BURNING CAR BLUES - PETER MCADAM
I part the dirty net curtains and wipe the condensation off the window. Looking down through the drips of water I see the kids emptying a skip all over the street, jumping up and down on a busted settee, dogs snapping at their heels.
Looking to my right, I see the sunset between the tower blocks then I catch sight of a burning car sailing down the grassy bank - red and orange flames lapping in the air like an infernal cavalcade, followed by a bunch of 7-10 year-olds screaming their fucking heads off. Welcome to Benwell, Newcastle, a Class A utopia full of dead-end kids.
I’m in a flat above a takeaway, it’s a little bland but he has it nice. Benjamin Smith AKA Benny Benzedrine, a top pill pusher... them kids playing trampoline down there are probably his next customers being groomed for prison or the afterlife. Benny is a first class scumbag, a bearded big broad guy, a tuft of ginger hair hinting at a residue of a quiff and one of those clumsy Indian ink swallow tattoo’s on his lower thumb, hangover from his teddy days. “Yeah, I can just see you in your rock ’n roll drag, flick knife fights, Benny and the Jets, eh?”
I’ve got Old Benny gaffa taped to a red velvet armchair, and his dirty mouth taped up, he looks like a Tracy Emin installation. I should get a fucking Arts Council grant for this, this is real art. His face looks like he’s going to explode, a big red ball puffing and panting, he signals me to scratch something.
I sit back on the settee, sip from a Happy Birthday Benny cup. He mumbles and struggles to lift his arms. I lean over nonchalantly and scratch his forehead, his eyeballs move to the extreme right; I scratch it and look at my fingernails... “You’re fucking flaking, you old bastard.” I lean back and observe his living room. This looks like he’s only here temporarily. The girl, Samantha, is probably one of his many customers doing a freebie for an ounce. She’s a kappa slappa, two failed marriages, four kids in care, blonde snake hair and a white tracksuit that’s seen better days. If the soap powder guy from the TV adverts knocked on her door, she would chin him.
This Samantha has been gone 20 minutes; I’ve sent her to a hole-in-the-wall to get me some money.
Well, it’s part of the job; he’s not going to be using it. Besides, I’ve a temporary cash flow problem. Mind you, if she brings anyone back with her, I’ll gut her fucking stomach.
He’s struggling to talk so I whip off the tape from his mouth to give him some talk-space.
“AHHH!” he screams. I’ve just taken half his fucking beard off. After a barrage of expletives, he calms down and asks for his inhaler.
“Nahhh! It’s all in the mind, you should try meditation not medication,” I say.
“Fuck off,” he replies with venom.
“Ever see Father Ted? You remind me...”
“I’m not religious.”
“Forget it.” I finish my tea stand up and stretch. “You’ll never guess what I’ve just seen. A bloody burning car, waltzing down the hill, some kids must have torched it and pushed it on its way.”
“They should be at school,” he quips nervously and looks at his lo-fi bondage of gaffa tape and electrical flex.
“They’re your future customers.”
“I don’t do kids,” says Mr Beelzebub. The reason why I’m here is my client wants some vindication for his dead and gone heirs.
“You pushed some amphetamines onto two little kids... you know who their father was. I can’t figure out if you are fucking dumb or you did it for revenge.”
He grunts and looks to his left: a photo of Samantha’s absent kids. He pauses and turns to look me in the eyes.
“I didn’t know honest.”
“Ahh! Shit happens.”
He sighs and drops his head.
“You know it’s sticking in my mind...the burning car, it’s kind of majestic but, at the same time, destructive - bit like me.”
“Fucking big head.”
I lean over and menacingly speak into his ear. “Another fucking word from you and I’ll spoon your fucking eyes out.”
Now he looks pissed.
I saunter around the room, it’s kind of a mix of taste and tat; ’70s wallpaper, IKEA furniture half assembled, a quaint collection of charity shop knick fucking knacks, a well worn floral Axminster with carefully positioned tab burn holes, a DVD system and an old gram from the ’50s. Bit of a mix but it works. I give him a nod of approval but he thinks I’m taking the piss. I crouch down and flip through his record collection, vinyl oldies, a few Robbie Williams CDs. I look at him in disgust. “It’s Samantha’s,” he explains.
I put on one of his, the Mona Lisa of the vinyl, Gene Vincent’s Be Bop A Lula.
“I’ll give you this, old Benny boy, you’ve got some good taste. But you can tell the generation gap... Eddie Cochran vs. Beyonce.”
“BE BOP A LULA, SHE’S MY BABY!”
The chug-a-chug groove rings in my ears and it’s got my toes a-tapping. Now I feel good, I take out a few bullets. If you look closely, they have the words “Don’t Take It Personally” inscribed in Times italics. I do it for all my victims; they make nice ornaments when not in use. I’m a sucker for detail. A Swiss guy did it for me, sent it to a P.O. Box. Just my sense of humour, you understand.
I turn down the record slightly. Don’t want to get carried away.
I hear the metallic grind of the key turning. I move to the living room door, ready for any unexpected visitors. There’s a pause then she bangs the door like someone has come in with her. I know that delay in time, when someone follows you in before you close the door. She’s fucking brought someone else.
Benny looks up his eyes are like saucers. He’s speechless, he’s shaking his head as though he knows about my deduction.
Clunk-clunk up the stairs like really heavy. She’s a slim lass, unless she’s gained weight at Barclays.
The door parts open, she comes in and says a nervous, “Hiya.”
She moves over to Benny’s side like she’s choregraphed her position.
I drop to the floor seconds before a fucking gun peeks around the corner. He fires where I should have been standing. Quickly, he lowers his gun as he sees me lying on the floor, then I shoot, ripping his fucking ankle off. He falls holding his busted leg. Then I give him one in the head. Samantha starts screaming and coming for me. I shoot her between the tits and she falls like a bundle of laundry.
I turn the record up.
Benny is shouting over the “She’s my Baby” line with all kinds of curses.
I put my little special bullet in the chamber, twirl it around and do a Russian Roulette on the ginger fucker.
“You’re dead lumber coz life’s inherently unfair,” I say with gusto, from some B Movie gangster flick I heard at the corner of my ear, somewhere, someday. I hope it was Edward G., my favourite. He always looks like he’s been eating tomato ketchup.
I shoot him right in the flaky bit on his forehead, where I scratched earlier. The blood sprays up like a geyser from the back of his head.
“Wooh! That was cool.”
The record sticks sounding like a STCH. I take in this cool montage...Samantha lying like a crumpled handkerchief...STCH…The uninvited guest and his tomato head… STCH... Benny looking up to a dead man’s lampshade...STCH... A spray of blood on the back wall like a Jackson Pollock... STCH... LP cover showing Gene Vincent throwing his leg over a microphone stand...STCH The Humour Bullet laughing all the way to his brains... STCH and that BEAUTIFUL BURNING CAR... STCH.
I bend down beside Samantha, grab the £200. Well, £180; bitch kept £20.
Well, it’s been a nice party but the company’s been shite.
BIO: Follow the link and you can find more of Peter's killer, Eddie Temple.
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