Chris Trengove

Writing about writing

Archive for September 2014


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We published this last year as a belated sequel to our seventies striptease novel IT’S YOUR MONEY IN MY POCKET, DEAR, NOT MINE IN YOURS – not least because the earlier book continues to sell steadily, and we thought readers deserved to know what happened next! In EMPORIUM, the failing club is taken over by a strippers’ co-operative bankrolled by demented Chinese communist carpenter Chan, and stage manager Jeff, who took time out to try and become a photographer, finds himself back at the club. Here, in one of the more romantic chapters of the book, he takes beautiful star stripper Dolly out for a night on the town…


Calming Chan down, getting him to re-hire everyone, and convincing The Major that the whole Free World wasn’t under immediate threat, at least not by one small Chinese carpenter, had taken him most of the day. He’d had to close the club as well, as all the seating was soaked.  He just hoped it would be dry enough by opening time tomorrow.  On top of all that, he was getting a sneaking suspicion that Chan was up to something – planning more decisive revolutionary action than simply haranguing the girls in the dressing room. Man of the people though he was, he hoped that Chan wasn’t going to destabilize the club’s fragile economy just as it was starting to edge into the black.

So all told he was tired, and slightly pissed, and had he not had a tryst with Dolly, he might well have shot off home, rolled a large one and got an early night. As the club had been closed he hadn’t seen Dolly all day, and he wondered whether she’d show up. She was probably just having him on, he reflected, and tomorrow there’d be some excuse, and he’d have to pretend he knew she wasn’t being serious. But, just in case, he’d nipped round the corner to Austins in Shaftesbury Avenue and treated himself to a new Arrow shirt, pale blue, with button-down collar.

Jeff looked at his watch: ten twenty. He’d give her ten more minutes. He pulled out his tobacco, expertly made a thin roll-up. He took a puff, wondered what to do if she did turn up. Should they stay in The Fox? Typical Soho pub, walls and ceiling darkened by decades of nicotine, a clientele of hardened drinkers, prozzies and clapped-out Bohemians. Not exactly a romantic environment. Maybe he should take her to Ronnie Scott’s. James Moody was on, and he wanted to see him anyway. So even if it was a bust with Dolly, he’d get to hear a good night’s jazz. Then he remembered that a lot of girls hated jazz, and that one date he’d taken to the Bull’s Head at Barnes had dumped him as they left the club.

Ten twenty-five. She obviously wasn’t coming anyway. He shouldn’t have let himself think that she might. I mean, it was ridiculous. She could have any man she wanted. He didn’t even know what she was doing stripping. She was more like a model, better-looking than most of the ones you saw in the papers and magazines. Brighter too, he was starting to realize.

Half past ten. OK, that’s it. Jeff got up, nodded goodnight to the barman and made for the door. As he opened it he was almost bowled over by a blonde tornado:

“Sorry, sorry… oh, Jeff it’s you, you weren’t going, were you?” Jeff grinned weakly. As usual, she looked stunning. “Nah, just going to get a bit of fresh air.”

“Oh good, I ran all the way here. They’re over-running at the Crescent Moon. The stage manager there’s bloody useless.” Dolly took Jeff’s arm and beamed up at him. “Not like you. Pity you’re not doing it so much now.”

Jeff didn’t know what to say. No one had ever complimented him on his stage-managing talents before. “OK… well… how about a drink?” he said lamely. Dolly glanced round the pub, took in the complement of drunks and losers.

“Maybe. Not here though.”

“Well, we could go to the Nellie Dean, or the…”

“Dancing! That’s what we should do. We should go dancing!”

Two hours later Jeff was grooving to Desmond Dekker in Count Suckle’s Q Club. He wasn’t sure how they’d got in, although he knew that when you looked like Dolly you had carte blanche to get into almost any club in London.  And he was with her, so that’s how he must have got in.

Jeff was a decent if unshowy dancer, having in another life been one of Ruislip’s  ‘mod’ contingent, but he hadn’t unveiled his moves for a long time. Since the last party he’d attended with Marigold in fact. In the mid-sixties he used to frequent clubs like The Flamingo and Klook’s Kleek when the great horn bands – Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames and Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band – were in the ascendant. But the last time he went to see Zoot Money he was shocked to find that the Big Roll Band had overnight transmogrified into Dantalion’s Chariot, and instead of letting the good times roll, they’d become madmen running through the psychedelic fields. That was when he realised it was all over for his beloved soul and R’n’B, and that going to gigs would now usually involve sitting on the floor and nodding your head to endless guitar solos.

But not here at the Q Club. Desmond was giving it all he’d got:


You think I never see you when you jump over de wall

You think I never see you when you accidentally fall

Me said a it mek, mek you pop you bitter gall

I check you out and you’re cold, girl

I dig you out and you’re cold girl

Rock it to me children

Jeff had no idea what the lyrics meant, but he did know that the music was great, and that he felt better than he had in months. Maybe years. And it wasn’t just because he’d had four rum and cokes and, in the gents, smoked some industrial-strength ganja, courtesy of a generous member of Desmond’s band. It was because he was actually enjoying himself – and wow, was Dolly a great dancer! He was surprised, because she didn’t show much of a sense of rhythm in her numbers at the club, but maybe it was because they were so strictly choreographed. And of course she wasn’t so much dancing, as presenting her body for the delectation of a bunch of strangers.

Now she was dancing with him, swerving back and forth to him, grinning with delight, but somehow also forming part of a group of black girls who were doing their own thing, vying with each other’s moves, bending at the knee and getting so close to the ground that he thought that they too might ‘accidentally fall.’ But they didn’t .

The music – relaxed and tense simultaneously – carried him away, and Desmond went into his final verse:


I told you once and I told you twice

Wha’ sweet nanny goat a go run him belly good

Me said a it mek, mek your pop you bitter gall

A it mek, while you accidentally fall

A it mek, hear she cryin’ fe ice water

Right at the end of the song, as the crowd erupted into applause, and Desmond and his sweat-soaked band walked off-stage, Dolly swung into Jeff, pulled his head down and kissed him, deep and long. He responded, holding her close to him, and at that moment realised that this was something, not nothing. She had always been planning to turn up to meet him. The date wasn’t just a whimsy on her part, to be cancelled on an equal whim.

The DJ took over from the band, Many Rivers To Cross following seamlessly on from Desmond’s final notes. Many of the dancers left the floor, the remaining ones coupling up for the dreamy, slow Jimmy Cliff song. Dolly put her arms around Jeff, leant her head on his shoulder and moved slinkily in time to the music. Although she hadn’t been smoking ganja, she’d matched him with the rum and cokes, so was also a little bit tipsy. After a minute she lifted her head and whispered in his ear: “Let’s go somewhere else.”

Jeff was ready to listen to any suggestion from this beautiful girl who seemed, against all the odds, to have taken to him.

“OK, where do you want to go? The Candy Bar? We could get a drink at Gerry’s…”

“Your place,” she said, tickling his ear with the tip of her tongue.

In the cab on the way to Jeff’s flat – suddenly he was the sort of guy who’d call a cab at the drop of a hat – Jeff and Dolly were locked blissfully together. The cabbie checked them out in his rear mirror, but didn’t say anything. Jeff thought he’d detected a ‘look’ when he’d flagged him down outside the Q Club – maybe a ‘white people in black club’ questioning look – but he didn’t care. As long as the cabbie got him back to his place as fast as possible, he didn’t mind if he was Enoch bloody Powell. The cab pulled in outside Jeff’s block, and Jeff paid him, skimping on the tip. Jeff turned away, but the cabbie said:

“Any good then guv?” Expecting some sort of iffy comment, Jeff turned back. “What do you mean?”

“Desmond. Any good? I’m a Toots and the Maytals man meself, but I love that 007 Desmond did. You know, dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail, a shanty town…”

Jeff grinned. “Yeah, he did that… he was great, actually.”

“Nice one. I wouldn’t have minded going meself, but I had a late shift. Anyway, see you guv…”  The cabbie made to head off, but Jeff stopped him, pressed a pound note into his hand. It was a massive tip, and the cabbie’s eyes lit up. “Cheers squire – have a good night!”

Once in the flat, Jeff and Dolly came together like tigers, clawing, scrabbling at each, ripping clothes off too fast, so that they became entangled, harder to remove. But soon they were naked, fell onto the unmade bed, pressed against each other from face to toe. For Jeff it had been a while, and Dolly was so goddamn desirable. He kissed her ravenously, she responded, biting at his neck with sharp little teeth. He ran his hands over her body – such smooth skin! Now totally entwined, Jeff lifted himself up to enter her – and the phone rang.

“Leave it, leave it!” said Dolly urgently, pulling Jeff’s face back down to hers. He left it. But the ringing went on and on. Jeff tried to blank it out, but couldn’t help remembering that last time he’d spoken to his mother she’d said that dad had taken a turn for the worse. Unless it was New Year’s Eve, phone calls in the middle of the night were never good. In his mind guilt wrestled with desire, and guilt won. He picked up the phone.

It was Marigold.

And she was crying.


Written by Chris Trengove

September 24, 2014 at 11:29 am


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Here’s the first part of chapter one of THE FEAR, second book in the FRANKENSTEIN VIGILANTE series. Of it, an American reviewer wrote: “Cerval Frankenstein and his Incorruptibles are back with a vengeance in FRANKENSTEIN VIGILANTE: THE FEAR. The Incorruptibles series of books… takes an interesting and exciting turn in this latest story, which kicks the entire franchise up a lofty notch.”

IT WAS DIFFICULT TO PINPOINT THE MOMENT when the smouldering fire of revolution in The Smoke finally sputtered and died. When the Incorruptibles retreated to the Frankenstein estate to nurse their wounds? When Dalton Trager Rhineheart sold out to Colette Garcia Cognito? In any event, it seemed only moments before the Commission regained its stranglehold on the city-state, and its allies in the coal, iron and steam cartels took heart. Colette would lead the way and life would be good.

At one minute past midnight, Battersby Power Station exploded.

The hulking, stone-built structure, more castle than industrial building, was blown to fragments, everyone in it vaporized. The explosion also blasted a massive crater in the accumulator caverns beneath the station, creating a basin as wide and long as Battersby Park itself. In the five minutes following midnight, every sub-accumulator in The Smoke blew up, in a catastrophic chain reaction that spread darkness, death and panic throughout The Smoke.
No one would ever be able to assess the real effect of the disaster, partly because many who died were reduced to dust, partly because The Smoke wasn’t the kind of place that could accurately account for its population. But the death roll was in the tens of thousands. Houses, offices, warehouses and factories were reduced to brick-sized pieces of rubble. Bridges collapsed, roads were cratered, vehicles tossed into the air like handfuls of nuts and bolts.
And then the disturbances began, what eventually became known as the Electricidad Riots. Since the downfall of the Silencios and the coming of electricidad, the citizens of The Smoke had lived in an uneasy limbo, hoping for things to get better, shrugging resignedly when they didn’t. It was as if the explosions had blown the lid off their frustration. Looting started within minutes of the blast. Individually and in marauding bands, Smokies stole whatever they could find, whatever had any value; and if anyone tried to stop them, that was an invitation to a brutal beating, a violent death.
Murder was a by-product of the looting. But it wasn’t long before it became an end in itself, street predators raping, assaulting, killing with a violence that might have shocked a Manu cannibal.
A couple of hours before the explosions, roiling black clouds had signalled a coming thunderstorm, and Battersby Power Station technicians had begun their routine preparations to capture the coming lightning to convert it into usable power. The father of electricidad, Doctor Pedro Robledo Efrain, and his young assistant Siddeley Yip-Harbottle, were in his lab working on a project for the Incorruptibles, trialling the latest version of Evangeline Evionne’s prosthetic legs. As the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed above his house in suburban Ussher, Efrain glanced up nervously, although Siddeley seemed barely aware of the threatening weather.
In the early days of electricidad, Efrain had supervised the power station during the critical lightning-collection moments. Then, he had been acutely aware that the success of the Electricidad Consortium that he had founded was dependent on the safe capture and conversion of lightning and, though he was a modest man, he had felt that his genius was vital to the process. By the time of the disaster, however, he was learning to trust his well-trained staff. Besides, tonight’s storm came in so fast, the rain pounding down so furiously, that he knew he could not get to the power station in time to oversee the operation.
He focussed on the work in hand.
“Don’t worry Doc,” said his young assistant, “they’ve done this loads of times. Nothing’s going to go wrong.” Smiling wryly at her self-possession, Efrain consoled himself with the thought that she was right. His staff had collected and stored the power of lightning many times before – why should tonight be any different?
But that night was different. Very different.
As the rain pelted down and the thunder rolled, the power station’s people worked the gigantic knife switches, turned the massive potentiometer dials and monitored the huge brass meters even as, with a powerful, humming energy, the control motors thrust Battersby’s cast-iron antennae up into the night sky, probing, searching for that lightning strike, to suck electricidad out of the heavens, transform it into controllable, functional energy.
Moments before midnight, the first lightning bolt struck the antennae, appeared to consume them as it travelled down through the above ground transformers – and at one minute past midnight, the imprisoned lightning began to detonate with unimaginable force.

The next day, as dawn rose bright and clear – clear as it could be in this filthy coal-smoky world – with no trace of the previous night’s extreme weather, the full extent of the damage to the city became clear. Most of the affluent suburbs, built on higher ground, had survived more or less unscathed – including, ironically, Doctor Efrain’s home base in Ussher. The serious damage was mostly in the areas where the sub-accums were situated: the poorer quarters and industrial zones like Burrowham.
More shocking than the physical damage, however, was the almost instant disintegration of The Smoke’s already rotting social fabric.
Police Chief Bar One mobilized his force but their free passage was hampered by huge piles of rubble, tangled metal wrecks which had once been steamers, jitneys and hackneys, as well as bodies, both human and animal.
Hampered, too, by the pitiless barbarity of looters, rioters and opportunistic thieves. Who were they, these people who seemed to appear from nowhere, pillaging shops and dwellings, barricading streets and setting fire to steamers? No one quite knew; although it was a fact that many in The Smoke had been un- or under-employed for decades, bitterly resentful of the concentration of wealth in the Commission’s and the affluenzos’ hands. The brief period following the death of Silencio supremo Franklin Rooseveldt Pfarrer at the hands of the Incorruptibles, when it seemed there might be some hope for the future, had not been long enough for these hatreds to fade. Now the explosions and the chaos which followed provided an opportunity for sweet revenge.

Keira Specklestone Pfarrer, only daughter of the dead Silencio chief, had been woken by the detonations, which were close enough to shatter a couple of the bullet-proof windows of the mansion she had once shared with her father. Designed to look old, but actually built only a few years ago, Cranbury Court offered dozens of bedrooms, as well as dining and living rooms of cavernous proportions. Franklyn Rooseveldt had a preference for the baronial style, and those rooms were decorated with invented coats of arms and the heads of big game animals bought in bulk. Now Keira Specklestone lived in the huge house alone, apart from numerous maids, butlers, cooks, handymen, drivers and the handful of freelance Silencios who, like ronin, had attached themselves to her household as bodyguards. She had assumed that her staff would attend to whatever had caused the sudden noises, and went back to sleep.
The next morning, arising at the crack of eleven, Keira decided that she wanted to visit Rrods & Phortnum, despite distant sounds of riot and mayhem. But if Keira Specklestone was unaware of the smell of burning and death, the rumours of murder and rape, the maid who brought her morning tea wasn’t. She had family in town, and one of them had only narrowly escaped a marauding mob.
“Miss,” she began fearfully, “maybe you shouldn’t…” but it was if Keira were deaf. “Tell… tell… ” Keira couldn’t remember any of her drivers’ names. “Tell them to get my steamer ready. The one with the zebra-skin seats. And run my shower.” The maid saw that Keira wasn’t going to listen to sense, went to the bathroom and ran the shower, then fled to the servants’ quarters and passed on the message. None of the chauffeurs wanted to drive the steamer out into the unknown dangers of The Smoke, but the Silencio newcomers were not so fearful. Violent by nature and training, they were also courageous in their own way, not ones to shrink from conflict. Besides, this might be an opportunity to further ingratiate themselves with Keira and rise up the ladder of her household.
Because Cranbury Court was situated on high ground on the outskirts of The Smoke, the fearful damage of the previous night was not obvious for the first few miles; though groups of UnderGrunts were assembled here and there, restless, like carnivores scenting blood but unsure which way the wind was blowing. The Silencios – a driver and three bodyguards – recognized the threat these groups represented, yet weren’t afraid. They were professionals; the street people were amateurs. They stoked the custom steamer’s boilers, deftly operated the speed levers and gripped their Ximans more tightly.
Keira was oblivious as she gazed through the armoured windows at the passing scene, which gradually became less leafy as they passed out of Cranbury into the city centre. The people didn’t register, not simply because they were UnderGrunts but because she didn’t recognize anyone as human unless they were either friends or celebrities. There was little animosity in her attitude, simply indifference. As to the damage to roads and buildings, the steamer bouncing uncomfortably through potholes and swerving violently around wreckage, she just wondered why, at the level of taxes Daddy paid, the Commission didn’t at least repair the roads.
Daddy. For a moment tears filled her eyes but truth to tell he was already fading fast into the past. Keira lived only in the present, her sole purpose the indulgence of every current whim, at least until it quickly passed.
The Silencios grew grimmer – silent – as the steamer closed on The Smoke’s centre. The worst of the rioting and looting had been concentrated here, where the pickings were the richest. The destruction was far more obvious than at the start of the shopping expedition. Even Rrods itself was severely damaged, its elegant window mannequins lying sprawled and headless, walls cracked and blackened from fire, iron and glass doors hanging. The Smoke’s most exclusive store had a beleaguered air to it, emphasized by a volatile mob of wannabe looters, gathering in dangerous numbers, but held at bay for the moment by Ximan-toting guards wearing Rrods’s plum-coloured livery.
The Silencios read the UnderGrunts’ hungry gazes and knew that sheer numbers – and the prizes within the store – would soon overcome the mob’s fear of the guards.
The driver made a decision. “Miss,” he said, turning to Keira and speaking through the vehicle’s internal AvCom. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.”
“What isn’t a good idea?” asked Keira blandly.
“A shopping expedition? At this time? I mean, with the explosions and riots and all that.”
“Explosions? Riots? What are you talking about?” she asked. She was intent on the purchasing orgy to come and had already forgotten the blasts of the night before. The Silencio driver turned to the bodyguards and rolled his eyes. Could any human be this unaware? Nevertheless, he persisted: “I don’t like the look of some of the folk out there.” He was astonished to be interrupted by a high-pitched giggle. “Heeheeeheeee! No one likes the look of them. They’re UnderGrunts! Now, come on, slowpoke, park this baby and let’s buy!”

Written by Chris Trengove

September 11, 2014 at 9:53 am


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This is the first chapter of our latest horror novella NIGHT OF THE DOGS, available now on Amazon. Here’s what one reviewer said: “I loved this book… once I started I couldn’t put it down… It’s quite violent but has a lot of heart and an original story. I’m a keen Stephen King fan and it had some of the qualities of his best books… A really good read.

THE WHEELCHAIR ROLLED across the drab institutional carpet, its bearings squeaking. Its occupant, ninety-four-year-old Vera Barrett, gazed vacantly ahead, her eyes rheumy, lips wet with drool. Her carer, a young Polish woman called Eva Bozcek, held her hand as the chair rolled on, pushed, resentfully, by a care assistant called Billy Thompson. He was resentful because he was twenty years old and spending his young life looking after old people for minimum wage. He expressed his resentment by means of a series of elaborate tattoos, which covered both of his forearms. As the trio rolled slowly down the corridor, Mrs Barrett suddenly came to life.
“Where are we going? Where am I?” Eva squeezed her hand. “Home, dear. You’re in Sunnydale Care Home. You’re safe with us, dear.”
The chair trundled on past patients’ rooms, most with their doors open in accordance with the rules. Behind the few closed doors could be heard muffled groans and sobs. The open doors revealed very old people, almost all gazing vacantly at daytime television. In one room an eighty-year-old man, Sam Christie, stood by his window. He started guiltily as the chair passed, trying to cover something up. Once it had gone, he resumed what he was doing: using a Swiss army knife – top of the range, thirty-three tools – to lever off the cable which prevented his window from opening more than a couple of inches.
Done, he opened the window wide and reached through it, his hand filled with peanuts. A squirrel hopped up onto the flat rooftop just below the window, and fed greedily from Sam’s hand. A huge smile spread over Sam’s creased features.
“All right matey, there you go…”
Without scaring the feeding squirrel, Sam picked a few nuts from his hand and tossed them out onto the roof to some waiting birds. They pecked enthusiastically and Sam’s smile grew wider. He loved the little creatures. They were his only visitors. Suddenly the squirrel and birds fled, spooked by something.
They had sensed danger a split second ahead of time, as the air was rent with the barks and snarls of savage dogs, the violent sounds of doors being smashed open.

Three balaclava-clad figures burst into the residents’ lounge, scary, unidentifiable, and all the more terrifying for their attack dogs, a Pitbull cross, a Rottweiler and a Staff.
The dogs pulled at their choke-chains, slavering, as the raiders carried out a brutal blitzkrieg. They grabbed handbags, jewellery and watches from the quavering old folk, then ripped through the other rooms, screaming at the petrified inmates:
“Where’s yer fuckin’ money?” “Show us yer fuckin’ money or I’ll rip yer legs off, you filthy old bastard!”
They pulled drawers from dressers and threw their contents on the floor. They opened wardrobes and scattered clothes, taking anything of value and stuffing them into pillow cases. They ripped necklaces from necks, bracelets and watches from wrists, rings from swollen, arthritic fingers.
One of the raiders smashed into the kitchen as the cooks cowered; looked round, saw nothing of value, finally grabbed a piece of raw meat from the table and shoved it in his pocket.
Another smashed into the pharmacy, saw shelves of prescription drugs, swept an armful into a pillow-case.
They screamed, they shouted, their dogs snarled and growled, biting and snapping at aged flesh.

In one of the further corridors, Eva, Billy and Mrs Barrett had come to an uncertain halt, as they heard the commotion in the distance. Eva tried to calm the old woman, who was distressed and panicky: “What’s going on? What’s all that noise?”
A moment later the fire doors crashed open, the raider with the Pitbull cross burst through: “Right, give us yer fuckin’ money!”
Billy took one look – “bollocks to this!” – and fled. But Eva stood her ground, putting herself between the robber and the wheelchair. “No! You cannot do this!”
The raider shoved her brutally to one side, sending her stumbling to the floor.
“Out the way, you slag!” He grabbed the wheelchair, spun it around. “Right, what’ve we got here?” He saw a thin gold chain around Mrs Barrett’s neck and seized it. “I’ll have that for a kick-off!” The old woman tried feebly to defend herself.
“No! Leave me alone!”
Eva struggled up from the floor.
“You cannot do this! She is just old woman!”
The raider backhanded her, hard, and she fell back, the dog snapping and snarling at her. Eva yelled, raised her arm, desperately trying to fend the dog off.
The raider ripped the necklace from Mrs Barrett’s neck and tried to grab her wedding ring. As he tugged on it, he pulled her clean out of the chair – and the dog turned his attention from Eva to this bundle of skin and bone, grabbing Mrs Barrett by the throat and shaking her like a chew-toy.
Eva screamed “Leave her alone!” But Mrs Barrett was gargling and squawking, her blood already spreading across the dull brown of the carpet tiles.

Meanwhile Theresa Osborne, Sunnydale’s owner, burst into her office and locked the door behind her. She was white-faced. She grabbed the phone and dialled 999.
“Come on! Come on!” she hissed as the phone rang. Finally it was answered: “Police! I need the police!”

Eva struggled to her feet, tried to stop the dog savaging Mrs Barrett.
“Stop! Stop this, bastard dog!” The raider shoved her – “shut it, bitch! – and she fell to the ground again. She tried to get up – “I will call police! – but he kicked her, the steel toe of his Doc Marten connecting with her jaw. “I said ‘shut it’, you foreign slag!”
Eva was thrown back, her head cracking against the wall, and she slumped unconscious.
Now the Rottweiler and Staff burst onto the scene, snarling and barking. They saw the Pitbull cross tearing at Mrs Barrett, the blood on the floor, and leapt to join the fray. The old woman was being torn to shreds, alive.
The other dogs’ two owners raced into view, each carrying a pillowcase of stolen goods. First to arrive shouted at the leader: “Kade! C’mon! Let’s get out of here!” His voice showed him to be both excited and scared by what they had done. A moment later and he saw the dogs savaging Mrs Barrett. His voice died as he took in the bloodbath. “Oh fuck!” He pulled at his dog, the Rottweiler. “Rocky, Rocky, leave it!”
He grabbed Kade’s arm: “C’mon, quick! Before the cops come.”
The third raider was now taking in the carnage. “Oh shit!” He seized his dog’s trailing choke chain and tried to yank him off the half-dead old woman. “Tyson! Tyson! Get off her! Let go! Fuckin’ let go, willya!” But all three dogs were clamped on to Mrs Barrett, snarling, tearing, bloodlust driving them beyond control.
Just as it seemed that the old woman would be literally torn apart, the dogs backed off. They whimpered, licked their lips, turned in circles, an astounding change in their mood. The three raiders looked to see what had so disturbed their animals and there, just inside the fire doors, was a slight, dark-complexioned man.
Projecting an uncanny stillness.
Kade was the first to react. “What the fuck are you looking at?”
The man said nothing. The third raider tugged at Kade’s arm. “C’mon, Kade, let’s go!” Kade wrenched his arm away. “Fuck off Lewis! Who is this cunt? Who’s he think he is?” Still no reaction. Kade couldn’t let it go. He thrust his dog forward.
“Gettim, Rizla! Go on, boy! Kill!” But the Pitbull cross backed away, whining.
Kade became incandescent with rage. “I said gettim! What the fuck’s the matter with you? Gettim! Killim!”
But the dog cowered, refused to attack even as Kade lashed at him, simultaneously screaming at his mates: “Teagan, what you standing there for? Lewis! Set the fuckin’ dogs on him! Get the bastard!”
Teagan and Lewis urged their dogs to attack the man: “Get him Rocky!”
“Go on, Tyson, go on! Gettim!” But like Rizla, the Rottweiler and the Staff backed off, whimpering. Teagan was stunned – “what the fuck? – but Lewis lost his nerve. “Let’s get outta here! C’mon, Kade, we got enough stuff. Let’s go!” He backed away. “Fuck’s sake Kade! The cops will be here!”
He grabbed his dog’s collar. “C’mon, Tyson! C’mon, boy!” The dog was only too happy to move away from the man, who stood stock still, unblinking.
Teagan hesitated. He was as spooked as Lewis and the dogs but didn’t want to show his fear to Kade. “Here Kade, maybe we should bang it on the head. The cops…”
Lewis and Tyson were already edging away, and Rocky took off after them. That decided Teagan. He edged away, not wanting to look as though he was bottling it. “Kade! C’mon!” But Kade was burning with rage, lost to all entreaties – and now his dog, Rizla, started to back away, following the others.
Kade was left on his own, facing the man. He was almost incoherent with rage:
“You… you… who d’you think you are? Come over here… take our fuckin’ jobs… you… gyppo… Paki… arsehole!”
The man suddenly moved forward and Kade took a rapid step back down the corridor.
“’Ere, what the fuck?” But the man ignored him entirely and picked Mrs Barrett up, cradling her unconscious, bloodied form in his arms. Halfway down the corridor Teagan and Lewis looked back, agitated, wanting to flee but scared of the consequences. “C’mon, Kade! Let’s go!” Finally Kade made to follow them but threw one last threat over his shoulder:
“I’ll be back for you, you foreign cunt!”

A moment later, in the twilight, the three raiders and their dogs emerged from the home and ran off. As dark was falling, no one was on the street. All the residents of the Tebbit Grove estate were safely behind their front doors, not to emerge until the next morning. The half-light showed nothing but badly maintained pre-war houses, old cars, scrubby patches of grass strewn with litter. The only splashes of colour were provided by St. George’s flags, flapping listlessly from rotting window frames. No one saw the raiders escaping, or if they did, they carefully drew their curtains back and hoped that the raiders hadn’t seen them.

Written by Chris Trengove

September 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm