(The following is a sneak preview from my next latest novel which you can find here http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DOYZHXE/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_j9.5rb15SGNF4.)
Darky O’Hara’s lone caravan was situated at the edge of a rough overgrown field, by a small muddy pond, in the middle of nowhere. The battered old trailer had no wheels and was balanced precariously on a pile of cracked bricks. The windows were covered from inside with yellowing newspaper.
Nobody knew where Darky came from, what age he was, or who any of his relatives were, if he even had any. He lived alone with his four lurchers and there wasn’t another caravan or house for miles around.
He was never known to say two words where only one was necessary and had neither friends nor enemies.
Some, who dared, whispered that he wasn’t a real Traveller and that he had adopted the name O’Hara as it was convenient in his line of business. ‘Darky’ was his nickname, as no-one knew his real one.
He had deep, almost black, emotionless eyes, a hooked and crooked nose, a cruel thin mouth and a large jagged scar that ran down the length of his hollow left cheek.
His hair was jet-black, with grey flecks, protruding from under a weather beaten fedora and his long gaunt body was covered by a flowing brown raincoat that came down to his knees.
Children said that Darky O’Hara was the Devil himself and less sensitive parents would tell them, if they didn’t behave themselves, he would come to take them away in the dead of night.
On account of Gypsies and Travellers being highly superstitious, it was accepted and believed by all that Darky possessed evil powers.
Many believed he was immortal and almost all agreed that he could not be killed by any mortal. It was said by some, he was immune to even the most powerful Gypsy curses, whilst others claimed he carried the worst of all curses with him and his very existence was an eternal purgatory from which he would never escape.
If you were to try and rob or harm him then your fate was sure to become entwined with his and your soul would be lost forever in whatever gloomy underworld he had risen from.
Urban legends and myths about Darky abounded, but the truth was nobody really knew anything about him, except that he was the bare knuckle fight organiser and main bookkeeper and always had been.
It was rumoured that he had thousands of pounds buried somewhere and always kept a lot of money, both in his caravan and about his person, but he was seldom known to spend a single penny.
It was common knowledge amongst Travellers that many years ago he had operated in another city where there had been a plot to kidnap and torture him until he confessed to the location of his main stash.
This was supposed to take place in the dark early hours, after a Saturday night. What with Darky being a hermit, who lived far from civilisation, nothing could be easier.
The three fellow conspirators were the Smith brothers, Felix, Sammy and George; English Romany Gypsies with no links to Irish Travellers.
They were neither Roman Catholic, nor believers in any form of Gypsy spiritualism; they were a very rare exception to the rule. They feared nothing and respected no code of morality.
They had adopted their English surname and chose to live in a house. Everybody knew their roots and the Smiths never denied it, yet it seemed they had no desire to follow their tradition.
They were known as petty thieves and fraudsters and, although not the most feared of all the families around, they were respected fighters.
Felix was the oldest and said to be the smartest of them all, but arrogant with it. He had acquired a cocaine habit which didn’t do any favours for his already over inflated ego. Soon enough, he began to harbour delusions of grandeur.
“People like Darky are exploiting the belief in the supernatural,” he said to his brothers, the night the plan was hatched. “Gypsies are more likely to buy this crap, as they’ve been brainwashed with it all their lives,” he continued, sniffing and wiping the white powdery residue from his nostril with the back of his hand.
His brothers looked at each other and nodded in agreement.
“Take for example the old women who go out on the streets selling lucky heather,” he went on. “They say it’s bad luck to walk past them with money in your pocket.” He laughed contemptuously and shook his head.
“It’s just the same with Darky O’Hara, I tell you. No one dares touch him in case all their children are born disabled, or their mother dies, or in case he reads your mind and gets to you first.
“It doesn’t matter to people that it’s probably not true, because if they get a Gypsy curse put on them the next major thing to go wrong in their lives is gonna be attributed to it and that’s enough to scare most people into not taking the risk. Well, who do you think started spreading that nonsense and why?”
The brothers shrugged and shook their heads, their faces a picture of ignorance.
“It’s all an elaborate ruse,” Felix continued, lighting a cigarette. “Darky has very cleverly orchestrated these rumours in order to protect himself. We’re ex Gypsies ourselves, so we get it. We’re the most misunderstood people on the earth and can blag our ways in and out of anything we like.
“It’s all about the power of illusion. Perception is reality and we three are clever enough to know how the game works.
“Let me assure you boys, there is absolutely nothing in that lonely old caravan except for that dirty old hermit and his scraggy dogs. There are no magical powers protecting him, nothing is going to happen to our loved ones and I don’t care how tough the old fox is, there is nothing he can do against three of us and then everyone will see Darky for the fraud he is and the Smith boys will be known as a fearless force not to be fucked with.
“Perhaps then the naive sheeple will attribute our success to having even darker powers than Darky himself! Anything that works in our favour is good.”
The three Smith brothers grinned and shook hands. It was settled. They set out that very night, wearing dark clothes and balaclavas.
They were to burst into Darky’s caravan and shoot his dogs. Felix was to pin Darky to the floor and shove a sawn off shotgun in his face, while George turned the caravan over, in search of cash.
Sammy was to stay outside and make sure the coast was clear.
The plan was to give Darky a severe beating, maybe even cut off one of his fingers, or an ear, so he knew they meant business and were afraid of no hex. George was the boy for that kind of thing.
Next, Felix had imagined placing the shotgun right inside Darky’s mouth to the back of his throat to make it crystal clear that, if he did not immediately lead them to the stash, they were for a spot of interior decoration with the contents of his skull.
Felix was convinced that Darky would cooperate. “He was born of a womb, boys, and not, as every gullible person seems to think, hewn from some giant block of impenetrable ice.”
Felix’s idea never got off the ground.
When Sammy Smith awoke that morning, after dreaming that everything had gone according to plan, he was to discover that his brothers, sisters mother and father had all been massacred in their sleep, their throats slashed from ear to ear. A large letter D was daubed in blood on the walls at the head of each bed.
The Smiths hadn’t even managed to make it out of the house that night and no-one, save for themselves, had known anything about the deadly pact.
Sammy believes his life was spared only so there was someone left to tell the tale, which was to be as a severe warning to everyone else.
On turning over Darky’s caravan and arresting him on suspicion of five counts of murder, the police were unable to come up with any evidence whatsoever. All they had to go on were the insane ravings of Sammy Smith and the bloody letter D.
There were no fingerprints and the D.N.A test results did not match. No money was found in Darky’s caravan and there seemed to be no motive for the murders, as Sammy neglected to tell the police about the Smith brothers’ fatal scheme.
Darky O’Hara was released without charge and the very next day he moved on, but his scary reputation was to follow him wherever he went
(As you can see from the above, I have created my own genre, which I am calling para-paranormal, where the supernatural is hinted at, but there is also a perfectly rational alternative. The reader can choose what to believe.
This comes from the paradox within my own brain: I have always been fascinated by the mysterious and unexplained, but at the same time I am a die hard skeptic and lover of logic.
The above excerpt comes from a novel I started writing nearly ten years ago but have recently started to work on again. This theme of para-paranormal is consistent throughout.
The book also uses another genre which I would love to credit myself for having invented, but I think Emily Brontë and many others beat me to it by a long chalk. I am giving it a name though: noir romance. If I say any more than that, I may start to give away too much concerning the direction that The Bare Knuckle Fighter takes.)