Daily Archives: November 10, 2011

‘Community Policing’ by Charlie Wade

Detective Inspector Britwell was regretting the morning’s fry up as he hit the half mile mark. Double fried bread had been a mistake. The little scally he was chasing didn’t yet have twenty years of cholesterol, nicotine and alcohol in his veins. He was going to get away.

Rounding the corner, Britwell stopped. Panting by the side of the kerb, his heart and guts felt like they were about to explode. He ought to call the chase in. He should do, let someone younger on the force run his shoe leather off. Typically, he’d left both his radio and phone in the car.

He breathed deeply, trying to re-inflate lungs that’d slept for years before carrying on. The Davies Estate he was running through was like a maze. A rabbit warren of doll’s houses crammed full of the city’s poorest and most needy. He thought the lad he was chasing lived on the third floor of a block, near the chip shop. They were going the wrong way though.

The lad turned the corner at the top of the street. Britwell was now over four hundred yards behind. He’d give up when he got to the corner. There was no way he’d catch him now. It was only breaking and entering anyway. Not as if he’d killed or mugged an old lady. He’d caught him in the act too. Half in a window, he’d seen Britwell and legged it. His stitch grew as he got to the corner.
Wheezing, he turned into it. The street was a mess. He’d never been here
before. It looked like Beirut on a bad day. Every other house had either a
burnt out mattress or car in its overgrown garden.

Britwell stopped and looked round. No sign of the little runt. The street was deserted. He’d expect kids to be playing outside, kicking a ball or someone’s head about. But nothing. He walked slowly up the street, mindful of not having his radio. It just looked like the sort of street trouble emerged from. Almost untouchable, it was off the police radar. Looking at the houses, he saw nothing and was ready to give up. Some noise was coming from the second house. Two large and old motorbikes stood outside, not even chained up. The owners were very certain they’d be safe. The front door opened and a seven foot tall biker appeared in the doorway.

Folding his arms, he stared at Britwell. His greasy, long hair and beaten leather jacket flapping in the wind. Britwell walked towards the gate. He didn’t know
why. It was like a suicide mission being here with no means of getting back up.
The man stood sentinel at the door as the sounds from inside increased. Noises,
shouting, almost screaming.

“Police, mate,” said Britwell. He just stared back.

“Chasing a lad, about fifteen, sixteen. You haven’t seen him have you?” He knew the man would say no or shake his head. Britwell would give up then. Get out of this place. Leave it as he found it. Leave them to themselves.

“Help.” The shout from inside the house was clear.

Britwell opened the garden gate. A dog three doors down barked. It sounded like a wolf.

“Is he in there?”

The man shrugged his shoulders.

“I’ll take it from here.” Britwell wondered who was saying these words. They were coming from his mouth, but it wasn’t him. It couldn’t be.

The man stepped aside and waved him into the house.

Years of decay and non-decoration had left the place little more than a shell. Bare walls with punch marks nearly all the way through to next door’s room. Carpets that stank of urine, Britwell presumed and hoped it was animal not human. The ceilings dark yellow, almost brown from nicotine. Britwell thought of a makeover joke, but kept it to himself. Two bikers, big ugly brutes, were sat on a sunken settee drinking special brew. Another stood in the corner, his beefy
forearm locked round the teenagers neck. The teenager saw Britwell, his eyes
pleading for help.

“Thanks,” said Britwell, his voice crackling and high pitched. “I’ll arrest him now.” It was a question, no doubt about it. He was asking permission from them to arrest the lad. The biker let him go and went back to his armchair. Britwell, realising he was in the way of the television, walked forward to the young lad.

“I’m arresting you on suspicion of…”

“Fuck off pig,” the lad said. “You can’t arrest me. Arrest these lot. I want them done for assault.”

Britwell continued, “Suspicion of breaking and entering. Anything you say…”

“Arrest them you plank. You saw what they did. I’m having you. I’ll make a complaint.”

Britwell looked at the bikers, they shook their heads. The youth of today. No respect for anyone. Britwell had no doubt he’d just saved the lad from the kicking of his life, but the cocky little tyke was already mouthing off.

“Quit while you’re ahead, son. Anything you say may be taken down in…”

The lad’s scrawny arm shot out at Britwell. He’d been punched a thousand times before and they’d long stopped hurting. The lad’s puny arm would struggle to hurt anyone anyway.

“Right you bastard.” Britwell grabbed him by his collar and turned him around. His head clattered against the cracked wall, before Britwell pulled his arm up behind his back. He looked round at the bikers. Still sat, half watching the tele and half watching the live show. This was going to be one hell of a lot of paperwork. Witnesses that were drunk and unreliable, the lad’s claim of assault against them and no doubt Britwell himself. Questions asked as to why he didn’t ring it in. It was too much. This could take days in the office to get through. Meetings, disciplinary even. But he hadn’t rung this in, had he? No one knew.

He turned the lad round and threw him at the settee. “He’s all yours lads, all yours.” Britwell walked to the front door. As he left, he heard a noise. A crack. Bone, maybe an arm, being broken. The accompanying scream was almost demonic. He pulled a cigarette from his packet and offered one to the huge biker in the front garden. “Community policing, mate,” he said, walking away, “that’s where the future is.”

(C) Charlie Wade, 2011.

Charlie Wade is forty years old and lives in Derbyshire, England. He’s  written three books and has had eight short stories published online.

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Getting to Know You: Nick Boldock

So today, I’m lucky enough to be joined by Nick Boldock. This is how our chat went.

You generally write short stories and contribute to anthologies, have you considered writing something longer like a novella or full-length novel?

I’ve actually started writing several novels over the years – the latest, “Are You
Experienced?” is ongoing. It’s about a drug addict and wannabe rock star who
starts receiving visits from the spirit of Jimi Hendrix after winning Jimi’s
guitar in a competition he doesn’t remember entering. He’s also concealing  a pretty dark secret that is revealed as the story progresses. That may sound like utter madness, but it all makes sense in the story… honest!

I’m also working on a novella at the moment entitled “Turn Out The Lights” which should appear in electronic format sometime in 2012, though I can’t say too much about that at the moment! The story revolves around a group of ordinary men who are forced into committing a fairly extreme act of criminal violence, but I’ll not spoil the story anymore than that… I will say, however, that I think it’s the best story I’ve ever written, and certainly the most complex. I look forward to seeing it come out, one way or another, next year…  

Describe for our readers the genre(s) you write in and why they appeal to you as a writer.

I tend to jump between genres to be honest. Everything that I write is “dark” in
nature but I’ve written stories that could be roughly described as urban drama,
the occasional thriller, some downright weird ones, and the odd foray into
horror too. I don’t like to be tied to a particular label.

What inspires you to write?

It’s a compulsion more than anything. I can’t imagine ever stopping writing. It
would feel like something was missing, like having something amputated. On a
more molecular level, I usually head for the word processor when I’ve read something I like, or when I see posts on Facebook from fellow writers saying what they’ve just had published. Reading other people’s work is a joy, and also an inspiration… and a kick up the arse! Social networking is the most amazing
thing for us writers – we’re always only a click or two away from being among like-minded “friends”. Writers always encourage their peers – it’s like a specialist support network, and it’s something we’re very lucky to have available to us.

Do you have time to read? If so, what are you reading at the moment? Do you have a favourite all-time read?

I’m reading Peter Robinson’s short story collection “The Price Of Love” at the
moment. It’s a wonderful collection of very eclectic short fiction. As for favourite all-time reads, I couldn’t narrow it down to one book but I’d put Jonathan Coe’s “The House Of Sleep” up there, as well as “The Diceman” by Luke Rhinehart, “Maribou Stork Nightmares” by the great Irvine Welch, and like others before me I would hail Dostoevsky’s “Crime And Punishment” as nothing short of a masterpiece. And I’d pick a Stephen King novel if I could narrow it down to one, which I can’t.

Which author(s) would you say have most influenced your writing?

Stephen King, without a doubt. I love the sense of “what if…?” in his short stories, which has inspired some of my own ideas, certainly “On Solitude” (published online at Pulp Metal Magazine) and “Choked” (in Radgepacket: Tales From The Inner Cities [Byker Books]), though neither story is in his style. The short fiction of Hanif Kureishi is a great influence too because of the way he can illustrate a snapshot of someone’s life in a few pages without the conventional mechanism of beginning/middle/end. That isn’t easy to do. Roddy Doyle I adore – he can capture absolute brutality in the middle of vivid beauty, and vice versa, and evoke emotion like nobody I’ve ever read – he’s an amazing writer. Irvine Welch is another big influence, particularly from his short fiction where he lets loose even more than his novels. He shows how liberating short stories can be, in that you really can let your imagination run riot in a way you just can’t do with longer form fiction.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

Right now I’m focussed on “Turn Out The Lights”, the novella I mentioned earlier. I finished a first draft – all 13,000 words of it – a while back but now need to expand it to 20,000 words. I have the means, and additional plot, to do it…….just got to write the words down! I’ve just finished two short stories – one,
“Superstition”, will appear in the ebook anthology “Off The Record” (Guilty
Conscience Publishing) and another, “A Minimum Of Reason” is going to be in
Paul D Brazill’s forthcoming “Brit Grit 2” collection. I’m hugely excited about both of those releases – they’re both due out in November, hopefully.

What are your hopes for the future?

I’d like to get Turn Out The Lights finished and then try to be a little more dedicated with writing short stories. Like most of us I find I don’t have enough time to write as much as I’d like to. I dearly want to finish the novel, too – this is the fourth time I’ve started a novel and for once I’d like to finish it. My dream would be to see a novel in print with my name on the front – that is the ultimate goal, really.  

Where can you be found online?

I have a website – www.nickboldock.co.uk. Primarily it’s a simple way to spread the word about new work and so on, and also I just like playing around with websites! I think it’s important for writers to have a proper online presence – it can set you apart from “the rest” when submitting work, if you can make yourself look that little bit more professional. It’s also an easy way for editors and such to see what you’ve been up to – like an online portfolio, if you like. Plus, you’ve a readymade place to publish your own stuff and tell the world about it!

What do you most like about writing? What do you dislike?

I love the way the outside world ceases to exist once I start banging that keyboard. When the story just flows forth (which sadly it doesn’t always!) then a volcano could erupt outside the front window and I wouldn’t notice. It’s an incredibly cathartic activity.

On the flip side, I can’t sleep when I’m in the middle of a story, because my brain won’t shut down – I lay in bed working out plot twists and such, even when I’d rather be asleep. Other than that, there really isn’t anything I dislike about being a writer. I love everything about it.  

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

Motivation is a weakness… I need that kick up the backside to sit down and get going. Once I’m typing, no problem – but there are always other things that need doing, and I’m afraid I am sometimes guilty of not just grabbing the bull by the horns and getting on with it. Procrastination… well, we can do that tomorrow can’t we!

Strengths? I’m super-critical of my own work, which is an advantage, because it makes me look back at every single word to see if I can improve it in some way. The biggest mistake novice writers make is failing to realise that writing the
story is the easy bit – editing it, then editing it again, and again, and so on, is the real battle, but it has to be done to make that rough draft into the finished article that you can look at and be proud of. You learn to love that editing process, I think, because that’s when the story really starts to come into its own.

How do you feel about the e-book and e-book publishers?

I think it’s inevitable that publishing has moved into electronic formats. There are pluses and minuses to the phenomenon. On the plus side, it provides a whole
new platform and market for up and coming writers to get their work out there,
particularly when the major print publishers are moving further and further
away from publishing new authors or anything vaguely non-commercial. This is
understandable; they are running a business after all, so they have to make
sure they have a reasonable chance of making a return on their investment. The
beauty of electronic publishing is that the overheads are virtually nil, so the
risk is less – and because of that, there is now a whole host of books, short
stories and anthologies out there that you can buy for less than the price of a
loaf of bread – and that has to be a good thing.

On the other side of the coin, the quality control with electronic publishing is
somewhat less stringent than traditional publishing, so it can be a little “hit
and miss” – but there again, if you’ve bought a novel for less than a couple of
quid it doesn’t really matter if it isn’t that great, does it? So it’s win-win all round really.

One thing that’s certain is that e-publishing is here to stay and is only going to
get better, and more inventive. And amen to that.

Thanks again to Nick for spending some time here on elementaryvwatson – it’s been a pleasure.

Vic x

Review: ‘A Scattering of Ashes’ by Craig Douglas

My friend and co-blogger over at Close to the Bone (www.craigrobertdouglas.com) Craig Douglas has finally released this long-awaited collection of stories.

‘Tales from the Frontline’ is exactly what it says on the cover – it’s a collection of stories inspired by Craig’s time in the British Army. Serving in Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Cyprus Afghanistan and Iraq, Craig got plenty of inspiration.

These short stories are beautifully written, with lots of description. Craig’s writing is really evocative and I felt I was in the stories. Many of these stories are hard-hitting and difficult to read because you know Craig’s stories really are happening. The stories are a mixture of humour, grit and poignancy. Craig tries to write in different styles, giving each of his individual characters a believable voice. Some of the characters aren’t politically correct, nor do they hold back with colourful language – this just adds to the realism.

This is a really important read for anyone – it shows what war really means to those on the frontline: before, during and after service.

Vic x