Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Twist Of Noir 003 - Gary Dobbs

RHONDDA LIVES - GARY DOBBS

Originally Published at Thieves Jargon, several years ago

What the fuck had I gotten myself into this time?

If Mickey had been able to control his bladder, then it wouldn't have come to this.

I looked at the two maniacs seated next to me - both tooled up.

"The job," I said. "Timing's important."

"I know about the fucking job," Mickey said and prodded his sawn-off into my ribs as if to illustrate the point. "Don't have to tell me about the fucking job. I need a piss. Now."

"Look," I pleaded. "We're driving a stolen van, we're armed, onour way to hold up a Securicor van at a fucking pre-designated point and time. We're going against the clock here."

"I'll only take a fucking second," Mickey screwed up his face and became meanness personified. "I'm fucking busting."

"We'll be okay," Razzer, the other fucking loony said. "The van's not made. He'll piss quick." He knew they were safe with the van.

"I couldn't give a fuck if he pisses at a supersonic rate," I snapped. He was right about the van, though - there was no way it had been reported yet. Razzer had stolen it himself only an hour ago and only then after weeks of surveillance. The owner parked it in the multi-storey at seven-thirty each morning and didn't return till well after six in the evening, sometimes later, never earlier.

"When you gotta go, you gotta go," Razzer said and shrugged his shoulders.

I sighed.

"I can't be threatening no fucker with my shooter in one hand,"Mickey said. "And my legs all bent up to stop me pissing myself. I'll look like a fucking joke."

"He's got a point," Razzer said and laughed. "Can't have him leaving no piss at the scene. DNA fuckers can find out amazing things from piss."

"Yeah?" Mickey turned to Razzer, eager to hear more.

"No," Razzer said and poked Mickey playfully in the ribs. "I'm taking the piss."

"Okay," I said. This was getting absurd. It always amazed me how hard men like these could stay calm in such crazy situations. Me, I was shitting bricks but then I had my reasons. Timing was everything onthis job. A split second could mean the difference between success and failure.

"Where?" I asked. "Where do you want to take a piss?"

"Anywhere," Mickey shrugged and then squeezed his bollocks to illustrate the point. "I can piss on the side of the road."

"Good thinking," I said. "And some copper comes along and what you tell him then? How the fuck do we explain these guns, and the stockings in the glove compartment?"

"Fuck you," Mickey said. "I'll fucking piss here." He lifted his arse off his seat and yanked his jogging pants down, pulling his cock up over the waistband. He would too - I'd shared a cell with him once, he'd had no problem shitting in front of me so this would be a doodle to take a leak here and now, piece of piss really.

"Fucking piss over me and I'll shoot you," Razzer said holding his gun up, not caring that it was now visible to any oncoming traffic through the windscreen. He meant it too - if piss started to spurt from Mickey's sorry-looking cock he'd pull the trigger, leaving a lot more DNA than the urine would.

"Fuck," I said and pulled the van over. There had to be easier ways to make a living.

I'd never worked with these two before, I didn't think I ever would again. I'd met Mickey on the inside, I'd been doing three years for holding up a post office and he'd been in for breaking some copper's nose when the plod tried to step in between him and the nonce he was kicking the shit out of. He was hard as nails and I'd quickly struck up a friendship with him. Soon after that he became my cell mate. It meant that the other cons left me alone - Don't fuck with him or you'll get Mental Mickey on your tail. No one wants Mental Mickey on their tail.

Razzer came through Mickey - I'd only met him last Thursday, in Kudos bar, but he'd been close friends with Mickey since they'd been kids so that was okay. Apparently, they'd done borstal and some grown-up jail together.

I'd looked Mickey up as soon as I'd been released; he'd gottenout two months prior to me. I'd had his address over in Pontypridd, which was only a few miles and so I set up the meeting and Mickey had brought his mate.

That was okay by me.

Three men was good - two gunmen to pull off the blag and a driver ready, engine idling.

I'd outlined the job to them. Every last Friday of the month, the Securicor van would be carrying a large cash haul from the Casino, over a million, according to my sources and I knew the perfect place to hit it. The van had to come down through the Rhondda and take the diversion caused by the road works at Porth Square - that would take the van up over the old mine road. If we hit the van in Trehaford, stopped it, overpowered the guard and driver, grabbed the cash, we would be able to make good our escape down the sidings (which were never used since the old road had deteriorated and was now little more than a dirt track) and be away before the coppers reacted to any emergency call. We'd have another unmarked car waiting, parked inside the old Squint washhouse. The other point in our favour was that the Securicor driver, Stan, was in with the deal and would dissuade the guard from being a hero. He was fifty-nine, had a dodgy chest and figured he was owed more than the meagre pension he was due.

It was easy and I planned on taking my share of the money and getting out of this life, making something for myself. It was all so very simple, nothing could go wrong except for the fact that we had to be parked up on the Tump, waiting for the mobile piggy bank at a set time. If we missed it, then the run was over for another month and Stan was due to retire next Friday so the chance would not come again.

And that brings me to - we're parked at the side of the Road in Dinas. I'm smoking a ciggie, Razzer's sitting there, looking all relaxed, not a care in the world and Mickey's over by the kerb, pissing against the wall. Nirvana's on the radio - teen spirit, one of my favourites- but I'm too nervous to listen.

Suddenly, Lady Luck turned vicious - chance of all cunting chances - but at that precise fucking moment, the community policeman came around the corner and stands, staring at Mickey as his penis directed a steady flow of piss against the community centre wall. There was never a fucking copper about when you needed one but just when.

Three weeks earlier, I'd stood in the snooker club, smiling like a loon. I'd just potted yellow to black straight through, cleared the fucking table. I scooped the twenty quid from the edge of the table and pocketed the cash.

"Anyone else want to chance their arm?" I asked, all arrogant-like. End of the day, I had the right to a little ego. I was a fucking wizard on the green cloth. As my father always said, "If you've got it, flaunt it." I was seriously flaunting.

"Maybe another time," Stan said and tapped me on my back. "Come on, I want to talk to you. You can use that twenty to get 'em in."

"Just as well," I said. I'd just seriously kicked his arse on the table and there were no other takers in the pub. Still, I was twenty quid up. We went to the bar and, after I'd gotten the drinks in, Stan directed us over to a corner table.

"So what's up, Stan?" I rolled myself a cigarette, took a mouthful of the warm Welsh beer and stared at the old man. He had been big mates with my old man and, after the old guy had died, I'd often bumped into him in the local. We chatted, he'd known me since I was a nipper and I kinda liked him. He was a good old guy. Of the old school. A proud, strong man. He was also as crooked as they came but then we all were in the valleys. It had always been a case of us and them in the Rhonddaand always would be.

He went straight into chatter mode - telling me about how long he'd worked for Securicor, about the crap wages, about how he was skint, reminded me of how he'd helped my old man out with money problems more than once. He went on about his bad chest, his desire to visit his brother over in Spain and of how fucking difficult it was going to be living on the pittance of a pension he had coming to him. And then came the plan, his fucking glorious plan, and he reeled me in as a fisherman would his catch.

And now, this careful, detailed plan looked in danger of blowing up in our faces because Mickey couldn't contain his bladder.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," I said.

"Chill." Razzer grabbed my wrist. "Chill, man," he said calmly.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes for a moment and mouthed a silent prayer. Please God, just this once. Let this work and I'll go fucking straight. Fuck, I'll give my share of the loot to the orphans. Just get us out of this. I clenched my fists tightly and watched the copper who, in turn, stood watching Mickey.

"Chill," Razzer said again. He was starting to get on my fucking tit. What did he think we were, a couple of fucking homeboys in a Spike Lee movie?

"Chill," I said. "I'm gonna have a fucking heart attack."

Razzer smiled. "The pig's not going to do anything," he said. "He'll bollock Mickey and that'll be it. We'll be on our way in a moment."

"I hope you're right." I had a feeling in my gut and I watched as the policeman approached Mickey, who had finally finished pissing and was casually shaking the drippers from his cock.

The copper was only young, a kid really, looked like a boy scout. He said something to Mickey but we couldn't hear what they are saying. All we could do was sit there, virtually holding our breath.

The policeman smiled at Mickey, shook his head and then looked directly at the van.

My heart skipped a beat.

"Fucking chill," Razzer said. This time, there was real menace in his voice and he dug his fingers into my arm as we stared out of the windscreen. We were going to have to play this out. See what happened.

The policeman came over to the van and stood by my window. He made a motion with his hand for me to open the window. Mickey came up behind the policeman, which didn't seem to bother the copper that much. It was obvious he was inexperienced in the job, little more than a fresh, in-uniform rookie, and he had left himself wide open to attack from behind.

I wound my window down and looked at the policeman, trying to remain calm. "What's the problem?" I asked.

"Your friend says you're in a rush. He was caught short."

"Yeah," I smiled my most charming smile. "We're really sorry but he was desperate."

"I see." The policeman nodded and, for one splendid moment, I thought he was going to leave us be. There had been no harm done and it wasn't worth dragging Mickey into court for pissing in the streets, not with so much other crime to prosecute. He looked me up and down for a moment and I was aware that Razzer was sitting uncomfortably on his shooter while I had Mickey's beneath my seat. Finally, the policeman asked: "Where you heading?"

I swallowed. What the fuck had Mickey told him? What if I said the wrong thing?

The next thing, I knew was Mickey's hand coming up behind the policeman and, with one deft movement, he sent his head crashing into the wound-down window. The copper's nose exploded against the edge of the glass, splattering blood over the wing mirror.

"Fuck," I said as the copper's distorted face was rammed once again against the window with a sickening sound like fish guts hitting a sink. I saw a tooth crack clean in half and the window turned pink as the copper's face smeared blood every which way. His helmet came off and fell to the ground and then Mickey quickly dragged the semi-conscious copper around to the rear of the van and opened the door. He threw the young policeman into the van and jumped in himself.

"Get the fuck out of here," Mickey screamed. "Drive."

The copper moaned and Mickey kicked him full force in the stomach, sending the air from him in a huge, painful gasp.

"Shut the fuck up, filth."

I sped off, my mind racing faster than the drive shaft. This was not the original plan - what the fuck were we going to do with the copper?

"What you bring him for?" I yelled over my shoulder at Mickey. "What the hell are you doing?"
"He would have made us," Mickey said. "It wasn't as if I had any choice in the matter."

"He wouldn't have made us," I said. "He doesn't have a clue what's going on."

"Yeah, but as soon as the filth heard about the Securicor blag," Razzer put in, "they would have put two and two together."

"Well, he fucking knows about the job now," I said, glumly. "Top marks, Einstein."

"You taking the piss?" Razzer said and prodded me with his shooter. I had no doubt that he would have used it, blown me apart then and there, had I protested further. And, at that point, I cursed Stan, Mickey, Razzer and the whole fucking deal. Easy money, my arse; there was no such thing.

"We'll have to kill him," Mickey said and looked down at the policeman, who was rolling about in agony on the floor of the van, holding his guts. His face was just a swollen, bloody pulp.

"No fucking way," I said and looked first at Razzer and then over my shoulder at Mickey. "I don't kill people."

"We've got no fucking choice," Razzer said. "And besides, that's not people. He's a copper. It's different."

"What?" I said, finding it more and more difficult to concentrate on my driving. Things had gone to the point of everything seeming like one long terrible nightmare. I wondered if either of them would actually be capable of killing the copper, of gunning the man, little more than a kid really, down in cold blood.

"Please," the policeman's frail voice broke into the three-wayargument, but Mickey silenced him with a vicious size nine boot. The copper's face, already a bloodied pulp, absorbed the blow like a sponge.

Razzer laughed and I felt sick to my stomach and I knew at that precise moment that both were capable of killing the copper. It was nothing to them. When that guy put on his uniform, he became fair game.

"What about the job?" I screamed, trying to bring some semblance of normality to the situation. "Let's just dump him and get on with the job. No need to kill anyone and, besides, what the fuck does he really know?"

"He'll make us," Mickey said.

"Yeah," Razzer nodded. "He had a good look at us and our faces show up in a lot of police files."

"He'd fucking recognise me," Mickey said. "Fuck the job. There'll be other jobs. Up the siding now."

"The sidings, why?" I said, though I knew all too well the reason why. This was not the way I wanted it. Yeah, I was a thief but little more - basically, a chancer, the odd blag here, maybe a drug deal there but now I was going to become a party to murder. And not just any murder but the brutal killing of a young policeman.

"We can blast the fucker by one of the old mine shafts, let the body fall in," Mickey said. "End of story. Problem fucking eradicated."

"No, no." I shook my head. I didn't give a shit about the job anymore. All I wanted was to get out of this without resorting to murder.

"You want to go back to the slammer?" Razzer grabbed me by the throat but had to release me when the van swerved. "The cop'll make us and we'll be back inside. Only, this time, they'll throw away the key in my case. It's him or me and I say the copper gets it."

I cornered the van and then took a quick glance behind at the copper. The poor fucker was groaning lightly, blood looking impossibly red on the twin balloons that were his lips, obviously hovering in andout of consciousness. "He's just a fucking kid," I said.

Razzer shrugged his shoulders. "That's tough. He should have thought of that when he put the uniform on. He's filth. He dies."

I knew then it was inevitable - the cop had chanced on us and paid the ultimate price for his devotion to duty. There was no way out. He was going to die and, like it or not, I was involved right up to my neck. I slowed down slightly but drove towards the sidings erratically. All the while, I was praying beneath my breath that some patrolling squad car would pull us over and stop this madness, but no such luck. We reached the sidings and I pulled the van over behind one of the walls of the old weighing station.

"Look, guys," I pleaded one last time. "Let's not do this."

Mickey ignored me and he kicked open the back doors and, with aboot to the ribs, sent the copper sprawling arse over tit onto the hard ground. He jumped out of the van and Razzer did likewise.

I sat there, for how long I don't know, but I heard them laughing as they dragged the policeman, who was too weak to protest, over to one of the exposed shafts. I closed my eyes and kept my head bowed, praying over and over beneath my breath. Then I heard the single shot and I knew it was all over.

I looked at myself in the rear-view mirror and saw a man who had aged ten years in as many minutes and something deep inside told me that things would never be the same again. Like it or not, I had stepped up into a different league, one that I was never intended for.

BIO: Gary Dobbs writes under both his own name and that of Jack Martin. His first novel, a western under the Jack Martin name, will be published next June by Robert Hale LTD.

7 comments:

ARCHAVIST said...

I'm glad to see my story online here. It was written back in 2006 and I tried to create the sense of an American hard-boiled crime story in a British setting - a Welsh setting to be specific. Hope your readers enjoy.

Christopher Grant said...

Glad to have it.

In actuality, it's as near to the mark of what I want as I could have hoped for.

What I'm looking for, as said in the guidelines, are well-written, well thought out stories in the crime and noir genre.

Without really taking that a step further, one of the definitions of noir that most everyone seems to agree on is that there is a point of no return that forces that main character (or characters) to have to choose or have their fate chosen for them.

The narrator here does exactly that. Or, rather, due to his inaction, he has his fate chosen for him. And, like all good noir characters, he regrets it instantly but can't find a way back to where he was just two seconds ago.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good stuff. Begs for a sequel. How does he get away from this bunch. Reminds me a bit of Sin City.

ARCHAVIST said...

Thanks Charles - Sin City, I'll take that as a compliment. That's the kind of theme I was aiming at I suppose - how one single incident can have far reaching consequences. Maybe I'll think of a sequel one day and put the narrator through the mangle some more.

Paul Brazill said...

Gary, just dicovered this Brit Grit. Dead good.

ARCHAVIST said...

Just to let everyone know - I recently revisited this story and extended it somewhat and gave it a title change to Rhondda Noir - I'll be reading it out on Crimewav soon.

Christopher Grant said...

Gary,

Congratulations on getting the opportunity to be on Crimewav.com.

I think it's an outstanding place for crime fiction and the added bonus of having almost every author reading their own stories is, as I said, a bonus. To hear it read in their own words makes a world of difference.

Looking forward to it.