Pawns (Part One)
Ah think ah’ve goat everythin. Two boatles ay ginger: wan, Irn-Bru, wan, Garvie’s Orange; three packets ay biscuits: Toffeepops, an two ay mint YoYos; a pint ay milk fur makin tea; two chicken an mushroom Pot Noodles an a packet ay king-size Rizla.
Ah stick it aw doon oan the table, layin it oot in a wee display, like a wean playin shoaps, an get the rollin tray fae under the couch tae build a few joints. Burnin the edge ay the ounce ay soft-black ah’d picked up aff wan ay the Guru’s contacts doon the Southside, the sweet, musky notes envelope the room like a pungent incense. Proper hashish, this gear. No like that dark-rocky shite every cunt an their Granny punts aboot here, know whit ah mean?
Joints rolled, ah flick through the CDs in the case ah keep them in, lookin fur – ah don’t know whit. Ah’ll know it when ah see it.
It’s then that ah dae. Paul Simonon, legs akimbo, bass guitar aloft, seconds afore he shatters it aff the stage flair in an act ay punk rock petulance, caught forever in the iconic cover art. The Clash - London Calling.
Lightin wan ay the joints, ah stick it oan the stereo, the title track comin beltin oot, washin oer us in a violent torrent ay noise.
Ah sit fur a while absorbin it, smokin the first joint, quickly foallied by another wan, complimented by correspondin mugs ay tea.
Ah’m waitin. Waitin tae see whit’s gonae happen; how things ur gonae play oot. Nae point in stressin though. The wheels ur in motion, ah just need tae ride the fucker till they faw aff.
Oer behind the curtain, at the big bay windae ay the livin room, ah get the flight case that keeps ma bass guitar safely stored inside. Stoappin the music, ah click it open, lift it oot alang wae the lead, an plug it intae the wee practice amp ah dig oot ay the press in the hall. It’s no far oot ay tune, considerin. It must’ve been in there fur five or six months noo – since the start ay the year definitely.
Ah tune it an turn the wee amp up as loud as it’ll go waeoot distortin the sound tae fuck. Walkin oer tae the stereo, ah stick the CD back oan, flickin it forward tae The Guns of Brixton. The bass comes through in stereo as ah play alang tae the track, the auld Fender, Precision bass soundin just as fuckin sweet as it ever did.
Bangin comes doon fae the cunt upstair so ah reciprocate, retrievin the mop fae the kitchenette, an reachin up wae the haunel tae the high ceilin, bangin back. Fuck that prick. It’s the middle ay the efternin, know whit ah mean? If he keeps it up, ah’ll dae it late at night next time. Gie him somethin tae really moan aboot.
The phone vibrates, buzzin aboot oan the table. A text message:
Hi Steve. it Zander got that paper 4 u as promised.
Can b there in ten if u want 2 meet.
Although ah knew it wis comin, ah wis at least hopin ah’d get some time tae masel; some time tae reflect; some time tae get stoned an play a bit ay music; tae melt away intae the here an noo, just fur ma ain pleasure. Sometimes the simple things ur aw ye really need.
This is it though. Don’t ask me how ah know, ah just dae. Ah’ve no heard fae him since the drap at the fairm hoose. Ah text back, tellin him tae head doon tae the usual place ah get him when he cannae see me at his gaff. Ah put the bass away again, gien it a last forlorn glance, nestlin as it is, in the black velvet lined interior ay the case, afore shuttin it oer an placin it back behind the curtain, hopin it’s no the last time ah dae so.
In the bathroom, ah run the tap oan cauld an wash ma face in the cool, life-gien liquid, catchin ma gaze in the mirror, ‘This is it Stevie boay. Carpe diem, man. Seize the fuckin day, ya cunt!’
The street’s quiet, just the odd motor trundlin alang the road in either direction an maist ay the shoaps ur shut wae the exception ay the Co-Op acroass the road, an the chippie, the roller shutters ay which ur bein wrenched up by the owner, Mario, as ah pass him. He gies us a wink as he usually dis, an sais hello but there’s nae time fur pleasantries. No the day.
Lookin up the road, ootside the pub at the pelican croassin, ah see Zander’s motor, the BMW, conspicuous wae its garish purple, pearlescent paint joab, in contrast tae the other squibs parked roon aboot it. He flashes the heidlights in case there wis any doubt, the beams iridescent through the spittin drizzle, an ah walk taewards him, takin ma time, considerin ma options. Ah won’t lie, ma arse is gaun, big time.
Tae ma right, a close door’s wide open, jammed wae a doorstoap an ah kin see right through tae the back green as the door at the rear drifts open wae the draft blawin through, afore bangin shut again. Ah think fur a second aboot makin a run fur it. Ah could be through there in jig time, fuckin off oer the backs an away afore he even knows whit’s happenin. The fleetin thoat passes though as ah walk oan, gettin closer tae the motor. Ah need tae see this through, whitever happens.
Gettin intae the passenger seat next tae him ah front it oot, ‘Awright Zander, whit’s happenin?’
‘Stevo, how’s it goin ma bro-ski? Keepin busy, ur ye?’ he sais an pulls the motor oot intae the road.
‘Where we gaun? Ah thoat ye were here tae gies a square up, fur gettin the gear fur yer man, Coln.’
‘Aye, aw in good time, Stevo. Need tae go an pick it up.’
He turns up a side street, fuckin horsin it, an the rear end ay the brief kicks oot wae the torque as he flairs it oan the greasy surface ay the road.
‘Fuck sake, where’s the fire? Widnae want tae see ye totallin this nice motor.’
He fumbles aboot in his inside poakit, pullin oot his fags, flickin the lid open wae his thumb, ‘Smoke?’, he offers them tae me.
Grabbin wan, ah put it tae ma mooth an light it, watchin the blur ay the buildins ootside fly by, ‘Where we gaun then, back tae yours? Wid it no huv been easier tae bring it wae ye?’
‘Aye. Ah suppose it wid. Must be gettin forgetful, eh?’ he sais an looks at me, ‘It’s amazing how people can forget important things int it?’
He takes another turnin, doon taewards the railway an it’s noo that ah know it’s oan. At the railway bridge that passes oer the road, he makes another sharp left, up a wee potholed excuse fur a road an stoaps at a gate wae a sign oan it readin:
GUARD DOGS ON PATROL
PRIVATE ESTATE. KEEP OUT.
He drums his hauns nervously oan the steerin wheel, lookin at me, ‘Whit’ve you done, eh? Coln’s doin his fuckin nut. He told me tae get a hold ay you an bring ye here. Wouldnae say anymore than that.’ he pulls another fag oot his pack. His hauns ur shakin, though he tries tae hide it.
‘Ah’ve no goat a fuckin clue whit yer talkin aboot. You better no be settin me up ya fuckin snake.’ ah sais tae him through gritted teeth. No so fuckin wide when he’s no goat an audience, the prick.
The gate opens an a young boay, nae mare than thirteen or fourteen looks oot afore swingin the big sheet-metal clad fucker open. Zander drives through, an the gate squeals an clunks shut again behind us. Curtains twitch in the surroundin caravans an chalets as he rolls slowly intae the compound.
Straight, dead-ahead in front ay us is the maist palatial ay the chalets, brilliant white wae a canopy oer the door supported by neo-classical columns, the type ay which look mare at hame oan an Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson buildin in the toon than they dae here. Tellingly, there’s two big German Shepherd dugs tied up ootside. Nae prizes fur guessin whit wan Coln resides in. The door opens an he’s there wae the two brothers. They come oot tae meet us as we draw up tae it.
The gravelly surface ay the grun crunches under ma feet as ah pivot roon, steppin oot ay the motor, sensin conspiratorial eyes. There’s folk, men maistly, comin oot ay their dwellins, groupin the gither, the faint murmurins ay discontent palpable in the air.
‘Coln! Everythin alright there now?’ an aulder, heavy-set cunt enquires.
‘Yeah, all good William. Don’t worry youself, now. Just got some business with these here gentlemen.’ he sais tae him, wavin them away, ‘ . . . you two, inside’, he nods his heid at the door. The dugs strain their tethers comin oer tae investigate but they’re docile, just huvin a wee sniff at us at we pass through the middle ay Coln, Paddy an Finn, enterin the chalet.
‘Sit down. Over there, at the table.’ Paddy sais tae us as he steps intae the room. Coln and Finn come in behind him. There’s a wummin an two weans sittin watchin the tellie. Coln nods at her an waeoot sayin a word, she scoops the weans up, disappearin through another door intae an adjacent room.
‘Glad yous could make it. Can we get you anything? Cup of tea? Coffee?’ Coln sais, his big shovel hauns planted oan the table in front ay us.
‘Naw, no fur me.’ ah sais, feelin two fit tall as Finn an Paddy flank him oan either side, airms croassed, gien it the full intimidation routine.
‘Good. Ah want ye to look at somethin for me.’ Coln sais, takin his jumper an shirt aff, turnin roon. Ah look at Zander who returns the look, incredulous, ‘ . . . now, have a good look there an you tell me, what do ye see, eh?’ Ah look at the other two, who stare blankly back at me, deadpan. Indecipherable. There’s little option but tae play alang wae the charade an indulge him.
‘Ah don’t know whit ah’m supposed tae be lookin at Coln, dae ye mind tellin me whit this aw aboot?
‘Dae ye see any buttons there, eh?’
‘Whit?’ ah sais, an he turns back tae face us.
‘I said do you see any fuckin buttons goin up my back?’
‘Then why is it ye think ye can sell me an me brothers here a kilo of cocaine that’s only forty odd per cent pure, eh Steven? Did ye think we wouldn’t find out, eh? Did ye think the fuckin stupid traveller people wouldn’t have the wherewithal to get it checked out, eh? Is that it?’
‘Coln, ah don’t know whit ye mean, man. It wis sealed wint it? Ye opened it in front ay oor eyes man. Yies aw took some, sais it wis the business.’
‘Aye, that’s right, we did. I had someone take a look at a sample and go to work with his chemistry set. He washed it through with ammonia, so he did. Got rid of all the impurities. What was it he said there, Paddy?’
‘He said Fred Astaire couldn’t have danced more over it, Coln.’
‘That’s right. Fuckin Fred Astaire!’ he sais, leanin oer the table taewards us, his barrel chist risin an fawin as he tries tae regulate his breathin. His teeth ur clenched the gither, accentuatin his big fuckin Desperate Dan jawline an he looks like he’s aboot tae panel us wae wan ay the aforementioned shovel hauns.
It’s probably aroon noo ah should enlighten ye as tae whit he’s talkin aboot. Fur that though, we’ll need tae go back tae the night me an Scanlon tanned the tool hire place.