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David Louden
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David Louden

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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?’
‘No.’
‘Ah.’
‘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 here? Where is here? What 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…’
‘Hmmmm.’
‘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.
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David Louden

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My DVD den
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Not only an amazing looking collection, but also a great viewing room.
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Daredevil - 1.07 Stick
Writer:
Douglas Petrie Director:
Brad Turner A crucial figure from Matt Murdock’s past has
returned looking assistance to combat a new foe that’s arrived in Hell’s
Kitchen and threatening to upset the apple cart. 
As past and present bleed into one another ...
A crucial figure from Matt Murdock's past has returned looking assistance to combat a new foe that's arrived in Hell's Kitchen and threatening to upset the apple cart. As past and present bleed into one another the future of the city depends on these two men, who once shared an ideology, ...
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David Louden

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Daredevil - 1.04 In The Blood
Writer: Christos N. Gage Director: Ken Girotti Previously we looked at anonymity and the importance of it for any
superhero.  Sometimes, in the case of Alfred
Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, the disclosure of identity is born out of
necessity.  Sometimes it’s di...
Previously we looked at anonymity and the importance of it for any superhero. Sometimes, in the case of Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, the disclosure of identity is born out of necessity. Sometimes it's discovered, like Ben Urich (DD #164) and sometimes it's a combination of both.
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Daredevil - 1.02 Cut Man
Writer: Drew Goddard Director: Phil Abraham Horn Head allows himself to be a bit of a hot head and in doing so
finds himself seriously injured and in need of medical assistance.  When he’s fished out of a dumpster by Claire
(Rosario Dawson), he finds himsel...
Horn Head allows himself to be a bit of a hot head and in doing so finds himself seriously injured and in need of medical assistance. When he's fished out of a dumpster by Claire (Rosario Dawson), he finds himself an unexpected ally. There's a rule of thumb in the action genre that states “the ...
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Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Certificate:
PG-13 Running
Time: 136 mins Director:
Anthony Russo & Joe Russo Starring:
Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford Genre: Comic
Book, Action, Superhero Country: USA New York changed everything, and everyone one.  Sudd...
New York changed everything, and everyone one. Suddenly the world was aware of demi-gods, large green rage monsters, and flying Tremor-esque creators that passed through a rip in space. It's this new found knowledge that has pushed S.H.I.E.L.D to the point of policing by gunpoint as a special ...
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In his circles
1 person
Have him in circles
3 people
Robert J.E. Simpson's profile photo
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David Louden

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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.
‘Fifteen.’
‘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.
‘Yeah.’
‘I seen it and I still don’t believe it. Wait until the world gets a hold of us!’
‘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:
EUROPEAN MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION &
FUTURE WORLD CHAMPION
Kevin ‘The Tiger’ Taggart
Vs.
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, 9…10 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!
Disgusting!
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:
CHAMP IN FOWL FORM!
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?’
‘Sure.’
‘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:
WE SERVE POULTRY
WE DON’T SERVE POULTRY

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.
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David Louden

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THE FRONT PAGE
The nags were against me. Six races. Six bets. All blown out before the finishing line. I’m going to change bars, I told myself, this place is bad fucking luck for me. Superstition and gambling become more impassioned bed fellows the worse your luck is –and mine, mine hadn’t seen anything to show for it in months.
I sat at the bar in the Front Page cursing my luck, cursing the Racing Post, cursing the barman who had talked through the back page of form listings and most probably caused me to rush to a decision when time and a clear head was required. As the stranger pulled up a seat beside me I cursed him too. Wednesday afternoon, quite possibly the quietest time in a bar’s week and in a room full of empty, cold seats this prick parks up alongside me.
‘Scotch and water and whatever this guy is having.’
My good friend –the stranger.
The drinks arrive. I tear up my docket, push the Racing Post to one side and cradle my spiced rum like it’s a new born. I toss it back as he nips at his, I order up including my new amigo’s tastes in my request. He looks the grifter type. He’s a well-worn face, a pair of shoes that have passed too many miles under them and a smile that just doesn’t go with his overall presence.
I take a moment. Savouring how awkward the silence is.
‘You got any tips for the next one?’ he asks, throwing a glance towards the television set and the list of pun-based names and racing colours.
‘Believe me buddy, you don’t want my tips.’
‘But if you had to choose.’
I consider him, what the fuck’s his problem?
‘If I had to choose… I’d play Glengarry, with maybe Dirty Uncle to place.’
‘Ok.’ the stranger replies ‘thanks.’ Tossing back his drink he gets to his feet, dusts himself down, pushes in his bar stool and leaves. I turn back towards the TV, towards the bartender and a minute later the creak of the door triggers a ray of light to dance across the tavern before it sighs shut again and there he is. Parked up alongside me again, unlit cigarette tucked behind the ear, racing docket in his hand.
‘Two more.’
The bartender pours. We drink. The race runs. He loses.
‘I told you so,’ I say ‘I’m going through a slump.’
The stranger nods, gets to his feet and leaves. This time I watch the door. The bookmaker’s is across the street and I can all but see him in my mind’s eye casually looking left then right before crossing over and going inside. Inside for what? Did the prick win? Can’t have, he’s left the docket behind. I look around for support but nobody else seems remotely interested in what’s going on. Maybe this is why I want to be a writer while most other people in this city just want to be left alone.
The door opens, and he’s returned. With two hands bursting with bank notes of all denominations; he smiles the smile of a first-prize wanker before he slips back up on to his stool and counts his take. I look on in awe, and now so does everyone else. So there are still some things that can get the attention of the perpetually sauced.
‘A round of drinks for all my friends!’ the words are met with an uncoordinated chorus of cheers from the little pockets of high functioning alcoholics that litter the floor on this –one of society's optimum slaving days.
My rum appears but the stomach has fallen out of me and I tentatively nip at it, all the while offering up some side-eye. He plays at pretending like he hasn’t clocked me but he has, I know he has, and he knows that I know he has. The games we play.
I go to speak.
He beats me to it.
‘Harvey,’ he says extending his hand, spinning on his stool ‘Harvey Neary.’
‘Doug Morgan.’ I shake.
‘What do you do for a living, Doug? That’s the sort of questions people ask when they meet new folk and fain interest, right?’
‘That’s one of them, Harvey. I’m sitting in a bar in the middle of the week. I’m a Captain of Industry. I’m a CEO. I’m the Venue Events Manager of one of those fucking entertainment complexes down by the river. What about you? And kids, that’s another one of those questions. You got any fucking kids Harvey?’
He laughs.
‘Exactly. No Doug. No fucking kids. Based on how rough your fingertips look and the fact that you’re six litres of piss on a Wednesday I’d say musician.’
‘Writer, and I’m only four litres of piss. What about you? You back a better pony than the one I picked or…’
‘Actually I just walked in and took this money Doug.’ his voice was cold, low and sincere. It gave me a shiver.
‘From…’ my eyes chart their way to the door.
Harvey nods, then orders two more drinks, much to the disgruntled disappointment of the rest of the booze house who now sit dry. I switch to beer. His eyes are dead and I know for sure I no longer have the stomach for spiced rum.
‘So let me get this straight,’ the beer is cool on my lip ‘you just walked over to Sean Graham and took all that money.’
‘There was one or two more steps to it but… yeah.’
‘And now you sit here.’
‘And now I sit here.’
‘Aren’t you worried about the police?’ As I ask the question I look around at all my fellow drunks. All of Harvey’s potential meat-shields should he decide to take them hostage when the pigs roll up all lights flashing, ready for big business. The drink has sapped a lot of my strength. I’m not the man my frame suggests. If Harvey was to get serious in here, could I stop him? Could I do anything other than watch and know that the fear of the moment would be nothing compared to the emasculation that would follow should I make it through the ordeal alive?
‘There’s nothing to worry about. I don’t envision the police…’
‘Why?’ I lean in, almost trying to sniff the answer from him. ‘Why don’t you envision the police…’
‘Because everyone in the betting shop is dead.’
Emasculation suddenly looks a lot more appealing and even though I don’t want to ask, I have to.
‘What do you mean dead? Did… did you kill them?’
Leaning in Harvey maintains my eye ‘Sort of. I mean it’s complicated Doug. I didn’t take my hand to any of them, and I didn’t shoot, or stab, or strangle any of them or kill them in what would be deemed a conventional way but yes it was my decision to stop their clocks.’
‘What did you do?’
The questions just keep coming.
‘You wouldn’t believe me Doug, and you wouldn’t really want to know. You think you want to know but believe me. You’re much better out of it.’
I look around. So many pre-corpses.
‘So what, you walk in here, strike up a conversation, kill a betting shop full of people, tell me about it and then what? Just walk away?’
‘Well, no Doug.’
I’m next.
‘I’ve still got a good two-thirds of a drink in front of me.’
‘And when that’s done?’
‘Depends… is this place any good for lunch?’
‘How’d you kill them?’
‘Leave it alone.’
‘How’d you kill them?’
‘You really want to know?’ his heckles were up.
I nod, even though I’m no longer sure I do want to know. Maybe it’s more a need. His eyes wander in their sockets as he picks over his words. Reaching into his pocket he pulls out his phone and starts typing. Setting it on the bar he pushes it over to me. It reads: Cinderella Rockefella.
‘What is this?’ I ask.
‘Asked and answered.’ his grin knowing.
‘I don’t understand, what does this even fucking mean?’
With a sigh of exasperation and a roll of the eye he collects his phone, tucks it away and considers me… again.
‘You asked how I killed all those people, I’ve just shown you.’
‘No,’ now my heckles are rising ‘no. All you’ve done is type some shit into your phone and piss me off.’
‘In 1967 Esther and Abi Ofarim recorded a song written by Mason Williams and Nancy Ames. That song was Cinderella Rockefella. Now, when it’s sung or when you watch a recording of it… like that on the Eamon Andrews Show it’s harmless, annoying but harmless, but when you whistle it…’
‘Whistle?’ I laugh. ‘Fuck Harvey, fuck. Fuck you really had me going there. Shit.’ Turning to the bartender I tell him ‘Pour Harvey another drink, I’ll have one too.’
The sound is almost a squawk and as Harvey whistles do, do, do-do, do, do doo-do, do-do-do my eyes take a turn around the bar. At first nothing happens. At first the old salts, and drunks, and burnouts carry on carrying on but then there’s a moment. A moment when they realize that something inside them has stopped. Clutching their throats, chests, hearts they turn one-by-one to face Harvey, to look to me; to plead for help. But there’s no help to be given.
They’re dead before they touchdown on the cold, sticky, floor tiles.
I turn to Harvey, breaking away eye contact with a bum I’ve grown particularly fond of during my time at the Front Page. He used to be a writer too. A newspaper man. Harvey is smiling, more of a smirk really. A real dickhead smirk, a “I told you so” know it all kinda deal. The type you couldn’t ever get tired of hitting. I don’t though. The booze has left me weak and the shock has all but painted a yellow line down my back.
‘See?’ he says.
I nod.
‘Now you know what it is, so the good news is that it can never take you.’
I’m still nodding. I’ve nothing to say until a question pops into my head; so cautiously I open my mouth and ask it.
‘And what’s the bad news?’
‘Well Doug,’ he takes a sip of a fresh pint abandoned on the bar ‘the bad news is you’re going to need to be real careful about when you relax because one way or another you will end up whistling it and when you do…’ another sip from the pint that was destined to go room temperature and flat passes his lips ‘when you do god help whoever you’re around. It’ll strip everyone you’ve ever loved right out of your life.’
The click of his fingers snaps me out of my head, back into the room, back into the Front Page surrounded by almost a dozen slowly cooling corpses. Downing the pint Harvey climbs from his stool, fixes his shirt collar and walks to the exit. I follow suit.
Outside the city is warm, humming with life and the first bar almost passes my lips simply because I’m trying so hard not to whistle it.
A Fast City teen-mom passes by dressed in her best going-out onesie, pushing a twin-seater stroller and smoking a Berkley Blue. Harvey smiles my way and with an expanse of the eyes and a double nod of the head all but dares me to do it. Go on, do it.
The street is busier than normal. Commuters and curious alike line the other side of the road along a strip of yellow tape as the police (shit! The Police!) chalk up, and photograph, and dust the multiple crime scene that was once a busy Sean Graham’s bookmaker shop. Walking head-on into the middle of it Harvey yells to the police, daring their attention maybe? Or maybe he’s up to something else?
‘Officer! Officer! Excuse-fuckin-me officer!!’
‘Sir, watch your tongue.’ the beat cop advises.
I don’t hear much of what’s next due to the hurly-burly that seems to be making its way through the crowd of nosey-parkers but I do recognize the finger of suspicion and it’s being pointed my way. Harvey winks as he lowers his hand, the police officer’s face is stern –serious and the locals are all clucking away dead-eyeing me and making sure to get all the facts right in their heads for the forthcoming days of gossiping. With his radio clutched under his helmet strapped chin the cop calls through something. Soon the betting shop is empty of boys in blue as they all advance towards me with Harvey bringing up the rear.
‘Yup, that’s the guy officer. I saw him kill every single one of them. If you ask in that bar you’ll probably find someone who could corroborate the fact that he left with enough time to do all of this.’
I knew he was a prick the moment I saw him, and now this. A betting shop full of necro-fuck-sleeves, a bar populated with more of the same and this charismatic motherfucker with the unflinching finger pointed my direction. As the police surround me I pray. I pray that I’m fifteen again and sleeping off a particularly unpleasant side-effect of some cheap soap-bar. That one of the police officers would break stoic stride, smirk and let me in on the fact that all this was some elaborate trick played on me for the entertainment of the masses on some hidden camera show. That maybe I was mad and I haven’t lived a real day in twenty years but the circle kept closing, the officer’s eyes got bigger and closer and fixed while their hands rest on their sidearms. Without realizing I’m whistling it, I’m whistling it. Unsure of what’ll happen I blow out do, do, do-do, do, do doo-do, do-do-do. The boys in blue turn purple from the neck up, grasp at thin air as though they could pluck and swallow it to stave off the on-coming death.
When they’re all dead Harvey gives me a round of applause and leaves.

I return to my stool in the Front Page in an effort to get an idea of what’s next for me while life at New Market races on.

--------------------------------
For anyone who doesn't know the song, which is admirable, why not check out Cinderella Rockafella. Please remember to use whistling responsibly.



The Front Page is part of Short Stories That All Definitely Happened, due for release in 2015 through Venice Books and first published with the author's consent on Literally Stories.
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