Suzie Tremors and the Barbarians of Speed

Chapter Six

Ken Preston

15 February 2024

An illustraation of an angry punk woman screaming into a microphone.

DS Parker dropped his cigarette butt into his cup and watched it sizzle in the dregs of his cold coffee.

‘Why the hell did we even have to listen to all that crap?’ Jones stood up and stretched. ‘The bastard’s got his fingerprints all over the knife, he’s got the vic’s blood all over him, and he’s admitted to gutting her. Did we really need a taped confession, too?’

Parker’s cigarette stopped sizzling.

‘Hello? Earth to Parker?’

‘I heard you.’ Parker looked up. ‘You done for the day?’

DI Jones pulled on his jacket. ‘Yeah, how about you?’

‘Not yet. I might check out this address.’

‘Are you serious? What the hell for?’ Jones rubbed a hand over his two-day stubble. ‘You don’t believe any of that shit, do you?’

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‘No, of course not,’ Parker said. ‘But I know the house he was talking about. I thought I’d go take a look, knock on the door—’

‘See if a Mr Henry Ng is at home, and if he has a hall full of clocks all telling the wrong time, huh?’ Jones pointed at the clock on the wall. ‘You want to find a clock that tells the wrong time, you can take a look at that one anytime you want. You don’t even have to get up out of your chair.’

‘Yeah, funny.’ Parker lobbed a scrunched up sheet of paper at Jones. ‘Go home, why don’t you? Say hi to Maggie for me.’

Jones pointed at Parker. ‘Don’t go to the house, Johnny-boy. All right? Do yourself a favour and stay away, you’ll drive yourself nuts checking up on every little detail. We got a confession and enough evidence to lock the bastard away for the rest of his life.’

# # #

From the outside, the house was just as the killer had described it. That didn’t mean anything though, Parker knew that. As he stood and gazed at the house, at the ivy crawling across the front, the cracks in the render, the bay windows reflecting the evening sunshine, Parker thought about turning around and walking away.

What was he doing here? Trying to prove something? What? And to who?

Jones was right, he could drive himself crazy chasing the leads down in this guy’s account.

But the case was driving him a little crazy already.

The killer admitted to killing four people, three men and a woman.

But there was only one body.

He said they were part of a punk band, but nobody had ever heard of Suzie Tremors and the Barbarians of Speed. In fact, there was no record anywhere that this band had existed.

No photographs, nothing.

So much for recording her life in silver nitrate.

And the dead woman, Susanna Trevors, she was an operator for the telephone company. Single, no family to speak of.

The killer had pounced on her two nights ago and dragged her back to The Blockade, in Soho. The place had been closed for over a year, after an IRA bomb had destroyed half the ground floor and most of the first. It had been fenced off since then, and there was talk of demolishing it.

That was where he’d taken her, downstairs to the music venue underneath the pub, where he had laid her out on the stage and sliced her open with his carving knife.

Parker shook a cigarette out of the packet and lit it.

The guy was crazy, that’s all there was to it.

Parker looked at the house.

What would he find in there if he got inside? A hallway full of clocks telling the wrong time and a fat man sitting on a rug?

He looked at the lawn.

No hound from Hell, or anywhere else, sitting on it.

Parker told himself to go home, have an early night.

He walked up to the front door and knocked.

The door opened.

‘Hello?’

A chill ran down Parker’s back. The man standing there looked just as the killer had described him.

‘Henry Ng?’

He smiled. ‘Harry Wei. How can I help you?’

Parker showed him his badge. ‘May I come in?’

Wei opened the door wide and stepped back.

Parker thought he was going to find that hall full of clocks, but when he got inside there was just the one Grandfather clock standing in a corner. Parker checked his watch.

‘That old clock has never told the correct time,’ Wei said.

‘I suppose it’s telling the correct time somewhere, right?’ Parker said.

Harry Wei smiled and nodded. Waited, expectantly.

Parker showed him a photograph. ‘Do you know this woman?’

‘No.’ Wei leaned in close and peered at the photograph. ‘No, I don’t.’

‘What about this man?’ Parker showed him a photograph of the killer.

Harry Wei shook his head.

Parker put the photographs away. ‘Do you know a Henry Ng?’

‘Why, yes I do.’ He shook his head and chuckled.

‘What’s so funny?’

‘This happens to me all the time.’

‘Please explain.’

‘You’re talking to him.’

Parker pulled a notebook from his pocket. ‘How do you spell your name, Mr Wei?’

‘N-g-u-e.’

‘And Harry is a nickname, I’m guessing. Your birth name is Henry?’

The Grandfather clock began chiming, a discordant ring filling the hall.

Parker looked at the clock. ‘Must be twelve noon, somewhere.’

‘Or maybe it’s midnight,’ Henry Ngue said.

‘Would you mind if I looked in your lounge?’

Ngue opened the living room door and invited Parker in.

There was a rug on the floor all right, but the floor was carpeted. No obese man sitting on the rug, or candles on shelves and bookcases, or moth-eaten stuffed animals.

Or creatures with dripping teeth and long, curved claws, and too many eyes packed into misshapen skulls.

Except…

Parker flinched at the sight of the massive dog sitting beside the sofa. Its dark eyes glared at him.

Ngue walked over to the dog and patted it on the head. ‘Don’t worry about Conan here, he died five years ago but I couldn’t bear to be without him, so I had him stuffed.’

‘Conan?’ Parker said.

‘Conan the Barbarian. Surely you’ve read the Robert E Howard stories?’

‘Thank you for your assistance, Mr Ngue,’ Parker said, snapping his notebook closed. ‘That will be all, for now.’

Back outside the light was fading as evening drew in. Parker walked down the path to the front gate, and paused to look back at the house.

That was the day Suzie Tremors and the Barbarians of Speed were born.

Yeah, right.

What a load of bullshit.

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