Read Wasted Lives, a Detective Mike Bridger novel Online
Authors: Mark Bredenbeck
Tags: #thriller, #detective, #crime fiction, #new zealand, #gangs, #dunedin
A Detective Mike Bridger Novel
By Mark Bredenbeck
by Mark Bredenbeck
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In order to
grow and become a man, every boy needs a positive male role model
in his life…
He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby
become a monster’
Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886~
hear the dog's ragged breathing a short distance behind, he could
almost feel its hot breath on his heels. His own breath was coming
in short rasps, the oxygen fighting for space in his tar filled
lungs, his body rebelling against years of smoking in one malicious
into the darkness of a service alley he nearly stumbled, tripping
over his own feet, the alcohol coursing through his bloodstream
along with another shot of adrenalin.
He was not far
from home but he was running out of time. The dog had sensed its
opportunity and had increased its pace, the scattering of paws on
the rough surface got louder, touching every fear receptacle in his
He knew there
was a tall fence here somewhere he desperately needed the
silence invaded his head, his vision blurred. He sensed the dogs’
presence getting closer. There was no noise, the sound of paws on
tarmac disappeared as if the dog was suddenly floating.
Turning his head, he saw a vision of hell as a flash of sharp
white came out of the darkness in line with his throat. The dog had
found its target.
and kicked out at the last minute, his foot colliding with the
meaty part of its chest just below its vicious head. He heard the
air go out of its lungs through its mouth, so close he could smell
the fetid stench of its sour breath. It deflated onto the ground
below him, an angry growl gurgling in its throat.
The dog was
scrabbling on the wet surface trying to regain its footing, giving
him precious seconds. Pulling the knife from his belt, he thrust it
downwards, putting all his force into the movement. There was a
small sucking sound as the sharp blade entered its skull through
the eye socket. The blade lodged itself in the bone and stuck fast,
the dog shook violently but then became still, light disappearing
from its good eye. He did not even hear a whimper as the brave life
started fading. Pulling the knife from its destruction, he felt
sight of this life ending was the same as he had seen less than ten
minutes ago, that life too had ended on the end of the same
traded over a difference of colours, a rival patch of allegiance. A
fight over a woman possessed by another but lusted after by him. He
had lusted and she had lured by using that lust. She took him from
the bar with promises of heaven and he had seen glimpses of it as
well, with gentle hands and welcoming wetness. He had been well on
the way before the man had shown up. He could not remember the
anger although he knew there had been some.
She had tried
to calm things between them, she had done her best, but she was the
alchemist that had put them together, his foe and him. Her
boyfriend’s death was the outcome of her unfaithful desire. He
would have left it, normally, but for the different ‘Patch’ on each
of their backs. It was not as if he had not been in that position
strength came in its ability to subdue the rest of the pretenders.
When he saw the man’s allegiance displayed openly on his back, he
could not let it lie, not now that this man had found him using his
treasure so openly. He could not show any weakness.
surprised how easy it had been. He had moved fast, taking the man
by surprise. This patched foe had just stood there and taken it, no
great struggle, no fanfare, no begging for mercy. Once the knife
had entered his sternum, punctured his lungs and pierced his heart
the man had fallen to his knees, a look of surprised indignation on
his face. The dying patch, his life cheating him so cruelly, and
then his death had found him because of nothing but a difference of
affiliation. He had tried to say something with his last breath,
his words struggling with the lack of air, but then his lights had
gone out in front of him, taking something from his soul he could
not explain. It was the eyes he remembered most, they had been
vacant and lost, a bit like his own. Had he seen an acceptance in
them before he had passed? It certainly looked like he had found a
certain sort of peace.
He looked down
in the dim light at the dog quietly panting, the dog knew it was
dying, he knew the patch was already dead… his knew his own run was
He thought of the woman.
that had been so gentle shortly before had turned on him, words of
hatred spewing from within in an angry torrent. He remembered her
naked breasts flapping about as she had clawed and kicked at his
bare skin, tears and snot staining her once pretty face.
He touched at
the drying scratches on his cheek.
She had been
so sultry, sensuous even, he was a fool to himself, and he had
wanted it all. It was something he could not control.
at the darkened alleyway, the brave animal bleeding out below his
feet, he knew it was his weakness to blame. The darkness that
surrounded him echoed his life.
sound of heavy boots bouncing off the walls of the alleyway
suddenly presented another danger; this one was more urgent. The
Policeman in those boots had been quick off the mark; he had hardly
left the woman's house when he heard him release the dog. He must
have been in the neighbourhood when she had called for help. Now
his dog was dead and the Policeman would be here to witness it very
soon. He looked around at the fence behind him, home was so close
but his body was too tired to run anymore.
looked at the bloodied knife in his hand, then back towards the
approaching Policeman, a shadow growing larger. He thought about
his infant son, safe at home in the innocent arms of his mother, no
knowledge of the world he inhabited. He thought of the star he had
placed above his cot, telling him quietly that it was there to
guide and to protect him.
Do not live my
life, he thought sadly, you are daddy's little Star.
the bloodied knife to his chest, sat back against the wire of the
fence behind him, and waited.
nice up here don't you think...?" He left the question hanging,
unsure of what his friends answer would be. It was just on dark; he
was sitting idle on the wooden seat of the swing, slowly moving
back and forth, letting his body weight do the work. Unity Park in
Mornington sat high above Dunedin and had a panoramic view of the
city and harbour; it was empty except for the two of them. The view
from his vantage point down and across the harbour kept changing as
he swung up and down.
"It's nice up
here don't you think..., what are you a faggot?" his friend replied
mockingly. "Don't be letting him hear you say things like that,
you'll get the bash for sure."
The use of the
word faggot made him squirm he hated that word. Not able to look at
his friend, he stared at the darkening harbour, it almost seemed
like he could touch it from where they were, sitting so high up on
the hill. He could see it flowing out towards Macandrew Bay in the
distance where it would turn and flow seamlessly through twenty
kilometres of Otago Peninsular countryside, past Portobello, before
colliding with the open sea at Aramoana. Ships had come and gone
through this channel for over one hundred and fifty years, bringing
settlers and supplies for an emerging city. He could imagine the
hopes and dreams of the early settlers, starting out pure but
diluting down over the years by disease, poverty and hardship. Men
would find new ways to survive, the sickness creeping in, falling
back into old habits. Predators taking what they wanted again,
infecting each new generation.
He knew his
situation was not new, it was as old as the ages, but it did not
make his life any easier to live.
the day the harbour took on many different forms and colours, a
dirty windswept grey, a choppy green, or perfectly still graphite.
In the evening it darkened to a black empty mass, interspersed with
the occasional navigation light, guiding you into the darkness.
Tonight it would be no different.
He could just
about make out the silhouette of a ship in the fading light, tied
up against the fertiliser works in the distance, the lights on
board the ship blending with those on the wharf giving it an almost
magical feel. It was the same feeling he got when he went to the
travelling carnivals he had visited as a child, a place of strange
loud music and fun. His mind pictured the people who would be on
board the ship, exotic people, people with stories, and people with
freedom. He envied those people, able to go and do as they
different from the hood, that's all I meant. These places around
here are made of money, not like the shitholes we live in."
you, getting all uppity. Thinking you are better than the rest of
us. Fuck you Martin; your stepfather is as drunk as the rest of
looked at his friend; they had been neighbours for as long as he
could remember. Tama's father was in jail. He had been in jail for
so long that neither he nor Tama could remember what he looked
like. He had never met his own father. He was only here tonight
because of the phone call, he needed money to get the new life he
craved and the man on the phone had told him that an opportunity
would arise and to grab hold of it with both hands and see where it
took him. That was why he was here with his friend this evening.
There was no other reason.
not particularly wanted to be friends in the beginning but that had
not stopped Tama Wilson. He had sort of turned up one day and never
left. He had gotten used to having him around now. Tama was the
only person who called him Martin, everybody else called him
you think he will be here?" He asked.
"He said when
it got dark" Tama replied. "But you know what he's like; he'll just
turn up when he's ready."
passed Martin the can of strong cider and he took a mouthful of the
warm slightly bitter liquid. They had already finished five cans
each and were sharing the last one they had. The others were empty
and discarded around their feet. Tama stood up and lit a cigarette,
drawing in a lungful of smoke he shuffled from side to side as he
held it in his lungs.
Looking at his friend standing there in his ripped t-shirt,
he almost looked happy, or it may have just been the cider.
"As long as we get enough money tonight to buy
better shit than this." He tossed the half-empty can as far down
the steep bank as he could.
Martin, I was drinking that." Tama said, looking for a way down
through the undergrowth, smoke escaping from his lungs.
monotonous thumping sound of a bass drum invaded the quiet, turning
both their heads. They could hear it getting louder and closer, the
sound of a badly tuned engine screaming against its gearing
underpinning the music. Looking over towards the road, a silver
coloured BMW swung into the access road to the park. The car
accelerated and sped towards them on the badly potholed surface.
The suspension was so low that the chassis scrapped on the ground
creating sparks in the twilight as it bounced out of each small
hole. The car slid to a stop about three feet in front of them and
sat idling with its headlights obscuring any view of the driver.
Smoke billowed from a crack in the driver’s side window; the acrid
sweet smell of cannabis permeated the air.