Jaz figures he’ll need to take driving lessons, not right away, but sometimes soon. He could buy one of those fancy Jaguar cars now. Pay cash. He’s slowly trekking up the hill towards the Atlantis, already half scooped, wide-necked shirt, denim jacket buttoned tight. In his head he can feel the ripple of shock in the car showroom, the guy’s face, when he pulls out a wad of notes and sticks his hand out for the car keys – tells the cunt, any colour but green and to keep the change – that would show him. That’s Jaz Docherty one suit would whisper to another. He swerves a right at the corner, walks down to the chippy and stands anonymously, waiting in the queue, just another punter waiting for a pie supper. Stands outside, his back against a wall, chewing chips slowly without tasting, he’s bigger fish to fry. Taps the hard lump inside his jacket pocket. Soon be closing time.
His eyes track a young couple as they come out of the pub doors arm in arm, laughing. Blonde hair spills over a pink double-breasted frock coat and she’s wearing those thigh-high boots Jaz likes. He’s a short arse, ink-blue blazer, looks as if he’s worth a bob or two. Behind them a ragtag of youngsters falls out of the door. ‘Fuck off Ernie,’ one of them shouts and throws a punch and they start scrapping. It’s pitiful, but enough to make the young couple move on sharpish. He stands on the road trying to hail a taxi, but the Hackney cab keeps going. It’s not going to stop when there is trouble. Her kohl eyes gander across the road and Jaz smiles in acknowledgement that he’s been spotted watching her. Older guys come out of the bar, chuckling, and windmill their arms and break the fight up.
Jaz recognises Tam Daly’s balding head. Fake fur of his car coat makes him look brawnier than he remembered. The shirt and thin tie is a sign he’s a businessman, drinking for business, not pleasure. The backup are late thirties. One of them flaunts bit of a gut and has a fuzzy ginger beard. The other taller with a single-breasted, checked jacket, white shirt open at the neck bellbottom trousers is skinny and gaunt and mean looking with a scar down his cheek. Jaz isn’t sure how to play it from here, but knows a man chewing chips outside the chippy is invisible and bides his time.
The lights go off in the upstairs bar and the downstairs bar. Jaz has crossed the road, went for a pee up a close nearby and hurries back scared he’s missed them. It’s cold and started to rain and he feels out of sorts and almost sober. Tam Daly stands with his cronies having a cigarette, drink drawing them into a close noose of bodies, jabbering. Behind them a younger woman with a tight bun and halter-top dress locks up, waves a set of keys, and a black Hackney swoops into the pavement and she clutches her bag as the cab picks her up. She holds her hand up, waves at the group of men, as the taxi passes Jaz. A dout is flicked, another cigarette end mashed into the pavement and the men separate. The two younger guys head up the hill. Tam Daly walks towards the close Jaz is skulking in.
His fingers sweep through loose strands of frizz falling over his face and he sweeps them back, mussing his hair, not sure if Tam Daly will recognise him. He stoats past without looking in his direction. Jaz waits for a few seconds and follows behind him. He takes a left towards the pit where the oversized silhouette of the Bannkie’s stadium lurks, leaving the bright lights of Kilbowie Road behind and entering dimly lit shortcuts, cutting through lanes lined with overflowing bins, and stinking of decay. Jaz hurries to catch up with him.
‘Tam,’ he shouts. ‘Wait up.’
The older man slows and stops, turns, pushes his chest out to face him, square on.
‘It’s me,’ he says as he gets closer. ‘Jaz Docherty, yeh, know my da.’
‘Oh, aye, son,’ he says automatically, his bullet head leaning forward, greenish eyes squinting to get a better look at him, voice faltering in a bluff face and in an unconvincing tone, ‘I never knew you there’.
One turn from the end of the road, but it is quiet. ‘You might know my brother, the Tash better.’
The older man’s body tightens and the laughter lines in his face disappear into serious doubting. ‘Aye, I know that cunt and he owes me money. You fuckin’ following me, ya cunt? You got it?’
‘Aye.’ Jaz shifts and bobs and the Starr pistol comes up fast and he shoots him in the head. He could trace the contraction of his mouth and the wrinkles of surprise in his face, a child’s frightened eyes at last, but Jaz is on the half turn, job done, not stopping for the encore, leaving the old man to offer a moan to the moon in the dark, make the finishing line lying on the pavement himself.
Jaz doesn’t flee, he ambles like a philosophy student, head down, slouching into his jacket and squinting sideways in the brighter lights of Kilbowie Road. Stopping to light up a cigarette. Checking left and right before crossing. Wanting someone to challenge him. But there is only a drunken woman staggering crab-like up the hill towards the La Scala, muttering to herself and shouting and bawling at someone that is not there. Jaz is going in a different direction. Euphoric, he’s floating, glad he has sorted that piece of business. What he needs now is a good drink and a shag and he’s just the kind of boy to have both at home, waiting. Then there’s that unfinished piece of business with Rab and the Tash’s dealers.