THICKER THAN BLOOD: THE CRIMSONS' ORIGIN STORY
SOME CHOOSE THEIR DESTINY. OTHERS MAKE THEIR OWN.
For too long, Freddy, Danny, Michael and Luke have been shunned by the rest of society, pushed to the brink of poverty. Forced to take matters into their own hands by robbing shops, just to keep food on the table. But when they're propositioned by a corrupt police officer, their lives change forever.
In Thicker Than Blood, they become... The Crimsons.
CHAPTER one - EXCERPT
The location for their next heist was set.
It wasn’t much of a heist; rather, it was just a quick job. Wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last.
To Freddy Miller, the word heist meant one thing; to his counterpart, Danny Cipriano, a man who was two years his junior, it meant something else.
To Freddy, a heist was well thought out, well prepared, well planned. Every scenario catered for, every avenue of escape accounted for. But this was something different.
Get in and get back out again. Keep it simple.
Freddy and Danny were sat at the table inside their safe house. It was a small flat they secretly rented on the nineteenth floor of the Grainger housing estate in Newcastle, that afforded them a view of the greens of Nuns Moor and the ugly structure of St James’ Park, home to Newcastle United. The rent was cheap, and the council didn’t care where the money came from, so long as they got it at the end of every month. There was something cyclical about money – the way it had the power to corrupt people – that always intrigued Freddy. There they were, both he and Danny, robbing from the conglomerates on the high streets and selling the stolen goods on for cash, later using that money to pay the council for somewhere to live. If anything, they were helping the economy by doing it that way; all too frequently Freddy had seen in the news large companies failing to pay their corporation tax, feeding their own selfish greed. How was that fair? Short answer, it wasn’t. And Freddy and Danny had realised early on that if they were going to get by in the world that had oppressed them at every turn, they were going to have to get even.
‘You sure shoes is the right way to go about it?’ Freddy asked, setting his can of Foster’s on the table.
‘Trust. Sixty or seventy quid a pop? Ten pairs? That’s our rent covered for the month done in one hit, and then some,’ Danny replied.
‘How are we gonna get ’em out of there? You seen the size of the boxes?’
Danny bent down by the side of the table leg and lifted a black bin bag in the air.
‘You wanna chuck ’em in there?’ Freddy asked, unconvinced. ‘The boxes’ll rip through that straight away.’
‘Not if you’re careful.’
Freddy reached across the table, and took another sip from his Foster’s. Placing the can back on the surface, he said, ‘One little problem I’ve just thought about.’
‘They keep ’em all out back don’t they? The boxes. You’ve been to a JD Sports before, right? How we gonna get them all out, and the right ones?’
‘With a little help from our friends.’ Danny picked up a machete from the table and waved it in the air. The light from overhead glistened on the darkened and rusty metal.
Freddy shook his head. ‘You’re unhinged, kid.’
‘Don’t call me a kid,’ Danny said as he set the blade back on the table.
‘Says the one who wants to wave a sixteen-inch blade in someone’s face so they can get a new pair of shoes.’
Danny said nothing.
Freddy eased back in his seat and folded his arms. ‘What’s the real reason you wanna hit up a shoe shop, Dan?’
Danny sighed and looked down at his hands. ‘I need some new creps. So does Luke. And so does Michael. And there are these banging ones that have just been released.’
‘So you want to go shopping?’
Danny kissed his teeth. ‘Nah, man. We can sell the ones we don’t keep.’
Freddy rolled his eyes; Danny still had a lot to learn.
‘We’ve got rent to pay. Two lots of it. Shoes aren’t gonna pay the bills if you’re keeping them for yourself.’
Danny lifted his leg up and slammed his foot on the table, revealing a pair of stained, battered and torn Nike Air Forces. Freddy was sure that only a few days ago they’d been brand-new, clean, white, polished, untouched. Sure, Freddy had lived on the estate long enough to know that dirt had its way of finding you, but he’d never seen anything like this before.
‘You should hear some of the things the other youts on the estate are saying about them,’ Danny sniggered, giving them a clean with the help of his thumb and saliva.
‘About your shoes?’
‘About all our shoes.’
Freddy shook his head, turned away from Danny and started to chuckle. Danny really did have a lot to learn.
‘It ain’t all about material things, kid,’ Freddy began. ‘You’ll realise that soon enough. It doesn’t matter what you wear on your feet. You just gotta have the money to be able to afford them in the first place. I thought our endgame here was to move out of this shithole, so you and your brothers can start a new life away from it all? You ain’t gonna be able to do that if you’re wasting all the money on material shit you’re gonna need to replace in a coupla weeks’ time.’ Freddy cleared his throat. ‘My dad always used to say to me, “Son, if you wanna succeed in this life, you have to live like a peasant for a short while, so you can live like a king for the rest of it.”’
Danny scoffed. ‘And you believe that?’
‘Helps to believe in something. Gotta make a name for yourself somehow.’
A brief silence fell on them. Danny disturbed it by taking his foot off the table and speaking first.
‘So you saying you don’t wanna hit JD?’
‘No, it’s fine,’ Freddy replied. ‘We’ll do it. We’ll just have to be clever about it. We’re gonna need a bigger car as well. I’ll try and source one from the garage tomorrow.’
‘When we saying?’
Freddy reached for his beer, finished it off and threw the can into the bin in the corner of the kitchen. It ricocheted off the rim and landed on the floor.
Just as Freddy climbed out of his seat to pick the can up, Danny’s phone vibrated.
‘I gotta go,’ he said, after hanging up the call.
‘Luke’s just got home but Mickey ain’t there yet. I gotta go make sure he’s all right.’
‘The kid’s fourteen,’ Freddy replied. ‘He can look after himself. You give him way less credit than he deserves.’
Danny lifted himself out of the seat. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?’
‘I’ll pick you up normal time. And don’t forget your machete.’