“Know what you want.” That’s what my aunt Betsy always used to tell us when me and Pop went to visit her during the school holidays in the good old days when Texas was still Bushless. Of course the lady knew what she was talking about. Three years later she killed her husband with a hatchet and was sent to prison for life. Still, she got rid of the mean bastard who had two loose hands that always seem to find something to hit; most of the time it was aunt Betsy.
I was thinking about her wise words when that queenie son of a bitch we kidnapped was becoming hysterical again. This time it was about his chi-chi-wa-wa dog we had left all alone at his mansion somewhere in the ‘Goois matras’. The guy was a bit pudgy, even though he had some sport school muscles. He was also the owner of some major hair transplants; the whole front of his head was full of those little ugly hairplugs you find on a cheap plastic doll. The worst part was his voice though that could shatter any sane man’s nerves. This dickhead in his tight gold lamé pants was supposedly a famous Dutch singer and had the highest voice in the country. If only we had known before we started this frickin’ ordeal.
We got a job to kidnap this songbird for a nice sum of cash, collect the ransom (which we could also keep!), then dump this nutcracker unharmed, somewhere where he would be found easily. It sounded like a fishy deal to me, but after the shoot-up last year, my hospital stay, and being off the market for so long, we needed the cash.
It started easy. We got him after one of his shitty concerts, knocked him out with a left right combination, and took him to a cabin in the woods until we were contacted by the guy who got us the job. We knew it was gonna be a couple of days wait, so we took some hot new crime titles with us. Simple, right? Then the SOB started screaming bloody hell and just wouldn’t shut the fuck up. It became so bad, that the only time we had for some quiet reading time was when he was asleep or had his two hour tanning session on this crappy tanning bed we picked up at the local salvation army.
When the quiet finally came we picked up our books. Pop likes his legal thrillers, thinks they might come in handy one of these days, and started reading the new John Grisham. Me, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the law. Never did, never will. While he read, it was my turn to separate the blue M & M’s from the other colors. This wasn’t some kind of kinky quirk of mine. If Songbird got his M & M’s mixed up he would throw a fit. And that was one thing we had to avoid, him having another fit, because the deal was that we couldn’t really hurt him. I would’ve ripped his teeth out through his asshole if I’d had half a chance, but I guess I didn’t, so I ate myself sick on all the blue M & M’s that were in the bag and watched Pop read.
In a hot sticky courtroom in Mississipi the jury reach a verdict against a company that dumped chemicals into the water supply of a small town causing cancer all around. The company appeals against the verdict at the supreme court. Nine judges now have the power to agree with the verdict or go against it. Billionaire Carl Trudeau thinks he can buy himself a seat in this court and move the verdict in his favour. They get this young man and prep him to take a seat on the court and do his magic so the chemical company is in the clear. This was one mighty fine read about how almost everybody can be bought. Not so sure about Nasty, who doesn’t let himself get sucked in easily by injustice like this, when small town folk are under attack by big ass companies. I guess I am like my aunt Betsy and crave some justice every now and then.
A woman naked on the edge of a bridge talking on a phone. Yum. “You don’t understand,” she says, and then jumps. Nice beginning. Looks like suicide, but is it? Clinical psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin is only a couple of yards away when this happens. When the woman’s young daughter shows up at his house he can do nothing more than try to help her and himself to understand why her mother jumped. Then other women do the same thing, killing themselves while on the phone. O’Loughlin knows something is up. But how can the person on the other side of the phone push these women into killing themselves? Great stuff that keeps you reading till daylight or a screaming queen starts singing in your ear.
Next morning was pleasant. Me and Pop reading, no peep from our Songbird. Unfortunately that afternoon all hell broke loose. Our house guest became hysterical because we fried his hamburgers in butter. Apparently he always used a non stick grill pan and insisted we use one too. I was ready to grab his testicles and feed them to him. Without the butter. Good thing Pop stopped me. “Think of Aunt Betsy. Know what you want.” He was right. It was the money I needed to focus on. I shouldn’t let that fuckface get under my skin. Again.
That afternoon I spend three hours finding a non-stick frying pan and some other stuff his majesty wanted. Eye cream, ocean scented candles, a yoga CD by some swami, honey from the Himalayas, a fitness DVD by some stupid Hollywood actress who just got her third divorce, and the new Tom Cruise bio. It cost me a fortune, but I was happy to spend the money to keep this singing piglet from squealing again.
The evening was a quiet one. Songbird was deep asleep after doing his fitness video four times in a row. I grabbed a book that was lying on the floor. It was the Tom Cruise bio, open at the part with the pictures. Then I felt some sticky stuff on the pages. Damn! I threw the book in the corner, cussin’ under my breath, washed my hands, and grabbed a crime book to keep myself from committing one.
9/11, the invasion of Iraq, the threat of radical Islam. What do all these things have in common? Oil. And a greedy guy named Bush. Steve Alten’s The Shell Game is a great action-packed intense thriller that blends fiction and non-fiction to make you stop and think about American foreign policy in the oil-rich Middle East. Normally I like my thrillers to be just pure fun, but after having been outlawed in Texas by one of the Bush clan, I harbor a personal grudge against them. This book just gave me more reasons to wanna rip off their nuts and save future generations from a new litter of Bushes. Great reading and personally highly recommended.
The Unquiet is the fifth Charlie Parker novel from Connolly, and this is not just thrilling – it’s damn scary too. The story starts when Daniel Clay, a once-respected psychiatrist, goes missing. His daughter insists that he killed himself after allegations surfaced that he had betrayed his patients. But when a killer comes seeking revenge, long-forgotten secrets begin to emerge. Enter tortured private detective Charlie Parker, who ventures deep into the darkness of the real world and his own soul where he is haunted by the ghosts of his wife and daughter, who died under mysterious circumstances leaving him tortured by guilt. The case leads to the dark deeds of a syndicate of highly organized child abusers. Connolly knows how to write a very dark and disturbing tale that is fast-paced and well written. A great job well done Connolly.
After a week it was all over. We got the call to drop Songbird in the ‘mediapark’ in Hilversum and get our money from a trashcan at a parking lot on the highway. That same day Songbird was on the news 24-7 telling his story to whoever wanted to hear it. He even got himself a deal for a new talk-show and then got sent to some crappy song contest where he represented Holland. We thought that was the last of it when a month or so later we had a meeting for our next job. Who showed up? Freaking Songbird, and he had a blond tubby, curly-headed guy with him who was yet another crappy camp dutch singer. The tubby guy wanted to have the Songbird treatment because of what it had done to his career. He was so happy with the whole affair he was recommending it to all the people who needed a little career lift. I was ready to shoot the guys but Pop stopped me. Again. We bitch-slapped the two, kneed them in the balls and left them for trash. Babysitting has-beens was not our thing. We had some new jobs lined up that were much more in our line of business.