Didi's dead. That's sad. Jack Price isn't sad, because Jack Price doesn't care about Didi. Jack Price is just angry, because if anyone was going to brutally murder his cranky old neighbour, it was Jack Price.

The thing you've got to know about Jack Price is he is a very modern kind of coke dealer. High-grade zero-hours free-market no-strings narcotics start-up type operation. And some cold-blooded fuck murdering his neighbour doesn't bode well for business.

But when Jack takes matters into his own hands, he gets a contract taken out on him. An assassination-by-internationally-renowned-terrorist-organisation type contract. Now, on a level playing field against a team of professional killers, Jack would be seven shades of grey matter in a back alley. But Jack Price doesn't play fair. Jack Price is the Ho Chi Minh, the Warren Buffet, the Miley fucking Cyrus of avenging psychopaths And these guys are gonna pay.

Wise-talking, hilarious, exhilaratingly extravagant, treading a fine between genius and madness, The Price You Pay is the revenge thriller they warned you about.

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PART ONE

 

I’m ordering a latte macchiato because Didi is dead and that is sad. It’s not like horrible sad but it’s sad. She was an old lady and actuarially she didn’t have long but it looks like someone couldn’t wait. It’s the kind of thing makes you uncomfortable in your neighbourhood and it’s the kind of thing that’s bad for business and just fuck it who needs this crap? It leaves open questions is what I’m saying and open questions are upsetting to a certain kind of person and that kind of person is the kind that I am. So coffee while I reflect on this situation that I do not like.

I am all kinds of reflective. I am deeply contemplative of the universe. I am fucking restrospect is what.

Yeah look it up so anyway this is me before it begins. It is morning and I am chipper. I am positively giddy with the love of all mankind because that is how I roll. This is me coming out of my front door and this is me walking down the hall singing a little song to myself, I have no idea so do not ask. I have no idea the sad shit that has happened so I am singing a little song.

This is me in the elevator and now I am not singing my little song anymore because: elevator music. And this is me pushing the button and I have my executive sippy cup of hand-woven organic honey seasalt rooibos and la la la. I am getting on with my day just ordinary is what.

This is the elevator doing that thing that it does shall we close or shall we pretend there is a fat man in the doorway and we must not jog his ass. Today we are respectful of his personal ass space, and so: no we shall not close the door we shall instead screw around. Juddadada juddadada but that is fine. All is right with the world. Even the elevator music is not terrible. Now the doors are closing and down we go. Eighteen floors and no one else in this building leaves this time of day so mostly I am all alone each morning, and each morning the elevator and I go by ourselves San Diego instrumental noseflute calypso all the way to the bottom.

This is me sipping my hand-woven organic honey seasalt rooibos and savouring the nutty and textured depth of the brew and the tang of dolphin ejaculate and this is the elevator stopping on the floor right under mine and making the ping noise. This is me smiling at the unexpected and preparing for serendipity.

Ping.

This is every single fucking cop in the universe standing there on the seventeenth floor and that is two guys in space suits collecting evidence and that right there is Leo my cop buddy and that means someone is dead. Someone is dead in my building. Someone is dead in my building right under my apartment. Someone is dead in my building right under my apartment in such a way that there are all the cops in the universe plus also Leo and that means they got dead violently and with malice in my building right under my apartment and you just have to take notice of that kind of happening.

Cops look at me. I look at cops. I do not rubberneck. I wait to go ping bye bye.

Oh excuse me sir!

Yeah hi officer hi. Hey Leo.

Oh sir right you know this guy sir.

Hi Jack yes officer I do.

Leo what is this?

You got this old lady down here named Desdemona?

Fuck. Desdemona?

What it says.

 Desdemona?

Seems like.

Didi is what.

Didi?

Goes by Didi.

She’s dead.

Yes I get that. I will say that she was a terrible person but not so that you would kill her.

Jack you hear anything last night?

No.

Uhuh.

They definitely looking for Didi?

Who knows man but they definitely got her.

I look at Leo. Leo looks at me. I say: I’ll see you later Leo you need my statement whatever. Leo says he’ll make some shit up. Cub nearby looks a little shocked but we are joshing obviously just joshing like black humour. Leo would not do such a thing and his upstanding citizen friend would not ask him to.

Ping bye bye.

Didi is dead.

I look at my executive sippy cup all the way down and then I leave it in the corner of the elevator. Fucking dolphin ejaculate is not appropriate anymore.

 

 

The guy behind the bar is called Mike. He’s not a barista, he’s a guy who works behind a coffee bar, not because it’s authentic or because he loves coffee but because he shot a man in the knee in 78 and employment thereafter was hard to come by. He’s pouring my macchiato the way you should so that it comes out in layers: milk, espresso, foam. Pale, dark, white.

Coffee is the judge of a person. Everything you need to know you can know about someone from their coffee, like I am drinking macchiato and why is that? It is the coffee of simple joy like coffee running naked in a field. You know who statistically and disproportionately prefers bitter coffee? Psychopaths. They like bitter food and that is science, whereas I will tell you there is nothing profound about bitterness at all.

No no chocolate powder thank you Mike there are limits.

Yes I did say he shot a man. In the knee. It was not in Reno and you’ll gather from his target that it was not to watch him die. It was because he wanted to express his annoyance at this other fellow trying to steal his fishing rod. It was an expensive one because back then Mike was the king of local TV fly fishing and he had used his second pay cheque to buy at a hefty discount some really nice gear. The next step on his agenda was to go and get a sponsorship deal but up comes this walking pissboil and shoves a knife in his face – not like actually in his face but close enough that he felt the breeze – and la la la.

Mike Sunby – that’s the barman’s name – took the knife and threw it away and then unfortunately went ahead and amputated the pissboil’s patella with a .38 that came serendipitously to hand. The judge said that was stretching the definition of self defence to include basically just being fucking annoyed.

The judge actually said fuck because it was the 70s.

So after that he was a barman and not so much a TV personality because it turns out fly fishing is a namby pamby enterprise with a prudish attitude to gun violence.

I taste my macchiato.

Sunby says: haven’t had anyone order that since 00.

Yeah well Didi’s dead and she was shot like execution style and that requires some sort of fucking in memoriam but also some deep thinking. I do not say that to Mike.

What I say to Mike is I haven’t drunk coffee since 00 either and that is a lie. I haven’t drunk coffee since 01. Between 94 and 01 I was a coffee junkie but also a professional coffee person. I bought and sold coffee internationally and I drank it and I slept exclusively with women who tasted of it. I wore vetiver and black coffee cologne and dressed in coffee shades. I ruled coffee. No one called me the King of Coffee because everyone back then in the trade was the King of Coffee. There were so many Kings of Coffee you could have made a football team. Two teams of pasty desk-assed fuckers with incipient heart problems and bad sex habits. I was the Cardinal. Not the Cardinal of Coffee because that went without saying. You just said you were going to see the Cardinal or the Cardinal thinks this stuff is The Shit – or it’s just shit, or whatever – and people knew who that was. If they mattered in coffee they knew. All the so-called Kings of Coffee kissed my ring.

And then I was in London one autumn and a friend called from his office, mid afternoon, says: Did someone crash a plane into my building?

Fuck. Are you asking me?

Guy says: we don’t know what’s happening. They’re saying don’t use the elevator but we’re really high.

Use the fucking elevator.

But they’re saying don’t?

Use it. (Don’t know why I said use it, but I did. I knew or I was too fucking stupid to know you shouldn’t. Whatever. I said Use It.)

What if there’s— Use. It.

… Okay. Okay, I will!

Asshole did not use the fucking elevator. Nuff said. So you know what happened next? Apart from I cried the whole week and had to go and see a therapist until 04 and the therapist wanted me to have fucking electroshock to get it done? My fucking asshole friend live- SMSed his journey down the stairs and his last one said just: I’m burning. And what the fuck do you do with that? Why would you text it to anyone, ever? What the fuck does he want me to text back?

He was not my best friend. He was just this guy I knew.

I was sitting in a place in Green Park which is near Buckingham Palace and I was drinking – you know what I was drinking – and I got his message and suddenly my macchiato is ash.

 I don’t mean like ooooh I’m so poetic. I mean like in my mouth I can taste New York air and ash. I’m drinking that appalling ash that’s falling from the sky all across Manhattan.

I looked in the cup and it was pale and grey. There was a piece of a woman’s purse in it, a charred lone survivor from a gold-strap clutch. The saucer stuck to the bottom of the cup and it fell. It fell dozens and dozens of floors screaming all the way down and then it hit the ground and it didn’t break because catering. Fucking unbreakable catering china.

So that was a kinduva life-altering day, is what I’m saying. Didi is dead. She was a rude old lady and I didn’t really like her that much but someone shot her twice in the chest and once in the head like she was a drug mule in some ratfuck town wherever idiots smuggle drugs into this country from these days. I am not okay with that.

My name is Jack Price and this story is about me.