Jaz and Rab guard the bottom of the close, the wind scouring the back courts. The bins are on fire again. Flames leaving smouldering debris, the taste of burning plastic on the back of their throats when they nip over, every now and again, to warm their hands on the ashes. They are warmed inside by a bottle of Eldorado each had swiftly gulped down quicker than they should, but there was nothing else to do, but stand and wait. Through the drizzle, Jaz scans the lights from the houses looking onto the backcourt. Karen’s house, above his room and kitchen, a black space, no light on in her kitchen. He’s chapped the door, but knows well enough that no answer doesn’t mean nobody is in, because he’s not a daftie, he can hear the bump of feet on floor boards from his house below. He’s not taking no for an answer this time, came tooled up. An axe, razor sharp in the side pocket of his coat and a length of washing line he’s cut with it, and a hessian sack. Rab has a square-mouth spade, nicked off a building site. Jaz had picked up a pick, but couldn’t be bothered carrying it and had launched it into a garden in Parkhall. Waiting is the worst part.
Back in the shelter of the close, coats wrapped around them like blankets, shuffling their feet and rubbing their hand together, the glow of a fag in their mouth, Jaz tells him once again about slashing Godge, ‘I didnae dae it hard enough. I should have cut the cunts heid aff.’ He pulls the axe out of his pocket, ‘And I would have if I’d this baby.’ The axe head glints dull with the streetlight from Dumbarton Road. ‘I’d have finished the cunt.’ He flicks his wrist and swishes the axe. ‘You got the sack and the rope ready?’ he asks, taking a last drag on his fag and flicking the dout out into the rain.
Rab eyes half closing jerks awake. His fag drops from his lip at his feet, grinding the stub out with black platform shoes, scuffing the rope at his feet, and his hand wrapping around the handle of the spade leaning against the wall. ‘Aye, I’m fuckin’ ready, I’m goin’ to hit the cunt a dillion.’ But then changes the subject. ‘My Da has been gettin’ onto me. You still interested in joining up?’
Jaz tugs and plays with his hair. ‘Nah, I’m no’ really interested in that shite.’
‘But you said…’
‘Aye, but just stringin’ him alang, butterin’ him up. You know now if anybody asks your Ma will be able to say that she seen us that night. Just me and you and no’ that Fenian bastard Godge. If things go tits up we’ve got an alibi and we can finger him. Say we split up with him earlier that night.’
‘I never thought of that.’
‘That’s cause you never think.’ Jaz taps his index finger against his forehead, to show he does. ‘Our word against his and we’ve got witnesses. Every cunt hates him now anyway, after whit they heard about him, kiddy fiddlin’. It’s just a matter of time…’
Upstairs in the close a door open and the two of them freeze, listening. The ragged breathing coming down the stairs and the lavvy door opening and closing tells Jaz it’s his neighbour old Mrs Lynch. He nods his head, a signal, Rab’s loses grip of the shovel and leans it against the wall.
‘I wish you’d join up,’ says Rab, wittering on as if he’s not heard a word Jaz said. ‘Da says it’s all going to blow up now and we need to be ready. Need to strike first and that’s why we’re gettin’ a consignment of rifles from over the water to train with.’
‘Rifles?’ Jas shows a sudden interest. The toilet flushes and they hear Mrs Lynch, huffing and puffing and knocking against the bannister, making the rails ring, as she goes up the stairs. ‘Fuckin’ need to go for a pee myself,’ he unzips his denims and pees against the wall. Another door clicks quietly open. The angle of his head alters, his thin neck stretches out, mouth twisted in a grimace. He quickly pulls up his zip, standing taller, digging into his coat pocket for the axe, tails of his coat swishing as he positions himself at the bottom of the stairs. Rab stands at his elbow, the shovel in his hand raised like a baseball batsman ready to hit out of the park.
Blodger skitters down the stairs the nails on its feet sewing the highs and lows of each stone step together like a Singers’ sewing machine. Angela yawns, holding Tonys’ hand, each of them with duffle coat over their jammie, armed against the cold. They are behind the dog, sneaking out of his house to let the dog do a pee. Blodger is aware of their presence, the smell of Old Spice and booze giving them away long before he makes the turn on the landing, when they see him. His instinct is to get closer, go for the throat, and he zones in on Jaz, growling, teeth bared, hackles on his back razed, as it flies off the last few steps. Out of the corner of its eye it sees the mouth of the shovel. The explosion against its head, knocks it against the wall. It tries to scramble to its feet. A metallic thud and a bite against its snout and its lost sight in one eye. Bleeding, a blurry of blows come from all sides and as it tries to get to its feet, cries and whines, and scrambles away, but one of its legs hang limp, another loses traction. A hood swamps its head. Tied tightly, Blodger is dragged sideways, like a bloodied butcher’s carcase.
Angela and Tony stand on the first floor landing, eyes staring. It’s happened so fast. ‘That’s my dog,’ she screams, and garbles something else, running down the stairs in a blur to help the animal.
Rab passes her going up the stairs, pushes her forehead, give her a dunt, as she tries to kick him. Tony tries to help, swings a punch which hits his coat, and in a flash, lip bleeding, is knocked against the wall and tumbles down the last few stairs. Angela’s hysterics and her torn white dress below the coat helps him to focus. Jaz is pinning her to the ground, laughing at his little joke. Up above him Blodger with a sack over its head is tethered, hanging with its neck broken, then its bowels open.
Jaz scrambles out of the road and its Angela that gets splattered in dog shit.
‘Dirty bastard,’ Jaz snorts.