The following excerpt is from my upcoming 3rd novel, Head Boy and contains strong language.
Strutting along Bellshill main street Davie Diller kicked a discarded Coke can under the wheels of a buggy causing one of the rear tyres to suffer a slash as it crushed the can underneath. It was unintended but Diller took satisfaction from the sound of the tyre bursting anyway. The young mum, fag in hand, black leggings-cum-tights straining to contain her blubbery legs, continued on without noticing the puncture.
As he neared Bellshill Academy, Diller took a hard drag on what remained of his cigarette and tossed it with a flick at the heels of a pensioner who faced away from him. Diller didn’t need the hassle being seen smoking near the school grounds brought from teachers today, he had enough on his plate. Dressed in denims, shirt and tie and wearing a new pair of Adidas Superstar 2 trainers, Diller shoved his way through the double doors of the formerly boys only entrance. He fully expected a few snide comments about his appearance from some of the staff, but his attitude unsurprisingly was fuck’em. Diller figured that the teachers would love to have the balls to turn up in school in decent attire instead of their ubiquitous, black shoes, troos, and ever so rebellious, patterned shirt and tie combo.
“Haw, Wee-man” Diller grabbed tightly on the arm of a third year he’d spotted hanging about at the door. “You better have something for me.”
Terror filling his eyes, the pupil stared nervously up at Diller. “Aye, I mean, yes. It’s here…”
“Right. Good.” Diller cut him off by snatching the small envelope the kid was offering out of his hand. Pushing the boy aside and pocketing the envelope, he painted a cheery smile on his face as Mr Oliphant passed. “Morning Mr Oliphant. Diller sing-songed at the passing Maths teacher.
Fumbling around in his briefcase, Oliphant, dressed in a tragic turquoise Asda shirt, tie and trouser combo didn’t manage to look up but grunted a distracted “Morning.”
Diller shook his head, wondering, not for the first time how a dozy old bastard like Olly managed to remember how to breathe in and out all day, never mind explain complex equations to his pupils. At least he had a nice way with him old Olly, unlike the majority of the arsehole teaching staff. Smiling to himself, Diller continued upstairs towards the English department and his first class.
“Morning Mr Diller.” Never far from the English department, Mr Bowie loomed at the end of the corridor. He had a gift for making a friendly morning greeting sound like an accusation. He made Mr Diller sound like arsehole.
Davie had been in Bowie’s class in fifth-year. It’d been one hell of a year. Bowie was never off his back, a total head-case. The simplest mistake, misspelling or breathing too loud some days, was enough to tip the man over the edge and into a rant about responsibility, carelessness etc. Obviously, this meant that Bowie was by far the best teacher in school to rip the pish out of, but Davie had learned to be circumspect in his efforts, no use giving him fuel for the fire of his outrage. Besides, in a school with seventy-odd teachers, Bowie was the only one who had seen past Davie’s outer-persona. He stared right through the intelligence, manners and faux-charm, straight into the devious and dangerous little shite who lived beneath the veneer of a dedicated pupil. Imagine Bowie’s joy when in Sixth year, as reward for all of his ‘consistently excellent contributions to the school’, Diller was made Head Boy.
Bowie seemed to have been a teacher at Bellshill academy forever. Having taught a lot of the kids in Diller’s Class parents, he was still here, having not evolved to the changing times one iota. How the hell can a teacher from the late seventies hope to understand what goes on in the mind of kids in the year 2013. With iPads, Kindle, internet, hell indoor toilets, it must be like the future to a guy like Bowie. Dressed in a brown suit, beige shirt, brown tie and tan-coloured shoes Bowie sported the only two things that marked him out even further as a man displaced from his own time. A great big, bushy, grey moustache and a Beatles-style bright ginger toupee. The fact that Bowie was onto him from first glance, combined with his appearance and the old man’s attempts to control him, quite simply made Bowie an irresistible target to Diller.
As Diller wasn’t late today, for once, that meant that he was probably overdue with an assignment. Without stopping, Diller pushed his way into the classroom and disappeared through the door, pretending he hadn’t heard. Prick.
First one here Diller noted as he entered the ancient-looking and smelling classroom. The wood panelled walls bore the carvings of generations of Bellshill Academy pupils ‘BYT’, Linda gies gobbles’ and other such displays of wit adorned the panels. The painted sections above the wood had faded from bright white, to dark brown over the decades. The polystyrene ceiling tiles, dotted with precariously hanging pencils and spit-formed balls of paper towel fragments added no ambience.
Taking his customary chair at the rear of the room, Diller stretched his legs, lifting them up and onto his desk and pulled his phone out to check on his Facebook page as he waited for the classroom to fill up. There’s wee Stacey sent me a message. She’s a wee dirty, that yin. Probably after her hole. Jabbing on the envelope icon to open the message, Diller confirmed his suspicions as to the contents of Stacey’s message. ‘U up 4 it the night, Davie?’ and quickly closed it again without replying, preferring to keep his options open. Tonight was a long way off, anything could happen between now and then. It was a school night, sure but Angels in Uddingston had a three hour happy hour tonight and it was calling his name.
Stacey, twenty-one year old receptionist at Cardinal Newman High, across the other end of town, had been a fuck-buddy of his for around six-months. She was sound as fuck. Always around when he took the notion; never needy for a wee cuddle or a kind word afterwards. They had to keep their liaisons quiet at any rate, due to the age difference. Diller suspected that Stacey was as bad as he was when it came to her attitude towards sexual partners, seeing them as little more than sex-aids. That was fine by him. A wicked grin crossed Diller’s face as he enjoyed a quick mental flashback to their last encounter together at her modest flat on Glebe street. Christ! That was a good night. Enjoying the afterglow of the memory, he re-opened the message and replied ;-). Sometimes words got you into trouble so a non-committal winking emoticon would keep those gates open without promising anything.
Just as Diller moved to thumb the off button, a significantly less welcome message vibrated through. Moving his finger to open it Diller’s heart sank at the name that appeared. ‘Big Hondo’.
Big Hondo was actually James Crosbie of Babylon Road. Sixty-eight years old with the muscle mass of a man half his age, Big Hondo stood well over six feet in height. A former steelworker, In the 90s Hondo had used his substantial redundancy money to set himself up at the forefront of the only thriving business Thatcher had left in the area, the drug business. Hondo also had the foresight and intelligence to attend university using the re-training wage kindly offered to the redundant men of Ravenscraig by Mrs T, graduating with a 2:1 in Business management.
Hondo attacked his new venture with the same commitment he had his degree at Uni, with the single-minded, fastidiousness that only mature students bring he implemented his detailed business plan; making a vast number of contacts abroad, establishing a supply chain, examining the logistics of his new enterprise, building a network of mules and street-corner/club dealers, armed with bags of…whatever. Hondo quite literally carved himself a huge slice of the drug trade pie in North and South Lanarkshire. In the process he employed violence more often than he employed new dealers.
Most folk in the area believe he gained the nickname ‘Hondo’ due to his love of all things Western-related. Permanently dressed in double-denim, cowboy boots, belt and Stetson, Hondo wasn’t difficult to spot in The Orb, a local pub, of an evening. The truth was that Hondo acquired his nickname from his enthusiastic use of the Bowie-knife, a cowboy’s favourite blade, as his favoured deal-maker and deal-breaker. Taking all of five years, Hondo had slashed, stabbed, throttled, drowned, bought, shagged, bribed, murdered and dealt his way to a position of power that had ultimately made him untouchable in Lanarkshire. Rumour had it that he had a fair few cops on his payroll, which Diller’s Dad said was rubbish. Drug-dealer propaganda he’d called it. Whatever the truth was, when it came to scoring some top-notch Charlie, Hondo was the man in Lanarkshire and the man was not to be fucked with.
Working with Big Hondo, was Wee Hondo, or Lionel, his son. Wee Hondo was if anything, even bigger than his Dad, but had none of the old man’s fierce intelligence, the only ferocity he displayed was with his fists. Growing up with Hondo as his father, immersed in the old man’s business, had made the boy as hard as rock. He didn’t need to be clever, the old boy took care of that, Wee Hondo was best utilised in the more physical side of the business. He was good at it and enjoyed it’s challenges immensely. Over the years, Wee Hondo had developed a reputation as a skilled remover of body parts. He could remove pretty much anything from a person whilst avoiding his victim bleeding out; so they said. A true chip off the old, blade-wielding, gonad-smashing block that was Big Hondo. It was true that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, but in Hondo’s case it had fallen with a pair of size fourteen, steel toe-capped boots, a pre-disposition towards torture and an evil grin. Big Hondo’s Dad, a wheelchair-bound ninety year old who smoked all day, dispensed larger deals to more trusted clients who visited their home and never left the house; completed the trio.
The Crosbies weren’t the small former-mining town’s only drug-dealers but the three men who made up their ranks controlled a continuous flow of the highest quality cocaine in a twenty mile radius and oversaw the activities of the others. Generously, the Crosbies also offered ‘tic’, an arrangement where the purchaser could obtain the drug of their choice gratis for an arranged period, usually a week or two. After that it was pay up or lose body parts courtesy of Wee Hondo. Diller was normally the type who preferred the former payment plan, but had been short of funds and taking the piss recently taking him dangerously close to paying the latter price.
Looking back to his phone, Diller sat staring at the unopened icon for a few minutes. Shit. Whatever Hondo wanted wouldn’t be good news; that Diller was certain of. He thumbed the message and felt a shiver pass through his muscles as he read the words ‘Hundred Grand by Friday or UR dead.’
On a School Night
“Give me those fags.” Diller had scraggy-looking fourth year boy with a squint in his eye, whose name he didn’t know pressed against the wall with the palm of his hand on the lads’ chest, in the alcove under the assembly hall.
“Ye’ cannae’ dae’ that.” The wee guy squealed.
Diller poked an index finger into ‘Skelly-eye’s’ shoulder. “Hurry up ya wee fanny.’ His voice was calm and quiet. Skelly-eye looked around at his friends for a bit of back-up, but they’d picked a spot each on the ground and were avoiding Diller’s challenging, scanning stare. One of them got a moment of courage and told Skelly-eye, “Just give him them Jordan.”
Diller pushed his nose closer to Jordan’s. Letting some gas rise up his throat, he belched loudly in the kid’s face, noticing the after-burn of the cold curry he’d had for breakfast. Jordan wretched a little at the smell and reached into his jacket pocket for his ten-deck of Lambert and Butler.
“Here.” Jordan slapped the pack into Diller’s waiting hand.
“Smoking’s bad for ye’ Jordan” Diller put a mocking tone into name, “I’m doing ye’ a favour here, son. Right,” he leaned in close to whisper into Jordan’s ear, “get tae’ fuck, dick.”
As the little group of fourth years ran off, Diller rounded the corner and entered the bin shed, flicking one of Jordan’s cigarettes into his mouth as he walked out of view. Grimacing at the first harsh lungful, he examined the silver box Jordan had given him. Cheap, shitey fags, I’ll have to pick a better class of loser for my next pack. Lunchtime lasted fifty minutes and Diller normally spent that time smoking in the bin shed, chatting up some of the sixth year lassies he hadn’t ridden yet or occasionally doing some work in the library to keep up appearances. Today, he smoked eight of the ten cigarettes Jordan had ‘gifted’ him in a twenty minute blast, mind racing with possibilities, consequences and possible outcomes. This thing with Hondo was a worry, no doubt about it.
A long-term client of Hondo’s, Diller had made a small business of buying manageable quantities of coke over the last two years or so. He had a small number of guys dealing for him, after a wee tamper with the quality of the product, of course; and with Hondo’s blessing. The problem was that over the last six months or so, Diller had taken on an absolute mountain of coke, all on ‘tic’ with a far too care-free attitude.
He hadn’t snorted hundred grand’s worth of Hondo’s Charlie on his own, he found that coke made him a bit too careless and made his ego grow out of control; on the contrary he’d been very generous with it. The coke had been meted out to barmen, bouncers, and potential sexual-partners; to low-level dealers whose own inferior product paled in comparison and any number of thugs out over the six months. Diller was building his own wee network of ‘friends’ and filling an account full of favours owed from a range of useful types around Lanarkshire. You never knew when an alibi, some muscle, entry to a club or some sex would be needed and Diller liked to keep a myriad of opportunities and options on call. School, with its ever-changing clientele and flow of people was an ideal recruiting base and networking opportunity for those who kept their eyes open. Never dealing though, not in school.
It was an expensive endeavour, this networking and favour gathering and one that Hondo had been happy to fund, in the short-term, owing to Diller’s connections to the constabulary through his dad and the impressive sales he’d clocked up over a short time. It looked like Hondo had just decided that Diller had been giving away too much or not selling enough, either that or he’d decided that Diller was gaining too large a network and wanted him shut down. There was also the possibility that Hondo simply wanted a return on his investment. A hundred grand, though? Surely Hondo’s been a bit heavy on the interest there, I couldn’t have done in that much coke in six months, could I?
Lighting cigarette number nine, Diller noted that it was the ‘lucky fag’ from the packet, the one that everyone always turns filter side down when a fresh pack is opened. Smiling in acknowledgment at the absurdity of the ubiquitous smoker’s habit, he sparked it up. As he smoked his way down to the shite at the end of the cigarette, almost to the filter, an evil smile spread across his face and a plan tickled the cold recesses of his brain. It’d be tricky, but it just might work.
Flicking the butt into the pile he’d made, Diller straightened his shirt and headed up to the assembly hall just as the bell rang, signalling that lunchtime was over. As part of his ‘Special Duties’ he regularly delivered a short motivational or informative speech at some of the junior kids’ assemblies. It was fourth year today and a talk on health and wellbeing. Diller would be advising the junior pupils on the evils of drugs, alcohol and smoking. To be fair, he wasn’t exactly short of experience on the subjects. He’d have to remember to ‘thank’ Jordan for his lucky fag if he saw him in assembly.
Leaving the school grounds within ten minutes of the final bell ringing, Diller turned off of Main Street, passed Riley’s pool hall, which was in the process of closing for good, and along Thorn Road towards the railway bridge. Having grabbed a Superdry hoodie from his school locker, Diller pulled he hood up over his head. His old man still worked in the police station. He rode a desk these days, but still had a finger in every pie. Diller needed to slip past unnoticed, he could do without a conversation with the old man at the moment; he had places to be.
Continuing along towards the little tunnel under the bridge, he slipped through and took the short walk to ‘The Sandy’ a shitehole of a park where all the local Neds gathered. One Ned in particular interested him, Tommy McTavish, aka Tawttie.
Tawttie appeared with a small crew of his ‘team’, a bunch of local losers who Diller had known for years. Each of them had been a pupil at Bellshill Academy.
Noticing Diller lurking on the periphery of the park, Tawttie, left his four comrades and shuffled over in Diller’s direction. Dressed in typical NED attire; tracksuit, trousers tucked into socks, scabby-looking, ingrained mud on white clothes offset by sparkling white trainers, Burberry cap and a brace of sovereign rings, Tawttie and his crew looked like every other wee fanny in Lanarkshire. Their clothes were practically a uniform and the trademark ‘dug’, normally Rottweiler or Pit-bull, was a given.
Not being the academic type, Tawttie had left Bellshill Academy in fourth year and been quickly recruited by Diller. Amongst other things, he couriered items and substances, but essentially did Diller’s dirty work for him, allowing Diller to maintain his facade. The pair had first spoken business after a particularly vicious playground fight that Tawttie had won quickly and clinically with a boot to the balls and a stamp on the prone head of his opponent. Diller had watched with interest as Tawttie had dismantled the other boy, moving aside only as Bowie pushed past him to break up the fight, admonishing Diller with a hard stare for standing watching the display. Within a week of the incident, Tawttie was permanently expelled from school and working for Diller.
Guy’s like Tawttie were far from rare in Lanarkshire and easily made use of; a few free bags of Charlie here, a few quid there, some opportunities to make some easy money and build a bit of a street-rep; They weren’t interested in getting a job; all they wanted was some money and some drugs in their pocket and their hole occasionally.
Fear was another excellent tool to make these guys comply and one which Diller was expertly skilled in wielding. Physically, any one of these guys could easily overcome Diller, but he’d been patient in his younger days, Overheard conversations between his dad and a variety of colleagues; greasing the right palms with drugs and money, the threat of Hondo in his corner; these things had served to place Diller into a position where these street-mugs respected and feared him. As the son of a teacher and a copper, convention would dictate that he’d be the last type of boy to involve himself in this world. His desires, connections, insight, skills and inherent badness had meant he was a natural.
By far the most difficult part to date had been keeping up his mask of normality in school and at home, but he’d turned it into a game in his mind, considering the roles he played as his secret identity; like Batman, but a bastard-Batman. Every so often though, violence was required by circumstances and demanded by his true self, the pressure of hiding his inner-bastard built up and needed to be released.
He’d learned to pick his moment over the years and selected people that no-one would miss; those who would serve as a warning to others. Junkies, dealers, people who owed dealers money, nobodies. He always cleaned up after himself, burning every fibre of clothing he may have worn in the act. Each victim attributed, on the grape-vine, to young Hondo.
Of course, with Tawttie, there was the added incentive that the guy had seen the monster hidden under the mask, when he’d walked into a dark close on Lawmuir Road in the early hours to find Diller crouched over a forty-year old man, knife in his eye socket, eye on the ground. No stranger to cutting a man himself, Tawttie had nodded, turned around silently and left Diller to his work, but he’d never looked him straight in the eye again and never argued when issued a task.
“Eh, awright, eh… Diller.” Tawttie’s voice was nasal and he used exaggeratedly long and faux cheery notes, again, part of the NED persona. He was nervous, he always was around Diller. This showed that he was smarter than he looked.
Diller ignored Tawttie’s eloquent greeting and threw a fifty-gram bag of Charlie in his direction. The coke, Hondo’s finest was cut generously with glucose from the school’s Science stores and cost Tawttie one hundred pounds per gram. Diller had ‘paid’ Hondo eighty pounds for it. The effective downgrading of the Charlie made it go a whole lot further and usually went unnoticed by the kind of mutant who opted to purchase their drugs from the likes of Tawttie. His clientele would still be thrilled at the quality despite the glucose; it would most likely be a nice change from their nose-powder being cut with bathroom products. In all likelihood when Tawttie’s coke made its way down the supply chain a few levels, from the odd banker and lawyer, to Hipsters to bored housewives, to deadbeats; it’d probably still be destined to mingle with a variety of household powders until the junky at the bottom of the pile and the peak of some junk withdrawal was snorting about one percent coke, ninety-nine percent fuck-knows what.
“Money.” Diller barked at Tawttie who hurriedly fished a scabby-looking brown bag stuffed with what Diller expected would be even scabbier-looking notes of all denominations from one of his pockets and placed it in Diller’s hand.
At that, Diller left without another word and headed to five more similarly engaging appointments with several variations on Tawttie around town. The money was stacking up, for sure, but a hundred grand in a week just didn’t seem possible. Diller suspected that was the whole point. Hondo liked to make an example of someone from time to time. It was becoming apparent that Diller’s moment had arrived. Hondo had abandoned his corner and become his opponent. Fuck it. Had to happen eventually; bring it on, Hondo.
Head Boy will be published by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing in July 2013
Mark Wilson’s Other Novels are available now on Amazon