Angel took a dirty hit and was sick for days while Belle nursed him back to health. Belle reckoned it was Angel’s karma for sneaking a fiver bag of skag to himself, but Angel pointed out that if he had shared it they would both be sick, so he had actually done Belle a favour.
They reckoned Preacher was selling adulterated gear, but there was no point complaining to Preacher about it – his wrath was legendary. Preacher aka Big Henry was a six foot seven inch ogre with a countenance of pure malevolence, no one fucked with Preacher. His mother had hoped that Henry would enter the priesthood, but his first hit at the age of fifteen had put paid to that ambition. Still, Henry had memorised much of the scriptures in his youth and was in the habit of quoting from them whenever he deemed it appropriate – which was often enough to be irritating.
Angel and Belle were in deep shit again – routine business for a pair of dyed in the wool smack addicts. Buddha had laid them on a nine bar for a monkey so that they could get themselves back on their feet after a lean spell. They had sold the dope and naturally spent the proceeds on skag which meant they were deep in debt to Buddha. They had avoided him for some days and when he finally caught up with them he’d lost his customary serenity and was unequivocal about getting his dough back.
“You’ve abused my trust gentlemen and that has hurt my feelings as well as negatively impacting on my business. I really am disappointed in you both. I thought with us being compadres that you’d spare me all this hassle. You let me down and I’m royally pissed off. You better have my bread next week – I’ll be sending Bomber round to collect – one way or another.”
Bomber was a renowned heavy known for his signature trade mark of breaking the limbs of his victims; the boys were really up shit creek now. There was no way they could raise five hundred quid in a week. They had no income to speak of – besides the government’s kind donation of twenty eight a week unemployment money and whatever pennies they could chore along the way.
It was then that they hatched an inspired solution to their problems. They decided to rob Preacher; it would be just retribution for his selling kit of dubious quality. They knew when Henry signed on and his flat was guaranteed to be empty. He would be gone for over an hour which should give them time to break in – locate Preacher’s stash and his money – and vanish long before the evangelical dealer returned.
The door to Preacher’s ground floor flat was reinforced by a sheet of solid steel, but Belle reckoned he could squeeze in through the bathroom window before letting Angel in through the door. The plan went smoothly enough and the boys were ransacking the flat when disaster struck. Preacher returned early; he had forgotten to take his UB40 without which he could not sign on to receive his unemployment benefit.
There was a moment of sheer panic when the boys heard the key in the lock. Henry clocked them as they ran for the bathroom which was now their only means of escape. Belle made it through the window easily enough, but Angel could not fit and was stuck with his legs still inside. There was a deafening explosion as half the bathroom door disintegrated into splinters and Preacher, shotgun in hand, hollered like the voice of God himself.
“Come out of there you wee poofs, before I blast you to kingdom come!”
The door had absorbed most of the blast and Angel was unhurt, but Preacher kicked in what remained of the door and dragging him back into the flat started laying into the helpless Angel with ferocious intent.
“Vengeance is mine – I shall repay sayeth the Lord; act with hostility against Me, then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins. I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance...”
Preacher had tired of beating Angel and sat in his chair with the shotgun pointed at his prone body when the police arrived to haul them both away. Preacher was an old lag and stood on his right to silence while he awaited his lawyer. Angel on the other hand sang like a bird.
“You see Henry was showing me the shotgun and it just went off. He was as surprised as me that it was loaded – I shit a brick I can tell you.”
The cops were unimpressed and clearly aware that Angel was blowing smoke up their collective arses. They interrogated him for some time asking the same questions again and again.
“What were you doing at Henry’s?”
“I went to discuss the scriptures. Henry is my spiritual advisor.”
“Why are you covered in bruises?”
“I was jumped on my way to Henry’s place. Three young neds attacked me because I’m queer. You should be after them homophobic fuckers instead of grilling me.”
They released Angel eventually, but Preacher was charged with illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm and held on remand. He might have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, or even attempted murder had Angel told the truth. Preacher was grateful when he found out and resolved not to kill Angel after all. “He’s alright for a wee poof.”
Angel and Belle were no nearer solving their problem; they still owed Buddha five hundred bucks and time was running out before Bomber the bone crusher came to collect. Belle decided to fall back on an old dodge he had heard of in reform school. They scoped out the Dockers Club in Leith for a good dark place to hide while observing the club and its entrance. Belle gave the windows a great thump which set the alarm off and the boys ran to their vantage point and waited for the police who arrived twenty minutes later. The cops made a cursory reconnaissance of the club and went to wait in their car for the manager to arrive a few minutes later. They all went inside and looked around, but discovering nothing amiss they locked up and left. Ten minutes later Belle rattled the windows and set off the alarm again. The police and the manager were called out, but nothing was missing and there was no sign of an attempted entry. The fourth time Belle rattled the windows nothing happened, there was no alarm because, assuming that the alarm was faulty, the manager had switched it off. Now the boys could break in and help themselves to the riches secreted in the hallowed portals of Leith Dockers Club with little fear of detection.
They plundered the place methodically; between the cigarette machine, the slots and the strong box in the manager’s office they netted three hundred and twenty three pounds. It was enough to placate Buddha and buy them some more time – they did eventually pay Buddha off; but it was only a matter of time before they were in more difficulties with another dealer. Angel and Belle lived like that – day to day without a care for tomorrow. They were constantly at risk of a beating; sometimes simply because they were junkies, or because they were queer; but more often than not because they were involved in some dodgy deal that had gone awry.
They developed an adversarial relationship with the world. Their distinct personalities had blurred over the years into distillate twins. The more their habits grew the closer they became. Angel and Belle were almost a single entity and stood apart from the rest of the race in a junkie cabal of two. Theirs was an almost incestuous relationship which revolved around smack – where to find it and how to pay for it. They fancied themselves as a pair of outlaws perpetually on the run. They survived from one scrape to another while they waited on the one big score that would set them free. One day they’d get themselves straightened out – all they needed was an even break to see them on their way, but their options narrowed daily. Ultimately there was only one way their relationship could end and that was in death. Their big score, when it came, would be their final one.