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News & Features » September 2017 » “The King of Concupiscence” by Stephen Ross

“The King of Concupiscence” by Stephen Ross

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.

“Con-coo-pis-ence.” Sounds just like it means don’t it?

The King of Concupiscence
by Stephen Ross
K Road, Auckland, New Zealand

Hedgepig believed in himself; belief without question, utter faith. He strolled along K Road like everyone else on the footpath, everyone in the street driving by in their cars, hell, everyone in central Auckland City, could hear the music that was thundering inside his head on that autumn afternoon. He was walking the walk in his own private music video. He had the moves; he was a rock star, the smooth dude, a walking orgasm. He was the King of Concupiscence.

Hedgepig, that’s what they called him, was going to meet the man, and he was going to put a knife into him. He’d set up a meet for four in the afternoon in the Karangahape Road Arcade; a forgotten arcade of shuttered stores that had its heyday back in the 1970s. Only two stores were still in business; at the front, near the street: an “incense” shop, and a secondhand book store. They were side-by-side next to an abandoned video store with a sign in its window: Fifty cents for twelve movies all week.

Hedgepig had chosen the location, presumably, for two reasons: it was a lonely, out-of-the-way public place that didn’t require a complicated journey to get to (he bused in from Mt Roskill, $1.80 fare), and there were no security cameras. He could walk in the front entrance of the arcade, do his deed, slip out the back, and vanish into the city’s anonymity; another loose clump of hairy human debris in a sea of same such.

Hedgepig, honestly, that’s what they called him, had a perma-smell of tobacco about him and a set of orange, cheese snack-stained fingers. He had spent all morning sharpening his knife: a hunting knife he’d stolen from his brother after his brother had gone inside for stealing a trolley load of food from a supermarket, times twelve.

Hedgepig had requested a meet with Mister Hobbs. A face-to-face. Hedgepig had this notion that Mister Hobbs had been ripping him off. He hadn’t. It was the meth. First rule of the delivery business: Don’t do your stuff.

Hedgepig had never met Mister Hobbs. Mister Hobbs was at the top of the supply chain, and Hedgepig was at the bottom; a delivery man of weed, pills, meth and miscellany. He boasted he could get his mitts on Russian krocodil and Mexican snuff movies. He couldn’t. He’d sit in public bars and bore drinkers to states of concrete with tales of his underworld adventures, as though he’d been out on some kinds of great Arthurian quests. People mostly wanted to score. If he was talking, they didn’t have to. They’d listen, pay their money, get what they needed, and then quietly retreat back to their darkened rooms to return to the sweet oblivion. The HP was just the bore-fart manning the cash register. Second rule of the delivery business: Don’t talk about the business.

Hedgepig came in through the front entrance of the K Road Arcade and walked his walk of the champion down to the end, to where I was standing. I’d followed him from his home, sat four rows behind on the bus, and had shadowed him along the footpath to the arcade building. I’d then slipped around the back and had come in through the rear entrance, and waited. I’d even had time to light a cigarette and half smoke it.

He walked up to me.

There was no one else around. It was a cold, lonely, deserted concrete space, with no security cameras.

Hedgepig’s eyes were wide, sparkling. He was like some kind of dirty, high, hairy anime character.

“Why do you call yourself the King of Concupiscence?”

He smiled at the recognition.

“Ain’t it a cool word?” he said.

“Do you know what it means?”

He didn’t. “Don’t it roll off the tongue so beautifully?”

“I guess.”

“The first time I heard it, I thought, that’s the word for me. I’m gunna be the king of that word.” He salivated on its syllables.


I was in the presence of an intellectual giant. I dropped my cigarette to the ground and slapped it out with my heel.

He studied me with a sniff of suspicion. “Are you Hobbs?”

“Nope. I work for him. He sends you his best wishes.”

The last thing the king of cups’ brain registered was the snubbed nose of the gun coming out of my coat pocket.

“Is that a silencer?”

“Yeah, mate.”


STEPHEN ROSS resides in Auckland, New Zealand. He is a member of the MWA (Mystery Writers of America) and the International Thriller Writers organization. His short stories and novelettes have appeared in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and many others. He has been nominated for an Edgar, a Derringer, and a Thriller, and was a 2010 finalist for the Ellery Queen Readers’ Award. He maintains a website at www.StephenRoss.net.


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 info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Sep 29, 2017

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