Book Tour – Aidan McRaney

I’d just like to thank Lisa Devaney for the idea of putting together a bit of a book character tour for the lead character in many of my self-published books.

Aidan McRaney by Pete Shorney1: What is the name of your character?

His name is Aidan McRaney. Aidan was born in Dublin. He’s in his early thirties, he has black curly hair and the warmest brown eyes. He is fictional.

2:When and where is the story set?

The story is mostly set in London, but occasionally moves to Dublin.The books so far are set between 2011 and 2014.

3:What should we know about him?

He is an ex-offender and served eight years in prison for shooting the would-be assassin of his employer, gang boss Frankie Lamond. Aidan is trying hard to come to terms with the sight of his girlfriend murdered in cold blood before his eyes, which was also the night Frankie was left disabled by the shooting.

4: What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

His ex-wife, Judy, for one. She only allows him a day a month access to see his son Patrick. There are also those who believe he should have received a lengthier sentence. The family of the murdered assassin sets out to destroy  Aidan’s beloved family, using soft targets such as his 18 year old sister.

5: What is the personal goal of the character?

To be a father to his son and a good husband to his wife. However, the criminal underworld has other ideas. He knows they’ll never let him go. There’s always someone out there to exploit him.


Dangerous To Know – The New Chapter One

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to rework the book, chopping out a lot of the early chapters to get into the action. This is how it starts now.


Before I can collect my thoughts I suppress that chill progression. Maybe the past is simply lurking, concealed in the depths of an ostensibly impregnable silence.

It’s a past I have attempted to bury, to entomb in preference to a daily life. Doing this job, becoming a normal man. Living a normal life with my woman and my children.

Nothing about this is real anymore. This man, my companion, becoming steadily drunk. The crystal shimmers, half blinding me. His words a distant buzz. Only when he asks, “Do you shoot, Aidan?” do I  steer myself away from this grim reality.

“What?” The word adheres to my throat, making me wonder if I have uttered it at all.  Harrington paces the red tiled floor, brushing the fronds and clutching vegetation from his face with ill-disguised impatience. Nursing his whisky, he swings around on my query as to why he should want to know that.

“Course Sarah thinks it’s all a bit barbaric. Shooting pheasants and wild fowl. But it’s a sport. Don’t you agree?”

“I guess that’s what the wealthy do,” is all I can possibly add. “Look, Mr Harrington, Paul, if you don’t want to discuss the garden then why am I here? If you’re inviting me to join you for some shooting party then you’re asking the wrong guy. I’m just a humble landscape gardener. I don’t shoot. I agree with your wife. Killing animals and birds for sport is barbaric.”

“But you used to shoot, didn’t you? And it wasn’t birds and animals, was it?”

I hurl myself from the seat. Tension winds around me. The throb of pain in my wounded shoulder reminds me there was a past. As if it rages inside my head.

‘You think you can forget what you did?’ Sure I’d love a whisky right now. The whole damn bottle if it makes me forget.

Instead all I can do is retaliate, while those smoothly polished features smirk and smile, aware he has me now. I wonder why he’s brought me here. “I don’t know what the fuck this is all about, but if you’re not interested in me doing your grounds, then I’m out of here.” I stress his name coldly.

As if he hasn’t heard me, he says, “A man in my position gets to know a lot of people, gets to hear a lot of things. Names get bandied about, if you see what I mean. The name Aidan McRaney kept cropping up. I learned you were once a minder to Frankie Lamond, a big shot gangster nine, ten years ago. You went to prison for killing the guy who shot Lamond’s woman. Now you’ve been out, what, two years?”

“Almost three, but I’ve turned my back on all that. I’m not that man anymore. I have a different life now.”

“A leopard never loses its spots.”

“I didn’t come here to be reminded of the past. So what is this, blackmail?”

“Blackmail? Good God no.” He laughs, but it’s hollow and humourless. “Why should I need to blackmail anyone? I’m a pig in shit here. Just look around you. I’m a wealthy man. I have no need of blackmail.”

“What then?” I try the door in an endeavour to escape, while Harrington is intent on getting drunk. “If you don’t want my business, then there’s nothing to be said is there? What happened was in the past, I told you. I want to forget it.”

Harrington dangles the keys and savours his smile. All I can do is attempt to escape from this madness, while I implore him to open the door. “You know what I promised my kid?” I pause, confronting him. My breath issues hard, ragged, with that inherent rage that I struggle unsuccessfully to suppress.

“To give him everything a young lad should have? My old man was too poor to promise me those kind of things.”

“No, of course not. I love my children, but no way will we spoil them. I meant that I promised my son that I have turned my back on crime. No more bad guys, that’s what I said.”

“Come on, Aidan, if you disillusion yourself, how can you expect your son to understand?”

“I’m sorry, but you’ve lost me there.”

“I mean, you know you can’t escape your past, no matter how you try to tell your son otherwise.”

The conservatory obviously has to be kept at a certain temperature because of the hybrids, the hothouse plants. After all it is February. Now it’s as if he has raised the thermostat. The place has gradually begun to swelter. Harrington, however, scarcely appears unfazed by the intense heat. Maybe he’s used to it, whereas perspiration has begun to seep down my back, enough to saturate through my shirt and jacket. Once again I demand he let me out. I remind him that Caitlan will be frantic by now, that she’s kind of delicate and relies on me a great deal.

A chill slices through the expanse of heat, cutting through my mind like a buzz saw when he says, “Sir George Treveleyan saw the potential in you.”

“What the fuck, Harrington? What do you know about that?”

“You can shout and bluster all you want.”

“I can see why your wife wanted me to leave in such a hurry. I wish I’d taken her advice and not let you talk me into coming back to the house. I still don’t understand why you’re raking all this up anyway. Wherever this is leading the answer is no. I get the feeling you want something from me that I’m not prepared to give.”

He pours yet another Scotch. He studies the golden liquid before swirling it around in his glass. His expression is thoughtful. Caressing the crystal base, he raises his eyes to mine. Again I plead to be let out. As if I haven’t spoken he mutters, “You know that old saying, my wife doesn’t understand me?”

All I can do is nod, and wonder what the hell is about to ensue. His face flushes crimson from the drink and he’s beginning to slur. “My wife. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love her so much, but she fails to understand or share my interests. We have shooting parties you know. When we do, she makes herself scarce..”

I fully intend to interject my agreement with her, when he continues with his discourse, as if he hasn’t heard me. “Sarah prefers to meet up with some of her medical friends in the city, but in the evening she’s the impeccable hostess once more. Can you imagine her?”

The fact is I prefer not too. Harrington is right about one thing. She is a stunner, but the Harringtons mean nothing to me. His gaze wanders off into a kind of dreamlike intoxication. While I wonder if I can possibly snatch the keys in order to let myself out of this stifling room.

“Look, I don’t care what you and your wife get up to. Just let me out so I can get back to mine.” I soften my tone, rather in the manner of someone pleading to a potential suicide from jumping off a roof. “Okay,I admit, yeah I used to work for Sir George Treveleyan, since you know that much. I was minder to a gangster, ten years ago. I shot the guy who tried to kill him. I went to prison for almost eight years. If you want my life history, I was born in Dublin. You already know I…”

We have something in common, you and me.” Draining the crystal, a hand slightly trembles on the bottle when he pours another. I remind him that perhaps he’s had enough.


“Your sister.”

“Bridget? What about her?”

“Not her. The other one. The girl who was raped and murdered.”

“Jesus!” I can’t help but exclaim in surprise. “You have been busy. I don’t like people poking their noses into my business.”

“I didn’t. It was in the newspaper.”

“I still don’t have any intention of discussing my family with you. It’s still far too painful for all of us. So why don’t you open this door and let me out, mate. If you don’t want me to do your grounds I won’t hold that against you.”

“My daughter was raped to.”

He commands my full attention.

He struggles to blink away the tears that stand in his eyes. Slipping a hand beneath his sweater, he extracts a crumpled photograph from his shirt. “Iona. She was just eighteen. She’s beautiful isn’t she?”

I can’t fail to agree. She appears remarkably younger than her eighteen years. Her blonde hair is cut into a short, boyish style, which affords her an almost elfin-like quality.

“Wh-who…?” I ask thickly.

“A man called Ricky Pearson. You know of him?”

“Can’t say I do. I’m sorry for what happened to your daughter. Sure, I can sympathise.”

“Now he’s out of prison, Pearson worked for Marcus Goldsmith. I believe he still does. Pearson was given five years. Now he’s out after three. Lack of evidence, they reckoned. Fuckin’ bastards, what do they know?”A huge globule of  saliva erupts from the scornful twist of his lips, narrowly missing  my boots.

Marcus Goldsmith is a name I am  aware of. From what I have learned of Goldsmith, he currently owns a nightclub called ‘Bronze’ in Southend. Frankie Lamond had once intimated  that if there was a man by whom he felt threatened it was Marcus Goldsmith.

I confide that I know of Goldsmith.

“She was at his club one night. That’s where she met Pearson. Iona was taken up with his looks and charm. He left her bruised and bleeding in a back alley. She killed herself by drowning in our pool.”

“Jesus!” Is all I can respond, while my blood congeals to a glacial chill. “I’m so sorry. You know I sympathise, because of my sister. She was eighteen too. I still don’t understand…”

“I heard through the  grapevine that you did for the man who did that to your sister.”

I freeze instinctively. The perspiration that beads my hairline drizzles into my eyes and I blink it back impatiently, my heart hammering. “I’ll not admit to that without a lawyer present.”

“It was only a rumour mind. Only you know if there was any truth behind it.”

“If it’s blackmail?”

“I told you I have no need to blackmail anyone. Nothing quite so sordid. So how would it be if you had more than the two men I know you have at your disposal? Be able to drive around all your landscape services in your already paid for GT-R. I could put McRaney’s Landscape Services on the map. I know your business is struggling. ”

“So you have been checking up on me? Why?”

“I’d like to help your struggling business. I have plenty of contacts. From Essex to Berkshire, everyone will clamour to hire McRaney’s Landscape services to attend to their gardens. You could be a multi-millionaire before you’re  thirty five.”

“Oh sure,that sounds fantastic, but what do I have to do in return? I’d have to be a pretty thick paddy not to know you have an ulterior motive. One I think your wife know’s something about.”

Paul Harrington’s expression is thoughtful. He savours his words when he says, “I want you to kill Ricky Pearson.”


Dangerous To Know – Chapter Three ‘Flash Cars and Beautiful Women’

My window is wound down with ‘Light my fire’ blasting out, I’m uncaring how these toffee-nosed nouveau riche might react. A killed cigarette is tossed out while the Nissan roars into instantaneous life.

If they don’t want my business, then it’s up to them. What a bitch. I know Caitlan has her moments, but she scarcely screams like a demented virago. All greeny/brown eyes. black hair almost loosened from its pins with her consternation.

So why is it that when I exit Bracken Manor, despite my failure to secure the landscaping contract, I am unable to erase the memory of those wild gypsy eyes? She obviously has a temper to match. Why had she over-reacted the way she did when I gave my name? Our paths have never crossed. Surely I would have remembered her.

Deeply immersed in my own preoccupation, I fail to see – and almost collide with – the cream sports car that spins around the bend. The car tosses gravel in its wake, crunching with the impact. The headlamps are blinding. The sports job brakes first, although I almost scrape its side. A window rolls down and a blond head slides out. He admonishes, “Can’t you look where you’re going? And turn that music down, for fuck’s sake. Are you a friend of Sandy’s?” His features are polished and shaven to the point of excess.

Turning the music down, I offer my name.

“The landscape gardener? Paul Harrington.” His expression alters, he smiles, blue eyes crinkle. “You leaving already? I’m sorry I kept you waiting. You get talking and time passes. Then I remembered I’d asked you to come to the house. That’s why I was in such a hurry. Guess you got tired of waiting.”

“I didn’t exactly get tired of waiting. The decision was taken out of my hands.”

Have I imagined it, or does a semblance of darkness cross that smoothly shaven countenance?

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

I relate the incident when I had almost been on the receiving end of a pool cue shoved where the sun doesn’t shine. “Do you still want me to price up the garden for a possible contract then?”

“Of course I do. That’s why I asked you here. You’ve obviously met Sarah and Charlie. Charlie’s barks worse than his bite. Can’t say the same for Sarah though.” He grins.

“So why don’t you come back to the house? Oh, don’t look so worried. She is house-trained. My wife that is. You wouldn’t think that she holds down the kind of job she does. She’s a psychotherapist.”

In my opinion I’m convinced there is more of the psycho about her than the therapist.

“So the music you were listening to. Hardcore is it? Or at least that’s what my son calls it.”

“Hardly. It’s rock. The Doors.  My brother sort of got me into it when I was a kid.”

“I’m more of a classics man myself. Although I’m partial to a spot of jazz. You know old Count Basie?”

I have to admit to drawing a blank there.

“Have you met my son?”. He changes the subject.

“Yeah. I think there’s a girl. Someone shouted down the stairs rather impatiently.”

“I’m afraid Sandy’s love life is something of a fashion parade.” He tuts and shakes his head despondently. “There’s been eight or nine girls already this year and it’s only February.”

He grins, although the smile is swift to fade. “Nice motor,” he adds, when I swing the Nissan about in order to follow him back to the house.

I wonder if the virago will deign to grace us with her presence. Or we’ll stumble upon Sandy making out on the sofa with his latest squeeze.

Instead he suggests that we conduct our business in the conservatory. “My private domain, Mr McRaney.  It has a lock on the door, so we won’t be disturbed.”


Is our business so secretive then that he should desire both a lock on the door and a reason not to be disturbed? I’m still coming to terms with his wife’s reaction when I gave my name. Surely all this cannot be attributed to my less than exemplary past can it?

“Oh, I met some guy called Mellors or something,” I say with the realisation that wasn’t his name at all.

“You mean Greggors?” He smiles, slipping a key from his pocket and inserting it into the paint flaked door. “My security man. The house is thoroughly alarmed of course. We were burgled once, when my first wife and I were away.  Greggors is the kind of man I would trust both with my wife and my life.”

I dwell on the fact that he could have left him with anyone’s wife, even mine.

There is more than an intimation of Victoriana surrounding the conservatory. The place is filled with the powerful aroma of various, indecipherable scents. From the exterior it is difficult to tell, but the roof is high domed. So many plants, ivies and fronds descend, reminiscent of clutching fingers brushing your face. As a gardener I have learned much since employing myself in this trade. How to recognise the various hybrids, the wondrous collection, over which the lily is both dominant and a transient reminder of funeral parlours. Plants overlap too, trailing the red brick floor, now barely discernible beneath my feet. More fronds and ivies tangle in a veritable jungle. The scents so overpowering, indistinguishable.

Some of the plants hang so low that I am compelled to lower my head, or risk being half attacked.

“A gardener’s paradise, hey?” He motions me to a battered wrought iron seat, on which rests a number of striped cushions. Adjacent to the seat is an oak sideboard of mottled wood.

“None of your common or garden conservatory here. I had this one specially made. It’s identical to what the Victorians called Garden Rooms. In fact I’m quite partial to a little Victoriana. Everything was so elegant, so drawing room then.” Another key unlocks the cabinet to reveal a surprising assortment of wines and spirits. “I often see your vans around the vicinity. A.J. McRaney. That you is it?”

“Yeah, it’s Aidan. ”

“I only have Teachers. Or do you Irish prefer Jamesons or Bushmills?”

“Neither I’m afraid. I’m driving. New motor.”

“A GT-R no less. You must be coming up in the world.”

“Not really. As my family are forever telling me, I spend far too much money. I guess seventy six thou is a wee bit extravagant.”

“Not if you like nice things as I do. My old man had nothing. We grew up in a Peckham high rise in the late Sixties. Pop was a greengrocer with a market stall. I was the youngest of four kids, and determined to make something of my life. I have, believe me. I love beautiful expensive motors, equally beautiful women. You met Sarah. She’s an oil painting isn’t she? Plus she’s  twenty years younger than me. In fact I had her portrait painted. It hangs above the fireplace in our drawing room. ”

He pours from the bottle of Teachers into cut crystal. I can practically savour the taste of the whisky, but there’s no way that I’ll risk it.

“You a married man, Aidan?” His question surprises me.

I tell him that I am. Two years to Caitlan. “My oldest Patrick is eleven, with my first wife.”

“First wife. An eleven year old son!” he exclaims. “Good Heavens! Then you must be older than you look.” He pauses to regard me above his glass. The glint of moonlight courtesy of the dome, reflects the glass, the liquid inside, with a kind of scintillation.

“I’m thirty one. Look, Mr Harrington…”


“We’ve skirted around this long enough. I don’t want to appear rude, but I do need to get home to my wife and daughter. I came straight from work and Caitlan will have probably burnt the tea by now. It’s getting a wee bit dark to see the grounds right now. If you’re still interested in giving me the job, then I can come back in daylight.”

“We have floodlights.”

Of course you do.

“You really think I asked you here to discuss the fuckin’ garden?”

Barely has he drained the crystal than he is swift to pour himself another whiskey.


Dangerous To Know (Work In Progress)

I’ve decided to put up the first chapter of the new book I’m working on – ‘Dangerous To Know’, which continues the story of Aidan McRaney. As it’s a work in progress, it’s all subject to change, but I was excited about sharing it.



Tonight, it is my intention to both enjoy myself and be the most attentive husband I can be to the beautiful woman I married. If only the couple seated opposite would desist in throwing small, but surreptitious glances in our direction. I find nothing more disconcerting than being stared at. Whenever I return my attention to my wife, I’m ultimately conscious of their scrutiny.

A recalcitrant thatch of leonine blond hair sweeps from a particularly high forehead.  The inordinately polished features are sun-bronzed, classical, and as if he has recently returned from holiday. The perfect curve of full lips accentuate a handsome face. The man is as  elegantly cut as the grey linen suit he sports, with matching tie and white shirt. Unlike myself, he’s wearing no off the peg job.

His companion, whom I judge to be somewhere into her late thirties, is the perfect accompaniment. Her features are small, almost delicate. Yet the mouth hints of a defined twist, that might border on the cruel. The assumption is further embellished by the deepest set of flinty grey eyes.

She wears a sapphire blue dress. The dress is fitted, and does precious little to conceal the protuberant bulge of flesh in evidence beneath her arms. Her hair, like the man’s, is blonde. Boyishly cut short, her hair is baby-fine. Darker roots tinge the blonde. Numerous  bracelets slither to elegant wrists, when she lowers her arms to the table, in order to pay attention to the man.

“You haven’t heard a word I’ve said, have you, Aidan? You checking out that woman?”

My wife is a discordant buzz in the distant reaches of my subconscious. I regard her  incredulously.  “God no! But they have been checking us out practically since we arrived.” Caitlan snaps her eyes and clucks her tongue, descending a braceleted wrist over mine. “You’re just being paranoid. You haven’t been the same since you returned from that last job. Always looking over your shoulder. I find it unnerving at times.”

“I’m sorry. After what happened, do you  blame me? Anyway, you know it’s over.”

“I hope so, because we need to move on. We have this now. It has to be over.”

I cast a cursory glance at the couple. Their meal has arrived. They appear to be more interested in that event. Caitlan is right. I should relinquish the paranoia. Especially tonight. We have been married two years. Our special occasion. Where else could I have taken the most beautiful woman in London? At least in my considered opinion. Sargents just happens to be one of the most select restaurants in the West End. The prices are extortionate, but no expense has been spared.

Wearing a green satin dress, caught into the slender proportions of her tiny waist, who would remotely suspect that she has recently given birth? Our daughter is barely eighteen months old. Now the familiar emerald eyes snap wide again. She embraces my own with such love, but with an admix of the concern I can’t help but interpret in their depths.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I didn’t mean to unnerve you. There won’t be anymore of those jobs, I promise.” I sip from the glass of Sancerre at my elbow. I make a face. I would have preferred a Scotch. I promised my wife that I wouldn’t drink so much. She hates the whisky and admonishes me about breathing alcohol fumes over our daughter. “I’m trying to get this landscape business up and running.”

We wait for our meal to arrive. It seems to take forever. I realise that I’ve managed to polish off most of the wine. I’m about to pour the final dregs into my glass when Caitlan says,  “The thing is we never seem to talk anymore.”

I stare at her amazed. “What are we doing now then?”

“I mean…” Her hesitation is almost painful. Her white throat undulates beneath the string of emeralds. “Your sister…” she attempts to explain.

“What about my sister?” I drain the last drop of Sancerre, whereas Caitlan still nurses her first.

“She’s always there, at our flat. Always inviting us over, and you never refuse. I know she means well.”

“Sure she means well. An unpaid babysitter. What more do you want? She’s someone we can trust. I thought you and Bridget got on okay.”

“We do. But the way she idolises you and worries about you, it’s as if you were her son rather than her brother.”

“That’s ridiculous.” I endeavour to suppress a rise of laughter. “Listen to yourself. I suppose it  stems from when I was a kid. After Mum died, Brid sort of took over the motherly role with us.”

“Well you’re not a kid anymore. You’re thirty one years old. So there’s no reason for her to interfere is there?”

“Brid doesn’t interfere. Come on, this is our anniversary. Do we have to discuss this shit right now, babe?”

I reach for her hand. A thin stemmed vase separates us. The vase contains the six red roses that I had ordered to be placed at our table. After all it is St Valentines. The candlelight bathes her features, suffusing them with colour. Her long dark hair is coiled into a plait atop her head, which had been perfectly coiffured by my sister.

Bridget often tells us that it’s a pleasure to do things for her brother and his lovely wife, as Caitlan has changed my life for the better. Now Caitlan boasts some unwarranted bee in her bonnet concerning my sister’s alleged shortcomings.

“Why is it, whenever we need to have a serious discussion, you always call it shit?”

“Because, right now, we don’t need to have a discussion about anything. We’ll talk when we get home.” I’m compelled to let my words trail because Sapphire Dress, a forkful of steak en route to her mouth, has those rather expressive sculpted eyebrows arched with interest. It’s as if her intention is to savour the argument she believes is about to ensue.

“Your sister will be there.”

“She’s babysitting Catie. If she’s not there I’ll be just a wee bit concerned, don’t you think?”

I hadn’t intended sarcasm, but tonight, when I wish for everything to be perfect, Caitlan appears to be in an argumentative mood. She’s invariably delicate, quietly spoken. A persona complimentary to the beautiful dress she wears. “So come on, sweetheart. If you have something to say, please say it. Let’s get this, whatever this is, over with.  Our meal should be here soon. You and Brid have a row?”

“No, we haven’t had a row. It’s-it’s just…”

“Just what?” I bring her hand up to my lips.”I need to know so that we can get it sorted. I don’t want you to be unhappy. If it’s something to do with my sister, then I’ll have a word. I know she likes to mother us all. Maybe it’s the age difference between you. All I’ve seen is Brid going out of  her way to help with Catie, so we can have a night out, and I notice that you rely on her too.”

“Not as much as you do.”

“Okay. Sure I’ll admit it, I do rely on her. She’s that kind of woman, everyone cries on her shoulder. What’s all this about?”

If only Sapphire Dress would cease her indefatigable staring. I’ll have to say something. Risk a scene. I’m beginning to find that flirty stare distinctly unnerving. While the throbbing pain searing through my left shoulder serves to remind me of a  past I’d prefer to forget.

“We have each other. I want it to be just us.”

“You know I want that too. I want you all the time, but I still don’t see…”

“I know you and Brid are close, but does she have to hug you all the time?”

I fail to suppress a grin at what she intimates. “She’s been like that ever since I came out of prison. As if she’s scared of letting me out of her sight. You make it sound as if we’re having some wild incestuous affair. That would be just plain weird.”

“No, of course not.” Colour flames her face again. It’s conducive to making me wish that I could make love to her right here and now. If only she’d  refrain  from behaving quite as shrewish. Regardless of her disapproving glances, I’ve practically polished off the remainder of the Sancerre, and the meal hasn’t yet arrived.

The smoothly shaven blond guy across from us toasts Sapphire Dress with entwined hands and a glass of Riesling. Maybe it’s their anniversary too, or they are simply displaying a friendly affinity. So perfectly innocent, as Caitlan suggest, and I’m being my old paranoid self. There’s no law against staring is there? It’s just that I don’t like people staring at me when I feel as if they have an ulterior motive.

“Oh, for God’s sake!” Caitlan exclaims so sharply, it now seems that everyone in the restaurant is staring at us, no doubt anticipating an argument. One I’m determined to suppress. I have no desire to continue this ridiculous discussion.

“Jesus, Caitlan, keep your voice down,” I hiss with embarrassment. “Go on, get this over with. Whatever it is has obviously upset you. No, Bridget and me are not having an affair.”

“When you’re at work she comes to see if I’m okay.”

“What’s wrong with that? It’s the kind of caring person that she is.”

“I know, but she’s always looking about the flat. I can’t help it if I’m untidy. Catie takes up most of my time. She has kids. She knows what it’s like. She also expects me to go to Mass with her every week, when I just want to spend some time with my husband.”

“So that’s what it’s all about. You going to Mass. Don ‘t look at me. I get enough disapproving looks from Father Anselm. Like I said, we’ll discuss this when we get home. If you don’t want Brid to come around, or take you to Mass, then I’ll tell her. Or better still you can.”

“When we’re all together,you seem to talk to Bridget more than you talk to me.”

“Caitlan.” I smooth a hand over my beard with exasperation. “Don ‘t tell me you’re jealous of my sister. I know you don’t like me looking at other women. Maybe we should live on a female-free desert island somewhere.”

Not only do I relish the taste of a double Scotch right now, I could also use a cigarette. I have planned this night, with my sister’s help, to be so perfect. Even the once blooming red roses are beginning to wilt in the heat of the crowded restaurant.

Waiters, bedecked in red shirts and black trousers, move through the various tables, trays of steaming hot food borne aloft.

Flicking a glance to my watch, I can’t help but complain to my wife over the late arrival of our meal.

“I just want to be alone with you so much,” Caitlan says.

I want to remind her that I’m alone with her now. Well sort of.

The waiter, a pimply faced individual, deposits our food before us. “Your order, Sir,” he declares. “Sorry about keeping you waiting,” he adds by way of apology.

When Caitlan interjects, “We’re going to have another baby, Aidan.”





Progeny Of A Killer: Chapter One, Part 1


 London, 2012.

The basement was more spacious and accomodating than I had imagined. It was reached by yet another staircase. This one remains uncarpeted. My boots echo noisely on the bare boards. Flicking on the shadeless bulb, I observe it’s one of those low energy affairs. The light glows brighter, enough to illumine my surroundings. I kill my torchlight and slip it into my jacket. Pausing to light a cigarette, I scan the room in disbelief at the extensive amount of DVDs and VHS tapes occupying a couple of the large teak bookshelves. The only light in the twelve foot square room emanates from the bulb. A 42 inch TV, complete with DVD and video player, sits on a glass shelf.

To all intents and purposes, the basement appears innocent enough. A veritable haven for any movie buff. Except these aren’t the kind of movies you can enjoy with a beer and popcorn.

There’s a couple of hard backed wooden chairs face the T.V. I deposit my weight on one of them. I allow my gaze to traverse the room for anything that might be worthy of note. Nothing does it seems, apart from that huge television now standing idly by, collecting dust on the glass top.

I rest a hand on the chair arm, thankful that I’m wearing gloves, because something that looks suspiciously like blood is caked into the arm.

The stench pervades my nostrils and I swiftly leap from the chair. I taste the sliver on the leather. It’s definetly blood. I quickly rub the glove on a handkerchief.

Inspecting the shelves I read the titles. You certainly won’t find ‘Gone with the Wind’ or ‘Casablanca’ here. Nevertheless the titles catch my eye. Titles. Dates. Martin Cartright worked for the gangster, Raymond Lamond. He’s still working for someone, because Lamond’s been dead since February. The dates on some of the DVD’s are more recent. April. May. Up to August. Even two weeks ago.

My curiosity is aroused, and I remove the tape from the shelf. The smoke anchored an omnipresent fixture. A decidedly uneasy sensation now permeates my insides as I slip the DVD into the player. Sometimes, as now , I wonder what the hell I am doing here in a guy’s basement, awaiting his return. Upstairs, Dennis Mitchell guards his woman, whom he’s forced to the floor, before tying her up and gagging her. It was the reason why I volunteered to check out the basement.  I couldn’t bear to look into that woman’s terrified features any longer.

Two masked men had burst into her Brixton home, pulling guns and forcing her upstairs. This is shit. I know it, but I can’t help myself. It has to be my alter ego who flicks the remote of that DVD player. I wish to God that I hadn’t. Our brief is to check out some of the stuff Cartright houses in his basement.

The static is momentary, swift to clear. And there it is. My heart pounds. A trembling hand traces my bearded jaw thoughtfully. The scene unfolds. A child. A little girl wearing a grubby dress. There’s a suspicious saturation down the front, as if maybe she’s peed herself. The film is black and white. It’s only saving grace. She’s wearing socks that were once white, but are now grubby. No shoes. Her feet and hands are securely bound to a chair.  Who the girl is, or how old she is, I have no idea. She has a white hood, similar to the old fashioned flour sacks, pulled over her head, and tightened with a drawstring at the neck. I feel every tremble that she makes.

The two men with her are masked, balaclava hoods exposing only their eyes and mouths. One of the men is quite rotund, in possession of a stomach that is badly running to fat. In marked contrast, the other is positively skinny. Both are wearing camouflage. Because I cannot see their faces, they remind me idiotically of Laurel and Hardy. One thin. The other fat. ‘That’s another fine mess you’ve got me into.’

A laugh of sheer nervousness escapes me at the comparison, plus a physical sickness because I know that the fat one is Cartright. He’s the one touching the child up, while she sits there helplessly bound to the chair. She emits small, animal-like whimpers behind the hood, which makes me believe that she is gagged as well. I freeze when I think of my five year old neice, Samantha. My wee baby girl barely six weeks old. I can’t avoid the element of hysteria that rises. Only for it to subside, when breathing out I’m conscious of the semi-automatic .9mm Browning that nestles behind my jacket, as if the gun were an old friend. Oh yeah, Cartright. It won’t be much longer now, you bastard.

Cartright’s  laughter is ugly and forced as his big gloved hand slides  up inside her, beneath her dress. I catch a glimpse of the young girl’s almost hairless pubes. It’s plainly obvious that she isn’t wearing any knickers.

The skinny man. Treveleyan suggested his name is Louis Platt. It’s Platt who rips at her dress. The material tears apart in his hands, as if the dress were rotten. The hand rises upward toward her almost non-existant breasts. I would put the child’s age at around seven or eight. Aware that I should switch it off, I pull the tape from the machine, and crush the ungodly filth beneath my boot. But Treveleyan wishes for nothing to be destroyed. “Evidence, my boy, evidence.”

So I stare as if hypnotised, when Cartright pours what appears to be an almost colourless liquid from a small red can over the child’s head. I observe her entire body quiver inside her bonds. My stomach knots. My heart races so predominantly I can practically hear the rush of blood as it crashes through my skull.

Cartright and his companion evoke ugly, perverted belly-laughs. Their laughter is so sadistic and evil that I can barely believe that it emanates from a human being and not a demonic entity, summoned from the very bowels of Hell itself. Neither can I help but expel an involuntary gasp and feel the need to vomit simultaneously. Unable to watch any longer, I switch the abomination off And bury my head in my hands.

I have no idea how long I remain there, killing and lighting one cigarette from the glowing butt of the first. There’s a sound of hurried footsteps on the stairs. Dennis Mitchell exclaims, “What the fuck, McRaney? I wondered what was taking you so long. Did you find anything?”

“Oh sure I found something.” I attempt to clear my throat. Kill yet another cigarette. My stomach remains a bundle of knots. I swipe a palm across my eyes. There’s no way I can possibly allow this guy to remotely detect that I have shed a tear. He’ll think I’m not up to it. Maybe I’m not. But what else have I got left? Three eviction notices on my flat. My concern that my wife and baby will be homeless. It seems that no one wants to know an ex-con, especially someone whose been inside for manslaughter. “If you want to know what I’ve found. Then take a look in that machine, man. See what that bastards been doing.”

Mitchell’s eyes are of a strangely flecked hazel when they bore into mine. “I know what kind of shit he’s into.”

“Take a look,” I urge, and pass the remote. “You take care of her then? The woman. How much do you think she’s implicated in this?”

“I dunno. She lives with the bastard. don’t she? The stuff’s in the basement. What do you think?”

“Well, did you ask her? Were you able to get anything out of her?”

“I’m going to have to call the boss.” His tone of voice borders on the sombre.

“What about? To send in the cleaners?”

“That won’t be necessary. We’ll take the bastards with us.”

“The woman isn’t the target,” I point out. “We didn’t know she was going to be here. We were led to believe he lived alone. That wasn’t our brief, Mitchell.”

“That’s why I have to call the boss. See what he wants us to do.”

“Let’s concentrate on Cartright.” I flick a glance at my watch. “How much longer? Maybe the wee bastard’s got wise to us.”

Mitchell purses his lips.”We don’t need to fuck up. I wanna get this over with as quickly as possible. Look, McRaney, why don’t you see if you can get some answers from Cartright’s bird?”

“Don’t fuckin’ tell me what to do, Mitchell.”

I’m angry enough at what I have witnessed without  him assuming an unwarranted authority. Nevertheless he is correct in his assumption. We need to get this over with. Had expected our target to be present. Disposed of. Then to contact Treveleyan to send someone in  to seize the condemning evidence. That Cartright has been abusing young girls, most of them under 16. The girls are invariably masked, as are the abusers. The atrocities sold on forbidden Internet sites.

Apparently the late, lamented Lamond brothers were reputed to have had their depraved

fingers in a lot of pies, that even I had been unable to guess at. I’d not remotely suspected paedophilia. But Raymond and Francis Lamond are now dead. Alternatively,as attested to by the recent entries on those incriminating DVDs, someone else is ultimately working the ‘kiddie fiddling’ racket. Martin Cartright, a known paedophile, is merely acting on their behalf.

Unable to forget what I’ve seen on that tape, I leave Mitchell to check out the DVD. I move into the room upstairs where the woman lies on the floor. Her hands are bound behind her, her feet secured. Duct tape seals her mouth. Rolling a balaclava over my face before she clocks me, I observe her move her head in my direction when I enter.

She offered her name as Rosie when Mitchell asked. I judge her to be somewhere into her mid forties. She’s not bad looking I suppose, despite the addition of the peroxide blonde. Slenderly built, she wears pink pyjama bottoms with a tee shirt top. Rosie mutters incoherently behind the gag. I peel the  tape from her mouth. She regards me without speaking from wide, terrified eyes. She obviously believes we are there to kill her. I cannot speak for my companion, but killing her is certainly not my intention. All I require is some answers. Hunkering down to her level, I warn, “don’t scream, Rosie. I don’t want to hurt you, understand?” I talk to her gently.  “Understand?”

“I… I understand.” She starts to cry silently, allowing the tears to slide unchecked down her face. I wipe them away.

“That’s good. Because I need to talk to you before Martin returns. It is Martin isn’t it?”

Her nod is perfunctory. I guess it’s difficult for her to keep her head erect when she’s practically eating the carpet. She lies half-in, half-out under the bed, flat on her stomach.

“Are you going to kill him?”

“Depends on what he tells us sweetheart. You live here? I mean is this your house or Martin’s?”

“It’s his, M….Martin’s.”

“I need some answers. How much do you know about the stuff in the basement?” I maintain a carefully controlled voice, in spite of the perverse desire to grasp  her by that peroxide hair so belligerently  that it will make her eyes water.

“I don’t know nothin’. It ain’t nothin’ to do with me.”

“You’re lying, Rosie. How can you not know when you’re living with it in the house ? I’ve just watched one of those DVDs. It was called The Burning. What do you suppose that means?”