Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Short Stories That All Definitely Happened

Though 2014 has passed by without so much as a sniff of any new work it has been a busy year...honest! Since April I've been working on a Noir-Comedy set in Belfast, for which I received an Independent Writer Award from the Arts Council (via NI Screen).  This has gone a long way to help explain what appears, at least on the surface, to be a year of inactivity.

This forthcoming year will hopefully see the realization of months, upon months (upon months) of drafting, redrafting, scrapping, rewriting and hair pulling, as Henry Roscoe hopefully finds a home and I, a regular writing gig.  That being said, in the midst of all the Noir-based antics of Fast City there has been just enough downtime to scrape together a few short stories; just enough to dare to call them a collection and to give that collection a name; Short Stories That All Definitely Happened.

If you're in any way a regular visitor or a frequent Twitter-er you've probably read at least one.  Short Stories will be unleashed in 2015 (date TBC) through Venice Books, CA.  A sample of stories can be founds via the links below, though some will change between now and the finished piece.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

“Original, hilarious and very clever.”
-Hugh Cron 
“Really funny.”
-Nik Everleigh
“Not for the faint hearted […] a well constructed, vivde piece of writing.”
-Diane Dickson
“It will divide opinion […] very powerful.”
-Nik Everleigh
“Powerful and thought provoking.”
-Hugh Cron
“Some great lines.”
-Nik Everleigh
“A whiff of Bukowski’s attitude and to the point style.  Snappy and earthy.”
-Adam West
“A witty, self deprecating humour […] the final sentence did make me grin and wince at the same time.”
-Diane Dickson
“Well written and flowed humorously […] masterful design.”
-Willie Douglas
“A rare voice.”
-Anthony Wobbe
“Another entertaining piece of writing.”
-Hugh Cron
“An entertaining read.”
-Kate Smart
“A lot of style to it and dark humour in abundance […] tackles every story subject with ferocity and without fear.”
-Nik Everleigh

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

From Christmas to Kwanzaa

Merry Christmas Internet! To celebrate either Jesus' b-day or the co-opting of a pagan festival everything is free!

Yup, Lost Angeles, Bone Idol [bohn ahyd-l], and Downward Facing Doug is free for the next few days.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Birthday Bone!


Bone Idol [bohn ahyd-l] is one tomorrow.  Why not celebrate by grabbing a free copy on Amazon Kindle... oh and it's a banana candle, get your god-damn mind out of the gutter.

Amazon US   -   Amazon UK

The sophomore follow-up to Lost Angeles is the semi-biographical tale of author David Louden's alter-ego Doug Morgan as he struggles to connect with his father Jack, his mother Ruth and the working class ideology of "a real job".

From his early adventure filled days in Poleglass through to the alcohol induced haze of his early twenties Doug's life (much like the city) is one at conflict with itself. Bone Idol [bohn ahyd-l] is filled with humour, sex, guilt and the shameful dream of a boy wanting to create more than a family of haunted heirs.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Being Marcus Toberman

The drive from Venice to Beverly Hills was a warm one.  In the Mexico it felt like a heat stroke in a Senior Citizens' home while Strangelove-riding a washing machine on full spin.  Kidneys rattled against spinal discs which vibrated and clashed into intestines as the death trap on wheels rolled along surface roads, in and out, and in through traffic.  Pulling off on to the well-to-do, privately policed, streets of the top one percent I watched as octogenarians, who had the bagging skin pulled so tight that they looked as though they had a 365 Halloween mask, turned their new noses up at the sight of a man making his way through their streets trying to carve out a living.  ‘It’s the role of people like this to keep people like me down’ I told myself, ‘this is how they keep the world turning.’
I turned into the driveway and cruised up the perfectly smooth lane between the two immaculately manicured lots of green with award winning rose bushes.  I had been working this gig long enough that the community’s private police service no longer stopped my old wagon on sight.
Turning the engine off I climbed from the cabin.  I’d need to remember to feed her some water before I ventured back towards the Pacific, I’d need to re-tune my banjo before the lesson as the good vibrations from the frequently shot suspension renders chords unplayable, almost brutal.
I rang the doorbell, Eduardo worked away with his wheelbarrow and I heard the pitter of soft-shoed feet as Helena answered the door.  She was Filipino.  I was the first white servant she had seen call to the house in all her years working for the Tobermans.  She stood five foot on her tip-toes and had a roundness to her body which was homely.
‘Hey baby, ready to go to prom?’ I asked her.
She’d roll her eyes getting into character.  I was the smart-ass, she was the older woman who had no time for my personality disorder.  A beautiful roleplay.
‘Mrs. Toberman!’ she called ‘He’s here again!’
As welcome as a Jehovah’s witness at an orgy.
Even though I had been to the house every Wednesday for the past three months Helena would not unplug her frame from the doorway until she heard the mistress of the house, and her high heels click, click, click their way down the marble staircase in the middle of the foyer.  I caught sight, she was wearing her green dress today.  It meant emeralds on her fingers and ears.  Tossing her blonde mane she’d throw me a smile.
‘Please Helena,’ she said placing a hand on the maid’s shoulder ‘Douglas is a guest.  Don’t have him standing on the doorstep.  Take him to the music room then get Tommy and let him know his tutor is here.’
‘Follow me.’ she’d sigh before leading me to the music room as though it was my first time in the enormous New World estate of a home.
The music room used to be the games room, before that it was the library, and before that maybe the indoor pool or the den or maybe even a study but when young master Tommy spoke to his mother and father of his desire to learn to play the banjo Mr. Toberman (who was seemingly in a permanent state of weekday incommunicado) would click his fingers and materialize several black, and brown, and yellow men to do his building work for him; to transform the room into his son’s very own recording studio.
Propped up on a stool I nursed the new bruises the battered springs of the Mexico had willed me and re-tuned my Ozark.  Five string.  Bluegrass.  The instrument of Great American heartache.  Tommy arrived eager, instrument in hand, much more expensive than mine.  Prick.  His blonde mop bouncing wildly as he raced to his spot.  I had to give him it, he was a work-horse.  He might have come from money but he was determined.  He reminded me a little of myself.  I pushed that idea to the back of my mind, if he was me then I could be only one person.
‘Hey Doug.’ he beamed.
‘Hey yourself kid,’ I had finished tuning ‘pull up and show me how you’re coming along.’
He sat down across from me, his daddy had managed to buy him some gold records from 80s Rock bands that blew all their bank and couldn’t afford to keep any memento of the glory days.  One always sat directly over his head, light reflecting from it making it shine as bright as a halo.  Tommy plucked his way through John Henry.  He had been practicing.  It was a good rendition.
‘That’s cool boss,’ he got a kick from me calling him boss ‘but don’t be afraid to throw a little style into it.  When you come back around even just throw in a second open D to give it a little soul.’ I played it through for him, throwing in a little of myself here and there.  He took note with his eyes, unblinking and honest.
‘Open D.’
‘Yeah.  So what do you want to learn today?’
‘How about a little something from the homeland me boyo?’  I threw out a few strings of Danny Boy.
‘Oh yeah, that would be cool.’ he said.
‘Ok, so Danny Boy is deceptive.  Because you start up around the top of the neck and then there are some big jumps and the tune gets high and then you have to bring it right back down.  Make sure you’ve your fingering right from the get-go otherwise there’s going to be trouble.’
‘Fingering, right.’ his voice was without snigger, and I felt bad that the boy was missing out on a real childhood.
‘So how about we break it up a bit.  We’ll go right up until the jump to the tenth and we’ll work on that first.  Get it real solid and then next week we can learn the rest then put it together.’
‘You don’t think I could learn it all in one?’
‘I didn’t.  It’s a tough song, tough because everybody knows it.’
I played him through Danny Boy and then taught him everything he could do with the three fingers he had been using up to this point to work the neck.  He paid attention and played along with me when I gave him the nod.  At the end of the lesson I drew out the neck, marked up his chords to play and folded it in half before feeding it to his shirt pocket.  I packed up my banjo into its case but when I turned around Tommy was still there.  He stood awkwardly to attention, as though I was his drill sergeant.  I smiled.  He mirrored.  It was as awkward as dating your cousin.
‘What’s up boss?’ I asked.
‘I was wondering something…’
‘Oh yeah?  And what’s that then?’
‘How do you know if a girl likes you?’ his face grew red.
‘That’s an interesting question kid.  If I had the answers I’d be as rich as your old man.  Speaking of him, shouldn’t this be a question you direct to him?’
‘He’s always busy with work.’ confessed Tommy.
‘Leave Douglas alone son, you’ve monopolized just about enough of his time today.’ instructed Mrs. Toberman as she lent against the frame of the door.
Tommy nodded before turning to me and giving me that look.  The look that said it’s not too late to give me some advice.  I told him if he liked her he should say something to her, some girls like to be asked, some girls like asking.  He’d grow up and figure out which type of girl he liked and it would be made easier for him or it wouldn’t.
‘Why don’t you go outside and play?’ the blonde said.
Even I knew that answer.  The kid didn’t have much in the way of friends.  The kid didn’t have much in the way of anything that couldn’t spring from a chequebook.  The more some people have…
‘But Mum.’
‘No but Mums, off you go Thomas.’
The kid grabbed his antique banjo.  It probably belonged to Bill Lowrey, or Burl Ives, or maybe even Don Reno.  Gliding to the door she checked her son had actually left before slotting it into its frame and turning the lock.  In an instant her hair was down and her hands on my chest.
‘I’ve a cheque here for you.’ she said, all smiles.
‘Much appreciated, he’s a good kid.  He…’
‘I want you to fuck me now.’ the dress came off her shoulders, stalling a second on her breasts before it dropped to the floor.  She stepped out of it wearing only her heels.
Her body was tight.  Her stomach flat, her hips curvy with the right amount of meat on them.  Her flanks, toned and powerful.
‘What’s it to be today?’
‘No games today, I just need filled, give me meat and butter!’
Mrs. Toberman had propositioned me two weeks into employment.  It started out like any other screw but the more she got comfortable with me the more the real Julie Toberman started coming out.  One Wednesday she invited the whole family over purely so we could play a game she called:


I’d slide it into her, she’d bite down on her hand as I pushed up inside and her entire family walked around beneath us cast in the role of the Germans.  In recent weeks she had embraced my Irish roots and devised one called:


She’d play the poor Irish widow who couldn’t afford to feed her family, in a reversal of fortune I’d be the wealthy land baron who would let her work it off.  One Sunday afternoon she told some of the girls at the country club about her son’s banjo tutor and the little extra he’d do around the house for her.  I got two more gigs out of it, both with children of privilege, both with wives bored of fucking to a rota.  Like there’s anything worse.
Unbuttoning my jeans she reached inside and grabbed herself a handful of turkeyneck.  Guiding me to the piano, a Steinway, she bent over.  I grabbed her hips and jammed it in good.  I was giving his son girl advice and dicking his wife, I was making a good trade at being Marcus Toberman.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Advice From A Dog

My phone rang and when I answered it was a man on the other end of the line.  He sounded tall, angry and spoke of things that weren’t particularly nice and that were about to happen to me, imminently.
            ‘Wait a fucking minute!’ I shouted ‘Who the fuck is this?!’
            ‘I’m Maria’s brother.’
            Ah right.  Things had ended badly with her, she was cock crazed, needy and apparently, willing to set her brother on me.  He was in the military but one night over drinks she told me that he wasn’t even a soldier, he was a chef.
            ‘You better watch your fucking back you fucking Irish prick…’
            ‘Don’t you fucking threaten me you cunt, you might be army but we kill army.’ I spat, having never involved myself in the bullshit of my motherland I suddenly found myself more than happy to bask in it.  Such a fickle little brat.  ‘You want to start some shit be my guest…’
            After a little shouting on each end of the patchy AT&T cellular line I gave him my address, unlocked the door and sat waiting in the living room for the inevitable appearance of the brother.  I had never heard of a relationship that ended any way other than badly.  It made me wonder why, as a species, we hadn’t died out or figured a way to reproduce asexually.  But how we needed the big O, the touch of another, the vanity of being wanted.  The clock rounded the hour.  I was getting bored so I grabbed a beer from the fridge and took the pug outside for her nightly business.  Sniffing around she pee’d in the same spot she had struck that morning, and the previous night, and the previous morning.  The once rich green patch of turf scorched to a brown deathly weed.
            Back in the living room I checked my phone, no missed calls, no new messages.  Thumbing into the call log I checked the time of the incoming duel.  He was late.  He had said he was with Maria and was coming straight to me.  Chef Boyo should have been with me now, slugs should have been exchanged, a victor announced before the police rolled up and took us both in.  Nothing.  Impatiently I stuck in a DVD, broke open another beer and rolled myself a joint to silence my tourette-spitting mind.  Setting the tip of the rolled paper alight I inhaled deep.  I checked the clock.  Very late.  Getting to my feet I lifted some weights, working my arms, pumping them up for powerful bursts of usage, woke them for work.  The army chef invading my abode through modern technology, threatening me, trying to put the fear of God into me, intimidating me in my own living room, the cheek.  He’d get his.
            I finished the cigarette.
            No sign of the chef. 
            I considered phoning him again, asking him where he was, offering him traffic advice on the best way to get here.
            ‘You don’t want to do that.’ the dog said, looking up at me from under her ruffled fawn wrinkle.
            ‘What do you know about it?’
            ‘I know enough to know that you’re meant to let sleeping dogs lie.’
            ‘How long have you been waiting to say that?’
            ‘A few weeks.’ yawned the pug rolling on to her back stretching all four paws towards the heavens.
            I lit a cigarette and took a hit, the adrenaline had been coursing around my body for, I check the clock, over an hour and a half.  Now it was beginning to drip from my finger tips and my eyes suddenly felt sore and misshapen in their sockets.  Reaching down to the dog I scratched her behind her black velvet ear making her grumble with contentment.
            ‘You look tired.’
            ‘I am tired.’ I replied, smoking with one hand while petting the dog with the other.
            ‘Don’t you worry about lung cancer?’ she asked.
            ‘If I started worrying I don’t think I’d know where to stop.  You know I found a lump in my balls.’
            ‘I thought I smelt that.’
            My heart raced to my throat, my anatomy was threatening to turn me inside out as my pulse shot to over one hundred and fifty and I realised that my dog, my little pug could probably answer the question that’s on my mind.
            ‘Is it, is it cancer?’
            ‘How should I know?’
            ‘You just said I thought I smelt that.’
            ‘That doesn’t mean it’s cancer.’ she replied chewing on her inside claws.
            ‘What does it mean?’
            ‘It means you should probably have someone look at it.’
            ‘I don’t have health insurance.’
            ‘Maybe you should try and date yourself a nurse, instead of strippers and bored housewives.’
            I rolled myself another MJ and put it to my lips, grumping to herself the little barrel chested princess got to her feet and click, click, clicked across the room setting herself down by the backdoor.  She looked at me sorrowfully with her dark chocolate eyes.  Smoking the joint my throat dried and cracked and I stubbed it out before the fear of throat cancer took hold but my head was beginning to swim and soon the idea of the big C echoed through my dome like I’d sunk my head into a bucket.
            ‘Crack a window.’ the pug said.
            ‘Could you crack a window?  I’m small, I can’t take that stink as easily as you can.  Do we have any chips?’
            Walking across the room I crack a window, the cool air soothing the small claustrophobic room.
            ‘Why don’t you lock the door, turn that DVD off and go to bed?’
            ‘I don’t want him thinking I’m chicken.’
            ‘How bad can chicken be?’
            ‘Chicken is bad, chicken is as bad as cancer.’
            The dog lapped at her water with her long pink tongue. ‘So what?  So you have him come over, you beat him up and send him back to Maria.  Give her another reason to hate you.’
            ‘That’s the plan.’ I snort puffing out my chest.
            ‘That’s a terrible plan.  After what you did to her the least you can do is take a pounding from him, it’ll make them both feel better.’
            ‘I won’t feel better, and what do you mean after what I did to her?!  She tried to cut my throat.’
            ‘She told you she loved you.’
            ‘After two dates.’
            ‘She’s impulsive.’
            ‘She’s nuts.’
            ‘And you’re talking to a dog.’
            Touché, smart little bitch.
            ‘Well you started it.’  I walked to the window, pulling back the blinds and watched as a set of headlights burned brightly in the night sky, drawing closer and closer before turning by the apartment and off into the distance, towards a destination elsewhere.  I looked to the clock again, it’s rounded on another hour.  I sighed with fatigue as the last of the adrenaline falls from my bones and I’m left listless, limp and a little rejected.
            ‘He’s not coming.’ she sighed, curling up in her bed.
            ‘You don’t know that.’
            ‘I know Fairfax to Venice in late night traffic does not take two hours.’
            ‘Yeah,’ I conceded ‘you’re probably right.’
            ‘Take it from me, you’re better off leaving it be.  She’s going to hate you regardless, leave her to her anger.  It’s all you’ve ever offered her unconditionally.’
            As I nodded, my jaw stretched and an enormous yawn birthed itself from deep within my soul.  The hinge of my face, burdened by its girth, ached.  Moments later with my eyes watering it returns to its resting position and I’m done.  Closing the window I flick the latch on the front door, turn the DVD off, drop to one knee and plant a kiss on top of the soft little furry head that smells like popcorn, always.
          I curled up in bed on my side, placing a hand between my legs to stop them from crushing my lumpy balls.

Advice from a Dog and other stories for misfits are part of Chase The Moon: Issue One and available to buy [here: US] [here: UK].

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

New Moon

This month sees the launch of a new short story magazine, Chase The Moon.  Billed as a ‘magazine for misfits’ it will come with very little surprise that the first installment features one of my own short stories, Advice From A Dog.  You can buy a copy of the publication [here:US] and [here: UK] or if you fancy a random taster you can email [here] and the editor will provide you with a free short from within its dysfunctional pages.

Submissions for Issue Two are open, and available [here].

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Free Book For Idol Hands

There's still two days to get your hands on a paperback copy of Bone Idol [bohn ahyd-l].  If you've a GoodReads account drop by the Bone Idol [bohn ahyd-l] page and enter the giveaway.

The sophomore follow-up to LOST ANGELES is the semi-biographical tale of author David Louden's alter-ego Doug Morgan as he struggles to connect with his father Jack, his mother Ruth and the working class ideology of "a real job". 

From the early adventure filled days in Poleglass through to the alcohol induced haze of his early twenties Doug's life (much like the city) is one at conflict with itself. BONE IDOL is filled with humour, sex, guilt and the shameful dream of a boy wanting to create more than a family of haunted heirs.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bone Idol [bohn ahydl] by David Louden

Bone Idol [bohn ahydl]

by David Louden

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, 18 August 2014

A Short Story For Creationists

It was the early days of the Earth, God had just created man and was watching from his window in his large white office, at the top of his large white building which hovered in the sky perched on a cloud.  The planet was a utopia, every man was a King, every woman a Queen, every child a Prince or Princess and all of his other creatures were either starters or main courses for mankind, the Lord’s greatest creation.
            With his head slumped in his hands, his long white beard spilling over his palms dangling around his wrists, God watches discontent with how everything is going with man.  He has given them intelligence, imbued them with a soul and conscious thought but they’re lazy and arrogant and self-fulfilling.  They are not what he expected, not made in his image, more an image of the brat he was when he half-assed made the other planets in the Galaxy, none of which (of course) could sustain life.
            Knocking twice on the large white door the Arch-Angel Gabriel waits for the call to come before turning the perfect pearl handle springing the latch and entering the room casting a brilliant, truth-seeking light through the white corridors of the impressively white monolith of a building.
            ‘Have you seen them all down there?’ says God poking on the window with his index finger.
            ‘I haven’t sir, I haven’t had the time really, is it marvelous?  Is it a sight to behold?  The greatest creation of your existence?’
            ‘They’re ignorant, I give them intelligence.  I give them the wonder of an inquisitive mind and what do they do with it?’
            ‘Nothing sir?’ shoots Gabriel.
            ‘You bet your ass Gabe, nothing.  Look at that one.  The entire world at his feet, a realm of infinite possibilities and potential achievements and all he can do is play with his prick.’ moans God.
            ‘He does seem to be really going for it.’ Gabriel adds studying the primitive man whacking away at himself.
            ‘Dicks and cunts.  That’s all they’re involved in, day in, day out.  All they think about is their dicks and their cunts, all the do is screw and tug and suck.  And if they’re not thinking with their dicks and their cunts then they’re talking out their bungholes trying to impress someone who has a dick or a cunt.’
            Sensing God is coming to the point of the problem Gabriel puts a hand on his bosses shoulder, a sympathetic linger that will allow him to know he understands, he’s there, he’s available for promotion whenever the G-Man sees fit.
            ‘Are you,’ Gabriel treads carefully ‘sir, excuse me if I’m way off but are you feeling this tiniest bit…’
            ‘Neglected, unloved, forgotten, unappreciated, spurned, abandoned, you name it Gabe and I’m it… I’m a fucking wallflower up here.  Not one of them have so much as looked to the sky and questioned how did I get hereWhere is hereWhat is the meaning of life?’
            ‘And what is the meaning of life, sir?’
            ‘To love me,’ God moans ‘they’re little more than toys to me, pets, not as difficult to house train as others but pets nonetheless… so why do they not even give me the slightest ounce of attention?!!’
            The roar of the voice of God shakes the building in its foundations, the chandeliers rattle in their fittings, the clouds bloat and turn black instantly before a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning flashes in the brooding sky but still mankind plays with and fucks themselves blind.  On his feet God paces back and forth around the office, his sandals clapping against the white tile flooring.
            ‘I put bones down there you know, great big bones from carnivorous animals and have made it look like they’ve been there for millions of years.’
            ‘Very good sir.’
            ‘I figured they’d explore and dig and build and in doing so they’d discover them, and name them and ponder how old the planet is and how they got their and turn to the sky and know my name.  Know my face.’
            ‘But they haven’t?’ Gabriel’s voice winces.
            ‘You better believe they haven’t.  Eat, sleep, shit, screw.  That’s all they know.  One of them even tried to fuck their own food, I watched him hollow out a coconut before ploughing his turkeyneck into it.’
            ‘They’re all animals sir.’
            ‘They are.’ God cries ‘Oh, how right you are Gabe.  I’ve been thinking about going back to the lab and making a few who have knowledge…you know…of me…’
            ‘They’d spread the word, they’d come to worship me Gabe and I’d feed them knowledge and wisdom.’
            ‘They’d reject you sir.’
            ‘They would not.’
            ‘They would, you’ve given them everything too easy and they’ve rejected everything except for the most basic of primitive instincts.’ Gabriel says ‘You’ve got to make it so that they discover you all by themselves.’
            Slowly, God walks back to the window.  An orgy is taking place, dicks and cunts and bungholes getting worked, everywhere.
            ‘Go on.’
            ‘You’ve given them a utopia Lord, you’ve given them the Earth and the stars and all they want is orgasms.  You should give them something to lament upon, something that will make them turn their noses to the sky and ask, why?  You should give them plague and famine and unpleasantness and sorrow and death and aids and murder and rape and war and when the world is a simmering shit-hole filled with cum and puke they’d never want to fuck in let alone live on they’ll ponder where it all went wrong, and where they came from and why man has turned on man, killed brother, raped sister and ate daughter.’
            ‘I like that.  Do you think we could get started on that this afternoon?’ God asks.
            ‘It’s already started sir.’
            Pointing towards the ground Gabriel’s finger charts a path along a continent to a hill.  The lightning spat from the sky in God’s rage has split a tree in two.  Thick branches lay discarded everywhere.  Raising one up above his head a man walks across a plush green field where a blonde couple are fucking.  With an almighty swing of the branch he caves the back of the male’s head in, brains drop out like puss from a pimp as the body goes limp and falls off the woman, blood spilling and seeping everywhere.  Screaming she goes to rise but the branch swinging murderer is quicker than she is, and in an instant he’s on her, pushing up tight inside of her.  Three onlookers rush to the river and quickly baptize each other in the name of their newly discovered creator.
            Sitting by his window in the clouds with a milky coffee in his hand God watches as his people descend into the depths of their own soul and in an attempt to justify their own behaviour point their nostrils to the sky and ask God why, why have you made me this way?  The voices fill the room through a dozen discreetly placed speakers, millions of people all wanting to talk to God, who has decided he no longer wants to listen.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Bone Idol Giveaway!

BONE IDOL [bohn ahyd-l] in paperback

Enter the GoodReads Giveaway to stand a chance of winning my Roman á clef novel Bone Idol [bohn ahyd-l].  The competition runs from now until August 31st so there's plenty of time.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bone Idol [bohn ahydl] by David Louden

Bone Idol [bohn ahydl]

by David Louden

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

The sophomore follow-up to Lost Angeles is the semi-biographical tale of author David Louden's alter-ego Doug Morgan as he struggles to connect with his father Jack, his mother Ruth and the working class ideology of "a real job".

From his early adventure filled days in Poleglass through to the alcohol induced haze of his early twenties Doug's life (much like the city) is one at conflict with itself. Bone Idol [bohn ahyd-l] is filled with humour, sex, guilt and the shameful dream of a boy wanting to create more than a family of haunted heirs.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Nazi Doctor

I was still sweating the beer out and already paying for the pains of the night before.  Ten men together.  Add beer.  Square the testosterone levels and what you’re left with is three broken ribs, no medical insurance and a urgent care facility that looked as though its better days had not been seen by anyone still top-side of God’s green one. 
I clutched my side gentle as a mother bird to its injured sparrow as the curtain ripped back and the blonde-haired doctor stepped into the cubicle.  Sizing me up and down, no doubt wondering to himself what kinda loser plays American football in a corridor?  Drunk.  Without padding.  And with no insurance!
This kind, Doc.  Soak it up.
My time in California had been more loving than loathing but all things must end and with six grand of miles between me and my National Health Service it all came down to how green you could be. 
As he put me through my paces I winced and noticed his name badge; Dr. Heinrich Stoller.  Another alien, like me.  A better class of alien though.  One that brought something to the table.  One that worked sixty plus hours a week at his own practice plus gave his time to this free clinic so that bums like me could injure bones in badly made decisions, like if they weren’t badly made I would have any decisions at all.
‘Point on the chart to the severity of pain you’re feeling.’ his accent still thick, thick as his tan.  Thick as his bank account.
I dropped a digit on the eight and winced again as my wing relaxed back down to my side.
‘I’m going to give you a shot for the pain, after that I’ll…’
‘What made you become a doctor?’ I asked.  The question stalled Stoller.
‘Mr. Morgan are you currently on any medication for…’
‘No, no medication.’
‘In which case I’m going to write you a script, Maureen can fill it for you.’ he replied with a lavish stroke of the pen. ‘And it’s a family thing.’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘Becoming a doctor.  My father was a doctor, and his father was a doctor and so on.  It’s one of those things you just get born into.’
I got that.  My old man was a drunk, bad tempered and weak.  He taught me everything you’d ever need to know about parenting, certainly enough to know that just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should.  He taught me other things too.
‘And what is it you do, Mr. Morgan?’ Stoller’s cold blue eyes gripped me.
‘I’m a writer.’
‘Would I have read anything of yours?’
‘Ok,’ he sighed.  The clock read ten-AM. ‘well I’ll keep an eye out for you, as long as it’s not Sci-Fi.’
Inching off the treatment table I clawed the script into my pocket, pulled on my white tee and dragged my bones towards the warm glow of the exit.  Los Angeles was waiting outside for me, wanting me to play in her sunshine, to taste the heat of her full-bodied embrace.

On the sidewalk I called a cab and waited.  I got to thinking.  There was a very good chance that Heinrich Stoller’s grandfather was a Nazi doctor.  It made me smile, and I reconsidered my stance on children briefly.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Greatest Cock That Ever Lived

I was fifteen, it was April and the summer had started early.  My mother gave me ten pounds to run to the parade of shops at the bottom of the Oldpark Road to buy two steaks and some mince to fry into burgers for the dog’s dinner.  Dragging myself away from the television I threw on my trainers, laced up, pocketed the bank note and walked down to the bottom of The Bone.  I passed many people, they all knew me.  I said hello to them all before suddenly someone was calling my name from outside the Suicide Inn.
                ‘Doug, Doug, Douglas Morgan!’ the drunk cried swaying wildly.
                I crossed over the road, the windows were boarded up.  The bar was called Henry Joy’s but the locals called it The Suicide Inn because of the amount of times it had been shot into by loyalist paramilitaries and the fact that you didn’t need to be suicidal to drink in there but it certainly helped, especially if you sat by the window.
                I didn’t recognise the man, but his face looked like family.  He was.  He was my uncle Johnny, my mother’s brother.  He had been a prize fighter in his youth and took a few too many blows to the melon to be considered a valuable member of society anymore.  Sooner or later the critical melon blow comes to us all.  As I got within arm’s reach he threw a huge arm around me pulling me in for a hug.  He had a cockerel under his other arm, and had tied a bandana around its head.
                ‘Doug, how are you?  I haven’t seen you since you were a little nipper.  Where are you guys living?’
                Don’t tell him, he’ll only get drunk and put a window in ‘Around Johnny, you know.  Top of the street.  What’s with the bird?’
                ‘Oh this,’ he said almost forgetfully ‘yeah this is Jean-Claude the greatest cock that ever lived.’
                ‘Is that so?’
                ‘You bet your spunk filled beans he is.  French bird, prize fighter.  I’ve pitted him against dogs and he’s licked every one of them.  Where are you going?’
                I checked over my shoulders, it didn’t do well to have people see you talking to a crazy man with poultry under his arm.  They’d all want to talk to you if they saw you’d stop to talk to a crazy man with poultry under his arm.
                ‘Mum sent me out to buy some meat for dinner.’
                ‘I’ll sell you this cock,’ he said ‘how much do you got?’
                ‘She wants steak.’
                ‘This cock is the greatest…’
                ‘Yeah I got that.’ I said impatiently.
                ‘Tell you what,’ said Johnny ‘I’ll make a bet with you.  You pick the dog, I’ll have Jean-Claude fight it and if he wins you give me the money and I’ll give you Jean-Claude.’
                ‘And if he loses?’
                ‘He won’t.’ Johnny insisted, his tone indignant.
                ‘But if he does.’
                ‘If he does then you can keep him and your money.’
                ‘So one way or another you’re getting rid of him, I thought you said he was the greatest…’
                ‘I know what I said.’ he snapped, waving a boulder sized fist in my face ‘He eats grain faster than a priest fucks.  I can’t keep up with him, I know you’ll give him a good home kid.’
                I took the bet, but felt bad about putting him up against a dog.  Most of the dogs in the neighbourhood were mean old junkyard dogs, the kind of beasts that would rip Jean-Claude’s head off and use it as a chew toy.  The only dog I thought he could beat was my dog Bosco – but there was always the slim chance that Johnny was telling the truth and I didn’t want my sad old mongrel getting hurt.
                I pointed to a hobo, a grumpy old bastard of a man with veins sprinting from both of his cheeks, crusty eyes and a big red nose.  The kids called him Wilf Tomato Bollocks and when they yelled it at him he yelled back banana dick!
                ‘What about Wilf?!’ I said.
                ‘What about him?’ replied Johnny.
                ‘Could Jean-Claude beat Wilf?’
                ‘Of course he fucking could.’
                It took a little convincing but eventually Wilf agreed to duke it out with Jean-Claude the French prize-fighting chicken for the princely purse of two three-litre bottles of White Lightning…if he won.  Strolling off behind the wasteland by the Suicide Inn I pitched up on a pallet and lit a cigarette as Johnny placed Jean-Claude three strides from Wilf Tomato Bollocks, explained the rules, and stepped back and called…
                ‘Ding, ding, round one!’
                Wilf went to raise his dukes but even then it was too late.  Leaping six feet into the air Jean-Claude battered the old drunk with a barrage of rights and lefts sending him reeling backwards.  Landing on his spring-like heels the bird advanced before leaping to meet him again only this time with an uppercut that switched Wilf’s lights out and had Johnny dancing around gleefully like Don King with a big white hard-on.
                ‘Didn’t I tell you Douglas!  Didn’t I just!  He’s a god-damn wrecking machine!’ sang Johnny, holding the cock aloft.
                Walking home I tried to figure out exactly how I was going to break it to the old lady that I had bought a boxing chicken instead of the red meat she was expecting.  Sneaking in through the front door I soft footed it to the bottom of the stairs, climbed them on my tip-toes placed Jean-Claude on my bed, grabbed some money from my tin and returned to the shop taking the financial burden of provider for the Morgan family on to my own shoulders.

The next day I put the dog’s leash on Jean-Claude and walked him down to the boxing club in the New Lodge.  The sound of heavy blows landing on heavy bags boomed out and echoed down the stairs as we climbed the single flight to the gym.  The stink of sweat and iron coated every breath of oxygen I sucked in.  Inside the gym was cool, Tommy (the owner) kept it cold to keep his fighters lean and mean and it worked.  The shack had birthed three All Ireland champions in the amateur ranks in recent years.  Turning on the spot the flat nosed old man heard me coming.
                ‘Who are you?’ he barked.
                ‘I’m Doug, I phoned you this morning about coming down and trying out.’
                ‘Didn’t talk to no Doug this morning, talked to a Jean-Claude.’
                ‘No,’ I explained sighing ‘you talked to me.  I was phoning on behalf of Jean-Claude.’
                ‘So where’s this Jean-Claude?’ Tommy asked.
                ‘He's right here.’ pointing to the cockerel on the end of a dog lead.
                He laughed, and then stopped seeing the funny side ‘Stop wasting my fucking time kid, this is a workhouse not a joke factory.’
                ‘Do jokes come from factories?’
                ‘Don’t get short with me.’
                ‘Look, I’ll make you a deal.  You let Jean-Claude fight one of your boys here and if he wins we organise a bout.  A ticketed bout, I get three quarters of the door and if I lose I’ll work as kit boy, cleaner, whatever the fuck you need until I turn eighteen.’
                ‘What age are you now?’ he asked, his interest spiking.
                ‘Kid,’ he laughed ‘you’re crazier than a shithouse rat in an Indian restaurant but you’ve got yourself a deal.  Vinny!  Lace up, you and the KFC are going three rounds.’
                The entire gym burst into fits, half of them laughing at me; the idiot boy who had just signed away three years of his life being Tommy Buchanan’s bottom bitch, half at Vinny who was about to be reduced to fighting a Christmas dinner in some Victorian vaudeville showcase.
                Climbing into the ring Vinny’s face flashed lightning, he was fixing on killing Jean-Claude; I could tell.  I placed the cockerel in the blue corner, Tommy rang the bell, the fight was on.  Vinny exploded out of his corner and suddenly realising he’d have to stoop to go toe-to-toe with the bird, froze for a moment;  It was all Jean-Claude needed.  He leapt to eye level with the shaven-headed fighter and socked him with a clever one-two.  He threw lefts, and then rights, he worked the body, and then the head, he faked left and went right, he faked the head and went for the body.  As Tommy rang the bell for the end of the round Vinny flopped into his corner, one of the other fighters racing to his side to give him water.  Jean-Claude barely looked flustered.  The second round was more of the same before Vinny went down in the third and stayed down.
                Calling the fight Tommy approached me, wonder in his eyes, a smile like a teenage boy in a brothel.  He slapped a powerful hand on my shoulder damn near breaking my back and laughed.  The fighters of his club were less enamoured and watched on angrily, I felt a lynching wasn’t far away.
                ‘God-damn it, Doug is it?’ he roared.
                ‘I seen it and I still don’t believe it.  Wait until the world gets a hold of us!’
                ‘Meet Jean-Claude’s trainer.’ he beamed extending his hand.

The fight was scheduled for a Friday night; all fights worth a damn are scheduled for Friday night.  Friday nights are magical, it’s the weekend but you still have the rage that comes from selling five more slivers of your soul to the man for minimum wage; so you’re ready for a fight.  St. Kevin’s Hall was packed, four hundred people, £5 a head, I took seventy-five percent of the gate.  Good earnings.  The posters billed:
Kevin ‘The Tiger’ Taggart
Jean-Claude Morgan (He’s a chicken)

When we entered the hall the house went silent.  Not many people had taken the poster seriously and outrage was building faster than waves in Hawaii.  Tommy went first, he held the ropes open and I climbed through, then Jean-Claude climbed through and we took our position.  And we waited.  Five minutes went by, I got the eyes from a tall man in a bomber jacket.  The eyes that say so and so needs a word.  I climbed from the ring and went with him.  In the corridor he closed the door gently before leaning in with menace.  He was an IRA man.
                ‘The bird needs to take a fall tonight, we’ll pay you two hundred.’
                ‘He won’t go for that.’ I said ‘He’s not that kind of fighter.’
                ‘Look kid, you’ve had your fun.  The cock goes down.  Kevin here is in line for a title fight, do you know what losing to a bird is going to do to his ranking?’
                I pondered the politics of pugilism and suddenly the sport made me a little more cynical about the world.
                ‘If he’s as good as the rankings say,’ I replied ‘he won’t have a problem.’
                ‘Take the deal, nobody wants to be licking their fingers in a few hours time but if we have to…’
                When I returned to the ring Tommy could tell by my face what the conversation was about and his face dropped, filled with disillusion and was fit to burst until I told him there was no deal.  If Jean-Claude lost he’d lose honest.  That made him shine.
                The music hit, dun dun dun you’re simply the best, dun, dun, dun, better than all the rest.  Kevin ‘The Tiger’ Taggart entered in a tiger skin gown, one of his entourage parading the European title behind him, the crowd cheered for the first time that entire night.  Stepping into the ring Kevin shadow boxed his way from corner to corner sending the beer soaked working class folk of North Belfast bat-shit crazy.  Taking off his gown he was tight, ripped, not an ounce that didn’t need to be there.  The referee explained the rules, asked for a good clean fight, a moment of realisation hit him when he looked from Kevin to the opposing side and saw a cockerel in a bandana and he almost laughed.  The fighters retreated to their corners, the bell went and they came out.
                Kevin danced a bit, entertained the crowd did his chicken walk.  It insulted Jean-Claude but he didn’t move in, not yet, he watched The Tiger’s footwork, how he moved, how he balanced his weight.  Then he struck.  He bounded into the air and came in heavy catching the Middleweight Champ with a right hook.  It must have stung worse than dipping your mushroom in vinegar because he dropped his guard and shook his head.  Jean-Claude overdid his walk mocking Kevin and a few people laughed, though most booed.  Kevin brought his guard up, came in light-footed, ducking in and out throwing rabbit punches and jabs, the occasional hook.  A one-two combination caught Jean-Claude right on the beak but he was unfazed.  He came in heavy double-tapping Kevin on the chin, working the body, a couple of rabbit shots to the kidneys that the ref warned him about but otherwise was opening up his opponent nicely.
                In the second round Taggart was bullish, he tried keeping Jean-Claude at arms reach, tapping him here and there on the beak, scoring points and whipping the crowd into a frenzy.  If it went to points we were done for, nobody beats a dog in his own back yard through judges.  I poured water into Jean-Claude’s mouth.  Tommy massaged his wings.
                ‘You need to get inside J.C, he keeps you at length and he’ll pick you off all day long.’
                Jean-Claude clucked in agreement.
                ‘Get out there and make it count.’ Tommy added, sending our boy out to battle.
                Top of the third and Jean-Claude ducked inside a hook finding an open body.  He jabbed left and right until Kevin brought his guard down to protect himself, Jean-Claude came up strong with an uppercut followed by a powerhouse of a left hook and put Kevin to the ground.  The ref counted, confident at first then reluctant as he got to 8, 910 you’re out!
                The bell rang.  Kevin was cold.  The crowd was hot.  They screamed, they threw beer bottles into the ring, they tossed chairs.  They yelled:
                This is an abomination!
                What is this freakshow?!
                This is not right!
                Boxing for humans!
                We raced to Tommy’s car leaving our stuff in the dressing room, leaving my take behind.
                In the morning I went to the shop and bought the Belfast Telegraph.  The front page carried a photograph of the fight with the headline:
When I got home Mum was holding the phone towards me, her hand over the speaker and she was mouthing something I couldn’t figure out.  Taking the phone I dragged it into the kitchen, closing the door.
                ‘Hello, who’s this?’ I asked.
                ‘Are you Douglas Morgan?’ the voice countered.
                ‘Yeah, who wants to know?’
                ‘The same Douglas Morgan who manages Jean-Claude Morgan the boxing cockerel?  The boxing cockerel that just floored Kevin ‘The Tiger’ Taggart?’
                ‘That’s me.  So that’s two questions of yours I’ve answered, how about you answer one of mine?’
                ‘Who the fuck is this?’
                ‘It’s Frank D. Schuman, the boxing promoter, you must have heard of me.’
                ‘Yeah, I’ve heard of you.  How can I help you Frank D. Schuman the boxing promoter?’
                ‘Jean-Claude is making waves kid, he’s in line for a title fight but I want to put him in the ring with one of my guys before I push to have it made.  I don’t want to be made a fool, I want to see him fight with my own two eyes.’
                Three eggs hit the kitchen window sending a bang through the house and waking Bosco from his slumber.  Outside I could see a crowd emerging, they were shouting K-K-KFC!
                ‘Ok,’ I conceded ‘but it needs to be outside of Belfast.  People are pissed, they’re not very tolerant and I don’t want anything happening to my old lady’s home.’
                ‘We’ll do it in London.’

And we did.  And Jean-Claude won by a TKO.  Frank D. Schuman held a press conference after the fight.  Some of the journalists called it a publicity stunt, some called it a fix, some went as far as to call in the RSPCA who checked Jean-Claude over and said he was perfectly fine and had one hell of a right on him.  Most of all people just didn’t like the idea.
                ‘But what if their bloods mix,’ I heard a woman shrill in a café ‘fighters bleed all the time, what happens if they both get cut?  What happens if that bird’s blood…oh!’ she said with a shudder ‘It just doesn’t bear thinking about.’
                Quickly signs started going all over the place, in every restaurant, in every café and bar and club:

As it started to get to Jean-Claude I could see the intolerance and fear build every time we stepped outside.  Schuman phoned, we were boarding at the Ritz.  He had arranged a fight in Las Vegas.  Jean-Claude Morgan was going to get his shot against the Middleweight Champion of the World Titus Ali.
                ‘I’m still working on the governing bodies agreeing to it being a title fight but don’t worry it’s bank baby, we’ll have it.’
                When we got the news Tommy flew out to join us.  His gym had been burned down by a band of masked men dressed like Colonel Sanders and the death threats to his house had become so bad he had to move.  He trained Jean-Claude hard, six hours a day, six days a week cutting down to two hours in the weeks leading into the fight.

The curtain was pulled back.  It was weigh-in day and the world’s press had come to Caesar’s Palace to get an eye of Titus Ali and Jean-Claude Morgan.  After the weigh-in, the banter, the clucking and the flash photography there was a statement from the boxing board that as Jean-Claude could not make the weight required to compete in the Middleweight division they could not sanction a title bout.  They were pulling the bout from the card.
                ‘He’s just a bird.’ was the last line in their official statement.
                The plane touched down at Belfast International, only Mum was there to greet us.  The controversy over Jean-Claude had passed, the small minds had moved on to something else, it might have been flags.  I unpacked and climbed into bed, my lids stung, my eyes felt like lead and as sure as anything jet lag took over.  When I woke it was morning again and Jean-Claude was gone.