A sample chapter

I thought readers may like a sample chapter from my latest novel, Walk a Crooled Road, which I am in the process of writing.

I hope you all enjoy it.

Chapter Forty-Three

Toxteth, Liverpool

Day 39


I didn’t have long to wait at the bus stop. Agnetha emerges from the pub and heads for the same bus stop. She glances at me briefly and turns away. She has no clue that we are very soon to become intimately acquainted. There is no sign of her admirer who has evidently given up in disgust. She has no doubted pocketed the drinks he paid for. That is the sort of stunt that causes real trouble and I have no doubt she is the sort who will stand back and plead wide-eyed innocence when somebody kicks off. She is nothing but trouble with tits.

   Anyway, I have positioned myself behind her because I can see a bus approaching. Since I have no idea where she lives, I will have to follow her on whatever bus she takes.

   She steps out as the bus draws near and so do I. We both get on. I sit near the back so that I can keep an eye on her.

   We don’t have far to go. She gets off at the outskirts of Toxteth and walks briskly to a nearby street of terrace houses without looking back. I smile. She really has no idea I am following her. I had expected her to be wary, given who her boyfriend is but she is completely oblivious. All the same I keep my distance and stay in the shadows wherever possible.

   She turns into the street and crosses the road. I am just around the corner, and I see her stop at the fourth house down. I wait until she is in and slowly cross the road and cautiously walk to her house. There is no bell, so I bang on the door.

   It takes a while before I hear her asking who is there. I tell her I have a message from Tommy.

   ‘What is it?’

   ‘If you open the door, I’ll tell you.’

   ‘Can’t you tell me now?’

   ‘Not unless you want the entire street to know.’

   I can hear her unlocking the door which opens very slightly. An eye stares at me and obviously decides I am not dangerous. A big mistake. She unclips the security chain and I immediately slam my body against the door, sending her sprawling onto her living room floor. I slam the door behind me, walk briskly towards her and grasp her throat pulling her upwards and on to an upright chair. She is making choking noises as I pull one of her flailing arms behind the chair and clip on a pair of handcuffs and then grab the second one.

   She begins to make far too much noise, so I slap her hard across her face. Both she and the chair falls sideways onto the floor. I haul them upright again and reach for a scarf that’s on the sofa and stuff it into her mouth. Apart from the cuffs, I have also brought plastic tape and I proceed to tie her ankles together.

   She is staring at me with fear in her eyes. I drag another chair and lean on the back facing her. ‘I am going to ask you three questions,’ I tell her. ‘Every time you give me a wrong answer something unpleasant is going to happen to you. Do you understand?’

   She nods. I remove the gag from her mouth.

   ‘First question. Where can I find Tommy?’

   Her eyes open wide. ‘I don’t know. He moves around.’ I stand up suddenly and go to the kitchen. I find the cutlery drawer and take out a pair of scissors then return to the sitting room and stand in front of her. I just stare at her and say nothing.

   She has dark brown hair that cascades down to her shoulders. I set about it cutting it as short as I can. She begins to shriek, and I lean over and whisper in her ear: ‘If you don’t shut up it won’t be just your hair I’ll be cutting.’ It stops immediately. Very soon the carpet has a covering of hair. She looks like an inmate of a concentration camp. I smile.

   ‘Let’s try again, shall we?’

   ‘He’ll kill me if I tell you,’ she sobs.

   ‘I’ll kill you if you don’t,’ I say evenly.

   ‘He’s in a house on Gladstone Street but please don’t say it was me who told you.’

   I don’t respond to that. I couldn’t care less. ‘What number?’ I brandish the scissors in front of her face.

   ‘No 4, I think.’

   ‘Second question. Was it him who killed the Chinese student a month or so ago?’ I give her a warning look. ‘Tell me what you knowineseh

 and don’t try and protect him because he will dump you in an instant if it suits him.’

   ‘He loves me,’ she says tearfully. I laugh.

   ‘You stupid bitch. Tommy doesn’t love anybody. Are you going to tell me, or do I have to cut something else off?’

   ‘Tommy will kill you for this,’ she suddenly snarls, trying free her legs. I hit her again, this time with my fist in her face and she and the chair topple backwards. I haul them upright again. Blood is pouring from her nose and dripping on to her top. The sudden truculence has given way to weeping.

   ‘Are you going to tell me, or do you want more of the same?’

   She stares at me, fear now engraved in her eyes. ‘It wasn’t him, but he knows who did. What are you going to do to me? Are you going to kill me?’

   I ignore that. It was what I wanted to hear, and it confirms what I had suspected, that Tommy was involved and so, by implication, was Finn who no doubt organised it.

   ‘Third question. Where can I find Finn? You do know him, don’t you? Finley Starr, to use his full name.’

   I pull the hat pin out from its pocket in my trousers and point it menacingly in front of her eyes and to reinforce it. I tell her, conversationally, staring at the pin: ‘This could slip straight through that eye and then right through your brain until it reaches the back of your skull. The pain would be immense, and it would take you a while to die, so choose your words carefully.’

   ‘Her face has abject terror writ large. Her eyes are wide open, her pupils dilated, her face white except where the blood is dripping. She attempts to move her head away from the point of the hat pin, but it follows her every movement.

   ‘I only met him once,’ she stammers. ‘Honest. It was a few weeks ago. I don’t know where he lives but Tommy does. I don’t know anything else. Tommy doesn’t tell me much. Honest.’ I can see her trembling and I know she is telling the truth. Fear has a way of doing that. He would have to be completely stupid to tell this brainless bitch anything of importance.

   I lower the hat pin and put it away. I remove the cuffs and the tape around her ankles. ‘Stay where you are,’ I warn her. I grasp her around her throat until I can hear her begin to gurgle. He hands begin to claw at me, so I loosen my grip.

   ‘This is what you are going to do,’ I say looking into her eyes. ‘Where do your parents live?’

   ‘Newcastle,’ she croaks.

   ‘You are going to go to them tomorrow and stay there. You are not going to contact Tommy at all, or anyone connected to him. Do you understand? I tighten my grip on her throat. She nods.

   ‘Just one more thing,’ I say to her. ‘Where is Tommy? Is he still in that seedy dump in Garston?’ She nods soundlessly.

   I release her and she sits back gasping. ‘If you do contact him, I will kill you. If you are still in Liverpool tomorrow, I will find you and kill you. And I will check.’

   I stand and stare coldly at her. ‘Do not return to this place. Start a new life somewhere else. That way you will live. Very soon Tommy will be dead and so will anyone connected with him. Do you believe me?’ She nods.

   I pat her gently on the cheek. ‘You might need a wig for a while,’ I say casually, smiling ominously, before opening the front door and standing on the step.

   Outside the street is quiet and deserted.

   I walk to the main road and flag down a taxi. I feel like a pint and then a shower to dissipate the stench of that bitch. I have no doubt she will do as I told her, and I meant every word of it. I really will kill her if she goes snivelling to Tommy. But she won’t. In my previous life I have had to warn people in a similar way, and I can’t recall even one ignoring it. So, judging by the terror in her eyes, I have no doubt she will be on her way to Newcastle first thing in the morning.

   I allow myself a small smile of satisfaction because by this time tomorrow Tommy may well be wondering what has happened to his girlfriend. He may decide to pay her a visit and instead of having her welcoming bosom to nestle in he will be greeted by the chair on the floor, the blonde hair on the carpet and the spatter of blood from her nose.

   I have no doubt he will conclude that she has been visited by the Angel of Death and he will no doubt whimper querulously to Finn about how unfair it all is because he hasn’t done anything. Finn, of course, won’t give a monkeys. He will probably just tell him to piss off. And that’s just fine because Tommy can expect a visit from me in a few days’ time when he least expects it.

   After that, I will deal with Finn. I have something very special planned for him.

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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