Biker Sluts versus Flying Saucers cover

Due out some time in April, currently in beta. I always wanted to write something in homage to the two things I loved when I was a kid — 1970s British Hells Angels books and 1950s flying saucer movies.  This is the result.

An outlaw biker story set during the aftermath of an alien invasion in 1970s England.

1970: Aliens arrive on Earth. Seen as a force for good by world leaders and most of Earth’s population, they cure diseases, end all world hunger, and stabilise our environment.

1973: The great purge. 95% of the world’s population are wiped out overnight, leaving behind scattered pockets of survivors to eke out an existence scavenging for food in the ruins of towns and cities.

1978: The mamas and old ladies of Satan’s Bastards Motorcycle Club fight back.

This is their story.

biker-sluts

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Stabby Abby in … A Very Stabby Christmas

Christmas Eve in the Black Bull is fucking mental, yeah? It’s like every fucker in town has decided to go out for the night and chosen the scummiest backstreet pub they can find to get pissed up in. The place is absolutely fucking heaving, standing room only. Just as well me and Dave got here early and bagged ourselves some seats in the corner, otherwise we’d be squashed up among them. We’ve got our feet up on some chairs opposite our table so we can save them for when Shaz and Dave’s mates get here. We get a few funny looks from people standing nearby, but nobody says anything. They might be pissed up, but they’re not fucking daft, yeah?

Dave’s got his arms stretched out either side of him, resting on the back of the padded bench, tapping his fingers to the blaring Christmas music playing. It’s not a band I’ve ever heard before, but they seem okay. They’re a bit like the shouty skinhead bands Dave likes, except it’s a bird singing and she’s going on about snowmen and bollocks like that instead of kicking someone’s head in at a football match. I’ve heard some of the songs before, I think they were originally done by dead people from the olden days, yeah? A few people nearby are shouting along in that tuneless way drunks do, waving their pints around and spilling half the contents down their reindeer jumpers. Me, I’m not at that stage yet, I’ve only had three pints of Guinness the whole fucking night, so I just wiggle my feet on the chair in time to the music.

“Who’s this then?” I yell at Dave between songs.

“Vice Squad,” he yells back. “They’re an old punk band, my dad used to like them. It was him who got me into Oi when I were a kid.”

“Yeah? So did they just do Christmas songs then?”

“Nah, they did all sorts. I’ll download you a few mp3s, if you like them I’ll get you everything else they did.”

Dave’s like that, he can get anything you want for free off his computer. Films, music, games for your phone, whatever you want. Fuck knows how he does it, I’ve never really been that interested in computers. We had them at school, but I could never get the hang of them. I bet Dave was some sort of fucking whizz-kid with them.

“Fucking Shaz is taking her time getting here,” I yell, looking at the clock on my phone.

Dave shrugs and leans forward to pick up his lager. I put my phone away and shuffle myself upright on the bench, drop my feet to the floor. Some chancer standing nearby eyes up the vacant stool, so I glare at him to make sure he doesn’t get any ideas about pinching it. He looks away, suitably traumatised, and I nod to myself in satisfaction.

“I’m going for a piss,” I yell in Dave’s ear. “Make sure no cunt pinches my seat.”

Dave nods and raises a thumb, smiles at me in that lopsided way of his, then feels my arse as I climb over his legs. There’s a brick wall of drunken people between me and the bogs, and it takes fucking ages to shove my way through them, so I’m nearly pissing myself by the time I get there. Luckily there’s a spare cubicle so I dive into it and drop my knickers, then plonk my arse on the seat just in time. I kick the door closed with my foot and take out my phone, then turn on the camera and check my face. The bruises from my last fight are healing up quite well, so I should be good as new in a few more weeks. I switch off the camera and phone Shaz, ask her where the fuck she is. I can hear drunken singing in the background, so it’s obvious she’s not on her way here like she says she is. I tell her to fucking hurry up then, and put the phone away.

Back in the bar, this bloke in a Santa hat with a sprig of mistletoe sticking out of it stretches out his arms at me. “Bleuraaaaargh!” he says, or something like that, and lurches toward me for a Christmas kiss. I smile and duck under his arms, then skirt round him while he staggers forward into the space I just left. He spins round, looking confused. “Iss fuckern Crissmess, hen,” he says, pointing at the mistletoe. “Iss the fuckern law.” I give him two fingers and another smile, then fight my way back to Dave.

“About fucking time,” Dave says. “I thought you’d fucked off or something.”

“Nah,” I say, and bend down to give him a quick snog. He tastes of cheese and onion crisps, and it makes me feel a bit hungry. I break away and sit down, then drain the rest of my Guinness. “You getting the drinks in then, or what?”

“Fucking hell Abby, I got the last round in.”

“Yeah well, that makes you more experienced then doesn’t it? Besides, it’s what a fucking gentleman would do, isn’t it?”

He grins at me and raises his eyebrows. “What, you think I’m a gentleman then?”

“Meh!” I say with a shrug, and he shuffles away into the crowd.

I suppose he is really, despite his rough as fuck outward appearance. Not in the traditional sense, like some fucking toff in a suit and tie or whatever, but he’s definitely a gentle man. With me, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fighter just like me, not some sort of fucking flower-loving softy. But he has his gentle side too, yeah? And he’s not bothered if other blokes see it either. Most blokes I’ve been with act all macho when their mates are around, and treat me like some sort of fucking tart. Dave’s not like that, he’s different. I can’t really explain it properly, it’s just the way he is I guess.

I look up when I hear someone yelling my name. It’s Shaz, standing by the door with Steve and Josh either side of her, holding her up with her arms draped over their shoulders. They’re her boyfriends, yeah? Typical fucking Shaz, she has to go one better than me and have two of them. They’re also Dave’s mates, and they’re both skinheads, just like him. Fuck knows what they get up to together, whether they take turns to fuck her or just take an end each or whatever, but they seem happy enough with the arrangement.

Shaz looks well and truly pissed up the way she staggers toward me, all three of them lurching to one side and bumping into people, spilling their drinks. Someone spins round yelling at them, then goes all shy and quiet when the two skinheads glare at him. They seem to have that effect on people, I don’t know why. It’s the same with Dave, I think it might be the clothes they wear or something. It’s like people are afraid of them, yeah? But that’s just fucking daft, they’re just normal blokes. If you don’t mess with them, they won’t mess with you. Still, it seems to work to their advantage too, because people just clear a space for them when they see them coming. Like fucking what’s-his-name from The Bible, the geezer who split the sea in half so his mates could walk through it.

Steve and Josh lower Shaz onto the bench next to me, then sit down on the two stools we saved for them. Shaz slumps against me. “Merry fucking humbug Abby,” she says, breathing Pernod fumes in my face. “And a happy new whatsit, yeah?” She puts a hand over one eye and peers across the table at Josh. “Get the fucking drinks in, then. What you waiting for, a fucking message from the queen or something?”

Josh stands up and stretches out his braces. I notice he’s got a twig of mistletoe sticking out of his crotch. Classy. I bet the bloke at the toilets wishes he’d thought of that.

Steve clasps his hands behind his head and grins at me. “All right, Abby?” he says. “How’s the cage fighting going?”

“Yeah, not too bad,” I say. “It pays the fucking bills anyway.”

Which is true. Since I lost my job the fights have been my only means of income, yeah? Well except for the little bit extra I make with Shaz now and again, when the opportunity arises. But I haven’t told Dave about that yet. Not because I don’t think he would approve, he’d probably think it was funny as fuck. I just haven’t got round to telling him yet.

“Steve, you cunt,” Dave says when he gets back with a tray of drinks. He puts them down on the table one at a time, then slurps up the spillages from the tray. He’s got three pints of Guinness for me, and four pints of lager for himself. He swears at Steve when he grabs one, but doesn’t object when he takes a swig.

“What’s all these for?” I ask, picking up one of the pints of Guinness.

“Thought it’d save time going to the bar later.”

Good thinking. You see he’s not just gentle, my Dave, he’s fucking clever too. How lucky am I to have a bloke like that?

* * *

At chucking out time the streets are packed with people full of Christmas spirits, Christmas lager, Christmas whatever-gets-you-hammered. A gang of howling banshees stagger toward us in skimpy low-cut tops and mini-skirts, their high heels clattering on the vomit-soaked pavement. One points at Josh’s mistletoe and laughs, then gets down on her knees and slobbers over his crotch while he just stands there grinning down at her. I clench my fists and look at Shaz, sure she’ll want to steam in and batter the tart for messing with one of her boyfriends, and ready to help out if the others decide to join in. But Shaz is busy leaning over and puking into the gutter, and doesn’t notice the assault on Josh’s chastity. Steve is stood behind her, holding her hair out of the way so it doesn’t get splattered with spew. Which is kind of a sweet thing to do, yeah? The sort of thing Dave would do for me if I had long hair like Shaz.

The banshees shuffle on, laughing and screeching at each other. A police car drives by slowly, and they all pull up their tops and wobble their tits at it. I can see the coppers inside smirking through the windscreen as they approach us. Dave glares at them as the car passes, then hacks up and spits into the road after it. Shaz straightens up, a line of bile dribbling down her chin. She wipes it away with the back of her hand and smiles at me.

“I fucking needed that,” she says, while Steve gropes her tits from behind. She spins in his arms and grabs his arse, clamps her mouth onto his.

“Oi, what about me?” Josh asks.

Steve and Shaz break apart slightly to make room for him, and he buries his face in Shaz’s tits, squashed between them as Steve and Shaz go back to sucking each other’s mouths. I shake my head and sigh. Dave looks at me and shrugs, then moves toward me for a smooch of his own. I back up into a shop doorway, pulling Dave by his braces, so we won’t get jostled by passing drunks. It stinks of piss and vomit, as I expected, but at least it’s a bit more private. I’ve certainly been fingered in places a lot less romantic than this.

It’s not long before we get interrupted by people shouting insults out in the street – fucking cunt, you wanker, come on then you bastards, things like that. At first we ignore it, it’s not as if it’s something unusual. People slagging each other off is just one of the Christmas traditions, yeah? Like decorating trees with tinsel and giving people you don’t like crappy presents. But then the insults get a bit more personal and we realise who they are aimed at.

“You fucking baldy-headed cunts, call yourselves the fucking master race?”

Dave pulls his hand out of my knickers and spins round, steps out of the shop doorway with his fists clenched. “Fucking hell, another of the Nazi cunts,” someone yells. “Let’s fucking do the bastards.” I rearrange my clothing and join Dave out on the pavement.

There’s a bunch of middle-aged blokes waddling toward us in Santa hats, all beer guts and bravado. There’s seven of them, and they’re all driving fat fists into fat palms and grinning at each other like obese giant dwarfs who’ve just gang-banged Snow White. I catch Shaz’s eye and smile. She smiles back and cracks her knuckles, first one hand, then the other. Dave, Steve and Josh line up before us like guardians protecting their princesses from an onslaught of barbarians. The Santas stop in the middle of the road and start up with their taunts again.

“Come on then, let’s fucking have it,” one says, beckoning with his fingers.

“We’re going to fuck you up, real bad,” another says, “just like we did with Hitler.”

“Yeah,” a third says, nodding his head so vigorously the white bobble on the end of his Santa hat smacks him in the face.

Dave, Steve and Josh just stand there looking at them, fists clenched, waiting for them to make a move. Shaz sighs. “For fuck’s sake,” she says, “what is this, a fucking internet flame war or something? Just get on with it, you fat bastards, or fuck off out of it.”

“You fucking slag,” one of the Santas yells, and rushes forward.

Steve and Josh both run forward to meet him. Josh gets there first and his fist disappears into Santa’s blubbery stomach. Santa crumbles to his knees with an oof and Steve boots him in the face and sends him sprawling onto his back. The other Santas all roar and make a beeline for Josh, he being the shortest of the three skinheads they want to fuck up, and therefore the easiest-looking target. Dave wades in and kicks one up the arse, then spins round and smacks another in the mouth just as he’s raising a fist to him.

Two Santas have got Josh held between them while a third sneers into his face, yelling something about Germany losing two world wars and one world cup. Fuck knows what that’s got to do with anything, but Dave and Steve are both too busy with their own fights to see what’s happening with Josh. Time to get out the big guns, yeah?

I look for Shaz, but she’s already on her way. She snatches the Santa hats off the two fat blokes holding Josh, then grabs their hair and bangs their heads together. Josh kicks the other Santa in the bollocks mid-rant before he even realises what’s happening. He bends over, clutching himself, and gets a knee in the face. I rush in to help Shaz with the two fat bastards when they turn toward her with their fists raised. Their fists hang there in the air as they stare at her, as if they don’t know what to do with them.

Big fucking mistake, yeah?

I take one out with a quick jab of my fingers into his neck, followed by a punch to the chin that clacks his teeth together and sends blood spurting as he staggers backwards. Shaz knees hers in the bollocks, then drags him face down onto the tarmac by his hair. She kneels down on his back, then frisks his pockets and pulls out a wallet. He groans, so she punches him in the ear a few times until he shuts up, then stuffs his empty wallet into his mouth. She grins at me and waves a wad of cash, then gives me half and pockets the rest.

I look at Dave as I put the money away, inexplicably worried he might have seen what we just did. I’m not ashamed of it, it’s just what we do now and again to make a bit of extra cash, yeah? But like I said, I haven’t got round to telling him yet and I don’t want him to find out this way. I needn’t have worried though, Dave’s too busy sticking the boot into one of the Santas rolling around in the road to notice what we’re up to. I look around to see what the other Santas are doing, but they all seem to have legged it, so I wander over to Dave.

“You okay?” Dave asks when he sees me. He stops kicking the Santa and walks over to me, a concerned look on his face.

I shrug. “Yeah, why?”

“Sorry you had to see that.”

“Don’t be fucking daft. You were defending me and Shaz’s honour, that’s all. It’s made me horny as fuck.”

Dave grins. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Now come on, before the fucking coppers get here. I don’t want to spend Christmas in a fucking cell.”

* * *

I lean over the edge of the multi-story car park wall and look down at the town centre below. There’s fights all over the place as festivities continue without us, police and ambulance sirens wailing as they rush to each fresh incident. Coppers bash heads open while paramedics stitch them back together again and send them on to their next battle. So this is Christmas, yeah? That most fucking magical time of the year. Peace and good will to all men, except for whoever gets in your fucking way.

I snuggle up to Dave’s chest, because it’s fucking freezing up here. He puts his arm around me and draws me close, I listen to his heart beating and wonder when he’s going to make his move. I hope he doesn’t expect me to strip off up here, I don’t think I’d be able to stop my teeth from chattering if he does. Shaz is already moaning away somewhere to my left, on her hands and knees with her arse in the air. You’d think Dave would have taken the hint by now, but he seems happy enough just watching the fights down below.

A church bell somewhere starts ringing, calling people in for midnight mass. I wonder if they have many fights in churches these days. If anyone even still goes to church. I haven’t been since I was about five years old, and even then I thought it was boring as fuck.

“Happy birthday Jesus, you fucking hippy bastard!” Dave shouts. His voice echoes off nearby tower blocks.

The fighting in the town centre seems to stop all at once, as if someone’s thrown a switch or something. Then there’s sporadic drunken outbursts of that fucking Slade song coming from all directions. So here it is, merry fucking Christmas, yeah? Dave shrugs his arm off my shoulder and walks away a few steps. I get this rage of jealousy when I think he might be ogling Shaz’s arse, or getting ideas about joining in with Steve and Josh. I don’t know why, it just comes over me sometimes. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the way it is, yeah? But he’s not even looking in their direction, he’s facing the other way, fiddling with his jeans. Probably going to have a piss or something, and he’s too shy to do it with me watching.

“You ready for your present yet?” he says, and spins round with his arms stretched out like Jesus on his stick. He’s got his cock out, pointing it at me. But that’s not what makes me smile. He’s got a bit of ribbon tied round the middle of it, in a neat bow. Fuck knows where that’s come from or where he learnt how to tie bows like that.

“Yeah,” I say, and walk over to meet him. I kneel down and unwrap my present, give it a bit of a squeeze. “But this had better not be the only thing you’ve got me for Christmas or you’re in some serious fucking shit.”

Happy fucking Christmas, yeah?

 ———

Abby and friends also feature in my book Bare Knuckle Bitch.

Originally published at http://www.punx.co.uk in 2013.

 

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Punk / Skinhead novels box set ebook

All four of my punk & skinhead books in one handy ebook volume. Also available individually in ebook or paperback.


 

Four full length novels, plus bonus content. 120,000 words of fast-paced pulp action in one handy volume. Come and have a read if you think you’re hard enough.

PUNK FACTION

1982, and Thatcher is busy warmongering in the Falklands. Meanwhile, in a small Yorkshire town, unemployed punks Colin, Brian and Stiggy are busy having a good time getting drunk, sniffing glue, and going to see punk bands play live. But a simple misunderstanding with one of the local skinheads soon escalates into an all-out war. And with tensions between the two factions running high, it’s not the best of times for top Oi band the Cockney Upstarts to play at nearby Shefferham. The Cockney Upstarts are much loved by both punks and skinheads alike, but is that enough to make them forget their differences for just one night?

SKINHEAD AWAY

A ska festival draws thousands of skinheads from across the country to the sleepy seaside town of Cleethorpes. Local residents and day-trippers look on in horror as the town is taken over by shaven-headed masses wearing boots and braces. But much to their surprise, the weekend unfolds peacefully. That is, until a group of drunken bikers think it would be a good laugh to smash up a few scooters, thinking they must belong to mods. Revenge is swift and vicious, but the bikers have friends too. Friends who are more than eager to settle the score.

BARE KNUCKLE BITCH

Best friends Abby and Shaz like nothing more than sticking the boot into some mug after a night out on the piss. That look of sheer terror on the bloke’s face when he first realises what’s coming his way. The way he begs for mercy right up until the moment he loses consciousness. It’s the best buzz ever. The money in their wallets is just a bonus, a means to an end. Men are just walking pricks with money there for the taking. Treat them as anything else and they’ll walk all over you.

PUNK ROCK NURSING HOME

Every year, on the anniversary of the death of hated 1980s prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the elderly residents of State Retirement Home SY-379 hold a festival of celebration. Balloons and bunting go up, raucous punk music is played, memories are relived by those who still have all their faculties, and a good time is had by all. With the thirtieth anniversary of Thatcher’s death coming up in just a few weeks, Colin Baxter decides to make this year’s Thatcher Day something to be remembered. He contacts octogenarian punk band Sick Bastard and books them to play live at the retirement home, promising to pay them in free beer. There’s just one problem: how to get the band, their equipment, and the beer, past the Gestapo retirement home manager who lives upstairs?

PLUS BONUS SHORT STORIES

The Snatcher (Remix)
Warrior in Woolworths
A Very Stabby Christmas

 

Only available on Amazon.

Punk and Skinhead Novels Box Set

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Endorsement from a legend :)

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Needles & Pins – A Punk Novel by Tom Laimer-Read


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for another po-faced history of 1970s UK punk, this isn’t for you. It’s a humorous fictionalised version of that time, the central premise being that the main character, a nobody from Milton Keynes, is present at just about every major event in early punk history you could think of.

From John Lydon’s audition miming along to Alice Cooper, through the Grundy interview, all the way up to the events at the Winterland Ballroom, he is present at them all, as well as playing  an integral part in the history of The Damned, The Clash and Buzzcocks. I half expected him to be hiding under the bed when Nancy Spungen was killed, then end up sharing a cell with Sid, but that wasn’t to be.

It clocks in at about 160,000 words, and seems to be ebook only at the moment, but the chapters are short and punchy, so it would be ideal for reading on a mobile phone in short bursts. This was what I planned to do when I first picked it up, so I could read it alongside other things at the same time, but the writing sucked me in and I ended up reading it by itself from beginning to end.

There’s a lot of humour in this book – in fact it reads like a Ripping Yarns version of England’s Dreaming, and I couldn’t help reading it in an Eric Olthwaite voice despite most of it taking place in London. There’s lots of truly awful groan-out-loud puns, which the writer makes no apologies about, but the best jokes are the “hidden” ones for people who know their history.

I particularly liked when Chris Sievey told the main character he knew he would be famous one day, but didn’t want to get a big head when it happened. Another highlight was Mark Perry looking thoughtful while watching The Ramones play Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue. There are lots of these, and lots more almost certainly flew over my head. Half the fun will be finding them for yourself, so I won’t reveal any more.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, no book ever is, but I really enjoyed it. One point though, the opening chapter doesn’t really do the book justice. So if you are the type of person who doesn’t trust reviews from random people on the internet (a good attitude to have), and prefer to read a sample so you can make up your own mind, skip ahead to the second chapter instead. That will give you a much better idea of what you are letting yourself in for.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/438673

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 29 (final part)

7 Life Moves On

Mike Thornton and Twiglet both frowned when Trog walked up to their table in The White Swan. He put down a tray containing two pints of bitter and a pint of lager, then sat down between Colin and Brian.

“Cheers Trog,” Colin said. He lifted one of the glasses and took a long drink.

“Yeah, cheers,” Brian said, nodding his head.

It was Brian’s first night out since being discharged from hospital the previous week. He’d jumped at the chance to get out of the house when Colin called round for him earlier in the evening, especially when Colin said he had arranged to meet Becky and Kaz. Brian confided in Colin as they left that he was sick of his mother fussing over him all the time, like he was some sort of invalid. She made Colin swear he wouldn’t let Brian drink any alcohol, and that he would keep him well away from any skinheads. She didn’t believe Colin’s story that it had been a skinhead who saved Brian’s life, preferring to believe the newspaper version saying it had been the police who saved him.

“It should be me buying you one though, I reckon,” Brian said, looking at Trog.

Trog held up his hand and waved off the offer. “Nah, don’t worry about it. I got some good news today anyway.”

“Oh yeah?” Colin said, leaning forward. “What’s that then?”

“Ian finally woke up this afternoon, it looks like he’s going to be okay.”

“Lazy bastard,” Mike said with a grin. Trog glared across the table at him. “What?” Mike asked with a shrug.

“He was in a fucking coma, you cunt.”

“Ah, okay, sorry mate. So what were up with him, like? Car crash or something?”

“Some cunt twatted him on the way home a few weeks ago.”

Mike looked at Colin. Colin looked away.

“So, um,” Mike said, “has he said who it was that smacked him then?”

Trog shook his head slowly, maintaining eye contact with Mike. “No, not yet. He says he can’t remember anything, but the doctor says that’s just temporary and it’ll all come back to him over the next few weeks.”

“I’m just off to the bog,” Mike announced, and rose to his feet.

Trog watched him go, then turned to Colin. “So where’s that scruffy mate of yours, Stinky or whatever his name is?”

“Stiggy? Fuck knows. I haven’t seen him since the Cockney Upstarts gig. I went round to his flat the other week but he wasn’t there. The Rasta next door said he hadn’t seen him either.”

“He’s probably off his fucking head on glue somewhere,” Brian said. “You know what he’s like.”

Colin shrugged. “Yeah, probably. I just wish he’d get in touch though. I nearly shit meself when I heard about that bloke they found in Shefferham with his head stoved in. I were sure that was Stiggy until they showed a photo of him on the news. I thought them fucking skinheads must have caught up with him or something.” He looked at Trog. “No offence, like,” he added.

“None taken,” Trog said. “They weren’t skinheads anyway, they were fucking boneheads.”

“What’s the difference?” Twiglet asked.

Trog looked at the half-caste in silence for a few seconds before replying. “Boneheads are fucking Nazis.”

Twiglet snorted. “What, and skinheads aren’t?”

“Nah, are they fuck.”

Born to Run started playing on the pub’s jukebox as Mike returned from the toilet and went to the bar. Twiglet groaned and shook his head. “Oh, fuck off!”

“No, straight up,” Trog said. “Your proper skinheads don’t give a fuck about all that Hitler bollocks. We love our country too much for that. Anyway, I’m off.” He turned to Brian and patted him on the back. “Good to see you out and about again, anyway. If you want to come down to The Black Bull later I’ll introduce you to the rest of the lads.”

Brian nodded. “Yeah, I might do one day. Not tonight though, I’m meeting me bird in here in a bit, then we’re off down to The Juggler’s Rest to see a band.”

“Yeah?” Trog said, grinning. “Well give her one for me. And enjoy your fucking hippy music.”

Twiglet and Mike were singing as Trog left. They raised their beer glasses and clashed them together.

“Scum like us, maybe we don’t give a fu-uck!”

* * *

“Lager, Trog?”

“Yeah, cheers Mandy.” Trog looked over at a group of skinheads and raised his hand to them.

“Good news about Ian,” Mandy said as she pulled his lager.

“Yeah,” Trog said, smiling. “He’s gonna be fucking ugly for a while though, until they fix his face up. But the way them nurses are fussing over him he’s loving every fucking minute of it.”

Trog pulled out his wallet to pay for the drink. Mandy shook her head. “No, don’t worry about it. This one’s on me. So how did you get on in court the other day?”

“Fifty quid fine and thirty-six hours attendance centre.”

“Attendance centre? What’s that then?”

Trog shrugged. “Dunno, some new bollocks they’ve come up with. I have to go to this place in Shefferham every Saturday afternoon for the next ten weeks.”

“Oh,” Mandy said, looking down. “Do you have to go this weekend?”

“Yeah. They said if I miss any they’ll add an extra five hours on top of the ones I miss, as well as another fine.”

“That’s a shame. There’s a Ska festival on at Cleethorpes this weekend, I thought you might want to come with me? We could get a room in a bed and breakfast, my treat.” She leaned her elbows on the bar and smiled across at him, her chin cradled in her hands.

Trog closed his eyes and ran his hand over the stubble on the back of his head. “I should really go to this attendance centre thing,” he said, avoiding Mandy’s gaze.

“You could go there next weekend instead, I’m sure they won’t mind. Go on, it’ll be fucking brilliant. I haven’t been to anything like that for years. We wouldn’t need to spend the whole weekend at the festival, there’s other stuff we could do. And it’ll be a right laugh, there’ll be skins from all over the country there. It’ll be just like the old days.”

Trog frowned, then nodded his head. “Yeah, fuck it. They’ll have to do without me this week. I’ll tell them I’m sick or something.”

Mandy jumped up and down, clapping her hands together, and squealed in excitement. She reached across the bar and grabbed Trog by the neck with both hands, pulled him close, and hugged him.

* * *

Colin, Brian, Becky and Kaz were in The Juggler’s Rest watching the band set up their equipment when Stiggy walked through the door with a short-haired girl in a baggy Discharge T-shirt.

“Stiggy!” Colin shouted. “Where the fuck have you been? And what’s with the fucking beard?”

Stiggy grinned and raised a hand. He went to the bar for drinks, then swaggered over to their table.

“All right, Col?” Stiggy said. “You remember Sally, right?”

Colin looked at the short-haired girl standing by Stiggy’s side.

“All right,” she said, nodding.

It took Colin a while to recognise her at first, because she had cut off her pink fringe and the rest of her hair was starting to grow out. It was the bottle of Babycham in her hand that clinched it.

“Er, yeah. All right, Sally.”

“I brung your record,” Stiggy said. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a twelve inch album. “I thought it were shite at first, but it sort of grows on you after a while.”

Colin took the record and flipped it over to look at the front cover. With everything that had happened he had forgot all about lending it to Stiggy.

“Cheers, Stiggy. So how did you know we’d be in here?”

Stiggy shrugged. “Friday, innit? Where else would you be?”

“So where have you been then?”

“Here and there.”

Brian drained his glass and rose to his feet. “Anyone want anything from the bar?”

Kaz frowned. “Should you be drinking that much in your condition?”

Brian groaned. “Don’t you start as well. I’ve had me mam fussing round me ever since I got out of hospital. I’ve only had a few pints, it’s not like I’m going to get smashed out of my head and start a fight with a gang of skinheads.” He looked at Stiggy as he spoke. Stiggy’s face reddened.

“Yeah well,” Stiggy said. “That’s all sorted now. We—” Sally looked sharply at Stiggy and nudged him in the ribs. Stiggy looked away and took a sip from his cider. He sat down opposite Colin and cradled the glass in his hand. “Look, the thing is, we’re getting off in the morning. There’s some people after us, so we’re moving away.”

“What, for good?” Colin asked.

“Yeah.”

“Where are you going, like?” Brian asked.

Stiggy opened his mouth to speak, but Sally got in first. “Manchester.”

Colin frowned. “What the fuck’s in Manchester?”

Stiggy looked at Sally, then shrugged. “No idea, I’ve never been. But I reckon it’s a big city with loads of people, so it’ll be easy to lose ourselves there.”

“Blimey,” Brian said. “Fucking Manchester, eh? Well good luck with it, yeah?”

Stiggy nodded. “Cheers Brian. That means a lot.”

“You’ll keep in touch though?” Colin asked. “Send me your address when you get sorted so we can all come down and visit?”

“Yeah, of course I will,” Stiggy said, looking away.

“So,” Colin said, rising to his feet. He held his beer glass out in a toast. “Here’s to Stiggy. Cunt of the year, 1982.”

“Piss off,” Stiggy said with a wide grin.

 

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 28

The next day, Colin was fingerprinted and then released without charge.

“A witness backed up your version of the story,” he was told by a scowling police officer.

Colin didn’t really care. None of that mattered any more. His best mate, someone he had grown up with and had known most of his life, was dead. Murdered by a skinhead he didn’t even know, over something he didn’t even have anything to do with.

Colin fought back the tears as he was given back his possessions and signed a form to confirm they were all present and correct. He did this without question. The loss of his cigarettes and money just didn’t seem important any more. He didn’t even notice his cigarette lighter was also missing.

Stepping out into the glaring sun, Colin saw the short skinhead sitting on a wall outside the police station. The skinhead jumped down and walked toward him.

“What did they do you for?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Colin said, looking down at the skinhead’s boots.

“Jammy bastard. They did me for affray and resisting arrest. Fucking cunts, all I were doing was trying to keep your mate alive until the ambulances got there.”

“Brian’s dead,” Colin said. His voice came out as a squeak, and a tear rolled down his cheek.

The skinhead looked at him in silence for a few seconds, then shook his head. “Mate, that’s a fucking shame. I know we had our differences, but fucking hell. No cunt deserves to die like that.”

Colin sniffed and wiped his nose on the back of his hand.

“You know …” the skinhead began, then looked away. “I … er … I’m sorry I whacked you the other night. You caught me at a bad time. I’d just split up with me bird, you see, and –”

“It doesn’t really matter now, does it?”

“I’m Trog,” the skinhead said, holding out his hand. When Colin didn’t take it, he lowered it to his side. “Have you got any money? Some bastard copper took all mine, and I haven’t got enough for the train. I can pay you back double when we get home, I’ll get me brother to meet us at the train station.”

“No,” Colin said, shaking his head. “They took all my money as well, I’ve only got about sixty pence left. Fuck. How are we going to get home?”

Trog frowned. “Bollocks, I was hoping it were just me. I’ve only got about thirty pence meself. Never mind, I’ve got another idea. Come on.”

* * *

At the train station, Colin waited outside a telephone box while Trog called his brother.

“All sorted,” Trog said when he stepped out.

“You think it will work?” Colin asked.

“Yeah, no worries. Besides, have you got any better ideas?” Colin shook his head. “Well come on then. Trust me.”

They bought a platform ticket each and passed through the barrier onto the platform. Colin bought a pack of ten cigarettes from a kiosk and begged a light from a passing woman. It was the first cigarette he had smoked since the previous night, and on an empty stomach the nicotine rush made him light headed.

When the train arrived they boarded it and headed straight for the toilet in the end carriage. Trog put the toilet lid down and sat on it. Colin squeezed in by a small sink opposite the toilet and closed the door behind him. He was about to lock it when Trog stopped him.

“Don’t lock the door.”

“Why not?” Colin’s hand hovered over the lock, ready to slide it into place.

“The conductor will know there’s someone in here if you lock it, and he’ll wait outside to check our tickets. If he sees it unlocked he’ll think it’s empty and just walk past.”

“But what if someone comes in?” Colin asked.

“Stick your foot against the door, they’ll think it’s jammed.”

Colin sat down on the floor with his back against the door. He pulled out his cigarettes, but Trog told him to put them away. Colin frowned, remembering he didn’t have anything to light them with anyway, and put the cigarettes back in his pocket.

“So how did you know what to do?” he asked.

Trog shrugged. “I used to do it all the time when I were a kid.”

Colin looked up and shook his head. “No, I mean with Brian. That stuff you were doing, and that thing with the belt and all that.”

“Learned it at work, didn’t I?”

“Work?” Colin asked. His eyes widened. He didn’t know anyone his age who had a job, and this revelation came as a complete surprise to him.

“Yeah.”

“What are you, like a doctor or something?”

Trog laughed. “Nah, I work down the pit. I’m training to be a deputy. I wanted to be an electrician really, but they didn’t have any of them left when I applied, so I went for deputy instead. First aid is part of what a deputy does. You know, for when there’s like an accident or something.”

“What’s it like down the pit? I nearly applied meself when I left school, but me Gran wouldn’t let me.”

Trog snorted. “It’s a bit of a shit hole, but a job’s a job innit? The money’s good, and they’ll always need miners so it’s a job for life. It beats being on the fucking dole anyway. Half my mates are on the dole and they’re always fucking skint.”

* * *

Colin opened the toilet door a few inches when the train pulled into their station. He peered out to check the coast was clear before opening it fully. They left the train and headed for the waiting room, where Trog said he had arranged to meet his brother.

“Piece of fucking piss,” Trog said, smiling. “We’ll get the new platform tickets from me brother, then we’re home free. Fucking literally.”

Trog was still grinning right up until he pushed open the waiting room door. A bald, stocky man in his early fifties glared up at him from a seated position at the far end of the waiting room.

“Dad, what are you doing here?” Trog asked.

Trog’s father lumbered toward him, a look of thunder in his eyes. “You stupid fucking cunt,” he yelled, and struck Trog across the face with the back of his hand. “How many times do I need to tell you?” He punched Trog in the stomach. Trog doubled over, the man brought his knee up into Trog’s face.

Colin stared at the man in shock as Trog fell onto his back. He didn’t know if he should try to help Trog or not, whether he even could do anything against this monster if he wanted to. The man was about to launch a kick at Trog’s prone body when he noticed Colin standing there. He wheeled toward him.

“And you,” the man said, jabbing Colin in the chest with his finger. “You’d better stay away from Stephen from now on, or I’ll fucking kill you. I’m not having cunts like you leading him astray. You got that?”

Colin nodded, backing away.

“Good. Now here’s your fucking ticket, so fuck off. This is family business, nothing to do with you.”

The man threw a platform ticket on the floor. Colin picked it up, his eyes staying on the older man the whole time. He backed out of the waiting room, watched as the man turned his attention back to his son and started yelling.

Colin made his way to the train station exit. His hand shook as he handed over the platform ticket to a guard standing by the barrier. The guard gave the ticket a cursory glance and tore it in half, then waved Colin through the barrier. Colin sighed, not realising he had been holding his breath.

A man sat on a bench outside the train station, reading the local newspaper and smoking a cigarette. Colin approached him and asked for a light. The man looked up from his newspaper. His eyes widened when he took in Colin’s battered appearance, but he nodded. He folded up the newspaper and put it down beside him on the bench, then reached into a pocket. He pulled out a lighter and handed it to Colin.

“Cheers mate,” Colin said. He lit his cigarette and gave the man his lighter back. The man put it away and picked up the newspaper. Colin gaped at the front page headline when the man unfolded the newspaper. He snatched it from the man’s hands so he could read it.

PUNK RIOT, LOCAL YOUTH CRITICAL!

Colin skimmed the story, looking for specific names and details. He smiled, then read the article again from the beginning, just to make sure.

A riot broke out at a Shefferham punk rock concert last night. “It was like something out of a cowboy film,” said the head of security at pop music venue The Maples. Local punk rocker Brian Mathews, unemployed, was rushed to hospital following a stabbing incident during the riot. He is said to be in a stable but critical condition. “He was lucky the police were on hand to give first aid assistance,” said a hospital spokesman. Several other punk rockers were also injured and required hospital treatment. The Star says: Do we really want this punk rock menace on the streets of Shefferham?

Colin held the newspaper out to its owner and grinned. “He’s not dead. He’s not fucking dead!”

The man edged away from Colin, palms raised. Colin smiled at the man, and took a step toward him to give him his newspaper back, but the man turned and ran away. Colin shrugged and put the newspaper down on the bench.

All he had to do now was walk home and think of some excuse he could give his Gran for staying out all night. That and make sure she didn’t see the local paper.

—-

Continued next Friday.

Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 27

6 Police Bastard

Colin felt the ground vibrating beneath his cheek. He lifted his head a few inches and opened his eyes, saw a row of boots and trainers. The ground fell away, then jerked up to smack him in the face. He groaned and sat up, rubbed his aching head. Battered, bleeding faces stared down at him. The police van drove over another pot-hole, jarring his spine.

“You, sit down with the other scum,” someone shouted.

Colin turned his head slowly, every movement causing intense pain. A policeman glared at him, tapping a truncheon into the palm of his hand.

“You all right, Col?” Spazzo asked. He reached down and helped Colin to his feet. The van lurched around a corner. Colin stumbled and fell against the other punks lining the wall of the van. A few swore at him, others reached out to help him regain his balance and sit down on the bench.

Colin looked at the faces staring at him from another bench at the opposite side of the van. The skinhead who had been helping Brian nodded to him. Blood dripped from a gash in the side of his head, his face a mass of bruises.

Colin startled. “Where’s Brian?” he asked, searching the faces of the other occupants of the van.

“No talking,” the policeman shouted.

The skinhead shrugged. “I don’t know, mate. Hopefully down at the hospital.”

“Is he all right? Did we save him?”

The policeman tapped his truncheon into the palm of his hand with more force. “I said no fucking talking!”

Trog shook his head and looked down at his boots. “I don’t know, mate. I held on as long as I could but there was too many fucking coppers and they battered me the same way they battered you. I don’t know what happened after that, it’s not long since I came round meself.”

* * *

“Empty your pockets on the desk and remove your belt and shoe laces.”

A broad-shouldered, overweight policeman in his late forties glared at Colin from behind a counter. He picked up a cracked mug and took a loud slurp from its contents.

“Is there any news about me mate?” Colin asked.

The policeman scowled. “What mate would that be?”

“He got stabbed. We were trying to help him.”

The policeman shrugged. “Don’t know, don’t care. Now empty your pockets and remove your belt and shoe laces.”

Colin crouched down and removed the laces from his trainers, then put them on the counter.

“And the belt,” the policeman said.

Colin lifted his T-shirt. “I haven’t got one, it’s on me mate’s arm.”

The policeman grunted. “Empty your pockets.”

Colin rifled through his pockets in turn, and put the contents on the desk. The policeman poked through them with a pen, separating them out. He picked up Colin’s cigarettes and put them in his pocket.

“These will need testing for drugs,” he said, glaring at Colin. “You got any objections to that?”

Colin shook his head. The policeman pulled out a form and wrote down an itemised list of Colin’s remaining possessions. He spoke aloud as he put them in a plastic bag.

“One handkerchief, used. One train ticket, used.” The policeman counted out Colin’s loose change and dropped it into the bag. “Seventy-six pence in coins. One cigarette lighter. One wallet.” He picked up Colin’s wallet, flipped it open, and took out a five pound note and two one pound notes. He looked Colin in the eye and continued his inventory. “One wallet, empty.”

Colin took a step closer to the counter. “What? Oh come on, I need that for the train home.”

“One wallet, empty,” the policeman repeated.

Colin looked down at his feet. “Fucking bastard,” he said under his breath.

“What was that?” the policeman asked, leaning forward and scowling.

Colin shook his head. “Nothing.”

The policeman sealed the plastic bag and pushed the form across the counter to Colin. “Sign here,” he said and dropped the pen on top of the form.

Colin signed his name at the bottom of the form and put the pen down. “So what happens now?” he asked.

“We’ll get you checked over by a doctor, then you can go to beddy-byes in the cells. You’ll be processed in the morning with the others.”

“What? I can’t stay here all night, me Gran will be worried if I don’t come home.”

The policeman sighed. “You’re entitled to one phone call, you can use that to let her know what a naughty boy you’ve been.”

Colin frowned. “We’re not on the phone.”

The policeman shrugged. “Well she’ll just have to worry then, won’t she?”

* * *

The doctor gave Colin a cursory examination, then declared him fit enough for custody. A policeman led Colin by the arm to a cell and pushed him inside. The door slammed behind Colin and he spun to face it. An observation hatch slid open. A face scowled through it for a few seconds, then the hatch slid shut.

Colin looked around the small cell. A bed, little more than a wooden shelf jutting out of one wall, had a thin rubber mattress on top to sleep on. There were no sheets or pillows, and the mattress itself had dark stains on it that Colin didn’t want to think about. The cell smelled of faeces, the stench coming from a chipped porcelain toilet in one corner. It had no seat, and overflowed with foul-looking waste.

Someone in the next cell sang out of tune, slurring his words. The man’s voice rose and fell in volume, occasionally punctuated by a belch.

“Shut it,” someone shouted. The off-key singing became louder. Colin heard footsteps outside, and the scrape of an observation hatch sliding open. “I said shut it, you fucking black bastard.”

The drunken singer stopped in mid-line, only to resume again from where he left off when the hatch was closed.

Keys jangled, a lock opened, and a door slammed back on its hinges. Colin heard a short scuffle, followed by a cry of pain. The door slammed again, and heavy footsteps clumped toward Colin’s own cell. His observation hatch opened. A face scowled in through the rectangular opening. Colin looked at the man and held his hands up in surrender. The hatch closed.

“Wait,” Colin shouted, walking up to the door. “Is there any news about me mate? He got stabbed at The Maples earlier tonight.”

The scowling face reappeared and glared in at him. His mouth turned into a sneer. “Died on the way to the hospital,” he said. “Good fucking riddance if you ask me. One less scumbag on the streets for us to deal with.”

Colin’s world lurched to one side. Blood rushed to his head, an ice-cold shiver ran down his spine. He staggered across to the bed and slumped down on it, holding his face in his hands. He cried for the first time in twelve years, his body shaking with loud, uncontrollable sobs.

* * *

Continued next Friday.

Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 26

“Stiggy’s off on one again, we need to get him out of here quick.”

Brian rolled his eyes and nodded. “I told you we shouldn’t have fetched him.” He sighed and beckoned Twiglet and Spazzo over. They both had red faces and were dripping with sweat.

“Fucking smart or what?” Twiglet said. His smile dropped. “What’s up?”

“Fucking Stiggy,” Colin said. “He’s that fucking glued up he’s on about taking a skinhead bird home with him.” He nodded at the group of skinheads by the stage, who seemed to have had their fill of Nazi salutes and were jumping on each other’s shoulders. “We need to get him out of here before that lot find out.”

Stiggy looked like he was about to leave when they reached him. He stood by the bar, holding hands with the skinhead girl, and they turned toward the exit together.

“Stiggy wait,” Colin shouted.

Stiggy looked over his shoulder but continued walking.

“Oi, that’s my fucking bird, you cunt!” someone shouted from nearby.

Colin spun around. The large skinhead ran toward him, closely followed by his young mates. Colin’s stomach flipped. He took a few steps back, out of their path. This was it, Stiggy was toast and there was nothing he could do about it. They were too late.

The barman disappeared through a door into a back room. Colin looked for the two bouncers, and saw them standing guard at the band’s dressing room door. They were smiling as they watched, arms folded across their chests.

“Leave him, Joe,” the skinhead girl said. She stood between Stiggy and the large skinhead, looking tiny and frail in comparison. Her bottom lip trembled as she clenched her fists by her sides.

“Shut up you fucking slag,” the skinhead snarled. He lunged toward her and slapped her hard in the face with the back of his hand.

The skinhead girl staggered back, a bright red mark on her face where she had been struck. She stumbled and Stiggy caught her in his arms. The skinhead rushed forward and punched her in the stomach. She doubled over and fell to her knees groaning.

Stiggy roared and ran at the skinhead. He picked up an empty Babycham bottle from the bar and raised it. He swung it down at the skinhead’s head. The skinhead brought up one of his tattoo-covered arms just in time, and the bottle bounced off it. He grabbed Stiggy’s wrist and twisted it. Stiggy cried out and dropped the bottle. The skinhead stamped down on it, shattering it beneath his boot, and wrenched Stiggy’s arm up his back. Stiggy bent over, yelling. The skinhead roared and shoved him head-first into the bar. Stiggy crumpled to the ground, the skinhead moved in for the kill. Stiggy curled himself up into a ball, the skinhead kicked out at his arms and legs. The young skinheads cheered him on.

Twiglet and Spazzo rushed forward to intercept. The young skinheads swarmed over them and they went down in a hail of fists and boots. Brian jumped on the large skinhead’s back and wrapped his arms around his neck. He kicked out his legs to unbalance him. The large skinhead twisted and turned, tried to punch Brian in the face. The skinhead girl stumbled toward Stiggy, holding her stomach with one hand.

Colin knew he should do something to help Brian but he was frozen to the spot. He watched the skinhead girl help Stiggy to his feet, then support him with an arm around his waist while they staggered to the exit. It was only when the group of young skinheads got bored of kicking the unconscious bodies of Twiglet and Spazzo and looked around for a fresh target that he sprang into action.

Colin rushed up to the large skinhead and pushed him in the chest with both hands. He toppled over, Brian still clinging to his back. Brian gave out a loud gasp when the skinhead landed on top of him. His hands fell to his sides. The skinhead rolled over and straddled him, raised his fists to pummel his upturned face.

Colin grabbed the skinhead around the neck and pulled with all his might. The skinhead sprang up and spun to face him. He laughed and grabbed Colin’s wrists, stretched his arms out wide and pulled Colin closer. His head snapped back, then launched forward to smack Colin on the bridge of his nose.

Blinding pain soared through Colin. The skinhead pushed him away, into the waiting arms of the younger skinheads. They pulled him to the ground and went to work on him with their boots.

* * *

Trog watched the scuffle at the bar with interest. It wasn’t his fight, so there was no need to get involved. The gobby student punk and his mates were getting a right fucking hammering though. The Shefferham mob had no class the way they were all steaming in six onto one. Trog preferred a fair fight, something you could brag about to your mates later. This was just the sort of brutal thuggery that gave skinheads a bad name.

Someone yelled “Coppers!” and everyone drew silent to listen. Trog heard two-tone sirens wailing in the distance, until a mass stampede toward the exit door drowned them out.

“Time to get fucked off,” Don said. Trog nodded and followed him to the exit.

Near the bar, the large skinhead picked up the stem of a broken Babycham bottle and straddled the gobby student’s mate. He smiled as he raised the jagged glass shard above his head like a dagger. Trog stopped to watch, torn between intervening and getting the fuck out of there while he still had time.

The gobby student’s mate cried out and raised his hands to protect his face. The skinhead slashed down and sliced through a wrist. Blood spurted like it had been shot from a water pistol, staining the skinhead’s British Movement T-shirt.

“Trog, come on,” Don yelled, “we need to get fucked off before the coppers get here.”

“You go on, I’ll catch you up later. Meet me at the train station if you need to scarper from outside.”

Trog ran up to the large skinhead just as he raised the broken bottle again. He made a grab for his wrist, but the skinhead jerked it away at the last second and backhanded Trog across the face. Trog stumbled back, the skinhead laughed and rammed the broken bottle into the punk’s neck. He pulled it out and threw it at Trog, then swaggered casually toward the exit door.

* * *

Colin opened his eyes and groaned. Every inch of his body ached. Sirens howled in the distance, getting closer. Colin rolled onto his side and pushed himself up onto his knees. He shook his head and looked around. Tables and chairs were tipped over, broken glass was everywhere. Twiglet lay groaning a few feet away. Spazzo sat holding his face in his hands, blood dripping from his mouth.

Colin looked down when he realised his knees were wet, and saw a large pool of blood. He searched his body frantically for knife wounds. When he found none he looked behind him and gasped. Brian lay still on the ground, a skinhead straddled over him.

Hands around Brian’s neck.

Strangling him.

Rage surged through Colin. It was the same skinhead who had been giving him hassle all week, the midget bald bastard who had attacked him for no reason in The Queen’s Head. And now he was killing Brian.

“You’ve had it now, you fucking cunt!” Colin roared. He ran to the skinhead, adrenalin coursing through his body and giving strength to his aching limbs. He barrelled into the skinhead, hands outstretched, and pushed him off Brian. The skinhead rolled onto his side and sat up, glaring at Colin. Blood spurted from a large, gaping wound in Brian’s neck. Colin stared in shock. Brian was unconscious, his face deathly white.

The skinhead crawled toward Brian and clamped a hand over his neck. “We need to put pressure on the wounds or he’ll fucking bleed to death,” he said.

Colin gaped at the skinhead, open mouthed. The skinhead looked up at him. “For fuck’s sake, get down here and help me or he’ll fucking die!”

Colin knelt down and stared at Brian, saw more blood gushing from his wrist. “What do I do?”

“Take your belt off and tie it around his arm, just below the elbow. As tight as you can. Then hold his arm up. I hope that’s a fucking ambulance I can hear coming.”

Colin removed his belt and held it out to the skinhead. “I don’t know what to do. You should do it, you seem to know what you’re doing.”

The skinhead glared at him. “If I let go of his neck again he’ll fucking die. Now fucking do it or I’ll fucking batter you! Get that fucking belt round his fucking arm! Now!” Colin startled, almost dropping the belt. “For fuck’s sake, just do it you useless cunt!”

Colin looped the belt around Brian’s arm and pushed the end through the buckle. “Here?” he asked, still unsure if this was the right thing to do or not.

“A bit further up his arm,” the skinhead said. Colin slid the belt a few inches closer to Brian’s elbow. “That’s it. Now pull the fucker tight and don’t let go.”

Colin looked at the jagged gash in Brian’s wrist while he pulled the belt tighter. The gushing blood slowed to a trickle.

“It’s working,” Colin said, amazed. “Shouldn’t we do the same with his neck?”

The skinhead looked up and shook his head slowly. “Don’t be fucking daft.”

“But …”

Before Colin could finish his sentence, police swarmed through the door with a loud yell. Colin looked up just in time to see a raised truncheon hurtle toward his face, then he slumped over Brian and lost consciousness.

Continued next Friday.

Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.

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Punk Faction Online Serial Part 25

“All roight?” Manny’s amplified voice yelled from the stage.

A swarm of punks and skinheads rushed toward him as one. One hand on the microphone, Manny glared down at the expectant faces of the crowd.

“We’re all fucking upstarts!” he shouted, and everyone roared their approval, drowning out the opening guitar intro. A drum roll started the song proper, and Manny screamed out the words. A punk climbed onto the stage, and before the two bouncers could react he dived back into the audience. The area immediately in front of the stage was soon full of jerking bodies jostling for position.

“They tell us what to think, they tell us who to see,” Manny growled in his rough, guttural cockney voice. He picked up the microphone stand and swung it down into the crowd. Dozens of hands made a grab for it.

“We’re all upstarts, you and me!” everyone in the audience screamed.

Manny yanked the microphone stand away from them and held it aloft above his head before slamming it back down on the stage. He picked up a can of beer while the band continued playing, and shook it furiously. He aimed the can at the audience and pulled the ring-pull, showering the front row with beer. He poured the remaining beer over his own head and crushed the empty can in his hand before drop-kicking it away.

A young skinhead barged Colin in the shoulder. Colin barged him back, grinning, and sent him stumbling forward a few steps. Nearby, Brian spun his arms around like a double sided windmill, clearing out his own little space within the melee as people scrambled to avoid him. Twiglet and Spazzo were right at the front of the stage together, pressed up tight by the surging crowd behind them, so only their upper bodies could jerk in time to the music.

The song ended with a final scream from Manny and the crowd stopped its gyrations as one. Colin lifted up his T-shirt and wiped sweat from his face. He looked around, was about to say something to Brian, but he was quite a distance away now, surrounded by skinheads. He looked for Stiggy, but couldn’t see him anywhere.

The band started their second song, and the dancing resumed. The young skinhead rushed toward Colin again, his right elbow pointing outwards like a lance, his hand clamped behind his neck. He had a wide, lop-sided grin on his face.

Colin dodged to one side just before the skinhead reached him, and gave him a quick shove in the back as he hurtled past. He soared into the back of a punk, who lost his balance and went down. The skinhead tripped over him and landed on top of the punk in a pile of flailing arms and legs.

Colin’s energy started to flag after a few more songs. When Manny started on one of his between-song monologues about police oppression he saw it as an opportunity for a quick rest break and a gulp of beer. Manny was telling a story about a time when he was arrested and beaten up in the cells by a policeman who objected to the title of their ‘Police Scum’ single. It was a story Colin already knew from an interview with Manny he had read in Sounds several months earlier, so he weaved his way out of the crowd and made for the table where he had left his beer. People parted before him, then fought over the space he had vacated.

Colin slumped into his seat and took a long drink. Over the rim of his glass he saw Stiggy leaning against the now deserted bar, watching the band with the skinhead girl. Stiggy’s left arm rested on the bar, behind the skinhead girl’s shoulder as she took casual sips from her Babycham bottle.

Colin sighed and shook his head. He tried to get Stiggy’s attention, but Stiggy either didn’t hear him or chose not to. Instead, he started drawing little circles on the skinhead girl’s shoulder with his fingertip. She turned to face him and they stared into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. She looked toward the stage area, then leaned her head into Stiggy’s chest. Stiggy closed his arm around her.

Colin gaped at them open mouthed, not believing what he was seeing. He looked across at the stage area himself, expecting to see hordes of outraged skinheads tearing toward him. But the band had started playing again, and everyone was too busy leaping around to notice anything else.

Colin stood up and rushed across to Stiggy. He pulled at Stiggy’s arm, but Stiggy brushed him away.

“Stiggy, I need to talk to you,” Colin shouted. The skinhead girl looked at Colin and stepped to one side.

“What do you want?” Stiggy shouted, turning toward Colin.

“You can’t mess with their bird, they’ll fucking slaughter you.”

“She’s not a bird, her name’s Sally and she’s coming home with us.”

“What?”

“You heard,” Stiggy said, and turned away.

Colin grabbed Stiggy’s arm and spun him back around. “Stiggy, you don’t know what you’re saying. It’s the fucking glue talking, mate. You don’t even like skinheads, remember? You hate them as much as I do, so why would you want to take one of them home with you? Think about what those baldy cunts will do to you when they find out. You think they will just let you walk out of here with one of their birds?”

“I don’t fucking care, leave me alone,” Stiggy shouted.

“Mate, she’s only doing this so she can watch her boyfriends kick the fuck out of you later. Can’t you see that?”

Stiggy shrugged.

Colin grabbed Stiggy’s jacket and pulled him away from the bar. Stiggy stumbled a few steps before wrenching himself free, then launched a drunken punch. Colin jerked his head to one side and Stiggy’s fist sliced through the air a few inches away from his face.

Colin shook his head and retreated back to his seat. He took out a cigarette and lit it. Stiggy glared at him for a few seconds, as if daring him to say anything else, before returning to the bar. The skinhead girl sought Stiggy’s hand and held it. She too glared at Colin.

Colin’s hands shook as he drank the rest of his beer and smoked his cigarette. This was bad. Very bad. He had to get Stiggy out of there before the skinheads saw him messing with their bird. But he couldn’t do it on his own, he would need help. Maybe Brian could shout some sense into Stiggy, and if that didn’t work they would all just have to drag him away from her by force.

Colin returned to the stage area, but he couldn’t see Brian anywhere for all the jerking, spasmodic bodies leaping around. He inched his way through the crowd to where he had seen him last, prising people apart to make a gap big enough to squeeze through. Some parted easily, others resisted and he needed to physically barge past them. A few, unwilling to give up their position under any circumstances, turned and pushed him in the chest, sending him stumbling back a few steps, further away from his goal.

Colin didn’t make much headway into the heart of the crowd until a song ended and the audience started to relax and thin out to avoid the body heat given off by their closest neighbours. Pushing his way through, he found Brian just as the next song started, and his shouted words were drowned out by a crashing wall of sound from the nearby PA system.

Colin pulled on Brian’s arm to get him out of the crowd so he could talk to him properly, but Brian must have thought he wanted to dance because he grabbed a handful of Colin’s shirt and swung him around by it. The unexpected momentum took Colin by surprise and he was propelled into the back of a stocky skinhead. The skinhead turned and pushed Colin away. Colin stumbled back and lost his balance, then tumbled to the ground.

Two arms came down to help Colin back to his feet. When he looked up he saw it was the same skinhead who had been barging him earlier, the same lop-sided grin on his face. The skinhead pulled Colin to his feet and looped a sweaty arm around his neck. He rushed into the crowd, pulling Colin with him.

Surrounded by writhing bodies packed closely together, Colin had no option but to wait until the next lull between songs. He hoped it would last long enough for him to reach Brian and warn him about what was going to happen.

The song ended, but there was no rest gap, no opportunity to reach Brian.

“Police Scum!” Manny shouted, and the band immediately started playing again. This was the song Cockney Upstarts usually ended their set with, so Colin knew he didn’t have much time left. People at the back of the crowd surged forward, causing even more of a crush around the stage.

Manny pulled the microphone from its stand and screamed into it. He raised his arms above his head and launched himself from the stage like an Olympic diver. Twenty pairs of arms rose to catch him and lower him to the ground. Manny was in the midst of the crowd, singing Police Scum, everyone within range of the microphone shouting along with him. People just out of range fought for a closer position.

Colin was swept along by the crowd as everyone clawed their way closer to Manny, all wanting to be a part of the band for their anthem title. Someone wrenched the microphone from Manny’s hand, and his voice was replaced with a gruff Yorkshire accent that screamed the words out of tune. Manny lost his footing as the crowd surged after the microphone, everyone wanting their own turn with it, and he fell to the floor. He raised his arms to protect his head as boots swarmed over him, oblivious to his plight.

The song ended, and the band stopped playing, but the crowd around the microphone continued singing, starting up a rendition of We’re All Upstarts. The lead guitarist and bass player jumped off the stage and pulled Manny to his feet. They helped him back onto the stage and he stood there swaying as blood poured from his nose and mouth.

The crowd started to thin out as people drifted away to the bar for one final drink before they made their way home. The skinheads were busy giving Nazi salutes and sieg heiling to each other. Colin saw his chance to get to Brian.

* * *

Continued next Friday.

Punk Faction by Marcus Blakeston is also available in paperback and ebook if you don’t want to wait that long.

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