crime, family, flash fiction, funeral, job, noir, short stories, Tom Leins
by Tom Leins
Kendall Spate stinks worse than a wank-splattered lunacy booth.
He is wearing an over-sized dog’s shock-collar, and looks like he has difficulty remembering his own name. He smiles vacantly as he opens the door, and I squeeze past him, down the corridor towards Bertrand’s office.
His keeper is sprawled across a vinyl swivel chair, speaking on a cordless telephone. He shakes a Rothmans out of his pack and gestures towards the empty chair next to his desk.
His slate grey eyes remain fixed on me, as I take in my surroundings. The shelves are lined with dusty medical text books and deformed specimens in jars.
Bertrand earned his fortune operating a private ambulance service, transporting mental patients and other vulnerable people to assorted facilities across the Westcountry. He hired me after Kendall — a morbidly obese schizophrenic — absconded from one of his vehicles at Tweenaway Cross traffic lights. I eventually tracked him down at Merritt Flats, attempting to buy second-hand pornography off a man named Cocker. Since then, he has lived with Bertrand, in Barton.
Bertrand hangs up his phone. His shirt is unbuttoned to the navel and his chest is hairier than his skull.
He grins unpleasantly.
“I have another job for you.”
We are on the long, hard road out of Hele, heading towards Torquay Cemetery.
Kendall and I are in the back of a decommissioned riot van. Bertrand bought it in a police auction, and painted it lime green for reasons that remain unclear.
Kendall’s flesh looks wasted and grey. His bloated innards pulse against his too-tight clothing. Only his eyes still look alive — they are a queasy shade of Domestos blue.
Bertrand gave me a cattle-prod in case Kendall starts playing up, but I hope I don’t have to use it.
It’s Kendall’s mother’s funeral, but I’m not sure if he even knows what is going on. Frankly, I’m not sure I know what’s going on …
There is a small crowd gathered next to the family plot, but the only person I recognise is his uncle Kenneth, a low-life who sells guns and knives out of his hatchback like some men sell office supplies. His skin looks so loose it could probably be peeled off.
After the burial Kenneth approaches us in the carpark, with an emaciated, hooker-looking woman on his arm.
“Hello, son. How do you fancy a job working for your Uncle Kenneth?”
Kendall looks at me, and grins nervously.
Kenneth lives on an un-adopted road not found on any map. He keeps seven Lithuanians locked in a static caravan in his back garden, and makes them tarmac drives around Paignton from 8am until 6pm each day.
He holds out his bony hand for Kendall.
“Come on, son.”
I clear my throat.
“Hey Kenneth, do you ever feel like your life lurches from one disaster to another?”
He glares at me.
“No, pal. No, I fucking don’t.”
I turn the cattle-prod over in my hand. 4,000 volts.
“You fucking will.”
Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Flash Fiction Offensive, Horror Sleaze Trash and Spelk Fiction. A novelette, Skull Meat, is available via Amazon and a collection, Meat Bubbles (& Other Stories), will be out later this year.
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