Authors: Peter Lancett
So it’s just gone ten o’clock at night and I’m out walking the streets again. I’ve been to Rebecca’s place and we did the French homework. But I don’t know how. We went up to her room to work while her mum stayed downstairs, setting the hair of one of their neighbours. Rebecca’s mum often does work at home like that for extra money. Rebecca’s dad left them years ago and there’s only the two of them. They seem to get by OK. Rebecca always has cool things and cool clothes, and her and her mum go on holiday to Spain every year. So don’t let me make you think they’re in the depth of grinding poverty. It’s not like a scene from Orwell’s
Road to Wigan Pier
Anyway, we go up to Rebecca’s room and she shuts the door behind us. I put my books on the desk she has there under the window and when I turn round, she’s standing right there in front of me.
‘Do you like me?’
Well, what am I supposed to say to that?
‘Yeah, of course I like you.’
I try to say it like it’s the most obvious thing in the world and shouldn’t really need saying. It’s lame but it’s a start.
‘No, I mean
She’s wearing this cute little fitted top and Kate Moss-style kind of cinched in waistcoat over these neat little shorts and she has the straightest whitest teeth and… well, next thing you know, she’s raising herself up on her toes and her eyes are starting to close as her face comes close to mine and her lips part slightly so that I can taste her minty
breath. It’s something else, kissing Rebecca, let me tell you. But I’m not giving it my full attention, oh no. Because all I can think of as she’s slipping her arms around me and slipping her sweet wet tongue between my lips, is that she mustn’t feel the Ruger lying heavy in my jacket pocket. And I almost blow it by nearly pissing myself laughing at an old joke that springs to mind –
is that a gun in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
When we come up for air eventually, I begin to slip the jacket off.
‘See. That wasn’t so bad, was it?’
I’m glad she’s talking, looking at me, because I’m sure she’ll see the way my jacket hangs heavy at the pocket with the Ruger in it and she’ll ask me what it is.
‘Not bad at all.’
I’m smiling and maintaining eye contact with her as I put my jacket over the back of a chair. Once it’s safely out of touching range, I take her in my arms again, and this time… well, it’s just out of this world.
We did actually finish the French assignment, believe it or not, but we did spend a lot of time kissing and holding each other and talking crap too. When it came time to leave, and we came downstairs, I swear that Rebecca’s mum was looking at us with a twinkle in her eye. Like she knew we hadn’t just been working up there. In fact I’m sure she knew. She’s cool, is Rebecca’s mum. But I think I must have felt a little embarrassed all the same, because I’ve gone and left my homework and stuff at Rebecca’s house. I’m trusting that she’ll bring it to school with her on Friday when we next have French. And it’s funny, because we’ve not said anything, but I’m pretty sure that me and Rebecca are now going out together. That’s how it feels to me anyway. I hope that we are.
So now I’m out walking in the dark, beneath the orange glow of the
, and I’m thinking about all this, and what those kisses meant, and how there’s a lot more than kissing that I’d like to be doing with Rebecca. Anyway, I’m thinking about all this, and it’s actually cool to be
out walking and going over and over stuff in my mind, so I’m not going straight home. I’m already on the far side of our estate on streets that I don’t know well, but I’m far from being lost. It’s getting cold, like there’s going to be a frost in the night, and I slip my hands into the pockets of my black cotton jacket. And my right hand comes instantly into contact with the cold black angular polymer frame of the Ruger.
Double Action Trigger Pressure:
Single Action Trigger Pressure:
Firing Pin Action Point:
It gets me to thinking about earlier. I’m in my room at home and it’s after I got back from town with Andy – he did get the two Jason Bourne movies – and before going over to Rebecca’s. I have the Ruger on my desk and I’m prowling the internet in search of more information about it. There’s lots. But one site even shows me how to strip it down.
First I clear the pistol of ammunition, in other words, I make sure that there isn’t a round already in the firing chamber. Then the slide, the mechanism that ejects the spent cartridge and loads the next round from the magazine, is locked to the rear with the slide lock. I put my finger in the ejection port where spent cartridges are spat out, and I press the ejector down. Now I can let the slide run off the frame by releasing the slide lock. The slide lock is then pulled away from the frame. I pull the guide rod and spring away from the barrel, and then remove the barrel from the slide. See; easy when you know how. I must have practised stripping it down and putting it back together about twenty times. I still can’t do it blindfold, but I have to say, I’m getting pretty good.
It’s not totally late so the streets aren’t empty. There’s the odd car about here and there, and people I recognise but don’t really know, going about their business. Again, there’s flickering light from televisions and it’s just an ordinary average night on our estate.
In the distance I hear high revving engines and screeching tyres. That can only be joyriders – kids in a stolen car. I’m listening out and there it is, the police siren. So they’re in hot pursuit through the crowded narrow streets of our estate. The screeching tyres and high revving engines are getting closer. I’m watching out in the direction they’re coming from. And now here they are. That was quick, and I can see the hot hatchback coming careering towards me, lurching between the parked cars to either side, hitting some of them as the driver fights for control. And there, not far behind, is the police car, complete with blue flashing lights and wailing sirens. Without even realising it, I’m standing as far back on the pavement as I can. It’s not like these high-speed chases haven’t ended with innocent people maimed or killed in the past. Actually, that’s happened often enough to be frightening. I smile at the irony; that the only time we seem to see a police presence on our estate is when they are in hot pursuit like this and run the risk of endangering life and property every bit as much as the yobs they’re chasing. But even
I acknowledge that it must be a tough call for the police; they’re damned if they don’t go after kids in a stolen car, and damned if they do and there’s an accident. Just a pity they don’t put as much effort into making these streets safe for the likes of Uncle Jack and Aunty Margaret.
The screeching tyres and the revving engines and wailing sirens are already a distant echo as I continue my aimless wander. I’m already on the edge of the estate where it gives way to a couple of country roads that will eventually take you up to the high moorlands. There’s an embankment with some steps leading down into an underpass that takes you under the brightly lit dual carriageway cutting its curving way past the town centre and linking up with the motorway. I’m amazed at how busy the dual carriageway is. Where are all these people going? On the far side, the underpass brings you out onto a darkened industrial estate. From there, even darker roads will eventually lead you onto ever brighter and busier roads until eventually you’ll be in the town centre.
I’m already in the underpass and heading for the far side with the muted trucks and cars rumbling overhead when I realise that I would never usually walk down here at night. But I’m not the least bit tense. My hands are in the pockets of my jacket and my right hand is loosely holding my Ruger. What could possibly happen to me?
I’m sauntering through the deserted access roads of the industrial estate, and I’m vaguely heading towards the town centre when I come to the canal bridge. I look down at the inky black water, still as glass, and the unlit towpath that runs alongside. The canal runs right through the heart of the city, between the derelict and deserted and run-down factory buildings with their crumbling brick walls and dirty cracked and broken windows. The only light down there on that towpath comes when the canal goes under a bridge and the light from the
lining the road above spill down and spread for a few metres to either side.
Even here I feel cool and loose. Yeah, that’s right; I’m walking along the canal
towpath. You hear stories about junkies and vagrants and God knows what congregating under the darkened bridges of the canal, but I can’t say I feel wary of anything. Why should I? I’m walking with my hands in my pockets just like Travis Bickle from
and I have 9mm centre-fire double action semi-automatic protection in my pocket. The only thing that nags at the back of my mind to worry me a little bit is the thought that perhaps a part of me
something to happen. I slide that thought quickly out of reach.
It’s funny down here by the canal. You can hear cars and stuff, but they don’t seem real, like you’re listening to a background soundtrack that’s totally unrelated to where you are. I stop and arch my head back to look up at the sky. Beyond the black silhouettes of the crumbling factories, the sky is glowing orange from the lights in the town centre. None of it seems real at all. And I’m so alone down here that I feel like I’m in my own little kingdom.
I don’t know for sure how long I spend down there, but it’s gone midnight before I’m back on the familiar streets of the estate. Mum and Dad won’t be worrying. I’ve been out late before with Andy. Mum will probably be awake though until I get in. She tells me that she doesn’t sleep until I’m home and I believe her. I suppose it’s selfish of me to have stayed out so late knowing that, but I haven’t done it on purpose. It just didn’t cross my mind – which is exactly what selfish means. I’m not going to beat myself up about it though.
The way I’m coming back onto the estate, there’s this row of shops that I have to pass. They’re set back from the road, and a couple of them are boarded up, but there’s a kebab shop there that will be closed now, and a little mini supermarket which we call
the vacuum shop
because it carries hardly any stock. Anyway, as I approach, I see a group of four kids in hooded sweatshirts and baggy combat pants lounging about in front of these shops. I can’t recognise them from here, and normally I’d be wary of them, but I’m not tonight. You know why.
So I’m walking towards them casually and they start to move so that they are going to be blocking my path. At this point, I’m amazingly calm. I wouldn’t normally be, I know, but I am now. So calm that I’m even
that I’m calm.
‘Where you been man?’
I’m stopped in front of this group now and I recognise the kid that’s talking. He’s from my school but a couple of years below me. He’d be in Sean’s year.
‘Nowhere. Just out walking.’
I’m still calm and my hands are in my pockets. Two of the kids are smoking spliffs and grinning. The kid who had spoken reaches inside his sweatshirt and my hand tightens around the grip of my Ruger. And I’m
‘So, what you got?’
I could have guessed that this was going to happen. The kid has a knife and it’s not
far from my throat and could even slash my face easily enough.
‘I’ve got money, and a phone.’
You know, I nearly blow it by laughing out loud. I think I want to laugh at my rotten acting, trying to sound intimidated and compliant. Because I sure as hell don’t feel that way at all. I’m making a big deal about getting something out of my jacket pocket. I seem to be struggling, but it’s part of my act.
Suddenly my hand is free and I’ve taken a quick step back at the same time as I thrust out my right arm. I’ve knocked the hand holding the knife away from me and I’m looking down the gunsights along the top of the Ruger, and right into the kid’s eyes. I can weigh it all up like I’m some kind of psychologist. He’s angry and he’s confused and he’s wondering if the gun is real. And all this in a second.
The words are mine. And they are not angry and they are not excited. But I hear in my own voice an authority that I’ve never heard before.
‘Fuck, he got a rod.’
‘That a wicked iron, man.’
Two of the other kids but I’m ignoring them.
‘Drop it or I blow your head clean off.’
I can’t understand why my voice is so calm, why I’m not swearing and screaming. But something about my calm voice is getting through to the kid in front of me. I see his eyes flicker for a moment while he’s weighing up this situation, but soon enough the knife clatters to the ground.
I take a step forward and jam the gun barrel hard into this kid’s face so that he staggers back. I hear the sound of footsteps running away. His friends have deserted him.
‘On your knees.’
The kid is trembling, but he remains standing.
‘Don’t shoot me.’
I ram the gun into his mouth so that for a moment I wonder if I’ve broken his teeth.
‘On your knees.’
This time, he goes to the ground, the barrel of the Ruger still hard against his gums. I look down and see the blood around his lips like a clown’s make-up. And with a ridiculous flash of awareness, I realise I’m just emulating what I’ve seen on TV and in movies. I don’t really know what I’m doing or what I should do next.
‘OK, so what
I’m mimicking his voice to humiliate him. Amazingly, when he reaches into his pocket, he pulls out a roll of notes. And yes,
of course I take the money from him. It’s not theft when you steal from a thief, is it?
It’s only when I’m nearly home that I start to tremble. I feel excited and
. That’s the adrenaline still coursing through me. I wasn’t quite Travis Bickle back there, and I didn’t even fire a shot. But I’m pretty sure I know how Travis Bickle felt.