The big blue bottle made his way over the grease lumped, white tiled wall like a ditch-jumping racehorse, sleuthing his way past the ineffectual blue neon flycatcher on the wall and then stopped to survey his empire atop the stainless steel, deep fat fryer. The plop, plop, fizz of two battered sausages, being dropped into the hot oil startled his fragile heart and off he flew to inspect the toilets.
Fly’s roaming around at will in the restaurant that the Cardiologists feared.
‘I will have a double hamburger and a meatball curry with two fries. Sorry, make that, two double hamburgers.’
‘No problem Sir. Would you like a drink with that?’ no reply came forth.
‘Eh, that will be £12.60 Sir.’
‘£12.60? what is the matter with you Michael? It is £10.60.’
The short, fat and balding Italian restaurant and drive through businessman chirped up as he watched his enterprise crumble in Michael Cross’s hands, and all for the sake of two pounds. Michael looked up to the heavens beyond his red cap.
‘Oh yeah, sorry Dom.’
‘Do not tell me sorry, tell the customer. Quick Michael, before he drives off.’ barked Dominic.
‘Excuse me Sir, just to let you know that your order total will come to £10.60 and not the £12.60 like I said.’ Silence. ‘Is it ready yet?’
‘Eh no Sir, not yet’ replied Michael.
‘Well I’ll give a shit about the price of it when I get It.’ The gruff reply from the intercom.
In the solitary Q of one car at Gino’s Diner, the customer sat in his car and wondered if the food was as crap as the last time he had been here.
Dom fluffed at his apron like it was covered in feathers and raised his two hands to the ceiling, offering it up to a higher power. He wiped his hands on his apron and spoke something to himself in Italian, cursing, despairing. Dominic would tell his wife later on that night, that it was mistakes like Michaels, which were ruining his chances of making this a successful business. He failed to mention the dirty walls, the bad food, cramped toilet and the general shabby appearance of the only restaurant in the City that the hungry avoided, Gino’s Diner.
Dominic Angelino or Gino to his customers was the boss around here. He was a short, fat man, who went to great lengths to avoid losing any of his carefully applied poundage, going so far as to eat his breakfast, lunch and supper in the Diner whenever he could. The few dark strands that remained upon the side of his head, had been slicked back, giving him a greasy wind tunnel effect upon his sallow skinned complexion. The three staff of Gino’s, which were not family, would all make remarks as to the amazing ability Dominic had to produce stunningly attractive children. Two, a daughter, and a son. Amalfi and Francesca. Amalfi was just fifteen years old and had all the features of a future runway model, or clothes horses, as Michael called them. He was six foot; broad shouldered and had a square jaw that looked as if it had been carved from granite. He would in time, develop the same leery eye his father had. Then, there was Francesca who now came to Michael’s side by the till. To Michael, she spoke in luscious velvety tones.
‘Michael, Dad wants you on the till in ten minutes if the drive through is still quiet. Si?’
Michael thought that the drive through was always quiet. He turned around and looked straight into Francesca’s chest. He stared a little too much, wondering how they fought each other for space in her white collared t-shirt. The shirt was too small, as was the bra that she wore. Francesca turned in her self-imposed corset and walked towards the till. She would have to change into her red server’s t-shirt.
‘Yeah ten minutes, that’s fine.’ responded Michael, still captivated by the sight of that t-shirt. He wished he were older, his nineteen to her twenty-six, we could make it work, was pure fantasy but still he dreamed. He figured the age difference would eventually even itself out. He would mature a bit past his twenty-first birthday and she would be just twenty-eight by then. It could work, he daydreamed some more.
Like Roman Centurions, Francesca and Michael dutifully operated their stations to receive the orders from the baying hordes of customers. They stood ramrod still in their red servers t-shirts like two big letterboxes and watched ahead as the empty space ahead remained so for anther twenty minutes. Dominic slugged through the door, having been out back smoking his Marlboro reds, trying to get a read on if the area was busy enough to remain open much longer.
‘Ok, I can close up, you two can go home.’ Dom dismissed them both with his hands. Go, shush, get out, scram, that kind of a thing. Michael could recognise that Dominic had taken a hit financially, from a bad days takings and he sensed it more deeply now as Dom exhaled a despairing whelp when he opened the main till.
‘Michael, you stay a second, I need to speak with you.’
Francesca picked up her bag and jacket, happy to be leaving, she had text her lift that she would be ready in a couple of minutes and was glad that her father had made the call to leave. Michael nodded at Dominic as he tried not to get caught staring at Francesca’s rear as she bent over to change into a white casual pair of Lacoste. Dom came over to kiss his daughter goodbye.
‘I’ll see you at home later. Have fun on your date. Don’t keep Mario waiting.’ He kissed her once on the cheek, saying goodbye.
Date? Thought Michael. He thought inwardly that her father would only allow her to date Italians and that he was discriminating against a lad from the North East. It was not Francesca’s decision at all, he thought. I have the better of any Italian. Francesca zipped up her tight black leather jacket, unfurled her long black hair from inside its ponytailed prison, and sent it bobbing onto her shoulders. The Italian and the Englishman both watched her as if on cue, a most powerful roar came upon the front of Gino’s. A small but powerful headlight illuminated everywhere it encountered, plotting a single beam across the street as it parked now parallel with the front of the take away. The mysterious Mario looked in from his visor as his passenger and date Francesca bounded out the door and threw her leg across the back of the bike. She placed her helmet in her hands, stuck her head inside and with that, the bike was away, screeching down the road. Michael looked to Dominic, That is far too dangerous for your daughter. He willed himself to say, but no, his declaration of intent would have to wait.
‘Here you go Michael, there isn’t as much there, but business is bad.’ said Dominic, handing to Michael a small brown envelope with his week’s pay inside it.
Feeling good about both being paid and not being spotted ogling his boss’s daughter’s rear end, it felt like a win-win for Michael.
‘It’s ok Dominic, I know times are tough. I’m just glad that my hours are still the same.’
For how much longer? Thought Dom. With five staff and a business doing little trade, it was hard for Dominic to imagine a future for his restaurant. I wonder is it time to clean the front signage again. He pondered. The once yearly signage cleaning had taken place just eight months ago. Dominic had always felt that it brought about a new rush of customers but now, even that was a long shot.
‘I’ll leave so. I am back in the morning.’ said Michael, noticing a blank expression upon his face.
‘Sure, sure Michael, don’t be late.’
‘Ok Dom, see you tomorrow.’ chirped Michael as he moved towards the door, leaving Dominic to dream up some new promotion or a lick of paint, whatever would grab the punters attention quicker.
Dominic watched from within himself as the figure of his staff closed the door and stood outside.
He day dreamed some more as the image of Michael became blurry, thinking of ways and means to make this the best restaurant in Britain, nay the world, in all of Newcastle.
The slouched figure bumbled along the cobblestones of old Dean Street in Newcastle Upon Tyne and struggled to keep pace with the man he was following, his old legs working harder than anticipated to keep up with the younger stranger. The warm wind crested his alcohol sodden cheeks, fluttering a welcoming breeze through his tormented mind. The young prey of this late night stalker was too used to this route, passing by bars and nightclubs where the crowds would pour in and out of in all states of inebriation. Ten thirty was a sort of witching hour for a Friday night.
Those that were in pubs were staying there and those on their way would be arriving soon, leaving the few stragglers meandering around the cobbles of Dean Street to one pub or another.
The older man scratched at his thick grey beard and noticed the last of the nearby stragglers vanish down a side street, just under the Tyne Bridge.
He quickened his pace to within striking distance of the slender young man and calmly, coldly and in menacing tones and with distinction, he placed his hand atop the shoulder of the boy and spoke.
Michael startled at the sight of his father, having been lost in a dream world of motorsport and big red motorcycles. He had not heard his parent sneak up in drunken steps.
‘Ray, eh hi, what are you doing here?’ The drunk stepped back in mock horror.
‘You’re my son and I’ve told you to call me Dad. I’m still your Dad, aren’t I?’ replied Ray, moving in closer.
‘And don’t mind asking what I’m doing here,
What are you doing here? Didn’t I tell you to stay away from these streets?’
Ray lightly slapped Michael on the cheek.
‘Didn’t I tell you that these streets were dangerous?’ Slap. ‘Didn’t I tell you to go the long way around?’ Slap.
‘Are you just stupid Son?’ Slap and again slap.
‘Stop Dad.’ Michael began choking up.
‘Or what?’ Ray snapped.
‘You gonna tell your Mum? Eh? Thinks divorcing me can stop me being your Dad. Eh? Slap. ‘Does she?’
Ray moved closer still to Michael, causing him to trip up and land backwards onto his hip, crashing slowly. Ray looked upon his son, seeing how pathetic he now looked. He noticed his youthful strong face, his handsome looks, and lean torso and wished it were he, wished he had another chance. He noticed his dark brown hair without any greys and became angrier at his sons natural chances in life ahead of his own and how he had wasted his, how he still wasted them.
I’ll give him a chance, thought Ray.
Show him what it is like to have something and to lose it.
Show him what it’s like to lose some of those pretty features for a while. Ray lined up Michaels nose, and face with his boot and took a measured step towards his son. He planted down hard, finding only pain across his own jaw instead.
Through emotional eyes, Michael had spotted the tall stranger approach from his father’s blind side, taking measured steps in Armani boots and a black overcoat over a crisp white shirt. He had the look of a professional and that is exactly what Bill Cutters was. Bill, having taken his trademark tight back and sides haircut as a legacy of his time served in the army, also took his ability to throw a punch with him.
In menacing tones all of his own doing and without the influence of alcohol or any other substance, he spoke to Ray in such a quiet whisper, so as to prevent Michael from hearing what he had to say.
‘Aint you supposed to be on the job for me tonight?’ Ray began to pick himself up, still groggy and replied
‘I am Bill. I was just talkin’ to my kid.’ Bill placed a strong right hand on Rays shoulder, forcing him to stay grounded as he leant over him.
‘Your ex-wife, his Mum, is hanging around that copper. He goes home all back and blue and I’m the one that gets nicked because I’m the bigger fish. I’m the one the coppers want. They don’t care about you. Your shit to them but they will arrest your boss and I can’t have that.’ Bill looked deep into Ray’s soul and with such menace that it sobered him up a little.
He knew of Bills ways and means or his nasties as they were known. A pair of six-inch blades, which Bill kept on his person, though never always. He had never been arrested with his nasties in his possession. However, he carried the air about him like he always had them tucked away.
Ray remembered how Tony McCuskey had ended up, how he had gotten on the wrong side of Bill Cutters and how he had become dead very quickly. Ray stood up beside Bill and obediently took his place behind his master, awaiting permission to breathe before he felt it safe to do so.
Bill turned his back on Ray and went to comfort Michael who had by now picked himself up and having thought of running away, was now cursing his indecisiveness as the biggest gangster in the North East of England came up to him.
‘Michael’, began Bill. ‘I have to apologise for your father, he is very drunk and is very sorry that this happened, very, very sorry.’
Michael looked to his father who now semi waved at his son, as he dabbed at his nose with a handkerchief, afraid now to speak out of turn.
‘I hope we can forget that this ever happened.’ smiled Bill as he took his hand out of his pocket and began counting notes out form hand to hand.
Twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, one hundred pounds sat in Bills hand. He expected Michael to take it since only stupid people refused an offer like this from Bill Cutters. Michael leaned over and took the money, sending a genuine smile across Bill Cutters hairless face with only his eyebrows doing a hairy dance of delight across his shiny scalp.
‘I’ll take it, but you can’t tell anyone. I’ll get in trouble if I was down this way.’
Michael felt emboldened, even surprising his semi-comatose father. Michael thought, the trouble that Bill Cutters could visit upon me, would be nothing compared to if my mother found out that I was taking this shortcut. Bill replied, ‘Eh, no problem. It will just be between you and me.’ but thinking, young Cross is either, very brave or very stupid to tell me what to do. Just naive, thought Bill again as Michael offered up a cheery,
He casually walked off up the street, looking none the worse after his encounter with his father and Bill.
Bill turned to Ray again wiping away at his nose with the filthy handkerchief, looking for anything to distract from having to talk to Bill. Bill looked down the road at Michael and again at Ray and wondered. He wondered was the time coming where the young Cross lad, would replace the older one. How and when he replaced them would be a matter of his own choosing.
He saw a weak and selfish coward in Ray and a man who could be easily manipulated by anyone with power including himself or the law. In Michael, he saw innocence, weakness, and naivety.
Such naivety would only lead Michael into trouble and trouble was what Bill Cutters was good at.
As the calm and assured Black woman spoke to the lady, she relayed the day’s events through measured tones of experience and duty, never faltering to the worried parent, allowing her to relax as the information was being passed on to her about her son. Telling her of such things that parents may baulk at hearing, but these events were becoming more and more common with little five year old Max.
The shaking, high fevers, having to loosen the clothing around his neck and having had to clear the area in school of bewildered students and small desks that the other five years olds sat at. Even down to removing his little glasses from upon his button nose and away from his crystal blue eyes. Angela Okunlage spoke in experienced tones when describing the latest febrile seizure to Max’s mother, Lillian Cross. The two women stood in the cramped kitchen space, both leaning against electrical appliances and both facing each other. They talked openly as Max now slept soundly in his own bed underneath his big Harry Potter duvet.
‘I thought that the last one was the last one,’ began Lillian in all five foot four of compressed concern across her worried brow.
‘I came home as soon as I got the call, I’m so glad you were there Angela.’
Continued Lillian, still dressed in her work apron and blue dress, hair tied back in a bun and smelling as fresh as any woman could ever be. The plus side of working in a launderette, one of the only few in Lillian Cross’s mind.
‘It is ok Mrs Cross. I am here for Max and I know what to do. You do not need to worry when Max is with me,’
Replied Angela in a strong Nigerian drawl, accentuating the last two words in every sentence or phrase with a distinction. She repeated it again.
‘I am the only one who knows what to do at that school.’
Lillian half-cocked her head in acknowledgement, knowing full well that others at the school would have known what to do. But Angela was being paid to watch Max, courtesy of a previous incident whereby the school head now insisted that Max have a full time nanny in place or he would not be permitted to attend. Lillian had tried to reassure the principle that children rarely die from febrile seizures but at the mere mention of child and death, it had just re-enforced the overly safety conscious headmaster that Max must have a carer or nanny in place at all times. This out of date approach in alienating Max and marking him out as different would damage him in the future, countered Lillian. He needed to be integrated, manage his seizure by a teacher instead. They were rare; he might not even have another one. She was arguing with herself as his mind had been made up. Despairingly, she placed an advertisement in the Newcastle Journal for a part time nanny and then took up some extra shifts in the launderette to be able to pay for it.
‘I know Angela, I don’t know what I’d do without ya. Here let me give you what I owe you for today.’
Said Lillian realising the hour of the night and remembering she would be opening up on her own in the morning.
She had hoped to have a long soak in the bath tonight before putting on some cologne and evaporating the smell of detergent, if only for a few hours. She rummaged around in her giant handbag for her purse, reminding herself to clean the bag out in work if it got quiet, if ever. The key turned in the door and a breathless Michael walked in, puffing out his cheeks and taking a fringe of brown hair from his eyes, fully glad to be home. Lillian quickly removed her purse and pocketed it into her work dress, nodding towards Angela as she did so, not wanting Michael to know that Angela was being paid. Times were tough enough without a money conscious teen on the loose. Angela began.
‘Hello Michael. How are you? You work very late Michael, you are a good boy.’ She asked too much, and at too late a time, for the occupied mind of the teenager to answer in full.
‘Hi, yeah I’m ok Angela, thanks for asking. Hi Mum.’ said Michael, both walking and talking as he came to his mother and kissed her on the cheek before moving off and away to the living room. Angela dramatically checked her watch.
‘I will go now Mrs. Cross. I will see little Max in school at nine o’clock but you remember that tomorrow is Friday so school will finish at one o’clock,’ said Angela, raising a single digit finger.
‘One o’clock.’ She repeated.
‘I know Angela. Michael will drop him in before work and I will get off at half twelve to collect him.’ replied Lillian, whilst handing Angela her weekly wage.
Though subsidised in part by the school to the tune of forty pounds a week, the amount still came to one hundred and eighty pounds. Angela recognised the usual size of the bundle and continued to eyeball her employer, wanting more than was due.
‘Mrs Cross. The school will not allow me to claim against bringing Max home and staying for an extra eight hours until you come home.’
All of the signs of this being a good deed or a favour were wiped clean from the features of the distressed looking Nigerian. A lifetime of struggle bore deep across the fifty eight year old mother of three’s face. She wanted her dues. He intensity matched and in part bettered by the tough thirty nine year old northerner with little time for hustle or as she now saw it, hardball.
‘Angela, you left a message saying you were doing all of this and for me not to worry. You know I could have come home at any time. Look, I will give you a bit extra alright but no way for an extra eight hours. It will be a tenner and you will be glad of it Angela.’
The Newcastle born lass held firm, toughness having been bred into her from living with her drunken ex-husband and looking after two kids on her own. She had been left to do that with no help from anyone. Hardship came with the price of independence for Lillian Cross. Angela tutted her disapproval and changed her disposition from unhappy to resignation, a battle lost but a war remained. Always looking to get out of life what she felt she was due, but a standoff here would end badly for the fifty eight year old. There were many workers out there but not many jobs. As Angela crested the doorframe, she retained her pride and pulled her head back to keep her chin up. Thinking back to her own upbringing back in Lagos when she was the middle of seven children, she felt little pity for Lillian Cross. Raising two? Tut. With a soft goodbye, Angela was away and down the hallway, her pride and wallet intact.
Lillian watched her walk away and felt a pang of disgust that Angela always wanted more. She worked bloody hard enough for her money to have someone always looking for extra. The fee had been agreed on from the start and that was that in Lillian’s mind. But the remarks and looks from Angela were nothing new. From the most outlandish of requests to remarks such as Angela’s suggestion that Max was ‘mentally damaged’ to her wholly unacceptable views on child discipline, the older Nigerian could at any moment display petulance that could only be associated with a malcontent youth.
Lillian closed the door and marvelled to herself that Angela would be so different tomorrow, forgetting about all of her tutting and disapproval and just be able to get on with her job of keeping Max safe. Lillian walked into the living room and bent down to Michael on the three-seat sofa to kiss him on the top of his head.
‘How’s my love?’ She said, plumping herself on the big sofa chair beside him. The television was on silent. BBC One’s Question Time.
‘I’m good, yeah. Got paid today.’ Michael handed over the small brown envelope.
‘There’s not as much there. Business is down said Dom.’ ‘That’s ok pet.’
However, it was not. The family were struggling.
‘Everyone is feeling the pinch nowadays around here. At least you have something. Eh?’ Lillian tried to sound chirpy. Michael felt that extra one hundred pounds burning into his side.
‘Mum?’ he began.
‘Yes dear, anything the matter?’ Lillian thumbed through the TV guide. Michael hesitated, maybe now was not the right time.
‘I’m gonna head to bed now if that’s alright?’
‘Of course it is my darling. I’ll see you in the morning.’ Lillian looked to Michael as he got up and walked through the door. She had edged herself to stand up and hug him goodnight when he just walked straight past her. Lillian too tired to get up, Michael too distracted. She fell back into the spring cushion seat and changed the channel to watch an old episode of Friends. She had needed a laugh and Friends was always on.
As the clock struck eleven and the world nodded off to sleep, the worried mother of two relaxed her slender body into the deep waters of a hot bubble bath and felt a tingle of sensuality as the water surrounded her body. Her mobile phone had pinged a message from her lover as she had undressed. She had missed his touch since a week ago when they had last seen each other and held each other close that night. Maybe if things became more relaxed around the home life, it would not be much longer until she felt his touch again and could welcome him back into her bed. Her phone pinged again from the side of the bath. Lillian reached out and wiped her hands on a towel. She picked up the phone and read the message.
J.G – I just got home. That was a day I’d like to forget. Maybe we can open that bottle of wine soon and forget about that and other days??
Lillian smiled. That would be nice.
L.C – Me too. Put me down for a glass when we get a chance to make that day happen.
Lillian wondered. She did not feel like she could play this text game. Did she come off as distant? She wondered.
J.G – Whenever that day is. I’ll be ready and the glass will be full for you too Good night Lill.
Lillian eased back into the water, re-assured that he was the man for her. It was not easy to date someone with two kids that were not your own but John Grady was no ordinary man. He understood what it meant, or so he had said. That he knew all about kids and that her kids came first.
She closed her eyes and dreamt about being alone with him.
The fat gluttonous blackbird gorged himself among the displaced rubbish can which lay belly up along the main thoroughfare. Its messy contents were being sorted through by the streets only early morning inhabitant. The nearby distant rumble of the street cleaner truck beginning its Friday morning sweep now caused the piggy bird to temporarily camp atop Specsavers before descending once again on the street to root out the chips that some drunken fool had left in this up turned treasure trove of trash.
Lillian Cross busied her way past the bin, merely allowing the bird to sidestep a couple of feet to avoid the plimsolls of this work bound mother. It was only half past eight and the shutters were now still down on all of the big brand shops, not due to open for another forty-five minutes. Only the dutiful and the weary were moving about this early but still the City centre appeared to be quiet. Those going to work were walking in groups, convoys of shoes on their morning commute. Lillian had seen just four people since she had left her two boys in their flat, number 49, The Terraces, and all four had their heads down and were meandering to whichever business it was they were attending to. The City hid great secrets upon mornings like this. Lillian folded her arms and walked faster; wearing a determination on her brow should any of these souls approach her for a cigarette or the time or whatever.
The trained eye of someone who lives in the area could easily spot those who seemed out of place at that particular moment. Whether the student was laden down with a massive rucksack on his back while carrying books or beer or both. Or the tourists who looked bright eyed as they walked around with their heads in the air comparing their City with this. They did not stand out as much as the man dressed in black who leaned against the shutters of a closed betting shop with a cigarette in his hand, menace in his eyes and no hair atop his head. Lillian broke with her morning protocol as she came to pass this brooding man.
‘I thought you of all people would have had a home to go to Bill.’ He smiled and took a long drag.
‘Like yourself Lillian, work has me out this early. We are all but slaves to the wheels of industry.’
Bill said, to the woman he knew too much about, the benefits of employing a former member of her household.
Lillian stopped beside him and still with arms folded across her chest decided to pick her bone with Bill.
‘I’ll say this for your own good Bill. If you’re here to intimidate me, you are playing a losing game. It’s been long enough since Ray has caused me any trouble, so don’t think that you are doing him any favours.’
Said Lillian, well aware of Bill Cutters growing reputation for causing harm. Bill dismissively laughed her off.
‘I’m not here for you. I’m actually waiting on one of my boys.’
Bill took another drag and left Lillian to figure the rest out. She knew well of Bill’s boys. The term he had used for a group for juvenile delinquents that belonged to him. Gangs of little hooded teenagers from broken homes whom he paid to do his bidding. He had older men; men such as Max and Michael’s father do altogether different jobs, altogether more dangerous, daring and dastardly. The stuff he saved for proper criminals and for very weak and bad men.
‘Oh right, well in that case I’ll be on my way.’ Lillian said, as Bill Cutters stepped in her way.
She did not want to spend another minute talking to this man who employed her ex-husband, him who beat her up, undeserving of a name. She had thrown him out and Bill Cutters had picked him up, setting him to do tasks, which made her answer proudly when asked where the boy’s father was.
‘I don’t know and I don’t care. He is not their father anymore. And when he was, he was never the father they deserved.’
The older northern women who used to attend the launderette would then begin to discuss what made a man a real man. They told tales of how their fathers were, of how they should act and the men they hoped to inspire their sons to be.
The smartly dressed undercover Police Detective was one such man and as he startled Lillian with his sudden appearance, he put her heart at ease with a reassuring look from behind his emerald green eyes.
‘Is this man bothering you Miss?’
Asked the dark haired guardian of the peace. Bill immediately recognised the face and threw his cigarette to the side, tutting to God as Lillian Cross replied.
‘No. I’m on my way to work.’
‘That’s ok Miss,’ Interrupted the Detective, ‘You can continue on your way.’
He followed her gaze as she moved away, always reassuring her that she was safe with his eyes. A smile crossed his face as he turned it away from Bill. Bill Cutters stood up tall to face his nemesis and cowered a full inch over the man. He backed this up with broad and deep shoulders and he smiled in the Detective’s face.
‘You keeping the peace there copper or maybe you don’t trust your new bit of fluff, having to follow her around like that.’
John Grady had up until that point, been unaware that what he had with Lillian was public. The smaller but powerfully built Detective coiled his toned arms in like a snake before powering them into Bills chest and neck, shoving him into the metal shutters of the betting shop with an almighty clang.
‘Now you listen here Cutter. I don’t know what you think you know but I can make things very difficult for you if I even sense for a second that you are interfering in any of my business, you get me?’
Bill recovered from the charge and patted the Detectives arms away as he felt himself released by the strong grip.
‘Temper, temper Mr. Grady. Although she does like a bit of the old slap around according to a friend of mine, I think you two will make a fine couple.’
Bill smiled and straightened his muscular shoulders out. Prepared for any kind of a throw down, he opened out his huge clobbering hands, ready to start throwing punches. All of his heavy physical attributes making him a danger in any fight with a man who did not know him.
John Grady did.
Catching Bill Cutters with a sharp right straight into his jaw and sending him again into the shutters, he had remembered Bill’s slow reactions in keeping his hands up in a fight. Call it bravado, or just pure stupidity but Bill Cutters had a weakness for leaving his arms low in a fight. John turned towards the direction that Lillian Cross had walked and began to move off as Bill straightened himself out again.
‘So what copper? You keep following your missus around? Very subtle.’ he smiled.
‘Actually Cutters, I’m on the way to question the two juvenile drug runners you had out on the job this morning. They were picked up about a half an hour ago and apparently one of them has mentioned that he was on the way here to meet you.’
John walked away with his palms up. He knew he was bluffing about the part where one of Bills lads had squealed but Bill did not know that and it was always something he was in fear of.
‘Let’s have a little talk about that and other things when you come down to pick them up.’
John turned and smiled again, leaving Bill in a rage but was feeling powerless to do anything about it.