One fucking Zomorph. It’s pathetic, Mockey thinks to himself as he stares at the singular green and yellow capsule procured the day before from big Alfy — a dying man on the final rung of the ladder of that terrible debilitating illness.

He flicks it gently off the side of the glass of water that is sitting next to it on the table. He leans back in his chair and puts his feet up, his big toe poking through the hole in his right sock.

He stares at it for a moment before turning his attention to the little yellow plastic minion sitting on the mantelpiece posing as his only ornament.

‘He felt sorry for me,’ he says to the minion. ‘It was nice of him to give me a couple, but they never last. That little pill should hold me for an hour or so. Just enough time to get some money and score.’

The plastic toy just continues its blank stare across the sparse living room.

‘A’v fucking lost it, man,’ says Mockey, picking up the pill and swallowing it down with a couple of gulps from the glass.

He leans back in his chair and stares at the ceiling. His mind going ten to the dozen, the last of his drugs now gone and yet again faced with the same recurring dilemma: where and how to get more?

‘Ah could see Alfy again,’ he says to the minion. ‘A’m sure the cunt would part with a few. Although he probably needs them. Opiate tablets are fine for plugging a gap. Filling a fuckin hole or whatever. But they don’t hit the spot. Only heroin does that. Ah could go and see Daily, but he never ticks. In all my time of knowing the bastard, not once has he ever gave me credit. To put it mildly, ma only pal: the cunt is as tight as two coats of paint. He just might, though. It’s just the once. Ah suppose. Ah suppose. Ah suppose. Ah really have to ask, eh? EH? You never fuckin answer me — might as well be talking tae masel!’

He stands up with a sigh and pulls his jacket on and grabs the minion from the mantelpiece and tucks it in his pocket. He slides his feet into his old trainers.

Mockey heads out of his gaff and down the close. He saunters along Alsatian Avenue to Daily’s house on Onslow Road. He ignores the buzzer as the close door sits partially open. He goes in and darts up the stairs, two at a time, to the second landing. He rubs the minion for luck and gives the letterbox a chap.

‘’Chap, chap’’

He stands there with his hands in his pockets and his head down, feeling quite ashamed that he forced to ask for a handout. The door unlocks and opens.

‘Alright, Mockey. What you looking for?’ asks Daily.

‘A’ve got a bit of a cash flow problem. A’l have money tonight when my neighbour gets in from work. She always lends me a tenner, but Ah was wondering if you could tick me one bag until then?

‘Ah can’t, mate. A’m a bit short myself. Ah need to get every penny in so Ah can pay my man and get more stuff; he’s due payment the night. Sorry, pal.’

‘Aww… Okay, no probs,’ says Mockey, turning and heading back down the stairs.

‘Wait there,’ shouts Daily at his back. ‘A’ve got something else here. A wee earner, if you’re interested?’

Mockey stops and turns around, his hand still in his pocket gripping the minion tightly. ‘What’s that?’ he says, trying his best to seem relaxed.

‘Come in and A’l show you — lock the door at your back.’

Mockey walks back up the stairs. He walks in the flat and locks the door behind him. He follows Daily into the first bedroom, fists clench, ready for anything.

‘Grab a seat,’ says Daily pointing at a solitary chair sitting next to an unmade bed in the almost empty room.

Mockey sits down and Daily goes into a plastic bag that’s sitting next to an old grey printer and pulls out a few notes: twenties, tens, and fives.

‘What’s this, then?’ asks Mockey, his eyes lighting up.

Daily steps over a pile of unwashed clothes and hands him the notes, ‘Take a closer look. Ah made them with that,’ he says with a nod at the printer. ‘It’s hard getting the right paper, but they’re no too bad. With a bit of confidence, you should get rid of them no probs.’

‘Me? Get rid of these?’ he says holding one of the twenties up to the light. There’s no water line in any of them. The twenties are the wrong shade of purple, the tenners feel furry and are dark brown, and the blue’s far too bright on those fivers, too. Might get rid of them in the dark, for fuck sake.’

‘Look — you need money. And A’m offering you a wee turn. You don’t have to take it. It’s 100 pounds fake for thirty quid real. A’l tick you those. So, what do you say?’

‘Fuck sake. Okay. A’l have a dash with a few of the fivers and some tens, but A’m no touching the twenties. People check them with more care.’

‘The twenties are part of the deal.’

‘Fuck sake, man. Okay. How about Ah take fifty quid off ye, just tae see how Ah go?’

‘Ah want twenty quid off ye by eight pm then. You’re halfway there, with your neighbours’ tenner on top, eh?’

‘Would that no mean that Ah would owe you fifteen?’

‘Twenty quid for fifty, mate.’

‘Right cool,’ says Mockey reluctantly taking the money with the knowledge that all his neighbours’ actually hate the sight of him.

Daily sees him to the front door, unlocking it and having a wee look in the close before ushering him out.

‘See ye later,’ says Daily.

‘Aye, cheers, mate,’ replies Mockey before heading back down the stairs.

Mockey stands outside the local shop staring at the off-colour fake money in his left hand. He sticks his right hand in his pocket and quickly looks at his minion for luck. He tucks the larger notes into his back pocket while switching two five-pound notes to his empty right hand. He takes a deep breath and walks in the front door. A little bell chimes.


An old woman chats happily with the Asian shopkeeper as he bags up her basic shopping list, rings up the till, and hands over her change with a receipt.

’Cheerio, Mrs. Hamilton,’ he says in the broadest of Glasgow accents.

‘Thank you, Adeel,’ she says as she leaves the shop, bag in hand.

Mockey walks up to the counter.

‘Twenty Mayfair and a throwaway lighter, please.’

Adeel lifts a packet of cigarettes from the side of the counter, grabs a lighter and sparks it to check the flame before placing it down in front of Mockey. He hands over two bright blue five-pound notes. Feeling nervous and to distract him, he engages friendly eye contact and starts talking and anything that might distract Adeel from looking for longer than half a second at the notes.

‘Some weather out there,’ says Mockey. ‘Miserable and depressing. Hopefully, the rain stays off.’

‘Yes,’ replies Adeel, ‘another dull day. Hopefully, the sun pokes his head out soon.’

‘Ah hope so, big man,’ says Mockey with a massive smile as he lifts his smokes and lighter and takes his change. ‘Just bin the receipt. Cheerio then.’

‘Thank you. Cheerio,’ replies Adeel.

Mockey heads back out the shop. He stops and takes the little yellow minion out of his pocket and smiles at it. Then he puts it back into his pocket carefully. He lights a cigarette and walks up the grass verge at the side of Drumry housing scheme and crosses the dual carriage to McDonald’s in the small Drumchapel retail park.

Mockey pings his smoke and walks up to the entrance as the glass door automatically slides left. He stands in the small queue and looks around the brightly lit fast-food restaurant, half-filled with teenagers and a couple of families with small children. Before he realises the queue’s been dealt with and he’s eye-to-eye with a spotty teenager wearing a bright-red skip hat.

‘Hello, sir. Can I take your order?’

‘Aw, aye, eh… Can Ah have… ah… Big Mac meal with a coke?’

He rings up the till. ‘That’ll be four pounds ten pence, please.’

Mockey slides his hand into his back pocket and pulls out the most purple twenty-pound note he’s ever seen. He hands it to red skip hat in a transaction that feels like an eternity.

The kid picks it up and looks at it, looks at Mockey, then shouts for his manager.

‘Excuse me, Brian. Could you come and look at this? Just a moment, sir,’ he says to Mockey.

‘How? What’s up? Asks Mockey with every fibre of his being telling him to get out of there, as he feels every eye in the place watching and judging his every move.

Brian comes over, complete with white shirt, black trousers, and a black-tie to reaffirm his status within the premises. He takes the twenty-pound note from the youth and holds it up to the light.

‘This money’s fake; may I ask where you got it?’

‘WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN IT’S FAKE? FUCKIN GIVE ME THAT,’ shouts Mockey as he reaches over the counter, trying to grab it — but Brian moves it just out of reach.

‘I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to wait until I call the police.’

‘FUCK THE POLICE AND FUCK YOU INAW!’ shouts Mockey as he turns and makes a beeline for the door. He gets out and bursts into a sprint, only slowing to a jog when he nears the neighbouring scheme of Yoker. He pulls his smokes and lighter out and lights up, taking a second to calm his nerves. Then he puts the smokes and lighter back in his pocket and then reaches for his minion.

‘A lot of help you were there. Fuck sake.’

He grips it in his hand as its little yellow face stares blankly at him.

‘Aye, okay,’ says Mockey. ‘Ma fault. Ah should have paid more attention. We’ll do better next time, eh?’

Mockey happens on Drysdale Street in the heart of Yoker and makes his way towards Keith’s: a scummy no-nonsense drug dealer who sells valiums and heroin out of a bottom flat in one of the tenements halfway along the street. He sees two guys coming out and slows his pace allowing them to get near him.

‘Alright, lads,’ says Mockey. ‘Were yous at Keith’s?

‘Aye, pal,’ says the first one.

‘Has he got then?’ Mockey replies.

‘Aye,’ says the second one, and the two guys quickly walk past him before turning and heading up one of the closes.

Nerves take hold of Mockey. The thought of trying to pass over the fake tenner’s make him feel nauseous. He throws up a pile of phlegm and bile, letting it splat down on the ground. To allow him to gather his thoughts and hopefully some courage as well, he decides to take refuge in the close doorway the next one up from his intended target.

He lights up as he watches a man walking up the street, black hair, gaunt-looking, and wearing an old brown snorkel with its fur all but gone around the hood — the only good thing about him: a brand new pair of bright white trainers. otherwise, he could be described as looking tragic. Mockey has an idea. The man passes him and walks up Keith’s path and presses his buzzer. Mockey flicks the smoke away and quickly follows; he manages to push at the solid close door before it snaps shut.

‘Alright, mate,’ he says as he enters the close, so as not to spook him.

‘Alright? You going here?’ says snorkel boy with a nod at Keith’s door.


‘’Chap, chap.’’

They both stand at Keith’s letterbox waiting on him answering. A bead of sweat trickles down Mockey’s back as he clutches two dark-brown furry ten-pound notes in his right hand. The door opens and Keith pokes his head out: two sunken eyes sit behind long straggly brown hair. His face is battleship grey and his smile is a row of brown and yellow teeth.

‘What yous looking for?’ He asks.

‘One,’ says snorkel boy.

‘Two,’ says Mockey, as Keith reaches to take the money, staggering a little.

Keith nods and shuts the door, leaving Mockey and his newfound accomplice to either make small talk or just stand there staring at the shite paintwork in the dimly lit close. Mockey opts for the latter and they wait awkwardly for what seems like an eternity.

The door opens and Keith pokes his head out: his eyes alive with fury.

‘Who was it that asked for two bags?’ says Keith, his voice sharp and sober than just a moment ago.

Mockey just shrugs his shoulders with a quick nod to the other guy.

The door swings back quickly without so much as a squeak and Keith grabs at the collar of the gaunt man’s snorkel with his left hand and rapidly draws what looks like a shiny silver blade straight down his face. Snorkel boy drops to his knees with both hands pressed into his cheek. Keith stands back then boots him once, right in the mouth. Blood splatters everywhere and Mockey jumps back in shock.

‘YA DIRTY FUCKIN PRICK. TRY AND DROP FAKE MONEY HERE, EH?’ shouts Keith as he goes into his pocket and drops the furry money onto the top of the bleeding and whimpering man in the blood-soaked snorkel. He then turns to Mockey and hands him one bag.

‘Here’s yer bag; now get tae fuck,’ snarls Keith.

‘Cool, mate,’ says Mockey as he heads out the close with the door snapping shut behind him, drowning out the screams from the worn-out junkie and the deranged laughter from Keith.

‘JESUS CHRIST,’ says Mockey as he grips his little wrap of heroin in his hand: with the realization that he still owes Daily a score.

He puts it in his pocket and pulls the minion out.

‘Ah should go back, eh?’

He turns and heads back toward the big metal close door and presses a random buzzer.


‘Hallo,’ says a woman’s voice.

‘Hi there, I have a delivery for the bottom house, could you be a dear and let me in the close, that way I can post it through their door.’


‘’Bzzzzz, click.’’

Mockey pushes the door open gently. The laughter and the screaming have stopped. The close is deathly silent. He creeps in and sees a crumpled blood-soaked heap at the back. He walks up to it and bends down to the back of the man’s head. His face is tucked inward to the close wall, resting on a dark red puddle. Mockey pulls the minion from his pocket and sits it down next to him.

‘This will help ye, mate; just like it helped me.’

He slides snorkel boy’s bright white trainers off without resistance, tucks them under his arm — and leaves quietly, back the way he came.




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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