As promised, here’s part one of an original short story.
East End, Glasgow – roughly ten years ago.
The bell hanging above the door jingled with the arrival of the day’s first customer. It was already three in the afternoon and the only company Davina Weir had had that day were the dust bunnies she’d earnestly been trying to eradicate from the top shelves behind the counter. That it meant not having to clean and polish more of the chotchkes her father had spent years accumulating, was reason enough to climb down off the ladder and watch the man as he wrestled to close the old wooden door, its glass panes rattling with the wind until he reached up to bang the flat of his hand near the top of the warped frame and popped it into place.
The battle won, he gave her a half-smile and shook the rain from the sleeves of his blue camo army surplus jacket before lowering the hood of the sweatshirt he wore underneath, making his light ginger hair stick up in tufts.
Impressed, if curious, with how he knew how to handle that door, Davina asked, “Braw day, isn’t it?” She could feel the cold that clung to his clothes and watched as he rubbed his hands together while dark blue eyes scanned the vintage rock posters and memorabilia. “Do you need some help?”
“Nope. Got it.” He made a beeline for the alphabetized stacks of vinyl.
With nothing better to do, she stuck the handle of her feather duster in the back pocket of her jeans and leaned on the chipped Formica counter to watch him bob his head along to the songs playing over the store’s sound system. Lip-synching the words, he carefully rifled through the stacks of used, well-loved classics mixed in with expensive imports.
Forty-five minutes later, he plunked his meticulously curated selections down next to the old-fashioned brass cash register.
Davina looked up from the paperback she’d pulled from beneath the counter about half an hour ago. “Karaoke?”
“Huh?” He followed her nod and looked down at the pile topped off with a pristine copy of George Michael’s “Faith”. “Naw. I missed…it’s…they’re for my mate’s birthday. He likes 80’s Brit Pop.”
“And you don’t?” The quirk of her brow suggested she thought otherwise.
“Yeah, well. You listen to anything long enough…” He looked around the shop as if he’d just noticed they were the only people in it. “Where’s Weirdo?”
“You know my brother?” Great, another NED – non-educated delinquent- and gangster-wanna-be who used to run with her younger sibling. No one called Gordon Weir by his nickname any more. No one that wanted to keep their teeth, that is.
“Yeah, it’s been a while though. Is he here?”
“He’s in Low Moss Prison. Where have you been?” She folded her arms and popped a hip against her side of the counter, wondering why he looked vaguely familiar and yet she couldn’t place him.
“Away.” Perhaps if he’d let anyone visit him while he’d been in Her Majesty’s Prison Greenock, doing a four year stretch of his own, he’d know what had been happening on his patch in his absence. “Wait, you’re Weirdo, I mean Gordo…you’re Gordon’s sister?” He tracked the movements of her long slender fingers, their tips painted bright cherry red, as she worked the keys on the ancient machine. “I thought you were at Uni?”
“Wow. You are out of touch. I was. Now I’m back.” Her dark brown eyes gave him an appraising look. “What’s your name ‘Friend-of-Weirdo’?”
He studied her face while she appeared to mull over his answer. God, but she was pretty. Delicate looking, like the antique porcelain doll his Gran had given his little sister Elspeth so many years ago. He expected that giving her his name would lead to more questions, but she surprised him with a snap of her fingers and a smile.
“I thought you looked familiar! The MacKenzie’s right? You live in that big place with the gates – with Big Mac and Wee Bill?”
Oh here we go. It took a lot of effort not to roll his eyes. He’d lost the affections of more than one bonnie lass to the considerable charms of the man he considered to be his younger brother, Will MacKenzie. Not that he had this one’s affections. But she surprised him a second time by sticking out her hand.
“Davina, but my friends call me Dave.”
Davina. That’s right. How could he have forgotten? Why do beautiful women like to be called by masculine names? He must have been staring. It wasn’t until she chuckled, a throaty sound he decided that he liked, that he thought to take the outstretched hand.
“So you said.” She extracted her hand and finished ringing up his purchases.
He took a roll from the pocket of his jeans and peeled off some notes for her as the bell over the door jangled again. Another rush of wind and cold air came in with the arrival of small man sporting a mop of woolly brown curls glistening with raindrops, and anxious eyes that darted around the store.
“Streak! What’re you doin’? I been at the bus stop for twenty minutes. Are you mad? You cannae keep the Big Man waitin’!”
“Hey Dex. Rollin’ out the red carpet, is he?”
The two men gave each other a perfunctory embrace. “Any excuse for a do, you know how he is.”
“Too well. Hope you didn’t spoil the surprise.” When Dex didn’t move, Streak nodded toward the Rover idling outside at the curb. “Be along in a tick.”
Despite what he’d just said, Streak, to his mind, did not appear to appreciate the urgency of the situation. Dex stood with his hand on the door knob, obviously not prepared to leave without him.
Dave handed Streak a plastic bag with “Weir’s Whatnots” printed on it. “The receipt’s in the bag – you can return anything…”
“C’mon man,” Dex interrupted. He was looking out the window as if he expected to see “the Big Man” himself barreling down the street.
“Shut up, Dex.” Streak was looking at Dave.
“It’s got the number for the store – in case you had any questions…or thought of anything else you wanted.”
Dex tried to take the bag to carry to the waiting car, but Streak waved him off and shoved him through the open door. Before he followed him out, he looked back at Dave and said with his first real smile in a long time, “That list is long darling.”
To be continued…