The Beatles blaggers (excerpt from Black Milk)
(from my new novel, Black Milk)
The pub was a boozer from outside but clean and modern within, décor-wise in any case. A group of male office workers held pints of real ale mid-air and judged me shagworthy or not, loudly.
‘What you looking at?’ I snapped.
‘Nothing,’ said one, addressing his pint.
‘Wouldn’t touch her with a barge pole,’ said another.
‘They’s been doing that since they come in,’ a barmaid with a soft Irish accent sighed.
‘Idiots,’ I said. ‘Diet Coke please.’
The officer worker who threw the barge pole comment at me kept nudging his friends with his elbow, laughing uproariously. The minutes went by, his laughter louder and more obnoxious. One of the blokes spoke to the air about how his dad went to school with George Harrison. You couldn’t swing a Beatles wig in Liverpool pubs without hitting someone, always a bloke, who blagged the same tired tale. If all the blokes who claimed it actually were in George’s year, it’d be the biggest class in the entire world. I wondered how many people said they sat next to Ringo in double maths. Probably not enough to fill a phone box. Funny, that. People never said they knew John Lennon well, it would demand an entertaining and unknown tale about the singer’s caustic humour, a big ask, and Paul was too close for comfort to lie about.
I sipped my drink slowly, reading over and over again the details of a quiz night the pub hosted on a Wednesday. £50 top prize, apparently. £50. Kaine gave me money in bundles of fifty quid, £150 in all these last few days.
I didn’t hear the door of the pub open, instead I stiffened as it closed. I knew it was Paul’s big heavy feet pausing as he located me. I sat up straight and smoothed down my hair, then cursed myself for making it visible.
‘Sit down. You look like you’re not stopping,’ I said.
‘I’ll just get a drink.’
‘No you won’t. I’ve waited here long enough.’ Ten minutes had lengthened to half an hour. I read the quiz night flyer twenty times already.
Paul sat on a chair diagonally across from me, too much of a coward to sit anywhere nearer.
‘I don’t bite,’ I said.
‘I wouldn’t blame you if you did,’ he said, picking up a circular beer mat. He rolled it along the surface of the table with his palm.
‘Are you going to tell me what’s going on, or what?’
He swallowed. ‘What do you know?’
‘Don’t start fishing for information. You’re a copper and told me something different.’
Read the first chapter of Black Milk plus synopsis here