The Grifter by Ali Gunn and Sean Campbell – extract

The Grifter by Ali Gunn and Sean Campbell was published by Partners in Crime on 15 August 2021.

Today I have an extract to share.

The click-clack of my crutches on the cobblestones made him look up. He flicked the stub in my direction.

‘Spare a couple of quid, mate?’

People usually ignored me. It was easier than lookin’ me in the eye. But Mr High and Mighty couldn’t take the easy road. He had to say something.

‘First of all,’ he said, his nostrils flaring angrily, ‘I’m not your mate.’

Couldn’t disagree with him there. I wouldn’t be his mate if he paid me. I met his stare as best I could. He towered over me, easily six foot tall. I used to be taller. Before the accident, anyway. Now I hobble along like Quasimodo. Ain’t easy to stand up straight on one leg.

‘And second,’ he continued, ‘I won’t spare you anything. I earn my crust, and you should too. Scum, that’s what you are. A blight on our streets. You lay around all day, drinking and smoking, and then have the nerve to ask hard-working people like me for handouts. Get off my property.’

‘Yours, is it? I’d have thought you wouldn’t begrudge a man a bite to eat when you’ve got your own skyscraper.’

I was saved from a retort by the ringing of his mobile. He answered at lightning speed.

‘Hello? Ah, Minister, yes, yes…’

Minister, eh? Mr La-de-dah. He turned away from me, heading back towards his office. Then I saw it. There, on the ground. A sleek leather wallet. I picked it up, it was much heavier than I expected as if it were stuffed full of cash.

‘Oi, Bancroft!’ I called out. I stumbled after him, my stump swinging wildly between my crutches.

He turned, still yabberin’ into his phone, his eyes momentarily narrowing as if to ask how I knew his name. He looked over to two security guards who were standing one either side of the revolving door into the lobby, and then, real subtle-like, he jerked his head towards me.

The two suits ran at me. As if I could escape.

‘He forgot his–’

Before I could say “wallet”, the men grabbed me under the armpits. My crutches fell to the ground as they dragged me towards the road. One shove later, I toppled backwards over the low wall that divided the offices of Bancroft, Tomlinson and Co from the public road beyond.

My back screamed out in agony. Pain radiated out all over my body. Even my missing leg hurt. Bloody phantom pain.

As I sat up, the shadows of the security guards loomed over me. One of ’em had picked up my crutches. He threw ’em down on the ground at my feet without saying a word.

I looked around, hoping someone might help me up. The City’s always busy in the morning so there were plenty of people to see me strugglin’. One woman managed a half-smile as if she weren’t sure if I deserved the ordeal I had just endured. Nobody helped. Nobody noticed the wallet in my hand. I slipped it into my pocket.

After the crowds began to move on, I hauled myself up onto the wall. My back twinged again as I bent forward to pick up my crutches. By the time I could stand up, the pain was too much. I needed something to take the edge off.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to go far.

I limped along, crying out with every step as I made my way back to the doorway across the street. I collapsed down onto my sleeping bag and looked for the flask I kept hidden in the pile. I twisted off the cap and glugged down a few mouthfuls, the burn of cheap whisky coating my throat.

Enough is enough. I’m tired of giving Bancroft second chances. By now, he’ll be back in his office. Had he noticed his wallet was gone yet? Would he realise where he’d lost it? Would he finally remember me?

I’m done playing nice. He’d refused to spare a cripple one little human kindness. I just wanted him to talk to me, to put things right. Instead, he’d insulted me and assaulted me.

Fuck it. I’m done.

Time to make the bastard pay.

About the Book

One will rise. The other will fall.

Kent Bancroft’s rise to fame and fortune was nothing short of meteoric. Once a simple teacher in London’s East End, he’s now on course to become Britain’s youngest billionaire.

But his success has come on the back of those he’s trodden upon to get there. Among them is a man whose fall was as swift as Kent’s rise. He used to be a sparky, honest and hard-working. Now, he’s homeless, drunk, and down one leg.

And he blames Kent for everything.

Forget forgiveness. Forget turning the other cheek. And forget waiting for karma.

This is a victim who won’t stand idly by.

He wants revenge.

And he’s going to get it.

Kent Bancroft will never see him coming.

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