Unfortunately had no time to write a column this week, so I thought I'd try something differentt rather than push my graphic novel LA MUSE again.
Welcome to Bleeding Cool's first serialized fiction, a novella I co-wrote with Steven Grant for kicks. Steven, as some of you may know, is the creator and writer of WHISPER, one of the premiere writers of Marvel's THE PUNISHER, and the recent graphic novel ODYSSEUS THE REBEL from Big Head Press.
We did it as a writing exercise. I started the first part, then Steven would the next and throw it back to me, neither telling the other what he was planning and challenging each other to top what we'd written as well as bring the whole story to a proper conclusion. Basically, we wrote a bit of gratuitously violent smut.
Walk with us to an alternate London of the near future where working in the media means literally being at war, where feuds between artists, writers and critics draw real blood, and fame, ratings and big salaries are the prizes…
BROND ON THE RUN
Being a Serial by Adisakdi Tantimedh and Steven Grant
I will never forget the sight of Pemfrey's head exploding, and that was even before I shot him. His brains were the most fascinating shades of red and grey, decorating the walls like, well, an exploding head decorating the walls. This was the Harpo Club after all, London's most prestigious literary watering hole, where gak-encrusted litereurs hobnobbed with the noxious members of boy bands, and casual, copious bloodshed was the norm. I had been having a tough day at the paper, and a concerned party had forewarned me not to enter the club that night unarmed. Thus, I ordered my G&T at the bar, fingering my 10mm semiautomatic Balducci Widowmaker all the while, watching out the corner of my eye for a certain sweaty Daily Mail arts correspondent. The streets outside were ominously quiet, the bobbies (or "nipple-heads" as Yvonne charmingly dubbed them) must've been tipped off to stay well clear. The Filth knew better than to get in the thick of a set-to between us.
It really isn't easy being a critic.
Not long afterward, Lola came round to the flat on behalf of Pemfrey's heirs. Yvonne constantly warned me to steer clear of her wayward half-sister, the proprietress of a small fine arts poster shop in Billericay said to cater in its back rooms to more exotic appetites, the sort of activities which if made public could cost even the most popular arts critic his job, but this only served to increase my interest. As a favor to Yvonne I generally avoided the near occasion of Lola, but had made no assurances regarding what might happen in the event she sought me out. And here she was, already undressing, the contour of her nipples shaping the sheer silk of her blouse. A soft, pungent musk filled the room. As interested as I was, I was more interested in what this had to do with Pemfrey.
"What a bang-up job you did of Pemfrey tonight, love." Lola declared in his Home Counties twang. "My knickers were wet driving all the way up from Soho."
Curse her, she knew what dirty talk in a posh accent did to me. I struggled to maintain my composure, careful not to let her relieve me of my gun. She licked her lips and sucked on her finger like the naughty schoolgirl I'd always envisioned her as being. Of course, Yvonne was much naughtier, but I didn't want to insult Lola. Yet.
"Ahh, still fingering the Widowmaker, I see." she said, licking her lips. "Wouldn't you rather finger *me*? I'm much, *much* more expressive than a cold piece of metal."
"But not half as comforting," I said, trying to steer things back to my more immediate problem. "I didn't fire the killshot. Some sod let one off before I even pulled mine out. By the time I shot him, his head was a burgundy sauce over the Damien Hirst print. A marked improvement on the piece, I should add."
"Well, nobody's come forward to claim the credit, lovey, so it might as well be you. There were two bullets they pulled out of the Hirst cow carcass, one was yours. But since there was no head for either to be embedded in, there's no real way to prove which bullet burst poor Hubert's head like a water balloon. His heirs are baying for your blood. I imagine the Guardian and the Independent will venerate you in the morning edition, you've written your own ticket, Adam. And you've made me the busiest, happiest lawyer in all of Mayfair."
"Yes, well," I stammered. "I really have to write a tribute to the old tosser for the morning edition, so if you don't mind, I have to call it an early night…"
"Early nights are a foreign country to you, Adam Brond." she teased. "And when have you turned down a bit of totty? Especially *posh* totty."
"When he's already had his fill, Lola dear." said Yvonne, who'd finally heard enough and emerged from the bathroom where she had been hiding since Lola rang the bell. I noted to my delight she hadn't removed her stocking and suspenders.
Lola pouted, disappointed that once again, her sister had beaten her to the sweetshop and taken the best lollies, leaving her scraps. She straightened up, the stiff arch of her back sent shivers down mine. Fantasies raced through my head like the horses at the Grand National: would the two sisters go at it, a blue-blood catfight in my Ladbroke Grove palace? Or would Yvonne consent to a three-way? An Adam Brond Sandwich.
I wondered if I would be able to set up my video camera without them noticing…
"Oh, get real, Adam!" cried Yvonne. "If you even switch that bloody camera on, you know I'll have dibs on the rights. There's no way I won't get a producing and starring credit, and I'll make bloody sure the bulk of the royalties go to me."
Shit. I knew there were drawbacks to having a psychic, upper class, television producer for a girlfriend.
"We're just talking business," I said dismissively. Yvonne and I both knew the truth, but as far as I knew Lola was unaware of her half-sister's extrasensory gifts. Of course, if Lola was similarly gifted there was no point in playing these games with her. I couldn't stop a thought flitting through my mind — Yvonne's talents included psychic projection, a technique she used to trigger intense orgasms during sex by allowing me to directly experience her pleasure the way she experienced mine, two minds in one body, and a shiver of excitement rippled through me at the possibility of adding a similar mind to the mix. Would the intensity increase exponentially? I knew Yvonne had caught it, and I was so familiar with her face she couldn't hide her ripples of fascination and disgust from me any more than I could hide my thoughts from her. But we were both skilled enough in stonefaced denial of our feelings that Lola was apparently unaware of our elaborate and instantaneous but silent conversation.
"Yes, it certainly sounded like business," Yvonne said, choosing to continue the game.
Lola flashed her a feral smirk, showing little perfectly white canines that had suggested heights of pleasure to me but seemed only to suggest cannibalism when aimed at Yvonne. "Everything deserves foreplay," she said. "Mummy's last words, as I recall."
The subject of mothers was a tender one for Yvonne, who'd been abandoned when hers had run off with Lola's father, though no one including Lola or even their mother was certain just who that was. It didn't help that Yvonne hadn't been invited to the deathbed, a justifiably precautionary measure given Yvonne's intense hatred for the woman and the habit people she hated had of dying unpleasantly, of apparently unnatural causes. For a moment I thought the sisters would go at it tooth and nail, a spectacle I'd have enjoyed. Then the air crackled electric. The last time Yvonne had done that successfully, BBC-4 went off the air for five days. It was time to intercede. I stepped between them and asked Lola, "Now what's this about heirs?"
Lola sniffed, as if she had caught a noseful of something noxious.
"Well, darling," she said. "You'd think Horace Pemfrey was just another alcoholic, overweight, homicidal art critic for the Daily Mail with a hard-on for slagging off budding young artists and private flagellation sessions with dominatrixes in South Kensington…"
"Spare us the Who's Who entry and get to the bleedin' point." I snapped. The barbiturates Yvonne had fed me during our bonking session were starting to wear off.
"Alright, then. I can tell you that old Horace was also disgustingly, filthy, bowel-looseningly rich."
"And we used to think he was just disgusting." muttered Yvonne.
"And I can tell you that Horace was about to change his will to divide more generous portions to his next-of-kin. That is, after he disemboweled Adam at Harpo's."
"Only Adam beat him to the punch." said Yvonne.
"Look, darling," I said. "I'd love to take credit for snuffing the old bastard, but someone beat me to it by a fraction of a second. I'm a critic of integrity, for God's sake. I believe in credit only where it's due. So why are his heirs fucked off with me?"
"Because you're the sole beneficiary of Pemfrey's will." said Lola.
"How much was Pemfrey worth?" asked Yvonne.
"Upwards of twenty million quid, mostly located in off-shore accounts in Jersey."
"Congratulations, Adam," said Yvonne, my ruthless love. "You're now a rich man."
A wave of euphoria, horror and self-disgust coursed through me. On the one hand, I now had the means by which to pursue the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed since my arrival in London from my sheltered, rural, art school roots in Leeds. There was no way I could possibly drink, drug and screw that money into the ground in a hurry, no matter how hard I tried. On the other hand, this could also mean the potential demolition of my hard-earned credibility as the two-fisted, working-class *enfant terrible* of the London critical establishment. All those months of wrestling Julie Burchill in that Soho Square mudpit in 1993 would have been for naught.
I glimpsed the pleasure in Yvonne's eyes as she telepathically drank in my cocktail of conflicting emotions. Bitch. I won't hear the end of this for months.
"This makes no sense at all," I said. "Pemfrey and I hated each other. Our blood feud would never abate, not after I wrote that piece in the Guardian calling him a fat, ignorant cunt not fit to review a pool of my vomit, let alone an Andy Warhol Retrospective. Why would he leave me all his money?"
"Perhaps," said Lola with manic, lascivious glee. "It's because he knows his family would hunt you down and kill you for it."
"His will stated they won't get the money unless *you* die."
End of Part 1
MIA at firstname.lastname@example.org
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© Adisakdi Tantimedh