Dirty Barry
by Ray Banks


....Frank Gillespie slipped out of the home, made a beeline for my local pub. He wasn't supposed to leave the home, him being a knock away from getting into heaven, but he left anyway. He was sitting opposite me, waggling his feet in his slippers.

.... "They divven't lerrus smoke, they divven't lerrus drink. I mean, what's the fuckin' point in living, Barry?"

.... "Dunno, Frank. Seems to me they just took everything away from you."

.... "That's what they do," he said. "That's what they do. They take it all away from you, so's you got nowt left to live for, you're begging to die." He slurped at his Guinness, didn't bother to wipe his mouth. "I been living on this earth seventy fuckin' years, I never seen nobody do nowt to help us."

.... "And after you fighting in the war an' that."

.... "Bollocks to the war, kidda. I was eleven when that fuckin' thing finished."

.... "Don't time fly?"

.... "Not for me, it don't." He looked at us. "Every day's a struggle."

.... "No respect anymore."

.... "Respect? Divven't talk to me about respect, Barry. You seen them lads outside?"

.... "Aye."

.... "Charva bastards. My day, they'd be doing national service."

.... "Aye."

.... "Now what d'you think they do?"

.... "Them lot in particular? They burn cars." I knocked back my vodka. "They burn cars and they sniff aerosols."

.... "Cider-drinking little bastards."

.... "Aye." I drank from my pint.

.... When I looked up, there was a familiar face. It belonged to a prick I used to know in the army. Back then he walked around like he had a fist up his arse, and we thought he did most of the time. He had that poof look to him. Ruddy cheeks, smooth skin, posh accent. Boarding school boy, used to a touch of the buggery. Time hadn't changed him much. He still looked like a bummer boy. And he stood out in this place like a bulldyke at a beauty pageant.

.... "Fuckin' hell," I said. "Lieutenant Nigel Drake."

.... Drake turned at the sound of my voice. "Mr. De Silva."

.... "Sir." I showed him all my teeth.

.... "At ease," he said. He tried to return the smile. But if that was his idea of banter, he hadn't changed much inside, either. He pointed at a free chair. "Do you mind?"

.... "Nah, knock yourself out."

.... Drake pulled at the creases in his trousers as he sat down. He glanced at Frank Gillespie, who was giving him a full-on stare. Probably the closest he'd ever sat to a real live officer. "Mr. De Silva. Barry... How're things?"

.... "Things? Things're fuckin' dandy-o, Lieutenant. You caught me slumming it. I was just about to go back to Malmaison, bang them supermodels what're waiting for me in my big-arse jacuzzi."

.... Drake kept smiling, but he blinked a dozen times. "You don't have to call me Lieutenant, Barry. The army was a long time ago."

.... "Ah, but what days, eh?"

.... "Quite. I hear you're in the security business now."

.... "You what?"

.... He leaned over the table; I pulled my pint away. He looked like he was going to drink it, spit at it, or fall in it. Didn't matter which. A man's pint is his castle.

.... "I mean," he said, "I hear you do private work for a small fee."

.... "Don't know where you heard that, Mr. Drake. I always thought I was a private detective, like."

.... Frank snorted into his Guinness.

.... Drake nodded. His eyes grew large. "That's what I meant."

.... "Then why didn't you say it?"

.... "I was trying to be discreet."

.... "You think the lads in here care about discreet? Most of 'em are shitfaced. They're lucky they can remember to go to the bog."

.... "I resent that," said Frank.

.... "Oi, Nebby. How's about you keep your fuckin' nose out, eh? And go empty your bag while you're at it. You're honkin'."

.... Frank mumbled something, pulled himself to his feet and made for the bogs. Drake watched him go.

.... I tapped the table. "Here, Drake. You got about three minutes before he gets back. Focus, son."

.... He snapped out of it. "Yes, sorry. I didn't realise--"

.... "You came here to give us a job, so spill it."

.... "It's a little delicate."

.... "Howeh, I got drinking to do, alright? You come here to give us a job, you give us a fuckin' job. You ain't got time to be delicate, petal. I'm a big lad, nowt I ever heard shocked us."

.... "It's not as easy as that..."

.... "You get a cab here?" I said.

.... He blinked again. "Sorry, what?"

.... "Cause if you didn't, Mr. Drake, and you went and parked a nice motor out front of this place, you'll find it burning on bricks by the time you tell us what this job is."

.... Drake turned to the door. "You think so?"

.... "I know so. So what is it? Chances are, you're coming to me, it's something proper nasty. You don't want the professional outfits to look into it, it must be. You get caught fucking a rent boy or something? You want me to dish the dirt on the bastard blackmailing you?"

.... Drake shook his head. "It's my wife."

.... "Ah, you're not a poof. Well done. Round of applause for the hetero. Take a bow. Your wife's fucking about."

.... "Yes, Mr. De Silva." His jaw knotted up. "She's fucking about."

.... "Good. Now we’re getting somewhere." I finished off my pint. "Seeing as you're an old mate, I'll give you a friend price."

.... "Okay."

.... "You're looking for what? Photographs? Home movies? Or d'you want the lad's legs broke?"

.... "You break legs?"

.... "I'm having you on, Mr. Drake."

.... "Ah."

.... "Course, if you want it, I know a guy what could do it. Pricey, like. Not as pricey as having the fucker's face burned or his ears cut off, but you pays your money, get me?"

.... He shook his head. "That won't be necessary."

.... "Suit yourself. It was me, I'd have the works done on the bastard. So you're looking at proof, right?"

.... Drake nodded.

.... "Kay, I'll give you the package deals. You want photos, that'll set you back fifty a day plus expenses--"

.... "Barry?"

.... "You want home movies of the dirty deed, you're looking at--"

.... "Barry."

.... It was Sid, the landlord. He was standing at the door.

.... "For fuck's sake, man. I'm in the middle of something here. This bloke's wife's fucking around on him."

.... Drake flinched.

.... "Which one's your car?" said Sid.

.... "You what?"

.... "Which one's your car?"

.... Frank stepped out the bogs, joined Sid at the door. He looked like someone had grabbed his balls and twisted. "Oh, Jesus."

.... I got out my seat. Said to Drake, "I'll be right back."

.... "Yours is the Fiesta, right?" said Sid.

.... "Aye."

.... Sid opened the door so's I could see.

.... My cat-shit brown Fiesta. On fire. Them lads pelting it down the street, whooping it up.

.... "Aw, you bunch of bastards..."

****

.... It's tough to take photos with a hand down your pants. But sometimes it's worth it. I needed all the gratification I could get. Them little bastards burned the lot. Even my Wings tapes. I'd never get them back. Rock 'n' roll gold turned to fucking cinders. I added the charvas to my mental shit list, kept a Stanley knife in my jacket in case I ever saw them again.

.... That Stanley was banging my hand right now.

.... So I couldn't be blamed for indulging in a spot of knuckle-shuffle. Not with all that grief on my brain. Besides, Mrs. Drake turned out to be a looker. Proper nice pair of bosoms on her, like. So I just had to let nature take its course.

.... She was throwing that head of hers about like it was about to come flying off her shoulders. I didn't know she was married, I'd say she was a professional porn actress. None of the Horny Housewives for her. Spying on her had let Little Barry thicken all the way. She was a posh bit, like, spoke with a lisp. But on her it was kind of sexy, like Toyah.

.... The bloke under her, his name was Thomas Reed. He was a merchant banker. So we had something in common, even if it was just rhyming slang. He was also posh. Sounded like he had plums in his mouth and toffee up his nose.

.... A twat, in other words.

.... I'd got here on the Metro. Lucky for me, these two didn't give a fuck about getting caught, or so it looked. Every Thursday, bang on seven, they'd check in the Premier Lodge down by the Quayside and screw each other silly until it was time for after-dinner cocktails.

.... Very sophisticated.

.... It got me wondering, though. When people are that blatant, it strokes the old grey cells into action. If Drake knew his wife was playing away, why would he need to see proof? The divorce scenario, yeah. I could see that one. Divorces, they're complicated. If Drake had photographic evidence, he'd have the nasty card to play. Or maybe he was fixing to knock her about. Some blokes needed hard proof as an excuse. I had to admit, that idea was enough to stop the blood flowing. Not because I had anything against beating women - I wasn't one of your namby-pamby fucking liberals. Way I saw it, a bird was cruising for a slap, I'd be the first in line to deliver it. Equality and all that; it was only fair.

.... Nah, the reason Little Barry softened, well, it wouldn't be right to mess up Mrs. Drake. Aye, she was a slapper, but I knew for a fact Drake wouldn't be slipping her a length on a regular basis. And he was the type of bloke who'd be put off by the whole marital aid thing.

.... Jesus, all people needed to do was keep an open mind.

.... Then it came to me in a blinding flash.

.... But I'd clean myself up later.

****

.... I was waiting outside the hotel when Mrs. Drake left. I didn't talk to her. Got kind of bashful, tell you the truth. Anyway, it wasn't the woman I wanted to talk to.

.... When Thomas Reed left the hotel, pulling his jacket over his shoulders, a swagger in his walk, I cut him off before he got to his Merc. He peered over my shoulder at the car like he was afraid someone had taken a coin to it.

.... "Y'alright?" I said.

.... "Sorry, do I know you?" What was it with posh blokes and apologising?

.... "Nah, mate."

.... "Okay." He made a move to his car.

.... "I need to talk to you, mind."

.... "I gave at the office."

.... "Scuse me?"

.... "You're collecting for something?"

.... "Kind of, pal. Kind of. You fancy a jar? You're buying."

.... Reed got all blustery then. "I don't have time for this."

.... "You might have time when you see the roll of film I'm gonna develop."

.... "Sorry?"

.... "You will be, son. That hotel got a bar, you think?"

.... "No, it doesn't. Look, who are you?"

.... "I'm the bloke what'll save your fuckin' life, mate. Now you gonna buy me them drinks or am I gonna turn this shit over to Nigel Drake?"

.... "Nigel? What's Nigel got to do with-- ?"

.... "You know what? I credited you with a few brain cells. You being a banker an' all. But I think I got the wrong guy. See, the lad I'm after's got something upstairs. Tell you what, I'll hang onto this for the momento, right? You have a think about what I said, you give me a call at the pub and we'll see what we can do for you."

.... Reed had his mouth open as I walked away, headed back into town.

****

.... Time was, a bloke would get me to go snooping for them, they were scraping the bottom of the barrel. They came to me when they needed something dug up and spread all over the sheets, the dirty laundry hung out for all to see. And times haven't changed that much, you ask me. And here's no such thing as a simple look-see when it comes to a hot, horny wife.

.... Mrs. Maureen Drake wasn't the only one married around here. That much was spot on. The way her and Reed fucked, that was a new lease of life for the pair of them. I seen enough listless shagging to know the real deal when I spot it. Hey, thank Ben Dover and the crew for refining the palate.

.... So I chanced it with Reed, thought I'd tickle his balls about the situation. And it might not have gotten the right reaction at the right time, but that wasn't unusual. See, when a guy's full of just-come hormones, he's liable to be cocky. He's liable to think a fat bloke like me won't prove much of a threat. But when the dregs of sex have cleaned out his system, it's like a million hangovers. There it is. You got caught. Dig yourself out of it.

.... So it wasn't much of a surprise when Thomas Reed phoned the pub a few hours later.

.... Me and Sid were commiserating the loss of my car at the time. He'd felt guilty about it, what with it being outside his place that my Fiesta got torched. I was about to tell him to forget it, but he kept pouring vodka and Guinness and it went pure out my mind.

.... "You seen 'em about?" I said.

.... "Nah."

.... "Fuckers'll know about it when I see 'em."

.... "You need any help, you say the word."

.... "When've I ever needed help, Sid?"

.... When the phone rang, Sid looked at me like his sympathy was running short. He jerked his thumb towards the pay phone at the end of the bar. "You get yourself a mobile, Barry."

.... "I don't need one."

.... Sid picked up the phone, said: "Aye?"

.... "Who is it?"

.... "Some gadgie with marbles in his fuckin' mouth."

.... I grabbed the phone. "Barry De Silva, Personal Shit-stirrer."

.... "Mr. De Silva."

.... "Alright, Mr. Reed? You had a chance to think about my proposal?"

.... "You didn't propose anything. You threatened me."

.... "You're talking semantics with a man who can't fuckin' spell it, pal. You want to come over here and buy me a drink or what?"

.... "What do you want? Money?"

.... "Right now? I want a double Smirnoff, a pint of Guinness and your fuckin' presence. It's the Billy Goat on Gateshead High Street. You have an hour to get your lazy arse here."

.... Reed was still blethering on when I put the phone down. Honestly, these posh bastards think they can talk their way out of everything.

****

.... Three pints later, Thomas Reed sat opposite me. He ordered a glass of wine. Sid almost had an embolism at that.

.... "Mr. De Silva, I don't know how much money you think I've got," said Reed, running a thumb around the rim of his glass.

.... "I don't give a fuck."

.... "You have to understand that your discretion in this matter would be much appreciated."

.... "Uh-huh."

.... "So... Okay." He cleared his throat. "You're a businessman. I can appreciate that. You're open to negotiation?"

.... "I'm always open to negotiation. Negotiation's my middle name. Along with Harry."

.... "Harry?"

.... "As in harry it the fack ap. It's almost last orders."

.... Reed smiled. One of those tight-lipped smiles I'd seen on Drake. Like he thought I was something he found floating in his soup. It killed him to sit here in my local.

.... "What kind of money are we talking about here?" he said.

.... "What kind of money you proposing?"

.... "I don't have time to play games, Mr. De Silva."

.... "Neither do I. You give me a price, what you think it's worth, I'll tell you if I accept those terms, we negotiate from there. You keep fucking about, I never saw you, we never had this conversation, I hand the negatives over to Mr. Drake to do with as he sees fit."

.... "Do you know Mr. Drake personally?" he asked.

.... "I know him of old, aye."

.... "Then you know what a spiteful bastard he can be."

.... "Can't say as I blame him. You're fucking his wife."

.... Reed's eyes became slits. "You're judging me, Mr. De Silva? You're trying to blackmail me."

.... "Hey, I never said it was a bad thing. All I'm saying, you were fucking my wife, you couldn't blame us for getting a bit of a fuckin' cob on, know what I mean?"

.... "He doesn't care about Maureen. He cares about me."

.... "Which is why we're having this conversation."

.... "He wants to ruin me."

.... "Aye, cause a bunch of porny photos are gonna ruin a banker."

.... "They will if that banker handles a large American Christian organisation's portfolio."

.... I tapped my glass, then finished off the dregs of my pint. "You gonna give me a number, Mr. Reed, or do I have to call this meeting to an end?"

.... "I don't know, Mr. De Silva. Two thousand."

.... I smiled. "That's a start."

.... "It's all I'm offering."

.... "And you're a businessman. There's me thinking you were open to negotiation."

.... "What the fuck do you want out of me?" he said. Getting louder now.

.... I was wearing the bastard out. Good.

.... "I'd keep going up, I were you."

.... "Don't mess me about, Mr. De Silva. I'm not a man you want as an enemy."

.... "Hang on, I think I just pissed myself with fear."

.... "Four thousand."

.... "Let's call it a night, eh?"

.... "Excuse me?"

.... "You're just flapping your fuckin' gums. You don't mean this any more than I do, y'know?"

.... I got up. Reed's eyes got wide. "Five thousand."

.... "Nah, I'm tired. I'm going home."

.... "Ten."

.... I stopped. Something itching the inside of my nose, so I picked at it. Turned out to be dry skin. "Ten thousand, you said? You bring it up here tomorrow night, you might have yourself a deal."

.... "I can't get that--"

.... "You're a grownup, Mr. Reed. Don't act your fuckin' shoe size. Don't bet if you don't have the fuckin' chips."

.... "You don't understand..."

.... "You turn up tomorrow night, ten grand, I'll see what I can do. You turn up a penny short, I'll take your money and then punt the photos onto Drake, how's about that?"

.... "You wouldn't dare."

.... "Try it, son. I wish you would. Since my car got burned, I been itching to fuck someone over." I took the knife out my jacket. "You think you're a bad man to make an enemy of, try dancing with Stanley."

.... "I'll see what I can do."

.... "You do that, pet. You do that."

****

.... A Christian portfolio. I dropped a twenty at the only phone box that wasn't wrecked round here and called Drake.

.... "Y'alright, son?"

.... "Mr. De Silva?"

.... "Fuckin' hell, you're good. Look, I got something you might be interested in."

.... "You have the merchandise?"

.... "Your wife about, is she?"

.... "Yes."

.... "I'm loving this code lark. Aye, I've got the merchandise. But I've also got another interested party."

.... "Who?"

.... "Mr. Reed. He's offered a stack of cash."

.... There was silence at the other end.

.... "You still there?" I said.

.... "How much?"

.... "A stack. You interested in making a bid?"

.... "Excuse me?"

.... "Well, I'm a businessman now."

.... Drake's voice dropped to a whisper. "I hired you. You're an employee."

.... "Employee?"

.... "I'm paying you to do a job, Mr. De Silva. I suggest you do it."

.... "And I think you got the wrong end of the stick, Nigel. See, we never signed no fuckin' contracts or owt. I'm private. Only gadgie employing me is me."

.... "Now wait a minute--"

.... "You want to make me an offer I can't refuse, you know where to find me."

.... "Mr. De --"

.... I hung up on him. Smashed the receiver down a few more times to make us feel better. Then looked around for the nearest Metro.

****

.... I hung about outside the Billy Goat the next night, lit a tab and watched people come and go. Looked up the High Street and saw a bunch of charva kids. They were smoking, drinking, throwing evil poses in the street light. I squinted at them, fingered the Stanley in my pocket. Too many of them to start fucking about, even though I reckoned one solid swipe would send them scattering.

.... I walked up to them, anyway. Said, "You wanna make some money, lads?"

.... "Fuck off," said the one with the biggest balls. He snorted. "Fuckin' paedo."

.... "I was a paedo, I wouldn't be bothering with your skanky arse, son."

.... "Fuck off."

.... "And you're an erudite bastard, I'll give you that."

.... "How, man. Fuck off." One of the other lads. This one had a bar through his eyebrow.

.... I smiled at him. "Your boyfriend's got a voice. That's sweet."

.... "Funny bastard."

.... "You lads," I said. "You lads wanna make a quick fifty bar to do what you love doing? And nah, I'm not talking about sucking cock."

.... And I told them what I wanted them to do.

****

.... Reed was the first one through the doors. He saw me, then spent the journey from the entrance to my table looking over his shoulder.

.... "Y'alright?" I said.

.... "You have the pictures?"

.... "Aye, got 'em developed this afternoon."

.... Reed smiled. "You developed them yourself?"

.... "Nah, I took 'em down Kwiksnaps. They got an hour service."

.... "You got them developed at a chain store?"

.... "You got a problem with that, like?"

.... "Anyone could have seen them. They could have taken copies."

.... "You think anyone but you and a couple others are interested in whose inkwell you're dipping your quill, Mr. Reed? Nah, you're safe. I'm the only one with the photos and I'm the only one with the negatives. Rest assured, I'm discreet."

.... He coughed. "Well, then. That's good. We agreed on a price, didn't we?"

.... "Aye, we did."

.... "Six thousand."

.... "Ten."

.... "I agreed--"

.... "You agreed ten, marra. Don't get all nuts on us, thinking my memory's shot. Ten."

.... "Of course." And he made a move to the briefcase.

.... I held up my hand. "Not yet. I'm waiting on someone else."

.... "Excuse me?"

.... I waved the hand at the guy in the doorway. "And here he is, right on time. That's the thing with the army, Mr. Reed. It makes you punctual. Mr. Drake, glad you could make it."

.... Drake pulled up a chair, kept his distance from Reed. "What's this about, Barry?"

.... I lit a tab, rubbed my nose. Took my time and laid it all out for them. Had to do it slowly, like. Just because they were posh, didn't mean they were clever. Christ, if they'd been clever, they wouldn't be here.

.... "What we're gonna do is have a little auction, chaps. Mr. Reed, I know you want these snaps because you've got to appease a bunch of God-botherers. And Mr. Drake, you got a cob on because he's porking your missus, that's good enough for me. So you both got reasons. The only question I'm gonna ask is who's got the best reason?"

.... "I hired you," said Drake.

.... "That's debatable," I said. "And beside the fuckin' point."

.... "We agreed a price," said Reed.

.... "I just want to see if Mr. Drake wants to up that price."

.... "This is bloody ridiculous," said Reed. "Bloody ridiculous. We agreed a price. I've a good mind to call your bluff, Mr. De Silva. I've a good mind to--"

.... "You've a good mind to sit the fuck down and stop chucking your toys out the pram."

.... "You think you can get away with this, Barry?" said Drake. "What if we both walk out?"

.... Reed caught onto that right away. "Yeah, what if we both walk out?"

.... "Neither of you get the photos."

.... "I'm not willing to pay more than what we agreed at the outset, Barry."

.... "And you can forget about the money," said Reed. "I don't appreciate being blackmailed."

.... They were getting proper riled up, it had to be said. I flicked some ash off my tab.

.... "Okay, so you just leave that cash with me," I said.

.... "Did you hear me?" said Reed. "I'm not paying you anything. Nigel, you can keep the photos. Maureen and I have called it off, anyway. And first thing Monday morning, I'll delegate the portfolio to someone else. I will not be blackmailed. I will not be made a victim of this man."

.... "And I'm sick of this," said Drake. "You're not a private detective, Barry, you're a bloody disgrace. You always were. Consider yourself dismissed." He got to his feet, brushed his jacket as if he had dust on it.

.... "Aw, that's cute. See, all you lads needed was a group hug. But you're leaving that cash here, Mr. Reed."

.... Reed grabbed the briefcase. "I'm leaving."

.... "Before you do, gents, I just want to point something out. You see that old lad by the door?"

.... They turned, saw Frank Gillespie grinning at them. He was wearing his slippers, looking insane.

.... "Old Frank saw your cars pulling up. And there's a gang of lads outside just itching to burn those cars. I was going to wait, see if Mr. Drake wanted to up the ante, but it's all gone a bit tits up, ain't it? So I tell you what, I'll make the best of a bad situation. Mr. Reed, if you'd be so good as to transfer the contents of that case into this here Tesco bag, I'll make sure you can drive home."

.... "This is just stupid," said Drake.

.... I nodded at Frank. He opened the door and whistled.

.... Drake ran for the door just as the lads dropped the flame to the petrol. I could hear the whoosh from where I was sitting, it was that loud.

.... "Oh God," said Drake. Then he said it again, only more like a strangled yell.

.... "In the bag, Mr. Reed."

.... Thomas Reed did as he was told. And he hadn't been daft, either. The money was really in the case. And soon it was weighing down my plastic bag. I smiled at him as he stood up, shaking. Obviously his car was worth more to him than ten grand. I liked that. A man with principles. Rare in this world. A man of my word, I let him go, followed him to the door to make sure Frank didn't go crazy and start whistling again. Reed got into his Merc and spun the wheels as the charva lads cheered.

.... Drake wasn't so happy. I saw him crossing the street like some crappy action hero, his car in flames behind him. Then he was right up in my face, his hands in fists.

.... "You can't do that to me, you can't--"

.... I butted him in the nose. He dropped and started crying snotty blood into the palm of his hand.

.... Salute that, y'cunt.

.... I walked over to the gang of lads, dug out a fifty each for them. Christmas and birthday rolled into one for that lot. And I took a moment to watch Drake's car burn.

.... "That's pretty, like. I got to give you that."

.... "It's what we do," said the lad with the bar in his eyebrow.

.... "Uh-huh. Who did the Fiesta the other day?"

.... "We did."

.... "Aye, but whose idea was it?"

.... The lad with the bar in his eyebrow grinned, jerked a thumb at his chest. "Me."

.... "Nice one," I said. Then I snatched at the bar, plucked it free. He started screaming, blood running through the fingers he'd clamped to his forehead. I nicked the Stanley blade under his nostril for good measure and he stumbled back onto his arse, bubbling blood and swearing at us. Be a while before he sniffed any more aerosols.

.... The other two stood there, not knowing whether to take me on or do a runner.

.... I reached down and took the fifty from the bleeding lad's hand. "You don't fuck with a man's vehicle, lads."

.... That was the decision made, then. They took off running.

****

.... Some blokes, they're just born lucky. The next day, I picked up the phone and called my client. When Mrs. Reed answered, it sounded like she'd been jogging or something. Her breath was all I needed to get Little Barry thick again. Like I said, Maureen Drake wasn't the only one married. And she certainly wasn't the only stunner in this equation. Independent, too. I liked that in my women. But independent or not, there were times when even the best birds needed a worm to help them out. Especially when those birds had debts they needed to pay and a cheapskate husband. A cheapskate, philandering husband at that. Aye, I remembered her telling me about that. She had a spark in her eyes that meant she'd be an excellent fuck. What was it with these posh tarts?

.... "Mrs. Reed. How you doing, love?"

.... "How did it go? I didn't hear from you, I thought something must have gone wrong."

.... "Nah, nowt went wrong. It went different, but it didn't go wrong."

.... Drake was icing on the cake, you pardon my rhyme. And it was my personal thing in this case. I asked her, if she met up with him on the cocktail party circuit, maybe she could drop my name. She could be as whimsical as she wanted, laugh it up like she was thinking about it in a jokey way. She agreed. Because it put the shits up her husband.

.... And I got to settle a few old scores.

.... "Did you get the money?"

.... "Aye, I got it. Your husband paid the full three grand."

.... She sighed. She sounded happy. "I don't know how to repay you."

.... "Ah," I said. "I'm sure I can think of something."

.... Because what would be better than seven grand of someone else's cash and a shot at his wife? Fuck it, I might be a dreamer, but I'm not the only one, am I?

.... It was fucking Wings said that.

Copyright © 2005 by Ray Banks.



"Walking After Midnight" was Ray Banks' first appearance in Thrilling Detective. His stories have also appeared in Handheld Crime, Hardluck Stories, Shred Of Evidence, Bullet and Plots With Guns. His first book, "The Big Blind" was published by Point Blank Press last year, and his last story on this site was "Take Down The Union Jack." Ray can be contacted through his website, The Saturday Boy.

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