Outside the snooker club, a black Hackney cab across the road lets somebody off. Jaz pulls his collar up against drizzling rain, decides since he’s flush with cash he’ll get the train home. Singers to Dalmuir. It’s only one stop. He stuffs a couple of tenners in his pocket and hoists the bag up on his shoulder. With the guns in the bag he looks at the world differently. The Atlantis up the street would be easy to rob, but he figures it would be better to wait until the weekend, Friday or Saturday night, when the takings would make it worth his while. Even when he’s standing in front of the jobsworth, wearing his British Rail uniform, peering through Perspex, and counting out change of a tenner to him, Jaz is thinking how easy it would be to stick a gun through the port and take everything. But he’s too sharp for that. He sweeps up his change and heads for Platform 2.
Waiting for the train he has a fag and turns, eyeing up the outlying buildings in Singers Factory. A few thousand employees on the payroll, which could be hijacked, more money than would be in any bank in Clydebank. More cash than he’d know what to do with. The world lies open and abloom with robbing possibilities.
On the train Jaz’s reverie is interrupted by the Inspector standing fingering his ticket, a young guy with shaggy hair. ‘This is a no smoking carriage, sir,’ he points to the NO SMOKING sign on the window.
The train brakes as it come into Dalmuir station. Jaz stands, adjust his feet to the sway of the carriage, and steps past a woman reading a book in her lap in the seat diagonally opposite. He sniffs and flicks the lit cigarette towards the Inspector, hitting the part of his uniform jacket, above the leather strap, carrying the pouch for change, the dout falling to corridor floor. ‘Why don’t you fuck off,’ he snarls. ‘Before I smash you wan.’ He shoulder barges past him and out into the concourse. He waits impatiently at the back of the scrum of passengers and hands the ticket collector his ticket as the train pulls away and heads home to drop his bag off.
His big plans for today is getting a few pints and having a laugh. He’s on holiday mode and he deserves it. When he gets home he spoils Karen, hands her fifty quid, more money than she’s ever seen and slaps her on the arse. ‘Get yerself somethin’, he tells her.
‘You sure yeh can afford it,’ she says, her eyes growing big and hands flapping.
‘Aye,’ he says, grinning. She’s so grateful he could almost kiss her.
‘Whit about Angela, will I buy her somethin’?’
Angela is standing at the window, looking out into the traffic, picking at a flake of discoloured wallpaper. Bumble-bees play in her stomach. Her head feels full of sludge but she turns when she hears her name.
Jaz’s nostrils flare. ‘Nah, she’s an ungrateful wee cow, gie her nothin’.’
He doesn’t hang about, stashing the bag and another few notes in his pocket straight out the door. On the second landing he pushes open the door to his childhood home and his ma meets him in the lobby. A hairnet protects her curlers, and the wave in her greying hair, a dishtowel is in her hand and her expression is that of a hangman’s. ‘Whit yeh here to scrounge noo?’ she asks. His daft sister is at her back gawping at him.
‘Nothin’,’ Jaz grins and brushes past them and into the front room. ‘Is my da in he asks?'
His da sits in his usual spot by the unlit fire, the top two buttons of his shirt undone and a day’s growth on his chin, his hands rest on his knees and his soft brown eye turn to meet him. ‘Hallo son,’ he says.
In the kitchen his brothers Charlie and John, called Junior because he’s name after his da, are messing about, drinking tea and listening to the tranny, a tinny Beatles number, Love me Do. Charlie is the one with the looks in the family, thinks himself a women’s man and has even grown a faint moustache, much mocked and got him the nickname Charlie Tash. John is the stocky quiet one, studious even. There’s talk of him getting an O’Level in something. Both have the straggly shoulder-length hair and the long bone-like face and they peer out at him with their da’s eyes.
‘Look whit the cat dragged in,’ quips the Tash. ‘Whit brings yeh to our capacious abode?’ He sweeps a hand out to show the extent of his kingdom.
‘Och, nothing,’ Jaz peels off a twenty from a wad on notes in the top pocket of his denim jacket. ‘Just though I’d give the old man a few quid to get himself a few pints.’ He hands the money to his da, and turns feeling his ma’s mad staring eye on him and the bulk of his sister at his back.
‘Fuckin’ hell,’ Tash says. ‘Where did you get that?’
‘Had a bit of a win on the bookies.’
‘Nae good will come of gambling,’ says his ma.
‘Whit did yeh back,’ asks John.
‘A three-legged horse,’ says Jaz. And the boys hoot together with laughter.
‘Don’t suppose ye’ve got any that money for me?’ asks his ma.
Jaz shakes his head and sighs. Plays the gallant. ‘Aye, I suppose, he peels off a twenty and gives it to her.’ That’ll shut your moaning gob up for once.’
‘I’ll shut my moaning up when you get a job,’ his ma says and turns and looks at the Tash. ‘And him as well.’
‘See,’ the Tash says. ‘Never happy.’ He pouts and puts on a coquettish wee girl's voice. Fluttering his hands up at his pink-boyish cheeks. ‘Don’t suppose you’ve got any of that money for me, young man?’
‘Fuck off,’ Jaz says, laughing. ‘But I’ll take yeh for a pint.’
‘Just get my jacket,’ the Tash says, nicking out of the kitchen and past them into the lobby. ‘I’m out of here.’
The Tash and Jaz meet Pizza Face coming up the stairs, a burst Adidas ball under his arm. ‘Whit you daeing with that? the Tash asks him.
‘Gonnae fix it,’ says Pizza Face, ‘wae hot knives.’
‘Dae us a favour.’ says Jaz. ‘And go up and see if Rab’s in and tell him we’re in Maggie Scott’s.’
‘Nah, fuck off,’ Pizza Face says and tries to squeeze past Jaz at the railing.
But Jaz pulls him by the hood of his duffel coat back facing him. Pizza Face holds his arm up expecting to get a smack on the head, his arms dropping in stages like a drawbridge. He meets Jaz’s gaze through his fingers.
‘I’ll gee yeh a pound,’ says Jaz, his mouth a non-committal line.
Pizza Face looks at the Tash’s face for an explanation. And when he grins and nods, urging him to take the offer, Pizza Face screeches, ‘too fuckin’ right’ and sticks the palm of his hand out, but he’s sure it’s a trick. When Jaz hands him a pound note, he can’t quite believe it and his face is like the bauble on a Christmas tree, and the ball falls from under his arm and bounces down the stairs.
‘Mind Maggie Scott’s,’ Jaz says. The two older brothers leave him standing open-mouthed on the landing.