It would have been an overstatement to call it a front door. It certainly wasn’t the entrance to a home. A piece of plywood nailed on two-by-four and hung on some hinges that creaked the few times they opened all the way, with a clasp bolted on at the side that someone had hung a padlock on in a too-expectant moment of wishful thinking.
There must have been a lock on the other side too because, for now, it was doing its job. Don’s right fist banged down on the cheap wood and the whole door vibrated like a broken drum, the sound echoing, booming over the cracked cement path that ran through the foot-high lawn, across the road with the discarded cars on bricks and over to the lock-ups at the foot of the tower blocks, where it bounced back at a higher pitch, like the crack of a gun shot.
“C’mon Neville! Open the friggin’ door. I know you’re in there. There’s no point hiding, I watched you walk in…”
Don turned to Mark, who was still sat in the car reading the racing results in the paper, and shrugged his big shoulders. Mark wound down the window, and hawked a huge greeny on the pavement before speaking.
“Just fuckin’ kick it in, will yer? We’ve got better things to do than this shit. It’s already half ten an’ I’ve not even had a brew yet…Jesus…”
He went back to studying the paper. Don turned and banged again. This time, when the boom had died, he heard movement behind the door. He readied himself, his weight on his left arm against the wood, ready to push. But whoever was inside was pushing too. Must be trying it on, he thought, so he leant in further. Sweat beaded on his forehead with the effort, as the person inside began to throw his shoulder against the door, bouncing against Don’s weight.
“Trust me, this’ll just make it worse. Go on; let me in Neville,” Don said against the wood.
A muffled voice shouted back from inside.
“Fuck! That’s what I’m tryin’ to do. It opens outwards, you barmy sod!”
Don stepped back, and the door opened, throwing out a gaunt young man in a Norman Whiteside era United shirt and holed jeans. He looked round the door at Don.
“Well, Geoff doesn’t pay yer for yer brains does he? Go on in, there’s nowt in there…”
Don stepped forward, grabbed the young man by the neck and dragged him through the doorway.
The house was bare. There was no furniture, no carpet, no pictures hanging on the wall, just cold concrete floor and dirty wallpaper, peeling off here and there. Pulling his catch behind him, Don quickly stepped around a couple of the gray rooms, finding nothing.
“I really don’t want to kick this out of yer. Haven’t you got anything worth sommert in this hole?”
Don let go.
“Ta… You know I’ve got nowt… see, that’s what I tol’ Geoff. I says to him, Geoff I would give you the money back, but I don’t have it… least not yet… just give me another week and we’ll be sorted. But, of course, he don’t listen, sends you two goons round, knowing full well that the only thing that’s gonna happen is that you give me a kicking, I end up in the infirmary and no one gets happy. Fuckin’ criminal, it is.”
“All I’ve got is this TV in the back bedroom. But that’s not gonna go anywhere near what I owe…Don, I know you. I know that you don’t really want to see me go down, do yer? All my blood on your nice black suit? Nah, you don’t need that…”
“Where’s the telly?”
“Alright, I’ll show yuz, but at least leave me it. It’s not like I’ve got much else is it? Just give me till next Tuesday, and Geoff’ll get his money…”
Don raised his arm, and pounded his hand hard against the side of the Neville’s head, stinging his ear like a bear swinging at a bee.
“Just show me where the fuckin’ telly is.”
A red welt was glowing in the upper half of Neville’s left cheek. He looked up and stared at Don like a scolded child.
“Fuckin’ ‘ell Don. I tol’ yer I’d show it to yer…Jesus…whatcha go an’ have to do that for? It’s this way…”
He turned and began to trot up the stairs. Don trudged slowly behind him, trying to ignore whatever crap he was spouting now.
“…but this is the only thing I’ve got right now. I’ve literally got everything tied up in this plan I’ve got with John the Hat. You know John, don’t yer? Drinks in the Crown? Always wears a hat? Well, me and ‘im have this great idea… course I can’t tell yuz anything about it, but we’re gonna get sorted. Next week it all comes in, ‘an it’ll be cushty. That’s when Geoff’ll be able to get what’s his back. With extra, for the inconvenience, of course. I’m not ungrateful…here yer go. Me one possession. Got to ‘ave a telly, ‘aven’t yer? Don’t know what I’d do without it…can’t get out much these days, not with sommert this important comin’ up…”
The TV was sat on the floor in front of a dirty green blanket, a couple of pillows with grease stains all over them, and discarded clothes. As they walked into the room, Don grabbed the back of Neville’s head, forcing him to the floor. He rammed his knee into the man’s back, and then pulled on his hair so his face looked up and back at Don.
“Alright. Listen. I’ve ‘ad enough of your wittering bullshit. I’m a nice man, and I do know yer, so I’m gonna give you a bit more time. You have till Tuesday. Then… well, you know what’ll happen then. Oh… and yeah, I do know John the Hat. An’ I also know he got lifted at the airport last night… seems he was trying to get to Ibiza with ten thousand double-doves strapped to his balls…”
Don let go, and Neville deflated, as if he could sink into the floor even further. Don then stepped over to the TV, picked it up, and threw it out of the window.