A lassie in her early twinties hauds the close door open. She’s balancin a wean oan her hip, tyin her hair intae a ponytail wae her free haun an jammin the door open wae her leg. Aw while directin two useless bastarts that ur wrestlin wae a three-piece suite, tryin tae manoeuvre it intae the grun flair flat.
‘Ah think we’ll just wait oot here.’ Tracey sais, lookin at the tenement buildin.
Every flat’s boarded up, bar the wan bein flitted intae, an the tap dancer, right-haun side – the wan McDade sais is McNulty’s.
‘Aye. Just yous two go.’ Donna no so much suggests, as demands.
They’re still strugglin, tryin tae turn the couch intae the door ay the flat as we go in.
‘Ah cannae get it roon the coarner! It’s too tight, it won’t go!’ the boay at the front ay the couch sais: A wee gawky cunt, the lenses ay his NHS frames steamed up wae the strain ay his exertions.
‘Here ma man, yer no dain it right,’ McDade sais, ‘ . . . ye need mare height. Watch oot the waiy, let us in there.’
The cunt at the rear: fat tadger wae a vintage, Rudi Voller styled mullet an equally hairy arse crack oan display, is too blind-sided wae the sudden appearance ay us — two, mad wae it bawbags oan the prowl fur Persian rugs — tae mount any sort ay resistance, an we’re in aboot it.
We staun the fucker up, near upright, an pivot it roon, linin it up wae the door ay the flat, ‘Right! Oan three,’ McDade sais, ‘ . . . lift the arse ay it through, an we’ll lower this end, an come through wae ye. Right?’
It may be that in oor haste tae get up the stair, score a gram, an get oot ay there, we’re a bit too eager in expeditin the orange, corduroy monstrosity’s arrival intae its new hame, as the boay inside the flat ends up oan his back wae the couch oan tap ay him, wedged in the door frame.
‘Ye awright there mate?’ McDade sais tae the couch as we squeeze by, the specky boay underneath it groanin back in response, ‘. . . ah’m sure yies’ll work it oot between yersels fae here.’ he winks at the heavy boay an bounds up the stair leavin him an the other dafty tae get oan wae it.
‘Ye staiy up the stair, dae ye?’ the burd wae the wean sais.
McDade stoaps in his tracks, turnin roon, ‘Naw hen, we’re just visitin somebody – oor mate!’ he exclaims, evidently pleased wae his quick thinkin.
‘Well, thanks fur helpin there, awfy nice ay yies.’ she sais, ‘whit’s his name, the guy yer visitin – yer mate?’
McDade looks at me, his stupit grin forewarnin me ay his intentions, an fucks off roon the landin an up the stairs, leavin me tae answer her.
He’d wisely decided tae bolt afore divulgin any information an ah’m fucked if ah’m gonnae. The poor cow’ll find oot who she’s neighbours wae soon enough. She disnae need tae find oot aff ay me. Loose lips an aw that.
Ah cannae think ay anythin tae say so take the only other option available tae me an run up efter him leavin her tae figure it oor fur hersel.
McDade’s loiterin at the door ay the flat oan the tap dancer when ah get there, his clenched fist hoverin oer the door. Seein me comin, he chaps it a few times.
A dug barks inside, gettin louder as it pounds alang the loabby, thuddin intae the door like a fuckin wreckin ball. Ma palms ur sweaty an ah kin feel the colour drainin oot ma face as the dug pants an scratches at the door.
McDade looks at me an ah nod ma heid tae the stairs hopin he’s readin me an we kin reassess this ill-thoat oot scheme an get tae fuck, preferably afore comin face tae face wae the beast that’s clawin the door – the only thing separatin it fae oor baws.
‘FUCKIN SHUT IT YA CUNT, YE!’ a voice comes fae behind the door foallied by a whimper. The door partially opens, a shadowy eye peerin roon the gap the security chain allows, ‘Who the fuck ur yous?’
‘Is McNulty – ah mean, Harry there?’ McDade sais, ‘ . . . we’re wantin tae get a wee bit ay –’ he hauds his index finger up tae his beak. He’s tryin tae act aw casual but ah kin tell his arse is gaun.
‘WHO IS IT, MONTY?’ a voice fae in the flat comes boomin oot.
He opens the door wide. He’s bent oer, haudin the dug by the collar, ‘Fuck knows Harry. Ah’ve never seen them afore. They want tae see you though.’
The bastarn dug bears its teeth, gravity pullin at its slebbers, formin a stringy stalactite ay drool fae its mooth tae the flair.
Alang the loabby, a figure stauns in the shadows, the grey bristles ay his facial growth catchin the light fae the adjoinin room, ‘Ah don’t know them. Tell them tae fuck off.’ he sais an steps away, back intae the room.
‘Ye heard him. FUCK OFF!’ the cunt, Monty sais, slammin the door shut in oor faces. The sound ay the wee wean fae doon the stair greetin comes ominously risin up the close in between her Ma screamin like a banshee at Haudit an Daudit oer a breakage ay some kind.
‘Aw well, we tried. Mone, lets get oot ay here. This place is gien me the shitters.’ ah sais an head doon the stair.
‘Fuck that. We’re no gien up noo!’ McDade sais, his internal charlie radar no lettin up. He rattles the door again.
‘Look, ah fuckin telt yies –’ the same cunt, Monty, sais, peerin roon the door again, gettin jostled aboot wae the dug.
‘Stevie McShane sais tae come doon.’ McDade sais tae him, ‘ . . . sais it wid be sound.’
The door opens an he walks back doon the loabby, draggin the dug behind him oan its hind legs, gesturin fur us tae foallie. Ah look at McDade an mooth the words, ‘whit the fuck ur ye dain?’ but it’s too late as he strides intae the gaff, impervious tae ma protestations, just that blind, tunnel vision again.
Ah foallie behind him, countin the wee patches ay white scar tissue visible through his hair, dotted aboot oan the back ay his nut where he’s been crowned wae a boattle or skelped wae a hauf brick oer the years. Ah kin put a name an location tae maist ay them. Some boay, so he is.
The stench ay the slebbery dug fills ma nostrils gien us the dry boak as we go intae the front room.
‘They sais Stevie McShane telt them tae come.’ Monty sais tae the back ay a greyin heid. The day’s fitba results ur blarin oot ay the fuckin huge tellie in the coarner. Must be fuckin deif, the cunt.
There’s a wee pile ay gear oan the gless coffee table in front ay him, a Global Video caird an a litre boatle ay Smirnoff Blue Label.
He sits studyin his fitba coupon, watchin the replay ay the full-time results comin in afore crushin up the receipt an flingin it oan the flair alang wae the rest ay shite lyin aboot oan the cairpet.
He stanks his drink an reaches forward, grabbin the boatle an pourin another big measure.
The sound ay the lavvy flushin comes fae the bathroom doon the hall, breakin the awkward silence.
'He never exactly sent us. We couldnae get a haud ay him so we thoat we’d cut oot the middle man, know?’ McDade sais.
‘Cut oot the middle man? Here lads, did ye hear that? They’re here tae cut oot the middle man.’ He stauns up, chucklin tae himsel, turnin roon an raisin his gless. McDade looks at me, bemused.
Monty an another cunt, who’s just walked intae the room, laugh alang wae him; wan ay they sycophantic laughs crawlin bastarts like tae dae tae ingratiate themsels tae whoever it is, owns the arse their tongue’s hingin oot ay.
‘An whit is it yer lookin fur, eh?’ he sais, staunin up an walkin tae the windae. Its only noo ah see his face properly. The big silvery slash mark oan his right cheek’s curved, like the letter J. He looks like he’s been corporately branded oan the dish by Nike. It stauns oot like a map oan his face leadin tae the gless marble he’s goat masqueradin as an eye.
‘Eh, just a gram, man.’
‘Just a gram, man? Here Ged, it’s just a gram, man he’s wantin.’ he sais, mockingly, ‘Huv yies goat the money?’
‘Aye we’ve goat it.’ McDade sais, nudgin me.
Ah get ma money oot an he grabs two score notes aff us, stickin a tenner tae it.
'See?’ McDade sais, haudin the money oot in front ay him.
‘Ged! Get these two a gram ay white. Mone noo, best no keep them waitin. We’re dealin wae a Coyle here. The fuckin second wan the day. Fuckin Coyle Loyal aboot here int it? How’s yer Granda, kid?’ He stares oot the windae tae the street below.
‘How dae ye know ma Granda? How dae ye know me?’ ah sais but he just stares oot the windae an puts his haun up, dismissin me.
‘Here, lads mere an see these two wee cows doon the stair. Whit wid ye dae wae that wee hing wae the short skirt an the broon hair, eh? Look at the pins oan it.’ he sais, ‘Here Monty, get doon there an see if they’ll dae a turn fur the boays. You kin huv the other wan.’
Ah don’t need tae see tae know it’s Tracey he’s talkin aboot. The two cunts, Ged an Monty join him at the windae, Ged passin McNulty the gram. He whispers somethin in his ear.
‘Fuck aye. Couple ay dirty wee boots, right enough.’ Monty sais, leerin oot.
‘Ye gaun doon then? Ah’m no kiddin. Get them up here. That wan wae the broon hair’ll take it aw night long. Ah kin tell. Fuckin hoachin fur it, she is.’
Monty opens the windae, ‘AWRIGHT DOLL, YOU COMIN UP FUR A PARTY?’ he shouts doon tae the street.
Afore ah know whit ah’m dain ah surge taewards him, ‘That’s ma fuckin burd ya prick!’
In an instant ah’m oan ma back, lookin up at them, ma heid loupin fae the open haunded slap McNulty’s just gied us. The other two try tae get at me, their faces twisted wae rage but he puts his airms oot, haudin them back.
‘That yer burd, is it? Did ah hurt yer feelins?’ they laugh an ah kin see McDade tensin up, hauns clenched, thinkin aboot it.
The dug lunges at me, latchin oan tae the laces ay ma trainie, pullin it aff.
McDade drags me tae ma feet, ‘Mone Coyle, leave it.’ he sais.
‘There it is, eh! Coyle right enough. Ah fuckin knew that when ah clocked ye at the door. Yer his spittin image, ya cunt.’
It takes me a minute tae register whit he sais, ‘Ye knew ma Da?’
‘Ah knew him awright.’ he sais, ‘ . . . he wis a fuckin live-wire an aw.’ he flings the gram at us an it hits ma shooder, fawin tae the flair.
McDade bends doon an tails it, ‘Mone, Danny. Lets get tae fuck. Fuck these cunts.’
‘Aye that’s it. Get tae fuck, the baith ay yies. An you? If you ever come tae this door again, ye’ll be headed the same waiy as yer Da.’ he sais tae me, coolly.
Wan ay them flings ma trainie at me. It’s aw chewed tae fuck, covered in dug slebbers. Ah stick it back oan tae the sound ay metal scrapin alang the flair, drawin ma eyes tae the lanky streak ay piss, Monty pullin a sword oot fae behind the armchair; some antique lookin thing, wae a dullness at the edge where it’s been sharpened alang the blade. Blue insulatin tape’s wrapped roon the haunel.
Ged’s goat the Staffie intae a frenzy ay blood lust, slappin it aboot the face, rilin it up afore flingin it tae the filthy, pish-stained cairpet lettin it come fur us again.
We’re off oot the door, boundin doon the stairs four an five at a time, slammin aff the waws ay the landins an kickin back aff them, propellin oorsels doon the next flight, no lookin back. Ah hear the dug’s breath right behind us, its claws scratchin the surface ay the concrete flair in its pursuit.
A piercin whistle rings oot as we reach the grun flair an it goes quiet. Ah turn tae look. Nae dug.
A few mare seconds elapse an the sound ay the door up the stair slammin shut thunders doon the close.
The wee burd wae the wean’s staunin oot in the street talkin tae Tracey an Donna as we spill oot the door. McDade crashes intae the boay wae the mullet makin him drap the boax ay cutlery he’s kerrien tae the pavement, ‘Yous two again. Watch where yer fuckin gaun ya fuckin crank, ye!’ the boay sais, ragin.
‘Don’t you fuckin start ya prick!’ McDade snaps back.
‘Leave it McDade. It’s no his fault.’ ah sais an start pickin them up, ‘Sorry mate. Right lassies, rap it up. We’re leavin.’
‘Whit’s wrang? We’re just talkin tae Michelle here. She went tae Eastbank as well. She knows Adele McLafferty an Claire Smith an that. Here, dae ye know Angela Brice? Whit age is Angie Brice again Paul?’ Tracey sais.
‘Look, we’ve no goat time fur this. We need tae go.’ McDade sais, grabbin them by the airm, ‘Ah’d think twice aboot takin that flat pal. Tell the cooncil tae ram it. This is nae place fur bringin up a wean.’ McDade sais.
'Och, don’t listen tae him hen. Ah’m sure it’ll be fine wance yae dae it up. Whit ur ye aw aboot Paul, sayin that? Where’s yer manners.’ Donna scolds him.
Ah help Rudi Voller’s fat doppelganger wae the last ay the cutlery an kitchen utensils, makin oor apologies again afore lookin up tae the windae. McDade an the lassies ur awready walkin away an don’t see but he’s staunin there, in the same position in the flat as he wis before, eyeballin us.
Ah jog oan, catchin them up. When ah look back again, he’s away. Just the scabby net curtains remain, blawin in the breeze by the open windae.
‘Whit wis it that guy shouted oot the windae, Danny? We couldnae hear him.’ Tracey sais.
‘Aw that? Never mind, he wis just messin aboot.’ ah sais an we turn the coarner discussin where tae take oorsels tae next..