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Viva la madness, p.30
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       Viva La Madness, p.30

           J. J. Connolly

  Papa Victor was old school too, thought he could send a team to kill The Austrian, but it would compound the problem. They would be prime suspects. It wouldn’t exactly be good PR, would do enough damage to the reputation of the Zambranos that all their respectable political allies, at home and in the US, would bolt. So they had to suffer it, because these establishment fuckers ultimately run the game. Miguel consoled himself with the thought that one day they would be the establishment. He realised that if The Austrian Godfather found out The Wunderkind had been fucking Slick Miguel’s twin sister, Juicy Jenna, and got killed by his homicidally jealous cousin, Jesus the Madhead, it could all appear slightly slack, a wee bit like soap opera.

  Papa Victor, heavily influenced by Miguel, starts thinking of Jesus’ branch of the family as The Deadwoods – They can’t behave. Can’t help themselves. Greedy fuckers. Either at your feet or at your throat. Been letting them do the business under the corporate banner … And what thanks do we get?

  Papa starts to think it’s time to do a little pruning. Miguel, looking up from his projections and spreadsheets, tells him, good idea, Father. It’s definitely time to downsize.

  Jesus is still apparently eavesdropping on Miguel. And Miguel’s having trouble working out exactly what The Wunderkind had done with the records he had encrypted on the memory stick. The Kid was smart enough to build in a few cyber trapdoors. Around this time Miguel began to hear whispers about Jesus and Santos’ exploits down in the jungles. Miguel was business-like, a different kind of sociopath … Jesus would have to go to heaven or hell … he was just going to send him on his way.

  Jesus was getting more deranged, fast becoming addicted to murder, humiliation and torture. They were providing euphoric highs that class-A narcotics could only hint at. Ketamine couldn’t touch the sides. Jesus told himself crystal meth is for sissies. Your fucking mummy takes cocaine. And Satanism’s for girls! Homicide is the new black, baby!

  Q. How did Jenna feel about Jesus offing her boyfriend?

  A. Sick. Shocked and stunned. A little bit over-responsible. But older heads told her you can’t negotiate with madness. The killing confirmed everything she’d ever thought about Jesus – he was a dangerous piece of shit who thought the only way to get attention was through causing mayhem. Cousin Jesus now brought out Jenna’s heartless side. When she heard whispers that Miguel was making plans for Jesus’ funeral – date To Be Confirmed – she bought a Chanel outfit to celebrate – high-heels, a low-cut white blouse, black suit, with the tightest pencil skirt, had the jacket especially tailored to push her glorious breasts up into deep cleavage.

  The old family retainers discovered a new trail of murder and chaos in Florida. Jesus had started killing prostitutes to keep his hand in – more bad news for Miguel. He offers a bounty on Jesus and the memory stick; fuck the family edict – he don’t need a serial killer with the same surname for a cousin. It’s the sorta thing that people remember – any relation to Zambrano the Florida Strangler?

  And neither does Jenna, because Jenna has political ambitions. There must always be distance between Miguel’s operations and Jenna’s public image; he needs things compartmentalised, she needs thing deniable. Seems the Zambrano Twins are planning on taking over Venezuela in years to come, a whole fuckin country. Miguel’s going to fund her, using the obligatory ill-gotten fortune from the Ponzi scheme. And Jenna’s providing star quality. The marriage to The Senator’s son is only Stage One of The Plan – the one they have been hatching, and refining, since they were teenagers.

  Jesus thought there was a deal to be done, was prepared to sell his side of the family down the river for money. He would sell the incriminating photos but only negotiate through Jenna, hence the late-night calls. Jenna was not entertaining him – fuck you, Jesus, speak to Miguel. I don’t know about any memory stick. She was hitting the red button on the phone every time he rang, before he could deliver his pitch.

  Stop. Fucking. Ringing. You. Mad. Murdering. Motherfucker.

  Jenna only started to take notice when Jesus revealed the existence of the compromising photos. He sent her JPEGs, via the complimentary in-house Internet facility at the Cosmo P.


  They landed in her inbox with a thump; no good for the family album, but they got her attention. Jenna wasn’t privy to the inner workings of the clan – strictly deniable, need-to-know basis – but suddenly she starts taking a necessary interest. She didn’t want to think about allowing Miguel the moral high ground, but she didn’t want her father seeing those photographs either. But if they didn’t listen to Jesus’ demands – sent through intermediaries in various Venezuelan embassies – the Senator, and a few other prominent figures, would get, in the post, the full set of his future daughter-in-law performing. And Jesus knew that spiteful loser ex-boyfriends posted photos of former girlfriends in compromising positions on the Internet. Jenna knew once those pictures hit the net, they were gone forever, blown to the four corners of cyberspace. Any political career would be in shreds; she’d have the wrong type of fan club. The Plan was going bandaloo. They needed to get the toothpaste back in the tube …

  They looked high and low, lit up the sky, looked in all Jesus’ hangouts, hunted down all his associates. They couldn’t find Jesus. They dropped cash and broke bones but nobody knew where he was. Miguel sent word – if any harm came to Jenna, Miguel wouldn’t kill Santos and his team, he would decimate their families – he’d kill them all. Jesus had already alighted in London.

  Q. Why London?

  A. The shopping and the history?

  Jesus knew the memory stick was important. He wanted to feel power. Wanted a reaction. To make them sweat. This was what he was looking for from the organ-harvesting fiasco – recognition.

  But Jesus had no idea of the real contents. He only got as far as Roy – rows and rows of impenetrable hieroglyphics. Jesus never riddled out what Miguel was chatting to his cohorts about; he knew nothing of Ponzi schemes or nominee bankers siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars into shadow accounts in New York. He thought the photos and Miguel’s malicious conversations were the story.

  Jenna’s campaign and reputation as the future dazzling star were temporarily on hold; lost, but within touching distance. Miguel was considering a deal, but knew it meant a lifetime of headfuck, knowing he’d been had over by Jesus. The Zambranos’ slotting crews were kicking their heels, oiling their guns, but their target couldn’t be found. Then came a break in the case …

  One sunny day they got an anonymous phone call from a place called Pad-Ding-Ton Station. The caller, a Venezuelan, declined to give his name but had heard on the grapevine the family was looking for the elusive one. This was the as yet unidentified gent who Flavio had saluted as he got in his taxi outside the Cosmo P. If things go well, the caller told them he’d be looking for a favour – quid pro quo. He informed them the buffoon Jesus was in London but was shipping out to Paris, on the Eurostar, departing Waterloo, ten o’clock, the next morning. The Zambrano Family sent a team overnight to retrieve – or dispatch – the errant cousin before he could do more damage. They could take out Jesus either at Waterloo or on the train … or even wait till he reached Gare du Nord …

  But they hadn’t factored in the phenomenon that is Roy ‘Twitchy’ Burns and his equally twitchy Skorpion semi-automatic.



  ‘Why did Jesus have to kill all these guys?’

  Jenna looks at me like I’ve just asked a silly question. ‘You never knew Jesus Zambrano, did you?’ I shake my head. ‘You two never met, did you?’ she asks, eyebrows up, waiting for an answer.

  ‘No. He’d take a dim view of this, us being in the kip, but why would he kill—’

  ‘For fun …’ she replies, dry as a twig. ‘So he could tell his next victim about the last victim.’ She shrugs, ‘He was never right … I always knew it, even as a child …’

He was some flower, your cousin,’ I say off-hand.

  ‘Was?’ asks Jenna, quick as a flash. ‘You said, “was”.’

  ‘I was speculating. You need to calm down, Jenna.’

  ‘No, I think you need to calm down, Mister English.’

  It’s the best place in the world: Sunday morning, hotel room, curtains open, bright sunshine, room service, nice breakfast, big hard-on, beautiful woman going down on you … Our clothes are still scattered on the floor from last night.

  Strewn. Underwear. A wonderful pair of words. I think these South American women employ this simple method of keeping their geezers under control – plenty of sex. There’d be no need to stray too far from Jenna – you’d be too exhausted. Ambitious women, like ambitious men, have a very high sex drive.

  I’m relaxing a bit … If Jenna’s using me as bait to smoke out Jesus I can live with it … I know something they don’t … And now I’m reaping the benefits of an American education; they must teach blowjobs in the tenth grade. It’s all about getting the breathing right – out on the down, in on the up. She’s hit her rhythm now, hitting the right strokes. I’m rocking and rolling, arching my back, like the fella in Jesus’ smudges …

  But then I catch some movement out of the corner of my eye – something strange. Roy’s raincoat – which I now have on permanent loan – is being tugged across the floor in increments, disappearing out of view as if giant mice are gently dragging it. The raincoat is sliding across the carpet, edging its way out of sight.

  But I can’t bring myself to stop Jenna; the head’s gone west, odd dilemma. Suddenly a figure breaks cover – a scrawny, chalk-white London junkie with mad blonde hair sticking out from under a cap. He’s made a lunge for the raincoat, deciding it’s the prize. He looks at me boldly. Something registers with me – recognition, maybe. He’s fearless, this geezer, or whacked out. His eyes are pinned; he’s smacked-up – oblivious to danger but together enough to know the game’s up.

  The geezer’s hit the door and stepped out, with Roy’s raincoat over his arm like he’s going for a stroll. I’m shouting, slapping the bed, but Jenna just thinks I’m coming. She carries on regardless. I almost have to wrench her away. She is oblivious of any sneak thief. I’m breathlessly trying to explain that someone sneaked in and stole my raincoat.

  ‘You expecting fucking rain?’

  I jump out of bed, open the door and look down the corridor, left and right. Two chambermaids are outside my door; one giggles, looking straight at my hard-on but the other covers her eyes. I realise that if the wallet in the pocket – containing the ATM cards and false driving licence – goes missing, I’ll be in serious trouble. Not with Sonny and Roy, but with Ted and Sister Bridget. I won’t be able to tell them it was stolen while I was getting a BJ.

  But the thief is calmly standing at the lift, trying to act cool. He’s put the raincoat on, got my sunglasses out the pocket, and is using the lift door as a mirror. A couple of other guests are looking at him curiously. I run back inside and grab some clothes, pull them on double quick, hopping on one foot, trying to put on a stubborn loafer.

  ‘Someone was in the room?’ Jenna is standing on the bed, seriously upset. ‘Someone was here! Who?’

  ‘I don’t know,’ I say, but Jenna is now across the room, blocking my exit.

  ‘Some sneak thief,’ I say.

  ‘How did they get in?’

  ‘I don’t fuckin know, Jenna. Slipped in with the room service … hid in the bathroom.’

  ‘It was Jesus!’ she screams. ‘He’s here!’

  ‘No, Jenna, it was some creeper. I’ve got to get my wallet back. It can’t be lost.’

  She hangs on. ‘You can’t leave me here!’

  ‘I’ll be gone a minute, Jenna. Please, get out of the way! He’s getting away. I’m gonna go.’

  I push past her, out the door, but the lift – and the thief – has gone. I watch the indictor counting down fast.

  The lifts stop on every other floor; I run downstairs from the twenty-seventh floor to see if my luck’s any better one flight down. The lift is stationary on the top floor. I push the button, hear it moving. It arrives. I get in, hit the G button.

  On the tenth floor the lift stops. Some other guests get in. They’re wanting to wait for their dozy mate who’s meandering up the corridor. I tell the geezer to take his hand off the ‘doors open’ button – I’m in a hurry, stop fuckin about. He looks me up and down. If he wants a scuffle I’m up for it. He takes his hand off the button. We continue down to the lobby. Out of the lift. No sign of the thief.

  Q. Could this be Jenna setting me up, a distraction?

  A. Possibly. Can’t think about that right now. But I think she’d send some ice-cold mercenary to dangle me out the window, not some roasting sneak thief.

  And she’d be fully clothed when they arrived.

  I rush out the main door, cursing. It’s futile and I’m fucked. Then I spot Roy Burns’ raincoat and a floppy baker boy hat disappearing around the corner about a hundred yards away. I trot off in his direction. Fuckin lib – junkie cunt – disturbing my thing. I’ll catch him easy. He can’t be that quick or alert. If I can’t catch a skaghead whose only exercise is building pipes and running to reload I’m in trouble. I’m fifty yards behind, but holding back.

  Big trouble if that gunnif disappears with them cards, serious implications. And I guess Royski will have something to say if his precious coat goes AWOL. But I know that chalk-white face from somewhere back on the old manor … it’s in the back of the canister … Fuck it!

  I do know him, the thieving cunt. He’s one of the notorious O’Malley Family, one of the gearhead younger brothers. Young Stevie O’Malley. Proper dildo kid, not all there … A specialist scavenger, getting his tackle creeping City hotels over this side. A fuckin sneak thief, slipping in after cleaners and room service, hiding in wardrobes and shower stalls. Of all the hotel rooms in all the world, he had to sneak into mine … I’ve been on red alert since I landed, now I’m a victim of pussy blindness. Maybe I even left the door open after I rapidly ushered the room service porter out.

  The whole O’Malley family are loons. I can’t apprehend Young Stevie and ask nicely for my stolen property back. I could kill Stevie or do him serious damage on the sly but if I hurt him and they find out there’ll be repercussions. And the O’Malleys, being certified lunatics, would pay me no matter what anyone said to try and pacify them.

  Stevie is up ahead, no doubt dying to get into the parcel he’s just chored. It makes sense to go somewhere secluded to have a peek into the wallet … I can wait, get Stevie away from the public, avoid a scene. I was spooked; it might have been some manoeuvre from Jenna, or Brother Miguel. Now I’m bizarrely reassured that I know the guy who’s robbing me.

  I’m getting closer all the time. He’s across a set of traffic lights, dodging cars, does a sharp right then swerves round a corner. When I turn the corner I spot Stevie about fifty yards away wrapping Roy’s coat around him, over and over again; skipping and bowling along, looking in a shop window, checking his new shades. I’ve got to be cute, maybe collar Stevie and tell him he can keep the cash but I’ve got to have them cards, wallet and raincoat back. To him the cards are worthless PVC – be lucky to get a tenner each.

  Stevie suddenly turns and starts walking backwards, scanning the street to see if anyone is following. I dodge behind a parked van, get a snide look off the driver, ask him nicely if he’s got a fuckin problem. I wait until I see Stevie turn to face front again before continuing up the street. I can imagine Stevie getting tingly, knows he’s had a touch, telling his mates the mug was only getting a blowjob while I chored his fuckin coat. Nice bird, though, nice coat too, might keep it for a coupla weeks …

  Stevie’s gathering speed again. Why the fuck he would want a raincoat on a lovely day like today is beyond me. Roy would have a right royal moan-up if that bitta clobber got mislaid cos you know it’s got to have talismanic qualities. It’s no doubt Roy’s l
ucky raincoat, for warding off evil. I couldn’t say I’d lost it, not with Roy in his present state of mind. What a turnout that would be if Stevie turned up down the AKQ Club wearing Royski’s old faithful.

  I’ve changed my mind; gonna fight fire with fire. Going to sit on Stevie, follow him till we’re safely away from Joe Pub, then I’m gonna jump all over him, get a bit old neighbourhood with him. Get dark before he gets a chance to hurt me. Gonna dislocate his arm at the shoulder then kick it in all directions till he comes under manners. Gonna make him hurt. I’ve lost patience with the Stevies of this world. Starting to see how Sonny and Roy use violence therapeutically.

  If Stevie O’Malley fucked the likes of Sonny or Roy he’d be gone – hole dug deep, adios Stevie. Hope it doesn’t end up going bandaloo. I need that wallet and fuckin raincoat. Stevie ain’t gonna be telling tales to his brothers. If he does Mort’ll square it off – a few quid compo, few rounds of drinks down those stinky drinkers the Mad O’Malleys frequent.

  But now Stevie’s half trotting, heading for Tower Hill tube station and the westbound rattler home. It’s getting more crowded, I shoulda jumped on Stevie earlier. He’s swerving and darting through waves of tourists, like a locked-on missile on final approach. I’m limbering myself up. Gotta drag Stevie down an alleyway, away from the crowd.

  You’re Stevie O’Malley. I’m from the neighbourhood too. You’ve gotta help me out, Stevie. I really need your help. Confuse him. I ain’t angry, Stevie. Hurt, not angry. Then one knee up hard in the nuts, to double him over. Sharp pain to shock the system, then work the diaphragm. Knee in hard, three or four times. Aim to maim. Get the fight out of him as soon as. No oxygen, no strength, no resistance. This is war. This is survival. You or me, Stevie. Gonna be dark style, might as well enjoy it.

  Stevie’s no doubt got the classic junkie high pain threshold – is that your best shot? But I ain’t got time for negotiations, had the piss taken out of me royally. What did Jenna say? You can’t negotiate with madness. Can’t negotiate with headbangers named O’Malley either.

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