Wicked! That's what it was. Well wicked!
Darren dabbed a trickle of blood off his lip. Nothing to worry about. Least it hadn't got onto his shirt. Fucking seventy quid he paid for that. And he didn't relish explaining to his mum how come he'd got some distinctly biological stains on it. Not like his Fred Perry that time. Fucking ninety quid it cost and it never looked so good again.
But it was wicked. Brutal! He and his mates had shown those Man C cunts. If they'd not had the back-up that appeared from fucking nowhere, the cunts would be fucking dead now. And when he and his mates scarpered, he noticed one of the Man C cunts waving a fucking chain. Just like in A Clockwork Orange. And that was one fucking movie.
Darren laughed to himself as he remembered the geezer he'd chinned and the plexus punch he'd administered to the fat bloke in the poncey Armani. When he fell to Darren's feet, perfectly placed for a few kicks in the groin, well, that was a fucking blast that was. He'd have fucking left him with busted goolies given the chance.
He held the tissue up to his eyes. The blood stains were fainter now. Mother Nature could always be relied on to stop the flow, just as it was always there to start the taps running after a bit of radical administration.
But where were his mates now?
Fucking gone they were! Every last fucking cunt. It was just him in the North London streets, all on his lonesome, and not ready for another ruck with a bunch of poncey Mancies. He'd rather be lashing out the medicine than taking it.
So, where to now?
Certainly not back to the stadium. There was too much chance he would be picked up by some stragglers from the Man C crew. And although it had been a good match, a two-nil victory to the home side, there wasn't much to do at an empty football ground.
Darren heard the heavy percussive beats from a bar across the road, accompanied by flashing lights, the excited chatter of the evening crowd and the clink of lager bottles. Yeah! That's what he could do with now. A Grolsch would set him up right.
He checked that the blood on his chin was dry, sensibly choosing to leave the scab intact, and strode over the road. He admired his reflection on the plate glass door as he pushed it open. He looked like a million dollars. Or more precisely the 350 quid the suit cost him. He rudely pushed his way to the front of the bar, through the other people waiting rather more patiently than him for a drink.
"Oi!" he shouted to the barmaid, whose back was turned to him. "Have a heart! I've been waiting bleeding ages! And I only want a Grolsch."
She turned round. Pretty little bint she was.
"Oh! I'm sorry. Do you want it cold?"
Works every time, Darren snickered, accepting the ice-cold bottle of lager with the top levered off.
"Keep the change!" he announced with a winning smile, handing her the exact money.
And now what?
Darren leaned his back against a mirrored pillar, not wishing to show himself up by sitting down although there were a couple of spare seats. He couldn't see the telly, not that he'd be able to hear anything over the booming garage, so Darren was forced to look ahead of him and think.
Not something he liked to do very often.
Only a week or so till his wedding to Trace. Darren wasn't sure he was looking forward to that so much as to the Stag Night on the Friday before. That'd be fucking brilliant. The lads and he would go off to some lap dancing joint and there'd be plenty of beer and curry. But if the cunts dared to do what they did to Kev on his stag night, trussed up like some fucking turkey with not even a pair of boxers to hide his shrivelled manhood, well, there'd be some dead bodies in the manor not long afterwards.
Everyone said Trace and he were well suited. They'd been going out, off and on, for two years now, though Darren had only proposed marriage to her when he heard she'd also been going with Phil. And Phil was one of the few geezers on the manor you couldn't mess with. By staking a definite claim on Trace, flashing that diamond ring he'd got for 300 quid on the high street, Darren had shown he could swing with the big dicks. I mean, you mightn't be able to tackle Phil head on, but you could stake your territory. And if your one and only was pedigree tail in the district, then people just had to give due respect.
Of course, his mum and dad were delighted too, although Darren couldn't help wondering that might be because he'd have to move out of the family home and his parents would only need to worry about his sister, Sue, and that black sprog of hers she'd earned after one night of stupidity with the yardie crew.
Darren scanned the bar for tottie and smiled as he assessed the talent. One in particular took his fancy: a tidy little number with plenty of trim midriff on show and a pretty face. Her hair was just long enough to brush her shoulders. She had very nearly finished the small glass she held delicately in her hand at the end of a long and sensuous bare arm. Opposite her was her bloke, dressed in a nylon bomber with a black short-cropped barnet much like Darren's own. When she smiled her face was a startling and delicious array of white ivory. Her eyes sparkled under a high forehead.
And then the bloke left her to make his way towards the loo, his neat black jeans and white trainers flashing with each stride.
Now was the moment.
Darren strolled over to the girl, a broad grin on his face.
"You look like you need a refill. What you having, love?"
She looked startled. Her smile vanished and her eyes narrowed. No longer sparkling. More anxious and clouded.
"You heard, love," Darren said, his grin, if anything, broader than before. "What's your poison?"
The girl was flustered. "I don't know what you think you're about. I'm with Trev. We were just about to go on somewhere else."
"Don't be soft. I'm only being friendly, love. What's your name anyway? I'm Darren."
"Shell. Michelle, really. But don't think I'm gonna..."
"I'm pleased to meet you, Shell," said Darren. "You know when you see a bird like you, well, you just can't not do nothing."
"What do you mean?" wondered Shell, looking flustered and nervous.
"I don't know if anyone's ever told you, but you're a girl in a million."
"Course you are. A red blooded geezer just can't stand over there when you're in the room and not want to pass a compliment."
"What you on?" Shell giggled, softening to Darren's practised repartee.
"What the fuck are you doing, mate?" asked the rather more aggressive voice of Trevor who'd returned from the loo. "You hitting on my bird?"
Darren turned around, still smiling, and faced down his rival in love.
"And if I am?" he asked quietly.
Trevor looked as flustered as Shell.
"You just fucking take your fucking hands off her."
"I ain't touched her, mate."
"Don't be fucking stupid. Just fucking move off. Fuck off!"
"You threatening me?"
Trevor looked Darren up and down. The two men were pretty equally matched. Neither of them especially big, but both fairly fit.
"Just fuck off, cunt!" Trevor said, choosing to raise his voice to a level sufficiently loud for the rest of the bar to turn their heads around to see what was going on.
"So, what you gonna do?"
"I'll fucking kill you."
"What did you say?" asked Darren quietly and apparently reasonable.
"Just fuck off or I'll fucking kill you!"
That was good enough for Darren, though less would have been sufficient really.
He clipped his fist across Trevor's mouth, bursting the lip with the single punch. And then, as Trevor fell back from the blow and just about to launch out with a punch of his own, Darren followed through with a cuff to the ear and two or three upward thrusts with his fist into Trevor's chest. As his victim fell forward, Darren added a few more punches in the face to the punishment. When Trevor fell backwards into some people who'd foolishly not moved out of the way, Darren slid his leg under Trevor's legs to bring him heavily down onto the floor.
"You cunt!" Trevor whimpered.
"You bastard!" echoed one of the men whom Trevor had fallen onto.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Shell gasped.
"Come on, love!" replied Darren, who took advantage of the confusion to grab Shell by the arm and drag her out of the bar, while behind them the other customers were responding variously and with no coordination to the swift and conclusive outrage that most of them hadn't really seen.
"It was him who fucking started it!" yelled Darren, as he slipped through the door, gripping Shell tightly by her arm. "You saw it. He was fucking mental, he was! He should be fucking certified, the cunt!"
It wasn't until Darren had strode several yards down the street, dragging a bemused Shell with him, that his abductee began struggling to get loose. No doubt she was as confused as anyone by Darren's speedy attack to easily gather her wits.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing? That was my bloke you fucking chinned. Fucking let me go!"
"Don't be fucking stupid! You don't want to get involved with plod. Anyway, I was just defending myself. The cunt said he was gonna kill me. It was either him or me!"
"He wasn't gonna do nothing."
"Don't talk wet. How was I gonna fucking know that? Look, love, I'm sorry for what I done to your bloke. What say we stop for a drink? You know, I don't want you to think I'm some sorta wide cunt, looking for a fight and all. There's a pub over there. We'll stop there. And don't get too pissed off. I'll buy you a drink and everything. It's the least I can do."
Darren lessened his grip on Shell's arm, sensing she was relaxing after his apology.
"Well, just one. If it was, like, a genuine mistake. Then I've gotta get back. Trev'll be wondering where I am."
Perhaps, wondered Darren. But when the paramedics arrived, he'd have a lot of other things to worry about. Darren glanced at the trace of blood on his fist. Trevor probably wouldn't start worrying about where his bird was for quite a while yet.
Darren guided Shell into a quiet little pub down a side street he knew of where most of the clientele were really too old to get involved in a ruck. He kept his grip on her arm while he ordered a Becks for himself (there was no Grolsch here) and an alcopops for Shell. Then they sat down in a corner where Shell couldn't easily scarper whilst keeping up a line of chat that was mostly just to keep her mind off other things.
He told her he worked for a software house and how he was some kind of sales rep. He told her he'd just been to a football match and had had to run off when some hooligans picked on him and his mates. He told her that she was a tidy girl and that he'd not noticed her bloke, Trev. He told her he'd been done not too long ago when a friend of his had got into a fight and he'd been arrested as an accessory to the crime. He told her that he would rather risk anything than lose his job if got arrested again.
"Some of my mates are a bit too ready with the old fists," Darren asserted. "But they're mates, you know. You've gotta stick by them."
He gazed into Shell's eyes, clearly melting under Darren's patter, her wrist no longer needing to be held and her mouth puffing away at the ciggie she'd pulled out of her handbag. He wasn't exactly going to tell her that he'd actually stitched up his mates, seeing the fuzz arrive and shrinking into the background before they'd made their presence felt.
"Yeah! You gotta stick by your mates, ain't you?" Shell agreed.
"But what about you, love? Where d'you work?"
Only when Shell was well into an account of her life in the office and her boring job on the reception desk did Darren judge it was safe enough to stand up and get some more drinks, making sure of tipping an extra measure of vodka into her glass. That little bit extra always helped.
It wasn't until a lot later that Darren and Shell left the pub. He was still pretty much together, having held back his intake, while Shell was ever so tipsy and very easily persuaded to invite him back to the bedsit she rented. At this stage, Trevor was pretty much totally forgotten and Shell was quite happy to thread her arm into Darren's own.