I was feeling good. Satisfied. Everything was as it should be, finally. During the months that came after the wedding, I had become the sole owner of Nancy’s nightclub. Phillips had become seriously ill and his doctor had told him his liver was calling time on him. In a fit of snot and tears he had more or less begged me to buy him out and take the club off his hands for good. I had been waiting patiently for the moment, and when it arrived, I savoured every second of it. I renamed the club K. It was my name above the door. My word was final. The honour and the adulation was all mine. The success as word spread, the queue of people outside that grew longer every night, the money that rolled through in larger and larger quantities, was all mine. I suppose I had an extra strut to my walk, a brighter gleam in my eyes, but it had been a long time coming. My bank manager was as happy as I was, practically wringing out his sweaty hands in glee. The house came next. The deeds signed and sealed and delivered into my beautiful wife’s hands on the morning of her fortieth birthday. The house, the club, the woman, all mine. All as it should be.
So you can see, things were good. They were as they should be. Every now and again I had to make myself pause, just to appreciate the glory, just to bask in it a little, and reflect upon how easy it had all been. Even the boy was in line. Oh yeah, he knew the line, he knew the line alright and he did not cross it. He had turned fifteen and started his final year at school. Kay murmured constantly in my ear about his attendance and his truanting and his crappy grades, but I placated her whenever I could. They were not major concerns of mine. As long as he behaved for me, then I was happy. He worked hard at the club, so I increased his hours and his workload. He was allowed to come along and open up, and help collect and wash glasses until closing time. He seemed to prefer coming along on a Friday night, which I assumed was something to do with the Friday night DJ being preferable for some reason. I often spotted him leaning in to chat to him, perhaps trying to suggest songs, to which the DJ often just shook his head at.
I kept a close eye on him though. You had to with kids that age. They’re open to so many other influences you see. There were bad influences everywhere, so I had to keep an eye on things. I hadn’t been lying when I told him that day that I kept tabs on him and his friends. Damn fucking right I did. I had to. Currently it seemed that he did not mix with his friends much, but could often be found at either the beach, the record shop, or Jack’s flat. I kept an eye on it all. Where he was, what he was doing. I taunted him with the possibility of everlasting peace. I taught him that if he stayed beneath my wing, everything would be fine. I didn’t miss the wondering look of hope in his eyes when I questioned him about his opinion on bands I was thinking of hiring for the club. There was the edge of fear and caution, just slightly softened by his desire to be needed, and valued. He would offer up his opinions then, and if I was receptive, he would come out with suggestions too, and this gentle hue of red would spread across his cheeks when he talked about music he really loved. I never pretended to understand any of it. He had been right when he had accused me of not liking any music. I didn’t really. There was nothing that particularly called out or spoke to me like it did to him. But it amused me, the desire in his eyes, the innocent belief he held onto that he could convince someone that some band, or some song was really important, really life changing. He still dressed like a homeless person most of the time. With ripped jeans, checked shirts, band t-shirts and shapeless hoodies, but Kay and I had noticed he had some new heroes these days. At one point we had joked that he would never come out of the mourning he had gone into after that idiot singer shot himself. But then he started putting up these Oasis posters, playing their music, and one day he even went and got his hair cut a bit shorter. We had to hide our giggles until he had left the room. It was amusing though. The way his music filled the house, and sometimes you could hear him singing over the top of it, and I liked the look Kay got on her face then, sort of fuzzy and dopy with love. We had a normal teenager in the house, and all was fine. All was as it should be.
Kay was always relieved when he came scurrying back from Billy’s house or the record shop with an armful of tapes, or records. She would breathe out her relief, and I would feel the grateful love pulsing from her when she curled into me on the sofa. Sometimes she got a little worried about where he was, who he was with, but I knew there was nothing to be concerned about. Most of the time he was at Jack’s flat, smoking weed and getting high, having the time of his life. It was fine by me, and I let them get on with it. It kept things calm, I suppose, subdued and in order. It kept him out of my business, and I didn’t have to worry anymore about him kicking off and threatening to stab me in the eye. He was too fucking out of it to care. Jack and I had a mutually beneficial friendship alright, although sometimes I did wonder how he could possibly see it the same way, being confronted with sweet temptation on a daily basis as he was. His greedy eyes lit up when he told me if the Anderson boy had shown up or not. It always put my back up a bit, because I didn’t trust that boy at all. He had a major problem with me. A big axe to grind. But Jack liked him coming over and waved my concerns away dismissively. They’re just stupid kids getting high and talking about music, he would inform me, nothing to worry about here. And so things were rolling along nicely. I had not had to clench my fist in a long time.