I’d felt myself teetering close to the edge of sanity, many times since he left, but I’d pulled myself back every time. I’d held on. I had forced myself to fall back on the things I knew and trusted; patience and composure. I had my eyes wide open. I suppose that was one good thing to have come out of it all. I knew I was surrounded by jealous backstabbers who wanted to see me fail. They were everywhere, waiting to watch me fall, watching to see if my empire was about to implode. Fuck you, I wanted to say to them on a daily basis, fuck you all. That greasy whale still gloating in his cesspit of a record shop. Those sneering, long haired kids still sneaking around town when they thought I wouldn’t notice, thinking they had won, thinking they had got one over on me. I ran these things over inside my mind constantly. I allowed them to grow and swell and burn inside of me.
I went to work, and I worked hard. The club was a ridiculous success. I had more money than I knew what to do with. I drank a little more than I used to, and then I went home. Each and every day I woke up in the morning and wondered whether today would be the day I got my revenge. I thought about it constantly. Did I want revenge, and if so, what form would it take? What would I do? I had to be careful. I sometimes felt like I was utterly detached and removed from the rest of normal society. I was lost at times, without Jack. We’d been the same, him and me. We saw what had to be done and we got on with it, no time for tears, no cause for regrets, or worries. I missed the understanding that had existed for so long between us; that we were above the rest of them, that whatever we wanted was ours for the taking. We’d had some good times, you know, me and Jack. Some good times. I didn’t have anyone I trusted anymore, and I missed just sharing a drink with him. I sometimes found myself gazing around, wondering if I ought to try to replace him, narrowing my eyes in search of another right hand man. But there was no one. That Lawler kid Jack had seemed so keen on, was nothing but a waste of space junkie, no good to anyone. Jumped out of his skin if you so much as spoke to him. I didn’t trust him. I watched his movements like a hawk. I had to be careful. There were eyes that darkened when they turned my way. Rumours circulating about the whereabouts of Jack, Chinese whispers about a kid beaten up in the centre of town, stories about people you should not mess with…
For months I’d trawled the streets after dark in my car. Part of me was looking for him, part of me was desperate to catch sight of him, walking along the street alone, and part of me was just killing time, just searching for ways to sooth my rage. In the end, I’d resorted to sorting Kay out when she needed it, and it was enough, almost. I’d let things drift so long with her, and she’d been taking the piss for months. I knew there was more to his disappearance than she was letting on. I knew she’d been in on it somehow, she must have been. She never once sat and shed a tear for him, you know? That always struck me as very odd, for one thing. It was like she already knew he was safe, and she didn’t need to worry.
So I’d known, I had always known she was involved. The night I returned home from work and found her curled up asleep on the sofa with a piece of paper clutched inside her palm, was the night I had my suspicions confirmed. It was back in February, and I had driven home from the club in the early hours of the morning, with a can of Carlsberg wedged between my thighs. My car prowled slowly through the back streets of town, my eyes as always, scanning the streets and the alley ways, peering into crowds and clusters of youths, trying to pick him out. When I arrived home, I’d reached for my Jack Daniels and a glass. Right away, I’d noticed the state of the kitchen. Two mugs and a plate turned upside down on the drainer. Why the fuck couldn’t she follow the job through? Dry them, and put them back in the cupboards? I put my whiskey down, and did it myself, snatching a clean tea towel from the hook and rubbing aggressively at each mug, and the plate, before putting them where they were supposed to be. I wondered why there were two mugs. She didn’t normally have visitors, so my skin prickled and crawled with growing rage, and I poured myself a whiskey and downed it in one. I would have to speak to her again about the state of the house. I mean, it was a joke. What the fuck did she do all day anyway? Lounged around in her bloody dressing gown watching crappy American chat shows, no doubt. I didn’t make her go out to work, did I? All I asked for in return was a nice, clean, and tidy house to return to, to be proud of. I wondered how many times I would have to drill it into her. She should have known how I liked things by now. For fucks sake, even the fucking boy had done a better job than her. I peered around at the rest of the kitchen, feeling with my socks for any dirt or dust on the floor. I could feel something, something that felt like biscuit crumbs, and my body grew rigid with displeasure.
Lazy bloody cow. I stalked through to the lounge, only to discover the TV still on, flickering in the darkened room. “Bloody woman,” I muttered, storming over and switching it off. I turned around, deciding to settle on the sofa to sink a few whiskeys, and that’s when I saw her there. She was fast asleep. Curled up sideways and covered in her silly pink fluffy throw. The phone was on the coffee table next to her, and there was another plate down on the floor. For fucks sake. I walked over to her. Considered giving her a good slap to wake her up and send her to bed. It was then that I saw the curl of paper sticking out the end of her tightened fist. I stopped, and mulled it over. I crouched slowly down next to her sleeping face, cocking my head over to one side and listening to her breathe. I wondered how far under she was. I put out my hand, closed my thumb and forefinger around the edge of the paper, and tugged. It slipped from her grasp easily and she did not stir. I stood up and moved back, grimacing as I uncurled it in my own hand. It was an address. An address in Belfield Park. Written in that sneaky little shits handwriting. I folded my hand over it and glared back down at her, considering my options, as the heat flooded me violently.
I turned in a slow circle, letting it sink through me. Then I stopped, and stared back at her, shaking my head slowly from side to side. I curled a fist and considered smashing it quickly into her pretty little nose. That would wake her up. Then I would grab her by the hair and shove the piece of paper into her gaping mouth. I’d make her fucking eat it. I shook the fist at her as she slept on. “You were meant to be tell me when he got in touch,” I snarled at her in the darkness. I opened my hand and watched the paper float back down to land on her covered lap. “You lying, sneaking, treacherous little bitch…” I narrowed my eyes. A satisfying realisation washed over me, and I felt calm again. I nodded at her. “Oh you want your precious boy back now do you? Is that it? You miss him, do you? Well sweetie, you only had to say. If you want him back that much, I’ll get him for you.” With a smile upon my lips, I left her alone, turned and walked out.
The next night I had left the manager in charge of the club. I got in my car and drove it over to Belfield Park. It was a stinking, filthy, rotting corpse of a town. It reeked of fish and chips, seagull shit and decaying seaweed. All the homeless people gravitated there. You saw them shuffling about everywhere. Sleeping on benches, and downing cans of Special Brew with their toothless friends. Tough dogs on chain leads. Sleeping bags and newspapers scattered around their feet. The buildings were all falling down, collapsing, sagging within their own depression. They needed to take a fucking bulldozer to the entire area in my opinion. It was a waste of money, wasn’t it? A seaside town in a state like that, full of dossers and scroungers, layabouts and criminals. I drove around the miserable back streets, with my window rolled down, and my elbow hanging out. I caught a glimpse of people heading to Chaos. I drove smoothly past them, my eyes squinting as I took in the dirt and the squalor. Every street was mile high with rancid Victorian doss houses. Bed sit city, people called it. I felt above it all, as I passed them by, the Goths and the skinheads, the metalheads and the hippies, and the punks, all flowing, all pushing towards Chaos, like warped followers of some twisted religion, all flocking towards their church.
I smoked cigarettes as I drove, finally turning the car around and letting the engine idle lazily at the end of the road, with the club in sight. I recalled the address on the paper, and counted the dwellings to the right. A smile pulled my lips across my face. That was it then. The tall red building. The shithouse on the corner. How nice. They’d moved in opposite their favourite club. How very nice. How extremely convenient. How fucking easy they had made it. I smiled further when I thought about going in there, finding the little shit stain in the middle of the crowd and making a fool out of him. Dragging him back out by his scrawny neck. Dragging him back to his lying whore of a mother. The anger clenched painfully at my chest. I wondered what to do. I had been given the information I needed. Not just the address, but the evidence against Kay. She was a lying bitch, keeping things from me, planning things behind my back. I wondered what else she was keeping from me, what else she was up to, and I wondered what to do about it all.
I tapped my ash out of the window, down onto the grimy street below. I glanced up and to the right, as another bundle of scruffs made their way towards the club. I pressed myself instantly back into the seat, because it was them, it was fucking them! It was all of them. There was the dark haired boy, Michael, and his older brother. Christ, you could hardly tell them apart these days. The other two little idiots were there too. The ginger one, and the one I’d given a talking to in the alley that day. And there was the precious boy himself. Her darling son. King fucking Danny, eh? I felt the trembling start in my dry, pursed lips, and in my nostrils as they widened, and in my eyes as they rolled back to stare at my step-son. He was throwing his head back with laughter, one arm slung around his girlfriends shoulders. I wanted so much to go over there and give him something to fucking laugh about. I shook my head, and my eyes glazed over, and I felt sick, and numb and raw. Tears moistened my eyes. I gave you so many chances, I was thinking, so many chances to be good, so many chances…and you couldn’t do it could you? Couldn’t just be a good boy? My hands were frozen to the steering wheel, clawed and shaking and I hung onto it, using it to anchor my aching body to the car. I put the car into reverse suddenly. I took one more lingering look at the laughing boy, with his friends. I wanted something so badly then, and it angered me, what I wanted, it repulsed me and shamed me. I screeched off down the road with it banging and clattering noisily inside my head. I wanted to give him one more chance.
I kept away. I forced myself to. It was too soon. Too obvious. He would be nervous and jumpy, having passed his address over to her. Fucking little idiot. It made me laugh sometimes when I was alone, at work. I would sit behind my desk and chuckle. Why did he trust her eh? Why did he think she gave a shit? Big mistake, I would tell him when the time came. I let the weeks and the months slide by. I kept up the sunny pretence when I had to. I kept myself ticking over, I kept my mind on work, and I tried not to let anything show. But I was watching, the whole time, I was watching her, and watching for signs of him. I knew he came over sometimes. There were less biscuits in the tin, and she didn’t eat the bloody things, did she? One day I found white dog hairs on my trousers. Another day I found the toilet seat up in the downstairs loo. I knew it was him. I could smell him. It enraged me down to the very core of my soul. To think of him, that little piece of shit, thinking he could stroll on into my house whenever he fucking felt like it. I bet he was feeling full of himself alright. I bet he thought he was unfuckingtouchable.
I pretended I knew nothing. I let them think they had fooled me. I let them carry on their little game of pretence and lies. I didn’t know exactly when I would put a stop to it, I just knew that I would feel it, when it was time, when it was right. You can’t rush things, I reminded myself, as ever. Patience is the key. Patience is always the key.