A Long Time Coming

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It’s been a long time between drinks (more than a year), but finally, there is a new book on the horizon. BULLET TO THE HEART is very close to being published (as an eBook). Best guess says that it will be up for pre-orders and sample download within a few days (I’ll keep you posted). Publication date is likely to be towards the end of June 2017.

BULLET TO THE HEART will be my tenth published book. If you have been wondering what Sam and Scarlett have been up to since THE LONG WEEKEND, you will find out very soon. In the meantime, you can download THE LONG WEEKEND for free from Smashwords and iBooks (it’s 99c on Amazon).

Where It Ends.

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When Sam came to it was dark.

He’d been locked in the boot of a car before but this was different.

Modern cars have an internal release mechanism so that people who have been kidnapped and thrown in the boot have a fighting chance of releasing themselves. This brilliant idea came from the Americans who believe that there is a mechanical solution to just about anything.

Sam remembered reading about this automotive development a few years before and at the time he wondered why the kidnappers would not disable the system.

The cramped conditions didn’t make it easy for Sam to feel around for a release lever. He need not have bothered because there wasn’t one.

The bloke driving this car must have been legally blind because it seemed to Sam that he hit everything except the bitumen.

The boot of the car smelt like oil and old boots with a bit of rust and mouldy carpet thrown in.

Sam wished he had not given up smoking because a lighter would have come in handy, but on the other hand, if there was petrol stored in the boot he might have blown himself up.

Sam reasoned that this journey would have to come to an end sooner or later and then he would get his chance. He would pretend to be unconscious and seize his chance when the man [he assumed it was a man] tried to pull him out.

After what seemed like a very long time, the car began to slow down and the crunch of gravel under the tyres told Sam that they had pulled off the road. The driver’s door opened and closed and Sam prepared for his last chance at freedom.

Lying in the darkness does strange things to a man and Sam had an uneasy feeling that if his reflexes were off this might end up being his final resting place. The wound at the back of his head was throbbing and Sam had no way of telling if his vision was off. He grabbed a piece of metal, probably a tyre iron and hid it under his body.

The boot lid did not open and Sam wondered what the driver was doing. The car started to roll forward and Sam heard the driver swear. The car tilted as it rolled and the drivers voice became more frantic. The car gained a bit of speed before rolling on its side and hitting a tree. Now there was screaming instead of swearing. The boot popped open after the impact, but Sam was knocked out for a few moments. When he came to he could feel the cool breeze on his face.

“I think I’ll just lie here for a moment,” he said before realising that he was talking to himself.

Lying still seemed like a good idea. He slowly took stock of his various bits and pieces and when he was satisfied that everything was in working order he scrambled out of the boot still clutching the tyre iron.

He’d been vaguely aware of the screaming but as any good soldier would do, he took stock of his physical condition before taking action.

The car’s headlights were still on so there was some light, which was just as well because they were obviously in the countryside and there were no streetlights.

Standing up proved to be a challenge and not just because of the uneven terrain. Sam’s head was throbbing from the initial blow and the impact of the crash.

The screaming seemed to be coming from the drivers’ side which was now under the car as it lay on that side.

The light wasn’t all that good, but it appeared to Sam that the driver was pinned under the car, which would account for the screaming, but curiously, the driver seemed to be attached to the car door by a rope.

The rope turned out to be a scarf.

“Me mum knitted it,” the driver was to reveal, in what turned out to be a long conversation.

The driver had jammed the scarf in the door when he got out. Being used to driving automatics he had forgotten to pull on the handbrake and gravity set in. The driver stumbled before he could get the door open and the two of them, driver and car, continued down the slope until the car rolled on its side crushing the driver.

The car belonged to his cousin.

“If he owned a bloody automatic this wouldn’t have happened.”

“If you hadn’t hit me on the head, bundled me into the boot and driven me to who knows where, you wouldn’t be in this mess,” Sam succinctly pointed out.

The screaming resumed and went on for quite some time, but there were conversations in between bouts.

Not unsurprisingly, Sam was keen to know what had happened and why this bozo wanted to hurt him.

The cause of the screaming was a severely crushed leg, but more important than that was the gash on his thigh that was pumping blood at a rate that was going to cause a problem.

Sam told the driver to keep pressure on the would and this slowed down the flow rate but Sam had seen enough battlefield casualties to know that this bloke was going to bleed to death if help did not come soon.

It was a bad sign when the screaming stopped and the driver said that he felt sleepy.

“I have to tell you mate that this isn’t good. If someone saw what happened and called for help you might make it if they get here soon, but it is going to have to be real soon.” Sam was telling it straight. “I can go for help, but you have to keep pressure on that wound.”

“Don’t leave me Bennett. I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be alone.”

“I won’t leave you.” Sam had seen men die before, and some of them had been men who had tried to kill him. But in these moments, these things are put to one side. Two men facing death and only one would be alive to tell the tale.

“You seem to know me but for the life of me, I cannot place you. Why would someone I don’t know be trying to kill me?”

“You don’t know me, but I met you once. In court. I told you what I thought of you. You were responsible for putting my brother in prison.”

“I still don’t remember you. What was your brother’s name?”

“John Willy.”

“Okay, I remember him. A real piece of shit. Got exactly what he deserved. Your brother ruined more lives than reality television. You are not seriously going to tell me that you think I fitted him up?”

“No. I know he was no good. He used to beat the shit out of me for no reason, but he was family. Every one of my family either drank themselves to death or got themselves killed, John was all I had left and you got him put away for life.”

“He got himself put away, and he got himself dead. You don’t pick a fight with a crim who is twice your size. Your brother was a bloody idiot. Seriously, did he have a death wish?”

“Probably, he was never very bright and I think he would rather be dead than locked up for rest of his life.”

Sam was now soaked in this blokes blood.

“What’s your name then?”

“Bill.”

“William Willy: your folks had a sense go humour.”

“I don’t know what you mean. I like that name.”

“Fair enough. So I guess it was you in the car that T-boned me a while back?”

“Yes, and I’m pissed that you walked away from it. I planned it for weeks. Just didn’t get up enough speed. Buggered up my knee as well. Got arrested for some shit I pulled months before and I been inside ever since otherwise I would have done for ya before this.”

“Well, neither of us are walking away from this one,” Sam said with just a hint of exhaustion.

Sam was sick of it and now that he knew the pathetic sordid reason for his torment he was, even more, sick of it. “Stupid fucking people living pathetic fucking lives fucking it up for everyone they come in contact with.” These were thoughts, not words said out loud, but either way, it didn’t matter.

Pretty soon this poor excuse for a human being would join his larcenous family in the great hereafter and Sam would go back to piecing his life back together.

If it wasn’t for Scarlett and his dogs he would have been tempted to lie down and drift away with William Willy, the bloke he never knew who had so ineptly tried to kill him.

Sam had to ask, “If you had your life to live over again, would you do it differently?”

“Nah, I’d only fuck it up again.”

The powerful torch lights lit up the bush and it reminded Sam of when he was a kid and they would steal their fathers flashlights and play on the vacant lot in the moonlight. That seemed like a long time ago.

Sam’s head hurt and just for a moment he thought the lights might be aliens.

A big bloke in a uniform was slapping Sam on the side of the face and saying something. “You with us pal?”

“Yes, I am and if you keep hitting me you are going to find out.”

“No need to get pissy.” The ambulance driver had put in a long shift and the drive to the crash scene had taken an hour. Usually, when this happened it was a false alarm and they had to turn around a drive back, but on this occasion they found one unconscious male and one trapped male; deceased. In his report, he stated that although the hand knitted scarf was not the direct cause of death, it had been a contributing factor.

A Suitcase and a Fan.

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It’s not much to go on.

No name and no crime to speak of, but Sam had the sinking feeling that usually preceded a particularly messy case.

It started out as a routine ‘find this bloke and tell me where he lives’. Not glamorous, but then again neither was a ham sandwich, and if Sam’s fortunes didn’t change very soon he was going to be eating them on a regular basis, without mustard, and on stale bread to boot.

The ‘bloke’s’ abode was easy enough to find but said ‘bloke’ was long gone, and all that was left was a fan and a mostly empty suitcase. The place had been cleaned to within an inch of its life and Sam wondered why it didn’t fall down now that all the accumulated grime had been scrapped away. Most little houses in this suburb would have fallen over years ago except that the junk stored inside them held them up in one last act of defiance. A final ‘fuck you’ to the urban planning gods who had decided that this particular suburb should no longer be in favour. A hundred years ago maybe, but not now.

The fan was old enough to be almost valuable and the suitcase had once been a very fashionable one.

It’s not easy to trace the former owners of an antique Westinghouse fan, but Sam did it. Sam knew a lot of people and some of them had strange hobbies and for ‘a case of this’, or ‘a bottle of that’, they could be persuaded to part with their knowledge.

The entire history of the fan was asking a bit much, but its recent history revealed itself through a police report of stolen goods from a house in Toorak. The heist took place about two months ago and the perpetrators were well known and both of them were in custody on an unrelated matter, but neither of them could shed much light on the life of the fan after they sold it to a local ‘fence’. The light-fingered gentlemen were more than a bit peeved to find out that both items were ‘collectable’. They had parted with them along with a whole bunch of other stuff that was probably worth a lot more than they got for it. These blokes were not very bright, but they were friendly enough. Sam gave them the name of a good barrister. It was his way of saying thank you. His mentor told him never to underestimate anyone and never to leave a trail of angry or disappointed people in your wake. You never knew when you might need a favour. Your life might depend on some lowlife who has the exact piece of information you need. “Being tough is not the same as being an arsehole”.

Nelly Touraville was a wise and good friend and Sam missed him every day.

Being the good citizen that he was, Sam handed over the fan and the suitcase to the police. They then proceeded to lift fingerprints which linked the bloke that Sam was sent to find to a particularly nasty murder.

The ‘bloke’ in question had called in a firm of cleaners, ‘Maids on the Run’, who specialise in ‘squeaky clean’ makeovers for dubious crime scenes. The missing bloke was a bit forgetful and left the fan and the small suitcase sitting where he had put them during his final preparations to ‘disappear like smoke up a chimney’, as he so eloquently put it to his mates at the pub on the corner.

He knew he was a bit forgetful so he made lists, just like his dad taught him when he was a little tacker. Unfortunately, the list was titled ‘Preparations for moving permanently to Wollongong to escape being caught for the murder of William Fisk.’

It was also unfortunate that this ‘missing bloke’ chose to leave the list with its illuminating title inside the small suitcase, which he forgot to take with him.

Just to add a little icing to the story, the police didn’t know that William Fisk had been murdered. They didn’t think he was even missing. Mrs Fisk had not said a word, but she did manage to cash his unemployment checks.

As with most things in life, this case looked straightforward enough but it ended up with a few twists and a smile. The blokes at the corner pub thought it was typical of their friend and they decided not to attend his trial; unless he pleaded guilty, which would not eat into their drinking time.

Sam eventually got paid, but he had to ask three times because his client didn’t feel as though he got value for money. Sam pointed out that he was hired to find the ‘missing bloke’, which he did, and tell his client where he was, which he did. It wasn’t Sam’s fault if the ‘missing bloke’ was in jail where Sam’s client couldn’t get at him.

His fee kept Sam in Ham sandwiches for many a week, and not long after, business improved enough so that Sam did not have to accept ‘find this bloke’ assignments. But, it did make an interesting chapter in Sam’s second crime novel.

Sam Bennett’s Case Files: Big Eddie.

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This story pre-dates THE LONG WEEKEND. Sam has not yet met Scarlett and Scarlett has yet to meet ‘her man’. Their romance is still to come and so are the adventures that they will share together.

They buried Big Eddie on a Friday afternoon.

It didn’t rain and no one cried.

Sam was present, and when it was all over he toasted the man he had never met with a glass of the finest whisky that the pub across the road had to offer.

It wasn’t very fine, but then again, neither was Eddie.

It may have seemed unusual to attend the burial service for someone you had never met, but that wasn’t exactly true in this case. Sam had met Eddie; it was Sam who found his body.

Big Eddie had three teeth.

As a boy, he had a full set but one by one, and year by year, he lost them till only three remained.

Each lost tooth had a story attached.

Big Eddie was running out of teeth and running out of time.

He made a bad choice and he knew it as soon as he made it, but now it was too late to take it back.

He’d never done it before; never even considered it. He was happy in his work and his place in the world. Even thinking about it now, Eddie was not sure why he did it.

He didn’t need the money.

It was just sitting there and he picked it up and slipped it into the inside pocket of his jacket.

He loved that jacket.

It fit him perfectly even though it came ‘off the rack’.

The other blokes in the gang dressed in jeans and dirty jumpers but Eddie had pride in his appearance, despite his lack of teeth.

By a strange coincidence, the money he slipped into his pocket was almost the same shade of green as the jacket’s lining; a delicious dark green.

Sam caught the case because Bill Williams broke his leg.

He tripped over his dog.

It wasn’t the dog’s fault, but it got the blame nonetheless.

Bill Williams was a mate of Sam’s mentor; the bloke who taught Sam the detective business.

Sam was waiting for a suspect to come back from Sydney, so he had a few days spare. This job was straight forward enough.

An insurance company wanted to be known the whereabouts of one Edward Burns, aka Big Eddie.

Going from pub to pub for a morning, and most of a lunchtime told Sam that big Eddie was in his fifties, balding, the owner of a brown dog, well dressed and not very bright.

When Sam asked who he worked for, people suddenly lost their memories.

A bit more digging and the occasional ‘twenty’ revealed that Eddie was mixed up with Joe Emery, and that certainly wasn’t good.

The hair stood up on the back of Sam’s neck and he knew that he was no longer looking for a person, he was looking for a body, and knowing the gang in question, he knew that there was little chance of the body showing up.

As it turned out, Sam got lucky.

Early afternoon saw Sam visiting the Bayswater Hotel.

The pub had a certain reputation and the occasional body turned up in the expansive car park.

But this was early afternoon and bodies rarely appeared at that hour. At this hour of the day, the pub was usually full of ‘Tradies’ downing a liquid lunch.

Panel beaters, in particular, did most of their business in pubs and the Bayswater was no exception. The ‘no working clothes’ rule was rarely enforced because the publican liked being in business.

Sam’s questions made a scruffy pair of blokes nervous, and as they beat a hasty retreat to the car park, Sam followed.

They looked like they were going to get into a late 90s Holden when they saw Sam and quickly walked away; a bit like a mother bird trying to lure the predator away from her nest. It didn’t work and Sam stayed with the car until the police arrived.

Big Eddie had to be folded in order to fit him in the boot of the Commodore.

The gang must have been worried about his semi-final resting place and decided to move him.

He was still wearing his favourite jacket.

He loved that jacket.

What was left of his family decided to bury him in it.

Sam was at a loose end that day so he went along to see Big Eddie finally laid to rest.

It wasn’t a large attendance.

It didn’t rain and no one cried.

Even though he had never met Big Eddie while he was alive, Sam had grown to like him.

He hoped that someone would look after his dog.

Sam walked across the road to the old brick pub.

It was time to toast Big Eddie and his nicely fitting jacket.

It still wasn’t raining, and it didn’t rain again for five days.

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If you would like to help me publish more ‘Sam and Scarlett’ books you can always buy my book or tip a few coins into my PayPal account which can be found on my home site in the top right corner. Any contribution, no matter how small, is always appreciated.

Lord Newry.

If you have read THE LONG WEEKEND you will know a bit about Sam and Scarlett as they are today and how they were before they met. But here is a story you have not yet heard. Sam has not yet met the beautiful, diminutive Scarlett. He is trying to make a living as a private detective. Every detective needs an office; Sam chooses the Lord Newry Hotel. Some mornings start out well……………..

The Long Weekendd

In the new ‘Sam and Scarlett’ mystery novel you will learn about Sam’s early experiences as a private detective.

But for now, here is a taste of Sam’s early life before THE LONG WEEKEND.

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Francis Needham died young, at the age of thirty-six.

I’m not sure what he died of but they named a pub after him.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if that’s accurate.

There is a good chance that they named the pub ‘The Lord Newry’ because it was built on the corner of Newry street and Brunswick street. Francis Jack Needham had been dead for a number of years when the pub was built and he lived and died on the other side of the world. But, in those days we were obsessed with all things British. The pub sits in a suburb named after another Brit; Lord Fitzroy, and from its front entrance…

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