Excerpt of A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez
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Ben clapped him on the back, gave him one of those Ben
smiles they all knew, the smile that had got them girls, entry to
parties, whatever they'd desired. 'Nonsense. Too late for that,
it's coming out next month.'
'September,' Jack corrected him, his legs shivering despite
the humidity. Only a couple of months to go until the album
was in the shops, on the radio. It felt too surreal, too weird, to
accept as fact. It had been only a dream for so long that its reality
seemed conjured from nothing but wish and desire. He'd
made the album, just like he'dmade the ones which preceded it,
in his room on a four-track. He'd laid down the guitars, vocals
and drum machine himself. He'd sent it out like he'd sent the
countless tapes before, but this time the record company had
got back to him; a man with a silly accent raving and ranting
about how Jack was going to be the next big thing. He'd travelled
down to London, signed the deal in a Soho restaurant and
was back inManchester in time to finish his exams.
'To Top of the Pops!' David held his bottle up, Jack and Ben
crashed theirs against it, the clink and scrape amplified in the
'Yeah, as if . . .' Jack finished off his beer.He got up and went
to get the next round. He thought about his songs on the radio,
tentacles reaching out of the speakers and into the ears of
listeners and then he shut the thought down, knowing the
dangers that lurked in daydreams. It was just a small release on
a tiny label, nothing to get excited about, the first rung of many.
Still, as he took the beers, the cool glass sweet against his palms,
he couldn't help but feel that things were coming together for
the first time, that his life was at last taking some kind of shape
and that he was here doing exactly what he wanted to be doing
with exactly the two people he wanted to be doing it with.
He noticed that something had changed when he came back
out with the drinks. Ben and David were sitting silently, their
eyes fixed on the opposite side of the road. He sat next to them,
doled out the beers, was about to say something when Ben's expression
stopped him, made him look across the street.
Two policemen were leaning over something. They were
tall, young, dressed in dark blue. They held black sticks in their
hands, like truncheons but longer and skinnier. Jack squinted,
trying to focus through the heat haze, and noticed the heap of
clothes lying on the ground between them. He watched as the
heap moved, gradually revealing a face, eyes, hair. The soldiers
swung in long deliberate arcs. The crunch of truncheon against
bone echoed all the way across to where they sat, a thick heavy
stuttering splitting the air. They watched silently as the policemen
started kicking the man, passing around a bottle of clear
liquid, wiping their mouths, then wiping the blood from their
shoes on the crumpled man's clothes.
'No!' Ben grabbed David the moment he stood up, held him
firmly by the arm. 'It's not our business.'
David swayed and shuddered in his grip. The soldiers had
regained their momentum and were swinging on the man as if
breaking rocks. Jack shook his head. 'Sit down before they notice
David pulled away. 'They're going to kill him,' he said, his
voice pinched. 'Of course it's our business.'
'David!' A thin line of sweat broke out on Ben's forehead
and his voice caught in the sticky air.
Jack sat and watched the soldiers beat the man. His legs felt
like they were on fire, as though the only thing that would
make them better would be to get up, cross the road and stop
this terrible thing, but he couldn't move. The heat and dread
sealed him to the spot. With every blow he felt something inside
him rip. He gripped the rough splintered edges of the chair
until he felt a warm trickle of blood covering his fingers.
Suddenly the policemen stopped, noticing their audience
for the first time. They turned towards the three white boys
drinking at the bar and started clapping their hands as if they
were the ones watching and not the other way round. Jack
Excerpted from A Dark Redemption
by Stav Sherez. Copyright © 2013 by Stav Sherez.
Excerpted by permission of Europa Editions. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.