THE DOMINO BOYS (a psychological thriller)

BOOK: THE DOMINO BOYS (a psychological thriller)
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THE DOMINO BOYS

____________________

 

A novel by D. M. Mitchell

 

 

 

 

 

THE DOMINO BOYS

 

Copyright © D. M. Mitchell 2013

 

The right of Daniel M. Mitchell to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Characters, names, organisations, businesses, places and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Agamemnon Independent Publishing

By D. M. Mitchell

 

Novels:

 

Max

Silent

Mouse

Blackdown

After the Fall

The Soul Fixer

Flinder’s Field

Latimer’s Demon

The Domino Boys

The King of Terrors

Armageddon Heights 

Archangel Hawthorne

The House of the Wicked

The Woman from the Blue Lias

Pressure Cooker

 

The First D. M. Mitchell Thriller Omnibus

The Second D. M. Mitchell Thriller Omnibus

The D.M. Mitchell Supernatural Double Bill

 

 

Short Stories:

 

Rabbits

Mulligan’s Map

The Pen of Manderby Pincher

 

Visit the official D. M. Mitchell website at
www.dm-mitchell.com
for more information on books and author biographies

 

You can also join D. M. Mitchell on Facebook, and on Twitter at D M Mitchell @dmtheauthor for details of his latest releases and free book offers

 

 

 

1
 
Alfie Parker

 

Mickey Craddick was dead.

He’d never felt such an overwhelming sense of relief. The nearest anyone else could come close to it, he thought, had to be being told the cancer they’d suffered from was in remission. Because Mickey Craddick had been a cancer, of sorts. A cancer of the mind. Of the soul. But now he’d been given the all clear and could get on with life.

Mickey Craddick was
dead!

He had to come to the graveyard, of course, just to make sure he wasn’t imagining it. He’d read about it in the papers. Someone had slapped in a huge obituary – no expense spared for Mickey Craddick. Made him out to be a major pillar of the community. On the local council fighting the good cause for the ex-mining town of Overthorpe. Yeah, like hell he was. Everyone knew the sordid truth about him, even though nobody would step forward to voice it, not unless they wanted trouble. And Mickey Craddick, in his day, was trouble. If Overthorpe had a Mr Big, then Mickey Craddick was it. He said so himself on many occasions, just in case people ever forgot it. Said it in ways that often didn’t involve words.

But now he was dead. Not even Craddick could beat off the Grim Reaper, but he tried. Got lung cancer, threw all his money at it, went abroad for treatment, private healthcare, the works, but it got him in the end. A cancer to beat a cancer, he thought with an air of grim satisfaction.

Alfie Parker stood by the graveyard wall, the stonework blackened by a century of industrialisation, by the smoke from coal fires and factory chimneys that didn’t belch smoke anymore. He was careful not to let anyone see him, see his gloating face. He shouldn’t be here really. Didn’t want anyone to catch sight of him and think he was paying any last respects to the bastard. But he just had to drive down to the cemetery and watch as Mickey Craddick was lowered into his grave. The first stage on the way to hell, hopefully.

The mourners, not many of them he noticed, were standing silently all around the grave like a black picket fence. They bent and tossed handfuls of dirt into the hole. He’d get some pleasure out of throwing a lump of earth at Craddick’s face, that’s for sure.

Made you think, though. Craddick was only fifty-five. A year younger than himself. Craddick and he had been to the same schools, Mickey always in the year above him. Now he was dead at fifty-five! That was no age these days. It made Alfie Parker think absently about the state of his own lungs, his heart, other bits and pieces that started to go wrong for men over a certain age. But he consoled himself that he could at least breathe up the sweet smell of newly mown grass. Craddick was sniffing up dirt. For the first time in his life, Alfie Parker felt superior to Mickey Craddick. Alfie Parker was on top and the man who had blighted his life was, quite literally, beneath him – or at least he would be if he was standing on his grave, which he thought about doing one day when no one was around to see. It was a good feeling. Like your numbers coming up on a lottery, or something like that.

The thing he did find disturbing though, irked him really, was the fact Mickey Craddick was being buried in the same graveyard as his mate’s sister. Well, not strictly speaking, as Barry Stocker’s sister’s body was never found. She went for a swim when she was on holiday in Cornwall and the tide dragged her out. They searched like crazy, but it came to nothing and Barry was beside himself with grief when he found out. Barry had a small memorial stone put in here just the same, somewhere for his family to visit and remember her by.

But it was the municipal graveyard after all, nothing anyone could do about it. There wasn’t a separate graveyard for violent, thieving scoundrels like Mickey Craddick, mores the pity. If there was then this place would be half empty. Overthorpe had had its fair share of villainy over the years. But none like Craddick; he was a one-off. And Overthorpe would be better off without the likes of him soiling its streets, staining its very fabric. Hell, the town had put up with a lot of shit in the last few decades, so it was good it had wiped at least one stinking lump off its tired old shoe.

‘Rot in hell, Mickey,’ he said under his breath as he climbed into his small white van parked at the side of the road. It had the words
‘Parker Cleaning Solutions’
in bold red letters on its side. A little faded now and in need of a fresh lick of paint, but it always gave him a tiny burst of pleasure on seeing it. It was his business. He didn’t have to tip his hat to anyone. He was his own boss. OK, so it wasn’t exactly Microsoft or Dyson or anything like that, but he’d been hauling his industrial carpet cleaner round for ten years now and he made just enough from cleaning people’s carpets to get by on. That suited him just fine. He was never that ambitious. Sure, times just recently were hard, what with the recession and with those fancy new cleaners your ordinary Joes could buy from the electrical stores to do the job themselves, but he’d scrape through.

He wouldn’t have to clean Mickey Craddick’s place again, that’s for sure. The guy had him coming over to clean the carpets even when they didn’t need cleaning, just because he could. He got real pleasure out of seeing him scrubbing his precious Axminsters. Never said anything, but his leering face said it all for him. Craddick had been a man of few words, but there again a man like him didn’t need them. Alfie Parker couldn’t decline the job; Craddick would have made things bad for him if he had, so he had to go through with the regular demeaning task. He always got paid in loose change, too. Bags of pennies so he’d have to lug them to the bank and have the assistant weigh them out. Made him feel real small, and it was the only time he wished he didn’t have to clean other people’s carpets for a living.

But that was over, he thought, leaning back in his car seat, smelling the warm vinyl that had been cooking in the spring sunshine flooding through the windscreen. Things were looking up. Man, life was feeling bloody good.

Mickey Craddick was dead and all was well with the world.

 

 

‘Morning, Mrs Sugden!’ he chimed as he entered the tiny terraced house.

‘My, you’re sounding chirpy, Alfie!’ she said, bidding him come through to the kitchen.

‘It’s spring, Mrs Sugden,’ he said. ‘Makes you feel chirpy.’

Alfie Parker thought she looked frailer by the day. What would she be now? Seventy-five? Eighty? She shuffled along like she was a lot older. Her knees were giving her trouble again, he could tell. She was a decent old lady was Irene Sugden. Never had much money, not since her husband died of emphysema brought on by inhaling years of coal dust down the mines. Didn’t get much in the way of a pension. He’d been dead fifteen years now, give or take, and he guessed if it hadn’t been for her son Dickie she’d have collapsed in on herself years ago. It was for him she’d kept herself going.

‘He’s in the yard,’ she said, pausing by the sink and pointing through the kitchen window onto a long, rectangular yard paved in stone slabs and bricks. At the end of the yard was a brick building with two old doors. One door belonged to the privy, ‘Still kept clean and in use,’ Mrs Sugden would proudly announce to visitors, declaring you never knew when you might need it if the one inside packed in. The other door belonged to the coal-hole, though it didn’t house coal anymore, not since she’d had the house converted to gas. The yard contained little else except a couple of large terracotta pots over which her son Dickie was bending. He looked up excitedly on hearing them and waved with a muddied trowel.

‘What’re you planting, Dickie?’ Alfie said, strolling down the yard to him.

‘Seeds,’ he said.

‘Sweet William,’ explained Mrs Sugden. ‘Isn’t that so, Richard?’ Never Dickie. Always Richard.

‘Seeds,’ he repeated.

It never failed to pain Alfie Parker, seeing Dickie like this. He was a year or so younger than himself – fifty-three – but he had the simple mind of a child. He still bore the deep scars on his high forehead where his skull had been smashed when he was an eight-year-old. He’d been playing down on the slag heaps by the colliery when he was set upon by a gang of kids. They beat him up with planks they’d found nearby, one of them bursting his skull like it was made of plaster. He was rushed to hospital and for a while they thought he’d die. He pulled through, but he was never the same again. Damaged his brain, they said, virtually paralysing his left arm at the time and affecting the movement in his left leg, and it took him a long time to regain the power of speech. Though his arm recovered he walked with a limp, but he would never be the same again. His cruel nickname was Thickie Dickie, which caught on fast and the name Dickie became a sort of slang for being dopey. ‘You’re a bit Dickie,’ they’d say, or ‘that man’s a right Dickie.’ Dickie himself was unaware of the soubriquet, as indeed he was unaware of most things. He limped around the town, tall and gangly, all arms and legs like a spider drunk on ale, with his face set in a perpetual, good humoured grin.

They never caught the kids who did it to him, but they reckoned it was Mickey Craddick and his gang of ruffians.

‘So are we going to the allotment, Dickie?’ Alfie asked, knowing the response.

Dickie bound to his feet. ‘Yeah!’ he said. ‘Yeah! Yeah!’

‘You may need a coat, Richard,’ his mother said concernedly. ‘Let me get you your coat.’

‘I think he’ll be fine, Mrs Sugden,’ Alfie assured. ‘Bring your trowel and things, Dickie,’ he said.

He dashed around picking up the stuff he’d need, packing them into the Batman backpack he always carried with him. ‘You’ll need a drink and some sandwiches,’ Mrs Sugden said.

‘That’s fine, I’ve got it sorted,’ said Alfie. ‘I’ve got drinks in the van and we’ll call in at the local chippy and have fish and chips for dinner, eh?’

‘Yeah!’ Dickie said, his eyes wide with excitement and anticipation, shrugging on the backpack. ‘Ready.’

He didn’t wait, but dashed up the path with his characteristic ungainly loping-limping motion.

‘You are so good to him, Alfie,’ said Mrs Sugden, watching her son’s retreating back.

‘It’s nothing really.’

‘He really loves going to the allotment. Loves planting things, watching them grow. You know, if he’s trouble down at the allotment, don’t take him.’

She’d been saying the same thing for years. Every time he came to collect him. ‘He’s grand, Mrs Sugden. No trouble at all.’

‘He looks forward to the weekend when he can go with you,’ she admitted. ‘He’s got a calendar that he ticks the days off. Gives him something to look forward to.’

Alfie knew that. Dickie Sugden had been using the same calendar for fifteen years, ever since he’d been taking him to the allotment. Ever since Dickie’s dad had died. Mrs Sugden was getting a bit forgetful, he thought.

‘He likes the driving too,’ said Alfie.

She smiled. ‘You’re very brave, teaching him to drive like you are.’

‘It’s only on the local industrial estate, to let him have a go behind the wheel. You know, driving a few hundred yards, trying to reverse, that kind of thing. He’ll never pass a driving test or be allowed to go on the road proper, but it makes him feel good all the same. Just a bit of fun.’

‘He might damage your van, Alfie. It’s your livelihood.’

He waved it away. ‘No one around, no cars nearby. The estate is deserted on a Sunday. I enjoy it too, Mrs Sugden, if I have to be honest.’

She nodded slowly. ‘Yes, he needs that more and more these days. His life is shrinking.’

‘So how is the job-thing going for him at the moment? I heard there were problems.’

She sighed thinly. ‘The government has taken away the funding for the factory where he worked. At least it gave people like him the opportunity to do something like work, even though it was simple stuff. They said it was uneconomical, that it didn’t help people with disabilities in the long run. But where else can he go? He loved going to that factory, meeting with his friends, but now he’s stuck at home. So it’s good he’s still got your weekly visits to look forward to. I just worry about what will happen to him when I go…’

Alfie Parker waved the suggestion away. ‘Ah, Mrs Sugden, you’ll go on forever!’

‘He will have to go into a care home or something. I’ve seen the way they treat people like Richard in those horrid places. I’ve seen it on the news. They beat them up, those care workers.’

‘Not everyone’s like that, Mrs Sugden. Some of them are really nice.’

‘Mickey Craddick is dead,’ she said out of the blue.

‘Yeah, I heard.’

‘That’s good,’ she said, her watery eyes blinking and looking upon a faraway scene.

‘Yeah, it is.’

‘Are you going to the pub to play dominoes with your friends tonight?’

‘Always, Mrs Sugden. Wouldn’t miss it.’

‘How are they, Barry and Duncan?’

‘Same as always,’ he replied.

‘They never proved it, but I know it was him,’ she said.

‘Sorry?’

‘Mickey Craddick. He was the one who beat up my Richard all those years ago. He was the one. He was bad from the start, that man.’

‘He’s dead now,’ he said. ‘You can forget him.’

‘That’s right. He is dead. Are you sure Richard won’t need a coat?’

‘Sure, Mrs Sugden.’

‘Look after him for me, won’t you, Alfie?’

BOOK: THE DOMINO BOYS (a psychological thriller)
9.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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