The Distant Sound of Violence

I am super excited today to bring you details of the new release from my #Awethor buddy Jason Greensides. Jason’s a great writer and I know you’re gonna love his new book.

Seven Days, Seven blogs, Seven Chapters

Day One, Chapter One

The Distant Sound of Violence by Jason Greensides Relaunch Blog Tour

The Distant Sound of Violence promo banner

Author: Jason Greensides

Title: The Distant Sound of Violence

Genre: Literary/Contemporary/Coming-of-age/mystery

Book Content Rating: Adult, based on language, violence, and sexual content

Synopsis:

Do we ever escape the decisions we make when we’re fifteen?

Nathan Dawes, the loser from school, an outsider, street philosopher and member of The Grove Runners gang, needs Ryan’s help to get Stephanie to fall for him. When Ryan’s lawnmower is stolen, Nathan sees this as his chance to enlist Ryan in his plan.

Although Ryan knows becoming friends with Nathan could lead to trouble, he reluctantly agrees to help.

Stephanie wants nothing to do with either of them. Besides, she’s more interested in the one guy in the world she really shouldn’t be.

As Nathan continues his pursuit of Stephanie, and Ryan gets mixed up with The Grove Runners, soon events overtake them all, haunting their lives for years to come.

This intelligent and compelling debut is a heart-breaking tale of bad decisions and love gone wrong. It’s about choices that lead to violence, loss and tragedy.


Excerpt

Chapter One

‘You can’t change the size of fire.’

The first words he ever said to me were half lost in the rumble of traffic along Ladbroke Grove.

I’m sure he thought he was being poetic or something, but right then I didn’t care: someone had just stolen my aunt’s lawnmower while I’d been inside the repair shop. I stormed up to him from the curb, where I’d been scanning the road for some sign of the thief, and barked down at him, ‘Where’s the mower?’

He gave me a crooked smile, delved into his trouser pocket, pulled out a stick of Dentyne and offered it to me.

How did he think a stick of gum could help in this situation? How would that help when my aunt went batshit? Weirdo stuff like that made everyone at school run whenever they saw Nathan. It also didn’t help that he was supposed to be part of a gang – The Grove Runners – and it was this that made me weary of him now. If any of the girls from school saw me talking to him, they’d be gone.

So I smacked the gum out of his hand, sending it flying onto the concrete.

‘Which way did he go?’

‘That way,’ Nathan finally said, jerking his thumb towards the Harrow Road.

I turned from him then ran off in what would turn out to be a futile search for the lawnmower.

*

The next time I spoke to him was two days later in Mrs Bradley’s history class. For some reason, he threw himself into the chair next to mine, flung his graffiti-covered bag on the table, just as my girlfriend Karen – the girl I was supposed to be saving the seat for – walked up, saw the two of us, gave an exaggerated huff and strutted away again.

‘Yeah, cheers for that,’ I said to Nathan as I watched Karen’s arse sway tauntingly as she walked away to look for another seat.

‘Sorry, mate. I didn’t mean to –’

‘Save it.’

Besides, he didn’t seem sorry. He looked amused.

Ignoring him, I perched on the edge of my seat and watched to see where Karen would sit. I could still salvage the situation, follow her over there, tell her she looked beautiful today.

She finally sat over in the opposite corner, at the farthest point away from me.

But then I saw she could have taken the seat next to this other girl, but hadn’t. There was an empty seat next to her. She wanted me to follow!

I grabbed my books and pens, but just as I was about to leap from my seat, Mrs Bradley clapped her hands, told everyone to shut up and draw the curtains. Too late to change seats. I slumped back into my chair and dumped my books on the desk as far from Nathan as I could. Yeah, petty, I know.

Mrs Bradley inserted a video into the player, switched off the lights and ordered everyone to put their pens down. Seconds later, Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog flickered across room.

As the opening credits rolled and the haunting music rippled through the sweaty air, I soon forgot about Nathan and the trouble he’d caused me with Karen. That film is probably why I remember the events of that day as well as I do: Jews stripped, shaved and tattooed; a man who’d been shot, lying on a barbed wire fence; a bulldozer shovelling raw-boned and skeletal bodies into a ditch…

About halfway through, I snuck a look at Nathan. Odd: he seemed just as disturbed by the film as I was. Usually he’d sit at the front, cracking wise, but now he was gazing at the screen, the flecks of green in his brown eyes shimmering, the Dentyne frozen in the side of his mouth in mid-chew.

When it was over, as Mrs Bradley ejected the video and switched on the lights, I whispered to Nathan, ‘That film was insane. I can’t believe –’

He held up a chubby, scarred hand to silence me, an odd, faraway look on his face, and huskily said, ‘I know where your lawnmower is.’

*

This was back in ’91 when I was living with my aunt in a small flat off Portobello Road. She’d taken care of me since I was eleven, when my parents, away on their second honeymoon, had drowned off the coast of Antigua (that small island in the Caribbean where I was born).

My father had jumped into the sea to save my mother after she’d been swept away by the swelling waves in the rainy season of 1987. Since that time I’d been living in west London under the stern guidance of my aunt. I always had plenty of friends and girlfriends, and usually managed to stay on top of my homework and out of trouble.

But something must have happened when I turned fifteen. Whether it was the nightmare of exams and having to make decisions about what I was going to do with my life, or whether hormonal changes had twisted my way of thinking – whatever it was – something had changed in me.

So, that afternoon after Mrs Bradley’s history class, I skipped football practice and lied to Karen about where I was going – something the old Ryan Williamson would never have done – and walked through Notting Hill with Nathan Dawes.

‘Where are we going?’ I said as we turned onto All Saints Road.

‘You’ll see.’

I think he thought ‘You’ll see’ would be enough to get me off the topic.

It wasn’t.

‘Come on. Don’t be lame. You said you knew who took my lawnmower.’

‘Yeah, and I bet you wish you could go back in time and stop that kid from taking it.’

‘So what if I do?’

‘My point is’ – he broke off to take a hefty drag on his cigarette – ‘that stuff what happened in Germany would have happened anyway. Determinism, innit.’

Nathan had already gone home to change, and he was now wearing a shirt, trainers with big floppy tongues, and aviator glasses, which were balanced on his head. His hair was slicked across his brow, partially covering a broad face that seemed both welcoming and belligerent.

It was that look on his face which was going to make me argue that what happened in Germany could have been stopped, perhaps asking him if my parents’ death was also inevitable. But I didn’t. Instead, I asked, ‘What you doing after exams?’

He seemed to struggle with this question, his brows jagged in a deep frown, his pockmarked, nail-bitten hands scratching at each other. ‘I don’t know… I just… Whatever I do, I just want to fit in. I want the girls to like me.’

I laughed, then, seeing that he was being serious, shut my mouth again.

‘Well, what are you gonna do?’ he said.

‘I want to make films and maybe get married, I guess.’ The vagueness of my answer was worrying, and, as if to steer the conversation back to the safety of the present, while realising Nathan had derailed the conversation in the first place with all that determinism bollocks, I said, ‘What did this kid look like, anyway?’

‘Can’t remember,’ he shrugged, ‘all kids pretty much look the same.’

‘You’re right useless.’

Nathan laughed, as if I’d fallen into a trap he’d laid. ‘Well, as Chaung Tzu said, “All People understand the use of the useful. But few people understand the use of the useless”.’

I waved him off. ‘And you said you want the girls to like you?’

But he’d already moved on, his attention caught by a group of boys waiting outside Vidur’s Videos. ‘There’s some people I want you to meet,’ he said.

I stopped dead, eyeing the boys wearily.

‘Come on,’ he continued, ‘your aunt wants her lawnmower back, don’t she?’

‘But I didn’t think I’d have to meet your dumbass friends in the process.’

‘Get over yourself. You need to see what’s on the underside of life. You need to –’

‘Shut your trap. I need to go meet Karen. I need to go to football practice.’

‘Look. Come with us just this once,’ he said. ‘After that you can go back to your hot girls.’

I studied his face. Could he hear the crazy things he was saying?

He looked back at me, and we tried to stare each other down, the traffic along Ladbroke Grove spluttering around us.

I don’t know how long the two of us stared at each other like that, but it felt a long time. Then, unable to remain serious any longer, we both broke into laughter.

‘You’re fucked,’ I said, my reluctance at meeting his gang crumbling the longer I watched Nathan’s animated eyes.

‘Let’s do this,’ he said.

I glanced over at the boys, who’d begun to saunter towards us, and I cursed under my breath. It was too late to walk off without looking like I was scared of them.

First, Nathan introduced me to Dwain Tapper, the leader of The Grove Runners, a curbside gang which had strong ties to a Yardie outfit headed by Dwain’s cousin, English Victor; then, Fahad Kandala, son of Vidur, the Indian proprietor of the video shop we were stood by now; Courtney Hoxton, another boy with Jamaican parents; and lastly – although

everyone was uncomfortable with his presence – Aidy Small, now half-hidden behind a wall because he knew he wasn’t welcome due to him being only eight years old.

We ambled up Ladbroke Grove to the Harrow Road where, according to Aidy (whom Nathan had sent to follow the thief), the lawnmower could be found in a shed at the end of an alley behind Lee’s Arcade. We stood across the street, eyeing the arcade, watching old men and kids trundle in and out, until it became apparent to the other gang members that they had no idea why we were there.

Dwain, grouchy, marginally overweight, with a short Afro, leering smile and dark confrontational eyes, stepped right up into Nathan’s face, looked him up and down, as if Nathan were emanating some faintly pungent smell, and said, ‘Why you bring us here for, star?’

Nathan placed a hand on my shoulder. ‘We’re here to get Ryan’s lawnmower back. Look how upset he is.’

I looked down at the floor, embarrassed that Nathan, despite Dwain’s glare, was just laughing him off.

Dwain kissed his teeth, eyed Fahad and Courtney, thrust his glare upon me then focused back on Nathan. ‘Ain’t no reason why we should help this bumboclot. My man looks like a batty boy.’

‘Don’t be like that,’ Nathan said, ‘he’s gonna help me get laid. The least we could do is this one little thing.’

‘I’m going to what?’ I said.

Fahad and Courtney laughed.

‘You ain’t getting no pussy,’ Dwain said, ‘not dressed like that. You look like you’re dressed for the beach – raas.’

Nathan flattened out his shirt with his palms. ‘This was my dad’s.’

‘No shit it was your old man’s. If I were you, I’d mash up his face; he’s laughing at you, star.’

What did Nathan see in these kids? Courtney and Fahad were OK, I guess, but Dwain was just…ugh.

‘If you batty boys fink I’m gonna watch while you steal back some pathetic lawnmower and drag that shit halfway across London, you’re on a jolt flex.’ Dwain hunked up a gob of spit and fired it three feet from Nathan.

Nathan blew air from his lips, making his fat lower lip wobble. He didn’t speak, just turned to eye the arcade again.

Feeling stupid for ditching football practice and Karen for these bunch of losers, I decided to make it up to my aunt in some other way. So I turned and walked back.

Nathan called after me but I kept my head forward and my feet moving. They were proper doing my nut. I had to go ring Karen.

Now about twenty meters away (I could hear Nathan and Dwain arguing again), I stomped on to the nearest bus stop.

*

When I arrived home, Aunt Esther was stooped over the stove, boiling rice, a wooden spoon in one hand, a bible in the other. She was stood between me and the phone.

Acting casual, I strolled up to the biscuit tin, pulled the lid open and picked out a chocolate Digestive, knowing this would cause her to turn and allow me to squeeze by her to the phone.

It worked, but she ignored the pre-meal biscuit and said, ‘How many sweet potatoes you want?’

My stomach flipped, both at the prospect of eating sweet potatoes, and being accused of rejecting my West Indian heritage. I took a bite of the biscuit and said, ‘Do I have to?’

She kissed her teeth, something I was used to her doing for the last four years, but this time it reminded me of Dwain, catching me off guard.

‘Look here, boy,’ she said, ‘I don’t never give you no yam, no plantain, dasheen, green banana, okra, aubergine, callaloo –’

‘I know. Just one then.’

I squeezed past her, the phone now in my sights at the end of the hallway. But just as I was about to leave the kitchen, she said, ‘Any sign of my lawnmower?’

‘What do we need the lawnmower for, anyway?’ I said, backchatting her against my better judgement. ‘We live in a flat.’

‘Don’t make me walk my hand around your face, boy. You’re lucky Gertrude can’t hear you. She box your ears.’

Gertrude was my grandmother in Antigua. Esther always said that Gertrude wanted nothing more than to get me out of the satanic cesspool of London and over to the Caribbean, to straighten me out, teach me the ways of the Lord.

Obviously, I hated the idea, so in order to steer the conversation away from that, I stepped outside the kitchen and said, ‘God, I’m starving, maybe I’ll have some plantain if you’re doing some.’

‘Eh-eh. Now you want my cooking. Have mercy.’ Despite herself, she laughed and waved me out of the kitchen. ‘And don’t go runnin’ up my phone bill.’

‘I won’t.’

I closed the door behind me and dialled the number.

‘Who’s this?’ Karen’s mum asked even though she knew who I was.

Sweat moistened my hands and I struggled to grip the receiver by the earpiece. ‘It’s Ryan. Is Karen there, please?’

There was an awkward silence, then: ‘Hang on, I’ll go see if she’s in.’ I flinched at the sharp knock of the phone being placed onto a table.

At last Karen came on the line. ‘Hello,’ she said, her voice oddly blank.

‘Hi, it’s me,’ I whispered.

‘Oh, hi,’ she said, the background noise at her end fading as she went into another room, ‘I thought you were with that Nathan Dawes.’


The Distant Sound of Violence cover

To celebrate the relaunch and Kindle $0.99 / £0.99 promotion of Jason Greensides’s acclaimed literary coming-of-age debut, The Distant Sound of Violence, you can read the first seven chapters on seven different blogs over seven days. I’m proud to host Jason for day one of the tour, featuring chapter one. Happy reading!

Amazon Book link: mybook.to/TDSOV

Jason Greensides Biography

Jason Greensides has a degree in Video Production and Film Studies and has made several short films, two of which have been broadcast on television – but writing fiction is his real passion.author headshot photo

He’s interested in ‘outsider’ types, people operating on the edge of society. This inspired him to write his first novel, The Distant Sound of Violence. It’s about a group of kids, one in particular, Nathan Dawes, whose philosophical obsessions and criminal connections have made him an outcast at school.

Jason is now working on his second novel, another coming-of-age mystery, but on coffee breaks he blogs and tweets about writing, and throws in the occasional book review.

Links:

Jason Greensides website: jasongreensides.com

Facebook: facebook.com/jasongreensidesauthor

Twitter: twitter.com/jasongreensides

Google Plus: plus.google.com/+JasonGreensides

Pinterest: pinterest.com/jasongreensides

Goodreads: goodreads.com/Jason_greensides

Amazon page: amazon.co.uk/Jason-Greensides

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