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Frank was a bad man by Denise Mina

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Frank was a bad and dangerous man. He was bad from the get-go. Teachers told him. His mother screamed it, often. Children warned each other about him in whispers. It was his fate to dominate others.

He’d wondered about it over the years. Maybe it was genetic. Maybe he was born with no fear gene. The other prisoners shied away from him in the canteen, in the rec room. They could sense the danger in him.

This woman was supposed to help him. She was going to listen, explain him to himself, show him how he could change patterns of thinking about himself and nurture new ones that wouldn’t bring him back to prison time and time again.

But the devil was in Frank’s bones, too deep for her to reach.

“Hello,” she stood up as he walked into the room.

Frank reached behind himself to shut the door – “No!” Her voice was loud and commanding. “Leave it.”

Frank knew the door should be left ajar. He’d been testing, to see if she could match his will. Round one to her.

He sat down, crossed his legs and leaned back in the chair. “So, hen, what can I do for you today?”

“OK, as we discussed: we’re going to try to challenge problem-causing ways you think about yourself –”

“Listen,” he leaned forward, suddenly slapping his hands on the desk, making her start in her chair. “This is what caused it: disappointment. I should have been a professional footballer. Try-outs for Celtic, the whole thing. Should have been an international, but then my knees gave out. That’s when I went wrong. Couldn’t handle it. Gave up on life.”

He sat back.

“I see,” she said, jotting something in her notebook. “And this prompted you to steal two cans of superlager?”

The Red Road by Denise Mina is out now (Orion)

(Image: Rex)

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