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Front Row 'Consequences'

Bret Easton Ellis launched Front Row's Chain Story, and many other leading writers have added to the tale.

We've also been asking you for your contributions and we've added one to the story. Crime writer Peter James has provided the final sentences.

You can see a selection of Peter James' favourite listener contributions at the bottom of this page.

Hear the Front Row chain story:

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The complete chain story

  • Bret Easton Ellis. Image © Jeff Burton

    Bret Easton Ellis

    While Jake was away his fiancée spent a steamy weekend with another guy.

  • Mark Billingham. Image © Charlie Hopkinson

    Mark Billingham

    On any other occasion Jake might have been jealous, but as it happened he had been planning to kill her anyway.

  • Ian Rankin. Image © Rankin

    Ian Rankin

    He had, however, failed to take into account that the other guy was the son of Jimmy 'The Juice' Bonetti.

  • Val McDermid. Image © Charlie Hopkinson

    Val McDermid

    Jimmy's internationally successful fruit juice and smoothie empire had given him the resources to exercise his need for power over his nearest and dearest, so neither Jake nor Tiffany had any chance of maintaining a shred of secrecy in their lives.

  • Peter James

    Peter James

    Jimmy's son, "Crazy" Lou Bonetti was a psycho who liked to model himself on his dead hero, Crazy Joe Gallo of the Columbo crime family. Like Gallo, Lou Bonetti kept a full grown lion in his basement. When someone owed him money, he would starve the lion for three days then bring his victim down to meet it. "You gonna pay me what you owe me or you wanna play with my pet?" was his catchphrase.

  • Zoë Sharp Image © Andy Butler @ ZACE Photographic

    Zoë Sharp

    Unbeknownst to Jake, Tiffany was wise to his schemes and she had not only been spiking his morning glass of Bonetti fruit cocktail with enough antifreeze to fell an ox, she also took the precaution of carrying a quantity of lion food in her handbag - after all, when you're having an affair with a psycho, you can never be too careful...

  • Stella Duffy

    Stella Duffy

    And Tiffany had certainly known her fair share of psychos, from Jake to Jimmy to the barely-disguised attraction she had for young Lou - and he for her - the girl was drawn to crazy men and their crazy ways like a lobster's drawn to the pot - he knows there's no way out, but he just can't stop himself heading on in.

  • N J Cooper

    NJ Cooper

    But Lou was only a wuss in a psycho's clothes, and Tiffany scared him a lot more than his old man's lion when she told him just exactly what she had on him and just exactly how she wanted him to kill Jake.

  • Christopher Brookmyre

    Christopher Brookmyre

    "I want him dipped naked in a vat of hot wax and his corpse displayed on a plinth in the lobby of his mother's apartment building," Tiffany laid it down icily. "I always hated that bitch, and I hated her taste in statuary even worse."

  • Paul Johnston

    Paul Johnston

    'Crazy' Lou, who'd been working for the FBI after a sting organised by Special Agent Clarice 'Silent But Deadly' Harris, decided to set up both his father and Tiffany.

  • Dreda Say Mitchell

    Dreda Say Mitchell

    Lou met Jake at the City Farm. "The world's divided into cats and mice and the cats do better" said Lou as they studied the lions. "So do you want to be a cat with me and Clarice, or a mouse with my dad and Tiff?"

  • Frederick Forsyth. Image © Andy Butler

    Frederick Forsyth

    Lou was not only insane, he was also sloppy. He should have checked out the man he had cuckolded and threatened. Five tours with the Green Berets in the Tora Bora had taught Jake ten ways to kill. Lou was still just conscious when he went over the wall and the big cats closed in.

  • David Almond

    David Almond

    But the cats fell into a swoon. They recalled their early dreams of the savannah, the scent of wildebeest, and their roars were filled with nostalgia. They had become too soft to kill.

  • Felix Francis. Image © Geoff Pugh

    Felix Francis

    Jake, meanwhile, leaving crazy Lou to what he was sure was a grizzly end, went to Jimmy 'The Juice' Bonetti's private racehorse training centre in search of Tiffany. Hate in his heart and a dagger in his pocket tagged along for the ride.

  • Lawrence Norfolk

    Lawrence Norfolk

    Tiffany had always loved horses, 'til she discovered lions. She loved lions, 'til she found out about men. Her teen years were tough, but Tiffany was tougher. Jake didn't know what he was walking into that day at the racecourse, he didn't know who either. He was about to find out.

  • Frances Fyfield. Image © Charlie Hopkinson

    Frances Fyfield

    Oh no he wasn't. Not that day. There were no horses and nothing like it because Bonetti had leased out his centre to a giant antiques fair and Tiffany was at the centre with her own stall. She was covered with diamonds and glittered all over. Tiffany was with her real best friends.

  • Stephen Fry

    Stephen Fry

    Jake mixed himself a Gibson. He had always carried a jar of cocktail onions on his person since he'd seen Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint sipping Gibsons on the train in North by Northwest. He moved forwards to offer Tiffany a sip. But something was wrong.

  • Colm Toibin

    Colm Toibin

    Tiffany glanced at him for a moment. Then something behind him seemed to distract her. He saw her face changing, it was close at first to a frown, but then her expression became alert and tense. By the time he saw her smile in deep and malicious satisfaction it was too late.

  • Michelle Paver

    Michelle Paver

    What Jake had never bothered to understand about Tiffany was that her childhood love of lions went far deeper than her regard for men; it was a lion that was now silently moving in on him: her lion.

  • Belinda Bauer

    Belinda Bauer

    Quick as a flash, Jake popped a cocktail onion between the lion's mighty jaws. The big cat puckered like a denture-free pensioner on lemon-sucking duty.

  • Howard Jacobson

    Howard Jacobson

    There are two things a lion never forgets: a face and a favour. A decade or so before, a young man spending his gap year on the savannah, had removed a large thorn from the lion's paw. To help assuage the pain he had fed the wounded beast a cocktail onion. The lion was in no doubt that Jake was this man.

  • David Connah

    David Connah - listener contribution

    The lion relaxed in the heat, let out a yawn.

    Said to Jake "thanks for removing that thorn..."

    Jake surprised replied, "that's OK"

    Maybe you'll do me a favour some day...

    The lion, surprised that the man could talk,

    Got up, stretched, set off for a walk.

  • Peter James

    Peter James

    The lion strode proudly, unaware of the tiny red dot of the laser sight bobbing on his midriff; the American's finger was so fat it could barely fit inside the trigger guard. The lion never even heard the shot - nor the obese American roar, "I'll get him next time." The lion had picked up his scent. He was hungry. There wasn't going to be a next time.

Your contributions

Thank you for all your suggestions. Here is a selection of Peter James' favourite submissions from literary-minded listeners, inspired by Howard Jacobson's entry. As you can see, the story could have headed in many different directions.

Abigail Hustler

As the lion frolicked purring at his feet, Jake's eyes met Tiffany's. She was gazing at him not in anger nor in astonishment but with admiration. No, more than that, with love. Jake's natural affinity with lions was for her deeply, deeply attractive.

Derec Jones

The lion laughed. He had waited ten years for this moment. The thorn hadn't really bothered him, in fact he had quite enjoyed the sharp sensation it gave him; the onion on the other hand gave him six months of chronic heartburn. He spat the onion out and lunged.

Chris Smith

"Gangsters, fruit juice, lions, onions! Who wrote this crap?" sighed Melissa, tossing the dime novel over the side of her luxury yacht and catching sight of the giant squid climbing aboard.

John Wade

Mark re-read the printout. A slight colour in his cheeks. The producer coughed. These writers really wrote this? The producer moved his lips and made a sound. These ones, they wrote this? The producer gently underlined something in his notebook. And you want me to read it? On air? Now?

Kathryn Evans

The lion rolled over, offering Jake its broad expanse of belly. Both Tiffany and Jake stretched out their hands, and both Tiffany and Jake saw the message, scrawled across the pale fur in blood....

There have been some fabulous parody and pastiche entries. Such as these:

Mike Kilbane

The lion let out an enormous belch, nearly blowing Jake over. "Haven't we met?" the lion asked him. Jake spotted a way out. "Androcles at your service." "Oh purrlease," Tiffany interrupted, "That's hardly original." "But what a double act," said the Lion, moving closer to Tiffany.

Nan Bovington

Tiffany's smile faded like the dimmer switch on a cheap repro chandelier, as over the head of the now assuaged lion appeared Crazy Lou, battered but definitely alive, accompanied by Jake's mother and her Vietnamese butler, Phong, holding a bucket marked "Hot Wax." "Time for serious depilation, Tiffany," she wheezed.

Veronica Whittaker

Jake raised an eyebrow at Tiffany. "Hey sweetheart, shaken but not stirred by you, again." And with that he bent down and playfully tickled the lion's tummy. Unfortunately, this lion was not ticklish.

Wendy Ann Bailey

The lion rose up on its hind legs, pitched its dinner-plate sized paws on Jake's shoulder and licked his face with its coarse sandpaper like tongue. Jake froze in abject fear and Tiffany guessed that the dagger in her pocket might not longer be necessary.

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