“You ‘ad enough, or you want more?”
Arthur MacDonald had a gruff voice that matched his gruff looks; his shaggy, dark brown hair and green, Irish eyes had all the girls falling around him, but if they didn’t fall then they’d be on the floor anyway because Arthur, or ‘Mac’ as he was known by those around him, had a tendency to smack sense into the women who didn’t do what he expected of them. But tonight, in the courtyard behind the pub he ran with his long-suffering wife Angie, he wasn’t beating up a woman, which made a change. No, tonight Mac was fighting with Douglas Hardnuts. Douglas was 28, blonde with blue eyes, standing four inches over six feet, with broad shoulders and a grin that could unhook a bra strap from a mile away; he was also an ex-cage fighter, and even though Mac was acting the macho-man, he was feeling the effects of the battering he had taken from Douglas over the last ten minutes.
“Bring it on, you paddy bastard!” Douglas growled; a woman two streets away suddenly felt compelled to apply a fresh layer of lipstick, although she wasn’t sure why. Mac swung his fists, but just before he could punch Douglas in the face, the smug shit, he felt his arms being pulled back and realised that his son Gary was trying to break up the fight. He toppled backwards onto the ground, Gary breaking his fall and then rolling out from underneath him and hopping onto his feet. Mac, being in his early fifties, was not so quick to jump up.
“KICK HIM IN HIS BALLS!” screamed Angie, her blonde bee-hive looking tangled and bushy, and her thick black eye-make up looking a little smudged by the glow of the tea-light candles and the old-fashioned street-lamp she’d bought at an antique fair in Aldgate a few years ago - it had cost the best part of £500, but she didn’t care. She had expensive taste, had Ange.
“Ange, you daft bitch, you’re supposed to be on my side!” Mac cried out, still on the ground as Douglas obeyed Angie’s orders.
“Sorry babe,” she said, wringing her hands, “I got caught up in the moment, is all.”
Douglas continued to kick the living shit out of Mac, stopping only to adjust his knuckle dusters. Mac smiled up at Ange.
“You always did love a good fight, didn’t you, babe? Remember that time we went to Brighton and that seagull looked at you funny?”
Angie’s eyes glazed over as she joined him in the trip down memory lane.
“Yeah, so you went and killed that waiter and dumped his body off the end of the pier. Best anniversary ever.”
Gary finally intervened when his father started to cough up blood and then passed out. Gary was a nice boy, too nice for the family business; he was going to be a doctor, he was Angie’s golden boy. Of course, that would all change when she found out that Gary was gay, because that was totally unacceptable in the family business, but she wouldn’t find out about that until about chapter fifteen when all the shit hits the fan. For now, Gary was the favourite of her eight children - only seven of those were Mac’s though. Ange had fallen pregnant at the age of 15 and given the baby away soon after its birth. She often wondered what had happened to that baby boy, who would be 28 by now. She wondered if he would have inherited her blonde hair and blue eyes, and if he’d inherited anything from Ange’s boyfriend of the time, a 6 foot 5 boxer with a smile that drove women crazy. But she had moved on and settled down with Mac, even though he was a whole decade older than her; Angie wanted a man to look after her, a big strong bloke who made lots of money and would let her spend her days sitting around the house in expensive tracksuits, smoking and buying things from catalogues, because that’s what all women aspire to.
“Take him inside and clean him up, Gal,” Ange said, straightening her jewellery and then glancing over at Douglas, “and pour a couple of whiskeys out. The cheap stuff, mind.” What I wouldn’t do to him, she thought. I bet underneath that shirt of his there’s a chest like a brick wall and abs I could grate cheese on. Mac’s getting on a bit now, but I’m just hitting my prime. Cor, I bet he’d be a nice bit of rough.
“Bet he’d spank my arse and call me dirty names.”
“What did you just say?” Douglas looked horrified. Angie suddenly realised what had happened.
“Oh gawd, I’ve done it again, ain’t I?” She picked her handbag up off of one of the picnic tables that they’d set up in the courtyard as a sort of beer garden, and searched for a packet of cigarettes. “I need a fag.”
Gary emerged from the pub with a tray of drinks; he knew full well that there was no need to put cocktail umbrellas with whiskey, but he thought they looked just darling. Angie, Douglas and Gary stood outside drinking, and Mac emerged a few moments later covered in bandages and plasters, supported by his youngest daughter, 16 year old Tiffany. Tiffany was tall and slender, with strong, thin legs and tits that belonged on Page 3 of The Sun. She had inherited her mother’s blonde hair and her father’s green eyes and penchant for violence. Having been expelled from two schools in the space of 3 months, Tiffany was a sexy, underage law unto herself, so you can imagine the kind of shenanigans she’s going to get up to later in the book. But that’s later, not yet, and after she had helped her father back out to the courtyard, she winked at Douglas and sauntered back inside.
“You alright there, guv?” Douglas sounded proper East-end, and that made him really cool and dangerous.
“Aye, just a few scratches,” Mac muttered, hoping that no-one would notice the bone protruding from his thumb. “I’ll be right in the morning, you’ll see. A toast, to us.”
Gary shook his head. My family are fucking crazy, he thought. These two idiots were complete strangers twenty minutes ago, then my dad offers him out for a fight and now they’re drinking together and toasting one another as if they’re the best of friends. I can’t wait to move out of here and get back to university.
He stared into his glass and thought of Winston. Beautiful, ethereal Winston. He was a medical student too, and together they planned to travel to Africa after graduating to do some volunteer medical work, and perhaps adopt a child while they were out there. Gary was sure that adopting was something that his mother would approve of, because any time the topic had risen in conversation or on a television programme, his mother would become very emotional. It must be because she wants to adopt someone herself, he thought, that must be it.
Mac sat down at one of the picnic tables and rested his hand on his ribs.
“Yep,” he started, “One day all this will be yours.”
Everyone was quiet for a moment.
“Babe, what?” Ange enquired.
“I was talking to Gary, you stupid bitch, shut your whore mouth and get back in the kitchen.”
Phew, thought Angie, that’s better. I was worried for a minute there. She reached for her cane and hobbled back into the pub to make a sandwich for her husband. It took her a while, since her double-hip replacement after Mac had beaten the living bejesus out of her five years ago for putting cucumber in his Marmite sandwiches. Serves me right, she thought, I mean, I’m just a woman, after all.
“Now that she’s out of the way, let’s get down to business, shall we?”
“If you’re sure…” said Douglas, rolling his sleeves up for Round 2.
“No, no not fighting, you muppet,” Mac laughed, and got a smack in the mouth for calling Douglas a muppet. “I mean business.”
“Ohhhhhh,” nodded Douglas, and then he winked, “business.”
“All sorts of illegal, underground shit, aye.” Mac downed the rest of his drink, and pulled the umbrella out of his nostril. “Got a job you can do this week, if you’re interested. Lots of punching and that.”
Douglas sat down opposite Mac at the picnic table, oblivious to the fact that he had just sat in chewing gum. It wouldn’t matter to Douglas though; these jeans weren’t his best, and if he needed new jeans then he’d just go out a buy them. Douglas had made a fair bit of cash from his cage-fighting days, and now that he was trying to get involved in the local crime gang he knew that image was everything. Maybe the bow-tie hadn’t been the smartest move, but his dear old mum had always told him to learn from his mistakes. His mum was always making up sayings like that; she had made up another one about grass being greener in other people’s gardens, but he could never remember that one verbatim. She had another saying that she used to shout whenever he misbehaved, something about finding him in a basket in a bush and only taking him in because it was the Christian thing to do, but again his memory failed him - must be all those blows to the head he’d taken over the years.
“So you up for some business, then?”
Douglas finished his drink, then glanced over at Gary. Phwoar, he thought, I love the ladies but what I wouldn’t give for a go at that sweet piece of arse. Plenty of time for that though, there’s about fifty chapters to go and I haven’t even had a run at Tiffany yet.
“Yeah, I’m all in.”