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The Antique Game (part 9) - CAPITAL TALES

Beckett had reached the back pages of the newspaper and was the various excuses as to why the English national football team had been humiliated by a “surprise” defeat at Wembley at the hands of some part-time team of Bulgarian bicycle workers. The Bulgars were over on a goodwill visit, what with all this talk about Communism being on the verge of going down the bog.

Completely ignoring the traffic lights, Bill suddenly slewed the frog green and rust van to a halt halfway into a busy intersection. The blare of horns grew louder as, panting and slobbering, he struggled to wind down his window.

“Oy, darlin’,” he bellowed, “come on the, show us yer tits. Fwaaaar!”

Beckett cringed lower in his seat. He lifted the newspaper to cover his face. Then, Bill’s urge for conversation with strangers evidently satisfied, the van lurched through the still red light.

Beckett glanced at the rearview mirror and caught a passing glimpse of the victim of Bill’s smooth line of patter.

“Bill,” Beckett said wearily, “that was a fuckin’ nun.”

“Fwaar. Fuckin’ nuns, eh? That’s the way I like ‘em.”

He glanced at Beckett and saw the look of disgust on his face.

“Look,” he pleaded, “I didn't mean nuffink, did I. They all got the same gear down under them ‘abits as any uvver tart, y'know.”

They drove in silence for a few minutes. Bill tried the radio but all it picked up was static and then a hymn service from some local church. This seemed to Beckett to be the ineffectual hand of God at work again.

“’Ere,” Bill said at length, “you fink there’ll be anyfink worth nickin’ at this gaff we’re goin’ to?”

“Listen whale boy,” Beckett said, pulling himself to sit upright in his seat and fixing Bill with a hard stare, “you so much as think about touching anything in any of these places we’re working, and you’ll get one of them power tools you’re so fond of right up the jacksie.”

His voice was thick with menace.

“Let’s make for certain sure you understand, alright? There will be no thieving on the job." He snatched a Black and Decker from the floor well and wagged it under Bill's nose. "Now, am I making myself fucking clear?”

Bill who, for all his size, was basically a big, blubbery coward, shrunk back against the drivers side window. Well, he tried to at least.

“Awright, awright then,” he said, “I didn’t mean nuffink, I was jus’ sayin’ that’s all.”

His eyes were suddenly brimming. Beckett thought the big lard arse might actually cry and had himself a bit of a chuckle. This only served to terrorize Bill further, who suddenly feared he might be in the company of a giggling psycho.

“Now you just do like I says and behave.” Beckett admonished as if talking to an errant ten-year-old. “There’s way more dosh at stake here than whatever you think you can stuff into your pockets while the buggers ain’t lookin’.”