Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » November 2016 » “The Guns of Brixham” by Tom Leins

“The Guns of Brixham” by Tom Leins

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, Tom Leins gets a dangerous job in Devon.

2013-05-03-TomLeinsThe Guns of Brixham
by Tom Leins
Harbourside, Brixham, Devon, UK

The skinhead wipes the rain out of his eyes and cackles.

“I’m glad I’m not the poor bastard that has to try and identify your body.”

His pump-action shotgun is wedged against my throat. He is going to make one hell of a mess…

***

Two hours earlier.

The Rising Sun isn’t the worst pub in Brixham, but it is the worst one I can think of right now. I take a corner table, so I can keep my eyes on the front door. A succession of drunk, out-of-work fishermen drift into the bar, and every time the door opens, the dead fish-stink of the harbour wafts into the room.

A man with a coarse black beard and an inch-long scar under his left eye enters with a switchblade swagger. His sparse hair is slicked back with its natural grease.

He nods a terse greeting, and places a holdall under the table.

I nudge it open with my boot.

“I don’t do guns, Hakan.”

He grunts.

“Resourceful little fucker, aren’t you? I’ve seen the kind of shit you’ve done with hammers, screwdrivers, knives… Believe me, son, you will want to be tooled up today.”

He gestures over his shoulder to a podgy man with badly gelled hair and a grubby Lonsdale sweatshirt.

“This is Errol. He’s a nice boy, just don’t use long words—his English is worse than mine.”

I retrieve the holdall, and Hakan offers me a sick grin.

Errol guzzles the rest of his Stella and stumbles outside into the murky-looking rain. He unlocks a mud-streaked Land Rover and we climb in.

“Why me?”

“You work cheap, and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. Plus, the rest of Hakan’s crew have electronic tags. They can’t leave their fucking houses after five o’clock!”

He laughs gutturally, and noses the big car into the afternoon traffic.

***

We drive to a suburban lock-up near the Northfields industrial estate. Errol passes me a shotgun from the holdall and lifts the rusted door with a creak. He flicks the flashlight across the garage. A man with a shaved head and a hollowed-out complexion cowers in the corner. He has a swastika tattooed between his eyes, and he is wearing a ball-gag. I keep the gun trained on him, while Errol frisks him, in case he tries to come at one of us with a rusty nail or a shard of glass.

I glance around the lock-up. There is another man: older, savage-looking, and very much deceased. Thick blood has pooled under his cracked skull, soaking into his camouflage-print jacket. His dead eyes are wide open, and I notice a livid-looking Combat 18 tattoo across his cheekbone.

“Your handiwork?”

Errol shakes his head. “No, but I was here when it happened.”

“Is it going to be a deal-breaker?”

“We will soon see.”

***

For the last two years, Hakan has been smuggling Turkish smack into the UK using a thirty-nine foot lobster boat. The local White Power faction got wise to the arrangement and ambushed his most recent shipment. Hakan and his boys took two of their men as payback. Scooped them up like dog shit off the pavement.

The handover is due to take place in the woods behind Fishcombe Cove.

We leave the Land Rover next to the abandoned holiday camp and edge down the path. By now, the rain is so heavy I can barely see the treeline. Trudging through the winter mud, my bones ache, and the shotgun feels heavy in my hands.

The shivering Nazi is in front of us, doubling as a human shield, ball-gag still wedged in his mouth.

As we round the corner, bullets start to bite into the tree bark next to us. I raise my gun, but all I can see are muzzle flashes in the wet gloom.

“Motherfuckers…”

Errol snaps the hostage’s neck in one jerky motion and we start to run, skidding on wet leaves and crashing through the underbrush. I trip on a root and crunch face first into a gnarled tree.

***

A skeletal-looking skinhead in a threadbare leather jacket drifts out from behind the treeline, pump-action shotgun in hand. He presses it into my neck and sneers.

Suddenly Errol is next to him. Shotgun barrel against his ear. Errol squeezes the trigger and his head explodes like a rotten piece of fruit.

Flashlights cut through the black rain. The Nazis are howling like animals.

Errol starts laughing. Again.

Then the bloodbath really starts…

 

***

TOM LEINS is a disgraced ex–film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Shotgun Honey, Spelk Fiction, and Near to the Knuckle. He is currently working on his first novel: Thirsty & Miserable. Get your pound of flesh at http://thingstodoindevonwhenyouredead.wordpress.com/

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Nov 28, 2016

Category: Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , , ,



Featured: Young Adult/Middle Grade