Complete Book

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  • Dedicated to Bernadette, Christopher, Cormac, Kelly Ann, Lee-Ann and Tessa Marie.


Brendan Walsh

Author’s Notes: While the author draws on real-life experiences in writing this book, the story is fictional. Except for the character, Banjo Bob Cussen, whose name is used with permission, any similarity to other actual characters, living, or dead, is coincidental. Likewise, the town of Noburg mentioned in the book is a fictional setting.

 © Brendan Walsh 2014. All rights reserved. Montréal, Québec, Canada.




Whenever I put pen to paper, as I do now, to write about familiar places of my past, memories roll through my mind like the frames of a silent-movie: 

The quiet corner of the old neighborhood is six years younger as it cuts to a scene in which fellow gang members lurk in an alleyway, pigging out on pizza, pastries and greasy French fries smothered in barbecue sauce.

The headlights of a passing car dissolve to a lamppost, its light shining down on Melody, the first girl I ever kissed. 

The screech of a city owl fades to the scream of an approaching police siren. Suspicious layabouts scatter like flies. 

A kid on a bike cuts to one balmy early-June afternoon when I skip school and escape with fellow truant Neil McCutcheon to watch jockeys slumped in their sulkies, riding crops in hand, chasing after their quick-paced, poop-plopping horses as they race towards the finish line at Yonkers Raceway. 

While the tennis court next to my old tenement is a more recent juxtaposition, it nevertheless triggers the most powerful memory of all: a court where I am making my final serve and I am about to learn the final score in one of the most important matches of my young life.

Chapter 1

THE JUDGE'S EYELIDS LOOKED TO ME like they were glued shut, as her right hand crept across her bench and grasped the gavel. Then she opened her eyes and fixed them on me.

“Do you have anything to say before I pronounce sentence, Mr. Cagney?” 

I lowered and shook my head several times, wondering what sentence I would receive this time around. 

My heartbeat seemed to be racing against the pendulum of the nearby wall clock -- two beats for every tick-tock. My stomach turned and rumbled with nervousness, even though I was trying to look tough to the dozen or so noisy Crows I could see standing on the lawn outside the window. The judge had ordered the window open after the air conditioner croaked. 

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