Hello and welcome to today’s Random Things Tour – with thanks to Anne for inviting me to take part.
I would also like to thank author Eamon Griffin for providing the excerpt in this post which can be seen below.
About the author
Eamonn Griffin was born and raised in Lincolnshire, though these days he lives in north-east Wales. He’s worked as a stonemason, a strawberry picker, in plastics factories (everything from packing those little bags for loose change you get from banks to production planning via transport manager via fork-lift driving), in agricultural and industrial laboratories, in a computer games shop, and latterly in further and higher education. He’s taught and lectured in subjects as diverse as leisure and tourism, uniformed public services, English Studies, creative writing, film studies, TV and film production, and media theory. He doesn’t do any of that anymore. Instead he writes fulltime, either as a freelancer, or else on fiction. Eamonn has a PhD in creative writing with the University of Lancaster, specialising in historical fiction, having previously completed both an MA in popular film and a BSc in sociology and politics via the Open University. He really likes biltong, and has recently returned to learning to play piano, something he abandoned when he was about seven and has regretted since.
In this excerpt from East of England, protagonist Dan Matlock makes his first move against men linked with the organised crime gang he believes has kidnapped his father:
Matlock ducked into the kitchen. He stood behind the door. Something cold behind him. Something that jabbed into his back. He breathed lightly, through his mouth. Readied himself for the attack he’d need to make.
Footsteps down and away. The toilet door opening. Matlock let the tension out of his balled right fist.
Weapons check. Chopping board, blunt knives, toaster, kettle. Nothing useful presented itself. A glance behind. Matlock had backed into a wall-mounted fire extinguisher.
Toilet flush. Door. Steps across the landing. A pause. They were outside the open kitchen door. Ingrained nicotine smell. A shirt not changed since before the weekend.
Motion blur through the crack in the door by the hinges. The footsteps carried on up.
Matlock gave it until the footfall changed from stairway to landing. He put the fruit down, and unhooked the extinguisher. Checked the type. Dry powder, discharged through a short hose. It was heavy; maybe a stone. The size of a deep-sea diver’s air tank.
The stairs up hadn’t complained when the tobacco-smelling guy had gone up, so Matlock took them fast and light, but careful.
There was one door off the second-floor landing. It was open about a foot. Matlock kicked it wide, and went in fast, extinguisher raised.
Three men sat around an oval table. Blink. Little other furniture in the room; filing cabinet, typewriter on top. A padlock and keys. A phone on a stack of directories in one corner. One window, facing back into the courtyard.
Blink. The box, opened. Money; notes bundled together with thick rubber bands. A counting machine; the source of the mechanical noise heard from below. A calculator. The chunky desk type that would print out your sums if you wanted. A ledger, pens. Bags for loose change. A set of scales. Radio sound but no sign of the device.
Blink. The three guys. The two who had shifted the boxes, and some office-looking bloke. Dark blue suit and coordinating tie. Crisp white shirt accentuating even skin tones. He moisturised. Trimmed his goatee daily. Maybe forty, in a took-some-exercise way. Matlock dredged up a name. Kayode. Joe Kayode. Matlock had never met him, but had heard prison tales. Of the smart-looking fella come up from London to work the numbers for the Mintons a few years earlier. Was good with money, and in making it disappear.
The other two rose. Tobacco Man was nearest. It was a pleasure to drop him with the butt of the fire extinguisher. The metal rim thumped off his temple; a sideswipe with the metal tank toppled him over, a thin red moon of blood forming across the man’s temple and ear.
The second was halfway around the table. The suit hadn’t shifted. He’d be no trouble.
The other guy wasn’t yet past the obstruction of the table. Matlock pulled the hose out of its retaining clip and flicked out the pin that prevented accidental
discharge of the extinguisher. He brought the hose tip up as the man roared something and made to grab Matlock.
The man’s face filled with a fast white jet of powder. He collapsed, his hands now to his throat. Matlock kept squeezing the trigger till he keeled over on the floor, coughing, gasping for free air.
The other guy had sat himself up on the floor. He wasn’t going to re-engage though.
‘Sit on your hands,’ Matlock said. Tobacco Guy complied.
Powdery dust spread across the room, billowing in low clouds. Kayode stayed in his seat. The white-faced man was still struggling to breathe right, but had got himself sitting, his back to the filing cabinet.
‘Hands under your arse too,’ Matlock said. The guy did as he was told, spittle flecking his albino chin.
Kayode had resolve. Firmness in his eyes, like an egg being cooked to solid.
‘I don’t want your money,’ Matlock said. ‘But I know it’s what you want, so I’m going to take some anyway.’ He put the extinguisher on the table, then took two of the bundles. One each of fives and tens. He tucked these into trouser back pockets.
‘You,’ Matlock said to Tobacco Guy. ‘Matches, lighter. Whatever you’ve got.’
Matches were handed over.
Matlock hit the trigger again, firing the extinguisher first into Tobacco Guy’s face and then into the room until it was filled with choking white dust. He got out of the room fast, closing the door behind him, leaving the empty extinguisher on the landing.
Looks brilliant – I’ll definitely be picking this up!
About East of England
Dan Matlock is out of jail. He’s got a choice. Stay or leave. Go back to where it all went wrong, or just get out of the county. Disappear. Start again as someone else. But it’s not as simple as that. There’s the matter of the man he killed. It wasn’t murder, but even so. You tell that to the family. Especially when that family is the Mintons, who own half of what’s profitable and two thirds of what’s crooked between the Wolds and the coast. Who could have got to Matlock as easy as you like in prison, but who haven’t touched him. Not yet. Like Matlock found out in prison, there’s no getting away from yourself. So what’s the point in not facing up to other people? It’s time to go home.
Please visit the rest of the blogs during this East of England blog tour!