I Spy With...

Entry by: Finnbar

22nd March 2017
A Pager and Six Cans of Druids

We sit on the bank, passing back and forth a warm can of Druids from the Tesco bag between us. We can see right in Sophie’s office window from here, though all she does is stretch occasionally and drink coffee, tapping away as the afternoon wears on. Of course, she could see us too, were she to look out, but what are we to her?
There’s little conversation between us, an occasional request for a rollie, lighter or fresh can from Annie, which I dutifully hand over. At one point a bird perches on a lamppost between us and the building, and I say that it looks nice. She grunts in reply.
The fifty that Martin paid us to watch Sophie for the day is hot in my top pocket. I bought the day’s essential rations –now scattered around us- with scrapings of change, even slipping the naggin of vodka into the belt of my jeans, just because I couldn’t bear to break the crisp new note. Now it’s begging me to go nuts. All of the beautiful possibilities float in front of my eyes.
I consider, then dismiss, the thought of entry for two to the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet: There’s enough places around town with inattentive waiting staff where you can grab dinner for nothing without needing to spend half your well-earned cash. Similarly dismissible is a week of warm beds and showers in Cuzo’s hostel. My sleeping bag has a waterproof coating and if you cover yourself in leaves and bit of newspaper you can be toasty enough, even on the nights when Annie doesn’t decide to crawl in beside me.
Now down to the real choices; a big bag of green from Sergio on Talbot Street to hoard for a few weeks? Or a smaller, infinitely more precious bag of golden brown from the nameless bald bouncer on Camden Street?
My reverie is interrupted by Annie nudging me. Sophie is standing up at her desk, picking up her expensive coat and saying goodbye to colleagues. I pull the American thingy Martin gave me from my other pocket. It’s a two way pager, apparently. He knows I don’t have a phone and wasn’t going to trust me with a new one was he?
He said to just press the button when she was getting into her car. That was it. For fifty quid. I asked him how it worked. He said that it’s a little radio that only transmits on one frequency. I asked him which one. He asked why I gave a fuck. Fair question.
She’s walking out to her car now, high heels tapping like gunfire on the paving slabs, and she spares us a single glance as she gets into her Mini Cooper. Annie pretends to look elsewhere but I just stare back, quietly sipping my can.
“Why?” I ask, a few moments after she’s turned left and driven off down the strand.
“Why what?”
I gesture to the general area of the car pack, the bank, the beautiful afternoon of Amber Leaf tobacco and soft grass. She just looks at me.
“Why did he pay us for this?”
Annie’s lip curls “Are you soft in the head? He’s riding some mot in their gaf, obviously.”
“D’you think?” It wasn’t that I couldn’t imagine Martin cheating, I just didn’t think he gave enough of a fuck about his marriage to plan it so carefully. Why not just go to a hotel? Maybe he’s one of those sad weirdos who gets a kick out of dressing a girlfriend in his missus’s clothes. I take another swig of the can and hand it over, my thoughts turning back to heroin, not listening to Annie’s scornful reply.
Minutes tick by. The day’s growing cool and the bank is losing its appeal for me. I go to stand up.
“Aw fuck.”
“I never pressed the button. I had it out and all, but then she looked at me when she got in the car and I just forgot. Shite.”
“Press it now then.”
“She’ll be nearly home by now.”
“So? What’s it to us. If Martin asks we just say it’s a shit one. Took too long to send the signal. His own fault for being cheap really isn’t it?”
I press it firmly. A blue light flashes once. That could mean anything really. Ah sure it’s probably grand.
We grab the Tesco bag and wander of, heading for our spot in the park by the canal. Maybe the lads are out.
It’s nearly dark by the time Martin pulls up in his dark blue BMW, parking on double yellow lines and walking hurriedly around the park until he sees us sitting around a little fire by the one willow tree. He ignores the lads, who scowl at him as he passes, getting his fancy shoes muddy as he goes.
“Have you got the pager?” No ‘How are you getting on?’ Or even ‘Hi’. Manners these days have gone to the dogs, I’m tellin’ you.
I scratch my balls inside the sleeping bag as I answer. “What d’you need it for? I thought I might trade it in or something.”
I notice then that he’s sweating, which is weird ‘cause it’s actually pretty nippy out now. His clothes are all disheveled too, and one of his shirt cuffs has had the buttons ripped off. He whips out his wallet and peels out four, yes four, shiny fifties. “Give me the pager and they’re all for you.”
I have it out in a flash and we swap. He turns on his heel, then hesitated and turns back. “I was never here alright? None of this happened.”
I stare up at him.
“Alright?” He repeats
Annie nudges me and I look at her.
Martin looks at her too, as though he’s noticing her for the first time. “Hey Annie, how are you? Listen that goes for you too okay. Neither of you were there today.”
She looks pointedly at his wallet and he doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t open it again, just tosses the whole thing to her and walks off without another word.
We wait until he’s driven off, then Annie opens it. “Holy fuck.”
There’s no cards but when we count it out there’s one thousand, one hundred and twenty five euros in there.
Two days and four hundred and twenty five euro later and we’ve been good, real good. Give the average pair of casual users that kind of cash and one of them at least will be dead in a day, Adam-and-Paul style. But I’ve kept Annie on the straight. We’ve had showers. We’ve slept in beds. We both bought new hoodies in Pennys. Annie got a thirty quid haircut. We even used a hundred and fifty to pay off the bits and bobs we owe to dealers around town and another hundred went to Annie’s mam as a bit of an investment in the future for when we’re really desperate again. The rest of the money’s hidden and I haven’t even told Annie where. She didn’t argue, she could see the logic in that. And so far, we haven’t had a single little drop of golden brown. I’ve no idea what ungodly willpower came into me the last two days but whatever caused it I’m mad grateful.
We’ve just smoked some green on the quays and now we’re sitting in Jimmy Chungs buffet, with heaps and heads of spring rolls, curry, noodles and every sauce you can think of, all sticky and sweet and class. None of the other patrons are even looking at us funny, or at least not much, since our showers and new clothes.
After this we’ll head back to the park –don’t want to become too used to beds- and we’ll light the fire and do some beautiful gear. We won’t fuck, I’d say, there’s no need when you’re floating in nirvana.
Since we’re not talking the conversations around us wash over me. Nothing special; people living their boring lives without freedom. No-one’s as free as us.
One woman’s voice catches my attention, mid-sentence “…worked with my cousin Sarah. Well, in the same office, she didn’t know her. They reckon the husband did it but there’s no evidence. All the neighbours were out when she usually gets home so there’s no-one to check his story with.”
“Did they find her car?”
“Burnt out in the Wicklow Mountains, where all the gangs used to go to bury their victims like.No plates but the same Mini Cooper. They haven’t found her body yet but the Guards say it’s only a matter of time. Did you not read this in the paper?”
“I mostly just get news from Facebook. Mainstream media is so, you know. Like they have an agenda.”
Their conversation moves on. I eat my Spring Rolls, thinking of the night ahead.