Extract: Blitz by Ken Bruen

THE PSYCHIATRIST STARED at Brant. All round the office were signs that thanked you for not smoking
The psychiatrist wore a tweed jacket with patches on the sleeve. He had limp fair hair that fell into his eyes, thus causing him to flick it back every few seconds. This doctor was convinced he had Brant’s measure.
He was wrong.
‘Now, sergeant, I’d like you to tell me again about your violent urges.’
For the interview, Brant had dressed down. Beaten bomber jacket, blue jeans on their last wash, a pair of Dockers he’d bought in New York. He hadn’t shaved and this gave his granite face a blasted sheen. Now, he reached in his jacket, extracted a pack of Weights and a Zippo. The lighter was as worn as Brant but barely legible was the inscription:
Brant smiled at the memory, cranked it. A cloud of smoke rose.
The doctor said,
‘Sergeant, I must insist you extinguish that.’
Brant took a particularly deep drag. The type that sucked your cheeks till you resembled a skull. Blowing out, he said,
‘And you’ll do what exactly if I don’t… arrest me?’
The doctor sighed, made a note on Brant’s chart. He was using a heavy gold Schaeffer, proud of its splendour, said,
‘This doesn’t help your case, Sergeant.’
Brant smiled, said,
‘Nice pen.’
‘Yeah, it says a lot about you.’
In spite of himself, the doctor asked,
‘Oh really. Pray tell.’
‘That you like a solid phallic symbol in your fingers.’
Almost rising to the bait, the doctor managed to rein in, said,
‘Sergeant, I’m not sure you realise the gravity of your situation. My report will be a major factor in whether you remain in the Force.’
Brant shot to his feet, startling the doctor, leaned over the desk, said,
‘You’re a little jumpy there, Doc.’
‘I must insist you re-take your seat.’
Brant moved closer, one knee up on the desk, said,
‘Thing is Doc, if I get bounced, I’m fucked. This is the only work I can do. So, if I’m out, I’m sure I’d lose it big time and do something truly reckless.’
The doctor, as part of his internship, had spent six months attached to an asylum for the criminally insane. He’d gone eyeball to eyeball with some of the most dangerous people on the planet.
Up close and almost personal.
None of them had scared him the way Brant’s eyes were scaring him now. He stammered,
‘Are… are you threatening… me…?’
Brant seemed to consider, appeared to back off, looking almost sheepish.
The doctor, sensing victory, near shouted,
‘I should think not.’
Then Brant lunged, nutted him. The top of Brant’s head connecting with the bridge of the doctor’s nose, back he went, chair and all. Brant swung down off the top, came round the desk, pulled open a bottom drawer, said,
‘I knew it!’
Pulled out a bottle of Glenfiddich, two glasses. Grabbing the doc by the lapel of his jacket, he pulled him up, righted the chair, said,
‘Get a grip, for fuck’s sake.’
Poured two hefty wallops, shoved a glass into the doc’s hand, said,
‘Get that down you.’
The doctor did.
The booze hit him almost as hard as the nut. Brant poured an even greater dose, said,
‘Now you’re cooking.’
The doctor, born to an upper middle class west London family, educated at the best schools, had never been physically struck in his life. As President of the Cambridge Debating Society, he’d flirted with verbal aggression. But among his own kind. In the asylums of his training, he’d had the backup of
Brutish orderlies
And of course the ultimate leveller – Thorazine.
Sure, driving his Bentley, he’d experienced mild road-rage and even once, a woman behind the safety of her windscreen, mouthed,
Delicious thrill.
Now, he was in psychic shock, took the second drink like an automaton, drank it down. Brant stretched over, fixed his tie, straightened his lapels, said,
‘Sure look at you, you’re a new man.’
He let himself out of the office without a backward glance. He’d left the Glenfiddich, perched centre desk, the cap on the blotter. The receptionist smiled and Brant said,
‘He’s asked not to be disturbed for the next hour.’
She gave an understanding nod, said,
‘Poor lamb, he works too hard.’
Brant considered asking her for a ride but she looked the deep type. She’d have issues and want to talk after.
He hated that.
Outside, he went to a phone kiosk, rang CIB. The police who police the police, bottom feeders. Brant said:
‘Could I speak to DI Crest?’
‘Sir, I hate to rat out a fellow officer…’
Brant knew what was coming.
‘It’s not ratting out. We’re all on the same side. CIB are not the enemy, so you’re only doing your duty.’
‘That’s how I see it, sir. Doctor Hazel, our shrink… he’s drinking on the job. Even as we speak, he’s sloshing malted like a wino.’
‘And you name, officer?’
‘PC MacDonald.’
And he rang off. The kiosk of course was awash with hooker advertisements. Every service available to man or beast. One:
‘Madam with whip expertise
requires strong male for
disciplinary lessons.’
He liked the sound of that, could hear the theme of Rawhide in his head. He jotted down the details with his newly acquired, heavy, gold Schaeffer.
PC MacDonald had attempted to shaft Brant on more than one occasion. When word got out that he’d shopped Hazel – and word always got out – MacDonald would be shunned. As Brant put the pen in his jacket, he said aloud,
‘Cap that.’

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About Ken Bruen

Also by Ken Bruen:
The Hackman Blues
A White Arrest
Taming The Alien
The McDead
London Boulevard