Straight out of Genesis we were, me and me brother. You’d know me Ma was a Holy Joe, who else’d call their twins Adam and Evan? They were always slagging us in school over it. I never minded but it used to wreck Evan’s head. Mind you, I think it was having me as a brother that upset him more than anything. The teachers used to say that the Wright brothers were Evan and ‘The Wrong Brother’.
He stopped talking to me when we were about fourteen, never spoke to me since. Got thick when I hopped on a girl he was chasing. Stuck up little bitch thought she was a cut above everyone – all them ones from Firhouse are the same. She told me to fuck off when I asked her for a smoke, so I battered her. I got expelled over it and blew Evan’s chances. Not that she was the type to ever look at anyone from our estate. Even in Tallaght, people from Ballycrath are looked on like the Nigerians and the Pikeys.
None of it matters now. We’ve all moved on. I was twenty-five there last month. Celebrations were on ice though, had a few issues needed sorting. I’m in business –pharma. You know yourself — global business it is, big dollar.
The boss is a class act, never seen anything like him. He met Pablo years back in Boggerta or whatever the fuck you call it. Think something rubbed off on him. He predicts the future so he does – knows what’s going to take off and where and when. Could spot the market opening up in Manchester two years before their main gang was wiped out. Owns the streets there now he does. Along with the half of Europe!
I’m based in Manchester now so I am. Only go back to Dublin when I need to.
Before I go on, and in case you think I’m like your man Buffet or anything, I’m no bigwig hob-knob. I had to work hard to get to where I am. Me Da was always in and out of the nick so you could say he trained me in a way, but I still had to put in the hours. Evan was the one with the brains. Always had his head buried in the books so he did. Worked part-time and did the leaving, then went on to Trinity to do a degree and then one of them masters degrees. He was nearly finished the masters thing when all this happened. If only he’d have let me help.
Me Ma was diagnosed with MS a few years ago. Evan wouldn’t hear of anyone being brought in as her carer so he took on the role himself. Fit it in with college and his part-time job in Paddy Power’s. Like Mother fucking Theresa so he was, doing up the sitting room downstairs for her when she couldn’t use the stairs anymore. She’s crippled with it, so he had to feed and dress her. Mad shit. Imagine washing your own mother! Rotten.
Me Da walked out when we were 15, ran off with a young one from around the corner. Knocked her up with twins. She has about ten kids now, black, white and Chinky- more nationalities than a Just Eat menu. Da left her when she had the twins and hooked up with some mad Ukrainian one. Crazy fucker she was. Smashed a Playstation over his head one night and him asleep. He’s still serving time for what he did to her after.
There wasn’t much to keep me in the gaff after Da moved out. I lived here and there – smelly sofas and pissy bedsits. All me gear fitted into an old Diadora bag. Then I got sorted with a minter of an apartment in Fairview. You’d want to see the parties! Have a few lads living in it now. They’re selling a bit for me: bringing in a few k’s a week, nothing much, it’s just there’s a few regulars I like to keep sweet. Suits – head honchos in a bank they are. Paranoid posh cunts always asking for it delivered “smooth and seamless”. Smooth and fucking seamless is the name of the game boys! Serious cash they have though all the same. Huge gaffs in Ranelagh and top of the range jeeps. They’re pure hoovers too- a few ounces a week is no bother to them.
Don’t get me wrong, just because I moved out of me Ma’s gaff doesn’t mean I stopped caring. There’s a neighbour across the road from Ma that keeps me up to speed on what the story is in the gaff. She has a son in the same game as me so she knows the score and I throw her a few quid for keeping an eye on the place.
Things would have been different, if me Ma had let me give her money like I offered. I don’t know how many times I tried to give her the cash to cover her medicine and to get her a top Doctor. I even said I’d get a stair lift put in the gaff and sort Evan out with a car so he could bring her around. It would have saved him bringing that fucking wheelchair on the bus everywhere. Load of bollocks wheeling her about in that thing, I’d say. But no, they refused – well she did. Said she wouldn’t touch drug money. She point blank disowned me since the last time I was locked up. The fella I stabbed was innocent, but in fairness, he was the image of my target. Innocent mistake on my part. God rest him.
It’s not an easy life I have being on-call 24/7 to deal with the shit that comes up. I could get a call in the middle of the night about raids in Dublin or arms seizures – you name it. Was at a party there a while back and I’m not lying to you when I say I got five calls over separate hits. That’s five bleedin problems whizzing around in my head before your one’s even cut her cake.
The boss has faith in me. Promoted me there a while back. ‘Veni, vidi, vici’ it says on a gold mural beside his pool in Marbella, so when he sat me down and told me that he wanted me to step up and look after the finance end of things, I took it on as my motto too.
I started to think all military about it. It’s the only way you do well in this business. Think of El Chapo and the Sinaola cartel – he wrote the fucking rulebook on it. It’s all about the people, he said. Assemble your core unit, keep them close, know what they’re eating for breakfast, who’s the Mrs and who’s the mistress.
When I got promoted, I based myself in Dublin at the weekends, partied with mates, hung around with lads over here and was eagle-eyed about how they behaved. Like a copper I was. “Trust no one” Da always said to me as a kid, “trust no one”, so his words were always knocking about inside my head.
I wanted to know how they’d behave after a weeklong session, if they could pull themselves together when you needed them, how they’d react if you moved them to the Dam in the morning, who was intelligent and who was just stupid and loyal. Stupid loyal cunts are the ones who’ll die for you. They’re also the ones with soft judgment because they’re all heart and no brain.
Clever cunts, on the other hand, are the ones you need if you want a pull off a decent deal. The flip side is, they have a mad independent streak and they’re always getting notions – thinking they can do it all on their own, wanting their own gig. That’s when they’re a threat.
Then there are just mad cunts that get mixed up and would do anything for anyone. Sound blokes but fucked up on the powder or wrecked by the drink. This game affects people in different ways. You hear the old stories about Provos going off the head and becoming alchos or wife beaters when their service finished. It’s a stress and pressure game. Only the fittest survive. The system doesn’t beat people like us. We beat the system. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do. And I was winning my battles until this shit went down.
It kicked off last year. A little prick from Crumlin got greedy. Got flash and didn’t come good on a debt. I had him taken out – I can’t be having mouthy liabilities floating around. His brother went off the rails over it and took out a lad of mine from Ballyer. “Quid, pro, quo”, he texted me, before your man was even cold.
I don’t need that kind of shit on my plate, so I had a few of his cousins sorted. Enough is enough. No texts from me, just a few stiff cousins. He was put under Garda 24 hour protection. They told him, he was on our hit list. That kept him quiet until this. No protection’s going to save the prick now.
That’s what being in this business is about – responsibility. The minute I landed back in Dublin, I heard one of my lads had been shot. He’d been wearing a vest, but a bullet entered his temple and he wasn’t going to make it. I called for more heads. I had to. Nobody was going to rub it in my face.
My orders were followed and one target became two became three. There was only one arrest — a fool of driver, got a getaway car stuck in gear and got hauled in. He’s one of the loyal types of stupid cunts I mentioned. He didn’t give them anything, but still, I would have preferred a clean sheet.
All my shooters walked away. Led to a heap of raids around the Inner City with a few k’s lost here and there, guns and a few scrotes – but that’s to be expected isn’t it? Operating losses. Couldn’t even cost up what was seized but we lost no one important. Until the following week…. Then all fucking hell broke loose.
A 2k hire from Pimlico went and shot the wrong bloke. Took an 18-year-old kid out of it on his way home from his first day of his fucking apprenticeship. Poor bastard has a kid on the way. That kind of incompetence can’t be tolerated. The shooter went on the run but was traced down in Liverpool the next day. “He was wearing the same red jumper I was told to look for”, he cried before his twenty-five years were wiped out with a wheel brace. The lads said he pissed himself when he saw the brace coming for him. I can’t feel sorry for him after what he did to that kid.
So, the papers were lapping up the story of the apprentice, and do you know what, I can’t blame them. That poor lad did nothing on no one. He didn’t deserve what he got. I’d love to have paid for his funeral, but for obvious reasons, I can’t, you know yourself.
Which is why I was happy that there was a serious shipment en-route. It’d make up for lost revenue and restore a bit of stability to the streets. The zen of coke! The heat the Filth were putting on suspect’s houses would take their eyes off the ports for a while.
So on the eve of the shipment, after a long day of calls and what-have-you, I went over to Ballycrath just to do a drive-by of me Ma’s gaff. I always do it when I’m in Dublin – not sure why, but I always do. The place was in darkness and the door was wide open. I got me driver to let me out around the corner and I knocked in. I called at the door, no answer, so in I went.
The smell hit me first, fucking vile it was. The house smelled like a jacks. When I opened the door to the sitting room, I was my stomach heaved. The flicker of a streetlight caught her eyes. She was wrapped in a bundle of blankets in an armchair. Faded away to nothing she was, just a bag of bones, reeking of shit.
“Ma, what’s going on? Where’s Evan?” She mumbled a response that I couldn’t make out.
“Ma, where is he? How long have you been like this?”
Again, a mumble that I couldn’t make out. She was shaking.
I was fit to burst him. The selfish little student prick! How could he glory in pretending to be her carer and leave her in this mess? Numbed by the stench, I headed to the kitchen to call some of the lads and get a search out on him. But there was no need.
There he was. Stretched across the tiles, a line of hardened blood like a halo around his head – or what remained of it. The gunshot had blown most of it onto the wall behind the sink. On the front of his cardigan, a post-it read “quid, pro, quo”.
Gráinne Daly holds an MA in Creative Writing from UCD. Shortlisted for the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Prize, Maeve Binchy UCD Award and winner of Greywood Arts Prize 2017, her work has been published in a number of publications, including Southword Magazine and Ogham Stone Journal. She has just completed her debut novel.