Head Boy Preview – Chapters 1 and 2

The following excerpt is from my upcoming 3rd novel, Head Boy and contains strong language.

Monday
Chapter 1
School

Strutting along Bellshill main street Davie Diller kicked a discarded Coke can under the wheels of a buggy causing one of the rear tyres to suffer a slash as it crushed the can underneath. It was unintended but Diller took satisfaction from the sound of the tyre bursting anyway. The young mum, fag in hand, black leggings-cum-tights straining to contain her blubbery legs, continued on without noticing the puncture.

As he neared Bellshill Academy, Diller took a hard drag on what remained of his cigarette and tossed it with a flick at the heels of a pensioner who faced away from him. Diller didn’t need the hassle being seen smoking near the school grounds brought from teachers today, he had enough on his plate. Dressed in denims, shirt and tie and wearing a new pair of Adidas Superstar 2 trainers, Diller shoved his way through the double doors of the formerly boys only entrance. He fully expected a few snide comments about his appearance from some of the staff, but his attitude unsurprisingly was fuck’em. Diller figured that the teachers would love to have the balls to turn up in school in decent attire instead of their ubiquitous, black shoes, troos, and ever so rebellious, patterned shirt and tie combo.
“Haw, Wee-man” Diller grabbed tightly on the arm of a third year he’d spotted hanging about at the door. “You better have something for me.”
Terror filling his eyes, the pupil stared nervously up at Diller. “Aye, I mean, yes. It’s here…”
“Right. Good.” Diller cut him off by snatching the small envelope the kid was offering out of his hand. Pushing the boy aside and pocketing the envelope, he painted a cheery smile on his face as Mr Oliphant passed. “Morning Mr Oliphant. Diller sing-songed at the passing Maths teacher.
Fumbling around in his briefcase, Oliphant, dressed in a tragic turquoise Asda shirt, tie and trouser combo didn’t manage to look up but grunted a distracted “Morning.”
Diller shook his head, wondering, not for the first time how a dozy old bastard like Olly managed to remember how to breathe in and out all day, never mind explain complex equations to his pupils. At least he had a nice way with him old Olly, unlike the majority of the arsehole teaching staff. Smiling to himself, Diller continued upstairs towards the English department and his first class.
“Morning Mr Diller.” Never far from the English department, Mr Bowie loomed at the end of the corridor. He had a gift for making a friendly morning greeting sound like an accusation. He made Mr Diller sound like arsehole.
Davie had been in Bowie’s class in fifth-year. It’d been one hell of a year. Bowie was never off his back, a total head-case. The simplest mistake, misspelling or breathing too loud some days, was enough to tip the man over the edge and into a rant about responsibility, carelessness etc. Obviously, this meant that Bowie was by far the best teacher in school to rip the pish out of, but Davie had learned to be circumspect in his efforts, no use giving him fuel for the fire of his outrage. Besides, in a school with seventy-odd teachers, Bowie was the only one who had seen past Davie’s outer-persona. He stared right through the intelligence, manners and faux-charm, straight into the devious and dangerous little shite who lived beneath the veneer of a dedicated pupil. Imagine Bowie’s joy when in Sixth year, as reward for all of his ‘consistently excellent contributions to the school’, Diller was made Head Boy.
Bowie seemed to have been a teacher at Bellshill academy forever. Having taught a lot of the kids in Diller’s Class parents, he was still here, having not evolved to the changing times one iota. How the hell can a teacher from the late seventies hope to understand what goes on in the mind of kids in the year 2013. With iPads, Kindle, internet, hell indoor toilets, it must be like the future to a guy like Bowie. Dressed in a brown suit, beige shirt, brown tie and tan-coloured shoes Bowie sported the only two things that marked him out even further as a man displaced from his own time. A great big, bushy, grey moustache and a Beatles-style bright ginger toupee. The fact that Bowie was onto him from first glance, combined with his appearance and the old man’s attempts to control him, quite simply made Bowie an irresistible target to Diller.

As Diller wasn’t late today, for once, that meant that he was probably overdue with an assignment. Without stopping, Diller pushed his way into the classroom and disappeared through the door, pretending he hadn’t heard. Prick.
First one here Diller noted as he entered the ancient-looking and smelling classroom. The wood panelled walls bore the carvings of generations of Bellshill Academy pupils ‘BYT’, Linda gies gobbles’ and other such displays of wit adorned the panels. The painted sections above the wood had faded from bright white, to dark brown over the decades. The polystyrene ceiling tiles, dotted with precariously hanging pencils and spit-formed balls of paper towel fragments added no ambience.
Taking his customary chair at the rear of the room, Diller stretched his legs, lifting them up and onto his desk and pulled his phone out to check on his Facebook page as he waited for the classroom to fill up. There’s wee Stacey sent me a message. She’s a wee dirty, that yin. Probably after her hole. Jabbing on the envelope icon to open the message, Diller confirmed his suspicions as to the contents of Stacey’s message. ‘U up 4 it the night, Davie?’ and quickly closed it again without replying, preferring to keep his options open. Tonight was a long way off, anything could happen between now and then. It was a school night, sure but Angels in Uddingston had a three hour happy hour tonight and it was calling his name.
Stacey, twenty-one year old receptionist at Cardinal Newman High, across the other end of town, had been a fuck-buddy of his for around six-months. She was sound as fuck. Always around when he took the notion; never needy for a wee cuddle or a kind word afterwards. They had to keep their liaisons quiet at any rate, due to the age difference. Diller suspected that Stacey was as bad as he was when it came to her attitude towards sexual partners, seeing them as little more than sex-aids. That was fine by him. A wicked grin crossed Diller’s face as he enjoyed a quick mental flashback to their last encounter together at her modest flat on Glebe street. Christ! That was a good night. Enjoying the afterglow of the memory, he re-opened the message and replied ;-). Sometimes words got you into trouble so a non-committal winking emoticon would keep those gates open without promising anything.
Just as Diller moved to thumb the off button, a significantly less welcome message vibrated through. Moving his finger to open it Diller’s heart sank at the name that appeared. ‘Big Hondo’.

Big Hondo was actually James Crosbie of Babylon Road. Sixty-eight years old with the muscle mass of a man half his age, Big Hondo stood well over six feet in height. A former steelworker, In the 90s Hondo had used his substantial redundancy money to set himself up at the forefront of the only thriving business Thatcher had left in the area, the drug business. Hondo also had the foresight and intelligence to attend university using the re-training wage kindly offered to the redundant men of Ravenscraig by Mrs T, graduating with a 2:1 in Business management.
Hondo attacked his new venture with the same commitment he had his degree at Uni, with the single-minded, fastidiousness that only mature students bring he implemented his detailed business plan; making a vast number of contacts abroad, establishing a supply chain, examining the logistics of his new enterprise, building a network of mules and street-corner/club dealers, armed with bags of…whatever. Hondo quite literally carved himself a huge slice of the drug trade pie in North and South Lanarkshire. In the process he employed violence more often than he employed new dealers.
Most folk in the area believe he gained the nickname ‘Hondo’ due to his love of all things Western-related. Permanently dressed in double-denim, cowboy boots, belt and Stetson, Hondo wasn’t difficult to spot in The Orb, a local pub, of an evening. The truth was that Hondo acquired his nickname from his enthusiastic use of the Bowie-knife, a cowboy’s favourite blade, as his favoured deal-maker and deal-breaker. Taking all of five years, Hondo had slashed, stabbed, throttled, drowned, bought, shagged, bribed, murdered and dealt his way to a position of power that had ultimately made him untouchable in Lanarkshire. Rumour had it that he had a fair few cops on his payroll, which Diller’s Dad said was rubbish. Drug-dealer propaganda he’d called it. Whatever the truth was, when it came to scoring some top-notch Charlie, Hondo was the man in Lanarkshire and the man was not to be fucked with.
Working with Big Hondo, was Wee Hondo, or Lionel, his son. Wee Hondo was if anything, even bigger than his Dad, but had none of the old man’s fierce intelligence, the only ferocity he displayed was with his fists. Growing up with Hondo as his father, immersed in the old man’s business, had made the boy as hard as rock. He didn’t need to be clever, the old boy took care of that, Wee Hondo was best utilised in the more physical side of the business. He was good at it and enjoyed it’s challenges immensely. Over the years, Wee Hondo had developed a reputation as a skilled remover of body parts. He could remove pretty much anything from a person whilst avoiding his victim bleeding out; so they said. A true chip off the old, blade-wielding, gonad-smashing block that was Big Hondo. It was true that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, but in Hondo’s case it had fallen with a pair of size fourteen, steel toe-capped boots, a pre-disposition towards torture and an evil grin. Big Hondo’s Dad, a wheelchair-bound ninety year old who smoked all day, dispensed larger deals to more trusted clients who visited their home and never left the house; completed the trio.

The Crosbies weren’t the small former-mining town’s only drug-dealers but the three men who made up their ranks controlled a continuous flow of the highest quality cocaine in a twenty mile radius and oversaw the activities of the others. Generously, the Crosbies also offered ‘tic’, an arrangement where the purchaser could obtain the drug of their choice gratis for an arranged period, usually a week or two. After that it was pay up or lose body parts courtesy of Wee Hondo. Diller was normally the type who preferred the former payment plan, but had been short of funds and taking the piss recently taking him dangerously close to paying the latter price.

Looking back to his phone, Diller sat staring at the unopened icon for a few minutes. Shit. Whatever Hondo wanted wouldn’t be good news; that Diller was certain of. He thumbed the message and felt a shiver pass through his muscles as he read the words ‘Hundred Grand by Friday or UR dead.’

Chapter 2

On a School Night

“Give me those fags.” Diller had scraggy-looking fourth year boy with a squint in his eye, whose name he didn’t know pressed against the wall with the palm of his hand on the lads’ chest, in the alcove under the assembly hall.
“Ye’ cannae’ dae’ that.” The wee guy squealed.
Diller poked an index finger into ‘Skelly-eye’s’ shoulder. “Hurry up ya wee fanny.’ His voice was calm and quiet. Skelly-eye looked around at his friends for a bit of back-up, but they’d picked a spot each on the ground and were avoiding Diller’s challenging, scanning stare. One of them got a moment of courage and told Skelly-eye, “Just give him them Jordan.”
Diller pushed his nose closer to Jordan’s. Letting some gas rise up his throat, he belched loudly in the kid’s face, noticing the after-burn of the cold curry he’d had for breakfast. Jordan wretched a little at the smell and reached into his jacket pocket for his ten-deck of Lambert and Butler.
“Here.” Jordan slapped the pack into Diller’s waiting hand.
“Smoking’s bad for ye’ Jordan” Diller put a mocking tone into name, “I’m doing ye’ a favour here, son. Right,” he leaned in close to whisper into Jordan’s ear, “get tae’ fuck, dick.”
As the little group of fourth years ran off, Diller rounded the corner and entered the bin shed, flicking one of Jordan’s cigarettes into his mouth as he walked out of view. Grimacing at the first harsh lungful, he examined the silver box Jordan had given him. Cheap, shitey fags, I’ll have to pick a better class of loser for my next pack. Lunchtime lasted fifty minutes and Diller normally spent that time smoking in the bin shed, chatting up some of the sixth year lassies he hadn’t ridden yet or occasionally doing some work in the library to keep up appearances. Today, he smoked eight of the ten cigarettes Jordan had ‘gifted’ him in a twenty minute blast, mind racing with possibilities, consequences and possible outcomes. This thing with Hondo was a worry, no doubt about it.
A long-term client of Hondo’s, Diller had made a small business of buying manageable quantities of coke over the last two years or so. He had a small number of guys dealing for him, after a wee tamper with the quality of the product, of course; and with Hondo’s blessing. The problem was that over the last six months or so, Diller had taken on an absolute mountain of coke, all on ‘tic’ with a far too care-free attitude.
He hadn’t snorted hundred grand’s worth of Hondo’s Charlie on his own, he found that coke made him a bit too careless and made his ego grow out of control; on the contrary he’d been very generous with it. The coke had been meted out to barmen, bouncers, and potential sexual-partners; to low-level dealers whose own inferior product paled in comparison and any number of thugs out over the six months. Diller was building his own wee network of ‘friends’ and filling an account full of favours owed from a range of useful types around Lanarkshire. You never knew when an alibi, some muscle, entry to a club or some sex would be needed and Diller liked to keep a myriad of opportunities and options on call. School, with its ever-changing clientele and flow of people was an ideal recruiting base and networking opportunity for those who kept their eyes open. Never dealing though, not in school.
It was an expensive endeavour, this networking and favour gathering and one that Hondo had been happy to fund, in the short-term, owing to Diller’s connections to the constabulary through his dad and the impressive sales he’d clocked up over a short time. It looked like Hondo had just decided that Diller had been giving away too much or not selling enough, either that or he’d decided that Diller was gaining too large a network and wanted him shut down. There was also the possibility that Hondo simply wanted a return on his investment. A hundred grand, though? Surely Hondo’s been a bit heavy on the interest there, I couldn’t have done in that much coke in six months, could I?
Lighting cigarette number nine, Diller noted that it was the ‘lucky fag’ from the packet, the one that everyone always turns filter side down when a fresh pack is opened. Smiling in acknowledgment at the absurdity of the ubiquitous smoker’s habit, he sparked it up. As he smoked his way down to the shite at the end of the cigarette, almost to the filter, an evil smile spread across his face and a plan tickled the cold recesses of his brain. It’d be tricky, but it just might work.
Flicking the butt into the pile he’d made, Diller straightened his shirt and headed up to the assembly hall just as the bell rang, signalling that lunchtime was over. As part of his ‘Special Duties’ he regularly delivered a short motivational or informative speech at some of the junior kids’ assemblies. It was fourth year today and a talk on health and wellbeing. Diller would be advising the junior pupils on the evils of drugs, alcohol and smoking. To be fair, he wasn’t exactly short of experience on the subjects. He’d have to remember to ‘thank’ Jordan for his lucky fag if he saw him in assembly.

Leaving the school grounds within ten minutes of the final bell ringing, Diller turned off of Main Street, passed Riley’s pool hall, which was in the process of closing for good, and along Thorn Road towards the railway bridge. Having grabbed a Superdry hoodie from his school locker, Diller pulled he hood up over his head. His old man still worked in the police station. He rode a desk these days, but still had a finger in every pie. Diller needed to slip past unnoticed, he could do without a conversation with the old man at the moment; he had places to be.
Continuing along towards the little tunnel under the bridge, he slipped through and took the short walk to ‘The Sandy’ a shitehole of a park where all the local Neds gathered. One Ned in particular interested him, Tommy McTavish, aka Tawttie.
Tawttie appeared with a small crew of his ‘team’, a bunch of local losers who Diller had known for years. Each of them had been a pupil at Bellshill Academy.
Noticing Diller lurking on the periphery of the park, Tawttie, left his four comrades and shuffled over in Diller’s direction. Dressed in typical NED attire; tracksuit, trousers tucked into socks, scabby-looking, ingrained mud on white clothes offset by sparkling white trainers, Burberry cap and a brace of sovereign rings, Tawttie and his crew looked like every other wee fanny in Lanarkshire. Their clothes were practically a uniform and the trademark ‘dug’, normally Rottweiler or Pit-bull, was a given.

Not being the academic type, Tawttie had left Bellshill Academy in fourth year and been quickly recruited by Diller. Amongst other things, he couriered items and substances, but essentially did Diller’s dirty work for him, allowing Diller to maintain his facade. The pair had first spoken business after a particularly vicious playground fight that Tawttie had won quickly and clinically with a boot to the balls and a stamp on the prone head of his opponent. Diller had watched with interest as Tawttie had dismantled the other boy, moving aside only as Bowie pushed past him to break up the fight, admonishing Diller with a hard stare for standing watching the display. Within a week of the incident, Tawttie was permanently expelled from school and working for Diller.
Guy’s like Tawttie were far from rare in Lanarkshire and easily made use of; a few free bags of Charlie here, a few quid there, some opportunities to make some easy money and build a bit of a street-rep; They weren’t interested in getting a job; all they wanted was some money and some drugs in their pocket and their hole occasionally.
Fear was another excellent tool to make these guys comply and one which Diller was expertly skilled in wielding. Physically, any one of these guys could easily overcome Diller, but he’d been patient in his younger days, Overheard conversations between his dad and a variety of colleagues; greasing the right palms with drugs and money, the threat of Hondo in his corner; these things had served to place Diller into a position where these street-mugs respected and feared him. As the son of a teacher and a copper, convention would dictate that he’d be the last type of boy to involve himself in this world. His desires, connections, insight, skills and inherent badness had meant he was a natural.
By far the most difficult part to date had been keeping up his mask of normality in school and at home, but he’d turned it into a game in his mind, considering the roles he played as his secret identity; like Batman, but a bastard-Batman. Every so often though, violence was required by circumstances and demanded by his true self, the pressure of hiding his inner-bastard built up and needed to be released.
He’d learned to pick his moment over the years and selected people that no-one would miss; those who would serve as a warning to others. Junkies, dealers, people who owed dealers money, nobodies. He always cleaned up after himself, burning every fibre of clothing he may have worn in the act. Each victim attributed, on the grape-vine, to young Hondo.
Of course, with Tawttie, there was the added incentive that the guy had seen the monster hidden under the mask, when he’d walked into a dark close on Lawmuir Road in the early hours to find Diller crouched over a forty-year old man, knife in his eye socket, eye on the ground. No stranger to cutting a man himself, Tawttie had nodded, turned around silently and left Diller to his work, but he’d never looked him straight in the eye again and never argued when issued a task.
“Eh, awright, eh… Diller.” Tawttie’s voice was nasal and he used exaggeratedly long and faux cheery notes, again, part of the NED persona. He was nervous, he always was around Diller. This showed that he was smarter than he looked.
Diller ignored Tawttie’s eloquent greeting and threw a fifty-gram bag of Charlie in his direction. The coke, Hondo’s finest was cut generously with glucose from the school’s Science stores and cost Tawttie one hundred pounds per gram. Diller had ‘paid’ Hondo eighty pounds for it. The effective downgrading of the Charlie made it go a whole lot further and usually went unnoticed by the kind of mutant who opted to purchase their drugs from the likes of Tawttie. His clientele would still be thrilled at the quality despite the glucose; it would most likely be a nice change from their nose-powder being cut with bathroom products. In all likelihood when Tawttie’s coke made its way down the supply chain a few levels, from the odd banker and lawyer, to Hipsters to bored housewives, to deadbeats; it’d probably still be destined to mingle with a variety of household powders until the junky at the bottom of the pile and the peak of some junk withdrawal was snorting about one percent coke, ninety-nine percent fuck-knows what.
“Money.” Diller barked at Tawttie who hurriedly fished a scabby-looking brown bag stuffed with what Diller expected would be even scabbier-looking notes of all denominations from one of his pockets and placed it in Diller’s hand.
At that, Diller left without another word and headed to five more similarly engaging appointments with several variations on Tawttie around town. The money was stacking up, for sure, but a hundred grand in a week just didn’t seem possible. Diller suspected that was the whole point. Hondo liked to make an example of someone from time to time. It was becoming apparent that Diller’s moment had arrived. Hondo had abandoned his corner and become his opponent. Fuck it. Had to happen eventually; bring it on, Hondo.

Head Boy will be published by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in July 2013

 

Mark Wilson’s Other Novels are available now on Amazon

headBoy-final-cover

Meet the Cast

I’m in the final 20 percent or so home stretch of my second novel Nae’body’s Hero and thought I’d give you a wee look at the characters. I love when they do this at the start of Star Wars novels, they call it their “Dramatis Personae”.

If it’s good enough for Lucas/Walt, It’s good enough for me:

Nae’body’s Hero

Dramtis Personae

Rob Hamilton, Gifted Scotsman and hero.

Arif Ali, English-Pakistani and double agent.

Kim Baker, Lead agent in CTA and badass.

Frank and Mary McCallum, Rob’s foster-parents.

Cara Hamilton, Rob’s twin sister and school teacher.

Mike O’Donnell, Homeland Security.

Mr Bendini, Mike’s boss.

Jack Foley, CTA agent.

Azam and Mimi Ali, Arif’s parents.

Latif Ali, Arif’s cousin.

Zulifkar Raheem, Handsome terrorist. Member of a fledgling Al Qaeda.

Frank McCallum Jr, Government worker.

Special guests:

Tom Kinsella, Rob’s childhood best friend.

Paddy Carroll, Infant

Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda leader and architect of 911 attack.

 

Nae’body’s Hero, coming early 2013.

You can read my debut novel Bobby’s Boy here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354646802&sr=1-1

Working cover for Nae'body's Hero

Working cover for Nae’body’s Hero

 

Sneak Preview – Nae’body’s Hero- Meet Frank

Having just passed Chapter 38 on my upcoming novel I thought I’d preview a little more of the book. In the following excerpt we meet Frank McCallum, My main character Rob’s foster-father and all round great-guy. That’s wi I called him after the real Frank.

Here’s a preview from Chapter 4:

The following is copyrighted to Mark Wilson 2012

Two hours was plenty of time to complete the tasks he’d done this morning. They might take Mr McCallum all day, but he was a fit and healthy sixty five years old to Rob’s even more sprightly fourteen years. Besides, Rob had sprouted and filled out in the few years he’d worked the farm, standing well over six feet of broad and lean muscle. It was just another characteristic that set him apart and isolated him from his peers at the local school.

Physical tasks around the farm were so easy for him that it was laughable and helped him feel good about himself as he saw it as a small way to repay the love that the McCallums had shown him.

Rob had come to live with the McCallums, Frank and Mary, just over three years ago after being circulated through a couple of care homes and one foster family. The small, self-sustaining farm was near the city of Durham and felt like another world when compared to his memories of Bellshill. This was a good thing so far as Rob was concerned. He’d much rather never to set foot in his hometown again if he had any say in the matter. Frank and Mary had officially retired in their mid-fifties but as an ex-marine and a former teacher, Frank and his wife found it difficult to accept the slow pace of retiral and had bought the farm to keep them busy. They’d also been fostering kids on shirt-term placements for a few years before taking in Rob on a more or less indefinite basis. Mr and Mrs McCallum were wonderful and Rob was very grateful to have been found by such a patient, open and loving couple.

Cara had also been fortunate to be placed with a fairly wealthy family in Edinburgh. The Graham’s were lovely people and Cara loved living with them. The only problem was that the twins almost never had the opportunity to see each other. Weekly phone calls (always on a Thursday at seven o’clock), was the best that they could manage at present. The few hundred miles of A1 that separated them may as well have been a million miles, but Rob knew that time would pass and bring independence, a driving license a job and money. Cara and he would be together again soon enough and in the meantime they had both landed on their feet with the families they’d been accepted into.

Rob sighed as he watched the sun come up and thought again about whether or not he should talk to Mr McCallum about his fantasies. If anyone could help him it’d be Frank but it was too big a worry. What if the McCallums decided he was a loony and asked him to leave? No….he’d figure it out alone. Rob heard the cockerel crow which meant the Mr McCallum would be awake shortly. “Beat you again Lester” He laughed to himself and started the short work back to the farmhouse.

“So, you’ve been doing my work again have you, lad?” Mr McCallum asked in his thick Geordie accent, trying to sound angry.

Rob loved the local accent as it sounded like a more musical version of his own to his ears. “Aye, sorry Mr McCallum, you’ll just have to find something else to do with the day.”

Frank lowered his little rectangular reading glassed and shot Rob a disapproving look. “I’m perfectly capable you know, son. Ah’ don’t need you doing everything for me.”

“Ok Mister McCallum” Rob told him. “I’ll make sure you’ve plenty left to do tomorrow morning.”

“Aye, right, son” Frank didn’t believe a word…Don’t you sleep?…..And call me Frank for Christ sake.”

Rob smiled at the older man’s fake outrage, stuffed the last of his third bacon roll into his mouth, picked up his bag and headed for the door.

Mary who’d been sitting laughing began clearing plates, but Rob about-turned and took them from her along with all the others on the table. Smiling at Rob she told him, “Thanks, son. Have a good day at school.”

“Aye, try to actually talk to some kids today, eh?” Frank added with a grin.

Rob slung his backpack over one shoulder and headed out the door, “Aye, ok I’ll do that. Love you both, bye.”

“Love you too, son.” Both McCallums chimed.

Mary headed to the sink to begin cleaning the dishes, squeezing Frank’s shoulder as she passed. “Great laddie that one. When do you think he’ll tell wae’ what’s bothering him?”

Franks grunted in agreement as he finished the last of his coffee. “He’ll tell us when he needs to Mary. He knows we’re here for him.”

Mary watched Rob’s back disappear down the driveway from the window. “Hmmm. Suppose so. He’s deep thinker that boy.”

Frank pulling his boots on replied “He’s grand Mary, don’t worry about him.”

School was the usual exercise in patience for Rob it had always been. Even at his old school in Bellshill, surrounded by people he’d known his whole life and with his best friend at his side, Rob was the eternal outsider in his heart. Here in this Durham Secondary school full of kids he couldn’t begin to relate to, he’d retreated into himself more than ever. He’d become mister grey in the school’s corridors, unnoticed by most despite his huge stature. He was quite happy to drift through the days taking what he could from the day’s lessons and keeping to himself on the fringes of the various peer groups.

When he’d first arrived at the school, the kids had been friendly enough, inviting him along to sit with them or join them at rugby or football, but you can only turn down invitations so many times before they’d stop asking. His status as a foster kid, his size and his accent were all enough to set him apart, to make him different in an age group where being different, standing out, was the last thing you wanted; add those to his tendency to isolate himself and it didn’t add up to many friends. This suited Rob fine, he was content to be mister grey, mister unnoticed by the other kids. These days they left the big, weird kid foster-kid alone to sit on the stairs and read his books.

On this particular day Rob was quite happy to be at school instead of on the farm as the McCallum’s grown-up son, Frank Jnr was visiting. Over the years Rob had learned to stay out of Young Frank’s way and always made a point of being busy when he knew the man would visit.

Young Frank was in his late thirties and a government worker of some sort. Rob wasn’t really sure what he did for a living but guessed it was nothing good, probably a tax or debt collector. Whilst his parents were the warmest and most generous people Rob had known in his short life, young Frank was surly, rude, bad tempered and mean to his parents and to Rob.

He made a habit of making snide remarks to Rob whenever they were alone and flat-out ignoring the boy when the elder McCallums were present.  It was an odd feeling seeing the obvious malice and anger on a younger version of Mr McCallum’s face which itself was always so peaceful and kind. Young Frank always dressed in the same brown tweed three-piece suit and chewed vicious-smelling eucalyptus sweets continuously. The sickly-sweet smell lingered in the farmhouse along with a very obvious downturn in the mood of the house’s occupants long after young Frank’s visits ended.

On Frank’s most recent visit to the farm he’d had a massive argument with his parents in the living room. Rob listened from the staircase in the dark hallway outside. He did not like the man one bit but was most hurt by the disdain he showed the elderly McCallums. He was positively cruel to them and they were too nice to be treated by that by anyone, let alone their own son.

Needing a drink of water, Rob had crept through the darkness of the hallway towards the kitchen, but timed his trip badly as young Frank came crashing through the living room door just as Rob approached. Frank shoved him violently out of his way, Rob jumping most of the way in fright at Frank’s sudden appearance. Frank, who had continued barrelling towards the front door, stopped suddenly as something occurred to him then turned and walked menacingly towards Rob.

Reaching the boy he said quietly to him. “You’re the one whose parents left in the middle of the night.”

It wasn’t a question and Rob didn’t give a reply, he just looked at his own feet.

“Yeah, you’re that one. Smart people your parents. Obviously saw what a waste of space you are. Just a stray really, aren’t you?”

Rob’s eye’s misted but he wouldn’t give Frank what he wanted. To make him cry. Instead he just lifted his head to glare at the older man.

Young Frank nodded towards the living room. “Those two old duffers will see through you too eventually you know. Nobody needs a kid like you hanging around. Bad luck, that’s what your type always brings.”

Young Frank turned and walked towards the front door again, tossing one final remark over his shoulder as he left. “I expect you’ll be gone by my next visit.”

Rob went to bed that night mind racing. He knew that Frank was using his insecurities against him, that he’d just set out to upset him. It didn’t matter though, how many times he told himself that, the little voice inside him, the part that hated himself whispered to Rob that every word was true. The McCallums would ask him to go soon.

Rob had asked Mr McCallum after the encounter what he’d done to annoy young Frank. “It’s not you he’s angry at, son, It’s me. I wasn’t always a terrific father to Frank.”

Rob didn’t push for more. He could see that Mr McCallum was upset, so he decided to stay out of young Frank’s way whenever he was on the farm and give him one less target.

In a hurry to spend some time fishing with Mr McCallum, Rob took a shortcut home to the farm, after school had ended for the day, through Neville’s farm and Moses’ field. As he made his way to the edge of the bull’s enclosure he saw Frank’s tractor parked in his own field. Frank had a tool bag and was fixing the old water pump that supplied the cattle’s trough near the edge of the field nearest his own farmhouse. Lifting his head Mr McCallum noticed Rob heading his way and gave him a wave before turning back to the pump. Rob waved back and then stopped dead. The gate leading to the McCallum’s field was open. Broken off the weak hinges he’d spotted earlier it now lay in the mud covered in footprints. Moses.

Still walking towards the gate Rob scanned the McCallum’s field. He spotted Moses, still looking pretty steamed, behind a little knoll off to Mr McCallum’s rear and to his left. Rob wasn’t particularly worried at first. Frank would hear the bull coming from a good distance and get himself to safety. It was as he thought this that Rob noticed two things.

The tractor’s engine, right beside Mr McCallum, was still noisily idling away, drowning the noise of Moses hoofs. Worse, Moses had decided that Frank was a good outlet for his pent up frustrations and was hurtling towards the old man in a charge at high speed and Frank was oblivious.

Nae’body’s Hero is almost complete and wil be available by February 2013.

You can by my debut novel “Bobby’s Boy” on paperback or Kindle here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353085510&sr=8-1

Music and Stories

For me, music has been a constant soundtrack to my life. Key events, loved ones, hard times and great times all have a song or album as a soundtrack. Books and movies are no exception.

Little wonder that my own debut novel was so driven and influenced by the music pof the times it’s set in and passes through.

Here are the three songs I chose for each “Act” of the book and why:

In part one I quoted Huey Lewsi and the News “The power of love” :

“Make a bad one good.

Make a wrong one right.

The power of love will keep you home at night.”

Partly because I love the track but mostly because the era that part one of Bobby’s Boy is set in is encapsulated so well in the memories that this song envokes. All the good stuff and all the bad are brought to the fore of my mind’s eye in the openeing 5 seconds of this song. The quote also evokes the love I wanted Tommy to encounter and be changed by

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NMph943tsw

The second act of the book was introduced with the quote

 

“Oh I would never give up and go home,

 beaten and broken.

 No, I don’t know who I am anymore,

But I’ll keep on chasing those rainbows.”

 

from “The Only Enemy that Ever Mattered” by the wonderful Hopeless Heroic. At this stage of the book, tommy was departing on the trip of his life, but he was every bit as much running from his past as he ws barrrelling towards his future.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eau7ojfX7_E

The last song I used was intended to show the wish to start all over again. Tommy’s been fantasising for so long, and he now lives in a world once more he wishes wasn’t real , but is. The video is a perfect fit also.

Coldplay – “The Scientist”

“Nobody said it was easy.

No-one ever said it would be this hard.

Oh, take me back to the start.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqWLpTKBFcU

Bobby’s Boy is on FREE PROMO until tomorrow

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347132445&sr=8-2

 

 

I

Sneak Preview – Nae’body’s Hero

The following is a preview from the upcoming novel “Nae’body’s Hero”. Copyright Mark Wilson 2012:

Cover Image for Nae’body’s Hero

Book Description:

Rob Hamilton hails from Lanarkshire and from a messed up family. As a result, he has an unshakable sense of right and wrong and is low on self esteem. Rob also has some very special gifts. If he can stop hiding from them and get his life together he may just be the greatest hero the world will never know. 

Arif Ali is a British medical student. Disillusioned with life in Britain he is now living and studying in Faisalabad, Pakistan.  He and Rob will form an unlikely friendship that will change the course of history.

Annie is an American agent with an undisclosed agency. She could be the worst enemy the friends have or their greatest ally.

…………………

Prologue

The first time it happened I was seven years old. Obviously I knew it had to have been a dream but it really didn’t seem that way at the time. I’d woken in the middle of the night face pressed to a hard, cold surface instead of comfortably against my pillow. At first I assumed that I had fallen out of bed again and landed on my bedroom floor but the contact on my cheek was hard; too hard to be the blue carpet which covered my bedroom floor in those days.

As I slowly came to it dawned on me that the surface was pointed too. There were loads of wee dry, plaster-like prickles pressing into my face, into my whole body actually. It was artex, which made no sense at all. Only the ceiling was artexed. I opened my eyes to see white artex as the realisation hit me that I was pressed to the ceiling.

Realising where I was seemed to break the magic and I clattered heavily onto the blue of my bedroom carpet, grateful for its thickness.

“Robert. You’ve fallen out of bed again. Get back to sleep.” Dad roared from the next room.

I did so and quickly. I didn’t want to anger dad again. I’d been in enough trouble this week. I wasn’t really sure what we’d done but mum and dad had been really annoyed with my twin sister Claire and I repeatedly this last week or two and both seemed tense over something. It was very unlike either of them to be so easily annoyed and tetchy with us.

“Sorry dad.”

“Right Robert. Shush. Sleep.”

Dad was the only one who ever called me Robert and he had many different ways of saying, shouting, laughing or barking my name depending upon how much trouble I was in. When I was a wee boy my dad taught me a rhyme about my name that I’ve never forgot, mostly because it reminds me of him and makes me smile. He’d told me that it was about a boy called William but he thought that it fitted my name better. I could recite it back to him by the age of three, the two of us laughing together as I did so.

Father calls me Robert

Sister calls me Rob

Mother calls me Robbie

 and the fellas call me Bob.

Dad has always called me Robert and I love that mum actually does call me Robbie (she pronounces it Rabbie) but nobody has ever called me Bob. Everyone else, including Claire, calls me Rob (or Rab).

Finally I did sleep once more, drifting off to the thought that it would’ve been really cool if that dream had been real and I really could fly up to the ceiling. That’d be crazy though. No-one can fly.

Chapter One

 1983

Rob

 

Waking from a long deep sleep, with all the usual dreams sleep brought with it, Rob sat up in bed. Leaning back against the old headboard he rubbed his eyes and took in the room. Something seemed……off. Dressed in matching Y-fronts and vest (Spiderman) Rob stepped out of bed and pulled on some jogging bottoms. He took in his rooms’ contents, mentally noting various objects’ positions. Everything seemed fine, nothing out of place. Claire hadn’t been in overnight to cuddle up with him (a twins’ habit they had yet to break which had increased in regularity recently), all his things seemed to be where they belonged, but something just wasn’t how it should be. The house was just too quiet.

Checking his bedside clock Rob noted that it was eight am. Friday morning, mum and dad are normally getting ready for work and pulling us out of bed by now. Surely they haven’t slept in?

The previous night Rob’s parents had both seemed in good spirits. The whole family had watched a film together, chatting their way through most of it with nobody really all that interested in what was happening on the screen. Both mum and dad had tucked them into bed with lots of kisses, cuddles and “I love you-s” exchanged. It’d been great having them back to their old selves after so long of being so tense at home. I’d better go see where they are.

Rob creaked out onto the landing, walking slowly and deliberately just in case he’d been daft and gotten mixed up; maybe it was Saturday. There wasn’t a sound coming from anywhere in the little semi-detached family home. Continuing across the landing he slowly cracked open Claire’s bedroom door. Seeing his sister still asleep he resisted the urge to go wake her up by jumping on her just in case her screams woke their parents and quietly closed her door over. Rob made his way downstairs to the kitchen with some quiet time in mind before the usual burst of activity started.

On autopilot Rob loaded eight slices of bread into the massive family toaster, prepared four cups for hot drinks for everyone. Coffee with milk and two for both mum and dad, tea with one and milk for Claire and black coffee for himself. Wandering through to the downstairs hall, Rob picked up the Daily record which had been lying on the mat. Confirming from the front of the paper that it was indeed Friday and from his wee calculator- watch that it was now 8:15 he decided that he’d better rouse everyone before they lay in so long that they’d be late for work and school. The only sounds in the house were of his own footsteps bending the old stairs as he ascended causing them to creak and groan.

“Mum. Dad. It’s time to get up.” Tom knocked softly on his parents’ bedroom door. He waited a beat and knocked a bit harder.

“Time to get up”, he sing-songed cheerily.

Again nothing came back in reply. He pushed the door open to his parents’ room and to what would be a new beginning. They were both gone.

Rob Hamilton was just like any ten year old boy in Bellshill in the  80s. Football, Kim Wylde and Star Wars occupied his mind. A relentless ball of energy was how most of his friends would describe him. Playing football, rugby, hockey and attending scouts took up most of his time. That and hanging around down Strathclyde park with his friends. On the surface he seemed a happy and contented kid with not a care in the world, in many ways he was, but Rob Hamilton rarely felt that he fit in with the company he kept. Not with his friends (not since Tom left the town) and not in his own home.

He’d lived in the small town most of his life but was slowly becoming a more detached soul. Rob rarely felt part of what was happening around him and struggled to understand the people in his life. He just felt so different to them. He went through the motions. Joining teams, socialising, school and seemed to be thriving but in truth the only people he’d felt that he really had a place with, who he felt accepted and understood him were his best friend Tom and his sister Claire.

Tom Kinsella had been Rob’s best friend since they attended nursery together. The boys had been as close as brothers, at times even closer than Rob had been to his own twin. Spending long hours days and weeks roaming woodland, building dens and fires, and playing football had developed their friendship. All these things had brought them so close and of course the talking. They were always talking.

They spoke of their families, of where Tom’s dad would be taking him on some adventure always asking Rob along. Rob could confide in Tom, telling of his own parents’ increasingly detached behaviour these past few years. They told each other about their dreams for the future, about how Tom would be a musician, or a writer, or a fireman; maybe all three. Rob just wanted to see the world he didn’t care what job he did to pay for it. A part of Rob just wanted to find somewhere where he felt at home and Tom was the only person who not only understood his desire to roam, but seemed to share it. Both agreed that they would leave their hometown as soon as they were able and made a pact to do so together; to always be best friends. When Tom Kinsella’s father Bobby died and his best friend moved away, Rob was completely lost without him and turned to his sister more often.

Despite being his twin Claire was quite different to Rob. More outgoing, less introspective and much less inclined to be quite as moody as Rob had found himself becoming in the last two years. Claire was one of those people for whom life’s surprises were just another chance to try something new. Claire never flapped, stressed or worried she just went with life, happily taking what came her way and making new friends easily. She and Tom were very alike. The three of them were close and had always been.

They spent most of their time as a threesome chatting, swimming at Bellshill baths, walking down and around Strathclyde Park, sometimes going on the fairground rides or climbing the trees in the woods, but mostly they just talked and laughed. They had a secret place that they’d visit daily either alone or together. They did most of their talking there in a den made of old tree branches they’d made months before and filled with three old tyres for seating. It was in a small bit of woodland behind the butcher’s shop and they’d named it “BHQ” (B for butcher).

Tom, Rob and Claire had found the location for BHQ after following a horrific smell around the back of the shop and discovering a sheep’s head. The two boys had poked at it with sticks for a few minutes examining its face, lolling tongue, milky eyes and rancid, maggot-filled mouth. The thing had started to become putrid. Smelling strangely sweet it had attracted the boys in their morbid curiosity. Claire kept her distance, hugging herself in revulsion, but giving Rob and Tom time to satisfy their interest.

“Let’s go you two, that things’ boggin’.” The boys laughed but quickly moved to join her and walk home together. The next time they visited the sheep was gone but they discovered the location for BHQ and began its construction.

These days, with Tom gone, Claire never came near it she was too busy with her friends, only Rob sought a little solace in their den. The days the three of them spent wasting hours happily together felt like years ago to Rob now and as though they’d happened to another Rob Hamilton.

Rob was happy his sister was so engaged with the world and full of life. He assumed that this meant that she had escaped what he knew he’d inherited from his grandfather and he could feel becoming worse each night, with every surreal dream of events and incidents that couldn’t have happened but his apparently damaged wee brain was trying to convince him had.

The vast reserves of energy he possessed were a result of his not wanting to waste a minute of the time he had in life. He wanted to see as many places, meet as many people and engage in as broad a range of activities as he could before his mental capacity degraded as quickly and completely as he’d been told that his Granda’s had. As these episodes had started to happen in the daytime as well now, when he was wide awake, he knew that his mental health had taken a turn for the worse.

By the time Rob knew his granda the old man was in a residential hospital having long since lost all capacity for reason. As a younger man he’d apparently been huge “built like a brick shit house” his own dad had told Rob. Working as a steelworker, like so many local men, his Granda, at six foot nine inches, not an ounce of fat on him and a tea-total-ler, stuck out like a sore thumb in Lanarkshire the land of the ubiquitous five foot five male. Rob, even at only ten, had taken a stretch in height this past year and was already towering over most of his year group in school. He’d have been happy to have inherited only his build from the old man.

Granda Hamilton had suffered a series of mental breakdowns from his fifties onwards, hallucinating and fantasising events that Rob’s father had told him couldn’t possibly have occurred. Granda had deteriorated to the point where he couldn’t tell what was real from what wasn’t in five short years and been confined to a hospital for his own safety by Rob’s dad. The phrase bi-polar had been used in Rob’s house when discussing his granda.

With his granda always in his mind Rob had vowed to ignore the growing detachment he was feeling and follow his best friends and sisters’ example, throwing himself into as many friendships and experiences as he could regardless of how out of place he may feel.

After finding his parents’ room empty Rob searched the house. He searched every room, every cupboard, drawer, pantry, bathroom and the garden and its shed outside. Rob even clambered up into the small attic. Initially he was looking for his parents but when he decided that they weren’t there to be found he began looking for a note. He didn’t find his parents or a note explaining their absence.

All of their drawers and cupboards still contained all of their belongings. Jewellery and toiletries, shoes and coats, dad’s asthma inhaler, all of it was where it should be. The house was exactly as it had been the night before when they’d all went to bed enjoying the afterglow of a much needed family evening full of affection. Even the car was still outside. The only thing that was missing from the house was them.

They must have had an emergency or something. With no close relatives in the area (apart from their granda) Rob could think of no one to call. Figuring that all would be fine later in the day he woke Claire, explained that their parents had got up and gone out early to work and that they had to get ready and go to school.  When the school day was over and the twins returned home the house still lay empty. It stayed that way for the next day and the day after that.

On Sunday evening Rob called the police. He and Claire left their little house on Liberty Road for the last time that evening. Claire holding a female police officer’s hand, crying for her mum and dad; Rob trailing behind, face of stone, completely certain (as only a child can be) that they had left because of him; because they knew like everyone else did that he wasn’t “right”.  That he didn’t belong.

Chapter Two

Arif

Azam Ali hurried through the busy, familiar streets of Battersea, SW London, gently pushing past and apologising to other commuters in his thick London accent as he did so. Normally, on any other day Azam would happily wander along, content to be carried along with the flow of traffic, usually on the journey between his little newsagents and home, a little ground floor, two bedroom rental. Today however was a not a normal day for Azam.

Sure for millions of others it was just Sunday; just another Sunday in the last days of March. Sundays were for relaxing, for reading the papers (in his case selling them) and having Sunday roast. Most places were closed on a Sunday. Maybe it was special for some people, an anniversary, visiting family or church  or whatever but really, what ever happened on a Sunday?

For Azam this Sunday was a very important day indeed and today he wasn’t walking the two blocks to his shop. Today he was taking public transport. Today, on a Sunday, the second generation of Ali to be born in England was on his way to meet his parents.

…………………………………….

Nae’body’s Hero will be published in December 2012.

In the meantime try Bobby’s Boy, Mark Wilson’s Debut novel where Rob makes a brief cameo. Available now as en Ebook or Paperback.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343918174&sr=8-1

The Raised by Allen Renfro – Review

The Raised by Allen Renfro is one hell of a book. I really struggled with it at first. I struggled to figure out: Who was narrating? Where and when was it set? What was all the tension? Why did I feel so damn itchy and uncomfortable when I read it?

I picked the book up, read for a bit, put it down in…..frustration I suppose. There were so many questions presented in the first few pages. So many threads. Then Renfro started weaving a truly fantastic tale from the seemingly random elements. Essentially, Allen makes a clean and flawless tapestry of a novel from those scraggy threads.

I suppose that with the last few busy years of being a new father spent squeezing in and reading unchallenging escapist type novels I’d grown used to formulaic, easy to read, spoon fed, unimaginative and derivative stories. Allen Renfro’s novel is none of these things. Allen unfolds a wonderfully textured story with all the skill and confidence of a seasoned novelist in the mould of Anne Rice. It seems effortless to the man.

In The Raised we are introduced to one of the most truly fucked-up families in fiction who lie, manipulate, murder and abuse each other throughout the book. The story is told over years and through the viewpoint of several central characters, each impressing their own reactions to and interpretation of shared events. Depsite viewing this converging story from different characters’ POV and from different points in time, the story is never repetitive. Quite a feat when using this sort of mechanism.

Allen is a word-artist. He paints vivid and beautiful scenes with letters splashed on the page with seeming ease, but also with intent and precision. Whilst he describes scenes, settings, rooms and people with great accuracy and feeling, he never labours the point. Some writers have you skipping long monologues when trying to be descriptive. Renfro has such skill (the bastard) that he simply transports you right there to stand shoulder to shoulder with his protagonists.

The real strength that Allen Renfro possesses is in his understanding of and empathy with people and in his ability to convey these complex emotions to the reader. He deals with many complex relationships between his characters with ease, gradually making us hate/love/fear/pity these very real-feeling people. Allen has immense insight into the inner workings of what makes humans tick and an understanding of peoples’ emotions that only someone who had suffered, loved, or lost in some way would be able to identify and convey in the manner he does. In an age of two-dimensional characters littered throughout the literary, and movie media, Allen gives us properly human characters. Ones with many conflicting sides to them, who aren’t perfect, pouting demigods but truly flawed.

This type of book is really not in my usual genre, but on this occaission I was deeply relieved to take the detour and discover that an obviously lovely man is also such a gifted writer.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Raised-ebook/dp/B005SJSXYI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338569714&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/The-Raised-ebook/dp/B005SJSXYI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1338569769&sr=1-1

Paddy’s Daddy now available as a paperback

Paddy’s Daddy, my non-fiction collection of short stories, describing my recover from 25 years of depression is now available as a paperback in the UK and in the US.

 

here’s what the readers have to say:

What the readers say:

“tears, laughter & sadness….Emotional rollercoaster of short stories….brilliant brilliant brilliant” – Liz
“Mark Wilson tugs on the heart strings in his book Paddy’s Daddy. Taking you on an emotional journey from beginning to end you WILL laugh you WILL cry. A heartfelt autobiographical novel on living in Scotland in the 21st century everyone should read this ” – Frank
“This writer had me in tears reading what I can only describe as an open page to his heart. He writes with passion and honesty, what a gift this man has. He rips memories from deep within and bares them for all to see.” Excellent -Kim
“Thought-provoking, heartbreaking & inspirational, Paddy’s Daddy tells us that unfortunately, not all children have the childhood they deserve. Mark Wilson has proven that with hard work & determination, the destructive cycle can be broken.” – Trish

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paddys-Daddy-Determination-Mark-Wilson/dp/1475106114/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338145254&sr=1-1