The Revelation Room by Mark Tilbury – Review

Review:

Dark intent? Check. Religious irreverence, bordering on satire? Check. The blackest of humour tinged with biting dialogue? Check. I’m all in for the revelation Room.

Told in third person-past tense throughout, Tilbury’s Revelation Room is a hugely enjoyable slash across the veneer of decent society, exposing some of the grimmest and most graphic insights into the depths of the human soul and capacity for denial, cruelty and for goodness.

Our main protagonists, undercover in a cult, are beautifully-rendered, fully fleshed-out leads possessed of solid motivations and are the perfect creations to guide the reader through Tilbury’s tantalising and tightly plotted story.

In the Revelation Room, we find a writer who is absolutely on-point with his use of dialogue to expose intent and characterisation. Tilbury’s use of short, snappy sentences contrasted by longer monologues, succeeds in conveying the emotion or urgency of the particular scene. Excellent structure. The characterisation is a particularly strong element in this work.

 

At times the novel feels surreal, occasionally dangerous and often cutting in its darkly humorous moments and cutting observations.

A confident, swaggering, unapologetic fiend of a novel from a writer to watch.

 

 

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Book blurb for The Revelation Room:

Ben Whittle’s father, a private investigator, has been taken captive by a cult whilst investigating the case of a missing girl. When Ben receives a desperate call from his father asking for help he is drawn into a dark underground world. As Ben retraces the last known steps of the missing girl he discovers his only option left is to join the cult and rescue his father from the inside. The leader of the cult, Edward Ebb, is a psychopathic egocentric who uses his position to control his small group of followers in The Sons and Daughters of Salvation. When he initiates Ben into the group it soon becomes apparent how sick and twisted Ebb is. Ben must find his father and the missing girl, but the odds are stacked against him and time is running out. Can Ben rescue his father and the girl and escape with his life? And what is the gruesome secret concealed in the Revelation Room? The Revelation Room is the first in a new series of psychological mystery thrillers.

 

Author bio:

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised. After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused. He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his third novel, The Abattoir of Dreams, published, and The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused re-launched, by Bloodhound Books. When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar, and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

You can find Mark and his books at Amazon

 

 

Brick by Conrad Jones – Review

Review:

Conrad jones has crafted a tightly-plotted, confident and solid offering with Brick. Several plotlines run throughout the book, the complexities of which this seasoned writer handles with ease. The dialogue is mostly excellent and moves the story along nicely at some crucial points.

At times I felt the novel suffered from large exposition dumps, particularly in Bryn’s early chapter, but this is a minor quibble, mostly a personal preference, and one that readers of this genre won’t find off-putting.

Jones’ strength, in this particular novel, is his ability to convey a very real sense of danger, horror, fear and conflict. His prose is descriptive, often graphic but never wantonly so. Each atrocious act or event is entirely justified and in keeping with the plot. Jones’ eye for detail is impressive, as is his descriptive skill, which aids in immersing the reader in the constantly-shifting, precarious world he presents them with.

It’s always nice to see social media utilised in a modern novel. Aside from making the story feel current…fresh, the use of social media is inspired in this case and a skilful tool for moving this story on, and for heightening the realism (ironically) and the urgency of the scenes.

 

An often dark, sometimes gruelling, and hugely-entertaining offering from a confident writer.

 

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Book Description:

When a teenager is the victim of an unprovoked attack while walking his dog, a murder investigation begins. A cruel twist of fate makes his innocent family the targets of a vicious campaign of terror. As the detectives of Liverpool’s Major Investigation Team try to contain the violence, several key members of an organised crime family begin to topple, causing shockwaves across the world. 

Why was the teenager attacked?

And will the villains be brought to justice?

 

Author bio:

 

I am Conrad Jones a 50-year-old Author, originally from a sleepy green-belt called Tarbock Green, which is situated on the outskirts of Liverpool. I spent a number of years living in Holyhead, Anglesey, which I class as my home, before starting a career as a trainee manger with McDonalds Restaurants in 1989. I worked in management at McDonalds Restaurants Ltd from 1989-2002, working my way up to Business Consultant (area manager) working in the corporate and franchised departments.

In March 1993 I was managing the Restaurant in Warrington`s Bridge St when two Irish Republican Army bombs exploded directly outside the store, resulting in the death of two young boys and many casualties. Along with hundreds of other people there that day I was deeply affected by the attack, which led to a long-term interest in the motivation and mind set of criminal gangs. I began to read anything crime related that I could get my hands on.

I link this experience with the desire to write books on the subject, which came much later on due to an unusual set of circumstances. Because of that experience my early novels follow the adventures of an elite counter terrorist unit, The Terrorist Task Force, and their leader, John Tankersley, or `Tank`and they are the Soft Target Series, which have been described by a reviewer as ‘Reacher on steroids’.

 

I had no intentions of writing until 2007, when I set off on an 11-week tour of the USA. The Day before I boarded the plane, Madeleine Mcann disappeared and all through the holiday I followed the American news reports which had little or no information about her. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the terrible kidnap would inspire my book, The Child Taker years later. During that trip, I received news that my house had been burgled and my work van and equipment were stolen. That summer was the year when York and Tewksbury were flooded by a deluge and insurance companies were swamped with claims. They informed me that they couldn’t do anything for weeks and that returning home would be a wasted journey. Rendered unemployed on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, I decided to begin my first book, Soft Target. I have never stopped writing since. I have recently completed my 17th novel, SHADOWS, something that never would have happened but for that burglary and my experiences in Warrington.

As far as my favourite series ever, it has to be James Herbert’s, The Rats trilogy. The first book did for me what school books couldn’t. It fascinated me, triggered my imagination and gave me the hunger to want to read more. I waited years for the second book, The Lair, and Domain, the third book to come out and they were amazing. Domain

 

I had no intentions of writing until 2007, when I set off on an 11-week tour of the USA. The Day before I boarded the plane, Madeleine Mcann disappeared and all through the holiday I followed the American news reports which had little or no information about her. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the terrible kidnap would inspire my book, The Child Taker years later. During that trip, I received news that my house had been burgled and my work van and equipment were stolen. That summer was the year when York and Tewksbury were flooded by a deluge and insurance companies were swamped with claims. They informed me that they couldn’t do anything for weeks and that returning home would be a wasted journey. Rendered unemployed on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, I decided to begin my first book, Soft Target. I have never stopped writing since. I have recently completed my 17th novel, SHADOWS, something that never would have happened but for that burglary and my experiences in Warrington.

As far as my favourite series ever, it has to be James Herbert’s, The Rats trilogy. The first book did for me what school books couldn’t. It fascinated me, triggered my imagination and gave me the hunger to want to read more. I waited years for the second book, The Lair, and Domain, the third book to come out and they were amazing. Domain is one of the best books I have ever read. In later years, Lee Child, especially the early books, has kept me hypnotised on my sunbed on holiday as has Michael Connelley and his Harry Bosch Series.    

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/conradjonesauthorpage/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Conrad-Jones/e/B002BOBGRE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1493730391&sr=8-1

https://twitter.com/ConradJones

jonesconrad5@aol.com

Bad to the Bone by Tony Forder – Review

Review:

Bad to The Bone is a competent police procedural in the ilk of recent TV series ‘Unforgotten’. Written in third-person, past-tense  (an inspired choice of narrative for this particular plot), the novel is pacey whilst managing to maintain a suspenseful edge throughout. Forder’s characters display some nicely-timed humour to bring a touch of lightness when it’s needed most. The dialogue in this novel is good, particularly from Bliss, who I liked immediately as a lead character,

Forder does, however, employ a little too much telling rather than showing for me. At times I felt the background relayed in chunks of exposition could’ve been conveyed more imaginatively but this didn’t detract from the flow of the novel, the quality of the writing, or the pace. The characterisation was unfailingly and consistently excellent, a particular strength for Forder actually, and there’s plenty of evidence of a writer who is developing a new skill-set by the novel’s end, which was particularly strong at it’s reveal.

A pacey, invigorating read that offers plenty of thrills and a solid entry into the genre.

 

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Book Description:

A skeletal body is unearthed in a wooded area of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. DI James Bliss, together with DC Penny Chandler, investigate the case and discover that the young, female victim had been relocated from its original burial site.

 

A witness is convinced that a young female was struck by a vehicle back in the summer of 1990, and that police attended the scene. However, no record exists of either the accident or the reported victim. As the case develops, two retired police officers are murdered. The two are linked with others who were on duty at the time a road accident was reported. 

As Bliss and Chandler delve deeper into the investigation, they start to question whether senior officers may have been involved in the murder of the young women who was buried in the woods.

As each link in the chain is put under duress, so is Bliss who clashes with superiors and the media. 

When his team receives targeted warnings, Bliss will need to decide whether to drop the case or to pursue those responsible.

Will Bliss walk away in order to keep his career intact or will he fight no matter what the cost? 

And is it possible the killer is much closer than they imagined?

 

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Author Bio:

On 1st February 2017, Tony signed to Bloodhound Books, who will publish his new edgy crime thriller Bad to the Bone this spring. It is the first in a series. Later this year, Tony’s second novel for Bloodhound Books, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, will be published. This year Tony has been inspired by new ideas, and has been working hard on two new books, both of which should be completed in 2017. In the meantime, he hopes you enjoy Bad to the Bone, introducing DI James Bliss and DC Penny Chandler.

 

Links:

Facebook

Twitter

 

Bad to the Bone is available at Amazon and from Bloodhound Books now

Kill or Die by Ann Evans – Review

This book has been my surprise of the year so far.

A first in the genre from Evans, Kill or Die is nonetheless a fine display of skill and confidence from a seasoned writer who makes smart choices in her prose and choice of narrative. Evans’ immersive and descriptive prose excels in engaging the reader and in stimulating a cascade of very vivid images of the setting and her characters.

Well-crafted, and natural-feeling dialogue, utilising a mixture of long and short sentence structure, augment the already good characterisation. Combined with Evans use of Body language to covey intent and emotion, this elevates the characterisation to another level and places it amongst the most skilled I’ve read in a while.

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A third-person, past-tense narrative throughout suits the plot and propels the characters and their deeds along at a fair old clip. Kill or Die is seeped in suspense, eliciting a deep sense of unease and conflict throughout. The novel is permeated with a measured tension that I really enjoyed. With her choice to place Julia and her daughter front and centre, Evans appears to effortlessly tap into the subconscious fears all parents harbour and suppress and asks her readers to explore their own unease.

How far would you go to protect your child? Answer: As far as you had to.

A great new addition to the publisher’s catalogue and yet another declaration of Bloodhound’s intent to continue to develop quality books and writers.

 

You can find Ann and her books at Bloodhound Books and a Amazon

Beautiful Liar by Louise Mullins – Review

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Mullins’ Novel is an uneasy read. Shedding many of the characteristics of the bog-standard ‘psychological thriller’ Beautiful Liar flips back and forth between past and present, gradually revealing the path to the murder the reader encounters in the book’s opening pages.

The first-person, present-tense narrative works well enough, mostly because the alternating between Joel and Erica’s segments is startling due to the stark differences between the characters’ personalities. So much so that perhaps using different POVs or tense may have been overkill.

Joel is skilfully manipulative, in the way that many controlling men and abusers can often be. Mullins has done an admirable job of conveying his presence, without ever resorting to moustache-twirling.

Despite the situation she is placed in, and my sympathies with Erica, as well as my support for her dispatching of her husband, I didn’t always like her, which made me like the book more than I might have had I found a Mary-Sue.

I’m unsure whether this is Mullins’ debut novel or not, it certainly doesn’t read like one, rather it shows a writer who is well along in her development and demonstrating her skill.

 

Beautiful Liar is available now from Bloodhound Books and at Amazon

Why Would Anyone Settle For Being An Indie-Author?

Why Would Anyone Settle For Being An Indie-Author?

The first question I’m asked when people discover that I’m an Indie- Author is whether I’ve approached or considered approaching agents or publishers.

‘Your books are good, Mark. You should submit to publishers.’

It doesn’t seem to occur to some that being independent is a choice, not a necessity. I never considered the traditional publishing route, although I have had offers from several Independent publishing houses and one large agency over the years which I chose not to accept for a variety of reasons.

I was very lucky to benefit early in my writing career from the advice of several authors who’ve spent some years in the publishing industry. In particular, I had a long chat with Gavin Bain, a friend of mine who has had long-term experience in the music and literary business. We chatted about agents, contracts, advances, small publishers versus large ones and I spent months doing my own research on the business. With a push from Gavin I followed my gut instinct to go Indie. I’ve never regretted this.

So…Self- Publishing or Traditional?

Asked by every writer to spurt ink.

When I started writing my debut novel, I stood firmly in the self-publish camp. As I progressed with the book, I wanted to be thorough, so I researched the industry more and more. Royalties, advances, agents, services performed by the publishing house and or the agent, big or small publisher? Did I want to write for and market to a specific genre? How could I set about building a readership?

There was and is a lot to learn. I did weeks of research, seeking out those agents and publishers (mostly independent) who I thought would like me and my book, and whom I thought I’d like to work with. After ten completed projects, that list remains unused at present.

More and more, as I immersed myself in the snaking and shaded corridors of the literary industry, the same nagging questions came back to me.

Is it worth giving away control of my work for the miniscule chance at the potential exposure a big publisher might bring?

It seemed to me that if these guys deigned to take you, they’d in all probability change your work endlessly, until it fit their formulaic idea of what a commercial novel should be, which is fine for some writers, but not for me. It seemed that most of the promo and marketing would be done by me rather than them anyway, so why should I give them such a huge chunk of my potential earnings (ha!) and, more importantly, complete control over the words that I had spent so many hours writing? What was more important? Potential earnings or creative control?

Advances: For many authors, it seems that an advance, especially a huge one, is the holy-grail. I don’t understand this mentality at all. Sure an advance is a nice pat on the back, and an indication that your book is commercial enough (or at least can be made to be, in the payer’s opinion) to perhaps recoup the investment. It also seems like a good way of allowing the author the privilege and means to write full-time. For me, it’s a scary prospect.

An advance simply means that you’re in debt to the issuer until your sales repay the money. If the sales take years to do so? Well, you’re in hock to them for years, and quite probably on a deadline for at least one more book. No thanks. Add this to the fact that a large portion of publishers give their newly-published books only a very short time to hit serious sales before shifting their enthusiasm and attention elsewhere, it added to my unease.

I know several authors who exist by paying one advance off with the next to recover the rights to their books.

Agents: Whilst there are of course many good quality agents, who work hard for their clients, let’s remember two key things about them.

Firstly, they do try to get the best deal for their authors, but that may mean something different to them than it does to the author, in terms of cash, advances or the prestige of a particular publishing house over creative control or effective care from the publisher. Your agent represents a business; the more money (debt) they get for you, the more money they themselves make, and that is their primary objective.

Secondly, agents will take around 15% of your money, which is already a very small percentage (somewhere between 7 -15% for traditionally published writers) when considering the fact that you worked so hard on your book and will continue to work your arse off promoting the book, publisher or no publisher (unless of course you’re very high on the publishers’ radar). Whilst the services of agents can be very valuable, if you take the traditional publisher out of the picture, there’s really no place for an agent until you’re selling enough books on your own to gather interest from publishers and have deals to negotiate.

Smaller publishing houses offer a more personal service and are generally more engaged with and passionate about the work they’ve chosen to represent. They are also significantly more pro-active in reacting to the market and in developing their authors than their traditional counterparts. Whilst working with small publishers can be rewarding, particularly if think you haven’t the skills or contacts to produce a decent standard of book for yourself, in my view there’s not always a need to hand your work over to a small publisher, unless they can add value that you cannot on your own. Indie publishers like Bloodhound Books have made great strides in the market and appear to put their authors first. 

If you choose to go it alone, given the time and will you can learn do it yourself with the right assistance and a commitment to pay professionals for the services you can’t do for yourself, i.e., editing and proofing.
Many of the industry professionals I hire do the exact same work but at higher rates to small publishers. Good freelancers are easy to come by and needn’t be expensive.

This is where the effective Indie-Author exists. In the centre of a web of professionals; editors, proof-readers, formatters and cover designers (if needed), hired by the author to polish his/her work and free the author up to do what he/she does best…Write.

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Are the potential benefits and rewards of being a writer great enough for me to expect to earn a living from writing?

For me the decision to go Indie was a no-brainer. However, a small part of me, the one that’s low on self-esteem, told me that I needed the recognition from an agent or publisher that my book was “good”.

I ignored that needy version of myself and ploughed on, buoyed by the research I’d done into the standard of eBooks out there. As far as I could see, my first book was as good as many self-published eBooks, and better than most (there’s the tiny little bit of ego/confidence I do possess asserting itself).

In hindsight, my first work was of a good standard but just good. I was judging the quality of my work against other independents, when I should have been planning ahead in my development and thinking bigger in terms of the standard I wanted to reach and surpass.

As a writer, I’ve developed a massive amount and learned many more writing devices and techniques during the process of writing nine more books. This kind of development time, I wouldn’t be allowed with such a public analysis and feedback in traditional publishing. Like the music industry, the days when a publisher will take a punt on a new talent and invest in developing them are long gone for the most part. “Bring us the next copy of a copy of ‘a girl who kicked a hornet in the nuts on a train’.”

As things stand; using several industry professionals who are competitively priced, and more importantly better at editing etc than me, I’ve published my stories across a range of genre, exactly as I intend them to be.

The financial rewards?

Here’s the thing few writers will tell you, mostly because you don’t want to hear it. You will most likely not make money as a writer.

You will devote thousands of hours of your time to writing the very best books you can. Time to develop your skills and broaden your writing palette. Hours and hours to learn what you can about marketing and promoting your book effectively. Building an audience. Writing some more.

None of this will guarantee you readers or an income. If you make more than £500 a month from writing novels, you deserve a pat on the back. I regularly outsell much higher profile authors who are tied to restrictive contracts and huge advances. How the hell they pay their creditors back, I have no idea. Living from one advance to the next doesn’t appeal to me.

The truth is, that for all the professionalism you will have to employ; all of the dedication and sacrifice of your time to write and to present your writing as well as it can be, writing will be nothing more than a very time-consuming hobby that you love. If you build a small readership who enjoy your books and earn enough for a little holiday once a year, give yourself well-deserved handshake. Focus instead on being proud of a back catalogue of books you poured yourself into writing.

So, why ‘settle’ for being an Indie- Author?

That’s the key, you’re not settling, you’re making a determined and smart choice to control your own literary destiny and produce your work the way you desire. No changing characters ages or sex or motivations to appeal to this demographic or that genre. No committees making a product of your labour. No debt to a corporate master which for most writers you haven’t a hope of recouping form advances.

The beauty?

If you’re one of the lucky writers who have a breakthrough hit of a book, your work is entirely in your own hands. You can make that deal when the big boys/girls come calling, but you can make it on your own terms. Use their distribution. Use their contacts to get a TV deal or international translations or Movie deals. Use them. Not the other way round.

As an independent, you can still choose to publish with an indie-publisher, or a larger one if that’s your bag, but have the choice to work with people who truly feel passionate about and can add value to your novel, rather than jumping at the first publisher or agent who shows an interest at all cost. 

Do not settle for being an Indie-Author.

Fucking aspire to be an Indie-Author.

 

Mark is the proudly-independent author of nine works of fiction and one non-fiction

You can find Mark Wilson and his books at Amazon.

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Standing on The Shoulders…. Telling other’s stories; A preview

Whenever I write a new book, I ask a friend if I can borrow a story of theirs, something that happened to them that I then dramatize a wee bit and adapt to move my story forward.

I’m constantly surprised by how willing people are to let you hear their most personal lows and highs and basically, fuck about with them for entertainment.

For my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy, I used an experience of my own; sitting on a doorstep, neglected, day upon day. I also adapted an upsetting episode form a friend’s life. My friend had been tied to a chair and whipped, to ‘whip the gay out of him’. I dramatized this and made it worse than reality (as if reality in this case wasn’t bad enough) and thanked him over and over for trusting me with something, he hadn’t shared with his own family.

For Naebody’s Hero, I had my main character, Rob wake up to an empty house. Parents gone. this happened to a friend of mine and like Rob, he used it to become a truly good person.

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My new book, Head Boy is no exception. Why make it up, when you can steal your friends stories and embellish them? One of the loveliest, funniest (and most gorgeous) people I know had relayed this particular story to me a year or so ago, mostly because we share some history and too many common incidences of being let down by parents. You know who you are. Thanks for trusting me.

In this scene from Head Boy, Stacey is patching up an injured Davie Diller. Diller hs been tortured. The pair are occasional lovers.

The following excerpt is copyright to Mark Wilson 2013

Chapter 11

 Michael Jackson and Bubbles

 

Hunched over, hands deep inside the sleeves of his coat for protection, Diller slipped through the school gates and made his way around to the rear of the building. Kicking the door to save him using his hands to knock, Diller sighed with relief as Stacey opened the rear door for him. He didn’t know Cardinal Newman High School very well, but Stacey’s instructions had been clear.

“Davie, what’s happened to you?” Stacey had spotted the burst nose and bruising that had already formed on his face.

Diller slipped his hands through his jacket sleeves, and held them up for her to see.

“Oh God, Davie. Get in here.”

Stacey led him to the school’s little first-aid room and clattered around in cupboards and drawers for a minute or so collecting liquids, cotton and bandages.

“Sit here” she told him. Pushing his hands into a metal bowl filed with disinfectant, she waited for him to wince but saw no reaction.

“You’re not going to tell me what happened are you?”

Diller shook his head. “I can’t, Stace.” He wiggled his fingers in the bowl silently for a second or two, enjoying the clarity of the sting.

Stacey reached out and touched his cheek in the one place that looked like it wouldn’t hurt. Come on. Let’s get this cleaned up.”

Carefully disinfecting each of his nail-less fingertips, the cuts on his nose and cheek, Stacey then began applying ointment and bandages to each of his fingers. Davie stood up. “Just plasters on the finger-tips please, Stacey. I need to use my hands.”

“You need to keep these clean, Davie. I’m using bandages. Band-Aids are no good.”

Diller held her hand lightly. “Please, Stacey, just the plasters.”

Looking miffed, Stacey did as he asked despite her annoyance. Retrieving a big box marked ‘Multi-coloured Band-Aids.’, she proceeded to place a different coloured plaster on each of his damaged fingertips. “Blue, pink, yellow and purple. There ye’ go, tough-guy. MJ lives.”

Diller did a short Moonwalk in reply, making her laugh.

“Seriously, Davie, you should go to the hospital.”

Ignoring her remark, Diller put his arms around her and pulled her in close. “Thank you.”

Shrugging him off, Stacey told him “Don’t be getting all lovey with me, son. Friends with benefits, that’s what we agreed.” She was grinning.

“Aye, and some benefits they are.” Diller laughed.

“You had better be going home, Davie?”

An icy-seriousness slid over Diller’s face. Na. I’ve got people to meet at Angel’s.”

Stacey shook her head. “Go on then. Off ye’ go.”

Diller turned to leave but halted as Stacey took a firm grasp of his forearm.

“Hang on a minute, Davie.”

Diller sat back down, nodding his head in a gesture that conveyed, go on then. Stacey sighed and sat next to him, taking him by the arms again, avoiding his hands.

Staring out the little window in her office, she looked sad for a moment before talking.

“Do you remember ma Mum, Davie?”

He did, she’d been a big MILF in her younger years, in all honesty Davie would probably still fire into her, just for the novelty; she was still a good looking woman.

“Aye.” He said.

“Well, you’ll remember the state she used to get into, with the drink….and the drugs?” Stacey looked into his eyes, her own eyes, quivering and misting a little as she dredged up rusted memories that were perhaps better left lying to rot.

“Aye.” Diller said softly. “I remember.”

Stacey shifted her damp eyes back to the widow, giving Diller her profile.

“One Christmas, Mum bought me this bike; my first bike. I was probably five years old. It was beautiful.” She smiled at the memory for a second and then turned stone-faced.

“I played with it all day long on Christmas day, this beautiful pink bike, with tassels on the handles and clean, white pedals. I loved it. Mum made me stay in the house with it, we had a long hallway, so I didn’t mind…not really.” She smiled sadly at the thought of herself happily coasting up and down her Mum’s flat’s hallway.

“I went to bed happier than I could ever remember being. I felt surrounded by love that night; that was a rare feeling for me then, in those days. I thought that only someone who really, really loved you could put such thought into finding such a perfect present for you; that’s what I fell asleep thinking. How loved I was.” Stacey smiled again, a sadder smile this time.

“When I woke up the next morning, the pedals were off of my bike. I asked my Mum why and she told me that the bike, my bike, was faulty and that she’d send it back to the catalogue the next day for a better one, one that wasn’t broken. It would be back in a few days; she promised. I watched her take my beautiful bike away and planked myself on the window sill, remember those big windows in the flat?”

Diller nodded.

“Well, I sat there every day at eleven o’clock, when the post came, waiting for my new bike to come. I sat there every day, Davie. Day after day, she’d tell me, I’m sure that it’ll be here tomorrow, hen. Just wait and see. After six months I finally figured out, that she’d sent it back and gotten a refund; for money for drink.”

Stacey turned back to look into Diller’s eyes. Hers were no longer moist, they were steel.

“I got that bike for one day and spent dozens of days afterwards deluded, waiting desperately for it to come back. Who does that to their children, Davie?”

“I know, Stace. It’s shite.” Diller put a hand over hers, the one that still rested on his arm. He didn’t like this kind of closeness with anyone, it reminded him of holding Paul’s hand. No don’t go there.

Stacey shrugged him off and took his face in both of her hands. “That’s what you’re like, Davie. You give a little of yourself and you take it away before anyone can love it too much. You’re a fucking Indian-Giver with your affection.” Stacey laughed at this, then turned serious again.

“You need to sort yerself out, Davie.”

Diller looked away from her piercing eyes. “I thought you were happy with just a wee shag now and again, Stacey.”

She burst out laughing. “I don’t want to marry you ya’ arsehole; I just want you to let me be your friend.”

She reached out to his face again and rested her palm against his cheek. “You need to let somebody love you, Davie….. As a friend.”

Diller stood up from the table they’d been sitting on and pulled his zips up tight, closing his coat.

“Wouldn’t know how. I’ll see ye’ later, hen.”

“Go on then.” Stacey nodded at the door and watched him leave.

 

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