© Mike Hanson
YouWriteOn offers publishing for writers to help them reach new readers who like their writing.
Click here to email us for details.
This story is gritty, violent and contains a number of swearwords. It portrays mindless violence and contains references to drugs and alcohol.
If you are offended by any of the above you should remove this assignment.
Death to DeVito
By Mike Hanson
The first thing I noticed about Pete was his tattoo: three lions on his arm. I’d sat to have the same tattoo on three or four occasions, though I’d always chickened out. Boy, was I jealous.
He came to the pub with Micky Donnelly. I’d never liked Micky much and he’d never liked me. The truth was: I felt the same way about most of our gang. The people I hung out with were losers, dope smokers like me. I resented the fact that I’d become one of them. They’re the main reason I’m always pissed or drugged up. I hate the fuckers.
But Pete, on the other hand. Well, I loved him straight away.
Micky entered the pub with his usual fake swagger. “Alright Stevo, Noddy, Sausage, Smithy, (he looked at me and scratched his head) er…”
“Dave,” I said, not looking in Micky’s direction. Micky really was a prize twat. Five feet six standing on his tiptoes, yet always trying to be the hard man. He knew my name. He’d known me for ages. He was just acting the cock in front of the new boy.
“Who’s your mate?” I asked.
Micky looked at Stevo and raised his eyebrows. “He's out of it again. He's forgotten your name Stevo.” He laughed.
What a dick. What an absolute dick. I wanted to punch his lights out but got distracted when Pete spoke for the first time.
“I’m Pete,” he said, throwing out his tattooed arm and shaking a couple of hands. You could tell we’d been drinking since the sun came up because it set everyone off. Soon we were all shaking hands like we were meeting for the first time. I even shook hands with Micky. The twat.
“Pint anyone?” Pete asked. “I’m buying.” He dug his wallet out of his jeans. It was a fake black Armani one like mine, though there must have been five hundred quid in his. The purple tint of twenties gleamed in the dim light of the pub.
Drug dealer was the first thought that sprung to mind. No one had that kind of money round here, apart from those of us that dealt now and again. All school dropouts we were, with no hope of finding work anytime soon. Not that we looked that hard.
“Lager, please you crazy bastard,” Micky said. He gave me a friendly punch on the shoulder. Probably to show Pete what a great bloke he was. Pete frowned. He’d already sussed Micky out.
“Yeah, cheers mate,” Stevo said. “I’ll have a lager.”
“Me too,” said Noddy.
“Make that four,” Sausage added.
“Five,” Smithy said.
“How about you Dave? You want lager too?” Pete looked at me like I meant something. I was flattered. He’d known me two minutes and I already liked him more than Micky. He’d remembered my name for a start.
“Yeah, cheers,” I said.
“Good man.” He slapped me on the back and set about ordering seven beers.
Bob the landlord never bothered asking his age. He never does. I’ve been drinking here for the past five years and I’m not twenty two until next month. Bob doesn’t care if we’re old enough to drink. The only thing he cares about is whether we can pay. Pete could pay. That was all that mattered.
“And one for yourself,” Pete said. Bob looked angry at first, like Pete was taking the piss, and then he looked humbled. I don’t think a punter has ever offered to buy him a pint before. He held Pete’s twenty up to the light to check it was real and moved towards the Carling pump shaking his head.
“So what d’ya do, Dave?” Pete asked.
“Huh?” He’d taken me by surprise. I’d only just finished rolling my fag. That’s another good thing about the Hare and Hounds. Bob lets you smoke inside. The police wouldn’t try and enforce the smoking ban here. It’s like a free prison for them. Better we’re locked inside this shit-hole than out on the streets.
“For a living,” Pete said.
Micky was giving me a funny look, like I was an idiot. I guessed he was annoyed that Pete was talking to me, while he was being ignored. Ha - he was the one whose name could be forgotten. Pete liked me. I could tell.
“This and that,” I said
“Pay well does it?” Pete said. “This and that.” He’d said it in a way that wasn’t a piss take. He had a nice way to him Pete, a way that’s hard to explain. The same sort of comment from Micky would’ve led to a fight.
“No. Crap,” I said.
“Pity,” Pete said. “Pity. Life can be shit can’t it?”
“Doesn’t look like it's shit for you…oh cheers.” Pete handed me my beer. A gray hair poked out the top of the froth. One of Bob’s no doubt. I picked it out and took a swig. It doesn’t pay to complain round here.
“I’m just lucky,” Pete said. “Won a bit of money on a scratch card. Bought a crappy flat, let it out. The housing market went up, so I used the equity and bought another flat, and it snowballed from there. I’ve got fifteen properties now. The rent brings in a monthly profit of eight grand. I’m lucky, that’s all.”
Eight grand a month for doing fuck all. What a life. “No such thing as luck,” I said. “Fair play to you.” Lucky bastard.
“Cheers,” Pete said. “You’re a good man, Dave. Just the sort of bloke I’m looking for as a matter of fact.”
“Yeah – that’s why I’m here. Thought there might be a few of you here interested in a bit of work. I’ve bought another property, a house. It’s a bucket of shit but a potential gold mine. I need two or three blokes as labourers to help me do it up.”
I’d thought about property, about doing what Pete was into. Just like me to miss the boat. Falling property market made it impossible to do now. Why couldn’t I have bought a winning scratch card? I hadn’t worked since leaving school. I didn’t think I ever would.
“I’m in,” I said. “If you want me, that is.”
“What are you in?” Micky asked.
I ignored him. Pete turned his back on him and carried on talking to me. “What about Smithy and Stevo? Do you think they’d be up for some work?”
“I guess so,” I said.
“How about I put you in charge?” Pete said. “Why don’t you ask them? Not the others though. That Noddy’s a right fat bastard. He’d be no use and Sausage looks like a pisshead.”
“He is,” I said. “Fucking useless too.” I took a sip of my beer. “What about Micky?”
“What about me?” Micky said. “You fucking talking about me?”
I sighed. The prick was off again.
“Why don’t I get another drink in?” Pete said. “Free drinks for everyone. Put it on my tab, mate.”
“We don’t do tabs,” Bob replied. “You know that.”
I stared at Bob. How the fuck was Pete supposed to know what the rules where? He probably went in pubs where tabs were common.
“Fine,” Pete said. “Here’s a couple of twenties. Let me know when you run out.”
“Cheers mate,” Sausage said. He winked at me. He knew something was going on between me and Pete. He didn’t care though. His pickled brain was just happy for a free pint.
“I asked you a question,” Micky piped up again. “You’re pissing me off today, you crazy fucker.”
That was rich coming from him. I couldn’t tell whether he was talking to me or Pete. His skin had gone all blotchy.
“Sorry, mate,” Pete said. “I’m looking for some big strong lads for labouring. You’re a bit…”
“What?” Micky said, squaring up to Pete. “Come on you fucker, what?”
“Well, you’re a bit of a short-arse, mate. You look like that guy from Twins—what’s his name? Danny DeVito.”
I laughed. Danny DeVito. Now that was funny. It was true. He did look like Danny DeVito – short, balding, sort of squashed.
Pete winked at me. He knew we’d get on. We were alike. He looked down at Micky. “Look, mate, I just don’t think…”
Micky swung a punch and hit Pete on the jaw. It was a fucking hard one. Something cracked—knuckles or jawbone—as Pete’s head swung towards me, his eyes closed. Still, I knew who I’d back in a fight. Pete was a six footer, same height as me. I’ve seen Micky beat up before. He never seems to learn.
I caught the very beginning of Pete’s eyes opening as he turned back towards Micky. In that millisecond of a glance I could see how angry he was. Micky was going to get battered. I couldn’t wait.
Pete hit back. He threw a right fucker of a punch that hit Micky square in the face. Micky collapsed to the floor screaming like a girl.
I was about to congratulate Pete, but he’d changed. His eyes had glazed over. Without warning he snatched the pint glass out of my hand and smashed it over Noddy’s head. Noddy looked at us both as though we’d planned the attack together and then started shouting and swearing. Blood trickled through his hair and snaked down his face.
Pete had obviously flipped. Sausage came up to him and Pete thumped him in the stomach. He must have hit him hard because immediately Sausage bent over. Then he fell to his knees before slumping onto his side. He looked up at us through disbelieving eyes and for a second or two all noise stopped. The only thing that could be heard was a raspy breathing sound.
“He’s fucking stabbed him,” one of the lads shouted. Smithy I think.
And it was true. I could see it now. A handle was sticking out of Sausage’s stomach. I didn’t know which bit of his insides had been stabbed but wherever it was, it was bad because he wasn’t shouting or screaming or even saying anything. He was gurgling. Red bubbles popped out from his mouth.
I stared in horror. It was my knife sticking out of Sausage. Pete must’ve lifted it from my back pocket. I touched the back of my jeans. It’d gone. “Phone an ambulance,” I shouted. “Dial a fucking ambulance.”
“You’re fucking mad,” someone shouted at me. I caught sight of something to my right and swerved out of the way. A glass slipped out of Micky’s hand. He’d tried to glass me. The bastard. The fucking bastard.
I dived at him and we fell to the floor. I couldn’t think of anything other than trying to kill him. His head smacked on the floor and he closed his eyes. Before he could open them again I’d bitten hard into his nose. I wanted to rip it from his face and spit it out.
I felt an arm grip me from behind and I stopped biting. A nose is a hard thing to remove. My incisors had met with bone pretty quickly. There was no way it was coming off. I could taste his blood as I was pulled back. His nose had the shape of my teeth in semi-circles around the sides.
Shaking free from whoever was trying to get me off Micky, I lurched forwards again and managed to get my hands around his throat. I squeezed so hard his face went purple. I had visions of his head coming off.
There was shouting in the background. People were probably telling me to stop but it egged me on. I started lifting Micky’s head up and down, smacking it hard into the ground. He struggled less with each thud.
“Die, die, die, die, die,” I said. Adrenaline was the only emotion in town.
I was deliriously happy. The blood on his nose had congealed into a thick dark pool, giving him a jelly-like moustache. I squeezed my hands together even tighter. My nails were buried under his skin now. And then the world caved in.
Or so I thought.
When I awoke, I was in hospital. My head felt as though it was filled with sharp rocks. My wrist was cuffed to the railings of my bed.
I found out later that Bob had rescued Micky by bringing a wooden chair down on the back of my head. He hadn’t been charged by the police. What else could he do? I’d stabbed Sausage and then tried to kill Micky. I’d flipped. Gone mental – or that’s how the story went. No one mentioned Pete. They’re trying to make out like he never existed.
If my brain was alright before the incident, it’s not now. My body doesn’t work very well at all. I’ve not managed to sit up yet, I can barely move. My vision often blurs; I can’t eat or drink without assistance. I certainly can’t talk. What good is my word against theirs if I can’t speak a single one?
To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what happened myself. I’m starting to think they might be right. I have absolutely no idea when I had three lions tattooed on my arm.