Killing With Confidence

By: Matt Bendoris

To Amanda, for always believing in me and

Andrew and Brooke for making it all worthwhile.





My mum, for raising my brother Sean and I on her own and

my beloved colleague Yvonne, for all her assistance.





This book is in memory of Danny Brown, my first, and best editor, mentor and friend.





Osiris – one of the most important gods of ancient Egypt. The origin of Osiris is obscure; he was a local god of Busiris in Lower Egypt and may have been a personification of chthonic (underworld) fertility, or possibly a deified hero. By about 2,400 BC, however, Osiris clearly played a double role: he was both a god of fertility and the embodiment of the dead and the resurrected …





Osiris

Growing up in the post-war shipping port of Hull in England’s North East had been tough. Being called Osiris made it even tougher. Osiris Vincent Vance endured ridicule and exclusion from his first day at school. Even his primary teacher had mocked his unusual name, to the squeals of delight from the rest of the class.

From that moment on Osiris was an outsider. In later years he changed his name to Vinnie, but it made little difference. He would always be Osiris in Hull.

He was named after an entry his mum Veronica had found in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which she had unsuccessfully tried to sell on almost every doorstep around the historical city.

She’d been heavily pregnant at the time and lugging those impossibly heavy books had left her with ugly-looking varicose veins covering her legs. She was just nineteen years old.

Her first and only lover had been a merchant seaman, who promised her the earth, then disappeared as soon as her waist began to thicken. He’d known she was pregnant long before the naïve teenager did.

Veronica’s parents ordered an abortion. They knew someone who performed them. Not a doctor, of course. It was 1947, the year before the National Health Service had been formed, and they could afford neither his fee nor the shame it would bring on the family.

The abortion had been bloody, painful, and as it turned out unsuccessful. Her belly continued to grow. As Veronica spent weeks recovering from the botched procedure, she read the encyclopaedias. She didn’t understand many of the big words or explanations. But one entry leapt out: Osiris … both a god of fertility and the embodiment of the dead and resurrected.

‘That’s him alright.’ She knew it was a boy. A boy whose life they had tried to take. But he had survived, resurrected from the dead. This baby was going to be born no matter what and he would leave his mark on this world, of that she was certain.





1


Black & Blue

April Lavender wiped her mouth clean of the flour dust from her morning sausage roll, sprinkled with a liberal helping of salt and smothered in brown sauce. At lunchtime she would return for a cheese and ham roll washed down with whatever soup the Peccadillo café had to offer, which she also routinely salted before tasting. She couldn’t get her head round this new low salt way of thinking. She knew of some younger colleagues who didn’t even take salt on their chips. ‘How could anyone eat chips without salt?’ she muttered a little too loudly to herself, earning a sideways glance from a taxi driver at a neighbouring table.

No, April was too old to change her ways at fifty-six. She loved salt on her food and had the high blood pressure to prove it. Anyway she’d given up trying to be healthy since modern science seemed determined to take away everything she enjoyed. Recently it had reported that bacon shouldn’t be eaten at all and any alcohol shortened your life dramatically. If that was the case it was a wonder she was still breathing.

At least April had managed to quit one vice, smoking, after the birth of her first grandchild last year – spurred on by the cruel ultimatum from her daughter that the baby wouldn’t be allowed to stay over unless Granny stopped her forty-a-day habit.

‘The cheek of her,’ April mumbled, ‘I have to stop smoking so she can get a babysitter.’

The taxi driver shifted uncomfortably in his seat before deciding to pay up and leave in case April tried to strike up a conversation with someone other than herself.

Unfortunately, since the fags had gone April had piled on the weight. Nothing fitted any more. Last week she had to suffer the indignity of her blouse button pinging off and landing on a colleague’s desk, to much hilarity around the office. Her humiliation was complete when she was forced to cover up her decency by stapling her shirt back together.