Nine Foot Tall, page 1
“Courtney writes with such flourish and zest that he makes it virtually impossible for you to put the book down; you will rue the time at which you need to go to sleep. His colourful characterizations and even more colourful use of language ensure that this is worthy of any bookshelf.”
Angela Freebeef – Modern Classics Book Circle
(Uk & Europe)
“A rip-roaring rollercoaster ride of emotions. Hilariously funny, extremely sad, and at times deeply disturbing. Courtney’s anecdotal narrative compels and repulses and at the same time had me in fits of belly laughter. The transition from the naivety of a youth spent growing up in the ’80s, and the comparisons with a drug-fuelled ’90s and the harsh reality of being a Grown Up are unmissable reading. Prepare to applaud, laugh and cry as a new writing super talent emerges from nowhere. Fabulous, a sure fire hit, but don’t lend it to your Gran.”
Nellie Shoesmith – Baboo Monthly
“This is Black comedy at its deepest, darkest, blackest ever.”
Sandy Handwarmer – Mad Dog Publications
“Forget the ’60s… if you remember the ’90s, you definitely weren’t there.”
Alberto Kellog – Time and Motion Magazine
“One can only wonder if Courtney has drawn from personal experiences or if he is just the master of the tall story… nevertheless, this is contemporary literature at its horrifying best.”
Hupert Interface – Up The Junction Periodical
“Did anybody ask for this crap to be written? No, they didn’t…Courtney needs to… FUCK OFF.”
Ronnie O’McVanguard – The All Celtic Book Organisation
“Think Catcher in the Rye… think Alice in Wonderland… think The Godfather… This is FUCK all like any of those literary classics… It makes me sick to the pit of my stomach.”
(Possibly by Leonard Stool Off The Telly)
“Brilliant… just bloody brilliant… I can’t believe it… He was always good at writing though, at school and that.”
Jackie – Daz’s Mam
“I was crying with laughter. A top read.”
Jules – Daz’s Sister
“I can’t make head nor tail of it… I think it might all be lies y’know… It’s OK… I’ve read better… Is it supposed to be true? … I never know when to believe the little feck… It passes the time I suppose.”
John – Daz’s Dad
“Heavy going at times but the pace at which Courtney writes keeps you enthralled. It hurtles along at breakneck speed… I was sweating reading it. The dialogue is excellently interspersed with humour and terror, often in the same paragraph. His ability to horrify and disgust, yet at the same time make you keel over with laughter, is an accolade to his talent as a writer.”
Franklin D Hooverbelt
– YouKnowWho Books and Magazines
Voted Just for Fun Magazine’s Book of the Century
First published in Great Britain in 2019 by
The Book Guild Ltd
9 Priory Business Park
Wistow Road, Kibworth
Leicestershire, LE8 0RX
Freephone: 0800 999 2982
Copyright © 2019 Daz Courtney
The right of Daz Courtney to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
This is a work of fiction, inspired by actual events. Certain characters are composites of various people, and some of the names, dates and episodes have been altered for dramatic effect and to avoid legal implications.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Dedicated to Jacqueline Rose, a rose by name and by nature.
It’s a Far Cry from Monday Night at Tiffany’s
Boot Polish and Paranoia
Fish, Chips and Potato Peelers
Madrid, Elvis, Jagger And Di
Tommy Ten Men
Tales from the Darkside
The late 1980s, 1988 in particular, saw the emergence of a new type of music; it came from Chicago and they called it house. With its thumping beats and repetitive rhythms, it captured the imaginations of a generation. But with this new music there also came new drugs, and at the forefront was ecstasy. Along with amphetamines and cocaine, these drugs not only became commonplace, they became respectable. It is estimated that by 1995 over 2.5 million people used so-called “recreational” drugs every single weekend in England. Over half that amount came from the Yorkshire area.
THE WICKED SHALL FALL BY THEIR
The Bible – The Book of Proverbs,
Chapter 11, Verse 5
March 5th 1999 – Aged 32
Whenever you read a book where some arsehole is getting out of jail, they always act as though they’re the Count of Monte Cristo or summat, man, all artistic and shit. Something like this:
There’s something strange about being released from prison, the “shovel”, dreamlike even.
From the blackness of the jail, the doors open, and then…
It’s the brightest day you’ve ever witnessed.
The dew on the grass is glistening.
Sparkling like diamonds.
It’s like being born.
Ha ha, very poetic, don’t you think? Now, all that’s probably true if you’ve just done some twenty-year Shawshank Redemption kinda shit, but I hadn’t – I’d only been in just shy of seven months. But know this – I was in no rush to go back to the fucker.
‘You’ll be back, lad.’
This guard was only about twenty years old, if that, and he’s calling me lad. I’ve got a good twelve years on him. As he slammed the door behind me, I didn’t look back, nor did I even dignify him with an answer. I just smiled to myself, walked calmly to the station and thought, The fuck I will.
A two-hour train journey to get home would give me just long enough to reflect, to wonder what, just what, it was that brought me to this. I looked through the windows at the winter countryside as it hurtled past, and closed my eyes.
Summer 1996 – Aged 29
‘Gaz. There’s a call for you.’
Eric the barman looked disgruntled as he passed me the phone – how dare anyone ring during Happy Hour when he’s rushed off his feet? He’s a grumpy fucker.
‘Yeah? Who dat?’ I asked.
People can laugh when something isn’t even the remote bit funny, at the most inappropriate times. Could be a lack of diplomacy. Could be nerves. Or shock. Yes, this must have been shock.
‘Hiya Gaz, it’s Rick.’ It was my younger brother Ricky.
‘Hiya, Little Bruv. What’s up?’
‘Why the fuck are you laughing? Me nana’s died. And you’re laughing?’
‘I can’t help it, Gaz. Just come up. All the family are here and we’re waiting for the undertaker to come.’
‘Right, love. I’ll be straight there. Bye.’
I leaned across the bar, forced a smile and…
‘Eric… a double brandy and Coke please.’
I’d only ever seen dead people in the movies, y’know, shot to death and shit like that. This was different. My nana Maggie. Oh God. My poor nana Maggie. Sleeping.
Not unlike her morphine-induced sleep across the last few months. But this would be for always. Her lips were slightly open, pursed.
I kissed them.
And the funeral director took her away.
‘Anita, ‘I whispered in my auntie Anita’s ear as the undertaker slowly drove away down the street, ‘I need to speak to you in private.’
She took me into my nana Maggie’s bedroom, all floral and perfumed.
My auntie Anita. She had cared for my nana since the cancer took a grip; it showed in her face. Still kindly, but ageing fast.
She smiled at me inquisitively.
‘Yes, Gaz? Are you okay?’
Was I about to offer a hug, some reassuring words of thanks for the way she had sacrificed her own life to care for my nana Maggie?
‘How much of me nana’s morphine have you got left? I can get a good price for it. We’ll go halves.’
If you’ve ever had a look from someone… a look that says You must be desperate. And sad. But I still love you… then this was that look.
‘It’s all in that drawer over there. Take it. Do what you bleedin’ want with it. Keep the bloody money.’
I emptied the drawer.
A CAT WILL EAT FISH BUT WON’T WET ITS FEET
13th-century French proverb
Winter 1995 – Aged 28
‘He’s a good lad, really.’
My mother explained this to her pal in a not so sure way; she knew I was up to no good, but she didn’t see any harm in what I was doing. I was a kind-hearted villain to her. Robin Hood.
‘He’s a drug dealer, Jackie; all the young’uns on the estate get Es off him. Everybody knows except you it seems.’
My mam would always shrug these kind of absurd comments off, make excuses for me, anything but realise that everyone was right. I was a bastard. That was it. End of.
Anyway, I wasn’t a drug dealer. Not really. Drug dealers have got loads of money, they drive flash cars, they sell heroin to school kids. Don’t they?
A bit of Billy and a few Es doesn’t make a drug dealer. Does it?
Now, being a drug dealer and selling drugs are two completely different situations. I fell into the latter.
Here’s how it goes…
You’re the self-proclaimed “World’s number one DJ and Porno Legend”! You work every night of the week entertaining the masses until the early hours. You want to unwind after work… but it’s 2am… What do you do? You go to a club until 9am, that’s what! Then what do you do? Yep, you got it in one…You go to a party until four in the afternoon. Go home… eat a snack… go back to work at 7.30pm, and so it goes on. Fantastic!
A lifestyle to envy? Of course it is!
There’s only one “minor problem”. Three or four weeks of this and you will die of exhaustion. I know – I’ll take something to make me lively all the time. I mean, I owe it to my paying customers, don’t I?
A tired DJ is a shit DJ. A miserable DJ makes his crowd miserable. A miserable crowd won’t come back. I’m never tired and never miserable. Why? Because I know “a man who knows a dog”. That’s why.
Being behind the decks is like a drug – you get addicted, it’s true, and you feel famous, even though you’re only in the tiny bars of Leeds, yeah, you feel famous.
Everybody knows who you are, everybody wants to buy you a drink, everybody wants you to go to bed with them and everybody wants to give you drugs.
Sounds good to me.
Buying drugs to me was part of the job; I had to stay awake, right? Be happy.
Everybody had drugs if you wanted some. My drug was Billy.
Billy. Whizz. Speed. Fast. Quick. Phet. Powder. Pink champagne. Paste.
Amphetamines, whatever name you gave it, it still kept you awake; no matter what you call it, it still makes you the most talkative person in the entire universe; no matter what you call it, it still makes you the happiest person this side of a Butlin’s redcoat.
No matter what you call it, it would make you paranoid. I started off getting a couple of “wraps” a week, but as the lifestyle got more hectic so did the need for more “gear”.
This is where “the man” came in. We all knew him, we all knew that you could get more than the odd wrap from him. You could get as much as you liked. That would do me just fine and dandy.
It was cheaper to buy in bulk. So I did.
Just for me, mind. I’m not a drug dealer, after all.
It doesn’t take a genius to notice when someone is “off their head”.
Everyone knew. The bar bosses knew, the punters knew, they all knew.
But although they knew, they didn’t care.
I was lively. I was funny. Hilarious. I played the best tunes. I packed them in.
So what if he’s off his nut? He does the job and he does it well.
‘Can I have some of what you’re on, Gaz?’
You’d always get the odd punter asking for stuff, but I only bought enough for myself, enough to last the week.
But if you get asked often enough, you begin to think – no, you begin to know – that you could make a bit of money selling some on to the punters.
A few wraps to him, a couple to her, some for the girls who call in for half an hour on a Friday before they go clubbing. No big deal.
But news gets around.
Pretty soon you’re “the man”. The one who can get the gear.
Right, so I buy an ounce a week. This equates to twenty-eight grammes; ten quid a gramme means two hundred and eighty quid for me, less the hundred that I gave for it, so I’m one eighty clear. Right?
It’s right, I do buy an ounce a week and it does cost me hundred quid, but here’s the gig – I get it “laid on”, on credit if you will. So far so good, no layout, sell the stuff, pay the man his hundred quid back.
I then proceed to eat half of it myself, sell some, spend the proceeds like I think I’m Peter Stringfellow and, yep, you’ve guessed it. I still owe the man a hundred notes.
I know. I’ll get another ounce “laid on” and pay him from the proceeds of that. Problem solved.
Eat. Sell. Stringfellow. Owe twice as fucking much.
And the beat goes on.
‘A grand you owe me, Gaz. You keep fobbing me off. I like you, Gaz, you’re funny. But if you don’t pay me what you owe, well, let’s just say…I won’t like you anymore. I won’t think you’re funny. Friday, I want my money.’ The Man could be a scary cunt to say the least.
Fuck! It’s Monday. Who in their right fucking mind wants to buy drugs during the week, besides me? I need to pay this debt. Fuck.
I tend to have this habit, which must be annoying to other people, of falling into very big barrels of shite and coming out smelling of the proverbial roses.
So, out of the blue, I get a call from an old acquaintance, Barry. I haven’t seen him for over a year.
‘Hi Gaz, it’s Barry, long time no see. Look, I won’t beat about the bush, I need some gear for me and me mat
‘Yeah course, man, when do you need them?’ I replied, too cool for school.
‘By Wednesday. We go Friday.’
‘No problem. It’ll be one fifty an ounce for the Billy and a quid a tab; that’s eight fifty altogether. You got the money?’
‘Yeah, we’ve all clubbed together.’
‘Wednesday, then. Sorted, Barry me old pal.’
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
He’s got eight hundred and fifty quid waiting for me, and I’ve only got about thirty quid’s worth of Billy to my name and I haven’t even seen a tab of acid in three years. I can’t get anything off The Man – that’d be taking the complete piss.
Fuck. Think, Gaz, think.
Now, here’s the deal.
I go to the chemist. I buy five boxes of glucose, two cartons of paracetamol. Then next door to the post office – a child’s £1.99 printing set, some coloured card and fifty medium-sized resealable Jiffy bags, you know? The kind that shirt buttons come in.
»Glucose x 5 @ 99p each = £4.95
»Paracetamol x 2 @ 75p each = £1.50
»Printing set = £1.99
»Card@ 5p per sheet x 2 = 10p
»Jiffy bags x 50 = £2.10
The best £10.64 I would ever spend. Without a shadow of a Doubting Thomas. This is it, Gaz, no worries. The Man’s gonna get most of his money. Zippity day!
Right, into the kitchen, get out a big bowl, in goes the glucose, crush the paracetamol to add bitterness, mix it all together, oh, and don’t forget, throw in the thirty quid of Billy that I’ve got left over. Mix, stir, mix, crush, weigh it into five ounces and put it into Jiffy bags.
We now have five ounces of Billy. Of course I’ll tell them that it’s been cut, rude not to. I just won’t say how much it’s been cut. Ha har!