The streets of Beechmount stank of wet dog. The effect of drying rain in early summer. Light faded from the West Belfast housing area. Joe Philips yawned and slumped against the redbrick alley wall. Half past ten at night. He wanted to be in bed, cosy and watching a DVD until he drifted off to sleep. But he was the leader. The rest of the gang expected him to be there.Nice. For the rest, clickety-click on Allan Guthrie’s Noir Originals.
At least it was holiday time. No school to mitch in the morning. He popped his head around the corner and glanced down the avenue.
“I see one,” he said.
They all looked up to him. Literally. In the last few weeks he’d taken what his ma called a growth spurt. He’d use his share of tonight’s money to buy longer trousers. Too much white sock showed between his Nike Air trainers and his Adidas tracksuit bottoms.
“Anyone else about?” Wee Danny Gibson asked. He snubbed a half-smoked fag on the alley wall and tucked the butt behind his ear.
“No, just the aul doll. Easy enough number.”
Wee Danny nodded and the rest of the gang twitched, murmured and pulled hoods up over lowered baseball caps. Ten of them in all, not one above fourteen years old.
“Right, let’s go,” Joe said.
They spilled out of the alley and surrounded the blue-rinse bitch like a cursing tornado. She screamed, but they moved too fast for the curtain-twitchers to react. Broken nose bleeding, she dropped her handbag and tried to fend off kicks and punches. Wee Danny scooped it up and whistled. They split in ten different directions. The old granny shrieked at them. They were gone before any fucker so much as opened his door.
Meanwhile, Peter Murphy’s JOHN THE REVELATOR will be published next February by Faber and Faber, with the book-trailer looking a lot like this. Roll it there, Collette …