‘I met him on a Monday and although my heart didn’t stand still, per say, it certainly skipped a beat or two, I can tell you,’ said Martyna. She giggled. ‘But then that was Philly Bailey. He was a charmer, alright. Not to everyone’s taste I know, a bit rough around the edges and that. But he always had something about him. A twinkle, you know?’
Martyna finished her gin and tonic. She sucked on an ice cube.
‘He was certainly a hell of a ladies man,’ said Ryan. ‘I’ll give him that.’
Ryan was feeling uncomfortable. He couldn’t relax. Astros Wine Bar was filling up with after-work office drones and although it wouldn’t have bothered him back in his boozing days now that he was on the wagon he found that he had less and less tolerance for pissheads. He’d successfully survived Philly Bailey’s wake without the urge to break his three year dry run but now he wasn’t so sure of the strength of his resolve.
For one thing, Martyna was looking well-fit in her little black dress and he wondered whether maybe he should try to comfort the grieving widow. Maybe a drop of Dutch courage would help oil the wheels of opportunity.
‘Can I get you another drink?’ he said.
‘Don’t mind if I do,’ said Martyna.
Ryan went over to the bar and pushed through the crowd. He was a big man and had no problems getting to the front of the queue. He moved directly in front of one of the barmaids.
‘What can I get you, love?’ she said.
‘Gin and Tonic, please pet,’ he said.
‘Ice and a slice?’ she said.
‘Yes, please,’ said.
His heart beat quicker.
‘Er, a pint of John Smiths will do nicely,’ he said, feeling as if he were falling into a void.
Cokey hadn’t thought the kid would shoot. Hadn’t thought that a kid barely out of his teens would even know how to use a gun. But there he was lying on the kitchen floor while a snotty nosed kid stood over him with what looked like a Glock. The kid was holding the gun like a cop, too. Gripping it with two hands, legs spread. Giggling.
Cokey cursed himself for not casing the house properly before he decided to rob it. He’d let greed get the better of him. That and his desperate need for a fix.
What was weird, though, was why the bullet hadn’t really hurt. In fact, it had been like a sharp stab now he thought about it. And now he couldn’t feel a thing. The kitchen door opened and a tall man with a silver beard came in. He was dressed like some sort of doctor.
‘How many darts did you use, son?’ said the man.
‘Just the one, dad. And then he fell over,’ said the kid. He started giggling and the man laughed.
‘He’s not the sharpest tool in the box this one, eh?’ said the man.
Cokey opened his mouth to speak but couldn’t for some reason.
The man crouched in front of Cokey.
‘It’s a drug,’ said the man. ‘Experimental. My own creation actually though my smart son here helped a fair bit.’
The kid giggled.
‘You’re paralysed now. And it’ll spread so that all of your organs give up and then, well, you’ll die.’
Cokey tried to scream.
‘But I’d like to thank you for coming here. For giving us to opportunity to test our new toy on a real person. I’m fishing to sell it off to the highest bidder over the dark web and you’ve just made pitching that sale a lot easier.’
The boy crouched next to his father and used his phone to film Cokey. To watch him die.
‘We’re all on a road to nowhere, though,’ said Ryan. ‘That’s the funny friggin thing. That’s what’s so friggin hysterical about the song. That’s what it’s really about.’
He spat as he spoke and Martyna leant back, away from his projectile spittle. Earlier, she’d though that Ryan might be worth a shag. Funerals always made her horny and he wasn’t in bad shape for his age. But then he’d started on the beer. Then the strong lager. And now he was knocking back cheap whisky – the Weatherspoon’s pub they were in had a two-for-one deal on.
He was becoming an embarrassment. She could see the bearded bloke who was having lunch with his son watching them. The boy couldn’t stop giggling.
‘Oh shit,’ said Ryan.
He looked pale. He jerked to his feet and ran. He burst through the toilet door but he didn’t make it to a toilet cubicle before he puked and then he slipped in the stuff as he struggled to get to the toilet bowl. A group of guttersnipes were stood outside the cubicle filming him with their iPhones. Laughing and taunting.
He wished he hadn’t given in to temptation. He wished a lot of things. He tried to stand but slipped and cracked his head on the toilet bowl.
Ryan trudged through the dark fog into consciousness. His head hurt. His mouth felt arid. He peeled open his eyes and saw that he must have been in hospital because there was a doctor stood over him. A tall man with a silver beard. He wondered who the giggling kid next to him was. It was a strange scene, to be sure.
Still, at least he was in safe hands.