dead dom – chapter 1

dead dom is my second novel, completed in march 2008. it’s quite a sick little puppy.

i’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out, but unfortunately i wasn’t able to get the novel out there. not by conventional means, anyway. i’ve considered self-publishing but, for now at least, i’ve loaded two chapters here for your reading pleasure – chapter 1 (below) and chapter 8 (here). in case you’re wondering, chapters 2-7 make clear why gary and his idiot friends decide to dead dom, and the reasons dom deserves to die.

here’s what the back cover blurb would have said:

Gary has a lot on his mind. He’s a reluctant leader, a soon to be killer.

Dom is defined by malevolence, social disgrace and shocking breath.

Gary knows it’s a sin to let Dom live. What he doesn’t know is that, as Dom ends, something more sinister begins.

Dark, daring and delirious, Dead Dom is about the true price paid for destroying your closest friend.

you know you’d buy a copy if you read that. and yet you can’t.

however, if you like what you read, let me know and maybe – just maybe – i’ll send you the manuscript. for free. because i’m lovely like that.

WARNING – dead dom contains bad language, terrible behaviour, awful violence and is not your friend.

enjoy!

dead dom

chapter 1 – dom

I’ve got a lot on my mind.

That’s why Lee’s words don’t hit me first time round.

“Dom’s here,” he repeats. “Get up. Let Dom in.”

Typical. I’m as close to a panic overdose as the rest of them, but Jon, Lee and Billy presume I’m dead-eyed calm, happy to play my part the moment I’m prompted.

I’m not calm. I’ve never been so frightened in my life and haven’t slept in nights. But the sweat-sick time has somehow trickled by and now it’s February, it’s the date we agreed on months ago. We. Not just me.

The doorbell rings again, but our cigarette-scarred sofa is deceptively comfy and I have to propel myself forward to escape it.

“Better answer that door, then,” I say, desperate for the tension to dissipate. My friends don’t crack faces. They’re too on-edge, too aware that their lives are about to mutate.

I walk through the unlit hallway to the front door as my stomach tumbles and cries. I run fingers through my hair, wipe waxy residue on my jeans, open the door and there he is.

Dom.

He’s staring into me. Or, rather, into my neck. Dom’s tiny, and yet everyone’s afraid of him. Not me, I tell myself, but my inner voice is too high-pitched to convince.

His reputation precedes him. Createshim. He’s a famous man in our narrow world, and stinks of power we merely dream of. Most people have the pleasure of hearing of Dom before meeting him, but not me; he’s been an irritant most of my life, like a mole no operation can remove. And, still, a part of me sighs shamefully as twenty-two shared years in a nasty corner of North London finally reach ripping point.

I look down on his grade-one dome as he stands shivering outside the flat and, as usual, try to connect the little man in front of me with the legend he personifies. I know I’m staring, but I can’t tear my eyes from him. There’s this something about him that-

“Let me in the fucking flat, Gary,” he says. “If I’d wanted a night on the streets I’d have phoned your mum, wouldn’t I.”

I laugh too hard and usher him in. “Course, Dom. This way.”

“I know the way.”

I lead him through to the lounge. Lee and Jon are sinking into the couch, smiling like coy lovers; Billy is standing awkwardly in front of the TV. Their relaxed poses couldn’t look more forced. I know: they’re scared. They’ve told me. Well, so am I, but fear’s not smeared over my face. I hope it’s not, anyway. I have to at least look calm now I’ve been forced into the spotlight.

But Dom doesn’t notice his mates aren’t their usual witty selves; he’s too busy scanning the lounge, noting the overflowing ashtrays, dead cans and debris caking the room. There’s even half-eaten pizza drooping from its box onto the coffee table: Jon’s slowly festering centrepiece. I think it’s a Hawaiian.

“Place is a sty as usual,” Dom says as he flops onto my sofa.

I giggle and lean against the wall, let fingers brush coarse wallpaper. I’m losing my nerve. Everyone’s looking at me.

“You’ve gotta stop smoking that stuff,” Dom sighs.

I note the tender edge to his nasally advice, but know he’s nowhere near caring. I know plenty about Dom, and so do my frozen friends. I know there’s a difference between the picture Dom paints as he reclines and the Dom we’ve known for too many years. I know.

Dom’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. In ways, he’s just what you’d want in a mate: loyal, generous when he chooses to be, reliable and ambitious enough to remind the rest of us that we’re treading water as he’s making waves. He’s my first friend and final hurdle.

A casual observer wouldn’t waste a second look on him. A potential rucker would crunch knuckles at the prospect of destroying him. I’m no giant at five-nine, but Dom’s a five-two pushover.

Or so he seems.

He’s too skinny to look healthy and masks his receding hairline with a near skinhead cut. He’s twenty-eight, with the voice of a disobedient child. His deep blue eyes are far more impressive than the overblown lips and nose that never woo the women. Oh, the women. He’s done things-

Gary!” Dom squawks, disturbing memories. “You listening?”

“Course, Dom, always.”

“Yeah? Good, it’s important.” Dom smiles. Minimal muscle movement, eternally insincere. “What’d I say, then?”

Concentrate! My mouth twitches, suddenly dry. “You said-”

“What did I say, Gary?”

The room is spinning. My back’s literally against the wall and my shirt’s suckered to me. I want to loosen my collar, but it’s such an obviously nervy move that I resist. Those mean blue eyes hawk on me. I have no idea what he said but I must not – cannot – bottle this. Too many plans have been made to waste this opportunity.

I fan hands. “Sorry, Dom. Been a long day. Had Gemma laying it on thick and-”

Dom pounces from the sofa cheetah-like. He’s in my face, exhaling fast and shallow and giving me a dose of that parmesan breath he never bothers masking. I don’t understand; he’s so fired up. He must smell our fear.

“You don’t know what I said?” Dom asks, amazed.

“No, Dom. Sorry.”

He steps back and does his tiny nods, more like tics. “Hmmm,” he drawls teacher-style. “Sorry don’t do, Gary. You know that.”

I look at my friends: primal Billy skulking to the sofa, trouble-baiting Lee and Jon, the punchline to the best joke you’ve ever heard. The concern sketched on their faces is for themselves, not me. Almost fourteen years on, and they’re still the same: fun-loving, unreliable, as loyal as sharks. They do nothing. I say nothing.

Dom steps back into my personal space. When he speaks, his voice is hushed. “Wanna know what I said, Gary?”

I laugh, an aural shiver. “Definitely.”

He paces to the middle of the lounge. Centre-stage, just how he likes it. “What I said was…”

I detach myself from the wall, surprised at the anticipation I feel. I have to know. I can’t wait.

Dom cracks an all-encompassing grin. “You up for some poker tonight, Gary?”

Silence. Then he crumbles. It starts with a snort, filters into giggles, erupts into roars. Parcels of laughter. His legs near-buckle, as if crippled by the weight of the joke, and his face turns purple.

“I don’t get it,” I frown.

Dom’s laughter peters out and he exhales violently as he staggers towards me. I flinch as he clamps his hand on my shoulder and squeezes; an attempt at camaraderie.

“Oh, Gary,” he wheezes. “Don’t get it? I was kidding! I’d only asked about the poker!” He pauses and his brow wrinkles. “Hey…You took me seriously. Why’d you believe me, eh?”

Rather than risk another confrontation, I stroke his ego, heart still thumping my ribcage. “Why wouldn’t I believe you, Dom? You’re one hell of an actor!”

Dom nods in the praise. “Yeah…Well, we all act our parts, don’t we?”

“Oh, don’t we just,” Billy says with a sour tinge to his voice.

Dom senses dissent and fixes on the couch-potatoes. All three of them are on the verge of cocking things up: Jon paler than our wallpaper, Lee lip-biting, sweaty and lost, Billy itching to end everything now. I can read them all. Problem is, I’ve only got a few seconds before Dom deciphers them too. So focus on me: The one charged with getting this right.

I laugh as if I’ve suddenly caught on to the joke. It works; Dom turns back to me.

“Poker?” I snigger convincingly. “You got me all nervy over poker?”

“Uh huh,” Dom laughs, voice high as can be. “Scared the shit out of you, didn’t I!”

“You cunt!”

I say the word and I mean it. Mean it more than any word I’ve ever uttered. But I’m still laughing, so Dom takes my cuss for the joke he thinks it is. I can almost hear the lads sigh with relief. Said in the wrong way, in another context, my line would’ve earned me a beating…but right now it’s appropriate and I get away with it. Get away with the truth. He is a cunt. We all have our reasons for wanting him here tonight. He’s done things to us that we still feel the repercussions of. I could waste hours recounting Dom’s sins, but right now I have to steer things our way. Justification will come easier with hindsight, and thinking too much on little things like murder never did anyone any-

I realise I’m drifting again, and snap back to a familiar scene: the boys eyeing me with expectation, Dom frowning at me like I’m some abstract painting he can’t work out.

“You alright, Gary?” he asks.

I ignore him but keep the joke alive by fixing on my friends and spreading the abuse. “And you’rea bunch of cunts, too.”

For a moment Jon, Lee and Billy look hurt. Then they click and laugh.

“You all knew he was messing with me!”

“But it was funny,” Lee replies, his sly smile spoilt by the too-white cap on his front tooth. The boy can’t help it; conflict brings out the worst in him. Where others placate to avoid trouble, Lee spins wind-ups to encourage it.

I nod. “We playing poker, or what?”

Dom saunters back to the sofa, plucks cigarettes and lighter from jean pocket as he sits. He lights up, sucks long and exhales. “Yes, girls. Why not.”

Jon, Lee and Billy take this as their cue to become interactive adults again, shuffling in seats to warm up. Billy speaks first, leader of the brave.

“Good, Dom, good,” he says. “Give me a chance to win back what you conned out of me last time.”

Dom picks a folded bundle from his other jean pocket. He tosses the money onto the table, just misses the pizza. “Fine, Billy. I’ve got plenty to squander.”

None of us respond. We’re cash vultures, lewdly eyeing up the money. It’s a fat clump, more than we’re used to seeing. I hate money. Hate its pull. And I’m hooked on his notes, convinced I spy red specks patterning the top folded twenty.

Dom reclines, plaits little hands behind little head, lets Marlboro droop from puffy lips, then breaks our reverie with, “Any chance of a drink before I bankrupt you all?”

This time it’s Lee who surfaces first. He’s quick. From the couch, down the hallway and through to the kitchen in an instant.

Dom watches Lee move, wonder stretching his face. “Does he even know what I want?”

Of course not. “Probably…What do you want, just in case?”

“Dunno, Gary. What do I want?”

“Gin and tonic, Dom.”

“Gin and tonic, Gary. Always been, always will.”

I guffaw like an idiot and move to the kitchen. Everything’s going to plan and-

“So, Billy. How’s that beautiful sister of yours?”

Dom must have a death wish after all; he knows better than anyone that Billy’s temper flares whenever Tasha’s name is taken in vain.

I can almost hear Billy’s teeth grind from the kitchen as he replies, “Fine.”

Me and Lee stare at each other, both knowing this could be the end; if Billy reaches boiling point, he’ll make events messy. Uncontainable.

So we have to put our faith in Jon. His voice comes, a godsend: “I’ll just go and help with those drinks…Maybe sort some crisps, yeah?”

Jon takes neanderthal steps towards sanctuary. He stops, fiddles with the stereo and Primal Scream thumps out. Me and Lee watch, amazed, as he joins us. His jeans look like they’re about to fall to his ankles. His grey T-shirt is a size too big. He’s stubbly and pale and his blond hair has no respect for gravity. I can’t believe he’s twenty-five. Can’t believe we’re all twenty-five, old friends with young, worried hearts. Adults, void of excuses.

“Alright, Jon?” Lee asks.

“Think so. That was uncomfortable, wasn’t it?”

“Just a little,” I say.

“I put on some music,” Jon nods, proud of his initiative. “So Dom can’t hear us.”

“So we can’t hear them,” Lee corrects.

I put a Marlboro to my lips, breathe life into it and pull a packet of tortilla chips from a cupboard to keep up the poker pretence. Try to pour Dom’s gin with a steady hand.

“Why are we all in here?” I whisper fast. “This is a nightmare. I’m trying to keep things together in there, but you useless twats-”

“Gary, mate…”

“I mean, couldn’t one of you have helped me out back there? Fucking joke about poker.” I stare them down. “I feel like I’m doing this all by myself.”

“You’re not.”

“Then make me believe I’m not, Lee.” I speak in a measured tone. Authoritative. “I agreed to lead the way. I know that. But if you fall apart, we’re screwed. There’ll be no second chances with Dom. He’s like a cockroach and-”

“What about Billy?” Lee asks.

“I’ve got the opposite problem with Billy. There’s you two, acting as scared as-”

“We are scared,” Jon shrugs.

“And then there’s Billy, one step away from trying to kill Dom himself.”

“Would that be so bad?”

“We planned this together,” I say. “So let’s finish this together.”

I don’t feel nearly as tough as I sound. I suck the cigarette dry and chuck it in the sink, grab Dom’s gin and usher the boys from the kitchen. We dash through the hallway. The high-hats and squealing guitars amplify as we enter the lounge and see white-knuckled Billy on one side, Dom on the other. They haven’t moved. Amazing. Dom’s leaning forward, eyes down, and he doesn’t acknowledge me as I serve him his gin, as Jon charmlessly knocks dead pizza from the table and replaces it with tortilla chips. His credit card moves fast, and soon there are five white trails on the table, fat in the middle like slugs. It wouldn’t be Dom without this gesture. It wouldn’t be us. I look to Lee, to Jon, to tightly-wound Billy, and know we’re all thinking the same thing: This is a bad idea. Reactions may be impaired. Or improved. We all silently agree to abstain.

Then there’s Dom, gesturing with his palm, saying, “Let’s start as we mean to go on, eh, boys?” There’s Dom slipping loose the top twenty from his bundle, rolling it fine, dropping nose to note to table and inhaling hard. There’s me thinking of someone’s blood on the twenty, another element to tickle my throat: red and coke and sweat from a million hands. And there’s me moving too fast, accepting the note and accepting the gift, pulling up straight, snivelling and rubbing my nose, taste already chemical.

Within seconds, my friends have mimicked my moves and the table is dusty clean. Like so many times before, the music is suddenly louder, propelling me forward and agreeing with the aggression so close to the surface. Dom is swirling gin around his mouth, sifting out flavours as he returns notes to his pocket. We have those few seconds before the urge to spew useless words takes over, and I use them to assess my co-conspirators: Billy, Jon, Lee, all eager and black-pupilled, afraid yet itching ready to follow my lead.

I tap bottom teeth to top and note the numbness. I am fine but know the grinds are close-by.

I am fine.

But now I feel the urgency, because we’ve waited long enough. Because soon this superheroish feeling will collapse into a new, sharper fear. Because if Dom shapes up new lines, we’ll all succumb.

He pinches his nose as the four of us stand over him. “Every time!” he laughs. “Always fucking great off The Fenian!”

Jon starts to reply, so I move quick. I cannot get drawn into talking and talking and talking and I don’t search my friends’ saucer-eyes for approval as I move towards the TV stand, reach behind the Playstation and DVD player, retrieve the revolver, turn and shove the muzzle against Dom’s forehead. I move so fast even the boys seem stunned, frozen as their heartbeats pound away. I hear Primal Scream’s ‘Accelerator’ and it’s perfect, driving me driving towards chaos.

The gun is the only thing I didn’t arrange. I was the one nagging at my friends’ consciences, convincing them that to let Dom live any longer was a sin. I fielded all questions and knew that on the night – this night in early February 2006 – I’d more or less be working alone. Believe me, that’s not the way I wanted it. The gun comes courtesy of Masonator, Billy’s old next door neighbour and ill-advised role model to us all. It’s small and old, heavier than I thought it would be and aimed point-blank at Dom. I’ve never fired a gun before and neither have the others. We are North London small-fry, but things are just as we planned them, and inevitability plays its part. So does a loaded gun.

Dom stares at me with coke-fuelled curiosity, mouth stretching to a thin smile as his teeth grind away. He rolls his eyes up as if to get a better peek at the revolver, then fixes on me again. He’s surprised, confused even, but not quite frightened enough. The scenario I’d sketched in my head so many times does not play out in reality. My heart is in my ears, but my arm is straight. I cannot waver. I know that all eyes are on me, that Billy, Jon and Lee can only continue their marginal roles.

“That’s a gun, Gary,” Dom finally says, fast but calm. Not the response I’d been expecting.

“Yes, it is.”

Dom screws up eyes as he chews his top lip, and I realise he’ll do all he can to intimidate me into dropping my arm. I also realise that I haven’t pulled the trigger.

“Is that for me?” he asks, smiling properly now.

“You know it is.”

“Do I? How would I know that?”

“Shut up,” I say. My voice sounds strained.

“Why? The damage is obviously done. How can I make things worse?” Dom steals a look at the other three and sees them for the kids that they are. He looks back at me, his best friend. “What’s going on, Gary?”

“We’re ending you, Dom.”

“Really?” He inches forward. My finger is curled round the trigger, but I just shove the muzzle hard against his forehead.

“Don’t move.”

Dom’s cheeks ripple. He doesn’t speak. I don’t-

Do it, Gary!”

I look at Jon, look at them all, and note how desperate they are.

I’ve seen the Bond films, I know the worst thing you can do is talk to your enemy before killing him. You shoot, you don’t explain. And still I hesitate. I need him to know why I’m severing ties.

“Say goodbye, Dom,” I begin, part of a well-rehearsed speech.

“Goodbye, Dom.”

“I have to do this, because-”

“No you don’t.”

“Yes I do. For all the-”

“Put it down, Gary.”

“Shut up!” I yell, pushing the gun harder. This isn’t easy. “You’ve been fuckin’ asking for this since-”

“If you don’t put the gun down I swear you’ll live to regret it.”

“Shut up!”

“And your girlfriends here. And Gemma. And your peasant fucking families.”

This isn’t right; Dom’s saying more than I am. It’s like he’s on automatic. Just words. Threats. Promises. As ‘Accelerator’ speeds to its end.

“You know what I’m like, Gary. I’ll ruin everything for everyone, and-”

“Just shoot him!”

This time it’s Lee, feral-eyed and low-voiced. They’re all closer now, urging me, urging. They join in and link up, four voices closing me in. My heart’s beating so fast too fast and here come the spins. I can’t breathe I seriously cannot breathe and I’m no longer connected to my arm to my hand to my gun to-

“Do it!” shouts Jon.

“Don’t do it.” Calm Dom.

“Fucking do it!” Billy.

“Do it.” Dom. Dom? Big smile.

“Do it.”

“Don’t do it.”

My friends suddenly silent, leaving it all to Dom. A final attempt to fuck with me, for old times’ sake.

“Do it! Don’t do it! Do it! Do it! Don’t do it!” he drones. And one for luck.

“Do it.”

And that’s when I do it.

That’s when I pull the trigger.

That’s when everything ends.

 

 

2 Responses to “dead dom – chapter 1”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Daniel Lewis reveals his passion for Words and Music « the long and the short of it - 27/01/2012

    […] of noise over substance. My second novel, Dead Dom, was a misanthropic dose of viciousness (click here if you don’t believe me), and so was its soundtrack: Butthole Surfers ‘Sweatloaf’ signalled […]

  2. words and music « daaanlewis - 09/02/2012

    […] dead dom – chapter 1 […]

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