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by Tom Leins

The toilet attendant looks unconscious. He is slumped on a barstool, the sunken shoulders of his black jacket layered in big asbestos-like chunks of dandruff.

I kick his foot, and his eyes flicker open. He gestures lazily towards the tray of toxic-looking aftershaves next to the basins.

“No splash/no gash …”

I shake my head.

“No Lynx Java/no how’s your father …”

“Just soap, pal.”

He squirts bright pink lather on my bloody hands, but the hot water does little to remove the coppery stink.

Behind him, I see gore pooling beneath the cubicle door, around the cracked ceramic chunks of the cistern lid that I bludgeoned Wendell Wilkes with.

I flip the attendant a fake pound coin, and he grabs it out of the air, the faded swallow tattoo on the back of his hand twitching into life.

“Stay lucky, chief.”

A man smarter than me once said that good investigative work is about asking the right questions. I find that the quality of my work generally depends on how fucking hard I hit people.


The afternoon sun outside the fun-pub is bile-bright. I take a deep breath, but the Harbourside fish-stink gives me a coughing fit. It’s a nice day for a spot of raw, random violence.

I hail a taxi. The driver is cue-ball bald, but has stubble the colour of pissed-on kitty-litter.

I tell him where I want to go and he squirms against his beaded seat cover.

“It’s your funeral, boss.”

He swerves away from the kerb, and the wobbly plastic Jesus on the dashboard seemingly nods in agreement.

“I need to pick up a friend first …”


The heavily-scarred attack dog chained to Robert Scanlan’s back gate greets me noisily — like it hasn’t been fed for a month. I feed it my fucking lump hammer, and it goes slack.

Scanlan. AKA Bobby Scag. Torquay’s dope-pope. Smack, crack and gak at competitive prices.

He used to cut his coke with Levamisole, an anti-worming agent used for cattle, until buyers started complaining that their flesh was rotting. He started cutting it with rat poison instead. Unfortunately, a bad batch gave Michael Mariota’s daughter brain and muscle damage …

The house is eerily quiet. All I can hear is the arthritic creak of cheap bedsprings. I follow the noise, and find Scanlan on a fold-out bed, getting wanked off by a 17-year-old Cantonese girl.

When he sees me, his eyes gleam like congealed fat, and he flashes me a strychnine grin. Ironic.

“Who told you where to find me?”

I’ve already forgotten the pusher’s name. Shit — he’s probably forgotten his own name.

I shrug.

“Some poor fuck with a dented skull.”

He ambles towards me, dick still hard. I side-step him easily and slam a fist into his polluted kidneys.

“What the fuck do you want?”

“Me? Nothing. My work here is done.”

I pass Mariota on my way out. He’s holding the fur-matted lump hammer.

I pat him on the shoulder and he flinches.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do …”

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 new book, Repetition Kills You, will be published by All Due Respect in September 2018. For more information, please visit https://thingstodoindevonwhenyouredead.wordpress.com/.