Today I’m pleased to share an extract from Fat Boy by Joseph Cobb. Before I do, here’s what the book is about…
Way out west, in the tumbling greens of England, something’s going down. Two boys attempt an escape from the clutches of their poisonous parents… A good policeman fights to sidestep the corruption that blows like hellfire down his neck… A calamitous filmmaker and her witless lead actor scramble desperately to overcome their mucky pasts and make a Hollywood hit… A trio of nude-nutted nasties thrash their way through the picturesque countryside, collecting debts but finding more than they expected… Then there’s Captain Grubbe: the eminent, manipulative and falsely titled antichrist. He hosts a spectacular annual Christmas party, and this year’s is set to be even more extraordinary than usual.
Fat Boy is a treacherously fictitious rhapsody, taking a tongue-in-cheek look at the best and the worst of humanity and treating it with the disrespect it deserves – love and hate, corruption and extortion, car chases, gunfights and high jinks, all set against the green and pleasant land of the English countryside. It is ludicrous. It is raucous. It is a modern classic.
Inside the office, neither Janet nor The Captain retook their seats. They were both stood, waiting for the other to speak first. The Captain pulled on his braces to loosen the gathered shirt that had crumpled beneath them. He then wiggled all ten of his chubby fingers and thumbs, before clenching his fists and then pointing to the velvety box perched on the edge of his desk.
“Cigar?” he offered her.
“Erm…” Janet hesitated.
“We can share,” The Captain interrupted. “Mi casa… I forget the rest.”
Janet crossed her arms and tried her best not to look directly at The Captain. Not for the first time that afternoon, Janet felt truly uncomfortable – belittled and on the back foot. The Captain turned his back to her, hunched a little to clip his cigar and lit the end. Then, just like an old-school mob boss, he straightened his back up as if it were being retracted by a magnet, took two big puffs of the cigar and blew out the smog. Janet had begun to regret her choice to stay and talk some more.
“I really do like this idea of yours, Janet… It’s a lot better than the one about that bloke who had five thumbs, that’s for sure!”
He turned around to face Janet once again. He was met with an emotionless stare.
“It was four,” Janet replied in a dull grunt.
“Well, it may as well’ve been six, eh, ’cos it certainly left you with both of yours stuck up your arse afterwards, didn’t it?! As impressed as I am that you clambered back onto that horse, I must say I am somewhat surprised. It takes a lot less to ruin a career than that I tell ya.”
Janet bit her lip tightly. “Well, things change… that was two years ago.”
“So was my holiday in France, but I still remember I ’ad a shit time. Things never really change that much, Janet – we like to pretend they do, but they don’t. It takes a lot more than time to wipe clean that long list of fuck-ups.”
The room had gathered a mist from the slow-burning cigar. Janet bit the bullet and asked what The Captain had clearly been waiting for her to ask.
“So what do you want from me, Grubbe?”
Captain Grubbe let out a noise a lot like the sound of a punctured tyre. “Only what any investor really wants… just a guarantee. A contingency plan.”
Janet swallowed hard. She had no idea what The Captain was going to say next, and the longer he talked, the more uneasy she became.
“You messed up last time, Jan, it’s not exactly a secret, is it? I can’t be seen doin’ bad business, losin’ money; it’s not me, it’s not what I do, it really gives me the arsehole. And with my blood pressure the way it is, I can’t do that.”