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Black Lens: Part XV

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13 and Part 14.

‘Blood is our only permanent history, and blood history does not admit of revision.Or
Of us
–Harry Crews

The Cop

The hotel was, he’d tried to warn her, a shit hole.

C’mon, if he knew he was going to, um … score, would he have been there?

Yeah, right.


‘You ever read the English writer, Patrick Hamilton?’


But on the side of etiquette, she asked, like she could give a fuck-

‘What did he write?’

Where to start, ok, go with the movie, always an in,



Moving on

‘Hangover Square, Slaves of Solitude?’

They were now outside the less than welcoming establishment, which wasn’t helped by two Aussies throwing up, screaming at each other, between rounds of up-chuck-

A dingo ate yer baby mate.’

He took a deep breath, said

‘I’m stalling really but he did write:

“To those whom God has deserted is given a gas fire and shithole in Earls Court”

It was paraphrasing yes but…

She put a finger in a gentle motion to his lips, said


I just want to get laid.’

Say that to a guy, he’s already gone and dusted.

She led him in.

His room, on the second floor was drenched with the aroma of Earls Court




Fosters Brews matey

The floors were covered with files, print outs, books, but no photos. Like the lair of Kenneth Anger on Meth, save for one sheet of vellum, with graphic writing. She  read the scant lines as he poured the raw Tequila into,

his cleanest dirtiest cups.

Without looking at him she began reading aloud:

“How well I have learned

That there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell.  There is  a deep wide gulf, a chasm, AND in that chasm is no place for any Man.”

She looked at him, his eyes almost shy, asked

‘You wrote that?’

He smiled, nearly laughed, said

‘Heavens to Betsy,


it’s the man,

Johnny Cash.’

She echoed the first part of his response, her accent perfect as he took it in, then

‘Not exactly New York.’

‘ Mom, was from South Carolina.’

She wasn’t but hell, it was a kind of Gone With The Wind moment and you use what you got.

And, after, all too briefly, wishing he wasn’t so used up, so spent.

She rose from the bed, reached for her purse,

Looked at him,


‘Careless aren’t you? What if I was reaching for a pistol, you’d be history.’

She took  out a pack of Virginia Slims, lit one, asked

‘Not a no-smoking joint, is it?’

He smiled, nicotine could only be a damn improvement,

she strolled back to the bed, her nakedness as casual as her lips as they took a drag of the cigarette.  He asked

‘Know me pretty good it seems.’

Her lovely back to him, perched on the side of the bed, she said

‘Was it worth losing your job, your family, because of this delusional fixation?  Was it worth losing everything?”

This was the question, wasn’t it?  So he took a second before answering:

‘I haven’t lost everything.  Not yet.  Look.’

She turned and he pushed the pillow on his side of the bed,

The Glock  just visible.

She was impressed, said

‘You may have some moves left after all.’

In his Brooklyn best, he pulled her toward him, mustered

‘Got another here.’


Ken Bruen has been a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony Awards, and has won a Macavity Award, a Barry Award, and two Shamus Awards for the Jack Taylor series. He lives in Galway, Ireland. Learn more at

Russell Ackerman is Guillermo del Toro’s Development Executive. He is currently working on the film MAMA to be directed by Andy Muschietti, DROOD based on Dan Simmons’ novel of the same name, adapted by Brian Helgeland, and MIDNIGHT DELIVERY written by Neil Cross, all set up at Universal Pictures. He lives in Los Angeles.