Jaz sprawls on the couch, a Woodbine in his hand and has a few nips of whisky and sparks a can, leaving it at his feet. Angela, cross-legged in the light of the telly, immerses herself in Tomorrow’s World. Karen cleans herself up, a tiny horizontal scab remains on the bridge of her nose, and a half-moon under her right eye is purplish. She tries to tempt Angela with a few chips, but her daughter turns her head away and leans in a marionette motion sideways away from her when she approaches.
‘Just fuckin’ leave her,’ Jaz barks at Karen. ‘If she wants to go in a huff for nae reason that’s up to her. She’s just spoilt rotten. That’s whit’s wrang with her.’ He lets ash from his fag fall onto the floor. ‘Better get me an ashtray,’ he tells Karen. ‘This place is a fuckin’ dump, cause of you.’
In the kitchen Karen picks at a bit of fish coated in crispy orange batter, before giving up. She knocks blackend douts and sludge from the ashtray on the window sill into the cooling chips, scrunches the contents up into a newspaper parcel, beside the sink, which oozes the smell of vinegar. She stands in the doorway with the empty ashtray in her hand when she hears the chapping of the front door.
‘I’ll get that,’ Jaz cries. He scrambles up from his seat sloshing and spilling whisky on the edge of the couch, the smell hangs in the air. Karen holds out the ashtray and, in passing, he stubs his fag out, and brushes his hair off his forehead with the flat of his hand.
On the telly presenter James Burke witters on about something called a pocket calculator that meant that all maths exams in the future would be child’s play.
Jaz quick steps back into the living room, Dougie and Del, casually dressed in shirt and denims, trail behind him. Jaz’s Uncle Harry, his da’s brother, brings up the rear. He’s nicknamed Harry the Goat, or the Goat for short, because of his wispy beard unblinking penny-black eyes, behind NHS frames, and goatish facial features. His work trousers, shirt and work boots have been on his back so long they could walk beside him, and would need to be cut from his body and hold the secretions of his goatish smell. The visitors stand awkwardly corralled between couch and telly.
‘You want a drink?’ Jaz sweeps a hand through his hair.
Dougie glances at the whisky bottle and the telly and Angela in front of the telly. ‘No, we’re just here to pick up that package.’ He looks Jaz in the eye and grins. ‘What a lovely wee girl you’ve got. Watchin’ somethin’ educational and so well behaved. If it was mine they’d be up pesterin’ you like a shot, wantin’ to know everythin’ about yeh.’
Del grins for a different reason. He’s checking out Karen’s short black skirt, tan tights and tight white blouse. The top two buttons are undone. The outline of bra is a reddish colour and he’s almost on tiptoes trying to check out the lace edgings. He notes the bruising round her eye. And the way she moves to the side and smiles back at him makes him think she’s enjoying the attention.
‘I’ll take a drink,’ the Goat says, bumping past Del, eying the whisky bottle. Everybody laughs, apart from Angela, as if the Goat has thrown a switch and they can all relax.
Karen goes through the kitchen to wash a few mugs to put the whisky in. Del leans in to Jaz and whispers, ‘You’ve no’ done anything stupid and been in at the money, have you Jaz?’
‘No,’ Jaz shakes his head and shrugs, ‘well, aye.’
Del’s head spins round, he’s no longer watching Karen’s arse, waiting to see if her skirt rides up her leg, he’s studying Jaz, waiting for him to explain.
‘The wee yin,’ Jaz chuckles and points at Angela, ‘seen me wae the bag and the golf clubs. And of course she’s no’ content until she gets a shot. I went through to the kitchen to get a cup of tea and when I came back through she’s hacking away wae a putter. And she’s got a tenner in her hand. And I asked her “where did you get that?” She said it wiz in the bag. And I told her that was impossible, that it must have been Santa.’
He knows he’s got them now and whispers to Dougie, ‘Just take the tenner out of my cut. I don’t want her thinkin’ Santa doesnae exist.’
‘Don’t worry about it,’ Dougie says, slapping him, playfully on the shoulder. ‘Where’s the bag?’
‘It’s behind the couch.’ Jaz goes to get the golf bag and drags it out into view.
The otherworldly theme music from Tomorrow’s World comes on and Angela spins round on her hunkers. ‘You talk funny,’ she says to Dougie, in her high piping voice.
‘Aye, I do,’ Dougie says. ‘I’m no’ from here, I’m from a different country, but I’ll tell you this, I’ve got all boys, but if I’d a wee girl like you I’d be very proud. Very proud. Your da must love you very much.’
‘Aye,’ Jaz says, biting his lip and presenting him with the golf bag. ‘And she’s pregnant with another wee yin.’ He nods towards Karen coming out of the kitchen with the mugs clinking in her hand, head down, her face aglow with everybody watching her.
Dougie quickly passes the golf bag to Del to take care of. In Del’s big hand it seems smaller, and he hoists it on his back making Angela laugh.
Jaz pour each of them a drink, but Dougie and Del are in a hurry and throw it back and turn to leave. The Goat stays with the bottle and passes his mug to be filled again. Jaz pours in a good tipple, hands him the bottle and goes to see his guests out.
They huddle at the front door, in the dim light of the lobby, heads close together. ‘You did well,’ Dougie says. ‘We’ll count the money. Half goes to the cause. And we split the other half between us, three ways, for expenses. I want you to do a favour for us now, and keep the guns for us. Is there a place you can stash them?’
Jaz takes a deep breath and blows through his mouth. ‘Well, aye.’ He tries to hide his delight.
Dougie nods to Del who unzips the bags and passes the guns to Jaz, who makes a pouch of his shirt to hold them. Del hitches the bag on his shoulder, pulls open the door, and steps into the landing. Dougie shakes Jaz’s hand, nods and follows him outside.
‘You’ll be hearing from us,’ Dougie says.