Monday, 7 December 2009

Twelve Step Fandango by Chris Haslam

Be careful what you wish for. Martin Brock, a lowlife drug dealer working the Costa del Sol, dreams of a motorbike and a big stash of cocaine that will set him up for life and get him away from his home in a ruined Spanish hill castle and his crazy German girlfriend, Luisa. Then both the bike and the charlie turn up on the same day...

It’s fair to say that Martin’s use of recreational drugs and drink might have hampered his ability to make the right decision in a crisis. The day a runaway Parisian drug mule arrives with his ticket to a better life, he’s already fuddled:

Within the space of ninety late-afternoon minutes I had snorted up a quarter gram of coke, smoked an eighth of that blinding kif, and then knocked back half a pint of 80-proof home-grown aguardiente. It was reasonable to expect that I might be feeling a little off-centre...

When the Frenchman dies, Martin discovers an unbelievable quantity of very good cocaine hidden on the man’s bike. Now set for the big time, there’s just one thing to sort out; informing the unfortunate man’s next of kin. Who just might know what their lad was up to and want their property back.

Before long, Martin realises that he’s a very small fish in a very nasty pond. Desperate to get shot of the haul, he’s persuaded to go to Cadiz to meet with a contact who might be able to shift the drugs. Having hidden the cocaine in a ruined farmhouse, he’s out of toot and trying to wash away the twin horrors of jangled nerves that need cocaine and travelling with the equally irritable Luisa by drinking more fire water:

I necked the shot and left them... feeling light-headed, unsteady and frustrated as I stumbled into the lamplit alley. Something unravelled deep in my gut, blinked and belched an acid spray against my colon, sending my knotty quadriceps into spasm and causing my knees to tremble. I stood for a moment with my brow pushed against the cool glass of a milliner’s window, blaming my pain on that last glass of aguardiente.

He’s in a mess, and he knows it:

Too much alcohol had been consumed in too short a time as a result of there being no cocaine available to make life more bearable.

Unfortunately for Martin, things are just about to get a lot, lot worse...

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