By Bradford Middleton




It felt like the end days towards the end of a tragic young life.  A life wasted, face down in the gutter wasted, and now, arriving here, Gary Exley was convinced there was no turning back.  With just one more night he was certain, completely and utterly, that with another night decadent over-indulgence his own particularly individual and probably peculiar end was growing increasingly inevitable. 

The place was London, England and Gary knew from the moment he heard the boot to his front door that he had possibly made the biggest mistake of his life.  Something truly terrible, beyond anything he’d ever considered himself capable of, something so hideously evil he couldn’t even begin to understand how it could have happened.  The police didn’t seem to care too much though as they hand-cuffed him and dragged him off to the car waiting outside.  As two younger uniformed officers dragged him off he caught a look at his handy-work and felt a cluster of sick shoot up from his stomach, landing on the wooden floor which leads from his flat to the main stairwell. 

“Oh boy, is this psycho fucked or what?” one of the younger uniformed officers said as they manoeuvred him down the hallway.

“Sure is, it’s crazy how the boss almost knew something whacked out was going down right here this very night isn’t it?”

“That’s why he’s the top man pal, he’s been at this longer than we been alive!”

“You are going to be one sorry psycho once the boss is through with you!”

Gary didn’t say a word, he was replaying the scene that had caused his sickness over and over again in his head, remaining deep in thought about what, no that didn’t need answering, rather how had this situation ended up like this?  He had no idea. 



That morning everything had started out as normal, or as normal as things ever are in Gary’s life.  He woke, boiled some water for tea and toasted some bread for breakfast, and then his routine rolled out just it had for the last few months.  He moved from his kitchenette to his armchair, the one piece of furniture in his room apart from his bed, and sat.  He would eat his toast, drink some tea and then prepare the first joint of the day. 

Outside in the big bad world of London ‘normal’ people went about the things they do in ‘normal’ society whilst Gary tried his best to clear the fuzz from his brain with the aid of forest of weed. He sat and spent the day listening to the music that was rapidly becoming the soundtrack to his life; his life felt punked and he listened to nothing but punk rock.  He was 26 years old and his life was already taking on a pattern of working for six, seven months each year from about September, October to maybe April, May and then quitting.  Every year he convinced himself that this summer was going to be his last attempt at having a best ever summer and would quit whichever job he currently had.  Within hours of walking out of his job his life would fall back into its usual low-maintenance status but he was desperate to experience something truly life-changing before experience had robbed him of every chance.

As the morning began so the afternoon developed and by 4pm Gary was almost unable to move, he’d numbed himself into almost complete immobility.  It was at that point he remembered.  He remembered it was Wednesday and every week he would meet up with a few of his good friends at a nearby weirdo hangout that sold strong beer at cheap prices and enjoy a midweek session of insanity.  It was rare they would spend over 10 each and the one thing Gary knew he could always rely on was that things would have got a damn sight weirder by the time they left the pub. 

Gary finally managed to climb from his chair around 5.30 and could, at last, feel his body start to unwind itself from the stoned-out state of before.  He moved over to his cooker, a little 2-ring cooker in the corner of his room and put yet more bread in his toaster and a whole tin of beans in his only saucepan.  It wasn’t that much of a luxury when each tin only cost 3p, and as a result meant it was the major staple of Gary’s life.  He knew that no matter how bad things got he could always scrap together enough to buy some beans and a loaf of bread. After dinner he turned to his record collection and pulled out the legendary first Damned album and as side 1 began to crank out Gary rolled his going-out joint which he smoked whilst rolling another couple for consumption at the pub.  The joint smoked well and he was decidedly relaxed as he slipped on his jacket and headed out into the early summer evening of another south-east London night.  He walked these streets everyday and he knew the shortest way and the quietest way to any major spot within his city that ran from the streets of Camden down through Bloomsbury, Soho, south down towards New Cross and the punk squats and student slums and deep further on into south-east London.  Places like Ladywell, Sydenham, Forest Hill, south Norwood, Croydon, Streatham, Brixton, these were his streets and he knew them.

He walked the 500 metres to the pub past a succession of fast-food shops, office buildings and not much else.  When Gary walked into the pub he immediately spotted Kathy sitting alone at a back table.  She was nursing what looked like a pint of snakebite-black, a harsh, crusty mix of cider, lager and blackcurrant and very much in vogue with the Goth types she counted herself as one of.  Gary hadn’t really known her that long and at the tender age of 19 and with the intention to head off to university at the end of the summer, out of London no less, he felt he would never really get the chance to really know her.  He signalled to her as he ordered a pint of the strongest, cheapest ale they would sell him before going over.  Walking over she rose from her seat and suddenly Gary felt forced to stop, he couldn’t quite believe what she was wearing and just how god damn good it made her petite little body look.  A tight-fitting T-shirt of some band Gary had never heard of, he didn’t listen to Goth, with the arms cut off revealing a side glimpse of a sexy black cotton bra and a black mini tutu dress that framed the tops of her black and red stripy stockings perfectly.  Her feet were resplendent in a pair of 16 holed German army boots. 

“Hi Gary, how’s it going?” she asked as he finally got himself together.

“Yeah good Kathy, how’s you?”

“Great thanks... what you been up too?”

With that the night started. Conversation continued for a while longer until their mutual friend Simon turned up.  He bought a round to compensate for keeping them waiting and besides he was now the only one with a job so he almost felt obliged to help his friends out.  The night though just seemed like any other as it progressed quickly towards closing time.  The year was 1995 and pubs in this area closed at 11 and no later.  Gary noticed the time was nearing 10.30 when he reached the end of his 4th beer.  He’d only paid for 2 of them so far and decided, with a little extra cash burning a hole in his pocket, he’d treat himself.

“A pint and a shot of whisky mate,” he instructed the bar-tender who proceeded to sort the order.  He placed a tumbler with a couple of lumps of ice on to the bar and poured a more than fair shot of the cheap house whisky.  By the time the beer was ready the shot had gone and it wasn’t long before the entire bar were told to finish their drinks and leave.  It was then that things took a turn for the odd.  Gary walked out the pub, leant against a wall and sparked a joint into action.  Simon and Kathy soon followed and as they walked over Gary held out the joint.  Kathy took a long hard toke, exhaling and then taking another before passing it to Simon who, in an action that flabbergasted his friends, passed the joint right back to Gary.  He sucked on the end and the joint vanished in a couple more tokes.  The group started to walk off, all in the same direction.  Simon was walking to his Mum’s house on the other side of town whilst, he assumed, Kathy was going to the train station to get back to the countryside where she lived with her rich, middle-class liberal parents.  Gary would be the first to split but tonight, well tonight wasn’t quite what he was expecting.

“I’m going back to Gary’s tonight,” Kathy announced as the 3 friends walked across the top of his street.  Nothing more was said, Gary was shocked, Simon was apparently too drunk to care and what was running through her mind, well Gary didn’t have a clue.  She grabbed his arm and they began the short descent down the street to the last house on the right.  As he slipped the key into the front-door he felt her hand, palm down, slide in his back-right jeans pocket and then gently squeeze his bum as he turned the key.  Before moving in he turned and what he saw pleased him greatly.  Despite not really knowing her beyond their occasional, often odd, conversations in the same corner every single week there was however no denying she was indeed a gorgeous young lady.  All he had really worked out about her was she was an art student and had a taste for a whole heap of chemicals, drugs that not even Gary had heard of and didn’t mind sharing them with people she knew.  She lived miles out deep into the countryside and therefore not in Gary’s frame of knowledge and how Simon had met her was again something of a mystery.  As soon as they got through the big heavy door he felt her hand grab him and twist him, pushing him flush against the wall. 

“I want you Gary,” was all she said grabbing his hand.

‘What have I done to have this beautiful creature fall into my lap like this’ he thought as they ran up to the 3rd floor where his room was located.  He unlocked his door and the pair stumbled in and she immediately flopped on his bed, her skirt sticking up exposing a ridiculously sexy pair of red lace panties. 

“Oh look at me,” she teased as she made herself comfortable on the bed, pulling a small transparent bag with a lot of what looked like cocaine inside from a pocket in her jacket.  Her eyes caught Gary eyeing the bag and her eye-brow arched like an old-time villain.

“Would you care for some my gorgeous friend?” she enquired.

He moved over and lay down besides her on the bed as she began to chop up a couple of big fat lines.  Gary’s nostrils recoiled in horror for maybe they sensed what madness was about to be unleashed.  They could smell the stench of death being prepared nearby, drawing inextricably closer.  The rest, up until the moment the police kick in his front door, Gary has absolutely no recollection beyond his immediate reaction that this was strong, potent gear and maybe, quite clearly it transpired, he’d taken more than he could deal with. 


When the police arrived they placed him under immediate arrest whilst the ambulance crew took the body away. His time in the cells at the station was almost too much, no smoke to smoke and no idea of how he was going to explain himself without landing in a world full of shit.  He was dragged in front of a couple of CID types about every 8 hours and they asked him questions, so many damn questions that he couldn’t answer.  He told them that he knew nothing, nothing at all.  It took almost 30 hours for the results to come through and, reluctantly, the police let him go.  All charges were dropped and he was a free man but what he really wanted to know was what had indeed happened to her?  He thought it best to not begin any further investigating and to avoid the pub they always drank at.  It made him sad that he would never see Simon again but he knew round the next corner was another bar with yet more weirdo types and hopefully they would like to share their drugs as much as Kathy and Simon had.

Bradford Middleton still lives in Brighton on England’s south coast and dreams of escape on a daily basis. He has stories dotted all over the internet and in a few magazines including Near To The Knuckle, Horror-Sleaze-Trash, Locust and of course here at Over My Dead Body!  His debut novel Dive is now available from New Pulp Press.  Go buy it, read it and let your mind go mad with its total insanity.

His short story “A Diplomat, A Whore & A Whole Heap of Mess” appeared in omdb! in May, 2015. “On the Run” appeared in April, 2015.

Copyright 2015 Bradford Middleton. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

Return to Fiction.
Return to Over My Dead Body! Online.