Novels‎ > ‎Shot Down‎ > ‎

Chapter One



            Journalists across London simultaneously Google searched ‘Bright Eyes,’ seeking background on the latest hip-hop shooting.  Those not in the know were baffled when the only responses yielded were Simon and Garfunkel, Watership Down and some anaemic looking indie kid from Nebraska, as opposed to a rap-heavyweight from either the East or West side of where-ever they were from. 

            When reports of a shooting at a gig in the centre of London came through, it was logical to assume that it was of black origin and it was the result of a turf war.  Karl Martindale was no different on this score.  He had covered a lot of shootings in London, and he knew exactly what to look for.  Karl was already planning a side piece on Britain’s ever-increasing gun crime statistics, implicating the black community subtly with a couple of carefully chosen pictures and famous examples.  There was the potential for a comment as well – “Top of the Shots: Music and Guns.”  There was nothing the masses feared more than youth culture. 

            Karl was concluding that this Bright Eyes must be an ‘underground’ artist, and was therefore unknown online.  The only way to find out would be to get down there, in the thick of the action.  Not all articles could be patched together from search engines, unfortunately.  Karl abandoned his laptop (paid for by a damning investigative piece on drugs in Brixton) on the leather sofa (an exclusive on a celebrity paedophile), switched off the widescreen plasma television (an expose on a ‘no win, no fee’ con) and headed out of his post-modern apartment (a fifteen year career of outing dirty laundry) to get back in the thick of things.

            Driving through the streets of London on a subdued September evening, Karl felt a buzz that had been absent in his life for quite some time.  At some point he had made a name for himself and had stopped striving.  People expected great things from him, and that was what they saw.  What Karl saw was laziness.  He hadn’t done a ‘death-knock’ for months and generally sent juniors out to do the hard work, whilst he sat in his flat, airbrushing his by-line photograph.  It was the way the system worked, he knew that – but it had been so easy to take a backseat whilst retaining the name.  He earned more now than ever before, and did far less.  It was what a career-path was for – but tonight Karl was compelled to do something.  He wanted to be involved, like he was when he scrabbled about in the dirt for the person that he was today. 

            He had picked a good time to get involved.

            Karl’s phone rang.  He answered quickly, having put the hands-free headset on the moment he had decided to leave the flat.  It was Cameron Greaves, one the more promising juniors on The Daily Reader – Fleet Street’s flourishing newest tabloid. 

            “Cameron,” Karl took control of the call.  “I’m on my way to-“

            “There’s been a shooting,” Cameron interrupted, much to Karl’s chagrin.  “It’s an odd one.”

            “I’ve heard – the gangster rap wars break out again,” Karl replied, pleased to get the upper hand on his junior after his impertinent interruption. 

            “Gangster Rap?  There must have been two!”

            “Bright Eyes,” Karl informed him, hoping that his shooting was the bloodier of the two.  Cameron laughed loudly, evidently amused by something. 

            Karl couldn’t hide his irritation as he fabricated details of the case, his authority disgruntled by the reporters mocking chuckles.  “I don’t know what you find so amusing.  It’s a good story.  From what I’ve heard, no arrests have been made – that gives us a couple of days of intrigue before a council estate arrest, and a call for new gun laws in Britain.  I’ll need you to be-“

            “I don’t think so,” Cameron cut him off for a second time.  Karl wanted to explode.  He had worked hard to earn respect, and the young upstart was clearly taking the piss.

            “Listen, I have worked on cases like this for a long time, I know how these things work,” his voice was raised.

            “I’m there already, at the Central Academy,” Cameron informed him.  “I was at the gig.  They’ve arrested someone – a middle-class white kid.  It’s not Gangsta Rap, it’s tortured indie.”  He laughed again.  “Who the fuck told you it was Gangsta Rap?”

            Karl hung up – he had just given Cameron a story.  To tell at dinner parties.