This is the seventh part of a fiction serial, in 795 words. **May contain swearing!**
Nicky ran back to the car flushed with his deal. He had even left the sports bag with the black geezers, and was holding a wad of cash. My feeling was that he had just had a lucky escape from being stabbed, or worse, and his gear stolen. But he wasn’t listening to me of course, he never did.
“Take me up to Camberwell Grove, Paul. I’m in the mood to see Big Irene”.
I had never met Big Irene, but had heard enough about her to know that she was a forty-something woman on the game, famous for the gigantic tits that gave her the name ‘Big’. To be honest, I couldn’t understand why Nicky would want to pay a prossie probably thirty quid for sex, when his lovely wife Patsy was waiting at home. But it wasn’t up to me to reason why. When I dropped him outside Irene’s flat, he gave me double fare for what I had earned running him around. I told him there was no need, but he was flush with money, and feeling magnanimous.
With Nicky obviously staying for the night, I called up the cab firm on the radio, and worked until almost six in the morning.
The next night when I got to his place, Patsy let me in. “Nicky’s not here, Paul. He’s on the missing list since he went out with you last night. Sit down, I’ll make you a bacon sandwich, I already had dinner with the kids”.
Not knowing what to say, I said nothing, and ate my bacon sandwich. I was enjoying sitting alone with the woman I would have happily died for, and I was reluctant to get into the question of Nicky’s infidelities. As it turned out, she wasn’t that concerned. “He does this a lot, couple of times a month. I know he always comes home eventually, that’s the way of life with Nicky”.
They were both five years older than me, and had been together since school, aged fourteen. I might have sat there wondering why she tolerated him and his lifestyle, but I could never have penetrated almost fifteen years of them being together. When Patsy offered me another cup of tea, I said yes of course, and heard myself offering to go out after and find him. I told her I could retrace my steps to where I had last dropped him off, but didn’t mention where that had been.
Obviously, I went to Camberwell Grove first, and knocked on Big Irene’s door. She presumed I was there for business, held out her hand and said, “Thirty before I let you in. I see the money before you see my tits”. When I told her I was looking for Nicky, she blew smoke in my face from her cigarette, and shrugged. “He couldn’t manage it, darling. He left twenty minutes after he turned up. I ain’t got a clue where he went after that”.
My next port of call should have been the two black guys in Deptford, but no way was I going to get into it with them. So I bit the bullet and went to see Shaughnessy in the Ancient Foresters. The barmaid told me he was in the Southwark Park Tavern, Billy Tarrant’s pub. That was only two minutes away, so I drove there.
Mickey was at the bar with his older brother. He was already drunk, and making a lot of noise. He ignored me when I walked in, so I sloped up to the side of the bar and asked Billy if he had seen Nicky. “Greek Nicky? Nah, he hasn’t been in. If I see him I will say you are looking for him”. Billy had been a face in his time, and was now trying to just be a pub owner. But the old boys wouldn’t let him go, and he now had to suffer free drinks for the Shaughnessys, for as long as they stayed in his pub.
As I was trying to creep out, Mickey spotted me. “Hey, driver! Come and have a drink”. I knew I couldn’t leave until he was happy, so insisted on buying him and his brother a Scotch. Billy charged me for them, I knew he would, no complaints. Mickey’s brother ignored me as if I didn’t exist, but Mickey was on me, worryingly friendly. With a strong arm around me, he spoke close to my face, whisky breath overwhelming me.
“What are you up to here, then?”
I told him I was looking for Nicky, as he had gone on the missing list since last night. But he just laughed.
“Billy, give the boy a Scotch. Do you know this one? He’s just the driver”.