Read an Excerpt
By Simon Clark
Copyright © 2005
All right reserved.
"Go straight over it."
"It's dead, it-"
"- won't feel a thing."
"Fabian, no way in a million years will I ever drive over that
"Deceased. A lifeless cadaver."
"How do you know?"
"If you don't scoot now we'll miss the ferry."
"Miss that and we'll end up sleeping in this turd on wheels."
"Hey? You ungrateful-"
"Drive over the bloody dog or we'll miss the bloody ferry."
Ding, dong, ding dong. Josanne and Fabian had been clashing
with one another ever since London.
Fabian sat in the back seat like an English lord. Then he did
claim to have aristocratic blood. He was twenty-three, played
keyboards, wrote songs, but he acted like he was sixty-three.
His blonde fringe hung down in a soft hank that all but
covered one blue eye. Josanne turned in the driving seat to
glare back at him. Her oval face with normally flawless olive
skin had been fired up with red blotches. Luckily, she only
had the steering wheel to hold. If it had been magically
exchanged for a gun she would have shot him. Bloody hell, she
would have emptied the magazine into Fabian's arrogant face.
That's true love for you.
These thoughts poured easily through John Fisher's head.
There'd never been any question of him sharing the driving.
Despite the grievousstate of the car Josanne loved it. She
wouldn't let anyone behind the wheel. "It's a one woman car,"
she insisted when he'd offered. So, he'd allowed himself three
pints of Guinness at the pub. A warm glow surrounded him. For
a while he was content to let the argument flow over him. Beer
is Teflon coating for the nerves. Josanne's fiery temperament,
Fabian's cool sarcasm - they all slid off John Fisher's
sense of well-being without sticking. For the last hour of the
five hour journey, that is.
Now, check this out. Darkness. Pouring rain. Muddy fields.
Narrow lane. Last ferry leaving in fifteen minutes. Dead dog
in road. Suddenly this couple's duel of tongues was beginning
to stick in his craw.
Fabian declaimed, "We miss the ferry and we can kiss the job
"What? Who the hell are they going to house-sit for peanuts?
Call that a job?"
"Josanne, drive over the bloody dog. If any of its guts stick
to your blessed car Fisher here will clean them off for you."
"How do we know it's dead?"
"Just look at the thing. It's not moved a bloody hair in the
last ten minutes we've been sitting here."
"It might just be hurt."
"Would you lie in the rain all night if you were still in the
land of the living?"
"I'm not driving the car over it."
"Go round, then."
"Have you looked out of the window, Fabian? Have you seen how
narrow the road is?"
Fisher's glow of well-being might as well have been a tiny
defeated figure with a suitcase the way it shuffled out of the
car to disappear into the rain-sodden night. He groaned.
"Listen to that, Josanne. You've made Fisher unhappy now."
"If he thinks I'm going to crush a poor dog lying in the road
he's got another thought coming."
Fisher began to speak but Fabian rode over his words in that
cool, lordly way of his. "Trust me, Josanne. Pooch is in doggy
heaven with all his canine ancestors. Now, hurry along before
someone rams into the back of us, there's a good girl."
"The road's deserted, Fabian. We haven't seen any traffic in
the last half an hour. We're in the middle of a place called
"Then no-one's going to see you flatten Fido."
"Didn't you hear me, Fabian? I'm not driving-"
"OK!" Fisher couldn't take anymore. "I'll move the dog." He
opened the passenger door. "Put the headlights on full so I
Josanne clutched his arm as he started to climb out. "I know
it's dead ... but you'll treat it with respect, won't you?"
Fabian smiled. "You'll lay it to rest with a twenty-one gun
salute and a touching eulogy, won't you old boy."
"Fabian. Drop dead."
"Quickly now, Fisher. You're letting the wet in."
The rain didn't fall in drops: it fell in chunks of ice cold
water. It rolled down Fisher's neck. He could barely see ten
paces ahead of him. It even obscured the animal in spray as
the rain burst against the road. He hunched his shoulders in
the forlorn hope it would stem the rush of cold water through
his shirt collar to soak his back. The car's headlights blazed
their light into this silver cascade. Probably Josanne
couldn't even see him now. Grimly, he told himself: Just grab
the dog by the leg, drag it into the ditch, then get down to
the river before the last ferry goes.
This morning he'd been spinning a fantasy of spending the next
month rehearsing their music in a picturesque manor house in
the tranquil English countryside. He saw himself strolling
round the garden to admire the blossom appearing on the trees.
Not this. Not lumbering like the Hunchback of Notre Dame
through the rain to haul a dog that's probably mangled to hell
and back into the bushes, just so he can return to the car and
listen to Josanne and Fabian bicker again.
Fisher muttered: "Where art thou, patron saint of bass
players?" Then answered sourly, "Probably being crapped on by
the patron saint of lead vocalists." Fisher moved forward
through the rain. Ahead, bathed in water droplets that were
illuminated by the car's headlights he saw the dark mound that
was the dog. It lay on its side, its legs straight. The black
button of a nose glistened. Its eyes were closed. Something
that Fisher was grateful for. He didn't relish having to meet
the corpse's blank stare as he dragged it by its leg off the
road and into the grass to rot.
Even so, he felt a stir of sympathy. "Poor devil. Who left you
out here all alone, eh?"
The words were intended to prepare himself for seizing a wet
hind limb. Only the moment he finished speaking the dog's head
jerked up, its eye lids lifted and Fisher found himself
meeting the amber gaze of the dog. Its eyes were drowsy rather
Fisher paused. If I grab it now it'll probably chew a lump out
of my arm. Funny place to go to sleep, though.
He clicked his tongue. "Come on, boy. Off the road. You'll get
hurt if you stay here ... Great, I'm explaining road safety to
a dog at ten' clock at night in freezing rain." He raised his
voice. "Move. Come on, boy. Move." He waved his arm to
reinforce the command. The dog stared at him with those
placid, drowsy eyes. "Oh, hell. You're not going to move are
you? What are you doing? Waiting for someone? Standing guard?"
He shook his head. "Hell. Now I'm interrogating it."
He gestured again in the forlorn hope the dog would move of
its own accord. The dog simply lay there with its head raised
while it looked Fisher in the face. "You're not hurt, are
you?" He clicked his tongue in exasperation. "Damn silly
question. It's not going to answer you, is it?"
"Fisher? Hey, Fisher?"
Fisher glanced back. Fabian had stuck his head through the
passenger window. He shielded that neatly groomed blonde hair
against the rain with a magazine. "Hey, Fisher. What's the
bloody hold up? Dump the mutt, then get back in the car. We've
only five minutes before the damn ferry goes."
Fisher held up a finger. "Just give me a minute. OK?"
"I was only joking about the eulogy, you know?"
Fisher turned his back on Fabian. "OK," he told the dog
gently. "I'm going to pick you up. It's for your own good.
You're not going to bite me, are you?"
The dog didn't react to his words. It simply stared; its amber
eyes glowing in the headlights. Fisher checked the dog over.
It was a medium sized mongrel with jet black fur. If anything,
with its long pointed face, it resembled the jackal statues
that guarded the tombs of the pharaohs. It didn't appear to be
injured in any way. Maybe this really was its home territory
that it was guarding. Not that there were any houses Fisher
could see. There was nothing but flat agricultural land for
"Of course you're going to bite me," Fisher grunted as he
squatted beside it. "Who wouldn't bite me if I picked them up
and carried them around?"
Now he was too wet to bother about the rain trickling down his
back. Making soothing noises, he extended his hands in a way
that he hoped was non-threatening, then gently scooped the dog
up into his arms. It wasn't that heavy. Through the wet fur he
could feel the movement of its bones as he lifted. The dog
didn't so much as grunt. It simply continued to gaze into his
face with drowsy eyes. A moment later Fisher set the dog down
on the grass bank at the side of the road.
From the car Fabian shouted. "At last! Now get yourself back
here before we miss the ferry."
Fisher ran back to the car. Behind the splashing wipers he
could see Josanne. She'd watched him anxiously as he moved the
dog. Somewhere in the back seat Fabian would be impatiently
drumming his fingers. Ferry, ferry, ferry; that'd be the
refrain of his commentary. At the car door Fisher looked back.
The dog still lay where he'd left it. For a moment it gazed at
him, making eye contact. A moment later it lowered its head
onto the grass.
I thought you were going to help me. But you're abandoning me,
Fisher hissed, "The dog isn't thinking that. You're only
imagining what's going through its mind. It probably lives
here. Lying in the road is probably what it does. There's no
law against owning an eccentric dog." He opened the door.
Fisher sang out, "At last. Thought you were holding a full
funeral service for the animal, old boy. What are you dawdling
for? Jump in."
Josanne leaned across so she could make eye contact. "You did
treat it with respect, didn't you? I'd hate to think you
"It's alive." Fisher jerked his head back. "It doesn't look
Fabian shrugged. "Well, now everyone's happy, let's go."
Fisher shook his head so firmly, water flew from his soaked
fringe. "I'm not leaving it here."
"Oh, Christ, Fisher. Leave the damn thing."
"No, Fabian. I'm not going to argue. I'm taking the dog."
Josanne rounded on Fabian. "We can't leave it here. Do you
want it to die?"
"I want to catch the bloody ferry. Who gives a damn about some
"We do." She opened her door. "Fisher. I'll give you a hand."
Seconds later they both crouched beside the dog. Once more it
had raised its head to look at them.
Fisher examined the wet bundle of fur more closely. There was
no visible sign of injury but now he wondered if it was sick.
"I'm not leaving it here," he said with feeling. "It won't
survive the night."
"Don't worry, I'll wring Fabian's neck if he complains again."
"I'll pick him up. Can you open the back passenger door for
The rain beat down harder. Once they'd moved to the side of
the road the car's lights didn't illuminate the ground, so
Fisher found himself moving blindly with the dog in his arms.
When he reached the car he saw a figure standing beside it.
"Fabian? Don't try and talk me out of it. I'm bringing the dog
"I know you are, you sentimental idiot." He opened the door.
"Here, wrap it in this."
Fisher looked up at Fabian. The man's blonde hair formed a
slick cap against his head as the rain soaked it through.
"That's your bath towel, Fisher. The dog's covered in mud."
"So, I'll let you buy me another." Fabian smiled. "Now get
yourself, and your furry friend, into the car where it's warm
Excerpted from The Tower
by Simon Clark
Copyright © 2005 by Simon Clark.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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