ha! I was 18 and she was around 22 then, I think. I also ended up in a hot tub on the roof of the Omni Hotel in Austin with another of Rod Stewart’s babes, Rachel Hunter–me, her, her costar on Winding Roads and Ted Melfi, the director (while my wife and son slept in our room downstairs), so it looks like Rod and me share the same tastes… She was, indeed, beautiful, but my memory is mostly of her wonderful breasts… I don’t have the Rachel Hunter bit in my memoir as my wife believes I’ve never strayed… and I haven’t…

MR I heard someone’s asking crime writers for stories which don’t involve guns. Maybe we could stack that anthology alongside non-alcoholic beer and tofu burgers. Surely we have to look at uncomfortable truths?

LE  Yeah! When I saw that, my jaw hit the floor. Looks like the loons have gone full-scale nuts. Let’s see, what could be wrong with that? “Crime writers wanted to submit stories in which there are no guns.” I’ll leave this to an amateur—this is too easy for a pro.

I saw this coming a couple of years ago. I was in Idaho as a presenter for their annual Extravaganza, guest of publisher Aaron Patterson, and while there attended a talk by the keynote speaker, C.J. Box. First, some background. I really liked Idaho and talked to Aaron about moving there and he advised against it. He said it used to be a great place but that in the last few years they’d been inundated by people moving there from California. He said most were people fleeing the high taxes and repressive laws, but that unfortunately they brought their attitudes with them and were voting like they had back in California and the state was rapidly becoming a welfare state. He said they’d already ruined Oregon and Washington and now Idaho and Wyoming and Montana were on their radar and he was thinking about getting out himself.

Okay, that’s the backstory. After C.J. wrapped up his talk, he gave a Q&A and this little tweedy guy stepped up. I say “tweedy” as this guy personified the term. He was a little balding guy, with fruitcake designer glasses, and a cashmere sweater wrapped around his shoulders and tied in front by the sleeves. Mr. Rogers stand-in… When he opened his mouth, it became obvious Aaron knew what he was talking about. “Mr. Box,” he said. “Do your characters have guns and if so, do they use them?” It was kind of obvious he’d never read a Box novel and had probably accidentally wandered in when he saw a sign proclaiming a literary event, probably expecting Robert Waller or Nicholas Sparks.

C.J. looked at him, took off his Stetson, scratched his head, and said, “Well, sir, my protagonist is a game warden and so he’s armed and he’s always after a murderer who usually used a gun, so… yeah, there are guns and they use them. You don’t suppose they’d engage in pillow fights, do you?” The whole place exploded and this little twinkie slunk away, probably to a safe place where there were other snowflakes who wouldn’t laugh at his punk ass.

That’s a true story and I’d be surprised if C.J. was sent a request to submit a story sans guns.

If this is the coming thing, I just want to get a law passed quickly allowing open carry for pillows…

MR 🙂 Thanks for a great interview Les!

LE Thanks for this opportunity, Mark. Sincerely hope I’ve pissed a few folks off. If I haven’t, it’s not worth it…

A Chat with Maxim Jakubowski

tlr maxim

‘An intriguing mixture of past tradition and future-shock dystopia, written by a giant of the genre … highly recommended.’ Lee Child

The Dark. What if an electromagnetic wave wiped out the internet? “Goodbye Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, chatrooms, websites, commerce made easy cyber-style, contactless, electronic life; farewell to everything we had delegated to that mythical cloud, wiped out without even ashes to mark its passing.”

Although there’s an upside. Librarians and fact checking journalists are now in greater demand. 

The people who loved books were now at the top of the

evolutionary ladder, while the bankers and their ilk had sunk to

the bottom.” Now you’re talking. 

A femme fatale needs to find her sister, a nod to Raymond Chandler. Our narrator, journalist turned private investigator, is however vulnerable and bookish, closer to most readers than a wise-cracking tough guy.

“There was nothing remarkable about me. Had never been. 

Apart from the propensity to get hurt by the world of women. Bruises that became internal scars long after any hypothetical physical evidence had been erased by the passage of time. 

Each woman a chapter. 

Each one a bittersweet regret, for what had not happened or, if it perchance had, for losing her, having not allowed myself to be fully open to her affection or confusing lust with love, leaving only memories that became deeply imprinted in my psyche.”

This is also a search for the protagonist’s lost love, from 

New York through Chicago down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where the occult takes centre stage. There’s some gruelling ordeals along the way – no one will forget the wrestling match with a female MMA fighter. There’s sensual evocative writing throughout. The ending stays with you as does the preliminary journey. An enthralling tale, well told. 

Maxim J

MR I’m in awe of your workload: running Murder One, reviewing many books, writing your own, editing anthologies, book tours, translating. ghost writing, columnist. I’ve probably missed something out. Are you working harder than ever? 

Actually, not all in same time! I’m only human. Murder One closed some years back and I no longer have any involvement. And have never done any ghost writing; I have written 11 novels over past years under another name (some of which even reached the Sunday Times Top 10) and that author/name is still under wraps for commercial reasons but that’s the nearest I’ve come to being a ghost in my own writing life! And, no, am not working harder and feel at times that I do a lot of procrastinating and could do more. But there’s still a life to live… 

MR From the acknowledgments to the excellent The Louisiana Republic: ‘This is my first novel under my own name in some years, having taken a sabbatical of sorts – if you consider writing 11 novels in under 3 1/2 years a sabbatical- in another literary genre, collaborating on a rather successful series.’ Do you feel freer as a ghost writer? Less concerned with possible criticism?

The reason those particular books were under another name was because the publishers and the buyers at the chains and supermarkets felt they would do better as if coming from a new ‘voice’. And also under a female pseudonym! They were commercially right as those novels have done so much better than anything I’ve done under my name, so go figure. When I look at them, I am proud of them and people in the know instantly recognise them as coming from my rather perverse imagination anyway, so didn’t hold back in the slightest when penning them (with a collaborator…).

MR Do you speed read? Does that affect enjoyment of a text?

I read fast but not actually speed read. One still needs the time to savour, appreciate the style and atmosphere. 

MR Are there any idiomatic expressions that are hard to translate? 

The vocabulary of sex and how to express it is a constant challenge, but that makes matters interesting, I reckon. 

MR I remember that wild Robin Cook night at Murder One. Is there anything you’d like to share about Robin Cook/Derek Raymond? 

Just a great friend and human being, and one I miss a lot despite fact we were poles apart (I don’t drink…). I’m his literary executor so still heavily involved with his books which, fingers crossed, might soon be adapted for television.

MR What’s your next project? 

Another novel under my own name. Working title is ‘The Memory of Absence’, but still unclear what it will specifically be about, but will no doubt drag along all my customary obsessions. I also have a few short stories appearing this year and my ongoing column and chairing/judging one he Crime Writers’ Association’s Daggers (I’m Vice Chair of the CWA). And recently completed translating the second novel by my friend Johana Gustawsson, ‘Keeper’ which appears almost simultaneously along with my own book, and we’ll be promoting together.

You can read the first chapter of The Louisiana Republic if you join the Times Crime Club.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/newsletter-signup-crimeclub-cw8qsvlg2

 Keep in touch with Mr Jakubowski here.
http://www.maximjakubowski.co.uk

MR Still scourging myself after blearily confusing ghost writing and pseudonymous writing. Time to stop. I’m starting to like it.
I’m currently looking for someone less slapdash to ghost all of my writing and actually be me on a permanent basis. Applicants need to be more efficient than a sixty one year old, insomniac, recovering alcoholic addict, so only the best need apply. There is no remuneration but this will be ‘great exposure for you’.

H’mm, I’m trying to stay away from doomy cynicism, which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy so quick reminder that a good way of avoiding self-destructive behaviour is to practise more gratitude and less envy. A little less cynicism. Park the snark!
(Also, being cheerful will enrage your opponents.)

Pharrel Williams’ Happy – Centrist Dad makeover by trumpet virtuoso Till Bronner. Righteous groove by drumming legend Vinnie Colaiuta

 

Paul Brazill interview

Gazeta wb 4

 

My review of Paul Brazill’s The Gumshoe: The Peter Ord yarns

In the mid 20th century there were light-hearted crime novels about decent chaps with a taste for adventure. The Saint. The Toff. Perhaps, like Paul Temple, they had a cockney manservant and lived in Mayfair. Mr Brazill’s comedic capers are generally set somewhere less salubrious. Perhaps a grim seaside town, where laconic losers drink super strength lager, which might be stored in their pockets for later – not much later at all.
Instead of a search for the Maltese Falcon a vile gangster wants to know which of his girls are offering, against his wishes, a ‘full service’.
The one liners come thick and fast. ‘”I’m as honest as the day is long”. If you live in Iceland.’
‘The silence dragged like a BNP voter’s knuckles.’
There’s nifty descriptions: ‘He had salt and pepper hair that erred on the side of Saxa, and his face had that scrubbed-by-a-Brillo Pad look favoured by football mangers like Sir Alex Ferguson.’
It’s realistically sleazy and gritty but with enough humour so you don’t need to drown your sorrows – unlike Paul’s protagonists.
Like his Too Many Crooks there’s a sly metafictional flavour but it’s gentle and playful. It won’t strip the enamel off your teeth, like some of the beverages consumed herein.
In short, an original homebrew with a kick. Well worth sampling.

 

MR  Your earliest influence, writers you most admire? 

PB   Well, I wasn’t a book person as a kid so the first writers I noticed were comic writers like Stan Lee, Steve Gerber, and music writers like Jane Suck and Paul Morley. Monty Smith’s film stuff for the New Musical Express was essential reading. After that, the ‘grown up’ books were by Dorothy Parker, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut and Elmore Leonard – the latter due to an NME article by Charles Shaar Murray.

MR Yes, that’s the article that got me reading Elmore Leonard, early to mid eighties. 

Will the longer version of The Gumshoe stay in the seaside town? Get deeper into the sex industry? 

PB The Peter Ord novella will have him trying to go ‘legit’ and try to make it as a writer. It’s called The Scribbler.

MR  Is Hartlepool a bit grim then? But isn’t Middlesbrough worse? And I once saw a queue 50 yards long for a pub to open in Newcastle. 7pm on a Sunday. 

PB    I still like Hartlepool – especially the Headland- though I haven’t lived there for over a quarter of a century. And I like Middlesbrough which was were I saw lots of great bands in the 70s and 80s. And I played some gigs there too. They have their rough bits but that’s the same everywhere – Paris and London, for example, have their shithole parts. And people from the north are funnier, too.

MR  Your next book will be? 

PB     Well, my seaside noir Kill Me Quick! will be rebooted and republished by Fahrenheit 13 over the next couple of months. It’s about a faded minor pop star who returns to his home town …All Due Respect will publish another seaside noir, Last Year’s Man, in June. This is about an ageing hit man who returns to his home town for a quiet life …

Near The Knuckle will publish my short story collection Small Time Crimes. It’s full of most of the best short stories and flash fiction I’ve written. It already has a great cover from Craig Douglas.

 

SMC

The Seatown set stories are a baroque exaggeration of people and scenes from life in the north east of England. It’s not journalism. It’s not Robert Fisk …

MR   Is Poland a step up from the UK in general?   The language quite hard to learn? Cheap, good beer? I once moved to Bavaria because my level of alcoholism was seen as social drinking. 

PB    I like it here. It certainly seems more civilised for sure. The language is very hard but the reason for my own low level of Polish is probably more to do with me being idle. A lot of the breweries were bought by Heineken a few years ago so homogenised lager prevails. But there are good local breweries such as the Osowa Gora brewery near me.

MR   Is there less of a class system in Poland? 

PB Not that I can see. It can be worse in many ways. There’s a lot flashing cash about. Keeping Up Appearances is popular here for a reason, I think.

MR  I really liked your comment ‘Noir is about bollocking things up’ also ‘Indifference is the secret to happiness’ Seemed very Stoic or perhaps Taoist. 

PB  Just random cobblers that I say, to be honest.

MR 🙂 so much for my spiritual dabblings. Too Many Crooks references Sid James. Which always raises the spirits. It’s a shame they didn’t do a b/w crime caper. Which is your favourite Carry On? 

PB Carry On Cabbie and Carry On Screaming. The Carry On team were a great bunch of oddball character actors.

MR The only private detective/ process server I ever knew was a compulsive liar, alcoholic and degenerate gambler. Did you ever meet any? 

PB There used to be one that lived at the end of our street near a Greek restaurant called The Acropolis which was inevitably known locally as The Apocalypse. I think he was more Frank Marker than Sam Spade. The PI I write about – Peter Ord – takes more from the Albert Finney film Gumshoe.

MR Have you written about sober people? 

PB  I suppose so but pissheads are usually more self-deluded and more likely to screw things up. Which makes for funny stories. I hope.

Paul’s biography from his website  https://pauldbrazill. com

I was born in Hartlepool, England and now live in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

I’ve been TEFL teaching for more than a decade. My books include A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, The Last Laugh, and Kill Me Quick! Oh, and there are a few other tasty snacks that you can find here. My writing has been translated into Italian, Polish, Finnish, German and Slovene. I’ve had stories published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8, 10 and 11.I also edited the anthology  True Brit Grit (with Luca Veste).I have an irregular column – Brit Grit Alley at  Out Of The Gutter Online.

case of noir

I could have framed that question about Hartlepool better. It looks pretty good here. https://www.destinationhartlepool.com

and Chris Rea is from Middlesborough. Great singer/songwriter.
On The Beach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRHmVi_L514

P is for Prostitution: A Modern Primer by Charlotte Rodgers and Ruth Ramsden

I like autobiographies out of chronological order: it’s quicker to get to the juicy bits. This has an alphabetical structure, each subject illustrated by a unique disturbing vision from Ruth Ramsden, (some relation, hello dear, xxx).

Already familiar with bulimia, drugs and madness Charlotte came of age before feminism made an impact on the free love culture, when women were expected to have sex with more or less anyone.

It wasn’t much of a step to get involved in sex work, especially while consuming vast quantities of an astonishing variety of drugs.

Charlotte writes with honesty and empathy on this process, inevitably immersing her in crime, her clear eyed approach much better than William Burroughs’ Junky, a pulp fiction pastiche scrawled by a cold-hearted Trustifarian, (which also had some inaccurate bullshit about heroin ‘colonising cells’ which had to be countered in a Doctor’s footnote.) More importantly, this is written free of opiate addiction and with a positive mindset. Having said that the Grim Reaper is never far away. Jaw dropping sentences abound. A lover with whom she was about to start a new clean life. ‘Found dead in a toilet with his pants round his ankles, a needle in his groin’. Then there was the Christmas where a criminally neglient doctor cut numerous junkies off their maintenance methadone. 2O of them died, having gone back to illegal drugs.

The upside is some charming memories of Hong Kong and Mainland China, a fascinating journey through the New Zealand’s hard drug culture and the sleazier parts of Alternative London.

Charlotte’s visual art, not covered here, is forged from roadkill and blood magick, best to read her previous Mandrake books to experience the power. I would guess this memoir is a rite of passage, an exorcism of some very dark material, an enlightening trip that will also reward the reader.

P is For Prostitution
A modern primer
Charlotte Rodgers (Illustrated by Ruth Ramsden)
Mandrake
978-1-906958-26-8
158pp (12 picaresque illustrations) – Trade paperback original
£9.99/$18 (includes postage unless otherwise stated)
https://mandrake.uk.net/p-is-for-prostitution/
9781906958268

Not so flamboyantly hirsute, now, eh, Mr Tenant?

Pet Shop Boys bellend Neil Tenant exhibiting one of the most curious male pattern baldness ‘dos this side of Will Gompertz. (BBC arts Max Wall lookalike. Well worth a google.) Lives in Rye where everyone hates him. I will return in a few years to see how he has attempted to maintain the illusion of having a young man’s haircut. Perhaps hoping to still have young men. You’re five hundred in gay years. It’s all over. Just crawl in your grave and die. neil_tennant-431x300