Authors: David Menon
|The Wild Heart|
|David Menon||UK (2013)|
This is for Maddie, and for my father, wherever he may be, and for anyone who can blame it on their wild heart.
David was born in Derby, England in 1961 and now lives in France where his partner John has been based for many years. For almost twenty-five years he worked as cabin crew for British Airways and has always been politically active in the Labour party. He’s now concentrating on his writing career. As well as ‘The Wild Heart’ he’s also written another stand alone crime thriller called ‘Gypsy’ which is also available on kindle. In addition, he’s created a series of detective novels featuring the fictional Manchester DCI, Sara
Hoyland. The first two, ‘Fall from Grace’ and ‘Beautiful Child’ are published by Empire of Manchester and are available on kindle and other ebook formats. He’s working on the third in the series ‘Outside the Rain’ which is due out in summer 2012.
All rights held by the author
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Ian Taylor was two men. He had a building business that had taken full advantage of the boom years in Manchester and was getting through the recession relatively unscathed so far. A good building firm gets a lot from reputation and word of mouth and Ian was known to be reliable and trustworthy. The guys who worked for him liked him. They’d all been with him a long time. He was a fair boss. But like all of his friends, the ones in the building trade, the ones he played rugby with, none of them really knew him. None of them had ever been to his flat. None of them ever heard him talk about any family. He’d grown used to the games he had to play to support his sideline activities but he was growing tired. The voices that reminded him why he did it had grown weaker of late but what could he do about it now? Where else could he go? He knew of no answer to either of those questions. It had been twenty years and he didn’t know of any way out.
He turned off the Hyde road and into one of the characteristic streets that covered this part of his adopted city of Manchester. Rows upon rows of back-to-back houses that previous generations had been proud to raise their families in, but which now had been given over to bedsit land. The descendants of those generations had moved out to the further suburbs and in their place a largely unnoticed band of anonymous souls had moved in. Nobody questioned anything about anyone around here. It stank of desolation and loneliness and there were many different reasons why someone was alone as Ian himself knew only too well. He’d looked the place over the previous night. This was the kind of territory he was used to. He parked his car a couple of streets away and continued on foot. It was dark. It was cold for the time of year. He kept his head down. He avoided eye contact. It was easy in a neighbourhood where nobody took any interest in anyone. He felt the adrenalin course through him like a coloured dye into water. He had a job to do. He was experienced. He knew his role.
An alleyway at the back of the row of houses led him down a side passage to the front door. There were empty syringes lying about, empty cans of beer, all manner of discarded crap littered the place and he stepped over it all. His prey on this occasion was Conor Naughton, a lifelong Irish republican who’d switched his allegiances from the Provisional IRA to a dissident republican group when Sinn Fein signed the Good Friday agreement. The heat was on Naughton back home and he’d been sent over to the mainland to lie low for a while. A bomb had gone off outside the gates of the devolved assembly building at Stormont, killing three security guards, and the police suspected Naughton’s involvement. They were right to. The security services knew that Naughton’s hands were covered in it and weren’t going to let him wreck the greatest chance of a normal existence Northern Ireland had ever known. The dissident group were putting themselves across as the hard face of republicanism. In their eyes another sell-out had been made by the ‘official’ republican leadership to the British government and this time 1922 would be avenged once and for all.
Ian knocked on the door of flat 2 and then stood to one side. It was these final seconds before an execution was carried out that his doubts were weakest. He was there. He was ready. The door was opening slowly from the inside and he swung round and kicked it fully wide, knocking
Naughton off balance and onto the floor. Naughton barely had time to look up and reach for his gun before Ian sent him into the next world with a bullet straight through his head. One shot in the right place always did the job. It was over. A story would be leaked and the headlines would scream that the dissident republicans had executed one of their own which would really piss them off but then again they wouldn’t want to admit that the security services had blown through their organisation so they’d have no choice but to go along with the little scam.
Ian looked round to make sure he hadn’t been seen and then drove home to his flat in Trinity Riverside. The next day he would be back on the building site, reviewing progress, sharing jokes with the lads. When they asked what he did last night he’d say he just went down to the pub for a couple of pints. Nobody would ever suspect that he’d starred in his own video nasty as the Prince of darkness.
The national call centre of the
Ribble Bank was housed in a purpose-built red-brick six-storey building that was part of a cluster of such buildings that were part of the development of Salford Quays, a couple of miles west of Manchester city centre. There were a hundred customer service advisors manning the phones and they were divided into four teams. Mark Earnshaw was supervisor of the ‘red’ team that covered the nine to five-thirty shift. He caught the tram to and from work each day, getting on at Stretford and then changing to the Eccles bound line which went through the Quays. The stop was just a minute’s walk from the bank where Mark had shown sufficient talent to have been chosen for a fast track promotion scheme. He’d have liked to have stayed on at school and got himself a better career. His brother, his grandparents, his teachers had all wanted him to but he hadn’t felt like it would’ve been the right thing to do. Mark and his brother lost their parents when Mark was fourteen and he’d wanted to stand on his own two feet as soon as he could. He was like that. He didn’t like to be dependent on anyone.
He read the Guardian on the tram and his eye had been caught by the story of a dissident Irish republican who’d been shot dead in a flat in
Ancoats, just on the other side of the city centre from Salford Quays. Like most people lately Mark’s attention had been taken by the threat of so-called Islamic extremists. He hadn’t thought about the continuing complexities of Ireland. The article suggested that Conor Naughton had been killed by his own side as part of some internal feud. Mark thought that made sense given that it wouldn’t be the first time that something like that had happened in Manchester. Last year a member of a loyalist group had been ‘sorted’ in the same way and his heart didn’t break over the death of Conor Naughton. Those that live by the sword should sometimes expect to die by it too and from what he read this Naughton character was very far from being an angel.
He knew it was no point trying to debate the issue with all the empty headed fuckwits he had to work with. They were proudly ignorant of anything beyond their own little worlds and every day he had to listen to so much self-obsessed neurotic crap from alleged grown-ups who throw their toys
out when they can’t get exactly what they want. Yesterday one of his team had asked if she could have next Friday off but he’d had to refuse because they were already three down on the shift that day. She’d told him he was ‘unsympathetic to her needs’, then she’d shouted at him and when he asked her not to speak to him like that she’d ran off in tears. That had made him the enemy as far as the gang were concerned because of course they never see anything from his point of view because he was the boss. He wouldn’t mind but the reason for her request was so that she could go to the ‘hair designers’ to have extensions put in because her ‘life coach’ had said that not being able to flick her hair was causing her to question her femininity and therefore leading to a lot of emotional distress. Well Mark had no patience with that kind of nonsense. The superficial trivialities of life just did not interest him.
Because it was Friday he had his usual lunch date with his mate Lynne and they ran down to the ‘Rice Bowl’ on Cross Street in town. He’d booked an extra half hour off and one of the other supervisors would cover for him until he got back and Lynne didn’t need to be back until two. She was PA to the manager of the call centre, and he wouldn’t be back from his meetings until then. They went down the stairs, past the fish tank, and were greeted with the usual understated kindness by the waiting staff. He liked the Rice Bowl. They always remembered what he liked to drink. He thought that was nice. It made him feel special. He noticed they had new tables and chairs in the place and the owner told him that it was all Elmwood furniture specially imported from Shanghai, but whatever the furniture, Mark thought they served up the best Chinese food in Manchester.
‘ Let’s order straight away’ Lynne suggested. ‘ Then we can concentrate on gossip’.
‘ Do you have any?’ Mark asked.
‘ No. Do you?’
‘ You know me’ he said. ‘ I don’t listen to it’.
‘ You’re hopeless’ said Lynne.
‘ I know’ said Mark.
Lynne had always known that Mark was gay and hadn’t been surprised when he’d told her although he wasn’t one of those gays who looked and acted as if he’d been put together by a gay marketing team. He wasn’t camp or effeminate in any way. He was indifferent to Barbra Streisand, couldn’t stand Shirley
Bassey, had no interest in cats or antiques, and whenever Lynne had followed the route of his eyes the destination was always a handsome but very ordinary looking man. Pretty boys without a hair out of place were not on his menu. Christ, he wasn’t even a member of a gym! He always said to her that he was happy with his sexuality but he had no interest in being a Queen. He’d much rather be known as an Evan Davis than a Dale Winton but Lynne had just smiled. She didn’t know who Evan Davis was.
The waiter arrived with their starters. Prawn toasts, spring rolls, Chicken and
sweetcorn soup. They began tucking into their banquet but it didn’t stop them talking.
‘So how’s Russell?’ asked Mark.
Lynne and Russell had been married for three years. They’d flown off to Barbados when her pregnancy test had proved positive and were the proud parents of their daughter Amelia. At least, Russell was as proud as Lynne allowed him to be. She ruled the roost and no mistake.
‘He’s Russell’ she said, indifferently.
Mark liked Russell. He was a kind, gentle man who worked all the hours God sent to give Lynne the lifestyle she wanted and yet it was never enough for her. She treated him like a little boy, berating him in front of other people and telling him there wouldn’t be a problem if he just did as he was told. Mark thought Russell needed to grow some balls where his wife was concerned. He lets her walk all over him.
‘Still not shagging?’
‘He must think I have the longest time of the month in history.’
‘Oh you’re not still going with that one?’ He couldn’t believe it. She placed a tampon in the toilet whenever Russell made noises about why they don’t have sex anymore, so that he’d think she had some women’s type problem that prevented intercourse.
‘ And what about oral?’
Lynne wiped her mouth clean of soup with her napkin.
’ Mark, oral sex is only to be performed on men whilst you’re trying to procure them. Once you’ve got them in the bag you then say that you don’t like doing it’.
‘ He’ll end up straying’ said Mark, amused by her answer. He loved oral sex, whether he was performing it on someone or having it performed on him. What’s not to like about it? ‘ Men need sex, Lynne’.
‘ Well Russell should just understand that I don’t want to do it’.
‘ Well isn’t understanding supposed to work both ways?’
She laughed as if he’d spoken some unbelievable naivety. ‘ You’ve got a lot to learn, Mark’.
‘I don’t think so actually’ said Mark, shaking his head. ‘ I think I’ve got you well and truly worked out, my friend’.
‘ What do you mean?’
‘ You’ve had to carry on working solely because of that house you’ve bought in
Alderley Edge which stretched you and Russell to the limit financially’.
‘ Your point being?’
‘ You didn’t need to do that’ said Mark ‘ You’ve exposed yourself to interest rate rises when you didn’t need to’.
‘ But we need that house’.