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Authors: Gerard Brennan

The Point (12 page)

BOOK: The Point
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Paul grabbed the gun by the barrel. John resisted giving it up.

“Wait,” John said. “Can I borrow it?”

“What for?”

“I noticed a sign in Murdock’s garage earlier. The chip and pin machine’s broke. No credit cards. People have been paying cash for fuel and shit all day long.”

“No way. Not a chance. Too fucking risky.”

“I’ll be taking the risk. You’re taking twenty percent.”

Paul relaxed a little. Felt his interest pique at the thought of some easy cash.

“Twenty-five.”

John smiled. “We’ll call it thirty. But you’re the wheels-man.”

 

Kitchen Nightmare

 

Brian tried to settle into Malone’s leather couch. It squeaked and creaked with each buttock shift. Sweat soaked his boxers. He didn’t get the attraction. Rachel perched herself beside him, pretty and elegant. He imagined how he must look to Malone in contrast. Brian wished he’d gotten around to visiting the barber and ran his hand through his tangled hair. It didn’t make it all the way through and he had to withdraw.

“Is Becky not coming?” Rachel asked.

Malone shook his head. “No. She took Catherine and Liam to the cinema.”

Rachel turned to Brian. “That’s daddy’s other family.”

Brian smiled through his awkwardness and discomfort. He wished Rachel wouldn’t push her da’s buttons in front of him. Brian had no idea how to react to it. It made things 10 times worse that Malone was Brian’s boss as well.

Malone seemed nonplussed, though. “I haven’t offered you two a drink yet, have I? Sorry. I’m a bit distracted.”

“Aren’t you always?” Rachel said.

Brian stood and thrust out the blue plastic bag. “Some wine.” He despaired at his monosyllabic speech and
general jerkiness and the bag began to weigh on his straightened arm. He gritted his teeth and held it steady.

Malone looked at the bulging bag and smirked. “Some?”

“Aye. Sorry. I didn’t know what kind to get and they were doing three for a tenner. So, I got six different ones. Sorry.”

“Don’t apologise, Brian. That’s very generous. Three for a tenner, too. Good deal.”

Brian nodded. Malone nodded. Rachel cleared her throat.

“Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“Do you want to go open a bottle or something?”

“Oh, yeah. Right. Back in a minute.”

Malone hurried off with the wine and Brian sat back down. He balanced rigidly on the edge of the couch. Rachel rubbed his back.

“You okay?” she asked.

Brian scrunched up his face. “Nope. This is no craic at all. Can we just leave or something?”

“Do you not think that’d be a bit rude?”

“I don’t know. Would it?”

“Yes it would. Just chill, okay?” She fiddled with a length of her hair then said: “Did daddy seem a little distant to you?”

“No. He was right there. All big and ready to punch me in the face and all.”

“Catch yourself on. No, he seemed kind of out of it. I wonder what’s going on.”

Brian shrugged. He had his own problems.

“Can you smell burning?” Rachel asked.

Brian sniffed and nodded. Rachel grabbed him by the arm.

“Come on ’til we see what’s going on,” she said.

Rachel led Brian to Malone’s kitchen. They found Malone scooting from one corner of the room to the other. Smoke uncurled from an open oven door. A smoke alarm went off and Malone grabbed a tea towel. He waved it under the alarm, trying to clear the air around it. Brian clocked a half-empty bottle of wine on the kitchen table.

“Daddy, such an effort,” Rachel said. “You shouldn’t have bothered... Really.”

Malone jumped as he noticed Brian and Rachel in the room for the first time. The smoke alarm stopped bleating. The sudden silence sent a wave of relief through Brian’s body that un-bunched the muscles in his shoulders. Malone shuffled on the spot, embarrassed.

“Yeah, sorry,” Malone said. “There’s been a bit of a kitchen incident. I ruined the roast.” He tossed Rachel a bunch of keys from the counter. “Will you go to the garage and get something easier to cook? A pizza or something.”

“You’re letting me drive your mid-life crisis-mobile?”

“I’ve been drinking.”

Rachel rolled her eyes. “Okay. You wait here, Brian. Looks like daddy could use a hand with that wine.”

 

Everybody Be Cool

 

John checked his scarf was tied tight around his face and pulled the peak of his baseball cap down low. Then he strolled into Murdock’s garage with the revolver held by his side, pointed at the floor. The shop assistant was too busy doing something to her fingernails to notice him at first but she almost jumped out of her skin as John started screaming at the top of his lungs.

“Hey you! Get down. No, wait. Open the till. Stand back! Freeze.”

“Fucking stick to one thing, will you? What do you want me to do?”

John maintained the same ear-battering volume. “Open the till. No funny business.”

“Mister, I don’t even get minimum wage in here. Just relax and I’ll give you anything you want.”

John lowered his voice. “Oh, dead on. Well, fill a plastic bag full of cash.”

“Do you not want the cigarettes as well?”

“Aye. Good idea. Thanks.”

She turned to swipe the fags off the shelves behind her and into the bag. John took the opportunity to watch her ass sway as she worked.

“You know,” he said. “I’d love to ask you for your number.”

“Probably not the best time.”

“Aye, probably.”

 

Wheels Man

 

Paul fidgeted in the driver seat of the stolen Vauxhall Astra. He tried to catch a glimpse of John through the glass automatic doors of Murdock’s garage. The sunlight bounced off the doors’ surface. Paul had no idea what the little scumbag was up to.

“Come on, John. What the fuck’s keeping you?”

Paul’s scalp tightened. The rear view mirror reflected the last thing he wanted to see: a police car pulled into the garage forecourt.

“Ah, fuck.”

His hand hovered over the car horn.

“Ah, fuck.”

He laid his hand on the plastic button in the centre of the steering wheel. Applied a little pressure then snatched his hand back.

“Fuck it.”

He eased the stolen car into gear and drove coolly and calmly away from the garage.

 

Hands Up

 

John was well pleased with himself as he strutted out of the shop with his loot. Right up until he walked right into a peeler. He dropped one of his bags of cigarettes and the packets scattered all over the concrete.

The cop looked from John’s still concealed face to the fags and back to John again. “You should seriously consider nicotine patches.” He pointed at the fags. “They’ll kill you.”

John dropped the other bag and pushed his wrists forward to be cuffed. The cop snapped the silver bracelets in place. Just as he reached out to snatch the scarf from John’s face, the screech of tyre on concrete snatched John’s attention. A green Subaru Impreza pulled into the garage forecourt. John placed the vanity number plate right away. M47ONE. It was his da’s car. Trust the aul’ bastard to pick that instant to arrive. Just in time to gloat.

But it wasn’t his da who jumped out of the Subaru. That would have been too easy. As soon as he spotted Rachel he knew he was in real trouble. She stormed across the forecourt and John could have sworn he could see twin plumes of steam spouting from her nose.

“John! What the fuck?”

The cop actually jumped at the urgent whip-crack that was Rachel’s voice. Then he went back to frisking John. He found the revolver tucked in John’s waistband immediately.

Rachel seethed. “A gun? A fucking gun? Where’d you get a gun from?”

The cop half-turned and tried to stare Rachel down. “He has the right to remain silent, you know.”

Rachel looked over the cop’s shoulder. John shifted to the cop’s blind side and mouthed Paul’s name. Rachel nodded. Understood.

“Will I tell daddy?” she asked.

“No. I’ll phone my solicitor from the station.”

“We’ve an expert here, have we?” the cop said.

“What are you, a comedian?” Rachel asked.

The cop gave Rachel a cool look.

“Go stand by your car, please, miss,” he said. “I’ll be over in a minute to check your tyres.”

 

Male Bonding

 

Brian was warming to Rachel’s father. They’d just emptied one bottle of wine and uncorked another. It was going down pretty damn easy, especially since Brian was normally a beer man. They weren’t quite best friends, but they were getting there.

Brian checked his watch. “Rachel’s taking a long time.”

Malone curved one side of his mouth and spluttered a blast of wine-breath through his lips.“Ah, she’s probably got chatting to somebody she knows. Small towns are like that. We talk.”

“I guess.”

“You know, like, I’ve heard a few things about you and your brother.”

“I don’t suppose it was good?”

“Afraid not.”

“Look, me and Paul...”

Malone held up his hand. It wavered slightly. “Don’t. I’m not going to chase you out of my house.”

“Really?”

“Nobody’s perfect.”

“That’s very gracious.”

“Besides. You might be able to do me a favour.”

 

Burn

 

Paul pulled the stolen Astra into a parking space on the promenade. A raised flowerbed housing bushy shrubs and bushier weeds partly concealed it from the road leading in. Paul climbed out and had a quick glance around him. Nobody about. He took two cans of lighter fluid from his coat pocket and squirted them onto the cloth seats. Then he struck a match and touched it to the phosphorous tips of the other matches in the cardboard sleeve. The box flared and he tossed it into the car.

Paul stood at a safe distance for a few minutes to make sure the car – the evidence – caught alight. The old thrill he remembered from all those joyrides in his misspent youth scrabbled about in his chest. He left, unseen, before the windows and tyres started cracking and popping.

 

A Subtle Proposition

BOOK: The Point
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