Friday 23 November 2007
Someone’s watching me. I see him across the street. He stands there, leaning against a lamppost like he’s waiting for someone. But why’d he wait for someone there? It’s a dead end. Just a wall and a lamppost. He’s watching me. I’m damn’ sure of it. My flat’s on the first floor so I can see him easy. Just turn my lights down and peek behind the curtains and I can get a good look at him without him knowing I’m even there. I can’t see him much though. He wears a hat with a brim. And the wall where he stands is half way down the street.
The phone rang earlier on. I let the answer machine pick it up. I listened but there was nothing but the sound of the cassette tape going round. I’m used to that by now. But then I realised it wasn’t nothing. There was some music playing, very quiet, in the background. Or anyway it would have been in the background if there had been anything in the foreground, which there wasn’t. It was classical music of some sort - opera, I think. And then I heard a man laughing. Not right up against the phone, but somewhere in the same room. After that, everything went quiet for a bit, except for the music which was still playing. And then someone put the phone down. And that was that.
I went to look out the window to see if the man was standing by the lamppost. But he wasn’t. The street was dead.
Tuesday 20 November 2007
So this afternoon, I go down the shop to see Mick and as I swish in through the bead curtain I greet him in my customary manner by smiling and saying “How’s tricks?” To which Mick’s usual answer is something along the lines of a cough followed, if he’s in a good mood, by a suck on his fag and a grotch on the floor.
But not today. Today Mick looks at me and he says, “What the fuck you doing here?”
And I say, “What you mean, what the fuck am I doing here. I work here don’t I? Least, last I heard I did.”
“I thought you was due in tomorrow,” he says, “I wasn’t expecting you today.”
“Two till eight. That’s what we arranged. Two till eight today. Ten till four tomorrow.”
The shop was empty but just then the bead curtains gave a rattle and in walked this middle-aged fat bloke. I don’t know why it is but Mick’s shop attracts middle-aged fat blokes like a turd attracts flies. If a middle-aged fat bloke is what you are looking for, Mick’s shop is a good place to start. If your tastes veer more towards the young and hunky end of the market, on the other hand, it’s a non starter. Except in the magazines. The magazines are stuffed full of hunks of all sizes, colours and degrees of hairiness. Middle aged fat blokes, on the other hand, are distinctly under-represented in their pages.
Mick gave me a sideways nod, meaning that he wanted me to come around the other side of the counter where he could whisper at me with some semblance of privacy.
“You better take the afternoon off,” he says.
“Sorry, can’t do that,” says I, “You booked me in. Here I am. If I wasn’t working here I’d be working somewhere else. Loss of earnings, if you see what I mean.”
“Here,” he says, and he opens up the till and starts getting some dosh out.
“What’s that for?” I say.
“I’ll pay you,” he says, “For the afternoon.”
“If you pay me for the afternoon, I’ll work the afternoon,” I say.
“I don’t need you,” he says, “Look around. How many customers do you see?”
“It’s early,” I say, “A couple of hours from now the place’ll be heaving.”
By now, I’m starting to wonder what’s Mick’s game. Why does he want to get rid of me all of a sudden? He knows he’s going to need a hand later on. And anyway, I’ve never heard of him paying anyone for not working before.
“C’mon, Mick,” I say, “Don’t talk to me like an idiot. What’s up? The plod been around?”
“Shhhhh...” he says, and I notice him glancing at the customer. But by now, the customer, who is starting to look a bit red in the face and who is also starting to sound dangerously breathless for someone of his age and weight, has only one thing on his mind and that thing is in the magazine he’s flicking through - so I say to Mick, “Just tell me, ok.”
Fact of the matter is, Mick’s been having a lot of trouble with the plod lately. Not sure why. Maybe they got some bright new thing in the Dirty Squad, someone who wants to make a name for himself and doesn’t understand the rules of the game. That happens every once in a while. It don’t last long. Just until the new guy gets to know the ropes and then everything gets back to business as usual. Still, whenever they start having crackdowns and stuff, it’s a real pain in the arse for people who are in the business Mick is in.
“No, not the plod,” he says, “Worse.”
“What’s worse than the plod, I say?”
“You should know,” says Mick, “It was you they was asking about.”
Anyway, I did the afternoon job as per usual and, just as I thought it would, the place filled up later on. By 6 o’clock it was jam packed - with fat middle-aged men. I asked Mick who’d been looking for me but he wouldn’t say. He just said, “You want to watch yourself, boy. They are not people you want to get on the wrong side of.”
He can be very cryptic at times, can Mick.
Sunday 18 November 2007
This is really doing my fucking head in. I was on my way back from the Black Cap last night, about half past eleven, say, and suddenly I feel someone grab the collar of my jacket and he shoves me down into this little alleyway and he slams me up against a wall. I’m shitting myself. I’m thinking it’s a mugger or something and any second now there’s going to be a knife blade between my ribs. But there isn’t a knife. He just holds me there, with my face up against that fucking wall and one arm held flat against my side and the other arm pulled behind my back, up somewhere between my shoulder blades, and he tells me not to turn around which, given the position I’m in, is really not an option. And he whispers at me, keeps calling me “pretty boy” or “you pretty fucker”. And I say, what d’you want, I ain’t got much money, but what I got you can take but he says he don’t want my fucking money, so I say, well, what is it you want then...?
“We just want to have a friendly word with you is all,” he says - and I’m thinking “There’s that ‘we’ again” - it’s all ‘we’ and ‘us’ these days, never just ‘me’ and ‘I’.
“OK,” I tell him, “OK, I’m listening. What’s up? Just tell me.”
He says, “We been watching you. We know exactly what you’re up to, pretty boy.”
And I’m thinking, who the fuck is ‘we’, and I’m also thinking I bet it’s that bastard Baldie again, he’s got one of his fucking heavies on me, though God knows what for, ‘cos I fucking don’t.
And he says, “If you say anything, anything you didn’t ought to say to anyone you didn’t ought to be saying it to, we’ll know. And we’ll make sure it’s the last time you get to try on anything like that. You understand what I’m saying?”
And I’m thinking, “No, I don’t bloody understand, I don’t understand what you think I’m going to say or who you think I’m going to say it to.” But what I say is, “Yeah, yeah, ok, I understand.”
“’Cos I wouldn’t like that. And Mr King wouldn’t like that. You understand?”
“Yeah, yeah, I understand,” I say.
“You better fucking understand, pretty boy. We don’t want to spoil your good looks now, do we?”
And then he says, Don’t fucking turn around and I tell him I won’t. And then he slams me a good one around the side of the head just to give me something to remember him by and while I’m watching the stars spin around inside my skull, I hear his footsteps clattering off down the alleyway. And even when he’s gone I still stay standing with my face up against the wall because he told me not to turn around so I’m not turning around. But after a while, when I reckon he must be long gone and far away, I decide I’m going to have to turn around some time. So I turn around. And sure enough, there’s no one there but me. So I go home. Just as if nothing had happened.
And then I start thinking, why did he say Mr King wouldn’t like it? I mean, what the Hell has Mr King got to do with anything, anyway? I’ve heard of Mr King before, ‘course I have. In this business - the business I was in before, I mean - they always said that’s where the stuff comes from, the stuff I used to deliver. But I was never sure if he was a real person. I didn’t think he was, really. To tell you the truth, I always thought that when people said, “It’s from Mr King”, it was just another way of saying, “Ask no questions and you’ll get told no lies” or “Where’d it come from? Fell of the back of a lorry, didn’t it?”
Fuck. This is really doing my head in. I don’t know who they think I am or what they think I’m up to. I just hope this is the end of it, that’s all. I just hope they leave me alone...
Saturday 17 November 2007
As soon as I saw the light blinking on my answer machine, I knew who it was. I’ve stopped answering the phone because he keeps calling I really, really
don’t want to talk to him. I leave the machine on all the time but he keeps on calling anyway and he always hangs up without leaving a message. I don’t know it’s him for sure but I can’t think who else it can be. I don’t know what’s up with that guy. When I did the deliveries, he never wanted to talk to me.
Today he did leave a message. Says he wants me to visit. Says he’s got stuff to talk about. Why would I want to talk to him? I’m finished in that business. These days I work down the shop and I do a bit of other business on the side but that’s all. The one thing I’m not is some other fucker’s delivery boy. He says they want me to make ‘a friendly visit’ - “We can make it worth your while,” he says. I noticed there was a lot of “we” and “us” all of a sudden, meaning that I’m supposed to believe that Frankie sodding Fischer wants to get all chummy with me. Not that Frankie himself ever phones, of course.
Sod them! I don’t need their money. I can make money any day of the week. I got contacts. I can make plenty.
Later on Guy phones. He says, “It’s Guy, pick up the fucking phone, you cunt,” which is Guy’s way of saying, “Hello, have a nice day,” so I pick up the phone and he asks me if I’ve heard the latest and I tell him that all depends on what the latest is. And he says there’s a story going round that one of the newspapers is going to run a story about Frankie Fischer, going to spill the beans and that. And I say, I thought all the beans had already been spilled. And Guy says he’s heard there’s a lot more stuff going to come out - and for a minute I start to panic as I’m thinking about the drugs and I’m thinking about all the stuff I used to deliver and I’m worrying that someone’s made the connection to me, which is something I do not want - but Guy says, no, it’s not the drugs angle they’re going for, it’s the sex angle. And I’m thinking maybe they’re going to run a story about Frankie and Baldie and I’m thinking well, serves Baldie’s fucking right, the fat creep. But Guy says, no, it’s not about Baldie, it’s about boys. And I say, which boys? And Guy says, “You
should fucking know, you bastard!” and I say “Why me?” and he says, “You went to his fucking party, didn’t you?” And I say, “So what?” and he says, “Funny thing is, no one’s seen Welsh Willy since. Since that party.” And I say, “So why am I supposed to care?” And he says, “I just think it’s funny, that’s all. I mean, rumour is that Welsh Willy was blackmailing Frankie Fischer. And now he’s gone. Just strikes me as funny, that’s all.”
“Ha-fucking-ha,” I say.
Friday 16 November 2007
Weird stuff happened last night. I went down the Black Cap. Scotch Harry was there. He kept sniffing poppers and giggling, which really got on my tits. There was some black drag-queen on stage miming to Dusty Springfield, which got on my tits even more. I went across to the Mother Redcap for a bit. It was quieter there. Scotch Harry was going on to that club down Mornington Crescent way but I didn’t feel like that and anyway I’m a bit strapped for cash just now, so I walked home alone after chucking out time.
That’s when I saw Baldie.
At least, I’m pretty damn’ sure it was him. He was on the other side of the road and when he saw me he crossed over, but I broke out into a bit of a trot, being pretty certain he’d never be able to keep up with me, him not being exactly in the peak of physical.
By the time I got to the traffic lights by Prince of Wales Road, I noticed this big black car cruising up behind me. It was one of those America numbers, real slick and flashy, with fins and chrome and stuff. Not the sort of car you see every day of the week. But I’ve seen one just like it once before - parked in Frankie Fischer’s driveway.
So I got off the pavement pretty damn’ sharpish, and I got myself into a dark little doorway, one of these doorways with its own little entranceway thing - a porch or whatever it’s called. The car drove past but didn’t stop. I didn’t get a good look at who was driving it. But I’m pretty damn’ certain it was Baldie. That guy sends shivers up my spine. What the fuck’s he following me for, anyway? I ain’t got no business with him.