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Authors: Gerard Brennan

The Point (11 page)

BOOK: The Point
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Rachel had a sudden craving pang. “I’d love a chicken
chow mein. Can we go to the Welcome Inn?” Brian and Paul exchanged a glance.

“What did I say?” Rachel asked.

Paul sniggered in the way that always made her skin crawl.

“Ask Brian,” he said.

“Brian?”

“Um... Paul just knows how I feel about Chinese food. Bit of a poisoning incident a few months ago, you know?”

“Yeah,” Paul said. “One of those double-ended projectile deals. Horrible.”

“Yuck!” Paul’s slapper said.

“Fuck’s sake, bro. I don’t think Rachel needs the details.”

“All right, boys,” Rachel said. “I think we can move off the topic. Anybody got a problem with pizza?”

They didn’t, and pretty soon after they were seated around the kitchen table at the boys’ house, washing down mouthfuls of double pepperoni with vodka and Coke. Rachel ate as voraciously as the boys, and within 10 minutes of silent munching, they’d reduced the late night feast to so many pizza crusts.

Brian sat back and rubbed his belly. “God, what a feed.”

Paul took control of the vodka bottle and poured them all a drink to place himself in the leadership role, as per usual. Rachel was on to all of his wee tricks.

“How’s the job going, wee bro?” Paul asked.

Brian spoke in a careful, almost stilted way as he answered. “Good, thanks. I keep picking up the wood and they keep paying me.”

“It’d be hard enough graft, I’d say.”

Brian nodded.

“My daddy says he’s a brilliant worker,” Rachel said. “He even thanked me for setting up the interview.”

Brian sat up a little in his chair. “Did he?”

“Yeah, he did. He sees potential in you.”

Paul sneered. “Potential? What as?”

Rachel narrowed her eyes. She’d seen enough of Paul to know when he was leading her in to something.

“Somebody who could work his way up. From floor supervisor to management, if he puts the effort in.”

“Ach, he’ll never make any real cash in a dead end job like that. No offence, like, bro.”

“Pfft! None taken, Paul,” Brian said.

“And what would you have him do?” Rachel asked.

“I’m already in with Richard O’Rourke. With a couple more lads behind me and Brian as my lieutenant, we could be running things on the ground. O’Rourke’s getting on in years. He’ll want to take a step back from the hands-on side of the business soon. Me and my crew would be there to fill the void.”

“So, that’s your career plan, is it?” Rachel asked. “Gopher to the mighty Richard O’Rourke. Wow, you’re such an entrepreneur!”

“Oh, my ambitions stretch way beyond that, wee girl. But we all have to start somewhere. And at least in my job I’m not risking limbs pushing big whacks of wood towards hungry saws.”

Paul topped up the glasses as he spoke. Brian gave him the stink-eye. Rachel approved.

“I’m just saying, Brian,” Paul said. “You’re street smart, and you’ve got balls. You’re not destined to be a working stiff. You’re too good for it.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Brian said.

Paul turned his palms up. “Okay, Brian. Okay. I’ll mind my own business. But I just want you to know, if I could choose anybody to watch my back, it’d be you.”

“Whatever. Just fill me up, will you?” Brian waved his empty glass at Paul.

“Okay, we’re out of Coke, though.”

“I should be all right.”

Rachel cringed at the sight of Brian drinking straight vodka in enthusiastic gulps. Brian barely flickered an eyelid. Rachel found a couple of beers at the back of the fridge and shared them with Paul’s slapper while the brothers got stuck into the neat vodka.

The mood dulled and the conversation morphed into a slurred, drunken commentary on movies and society. When the vodka bottle emptied, Paul kissed, groped and spanked his slapper all the way to his bedroom. Rachel was delighted to see the back of them. She just hoped it wouldn’t be a noisy, porn-style marathon. Her stomach wouldn’t be able to take it. Brian filled two pint glasses with water and Rachel lit two cigarettes double-barrel style. They smoked and sipped tap water in bleary-eyed contentment.

“Your ex cornered me in the bogs at
Cearnogs
tonight.” Brian said.

“What? Why didn’t you say? Did he try to hurt you?”

“I didn’t want to bring down the mood. And no, he didn’t try to hurt me. Though Paul jumped to the same conclusion, to Sean’s, um... misfortune.”

She struggled to focus on Brian’s face and pay attention to him. “What did he do, then?”

“He kicked his balls and punched him in the head. Left him there. Sleeping it off, like.” Brian lent his elbow on the table. It slipped off the edge as he tried to prop his head up with his palm. He giggled.

“Paul kicked Sean?”

“Yeah. Misunderstanding, though. We felt wick about it, and all.”

“Well, maybe he’ll learn. Third time’s a charm. But I meant, what did Sean do? Not Paul.”

“Oh. Oh, right.” Brian blinked, one eye at a time, and smiled. “At first I thought he was coming on to me. He ripped open his shirt.”

“Oh, God. He wanted to show you his chest.”

“So you did do it, then?”

Rachel took a deep breath. She studied the glow of her cigarette then snuffed air through her nose. “Did I burn him with a car cigarette lighter? Yeah. But I’d a good reason.”

“A car lighter. Ouch.” He looked at her through one squinting eye. “Why’d you do that?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Brian flicked ash off the end of his cigarette. It landed a good four inches away from the ashtray. He nodded. “That’s fair enough. I don’t usually pry into people’s past but, you know, when a guy flashes his maimed boob at me, I get curious.”

“So, you must think I’m a psycho, then.”

“I think you’re fucking fantastic. That’s all that matters.”

And he leaned in to kiss her. It was a drunken, sloppy, drink-stinky, smoky, pepperoni-tasting kiss. Their teeth scraped together and somehow, the end of her nose got wet.

But it was fucking fantastic.

 

Hardware

 

Paul rarely admitted to himself that he was capable of real fear. He liked the idea that he was afraid of no man. Impossible to ruffle. But as he sat opposite Richard O’Rourke, ridiculously aware that his balls had shrunk to the size of raisins, he had no choice but to face the simple fact; Richard O’Rourke was the scariest man on the planet and Paul had just asked him for one hell of a favour.

O’Rourke shifted forward in his seat. The solid mahogany desk creaked beneath his elbows. To Paul, O’Rourke’s head looked like an oncoming meteor. The kind that destroys worlds.

O’Rourke cleared his throat. “And you want a gun because...?”

Paul straightened in his chair, tilted his head back and faked his usually natural confidence. “That Chinese guy got the drop on me. I thought all your clients knew the score and just paid up but, if one was willing to take a chance, who knows? Maybe the next time I won’t be so lucky.”

“And what if you get lifted by the cops with a gun on you?”

“I’ll risk it.”

“But will I? What’s to stop you selling me down the river?”

“Come on, man. I saw what you did to Charlie. Think I’d be that stupid?”

“Maybe.”

Paul sighed. “So you’re telling me I can’t have one?”

“No.”

O’Rourke opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a revolver. He set it on the desktop. Paul eyed it.

“I’m telling you not to get caught with it,” O’Rourke said. “If you do, I’ll kill you.”

Paul nodded.

O’Rourke went on: “This is a .38 snub-nose. Very reliable piece, and easy to conceal. But you should keep in mind that now I know you have this, I’ll be thinking of you as one of my soldiers rather than one of my thieves. There’s a lot attached to that.”

Paul nodded solemnly and reached for the gun. He weighed it in his hand and checked out the sight. Then he looked at O’Rourke.

“Thanks for this, Richard. Could I ask for one more favour, though?”

“Depends what it is.”

“Can you show me how to load it and all?”

 

Meet the Parent

 

Brian felt a certain comfort in the weight of the blue plastic bag he carried. Nothing beats a substantial amount of alcohol in a blue bag to keep you calm in a social situation. But it wasn’t quite enough to get him through the next stage in his relationship with the girl of his dreams. As he stood at the door of Barry Malone’s...
mansion
he reached a hand out to snag Rachel’s. She gave it a little squeeze.

“Are you nervous?” Rachel asked.

“Yes. Is it too early to drink?”

“At my dad’s place, it’s never too early.”

“I’ll probably be all right after a couple, then.”

“Okay, but don’t get too wasted. If you come on to my step-mother my daddy will probably kill you.”

“Step-mother?”

“Yeah. I’ll tell you all about it some day but, so you know the basics, my mummy’s not around these days and daddy’s started a new family with a new wife. We don’t mention our John, so you can’t either.”

“Why can’t I mention...?”

“Shush. Daddy’s coming.”

Malone opened the front door. He greeted Rachel with a hug and Brian with a brief smile, then led them in.

 

Guns Kill People

 

John’s little Citroen Saxo wobbled on its lowered suspension as a gust of coastal wind hammered the passenger side. Paul still felt edgy after his meeting with O’Rourke and almost yelped as the car rocked in its parking space. John didn’t notice, though. He was too transfixed with the little revolver in his hands. He turned it this way and that, studying it from all angles. Practically drooled. Then he raised it up and pointed it towards the windscreen. Paul reached across and pushed John’s arm back down to keep the weapon out of sight, all too wary of the number of pedestrians cutting through the car park.

“And he just gave it to you?” John asked.

“Aye.”

“Fuck. That’s class. You’re pure gangster now.”

Paul shrugged. “I suppose so.”

“Have you field tested it yet?”

“What, like target practice?”

“No, like shoving it in somebody’s face. That’d be class.”

“Are you wise? Guns aren’t fun, okay? They kill people.”

“People kill people.”

“Ach, fuck up, John.”

BOOK: The Point
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ads

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