A little over a month later, and still no sign of either a record deal or a rich girlfriend, Beckett executed his usual blear-eyed dance out of the station to find that Mario’s kaff was not a haven, but rather a burned-out derelict.
He muttered a curt “fuck” at the inconvenience as he passed the gutted corpse of Mario’s kaff and headed up the high street in search of another breakfast oasis. He wondered whether Mario’s protection had been terminated due to non-payment. Maybe a rival gang were “leafleting” the area.
In the end, the nearest kaff that served a good, artery-clogging fry-up was only about half a mile further down Kilburn High Street. Mario’s regulars crouched there over their plates like survivors on a plane wing.
Beckett sat backwards on his chair, a vulture on a tombstone. He dragged a nicotine-stained finger through the spilled ketchup and sugar on the tabletop, tracing the routes of lost explorers. O’Brien sat opposite him, bolt upright, like one of Satan’s garden gnomes. He watched Beckett’s finger move through the muck on the table. A waitress slouched up slid a plate of greasy fry-up in front of O’Brien who snatched up his knife and fork and began hacking at the sausage and chips. As Beckett watched he took his fingers safely away from the tabletop.
“I’ve been thinking,” Beckett said at length, “about us getting in on the old protection racket.”
O’Brien waited until his mouth was stuffed with food before he spoke.
“You must be fuckin’ joking. We’d end up as part of a flyover or somethin’ if we tried that lark round here.”
“Ah, but I wasn’t thinking of doing it round here was I?”
“Well where were you thinking then?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I was thinking of like keeping the whole thing more on what you might call a personal level. Friends. And family, like”.
He leaned forward over the table and raised an eyebrow at the suddenly gob-smacked O’Brien.
“Here,” he said, “your old Mom and Dad. They live over Enfield way don’t they?”
O’Brien stopped chewing and stared back at Beckett. Menace glittered in the crystalline blue depths of his eyes.
“You so much as think about goin’ anywhere near my old Mom and Dad and I’m not fuckin’ kiddin’ I’ll have you kneecapped.”
Beckett held up his hands,
“Alright, alright. There’s no need to take on so. I was just sayin’ that’s all.”
“And I’m just sayin’ I’ll have you crippled is all.” O’Brien stated matter-of-factly.
Beckett spooned more sugar into the half-empty cup of cold tea before him. He frowned in mock-concentration as he stirred the swill.
“But you always told me you hated your Mom and Dad.”
O’Brien stabbed at a sausage on his plate. He held it up in front of Beckett’s face and very deliberately sawed it in half. As the half sausage fell back onto the plate and spattered baked bean juice across the table O’Brien raised an eyebrow of his own, and asked,
“Am I making myself clear?”
“As fuckin’ daylight.” Beckett grumbled.
Causes Luke James Supports
Doctors Without Borders