Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

By Paul D Brazill


Living well is the best revenge, or so my arthritic old grandmother used to say. And , for most of my life, I have lived very well - once I’d broken free of Seatown’s umbilical cord, which was strangling me like a noose.

Fame. Money. Drugs. Travel. Fast cars. Faster women. All of the above.

And it felt good. Bloody good.

Or it used to.


The taxi crept along the coast road, past the worn-out Bed & Breakfasts, half-empty amusement arcades and deserted kebab shops. A shabby looking Santa Clause pissed against the side of a mangy looking Christmas Tree that was stood shaking in the wind outside the public toilets.

‘Do you get home much, these days, Mr Stroud?’ said the crumpled tissue of a taxi driver with the the big, bushy eyebrows.

‘Not so much, these days,’ I said, half yawning. The radio was playing a medley of Christmas carols at a volume so low it was sending me to sleep.

‘Bet it’s a fair bit different to life down the smoke, eh?’ said the taxi driver. ‘Bright lights, big city!’

He slowed down as a raggle-taggle group of rat boys staggered across the road.

‘Vive la diffĂ©rence,’ I said.

The taxi pulled up at a red light. It was early evening and allegedly rush hour but there weren’t too many cars on the road. The granite sky was filling with black, storm clouds.

I gazed out of the window at Booze n News, Seatown’s popular chain of newsagents and off-licences. Booze n News had been the brainchild of Frank Griffin, a local Conservative councillor and father of Craig, my childhood tormentor and font of all of my bile.

Outside the shop was a familiar looking woman being hassled by a whining toddler as she struggled to put a buggy into the back of a Renault Espace. Karen Griffin, Craig’s wife.

Once she’d been the glam of glams and now she was looking more than a little shop soiled. I smiled to myself with satisfaction. This is what I really came ‘home’ for. Bathing in the misery of the people that had caused me so much suffering. Taking pleasure from seeing any spark of life that they’d had dampened by the drab hand of domesticity.

Karen locked eyes with me and smiled but I just turned away and looked at the torn billboard outside the shop.

In red marker pen it proclaimed:

‘Best selling thriller author Julian Stroud to host Rotary Club Christmas Charity Lunch’.

‘Bet it’s gone downhill since you came here last time, eh, Mr Stroud?’ said the taxi driver.

‘Plus ca change,‘ I said, as I slowly let out a silent fart.

‘Aye,’ said the taxi driver, winding down the window.


I used to lay awake at night thinking of my childhood humiliations. How much I was ridiculed. Laughed at. And over the years I let my my hatred marinade. And congeale.

And then the doctor told me about my body’s uninvited guest. The plague that crawled through my veins. And then I had an idea.


‘So, you never heard about Fast Eddy then?’ said Karen Griffin. She downed her fifth Baileys and her face flushed red and her eyes sparkled.

‘No, I hadn’t,’ I said. I looked out of the Carvery window. The sea was grey. Out at sea, a fishing trawler adorned with Christmas lights bobbed up and down on the waves.

‘They say he met a lass on the Internet. Was getting on really well, too, until he sent her his picture, that is, and then she blocked him,’ said Karen.

I remembered Fast Eddy and could understand the girls consternation. He was once described as being like a fatter version of Bernard Manning. Without the charm.

‘And what happened?’ I said, almost interested.

Karen was looking good, I had to admit. She’d dolled herself up pretty well. Her idiot husband had been in a drunken sleep on the sofa and hadn’t even noticed her sneak out.

The fatigue was behind her eyes though. I almost felt sorry for her. I was starting to wonder if I could go through with this nasty little plan that I’d hatched.

‘Well , he had an idea of where she lived. Some village in Scotland.. And so he started to spend every weekend going up there on the train and walking around the place looking for her. Until he got picked up by the police for being drunk and disorderly. Thing is, though, he’d got the wrong village,anyway!’

And then she laughed.

Karen Griffin’s cruel cackle reminded me of my teenagers years and the agony of just living. And it made up my mind for me.


The motel room was dimly lit. Outside, I could the heavy bass of an old Public Image song.

I finished my brandy, popped a viagra and crawled into the bed.

‘Speak French to me Julian, you know it really turns me on, ‘ said Karen, as she pulled me towards her.

I took out a condom that I’d pricked with a pin earlier and put it on.

‘Le Petit Mort,’ I said, with a smirk. Well, Christmas is a time for sharing, after all.

The End

Paul D. Brazill is a feckless waster who was born in Hartlepool, England and lives in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He left school at sixteen because he was too thick to pass his exams and started writing at the end of 2008 because his girlfriend put the clamp on his boozing.His writing has appeared in all sorts of print and electronic magazines and anthologies, such as Beat To A Pulp, A Twist Of Noir and Radgepacket Volume Four. His story The Tut was nominated for a 2010 Spinetingler Award and his story Guns of Brixton will be included in the 2011 Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime, so he's getting away with something. His blog is YOU WOULD SAY THAT WOULDN’T YOU? And his column, I DIDN”T SAY THAT, DID I? is at Pulp Metal Magazine. And he wouldn't have work when there was work.


Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Excellent story all around. I really liked this:

"the crumpled tissue of a taxi driver with the the big, bushy eyebrows."

Awesome description.

David Barber said...

HA!! Sweet revenge. Great story, Paul. Some great lines in there. Well done!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Terrific. Love the mini chapter approach.

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

"I used to lay awake at night thinking of my childhood humiliations. How much I was ridiculed. Laughed at. And over the years I let my my hatred marinade. And congeale."

Been there. Still there...

Love it! Nice job, Paul!

Evan Lewis said...

Nasty and brilliant.

Paul D Brazill said...

Thanks very much. You're all being far too kind but I'll take the praise anyway!

Fiona Johnson said...

Revenge...nasty....but sweat. Fabulous story :)

Author said...

Been looking forward to this one, and it didn't disappoint. Nice one, PDB!

Joyce said...

There's revenge, and then there's REVENGE! Great story, Paul. Nice and dark and nasty. Perfect.

seana graham said...


I have to say that the further implications dawned on me only gradually.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

Oh Sir Paul, you silent old fart ... the master of metaphor, the twister of tell-telling tales, the dapper of the descriptionaries ... How absolutely swell you rode this one into town ... and let us seek and peek inside your shadowy shimmer of a mind-spark.

I left a single rose outside your motel room. Enchantee, Monsieur Stroud. ~ Absolutely*Kate

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

(((Yikes! I'm worried about what Sabrina is congealing though!)))

Katherine Tomlinson said...

What a lovely post-Christmas present. Loved it.

Alan Griffiths said...

Super, Mr Brazill, just super. Great lines and a lovely, nasty ending.

Anonymous said...

Classic Brazill. All your usual humour, sly references, clever build up and brilliant delivery are here.

Salvatore Buttaci said...

One always knows that reading a story by Brazill promises much and delivers more! Great story!

Al Tucher said...

"Font of all my bile." I'd know a PB story anywhere. Good one.

Paul D Brazill said...

Cheers, me dears. It was fair bit nastier than the stuff I've been writing lately so I'm glad it worked.

Don Lafferty said...

Ouch. In a good way.

Eric Beetner said...

This challenge has really brought out some fantastic stories! Well done Paul.

Anonymous said...

Wicked, just what I expected from you.

R L Kelstrom said...

Ah, can there be a better way to serve revenge than marinated and congealed like a bad aspic. But a very good taste to leave in the mouth after the saccharinicity of Christmas. Top notch story.