Knocking Off A Brit by David R Graham
The man was silhouetted by harsh light. That was fine with Micky Lamb. He did not want to know who the man was. He lowered his eyes to the table in front of him and watched a gloved hand push two small devices slowly into view.
‘If ye screw up, y’er screwed,’ the haloed silhouette warned.
Micky put the devices in his coat pocket. ‘Aye,’ he said and waited for the hooded bodyguards to unlock the door and release him from the room — to strike his first blow against the Brits for hanging his Grandaddy back in 1922 for his part in the shooting of seven British Army officers in a cafe on the Leckey Road.
Captain Eddy Balfour was enjoying his posting in Derry. His role in Military Intelligence gave him the perfect opportunity to hit back at the IRA for their part in the shooting of his grandfather in a cafe on the Leckey Road back in 1922. Captain Balfour had done plenty of hitting back during the past eighteen months. Some of his hitting had been terminal to those on the receiving end. That was fine by him ‘The only good terrorist, is a dead terrorist,’ was his outspoken opinion. He planned to do a lot more hitting over the next eighteen months.
Under the cover of gathering storm clouds that hid the moon, Micky Lamb entered the grounds of Fort Jericho. But those same clouds that covered his entry also made it harder for him to locate Captain Balfour’s black Ford Capri Ghia. By the time he did find the pristine machine Micky was seething with pent up frustration. Grateful for the opportunity to stretch his back he lay down alongside the Capri and attached the bomb tight against the chassis beneath the driver’s door. No sooner had he done so when the storm clouds unleashed a downpour. For the space of a heartbeat Micky closed his eyes and let the rain splash down on his face. Then he rolled onto his hands and knees and made a stealthy exit from the barracks.
Captain Balfour’s loathing of the IRA represented the apex of a broader loathing of the Irish race in general. He loathed their fast talking vernacular and their shifty manner that made it necessary for him to have to physically beat information out of most of them. His loathing however, did not extend to their woman. He was happy to shag as many of them as he could. Provided they had a good body and were able to speak in whole sentences. Like this one, he thought stopping the Capri at a bus stop and flipping open the passenger door.
‘What d’feck?’ Micky Lamb said to the rain-washed windscreen of his van when he saw the Capri pull over at a bus stop. ‘Feck! I should a done ’im at d’feckin’ gates!’ he hissed when he saw a woman dash through the rain and get into the car.
‘Feck! feck! feck!’ Micky snapped and put his foot down when he saw the Capri accelerated away without indicating. ‘I’m gonna have t’do ’im!’ he shouted and extended the detonator’s aerial with his teeth ‘I’m sorry darlin,’ whoever ye are,’ he whispered, ‘I’m a dead man if I don’t do ’im!’ he said and pressed the trigger.
‘Micky. Oh God, Micky.’
‘Ma? What are ye doin’ over here at this time a d’night? Where’s Maureen? Maureen, me darlin’ Come ’ere an’ let me get a look at ye. Me eyes have been missin’ ye all day!’
‘Ohhh, Jaz’us, Mary an’ Joseph! Oh God almighty. Have mercy on us!’
‘Ma! What d’hell are ye carryin’ on for? What are ye here for? What’s happen t’ye?’
‘Oh Micky! It’s yer Maureen!’
‘What? What about her?’
‘Oh, Micky! She’s dead!’
‘What? What d’hell are ye sayin’, Ma?! How can she be dead?’
‘Oh God, Micky! She was blown up in a car! It’s been on d’news all night! D’gards came t’mine, jus’ after ten! No one’s been able t’get a hold a ye, Micky!’
‘Blown up?’ Micky whispered. ‘In a car? What feckin’ car? What d’hell are ye talkin’ about, Ma?’
‘Dey found her handbag, Micky. Everyt’ing was still in it. It mus’ a gott’in’ blow….Oh, Micky! Yer poor, darlin’ Maureen. Oh God have mercy on us!’
‘What was she doin’ in a car? She catches d’buses.’
‘He mus’ a been givin’ her a lift. Cause a d’rain, mos’ likely.’
‘What? Who was? Who was givin’ her a lift?’
‘That British officer who was killed…Oh, God, Micky! D’ere was a bomb under his car! It blew up when Maureen was in it! She’s dead, Micky! Blown t’bits by some brave freedom fighter! May God damn his soul t’hell for all eternity for what he’s done t’ this family! I pray he’ll not know a moments peace ’til d’ day he dies. May it be a long time comin’ too! So help me God!’
‘So help me, God,’ Micky Lamb said in a dreadful whisper.
THE CONSTANT TASTE OF SAFFRON.
By David Richard Graham
I have been writing thrillers for thirtysix years. Fortunately for myself, my family and my agent, my novels have sold in their millions all around the world.
I have made my living writing fiction. But what you are about to read is fact.
To begin with. My name is not Daniel Speare. I created him.
My real name is Edward ‘Shack’ Shacklton and forty years ago I was serving as a trooper in the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment on a tour of duty in Londonderry.
At 02:05 on 1 February 1972 during a freezing torrential downpour myself and Trooper ‘Swan’ Vesper were in a Land Rover heading back to Company HQ. ‘Swan was behind the wheel when he instinctively stopped for a red light. He was twenty years old. I was nineteen.
We were both cold hungry and tired and caught completely off guard when the doors of the Land Rover were wrenched open. My senses barely had time to register this fact before I was struck between my eyes with such incredible force that the sound of my breaking bone was like a banger exploding inside my skull.
My world turned black. Hot blood filled my mouth like running water. I did not lose consciousness.
Cruel hands dragged me from my security.
A hood was yanked over my head. I gasped in pain.
I was carried by my armpits.
I cried in fear when I was thrown forward. I landed hard on metal.
An engine vibrated beneath me.
Something heavy fell on me. I heard a gasp. ‘Swan’?
I screamed in agony when something solid struck my broken nose. I retreated from the white hot pain.
I returned when the hood was wrenched off my head.
I was lying on cold damp concrete.
Bright light tried to penetrate my swollen eye sockets.
I saw several pair of booted feet.
A pair of boots moved towards me.
‘Youse two are gonna die, for what ye’s did yesterday’, a voice said in a matter of fact tone. ‘Ye’s are gonna t’die bad. Ye’s are gonna die bad, slowly’.
I heard a metallic click.
I heard an explosion.
I felt a terrible impact above my right kneecap.
I heard another explosion
I felt a terrible impact above my left kneecap.
I voided my bowel and bladder.
My clothes were ripped off.
Something sharp struck my right shoulder. Spikes of pain dug deep into my shoulder blade, then wrenched away.
Something sharp struck my right thigh. Spikes of pain dug deep into my flesh, then wrenched away.
Something sharp struck my right arm. The vibration of snapping bone exploded inside my head. I felt spikes of pain tearing through my deltoid muscle.
Again and again the spikes tore into my flesh.
Again and again I bellowed in an agony of the deepest terror.
Then I slid down a long black chute and left the pain far behind me.
Our naked bodies were left on waste ground.
The RUC were called when some local children saw several dogs sniffing round what looked like piles of meat.
Trooper Vesper was pronounced DOA at the hospital.
I was rushed straight into the operating theatre.
Fifteen hours later. I was on life support.
Fortyeight hours later. I was breathing unaided.
Seventytwo hours later. I was conscious.
Twentyfour hours later. I learned that ‘Swan’ had been beaten to death with spiked clubs and shot twice through his forehead. I also learned that I had been struck by six .9mm bullets. One of the bullets fired into my forehead had passed straight over the interhemispheric fissure of my brain and left a fifteen millimetre exit wound in the back of my skull. The other bullet entered my head just above my left eye: scored a three millimetre groove round the outside of my skull and left a ten millimetre exit wound in the back of my head. One of the bullets fired into my chest passed over my heart, missed my aorta, missed my pulmonary artery, missed by trachea and exited my back thirty millimetres from my seventh cervical vertebra. The other bullet shredded the costal cartilage of my fifth rib: careened round the inside of the rib; ricocheted off my sixth rib and left a twelve millimetre exit wound fiftytwo millimetres from my twelfth thoracic vertebra. A fifth bullet had shattered the base of my left femur and a sixth had drilled a neat hole straight through the base of my right femur.
In addition to these gunshot wounds. I had sustained a broken nose, a broken right arm, a fractured right scapula, seven broken fingers and one hundred and ninetytwo puncture wounds.
By dumping me naked on the waste ground, my potential killers had unwittingly saved my life. The cold had slowed my heart rate and prevented me from bleeding to death.
Eight weeks later. I was allowed home.
Eight months later. I embarked on my first novel.
Eight years later. I was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for my one work of non fiction A Study in Human Brutality.
Eighteen months ago, soon after a man was arrested following a foiled bank robbery in Edinburgh, my private past became my public present. In exchange for clemency a robber revealed the name of the IRA gunman who had organised the abduction of two paratroopers in Londonderry in 1972 and fired the shots that had killed one trooper and left the other for dead.
Trooper Vesper’s killer was named as Michael ‘Sig’ Lamb. At the time of the murder, Lamb had been the top gun for the Londonderry Brigade of the IRA.
The case against Lamb was heard in the Crown Court in Belfast. He was sentenced to life imprisonment after the RUC found he was still in possession of the prized Sig Sauer P226 .9mm automatic he had used to kill Trooper Vesper.
Bizarrely, to this day the only lasting effect of my terrifying ordeal is the constant taste of saffron.