the better to slug it back,
It's a back-to-back MATT HILTON double-feature ~
By ~ MATT HILTON
I sat in the room, doing the old Sam Spade bit waiting for the femme fatale to knock, and thinking to myself, ‘There has to be a better way than this?’ I couldn’t think of anything. A man past forty, whose waist size exceeds his age, needs something kind of sedate to get by on.
The room wasn’t a PI’s office. In fact it wasn’t even much of a room. It was a box at the end of a damp corridor above a pole-dancing club with rusty poles. It was more like a storage closet, plaster board tacked onto a wooden frame, no paper, no photos or diplomas in frames, just boxes of stacked junk lining the walls and an old Formica-topped table and two plastic chairs. I’d sat in chairs just like them at school back in the eighties. They were uncomfortable then; now that my arse had grown much bigger they were torture. I was itching like crazy and all I wanted to do was get up and pull the material of my shorts out of my crack. But I held the nonchalant pose of a noir anti-hero; people kind of expected it when they arrived.
The femme fatale arrived. She didn’t knock because there was no door. She just leaned in and scowled at me like I was something filthy. She wasn’t far wrong, I suppose. I looked back, and maybe the sour look on my face told her everything. Femme fatale she wasn’t; she’d a face like a hog and the body to match.
‘You can’t be Ward?’
Well I sure as hell wasn’t Sam Spade, but I didn’t get what she was meaning.
She came into the room uninvited and sat on the other chair. It squealed and little wonder. She pressed her hands into the thick rolls of flesh on her upper-thighs, giving me a head-to-heels inspection. By the look of things she wasn’t impressed. The feeling was mutual.
‘I heard you were meant to be something.’
I looked down at my gut hanging over my belt. I was more of a man than I used to be that was for certain. But meant to be something? Fair enough I was no oil painting, but who was she to complain?
‘Depends what you want,’ I said and she snorted.
‘Well it’s a good job I ain’t looking for a wild time.’
That pissed me off, but I didn’t say. She wasn’t exactly my type either, but she was carrying the money I wanted, and like I already said, I was there to make a living. Every job has pro’s and con’s. Seeing as I could think of nothing that suited me better, I just took the bullshit as a necessary evil.
‘You said on the phone that you’d do whatever I asked...’ She was obviously happy now that I was what she’d come looking for. She wasn’t the least nervous. Maybe it was my lack of response to her sarcasm that reassured her; an undercover cop would have argued his case more, to get her to incriminate herself before pulling out his cuffs.
‘Only one thing I don’t touch.’
‘Yes, you said. Kids.’
I nodded. ‘Kids.’
‘So you do have some standards.’ She was eyeing my rumpled suit, her mouth twisted into a sneer, and I guessed she wasn’t confusing standards with morals. That was OK; a body like mine didn’t carry a nice suit well, so I just made do with an old one. I didn’t dress nice, and I didn’t kill children – some legend I’m graced with.
Not that I was squeamish about doing a child, but they carried too much fuss along with them. You could kill a man, a woman, and it barely hit the papers these days. But do a kid and there was a national outrage. Doesn’t do much for your career chances if the entire country is looking for you, and I had a living to make.
‘I don’t want you to harm a kid; not unless you have a limit on mental age?’
I held up the flat of my hand, surprising even myself. ‘I don’t do handicapped people either.’ I pinched my lips round the un-PC term, but I wasn’t sure what the acceptable moniker for someone soft in the head was these days. Should have said I’d never killed anyone with mental health issues before, not any in the clinical sense. Plenty of whack jobs and nut-cases mind you, but that’s not the same.
The femme grunted and it suited her.
‘I was making a joke. My husband still thinks he’s a teenager the way he’s running around.’
I got her this time, but didn’t say. So she’d cottoned on that her husband was having a good time, looking elsewhere? Can’t say I blamed him too much. Still, she was the cash cow so I tried to look sympathetic without putting the emphasis on ‘cow’.
‘You still sure you want me to kill him?’
‘That’s what I’m paying you for. I don’t want a frigging half-baked job. Put a bullet in his brains to make sure.’
‘I was just checking. See, maybe after you think about it, you’ll have a change of mind.’
She shook her head and I caught a whiff of cheap fragrance and sweat. ‘That bastard is screwing everything in a skirt that he can find. And I’ve got the proof. Bastard gave me a STD and then tried to say he got it off me!’
I could understand her outrage, I mean, what were the chances of that?
She gave me the beady eye, still didn’t care for what she found. ‘When you’ve done it, how’d I know you can keep your mouth shut afterwards?’
‘I was just going to ask the same thing.’ We stared at each other, my hard eyes on her limpid ones. When she didn’t offer anything, I said, ‘I’m not in the habit of confessing my sins. I’m taking it that once he’s out of the way you want to start a new life. You aren’t gonna speak if it means your new life is in a cell not much bigger than this shit-hole.’
She looked around the cramped room. Then she shrugged; a roll of fat bulging out of her collar. ‘I could live with that,’ she laughed, ‘if it means getting him out of the way. Really, though, I can’t live with him any longer.’ She placed a pudgy hand over her heart. Her eyes rolled back and I was looking at the vein-marbled whites. ‘I solemnly promise I won’t say a word to anyone,’ she said in a sing-song voice. ‘So? We have a deal?’
‘When I see the cash,’ I told her.
She dug an envelope out of her coat pocket and slapped it down on the Formica. I tried to weigh the contents with my eyes. Couldn’t, so reached over and lifted the flap. Plenty of purples, not enough gold notes. ‘Looks a little light to me.’
‘Half now, half on completion.’
‘That isn’t the way I work.’
‘How can I be sure that you’ll even do the job? For all I know you could just pick up the cash, walk away, and that’s the last I’d ever hear of you.’
‘Sometimes you have to take things on faith,’ I told her.
‘You don’t look like a professional hitman to me.’
‘What were you expecting? Matt Damon?’
‘I should be so lucky,’ she snorted. She started picking at a scab on her chin and I thought no one with a face like that has that kind of luck!
‘You’ve heard my credentials,’ I said.
‘Only what you told me on the phone.’
‘I don’t do kids, I don’t do handicapped folk and I don’t do lies.’ My legend was growing.
‘You don’t do much exercise either,’ she said with a wicked smile, the old kettle and pot argument raging on.
‘These days I hardly run for a bus,’ I acquiesced. ‘But I don’t have to. A bullet’s quicker than any man.’
‘How many have you killed?’
‘You’re sure you want to hear?’
‘I want to know I’m going to get value for money.’
‘Thirty-three,’ I said.
She adjusted her weight on the chair, covering a sniff of disdain with the creaking of the plastic.
‘You still doubt me?’
‘Can’t blame a girl for being nervous with her hard-earned cash, can you?’
‘OK. You want proof?’
She patted her opposite coat pocket. I didn’t look; I was still watching the flake of scab hanging off her chin. ‘I have the rest of the money right here. Show me something that will convince me that you’re really up to the task and you’ve got a deal.’
‘That’s fair,’ I decided.
I lifted my silenced Sig-Sauer from under the table and pointed it at her tremulous gut. I pulled the trigger.
The thud of the bullet pounding her flesh was louder than the gun’s retort.
The femme took a moment to realise she was dying. She looked down at the hole I’d just put in her coat, then up at me.
‘Will that do it?’ I asked.
Her mouth hung open, a string of saliva tethering her tongue to her dentures. She blinked slowly and there was disbelief in her eyes. Maybe it was because I’d shot her, or maybe she still doubted me. That damn flake of scab still waved at me and I used it as a target. Scab and chin disintegrated together.
‘So I guess we’ve got a deal?’ I asked her. Her head was nodding, her floppy neck riding the ripples still shuddering through her body. The nod was enough to seal it for me.
I jostled myself out of the chair, thankfully unhitched material from the crack of my cheeks and went over to her. Her arms had fallen to her sides, but her girth pushed them away from her. She reminded me of that spoiled bitch that blew up with juice in Willy Wonka’s factory. I dipped a hand in her pocket and pulled out another envelope.
I flicked through the notes. They were all there.
I pushed both envelopes into my pockets and walked along the cramped corridor to the far end, ignoring the pain in my knees. The corridor was long and I was puffing by the time I reached the far end. Maybe the femme was right and I should be in better shape for this game. I dabbed perspiration from my forehead before pushing open a door: I had to look the part. There was another room, not much bigger than the first.
The femme’s husband was a little squirt with glasses and a comb-over. His jumper was a market stall special, all diamond patterned down the chest, the two for the price of one type you buy on special offer. Black nylon trousers, white socks for frig sake! Couldn’t see how someone like him could be living the double life his wife claimed, but she was right in a way. Just shows you that looks can be deceiving. People look at me and don’t credit me with much either.
I looked down at the little man. His eyes looked huge behind the glasses. He was sitting in the chair where I’d left him earlier while I prepped for his wife’s arrival.
‘Just like you asked,’ I reassured him.
‘Did she suffer?’
The malignant gleam in his eye told me the answer he was waiting for.
‘Yeah, she suffered.’
‘Good,’ he said. ‘She deserved it. Did she tell you I gave her a sexually transmitted disease?’
‘Yeah, you called it right.’
‘Bitch. It was her who gave me the clap. It was her who was sleeping around.’
I didn’t comment. It was beginning to sound like I was stuck in the middle of the Jeremy Kyle show.
‘What else did she say?’ he asked. “Did she have any idea that...”
‘She was sure you were being unfaithful to her; chasing all these young skirts all the time.’ I laughed at the absurdity of it.
He laughed with me. ‘You think I’d stand any chance with a young girl?’
Decorum isn’t my main strength. ‘Not a chance.’
To his credit he didn’t take any offence. ‘Crazy bitch has accused me of running after girls for years,’ he said. ‘She’s made my life hell and I think it was all guilt over her own infidelity. Did she admit to having someone else?’
‘I didn’t ask.’
‘She must have said something.’
‘She did. She asked me to kill you.’
I just smiled at him and he shook his head.
‘Good job I met you first, then,’ he said, blinking mole-like. ‘I can’t believe she’d want to kill me. But it would make sense, I suppose. She wants me out the way so she can sleep around any time she likes. What a bitch!’
I shrugged, held out my hand. ‘Forget about her; you don’t have to take her shit ever again.” I snapped my fingers. “Money on completion; just like we agreed.’
The man pulled out a thick envelope and I took it from him. Didn’t bother counting the notes, because I knew he was good for it.
‘A deal’s a deal,’ he said, smiling.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘It is.’
I shot him in the head, just like I’d agreed to do for his wife.
But that wasn’t the main reason.
The little squirt should have mentioned it when first we met. I wiggled my trousers out of my butt again, exhaling at the chaffing-pain. ‘That’s for giving me the fucking pox.’
© Author ~MATT HILTON
Cold crimes for DECEMBER decking NOIR NOEL ~ AT THE BIJOU
ILLUSTRATION CREDIT: "Noir Guy" excellent sketch ala Marcelle Trinidade
COLD AS THE GRAVE
By ~ MATT HILTON
He came into the kitchen, still blowing warmth at his blue hands. “I’m telling you, boys. You know it’s fuckin’ cold when your dick shrivels up like a prawn vol-au-vent!”
No one answered him. No one laughed. They’d already heard Jimmy’s lurid take on the cold snap on three separate occasions.
“Close the door, will ya?” Bobby was hunkered down in front of the oven. The door was open and the meagre blue flame inside was the only source of heat in the old house.
“Thought all the power and stuff was off?” Jimmy moved towards the oven holding out his palms.
“It is, but the oven’s Calor gas. There was a li’le bit left in the bottle.” Bobby shoved him away. “Fuckin’ hell, Jimmy, I can feel the cold coming off ya! You a fuckin’ ghost or summat?”
“Gotta admit, I feel like I’m about three days dead.”
Jimmy and Bobby both looked around at the latest speaker.
Johnny Boy stood up and walked over to Bobby and shoved him side-ways. “Stop hoggin’ all the fuckin’ heat.”
“Yeah, move it,” Jimmy added.
“Tosser!” Bobby called Jimmy, but he reluctantly gave way to the older man, his face twisting as he was shunted away from the small flame.
Johnny Boy was a man in his late-forties – heavily built, his jowls drooping and his hair turning grey at the sides – a bit of a misnomer at any stretch. But he was also the hardest of the three and neither Jimmy nor – especially – Bobby would argue too stringently. Johnny Boy put his arse to the oven, lifting the tail of his coat to warm his lower back. He stood there smiling at the other two but there wasn’t the slightest mote of humour in his eyes.
“Is he there yet, Jimmy?”
Jimmy shoved his hands in his pockets and fiddled round like he was adjusting his underpants. “I froze me fuckin’ bollocks off, but it was worth it. The grass was right. He does use the dump across the way as a squat. He’s there, Johnny Boy. Alone.”
“Good.” Johnny Boy allowed his coat to drop as he transferred his hands to his own pockets. He pulled out an illegal semi-automatic pistol: an imported SIGMA, but neither of the other two would know that. From his other pocket he pulled out a magazine and slapped it in place. He racked the slide. “You two packin’ like I told ya?”
Bobby pulled out a sawn-off shotgun with a chopped and taped stock. Double barrelled. A farmer’s gun adapted to fit under his armpit. He clicked it open and fed in a couple 12 bore cartridges.
Jimmy said, “I’ve a pick handle. Don’t trust meself to pull a trigger, my hands are so cold.”
“Keep rubbing your balls like that and the friction’ll set em on fire,” Bobby said.
“I’m not rubbin’ me balls,” Jimmy said. “I’m still trying to find ‘em!”
Bobby laughed this time. “Heard you often have that problem with your dick.”
“You wouldn’t like it as a wart on the end of your nose,” Jimmy said right back. Another of his sadly over-used rejoinders
“Shut up,” Johnny Boy grunted. “Fuckin’ idiots that I have to work with . . . ”
He led them out of the house and into the biting cold. It was dark outside, no moon, no stars, just a heavy mist that covered everything. The mist dampened down the sound so much it felt like they were walking through some sort of void between worlds.
Johnny Boy felt the mist clinging to his face, turning to ice crystals on his eyelashes. He rubbed a palm across his jowls and they felt like they were as tight as a virgin’s arse. He exhaled, and a cloud of frozen breath streamed around him.
Three days dead, he thought. It was as cold as the fuckin’ grave, right enough.
But soon things were gonna hot up.
A faint glow poked through the mist. Yellowish – like piss spreading in a swimming pool. They had to move closer before they could make out that it was the light from the living room in the derelict house opposite.
“Can you see him?” Johnny Boy whispered.
Jimmy pointed, using the pick handle he’d picked up from outside their hiding place. “Saw him in there about five minutes ago. Dunno where he’s at now.”
Johnny Boy nudged Bobby. “You’re the smallest. Sneak over there and see if you can see him.”
“What if he sees me?”
“You’ve got a fuckin’ shotgun, what’re you afraid of?”
Bobby sniffed a dew drop from the end of his nose. “It’s fuckin’ Jack Dunn we’re talkin’ about. Bad bastard. Even with the gun I don’t want to go up against him on me own!”
“He’s not fuckin’ bullet proof,” Johnny Boy snarled, but even he wasn’t so sure that he’d be here without Bobby and Jimmy backing him up. “Fuckin’ big man vigilante! Maybe the cops couldn’t prove he was the one who capped my cousin, Ronnie, but I know it. An’ he’s gonna pay. Now git over there and see where he’s at. Soon as you give us the nod we’ll be on him like stink on shit. Right, Jimmy?”
Jimmy didn’t answer and Johnny Boy turned, searching for him in the mist. All that remained of his passing was a faint swirl in the mist.
“Where the fuck has he sneaked off to?” Johnny Boy did a slow pirouette where he stood. There was no sign of the big man. Just his pick handle lying on the ground. “I don’t believe this; the fucker’s bottled it!” He turned back towards Bobby. “Well, it’s just me an’ you, Bobby, but don’t worry we can still do this . . . ”
Bobby was nowhere to be seen.
“Bobby? Bobby! Where the . . .”
Johnny Boy gripped the butt of his SIGMA, but now the gun didn’t seem the equaliser that he’d originally thought. In fact it felt woefully inadequate. A bit like he felt, really.
He took a slow step back, turned, and was about to leg it.
A form reared out of the mist in front of him.
Johnny Boy couldn’t make out the face of the man. It had nothing to do with the cloying mist, but everything to do with the sawn-off shotgun barrels jammed against the bridge of his nose.
“Going somewhere, Johnny Boy?” Jack Dunn asked.
Johnny Boy didn’t even think about lifting his gun. If anyone cared to listen he’d have told them that his fingers were too cold to pull the trigger anyway. The truth was, he was decidedly warm. At least he was in his trousers when he pissed himself.
It was shameful, pissing himself like that, but he didn’t have long to worry about it.
The shot-gun was reversed very quickly and the stock slammed against the side of his head.
* * *
It was three days until they were found. The slaughterhouse had closed on Friday evening, so it wasn’t until Monday morning before the staff arrived and found Johnny Boy, Jimmy and Bobby trussed together in the meat locker.
The constable had to step aside for the Detective Sergeant who arrived at the scene.
“What have we got?” the DS asked.
“Three of them this time.”
“Yeah,” the constable said. “You think that Jack Dunn did them?”
“We’ve no proof that there’s even a person called Jack Dunn, constable. You ask me, it’s just a story these scrotes put out to cover for the murders in their little turf wars. And if I were you I’d just keep on thinking that way.”
The DS stepped inside the meat locker and immediately shivered.
“Bloody Baltic in here,” he muttered, rubbing his hands together.
“Minus thirty,” the SOCO investigator said from the centre of the room. “They were still alive when they were tied up in here, poor sods. It looks like they froze to death, Sarge.”
Yeah, the DS thought, thinking about Jimmy’s words that he’d overheard as they planned to kill him, I know there were more snotty noses than standing cocks that night.
© Author ~MATT HILTON
Cold crimes for DECEMBER decking NOIR NOEL ~ AT THE BIJOU
ILLUSTRATION CREDIT: Freezy photo ala Leland Francisco
LUSCIOUS LADIES and GENTEEL GENTS ~
IT'S THE MATT HILTON SHOW ~
A special guestappearance trouncing our stage.
Thisfella said he had RatPack on the mind too.
Like me, like you.
YOU KNOW WHAT I LIKE
By ~ Matt Hilton
Helloooo, Baby. You know what I like…
Bobby Darin was always on the fringe of The Rat Pack, but to me he should be an honorary member. The guy was awesome, and his voice moves me. Not to mention being cool as hell and as slick as oil. I’d love to dress with his panache. But I’m the wrong build, and dare I say it, not cool enough. So, I resemble the Big Bopper instead, and I’ll live with that. But I want to sing like Darin.
I’m old fashioned, but I don’t care. You can’t help the music that moves your soul. When I’m writing, I like to have something playing in the background. I’ll often slip Dino or Bobby or Frank or Nat or even Gene ‘n’ Eddie onto the CD player. Occasionally I’ve looked back at what I’ve put down on paper, and those ol’ crooners or rockers have left their mark. Author intrusion. Hell, yeah! There’s a reason beyond his penchant for knives why Tubal Cain – the bad dude from Dead Men’s Dust – was listening to Mack the Knife on his car’s CD player while hunting his next victim. That was me, I guess, playing his part and loving being the bad boy for a change.
|Nuttin' like a good cup of Joe for Joe|
© 2011 ~ Author Matt Hilton, from AT THE BIJOU's Rat*Pack*Revue debut
PHOTO CREDITS: Perfect Coffee: Skylar / Mr Darin: Screengems / Mr Hilton: his vast PR'realm
|Curiousity of the Absolutely*Kate ... a-s-k-s|
Matt ~ Though I'm damn glad you came in the stage door, lookin' for your dressing room with the tipsy star centered as DECEMBER decks NOIR NOEL AT THE BIJOU . . . it was quite cool to hear you snappin' your fingers back stage during our RATPACKREVUE, repeating (in a stage-whisper naturally), "But what about Bobby Darin? But what about Bobby Darin?" I've learned now if one challenges one of their crime'thriller heroes to spin eloquent on their music'enhancing heroes . . . good vibes churn. I thank*you good sir and fill and spiel our audience in the further on your thriller eloquence . . .
|MATT HILTON or JOE?|
Very much appreciate this, Kate.
It's very good of you, and of course I'll inscribe your Joe Hunter stuff for you.
Strong coffee in hand and another full day ahead. Now back to the writing.
Contrary to popular belief, Matt Hilton is his real name. Well, actually it’s ‘Matthew’ but he wouldn’t thank you for his Sunday name. He was born the same year that England won the World Cup which is a very long time ago. Not that he’s interested in soccer, his sporting interests are in boxing, MMA and martial arts. It probably comes from having four brothers and scrapping his way through meal times when he was a lad. As you can tell from his chunky build he looked out for himself OK.
Matt was born in Scotland, but followed his family south to England and grew up in Carlisle, Cumbria and has stayed in the county since (apart from a two year sojourn back to his ancestral land during his late teens). Growing up he listened to tales of horror and adventure told to him by his father, a natural story-teller, and it was only natural that his over-active imagination be funnelled into books, both reading and writing them.
|One of 5 greats - #6 on the way!|
From a very young age, Matt scribbled down short stories, and even attempted his first novel at age 11. In his early teens he wrote a ‘coming of age’ novel called 'AGGRO', followed by a couple heroic fantasy books before discovering a new love of action thrillers and crime. He was once shortlisted for a national 'write a novel' competition, and came fourth in another, as well as having some non-fiction articles in magazines. For more than twenty years he submitted his books to publishers without success (writing seven stand-alone action/crime thrillers), until in 2008 he finally managed to secure an agent and a record-breaking 5 book deal for his Joe Hunter series. Since then Matt has secured a 3 book deal in the USA, a further 2 book deal in the UK, and translations in Germany, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria. His debut novel - Dead Men's Dust - reached Number 11 in the Sunday Times bestseller list, and was named as one of the 'Thrillers of the Year 2009' by the Daily Telegraph. DMD was also shortlisted for the ITW Debut Thriller Award 2009.
Matt worked at various mundane jobs, before going into the private security industry for 18 years, followed by 4 as a cop. He quit his career as a police officer with Cumbria Constabulary to pursue his love of writing tight, cinematic American-style thrillers, and to date has five Joe Hunter books on the shelves with more to come, as well as a short crime story in the anthology Even More Tonto Short Stories, and an up-coming zombie tale in Wild Wolf Publishing’s ‘Holiday of the Dead Anthology’.
Known as a British thriller writer, you might be surprised to find that Matt’s influences incline more towards the horror and fantasy writers of the 1930s, the ‘men’s action’ writers of the 1970s, and American thriller authors including Robert Crais, Jeffrey Deaver, David Morrell and Dean Koontz. His favourite writer is John Connolly.
Matt also writes horror and humorous crime short stories under the pen name of Vallon Jackson – the worst kept secret on the internet - as well as co-editing fiction webzine Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers with those loveable crime and horror gents Col Bury and Lee Hughes.
"Thanks Big Bopper! - I mean Joe, I mean Matt!"
~ Absolutely*Kate, heralding ~
DECEMBER decking NOIR NOEL
into cold cunning Crime Scenes
SIT DOWN SCHWEETHEART ~
LINK DELICIOUS INFLUENCES OF ~
OUR NOIR AUTHORS' "JUST DESSERTS" ~
LINKS TO OUR NOIR SO FAR ~
NOIRTORIOUS COMING ATTRACTIONS ~
Every other day cold crimes . . . decking NOIR NOEL into December
Nigel Bird ... Ian Ayris ... Paul Brazill ...
Steven Miscandlon ... Jeanette Cheezum ... BR Stateham ...
Julian Bramwell Slater ... Sal Buttaci... Kevin J Mackey ...
Helen Howell ... Luca Veste ... Christina Vincent ...
Charlie Wade ... Darren Sant ... Aidan Fritz ...
Lily Childs ... Zelda Martin ... Vic Watson ...
Thomas Pluck and the Lost Children benefit show
a Rex Pickett surprise ...
return of the great Randisi ...
AT THE BIJOU'S Harry B Sanderford ... Matthew Magda ...
plus return appearances by our masters of the ceremonious ~
Kevin MadDog Michaels and Absolutely*Kate ...
Why ~ Who knows who's getting into the act? . . .
RAYMOND CHANDLER may be channeled!
DECEMBER decks NOIR NOEL AT THE BIJOU