Exclusive Look Inside: No Place For The Weak

Second Hand Computer


Jamie was a weird dude. He’d been a weird kid when David met him, and he had just gotten weirder as time went by. Still, this was his step-brother, they were family, and that meant something to folks. It meant something to David. Sure, with everybody remarrying time and time again, there was a kind of tangled web of family ties around Salisbury, but Jamie wasn’t like that. They didn’t spend a lot of time together now that they were grown, and honestly, they hadn’t spent a ton of time together as kids either, but Jamie was always good to him. Nice even.
Nice was a hard thing to come by out here. The folks that weren’t turned in on themselves had a nasty habit of lashing out hard. Life was rough, there was no denying it, but David never understood how making everyone else’s life harder was meant to make him feel better about it. If that made him soft, he’d rather take the muttered insults than be the one doling them out.
It was a funny thing – Jamie should have been one of the people who came down on him the hardest. He kept it under wraps for the most part, but his family knew that he was into all that white-power neo-Nazi bully-boy stuff. He lived his whole life by that code of puffed-up machismo that was just an undercurrent for everyone else on the wrong side of the tracks. This was the kind of guy who’d spit on disabled people. Who’d happily kick a man’s teeth out if he suspected he was gay. Yet there he was in the driver’s seat of the truck, going out of his way by miles to give David a ride and do him a favour.
David knew that people called him faggot behind his back. They didn’t do it quietly. He showed his strength in different ways – by turning the other cheek when those accusations and rumours got circulated. He knew who he was, and he didn’t have to prove himself to anybody.
The taunt had upset him when he was still a teenager, and he’d come to his older brother with furious tears in his eyes after the teasing he’d suffered. Ranting about how it was disgusting. How he’d never let a man touch him like that. He wasn’t weak, he wasn’t pathetic, just because he didn’t want to fight everyone all the time. He didn’t want to be a tough guy. That didn’t mean that he was less than anyone else. Jamie had just taken him at his word, stared off into space, let him get it out. There was no judgement from Jamie – the boy who judged the whole world by his black-and-white standards.
He’d always treated his step-brother well, better than their parents’ seething contempt, better than the schoolboy bullying his friends offered up in place of any genuine emotional connection. It left David with a nasty little worm of guilt in his belly that he was using Jamie like this.
Okay, using was maybe too strong a word. If he told Jamie why he’d asked him to come along, then there was no doubt in his mind that the younger man would have just laughed it off and agreed, but it grated on David to even admit why he needed Jamie right now.
For all of his big talk about not needing to strut around and be a tough guy to get by in the world, he still needed a tough guy to come along with him on days like this. To stand there and look menacing, so that he could buy a second-hand computer instead of getting mugged for the cash he’d brought along. It was pathetic. He was pathetic.
He felt even worse because Jamie had made it all so easy. The minute he’d mentioned that he was in the market for a second-hand computer – planning on planting the seeds for his later request for a lift and a hand carrying it – Jamie had sprung into action, reaching out through the grapevine of pseudo-criminals that he brushed shoulders with on a daily basis to find him the best deal going.
David’s budget wasn’t big – as much as he held himself to a higher standard than the thugs that populated the backwaters around northern Adelaide, he was still just as poor as the rest of them – but within a couple of days, Jamie had come back to him with a little napkin with a jumble of technical information jotted down on it that it was clear the other man didn’t understand a word of. Random-access memory for Jamie was flashbacks to a night when he’d been blackout drunk, not anything to do with a little hunk of electronics in a beige box.
He’d dutifully read out all of the stats even though they meant nothing to him, and David’s heart sank with every new line of numbers. There was no way that he could afford a computer with specs this high on his budget. When Jamie got to the end and read out the last numbers on his napkin, the price, David was fully expecting to have an awkward conversation. Instead, he was stumped. ‘How cheap?’
Jamie never said that it was stolen. He never even implied it. But for some reason, in the back of David’s mind, the connection had been made between his brand spanking new computer with all these great components and the distinct possibility that some criminal activity had been involved in its acquisition. That maybe David was somehow complicit, or an accomplice in some way, because he’d told Jamie what he was looking for and suddenly it had materialised. As if it had just appeared out of thin air, or fallen off the back of a lorry, just because he wanted it.
So that was another little twist in David’s guts as they made the long slow drive out to Snowtown. As they rolled along the road, further and further from civilisation, Jamie didn’t look worried about it. But of course, Jamie wouldn’t look worried about it. This was his world, all these shady people that he ended up allied with just because his politics were a little bit outside the norm. If Jamie did look worried about something, it was probably because they were already going to end up dead and chopped up in bits. The teen’s face gave nothing away. He caught David staring at him and smiled at his brother. ‘What? Have I got something on my face?’
For a moment, all of his little niggling worries threatened to climb right up David’s throat and jump out. Jamie would take them all in stride, laugh about the silly ones, and console him about the rest. He wouldn’t lie to him, though, and if the computer was stolen, he’d trust in his stepbrother to keep his mouth shut and to keep them both out of trouble. David didn’t want to know. Knowing would make this whole thing worse. If he could just pretend that everything was normal, he knew what script to follow. If it turned out to be some sort of criminal computer conspiracy, he’d be so far out of his depth he might just run off home. So, all he did was slap on a fake smile and say, ‘Thanks for all this. I really appreciate it.’
Jamie leaned over and gave him a playful punch on the shoulder. ‘What are family for?’
David scolded himself and deliberately turned to stare out the window. What did he have to worry about when Jamie was there with him?
The salt plains gave way to town abruptly. One main street seemed to be almost all that there was of an actual town around there. It wasn’t what David had been expecting from this trip. He thought they were going to end up somewhere on the edge of nowhere outside some caravan full of dubious goods. Instead, when Jamie clapped him on the shoulder and very deliberately double-checked the address on the napkin, they seemed to be heading into an old bank.
Immediately, all of David’s worries disappeared. Nothing shady and illegal ever happened in a bank! The computer that he was there to buy was probably something that the bank’s corporate office sent out just before branch closure that had ended up in legal limbo. These things happened all the time. It was just the sort of legal grey area where you could get a computer this cheap.
He caught up to Jamie in a moment and walked into the dusty old building shoulder to shoulder with his stepbrother, fighting down the goofy grin that was threatening to manifest itself. All that worrying over nothing. It wouldn’t do to go into this meeting with a grin like that, though. Not if he wanted them to take him seriously.
Jamie led him into the building, deeper and deeper through the empty foyers and offices until they came to a quiet wood-panelled room with a man inside. He was one of Jamie’s friends. Or at least a friend of Jamie’s new stepdad. That was a little bit odd, but David could come up with a dozen reasons why one of Jamie’s buddies might be here if things weren’t entirely legal. ‘Uh. Hi. We’re here about the computer?’
The man gave him a nod, which Jamie took as assent, then David turned his attention to the computer where it had been set up on the desk. The only seat was on the wrong side of the desk, but that didn’t bother David one bit, not when this thing was everything that he’d been promised and more. It even had a microphone set up to do voice recordings. All he had to do was hit the button and he could record himself right now! He reached for the switch to try it out, opened his mouth and no sound came out.
Jamie’s friend, the older guy with a goatee, had a hold of David by the throat. ‘Not another word, faggot.’
David tried to mouth out a denial. He scrabbled involuntarily at the hands around his throat, then he saw Jamie was already reaching for them. Jamie was going to save him.
Jamie took a hold of David’s wrists and pulled his arms down so that he couldn’t interfere as the other man choked the life out of him. Still struggling despite his mounting horror, David tried to throw himself free of the killer grasp only for Jamie’s face to loom forward suddenly out of the darkness that was encroaching, his forehead slamming down into David’s soft face. Why? That was all that he could think as he slipped into unconsciousness. Why would his own step-brother do this to him?
When he finally woke up, coughing and wheezing through his bruised throat, he was tied to the chair. The microphone had been turned around to face him. Jamie, the other guy, Jamie’s stepdad, and another man that David didn’t know were all gathered around. Grins on their faces. Cigarette tips flaring in the dim light. He shouldn’t have made a noise. The moment that they realised he was awake, Jamie stepped forward with something in his hands. David flinched, just waiting for the pain to come, but it didn’t. Something was dropped onto his lap.
His hands were cuffed behind his back, but his legs were still free. He tipped the clipboard up with his knees to read what was on it. A script was written out for him. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about what to say.
It was split into different sections. A declaration that he was moving away. A full confession to molesting little boys. Being gay. Being an insufferable stain on the white race. It was all there, clear as day. Scratched out in black and white as though it were the truth, even though David hadn’t done a single one of the things it claimed that he did. Jamie leaned in closer until the tip of his cigarette was flaring bright an inch from David’s eye.
He reached past the bound man and pressed the record button.

NO PLACE FOR THE WEAK will be released on Amazon on 20th April 2021

2 Comments

  • Lisa Lahey

    Reply Reply July 19, 2021

    I didn’t see that one coming. I have to get that one Mr. Ryan you are a true crime genius. Move over Anne Rule! (god rest her soul)

    • Ryan Green

      Reply Reply July 20, 2021

      Thank you Lisa! You’re too kind! 🙂

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