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Authors: Gerard Brennan

The Point (13 page)

BOOK: The Point
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Brian felt a little overwhelmed as Malone ranted between gulps of wine. Lost even. So he did what he always did in moments of uncertainty. He said as little as possible.

“This recession is fucking with everybody, Brian. Construction has come to a standstill. The private sector is fucked. My timber yard’s haemorrhaging money.”

Brian nodded. “Hard times.”

“Yeah, but there’s a way you could help me out.” Malone slurped another heroic mouthful of red wine from his goblet. Then he tipped Brian a conspiratorial wink. “You’ve a bit of a past, haven’t you?”

Brian fought hard to keep the indignation from his voice. It was true after all. “What would you know about that?”

“Small towns, Brian. Remember?” He chuckled then quaffed half his goblet. “Anyway I think, between us, we could make this problem of mine go up in smoke.”

Brian would never claim to be a genius, but he was able to decipher this less than subtle proposition. Still, he couldn’t resist blurting: “Wait. You want me to torch the timber yard?”

 

Lam It

 

Paul barged into his house and bolted up the stairs. He dumped his clothes out of his wardrobe and onto his bed. He gathered the four corners of the blanket together and slung the whole kit and caboodle over his shoulder. He blundered back down the stairs and stood in the living room. Took a moment. Breathed. Thought.

Then he whipped his mobile from his hip pocket and tapped out a text message.

 

Something’s Up

 

Brian’s phone bleeped and broke the stretched silence between him and his girlfriend’s father. He called up a new text message and skimmed over it.

“Anything important?” Malone asked.

Brian put his phone down on the tabletop. “Just my brother. I’ll get back to him.”

Malone took a gulp from his wine glass and topped it up from a fresh bottle. “So, the timber yard. What do you think? If you don’t want to do it, we could ask Paul, couldn’t we?”

Brian rubbed his stomach. He fixed his gaze on the wine glass. Opened his mouth to talk.

“Hi, boys.”

Brian and Malone jolted in their seats. They turned to find Rachel standing in the doorway. She killed the conversation dead. Brian could have leapt out of his seat and kissed her. But he played it cool.

“Behaving yourselves?” she asked.

Malone spoke up. “Just getting to know your friend, here.”

Rachel nodded then sighed. “That’s nice.”

“Did you not get the pizza?” Malone asked.

“What? Oh, no. They... They were all out of pizza. I’ll just throw some sandwiches together.”

Rachel moved to the fridge, slump-shouldered.

“Everything okay, babe?” Brian asked.

“Yeah.”

Brian knew she was lying. Malone didn’t seem to notice or mind. He just poured another glass.

 

I Want YOU!

 

Paul paced the room. His blanket tote-sack of possessions sat on the sofa, ready to go. He checked then rechecked his phone.

Then it rang.

O’Rourke calling.

“Ach, shite.”

He glared at the screen for a couple of rings. Squinted and scowled as if he could change the caller ID by willpower. Then he gave in and answered it. “Hello?”

O’Rourke’s voice rasped in his ear.

“Paul. Come to my office.”

“Sure, no problem, man.”

“And bring the gun.”

“The gun? Already? Jesus, I only just got it.”

“Something’s come up. Get here quick.”

O’Rourke cut the call. Paul grabbed the blanket tote-bag off the sofa and threw it at the wall. His bundled possessions scattered about the room. He kicked at them and almost slipped on a pair of silk boxers. Panic swelled in his stomach and a scream clawed its way up the lining of his throat.

“JESUS!”

 

Panic Stations

 

Brian sat in the passenger seat of Malone’s Subaru and noted how confidently Rachel handled the beast of an engine. It was a welcome distraction to watch her skinny-jean encased legs pump the pedals as she shifted gears and worked the accelerator. He clutched a bottle of wine by the neck and squeezed tight as she barrelled around a big corner.

“You’re very quiet,” Rachel said. “You all right?”

Brian squinted at her. “So are you. What’s wrong?”

“I asked first.”

“I’m just thinking.”

Rachel gave him a look but said nothing. They pulled up to Brian’s house a few minutes later.

Brian laid a hand on Rachel’s thigh. “Coming in for a cuppa or something, babe?”

“Sure.” She paused for a second then asked: “Think your Paul will be there?”

“Aye. Too early for him to be out causing trouble.”

“Oh, I’d say he could cause trouble any time of the day.”

Brian led Rachel into the living room. Paul leapt off the sofa and was on him like fly on a turd.

“Where the fuck have you been, wee bro?”

“Out. What’s your problem?”

“I’m in the shit, Brian.”

“Have you seen our John today?” Rachel asked.

Paul’s attention was diverted by Rachel’s question and Brian took the opportunity to scoot past his brother and make his way towards the kitchen.

“I’ll put the kettle on,” Brian said.

Paul grabbed him by the elbow and stopped Brian in his tracks.

“No, don’t. We have to get out of here, wee bro.”

Brian rubbed his flip-flopping stomach. “What did you do?”

“I’ll tell you about it on the way out of here. Just get your shit together, okay?”

Rachel jumped in. “You can’t expect him to drop everything and run. He has a life here now, you know?”

“A life here?” Paul tilted his head and gave Rachel a look. “Tell me once and for all, are you pregnant or what?”

Rachel sat on the sofa. She breathed slowly. Brian immediately recognised it as her calming exercise; the one that never really worked. She was fit to blow and he couldn’t think of a way to prevent it and, in truth, he wasn’t all that sure he wanted to prevent it.

She spoke in a soft and measured tone. “Don’t be a prick, Paul.”

Brian shouldered past Paul to join Rachel on the couch.

“You’ve some explaining to do, big bro.”

 

Snuffing Charlie

 

O’Rourke tilted back his leather chair. It creaked under his weight, but he knew it would hold. Had paid enough to make sure it could support him. Charlie was back in the visitor’s chair, tied up again and only a little less bloody. Owen, one of O’Rourke’s employees, stood at the door.

“We going to top this piece of shite or what?” Owen asked.

O’Rourke consulted his watch. The young Belfast lad was taking the piss. He should have been at the office 10 minutes after O’Rourke had summoned him. Everywhere in The Point was within 10 minutes of O’Rourke’s office. Maybe Paul wanted to make a statement. Put across that he wouldn’t answer to every beck and call. As much as he liked the youngster, O’Rourke would have to beat that out of him. Right after the fucker did the job he’d been called to do.

“No. We’ll wait another half hour for Paul. When he does the deed, he’s really one of us. Charlie’s not going anywhere, are you, son?”

 

Shit Magnet

 

Brian’s head went from side to side as he tracked Paul’s frantic pacing up and down the living room. It bugged the shit out of him, but he didn’t want to go off on a meaningless tangent. He bit his tongue and waited for Paul to continue his confession.

Rachel wasn’t as patient.

She prompted Paul. “And you did
what
with the gun?”

“I tossed it off the end of the pier.”

Brian thought he heard Rachel mumble something under her breath, possibly “bullshit,” but he ignored it for the sake of momentum and offered his own prompt instead.

“Why do something as stupid as ask for a gun and then toss it two minutes later?”

“I freaked out, okay? I asked for the gun on a whim. When I actually got it, it scared me to death.”

“Why not just give it back to O’Rourke, then?” Rachel asked.

“And look like a pussy? What are you, nuts?”

“I’m not the buck-eejit in trouble with a gangster.”

“Yes, okay. We’ve established that I’ve messed up. Now can we get going before I
get
messed up?”

Rachel took a deep breath. Brian was quite impressed by her composure. He didn’t know why, but her subdued mood from earlier seemed to have seeped into her reactions towards Paul’s major stupidity. Maybe this was just her way in a crisis. If so, Brian had nothing but admiration for her.

“You know what you could do, Paul?” Rachel said.

“What?”

“Go to O’Rourke and tell him you had to get rid of the gun because you were being followed by a cop. You thought they were going to search you for drugs so you got rid of everything.”

Brian nodded. “That sounds pretty reasonable, big bro. Do that.”

Paul shook his head. “No. O’Rourke’s not reasonable. In fact, he’s a fucking nutcase. He’ll not accept that. We just have to get out of here.”

“I don’t see why this has to be a ‘we’ situation,” Rachel said. “Brian’s not in trouble.”

“Oh, yeah? And you think O’Rourke won’t pick him up and beat him with beer tins until he tells him where I’ve gone?”

Brian crimped his face. “Beer tins?”

Rachel growled a little. “God, you are a shit magnet, Paul Morgan.”

 

More Shit

 

Mad Mickey quashed his munchies with a big bag of chips from the chip-van on Warrenpoint’s town square. Dave chomped on a chicken burger. He’d gone local and asked for lashings of coleslaw in the burger. Mad Mickey thought he was a bit... well, mad. Mad Mickey took a deep breath and the vinegary chips mingled with the salt air. He looked out at the water. A big trawler was slowing to a stop in the docks.

“Nice place, isn’t it?”

Dave nodded and swallowed a lump of chicken breast and coleslaw. “Lovely, boss.”

“Not too big either, is it?”

Dave considered this for a second. “Nope.”

“Shouldn’t be too hard to find that Paul fellah, then, should it?”

BOOK: The Point
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