Author: A.J. Sendall
ISBN or ASIN: 9781508495727
Page count: 300
Price (Print and Ebook): (14.99USD – 2.99USD)
I’ve always written, well, as far back as I can recall. Until 2011, that writing was just for me, or as rambling letters to friends and travelogues to family. I never thought about why, or if others did similarly, and the thought of publishing never entered my head.
Since I left England in 1979, I’ve been collecting experiences, people, and places. From the blood-soaked streets of Kampala, the polluted dust bowls of the Sahara, or the pristine ice floes of the Antarctic, I’ve gathered and filed them away. Some have recently squeezed through the bars of insecurity and are now at large in the pages of my first three novels. Others await their future fates.
Tell us about your book:
Flank Street is told through the distorted reality of career criminal Micky Dewitt, who arrives in Sydney on a rundown sailing yacht, broke and on the lookout for opportunity.
He soon finds his way to Kings Cross and gets a job in a bar run by an abrasive grifter called Lenny. At first he’s met with mild antagonism by the barmaid, Meagan, but they call a truce and become friends. Their friendship grows, as they drink and smoke together after hours.
Micky is approached by Carol, a quiet, high-class escort. She wants Micky to do a job for her, and persuades him to listen. Carol tells him she needs a gun stolen from a lawyer’s safe. Says she killed somebody with it, and that she’s being blackmailed by the lawyer.
Micky scopes the place out. It all seems easy enough and he wants to help her. He steals the gun, Carol pays him. He thinks that’s the end of it.
Ten days after the robbery Micky is visited by two heavyweights from the underworld who tell him that Carol’s using the gun he stole to blackmail the boss of Kings Cross. He has to get the gun back, and kill her.
Nothing is quite what it seems as Micky falls into a honey trap and nudges the edge of sanity.
Share any thoughts you’d like the readers to know about you and/or your book:
I took a different approach to writing Flank Street: I wrote the last page, called it a prologue, then set the main character loose to find his way there. It was fun, and the writing went quickly. I didn’t edit or review until the book was complete, I just bashed out 2000+ words a day trying to keep up with the twists and turns.
Where can we go to buy your book?
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
Visit my website for information about other books in this series. www.ajsendall.com
Excerpt from book:
We rolled into Sydney a few minutes before eleven the following morning. It had taken five hours from Coffs, with a breakfast stop on the way. Carol had been quiet, but not hostile or angry, and I’d tried to keep the peace for the duration of the journey. Things would tense up when we got to the bank.
As we drove through the northern suburbs, I asked her where her bank was located.
‘It’s right in the middle of town, in Martin Place. I need to go home and get my keys first.’
‘Bullshit! Why wouldn’t you have your keys with you?’
‘I just didn’t bring them, that’s all. I didn’t expect to need them.’
‘So you’re telling me you were going to return to Sydney, to live here amongst people who want you dead?’
She lit a cigarette and drew heavily. ‘I didn’t know what I was thinking.’
‘Yes, you did. You’re a strategist. Some would say a cunning bitch.’
‘What’s the real reason for wanting to go home?’
She faced me, and said, ‘I want us to talk. I want to tell you what a huge mistake you’ll be making if you give that gun back to them. Micky, please listen to me.’
‘You’ve just had a thousand kilometres to tell me any bullshit like that. What’s different at home?’
She went quiet as if in thought, smoking her cigarette and staring out of the side window.
‘We can work something out, Micky, something where we both come out all right.’
‘If you’re so sure, let’s get the gun first, then I’ll listen. I just don’t trust you, Carol. Are the keys at your place or are you just jerking me around?’
She wound the window down, threw out the cigarette, closed it and straightened her windblown hair. ‘They’re in my bag.’
‘I thought so.’
We were approaching Martin Place. She pulled down the sun visor and touched up her lipstick. I parked in an underground about two hundred metres from the bank, then we walked in silence.
It took ten minutes to get access to the safety deposit box. Two minutes later we were back on the street, walking toward the parking lot with the Makarov in my pack. It would have been easy to just walk away, give the gun to Mitchell and tell them she was dead, but I drove to Turnbuckle instead. Not a word was said and she didn’t seem surprised that I knew where to go.
I followed her inside. She looked around, taking in the missing photograph and the glass fragments on the floor, but all she said was, ‘Drink?’
She poured Jameson into crystal tumblers and handed me one. It was early for me and I’d no intention of getting pissed and waking up on the wrong side of a .38. When I sat in an armchair, she sat opposite me with an expectant look on her face. I raised my hands palm-up. ‘So speak. I’m out of here after one drink.’
‘What’s the rush? You have the gun. You have me where you want me.’ When I didn’t answer, she asked, ‘Have you killed before?’
‘What do you want to say? What’s your great scheme where we both come out on top and Kurt Reed or Mitchell don’t chop us into little pieces?’
‘There are ways, Micky, and you know it. We could get on your boat and both disappear.’
‘You’re not my type. Anything else?’
‘I know you don’t want to kill me.’
I sipped my drink. ‘What makes you so sure?’
‘I’m not saying you wouldn’t kill; you might, but not a woman in cold blood. You’re not the type.’ She tipped the whiskey back and got up to refill her glass.
‘You don’t know what type I am.’
She gave a short, derisive snort. ‘I know men; that’s one thing I do know. And you, Micky Dewitt, are not a cold-blooded killer.’
When she emptied the tumbler for the second time in five minutes, I guessed it was fear, not thirst. She’d just said she knew men. She also knew men I needed to know about, so I decided to loosen her tongue and see what I could find out. There were three days before I had to face Mitchell. I drained my glass and held it out for a refill. Time to play.
‘Do you know men that are? If you know I’m not, then you must be comparing me with someone else.’ I leaned back, waiting for her to speak. She had to play along. In her mind, keeping me entertained was all that was keeping her alive: a modern day Scheherazade.
‘Hanging around The Cross, you meet all sorts of people. People come and people go: some are good, others scum. Sure, I knew of one guy had the reputation of being a cold-blooded killer. I didn’t know him, but I’d seen him around. You know how the grapevine works with people like that. Must be the same where you’re from, where ever that is.’
‘Is Soho like The Cross?’
‘Not even close. What happened to the guy?’
‘He got whacked. I heard he crossed Brookes over money…’ Her words trailed off as she realised what she’d said, and how she was destined to end up getting whacked for the same reason.
‘He doesn’t like to be duped over money, does he, Carol?’
She hung her head, her arms resting on her thighs. ‘Fuck.’
She sighed, stood wearily and walked into the kitchen, returning a moment later with a bag of chips and a pack of cashew nuts. She poured herself another and held the bottle out, offering me more. I accepted with a shrug. She poured until my tumbler was nearly full and stood the bottle between us. I could feel the alcohol and guessed she could as well, which was why she’d gone for food. She tore open the pack of nuts, put a big handful in her mouth and chewed.
‘Why’d you want to stop Reed from expanding?’
She held up the index finger of her left hand as she finished eating, and then washed it down with a mouthful of whiskey. ‘Like I told you, he’s a complete arsehole. Kurt is the worst of them. There’s lots of bad bastards hanging round The Cross, but Brookes keeps them in line to some degree. If the Reeds ever take over, it’ll be a free for all.’
‘Why do you care?’
She drank again, reached for chips. ‘I just do.’
‘Enough to risk getting killed, it would seem. So why did you try to extort him? Surely if you’d recovered the gun and taken it to him, there would have been some gratuity? Yet you spent ten grand on me, plus whatever else, to achieve what?’
‘You could fake my death.’
‘You could fake it. How would they know?’
‘How about if they want your head as proof: how am I going to fake that? Anyway, after you screwed me like that, maybe I want to kill you anyway.’
‘If you wanted to, you would have done it already, instead of sitting her drinking whiskey and looking at me like you want to fuck me instead.’
‘You’ve well and truly fucked yourself; nothing I could do would top that.’
‘I have money. I’ll——’
‘Then why did you try to blackmail Brookes? Or is that how you got money in the first place?’
‘I’ll give it to you. You could sail away and never come back. I’d disappear. We could fake a car crash, which is plausible, given how you drive.’
‘So now you want to insult me?’ Despite the seriousness of the situation, the banter was taking on a comic surrealism. I found myself enjoying it. I held out my glass for a refill. She was quick to oblige, refilling her own at the same time, taking another handful of nuts and scooping them into her mouth.
‘Okay.’ She tipped her head back to stop the nuts spilling out as she chewed and spoke at the same time. ‘What will it take?’
There was no pout now, no sign of fear, just a hard and knowing look as she locked eyes with me, like she probably had a hundred other guys.
‘Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, I was prepared to consider one of your hare-brained schemes. I’m not, but let’s just pretend I am. What have you got to offer?’
‘Money. Contacts. Information.’
‘Okay, tell me about the information: information about what?’
‘I hear a lot of things, things that a dishonest person could use.’
‘You mean you used to. You’ve lost your Kings Cross privileges. You’re persona-non-gratis, on your way to becoming the recently departed Carol Todd, and the only thing you’re going to hear is the racking of a 9mm slide.’
‘Not if we play it smart.’
‘We? What the fuck are you talking about? There is no we.’
‘We, you and I, Micky, can both get out of this sweet, if you’ve got the stones for it.’
She was almost cocky as she slopped more whiskey into both glasses. Her speech was slurred and her face carried a loose smile. I sat back and swallowed whiskey and chips. She told me her plan. Just like last time, it sounded simple enough.
All we had to do was find a fall guy who we say was holding Carol and forced her to call Brookes with threats. That she was a square gee all along, and would never cross him.
The more whiskey we drank, the more plausible it sounded.
‘Who’d you have in mind for the fall guy?’ I asked.
She lit a cigarette and handed it to me, the tip stained red from her lips. I could taste it as I placed it between mine, and waited for her to light her own.
‘Hedges; he’s one of the few who knew about it. He’s known as a grasping arsehole with few, if any, ethics. If somebody told me he’d done that, I’d have believed them.’
‘But he’d be afraid of what happened when he got caught, and getting found out would be inevitable in the long run, unless he was going to kill you.’
She thought for a moment, ‘You lifted his gun from the nightstand, didn’t you?’
I smoked and waited for her to continue. She had it all planned out, which made me wonder if she was playing me again.
When I woke the next morning, there was an empty bottle on the floor and an arm across my middle. My head was hammering and I could feel her breath against my chest. I turned my head and breathed through her hair. The memories of the previous night came flooding back.
Her plan had sounded simple. Put Hedges in the frame by claiming he was extorting Carol and had forced her to call Brookes. Make up some bullshit about him needing the extra cash to feed a gambling and hooker habit. Maybe we’d throw in something about cocaine as well. I tracked them down, grappled with him, and shot him with his own gun.
All we needed to do was find him, shoot him, and let the cops find the body. I had other choices, but none of them good. I could kill her and hand the gun back to Mitchell, which would square me with them, but really piss off Kurt Reed. I could grab what cash I could from Carol and head out to sea, leaving her in the shit and Meagan at the mercy of Ray.
My gut told me that even if I killed Carol and gave the gun to Mitchell, I would still be a problem they might try to get rid of. Even if they didn’t, I would always have to watch my back for Reed.
I didn’t want to run away to sea leaving Meagan in the shit, plus I wanted to stay in Sydney. I felt at home here.
That left me with killing a scumbag lawyer who worked for the industrial-strength arsehole Kurt Reed, who hated me anyway. Killing the lawyer would also have a beneficial effect on my dealings with Mitchell and Brookes. Meagan would be in the clear, Carol would probably be alright. If she was, and if she did have access to information, then I’d be alright as well. There were a lot of ifs.
I shook her awake. She groaned, pushed herself up on one elbow, looked at me through blood-shot eyes, and vomited. I rolled away just in time.
‘Sorry,’ she said, retched again and bolted naked to the bathroom.
I followed her, turned the shower on full, and guided her under the stream of cold water. She gasped, shuddered, tried to hit me, and hurled again. When her lips were blue and she’d stopped fighting, I turned the water off and wrapped her in a towel.
‘Dry off and get dressed while I make some coffee.’
Looking like death, she hugged the towel to her shaking body and sat on the edge of the spa-bath. I wasn’t feeling much better, but wasn’t going to show it.
There was chaos in the kitchen. I had vague recollections of making fried egg sandwiches halfway down the second bottle, but from the state of the place, we went further than that. There was a bowl of spaghetti with garlic, oil, and cigarette butts, two empty fruit cans that reminded me of a peach-guzzling contest which she won—no surprises there—and an assortment of snack wrappers from Pringles to Rainbow Nerds.
I dressed while the coffee was heating up. When she hadn’t come into the kitchen after five minutes, I went back to the bathroom and found her asleep in the spa. I picked her up and carried her to the bed; I doubt she weighed more than a hundred pounds. Just before laying her on the bed, I remembered that there was still a puddle of cold sick in the middle of it, so I took her into the spare room, dropped her on the bed and threw a sheet over her.
When I was pushing the vomit-laced bedding into the washing machine, after cleaning the kitchen, I knew somehow I’d reached a decision.