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Dead Lucky
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Dead Lucky
Read an extract from what I hope will be my first novel...
[1,021 words]
Popular Fiction
Karen Miller
I was born in London, England where I still live and work today. My writing tends to be very erratic as does everything I do...
[October 2000]
Beauty In The Form Of A Knife (Songs) Inspired by one of my bestfriends. [142 words]
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The Aftermath Of The Night Before (Songs) --- [137 words]
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Dead Lucky
Karen Miller

The Colour of Defunct

Alex hunched his shoulders against the wind and idly kicked an empty can along the gutter. His cold hands were pushed deep into his scruffy combat trouser pockets where he could feel his last few coins. All he needed was a coffee to warm him, but it was still early and he couldn't waste his money on West End prices. Soon the first edition of the evening paper would be in the shops and then he would need all his change for the endless phone calls that his job search generated. The job hunt was slow and difficult, there weren't many employers out there who wanted to give jobs to ex-offenders.

His money was fast running out. Then what would he do? He’d already had to give up smoking. Very soon he would have to give up eating. He’d heard stories of people becoming homeless and having to beg and sell the Big Issue on the streets just to be able to afford food. A cold wind crept over the back of his neck and he shivered. He had to get a job.

His thoughts were cut short as Alex lurched sideways onto the pavement to avoid treading on what he first thought was a black rubbish bag, but on closer inspection he realised it was a dead dog that lay in the gutter. He was surprised. A dead dog? He was used to seeing the odd flattened pigeon along with the discarded, rotting fruit from Berwick Street, but a dead dog? Several flies hovered near the dog’s head. Jesus, couldn’t Westminster council afford road-sweepers? The dog’s eyes remained open and stared blankly at him as he made his way along Berwick Street.

As he continued to kick the can along the gutter, Alex could feel the brown, glassy eyes staring into his back. He looked back over his shoulder at the lifeless animal. The dog was medium in size and average looking, nothing out of the ordinary. Its scruffy fur was the usual brown colour with patches of black, the same colour as many mixed breed dogs. It may have been wearing a collar, but Alex was too far away to see, and really, he didn't care, just like every other person who passed by without even giving a second look.

That could so easily be him laying in a gutter, medium in size and average looking, nothing out of the ordinary with people passing by not even giving a second look. The usual colour of defunct.

Perched on the edge of a wooden bench in Saint Anne's churchyard Alex struggled with his job search as the wind whipped at the edges of his newspaper. The small square of green grass was quiet relief from the usual streets of Soho where coffee shops and sushi bars shuffled for space with brightly-lit theatres and crowded bars. Tourists rubbed shoulders with middle-aged theatregoers and young camp boys talked animatedly with their extrovert media friends while street kids walked facelessly back to their hostels after a hard day's begging.

The cold wind made it impossible for Alex to concentrate on his job search and he noticed he had attracted the unwanted attentions of a homeless person hovering nearby.

The church yard was empty except for the two of them so it was inevitable that he was going to be asked for some money at any moment and as he didn't have any to give the old guy would probably hang around and pester him anyway.

'I know you, don't I?'

'I haven't got any money, mate'. Alex struggled against the wind to fold up his paper.

'Didn't ask that, did I?' the guy snapped back at him. 'You were inside, weren't you? You knocked around with Rob Barton, you were one of his boys'

Alex looked at the man. He wasn't as old as he had first thought. His unruly hair and scruffy beard hid the face of a young man not much older than himself. Slowly the man's face became familiar.

'Yeah, yeah, I do know you, the quiet kid in the corner cell. Rob gave you a kicking in the gym'. The words slipped out of Alex's mouth.

'Na mate, not Rob - his boys gave me a kicking'. The young man put the stress on the word boys.

The young man had been quiet and a loner and Rob had mistook this wrongly for scared and soft. He was right it wasn't Rob who had beat him up, he chickened out after receiving a black eye and a hefty body blow. The young man had been out numbered four-to-one when he got his beating that left him with a broken jaw and cracked ribs, but he gave as good as he got and was never bothered again.

Alex was all too aware that they were the only two people in the little square and the busy streets and crowded bars seemed so far away.

'That had nothing to do with me. I wasn't even there. Just heard about it'.

'Yeah, sure'.

Alex tensed his muscles. If the guy was going to hit him now was going to be the time.

'It's okay, I know who they are'.

Surprised that he hadn't already been thumped, Alex decided to stand his ground.

'What what was the kicking for anyway?'

'Eh, you don't need a reason when you're inside. Anyway, when did you get out?'

Alex unclenched his fists. 'Couple of weeks ago. And you?'

'Three months ago. Didn't you miss me?'


'And what?' The guy looked puzzled.

'What have you been doing since?'

'What the bloody hell does it look like I've been doing? I've been living on the streets, haven't I?'

'But didn't you get fixed up with housing and stuff?'

'Huh, you don't get nothing handed to ya on a plate, mate. You'll find out'. A smile broke out on the man's face from under the dirty beard.

'My name's Alex'. Alex offered his hand.

'Ziggy'. Said the boy and shook with his grubby hand.

'Ziggy? What sort of name is that? That's why you got thumped!' chuckled Alex.

Ziggy broke into an awkward grin and the two men smirked nervously at each other.

'So, what are you doing here?' Alex asked.

'Looking for my dog'. Ziggy replied.



"Fabulous. I demand that everyone who clicks on this title should read it and review it, because I know they'll all get a brain shot at how this ends. I was reading along, enjoying the cool word usage, and then I read the last line of the story... and my heart skipped a beat. I wasn't expecting that, and I had been wondering what the deal with the dog was from the beginning. You pulled it off, and from the way this story shows, your other future works of literature will be welcomed and respected here at SM. " -- Kimberly De Liz.
"I'm afraid I can't wholly agree with Kimberly, while the story is an interesting read so far, the style again lacks something. Maybe my standards are too high, but I think that with any story the reader carries on ahead, but this story lags a little behind" -- Greg Datesh, South Kensington, London, England.


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© 2000 Karen Miller
October 2000

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