It’s down to fathers and fatherhood.
Ben Bracken, ex-soldier, has just got out of Strangeways.
Not by the front door.
With him, he has his ‘insurance policy’ – a bag of evidence that will guarantee his freedom, provided he can keep it safe – and he has money, carefully looked after by a friend, Jack Brooker.
Rejected by the army, disowned by his father, and any hopes of parenthood long since shattered, Ben has no anchors in his life.
No one to keep him steady.
No one to stop his cause…
The plan: to wreak justice on the man who had put him in prison in the first place.
Terry ‘The Turn-Up’ Masters, a nasty piece of work, whose crime organisation is based in London.
But before Ben can get started on his mission, another matter is brought to his attention: Jack’s father has been murdered and he will not rest until the killers are found.
Suddenly, Ben finds himself drawn in to helping Jack in his quest for revenge.
In the process, he descends into the fold of Manchester’s most notorious crime organisation – the Berg – the very people he wants to bring down…
This action-packed and fast-paced story will keep you turning the pages. Manchester is vividly portrayed as Ben races around the city seeking vengeance.
It’s not long before I am there again. Haugh Road, right in the middle. Everything looks the same, right down to the chewing gum on the pavements. There’s the old off- licence, the pub I used to drink in. There’s the phone box I’d call my mates from, out the front of the house I called home for thirty years.
My heart feels a hot stab at seeing it, worse than I expected. Home.
It’s a terraced house that could do with some work. The lawn is a bit longer than Dad used to have it, by quite a bit, actually, and the PVC window frames we had put in on a government grant to promote greener living a few years ago are a bit mucky. The door is still painted red, with a brass knocker.
What are you doing here, Ben? Are you going to invite yourself in for a cuppa? Or stand out here like a stalker?
I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. But somehow, I needed to see it. I needed to see something concrete, to remind me where I came from... Christ, this fucking neediness... I don’t like it.
I feel abandoned by them, for sure, but they had their reasons. They were so proud, and suddenly all that pride was gone.
And now, with my visit this evening? I suppose I just need to know that, even though everything else is chaos, things back here at home remain the same. We wouldn’t even need to talk, just...
In fact, despite the curtains being open, it doesn’t look like they are home.
Wait. I can see in through the front window, despite the dwindling light. Something’s different: On the left-hand side, Grandma’s mirror is missing, the one passed down to Mum when she died. It had a gold frame – well, gold edging on top of tin – and it was Mum’s pride and joy. And the curtains that are open... there are no curtains. Looking closer I can see the tie-back hooks stand visible and empty.
I walk up the path, leaving prints in the long grass, and peer inside, and more and more of my past looms up in front of me the closer I get. But this nostalgia, and the stir of anticipation that has arisen despite my efforts to subdue it, is quickly replaced by something cold, something bitter.
The room is empty.
I can see through to the kitchen along the old carpet that runs right through the downstairs, which in the emptiness now looks more threadbare. There’s nothing.
They’ve gone. My parents have left here.
I stand simply staring into the hollow space, and feel as if I’m gazing into the very emptiness that has been abruptly carved inside of me. My feeling of loneliness is complete.
I have no way to contact them. They are gone, and from the look of things, gone for good. And considering that they never sent me a forwarding address while I was in prison, they clearly don’t want me to know where they are.
All I wanted was to see that they were ok, but as far as I can tell, they didn’t even want me to have that. They have disowned me. I should have guessed from their passive stares in the public gallery at my trial, fixing on any point but their own son’s searching gaze. I can’t help but stand and dwell.
I quickly decide that I’ve had enough. I walk away because there’s nothing for me here anymore, not for the first time. Rawmarsh is no longer my home. I feel I could cry, but I won’t. No chance – those bastards, they won’t get that from me.
I walk down the path to the scuffed, mucky pavement. The gum on the concrete beneath my shoes, some of it is undoubtedly mine. My DNA lies at my feet, inseparable from my town, my past. That DNA is now the only evidence I was ever here. Thirty years of love, life, family – all reduced to a dirty bit of gum on an old pavement.
This will steel me. Toughen me. It has to. Because this would, could, should break a lesser man.
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About the Author
Robert Parker is a new exciting voice, a married father of two, who lives in a village close to Manchester, UK. He has both a law degree and a degree in film and media production, and has worked in numerous employment positions, ranging from solicitor’s agent (essentially a courtroom gun for hire), to a van driver, to a warehouse order picker, to a commercial video director. He currently writes full time, while also making time to encourage new young readers and authors through readings and workshops at local schools and bookstores. In his spare time he adores pretty much all sport, boxing regularly for charity, loves fiction across all mediums, and his glass is always half full.
His latest book is the crime/thriller, A WANTED MAN