Victoria pulled Mooney’s pint, somehow managing to produce a smile which she proficiently aimed at him across the bar, despite inwardly wanting to spit in his face. The distaste she felt for him rose in tandem with the cloudy, flat beer as it filled the pint glass. Like almost everyone else who knew him, she detested the man and the power he had over those whose lives he been granted permission to intrude upon. How someone so clearly devoid of morality themselves, could have been allowed to ascend to his position of authority, a post he spent more time exploiting than adhering to, beggared belief. To her eyes, he represented so much that was wrong with the world, a bloated symbol of injustice, swaggering through the streets of Soho collecting his blood money and turning an eye away from the activities of those willing to part with enough cash. The sight each afternoon of that perverted, obscene, smile, painted upon his unshaven, twisted face as he crashed through the pub doors, always changed the prevailing convivial, if not a little, edgy, atmosphere inside the pub. He was like some sort of maniacal, despotic, dictator about to deliver a speech to a captive audience; none of whom remotely interested in what he had to say, but all secretly wishing they had the balls to be the first to plunge a knife into his overfed guts. Nobody did of course because they knew, instinctively, that when the ‘law’ is this corrupt, it is unassailable to those it has been charged to protect and serve, let alone those it is supposed to be pursuing.
“How’s Lola? She doing alright at school Vic? Tell her from me she’s gotta do all her homework and be a good girl; otherwise she might end up like some of these tarts in here one day eh? And we wouldn’t want that now, would we?”
Victoria turned her head away from the optic as the whiskey slid into the glass, her eyes narrowed as she glared at the policeman standing on the other side of the bar.
“Now you listen to me Mr. Mooney, I’ve learnt to not care what you think about my customers, I’m pretty sure none of them are too bothered either, but don’t you ever, ever talk about Lola like that again in my pub, do you understand me?”
Mooney stepped back slightly from the bar and raised his hands above his head as he flashed a ruthless smile towards the landlady.
“Keep your bloody hair on girl! I was only saying that..
“I know what you bloody well said and I’ll thank you for keeping your nose out of my business when it comes to my daughter. Lola’s a good girl, she’s not going to end up having to worry about people like you when she’s older, so help me god, I’ll make sure of that.”
Mooney snatched the whiskey glass out of Victoria’s hand then threw the contents into his mouth, before chasing the sour tasting liquid down his throat with his beer. He then leant towards her, his breath causing her recoil sharply. Pointing an accusatory finger round the pub while whispering in her direction.
“See these lowlifes? Tarts, pimps, druggies, they were all someone’s good girls and boys once upon a time Victoria, know what I mean? And it’s not as if I’m gonna be around forever to keep an eye out for young Lola, now is it? I’m one of the good guys Vic; you’d do well to remember that, particularly if you want to keep a roof over your little angels head eh? God knows what the brewery might say if they knew what went on in here sometimes…..eh? I’ll have another whiskey please, one for the road before I get back to work keeping Lola’s world as safe as I possibly can.”
He winked at Victoria, then turned and strode towards the side door, his parting words tossed at her as casually as the unpaid for drinks he’d just finished.
“Actually, forget about the whiskey for now, I’ll come back for it later.”
Victoria straightened her back, whipped the empty glass from the bar then went upstairs leaving Sassy and Jimmy to deal with the early evening drinkers until she’d got Lola settled in her bed for the night.
As the door closed behind Mooney, there was a tangible air of relief amongst the assembled customers left sitting inside, a lightening of mood so drastic, that were it able to be bottled, would probably sell even better than the contents of the small plastic bag Martin had secreted upon his person as he’s simultaneously walked in off the street, just as the policeman stumbled out into the early evening bustle outside.
The Believers had a rehearsal shortly in Tin-pan alley and Martin needed a stiff drink inside him before he went as he was going to let Chris know he was sacked. Despite his own conviction that this was a decision he could not avoid, it still apparently required a bit of Dutch courage, if he was going to also let him know a few home truths at the same time.
He’d been practicing his,
“Sorry mate, you’re out! Actually I’m not sorry, you’re a talentless prick, so fuck off”
Speech, all afternoon. His visit to blind Geoff and the people he’d then been to see afterwards had been profitable, so with that aspect of his business dealings settled, it seemed as good a time as any, to sort out the rest. True, he could have phoned Chris to tell him, save him making his way up from Brixton to the West End just to get kicked out of the band, but perhaps, after a couple of years playing together, something like this should be done face to face? He wasn’t sure whether it was his better nature, or his desire to see the prick suffer a bit that had stopped him from making that call. After a couple of pints and some pills, he didn’t seem to care for the internal debate anymore, Chris was out of step and you’re either in the NOW, or you’re nowhere right?