Grit- Hangover

Fairweather friends were not something he was interested in any more – they left him with a sense that he had been fucked over and that there was a debt unsettled; it was something he was uneasy with. He knew people and that was as far as it went – as far as he was interested in allowing it to go.

Drinking got boring after a while – what was it they said? If the hangover seemed to last longer than the night of drinking then it was time to knock it on the head. Dopeheads were not people he wanted to hang out with either – who the hell wanted to talk about weed until the sun came up? He’d smoked some and sure it was pleasant but he couldn’t get into the attendant obsession with talking about it that all the users he knew had.

People told him that he was anti-social; that he needed to get a life – but if the bullshit he saw on display on a regular basis constituted getting a life then he was sure as hell not interested. He’d once thought of himself as a misanthrope but that took too much effort – he’d much rather avoid everyone; only interact when it was necessary. So, what was he doing here? He wasn’t sure that he could rightly say – sometimes you feel the need to dip your toe in the water again – this was that.

He sat there with the bottle of cheap red wine between his feet, the corkscrew in his hand, and he wondered what had been going through his own head to bring him to this particular train of thought. Was it the wine making him melancholy like it usually did? Or was it the slow dawning of a realisation?

This guy that was sitting next to him was annoying and he wondered exactly how long had he been yapping in his ear about nothing? A long time it seemed – too long. He was fed up. He turned to this verbose individual and stared at him – the kind of stare you would give to a lump of shit stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Most people understood that look and removed themselves from his vicinity – this one was obviously not quite that bright: he tried to stare Grit down.

Whether or not he was anti-social, it was most definitely true of Grit that he was a violent man. He was not without patience though – he characterised himself as having a slow-burning fuse; meaning in his own mind that he didn’t act rashly. He could think on his feet as well as the next man, but very rarely would he act off an impulse – that was the kind of thing that got you into trouble.

He hefted the corkscrew in his hand – tiny little thing capable of so much damage. He could stab this bastard and be out of there before anyone noticed. Would people know that it was him? No, why would they? There were enough violent people here for him to get away with hurting someone.

‘Please be quiet; I am trying to think,’ he said, barely turning his head to acknowledge the guy.

‘What? What the fuck’s your problem? Fuck you – I’ll speak where and when I want.’

Grit smiled to himself – oh well, he kind of knew that it was going to play out like that, just having listened to the guy for long enough. Some people you didn’t have to be a psychologist to understand – they wore their attitudes on their sleeve. This one was simply a prick and whatever was said to him would provoke a prickish response. Grit could have left it alone – could have – but didn’t want to. He wanted to needle the guy, push him, see what he would do. Ah, okay, so that wasn’t exactly true – Grit intended to get a reaction out of him so he could have an excuse to take him apart. He swallowed the smile.

‘I’m asking you nicely, but if you insist on being a prick about it we can do this some other way.’

‘Fuck you.’

‘One more polite request and then we’re done with the good manners.’

‘Fuck your polite request in the arse.’

Grit for a second thought how his violence was like a vampire – you had to invite it in. He didn’t like doing things like this that would not bring him some revenue, but sometimes he’d make exceptions; sometimes he went looking for it like every other predator. Although he had been thinking about the corkscrew he hadn’t actually intended to use it and when he pulled it back from punching the guy in the head and had pulled an eyeball with it he had been just as surprised as his victim. The guy started screaming as soon as the brief moment that shock gifted him with had worn off, but Grit was already at the door. Shit – what a stupid fucking thing to do. He looked down at his feet, looked at his hands – the left one covered up to the wrist in blood, and noticed that he still had the corkscrew with the eyeball on the end of it. He lobbed it over his shoulder back towards the house.

Damn – he was going to have to lay low for a while because of this. He was hoping the fact that he was at a party and everyone seemed either stoned or drunk would severely cut down on the number of reliable witnesses. He hoped that he looked as anonymous as he thought he did – that he blended into the background; not many people had talked to him, so that would of course limit the number of people likely to step forward and mention him.

Man, if he hadn’t got too far away – walking quicker than he realised – he would want to go back and do it all again – this was going to cost him. Laying low meant no money which meant hard times which meant when he resurfaced he was going to have take some shit job that he wouldn’t normally touch with a bargepole. Fucking stupid bastard. He was banking on the shock of losing an eye debilitating his main witness and if not he didn’t think it would be too hard to track him down and finish what he’d started.

He stopped off at the local off-licence and picked himself up some more booze – two bottles of Glenfiddich, some dark rum, and a six pack of cheap beer. Time to get wasted. If he was going to have a hangover in the morning he might as well make it a memorable one. Couldn’t be any worse than the one from that bloody party.

Grit: Allowance

He pressed the muzzle into the back of her neck – he was watching her face in the mirror and he saw her bite her lip because it was hot. He’d just shot it into the air to put the shits up her and he knew it had worked. Her eyes were liquid but he knew that she wouldn’t cry in front of him – he’d dealt with her before. They’d both been around the block and they had both worked for different people whose line of work had meant that their paths had crossed on more than one occassion. She’d generally been on the wrong end of a shafting and he had been the mouthpiece of whatever bastard it was that had her over a barrel. Part of him wondered if she ever learned from her mistakes; part of him didn’t care.
Sure, she moved around and got into bed with different business partners, but these people she gravitated towards were all the same at the end of the day — everyone else could see that they weren’t to be trusted, so why couldn’t she?
‘We’ve been here before, Sheila, haven’t we?’
‘Yes, Grit, you know we have.’
‘And every single time you have managed to worm your way out of being shot.’
‘Yep. Never did make much sense to me – I know you don’t like me like that, and I know you very rarely have any sympathy for anyone, so what is it? See something of yourself in me, maybe?’
‘Recognise something of your mother in me, perhaps?’
‘Shit, Sheila, you knew that old bitch – if you reminded me of her I’d shoot you dead on the spot; might even get some kind of substitute sense of vengeance from it.’
‘So, can we work it out? We always do, don’t we?’
‘Not this time – I know you don’t have the money; I have a healthy balance in my bank account because I agreed to take you out, and Tommy Genoa is not Mick Spiner. Mick Spiner was a pussy and Tommy isn’t.’
‘Got you scared, huh? Never thought I’d see the day.’
‘Ah, well, then you don’t know much, Sheila. In this line of work I’m scared all the time – makes me sensible; gives me an edge too. Only fools aren’t scared or idiots that don’t have anything to lose – I like myself so I try to keep a hold.’
‘I have someone waiting to shoot you through the head, Grit. Soon as your finger tightens on the trigger.’
‘Didn’t we do this before as well? So this is what they call deja vu, eh? I hope it’s not the same muppet as last time. That dozy fucker couldn’t hit a blue whale from point blank range.’
‘No – he is no longer in my employ. This guy’s French – you may have heard of him – Difficile.’
‘No kidding? I am slightly impressed. But I bet he didn’t tell you about his drink problem, did he?’
‘Oh yeah, shakes like an epileptic under a strobe light when he’s dry and how long’s he been dry?’
‘Fuck indeed, Sheila. Fuck indeed. You know that I don’t usually spend this long nattering? That I generally just blow someone’s brains out and leave?’
‘I enjoy the special treatment.’
‘Not this time.’
‘Come on, Grit, if you were going to do it it would have been done already. You know you don’t want to kill me – for whatever reason, and I think it may be that you actually see someone like you sat in front of you, you can’t do it. Give them the money back and walk away from it.’
He lifted the muzzle from the back of her neck. For a second she looked down and not directly at the mirror – he stepped back into the shadows and he was gone.

Grit: Sonshine 1

Twenty years ago he made a mistake – another mistake; some of them evaporate in an instance and the rest of them hang around to dog you ever after. Grit tried not to make too many mistakes because the ones he did make were fucking momentous. How the hell could he shake this one off? He never wanted a son; he never embarked on that path, and if the bitch had let him know he would have told her to get shot of it.
‘So, son, what exactly do you want from me?’
‘To get to know you.’
‘I’ll be honest, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. I mean I live, by most standards, a pretty fucked up life, and it’s just not safe to bring anyone else in on that.’
‘I know about you.’
‘Oh, and what do you think you know about me? What your mother told you? Son, I can tell you that whatever she thought she knew about me was pretty limited. I never spoke about my work to anyone; especially not someone that I was having a casual affair with. Why? Because it was dangerous for them and it would complicate things for me. I just don’t need the aggravation.’
‘That’s what you see me as?’
‘Yeah, it is. I don’t know what the hell you were expecting but this was never going to be some great touchy-feely reunion. Shit, from what little your mother did say she must have painted a picture of me that was in some way accurate? That I am, at heart, a cold heartless bastard who would sell his own mother out in an instant.’
‘She did say something along those lines, yeah.’
‘But you thought she might just be bitter about me leaving her high and dry, and you’d come and see for yourself, eh?’
‘Yeah, that’s about it.’
‘Well, she wasn’t being bitter – she was being honest. She never hunted me down in all these years and it isn’t that hard – look how easy you found me. Now, bearing that in mind you have to ask yourself why that was the case? The simple answer is because she knew that it was a bad idea to have kids around someone like me.’
‘But I’m not a kid anymore.’
‘Yes, son – you are. Juts because you have some hair on your balls it doesn’t make you a man, and most men are underqualified to exist in the world that I live in – you have to be a fucking monster everyday to survive. You don’t want that for yourself, and I don’t want to have worry about someone who I put in a place that they never belonged. What do you do with yourself most days?’
‘I paint. I’m studying art at college.’
‘Good – go back to it. Fuck off and never come back here again – this place is not for you.’
Grit got up and he left the cafe; walked away and did not look back once.

Grit: Fix 1

He looked into his son’s hollow eyes; saw the pooling fetid blackness of a decayed dream there and knew that without doubt it was his fault that the kid was so irredeemably fucked up. He was not a good father and he never had been – he hadn’t been interested; hadn’t wanted him in the first place; and now looking at the sorry sack of shit he was faced with he wished he could be rid of him and didn’t feel a nagging sense of duty.
A fucking junky – well, he supposed in some sick and twisted way it was what he deserved. Sure, he knew some people would say that he was being an egocentric prick to think that this was all happening to him, and for him not to be concerned with what was going on with his son at the moment, but they could go fuck themselves, what did they know?
When he’d seen the number flash on his mobile he had briefly considered not bothering to answer it – his son was never good news. He let it ring for a while but it became obvious that he was just going to get pestered by the little bastard. His son didn’t have anyone else, so what was he going to do? Grit had obviously given him the number for some reason, though on days like this he couldn’t for the life of him think why.
In his time Grit had seen drugs do a lot of damage and they were never something that he was interested in – drugs made you sloppy and in his line of work that was something that you couldn’t afford. His tea-total attitude had given him the edge on more than one occassion.
He grabbed Faron’s arm and pulled him up – he moaned as if it caused him some pain, and Grit wouldn’t have been too surprised if that were true; there was no meat on the boy’s bones. He was like a skeleton.
He wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to do with the kid but he knew that whatever it was it was not going to be easy on either of them. He’d seen people go cold turkey on the inside and it wasn’t something he would wish on anyone, and some of those guys were real hard cases – Faron wasn’t. To see someone who knew had shot the knee-caps off people crying and screaming for their mothers was distinctly disturbing. People would shout at them when they made so much noise but half of the inmates had some kind of intimate understanding of the workings of an addiction, so they didn’t put much heart into it.
So, he had some idea what he was signing on for. He had a couple of ideas of where he might stash Faron while he was coming off. He had a few ideas of the people he might be talking to in order to scare them off of his son.

Grit: Total Fuck-Up 1

A job gone bad – you can tell pretty quickly when something is going to go pear-shaped. He’d had a bad feeling about this one from the get go and he knew he should have just handed back the money and walked away. What had kept him there? Professional pride, greed, something else? Shit, he wished he could have said. Hindsight being twenty-twenty was fuck all use to him in the here and now. You could be philosophical about how you had fucked up and why but that did nothing to sort the problem out – if indeed there was any way to sort the problem out.
The intel had been ropey and some things had just not seemed to add up, and he still went ahead with it? Was he losing his edge? Had he lost it? This was not something that was easily going to unfuck itself. You couldn’t apologise your way out of killing the wrong person; and you definitely couldn’t do that when the person whose brain matter was sprayed all over the inside of the limousine you had just shot full of holes was one of your client’s nearest and dearest.
She wasn’t supposed to be there. He hadn’t seen her, and it wasn’t as if he had just blundered in – this was what he liked to think of as a carefully co-ordinated operation. Carefully co-ordinated, my arse, he thought – you stupid old cunt you may as well just put that gun to your head and blow your own brains out.
He’d killed youngsters before; killed women (the odd cheating wife), but he had never been asked and never wanted to, and never would have agreed to kill a child.
Did the person who gave him his instructions know the deal? Had they duped him into killing this kid? A fucking five year old – he gagged; felt the bile rise in the back of his throat. If someone came after him for this – correction, when someone came after him for this, part of him was going to be wondering whether or not to just let them get on with it. Accident or not this kind of thing just called for revenge.
Staring at the mirror, breathing heavily, can’t stand the sight of himself, and – bang, fist through the mirror. Seven years bad luck. And how much bad luck do you get for killing a child?

Grit: Bling 1

This was his first time in New York and he liked it – liked the size of it; liked the loudness of it. He sensed that the place had some kind of kinship with London; wondered whether that wasn’t true of all these big places. He wasn’t sure yet about the flashiness of some parts – they struck him pretty much in the same way that the flashy parts of London did: necessary, sure, but not his cup of tea. At least the fucking trains here seemed to run on time, so that was something, wasn’t it?
He believed that you could travel anywhere and different classes and kinds of people were going to be pretty much the same – that thinking had served him pretty well so far. Not that he judged people too much – he was open to being surprised; he’d been surprised a lot, and sometimes those surprises were the thing which kept him alive.
He’d been brought over on an all expenses padi trip to off one of the biggest mob bosses on the East Coast. They would usually farm the job out to someone within their operation but this one was hard – the guy that they wanted to off seemed to have his fingers in every single pie going; he was that most impossible and annoying of things if you were a hitman or a soldier wanting to move up in the ranks – an untouchable.
Untouchable? Grit doubted it somehow, but that was how he had been sold. He generally found that the people who described someone as untouchable were to hidebound by the routines they had lived their lives within for the past however long it was – he would walk in and ten seconds after bringing a fresh pair of eyes to the situation he had answers that knew wouldn’t have occured to the people contracting him in a million years.
Part of him wanted to make this trip last as long as possible – he wanted to savour the atmosphere of the place; soak it up; but the whole thing of maximum deniability meant he couldn’t take any pictures or anything. He walked through Central Park early in the morning with the mist hanging in the air and there was truly something magical about it – he could understand why so many film directors wanted to find a way to work it into their scripts.
He did the Empire State Building, hit some of the museums, the Strand Book Store – he really enjoyed himself. How long was it since he had some downtime like this? Something that really seemed to recharge the batteries?
Well, it couldn’t last – that much he knew; he had come here to work and he was on someone else’s dime, as they said. Had to pay his way by shedding some blood – and once he had shifted gears and begun to think about that everything else seemed suddenly hollow. He knew that was a distancing mechanism, and a useful one, but some small part mourned the way he had felt when he first got here.

Grit: Mockney 1

It meant something once – but, like everything, popular culture had taken a big long piss over all of it and watered it down to shit. Within the sound of the Bow Bells – that’s what it took to make you a Cockney, not knowing a bit of rhyming slang and having a sloppy London or Essex accent. This bunch of cunts that were coming up nowadays didn’t only not have any respect for tradition, they just didn’t know anything about it.
They were all flash and nothing else – style over substance. Sure, there had been some of that early on, but those guys had been weeded out pretty sharpish. They’d come in being all mouthy and they would get on the wrong side of someone that was a real hard man, not just someone who had watched a few good gangster movies, and then they’d be on the floor scrabbling about trying to pick up the mouthful of teeth they’d just lost.
If Grit had a problem with an organisation it was generally with one these dumb fucks. Barry Mitchell was just one in a long line – he had taken it upon himself to decide what was what and if he saw you and he thought you needed educating he would try and go about it. Barry had beaten badly on more than one occassion and Grit couldn’t work out for the life of him why anyone would want such a liability kicking about. Barry wasn’t good for business. Barry either had something on Hutchinson or there was some kind of undisclosed family connection.
‘Hey, shithead, what’re you looking at?’
Grit looked up from his pint.
‘Yeah, you – what’s your name? Gripe? Who the fuck do you think you are? You walk around here like you own the place, acting likee you’re hot shit or something; well, I don’t think you’re anything special.’
‘Fair enough. Now if you don’t mind, Mr Mitchell, I am trying to have a quiet drink.’
‘Mr Mitchell, I am trying to have a quiet drink. Well, what if I say you’re not allowed to have a quiet drink, Grope?’
One of Mitchell’s companions came up and put his hand on his arm.
‘Barry, come and sit down – leave him alone.’
‘You’d be wise to do what your friend is telling you to do.’
‘Be wise, would I? I want you to step outside,’ he said and then spat in Grit’s face.
Grit took out his handkerchief and wiped away the spit. He finished his drink and then in a move that surprised Barry and those stood around with its speed, he broke the neck off the bottle, and he stabbed it into the obnoxious prick’s throat. Mitchell fell to the floor clutching his neck, curses trying to bubble out of his blood filled mouth. Grit stepped over him and walked out.
This wasn’t good – even if he did have good reason to do what he’d done, he had just killed his present employer’s pet and in front of people, and without getting paid for it. Not good at all.