Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Death Of Donny

Police Superintendent Melissa Kovaks grasped blindly in the darkness for her ringing cell phone.
"Yeah, this better be bloody good."
Melissa listened for a few more seconds before blurting out "Alison Agostino? As in, the daughter of Donny 'the Dean' Agostino? Okay, I am on my way." She had been rather unsuccessfully on the trail of a serial rapist for the past seven months, and now it seemed he had made the biggest mistake of his life. She and Donny had crossed paths numerous times before while she had worked in Vice and, while she didn’t like the man for what he did, she respected and understood him enough to know trouble was sure to follow.

**********

Donny the Dean had spent the last eighteen years in jail for murder and aggravated assault of a man who had brought disrespect against the 'legitimate' business that Donny ran. In fact, Donny had been known to be a very violent man - it was the worst-kept secret in the seedy and violent underbelly of the city that if you wanted someone 'taken care of' in a way that was beyond the means or abilities of your everyday, run-of-the-mill hitmen, Donny was the guy to see. But through all this, he was hugely respected - from the small-time crims to the Dons of the city, Donny was The Man. His one soft spot, though, was his daughter Allie, for whom Donny would, and did, absolutely everything for. She was a continual source of pride for him and may god help anyone who caused her even an iota of pain or discomfort.

**********

Her pager announced a call from a private number, with a simple message: "Ring me the fuck right now. Donny."
Picking up the phone, she dialed the number.
"Kovaks here, how can I help you?"
"Don't play the fucking goody-two-shoes with me, Kovaks - you know why I am calling and here is the deal. You have three choices: You either get that bastard who raped and murdered my daughter by yourself, which could take forever; you let me take care of it and leave you numerous dead bodies in my wake, which I am sure you wouldn't want; or, thirdly, you and I work together - within the rules, your access to manpower and records, my sources and underworld connections....what do you say? I know of your record as being a bit of a loose cannon, someone willing to do things that aren't strictly - how shall I say this - legal. "
Melissa paused for only a fraction of a second, "That, as they say in the classics, is an offer I simply can't refuse."

**********

A few hours later, Melissa and Donny had met at Smoky Joe's Cafe to discuss their plans They had decided to track down Bobby Vassio, one of the more well-connected snitches in the seamy side of the city. Finding him had been another story altogether - all the small bit-players and confidantes had gone to ground, fully aware that Donny would be on the warpath. They found Bobby in a tiny hole-in-the-wall bar, knocking down scotches as if he knew that today would most likely be his last and he may as well enjoy it while he could. Donny waited out in the car - he had told Kovaks that they would do things by the book, at least while they were in public. Kovaks came out of the bar, Bobby in tow, and they headed towards the car, Bobby nervously scouting the area, hoping that no one was seeing him get in a car with a police officer. Once he was sure things were okay, he settled into the front until he heard a voice from the backseat, "Hey Bobby, glad you could join us for a chat....Kovaks, you know where to go from here."

Later, at the penthouse suite of the Marriott Hotel, Donny was in fine form, relaxed and easy going, and yet still exuded a sense of malice and hatred.
"Donny, man I honestly know nothin' man....like I would fuckin' lie to ya - do ya think I'm fuckin' crazy?"
Kovaks watched the young man closely, watching for any sign of what may be considered evasiveness or plain, outright lies. She need not have worried; sweat has turned Bobby's once neat brown hair into a straggly mess; his black muscle shirt was pulled taut across his young chest; and the fear in his eyes was enough to suggest that he was on the narrow - besides, who in their right minds would lie to Donny Agostino?
"Sure, kid, you don't know shit....what about the rest of your gang, pack, or whatever you call yourselves? I am really starting to get annoyed and you don't want to annoy me, Bobby, you really don't."
Kovacks interrupted, "Hey Donny, isn't this where you threaten to cut off his fingers or shoot him in the testicles?"
"Lady, the minute I become a walking cliche, you can shoot me in the testicles!"

**********

Melissa Kovaks stared at the box of Cubans that Donny Agostino had brought her, as a present for helping him locate and "deal" with the murderer of his daughter. They had worked together well as a team; no indiscreet conversations, all phone calls made from private mobile phones, very quiet inquiries made with the idea of secrecy in mind. After finally tracking down killer, Donny had made a bit of a mess of his face, and other parts of his anatomy, and left the body in an abandoned warehouse in the southern suburbs of the city, where a dead body was as commonplace as a prostitute in King's Cross. Leaning against her desk with Donny standing next to her, they both simultaneously reached for the cigars, accidentally rubbing elbows in the meantime. Melissa stared at him; his rugged good looks, his athletic body, the way he used his hands to communicate feeling, she could just imagine herself kissing him, feeling the warmth of his embrace, the stubble on his chin gently rubbing against her face. Suddenly, Melissa was amazed at the almost-elegant way her body slumped to the floor, the bullet from Donny's gun planted firmly in her brain....
"Not one of my cigars, honey," he said as he tidied up the only loose end that could tie him to the case.

**********

Shakespeare was wrong - shooting the messenger was alright with Donny Agostino, legendary underworld figure, and now, as he had just heard, Number One With A Bullet (if you will excuse the pun) on the FBI's Most Wanted list. He had been involved in a messy, and eventually bloody, hunt for the rapist and killer of his daughter, Alison. In the end, he had killed the investigator he had worked with because, as he knew from personal experience, that leaving loose ends would always come back to bite you on the ass. One of his junior underlings, Jimmy, had reported in that he had heard from a reliable source that Donny was now the most wanted man in the world and, normally, that would be just fine with him, except that getting heat from an international crime unit wasn't his idea of fun. Donny knew that the FBI, CIA and all sorts of crime fighting units would be on his trail so the best thing was for him to make tracks and get out of the country quickly. But, before he did, he had had to remove the loose end that was Jimmy - waste of a bullet in Donny's opinion.

Jimmy’s death stirred something in the night, some shadow of a being that had long ceased to be of this world. A throbbing could be heard that transmuted into a rhythmic sob and then a wail so plaintive as to send shivers through those dwelling in lesser darkness. Jimmy had a sister. In the days before darkness consumed her humanity she and Jimmy were close. His memory fed her tenuous grasp on this plane of existence and when the bullet entered Jimmy’s brain, that grasp was lost. She could see through his eyes as the killer pulled the trigger and now Janie’s got a gun…

**********

Donny was relaxing at the bar of the Lago Park Apartments in Playa de Muro, Mallorca, seemingly millions of miles from anywhere. Donny felt the weight of the world lift from his shoulders as he settled in to his easy recliner, cocktail in one hand, cigar in the other, thinking that here, on this tiny Spanish island, the troubles of his past were behind him. A sudden shift in the breeze ran a cold chill up his back, making him rather uncomfortable for a moment, and try as he like, even after the breeze had calmed again, he couldn't shake a feeling of unease.

She came from nowhere, her walk exuding such sexuality that no man could resist the lure of her allure and in front of Donny Agostino she lingered, “Hey baby, you got another cigar?” her voice mirroring her walk. As Donny reached not for a cigar but for something harder she stepped between his reclined legs, running her long, long nails along his pressed tan slacks and lightly caressing his most sensitive of all places, “come on baby, play nice” she purred as Donny fell entranced. Janie’s red, red lips reached Donny’s ear and as she whispered the names of everyone of Donny’s victims, he is forced to relive their deaths through his victims eyes; save for Jimmy’s…. in Jimmy’s death Donny will live through his own as Janie seductively withdraws Donny’s nickel plated revolver and ends the parade of death that was Donny Agostino.

**********

Finally, it ends. She had returned the spade and the ropes to her car and was now resting, with her back against the pole, staring out at the ocean, letting the gentle sea breeze sweep her hair off her face, allowing her to cool down after the strenuous activity she had just partaken in. She was not generally a day person but the time had felt right and the secluded beach in a foreign country had seemed like a perfect place to bury the past. She had swept up handfuls of sand to use as the finishing touches, unafraid to get sand inside the form-fitting dress she had been wearing the night before when she had concluded her business with a former "client". In a way, she was feeling a little melancholy, the way you do when a part of your life finishes and you know you will never have that time again. Janie took one last handful of sand, scattered it around the pole where she had only just now laid Donny to rest.

(Another rap to Daniel Stine for the work he contributed to this piece. What had started off as a tale on Six Sentences grew into this longer piece, in which Daniel was not particularly happy with my ending, and hence added the death of Donny. I appreciate greatly his writing and hope soon to work with him again.)

The Case

"I've got this case," Anna said, and instantly thought of her father.
That was the way he always began his discussions with her mother. He talked about the cases that troubled him, the cases that worried him, the cases that concerned him, more than any other detective she had known. Anna remembered coming into the kitchen or the living room late at night and finding her mother and father talking; her mother combing her hair or sipping ice water, her father, his socks off and his shirttails out, feet propped up on another chair, or on the footstool Anna had bought for him for Father's Day. His voice - softly, gently - emanating from his barrel chest - "I've got this case," he would begin.
Her mother would become still and quiet as though she didn't want to distract him. Everything she was doing, or might have intended to do, was pushed into oblivion, wiped away, as she gave her total attention to his story.
"I've got this case," Anna repeated, although this time, she paused, not knowing what to say next. A flood of emotions overcame her, and she silently wept for the man she loved, admired and missed. Her mother, although aged and frail, edged her way across the room to her and, tenderly wiping away the tear from Anna's face, said, "I know, dear, I know."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Heartless

“Why can’t you, just once, get off your lazy ass, go down there and see him? This is my brother, your son and not once have you left the house or even as much sent a card or letter telling him that you are thinking of him, and that you do care and aren’t a completely heartless bastard.”
With that, I walked out the door, slamming it hard behind me, hearing the doorframe scream in protest. My brother had been in hospital for seven weeks after a near fatal car accident and I was angry; angry at the other driver for ignoring the red light; angry at my brother for drink driving; angry at my father for his ignorance and stubborn ways; angry at myself for not staying with my brother longer at the party so I could have taken him home.
I arrived at the hospital, still very worked up and my brother asked me what was bothering me. I told him that I had another fight with Dad and what it was about.
“What are you talking about – Dad rings me twice a day…”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Painting The Past" at Powder Burn Flash

My flash fiction story "Painting The Past" is currently showing here.

Vampyre! on MicroHorror!!!

A flash piece published on MicroHorror is available to be read here.

The Traveller


He stood on the hill, back turned to the sun, and watched two opposing armies face off with each other. The Traveller knew that to attempt, in any way, however beneficial it may be, to interfere with this battle would turn the tide of history and ultimately create a paradox of his existence.

However, he knew also that he couldn't just stand idly by and watch the slaughter that the history books described clearly, the mass genocide that would follow by the victor and the loss of great and important relics to the dust of time. The invading army would not leave any trace of the former occupants of this small, but fiercely proud nation. Instead, they would raze their communities to the ground, destroy all signs of religious imagery and supplant it with their own. They would run roughshod over the women and make slaves of those who seemed the most capable.

The Traveller made his way carefully down the side of the hill, following a rather rocky path, and made his way into the village that had only, until recently, been a resting place for many followers of the man they called Jesus. Here he found stone tablets and many scrolls, most in clay jars, dusty but undamaged, which he collected and carefully placed into a large hessian sack he had carried with him. As quickly as he had come, he was gone again, heading for the hills on the other side of the Dead Sea, with the hope that someday, down through the centuries, that someone would find these tablets and scrolls, and the true story of these times could be told.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

1-2-3-4


From their first gig at the CBGB's in New York in 1974, to their last show at The Palace in Hollywood in 1996, the entire face of music had been changed. Although they weren't a huge commercial success from the outset, it was the live concerts that caused them to become internationally renowned - their first concert in England, which had been attended by members of The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Damned, influenced a whole generation of musicians to be who they wanted to be, say what they wanted to say and not be too concerned about the perfection of their craft - the playing was all that mattered. With the "uniform" look emphasising minimalism - long black hair, leather jackets, t-shirts, torn jeans, and sneakers - they instantly seperated themselves from other bands who were operating at the time. With just four chords and one manic tempo, they blasted open the clogged arteries of mid-'70s rock, reanimating the music, their genius was to recapture the short, simple aesthetic from which pop had strayed, adding a caustic sense of trash-culture humour and minimalist rhythm guitar sound. While the they were one of the longest-lasting punk bands - some say the Godfathers of Punk - recording albums all the way into the 90s, their biggest legacy were the bands that they inspired. Recognition of the band's importance built over the years, and they are now regularly represented in many assessments of all-time great rock music, such as the Rolling Stone lists of the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time, 25 Greatest Live Albums of All Time, VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock, and Mojo's 100 Greatest Albums - in 2002, the Ramones were voted the second greatest rock and roll band ever in Spin, trailing only The Beatles and finally, on March 18, 2002, the band - including the three founders and drummers Marky and Tommy - were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

R.I.P. Joey (1951-2001), Johnny (1948 - 2004), Dee Dee (1951 - 2002). I miss you guys, you were the best!!

Hey Ho, Let's Go!!!

Come On In.

I notice it immediately. There is something quite different about this House of Horrors. All the usual motifs and banal imagery are gone from the fa├žade; it is modest and unembellished.

Entering, I expect to see the usual ghouls and goblins, but instead, darkness greets me; silhouettes of flames flicker across the walls and the hiss of steam escaping from a valve greets my ears.

Rounding a bend, I come face to face with a giant projector screen with images of the Holocaust; a defiant Hitler and Stalin shaking hands, both grinning in a most evil way; death camps - unbelievably emaciated human forms, their voices begging for mercy or death; mounds of the dead uncovered by the Allies, removed from pits and laid out in rows for identification – all flashing across the screen, accompanied by chilling screams and barking German soldiers.

I run from the room in sheer despair, knowing that the truth of history is far more repulsive than anything man can dream up.

Shameless Self Promotion

"Good not-day-nor-night evening, salutations and welcome to the transmission of us. Tonight we will be using the english - no other - language to make conversational discussionable commentry on my new baronial and majestic inscribing of opus-creating text. It contains, yes, yes, it does, it comprises many, many divisions and sections, from the prolegomenon, that's right - prolegomenon - through to the noted feet at its hindermost part. In the course of my august and grandiose personal narrative, i set forth, not back, to record the peregrination that all my born days have availed itself of. The availability and, indeed, its puchasableness, is in multitudinous and multifarious merchants and vendors of splendiferous collections of printed utterances."

"Yes, he is talking about his autobiography and you can buy it at your local bookseller."

Colours

Our eyes see the beauty of colour; lush green grass, emerald oceans, deep blue skies, blood red roses - but for me, colour has a bigger role and influence.
Where would my life be without Brown-Eyed Girl, Purple Haze, Red Red Wine and Yellow Submarine?
My childhood wouldn't have been complete without Ruby Tuesday, Tangled Up In Blue, Little Red Corvette and Black Dog.
My ears couldn't appreciate what my eyes could see without Brown Sugar, Blue Bayou, Purple Rain, Pink Cadillac and Crimson and Clover.
My days of listening to Green Day, Black Sabbath, Pink, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Flag make my life so much more complete than just seeing these colours.
With all of this at my disposal, I am never green with envy, a cowardly yellow or just blue, rarely do I see red (in anger), but I can always look to these great songs and artists as my silver lining.

Killing Time

Concentration was the trick. When shooting from this distance, it was all in the balance and poise, long before the shot is taken. I visualise exactly where I want to hit and just let my body relax and block out everything else. Sure, there are gonna be some very unhappy people when I am done, but, you can't please all of the people all of the time. Deep breathe, focusing again....
"Black ball, bottom pocket."

Welcome To The Mountain


Flags and banners flapping in the breeze....we wear our colours like badges of honour.

We cheer, we scream, we yell when our favourites go thundering past....we don't care who it is as long as he is wearing our colours....Red versus Blue...as it should be.

A splash of beer on our shoes, the smoke in our eyes, deafened by the sound generated by these gas-guzzling monsters....but who cares??? This is why we come, this is our lives!!

A man sitting alone (wearing his colours), a family with kids (wearing their colours), a woman and her baby, staring at us all like we have transformed into something out of a Stephen King novel (but she still wears the colours)....

The smells - the sounds - the colour....all part of our tribalistic pilgrimage to this sacred site....

Welcome to our Holy Grail, Welcome to The Mountain!!!



(This is an old story, written a few months back but I feel it is one of my favourites)