A Fist Full of Fur

Dante and Jonesy sit in the flat, smoking heroin — preferring only to inject on special occasions. Special occasions are defined by Dante and happen when he says they happen. His flat. His smack. His rules. His flat is small, but meticulously clean — for a drug addict, at least. There’s a brown mahogany unit sat against one wall. On it are several fly-fishing trophies, all are first place. A single photograph of his mum sits proudly among them. He has a small coffee table in the centre of one chair and a two-seater sofa. Three ornaments sit on the window ledge, but one has pride of place: a beautifully coloured, dark green fly fisherman casting in the middle. He is very well polished.

Graeme sits under the coffee table with one leg protruding in the air, his head nestling tightly in his groin as he goes through his ritualistic cleaning routine. He stands up, stretches, then strolls across the floor before jumping up on the windowsill.

‘Fuck sake,’ says Dante as he gets up from the couch and runs over, grabbing the ornamental fisherman, pushing the little ginger tabby out the way.

‘Meow.’

‘A’M BEGINNING TO THINK THAT IT WAS A FUCKIN MISTAKE KEEPING YOU!’

‘Meow,’ says Graeme as he turns and stares at Dante, instantly melting the hardened smack dealer’s heart.

‘Aww… A’m sorry, Graeme. A’m sorry, wee buddy. Ah didn’t mean to scare you,’ he says bending down and kissing the little ginger tabby on the nose.

Dante places the ornament back as Graeme turns, his tail brushing off the big man’s forehead.

The cat walks along the rest of the windowsill, then jumps back down onto the floor.

Jonesy sits watching the scene and shakes his head in complete disgust. He picks up his short tinfoil tube, placing it in his mouth, then picks up his soot-stained tinfoil tray. He sparks his lighter and holds the flame underneath. A small hard lump of heroin liquefies. He runs the beetle across an untouched bit of foil. Smoke shoots off its back as he inhales it straight up and deep into his lungs.

‘The weather is fucking shite,’ says Dante peering through a gap in the blinds down onto the street just one floor below.

‘Ah wouldn’t worry about it,’ replies Jonesy. ‘It’s not like we’re going anywhere.’

‘’CHAP, CHAP.’’ Goes the sound of the letterbox, loud and intrusive in the small flat.

‘Ah never even seen them coming up the front stairs,’ says Dante. ‘Maybe the cunts came in the back door of the close?’

‘Aye, maybe,’ says Jonesy putting his tooter and tray down, about to get up.

‘Don’t worry,’ says Dante. ‘Have another line. A’l get this and you can make the bags up.’

‘No problem, ‘says Jonesy, picking up the paraphernalia again as Dante walks past him, out the livingroom and up the hall.

Jonesy runs another line and blows out a stream off smoke straight at Graeme as he’s sat back in his favourite spot under the table.

‘You’ll get yours, ya dirty orange flea-bitten bastard.’ He runs another line and blows out another stream of smoke in Graeme’s direction. The cat sneezes and turns his head away. ‘Ah don’t know why he doesn’t get pitbull or a staffy like a normal dealer. You’re lucky you’ve lasted this long. But ye’ll no be lasting much fuckin longer, cunt.’

Graeme turns back and stares at Jonesy, stretching while displaying his arse. Jonesy, with his lighter in his hand, draws his arm back and jerks it as if to throw it at the cat. Graeme flinches and runs off. Dante walks in, just seeing his orange tail disappear behind the couch.

‘Fuck sake, Jonesy. Leave the poor thing alone. He’s done fuck all to you.’

‘A’m sorry, mate. Ah was just noising it up a little. Ah didn’t mean it any real harm.’

‘Yous two are always fighting; yous better wise up or it’ll end in tears. Now make up two bags.’ Dante places a twenty-pound note on the coffee table.

Jonesy places the tray, lighter, and tooter next to his cigarettes. He puts his hand down the side of the chair and pulls out a clear bag that looks to have about an ounce of brown powder in it. He pulls two skins out from a green rizla packet and sits them on the arm of the chair. He opens the poke. Dips the corner of the green cardboard in and takes out a little scoop. He drops a touch in each, eyeing them carefully. He tips what’s left of it back in the poke. Dante leans over and looks at the two little brown piles sat on the cigarette papers.

‘They look bang on,’ Dante says, with more than a little admiration in his voice.

‘They’ll be 0.3 in each; A’d put my life on it.’

‘Don’t get too cocky, sunshine; you’ve still much to learn.’

‘Aye, cool,’ says Jonesy with a smirk.

Dante quickly wraps the two cigarette papers up with the expertise of an old hand. Graeme brushes against his legs. Dante ignores the cat and makes his way back out of the livingroom and back up the hall.

‘Meow,’ says Graeme as he brushes against Jonesy.

‘Eiugh. Fuck this,’ says Jonesy. ‘A’l give ye something to meow about, ya little ginger prick.’

Jonesy grabs his jacket off the back of the chair and throws it over Graeme. The cat freezes. Jonesy bends down and scrunches the little ginger tabby up in his coat with the singular sound of a muffled meow. He walks behind the chair, carrying the now silent bundle. He nudges open the kitchen door with his elbow and spots an open window. He walks over to it, leans over the work top, and tips the cat out from the jacket and onto the ledge. Then pulls the latch shut.

‘Meow,’ says Graeme with his little nose pressed against the glass.

‘Fuck off,’ says Jonesy, laughing to himself as he pulls the kitchen door shut.

Jonesy sits down as Dante walks into the living room, taking his seat on the couch. Dante leans over the arm and picks up two syringes, an empty glass, and a couple of burnt spoons that are all resting neatly on a dinner plate.

‘Time for a hit,’ says Dante. ‘Ah think we’ve earned it.’

‘You don’t have to tell me twice,’ Jonesy says with a smile.

‘Okay, you make them up,’ he says handing the plate and its contents over to Jonesy. ‘A’l fill the glass with water and make us a cup of tea.’

Dante hands Jonesy the plate over while getting up and making his way to the kitchen. Jonesy pulls the smack up from down the side of his chair. Dante pushes the kitchen door open.

‘Meow.’

‘Graeme… How the fuck did you get out there?’

‘’Chap, chap.’’ Goes the sound of the letterbox, for the second time that morning.

‘Fuck sake,’ mutters Jonesy, as he puts the plate on the table and the smack on the side of the chair before getting up to answer the door.

‘Don’t worry, wee fella. A’m coming. A’l save ye,’ says Dante as he leans over and undoes the latch.

The ginger tabby moves to the far side of the window ledge, prompting Dante to climb up on the worktop.

‘’CHAP, CHAP.’’

‘Awright, calm down. Ah heard ye the first time,’ says Jonesy leaning down and pushing open the letterbox flap. ‘What ye looking for?’ he snaps out to the close before he’s even seen their next customer.

A man appears, holding something up to the letterbox in his gloved hand. Jonesy can just about make out someone else standing right behind him.

‘Mate, we’ve got four Rolex’s here, if you want to come out and have a look at them? They’re all the real deal. Top-notch. They got took from a jeweller’s window in the town centre at least six months ago. No longer hot, pal. Fancy a look?’ He flashes the chunky silver watch and Jonesy can now see that it has a beautiful black and blue face. ‘All we want is a decent bit of brown for them.’

Jonesy’s eyes light up.

‘Eh… is he with you, then?’ asks Jonesy referring to the other man behind him.

‘Aye, but he’s no really for talking. He’s been rattling since two o’clock this morning — we both have. Just need to get sorted, you know? Obviously, we’ll give you a really good price, if a class watch should take yer fancy.’

‘Here, kitty, kitty, kitty,’ says Dante half leaning out the window, as Graeme sits stubbornly at the other end of the ledge. ‘Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, tut, tut, tut, chi, chi, chi… FUCK SAKE. GET IN HERE YA FUCKING GINGER CUNT!’

Jonesy kicks away a plank of wood that’s securing the bottom of the door, then unlocks two mortis locks, one midway the other slightly higher.

‘’Click.’’

‘’Click.’’

Dante leans out, stretching as far as he can, grabbing at Graeme’s ginger fur.

The front door swings back violently, catching Jonesy’s forehead.

Dante screams as he slips out the window.

Graeme barely touched bolts back along the ledge and back in.

Jonesy screams out in pain and surprise, unable to stop them from pushing into the flat.

Dante careers rapidly downward and lands headfirst into a pile of rubbish, deep in a green lidless wheelie bin.

‘WHERE’S THE FUCKIN SMACK?’ Shouts the first man, as the second one lands a hard punch on Jonesy’s jaw, knocking him to the floor.

‘Help me, Dante!’ Jonesy calls out. ‘Help me.’ Then they kick him and he rolls up into a ball on the floor to protect himself. One of the men walks further into the flat, no doubt looking for Dante, and the other one kicks Jonesy in the back.

‘Help,’ comes the muffled sound from the wheelie bin outside, but no one hears him. Dante’s legs kick back and forth as he attempts to shake himself from side to side to tip himself free.

‘Dante isny here,’ says the other man as he rushes back to the front door.

Both men stand over Jonesy, each of them brandishing a lockback knife. Jonesy is now facedown with his hands at the back of his head, elbows protecting his face, curled up like a frightened hedgehog.

‘Look, mate,’ says the chatty one who had first come to the door, ‘turn around and tell us where the smack is. We’ll get it and leave. We’ll be gone and this will be over before you know it.’

Jonesy, full of fear and feeling defeated, turns around slowly.

‘It’s in the living room, on the chair,’ he replies, his voice trembling.

‘Wasn’t so hard, eh? Says the first man as he makes his way down the hall.

The second man leans over, his muscles bulge in his right arm as he tenses it up. He draws it back and thrusts the blade, hard and fast, directly into the centre of Jonesy’s chest, right up to the haft. Eyes blaze wild. Jonesy’s too surprised to even whimper. The man tries to pull the blade back out but it’s stuck in his sternum.

‘Got it,’ says the first man, walking back to the door. ‘It’s not much but it… Aw for fuck sake, what did you do that for?’

‘There’s no come back from ghosts. You sure Dante isny in the livingroom?’

‘Nah, mate, just some stupid cat sitting under the table. Pull the knife back out, will ye?’

‘It’s stuck.’

‘What? Ach… fuck it, that’s what the gloves are for, eh?’

‘Aye,’ he replies.

They step over Jonesy’s lifeless corpse as they both head out of the flat, down the stairs, and away.

‘Fuck sake. Ahh ya,’ Dante yelps as the wheelie bin hits the ground.

He pushes himself out and pulls himself up, using the corner of the bin and the window ledge of the bottom flat.

‘Fuck me, man. My fucking head,’ he says rubbing it, staggering a little on his way to the close door.

He pulls it open, goes in and forces himself to walk up the stairs, using the bannister for support, finally reaching his landing. The door is lying open with Jonesy’s foot holding it there as he lies propped up against the wall with the wooden handle of a lock back knife hanging out of his chest. Graeme is sitting next to him.

‘GRAEME! WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE?’

‘Meow?’

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They tell you it’s tough at the top, but it’s a lot tougher at the bottom. Short stories: Drugs. Violence. Dark humour. ✍️🤓

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Alan Cope

Alan Cope

They tell you it’s tough at the top, but it’s a lot tougher at the bottom. Short stories: Drugs. Violence. Dark humour. ✍️🤓

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