The Distant Sound of Violence by Jason Greensides Relaunch Blog Tour
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 five of the tour, featuring chapter five.
Author: Jason Greensides
Title: The Distant Sound of Violence
Book Content Rating: Adult, based on language, violence, and sexual content
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.
‘Nathan got blown out!’ Fahad exclaimed, making Dwain and Courtney snicker.
Nathan smiled with an all-knowing, serene look on his face as he continued to peruse the comedy titles.
Dwain chipped in with: ‘Oi, check it out, yeah, my man got rebuffed and now he’s doing his Jesus Christ act. You ain’t gonna get nufin out of him. That girl could come in here, spit in his face, and he’ll still fink she marry him.’
Courtney turned down the volume on his walkman and said, ‘She’s out of his league, man. Nah, fuck that – she’s a whole nuvver sport.’
‘Yeah,’ Fahad said, ‘she’s water polo and he’s tidily-winks.’
The three of them erupted into laughter, but they weren’t about to stop until they’d got Nathan to react.
Nathan, however, placid as a Buddhist monk, merely picked up the empty video box for The Secret of My Success and pretended to read the back.
‘He dint even have the guts to ask her himself,’ Dwain said. ‘Fucking pussy, got my man here to do it. Raas!’
‘You should send her to me, innit,’ Fahad interjected, giving a quick look towards the counter, where his father was serving a customer. ‘I’ll give her a sex education lesson.’ He grabbed his balls.
‘Nah, man, send her my way,’ Courtney said with a braying laugh, ‘because once you go black –’
‘OK, that’s it,’ Nathan said, finally turning towards his tormentors, shoving the Michael J. Fox film back onto the shelf, ‘the piss-taking I can handle, the clichés I can’t.’
‘Oh!’ Fahad said Robert De Niro-style, causing the three of them to cackle again like crazy witches.
‘How’s all your mums, anyway?’ Nathan enquired.
Mr Kandala looked over our way and shouted, ‘Fahad, if you and your friends aren’t going to rent any films, then get the hell out of my shop. And take that boy hanging around outside home. He’s been there all day and he should be home with his parents, doing homework, you know?’
We ambled on out, and Aidy, who’d been sitting on the curb, idly throwing stones into the road, jumped up and ran straight to Nathan, with whom he had some kind of strange obsession with, and said, ‘Who’s Stephanie Redding, Nafe?’
Nathan grabbed Aidy’s head and playfully rubbed his scalp. Aidy ducked and swatted his hand away, even though he loved the attention.
The year before, some kids were bullying Aidy because of his cheap, tattered clothes – until Nathan had stepped in. Using Dwain’s gangster connections to find out the headmaster’s address, Nathan turned up to his house one night, wearing a Chucky mask, and gave the head teacher minor palpitations and the names of the kids who’d been making Aidy’s life a misery. Since then, Aidy couldn’t keep away.
‘She’s a girl from school,’ Nathan replied, answering Aidy’s question about Stephanie.
‘Is she your girlfriend?’ Aidy said, making quick jabs at Nathan’s stomach. ‘Nathan’s got a girlfriend, Nathan’s got a girlfriend.’
Nathan caught him and play-punched him back.
Dwain, who was annoyed by the lighthearted play, grabbed Aidy and pulled him away from Nathan. ‘Look, just fuck off, Small,’ he said. ‘You’re proper doing my head in.’
‘OK,’ Aidy moaned, ‘get off me.’ He pushed Dwain away.
‘You need to find people your own age, you little runt.’ Dwain said.
‘Maybe I already have some friends of my own,’ Aidy said, running off a little way down the road.
Nathan, perhaps embarrassed about Aidy’s lie regarding friends his own age, sparked up a joint, pulled me to one side and changed the subject. ‘Dwain’s gonna take me with him to meet English Victor tonight, that’s probably why he’s acting like a dick. Victor’s got a job for us, and with the money I get I’m gonna buy Stephanie a present. What do you reckon?’
‘I think it’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said to me. I think that’s a seriously dumb idea. She already hates your reputation, so if she finds out how you paid for it, it’s over. Jesus Christ,’ I checked over my shoulder, paranoid Aunt Esther could hear me blaspheme, ‘it’s over anyway.’
Dwain and the others moved off, while Nathan, Aidy and I trailed behind.
‘But, you have to be in it to win it,’ Nathan said, pulling on the joint. He delivered another fake punch to Aidy’s shoulder. ‘Ain’t that right?’ When Aidy had squirmed away, giggling, he said to me, ‘Or haven’t you read that Nietzsche I gave you?’
‘No, I ain’t, but I doubt he said that. Besides, didn’t you just say how much you hated clichés? And he was Hitler’s favourite philosopher, according to Mrs Bradley, so why would I want to read him?’
‘Oh, please. Nietzsche would have been spewing if he’d known what Hitler did. He’d of shat.’
‘Well, your idea’s still lame. Stephanie’s the kind of girl who’d appreciate a box of chocolates you worked to pay for rather than a diamond necklace you didn’t.’
‘She doesn’t have to find out – unless you tell her.’
‘You’re impossible,’ I said. ‘Screw English Victor. Let’s just go to Stephanie’s house and see if she wants to hang out.’
Nathan slowed to a halt and unbuttoned the sleeves on his shirt. ‘I’m going to Stephanie’s later if you wanna meet me at midnight,’ he said, rolling up the sleeves to his elbows.
‘Esther won’t let me.’ I replied. It was an empty excuse; I could have sneaked out if I’d wanted to.
Nathan regarded me for sometime. ‘You’re probably right,’ he said at last. ‘Maybe I should buy Stephanie’s gift with my own money, but I still have to meet Victor tonight.’
‘No, you don’t.’
He peered down at Aidy, his resolve crumbling. ‘Look, I just think you should do the things you don’t wanna do. It’s the only way to learn your own limits.’
‘You’re talking crap.’
Nathan bent down to pull out the tongues of his trainers so that the massive pieces of spongy cotton could flap about in front of his jeans. ‘Look, I can’t explain it,’ he said, standing up again. ‘I have to go. I…I just have to.’
That was what I could never understand about Nathan: he knew the risks, knew English Victor was dangerous, but he still had to go with his crumby reason about learning your own limits. Most of all, I was pissed with him for bleating on about how much he wanted Stephanie, but was still going to do something he knew she would hate.
‘Don’t come crying to me when you get your throat cut,’ was all I could think to say.
‘I’m not going to get my throat cut. Chill,’ he said. He threw the joint on the ground and stubbed it out.
Outside Ladbroke Grove station, the wind whipping up chip papers, Mr Freeze wrappers and dead leaves, Nathan told me to take Aidy home because he didn’t want either of us to get any more involved. Relief swept through me, but Aidy was angry about being excluded again.
‘Fuck off,’ he shouted, trying to prise himself out of my grasp, causing people inside the station to turn their heads.
‘Dwain’s right, Aidy,’ Nathan said, moving off to catch up with the others, ‘you need to find people your own age.’
‘I told you, I already have!’ Aidy screamed as Nathan went through the barriers. He punched me hard in the stomach and kept crying out for Nathan to come back, but I wouldn’t let go.
‘Calm down, I wanna go too,’ I lied.
But he kept swearing, almost on the verge of tears, while Dwain, Courtney, Fahad and Nathan disappeared into the cold, dank interiors of the station.
Dwain led the gang into the back room of the Black Star nightclub in Kilburn Park. It was a cramped, musty, badly ventilated room, while over to one side a battered Amstrad computer balanced on a pile of tax books. The wall was covered with framed photos of famous Jamaicans – Chris Blackwell, Normal Manley, Marcus Garvey and, most ominously, Lester Coke, the 1980s drug lord and leader of the Shower Posse gang.
English Victor was a twenty-eight-year-old man with greying side-burns, short beard, and dark lines furrowing beneath his eyes from worry, a lack of sleep, and drugs. He waved the four of them in, touching fists with Dwain.
‘Wa gwan,’ Victor said in a soft, almost timid tone. ‘Good fi see you, breddah.’
‘Wa gwan,’ Dwain replied, stepping aside so that Victor could get a better look at his companions.
Victor’s eyes settled on Courtney’s Walkman. ‘What’s dat, star? You police?’
‘He’s safe, man,’ Dwain interrupted. ‘Just a Walkman.’
‘Tell him fi put dem tings on de desk.’
Without argument, Courtney pulled the Walkman free of his clothes and placed it on the table.
Victor touched fists with Fahad before taking in the full image of Nathan: the tongues sticking out of his trainers, the blue stonewash jeans held up by a belt with ‘Shakespeare’ engraved on the buckle, the red and white checked shirt, the Nike wristbands, the side-parted hair. Victor tilted his head at Nathan, concluding with a short snort of a laugh, ‘You safe, man.’ Then, turning to Dwain: ‘These your bredrins, suh? Raas – wait till they hear about dis back ah Yard.’ He snorted again in amusement. ‘Man out there gonna crack up.’
Dwain kissed his teeth. ‘Bloodclot. What you want doin’, suh?’ Dwain’s Jamaican patois and accent getting more intense the longer he spoke to his cousin. ‘You fink we can’t do dem tings? What you want done, breddah?’
Victor’s smile faded, a blankness crossing his face. He went behind the desk, opened a drawer and produced a small piece of paper with something written on it.
‘Look here, dis is a personal ting,’ Victor began. ‘Dis girl Zoe – you met her at the Christmas party – she run from me, seen? And now she chattin’ shit about telling police all about my business. See it here: de gym she go to in Paddington.’ He offered the piece of paper to Dwain but kept hold of it. He stared at his cousin with dead, emotionless eyes. ‘Jus scare her a lickle, seen?’ he went on as Dwain continued to tug at the paper. ‘Make her get dis message: if her life she value, she will keep her raas mouth shut.’
‘I get you,’ Dwain replied. Victor let go of the paper, and Dwain gave it a quick look before shoving it into his pocket.
Now seeing an impasse in the conversation, Nathan stepped forward, flicked his sweaty hair out of his eyes and said, ‘Sorry for interrupting, but I think that if this Zoe already feels threatened and willing to go to the police, as soon as she sees Dwain, who she already knows, she’s gonna run.’
Victor fixed his cold stare on Nathan and frowned. He kissed his teeth and turned back to Dwain. ‘What you bringing man here who finks he can tell me my business?’
Dwain glared at Nathan and said to Victor, ‘Don’t worry about him, star, he’s got a brain, he just don’t know when to use dem tings.’
‘Listen,’ Nathan said, overriding Dwain’s comments, ‘I really think you should reconsider about this Zoe girl. I’m not saying Dwain doesn’t have to go, just send someone else to give her the message.’
Everyone stood motionless, and all that could be heard was the wheezy rattle of the air-conditioning, the purr of the Amstrad computer, and Victor’s nasally breathing. After a few tense seconds, Nathan, as if to put everybody at ease, said, ‘Send me.’
Nathan and Victor locked stares, the tension in the room racking up to an almost unbearable level.
Why Nathan was so determined to carry out this task is hard to say. It’s possible he wanted the challenge, the adventure, or simply to prove to Dwain that he was capable.
Nevertheless, English Victor’s too-pink tongue jabbed at his cracked lower lip, presumably assessing whether there’d been an affront to his authority from this jumped-up, badly dressed white boy. He licked his lips a final time and said, ‘OK, star, hear what now, you can deliver de message, but me want all you bumboclots fi go. And me want Dwain stay in charge.’
The vein that for the last minute had threatened to burst from Dwain’s temple, finally stopped pulsating and disappeared.
‘It gwan freak that bitch’s raas if I send my man here,’ Victor said to Dwain, the plan seeming to grow on him. ‘Man like him show up, she won’t know what de hell fi make ah dat.’ Then, turning to Nathan: ‘Jus scare de girl, you hear?’
They filed out of the door, but just as they were about to disappear into the short corridor between the back room and the side entrance, Victor – as if it were a silly afterthought – said, ‘But hear me now, Shakespeare, you mess dis up and me gonna blade you and your family, seen?’
Later that night, as Nathan sat in the shadows of the rosebushes outside Stephanie’s house, something he saw four years ago when he was eleven inexplicably came into his mind.
In the autumn of 1987, Britain suffered historic 100mph hurricane winds, smashing sheds, rooftops and cars and laying waste to over a million trees. The day after the storm, Nathan had taken his BMX to inspect the damage along the canal when he found his path impeded by a fallen tree. As he’d lifted his bike over, he heard a scratchy rustling noise coming from some nearby bushes. Then, as he laid his bike down in order to focus on the bush, he saw something that would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Under the shrubs, panic-stricken and in the throes of a frantic struggle for its life, was a sparrow with a large wad of pink chewing gum stuck to its beak and half-splattered over its left eye. Nathan broke out into a clammy sweat as he watched the bird repeatedly scratch its face into the dirt and sodden leaves in a futile effort to free itself from the sticky, tar-like substance. He’d already seen the snuff film Faces of Death, where he’d seen plenty of gruesome images of destruction and mayhem, but something about the bird struck him as sad, tragic, hopeless and pathetic. And as the bird became more and more agitated, Nathan began to cry, his chest jolting in spasmodic retches, salty tears searing the smarting skin of his cheeks, until the sparrow limped away, half-blind and distraught, deeper into the shrubbery.
And so, to rid his mind of it, he stood, his hand clenched at his stomach, and shuffled away from Stephanie’s house.
The Distant Sound of Violence is on sale $0.99 / £0.99 Kindle countdown deal from Tuesday 29th September to Sunday 4th October!
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.
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.
Jason Greensides’ website: jasongreensides.com
Google Plus: plus.google.com/+JasonGreensides
Amazon page: amazon.co.uk/Jason-Greensides
Now, what kind of person would I be if I didn’t share both my own review of the work and the first video review this great piece of fiction received:
I have not walked the streets of London in a long time, a long, long time and yet when immersed in this pages, it feels like I’m back there, back in the streets themselves alongside Ryan, Nathan and the rest of the boys in the gang. For me that was a great touch by Jason Greensides.
This work, an urban narrative is so much more than troubled boys, it’s smart, intellectually written and beautifully paced, I can’t help but wonder just how much the author has in common with Ryan, the friend of Nathan, the one who narrated the life and events of his friend. Whatever you think this book is going to be about, it’s not, it is so much more, so if you haven’t read it yet, read it now!
And now, the video review:
Have a great re-release mate.