I'm a Writer, Musician, Husband and Father. I've worked in the real world and pursued music relentlessly for many years, before finally deciding to complete an idea I had many years ago. The result is self published E-Book, The Marie Celeste Dinner & Dance Club.
The Marie Celeste Dinner & Dance Club
This story originated during the writing of The Marie Celeste Dinner & Dance Club. I'd reached a point in the story, where the narrative focus shifted to a secondary character, Joel, when I realised that I didn't really understand his personality well enough. So I took time out from the novel to explore the back story of Joel. I'd always had in mind a possible earlier meeting between Jude (The hero of the piece) and Joel (his wing man). I'd also alluded to a rather checkered background for both of them. The logical conclusion was to explore this, so that I could work out just what kind of person Joel was.
This is the result. I worked out to my satisfaction what kind of person Joel was and was able to continue to the end.
The story has strong language and adult themes, with violence and drugs. (No sex though)
Joel was loitering. His shoulder against the corner of a building, facing towards the street, dark alley behind him. All the better to disappear into, should the need arise. As he loitered, he casually turned his head, looking from side to side. Scanning all the marks scurrying past. Men and women, young and old. Some in sharp suits, some in casuals. People on their way back to work, cramming fast food into their mouths, encouraging indigestion and stomach cramps later on. Others, tourists, gazing about them, slack jawed and wide eyed. Seeing everything and nothing all at the same time.
Joel smiled to himself as a young woman approached, an office worker, tight skirt, blouse and jacket, stiletto heel ankle boots. His smile turned to a leer as she caught him looking. Raising a styrophone coffee cup to her lips, as she hurried by, intimidated by the tall, scruffy looking boy with the straw coloured hair, who stood at the mouth of the alleyway. He was dressed in skinny black jeans, huge biker boots, tarnished silver buckles down the side and implausibly given the heat, a battered old black leather jacket. She looked away from him, pretending she hadn't noticed his gaze, turning back briefly only to see her own reflection, rabbit like, gazing back at her from his black glasses.
Joel laughed as the woman hurried away from him, a sneer playing across his lips. A moment later, the laugh dying suddenly, Joel darted around the corner into the alley way as a patrol car cruised past. Joel watched from the shadow as it moved slowly on by, the officer in the passenger seat, lazily scanning the throng as they cruised. Confident he'd not been clocked, Joel resumed his position and continued his wait.
It was no more than five minutes when he saw what he was waiting for. A tall figure across the street, dark shaggy hair, dressed in clothes that had a marked similarity to those that Joel wore. Indeed, to even the casual observer, there was a similarity of features, that marked them as siblings. Joel, slid around the corner once more, heading deep into the shadows of the alley, stopping some thirty metres in. He glanced around him, before easing a battered metal fire door open, slipping through the opening into a garbage strewn courtyard. He seated himself on a corroded metal box and waited once more. A short moment later, the door opened and his brother entered.
“Hey Bro”, the dark haired youth greeted him, “You got the stuff?” Joel nodded, reaching into a knapsack hidden behind the box he was seated on. “Yeah, I got it Danni. Did they pay what we agreed?”
“Yeah, fifty D's, jus like.” Danni presented a wad of notes, “You've got to learn to trust your big brother Joel.” He tossed them to his brother. Joel, caught them and quickly counted the notes, his lips moving silently as he did. “Are you still getting it from the usual guy?” Danni asked.
“Shit Bro,” Joel gave his brother a dirty look, “You don't ask that shit man!” The younger brother hawked long and hard before expelling a large glob of phlegm on the floor. “I iced the dude who last asked me that. Shit, I should do it anyway, 'ven if you're my Bro!” Danni laughed for a moment, “Try it Joel, you know what'd happen.” Joel shook his head, laughing too, “Yeah I know, you dickshit, anyhow, why d'you wanna know?”
“Just this little dude I've heard about, grows his own and it's supposed to be the shit,” Danni answered, glancing for a moment at the door, “There's another dude I know who can get you an introduction,” he paused, listening intently. “Did you hear that Joel?” Joel nodded, tossing a bag to his brother with one hand whilst pulling a bright shining, long bladed knife from within his jacket. Danni caught the drugs and slipped them into a pocket in one smooth movement before moving to the doorway, positioning himself so that he would be behind it if it opened. In his left hand was a knife. It's blade was a dull metal, with dark stains along the length of it's gently curving, cruelly notched blade. It was a knife designed to cause damage to a person. Created to slide easily into flesh, with a minimum of resistance. The problems started when it was pulled out, the notches and barbs tearing and pulling anything they connected with. Joel still shuddered when he saw it. He'd only seen it used once, although he knew that if Danni had paid for the knife, he'd have got more than his moneys worth.
The door slowly opened, Joel standing stock still, as a hand became an arm and the arm was followed by Johnson, a member of Danni's gang. “Bro, hold it,” he called as Danni stepped forward with the wicked knife raised to attack. The newcomer, dodged to the side, as Danni, swung the knife down, handle first, flashing a grin to his brother. “Shit D, you could have hurt me then,” Johnson protested, his right hand starting to move to his own weapon. “Don't be a dick, Dick,” Danni sneered at the gang member, “It was a joke, I wouldn't have really hurt you. Much”. Johnson, forced a laugh out, glancing nervously from Danni to Joel and back again. “Do you have it D?”
“Course I got it, do you think I can't get a bit of weed?” He pulled the bag from his pocket and threw it to the youth, who misjudged the catch, juggling it from hand to hand before it fell to the floor. Joel laughed, earning a black look from Johnson, “Ooooh, are we upset Dick?” Joel taunted Johnson as he scrabbled on the floor for the bag.
“Fucking shut it, runt!” Johnson shouted, “I'll fuckin do you!” Danni stepped forward, standing over him, knife raised. “Just try it Dick,” his voice was soft but threatening, “just try.” Johnson, stopped dead, aware that if he'd not crossed the line he was standing on it and about to fall if he wasn't careful. “I, I'm sorry dude. Sorry, I, I didn't mean it, I was just having a laugh, yeah?” The words scrambling out, over the top of each other in his desperation to get out of trouble. Danni reached down, grasping the youths collar and hauled him to his feet with little apparent strain. Johnson swallowed, his face going pale. He felt himself being pulled towards Danni, sweat breaking out on his forehead, until Danni stopped pulling him, his face inches away from Johnson's, the knife pressing into his abdomen. “Say thank you to Joel for letting you buy his excellent merchandise.”
“Thank you Joel,” Johnson did as he was instructed.
“That's a good boy,” Danni said softly, “and we know what happens to good boys don't we Dick?” Johnson, jerked his head from side to side in fear, his eyes locked with Danni's. “They get to go home and have a joint,” Danni smiled, “and get a big kiss!” Johnson was jerked forward, his lips meeting Danni's, feeling them press against his own, stubble against his face, before being shoved backwards and falling to the floor again.
He sat on the floor, stunned, looking up at his leader who was wiping his mouth across his jacket sleeve,before spitting. “Fucks sake Dick, you're a shit kisser and your breath stinks”. Danni spat again, “Go on, fuck off out of here and tell the guys to meet me at the goods yard at eleven tonight.” Johnson scrambled to his feet again, wiping dirt from his hands onto his jeans, he glanced at Joel who was laughing so hard there were tears streaming down his face. Without a word he was through the door and making his way back up the alley. He remembered being warned by other gang members not to get on the wrong side of Danni. Big G had warned him. Big G, of all people, had warned him about Danni. Big G, who it was rumoured, tortured animals for pleasure and was supposed to be the father of his own sister, had said Danni was dangerous. Johnson would never forget Big G's words. “Careful Johnson, Danni really is a fucking psychopath!”
Back in the small courtyard, Joel was struggling to control himself once more. “You really are a complete bastard,” he gasped, “I can't stand Dick, but that was too cruel even for him.”
Danni shrugged, “He threatened you Joel, nobody but nobody fucks with my brother.” Danni laughed for a moment, “besides, he really is a complete fuck stain.” Joel laughed again, “what about Lise? Won't she get jealous?”
“Don't be a fuckwit Joel,” Danni laughed at him. “If you want to meet this dude with the gear, he'll be out back of the Cat at ten tonight.” Danni turned to leave, secreting his knife, “names Jude or something.”
The last of the summer light had faded and the temperature was dropping. Joel was loitering again. An occupation at which he felt he was particularly gifted. The time was nine forty five and he was out in the street opposite the Cat Club. He'd been hanging about for some twenty minutes and was getting bored of the wait. He'd come early, thinking he could get a drink and watch the girls while he was waiting. The doormen had looked at Joel, then at his ID and then back again at Joel. One had laughed at him. The other had turned and shouted something into the club. From the depths of the club two more doormen, both massively built, with shaven heads, appeared. They looked down at Joel, his six foot two inches barely registering compared to the security. The one who had called out, spoke to them briefly and showed the ID. The two recent arrivals laughed as well. The ID card had been pushed back into his hand, “Get lost kid.” Joel had taken the hint and left.
So he had stood in the dark, pacing backwards and forwards to stave of boredom and cold. As he waited, out of the noises generated by the passing traffic, a rattling metallic growl intruded on his attention, gradually increasing in volume, until a boy on a motocross bike appeared, weaving in and out of cars, revving the engine at an ear splitting volume, before turning off the main road and down the track that ran behind the Cat. Jude stood still in the shadows, bemused. Could the boy be this dude he was supposed to meet? Joel shrugged his shoulders, ten minutes and he'd find out. Joel was happy to be near by before time, he could scope the area and see who else turned up. But he was never early.
Five more minutes passed and a figure appeared out of the shadows, walking towards him. Joel took the person in with a glance, nervous body language, looking around him, trying to make sure he wasn't seen. Joel, looked around too, taking in all the people milling about. Tourists, playing at being dangerous in a seedy part of town, regular punters for the Cat, a dude in a flasher mac lighting a cigarette where he could see the track. A black sedan with two men sat inside in the dark. The passenger smoking. One of the doormen looking too clean and not big enough. The nervous guy bumped into Joel, stumbling against him. “Fuckwit!” Joel said as they locked eyes.
“So-Sorry man” the nervous guy stuttered, pushing past him, crossing the street and disappearing down the track.
Joel turned to look at the flasher who, cigarette in hand, was watching the nervous guy as he disappeared into the darkness. The clean doorman said something into his mouth piece and Joel saw the flasher nod, imperceptibly. “Shit!” Joel muttered under his breath, “a fuckin' set up”. Head down, hands thrust into his pockets, Joel strode out across the street towards the track. “Keep walking, don't look, play it cool.” Joel muttered the whole time, “it's just a cut through, you take it every day, you're meant to be there.” Fuck, he was thinking, I can't let that dude get fucked over, it's got to be a... His thoughts were interrupted when he walked into what felt like a brick wall. “Where you going?” a deep voice that carried fists of stone, disturbed him. “Oh, nowhere man, I just cuttin through,” Joel answered, trying to stay chilled. “No. You are not cutting through. Go away. Now!” Joel heard the unspoken threat and did as he was told.
A minute later, Joel was hiding in the shadows again. He could see the flasher and the fake doorman moving towards the alley. The passenger was out of the car now pulling on the cigarette whilst the driver was talking to someone on the handset. From the other direction a patrol car cruised to a halt at the mouth of the alley. The brick wall leant down and said something to the driver through the windows. Joel swore under his breath again. “Fuck”. A tourist walking past, looked around startled but couldn't see him. After a moment the nervous guy appeared again and was stopped by the flasher. As he watched, Joel saw the flasher take something from the nervous guy and look at it closely. He raised his left hand to his mouth and appeared to say something into his watch. He reached into a pocket and handed over a large envelope to Nervous Guy. The patrol car turned it's blue lights on and the black sedan, roared across the street, blue lights flashing from behind the grill. Four policemen ran down the alleyway out of sight. There was the sound of a motorcycle kicking into life and revving loudly for a moment, before the roar was cut abruptly.
Joel cursed. Nothing he could do about it now. As he turned to walk away, he spotted Nervous Guy slouching off into the darkness. Joel smiled to himself. He couldn't warn the little dude now but he could make amends. Besides, the nervous guy saw his face and he was stopped by the police trying to get down the alley. Joel had got a record, he couldn't be collared. So he followed nervous guy, at a discreet distance, watching and waiting for an opportunity to present itself. After about fifteen minutes of walking, the nervous guy turned down a dark cut through. Joel ran then, reaching the corner to see the nervous guy hunched over, examining the contents of the envelope. So intent on his pay off was he, that Joel was almost by his side before he noticed.
“I'll just take that, thanks” Joel said, reaching out with his left hand to take the envelope. The nervous guy stood mouth open, stunned, his eyes went from the envelope in Joel's hand, to the long bladed knife in his right. Widening in fear, he looked into Joel's face. “Just take it man, don't hurt me, I won't fight man, just take it!”
“Oh I will dude and you're right, you won't fight.” Joel smiled at the snitch. “Now, there's just one thing I need you to do for me,” Joel continued, his mind calmly playing through all the possible actions that he'd seen Danni do before. “Anything man, anything,” Nervous Guy pleaded. “Now, I know you grass for money and you've already seen me before tonight. I can't have you possibly identifying me to the police, you understand?”
“I won't, you can trust me man, not a word,” Nervous Guy's face was white, his eyes wide as the terror filled him. “But that's the problem isn't it,” Joel responded, “I don't think I can trust you, you keep some very bad company. I've got an idea though, shall I tell you what it is?” Nervous guy had backed up against the wall during this exchange and knowing he was trapped, he nodded. “So you can't identify me, what say I cut your eyes out with this knife?” Joel suggested, his voice soft and menacing as he raised the knife to the nervous guys face. “No, no, don't blind me man, don't, anything man, please”. He was crying now, his face screwing up with distress. “Anything? OK, whatever you want,” Joel said, thrusting his knife into the guys stomach. He felt the slight resistance and Nervous Guy gasped, his eyes widening in pain. Joel twisted the knife and yanked upwards feeling the knife tear through flesh. The horror filled eyes glazed as he watched, life fading from the guy as his blood washed over the knife and Joel's hand. Joel stepped backwards and let the corpse fall to the floor.
Joel knelt and wiped his hands and knife on the body. He looked in the envelope and raised his eyebrows in surprise. A good nights work. He stood for a moment and then carried on walking down the alleyway, disappearing into the shadows.
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