June 1967, London.
Freddie Fuckin' Foreman was pissing me off, the big nonce. Acting like his poxy night-club was the best thing since sliced fuckin' bread, and too good for the likes of me. Me! Fuck him, i was on top of the world, speed in my brain, temples pulsing with them wild nigger rhythms going "do-chicka-do-chicka-do-ba-chicka-do" and the black bombers i was handling were the best in the manor but he wouldn't let me in to his club full of deadbeats on Balham fucking High Road with imported Geordie apemen on the door. No respect. I was packing, nice blued steel. Revolver of course - never use an auto, it leaves too much forensic. There it was, tucked in behind the belt, just a little something to keep it sweet. When the factory hooter goes, some poor fucker's knocked off for the last time, know what i mean?. I thought about letting him have a little taste, thought better of it. Frankie was well up with the Twins and however much they pissed me off - and i could rant for days about how much they fucking pissed me off - i didn't want Fat Ron and Psycho Reggie up my arse at the moment.
Anyone who wasn't on their firm was a threat, the way they saw it. And i was freelance, a big threat. Word was out that Reggie was muttering about having me done sometime soon. A threat, y'know? Not so much a backhanded compliment as a takeover bid in concrete waders.
Arseholes to the lot of 'em, i thought. Headed for the Regency, up North. That was where a lot of the faces used to spend their off hours. Tony and Chris Lambrianou were forever in there, Harry Squire, little Jake Lieberman and his carpet-knife.
I was talking to Norman Evans, singer, shirtlifter from way back. Rumour said he'd once done the dirty on Liberace in a movers van on his own johanna. I never had nothing against queers, done enough time to know that who you do is up to you. Fat Ron was queer. I remember some fucking nerk calling him a "fat poof" once. Fat Ron took the top of his head off with Luger. Now that's what i call Gay Rights. To be honest, Ron was probably more lairy about the "Fat" bit - he was always touchy about that.
Norm was on about the Old Bill, he reckoned the Dirty Squad were going to up their prices on his dirty bookshops in Soho, he'd be bankrupt and back to selling his arse down the 'Dilly. Three sheets to the wind on vodka and bitter lemon, embittered lemon he called it, there he was, slurring his words in the strained voice posh queers all seem to have, like Kenneth Williams or somebody.
"They are conspiring, darling boy. The whole of the Permissive Society is a sick joke, because you see, permission has to be granted and that's expensive. All the flower-children and the Beautiful People, all fooled, all uncaring, all complicitous in their own exploitation. A lunacy of looting. An exquisite irony. God. And they call my bookshops obscene?"
"They are obscene, Norm," I told him. "you flog filth to the dirty macintosh brigade and come over all righteous about it. I seen some of them scans you shift. Blokes doing blokes, birds doing birds, birds doing bloody donkeys in some of 'em. You're a twisted old poof, son. Having another?"
I got him a drink. Started to feel a little woozy. Dropped another Black Bomber in the khazi and headed back to the East End. Appointment to keep.
Eddie Doyle. I met him the Oak on Mile End Road where he was hidden right under the Twins' pointy noses. He perched on a barstool under a steamy window near the sidedoor, keeping a lookout and flaunting his form all at the same time. Scarlet sodding pimpernel.
"Hello Jack". He reaches out flicks the brim of my trademark hat. Grinning. "Enjoy it while you can, my son," he says.
Loud music, Ritchie Valens banging out those voodoo rhythms, going down with his buddies, with his Buddy. I'm getting too old. Still miss Glenn Miller. What the fuck does "yo no soy marinero" mean, anyhow? "I'm not a sailor"? Sounds like one of Norm's fancy lads. Rub the scar on my cheek, souvenir from Madge. Don't like to think about Madge. Downer, them hippy kids call it. Drop a bomber and climb back up again. Down a pint of pale.
Higgins shows up, at last. "It's all happening," he mutters, slapping my shoulder. "Let's go up West and eat something." Nod. Drive. Time to think. This is all bad, head feels like my arm did back when Tommy Walters clocked it with a cricket bat all them years back. Everything's fractured these days. Got to clean up my act, sort meself out. This is the last chance.
Some wop place outside Leicester Square, checkered tablecloths and pasta all over the shop. I order a beer, don't want food. Them bombers certainly keep a body in fighting shape. Not your head, though. Pearshaped, that is. Feel sick. Notice a plate of uneaten pizza on a the table next to us and i can't look away. Feel worse.
"Tuesday, Jack," says Detective Inspector Higgins. "We'll take 'em all on Tuesday. Reggie's going to cosy up and then top you at Blonde Carol's with Fat Ron watching. Tony Lambrianou gets to reel you in. We'll be watching, we'll have faces there that Ron don't know. Reggie's a nutter. Over fucking zealous, ain't he?. He ain't safe to carry a shooter, and Ron knows it, too. So little Manny Clarke's going to hand him the piece, and it won't work. It'll jam. There'll be a bit of bother. Everyone will leave. And, then my son, we'll do 'em for murdering Jack "The Hat" McVitie."
"And i scarper." I remind him. "Oh yeah," he says. "Don't you worry, my son. You're on my firm now. I'll see you get away clean."
Hard to believe that was only last night. I'm off to the Regency now. Wait for Tony to try to to reel me in. Go off to Carol's, let Reg fail to kill me. I'll get away clean. Watch my dust.