I was in the dole two days later, when in walked Slave.
I smiled like it was my birthday.
“Way-hay, Jack my man.”
“Slave, it’s been a long time.”
“Too fucking long.” He replied.
“Six months,” I said, “how do I look?”
“Terrible, you look sober, and it doesn’t fucking suit
you one bit, mate.”
“Alright,” I answered, “let me sort these bastards out
and we’ll cure this sober problem.”
We echoed each other.
Now, Slave was a good mate, I’d known him since comprehensive
school. He was 6 foot and 15 stone. He liked to think that
he was big built and muscly, but really he was a six foot
bag of lard.
He used to shoplift half bottles of Courvoisier for me and
I, in return, would stop the other boys in our year from kicking
his fat butt.
We had a system working.
It had worked well, as far as I was concerned.
I loved him, we were blood brothers.
Everyone called him Slave.
He was slave to no-one.
Every time he walked down the street, he fell in love. He
never scored much with women, but he still fell in love or
lust. Call it what you will, but he fell in it constantly.
He was a slave to himself.
A slave to his own prick.
None of us are perfect, and he was far from it. This made
me like him even more.
There was something else that he was a slave to, which was
a little bit more annoying.
He was partial to glue sniffing, no, partial’s not the right
word. Gluttony suits it better and by fuck, did it annoy me.
It annoyed everyone.
I could smell none on him today, and boy did that stuff reek.
With a bit of luck, I thought to myself, he’d quit the shit.
After stepping out of the dole office, I felt like I’d just
been released from prison again.
After all those fucking forms.
After all those fucking questions.
My head was bouncing.
“I’m a pound short of a pot of glue.” said Slave, as
more and more pavement passed between us and the dole office.
“Oh no!” I said.
(He obviously hadn’t quit the shit then!)
“Are you still on that school boy shit?” I asked.
“Everybody has their drug of choice.” he retorted.
“That’s not a drug of choice” I replied, “It’s a sad,
sad way to restart a friendship.”
“Look,” said Slave shakily, “I haven’t had any for four
days, I’m going nuts, I need some, it feels like my fucking
brain is melting, mun. I am going to have to go hoisting.
Are you up for it, or what?”
“Nah! fuck that, mun,” I said, “Look, me old man’s in
The Angel. Lets go down and have us a drink. I’ll see if I
can sort your pound out for you.”
We arrived at The Angel. There was my old man singing, ‘Innocent
Man’ by Billy Joel, while counting someone else’s money.
I tried for 5 hours to get Slave his pound. The Old Man
wasn’t having any of it. He had over £400 on him, but he
wasn’t parting with a penny of it unless you were going to
drink it in front of him.
So we did.
I didn’t mind, I was drinking again.
I was happy again.
Slave drank 7 pints and 3 vodkas, and started shaking again.
It was time to try and help out my friend.
There was nothing else for it.
The ironmongers on Windsor Road was just too close to the
police station. We would have to go to the one on Stockems
Ah, I thought, Stockems corner!
“Wouldn’t you rather have a hooker?” I inquired.
“Hookers, fuck hookers!” answered Slave, obviously disgusted
by my brainwave.
“I’ve got £2.50 in my pocket, mun. I don’t want to fuck
any woman who’ll do it for £2.50.”
“Right!” I said.
“I’ll steal you your fucking glue, then you lend
me the £2.50 and I’ll fuck one!”
We both laughed as we entered the subway, but there was only
one of us laughing when we came out the other side, and it
was not me.
Fuck, I thought.
I’ve just come out of prison.
Here I am about to do a fucking smash ‘n’ grab, and for
I must be insane.
I could have gone back to my old man’s and carried on drinking.
I stopped myself from thinking about it. I had already promised
Slave. All I had to do now was get away with it.
C’mon boy, focus.
The first brick bounced off the window, landing in the middle
of the road. The second brick bounced off, hitting Slave
in the leg.
He didn’t even seem to feel it; he could see that big pot
of glue in the window. Nothing else mattered.
“This is no good.” I said “Someone’s bound to have heard
us. We’ve got about a minute.”
“Fuck!” hissed Slave “What we need is an iron bar.”
“No!” I replied,
“What we need is to be standing in a bar.”
It was then that I spotted the church wall at the other side
of the road. A car must have smashed into it, some of it
was lying on the pavement. There were four or five big,
old stones still cemented together.
“Grab them Slave!
They look like they’ll do the job nicely” I said.
Slave walked over and picked them up, staggered back across
the road to the shop window. Lifted them high and then………
The glass imploded.
It was like a fucking bomb going off.
Surely we’ve woke up half of Neath, or disturbed them a bit
anyway, I thought to myself.
Slave quickly reached inside and grabbed his pot of glue.
It was his, he had earned it.
“Fuck, look out!” I shouted suddenly.
A big sheet of jagged, plate glass was about to decapitate
him. He managed to pull out just in time.
He had his glue.
We’d done it.
As we started running, we heard the first police sirens. They
were too far away, we were Ok. We vanished into the back
streets of the Melyn, heading for the river. As quickly and
silently as two thieves, which was exactly what we were.
“Put your truncheons away, you won’t catch us today.”
I whispered to myself, as we dove into the first alleyway