Guillotine Chapter One

As you may or may not know, I have a new book coming out very, very soon. Guillotine will be released via All Due Respect and Down & Out Books on the 22nd February and will be my eighth book in total, and my second with All Due Respect. American-set, it tells the tale of Lou-Lou, a young lady trying to escape from her tyrannical father with the man she loves. Of course, her father doesn’t plan on making that easy for her…

The paperback pre-order is available from Amazon right now, and with a striking fucking cover from J T Lindroos, why WOULDN’T you wanna own a physical copy of this beauty? I mean, the story might be pretty good too…  😉

Okay, so without further ado, here is Chapter One of Guillotine! And if it successfully whets your appetite, UK and US links at the bottom.

 

One

A topless girl dances on a stage in the corner. The music is a bass-heavy drone that loops round on itself, unending.

The bar is mostly empty. A few sad, crumpled drunks sit alone at their tables and booths, a couple more prop up the bar. Occasionally they glance at the girl, but mostly they stare into their drinks.

Mikey sits in a booth at the back, near the toilets. The stink of piss wafts out the swinging doors every time someone goes to relieve themselves. He has a whisky, and he sips it from time to time while he watches the door. He waits. Tommy said he would reach the bar at ten. It’s after half past.

He glances back at the half-naked girl, her pale skin lit red then purple by the strobe lights that hang above her. She is skinny and Mikey can see her ribcage as plain as the keys on a piano. Her small breasts are bare, her nipples point with the cold. She wears black underwear and heels, stockings that go up past her knees. Her eyes are closed. Her dark hair is cut short, bangs that reach almost to her eyelids, her face turned to the side, her shoulders pressed back against the wall. Her hips do the dancing. They sway, roll slowly left to right, then right to left. Her hands rest lightly upon them, fingers spread, curled. Watching her face, she looks like she could be anywhere in the world, not stripping in the corner of some scuzzy bar, garishly lit, occasionally ogled by some depressed drunk.

Mikey takes another sip, holds it in his mouth, lets the liquid slosh between his cheeks, over his teeth, feels it numb his gums.

The door opens and Tommy stumbles in. He goes straight to the bar, orders a beer

and a shot. He watches the girl while he waits. In turn, Mikey watches him.

Tommy grabs the shot as soon as the glass is filled, throws his head back and downs it, then wraps a hand around the beer and sips it slowly. He talks briefly to the bartender. Mikey finishes his drink while he does. Tommy turns, leans against the bar, scans the room. He drinks. His eyes settle on Mikey over the top of his glass. They exchange nods and Tommy approaches.

He is tall and thin, but he still wears the clothes from back when he’d had some meat on his bones, before his drug use took precedence over working out and eating. His jeans are loose, his beaten leather jacket is baggy. Looks like it could wrap him twice. He resembles a little brother borrowing his older sibling’s clothes, and appears just as ridiculous. He takes a seat, sniffs. “How’s it goin?”

Mikey nods.

Tommy sniffs again, harder this time, then smooths down the straggling hairs in his thick beard. He dresses like a biker, wears big boots and has a chain that hangs from his belt to his pocket thick enough to choke out an elephant. There are tattoos across his knuckles, but if they spell anything out it’s impossible to decipher. Faded green squiggles that are as likely to be Celtic symbols or Kanji as they are to be letters.

The rumour is that Tommy used to prospect for a local MC, but he didn’t make the grade. Mikey knows Tommy well enough to know it’s the kind of rumour he’d start himself, and he’d believe this to be the case were it not for the part about Tommy’s failure to break into the MC ranks. Were it truly a tall Tommy tale, he’d have gotten his patch in record time, have ascended to the presidency of the club, then had to have given it all up and go into hiding because of some cartel hit placed upon him in a deal gone wrong.

Tommy does a lot of coke and his stories have a tendency to lean toward the

extravagant.

Regardless of whether the story is fact or fiction, Tommy tries his best to live a biker lifestyle and to represent himself as such. But there is no patch on the back of his jacket, and Mikey has never seen him near a motorcycle.

“Been busy?” Tommy says.

“Busy enough,” Mikey says.

Tommy sucks his teeth, nods, then flicks his head to get strands of greasy long hair out of his face. He sniffs. Looks over at the girl again, is distracted by her. She slips her hands down the front of her underwear, sinks her teeth into her bottom lip, her hips continuing to roll with the unending bass line. Tommy stares, transfixed.

Mikey wipes chip crumbs from the sticky tabletop before he rests his forearms upon it and leans forward. “Let’s talk about why we’re here.”

Tommy turns back, wipes his raw, red nostrils with the back of his hand. “You don’t waste time.”

“I didn’t come to this dive to shoot the shit. Spill.”

“Sure. Well.” He takes a drink. “I understand you’ve done some work for Big Bobby Joe.”

“Big Bobby Joe is an asshole.”

“Figure his money’s as green as the next guy’s. Way I heard it, once upon a time you did a lot of work for Big Bobby Joe. Straight outta high school, right?”

“That’s how I know he’s an asshole.”

“I ain’t here to debate that issue.”

“You work for him?”

“You know what I do?”

“Chop shop.”

“Big Bobby Joe signs my paychecks. Least he would, if things were on the up and

up. But you catch my meaning. He owns the garage.”

“That a recent venture of his?”

“Coupla years now. He’s got his fingers in a lot of pies round here. Where’ve you been?”

“Keepin outta his business.”

“Your line of work, that must be hard to do.”

“I can afford to be selective. And I take on most of my jobs elsewhere. I ain’t afraid to travel. It’s never wise to shit where you eat.”

“Said just like the man himself.” Tommy laughs. “Some things you just can’t shake, huh? He’s always saying that, over and over, gets it engrained in your head so you won’t forget: Don’t shit where you eat, boys.”

Mikey grunts. “He says it often enough, but he shits plenty in his own backyard.”

“Ha! Well, it ain’t so bad if you know the guys shovelling the shit. Big Bobby Joe is a big man with big ideas. He’s always looking to expand, any way he can. A lot of those bozos you’ll do jobs for in the cities, wherever else you might go, probably he’s got a line on them.”

“I don’t doubt it. He likes makin money as much as he likes shovin food in his fat fuckin face.”

Tommy laughs again. “Absolutely. Maybe even more so. You heard about his recent troubles?”

“Should I care?”

Tommy shrugs. “Maybe. Depends how interested I can make you.”

“Give it your best shot.”

“His little girl’s run away.”

Mikey runs his tongue over his teeth, responds before his hesitation can be noticed. “She ain’t so little anymore. And it was bound to happen, sooner or later.”

“True. But I ain’t got to the best part yet. You got kids?”

Mikey looks at him. “No.”

“Neither do I, but I reckon for those that do they have a blind spot when it comes to their kid’s digressions. Big Bobby Joe’s always gonna see his little girl when he looks at her.”

“Sees her as his property.”

Tommy grins. “Yeah, I’ve heard that too. Could be the reason he’s so heavy handed with her is cos he always remembers that magical moment he held her the first time. I heard he got worse after the mom died.”

Mikey wants another drink, but he doesn’t stand. “I think ‘worse’ would be a matter of opinion.”

“Some men, they love the only they way know how. The way they think best. He looks at her, he sees her three-foot tall, gap-toothed, pig-tails, dressed in her Sunday best for early mornin Mass, and that’s how he wants to keep her. That’s the little girl he never wanted her to stop being. But the rest of us, we look at her, we see the truth. We see a bitch in heat. That come-hither look in her eyes while she chews on her lip. And now she’s gone. But what truly eats at Big Bobby Joe is the way she departed.”

Mikey stares at Tommy, waits for him to continue, no patience for his dramatic pauses.

Tommy gets the hint, sniffs hard. “Lusty Lou-Lou fell for big bad Leon.”

“That a name I should know?”

“Don’t see why you should, but you never know, huh? Leon’s just another nobody. Usedta work with me, but then he caught the eye of Davey Sparks. You know Davey Sparks, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Of course you do. See, Leon’s a big guy. Broad shoulders, just how Davey likes

em. And he’s done some time inside – so now he’s double the kind of guy Davey Sparks likes. Recruits him from the chop shop, assigns him to Lou-Lou. Babysitter, basically. Didn’t you have that job once?”

Mikey doesn’t answer. “Tell your story.”

“So he’s drivin her round town, takes her shopping, keeps an eye on her. Reports back daily. Bodyguard-babysitter type shit. You know.” Tommy grins. “Bobby Joe’s a paranoid man, he likes to know his little girl’s safe as much as he likes to know she ain’t goin anywhere or doin anythin he don’t want her doin. Leon was good at his job, far as anyone could see. But somewhere down the line, he and Lou-Lou got a little more friendly than was professionally acceptable. Maybe it was just a recent thing, or maybe it’s been going on since day one and Leon’s regular reports to Davey Sparks have been a regular pile of bullshit. Whenever it started doesn’t matter. It’s all comin out now.”

“And Bobby Joe’s pissed.”

“Naturally. He’d be pissed at any of the boys stickin it to his little girl, but in this instance, with Leon, he’s doubly pissed.”

“What’s so special about Leon?”

“He’s a nigger.”

“Then I’m surprised he took him on in the first place.”

“Took him on in the chop shop. Wasn’t ever supposed to go anywhere else. This one’s on Davey Sparks, and you gotta believe he’s eatin a lot of shit right now. Cos there’s more. Cos Bobby Joe’s triply pissed. The goodbye note sent him truly over the edge. You ready for this? A pregnancy test, freshly doused.” Tommy grins, bites into his dry bottom lip with discoloured teeth. “Guess the outcome?”

“She’s cookin a fresh one.”

“You betcha. Congratulations, it’s a boy – or girl, whatever. So now Bobby Joe

wants his little girl back, sans bun, and he wants big bad Leon dead. There’s a hit out.”

“How much?”

Tommy’s grin gets wider, exposes more of his cracked and rotten teeth. “Sixty grand.”

Mikey keeps a straight face, but the sum catches him by surprise. “That’s steep.”

“You know Big Bobby Joe, he’s got a big fuckin temper. And right now he has a fuckin ragin hard-on for this kid.”

Mikey scratches the side of his nose, hung up on the bounty. “Why you bringin this to me?”

“Why do you think? You’re the guy to make him flaccid.”

“Bobby Joe asked for me?”

“He’s put a call out to anyone who’ll listen. He’s got the word on the street. I called you myself.”

Mikey’s eyes narrow. “That so.”

“That’s so.”

“When’d they split? Today?”

Tommy shakes his head. “Three days ago.”

“You tryin to waste my time?”

Tommy sniggers, gives Mikey a blast of his fetid breath, the stink worse than anything coming from the swinging doors of the nearby toilet. “I know where they are.”

Mikey raises an eyebrow.

“They ain’t even left town.”

“Get to the fuckin point.”

“Lookit, hear me out. You go do this thing, take care of Leon, we split the cash.”

“You know where he is, why don’t you do it?”

“Cos I ain’t you, Guillotine. I ain’t a pro.”

Mikey locks his eyes with Tommy’s bloodshot peepers. “Don’t call me that.”

Tommy holds up his hands. “Sure, sure.”

“Where are they?”

“Some fleabag downtown. Just waiting for me to give them the call.”

“The call?”

“Telling them I’ve got a car. Telling them it’s safe to leave.”

“And why’re they relying on you for this?”

“Cos the dumb motherfucker thinks we’re friends.”

“Are you?”

“We’re as close as we need to be.” He wears his repulsive grin again. “You remember how I said we worked together at the chop shop? We talked, we hung out. We’ve kept in touch since he’s moved up in the world. It’s important to keep in contact with your friends, especially the ones that could be worth somethin to you.”

“You sound like a swell pal.”

“Trustworthy and loyal, like a dog.” Tommy shows his teeth again, like their rot is supposed to be some kind of exclamation whenever he thinks he’s said something funny. “So…” He looks expectant. “You in?”

Mikey looks at the girl. Her bony hips are pushed forward, her shoulders are against the wall and her arms are raised over her head. “No,” he says.

Tommy blinks. “No?”

“You deaf?”

“I ain’t deaf, I’m just in disbelief. Here I am, offering you this sweet fuckin deal on a platter, and you say no?”

“You heard me. We don’t need to discuss it any further.”

“I think that we do. I could’ve taken this to anyone, and I’ve brought it to you. Where’s your fuckin gratitude, man?”

“I didn’t ask for it.”

“Y’know, I was willin to go a sixty-forty split on this, in your favour.”

“There’s plenty others will take you up on it.”

“You could stick your fuckin signature on it, man. Bobby Joe woulda lapped that shit up. Hell, I reckon he’d have given you another five if you turned up at his house with that motherfucker’s head gift-wrapped. You’re gonna walk away from this?”

“Yes.”

“Is it Lou-Lou?”

Mikey says nothing.

“You took your turn on her, but that was a long fuckin time ago now. You ain’t over it yet?”

“I’m leavin.”

“Sure, go, whatever. Bobby Joe ever find out about the two of you? You up and joined the army real abrupt, as I recall. Maybe I oughtta tell him about your past dalliances with his daughter. It’s kinda my duty as an employee, right?”

Mikey reaches across the table faster than Tommy can react, grabs him by the back of the head and slams his face down into the table. Blood sprays from Tommy’s nose and Mikey holds him there, pushes down, grinds his face into the tabletop. A couple of people at the bar look over, alerted to the sudden commotion, but quickly turn away.

Tommy struggles, but he can’t get free. Mikey lowers his face so Tommy can see him out the corner of his eye. “You need to learn when to keep your mouth shut,” he says. He lets go and Tommy straightens, wipes the blood from his nostrils, though it has caked in his moustache, too. “You ever think about threatening me again, I’ll put

the signature on you. And I’ll make sure you’re still breathing when the saw’s teeth touch your throat.”

Tommy swallows. He nods, holds up his hands again. “Hey, it was just a joke is all, just a joke. I didn’t mean nothin by it.”

“Then you need to work on your material. It wasn’t funny, Tommy.”

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry.”

Mikey grunts, then stands. “Uh-huh.” He leaves Tommy at the table, heads for the exit. When he reaches it, he glances back. Tommy hasn’t moved. A hand is at his nose, probing at it, picking at the blood drying in his beard. His face is turned to the girl. He watches her dance.

***

Like the sounds of that? Well it’s out on February 22nd, but the paperback is available for pre-order right now! Here’s the UK and US links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guillotine-Paul-Heatley/dp/1643960091/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546691154&sr=1-1&keywords=guillotine+paul+heatley

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1643960091?pf_rd_p=1581d9f4-062f-453c-b69e-0f3e00ba2652&pf_rd_r=2G1JDGV9KHJ3J4917Q3S

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Reading List 2018

I usually get this posted on New Year’s Eve but I’ve been a bit lax on most things for a little while now, but better late than never. Anywho, I had a pretty good reading year, the most I’ve read for quite a few now! Read on if you’re interested, an eclectic mix of fiction, biogs, kids books, and comic books:

The Fury Of Blacky Jaguar – Angel Luis Colon

Lost In The Funhouse: The Life And Mind Of Andy Kaufman – Bill Zehme

Hardway – Hector Acosta

Down To No Good – Earl Javorsky

Last Year’s Man – Paul D Brazill

Get In The Van – Henry Rollins

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

The Big Machine Eats – Beau Johnson

Cleaning Up Finn – Sarah M Chen

Crimes In Southern Indiana – Frank Bill

The Big Meat – Carlton Mellick III

Meat Bubbles & Other Stories – Tom Leins

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk – Legs McNeil and Gillian McNeil

Saga: Book 8 – Brian K Vaughan

Down On The Street – Alec Cizak

Fortunately, The Milk – Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

Wolverine – Chris Claremont

Nick Cave: Mercy On Me – Reinhard Kleist

The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski

The Eyes – Jesús Ignacio Aldapuerta

Snuff – Chuck Palahniuk

On The Far Side Of The Cadillac Desert With Dead Folks – Joe R Lansdale

The Walking Dead: Books 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 – Robert Kirkman

Northern Lights – Phillip Pullman

Animal Tracks, The Story Of The Animals: Newcastle’s Rising Sons – Sean Egan

Catching The Big Fish – David Lynch

Stop Talking Start Doing – Sháá Wasmund and Richard Newton

Know Me From Smoke – Matt Phillips

Everything You Love Will Burn – Vegas Tenold

You’re Not Supposed To Cry – Gary Duncan

My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf

JLA: Earth 2 – Grant Morrison

A History Of Heavy Metal – Andrew O’Neill

Consider Phlebas – Iain M Banks

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina: The Crucible – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Scalped: Deluxe Edition Book One – Jason Aaron

Paper Girls Book One – Brian K Vaughan

Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator – Roald Dahl

Mwrvel Zombies – Robert Kirkman

Marvel Zombies 2 – Robert Kirkman

Avengers Versus X-Men – Various

Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me – Will Viharo

Repetition Kills You – Tom Leins

Dodgers – Bill Beverly

Something Wicked Ths Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

Mongrels – Stephen Graham Jones

Coyote Songs – Gabino Iglesias

Only Bones – Daniel Vlasaty

Donnybrook – Frank Bill

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea – Yukio Mishima

Hogfather – Terry Pratchett

Saga: Book 9 – Brian K Vaughan

The Nature Of The Beast – Janni Howker

May – Marietta Miles

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An Eye For An Eye Series

So, I may not have been particularly busy on here, but I’ve been preeeeeety busy in the outside world!

You may remember my book An Eye For An Eye, published by Near To The Knuckle (who are now going by Close To The Bone), well, it’s now a series of three books! An Eye For An Eye has a new front cover to go with its two new brothers – The Runner, which is a standalone tale featuring appearances from characters in the original story, and Violent By Design is the sequel proper to Eye. All three feature the exploits of the Doyle family, a crime organisation based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the north east of England.

Theyre fast, they’re violent, and they’re filled with heart! One reviewer has described them as a cross between Brit Grit and Kitchen Sink Drama, which I’m pretty pleased with. As far as my own influences go, if you’re a fan of Get Carter, Chester Himes, or, to a lesser extent, James Ellroy, maybe you’ll find these bad motherfuckers up your alley. I’ve put a link below that’ll take you to the Eye For An Eye paperback at Amazon, where you’ll easily find the other two in the series, too. Also, you can find images below of how beautiful the three look together – three covers and the spines! I think you’ll find the spines particularly special!

Anyway, if you find yourself interested enough to give the link below a click and then to give them a read, I hope you enjoy!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eye-Paul-Heatley/dp/1717841570/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1717841570&pd_rd_r=234d9f77-cecc-11e8-a2f0-1db2f7b7d021&pd_rd_w=5ingY&pd_rd_wg=9kMnN&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_p=1e3b4162-429b-4ea8-80b8-75d978d3d89e&pf_rd_r=EJHDR6T912465JT7W5R4&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=EJHDR6T912465JT7W5R4

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Reading List 2017

In 2017 I had my fiftieth (and 51st) short story published; my novella Fatboy was released; An Eye For An Eye came out in paperback, having previously been available only as an e-book; and I compiled my six e-books The Motel Whore, The Vampire, The Boy, The Mess, The Pitbull, and Three into two paperback collections entitled The Motel Whore & Other Stories, and Guns, Drugs, And Dogs. So, I’ve tried to keep busy, and I’ll be looking to stay as busy as I can in 2018. We’ll see how it goes. Anyway, here’s the books I’ve read over the last twelve months in the order I read them:

The Secret History Of Twin Peaks – Mark Frost

We3 – Grant Morrison

Y: The Last Man Compendium Book 3 – Brian K Vaughan

Y: The Last Man Compendium Book 4 – Brian K Vaughan

Y: The  Last Man Compendium Book 5 – Brian K Vaughan

American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story – Cynthia True

A Case Of Noir – Paul D Brazill

The Death Of WCW – RD Reynolds & Bryan Alvarez

The Butcher – Alina Reyes

Gang Wars Of The North – Stephen Richards

The Sayers – Stephen Sayers

Fight Club 2 – Chuck Palahniuk

You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] – Andrew Hankinson

Saga: Book 7 – Brian K Vaughan

The Art Of Asking – Amanda Palmer

Lovecraft Country – Matt Ruff

High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

The Real Cool Killers – Chester Himes

Skull Meat – Tom Leins

The Crazy Kill – Chester Himes

The Force – Don Winslow

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

A Lesson In Violence – Jordan Harper

All You Can Eat – Shane McKenzie

The Punisher: Born – Garth Ennis

Tribesmen – Adam Cesare

Hillbilly Elegy – JD Vance

Bigfoot Crank Stomp – Erik Williams

Excercise Bike – Carlton Mellick III

Race To The Bottom – Chris Rhatigan

Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier – Mark Frost

Zero Saints – Gabino Iglesias

Vern In The Heat – Rob Pierce

I Am The Wolf – Mark Lanegan

The Ice Harvest – Scott Phillips

364 Days Of Tedium – Dave Cornmell

Route 12 – Marietta Miles

There it is, a real mix of titles I feel. The prize for most-read author is the same as last year, and that honour goes to Brian K Vaughan. I did read a lot of comic books this year, but fuck, Y: The Last Man is an amazing, hilarious, heartbreaking series and should be read by everyone.

I won’t do a top five of titles or anything (I’m not a fast enough reader to get through enough books to warrant one), but I’m gonna pinpoint two in particular – A Lesson In Violence by Jordan Harper and Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias. Read them, read them right now, you don’t need me to tell you how great they are, there’s plenty other people out there that have done that already, I’m just another voice in the chorus at this point.

Let’s hope I can get through some more titles in the coming year, and finish some of the books still in progress (mostly short story collections). It’s embarrassing being such a slow reader…

Onwards!

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Twin Peaks

I haven’t waited twenty-five years for the conclusion of Twin Peaks, but the six years I did wait felt long enough. It’s with a mixture of excitement and worry that I’m counting down to the finale, as I think most fans probably are.

I was fifteen when I first heard of David Lynch. It was a Saturday night and Mulholland Drive was on the movie channels, so I gave it a try. It blew me away, I’d never seen anything like it. I saw Lost Highway and Blue Velvet soon after, and I read into Lynch and his works. Twin Peaks was mentioned with great regularity, so for my sixteenth birthday I got the first season box set.

Truth be told, I wasn’t really into it, with the exception of the dream sequence and the dancing dwarf. THAT one scene was the Lynch I was accustomed to from the three movies I’d seen. So I watched it through, right up to that cliffhanger ending, and then I moved on. I didn’t hunt out season two, though I recall seeing it once at the Metro Centre HMV.

Something about Twin Peaks stuck with me, though. I’d take that box set down off the shelf and think to myself how I should really revisit it, see if I could understand what exactly it was everyone was raving about. Maybe it was my love for Lynch’s work in general that kept my interest alive. Viewings of Wild At Heart, Inland Empire. Rewatching the dancing dwarf on YouTube. I reached twenty-two, going on twenty-three, and I suggested watching it to my then girlfriend. She agreed.

Holy fuck, it was like seeing it for the first time anew, and I GOT it. The unending wailing grief that opens the show, then the arrival of Special Agent Dale Cooper changing the whole tone. The quirky characters. The Log Lady. AUDREY…

I dont think my girlfriend was into it as much as I was. I think she feigned interest, probably to keep me quiet, but whatever. I was engrossed.

It was as if I’d never seen it before. It was fresh and new and exciting to my eyes and ears, and I promptly ordered season two, and Fire Walk With Me. I knew it ended on a cliffhanger, I knew it would likely never be resolved, but I didn’t care. I was engrossed. I was entranced by silent drapes, by Project Blue Book, transvestite David Duchovny, the resolution of Laura’s killer. The terrifying final episode with Cooper fleeing through the Black Lodge, pursued by his doppelgänger (Where’s Annie??). Oh, and Audrey. Audrey kept me very interested, didn’t matter how much or how little she was doing (unless Bily Zane was also onscreen…)

So the show ended, and there was much sadness for me, but there was the small glimmer of hope that was Fire Walk With Me. I’d read that, although it was a prequel, there were elements of a sequel to it.

What I remember most about Fire Walk With Me, was how I felt when it ended. It was a greater sadness, that the journey of these characters, their story, had ended, and without proper resolution. There would be no return to Twin Peaks.

Then, a few years down the line and with a son who I’d one day introduce to Cooper’s coffee-love, Audrey’s dancing, and Cole’s deaf bellowing, the teaser dropped. Laura Palmer, clicking her fingers. Then the date.

What was that, a year and a half ago? Two years? The first episode of the return aired and I woke at five in the morning, I was so fucking excited. I suffered for it, but what did that matter? Twin Peaks was back!

And it’s been pure David Lynch. It’s confounded all expectations, done entirely its own thing. I’d be a liar if I said I was happy with everything that has occurred – Lynch has no interest in telling the story we wanted told – but by and large it’s blown me away, it’s been a masterpiece. The nuclear bomb episode will go down as one of the greatest pieces of television of all time. The last episode, the Audrey twist at the end, the return of Dale Cooper, it fills me with hope for this finale, that it will cement the Twin Peaks return as one of the most important events in both television and storytelling.

Anyway, I’m really excited to see how it all ends, and what mysteries will remain unresolved. Only a few hours left to go!

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Skull Meat, by Tom Leins

Today on the blog I’m going to talk about someone else, as opposed to the unashamed prattling on I usually do about myself here. Tom Leins was good enough to send me a copy of his novella Skull Meat and FUCK, what a ride! I’ve been waiting a long time for him to turn his hand to something longer, and it’s certainly been worthwhile! I’ve posted a review up on Amazon, but it can be found directly below, and below THAT is the link to its page. Be sure to check it out!

I’ve been a big fan of Tom Leins’ prolific output of short stories for years now, and I’ve been waiting for him to put out something longer – Skull Meat does NOT disappoint. Dirty characters, a filthy setting, gratuitous violence and blacker than black humour, THIS is what I look for in noir fiction. Wonderfully, brazenly over the top Americanised British crime fiction. On every page you’re sure to find a line that will either make you laugh out loud, or it’ll turn your stomach – sometimes both! Tim certainly has a way with words and, as stated above, there are some blinding one liners littered throughout.

Check this out, can’t recommend Tom’s work highly enough. I understand there’s more to come, and you’d best believe I’ll be here waiting when it arrives!

 

I’ve been a big fan of Tom Leins’ prolific output of short stories for years now, and I’ve been waiting for him to put out something longer – Skull Meat does NOT disappoint. Dirty characters, a filthy setting, gratuitous violence and blacker than black humour, THIS is what I look for in noir fiction. Wonderfully, brazenly over the top Americanised British crime fiction. On every page you’re sure to find a line that will either make you laugh out loud, or it’ll turn your stomach – sometimes both! Tom certainly has a way with words and, as stated above, there are some blinding one liners littered throughout.

Check this out, can’t recommend Tom’s work highly enough. I understand there’s more to come, and you’d best believe I’ll be here waiting when it arrives!

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Fatboy Chapter One

I know, I know, it’s been over a month now but I’m still talking about Fatboy. What can I say, I’m proud of it, same way I’m proud of everything else I’ve written. Anyway, what I figured I’d do this post was share a little more of the story, beyond reviews (though you’ll find a few of them at the very bottom) and blurbs and descriptions of the writing process. So, scroll down a little more, past the Amazon link, and you’ll find Fatboy’s first chapter! And if you enjoy that, and wanna see what happens next, what becomes of Joey Hidalgo and his estranged family, then scroll back up here and click the link below. It’s available in print and e-book – options, man, options.

Chapter One

Joey Hidalgo had been drinking for three days. He’d
hopped from bar to bar and when they closed he went to
the twenty-four hour liquor store, bought some bottles or
a six-pack or whatever they had, and took them home.
The bar he found himself in was as miserable as all the
others he’d visited since the start of his bender. Grimy, too.
He sat at the counter and tried to avoid his reflection in
the mirror opposite. He looked down, picked at the scabs
on his knuckles. The evidence of the beers he’d drunk
stood before him. He wouldn’t let the bartender take them
away. Seven dead soldiers, like he was keeping a tally. He
was working on the eighth.
He thought about Billie. About Charlie. It had been a
week since they’d left. It was like a knife to his guts. The
bars helped. Their noise made him feel better. The jukebox
in the corner played old rock ’n’ roll, and the groups
chattering around him were a low hum that dulled his
thoughts.
And the beer. The beer helped most of all, until it didn’t.
Until it summoned up all the morose shit he was trying
to swallow down and keep to himself. His throat would
tighten. His eyes would burn. So he’d drink another beer,
and another, and he’d keep drinking until sleep came, deep
and dreamless, and he’d wake like he hadn’t lost everything,
and if he was fast enough he could start the whole
numbing process again before realization had a chance to
sink in.
Joey squeezed the bottle. His arm shook. He clenched
his jaw until his teeth hurt. The bartender watched him.
Joey stared him down, then checked his reflection. He
wasn’t blinking. It wasn’t just his arm that shook. He
looked intense, like he was about to blow, start throwing
shit around. He let go of the bottle and took a deep breath,
relaxed his shoulders, waited until the bartender was close
enough to hear him speak.
“You get busy in here?”
The bartender looked up, surprised. “Weekends, mostly.
Weeknights are steady.”
“I do this. Bartending. That’s my job.”
“Yeah? Where at?”
“You heard of O’Donoghue’s?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I think so. Irish bar, right?”
“Not officially, but yeah, the guy owns it is Irish.”
“Where all the hookers go.”
“That’s the one.”
“The hookers and the mechanics.”
“You sound like you’ve been.”
“Nah, but I’ve heard stories.”
“Some of em are probably true.”
“The orgies on the pool table?”
Joey raised an eyebrow. “I ain’t gonna say it’s never happened,
but least not when I’ve been there.”
The bartender smirked. He was a young guy, had his hair
slicked back and his shirt sleeves rolled up to show off all
his black and white forearm tattoos.
“You look out of place in a joint like this,” Joey said. “You
look like you oughta be mixing up cocktails in one of them
big cities, like New York or LA or somewhere.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, but I got bigger things in
mind than serving drinks all my damn life.”
“That so? You a college boy?”
“That boat passed me by. I’m taking night classes.”
“Good for you.”
“Uh-huh. What about you? You planning on tending
bar for the foreseeable?”
“Well, life’s dealt me a shitty hand lately. Some real setbacks
been sent my way. Truth be told, I just don’t know
what my plan is anymore.”
“What did the plan used to be?”
“To get out the fuckin trailer park.”
“And how’s that goin?”
“It ain’t. And I don’t think it ever will. You wanna know
somethin else?”
“Sure.”
“I ain’t been at work in a week. Supposed ta be. Could be
I don’t even have the bar anymore.”
“You askin for a job here, that it?”
Joey shook his head. “No. No. Leaving one bar for another,
that ain’t even a step back, is it? Just a step sideways.
I don’t, I don’t know what I want.” He let go of the bottle,
held up his hands, let them fall flat on the counter while
he blew air through his lips. “Don’t know what I want anymore.
I don’t know. This ain’t making sense.”
“Not a whole lot.”
“You know what?” Joey finished his drink. “I’m gonna
leave. I know this whole routine. I hate it when it happens
to me, and no doubt you’re hating it right now. The sob
story bullshit. I ain’t gonna burden you with that.” Joey
pulled out his wallet, dropped notes on the counter. “Good
luck with your classes.”
The bartender gathered up the cash. “Good luck with
your life.”
Joey left. His truck was parked in the lot, but he took a
walk around the block first. The night air was cold on his
face and in his lungs. He breathed deep. He looked at the
moon, the stars, wished he’d brought his phone, that he
could call Billie, see if she’d answer, or if she’d ignore his
call the way he’d ignored hers.
He spotted a pay phone up ahead. A swastika spray
painted on the side of it, and a couple of ejaculating cocks.
Loose change in his pocket. He knew her number.
He decided against it. It was nostalgia talking. Calling
her would be a bad idea. They’d argue and he’d lose his
temper. Screaming down a pay phone in the middle of the
street at he didn’t even know what hour of the night wasn’t
going to resolve anything. When he got closer he saw it
was a moot point. The phone’s cord had been cut.
Footsteps behind him. They came up fast. “Hey. Hey,
man.”
Joey turned slowly, hands in his jacket pockets. Two
skinny white boys dressed like they were black came up
on him. The shorter of the two wore a big smile like he
and Joey were old friends. The taller kept his hands in his
pockets and the peak of his baseball cap pulled low so
most of his face was covered. The tall kid looked along the
road, checked for cars. None besides the ones parked. The
only vehicles in transit sounded distant.
“Where you goin, man?” The shorter one spoke. Joey had
a feeling the tall kid was the strong, silent type.
Joey ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth.
“Home.”
The speaker nodded. “Cool, cool. You live around here,
chico?”
Joey’s eyes narrowed. “Near enough.”
“My friend here and me, we don’t live so close. It ain’t
walkin distance, anyways. We a little short on cash, too—
you could help us out with some taxi fare?”
“I’m tapped.”
The speaker raised his chin. “You sure?”
“Yeah. I’m sure.”
The taller one drew a knife. A switchblade. He waved it
through the air in front of Joey. The speaker grinned. “Give
us your wallet, motherfucker.”
Joey stood his ground. He looked at the knife cutting
figure eights. He took his hands out his pockets. His fists
were balled. He smiled. “Take it.”
The two hesitated. They glanced at each other. The
speaker recovered himself. “Don’t be a tough guy, man. Just
give us the damn wallet. You ain’t gotta get yourself hurt.”
Joey waited. They weren’t going to make a move. They
wanted to intimidate him. They wanted him to hand over
his wallet without any fuss.
“This your first time?” Joey said.
“What?”
Joey moved fast.
He kicked out at the knife-wielder first, hard on the
outside of his leg, blew his knee out. The tall kid dropped
the knife and went down screaming. It was the first sound
he’d made. The leg was bent a way it wasn’t supposed to go.
The speaker looked at his fallen friend, face slack. Joey
smashed his forearm into his jaw. The speaker went down,
spat teeth. Joey loomed over him. The speaker begged off,
words issued through bloodied lips. Joey didn’t listen. He’d
heard enough. He grabbed the speaker by the front of his
shirt, used one hand to hold him and the other to hit him.
The scabs on his knuckles tore and his blood mixed with
the kid’s and painted his swelling face.
Joey stopped hitting, let him go. The kid was unconscious.
Joey didn’t know how long he’d punched him. He’d
lost himself in the moment.
The tall kid was crawling away. He’d covered a lot of
ground, slithering on his belly. He held his leg and dragged
himself along on one arm. Sounded like he was crying.
When he realized Joey was looking at him he whimpered
and tried to crawl faster. Joey picked up the fallen knife,
then went to him. The kid covered his head. Joey held up
the knife. “I’m keeping this,” he said.
The tall kid peered at him with one eye, nodded.
Joey smiled, winked. He felt better.

*END OF CHAPTER ONE*

Reviews!

‘FatBoy from Paul Heatley is an unflinching noir story that works so much better than most.

Joey is down on his luck. When we first meet him, he’s been on a drinking bout that’s lasted several days. His girlfriend and mother of his young son has left him. His trailer is a mess. He has abandoned his job as a bartender. And the first chapter ends in brutal violence on Joey’s part. There’s the accusation that he has anger issues. When he is not permitted to see his year and a half old son, and his girlfriend refused to speak to him, Joey gets it in his head that his problems can be solved with money. And he knows just where to get it from – a wealthy, overweight customer of his who has made racist comments toward Joey for years.

A friend of his, a prostitute who works at the bar, goes in with Joey on the heist. Everything that can go wrong goes horribly wrong.

Paul Heatley delivers a brutal, unflinching, noir masterpiece that can be read and enjoyed in one sitting in FatBoy. Don’t miss it!’

 

The big plan. The one that is going to fix everything for Joey. Bring his wife and his boy back, let him quit his mindless job, and get out of the damn trailer. Everything he needs to fix where his life has spun out of control. It seems simple enough, what could possibly go wrong?

I am not going to spoil any of the plot, this story was very clever and I was pleased to see it go somewhere I had not expected. The writing is crisp and the story was very well done, the plot has some turns and thrills that will leave you breathless and waiting for the next page, a very good modern crime novel.

Everyone knows a fatboy. Something like Sheldon’s Personality Theory may suggest they should be fun-loving, sociable, and tolerant, but Heatley’s characterization is quick to show why this ridiculous theory was rejected so long ago. Money and ignorance can highlight the worst in people, regardless of body type.

The descriptions of action and setting were phenomenal, and it was great to see the build to what ended up being a great finish. The comfortable language used in the narrative and dialogue helps pull you into the story and join Joey in his quest to make things right in his life. Right for his family.

Be prepared, though, the simplest plans can sometimes run into problems. Lucky you.’

‘In an odd way, this reminded me of another slim novel, Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” That’s because what sets the tragic plot in motion is a dream that seems within reach if only enough money can be obtained. It seems simple but goes awfully wrong.

The way things go wrong in “Fatboy” is strikingly real. This is crime as it truly happens: botched. The sardonic dialogue is another big plus.’

‘Desperation. A man at the end of his rope. Life in tatters. A complete descent into the circles of hell. Check. A need for money. Check. A rather poorly planned heist with the oddest crew. Check. A hell of a final battle. Check. It’s all there. All the ingredients for gritty crime fiction. Easy to read. Hard to put down. And a long steady build up to the climax. This novelette will not disappoint.’
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