Long Way Down, Part 10, by Tony Black

Long Way Down Part 10
Long Way Down Part 10
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The News continues the serialisation of Long Way Down by Tony Black, the city crime writer hailed by Irvine Welsh as ‘Britain’s best’.

The dogs were back at the split rubbish sacks, fighting over what looked like the remains of a chicken chow mein. The tinfoil container was being torn between their chops, spilling milky yellow fluid laced with rancid rice over the street. I made my way round them quietly and quickly and slipped on to the pathway leading round Weasel’s home.

The dogs were back at the split rubbish sacks, fighting over what looked like the remains of a chicken chow mein. The tinfoil container was being torn between their chops, spilling milky yellow fluid laced with rancid rice over the street. I made my way round them quietly and quickly and slipped on to the pathway leading round Weasel’s home.

The building was small, inconsequential. It could have been any one of a million Scottish maisonettes like it. The only distinguishing feature was the crumbling rough-casting that exposed the brick beneath. The pebbles from the wall crunched beneath my Docs as I paced towards the backyard.

The pug had the bag open, Weasel staring in.

“Aye, sound,” he said.

“Course it’s sound.” The pug was a wido off the schemes, rough and likely useful, I didn’t rate my chances.

Weasel stuffed a hand into the back pocket of his trackies and produced a bundle of notes. He charged his coat hanger shoulders as he stepped back and waved for the pug to count it.

“No need to count it, son ... You’re not that daft, eh!”

The pug grabbed Weasel’s jaw in his hand and shook. He stood there like a schoolboy being stood over for his dinner money and took the effrontery like it was due to him.

“Cool. Cool,” he said.

The transaction seemed to have concluded, I watched the pair head back for the front of the house and ducked behind a decrepit shed; if it lasted another couple of minutes without blowing away I was in luck.

“Right, well, you know where to come if you need any more,” said the big biffer.

“Aye, no worries.”

Weasel followed him halfway up the path then waved him off and returned to his front door with the heavy holdall weighing him down on one side. The idiot still managed to put on a swagger, for the benefit of no-one but himself, as he yawed back down the path. He was grinning, a wide toothless rictus as he took the keys from his trackies and started to scrape the edges of the Yale lock. I let him get the key in the door before I made my move.

One thing about the Docs, the air-cushioned soles can come in handy. Save a few fallen rough-casting pebbles getting crushed underfoot I was stealthy.

The rabbit-punch to the back of Weasel’s napper wrapped his head off the front door so hard that the frame bounced off the facing wall and swung back with renewed force.

I winced, shook out the sting of knuckle on skull. My reactions were quick enough to push Weasel’s limp jelly-body through the door and reach for the holdall all at once.

He groaned, rolled over on to his back.

“Weasel!” I heard Barry’s voice from the top of the stairs, then his heavy footfalls as he descended towards me.

If he’d been tooled up, I’d have likely got my head blown off when I stuck it over the threshold. As it happened the Mossberg-pump I’d taken from the holdall was the only shooter at the party.

“Hello, Barry my old son,” I said.

My old mate stood staring at me with a look of quiet disbelief that threatened to dip into incredulity.

“Gus ...” said Barry.

I was leaning over Weasel now, tucking an arm under his oxter, “Give me a hand with this loser.”

Barry descended the stairs and got round the other side of Weasel; for a moment, as he stood at the open door, I wondered if he might bolt. He looked me up and down and seemed to clamp on to his emotions, reached for Weasel.

I was still holding the gun in my other hand. “Right, lift away.”

We got Weasel up the stairs, he was pathetically light. Nothing but skin and bone — you’d see more meat on a butcher’s pencil. In the front room we dropped him on a filthy sleeping bag that I wouldn’t have let a dog lie on. But this was Weasel we were talking about; it was likely too good for him. As I straightened my back, gripped hold of the shooter again, I spotted the Gola bag from Katrina’s on the other side of the room.

Weasel rolled over and groaned. I saw he was coming round, thought about delivering him another whack but Barry caught my attention. He was collecting a pack of Club from what would have passed for the windowsill, if the windows weren’t boarded up. I offered my lighter and sparked up as well.

“So, what’s the craic?” said Barry.

I huffed. “There’s been precious little craic, mate ... unless you include the one down the middle of Danny Murray’s head they’re seeing to over at the Royal.”

“What?” He looked perplexed, if he was acting he was a Gielgud.

I drew deep on my cig. “Are you kidding me? Because if you are, I can walk out on you now and leave you to Boaby Stevens’ pugs if you like.”

He leaned against the wall, started to scratch his brow. ‘This is screwed.’

“You’re telling me?”

He looked up, eyes darting beyond me to Weasel who was groaning again.

I paced towards Barry. “Look, mate, Danny sent me after you, I’m guessing because Shakey wanted the rundown on the job you’re about to pull with some of the Emerald Isle’s finest.”

He shook his head. “It was bloody, Kat ... you know that.”

I walked away, didn’t want to record his look when he started to kick off about that woman. She’d done him enough damage and if the truth be told, I didn’t need a reminder of my own sorry loss on that front. If the roles were reversed Barry could have been Debs talking about how I’d screwed her life up on a colossal scale.

“She told me she was clean, you know that?”

I shook my head in disbelief. “And you went for that?”

“No. Well, I hoped you know. We were making plans, for when I got out.”

How you made plans with a junkie whose only ambition was the next fix on the horizon, I’d no clue. “And what went wrong?”

“She had a house full of crack-heads when I got home. I had to turf a mob of them on to the street. But she has a mouth you know, it runs away with her, the junkies were all trying to butter me up about some big job I was on, she’d blabbed.”

You didn’t need to join the dots to see how Shakey got hold of the information. “So what then?”

“I just split. Didn’t even take my gear, sent Weasel round for that. I’m finished with her, Gus ... truly.”

I looked over my shoulder towards Weasel; his hair was stuck to his forehead where I’d flattened him against the wall.

“And this job?” I said.

He shrugged, looked away.

I fronted up. “Barry ... the job?”

He still couldn’t look at me. “Well, y’know, I’m committed now.”

He bloody-well needed to be committed. “They’re Irish, power lunatics you do know that?”

“Of course I do, why do you think I’m going ahead with it? Once you’re in they’re worse than the Foreign Legion, I’d get my head in a poke if I backed out.”

I felt my adrenalin spike. Fight or flight, whatever. I wasn’t taking any chances. “Oh, you’re backing out, Barry ...”

Now he fronted up, squared shoulders and put the bead on me. “Oh, aye, who says?”

I poked the shooter in his chest, “In the words of Napoleon Dynamite — a frickin’ twelve-gauge!”

He stepped back. “Gus, now wait a minute, you don’t understand who you’re dealing with here.”

I looked at my watch, time was getting tight. I didn’t want to be around when the Bedford van packed with brick-outhouses pulled up. Gun or no gun, I didn’t rate my chances. I took out my phone, scrolled the contacts.

“So, just who are we dealing with here?” I said as the line started to ring.

“What? ... Wait a minute, who are you calling?”

“I’ll ask the questions, Barry ... Now I want names and I want the full story on this job including the exact where and when.”

He grunted, near spat. “You’re off your head.”

“No, I’m as sane as they come. But I know a man who is as complete a radge as you’re ever likely to meet.” The line connected. “Hello, Mac, I’ve a favour to ask ...”

• Long Way Down, Part 1, By Tony Black

• Long Way Down, Part 2, By Tony Black

• Long Way Down, Part 3, By Tony Black

• Long Way Down, Part 4, By Tony Black

• Long Way Down, Part 5, By Tony Black

• Long Way Down, Part 6, By Tony Black

• Long Way Down, Part 7, By Tony Black

• Long Way Down, Part 8, By Tony Black

• Long Way Down, Part 9, By Tony Black