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Authors: Gerard Brennan

The Point (6 page)

BOOK: The Point
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Rachel looked at him as if trying to figure him out. Brian gave her a little peck on the lips to mask his discomfort.

“You’re even better looking than Karen, but you didn’t call a taxi. Are you a little surer about me, or am I just sexier than I think I am?”

“No, I’m just a slut, and I thought if I stuck around a little longer, you’d ride me again.”

Her hand found his crotch under the duvet and they christened the sofa while Nicolas Cage and John Travolta chased each other in speed boats on the television screen.

 

Petrolheads and Cannabis

 

Paul followed the sound of tuned up engines in his search for a drug dealer. The Point’s town centre was small and he’d seen most of it in a 20-minute stroll. Shops, chippies and pubs lined both sides of a wide main street. From both ends of the street a smaller road led to the shore front. Hosting a number of pubs and restaurants, this seemed to be The Point’s golden mile. A strong coastal wind shunted him along and he went with it.

A town square mostly served as parking space for the summertime tourists at one end of the town and, on the coastal end, there was an outdoor swimming pool, built on the pebble beach. Paul once heard that the town imported sand from other beaches to take the rough look off the place, but it usually washed away into the sea within weeks. Cider cans and Buckfast bottles added a little class to the attractive seaside scene.

Back on the main street, outside an amusement arcade, a crowd of young men in baseball caps appraised each other’s modified coupes and hatchbacks, and revved engines in a show of mechanical strength. Paul could almost smell cannabis burning amongst the exhaust fumes. He’d hit the jackpot.

The lowly drug dealer was usually the quickest backdoor into any gang. A loquacious breed, they liked to impress customers by telling them how well connected they were to the local gangsters. Paul just wanted someone to point out a couple of major players, if a town this small even had more than one, and he would do the rest himself.

A dealer proved easy to find. Paul drifted over to the car with the most teenagers flocked around it and jumped into the back.

“What the fuck are you at?” the skinny man in the driver seat asked. He turned with a jittery energy, probably unsure if he was being attacked or set up for a prank. He looked a bit younger than Paul and ugly as sin. His adolescent acne had not completely given up the war on his pockmarked face.

“Well, spotty, I want to buy some drugs.” Paul gave the dealer his best cheesy grin.

The dealer laughed and looked out the rolled down window at his next customer.

“Come back in five minutes, boy,” he said to his chubby, young customer. “I need to have a chat with this old mate of mine.”

He rolled up the window of his tricked-out car and turned again to face Paul.

“Way to save face,” Paul said. “Pretend you know me. I’m impressed.”

“Fuck off,” the skinny dealer said.

“Hey now, there’s no need to be like that. I just wanted to introduce myself.”

“Well hurry up and introduce yourself. Then fuck off. I have customers waiting here.”

“What’s your name, mate?”

He puffed his pigeon chest. “John O’Hare. Do you want to know what my favourite colour is too?”

“Don’t get stressed, John. I’m new in town and just wanted to make a new contact. My name’s Paul, by the way. Now, sell us a bit of dope, will you? Being the new kid is very stressful.”

When John handed Paul the little brown block he nodded at the back passenger side door. “There’s the exit, Paul.”

“Look, you seem to be a sound guy. How about I skin up here and we share a spliff? Call it a goodwill gesture.”

Of course, no self-respecting drug dealer ever turned down a free toke. Paul and John were soon nattering away like a pair of long lost sisters.

 

Impressions

 

“Top of the morning to you, Mr Morgan!” Rachel jolted in Brian’s arms as Paul’s voice boomed from the letterbox. Brian gave her a squeeze of reassurance. He sighed at the interruption. For a few hours their whole world was the sofa and the television. The yelled salutation had been a rude awakening.

“It’s only Paul.”

“Loud bastard, isn’t he?”

“I guess.”

Brian leant in for a kiss. She pushed him away and he got up to answer the front door.

“You live here, Paul,” Brian said as he opened the door. “You could just use your key.”

“I forgot it.”

“How do you forget your key?”

“I’ve never needed one before now. It’s not something I naturally reach for when I’m leaving a house.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t try and lift the TV as you left either. I guess that’s half the battle. Well done.”

“Nobody likes a smartarse.” Paul noticed Rachel. “Oh, you’re still here.”

“Charming,” Rachel said.

Paul giggled. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just surprised this loser hasn’t scared you off yet.”

Brian sat on the sofa, beside Rachel, and Paul flopped onto one of the two armchairs. The glow from the television screen lit up his red-rimmed, half-lidded eyes. Brian took note of his dopey grin.

“Where’d you get the hash, Paul?”

“Who says I have hash?”

“I know what you look like when you’re stoned.”

Paul raised his hands. “Okay, you got me.” He spoke in a woeful gangster accent. “I found a dealer down at the arcade opposite the supermarket.”

“Slots-o-Fun?” Brian asked.

“That’s the one. Skinny, spotty guy in a done up Citroen Saxo. Sound as a pound he was.”

“Was his name John, by any chance?” Rachel asked.

“Aye, how’d you know that? Is he your dealer too?”

“No, he’s my brother, and the wee shite told me he had no gear last night. I’ll kick his hole when I see him.”

“Oops, guess he lied to you. What a coincidence, though.”

“That is weird, isn’t it?” Brian said.

“No,” Rachel said. “It’s just a small town.”

“Aye, it is,” Paul said. “Here, he invited me to a party at his place. You two want to come with me?”

“To my own brother’s house? As much as I appreciate the invitation, I’m happy enough here.”

Paul turned to Brian. A sardonic smile played on his lips. “She’s calling the shots a bit soon, isn’t she?”

“Play nice, Paul.”

“I’m just messing. Are you sure you don’t want to come? Wee John was raving about this coke he got a hold of from some Newry crew.”

“You know I’m not a chemical head. But you go enjoy yourself, right?”

Paul jumped out of the armchair and threw his arms in the air. “PARTY!”

When he left, Rachel said: “I’m sorry, but your brother’s a prick.”

“Ach, he’s just stoned.”

“Whatever.” She shook her head as if to dismiss Paul from her mind. “So what’s the deal, anyway? You two sticking around The Point for a while?”

“Aye, it’s nice here. I can’t see us flying off any time soon.”

“You could probably use a job, then.”

Brian shrugged. “Could I?”

“Well, I don’t shag dole moles.”

“Guess I should get a job, then. What kind of work is there around here?”

“It just so happens, I know a man who could help you with that.”

“Who?”

“My daddy.”

 

Working Man

 

Brian stood at the bottom of a staircase leading from the shop floor to the offices of Malone Industries. His first interview in years was due to commence. He’d been instructed by the floor supervisor to stand there and wait a while until the bossman, Barry Malone, was ready for him.

After a sweaty-palmed five minute wait, Malone tramped slowly down the steel industrial stairs. Brian swallowed hard as he placed him as the man Paul had fucked with at the pub on their first day in town. Brian backed off a little as Malone practically stood on his toes and glared at him.

“Uh, hi. I’m Brian.” It was the best he could come up with.

“I know. I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?”

“Um...”

Malone clicked his fingers. “Yeah, I remember you.” He jabbed Brian’s chest with a thick, callused finger. “Lucky you didn’t give me any cheek that day, or you’d be picking a lump of timber out of your hole.”

“Right. Look, I’m...”

Malone held his hand up to silence Brian. “You got a bad back?”

“No.”

“You know how to count?”

“Yes.”

“Does your alarm clock work?”

“Yes.”

“Start tomorrow.”

Malone held his hand out and Brian shook it.

“Your hands are too soft, son. But we’ll sort that out soon enough.”

That following night, Brian sat at the kitchen table, picking splinters out of his fingers. He cursed each one as he sucked, bit and pinched at them. Paul stood at the kitchen sink and watched him, then pulled a quarter bottle of gut-rot whiskey from a kitchen cupboard. He handed it to Brian.

“Be a man. Suffer in drunkenness.”

Brian smiled in gratitude and took a slug from the bottle.

“They’re looking for more labourers at the mill. Do you want me to put a word in for you?”

Paul looked at Brian like he’d pissed on his shoes.

“You’re not exactly an appealing advertisement for the place. I’m all right for now, wee bro.”

“But you are going to look for a job, aren’t you?”

“We’ll see. Jesus, man. Take it easy, okay? Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

“So what are you going to do for money?”

“Don’t worry, wee bro. I’m working on it.”

 

Networking

 

While Brian busted his hole dragging wood around the saw mill, Paul networked.

Paul had never dealt drugs. He’d never even so much as sold a spliff to a mate for the price of a pint. He had no qualms with smoking weed or necking the odd E, but he knew that dealers were usually complete wankers. He wasn’t sure if that was just the personality type that took up the profession, or if it was something you had to develop to become successful in the field. Either way, he didn’t feel cut out for it. He considered stealing more honourable. And more fun.

Nevertheless, he risked guilt by association and rode around with John in his little Citroen as he did laps of the town on weeknights, and sat with him when he parked outside Slots-o-Fun or in the town square at weekends. The drug dealer/wanker rule was particularly well illustrated in John, but Paul put up with it.

BOOK: The Point
4.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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