Authors: Gerard Brennan
"You'll thank me in the long run, kid. You might even have a chance in life if you've someone like me as a role model. Let's face it, you're doing a pretty good job of pissing it all away right now." He jabbed his fork in the air, struck by inspiration. "Here, if we get you off them fucking fags I could get you a trial for the Davitts under-sixteen's. You've the height to be a decent centre-back."
"Aye. Doors will start opening for you then. Believe me."
Joe felt as if the room was spinning.
His ma returned with his fry. She told him to sit and plopped down beside him on the sofa. While Joe and McVeigh worked through their laptop breakfasts, she had a cuppa and a fag. She smiled at each of them in turn.
We're her boys,
"Stephen, is it just the two of us tonight or will we ask Paul and Emily along?" Joe's ma asked.
McVeigh wiped grease from his lips with the heel of his hand. "Well, her and Dead-Eye Gibson are away for the weekend." He paused. "I wonder how much
"Shush, you. Emily's lovely. And, call him Paul, will you? You know that name winds him up something shocking. Not to mention how cruel it is. He lost his eye helping you out, you know."
McVeigh smirked. "Cruel? And what was it when he blew Sinead out for an English whore? When he left her to take care of that mental kid of theirs?"
Joe's ma shrugged and sucked on her fag. Her lips pinched down on the filter.
"Anyway," McVeigh said "He's not here to hear me, so what's the harm?"
She shook her head, fanning puffed smoke in a swirling arc. The smell of it tightened Joe's nicotine-deprived lungs. Before long, his plate was empty. He barely remembered one bite.
"I'm going to stick the kettle on," he said as he stood. "Anyone want more tea?"
The wanker had fucking called him son again and his ma hadn't even batted an eyelid.
He plastered on a fake smile. "Coming right up."
In the kitchen, he lit a fag, leant against the worktop and watched the kettle boil. He couldn't live in the same place as McVeigh. It would drive him mental. Apart from McVeigh being a complete arse in general, he threw the Liam Greene thing in Joe's face every five minutes; a memory he could live without.
The Liam Greene thing.
If he'd put more thought into what he'd been doing the night he crashed the party, things could have been different. After a spell in hospital, Liam was back on the street. Joe would have to be on guard every time he went out. And Wee Danny wouldn't be around to back him up for at least a couple of years.
Joe thought about the big box of rat poison in his bedroom and the powdered bleach in the cupboard under the sink. He thought about how McVeigh took sugar in his tea; one of his rare dietary vices. He thought about how easy it would be to score a few tabs of ecstasy on the street. And how they were small enough to plant on even the most unlikely person. The original mix hadn't been right for that fat bastard, Greene, but with enough time to experiment, who knew?
He heaped two teaspoons of sugar into one of the cups then spat in it. A drop or two of poison would be as easy. And McVeigh, like all joiners, drank shitloads of tea...
Something worth considering, at least.
Gerard would like to thank the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their support in writing this novel.