The Deadbeat Club: A Crime Novel

The Deadbeat Club: A Crime Novel

by Dietrich Kalteis


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770411524
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication date: 10/13/2015
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Dietrich Kalteis’s short stories have been published widely, and his screenplay Between Jobs was a finalist in the 2003 Los Angeles Screenplay Festival. Kalteis is also the author of Ride the Lightning. He lives in West Vancouver, B.C.

Read an Excerpt

The Deadbeat Club

By Dietrich Kalteis


Copyright © 2015 Dietrich Kalteis
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-77090-749-2



THE HUMMER rolled off the Port Mann Bridge and took the Number One, turning onto East Hastings, into Bumpy Rosco's turf. Nav Pudi sat in back, hidden by the tinted glass, laughing at something Bij Kumar, the kid driving, said. The kid hadn't stopped talking since they drove up from the armpit of the city. Nav put it down to first-time jitters, remembering his own first time.

It was his sway that got the kid coming along, Nav thinking he was ready, sticking him behind the wheel of the Hummer H2, letting him drive, letting him get a taste. The other two were hard guys, Rajeev and Rosh Ramin. Guys he would stake his life on: Rajeev grinning from the passenger seat, Rosh clapping the kid on the back.

Going to take out one of Bumpy Rosco's meth labs — a case of tit for tat — the Indo Army coming for payback for the grow-op Rosco's people fragged a week ago: a pipe bomb tossed through a window left two of theirs dead, twenty grand of weed and equipment destroyed.

It was an old, rotting trailer by the tracks behind the grain terminal along the waterfront, drums and pallets stacked next to it, graffiti on the front and down the sides. The tipoff came from a junkie swearing it was there, saw it with his own eyes, betting his life for a fix.

"How many you think?" Bij asked.

"Should be empty," Nav said, knowing it wasn't. What was the point of payback if somebody didn't pay? He told the kid, "Guys just come and cook, you know. Mostly at night."

Bij nodded, driving past the PNE grounds, quiet this time of year, a couple of weeks before Christmas. A jolly Santa on a sign wishing everybody Season's Greetings. Not a holiday any of them celebrated, Bij saying, "Some fat fuck in a red suit comes down a chimney in my hood, he's getting popped for sure." The others grinning.

The knobby tires rumbled on the asphalt. Felt good being behind the wheel, the five-thousand-pound king of the road, Bij rhyming off the street names as they passed: Slocan, Penticton, Kamloops, Nanaimo. Eyes straight ahead.

Nav knew the kid's hands were wet on the wheel, the Ruger heavy under his jacket. Far cry from pitching for the Surrey Chiefs, best closer the team had ever seen, but not good enough to get him into the minors. Fuck that. Bij was moving on, wanting to get his tat, the scorpion they all had on their right hand, the tail curling around the wrist.

Nav told him to make a right up ahead. Rosh stuck a magazine in the Kalashnikov, checking it over, the half-crate of C13 grenades under his foot, green globes packed with C-4, asking Bij if he ever pitched one of these babies, put one right across the plate. It got Bij laughing, saying he wouldn't mind.

Coming up on Victoria, calling the street name, Bij slowed for the light, amber to red, Nav telling him not to beat it, keep it cool, repeating for him to hang a right. A female cyclist drew even, waiting for the light, Rosh and Rajeev checking her out.

It was a white Uprise bread truck on the opposite corner that got Nav's attention, the blue-and-green logo on the back, the four-ways flashing, the driver getting out, adjusting his cap and tapping the side with his hand, going around the back and lifting the rear door. A bread truck parked in front of a Scotiabank, across from a Petro-Can station, neither business carrying bread.

Nav caught it a second too late, pulling his pistol, yelling for the kid to make the turn. The back door of the bread truck rolled up, and a second man, older than the one in the cap, hopped down out of the back, raising an RPG to his shoulder, stepping into the street away from the truck, putting the Hummer in the crosshairs. The man smiled around a bagel he had in his mouth; the cyclist shouted something and tried to move.

Grabbing the door handle, Nav threw himself from the Hummer, the rocket striking the grill, blowing the truck off the pavement, lighting up East Hastings, the half case of C13 grenades adding to the blast. Last thing Nav remembered was an axle dropping in front of him, somebody yelling. Pain and the smell of skin and hair. Then nothing.



THE ASIAN-LOOKING kid went by Airdog, kept the skateboard tucked under his arm, the stickers, scrapes and worn trucks showing on the bottom of the board. The hoodie read Skate, Eat, Sleep, Repeat, covering cargos worn low. Even with the rasta cap topping the Guy Fieri hair, the kid barely rose above the roof of Travis Rainey's ride, one of those big, square Chryslers. This one black with Lambo doors that opened like Dumbo ears.

"Up for some cheese rolling?" Airdog asked, smiling.

"Know a guy named Stevens?" Travis stepped out, a couple decades older and a foot taller than the kid, a solid frame inside an Eddie Bauer windbreaker. The bottle of Hop Head in his hand was half gone. Travis was never much of a drinker, but he loved a good breakfast brew.

"Grey? Yeah, sure, who doesn't?" Airdog said.

Travis let the kid size him up, silver hair over the ears done like wing tips like some gangster he'd seen on HBO. Drinking beer on a Sunday morning had the kid thinking American tourist.

"So where do I find him?" Travis put the bottle to his mouth, swallowing and turning his head for a look at the overflow lot. Empty except for a couple of backpackers gathering their stuff from the trunk of their car and heading toward the slopes.

Airdog was still checking him out. Travis catching him looking at the shoes that weren't cop-issue. Then through the Chrysler's tinted windows: no wife, no kids, no bike on a rack, no hiking gear in back, too square to be here to catch the Dudes over at the Boot. So he was either up here hunting mountain pussy or was one of the guys Grey had warned him about.

"If you're looking to score ..." Airdog said.

Travis's mouth twisted into a smile. Tipping the bottle again, he leaned back against his door, not in a hurry now, saying, "You help me out with Stevens, I'd appreciate it?" He didn't know Grey Stevens to see him, just talked to him on the phone the one time, explaining his options, giving him a couple of days to think about it, told him he'd be coming to see him.

Airdog set the board down, one foot on it, and he peeled off his cap, hair spilling out. Shaking out a Baggie, he said, "What I got here's the Holy Grail, dude. Eight Miles High. Same as you'd get from Grey."

Travis looked at the dime bag, then back across the lot at the cluster of floodlights and security cameras mounted on the light standard the city put in last year. Far enough away from the cameras, quiet like you'd expect on a Sunday morning in the middle of August.

"Don't sweat it, dude. We're cool here," Airdog said, thinking he could handle this. "Got the donut boys trained to look the other way."

Polishing off the beer, Travis checked out the label on the bottle.

"So, how about it?" Airdog jiggled the bags. "Do you a double dime bag for say, twenty-five. Primo nug, man." Betting this crusty old dude wouldn't know kush from ditch weed.

"Want to talk to the guy who's got more than a dime bag in a hat," Travis said.

Word was Grey Stevens picked up where his uncle Rubin left off, running a string of grow houses, producing decent pot, running it through a couple of ex-bikers and a bunch of street-corner musicians, Stevens fronting as a bartender at some place called the Cellar. Didn't sound like much of a threat, this whole territory wide open since the Sabers MC went down to crown prosecutors. Bumpy Rosco sending Travis up here to secure new business before the Indo Army showed up. Bumpy's people mixing it up with the Indos over territory down in the city. Travis firing the rocket from the bread truck set things in motion, bodies stacking up for the last eight months.

Travis knew the ex-bikers that ran the weed for Grey Stevens and had already had a word with Benny Rivers and Ivan Glinka, the two of them knowing better than to stand in his way. Said they were making one last run, then they'd come over, work for the Roscos.

"What are we talking, an eighth, an ounce?" Airdog asked.

"Talking about all you got." Travis wasn't smiling now.

Stuffing the bag into his cap, Airdog slapped it back on his head. "For that, I got to make a call."

Travis waved a hand, meaning go ahead.

Taking a burner from a pocket, Airdog punched in Grey's number, getting a busy tone, then trying a different number, saying, "Yeah. Me. Got a dude here talking large." Waited, said yeah a couple more times. Turned back to Travis, saying, "My man wants to know —"

"Here ..." Travis snatched the phone from the kid's hand, thinking he had Grey on the line, saying, "Got tired of waiting."

The voice on the phone said, "Who the fuck's this?"

Not Grey Stevens.

These guys weren't taking him serious. Travis said, "I'm the guy up here hitting the slopes." Flipping the bottle in his hand, he smashed it into the kid's face.

Airdog went down, didn't know what happened, his front teeth knocked out clean. Blood flowed from his mouth, his eyes round as plates. Touching a hand to his mouth, he looked at the blood.

"What the fuck's going on?" Mojo barked into the other end of the phone.

"Think you fuckheads call that a bonk." Travis kicked the skateboard away and planted a foot on Airdog's chest, kept him down.

"Listen, asshole, put the Dog back on right the fuck now."

Reaching under the jacket, Travis pulled the black P5from his belt. Kneeling, he stuck the short barrel into Airdog's mouth, kept him from yelling, "gun," stuck it all the way to the tonsils, getting blood on the blued steel.

Gagging for air, Airdog wished Mojo would stop pissing this guy off. Banging the barrel around the kid's molars, Travis pulled it out, wiping blood on the hoodie that read Skate, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. "Tell Stevens I'm waiting." Disconnecting, he said to Airdog, "Next time you're out here, kid, you're selling for me. You got me?" He dropped the phone, pocketed the Walther, waiting for a nod, then he picked up the two teeth, holding them between his fingers, thinking they looked smaller than they should. "Hold your uppers like this, by the crown, see? Not by the root, and get them in milk or saline fast as you can."

Airdog bobbed his head, looking like he was going into shock.

"No water, got it? Get your ass to a dentist fast as you can. Any luck, he'll replant them."

Taking the teeth the way he was shown, Airdog said thanks, blood spilling from his mouth.

Climbing into the Chrysler, Travis pulled the Dumbo-ear door closed, rolled down the window and, on a last note, said, "Oh, and kid, you really think that yellow hair looks right? Think again." Then he drove a wide arc around the surveillance cams, past a sign posted at the entrance promising SmartPark meters were to be installed, the city turning this into a pay lot. Travis headed for the Village, arm out the window, the early sun feeling warm.

Man, this place had changed. Last time he was up had to be ten years ago, back when the Sabers controlled the dope trade, Grey Stevens's uncle growing for them, a guy who knew how to do it. Left the distribution end to someone else. And if Grey Stevens was smart, he'd do the same. Still had time.

Fishing out his own cell, Travis punched in a number, sounding pissed when he spoke. "Where the hell are you?" Not liking the answer, he said to hurry the fuck up and clicked off. Glancing at his watch, he figured he had time for a bite before the next piece of business.



DARA ADDIE was thinking it, smart enough not to say it, sticking her hand out the passenger window, black fingernails riding the air current, something she did as a kid in her mom's Olds. The guy behind the Camaro's wheel was around the age her dad had been when her parents split, hair gelled and combed back, narrow face, hawk nose, chest hair sprouting from the half-buttoned shirt, a GQ jacket, shiny like it had been varnished.

Nick Rosco wasn't the first guy to use a car like a dick extension. She got a flash of Mr. Walden, her tenth-grade lit teacher back at Britannia, flirting with her. Walden wore his shirt like that, half-buttoned, with his colored pens in the pocket, a comb-over, puffing out his chest like some bird doing its courtship ritual, asking her to stay after class for some one-on-one — tutoring, he called it — offering her a lift home in his Boss Mustang, horsepower and leather seats. Get some on his way home to the burbs, the wife and kids waiting. It didn't happen then, sure wasn't happening now. Dara, wagging her hand in the breeze, the skull ring on her finger.

So far, this guy Nick hadn't shut up about the car, roaring up the 99, miles of pines flashing by. Since they left the Drive two hours ago, he'd barely mentioned the job he wanted done. He was going on about the car being an SS, inferno orange with the special trim package, talked about high output and horses under the hood and whatever the fuck VVT was.

The Camaro purred along the Sea-to-Sky, Nick doing fifty over the limit going down the long cut, his hair giving off a hint of grapefruit scent. A leather hand on the wheel, holes around the knuckles, Foreigner blaring from the speakers, Nick letting her know they were numero uno in his book, the greatest rock band of all time — fuck the Beatles, fuck the Stones — pointing a leather finger in the air, throwing in a "bar none" and "end of story." Then singing along about a fever of a hundred and three.

Shoot me now. Dara tried to tune out him and his flaccid rock. Could ask him to change it, but it could get worse: 'N SYNC or Simply Red, shit her mother listened to. Probably seem rude to stick in her earbuds, click on her iPod, her hand swishing the air out the window.

The only other thing Nick talked about the whole way up was all the road construction still going on long after the Winter Olympics, dust blowing all over his new finish, saying if he got so much as one stone chip ... Letting it hang.

Dara thinking, what do you expect, taking a job lead from Cam, her ex, who worked stock at the Urban Fare where she worked the cash. Likely pulled the ad off Craigslist, Cam always trying to get back with her.

Making the call, she agreed to the rendezvous at East Side Mario's, Dara being dumb enough to let Nick interview her right at the table over cheese dip and boomers, asking if she had a license, asking to see it. Pretty stupid showing a stranger shit with her address on it. Like duh. But here they were on the drive to Whistler, Nick making the first run with her, showing her the ropes, hadn't even mentioned how much per hour.

"Not worried about getting a ticket?" she said, looking at the speedometer.

That got him going on a new tangent. The only ticket he ever got in his life was the time he beat a red. The fucking traffic camera at Marine and Taylor Way nailed him, some pig behind a desk sending the ticket along with the photo, his ex-wife opening the mail, seeing the shot of him beating the red, the chick on the passenger side not her. A tasty piece of evidence, her bottom-feeding lawyer called it. Sure, Nick could laugh about it now, having his privacy invaded like that, the bloodletting of a savage divorce, Nick keeping the lawyer's accident to himself, the Lincoln's brakes failing coming off the Ironworkers Bridge, the car skewered by the guardrail, the lawyer lucky to escape with minor injuries. Nothing the cops could prove, Nick and his ex coming to a settlement without further legal representation. Right before she left town.

Then he was back on about the Camaro, talking about rack-and-pinion this and close-ratio that, Dara letting her hand ride the breeze, thinking her nails could use a touch-up.

"Press this button, the bitch practically drives itself," he was saying, turning his head and checking her out. Hair the color of shoe polish, enough makeup for an ancient Egyptian, a silver stud on the side her nose. Could be more metal under the jeans; he couldn't tell. He bet there was. Bet he'd find out, too. Her skin was pale, the chick a bit on the boney side, small tits. But he liked the pouty lips painted stop-sign red. Had a fragile thing going. Point was, in spite of Travis Rainey and his old man telling him no, Nick was showing up with this chick, and she was going to mule for them, just like he wanted. Time for Travis and the old man to understand who was running this show.

"How much longer?" she asked, telling herself a job's a job. Whatever it was, it would get her out of her mother's basement suite. The two of them had been like oil and water since the old man split, getting worse all the time.


Excerpted from The Deadbeat Club by Dietrich Kalteis. Copyright © 2015 Dietrich Kalteis. Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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