Wife of reporter, SAM CRUSOW, Theresa had also been studying journalism at City College when she met her husband to be and their friend MADELINE LOWER. After the first year she left, deciding she didn’t wish to pursue one of Coldford’s most dangerous professions. Instead she stayed at home where the danger gathered around her, waiting on the call to tell her her husband had asked questions of the wrong person or knocked on the wrong door.
But Theresa is more than just a reporter’s wife. She has secrets of her own. However, whilst Sam is Hell bent on chasing a story on the KNOCK KNOCK CLUB and how it connects to the disappearance of Mayor Feltz. Whilst his focus is stolen he fails to see what is happening closer to home.
Theresa is high maintenance, a little self absorbed and easily swayed by con men and vagabonds. You could say she is easy prey in the Shady City and whilst her husband’s attention is drawn elsewhere the vultures will circle.
Theresa’s dirty little secrets are being aired by the Knock Knock Club.
Complete season 1 of the Knock Knock graphic novel series is free to read HERE.
Whilst I digested the information that I was uncovering and as the city readied itself for the trial of the KNOCK KNOCK BOSS LADY, the lady herself was still in custody at Coldford City Police Department. She wouldn’t be transferred to the MONTE FORT women’s correctional facility until after she had been served justice. The Monte Fort had homed such women as the Confessions Killer, Tracey Campbell, who murdered half of her anatomy class in a series of brutal killings throughout her second year at Filton Medical School. It was also where RUTH BROWING still resided. Ruth had slaughtered her daughter, born of incest to her father, and fed her body through a wood chipper. Tabitha was set to make home among such women and I dare say she would fit right in, but as always other plans were in motion.
She looked around her four bare walls and grumbled. She was angry, thirsty and loathed that they had taken her signature red dress from her to put her in prison garb. She noticed something small, black at her feet. She flicked it with the toe of the most hideous shoes they could ever find for her. It was the body of a roach. She wrinkled her nose in disgust and unnecessarily stepped on it, listening to the sound of it crunch underneath her foot. The door began to unlock.
“You gotta visitor Tabitha,” he announced free from expression.
“About fucking time too,” she groaned.
Hickes led her along a corridor. She was surprisingly quiet.
“Just five minutes, mind,” Hickes warned as he opened the door. “I’m taking a huge risk as it is.”
Inside the room sat a middle-aged woman with greying black hair and a stern expression on an otherwise attractive face. She was Agnes Wilde, the Broker and co-owner of the club, lover of the old Baroness and, to Tabitha, Aunt Aggy.
Tabitha smiled excitedly but she kept her movements slow and easy. She didn’t want to give any excuse to pull her away. Hickes stepped outside and left them alone.
“You took your sweet time,” complained Tabitha.
Agnes pursed her lips. “Believe it or not, no one in this city is willing to defend you. The LAW MAKERS are shutting down and revoking licences of anyone who even considers trying. This is a fine shitty mess you’re in. They are appointing someone of their own choosing.”
“So, whom have they got?” she asked.
“I’ve only heard through the grapevine but RONNIE OWEN seems to be the top contender.”
Tabitha gasped. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! An Owen? The last time an Owen came anywhere near me I just about cut his cock off.” She could see Agnes’ expression was not changing. “They think they’ve got me backed into a corner but when have you ever known me to not come out fighting.”
Agnes softened. Her eyes glazed. She tried to remain strong but seeing Tabitha in her current predicament wasn’t easy. “They could put you away for a long time Tabs. They are looking to bring back the death penalty.”
Tabitha shrugged. “They don’t frighten me,” she said with some childish impetuousness.
“Tabs!” Agnes shot her a warning glare.
Tabitha raised her eyebrows. “I’m not afraid of those fuckers,” she maintained.
Agnes’ frustration began to show. “Then maybe you should give some thought to those who are frightened for you. Do you think I like seeing you like this? What about Tawn?”
At the mention of the BARONESS Tabitha’s usual self-confident air clouded over.
“How is Aunt Tee?” She asked.
“I know this isn’t easy for you, but I need you to sign these,” said the Broker. She was surprised when Tabitha gave little resistance. If there was anything in the world precious to her other than Tawny, it was the club. That was how Agnes knew what she had to say next was not going to be received well. She waited until the signature – a curly, childish scrawl – was on the page.
“I’m thinking of selling the club,” she said.
Tabitha’s eyes widened. “Over my dead fucking body!”
Agnes returned the tension. “Yeah? Well carry on the way you are, lady, and that might just be exactly what happens. I’m not having that on my conscience. Enough is enough. I’m ending this.”
Tabitha folded her arms across her chest and pouted. She growled but her eyes pleaded in a way that was rarely seen.
“I’m stuck in here with those fuckers trying to do everything they can to get to me and you’re pissing your granny panties?”
Agnes shook her head. “I’m being cautious. We’ve already lost enough.”
Hickes interrupted. “Time’s up,” he announced.
Tabitha was still frustrated. “There’s no way that was five minutes, you bald sack of shit.”
Hickes refused to let himself be drawn in. “It’s as long as you’re getting.”
Agnes stood. “I wish I could convince you to be cautious,” said Agnes.
Tabitha returned her self-confident smile. “Just don’t sell my fucking club.”
Agnes stopped by the door and raised an eyebrow. “It’s our fucking club.”
Tabitha shrugged. She thought about it then she asked of The Broker, “talk to that reporter, Sam. If anyone is going to help, it will be him.”
She had a lot of faith in me. I just wanted to get to the truth. I wasn’t sure that would leave Tabitha in the best of lights.
Leaving, Agnes said to Hickes, “look after her. Please.”
When half the city wanted to throne her and the other half wanted to throttle her that would be no easy task.
“Oh, and Hicksey,” she called down the hall after them. “Call the exterminators. You’ve got a bug problem in here and it’s fucking disgusting.”
AGNES had been at the Knock Knock Club since its founding. It was she and the BARONESS who began the club. So, to me she was a person of great interest. With the gagging order issued by Judge Doyle’s office I was holding back on pressing her for an interview. Therefore, it came as a shock to me when she contacted me first on an unknown number. With Tabitha expressing an interest in opening up to me I couldn’t resist the opportunity in spite of the danger of the Law Makers.
There were a few topics she demanded stayed off the record. One was Tawny and another was the whereabouts of the mayor. “I don’t know where he is and I don’t much care,” she said over the phone. “If you can’t agree to those terms, I have nothing to say to you.”
She was tough. I couldn’t expect anything less from someone who brought a place like the KNOCK KNOCK CLUB to life. Tabitha claimed she had reasons behind her madness. My main objective was finding out what they were and if there was any truth to her claims.
I had been waiting in Bobby’s Lunchbox for about fifteen minutes. I decided to arrive early so that if any Law Makers surveillance were on me it would seem natural. I was watching through the window and sipping a cup of coffee when a middle-aged woman with greying, dark hair entered. She had a pretty face, vacant of expression.
The Mid East of the city seemed a whole world away from the rest. It was quiet, untouched like it had no idea what had just happened down in the Shanties. The Mid East folk didn’t care that Knock Knock club had been burnt out. Why should they care about a filthy cabaret club in a part of the city that was home to drug addicts, car thieves and whores? Perhaps if they read about it in the newspapers they would sigh a ‘that’s a shame’ when they learned that Jack, the old compère, had died along with several of the dancer girls. They might shrug a shoulder of pity if they read that many of the MACK workers from the DISTILLERY had perished in the fire. The dead included Orla Mack – cousin to the then head of the Mack clan, Brendan. That was, of course, if the papers printed the story – the proper story. The DAILY sure as Hell wouldn’t. None of them would tell that those dancer girls were gunned down on the stage. They wouldn’t tell that Jack – dear old Jack – caught a bullet in his right temple as he rushed to protect them. That was when the petrol bombs were thrown in.
‘KAPPA fucking SO,’ Agnes thought to herself bitterly. They were responsible but no one would ever know. She couldn’t tell anyone. She had already lost too much. She remembered screaming at TAWNY to get off the stage as bullets rained in from expert marksmen. The BARONESS was holding a dead dancer girl named Jill in her arms, refusing to move as the carnage intensified.
Now it was quiet. Apart from the occasional steps of the Macks, who had accompanied her to her Mid East apartment, it was silent. She had been sat on the sofa, trying to ward off a migraine when the phone rang. She sat up with a start and lifted the phone from the floor. The sofa and the phone were the only pieces of furniture there. The apartment was being leased out whilst she and Tawny lived at Knock, Knock. It took a little persuading from Agnes but luckily the tenant was able to vacate at short notice.
“Yes?” She answered. “Hello?”
She had only given the number to a few. She swallowed to contain her nerves. She was met by an automated voice.
“Yes,” Agnes declared. “Yes,” she added again for extra clarification. Holding the phone in one hand she reached up to her forehead with the other to continue easing her headache.
“Hello?” Came the musical tones of a HATHFIELD accent. “I can’t hear anything on this bloody thing,” Tawny complained to someone beside her.
“I’m here Tawn,” Agnes spoke up.
“Oh, thank God,” she declared. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I’m just a little shaken up. Some of the Macks are with me.”
“Listen, I need you to go and fetch Tabby,” she requested.
“I’ve tried to reach her,” said Agnes. “Rob wouldn’t allow her to come to the phone.” “No,” Tawny said urgently. “I mean I need you to go and fetch her. You have to bring her to the Mid East with you.”
Agnes shook her head. “After what happened the last time you took her away from that house…”
There were three things important in the life of the Baroness. One was Agnes, who she would give her life for, the second was the wretched club that she adored, and the third was her niece, Tabitha, who she saw as the most precious thing in the world. Agnes learned quickly that Tabitha was a handful. She was strong-willed, foul-mouthed and with all the makings of a sociopath, but one thing was clear; her aunt was everything to her. Through this, Agnes came to see a loving side of the would-be Boss Lady that not many others did. Whilst she couldn’t condone her behaviour, they grew close through their mutual love of Tawny and the damned club. Because it couldn’t be denied, Agnes’ blood flowed through Knock Knock too. Where most people only saw a seedy cabaret club, to her it was life. Kappa SO knew this; the Owens that sent them to destroy the place knew this also.
“Rob and Linda are never going to let me take her away,” Agnes tried to explain.
Tawny was sounding much better, much more like herself but she still wasn’t seeing the practicalities. Her worry intensified. “Please,” she cried. “You have to get her away from them. They will kill her. Offer them money if that’s all they really want.” Agnes sighed. “They aren’t going to murder her Tawn.”
“You don’t know that. If those filthy Owen pricks want to silence her, they will.” Agnes had grown used to Tawny being on the eccentric side. It was part of her charm. The BROKER was the sensible counter balance but given the lives lost already, it wasn’t complete paranoia that was speaking. It wasn’t outlandish to consider that something unfortunate could happen to the little girl who called the OWEN family out on their bullshit.
“I’ll go and speak to her and her parents,” Agnes offered.
“When you see my brother, tell him I’m going to string him up by the balls,” stated the Baroness.
Agnes laughed. “I’ll be sure to let him know.”
“As soon as I know you and Tabby are safe, they can do whatever they like to me in here. They can stick an electrode up ma arse or plug me into the national grid if they like.”
Agnes found herself shaking her head but with a smile on her lips. “They aren’t going to give you electro shock.”
“They think I’m off ma rocker,” replied Tawny.
“You are,” Agnes teased.
Tawny laughed. It was a comforting, melodic sound. “Maybe a little.”
A bleeping sound signalled the call was to end. “Oh, come on now,” said Tawny away from the receiver. “It looks like I have to go,” she added, her voice coming back clearer.
“It’s so good to hear your voice.” Agnes’ migraine was starting to ease off.
“Recorded for quality and training purposes,” Tawny imitated the automated voice. The phone bleeped again. “Alright. I hear ye,” she said to it.
“I’ll be in to see you soon,” said Agnes.
“Bring Tabby with you,” requested Tawny.
Agnes’ heart began beating a little faster. “I’ll do the best I can.” It was all she could promise.
“Love you, bitch,” Tawny teased.
Agnes returned. “Love you too, bitch.”
Agnes didn’t visit Filton much. She was a Mid East girl through and through. Even when she gave up the apartment to reside about the club, she was still an artsy woman at heart. Even for a Mid East girl, living in a fabulous place like Filton was like a dream. The beautiful mansion homes were like fairy tale castles. But fairy tale castles could be oppressive, even to foul-mouthed, uncontrollable little princesses like Tabitha. It didn’t matter what trouble she had gotten into, Agnes owed it to Tawny to at least discuss with Rob letting Tabs visit her aunt in Harbour House. But Rob was an unreasonable man from what Agnes could deduce – completely different from his sister. Agnes had brokered some tough deals over the years but this was going to be the most difficult. There was so much to ask for and so much at stake. Things were becoming worse for Tawny. Sometimes she would call and she would laugh and joke as though nothing had happened, other times she would sound so subdued and slurred from the medicine they were giving her to keep her calm, other times she would just weep. Rob’s home in Filton was a two-story building in a quiet corner. It wasn’t as elaborate as some of the mansion houses but the Beckingridge family lived not so far away. She didn’t want to arrive unannounced with some Macks in tow. It would only be met with aggression and deals aren’t made easily with angry people. This required a sweetened approach. So, she asked the boys to stay nearby. It was likely the Owens were watching. The last time Tawny had been at the house to check on Tabby, Rob and Linda had called the police. It was all Agnes could do to stop Tawny from going back and physically removing the girl with as many of the Macks as she could when the official notice from JUDGE DOYLE came through stating her petition for custody had been denied. It also stated that any investigations into the claims of a paedophile ring run by Jerry Owen were closed and wouldn’t be taken any further.
Trouble or not, no little girl deserved to be sold like property to sleazy old men as far as Agnes was concerned. Tabs was no angel but she was like a daughter to Tawny, and for that Agnes loved her too and would do anything she could to remove her from such a home life.
As beautiful as the homes in the northern town of Filton were, it was in the grotty little cabaret club that Tabitha was safest and most at home. The Knock Knock Baroness had a reputation in the area. She was loved but not really what most people would consider a stable guardian. However, if things had been different for Tabitha she would never have been without the love and support a troubled little girl sorely needed. As it happened, Doyle’s refusal of the custody petition had been the beginning.
She rang the bell but someone had left the door open having pulled it closed behind him or her. It likely hit off the lock and bounced back open without them noticing. Filton was a safe area. People rarely locked their doors but Agnes felt it a little strange to be left ajar. She didn’t know if Rob and Linda had staff. Most Filton people did but from what Tawny had said they were merely playing posh. That could have been a little bitterness talking. Linda had lived in Filton her whole life. Her mother was an executive assistant at BECKINGRIDGE FINANCIAL FIRM. It wasn’t the top floor of BECK TOWER but respected enough to be a part of the family. Her father was a driver for the Owen’s. The father was handsomely paid and led the team of drivers required to carry the family from point A to point B. Linda had even made friends with some of them. It was how Rob and Linda had come to know Jerry.
Filton life suited Rob McKinney. According to his sister, to be hob-nobbing with the rich folk was all he ever wanted. When he and Tawny first came to the city from the Hathfield Bay island they parted on bad terms. She went south to the Shanties busking for her supper and he north, glass collecting in some of Filton’s most exclusive restaurants until opportunity presented itself with Linda and her family as they dined in Delphine – the finest Luen cuisine in the city. They didn’t speak again until an early morning call came to the club from Rob to tell her she had become an aunt. As Linda’s family flocked around, he must have realised his sister was all he had.
Agnes pressed the bell again. Its knell echoed inside the bell of the large house. A breeze charging through pushed the door open further.
“Rob? Linda?” Agnes announced her presence with a light knock on the door. “Agnes Wilde. I’ve been trying to call.”
She stepped inside a long, dark hallway listening for voices or life within. There was none.
“Tabs?” called Agnes up the large, open staircase for the Baroness’s niece. She first made her way to the Den. A television had been left on paused on the Jolly Shopper show. The remote control was discarded on the floor. The cushions from the sofa had been cast across the room. Agnes’ heart started to race.
“Tabs?” she called out again. “Tabs? Rob? Linda? I don’t want to cause trouble. I just want to take her to visit her aunt. I will bring her straight home.” Agnes attempted but there was no response.
In the kitchen a drawer had been pulled free of it’s resting place. A clutter of cutlery lay discarded on a shining, freshly mopped floor.
Agnes clamped her hand to her mouth. Something had happened. The cold house had the ache of death about it.
In Linda’s dressing room the wardrobe of expensive dresses had been left open. Some had been pulled from the hangers and they lay discarded on the floor. Tabitha was nowhere to be found
Now Agnes was really concerned.
The door of the master bedroom was open. There were three bodies. The slim, toned, naked frame of Linda lay across the bed. Her ear had been ripped off. The bulky frame of Rob with a knife wound in his ribs had fallen on the floor. There was a third Agnes didn’t recognise. She had a knife wound in her chest.
A large knife had been left behind. It almost looked ceremonial. Agnes, without thinking, lifted the weapon and hid it in her purse. She called the Macks in. They helped her dispose of the bodies and clean the scene to make it look as though Rob and Linda had gone on a trip.
#amreading the #thriller #graphicnovel #knockknock by @VivikaWidow
The morning had just broken in the Shady City. Birds were trying to sing their song above the noise of morning deliveries to the few shops in the SHANTIES that were still open.
“Good morning!” Cheered Gemma, a habitual morning person, from behind the bar of the KNOCK KNOCK CLUB as the owner, TAWNY, sauntered in from the apartment above where she lived.
Tawny winced. She had a monster headache brewing and even the dim lighting of the club was proving irritable.
“Honey?” She said softly. The bar maid looked up. Tawny put her finger to her lips. Gemma giggled and skipped to the back of the bar to start brewing coffee. It wasn’t very often the Baroness of the club was found to be low energy but a killer hang over was taking hold. Tawny sat at the bar and laid a mug on top. On the mug was the crest of the HATHFIELD BAY football team, based on the islands she came from. On the back read BARONESS 1, the nickname she had been given in the area.
Gemma brought the coffee pot over with a fresh brew. The smell of the coffee already had a brightening effect. She lifted the mug and started inspecting the chips in the ceramic and the coffee stains.
“I think your mug has seen better days,” she commented. “You should throw it out and use one of the cool new ones.”
Tawny pouted with good humour. “This is my favourite one. I’m not throwing it away.”
Gemma shrugged and filled it. Tawny lifted it appreciatively to her lips and and sipped the first caffeine hit of the day hoping for a kick start.
She would never part with the mug in question. It had been a birthday gift from her niece TABITHA and as such the sentimental value couldn’t be measured.
Tabitha had been watching her excitedly as she opened the box. Her smile wide, the gap between her front teeth making her seem younger, innocent in her excitement.
Tawny pulled out the mug and gave a giddy laugh when she saw the pale blue of her home town team. The reminder of the islands made her smile widen.
“Thanks TROUBLE,” she beamed, a nickname she had always used for her niece.
Tabitha dropped herself on the sofa beside her aunt and lifted her knees to her chest. “Look at the back,” she urged.
Tawny turned the mug round and when she read her nickname and the number she gave another hearty laugh. She reached an arm around Tabitha and pulled her close in a hug. She kissed her head. “I love it.”
“So what age does that make you?” Asked the younger.
Tawny raised her eyebrows. “The ripe age of twenty one,” she stated.
Tabitha chortled. “If you keep turning twenty one, you’re going to be younger than me.”
They both laughed. It was a simple moment in life but it is those simple moments that affect us the most. Sure the mug was old, worn and chipped but to rid of it would be to forget those laughs and giggles ever happened. It would be to forget Tabitha was an innocent girl once just looking to please her aunt. So happy she had found a simple little gift that would make her smile.
“You’re the best aunty in the world,” stated the girl as she cuddled into Tawny’s curvy frame.
Tawny couldn’t have been prouder. “Thanks Trouble. I try my best.”
Gemma dropping letters on the bar stirred the Baroness from her thoughts.
“Some mail this morning,” she stated in commentary.
An envelope with the LAWMAKERS seal caught her attention first. She pushed off the bar stool and clutched the coffee in one hand and the letter in the other. The rest of the mail could wait.
“I’ll take this in the office. Will you be okay in here?” She asked her bar maid.
“I’m good,” Gemma assured.
“Just shout me on down if you need me,” Tawny instructed but she had already become distracted by the letter.
Gemma watched her for a few moments. The normally bright, cheery air had faded and it wasn’t the hangover.
“Are you okay?”
Tawny sighed and looked up from the letter. She smiled with her usual warmth. “Peaches and cream, honey,” she stated.
Gemma heard the door of the office click closed. Trouble was brewing.
Priding themselves on a small community spirit, Jamestown will never forget their roots. They may often find themselves fighting relegation at the bottom of the NPL but they don’t let that dissuade them. Fans of Jamestown are not in it for the glory of trophies. They generally believe in the local struggles and supporting one another no matter how difficult it gets.
A small suburb of Coldford, Jamestown manage to keep themselves free from the drama of the big city until they are brought into the thick of the action against a rivalling, richer team like Coldford City or even Athletic.
Our Shady City Thriller’s most notable fan of Jamestown is our reporter, Sam Crusow. His father’s garage sponsors the team and it is where Sam learned the importance of people coming together. Going to the games as a boy is one of Sam’s fondest memories and it was over this mutual love of the sport that he and his father Samuel (or Sam Snr) bonded most.
Unfortunately as the big city threatens to swallow up their little suburb they can’t hide forever. It will be up to the likes of Sam to expose the truth for the good of the people and even the villains of Coldford are no match for such an strong spirit.
See Sam in action as a reporter in the hit Knock Knock graphic novel series.
Volume 1 is free to read here at Vivika Widow Online or you can download for kindle by clicking HERE.
Across the city, detective Hicks of the Coldford City Police Department was surveying his case. Excitement was building around the station. Never had so much time and resources been spent on one case but finally it was proving fruitful. They had been chasing this for a long time.
“It’s been a while agent,” he said. “You’ve been to Hell and back for this but it looks like we’ve finally done it.”
Hell doesn’t even begin to describe it,” replied Lydia Lowe of the Inter City Task Force. “All that time undercover and it was that reporter who did the heavy lifting in the end.”
Hicks patted her shoulder affectionately. “I’m glad you got to him. He would probably have been dead now otherwise and we never would have gotten to her. When he was taken from here I thought for sure he was a goner.”
Lydia smiled. Hicks was pleased to see working undercover at the Knock, Knock club hadn’t dulled her humour.
“The last time I saw him he was leaving with Lisa’s girl. He was delivering her back to her home and then coming here. I look forward to chatting to him when he comes in. I had to let him go. I couldn’t risk the kid getting hurt,” Lydia explained.
Lisa, the bubbly Knock, Knock bar maid would arrive at the club later that afternoon to learn of the tragedy that had occurred.
“She’s ran amok in this city for far too long,” Hicks said bitterly. Lydia wholeheartedly agreed. “I’ll call Judge Doyle at the Court House and let her know there is some solid evidence coming her way.”
Meanwhile, after divulging his story to me Dennis decided he was no longer safe at the Knock, Knock club. Either I was coming for him with everything I had or Tabitha was. He had backed himself into a corner leaving himself with few options. Men like Dennis have a way of working out of tight spots though.
He came to a familiar door. He knocked twice in an almost musical rhythm. A gaunt, skinny young girl answered.
“Chloe!” Dennis cheered. “I am so glad to see you.”
Chloe lowered her head. Her eyes fixed pitifully on the ground. “I can’t let you in,” she said meekly. “Please go away.”
She tried to close the door but Dennis stopped her.
“What do you mean? Come on, you have to let me in.”
He flashed a handsome, charming smile.
Chloe shook her head, still not looking him in the eye. It seemed like tears were close.
“Come on kid,” Dennis pressed. “Please let me in. I’m in a lot of trouble here. People are going to be after me. Do you want me to get hurt?”
Chloe finally looked up. “I can’t Dennis,” she insisted. “Just go away.”
“Don’t you love me anymore?” he asked. His large, brown eyes pleaded with her.
Tears did spill from Chloe then.
“Of course I do,” she sobbed. “More than the whole world.”
Dennis kept his expression soft. “Then let me in.”
He reached out to push the door open but someone else did it for him.
Dennis was greeted by the tall, imposing frame of Marcus.
“By all means Dennis,” he said. “Come in.”
Dennis dropped his head. He had no choice. Running would be no use. If Marcus was waiting on him chances were the other triplets would be somewhere nearby. The door locked behind him.
Over at the Knock, Knock club I was beginning to regain consciousness.
“You’re not a morning person are you?” Tabitha teased. “You look like shit.”
Everything that had happened came flooding back. The little girl lying dead in the street with a bullet wound in her head.
“What did you do to that kid!?” I roared
Tabitha raised an eyebrow. “What did I do?” she returned. “I was keeping her safe you stupid prick and you delivered her straight to the enemy.”
My stomach lurched. My vision was still a little blurry from the knock to the head I had received.
“There I was, standing there, carrying a bowl of ice cream, looking like a total fucking amateur and she was gone.”
“I thought …” I began but Tabitha didn’t let me finish.
“I know what you thought,” she said. “You know for a reporter you have no fucking clue. How long have you been in this city? Open your eyes to what is going on around you. Speaking of fuck wit reporters … “
“A friend of yours came looking for you.”
“You remember Madeline, right? Sure you do. All the men like Madeline,” Tabitha said.
Madeline growled. I hadn’t even noticed her being so focused on Tabitha, bleary eyed and possibly concussed.
“Would you listen to yourself?” Maddy snarled. “Do you ever shut up?”
Tabitha ignored her.
“Let us out of here you crazy bitch!” I yelled.
“I’m actually hurt that you still think I’m the bad guy here,” Tabitha laughed. I couldn’t tell if she was being ironic or if she truly meant what she said. “There are much worse things in this city than little old me. I do what I can to fight against it. Do you have any idea what would go down if I didn’t keep a check on things? I’m like a fucking super hero. Some might even be grateful.”
She kicked a knife at her feet between her captives.
“Here’s a little lesson for you. I’m going to close that door and you are both going to fight it out. Let’s see how moral you are when your lives are on the line. Maybe then you will have some idea of the shit I’ve had to deal with.”
Either of us could have grabbed that knife and killed her then but we wouldn’t have gotten much farther after that. Tabitha strode with confidence. Inside the Knock, Knock club she had nothing to fear.
“That’s why you’re both in your undies by the way,” she said as a matter of fact. “It’s less of a mess to clean up that way. It would be even easier if you were naked but I’m not that sick.” She laughed at her own joke. “When one of you are dead I pinky promise to open back up again. One less God damn reporter in the world. In the meantime, I have a little kid to bury and it’s not even noon. Thanks for that by the way. Toodles!”
At that she was out of the door. Maddy and I were sealed inside the Knock, Knock club’s hold. I ran to the door and cried through it.
“Let us out!” I called hammering my fists against the door as though it would do any good.
“It’s no use,” Madeline said behind me.
“We’ll get out of here,” I insisted.
“It’s over Sam,” Madeline said. “I’m sorry.”
#amreading the #thriller #graphicnovel #knockknock by @VivikaWidow
Mayor Jim Feltz gave a lot to the city. Coldford was a demanding mistress though. It had earned its nick name as the Shady City not just because of the gloomy weather but because everything was there for the taking for anyone who wasn’t hindered by morals or conscience. Jim was such a man.
Whilst the city’s funds depleted he squirrelled away as much as he could. There was a war brewing on the city streets and he was damn sure he wasn’t going to get caught up in it. Things were going to implode soon. It was only a matter of time. The regeneration projects he had promised during his last campaign were halted by the LAW MAKERS in the city. The poorest area known as The Shanties had been left worse off than they ever had been. The Tradesmen of the city were fighting back.
People in high positions – people he considered friends – had pilfered the money away leaving those lower on the ladder high and dry.
As the class war raged it left no money for the expecting mothers the mayor swore he would help. School budgets were cut to compensate for any losses caused by riots and looting. Only the exclusive Alban’s Boarding School managed to weather the storm.
What did it matter? When campaign time came again he could blame the opposition. He was just dealing with the mess they had left behind. Half of the city would believe it and the other half wouldn’t care either way. But he was done with all that.
“Will you be home on time?” Sylvia Feltz asked her husband as he prepared to leave. “We have the Weirs coming to dinner,” she added. “I need you here.”
The plan to leave everything behind had been in the works for weeks. The day had finally come. He had enough money to start over now. When the finances of the city finally tumbled like a house of cards and the war spilled onto the streets he would be out of the picture. Sure his family would have to face the music at first but they would get out of it cleanly for the most part.
His eldest daughter, Lacey, kissed him.
“I’ll be by the office this afternoon,” she said. “We need to go over a campaign plan.”
Lacey was her father’s daughter in every sense – so like him she was. She had gotten involved in his political career right from the beginning. The day he announced he was running she was by his side. She had aspirations on becoming the city’s first female Mayor. She had a naïve view of politics though. A certain lack of compassion was required despite what many might argue. She would learn that soon enough.
He stepped outside of his building. People were becoming irate so he kept his security close. His silver town car wasn’t waiting for him at the entrance of the building as it always was. He trusted his driver, Shane. He was nothing if not punctual. He looked at the security guard he was assigned. He was expressionless with hands clasped on his stomach. His cold stare was masked behind spectacles. He recognised the man’s face. He had been with him before. His name was Marcus. He wasn’t a security guard all. He was one of Penn triplets who owned the AUCTION HOUSE. The car pulled up before he could ask him his business. Mayor Feltz looked at the door of his car. something had gone awry.
His heart increased the tempo of it’s beat as MARCUS PENN reached over and opened the car door. It was really happening. The car pulled close but Shane in the driver’s seat was covered by tinted windows. Marcus leaned over and opened the door. The mayor made to climb in but he hesitated. A woman was sat waiting for him. She shifted over and patted the seat beside her.
“Don’t be shy,” she said.
Her ruby lips curled into a pretty smile. The collar of the grey coat she wore was pulled up around her neck. Marcus pushed him in and sat beside him.
“Isn’t this cosy?” she remarked.
He tried to control his breathing. He called upon every political stoicism he had in the hope he didn’t look worried. The sweat gathering on his brow didn’t lie.
“What do you want?” he asked.
The woman looked out of the tinted windows and watched the city pass by at greater and greater speeds.
“I just wanted to give a proper farewell,” she replied. “Surely you wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye to little old me?”
Fear erupted inside him. He didn’t care that he would be leaping from a moving vehicle. He clutched for a door handle but Marcus snatched his wrist and twisted it causing the bones to crunch together.
“Let me out!” he cried.
The woman laughed. “Don’t worry,” she said. “We’re not going far. The city wishes to thank you for your service.”
Her name was TABITHA and he should have known there would be no escaping.
The car stopped. The driver opened the door. It wasn’t Shane after all. It was a woman. She wore a plain white blouse and simple black trousers. She had a familiar face but he couldn’t place her. If he paid more attention to the people he threw money at he would recognise her as the scantily clad girl who spent some glorious time on his lap during his last visit to the KNOCK KNOCK CLUB. He had paid her extra to finish the job but that was all but a distant memory.
Tabitha stepped out first. They had parked outside an office block in the business district of City Main not far from his home in the North Side. Marcus pushed the mayor out onto the street.
He was escorted into the building. Tabitha was in front of him and Marcus loomed behind to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere.
Tabitha said nothing as they climbed the steps. The mayor was sobbing. Each time he thought they had reached the end of his torture they had another floor to climb. They finally reached the top. Tabitha fished a key from her coat pocket and unlocked the green door that greeted them. The Beckingridge Tower could be seen standing tall across the street.
“Your daughter wanted to say good bye.”
His youngest daughter, Amber, was tied to a table. Her arms and legs spread. She had been stripped to her underwear. Jim moved to run to her but Marcus grabbed him with great clenching hands and pulled him back. The room was empty save for a chair, a large machete blade that leaned against the wall and the table that held the seventeen year old girl. Amber’s mouth was covered but she was screaming. Her eyes were wide and terrified.
The BECKINGRIDGE FINANCIAL FIRM are one of the largest organisations in the city and had been for generations. When tensions rose between the north and south of the city the firm became collateral damage. The office across the street had remained empty ever since the FREE FALL MASSACRE. Fifty nine people lost their lives when several benefactors and staff fell from the balcony of the penthouse suite. No one dared take over the space again.
“Leave her alone!” The mayor cried desperately. “She’s done nothing to you.”
Tabitha clutched his face and rested her chin on his shoulder.
“You have really pissed me off Jim. You think you can abandon ship just like that? I have to take it out on someone.”
“I wasn’t leaving. I just needed time to think. The Law Makers are pushing me more and more. I could come back and be of more use to you.”
Tabitha slid her hand into his pocket and pulled out the flight reservations. She looked at them and dropped them on the floor.
“You see,” she said, “the thing is, I would love to believe you. I really would. This is a one way ticket though.”
“Let her go,” the mayor sobbed. Tears were rolling down Amber’s face. “I’ll pay anything.”
Tabitha shook her head. She stood up straight. “It’s not about the money,” she stated. “We have that already anyway. This is personal now.”
She sat across his lap and kicked her long, slim legs out.
“A girl could be insulted with a man running out on her like that. I thought you liked my little club.”
“I do,” protested the mayor of Coldford.
Tabitha grinned. There was a gap between her front teeth that gave her a quirky, girlish quality.
“Let’s see how much then, shall we?”
With a nod to Marcus he swung the blade and cut her left hand. The sharpened blade swiped through flesh and bone with ease. Her screams of agony were muffled by the cloth over her mouth.
Her father screamed too. He didn’t have time to gather himself when Tabitha pointed again for Marcus cut off her other hand.
“You’ve made your point!” said Jim. “Let her go!”
Tabitha gave a raspy laugh. “And miss the chance to see Marcus at work? The man is an artist, isn’t he?”
The mayor tried to push against the binds. Tabitha was on her feet again. She walked over to the table and took the blade from Marcus.
“I will give you a choice,” she offered. “Since your girl is going to die anyway I can either continue cutting her up into little pieces or just end it now for her. What do you want me to do?”
The mayor sobbed. “Please just leave her.”
“I didn’t quite catch that.”
“End it,” the mayor cried louder. “End it for her.”
He had averted his gaze unable to see the pained look on his youngest child’s face. Her eyes were hazy. She was going to pass out from the blood loss soon.
“I will if you tell me I’m pretty,” Tabitha teased.
“Just kill her! Just kill her now! Please!” the mayor roared.
Tabitha’s grey eyes widened. “That is your daughter!?” she gasped. She grinned. “You are a nasty piece of work Jim.”
She lifted the blade and centered it on Amber’s forehead. Before the point penetrated her skull there was a flash of realisation on Amber’s face.
The mayor cried. He knew he was playing a dangerous game but never would he have thought it would come to this. He was leaving his life behind for sure but not in the way he had intended.
Tabitha dropped the blade, circled behind him like a predator and began massaging his shoulders.
“Well Jim, we must dash. You know what it’s like when I’m away from Knock Knock too long. Well … Well it can be just murder!”
Times have been desperate for the people of Coldford, better known as the Shady City. Once upon a time executives now reduced to rummaging through their neighbours’ trash to find a meal. Many are hunting for shelter wherever they can find it – like stray cats. Their once well tailored suits now hanging in rags. It’s surreal to see once proud captains of industry reduced to the indignity of soup kitchens. Nowhere to go, no means of rising back up to their ivory towers.
My name is SAM CRUSOW. When the depression hit, two industries were saved – entertainment and news. People always need to know what’s happening in the world and people always need an escape from their reality. Luckily for me I’m with the latter. I have been a freelance journalist ever since finishing college. As the financial belt tightened it was harder and harder to get a full time position with a news paper so I (and most of my colleagues) went from story to story just trying to make it. Most of my stories sold to the biggest newspaper in the city – COLDFORD DAILY.
I thought I had managed to successfully navigate through the choppy waters of recession until the day I discovered that beneath the harsh surface lay a more terrifying truth. But I get ahead of myself. I write these notes so that everyone can know the truth. Chances are I will be gone by the time you read this. I am on borrowed time as it is.
It began just as summer was breaking. We were experiencing one of the warmest spells we had had in quite some time.
The Mayor – Jim Feltz – had disappeared without a trace. That morning he had kissed his wife, a voluptuous and formidable woman named Silvia, and his eldest daughter, Lacey, goodbye. He straightened his power tie in the mirror and made his way to wade through the city’s financial crises, which if you were to believe the tabloids were largely his fault. Normally he would have been escorted to the office by security of some kind. The citizens of Shady City, riled at the very sight of the Mayor, only made matters worse. However, that morning he never arrived at his office. Making his way down his street in his luxury silver car was the last anyone saw of him. Some of the neighbours remembered hearing loud music blaring from his open windows as he passed which was most unlike the buttoned down, conservative man that he was.
I had been covering the story as it developed. This meant I had been spending more time at the offices of the Daily. The Daily was the only source of news on the mayor by Mrs Feltz’s request and being area’s largest newspaper. It was also the provider of food on my table. Hiring freelancers had been their way of protecting themselves. It meant that they were only paying for the material they needed, without any full time mouths to feed.
I never liked Mayor Feltz. I certainly didn’t vote for him. As I pursued the story I uncovered gambling debts and a mistress at the far end of town. He must have been quite the charmer. When I interviewed his mistress she told me that he was planning on leaving his wife (which is probably what they all say). On the morning he disappeared he had been planning to visit her. They were going on a trip together, which is why he had wanted to be discreet. The mistress, Cindy, had waited for him for most of the morning in her lavish apartment that the city coin had paid for. She flipped between anger and worry as she did. By two in the afternoon the police swamped her, acting quicker for such a public figure than they would have for any ordinary citizen.
Neither his wife, his mistress nor his gambling associates could offer the police any idea as to where he went, so on that warm morning I made my way to the stretch of tower blocks that housed the newsroom in the North Side. My mind was occupied by ways I could spin the same story or offer a new angle.
Close to the office the clang of metal bins falling over drew my attention. From behind the cans crawled a man. He was young, filthy and with a mop of thick hair. Like many of the others forced to live on the streets. He sat with his back against the wall and brought his knees to his chest. His eyes were dulled by the effects of alcohol. He held a core of an apple and made breakfast of it. Sights like these were shocking when the recession first hit but they became more common and so you no longer noticed. The mighty had fallen and the rest of us became desensitised to their plight. I gave him what coins I had left. With very little I could do to help him, I entered the tall grey building with the large towering sign on top that read ‘Coldford Daily’.
The newsroom was hot and thick with the smell of coffee. Full time reporters had become scarce but those of them who did remain in work dashed back and forth trying to perfect their articles. Nothing quite so stimulating as a looming deadline. The brown leather satchel that I always carry my articles in was dropped on an unoccupied table. I rested at the desk, drew out my notes and began to review them. I had to ignore the hum and chatter around me to focus on the words.
“Hey Sam,” came the voice of MADELINE LOWER. I looked up and briefly acknowledged her presence with a smile. Madeline and I had been friends since college. She too was a freelance writer although she would admit her stories weren’t selling as well. I don’t think my writing was any better than hers, its just that the editor, Eric Waddle, was a bit of a chauvinist and what articles of hers he did accept were probably grudged.
‘Maybe if I slept with him he would change his mind,” she had said. She was joking of course but everyone had their motives in Shady City so it wouldn’t surprise me.
Madeline was an athletic woman in her late twenties. Her shoulder length brunette hair fell loosely around her shoulders. Her skin was a warm caramel colour like she had come from a sun kissed land. Her pale blue eyes were sharp and feline. That morning she wore a white shirt and a plaid skirt. She sat herself on the edge of my desk with the leap of feminine grace. “Waddle was looking for you,” she informed me. “He told me to kick you into his office as soon as you got here.”
“Thanks,” was my reply, still absorbed in my reviewing. I brushed my auburn hair away from my face. I was always pale but in those days of hard work I was even paler. I gathered my strength. Discussions with Waddle took a lot of energy. He was the kind of man who didn’t talk to you but talked at you.
“You look like hell,” Madeline commented – ever the crusader for honesty. “Go see what he wants and I’ll get us some coffee.”
Madeline slipped off the desk and made her way to the farthest end of the newsroom where the fresh coffee was being brewed.
I knocked on the door of the editor’s office. I could hear Eric’s voice inside having a one sided conversation which suggested that he was either conducting a telephone call or some journalist was on the listening side of a hostage situation. I pushed the door ajar slightly. I caught a glimpse of Waddle standing behind his desk. His back was to me. He had a black telephone receiver placed to his ear. He heard me as I stepped inside because he swivelled round, smiled and waved at me, gesturing me to sit down.
“I gotta go, sweetheart,” said Eric. “If I hear anything I will let you know.”
I took the seat across the desk from Eric, laying my papers on top. Eric Waddle was a tall man. He had a thick beard and always wore a long, black pony tail.
“That was Silvia Feltz,” he informed me even though I hadn’t asked. “Poor thing is still in shock. Trying to piece together what happened. Jim and I go way back and even I had no idea what he was up to.”
“I have nothing new really,” I ventured.
Eric reached his heavy hand across pulled my papers towards him. “It doesn‘t matter. People can’t get enough of the story. They’re swallowing it down like buzzards and coming back for more.”
“I think I’ve spoken to everyone he ever met. That is everyone but you…” Eric had been quite adamant that he not be included in any of the articles but I didn’t become the reporter I was by not chancing my luck.
“I have nothing to say,” Eric snatched up a glass bottle filled with whiskey and poured himself a generous share into a square shaped glass by his hand. “I asked you to come here because there is something that I wanted to talk to you about.”
“As you know, times are tough. We can only handle the best which is why they want you Sam.”
“Want me for what?”
“I’m talking about full time,” Eric said. His face beamed with excitement.
“I don’t know what to say,” I stammered.
“Say yes!” he bawled before emitting roars of laughter. “These kind of opportunities aren’t easy to come by these days.”
I stood. My actions became subconscious. “That is a great offer. I am very grateful. Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me, just do what you do best,” Eric dismissed, downing his glass of whiskey in one single gulp. The bottle was probably less expensive than the MACK AND SONS brand he was used to but decent alcohol was becoming increasingly difficult to come by. “You don’t have to be hanging around here all day. Go home and tell your wife the good news. You can start fresh tomorrow.”
My wife, Theresa, had studied journalism too. In fact that’s where we met. When Theresa and I married she gave up a career. Her mother blamed me for this but the truth was I had been the one trying to discourage her from doing so. Theresa didn’t want to take any chances on a writing career when housewife was the most stable job to be had. I never corrected my mother-in-law as to whose decision it had been to give up. She already hated me anyway. She thought me too self absorbed to be a suitable husband for her daughter. Her concerns weren’t completely without merit. When I was caught up chasing stories I often missed what was happening to the people closest to me. Theresa would be excited though. I couldn’t wait to tell her the news.
I was out of breath by the time I got home, my heart beating forcefully with exertion and excitement. The drums of anticipation rattled in my ears. I fumbled for my keys in my pocket. I leaned against the door as I reached deeper into my pockets. As I did so the door fell aside. It was very unlike Theresa to leave the door unlocked even when she was at home. She was a cautious little thing and home invasion robberies were happening a lot in our neighbourhood on the South West Side.
Our humble home was a small, one bedroom terrace amidst an array of similar granite buildings. What separated ours from the rest was the addition of an emerald green front door. Green was my favourite colour and it matched the shade of Theresa’s eyes. I called for my wife but there was no response. Heaps of blankets lay across the worn brown sofa which kept us warm without any extra cost. The scent of baking apples danced from the kitchen. Theresa had been baking apple pie which she always did when she had had a rough day. The kitchen was a direct off set from the living room. I found Theresa in there lurched over the cooker. She was weeping heavily. Her mousey brown hair was uncombed. When I pushed the swinging door open she gripped a knife that was close at hand. She stumbled backwards emitting a frightful shriek.
When she saw it was me she dropped the knife, ran at me and threw her arms around my neck. She didn’t ask why I had come home so early. It was I who asked the questions.
“What happened?” My heart was now beating to a completely different rhythm.
“I wasn’t expecting you so early,” she said. “A woman was looking for you.”
“What did she want?” I asked.
Theresa gathered her wits. “She gave me an invitation to a club.”
“And who was she? What was her name?” I enquired, assuming it to be someone I had been questioning on the Feltz story.
Theresa shook her head. “She didn’t say.”
Theresa wandered into the living room and dropped herself amongst the blankets. “She told me that this story on the Mayor could put you in danger. She said you were getting involved in something you shouldn’t.”
I sat beside her and put my arm around her shoulder. “That’s all nonsense, I promise.”
Theresa shuddered. “She gave me this …”
She gave me a black business card. On the front read ‘The Knock Knock Club’ with two finely shaped female figures on either side. It was an exclusive club in town. A club I would visit that night and my life would be changed forever.
#amreading the #thriller #graphicnovel #knockknock by @VivikaWidow